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He sometimes uses the obsolete termination of verbs, as waxeth, affecteth; and sometimes retains the final syllable of the preterite, as amazed, supposed, of which I know not whether it is not to the detriment of our language that we have totally rejected them.
Of triplets he is sparing; but he did not wholly forbear them: of an Alexandrine he has given no example.
The general character of his poetry is elegance and gaiety. He is never pathetic, and very rarely sublime. He seems neither to have had a mind much elevated by nature, nor amplified by learning. His thoughts are such as a liberal conversation and large acquaintance with life would easily supply. They had however then, perhaps, that grace of novelty which they are now often supposed to want by those who, having already found them in later books, do not know or inquire who produced them first. This treatment is unjust. Let not the original author lose by his imitators.
Praise, however, should be due before it is given. The author of Waller's Life ascribes to him the first practice of what Erythræus and some late critics call Alliteration, of using in the same verse many words beginning with the same letter. But this knack, whatever be its value, was so frequent among early writers, that Gascoigne, a writer of the sixteenth century, warns the young poet against affecting it; Shakspeare, in the "Midsummer Night's Dream," is supposed to ridicule it; and in another play the sonnet of Holofernes fully displays it.
He borrows too many of his sentiments and illustrations from the old Mythology, for which it is vain to plead the example of ancient poets; the deities, which they introduced so frequently, were considered as realities, so far as to be received by the imagination, whatever sober reason might even then determine. But of these images time has tarnished the splendour. A fiction, not only detected but despised, can never afford a solid basis to any position, though sometimes it may furnish a transient allusion, or slight illustration. No modern monarch can be much exalted by hearing that, as Hercules had his club, he has his navy.
But of the praise of Waller, though much may be taken away, much will remain; for it cannot be denied that he added something to our elegance of diction, and something to our propriety of thought; and to him may be applied what Tasso said, with equal spirit and justice, of himself and Guarini, when, having perused the Pastor Fido, he cried out, "If he had not read Aminta, he had not excelled it.'
As Waller professed himself to have learned the art of versification from Fairfax, it has been thought proper to subjoin a specimen of his work, which, after Mr. Hoole's translation, will perhaps not be soon reprinted. By knowing the state in which Waller found our poetry, the reader may judge how much he improved it.
Erminia's steed (this while) his mistresse bore
But her flit courser spared nere the more,
To beare her through the desart woods unseene
Of her strong foes, that chas'd her through the plaine,
Like as the wearie hounds at last retire,
The Christian knights so full of shame and ire
Yet still the fearfull Dame fled, swift as winde,
Through thicke and thinne, all night, all day, she driued,
Her plaints and teares with euery thought reuiued,
On Iordans sandie banks her course she staid,
Her teares, her drinke; her food, her sorrowings,
The birds awakte her with their morning song,
Of swaines and shepherd groomes, that dwellings weare;
Her plaints were interrupted with a sound,
Sat making baskets, his three sonnes among
Beholding one in shining armes appeare
You happie folke, of heau'n beloued deare,
Work on (quoth she) upon your harmless traid,
To your sweet toile, nor those sweet tunes you sing.
But father, since this land, these townes and towres,
No thundring drum, no trumpet breakes our sleepe.
Haply iust heau'ns defence and shield of right,
O Pouertie, chefe of the heau'nly brood,
These little flocks of sheepe and tender goates
We little wish, we need but little wealth,
These are my sonnes, their care preserues from stealth
Amid these groues I walke oft for my health,
bne anolion To entertaine me as a willing mate
What If gold or wealth of most esteemed deare,
With speeches kinde, he gan the virgin deare
Not those rude garments could obscure, and hide
Or ought disparag'de, by those labours bace; Hoal seura 10
And milke her goates, and in their folds them place,
Both cheese and butter could she make, and frame sbei gor ni Her selfe to please the shepherd and his dame.
