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You reach'd me Philips' rustic strain;
But hold, before I close the scene, The sacred altar should be clean. Oh had I Shadwell's second bays, Or, Tate' thy pert and humble lays' (Ye pair, forgive me, when I vow I never miss'd your works till now,) I'd tear the leaves to wipe the shrine, (That only way you please the Nine,) But since I chance to want these two, I'll make the songs of Durfey do.
Rent from the corps, on yonder pin, I hang the scales that brac'd it in; I hang my studious morning-gown, And write my own inscription down.
“This trophy from the Pithon won, This robe, in which the deed was done, These, Parnell, glorying in the feat, Hung on these shelves, the Muses' seat. Here Ignorance and Hunger found Large realms of Wit to ravage round: Here Ignorance and Hunger fell? Two foes in one I sent to Hell. Ye poets, who my labours see, Come share the triumph all with me! Ye critics | born to vex the Muse, Go mourn the grand ally you lose.”
N Icholas Rowe, descended from an ancient family in Devonshire, was the son of John Rowe, Esquire, a barrister of reputation and extensive practice. He was born in 1673, at the house of his maternal grandfather, at Little Berkford, in Bedfordshire. Being placed at Westminster-school, under Dr. Busby, he pursued the classical studies of that place with credit. At the age of sixteen he was removed from school, and entered a student of the Middle Temple, it being his father's intention to bring him up to his own profession; but the death of this parent, when Nicholas was only nineteen, freed him from what he probably thought a pursuit foreign to his disposition; and he turned his chief studies to poetry and polite literature. At the age of twenty-five he produced his first tragedy, “The Ambitious Stepmother;” which was afterwards succeeded by “Tamerlane;” “The Fair Penitent;” “Ulysses;” “The Royal Convert;” “ Jane Shore;” and “Lady Jane Grey.” Of these, though all have their merits, the third and the two last alone keep possession of the stage; but Jane Shore in particular never fails to be viewed with deep interest. His plays, from which are
derived his principal claims upon posterity, are chiefly founded on the model of French tragedy; and in his diction, which is poetical without being bombastic or affected ; in his versification, which is singularly sweet; and in tirades of sentiment, given with force and elegance, he has few competitors.
As a miscellaneous poet, Rowe occupies but an inconsiderable place among his countrymen; but it has been thought proper to give some of his songs or ballads in the pastoral strain; which have a touching simplicity, scarcely excelled by any pieces of the kind. His principal efforts, however, were in poetical translation; and his version of Lucan's Pharsalia has been placed by Dr. Johnson among the greatest productions of English poetry.
In politics, Rowe joined the party of the Whigs, under whose influence he had some gainful posts, without reckoning that of poet-laureat, on the accession of George I. He was twice married to women of good connections, by the first of whom he had a son, and by the second, a daughter. He died in December, 1718, in the 45th year of his age, and was interred among the poets in Westminster Abbey.
Jorm Apnison, a person in the foremost ranks of wit and elegant literature, was the son of the Reverend Lancelot Addison, at whose parsonage at Milston, near Ambrosbury, Wiltshire, he was born in May, 1672. At the age of fifteen he was entered of Queen's College, Oxford, where he distinguished himself by his proficiency in classical literature, especially in Latin He was afterwards elected a demy of Magdalen College, where he took the degrees of bachelor and master of arts. In his twenty-second year he became an author in his own language, publishing a short copy of verses addressed to the veteran poet, Dryden. Other pieces in verse and prose succeeded; and in 1695 he opened the career of his fortune as a literary man, by a comol. on one of the campaigns of King William, addressed to the Lord-keeper Somers. A pension of 300l. from the crown, which his patron obtained for him, enabled him to indulge his inclination for travel; and an epistolary poem to Lord Halifax in 1701, with a prose relation of his travels, published on his return, are distinguished by the spirit of liberty which they breathe, and which, during life, was his ruling passion. The most famous of his political poems, “ The Campaign,” appeared in 1704. It was a task kindly imposed by Lord Halifax, who intimated to him that the writer should not lose his labour. It was accordingly rewarded by an immediate appointment to the post of commissioner of appeals. This will be the proper place for considering the merits of Addison in his character of a writer in verse. Though Dryden and Pope had already secured the first places on the British Parnassus, and other rivals for fame were springing to view, it will scarcely be denied that Addison, by a decent mediocrity of poetic language, rising occasionally to
A LETTER FROM ITALY.
to the Right Hon. chARLEs Lok D HALIFAx, IN THE YEAR M iocci,
Salve magna parens frugum Saturnia tellus,
Magna virãm tibi res antiquae laudis et artis
Aggredior, sanctos ausus recludere fontes.
