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WILLIAM KING was born in London, in 1663; | which only he could find delight. His reputation the son of Ezekiel King, a gentleman. He was allied to the family of Clarendon.
as a civilian was yet maintained by his judg ments in the courts of delegates, and raised very From Westminster-school, where he was a high by the address and knowledge which he scholar on the foundation under the care of Dr. discovered in 1700, when he defended the Farl Busby, he was at eighteen elected to Christ- of Anglesea against his lady, afterwards Dutchchurch, in 1681; where he is said to have pro-ess of Buckinghamshire, who sued for a divorce, secuted his studies with so much intenseness and obtained it. and activity, that before he was eight years standing he had read over, and made remarks upon, twenty-two thousand odd hundred books and manuscripts.* The books were certainly not very long, the manuscripts not very difficult, nor the remarks very large; for the calculator will find that he despatched seven a day for every day of his eight years; with a remnant that more than satisfies most other students. He took his degree in the most expensive manner, as a grand compounder; whence it is inferred that he inherited a considerable fortune.
In 1638, the same year in which he was made master of arts, he published a confutation of Varillas's account of Wickliffe; and engaging in the study of the civil law, became doctor in 1692, and was admitted advocate at Doctors' Commons.
The expense of his pleasures and neglect of business had now lessened his revenues; and he was willing to accept of a settlement in Ireland, where, about 1702, he was made judge of the Admiralty, commissioner of the prizes, keeper of the records in Birmingham's tower, and vicargeneral to Dr. Marsh, the primate.
But it is vain to put wealth within the reach of him who will not stretch out his hand to take it. King soon found a friend, as idle and thoughtless as himself, in Upton, one of the judges, who had a pleasant house called Mountown, near Dublin, to which King frequently retired; delighting to neglect his interest, forget his cares, and desert his duty.
Here he wrote "Mully of Mountown," a poem; by which, though fanciful readers in the pride of sagacity have given it a political interpretation, was meant originally no more than it expressed, as it was dictated only by the Author's delight in the quiet of Mountown.
He had already made some translations from the French, and written some humorous and saIn 1708, when Lord Wharton was sent to tirical pieces; when, in 1694, Molesworth published his "Account of Denmark," in which he govern Ireland, King returned to London with treats the Danes and their monarch with great his poverty, his idleness, and his wit, and pubcontempt; and takes the opportunity of insinu-lished some essays, called "Useful Transacating those wild principles, by which he supposes liberty to be established, and by which his adversaries suspect that all subordination and government is endangered.
This book offended Prince George; and the Danish minister presented a memorial against it. The principles of its author did not please Dr. King; and therefore he undertook to confute part, and laugh at the rest. The controversy is now forgotten; and books of this kind seldom live long, when interest and resentment have ceased.
In 1697, he mingled in the controversey between Boyle and Bentley; and was one of those who tried what wit could perform in opposition to learning, on a question which learning only could decide.
In 1699, was published by him "A Journey to London," after the method of Dr. Martin Lister, who had published "A Journey to Paris." And in 1700 he satirised the Royal Society, at least Sir Hans Sloane, their president, in two dialogues, entitled "The Transactioner." Though he was a regular advocate in the courts of civil and canon law, he did not love his profession, nor indeed any kind of business which interrupted his voluntary dreams, or forced him to rouse from that indulgence in
*This appears by his "Adversaria," printed in his works, edit. 1776, 3 vols.-C.
tions." His "Voyage to the Island of Caja-
In 1710, he appeared as a lover of the church, on the side of Sacheverell; and was supposed to have concurred at least in the projection of "The Examiner." His eyes were open to all the operations of whiggism; and he bestowed some strictures upon Dr. Kennet's adulatory sermon at the funeral of the Duke of Devonshire.
"The History of the Heathen Gods," a book composed for schools, was written by him in 1710. The work is useful, but might have been produced without the powers of King. The next year, he published "Rufinus," an historical essay; and a poem, intended to dispose the nation to think as he thought of the Duke of Marlborough and his adherents.
In 1711, competence, if not plenty, was again put into his power. He was, without the trouble of attendance, or the mortification of a request, made gazetteer. Swift, Freind, Prior, and other men of the same party, brought him the key of the gazetteer's office. He was now again placed in a profitable employment, and again threw the benefit away. An act of insolvency made his business at that time particularly troublesome;
and he would not wait till hurry should be at an | mas-day. Though his life had not been without end, but impatiently resigned it, and returned to his wonted indigence and amusements.
irregularity, his principles were pure and orthodox, and his death was pious.
