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Garth,” seems not able to deny what he is an- discrimination of characters; and that what gry to hear, and loath to confess.
any one says might, with equal propriety, have Pope afterwards declared himself convinced, been said by another. The general design is, that Garth died in the communion of the perhaps, open to criticism; but the composition church of Rome, having been privately recon- can seldom be charged with inaccuracy or negciled. It is observed by Lowth, that there is less ligence. The Author never slumbers in selfdistance than is thought between scepticism and indulgence; his full vigour is always exerted; popery: and that a mind, wearied with per- scarcely a line is left unfinished; nor is it easy petual doubt, willingly seeks repose in the bosom to find an expression used by constraint, or a of an infallible church.
thought imperfectly expressed. It was remarkHis poetry has been praised at least equally ed by Pope, that “ The Dispensary” had been to its merit. In “ The Dispensary" there is a corrected in every edition, and that every change strain of smooth and free versification; but few was an improvement. It appears, however, to lines are eminently elegant. No passages fall want something of poetical ardour, and somebelow mediocrity, and few rise much above it. thing of general delectation; and, therefore, The plan seems formed without just proportion since it has been no longer supported by accito the subject; the means and end have no ne- dental and intrinsic popularity, it has been cessary connection.
Resnel, in his preface to scarcely able to support itself. Pope's Essay, remarks, that Garth exhibits no
RO W E.
NICHOLAS Rowe was born at Little Beckford, student of the Middle Temple, where for some in Bedfordshire, in 1673. His family had long time he read statutes and reports with profipossessed a considerable estate, with a good ciency proportionate to the force of his mind, house, at Lambertoun, in Devonshire. * His which was already such that he endeavoured to ancestor, from whom he descended in a direct comprehend law, not as a series of precedents, line, received the arms borne by his descendants or collection of positive precepts, but as a for his bravery in the Holy War. His father, system of rational government, and impartial John Rowe, who was the first that quitted his justice. paternal acres to practise any part of profit, pro- When he was nineteen, he was, by the death fessed the law, and published Benlow's and of his father, left more to his own direction, and Dallison's “ Reports” in the reign of James the probably from that time suffered law gradually Second, when in opposition to the notions, then to give way to poetry. At twenty-five he prodiligently propagated, of dispensing power, he duced “ The Ambitious Step-mother," which ventured to remark how low his authors rated was received with so much favour, that he dethe prerogative. He was made a serjeant, and voted himself from that time wholly to elegant died April 30, 1692. He was buried in the literature. Temple church.
His next tragedy (1702) was Tamerlane,” Nicholas was first sent to a private school, at in which, under the name of Tamerlane, he inHighgate; and, being afterwards removed to tended to characterize King William, and Lewis Westminster, was, at twelve years,f chosen the Fourteenth under Bajazet. The virtues of one of the King's scholars. His master was Tamerlane seem to have been arbitrarily asBusby, who suffered none of his scholars to let signed him by his poet, for I know not that histheir powers lie useless; and his exercises in
tory gives any other qualities than those which several languages are said to have been written make a conqueror.
The fashion, however, of with uncommon degrees of excellence, and yet the time was, to accuniulate upon Lewis all that to have cost him very little labour.
can raise horror and detestation; and whatever At sixteen he had in his father's opinion, good was withheld from him, that it might made advances in learning sufficient to qualify not be thrown away, was bestowed upon King him for the study of law, and was entered a William.
This was the tragedy which Rowe valued In the Villare, Lamerton.-Orig. Edit. most, and that which probably, by the help of He was not elected till 1688.-N,
political auxiliaries, excited most applause; but
occasional poetry must often content itself with ' The motto seems to tell, that this play was not occasional praise. “ Tamerlane” has for a long successful. time been acted only once a year, on the night Rowe does not always remember what his when King William landed. Our quarrel with characters require. In “ Tamerlane” there is Lewis has been long over; and it now gratifies some ridiculous mention of the God of Love; neither zeal nor malice to see him painted and Rodogune, a savage Saxon, talks of Venus, with aggravated features, like a Saracen upon and the eagle that bears the thunder of Jupiter. a sign.
