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very curious to see the house, and particularly importunate to be let into the study; where, as is supposed, he designed to leave the Association. This, however, was denied him; and he dropped it in a flower-pot 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 directions were given that the flower-pots should be inspected. The messengers, however, missed the room in which the paper was left. Blackhead went therefore a third time; and finding his paper where he had left it, brought it away.
The bishop, having been enlarged, was, on June the 10th and 13th, examined again before the Privy Council, and confronted with his accusers. Young persisted, with the most obdurate impudence, against the strongest evidence; but the resolution of Black head by degrees gave way. There remained at last no doubt of the bishop's innocence, who, with great prudence and diligence, traced the progress, and detected the characters of the two informers, and published an account of his own examination and deliverance; which made such an impression upon him, that he commemorated it through life by å yearly day of thanksgiving.
With what hope, or what interest, the villains had cor trived 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 publick in cominotion, 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 publick occasion they both preached before the House of Commons. There prevailed in those days an indecent custom : when the preacher touched any favourite topick 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 handkerchief. 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.”
This I was told in my youth by my father, an old man, who had been no careless observer of the passages of those times.
Burnet's sermon, says Salmon, was remarkable for sedition, and Sprat's for loyalty. Burnet had the thanks of the House ; Sprat had no thanks, but a good living from the King, which, he said, was of as inuch value as the thanks of the Commons.
The works of Sprat, besides his few poems, are, The History of the Royal Society, The Life of Cowley, The Answer to Sorbiere, The History of the Rye-house Plot, The Relation of his own Examination, and a volume of Sermons. I have heard it observed, with great justness, that every book is of a different kind, and that each has its distinct and characteristical excellence.
My business is only with his poems. He considered Cowley as a model ; and supposed that, as he was imitated, perfection was approached. Nothing, therefore, but Pindarick liberty was to be expected. There is in his few productions no want of such conceits as he thought excellent; and of those our judgment may be settled by the first that appears in his praise of Cromwell, where he says, that Cromwell's “fame, like man, will grow white as it
HAL I F A X
THE life of the Earl of Halifax was properly that of an artful and active statesman, employed in balancing parties, contriving expedients, and combating opposition, and exposed to the vicissitudes of advancement and degradation ; but, in this collection, poetical merit is the claim to attention; and the account which is here to be expected may properly be proportioned not to his influence in the state, but to his rank among the writers of verse.
Charles Montague was born April 16, 1661, at Horton, in Northamptonshire, the son of Mr. George Montague, a younger son of the earl of Manchester. He was educated first in the country, and then removed to Westminster, where, in 1677, lie was chosen a king's scholar, and recommended himself to Busby by his felicity in extemporary epigramş. He contracted a very intimate friendship with Mr. Stepney ; and, in 1682, when Stepney was elected at Cambridge, the election of Montague being not to proceed till the year following, he was afraid lest by being placed at Oxford he might be separated from
his companion, and therefore solicited to be removed to Cambridge, without waiting for the advantages of another year.
It seems indeed time to wish for a removal; for he was already a school-boy of one-and-twenty.
His relation, Dr. Montague, was then master of the college in which he was placed a fellow-commoner, 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 1685, 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 1500l. the place of one of the clerks of the council.
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 making a Man of him ;” and ordered him a pension of five hundred pounds. This story, however current, seems to have been made after the event. The king's answer implies a greater acquaintance with our proverbial and fa