After this relation, it will be naturally supposed that his poems were rather the amusements of idleness than the efforts of study; that he endea
One of his amusements at Lambeth, where he resided, was to mortify Dr. Tenison, the archbishop, by a public festivity on the surrender of Dunkirk to Hill; an event with which Teni-voured rather to divert than astonish; that his son's political bigotry did not suffer him to be delighted. King was resolved to counteract his sullenness, and at the expense of a few barrels of ale filled the neighbourhood with honest merriment.
In the autumn of 1712, his health declined; he grew weaker by degrees, and died on Christ
thoughts seldom aspired to 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.*
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 transactions are exhibited by Sprat.
THOMAS SPRAT was born in 1636, at Talla- | few books which selection of sentiment and ton, in Devonshire, the son of a clergyman; and having been educated, as he tells of himself, not at Westminster or Eton, but at a little school by the churchyard side, 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 1649, his poem on the death of Oliver was published, with those of Dryden and 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 so 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 a prince on whom they were written; such great actions and lives deserving to be the subject of the noblest pens and most divine phansies." He proceeds: "Having so long experienced your care and indulgence, and been formed, as it were, by your own hands, not to entitle you to any thing which my meanness produces would be not only injustice, but sacrilege."
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 inquiries 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 public to the new institution, he undertook to write its history, which he published in 1667. This is one of the
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.
In 1668, he published Cowley's Latin poems, and prefixed in Latin the Life of the Author, which he afterwards amplified, and placed before Cowley's English works, which were by will committed to his care.
Ecclesiastical benefices now fell fast upon him. In 1668, he became a prebendary of Westminster, and had afterwards the church of St. Margaret, adjoining to the Abbey. He was, in 1680, made canon of Windsor; in 1683, dean of Westminster; and in 1684, bishop of Rochester.
The court having thus a claim to his diligence and gratitude, he was required to write the history of the Rye-house Plot; and in 1685, published "A true Account and Declaration of the horrid Conspiracy against the late King, his present Majesty, and the present Government ;" a performance which he thought convenient, after the Revolution, to extenuate and excuse.
The same year, being clerk of the closet to the King, he was made dean of the chapel-royal; and, the year afterwards, received the last proof of his master's confidence, by being appointed one of the commissioners for ecclesiastical affairs. On the critical day when the Declaration distinguished the true sons of the church of England, he stood neuter, and permitted it to be read at Westminster; but pressed none to vio
*Dr. Johnson appears to have made but little use of the life of Dr. King, prefixed to his "Works, in 3 vols." 1776, to which it may not be impertinent to refer the the highest terms. In that at least he yielded to none of reader. His talent for humour ought to be praised in his contemporaries.-C.
late his conscience; and when the Bishop of London was brought before them, gave his voice in his favour.
Thus far he suffered interest or obedience to carry him; but further he refused to go. When he found that the powers of the ecclesiastical commission were to be exercised against those who had refused the Declaration, he wrote to the lords, and other commissioners, a formal profession of his unwillingness to exercise that authority any longer, and withdrew himself from them. After they had read his letter, they adjourned for six months, and scarcely ever met afterwards.
When King James was frighted away, and a new government was to be settled, Sprat was one of those who considered, in a conference, the great question, whether the crown was vacant, and manfully spoke in favour of his old
Bishop's innocence, who, with great prudence
With what hope, or what interest, the villains had contrived an accusation which they must know themselves utterly unable to prove, was never discovered.
After this, he passed his days in the quiet exercise of his function. When the cause of Sacheverell put the public in commotion, he honestly appeared among the friends of the church. He lived to his seventy-ninth year, and died May 20, 1713.
Burnet is not very favourable to his memory; but he and Burnet were old rivals. On some public occasion they both preached before the House of Commons. There prevailed in those days an indecent custom; when the preacher touched any favourable topic in a manner that. delighted his audience, their approbation was expressed by a loud hum, continued in proportion to their zeal or pleasure. When Burnet preached, part of his congregation hummed so loudly and so long, that he sat down to enjoy it, and rubbed his face with his hankerchief. When Sprat preached, he likewise was honoured with the like animating hum; but he stretched out his hand to the congregation, and cried, "Peace, peace, I pray you peace."
