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4-29-32

THE LIFE OF

JOHN POMFRET.

Few anecdotes concerning this poet have been transmitted to posterity; and therefore the reader cannot expect a circumstantial detail either of the incidents of his life, which probably were but few, and even these not of much importance, nor an eleborate discussion of the merit of his writings. That he was a pious good man,is a truth sufficiently established from his poems, and will further appear from the following short narrative, dated in 1724, which is all we have been able to collect relative to this poet or his works.

The two pieces, Reason, and Dies Novissima, are the only Poetical Remains of the Rev.Mr. Pomfret; and were lately found, among some other of his papers of a private nature, in the custody of an intimate friend.

The first of them, entitled Reason, was wrote by him in the year 1700, when the debates concerning the doctrine of the Trinity were carried on with so much heat by the clergy, one against another, that King William was obliged to interpose his royal au. thority, by putting an end to that pernicious controversy, through an act of parliament, strictly forbid. ding any persons whatsoever to publish their notions on this subject. It is, indeed, a severe though very just satire upon the antagonists engaged in that dispute, and was published by Mr. Pomfret at the time it was wrote. The not inserting of it among his other poems, when he collected them into a volume, was on account of his having received very signal favours from some of the persons therein mentioned; but they, as well as he, being now dead, it is hoped that the revival of it at this juncture will answer the same good pur, poses intended by the Author in its original com. position.

The other, entitled Dies Novissima; or, The Last Epiphany, a Pindaric ode, on Christ's second appearance to judge the world, is now printed from a manuscript under his own hand. It must be, indeed, confessed, that many excellent pens have exercised their talents upon this subject; but yet, notwithstanding the different manner in which they have treated it, I dare say there will be found such a holy warmth animating this piece throughout, that, as The Guardian has observed of divine poetry, we shall find a kind of refuge in our pleasure, and our diversion will become our safety.

Having thus given a faithful account of these valuable Remains, there is another natural piece of justice still due to the memory of the Author. In the first place, by giving some account of his family, to clearhimfrom the aspersions of fanaticism, which have been generally cast on him through a notorious mis. take; and, in the next place, to defend the genuine

ness of his writings from the injurious treatment of those who have, either through malice or ignorance, ascribed some of them to other persons.

The true account of his family is as follows, viz. Mr. Pomfret's father was Rector of Luton in Bedfordshire, and himself was preferred to the living of Malden in the same county. He was liberally educated at an eminent grammar-school in the country, from whence he was sent to the university of Cambridge, but of what college he was entered I know not. There he wrote most of his poetical compositions, took the degree of Master of Arts, and very early accomplished himself in most kinds of polite literature.

It was shortly after his leaving the University that he was preferred to the living of Malden above mentioned ; and so far was he from being in the least tinctured with fanaticism, that I have often heard him express his abhorrence of the destructive tenets maintained by those people, both against our religious and civil rights.

This imputation, it seems, was cast on him by there having been one of his sirname, though not any way related to him, a dissenting teacher, who died not long ago *: so far distant from the accusation were the principles of this excellent man.

* Mr. Samuel Pomfret, who published some rhymes upon Spiritual Subjects, as they are pleased to call them.

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