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His “Choice" exhibits a system of life adapted to common notions and equal to common expecta. tions; such a state as affords plenty and tranquil. lity, 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.
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 officiousness to transcribe it.
CHARLES SACKVILLB. was born January 24, 1637. 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 ima. gined 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.
For this misdemeanour they were indicted, and Sedley was fined five hundred pounds : what was the sentence of the others is not known. Sedley employed Killigrew and another to procure a remission from the King; but (mark the friendship of the dissolute!) they begged the fine for them. selves, and exacted it to the last groat.
In 1665, Lord Buckhurst attended the Duke of York as a volunteer in the Dutch war; and was in the battle of June 3, when eighteen great Dutch ships were taken, fourteen.others were destroyed, and Opdam, the admiral, who engaged the Duke, was blown up beside him, with all his crew.
On the day before the battle, he is said to have composed the celebrated song, “To all you ladies now at land,” with equal tranquillity of mind and promptitude of wit. Seldom any splendid story is wholly true. I have heard, from the late Earl of Orrery, who was likely to have good hereditary intelligence, that Lord Buckhurst had been a week employed upon it, and only retouched or finished it on the memorable evening. But even this, whatever it may subtract from his facility, leaves him his courage.
He was soon after made a gnetleman of the bed chamber, and sent on short embassies to France.
In 1674, the estate of his uncle James Cranfield, Earl of Middlesex, came to him by its owner's death, and the title was conferred on him the year
after. In 1677, he became, by the death of his father, Earl of Dorset, and inherited the estate of bis family.
In 1684, having buried his first wife of the family of Bagot, who left him no child, he married a daughter of the Earl of Northampton, celebrated both for beauty and understanding.
He received some favourable notice from King James; but soon found it necessary to
oppose the violence of his innovations, and, with some other lords, appeared in Westminster Hall to countenance the bishops at their trial.
As enormities grew every day less supportable, he found it necessary to concur in the Revolution. He was one of those lords who sat every day in council to preserve the public peace, after the King's departure; and, what is not the most illus. trious action of his life, was employed to conduct the Princess Anne to Nottingham with a guard, such as might alarm the populace as they passed, with false apprehensions of her danger. Whatever end may be designed, there is always something despicable in a trick.
He became, as may be easily supposed, a favourite of King William, who, the day after his accession, made him lord-chamberlain of the household, and gave him afterwards the garter. He happened to be among those that were tossed with the King in an open boat sixteen hours, in very rough and cold weather, on the coast of Holland. His health afterwards declined ; and, on January 19, 1705-6, he died at Bath.
He was a man whose elegance and judgment were universally confessed, and whose bounty to the learned and witty was generally known. To the indulgent affection of the public, Lord Rochester bore ample testimony in this remark :-"I know not how it is, but Lord Buckhurst may do what he will, yet is never in the wrong." If such a man attempted poetry, we cannot won
der that his works were praised. Dryden, whom, if Prior tells truth, he distinguished by his beneficence, and who lavished his blandishments on those who are not known to have so well deserved them, undertaking to produce authors of our own coun. try superior to those of antiquity, says, I would instance your Lordship in satire, and Shakspeare in tragedy.” Would it be imagined that, of this rival to antiquity, all the satires were little personal invectives, and that his longest composition was a song of eleven stanzas ?
The blame, however, of this exaggerated praise falls on the encomiast, not upon the author; whose performances are, what they pretend to be, the effu. sions of a man of wit; gay, vigorous, and airy.' His verses to Howard shew great fertility of mind; and his Dorinda has been imitated by Pope.
EORGE STEPNEY, descended from the Stepneys
of Pendigrast, in Pembrokeshire, was born at Westminster, in 1663. Of his father's condition or fortune I have no account.* Having received the first part of his education at Westminster, where he passed six years in the College, he went at nine
* It has been conjectured that our Poet was either son or grandson of Charles, third son of Sir John Stepney, the first baronet of that family. See Granger's History, vol. ii. p. 396, edit. 8vo. 1775. Mr. Cole says, the Poet's father was a grocer. Cole's MSS. in Brit. Mas.-C.
teen to Cambridge, * where he continued a friend. ship begun at school with Mr. Montague, afterwards Earl of Halifax. They came to London together, and are said to have been invited into public life by the Earl of Dorset.
His qualifications recommended him to many foreign employments, so that his time seems to have been spent in negociations. In 1692, he was sent envoy to the Elector of Brandenburgh ; in 1693, to the Imperial Court; in 1694, to the Elector of Saxony; in 1696, to the Electors of Mentz and Co. logne, and the Congress at Francfort; in 1698, a second time to Brandenburgh; in 1699, to the King of Poland ; in 1701, again to the Emperor; and in 1706, to the States-general. In 1697, he was made one of the commissioners of trade. His life was busy, and not long. He died in 1707; and is buried in Westminster Abbey, with this epitaph, which Jacob transcribed :
H. S. E.
Linguæ, Styli, ac Vitæ Elegantiam,
Plurimas Legationes obiit
Gulielmi & Annæ
• He was entered of Trinity College, and took his master's degree in 1689.-H.