THE Life of the EARL of HALIFAX was pro- | grant the assistance of counsel in trials for high perly that of an artful and active statesman, em-treason; and, in the midst of his speech, falling ployed in balancing parties, contriving expedi- into some confusion, was for a while silent; but, ents, and combating opposition, and exposed to recovering himself, observed, "how reasonable the vicissitudes of advancement and degrada- it was to allow counsel to men called as crimition; but in this collection, poetical merit is the nals before a court of justice, when it appeared claim to attention; and the account which is how much the presence of that assembly could here to be expected may properly be proportion-disconcert one of their own body."* ed not to his influence in the state, but to his rank among the writers of verse.
After this he rose fast into honours and employments, being made one of the commissioners of the Treasury, and called to the privy-council. CHARLES MONTAGUE was born April 16, 1661, In 1694, he became chancellor of the Exchequer ; at Horton, in Northamptonshire, the son of and the next year engaged in the great attempt Mr. George Montague, a younger son of the of the recoinage, which was in two years hapEarl of Manchester. He was educated first in pily completed. In 1696, he projected the genethe country, and then removed to Westminster,ral fund, and raised the credit of the Exchequer; where, in 1677, he was chosen a king's scholar, and, after inquiry concerning a grant of Irish and recommended himself to Busby by his feli-crown-lands, it was determined by a vote of the city in extemporary epigrams. He contracted Commons, that Charles Montague, Esq. had a very intimate friendship with Mr. Stepney; deserved his Majesty's favour. In 1698, being and, in 1682, when Stepney was elected at advanced to the first commission of the Treasury, Cambridge, the election of Montague being not he was appointed one of the regency in the to proceed till the year following, he was afraid King's absence; the next year he was made lest by being placed at Oxford he might be sepa-auditor of the Exchequer, and the year after rated from his companion, and therefore solicited to be removed to Cambridge, without waiting for the advantages of another year.
created Baron Halifax. He was, however, impeached by the Commons; but the articles were dismissed by the Lords.
At the accession of Queen Anne he was dis
It seems indeed time to wish for a removal; for he was already a school-boy of one-and-missed from the council; and in the first parliatwenty.
His relation, Dr. Montague, was then master of the college in which he was placed a fellowcommoer, and took him under his particular care. Here he commenced an acquaintance with the great Newton, which continued through his life, and was at last attested by a legacy.
In 1635, his verses on the death of King Charles made such an impression on the Earl of Dorset, that he was invited to town, and introduced by that universal patron to the other wits. In 1687, he joined with Prior in "The City Mouse and the Country Mouse," a burlesque of Dryden's "Hind and Panther." He signed the invitation to the Prince of Orange, and sat in the convention. He about the same time married the Countess Dowager of Manchester, and intended to have taken orders; but afterwards, altering his purpose, he purchased for 1,5001. the place of one of the clerks of the council.
ment of her reign was again attacked by the Commons, and again escaped by the protection of the Lords. In 1704, he wrote an answer to Bromley's speech against occasional conformity. He headed the inquiry into the danger of the church. In 1706, he proposed and negotiated the Union with Scotland; and when the Elector of Hanover had received the garter, after the act had passed for securing the protestant succession, he was appointed to carry the ensigns of the order to the electoral court. He sat as one of the judges of Sacheverell; but voted for a mild sentence. Being now no longer in favour, he contrived to obtain a writ for summoning the Electoral Prince to parliament as Duke of Cambridge.
At the Queen's death he was appointed one of the regents; and at the accession of George I. was made Earl of Halifax, knight of the garter, and first commissioner of the Treasury, with a grant to his nephew of the reversion of the auditorship of the Exchequer. More was not to be had, and this he kept but a little while; for, on the 19th of May, 1715, he died of an inflammation of his lungs.
After he had written his epistle on the victory of the Boyne, his patron, Dorset, introduced him to King William, with this expression: "Sir, I have brought a mouse to wait on your Majesty." To which the King is said to have replied, "You do well to put me in the way of * Mr. Reed observes that this anecdote is related by making a man of him ;" and ordered him a pen- Authors," of the Earl of Shaftesbury, author of the "ChaMr. Walpole, in his "Catalogue of Royal and Noble sion of five hundred pounds. This story, how-racteristics;" but it appears to me to be a mistake, if
ever current, seems to have been made after the event. The King's answer implies a greater acquaintance with our proverbial and familiar diction than King William could possibly have
we are to understand that the words were spoken by House of Commons; nor did the bill pass at this time, Shaftesbury at this time, when he had no seat in the being thrown out by the House of Lords. It became a law in the 7th William, when Halifax and Shaftesbury both had seats. The editors of the "Biographia Britan In 1691, being member of the House of Com-nica" adopted Mr. Walpole's story, but they are not speaking of this period. The story first appeared in the mons, he argued warmly in favour of a law to Life of Lord Halifax, published in 1715.-C
Of him, who from a poet became a patron of poets, it will be readily believed that the works would not miss of celebration. Addison began to praise him early, and was followed or accompanied by other poets; perhaps by almost all, except Swift and Pope, who forebore to flatter him in his life, and after his death spoke of him; Swift with slight censure, and Pope, in the character of Bufo, with acrimonious contempt.
