Slike strani


THIS HIS ingenious and humorous Poet was son of Ezekiel King of London, in which city he was born about the year 1663. He was bred with the ftricteft care from his infancy, and as soon as he became fit for it was put under the care of Dr. Busby at Weftminster school, where being chofen King's Scholar, his natural good talents received all those improvements from cultivation that might be expected from fo admirable a mafter. He was afterwards elected to Christ-church College in Oxford, and admitted a student there on Michaelmas term 1681, at the age of eighteen years. With this fituation he was particularly pleased, and made use of the advantages it gave him. He had a strong propensity to letters, and of those valuable treasures he daily increased his stock; but being well defcended, and becoming carly poffeffed of an easy fortune*, he indulged his genius and

*The author of fome Account of his Life obferves that he was allied to the noble families of Clarendon and Rochester; and several paffages of his life mentioned in the courfe of this Memoir confirms it. The Doctor himself having occafion to fpeak of fome fine pictures of Paulo Veronefe, in the poffelfion afterwards of Lord Harcourt, calls him his Coufin; and among his Hints for making a collection of books, manuscripts, &c. which might tend to the honour of the British name, he propofes an inquiry to be made what lives of merchants and

inclination in the choice method of his ftudies, ran ging freely and at large through the pleasant fields of polite literature; and being ravifhed with the sweet purfuit he prosecuted it with incredible diligence and affiduity.

It appeared from his loose papers, termed by him Adverfaria, that before he was eight years standing in the univerfity he had read over and made Reflections on twenty-two thoufand and odd hundred books and manuscripts, a few of which we shall give below

citizens of eminency have been wrote. "It is a pity, continues he," if none or few are found. Whether there is not a life wrote "of my grandfather La Motte: he was a merchant of note." With regard to his fortune, we are informed in the Account of his Life, that he enjoyed a pretty paternal eftate in Middlesex and elsewhere; and our Author himself occafionally mentions his eftates in Northampton and Leicestershire. The paffage is in his Animadverfions on Lord Molefworth's Account of Denmark, which because it will furnish no unfit specimen of the taste and manner of that piece, we thall prefent our readers with it as follows. In anfwer to fome of his Lordship's remarks on the poor diet in Denmark he writes thus: "Their peafants "live as plentifully as in other countries; they have good fleth and falt fith, white meats, roots, &c.; but what figni"fies all this (according to our Author, p. 11.) fince necellary fresh fith is wanting? I could heartily condole their condition if my tenants in Northampton and Leicestershire would not take exception; for if they found me once fo in"dulgent to the peasants of another nation, they would cer"tainly expect a double barrel of Colchefter oyfters by the "next carrier; and without a cod's head, fmelts, or turbot, "I might even go to plough myfelf for Hodge and Sawney." + Diogenes Laertius, book 1. "Thales being asked how a

[ocr errors]

as a specimen, in order to let the reader into the humour and taste of our Author.

"man might most easily brook misfortunes? answered, “if he "faw his enemies in a worfe condition." It is not agreed con "cerning the Wife Men, or whether indeed they were Seven. "Solon ordained that the guardians of orphans should not "cohabit with their mothers, and that no person should be a "guardian to those whofe eftate defcended upon them at the 66 orphan's decease; that no fealgraver thould keep the seal "of a ring that was fold; that if any man put out the eye of "him who had but one he thould lofe both his own; that "where a man never planted it should be death to take

[ocr errors]

away; that it thould be death for a man to be taken in "drink. Solon's letters, at the end of his life in Laertius, give "us a truer idea of the man than all he has written before, "and are indeed very fine. Solon's to Croefus are very gen"teel; and Pittacus's, on the other fide, as rude and philofo"phical: however, both thew Croefus to have been a very 66 great man.-Anacharfis has an epiftle to Croefus to thank "him for his invitation; and Periander one to all the Wife "Men to invite them to Corinth to him after their return from Lydia.-Epimenides has an epiftle to Solon to invite him "to Crete under the tyranny of Pififtratus. Epimenides often "pretended that he rose from death to life.-Socrates is faid "to have affifted Euripides in his tragedies. He was a great "champion of democracy, and extols pleafure as the beft "thing a man could enjoy, as Xenophon witnesses in his Syra"pofium.-Xenophon was modeft to excefs, and the moft "lovely perfon living.-Bion used to say it was more ealy to "determine differences between enemies than friends; for "that of two friends one would become an enemy, but of "two enemies one would become a friend -Ariftippus was


a man of a foft temper, and could comply with all perfons, "places, and feafons. He could enjoy and scorn pleasure if "too expenfive to his way of living. He faid pleasure was no "crime, but it was a crime for a man to be a flave to his 64 pleasure. We can have no true character of him from his