W hile you, my lord, the rural shades admire,
Nor longer, her ungrateful sons to please,
superior efforts, has deserved that degree of praise, which, in general estimation, has been allotted to him. It cannot be doubted that playful and humorous wit was the quality in which he obtained almost unrivalled pre-eminence; but the reader of his poem to Sir Godfrey Kneller will discover, in the comparison of the painter to Phidias, a very happy and elegant resemblance pointed out in his verse. His celebrated tragedy of “Cato,” equally remarkable for a correctness of plan, and a sustained elevation of style, then unusual on the English stage, was further distinguished by the glow of its sentiments in favour of political liberty, and was equally applauded by both parties.
A very short account will suffice for the remainder of his works. His connection with Steele en
ed him in occasionally writing in the Tatler, the Spectator, and the Guardian, in which his productions, serious and humorous, conferred upon him immortal honour, and placed him deservedly at the head of his class. Some other periodical papers, decidedly political, were traced to Addison, of which The Freeholder was one of the most conspicuous. In 1716 he married the Countess-Dowager of Warwick, a connexion which is said not to have been remarkably happy. In the following year he was raised to the office of one of the principal secretaries of state; but finding himself ill suited to the post, and in a declining state of health, he resigned it to Mr. Craggs. In reality, his constitution was suffering from an habitual excess in wine; and it is a lamentable circumstance that a person so generally free from moral defects, should have given way to a fondness for the pleasures of a tavern life. Addison died in June, 1719, leaving an only daughter by the Countess of Warwick.
| Me into foreign realms my fate conveys
To view the Nar, tumultuous in his course, And trace the smooth Clitumnus to his source, To see the Mincio draw his watery store, Through the long windings of a fruitful shore, And hoary Albula's infected tide O'er the warm bed of smoking sulphur glide. Fir’d with a thousand raptures, I survey Eridanus through flowery meadows stray, The king of floods ! that, rolling o'er the plains, The towering Alps of half their moisture drains, And proudly swoln with a whole winter's snows, Distributes wealth and plenty where he flows. Sometimes, misguided by the tuneful throng, I look for streams immortalis'd in song, That lost in silence and oblivion lie, (Dumb are their fountains and their channels dry,) Yet run for ever by the Muse's skill, And in the smooth description murmur still. Sometimes to gentle Tiber I retire, And the fam'd river's empty shores admire, That destitute of strength derives its course From thrifty urns and an unfruitful source; Yet sung so often in poetic lays, With scorn the Danube and the Nile surveys; So high the deathless Muse exalts her theme! Such was the Boyne, a poor inglorious stream, That in Hibernian vales obscurely stray'd, And, unobserv'd, in wild meanders play’d; Till by your lines and Nassau's sword renown'd, Its rising billows through the world resound, Where'er the hero's godlike acts can pierce, Or where the fame of an immortal verse. Oh, could the Muse my ravish'd breast inspire With warmth like yours, and raise an equal fire, Unnumber'd beauties in my verse should shine, And Virgil's Italy should yield to mine ! See how the golden groves around me smile, That shun the coast of Britain's stormy isle, Or, when transplanted and preserv'd with care, Curse the cold clime, and starve in northern air. Here kindly warmth their mountain juice ferments To-nobler tastes, and more exalted scents: Een the rough rocks with tender myrtle bloom, And trodden weeds send out a rich perfume. Bear me, some god, to Baia's gentle seats, Or cover me in Umbria's green retreats; Where western gales eternally reside, And all the seasons lavish all their pride: Blossoms, and fruits, and flowers together rise, And the whole year in gay confusion lies. Irrunortal glories in my mind revive, And in my soul a thousand passions strive, When Rome's exalted beauties I descry Magnificent in piles of ruin lie. An armphitheatre's amazing height Here fills my eye with terrour and delight, That on its public shows unpeopled Rome, And held, uncrowded, nations in its womb : Here pillars rough with sculpture pierce the skies, And here the proud triumphal arches rise, Where the old Romans deathless acts display'd, Their base degenerate progeny upbraid : whose rivers here forsake the fields below, [flow. And wondering at their height through airy channels Still to new scenes my wandering Muse retires, And the dumb show of breathing rocks admires: Where the smooth chisel all its force has shown, And soften’d into flesh the rugged stone. In solemn silence, a majestic band, Heroes, and gods, and Roman consuls stand.
Stern tyrants, whom their cruelties renown,