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NICHOLAS Rowe was born at Little Beckford, occasional praise. “Tamerlane” has for a long in. Bedfordshire, in 1673. His family had long time been acted only once a year, on the night possessed a considerable estate, with a good when King William landed. Our quarrel with house, at Lambertoun, in Devonshire.* His Lewis has been long over; and it now gratifies ancestor, from whom he descended in a direct neither zeal nor malice to see him painted with line, received the arms borne by his descend- aggravated features, like a Saracen upon a sign. ants for his bravery in the Holy War. His "The Fair Penitent,” his next production, father, John Rowe, who was the first that quit- (1703,) is one of the most pleasing tragedies on ted his paternal acres to practise any part of the stage, where it still keeps its turns of approfit, professed the law, and published Ben-pearing, and probably will long keep them, for low's and Dallison's “Reports” in the reign of there is scarcely any work of any poet at once James the Second, when in opposition to the so interesting by the fable, and so delightfui by notions, then diligently propagated, of dispens- the language. The story is domestic, and there ing power, be ventured to remark how low his fore easily received by the imagination, and asauthors rated the prerogative. He was made a similated to common life; the diction is exsergeant, and died April 30, 1692. He was quisitely harmonious, and soft or sprightly as buried in the Temple church.
occasion requiries. Nicholas was first sent to a private school, at The character of Lothario seems to have Highgate ; and, being afterwards removed to been expanded by Richardson into Lovelace ; Westminster, was, at twelve years, f chosen one but he has excelled his original in the moral efof the King's 'scholars. His master was Busby, fect of the fiction. Lothario, with gayety which who suffered none of his scholars to let their cannot be hated, and bravery which cannot be powers lie useless; and his exercises in several despised, retains too much of the spectator's languages are said to have been written with kindness. It was in the power of Richardson uncommon degrees of excellence, and yet to have alone to teach us at once csteem and detestacost him very little labour.
tion, to make virtuous resentment overpower all At sixteen he had, in his father's opinion, the benevolence which wit, elegance, and coumade advances in learning sufficient to quality rage naturally excite; and to lose at last the hero him for the study of law, and was entered a stu- in the villain. dent of the Middle Temple, where for some time The fifth act is not equal to the former ; the he read statutes and reports with proficiency events of the drama are exhausted, and little reproportionate to the force of his mind, which mains but to talk of what is past. It has been was already such that he endeavoured to com- observed, that the title of the play does not sufprehend law, not as a series of precedents, or ficiently correspond with the behaviour of Ca. collection of positive precepts, but as a system lista, who at last shows no evident signs of reof rational government, and impartial justice. pentance, but may be reasonably suspected of
When he was nineteen, he was, by the death feeling pain from detection rather than from of his father, left more to his own direction, and guilt, and expresses more shame than sorrow, probably from that time suffered law gradually and more rage than shame. to give way to poetry. At twenty-five he pro- His next (1706) was “Ulysses ;" which, with duced “The Ambitious Step-mother,” which the common fate of mythological stories, is now was received with so much favour, that he de- generally neglected. We have been too early voted himself from that time wholly to elegant acquainted with the poetical heroes, to expect literature.
any pleasure from their revival; to show them, His next tragedy (1702) was “Tamerlane," as they have already been shown, is to disgust in which, under the name of Tamerlane, he in- by repetition ; to give them new qualities, or tended to characterize King William, and Lewis new adventures, is to offend by violating rethe Fourteenth under Bajazet. The virtues of ceived notions. Tamerlane seem to have been arbitrar:ly as- “ The Royal Convert” (1703) seems to have signed him by his poet, for I know not that his- a better claim to longevity. The fable is drawn tory gives any other qualities than those which from an obscure and barbarous age, to which make a conqueror. The fashion, however, of fictions are more easily and properly adapted ; the time was, to accumulate upon Lewis all that for when objects are imperfectly seen, they can raise horror and detestation ; and whatever easily take forms from imagination. The scene good was withheld from him, that it might not lies among our ancestors in our own country, be thrown away, was bestowed upon King Wild and therefore very easily catches attention. Ro liam.
dogune is a personage truly tragical, of high This was the tragedy which Rowe valued spirit and violent passions, great with teinmost, and that which probably, by the help of pestuous dignity, and wicked with a soul that political anxiliaries, excited most applause ; but would have been beroic if it had been virtuous. occasional poetry must often content itself with The motto seems to tell that this play was not
successful. * In the Villare, Lamerton-Orig. Edit.
