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THE

LIVES OF THE ENGLISH POETS.

JOHN POMFRET.

VOL. II.

B

POMFRE T.

1667-1703.

Born at Luton in Bedfordshire Educated at Cambridge - Rector of

Malden in Bedfordshire Publishes The Choice' - Marries - Death and Character.

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Of Mr. John Pomfret nothing is known but from a slight and confused account prefixed to his poems' by a nameless friend, who relates that he was the son of the Rev. Mr. Pomfret, vicar of Luton in Bedfordshire,2 that he was bred at Cambridge, entered into orders, and was rector of Malden in Bedfordshire, and might have risen in the Church ; but that when he applied to Dr. Compton, Bishop of London, for institution to a living of considerable value, to which he had been presented, he found a troublesome obstruction raised by a malicious interpretation of some passage in his 'Choice, from which it was inferred that he considered happiness as more likely to be found in the company

of a mistress than of wife. * This reproach was easily obliterated : for it had happened to Pomfret as to all other men who plan schemes of life, he had departed from his purpose, and was then married.

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| Rather to his “Remains,' published in 1724.

Thomas Pomfret, father of the poet, was first curate and then vicar of Luton. Dr. Johnson says that John Pomfret, the poet, died in 1703, in the 36th year of his age. Thomas, son of Mr. Thomas Pomfret and Mrs. Catharine his wife, was baptized at Luton, March 12, 1667, as appears by the parish register. It is remarkable that this entry agrees with the poet's age; and that among a numerous family, all of whom were baptized at Luton, the name of John does not occur.–Lysons: Bedfordshire, p. 114.

He was of Queen's College, Cambridge, and, by the University Register, appears to have taken his Bachelor's degree in 1681, and his Master's in 1698.

At the end of the fourth edition of “The Choice' (1701, fol.) appears as an advertisement, The Virtuous Wife, a poem, in answer to The Choice that would have no Wife.' The Choice appeared as " by a person of quality.”

The malice of his enemies had, however, a very fatal consequence; the delay constrained his attendance in London, where he caught the smallpox, and died in 1703, in the thirty-sixth year of his age.

He published his poems in 1699 ; and has been always the favourite of that class of readers who, without vanity or criticism, seek only their own amusement.

His • Choice' exhibits a system of life adapted to common notions, and equal to common expectations ; such a state as

s affords plenty and tranquillity, 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.

EARL OF DORSET.

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