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honour in his elaborate book. In short, this industrious author seems to have driven his work too fast to the press, before he had provided an index, and some other accoutrements, which might have rendered it more serviceable to his readers.--NICOLSON, WILLIAM, 1696-1714, English Historical Library.

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Joshua Barnes, from constantly perusing and talking Greek, had the name of Greek Barnes. His memory and facility in writing have been greatly extolled. He would, and he always did, quote many Greek passages in conversation. He wrote incessantly, but seldom well. Absorbed in his studies of Greek authors, he knew nothing of English manners; he would have been at "home" in Athens.-NOBLE, MARK, 1806, A Biographical History of England, vol. I, pp. 109, 110.

His facility in writing and speaking Greek was remarkable. He tells us in the parody of Homer, prefixed to his poem on Esther, that he could compose sixty Greek verses in an hour. He also avows in the preface to Esther that he found it much easier to write his annotations in Greek than in Latin, or even in English, "since the ornaments of poetry are almost peculiar to the Greeks, and since he had for many years been extremely conversant in Homer, the great father and source of

the Greek poetry." He could off-hand turn a paragraph in a newspaper, or a hawker's bill, into any kind of Greek meter, and has been often known to

so among his Cambridge friends. Dr. Bentley used to say of Barnes that he "understood as much Greek as a Greek cobbler:" meaning doubtless by this that he had rather the "colloquial readiness of a vulgar mechanic," than the erudition, taste, and judgment of a scholar.-ALLIBONE, S. AUSTIN, 1854-58, Dictionary of English Literature, vol. 1, p. 126.

Bentley, in the famous "Dissertation on Phalaris," describes him as "one of a singular industry and a most diffuse reading." His enthusiasm led him to undertake work for which he was in no degree qualified. Not content with writing a life of Edward III. and editing Homer, he had determined to write the life of Tamerlane, though he had no knowledge of oriental languages (Cole's Athena). His "Gerania" shows that he had some fancy and could write with ease and fluency. He is said to have been possessed of no little vanity; but this fault can readily be forgiven to one whose charity was such that he gave his only coat to a poor fellow who begged at his door.-BULLEN, A. H., 1885, Dictionary of National Biography, vol. III, p. 251.

Thomas Sprat


Born in Devonshire in 1636, was a clergyman's son. He studied at Wadham College, Oxford, became M. A. in 1657, and obtained a fellowship. His turn for science meant no more than activity of mind under the influence of Dr. Wilkins, who was Warden of Wadham. His turn for verse seems to have meant no more than activity of mind under the influence of Cowley, who, since 1657, had been, as Dr. Cowley, one of Wilkins's circle of philosophers. Sprat's last poem was upon Cowley's death; one of his earliest poems was on the death of Cromwell, "To the Happy Memory of the late Lord Protector;" and he published also, in 1659, a Cowleian poem, in thirty-one "Pindaric" stanzas, on "The Plague of Athens," suggested by the description of it in Thucydides. Sprat took orders at the Restoration, was chaplain to the Duke of Buckingham, and soon afterwards to the king. Cowley, with whom he was intimate, died in 1667; and Sprat's enthusiastic ode on Cowley's poetry was written in the year of the publishing of his "History of the Royal Society." Cowley had intrusted to his friend Sprat the care of his writings, and in 1668 Sprat published Cowley's Latin works, prefaced with a "Life of Cowley," also in Latin. This was amplified and prefixed, in 1688, to an edition of Cowley's English works. Thomas Sprat's life after the age of thirty-two does not concern literature. In 1688 he had been four years Bishop of Rochester. He complied as passively as he could with the Revolution, and died in 1713.—MORLEY, HENRY, 1879, A Manual of English Literature, ed. Tyler, p. 467.

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A man whose convivial wit was equal to his convivial excesses, and these excesses were proverbial among his friends, and long remembered by the good people about Chertsey.-COLLINS, JOHN CHURTON, 187895, Dryden, Quarterly Review, Essays and Studies, p. 33.

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"Maxime semper valuit authoritate,' says the inscription on Sprat's monument in the abbey, and that was a leading trait in his character. He also loved ease and good living, and was warped in his views. by the advantages of the position which he had acquired. Macaulay calls him “a great master of our language, who possessed at once the eloquence of the preacher, of the controversialist, and of the historian." Dr. Johnson had heard it observed, "and with great justness," that every book by him is of a different kind, "and that each has its distinct and characteristical excellence." His name is connected with a masterpiece in English literature, for he assisted Dean Aldrich in revising for original publication Lord Clarendon's "History of the Civil War." -COURTNEY, W. P., 1898, Dictionary of National Biography, vol. LIII, p. 423.


A nonsensical and illiterate history. STUBBE, HENRY, 1670, Legends no History.

Some account it to be one of the most exact pieces for curiousness and delicacy of language that was ever yet extant in our tongue.-WOOD, ANTHONY, 16911721, Athena Oxonienses, f. 1097.

Their history is writ so well by Doctor Sprat that I will insist no more on them, but go on to other matters.-BURNET, GILBERT, 1715-34, History of My Own Time.

This is one of the few books which selection of sentiment and elegance of diction have been able to preserve, though written upon a subject flux and transitory. The history of the Royal Society is now read, not with the wish to know what they were then doing, but how their Translations are exhibited by Sprat.-JOHNSON, SAMUEL, 1779-81, Sprat, Lives of the English Poets.

