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While thus he spake, Erminia husht and still
Till fortune should occasion new afford,
Within these pleasant groues perchance my hart,
But yet her gestures and her lookes (I gesse)
Both cheese and butter could she make, and frame Her selfe to please the shepherd and his dame,
P O M F R E T.
ο Ε Τ
F Mr. JOHN POMFRET nothing is known
but from a flight 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 6.
This * 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. + The paflage here meant, is the following:
And as I near approach'd the verge of life,
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-fixth 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.
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.
Should take upon him all my worldly care,
While I did for a better state prepare. * If my memory does not greatly mislead me, in the earlier editions the last line but one above-cited stood thus :
Should take upon her all my worldly care. This has been frequently mentioned as the only paffage in the poein that could obstruct his institution, and the interpretation thereof is here, as elsewhere, ftigmatised as malicious, and the rather, for that at the time of his application to the bishop he was married; a circumfiance that revokes the sentiment no otherwise than by shewing that the author had changed his opinion. s. But the preceding part of the poem contains a wish to have near
obliging fair one to converse with, constant to herself and " to him, whose conversation Mould inspire him with new joys, and " who Mould be said, even by envy, to go the least of womankind • astray." The lines are too filly to be worth inserting, but, if not capable of a bad construction, they must be owned to be at least Binbiguous.
In his other poems there is an easy volubility; the pleasure of sinooth metre is afforded to the
and the inind is not oppressed with ponderous or entangled with intricate sentiment. He pleases many, and he who pleases many must have some species of merit.
* Whoever will be at the pains of comparing the most admired of Pomfret's poeins, his Choice, with Dr. Pope's With, will be convinced how much the manly sense of the latter outé weighs the puerile inanity of the former Of Pomfret's Poems, few have ever been readers but the illiterate, and such as are delighted with trite sentiments and vulgar imagery; and as these are the most numerous of those that can read at all, it is no wonder that by such they have been often perused.