The play discovers its own date, by a predic“ The Fair Penitent,” his next production tion of the Union, in imitation of Cranmer's. (1703), is one of the most pleasing tragedies on prophetic promises to Henry the Eighth. The the stage, where it still keeps its turns of ap- anticipated blessings of union are not very na. pearing, and probably will long keep them, for turally introduced, nor very happily expressed. there is scarcely any work of any poet at once He once (1706) tried to change his hand. He so interesting by the fable, and so delightful by ventured on a comedy, and produced “ The the language. The story is domestic, and there- Biter;" with which, though it was unfavourably fore easily received by the imagination, and as treated by the audience, he was himself delightsimilated to common life; the diction is ex- ed; for he is said to have sate in the house quisitely harmonious, and soft or sprightly as laughing with great vehemence, whenever he uccasion requires.
had, in his own opinion, produced a jest. But, The character of Lothario seems to have finding that he the public had no symbeen expanded by Richardson into Lovelace; pathy of mirth, he tried at lighter scenes no but he has excelied his original in the moral ef- more. fect of the fiction. Lothario, with gayety which After “ The Royal Convert” (1714) appeared' cannot be hated, and bravery which cannot be « Jane Shore," written, as its Author professes, despised, retains too much of the spectator's in imitation of Shakspeare's style. In what he kindness. It was in the power of Richardson thought himself an imitator of Shakspeare, it is alone to teach us at once esteem and detestation, not easy to conceive. The numbers, the diction, to make virtuous resentment overpower all the the sentiments, and the conduct, every thing in benevolence which wit, elegance, and courage, which imitation can consist, are remote in the naturally excite; and to lose at last the hero in utmost degree from the manner of Shakspeare, the villain.
whose dramas it resembles only as it is an EngThe fifth act is not equal to the former; the lish story, and as some of the persons have their events of the drama are exhausted, and little re- names in history. This play, consisting chiefly mains but to talk of what is past. It has been of domestic scenes and private distress, lays. observed, that the title of the play does not suf- hold upon the heart. The wife is forgiven ficiently correspond with the behaviour of Ca- because she repents, and the husband is honlista, who at last shows no evident signs of re- oured because he forgives. This, therefore, is. pentance, but may be reasonably suspected of one of those pieces which we still welcome on feeling pain from detection rather than from the stage. guilt, and expresses more shame than sorrow, His last tragedy (1715) was “ Lady Jane and more rage than shame.
Gray.” This subject had been chosen by Mr. His next (1706) was “ Ulysses ;” which, with Smith, whose papers were put into Rowe’s. the common fate of mythological stories, is now hands such as he describes them in his preface. generally neglected. We have been too early This play has likewise sunk into oblivion.. acquainted with the poetical heroes, to expect From this time he gave nothing more to the any pleasure from their revival; to show them, stage. as they have already been shown, is to disgust Being, by a competent fortune, exempted from: by repetition; to give them new qualities, or any necessity of combating his inclination, he new adventures, is to offend by violating re- never wrote in distress, and therefore does not ceived notions.
appear to have ever written in haste. His 66. The Royal Convert” (1708) seems to have works were finished to his own approbation, a better claim to longevity. The fable is drawn and bear few marks of negligence or hurry. It from an obscure and barbarous age, to which is remarkable, that his prologues and epilogues. fictions are more easily and properly adapted ; are all his own, though he sometimes supfor when objects are imperfectly seen, they plied others; he afforded help, but did not easily take forms from imagination. The scene solicit it. lies among our ancestors in our own country,
As his studies necessarily made him acquaintand therefore very easily catches attention. Ro- ed with Shakspeare, and acquaintance produced dogune is a personage truly tragical, of high. veneration, he undertook (1709) an edition of spirit, and violent passions, great with tem- his wouks, from which he neither received much pestuous dignity, and wicked with a soul that praise, nor seems to have expected it; yet, I would have been heroic if it had been virtuous. I believe, those who compare it with foriner
copies will find that he has done more than he “ As to his person, it was graceful and well promised ; and that, without the pomp of notes made : his face regular, and of a manly beauty. or boasts of criticism, many passages are hap- | As his soul was well lodged, so its rational and pily restored. He prefixed a life of the author, animal faculties excelled in a high degree. He such as tradition, then almost expiring, could had a quick and fruitful invention, a deep penesupply, and a preface;* which cannot be said tration, and a large compass of thought, with to discover much profundity or penetration. singular dexterity and easiness in making his He at least contributed to the popularity of his thoughts to be understood. He was master of autbor.