Rowe does not always remember what his He was not elected till 16-9.-X.
characters require. In “ Tamerlane” there is
some ridiculous mention of the God of Love; ! berry was secretary of state, and afterwards and Rodogune, a savage Saxon, talks of Venus, applied to the Earl of Oxford for some public and the eagle that bears the thunder of Jupiter. employment. Oxford enjoined him to silidy
The play discovers its own date by a predic- Spanish ; and when, some time af.erwards, lie tion of the Union, in imitation of Cranmer's came again, and said that he had mastered it, prophetic promises to Henry the Eighth. The dismissed him wiih this congratulation : "Then, anticipated blessings of union are not very na- Sir, I envy you the pleasure of reading 'Den turally introduced, nor very happily expressed.
Quixote' in the original.” He once (1706) tried to change his hand. He This story is suficiently attested; but why ventured on a comedy, and produced “The Oxford, who desired to be thought a favourer of Biter ;" with which, though it was unfavourably literature, should thus insult a man of acknowtreated by the audience, he was himself delighi- ledged merit; or how Rowe, who was so keen a ed; for he is said to have sat in the house whig, that he did not willingly converse with men laughing with great vehemence, whenever he of the opposite party, could ask preferent from had, in his own opinion, produced a jest. But, Oxford, it is not now possible to discover. Pope, finding that he and the public had no sym- who told the story, did not say on what occa. pathy of mirth, lie tried at lighter scenes no sion the advice was given, and, though he owned
Rowe's disappointment, doubted whether any in. After "The Royal Convert” (1714) appeared jury was intended him, but thought it rather Lord "Jane Shore," written, as its author professes, Oxford's odd way. in imita!ion of Shakspeare's style. In what he
It is likely that he lived on discontented through thought himself an imitator of Shakspeare, it is the rest of Queen Anne's reign ; but the time not easy to conceive. The numbers, the diction, came at last when he found kinder friends. At the sentiments, and the conduct, every thing in the accession of King George he was made poetwhich imitation can consist, are' remote in the laureat; I am afraid by the ejection of poor utmost degree froin the manner of Shakspeare, Nahum Tate, who (1716) died in the Mint, whose drainas it resembles only as it is an Engs where he was forced to seek shelter by estreme lish story, and as some of the persons have their poverty. He was made likewise cne of the paines in history. This play, consisting chiefly land-stirveyors of the customs of the port of of domestic scenes and private distress, lays London. The Prince of Wales chose him clerk hold upon the heart. The wife is forgiven of his council ; and the Lord Chancellor Parker, because she repents, and the husband is ho- as soon as he received the scals, appointed him, notired because he forgives. This, therefore, is unasked, secretary of the presentations. Such one of those pieces which we still welcome on an accumulation of employments undoubiedly the stage.
produced a very considerable revenue. His last tragedy (1715) was “Lady Jane
Having already translated some parts of L11Grer:” This subject had been chosen by Vr. can's “Pharsalia," which had been published in Smith, whose papers were put into Rowe's the Miscellanies, and doubtices received many bands such as he describes them in his preface. praises, he undertook a version of the whol This play has likewise sunk into oblivion. work, which he lived to finish, but not to publish. From this time he gave nothing more to the It seems to have been printed under the care of stage.
Dr. Welwood, who prefixed the author's life, in Being, by a competent fortune, exempted from which is contained the following character: any necessity of combating his inclination, he
“As o luis person, it was grateful and well never wrote in distress, and therefore does not made; his face regular, and of a manly beauty. appear to have ever written in hasts. His As Ins soul was we!l lodged, so its rational and works were finished to his own approbation, animal faculties, excelled in a high degree. He and bear few marks of negligence or hurry. It had a quick and fruitful invention, a deep peneis remarkable, that his prologues and epilogues tration, and a large compass of ihought, with are all his own, though he sometimes sup- singular dexterity and easiness in making his plied others; he afforded help, but did not thoughts to be understood. He was master of solicit it.
most parts of polite learning, especially the classiAs his studies necessarily made him acquaint- cal anthors, both Greek and Latin ; understood ed with Shakspeare, and acquaintance produced the French, Italian, and Spanish languages; veneration, he undertook (1709) an edition of and spoke the first fluently, and the other iwo his works, from which he neither received much tolerably well.