POMFRET.ing shu ovoid, he list
F Mr. John Pomfret nothing is known but from a slight and confused account prefixed to his poems by a nameless friend; who relates, that he was the son of the Rev. Mr. Pomfret, rector of Luton, in Bedfordshire; that he was bred at Cambridge; entered into orders, and was rector of Malden, in Bedfordshire, and might have risen in the church; but that, when he applied to Dr. Compton, Bishop of London, for institution to a living of considerable value, to which he had been presented, he found a troublesome obstruction raised by a malicious interpretation of some passage in his Choice; from which it was inferred, that he considered happiness as more likely to be found in the company of a mistress than of a wife.
This reproach was easily obliterated: for it had happened to Pomfret as to all other men who plan schemes of life; he had departed from his purpose, and was then married.
The malice of his enemies had however a very fatal consequence: the delay constrained his attendance in London, where he caught the small-pox, and died in 1703, in the thirty-sixth year of his age.
He published his poems in 1699; and has been always the favourite of that class of readers, who, without vanity of criticism, seek only their own amusement.
He was of Queen's College there, and, by the University register, appears to have taken his Bachelor's degree in 1684, and his Master's in 1698.2 EXTE
His Choice exhibits a system of life adapted to common notions, and equal to common expectations; such a state as affords plenty and tranquillity, without exclusion of intellectual pleasures. Perhaps no composition in our language has been oftener perused than Pomfret's Choice.
In his other poems there is an easy volubility; the pleasure of smooth metre is afforded to the ear, and the mind is not oppressed with ponderous or entangled with intricate sentiment. He pleases many; and he who pleases many must have some species of merit.
the Earl of Dorset the character has been drawn so largely and so elegantly by Prior, to whom he was familiarly known, that nothing can be added by a casual hand; and, as its author is so generally read, it would be useless officiousness to transcribe it.
Charles Sackville was born January 24, 1637. Having been educated under a private tutor, he travelled into Italy, and returned a little before the Restoration. He was chosen into the first parliament that was called, for East Grinstead in Sussex, and soon became a favourite of Charles the Second; but undertook no public employment, being too eager of the riotous and licentious pleasures which young men of high rank, who aspired to be thought wits, at that time imagined themselves entitled to indulge.
One of these frolics has, by the industry of Wood, come down to posterity. Sackville, who was then Lord Buckhurst, with Sir Charles Sedley and Sir Thomas Ogle, got drunk at the Cock in Bow Street, by Covent Garden, and, going into the balcony, exposed themselves to the populace in very indecent postures. At last, as they grew warmer, Sedley stood forth naked, and harangued the populace in such profane language, that the public indignation was awakened; the crowd attempted to force the door, and, being repulsed, drove in the performers with stones, and broke the windows of the house.
For this misdemeanour they were indicted, and Sedley was fined five hundred pounds: what was the sentence of the others is not known. Sedley employed Killigrew and another to procure a remission from the king; but (mark the friendship of the dissolute !) they begged the fine for themselves, and exacted it to the last groat. Mabia ord by
In 1665, Lord Buckhurst attended the Duke of York as a volunteer in the Dutch war; and was in the battle of June 5, when eighteen great Dutch ships were taken, fourteen others were destroyed, and Opdam the admiral, who engaged the Duke, was blown up beside him, with all his crew.lesio On the day before the battle, he is said to have composed the celebrated song, To all you Ladies now at land, with equal tranquillity of mind and promptitude of wit. Seldom any splendid story is wholly true. I have heard from the late Earl of Orrery, who was likely to have good hereditary intelligence, that Lord Buckhurst had been a week employed upon it, and only retouched or finished it on the memorable evening. But even this, whatever it may subtract from his facility, leaves him his courage.
He was soon after made a gentleman of the bed-chamber, and sent on short embassies to France.
In 1674, the estate of his uncle, Lionel Cranfield, Earl of Middlesex, came to him by its owner's death, and the title was conferred on him the year after. In 1677, he became, by the death of his father, Earl of Dorset, and inherited the estate of his family. Morent aid modst