He took his first degree in arts December 8th 1685, and thence proceeded regularly to that of Ma

"life in Laertius, for it is certain he was an exact courtier, and "the reft of the philofophers, the Grecians, were generally "averfe to him because he could endure to live in the court. "of Dionyfius, whereas they were all for a democracy, and "could not endure to see a Greek complaisant to a monarch, "being a thing, as they thought, below the dignity of his "birth. Pleasure was the thing he fought after; and the He"geftacks, his followers, tell us there was nothing either plea"fant or unpleasant by nature; but that through fcarcity,

novelty, and fatiety, fome things were delightful, others *diftafteful; that wealth and poverty had no relation to plea"fure, for that the pleafures of the rich and the pleasures of "the poor were ftill the fame. They were of opinion that the

tranfgreffions of men were to be pardoned, for that no man "committed a voluntary fin but by the impulse of some na"tural paffion or other; that a man ought to propose to him"felf, as his chiefeft end, to live a life freeft from trouble and "pain, which happens to them who are not over eager in the "chafe and pursuit of pleasure. See in the life of Ariftippus "the notion of the Cyreniacks about friendship, and how they "thow the pleasure that is in it.-Theodorus the Atheist de"nied friendship, as neither appearing really in fools nor "wife men; for in the firít as foon as the benefit ceafes the "friendship dies; and wife men truft fo much to their own "abilities that they ftand in need of none.-Laertius has "made verfes on moft of the philofophers which are very "dull. The Phrygians profufe in their tempers.-Menede"mus, when a fupid fellow talked impertinently to him, "faid, "Haft thou any lands?" The fellow answered, Yes; "feveral farms." "Go, then," faid he," and look after "them, left thou lofe thy wealth, and come to be a poor fool." "Timon, an inveterate enemy to theAcademick philofophers, "has written a fatire upon them all.-There is a very fine *ode of Ariftotle's in Diogenes Laertius concerning virtue and


fter July 6th in the year of the Revolution, and the fame year commenced author. He had the happiness of being endued with a religious turn of mind †,

"friendship which wants to be tranflated from the Greek."Diogenes's fayings are most of them puns. He said oppo"fition was the study of his whole life.--Hypparchia, a wo"man of a good birth and fortune, fell in love with Crates "the nafty Cynick, and would needs marry him, and live after "his fathion. Crates made her brother become his auditor by "letting a f―. Thefe Cynicks were nafty brutes.--The logick "of the Stoicks feems to me, as far as I can make any thing "of Laertius, to be nothing but words. They held felfpre"fervation to be the first of all defires infufed into all crea"tures.-Erillus maintained there were things indifferent "between virtue and vice."-From thefe Obfervations on Laertius the reader will be able to form a judgment of others. We need not take notice that this method of making remarks upon the authors he read is very far from being peculiar to the Doctor; it is the general way of every ftudent; but nothing discovers the tafte and temper of his genius more than the turn and nature of his Adverfaria: it is thefe that fhew how freely the Doctor ranged in the fields of polite learning, as well as what fort of flowers pleafed his fancy moft. None of the humorous kind seem to have escaped his notice, especially if dreffed up in verfe, of which the following may serve for a specimen :

[blocks in formation]

At Paris, at Rome,

At the Hague, they 're at home:

The good fellow is no where a stranger.

This was fo much his difpofition, that he would never enter upon any bufinefs of the day till he had performed his devotions, and read feveral portions of Scripture out of the Pfalms, the Prophets, and the New Teftament, on which he would often make his remarks, taking a freth piece of paper

« PrejšnjaNaprej »