“He had likewise read most of the Greek and praise, nor seems to have expected it; yet, I believe, those who compare it with former copies Roman histories in their original languages, and will find that he has done more than he pro- most that are written in English, French, Italian, mised; and that, without the pomp of notes or and Spanish. He had a good taste in pliilosoboasts of criticism, many passages are happily phy; and, having a firm impression of religion restored. He prefixed a life of the author, such upon his mind, he took great delight in divinity as tradition, then almost expiring, could supply, and ecclesiastical history, in both which he made and a preface ;* which cannot be said to disco- great advances in the times he retired into the ver much profundity or penetration. He at least country, which were frequent. He expressed, contributed to the popularity of his author. on all occasions, his full pursuasion of the truth
He was willing enough to improve his fortune of revealed religion ; and, being a sincere memby other arts than poetry. He was under-se- ber of the established church himself, he pitied, cretary for three years when the Duke of Queens.) but condemned not, those that dissented from it.
He abhorred the principle of persecuting men Mr. Rowe's preface, however, is not distinct, as it tuigbe be suppored from this passage, from the life'.-R.
upon the account of their opinions in religion ; “ Rowe, in Vr. Pope's opinion, maintained a and, being strict in his own, he took it not upon decent character, but had no heart. Mr. Audison him to censure those of another persuasion. His was justly offended with some behaviour which conversation was pleasant, willy, and learned, arose from that want, and estranged himself without the Icast tincture of affectation or pedan- from him; which Rowe felt very severely. Mr. try; and his inimitable manner of diverting and Pope, their common friend, knowing this, took enlivening the company, made it impossible for an opportunity, at some juncture of Mr. Addiany one to be out of humour when he was in son's advancement, to tell him how poor
Rowe it. Envy and detraction seemed to be entirely was grieved at his displeasure, and what satisforeign to his constitution; and whatever provo- faction he expressed il Mr. Addison's good cations he met with at any time, he passed them fortune, which he expressed so naturally, that over without the least thought of resentment or he (Mr. Pope) could not but think him sincere. revenge. As Homer had a Ziolus, so Mr. Rowe Mr. Addison replied, 'I do not suspect that he had sometimes his; for there were not wanting feigned; but the levity of his heart is such, that malevolent people, and pretenders to poetry too, he is struck with any new adventure; and it that would now and then bark at his best per- would affect him just in the same manner, if he formances; but he was conscious of his own heard I was going to be hanged.'-Mr. Pope genius, and had so much good nature as to for- said he could not deny but Mr. Addison under give them ; nor could he ever be tempted to re- stood Rowe well.” turn thein an answer.
This censure time has not left us the power of “ The love of learning and poetry made him confirming or refuting; but observation daily not the less fit for business, and nobody applied shows that much stress is not to be laid on himself closer to it, when it required his attend- hyperbolical accusations, and pointed sentences, ance. The late Duke of Queensberry, when he which even he that utlers them desires to be was secretary of state, made him his secretary applauded raiber than credited. Addison can for public affairs; and when that truly great man hardly be supposed to have meant all that he said. came to know him well, he was never so pleased Few characters can bear the microscopic seruas when Mr. Rowe was in his company. After tiny of wit, quickened by anger; and perhaps the Duke's death all avenues were stopped to his the best advice to authors would be, that they preferment; and, during the rest of that reign, should keep out of the way of one another. he passed his time with the muses and his books, Rowe is chiefly to be considered as a tragic and sometimes the conversation of his friends. writer and a translator. In his attempt at comedy
“When he had just got to be casy in his he failed so ignominiously, that his “Biler" is fortune, and was in a fair way to make it better, not inserted in his works; and his occasional death swept him away, and in him deprived the poems and short compositions are rarely worthy world of one of the best men as well as one of of either praise or censure; for they seem the the best geniuses of the age. He died like a casual sports of a mind seeking rather to amuse Christian and a philosopher, in charity with all its leisure than to exercise its powers. mankind, and with an absolute resignation to In the construction of his dramas, there is not the will of God. He kept up his good humour much art: he is not a nice obscrver of the unito the last; and took leave of his wife and friends lies. He extends time and varies place as his immediately before his last agony, with the convenience requires. To vary the place is noi, same tranquillity of mind, and the same indif- in my opinion, any violation of nature, if the ference for ife, as tho he had been upon change be made between the acts ; for
is no taking but a short journey: He was twice less easy for the spectator to suppose himself at married ; first to a daughter of Mr. Parsons, one Athens in the second act, than at Thebes in the of the auditors of the revenue; and afierwards first; but to change the scene, as is done by to a daughter of Mr. Devenish, of a good family Rowe, in the middle of an act
, is to add more in Dorsetshire.
