Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

should be at an end, but impatiently resigned: it, and returned to his wonted indigence and amusements.

One of his amusements at Lambeth, where he resided, was to mortify Dr. Tennison, the archbishop, by a publick festivity, on the surrender of Dunkirk to Hill; an event with which Tennison's political bigotry did not suffer him to be delighted. King was resolved to counteract his sullenness, and at the expence of a few barrels of ale filled the neighbourhood with honest merriment,

ed; he

In the Autumn of 1712 his health declin

grew weaker by degrees, and died on Christmas-day. Though his life had not been without irregularity, his principles were pure and orthodox, and his death was pious.

After this relation, it will be naturally fupposed that his poems were rather the amusements of idleness than efforts of study; that he endeavoured rather to divert than astonish; that his thoughts seldom aspired

to

tö sublimity ; 'and that, if his verse was easy and his images familiar, he attained what he desired. His purpose is to be merry ;

but perhaps, to enjoy his mirth, it may be sometimes necessary to think well of his opinions.

SPRA T.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

TH

HOMAS SPRAT was born in

1636, at Tallaton in Devonshire, the son of a clergyman ; and having been edu

1 cated, as he tells of himself, not at Westminster or Eaton, but at a little school by the churchyard fide, became a commoner of Wadham College in Oxford in 1651; and, being chosen scholar next year, proceeded through the usual academical course, and in 1657 became master of arts. He obtained a fellowship, and commenced poet.

In 1659, his poem on the death of Oliver was published, with those of Dryden and

Waller.

Waller. In his dedication to Dr. Wilkins he appears a very willing and liberal encomiast, both of the living and the dead. He implores his patron's excuse of his verses, both as falling fo infinitely below the full and sublime genius of that excellent poet who made this way of writing free of our nation, and being so little equal and proportioned to the renown of the prince on whom they were written fuch great actions and lives deserving to be the fubje&t of the noblest pens and most divine phanfies. He proceeds : Having so long experienced your care and indulgence, and been formed, as it were, by your own hands, not to entitle any thing which my meanness produces, would be not only injustice, but facrilege.

you to

He published the same year a poem on the Plague of Athens ; a subject of which it is not easy to say what could recommend it. To these he added afterwards a poem on Mr. Cowley's death.

After the Restoration he took orders, and by Cowley's recommendation was made chaplain to the Duke of Buckingham, whom he is said to have helped in writing the Rehearsal. He was likewise chaplain to the king.

As he was the favourite of Wilkins, at whose house began those philosophical conferences and enquiries, which in time produced the Royal Society, he was consequently engaged in the same studies, and became one of the fellows; and when, after their incorporation, something seemed necessary to reconcile the publick to the new institution, he undertook to write its history, which he published in 1667. This is one of the few books which selection of sentiment and elegance

of diction have been able to preserve, though written upon a subject flux and transitory. The History of the Royal Society is now read, not with the wish to know what they were then doing, but how their tranf actions are exhibited by Sprat.

In the next year he published Observations on Sorbiere's Voyage into England, in a Letter to Mr. Wren. This is a work not ill

performed; but perhaps rewarded with at least its full proportion of praise,

« AnteriorContinua »