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In 1631 he was sent to Oxford, where he was considered “ as a dreaming young man,

given more to dice and cards than study;" and therefore gave no prognosticks of his future eminence; nor was suspected to conceal, under sluggishness and laxity, a genius born to improve the literature of his country.

When he was, three years

afterwards, removed to Lincoln's Inn, he prosecuted the common law with sufficient appearance of application ; yet did not lose his propensity to cards and dice ; but was very often plundered by gamesters.

Being severely reproved for this folly, he professed, and perhaps believed, himself reclaimed ; and, to testify the fincerity of his Jepentance, wrote and published

66 An Essay upon Gaming."

He seems to have divided his studies between law and poetry; for, in 1636, he translated the second book of the Æneid.

Two

Two years after, his father died; and then, notwithstanding his resolutions and professions, he returned again to the vice of gaming, and loft several thousand pounds that had been left him.

In 1642, he published “ The Sophy." This seems to have given him his first hold of the publick attention; for Waller remarked, " that he broke out like the Irish rebellion $ three score thousand ítrong when nobody ” was aware, or in the least suspected it; an observation which could have had no propriety, had his poetical abilities been known before.

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He was after that pricked for sheriff of Surrey, and made governor of Farnham Castle for the king; but he soon resigned that charge, and retreated to Oxford, where, in 1643, he published “ Cooper's Hill.”

This

poem had such reputation as to excite the common artifice by which envy degrades excellence. A report was spread, that the performance was not his own, but that he

had

had bought it of a vicar for forty pounds. The same attempt was made to rob Addison of his Cato, and Pope of his Essay on Criticism,

In 1647, the distresses of the royal family required him to engage in more dangerous employments. He was entrusted by the queen with a message to the king; and, by whatever means, so far softened the ferocity of Hugh Peters, that by his intercession admillion was procured. Of the king's condescension he has given an account in the dedication of his works.

He was afterwards employed in carrying on the king's correspondence; and, as he says, discharged this office with great safety to the royalists: and being accidentally difcovered by the adverse party's knowledge of Mr. Cowley's hand, he escaped happily both for himself and his friends.

He was yeť engaged in a greater undertaking. In April 1648, he conveyed James the duke of York from London into France, and delivered him there to the queen and

prince

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prince of Wales. This year he published his translation of “ Cato Major."

He now resided in France, as one of the followers of the exiled king; and, to divert the melancholy of their condition, was fometimes enjoined by his master to write occafional verses ; one of which amusements was probably his ode or song upon the Embassy to Poland, by which he and lord Crofts procured a contribution of ten thousand pounds from the Scotch, that wandered over that kingdom. Poland , was at that time very much frequented by itinerant traders, who, in a country of very little commerce and of great extent, where every man resided on his own estate, contributed very much to the accommodation of life, by bringing to every man's house those little necessaries which it was very inconvenient to want, and very troublesome to fetch. I have formerly read, without much reflection, of the multitude of Scotchmen that travelled with their wares in Poland ; and that their numbers were not small, the success of this negociation gives sufficient evidence.

About

About this time, what estate the war and the gamesters had left him was sold, by order of the parliament; and when, in 1652, he returned to England, he was entertained by the earl of Pembroke.

Of the next years of his life there is no account. At the Restoration he obtained that which many missed, the reward of his loyalty ; being made surveyor of the king's buildings, and dignified with the order of the Bath. He seems now to have learned fome attention to money ; for Wood says, that he got by this place seven thousand pounds.

appears, when

After the Restoration he wrote the poem on Prudence and Justice, and perhaps some of his other pieces : and as he ever any serious question comes before him, to have been a man of piety, he consecrated his poetical powers to religion, and made a metrical version of the psalms of David. In this attempt he has failed; but in facred poetry who has succeeded ?

It

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