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His interposition of a long paragraph of blank verses is unwarrantably licentious. Lątin poets might as well have introduced a series of iambicks among their heroicks.
His next work is the translation of the Art of Poetry; which has received, in my opinion, not less praise than it deserves. Blank verse, left merely to its numbers, has little operation either on the ear or mind: it can hardly support itself without bold figures and striking images. A poem frigidly didactick, without rhyme, is so near to prose, that the reader only scorns it for pretending to be verse.
Having disentangled himself from the difficulties of rhyme, he may justly be expected to give the sense of Horace with great exactness, and to suppress no subtilty of sentiment for the difficulty of expresling it. This demand, however, his translation will not satisfy ; what he found obscure, I do not know that he has ever cleared.
Among his smaller works, the Eclogue of Virgil and the Dies Iræ are well translated ;
though the best line in the Dies Iræ is borrowed from Dryden. In return, succeeding poets
have borrowed from Roscommon.
In the verses on the Lap-dog, the pronouns thou and you are offensively confounded; and the turn at the end is from Waller.
His versions of the two odes of Horace are made with great liberty, which is not recompensed by much elegance or vigour.
His political verses are spritely, and when they were written must have been very popular.
Of the scene of Guarini, and the prologue of Pompey, Mrs. Philips, in her letters to Sir Charles Cotterel, has given the history.
« Lord Roscommon,” says she, “is cer“ tainly one of the most promising young no66 blemen in Ireland. He has paraphrased a “ Psalm admirably, and a scene of Pastor Fido
very finely, in some places much better than 66 Sir Richard Fanshaw. This was underta" ken merely in compliment to me, who hap
“pened to say that it was the best scene in
Italian, and the worst in English. He " was only two hours about it. It begins
66 thus ;
Dear happy groves, and you the dark retreat “ Of filent horrour, Rest's eternal seat.”
From these lines, which are fince somewhat mended, it appears that he did not think a work of two hours fit to endure the eye of criticism without revifal.
When Mrs. Philips was in Ireland, some ladies that had seen her translation of Pompey resolved to bring it on the stage at Dublin ; and, to promote their design, Lord Roscommon gave them a prologue, and Sir Edward Dering an epilogue; " which,” says she, “ are the best performances of those kinds I “ ever saw.” If this is not criticism, it is at least gratitude. The thought of bringing Cæfar and Pompey into Ireland, the only country over which Cæsar never had any power, is lucky.
Of Roscommon's works, the judgem entof the publick seems to be right. He is elegant, ,
but not great; he never labours after exquisite beauties, and he seldom falls into grofs faults. His versification is smooth, but rarely vigorous, and his rhymes are remarkably exact. He improved taste, if he did not enlarge knowledge, and may be numbered among the benefactors to English literature.
F THOMAS OTWAY, one of the
first names in the English drama, little is known; nor is there any part of that little which his biographer can take pleasure in relating.
He was born at Trottin in Sussex, March
32 1651, the son of Mr. Humphry Otway, rector of Woolbeding. From Winchester-school, where he was educated, he was entered, in 1669, a commoner of Christ-church ; but left the university without a degree, whether for want of money, or from impatience of academical restraint, or mere eagerness to mingle with the world, is not known.
It seems likely that he was in hope of being busy and conspicuous: for he went to Lon