most parts of polite learning, especially the He was willing enough to improve his for- classical authors, both Greek and Latin ; undertune by other arts than poetry. He was under- stood the French, Italian, and Spanish lansecretary for three years when the Duke of guages; and spoke the first fuently, and the Queensberry was secretary of state, and after- other two tolerably well. wards applied to the Earl of Oxford for some He had likewise read most of the Greek and public employment. Oxford enjoined him to Roman histories in their original languages, study Spanish ; and when, some time after- and most that are written in English, French, wards, he came again, and said that he had | Italian, and Spanish. He had a good taste in mastered it, dismissed him with this congratu- philosophy; and, having a firm impression of lation : “ Then, Sir, I envy you the pleasure of religion upon his mind, he took great delight reading · Don Quixote' in the original." in divinity and ecclesiastical history, in both
This story is sufficiently attested ; but why which he made great advances in the times Oxford, who desired to be thought a favourer of he retired into the country, which were freliterature, should thus insult a man of acknow- quent. He expressed, on all occasions, his full ledged merit; or how Rowe, who was so keen persuasion of the truth of revealed religion; a whig, that he did not willingly converse with and, being a sincere member of the established men of the opposite party, could ask preferment church himself, he pitied, but condemned not, from Oxford, it is not now possible to discover. those that dissented from it. He abhorred the Pope, who told the story, did not say on what principles of persecuting men upon the account occasion the advice was given; and, though he of their opinions in religion; and, being strict owned Rowe's disappointment, doubted whether in his own, he took it not upon him to censure any injury was intended him, but thought it those of another persuasion. His conversation rather Lord Oxford's odd way.
was pleasant, witty, and learned, without the It is likely that he lived on discontented least tincture of affectation or pedantry; and through the rest of Queen Anne's reign'; but his inimitable manner of diverting and enliventhe time came at last when he found kinder ing the company, made it impossible for any friends. At the accession of King George he one to be out of humour when he was in it. was made poet-laureat; I am afraid by the Envy and detraction seemed to be entirely foejection of poor Nahum Tate, who (1716) died reign to his constitution; and whatever provoin the Mint, where he was forced to seek shelter cations he met with at any time, he passed them by extreme poverty. He was made likewise over without the least thought of resentment or one of the land-surveyors of the customs of the revenge. As Homer had a Ziolus, so Mr. Rowe: port of London. The Prince of Wales chose had sometimes his; for there were not wanting him clerk of his council ; and the Lord Chan- malevolent people and pretenders to poetry too, cellor Parker, as soon as he received the seals, that would now and then bark at his best perappointed him, unasked, secretary of the pre- formances; but he was conscious of his own sentations. Such an accumulation of employ- genius, and had so much good-nature as to forments undoubtedly produced a very considerable give them ; nor could he ever be tempted to rem
turn them an answer. Having already translated some parts of Lu- “ The love of learning and poetry made him: ean's “ Pharsalia,” which had been published not the less fit for business, and nobody applied in the Miscellanies, and doubtless received many himself closer-to it, when it required his attendpraises, he undertook a version of the whole ance. The late Duke of Queensberry, when he work, which he lived to finish, but not to was secretary of state, made him his secretary publish. It seems to have been printed under for public affairs; and when that truly great the care of Dr. Welwood, who prefixed the man came to know him well, he was never so author's life, in which is contained the follow- pleased as when Mr. Rowe was in his coming character:
After the Duke's death, all avenues
were stopped to his preferment; and, during Mr. Rowe's preface, however, is not distinct,
the rest of that reign, he passed his time with as it might be supposed from this
the muses and his books, and sometimes the from the
conversation of his friends. + Spence.