By the first he had a son; and acts to the play, since an act is so much of the by the second a daughter, married afterwards business as is transacted without interruption. tó Mr. Fane. He died the 6th of December, Rowe, by this license, easily extricates himself 1713, in the forty-fifth year of his age ; and was from dificulties ; ils, in "Jane Grey," when we buried the nineteenth of the same month in have been terrified with all the dreadful pomp of Westminster Abbey, in the aisle where many public execution, and are wondering how the of our English poets are interred, over against heroine or the poet will proceed, no sooner has Chaucer, his body being attended by a select Jane pronounced some prophetic rhymes, thannumber of his friends, and the Dean and choir pass and be gone—the scene closes, and Pem officiating at the funeral."
broke and Gardiner are turned out upon the To this character, which is apparently given stage. with the fondness of a friend, may be added the I know not that there can be found in his testimony of Pope, who says in a letter to plays any deep search into nature, any accurate Blount, "Mr. Rowe accompanied me, and pass- discriminations of kindred qualities, or nice dis. ed a week in the Forest. I need not tell you play of passion in its progress : all is general how much a man of his turn entertained me; but land undefined. Nor does he much interest or I must acquaint you, there is a vivacity and affect the auditor, except in "Jane Shore,” who gayety of disposition almost peculiar to him, is always seen and heard with pity. Alicia is a which makes it impossible to part from him with character of empty noise, with no resemblance out that uneasiness which generally succeeds all to real sorrow or io natural madness. our pleasure."
Whence, then, has Rowe his reputation! Pope has left behind him another mention of From the reasonableness and propriety of some his companion, less advantageous, which is thus of his scenes, from the elegance of his diction, reported by Dr. Warburton.
and the suavity of his verse. He seldom moves either pity or terror, but he often elevates the / which is such as his contemporaries practiset, sentiments; he seldom pierces the breast, but he without any attempt at innovation or improvealways delights the ear, and often improves the ment, seldom wants cither melody or force. His understanding:
author's ser.se is sometimes a little diluted by His translation of the “Golden Verses," and additional infusions, and sometimes weakened of the first book of Quillet's Poem, have nothing by too much expansion. But such faults are 10 in them remarkable. The “Golden Verses" be expected in all translations, from the constraint are tedious.
of measures and dissimilitude of languages. The The version of Lucan is one of the greatest “ Pharsalia” of Rowe deserves more police than productions of English poetry; for there is per- it obtains, and as it is more read will be more haps none that so completely exhibits the genius esteemed.* and spirit of the original. Lucan is distinguished by a kind of dictatorial or philosophical dignity, rather, as Quintilian observes, declamatory than * The life of Rowe is a very remarkable instance poetical ; full of ambitious morality and pointed of the uncommon strength of Dr. Johnson & memory. sentences, comprised in vigorous and animated When I received from him the MS. he complacently. 6lines. This character Rowe has very diligently served that the criticism was
tolerably well done, con and successfully preserved. His versification, 1 years."?_N.
