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One of his amusements at Lambeth, where he resided, was to mortify Dr. Tenison, the archbishop, by a publick festivity, on the surrender of Dunkirk to Hill; an event with which Tenison's political bigotry did not fuffer 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.
In the Autumn of 1712 his health declined; he 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 supposed that his poems were rather the amusements of idleness than efforts of study; that he endeavoured rather to divert than astonish; that his thought 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.
HOMAS SPRAT was born in 1636, at Tal,
laton in Devonshire, the son of a clergyman; and having been educated, 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. In his dedication to Dr. Wilkins he appears a very willing and liberal encomiait, both of the living and the dead, He implores his patron's excuse of his verses, both as fal, ling 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 renurn of the prince on whom they were written; such great actions and lives de serving to be the subječt of the nobleft pens and most divinc phansies. He proceeds : Hav
ing 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 oily injustice, but facrilege.
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 philofophical conferences and enquiries, which in time produced the Royal Society, he was consequently engaged in the fame 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 diation 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,
In the next year he published Obfervations 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 EngĮith 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 168o 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 Ryehouse 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 madę dean of the chapel-royal ; and the year afterwards received the last proof of his master's confi, dence, by being appointed one of the cominiffioners for ecclefiaftical affairs, On the critical day, when the Declaration distinguished the true sons of the church of England, he stood neurer, and perinitted it to be read at Westminster ; but preffed none to violate 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 fix months, and scarcely ever met afterwards,
When King James was frighted away, and a new government was to be fettled, Sprat was one of those who considered, in a conference, the great queftion, whether the crown was vacant; and manfully fpoke in favour of his old master,
He complied, however, with the new establishment, and was left unmolested; but in 1692 a strange attack was made upon him by one Robert Young and Stephen Blackhead, both men convicted of infamous crimes, and both, when the scheme was laid, prisoners in Newgate. These men drew up an Affociation, in which they whose names were subscribed declared their resolution to restore king James; to seize the princess of Orange, dead or alive; and to be ready with thirty thbysand men to meet king James when he should land, To this they put the names of Sancroft, Sprat, Marlborough, Salisbury, and others. The copy of Dr. Sprar's name was obtained by a fictitious request, to which an answer in his own hand was desired. His hand was copied so well, that he confessed it might haye deceived himself. Blackhead, who had carried the letter, being sent again with a plausible message, was very curious to see the house, and particularly importunate to be let into the study; where, as is sups posed, he designed to leave the Association. This however was denied him, and he dropt it in a flowerpot in the parlour.
Young now laid an information before the Privy Council; and May 7, 1692, the bishop was arrested, and kept at a messenger's under a strict guard eleven days. His house was searched, and direétions were