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pears afterwards to have changed his mind, for in the
After so much criticism on his Poems, the Essays
It has been observed by Felton, in his Effay on the
Claflicks, that Cowley was beloved by every Muse that La he courted; and that he has rivaled the Ancients
in every kind of poetry but tragedy.
It may be affirmed, without any encomiaftick fervour, that he brought to his poetick labours a mind replete with learning, and that his pages are embellished with all the ornaments which books could supply; that he was the first who imparted to English numbers the enthusiasm of the greater ode, and the gaiety of the less; that he was equally qualified for spritely fallies, and for lofty flights; that he was among those who freed translation from servility, and, instead of following his author at a distance, walked by his fide; and that if he left versification yet improvable, he left likewise from time to time such specimens of excellence as enabled succeeding pocts tą improve it.
F Sir JOHN PENHAM very little is known
but what is related of him by Wood, or by himself.
He was born at Dublin in 1615; the only son of Sir John Denham, of Little Horsely in Effex, then chief baron of the Exchequer in Ireland *, and of Eleanor, daughter of Sir Garret More baron of Mellefont.
Two years afterwards, his father, being made one of the barons of the Exchequer in England, brought him away from his native country, and educated him in London.
In 1631 he was sent to Oxford, where he was confidered “ as a dreaming young man, given more to dice “ and cards than study;" and therefore gave no prognosticks of his future eminence; nor was suspected to conceal, under sluggishness and laxity, a genius born to improve the literature of his country.
* In Dugdale's Orig. Jur. the name of John Denham occurs, a puisne Baron of the Exchequer at Westminster, constituted 15 Jac. A. D. 1617, before which time, as Wood relates, he had been promoted to the office of Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer, There are fundry of his arguments in “ Coke's Reports."
When he was, three years afterwards, removed to Lincoln's Inn, he prosecuted the common law with sufficient appearance of application; yet did not lose his propensity to cards and dice; but was very often plundered by gamesters.
Being severely reproved for this folly, he professed, and perhaps believed, himself reclaimed; and to testify the fincerity of his repentance, wrote and published" An
Effay upon Gaming."
He seems to have divided his studies between law and poetry; for, in 1636, he translated the second book of the Æneid.
Two years after, his father died; and then, notwithstanding his resolutions and profeffions, he returned again to the vice of gaming, and loft several thousand pounds that had been left him.
In 1631, he published “ The Sophy.” This seems to have given him his first hold of the publick attention; for Waller remarked, “ that he broke out like the “ Irish rebellion threescore thousand strong when no
body was aware, or in the least suspected it:" an observation which could have had no propriety, had his poetical abilities been known before.
He was after that pricked for sheriff of Surrey, and made governor of Farnham Castle for the king; but he soon resigned that charge,' and retreated to Oxford, where, in 1643, he published Cooper's “ Hiu.”
This poem had such reputation as to excite the common artifice by which envy degrades excellence. A report was spread, that the performance was not his own, but that he had bought it of a vicar for forty pounds.
The same attempt was made to rob Addison of his
In 1647, the distreffes of the royal family required 12
He was afterwards employed in carrying on the king's
He was yet engaged in a greater undertaking. In
He now resided in France, as one of the followers of
* And Swift of his " Tale of a Tub."
ţion of life, by bringing to every man's house those Jittle necessaries which it was very inconvenient to want, and very troublesome to fetch. I have formerly read, without much reflection, of the multitude of Scotchmen that travelled with their wares in Poland; and that their numbers were not small, the success of this negotiation gives sufficient evidence.
About this time, what estate the war and the gamesters had left him was sold, by order of the parliament ; and when, in 1652, he returned to England, he was entertained by the earl of Pembroke.
Of the next years of his life there is no account. At the Restoration he obtained, that which many miffed, the reward of his loyalty ; being made surveyor of the king's buildings *, and dignified with the order of the Bath. He seems now to have learned some attention to money; for Wood says, that he got by his place seven thousand pounds.
After the Restoration he wrote the poem on Prudence and Justice, and perhaps some of his other pieces : and as he appears, whenever any serious question comes before hiin, to have been a man of piety, he consecrated his poetical powers to religion, and made a metrical version of the psalms of David. In this attempt he has failed ; but, in facred poetry who has fucceeded?
It might be hoped that the favour of his master and esteem of the publick would now make him happy. But human felicity is short and uncertain ; a second
* In the room of Inigo Jones. It does not appear that he had any skill in architecture, but rather, that he was assisted in his office by Dr. (afterwards Sir Christopher) Wren, who succeeded him in it. Biogr. Brit. Art. WREN.