sidering that he had not seen Rowe's Works for thirty
JOSEPH Addison was born on the first of May, Chartreux; but, as he was not one of those who 1672, at Milston, of which his father, Lancelot enjoyed the founder's benefaction, there is no Addison, was then rector, near Ambrosebury in account preserved of his admission. At the Wiltshire, and appearing weak and unlikely to school of the Chartreux, to which he was relive, he was christened the same day. After moved either from that of Salisbury or Lichthe usual domestic education, which from the field, he pursued his juvenile studies under the character of his father may be reasonably sup- care of Dr. Ellis, and contracted that intimacy posed to have given him strong impressions of with Sir Richard Steele, which their joint lapiety, he was committed to the care of Mr. bours have so effectually recorded. Naish, at Ambrosebury, and afterwards of Mr. of this memorable friendship the greater Taylor, at Salisbury.
praise must be given to Steele. It is not hard Not to name the school or the masters of men to love those from whom nothing can be feared ; illustrious for literature is a kind of historical and Addison never considered Steele as a rival, fraud, by which honest fame is injuriously but Steele lived, as he confesses, under an habis diminished; I would therefore trace him through tual subjection to the predominating genius of the whole process of his education. In 1683, Addison, whom he always mentioned with re in the beginning of his twelfth year, his father, verence, and treated with obsequiousness. being made dean of Lichfield, naturally carried Addison,* who knew his own dignity, could his family to his new residence, and, I believe, not always forbear to show it, by playing a little placed him for some time, probably not long upon his admirer ; but he was in no danger of under Mr. Shaw, then master of the school at retort: his jests were endured without resistance Lichfield, father of the late Dr. Peter Shaw. or resentment. Of this interval his biographers have given no But the sneer of jocularity was not the worst. account, and I know it only from a story of a Steele, whose imprudence of generosity, or vanibarring-out, told me when I was a boy, by An- ty of profusion, kept him always incurably nedrew Corbet of Shropshire, who had heard it cessitous, upon some pressing exigence, in an from Mr. Pigot, his uncle.
evil hour, borrowed a hundred pounds of his The practice of barring-out was a savage friend, probably without much purpose of repay, license, practised in many schools at the end of ment; but Addison, who seems to have had the last century, by which the boys, when the other notions of a hundred pounds, grew imperiodical vacation drew near, growing petulant patient of delay, and reclaimed his loan by an at the approach of liberty, some days before the execution. Steele felt with great sensibility the time of regular recess, took possession of the obduracy of his creditor, but with emotions of school, of which they barred the doors, and bade sorrow rather than of anger. their master defiance from the windows. It is not easy to suppose that on such occasions the master would do more than laugh; yet if tra- * Spence. dition may be credited, he often struggled hard
† This fact was communicated to Johnson in my hear. to force or surprise the garrison. The master, naine I am not at liberty to mention.
ing by a person of urquestionable veracity, but whose
He had it, as he when Pigot was a school-boy, was barred-out told us, from Lady Primrose, to whom Steele related i at Lichfield; and the whole operation, as he with tears in his eyes. The late Dr. Stinton confirmed said, was planned and conducted by Addison.
it to me, by saying, that he heard it from Mr. Hooke, au. To judge better of the probability of this thor of the Roman History; and he from Mr. Pope.story, I have inquired when he was sent to the somewhat differently related -R.
In 1687 he was entered into Queen's College, of a small part of Virgil's "Georgics," puhin Oxford, where, in 1689, the accidental peru- | lished in the Miscellanics; and a Latin enco. sal of some Latin verses gained him the patron- inium on Queen Mary, in the “Musæ Angli. age of Dr. Lancaster, afterwards provost of canæ." These verses exhibit all the fondness Queen's College; by whose recommendation he of friendship; but on one side or the other, was elected into Magdalen College as a Domy, friendship was afterwards too weak for the ma. a term by which that society denominates those lignity of faction. which are elsewhere called Scholars; young In this poem is a very confident and discrimimen who partake of the founder's benefaction, nate character of Spenser, whose work he had and succeed in their order to vacant fellow- then never read. So little sometimes is critiships.*
cisin the effect of judgment. It is necessary to Here he continued to cultivate poetry and inform the reader, that about this time he was criticism, and grew first eminent by his Latin introduced by Congreve to Montague, then compositions, which are indeed entitled to parti- chancellor of the Exchequer: Addison was then cular praise.' He has not confined himself to learning the trade of a courtier, and subjoined the imitation of any ancient author, but has Montague as a poetical name to those of Cow. formed his style from the general language, such ley and of Dryden. as a diligent perusal of the productions of dif- By the influence of Mr. Montague, concur. ferent ages happened to supply.