He was, as Pope says, "fed with dedications;" for Tickell affirms that no dedication was unrewarded. To charge all unmerited praise with the guilt of flattery, and to suppose that the encomiast always knows and feels the falsehoods of his assertions, is surely to discover great ignorance of human nature and human life. In determinations depending not on rules, but on experience and comparison, judgment is always, in some degree, subject to affection. Very near to admiration is the wish to admire.
Every man willingly gives value to the praise which he receives, and considers the sentence
passed in his favour as the sentence of discernment. We admire in a friend that understanding which selected us for confidence ; we admire more, in a patron, that judgment which, instead of scattering bounty indiscriminately, directed it to us; and, if the patron be an author, those performances which gratitude forbids us to blame, affection will easily dispose us to exalt.
To these prejudices, hardly culpable, interest adds a power always operating, though not always, because not willingly, perceived. The modesty of praise wears gradually away; and per haps the pride of patronage may be in time so increased, that modest praise will no longer please.
Many a blandishment was practised upon Halifax, which he would never have known, had he no other attractions than those of his poetry, of which a short time has withered the beauties. It would now be esteemed no honour, by a contributor to the monthly bundles of verses, to be told, that in strains either familiar or solemn, he sings like Montague.
THE Life of Dr. PARNELL is a task which I should very willingly decline, since it has been lately written by Goldsmith, a man of such variety of powers, and such felicity of performance, that he always seemed to do best that which he was doing; a man who had the art of being minute without tediousness, and general without confusion; whose language was copious without exuberance, exact without constraint, and easy without weakness.
What such an author has told, who would tell again? I have made an abstract from his larger narrative; and have this gratification from my attempt, that it gives me an opportunity of paying due tribute to the memory of Goldsmith.
Τὸ γὰρ γέρας ἔστι θανόντων.
THOMAS PARNELL was the son of a commonwealthsman of the same name, who, at the Restoration, left Congleton, in Cheshire, where the family had been established for several centuries, and settling in Ireland, purchased an estate, which, with his lands in Cheshire, descended to the poet, who was born in Dublin, in 1679; and, after the usual education at a grammarschool, was, at the age of thirteen, admitted into the College, where, in 1700, he became master of arts; and was the same year ordained a deacon, though under the canonical age, by a dispensation from the Bishop of Derry.
About three years afterwards he was made a priest; and in 1705, Dr. Ashe, the Bishop of Clogher, conferred upon him the archdeaconry of Clogher. About the same year he married Mrs. Anne Minchin, an amiable lady, by whom he had two sons, who died young, and a daughter who long survived him.
At the ejection of the whigs, in the end of Queen Anne's reign, Parnell was persuaded to
change his party, not without much censure from those whom he forsook, and was received by the new ministry as a valuable reinforcement. When the Earl of Oxford was told that Dr. Parnell waited among the crowd in the outer room, he went, by the persuasion of Swift, with his treasurer's staff in his hand, to inquire for him, and to bid him welcome; and, as may be inferred from Pope's dedication, admitted him as a favourite companion to his convivial hours; but, as it seems often to have happened in those times to the favourites of the great, without attention to his fortune, which, however, was in no great need of improvement.
Parnell, who did not want ambition or vanity, was desirous to make himself conspicuous, and to show how worthy he was of high preferment, As he thought himself qualified to become a popular preacher, he displayed his elocution with great success in the pulpits of London; but the Queen's death putting an end to his expectations, abated his diligence; and Pope represents him as falling from that time into intemperance of wine. That in his latter life he was too much a lover of the bottle, is not denied; but I have heard it imputed to a cause more likely to obtain forgiveness from mankind—the untimely death of a darling son; or, as others tell, the loss of his wife, who died (1712) in the midst of his expectations.
He was now to derive every future addition to his preferments from his personal interest with. his private friends, and he was not long unregarded. He was warmly recommended by Swift to Archbishop King, who gave him a prebend in 1713; and in May, 1716, presented him to the vicarage of Finglass, in the diocess of Dublin, worth four hundred pounds a-year. Such notice, from such a man, inclines me to