" When he had just got to be easy in his
fortune, and was in a fair way to make it better, ' which even he that utters them desires to be death swept him away, and in him deprived applauded rather than credited. Addison can the world of one of the best men, as well as hardly be supposed to have meant all that he one of the best geniuses of the age. He said. Few characters can bear the microscopic died like a Christian and a philosopher, in scrutiny of wit quickened by anger; and percharity with all mankind, and with an absolute haps the best advice to authors would be, that resignation to the will of God. He kept up his they should keep out of the way of one another. good-humour to the last; and took leave of his Rowe is chiefly to be considered as a tragic wife and friends, immediately before his last writer and a translator. In his attempt at co agony, with the same tranquillity of mind, and medy he failed so ignominiously, that his “ Bi. the same indifference for life, as though he had ter" is not inserted in his works; and his ocbeen upon taking but a short journey. He was casional poems and short compositions are rarely twice married : first to a daughter of Mr. Par- worthy of either praise or censure; for they sons, one of the auditors of the revenue; and seem the casual sports of a mind seeking rather afterwards to a daughter of Mr. Devenish, of a to amuse its leisure than to exercise its powers. good family in Dorsetshire. By the first be In the construction of his dramas, there is had a son; and by the second a daughter, mar- not much art; he is not a nice observer of the ried afterwards to Mr. Fane. He died the unities. He extends time and varies place as sixth of December, 1718, in the forty-fifth year his convenience requires. To vary the place is of bis age; and was buried the nineteenth of not, in my opinion, any violation of nature, if the same month in Westminster Abbey, in the the change be made between the acts; for it is aisle where many of our English poets are in- no less easy for the spectator to suppose himself terred, over against Chaucer, his body being at- at Athens in the second act, than at Thebes in tended by a select number of his friends, and the the first; but to change the scene, as is done by Dean and choir officiating at the funeral.” Rowe, in the middle of an act, is to add more
To this character, which is apparently given acts to the play, since an act is so much of the with the fondness of a friend, may be added the business as is transacted without interruption. testimony of Pope, who says in a letter to Rowe, by this licence, easily extricates himself Blount, “ Mr. Rowe accompanied me, and from difficulties; as, in “ Jane Gray,” when passed a week in the Forest. I need not tell we have been terrified with all the dreadfu] you how much a man of his turn entertained pomp of public execution, and are wondering me; but I must acquaint you, there is a viva- how the heroine or the poet will proceed, no city and gayety of disposition almost peculiar to sooner has Jane pronounced some prophetic him, which makes it impossible to part from rhymes, than-pass and be gone—the scene him without that uneasiness which generally closes, and Pembroke and Gardiner are turned succeeds all our pleasure.
out upon the stage. Pope has left behind him another mention of I know not that there can be found in his his companion, less advantageous, which is thus plays, any deep search into nature, any accurate reported by Dr. Warburton.
discriminations of kindred qualities, or nice dis“ Rowe, in Mr. Pope's opinion, maintained play of passion in its progress : all is general a decent character, but had no heart. Mr. Ad- and undefined. Nor does he much interest or dison was justly offended with some behaviour affect the auditor, except in “ Jane Shore,” which arose from that want, and estranged who is always seen and heard with pity. Alihimself from him ; which Rowe felt very se- cia is a character of empty noise, with no reverely. Mr. Pope, their common friend, know- semblance to real sorrow or to natural madness. ing this, took an opportunity, at some juncture Whence, then, has Rowe bis reputation ? of Mr. Addison's advancement, to tell him how From the reasonableness and propriety of some poor Rowe was grieved at his displeasure, and of his scenes, from the elegance of his diction, what satisfaction he expressed at Mr. Addison's and the suavity of his verse. He seldom moves good fortune, which he expressed so naturally, either pity or terror, but he often elevates the that he (Mr. Pope) could not but think him sentiments; he seldom pierces the breast, but he sincere. Mr. Addison replied, “I do not sus always delights the ear, and often improves the pect that he feigned; but the levity of his heart understanding. is such, that he is struck with any new adven- His translation of the “ Golden Verses,” and ture; and it would affect him just in the same of the first book of Qı let's Poem, have nomanner, if he heard I was going to be hanged.' thing in them remarkable. The « Golden Mr. Pope said he could not deny but Mr. Verses” are tedious. Addison understood Rowe well.