ring, according to Tickell, with his natural moHis Latin compositions seem to have had desty, he was diverted from his original design much of his fondness, for he collected a second of entering into holy orders. Montague alleged volume of the "Musæ Anglicanæ,” perhaps the corruption of men who engaged in civil emfor a convenient receptacle, in which all his ployments without liberal education; and deLatin pieces are inserted, and where his poem clared, that, though he was represented as an on the peace has the first place. He afterwards enemy to the church, he would never do it any presented the collection to Boileau, who, from injury but by withholding Addison from it. that time, “ conceived,” says Tickell, Soon after (in 1695) he wrote a poem to King opinion of the English genius for poetry.” William, with a rhyming introduction addressed Nothing is better known of Boileau, than that to Lord Soiners. King William had no regard he had an injudicious and peevish contempt of to elegance or literature; his study was only modern Latin, and therefore lis profession of war; yet hy a choice of ininisters, whose disporegard was probably the effect of his civility sition was very difierent from his own, he prorather than approbation.
cured, without intention, a very liberal patronThree of his Latin poems are upon subjects age to poetry. Addison was caressed both by on which perhaps he would not have ventured Soiners and Montague. to have written in his own language. “The In 1697 appeared his Latin verses on the peace Battle of the Pigmies and Cranes ;" * The Ba- of Ryswick, which he dedicated to Montague, rometer;" and " A Bowling-green." When and which was afterwards called by Smith, the the matter is low or scanty, a dead language, in best Latin poem since the · Æneid.'" Praise which nothing is mean because nothing in tami. must not be too rigorously examined; but the liar, affords great conveniences; and, by the performance cannot be denied to be vigorous and sonorous magniticence of Roman syllables, the elegant. writer conceals penury of thought, and want of Having yet no public employment, he ob novelty, often from the reader, and often from tained, (in 1699,) a pension of three hundred himself.
pounds a year, that he might be enabled to travel. In his twenty-second year he first showed his He stayed a year at Blois, s probably to learn power of English poetry by some verses ad- the French language; and then proceeded in dressed to Dryden ; and soon afterwards pub. his journey to Italy, which he surveyed with the lished a translation of the greater part of the eyes of a poet. Fourth Georgic, upon Bees; after which, says While he was travelling at leisure, he was far Dryden, “my latter swarm is hardly worth the from being idle: for he not only collected his hiving."
observations on the country, but found uime to About the same time he composed the argu- write his Dialogues on Medals, and four acts of ments prefixed to the several books of Dryden's “Cato.” Such at least is the relation of Tickell. Virgil : and produced an essay on the “Geor- Perhaps he only collected his materials, and gics,” juvenile, superficial, and uninstructive, formed his plan. without much either of the scholar's learning or Whatever were his other employinents in Itathe critic's penetration.
ly, he there wrote thc Letter to Lord Halifax, His next paper of verses contained a charac- which is justiy considered as the most elegant, is ter of the principal English poets, inscribed to not the most sublime, of his poetical productions. Henry Sacheverell, who was then, if not a poet, But in about two years he found it necessary to a writer of verses;t as is shown by his version hasten home; being, as Swift informs us, dis
He took the degree of M. A. Feb. 14, 1093. + A letter which I found am ng Dr. Johnson's papers, name, who died young, supposed to be a Manksman, for dated in January 17-1, from a lady in Wiltshire, con- that he wrote the history of the Isle of Man.-That this tains a d scovery of some inportance in literary hi tory, person left his papers to Mr. Addison, and had forinel a viz that by the initialy H. S. prefixed to the poem, we plan of a tragedly upon the death of Socrates. The lady are not to undersiand the famou. Dr. Henry Sachever 11, says she had this information from & Mr. Stephens, who whose trial is the inost remarkable incident in his life. was a fellot of Merten College, a contemporary aud ini. The information thus communicated is, that the verses timate with Mr. Audison, in Oxford, who died near ofty in question were not an actress to the famous Dr. Suche. years ago, a prebendary of Winchester - - H. verel!, but to a very ingenin 3 gentleman of the same Spence.