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THE LIVES

OF THE MOST EMINENT

ENGLISH POETS;

WITH

CRITICAL OBSERVATIONS ON THEIR WORKS.

BY

SAMUEL JOHNSON.

VOL. II. POMFRET. KING. HUGHES. GRANVILLE. DORSET. SPRAT. SHEFFIELD. YALDEN. STEPNEY. HALIFAX. PRIOR. TICKELL. PHILIPS. PARNELL. CONGREVE. HAMMOND. WALSH.

GARTH. BLACKMORE. SOMERVILE. SMITH. ROWE FENTON. SAVAGE. DUKE. ADDISON. GAY.

Oxford and London:
JOHN HENRY AND JAMES PARKER.

1864.

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POMFRET.

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OF. 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 almost 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 or criticism, seek only their own amusement.

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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.

DORSET.

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OF

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 ofliciousness to transcribe it.

Charles Sackville was born January 24, 1637-8. 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.

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