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master's confidence, by being appointed one of the commiffioners for ecclefiaftical affairs. On the critical day, when the Declaration distinguished the true fons of the church of England, he ftood neuter, and permitted it to be read at Weftminfter; but preffed none to violate his confcience; and, when the bishop of London was brought before them, gave his voice in his favour.
Thus far he fuffered intereft or obedience to carry him; but further he refused to go. When he found that the powers of the ecclefiaftical commiffion were to be exercised against those who had refufed the Declaration,, he wrote to the lords, and other commiffioners, a formal profeffion of his unwillingness to exercife that authority any longer, and withdrew himself from them. After they had read his letter, they adjourned for fix mónths, and scarcely ever met afterwards.
When king James was frighted away, and a new government was to be fettled, Sprat was one of those who conûdered, in a conference, the great question, whether the crown was vacant; and manfully spoke in favour of his old mafter.
He complied, however, with the new establishment, and was left unmolefted; but in 1692 a ftrange attack was made upon him by one Robert Young and Stephen Blackhead, both men convicted of infamous crimes, and both, when the scheme was laid, prifoners in Newgate. These men drew up an Affociation, in which they whofe names were subscribed declared their refolution to restore king James, to feize the princefs of Orange, dead or alive, and to be ready with thirty thousand men to meet king James when he fhould land. To this they put the names of Sancroft, Sprat, Marlbo
rough, Salisbury, and others. The copy of Dr. Sprat's name was obtained by a fictitious request, to which an answer in his own hand was defired. His hand was copied fo well, that he confeffed it might have deceived himfelf. Blackhead, who had carried the letter, being fent again with a plaufible meffage, was very curious to fee the house, and particularly importunate to be let into the ftudy; where, as is fuppofed, he defigned to leave the Affociation. This, however, was denied him; and he dropt it in a flower-pot in the parlour.
Young now laid an information before the Privy Council; and May 7, 1692, the bishop was ar refted, and kept at a meffenger's under a ftri&t guard eleven days. His houfe was fearched, and directions were given that the flower-pots should be infpected. The meffengers, however, miffed the room in which the paper was left. Blackhead went therefore a third time; and finding his paper where he had left it, brought it away.
The bishop, having been enlarged, was, on June the 10th and 13th, examined again before the Privy Council, and confronted with his accusers. Young perfifted, with the moft obdurate impudence, against the strongest evidence; but the re folution of Blackhead by degrees gave way. There remained at last no doubt of the bishop's innocence, who, with great prudence and diligence, traced the progrefs, and detected the characters of the two informers, and published an account of his own examination and deliverance; which made fuch an impreffion upon him, that he commemorated it through life by an yearly day of thanksgiving.
With what hope, or what interest, the villains had contrived an accufation which they must know themselves utterly unable to prove, was never difcovered.
After this, he paffed his days in the quiet exercife of his function. When the caufe of Sacheverell put the publick in commotion, he honeftly appeared among the friends of the church. He lived to his feventy-ninth year, and died May 20, 1713.
Burnet is not very favourable to his memory; but he and Burnet were old rivals. On fome publick occafion they both preached before the house of commons. There prevailed in thofe days an indecent custom: when the preacher touched any favourite topick in a manner that delighted his audience, their approbation was expreffed by a loud hum, continued in proportion to their zeal or pleafure. When Burnet preached, part of his congregation hummed fo loudly and fo long, that he fat down to enjoy it, and rubbed his face with his handkerchief. When Sprat preached, he likewife was honoured with the like animating hum; but he fretched out his hand to the congregation, and cried, "Peace, peace, I pray you, peace."
This I was told in my youth by my father, an old man, who had been no carelefs obferver of the paffages of those times.
Burnet's fermon, fays Salmon, was remarkable for fedition, and Sprat's for loyalty. Burnet had the thanks of the houfe; Sprat had no thanks; but a good living from the king, which, he faid, was of as much value as the thanks of the com
The works of Sprat, befides his few poems, are, The Hiftory of the Royal Society, The Life of Cowley, The Anfwer to Sorbiere, The Hiftory of the Rye-houfe Plot, The Relation of his own Examination, and a volume of Sermons. I have heard it obferved, with great juftnefs, that every book is of a different kind, and that each has its diftin&t and characteristical excellence.
My bufinefs is only with his poems. He confidered Cowley as a model; and supposed that, as he was imitated, perfection was approached. No thing therefore but Pindarick liberty was to be expected. There is in his few productions no want of fuch conceits as he thought excellent; and of thofe our judgement may be fettled by the first that appears in his praife of Cromwell, where he fays that Cromwell's "fame, like man, will grow "white as it grows old."
THE life of the Earl of Halifax was properly that of an artful and active statefman, employed in balancing parties, contriving expedients, and combating oppofition, and expofed to the viciffitudes of advancement and degradation; but, in this collection, poetical merit is the claim to attention; and the account which is here to be expected may properly be proportioned not to his influence in
the ftate, but to his rank among the writers of verfe.
Charles Montague was born April 16, 1661, at Horton in Northamptonshire, the fon of Mr. George Montague, a younger fon of the earl of Manchester. He was educated first in the country, and then removed to Weftminster, where, in 1677, he was chofen a king's fcholar, and recommended himself to Bufby by his felicity in extemporary epigrams. He contracted a very intimate friendship with Mr. Stepney; and in 1682, when Stepney was elected at Cambridge, the election of Montague being not to proceed till the year following, he was afraid left by being placed at Oxford he might be feparated from his companion, and therefore folicited to be removed to Cambridge, without waiting for the advantages of another year.
It feems indeed time to wifh for a removal; for he was already a fchool-boy of one and-twenty.
His relation, Dr. Montague, was then mafter of the college in which he was placed a fellow-commoner, and took him under his particular care. Here he commenced an acquaintance with the great Newton, which continued through his life, and was at laft attefted by a legacy.
In 1685, his verfes on the death of king Charles made fuch impreffion on the earl of Dorset, that he was invited to town, and introduced by that univerfal patron to the other wits. In 1687, he joined with Prior in the City Mouse and the Country Moufe, a burlesque of Dryden's Hind and Panther. He figned the invitation to the Prince of Orange, and fat in the convention. He about the fame time married the countess dowager of Manchester,