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pression,) of being hanged within a week. He still pursued the composition of his celebrated poem of Gondibert; and even was master enough of his temper and abilities, to write a letter to his friend Hobbes, give ing some account of the progress he had made in it; and offering some criticisms on the nature of that kind of poetry.
Our author, 'was younger son of Mr. John D'Avenant, who was a citizen of Oxford, being a very substantial vintner, and keeping a large tavern, afterwards known by the name of the crown, in that city, where, in 1621, he attained to the honour of being elected mayor. This son was born at Oxford, in February, 1605; and very early in life, gave tokens of a lively and promising genius. He received the rudiments of grammatical learning from Mr. Edward Sylvester, who kept a school in the parish of All Saints, Oxford; and in the year 1621, being that of his father's mayoralty, he was entered a member of Lincoln-College, in that university, in order to complete his academical studies, ' VOL 1.
under Mr. Daniel Hough. Here, however, he took no degree ; nor, according to Wood's opinion, made any long residence. That writer, absolutely informing us, (at the same time that he acknowledges the strength of his genius ; and even distinguishes him by the title of Sweet Swan of Isis,) that he was, nevertheless, considerably deficient in university learning. On his quitting the university, he became one in the retinue of the magnificently disposed Frances Duchess of Richmond, out of whose family he removed, into that of the celebrated Sir Folke Greville, Lord Brook:- but after the unhappy death of that nobleman, in 1628, being then left without a patron, although not in distressed circumstances, it is probable, that views of profit, as well as amusement, might induce him to an exertion of his genius, as he, in the ensuing year, produced his first play called, Albovine, King of the Lombards, which met with great success. For the eight succeeding years, he passed his time in the service of the Muses, and a constant attendance at court, where he was much caressed by all the great wits ; among whom, we find him in the closest intimacy with the Earl of Dorset, Lord Treasurer Weston, and the accomplished Endyinion Porter.
In consequence of this extensive personal interest, and the peculiar patronage of the Queen, he was, in the year 1637, promoted to the Laureat, which was vacant by the death of Ben Johnson, and for which Thomas May stood as his competitor. In the life of that poet, the reader will find related the resentinent he shewed on the loss of this election; and it will equally appear in the course of this gentleman's history, with what ardent gratitude and unshaken zeal for the cause of the Royal Family, he repaid this mark of their esteem for him ; for as soon as the civil war broke out, he demonstrated his loyalty to the King, not only in word but action.
In May 1641, he was accused by the parliament of being concerned in a design to seduce the army from their adherence to the parliamentary authority, and a proclamation being issued for the apprehending, him, and others engaged in that design, he was stopped at Feversham, sent up to London, and put under the custody of a sergeant at arms. From hence, in the month of July following, he was bailed, and soon after found it necessary to withdraw to France. In this attempt to fly, however, he was not much more successful than in the former, reaching no farther than Canterbury before he was again seized, and obliged to undergo a very strict examination. Whether he was put into confinement on this occasion, or suffered to proceed on his journey, is a point that his biographers have not explained; but it was not very long, we find, before he joined the Queen in France, where he staid some time, till accompanying some military stores, which that Princess sent over for the use of the Earl of Newcastle, he was entertained by his lordship, who had been
his old friend and patron in the station of lieutenant-general of the Ordnance.
In his military capacity he appears to have behaved well, for at the siege of Gloucester in 1643, he received the honour of knighthood from the King, as an acknowledgment of his bravery and signal services; but, on the declining of the King's affairs, so far as to be beyond retrieving, Sir William once more returned to France, where he changed his religion for that of the church of Rome, and remained for a considerable time with the Queen and Prince of Wales. By them he was held in high esteem, and appears to have been entrusted with some important negociation in 1646, and particularly employed by the Queen in an attempt, though an unsuccessful one, to prevail on King Charles I. to comply with some temporising steps which she considered as necessary to his interests. In 1650 an ingenious project having been formed for sending a select number of ar