The version of Lucan is one of the greatest This censure time has not left us the power productions of English poetry; for there is perof confirming or refuting ; but observation daily haps none that so completely exhibits the genius shows, that much stress is not to be laid on hy- and spirit of the original. Lucan is distinperbolical accusations, and pointed sentences, guished by a kind of dictatorial or philosophic
dignity, rather, as Quintilian observes, declama-, lody or force. His author's sense is sometimes tory than poetical ; full of ambitious morality a little diluted by additional infusions, and and pointed sentences, comprised in vigorous sometimes weakened by too much expansion. and animated lines. This character Rowe has But such faults are to be expected in all tranvery diligently and successfully preserved. His slations, from the constraint of measures and versification, which is such as his contempora- dissimilitude of languages. The “ Pharsalia” ries practised, without any attempt at innova- of Rowe deserves more notice than it obtains, tion or improvement, seldom wants either me- and as it is more read will be more esteemed. *
Joseph Addison was born on the first of May, story, I have inquired when he was sent to the 1672, at Milston, of which his father, Lancelot Chartreux; but, as he was not one of those who Addison, was then rector, near Ambrosebury enjoyed the founder's benefaction, there is no in Wiltshire, and appearing weak and unlikely account preserved of his admission. At the to live, he was christened the same day. After school of the Chartreux, to which he was rethe usual domestic education, which from the moved either from that of Salisbury or Lichcharacter of his father may be reasonably sup- field, he pursued his juvenile studies under the posed to have given him strong impressions of care of Dr. Ellis, and contracted that intimacy piety, he was committed to the care of Mr. | with Sir Richard Steele, which their joint laNaish, at Ambrosebury, and afterwards of Mr. bours have so effectually recorded. Taylor, at Salisbury.
Of this memorable friendship the greater Not to name the school or the masters of men praise must be given to Steele. It is not hard illustrious for literature is a kind of historical to love those from whom nothing can be feared; fraud, by which honest fame is injuriously di- and Addison never considered Steele as a rival, mished;
I would therefore trace him through but Steele lived, as he confesses, under an hathe whole process of his education. In 1683, bitual subjection to the predominating genius of in the beginning of his twelfth year, his father, | Addison, whom he always mentioned with rebeing made dean of Lichfield, naturally carried verence, and treated with obsequiousness. his family to his new residence, and, I believe, Addison,t who knew his own dignity, could placed him for some time, probably not long, not always forbear to show it, by playing a litunder Mr. Shaw, then master of the school at tle upon his admirer; but he was in no danger Lichfield, father of the late Dr. Peter Shaw. of retort: bis jests were endured without reOf this interval his biographers have given no sistance or resentment. account, and I know it only from a story of a But the sneer of jocularity was not the worst. barring-out, told me when I was a boy, by An- Steele, whose imprudence of generosity, or vandrew Corbet of Shropshire, who had heard it ity of profusion, kept bim always incurably nefrom Mr. Pigot, his uncle.
cessitous, upon some pressing exigence, in an The practice of barring-out was a savage li- evil hour, borrowed a hundred pounds of his cence, practised in many schools at the end of friend, probably without much purpose of rethe last century, by which the boys, when the payment; but Addison, who seems to have had periodical vacation drew near, growing petulent other notions of a hundred pounds, grew imat the approach of liberty, some days before the patient of delay, and reclaimed his loan by an time of regular recess, took possession of the execution. Steele felt with great sensibility the school, of which they barred the doors, and bade obduracy of his creditor, but with emotions of their master defiance from the windows. It is sorrow rather than of anger. I not easy to suppose that on such occasions the master would do more than laugh; yet if tra- • The life of Rowe is a very remarkable instance
of the uncommon strength of Dr. Johnsou's memory. dition may be credited, he often struggled hard to force or surprise the garrison. The master, observed, “ that the criticism was tolerably well
When I received from him the MS. he complacently when Pigot was a school-boy, was barred-out done, considering that he had not seen Rowe's at Lichfield; and the whole operation, as he Works for thirty years."-N. said, was planned and conducted by Addison. + Spence.
To judge better of the probability of this I This fact was communicated to Johnson in my