Sprat's name is no longer a magnet; and, in truth, although his enthusiasm for scientific research is highly honourable to him, his style exceedingly lively, and many


of his observations replete with good sense, his work as a whole is discursive and ill-digested, and so little of a history that it hardly ever gives a date. writer himself confesses that it is only the second of his three books has any proper claim to the title of history. But it is important on grounds of its own, which render it of more real value than the more exact and pragmatical narratives which have superseded it. The glow of youth is. upon it. It paints vividly the great scientific awakening which coincided with the accession of Charles II. The mere list of the experiments which the Royal Society had performed, or proposed to perform, attests the devouring scientific curiosity of the age, and shows at once the reaction of men's minds in the direction of the tangibly useful after a long series of fruitless theological and political controversies, and how deep in the long run had been the influence of the great man who had lost his life in performing an experiment. At the same time there is a humorous side to the picture: much of the curiosity of the time was idle, much was founded on credulity. Many of the queries which Sprat catalogues with such complacency would now be thought too trivial to engage the attention of a learned society, and some are not a little absurd. In the main, however, they are most significant of the new spirit that had come into the world. -GARNETT, RICHARD, 1895, The Age of Dryden, p. 264.


The correctest writer of the age, and comes nearest to the great original of Greece and Rome, by a studious imitation of the ancients. His sermons are truly fine.-FELTON, HENRY, 1711, Dissertation on Reading the Classics.

But for the wits of either Charles's days,
The mob of gentlemen who write with ease;
Sprat, Carew, Sedley, and a hundred more,
(Like twinkling stars the Miscellanies o'er);
One simile, that solitary shines

In the dry dessert of a thousand lines,
Or lengthen'd thought, that gleams through
many a page,

Has sanctified whole poems for an age. ---POPE, ALEXANDER, 1733, First Epistle of the Second Book of Horace.

Upon a review of Sprat's works, his language will sooner give you an idea of one of the insignificant tottering boats

upon the Thames, than of the smooth noble current of the river itself. -BOYLE, JOHN (LORD ORRERY), 1751, Remarks on the Life and Writings of Dr. Jonathan Swift.

The life of Cowley, by Dr. Sprat has been esteemed one of the most elegant compositions in our language.-CIBBER, THEOPHILUS, 1753, Lives of the Poets, vol. III, p. 241.

His style in general, which has been greatly applauded, has neither the classic simplicity of Hobbes, nor the grace of Sir William Temple. His poetry is unequal, and sometimes inharmonious. He has, however, been justly ranked with the best writers in the reign of Charles the Second. GRANGER, JAMES, 1769-1824, Biographical History of England, vol. 6, p.


He considered Cowley as a model; and supported 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 judgement 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 grows old."--JOHNSON, SAMUEL, 1779-81, Sprat, Lives of the English Poets.

They who shall study his pages will find no richness, ardour, or strength in his diction, but, on the contrary, an air of feebleness, and a species of imbecile spruceness, pervading all his productions. They must acknowledge, however, much clearness in his construction, and will probably agree that his cadences are often peculiarly well turned, especially those which terminate his paragraphs, and which sometimes possess a smartness which excites attention.-DRAKE, NATHAN, 1804, Essays Illustrative of the Tatler, Spectator, and Guardian, vol. II, p. 69.

An author who was finical and nice in his use of words.--DE QUINCEY THOMAS, 1823-4, English Dictionaries.

Unhappily for his fame, it has been usual to print his verses in collections of the British poets; and those who judge of him by his verses must consider him as a servile imitator, who, without one spark of Cowley's admirable genius, mimicked whatever was least commendable in Cowley's manner; but those who are acquainted

with Sprat's prose writings will form a very different estimate of his powers. He was, indeed, a great master of our language, and possessed at once the eloquence of the preacher, of the controversialist, and of the historian. His moral character might have passed with little censure had he belonged to a less sacred profession; for the worst that can be said of him is that he was indolent, luxurious, and worldly; but such failings, though not commonly regarded as very heinous in men of secular callings, are scandalous in a prelate.-MACAULAY, THOMAS BABINGTON, 1849, History of England.

His style, which was so much admired in his own age. is a Frenchified English, with an air of ease and occasionally of vivacity, but without any true grace or expressiveness.-CRAIK, GEORGE L., 1861, A Compendious History of English Literature and of the English Language, vol. II, p. 188.

There is indeed a certain flow and rotund finish about his diction. Some of his sentences would pass for Johnson's. Had the matter been more substantial, he might have taken a higher place in our literature; but he was a good genial fellow, rather fond of the bottle, and his lubricated eloquence perished with him. -MINTO, WILLIAM, 1872-80, Manual of English Prose Literature, p. 335.

Sprat's theological writings are few and insignificant, and it is hard not to allow that his merits as a prose-writer have been praised with some exaggeration. He is neat, clear, and often dignified, but the epithets "splendid" and "shining" can scarcely be granted to his style without demur.-GOSSE, EDMUND, 1888, A History of Eighteenth Century Literature, p. 101.

His chief claim to remembrance lies in his efforts both by precept and example to purge English prose of its rhetorical and decorative encumbrances, and to show that there is as much art "to have only plain conceptions on some arguments as there is in others to have extraordinary flights.". It may well be urged that Sprat deserves a share in the credit, so commonly yielded to Dryden alone, of having inaugurated modern English prose.-RALEIGH, W. A., 1894, English Prose, ed. Craik, vol. III, p. 269.

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