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miliarity without friendship. Men of wit, says one of Otway’s biographers, received at that time no favour from the great, but to share their riots ; from which they were dismissed again to their own narrow circumstances. Thus they languished in poverty without the support of eminence. Some exception, however, must be made. The earl of Plymouth, one of king Charles's natural sons, procured for him a cornet’s commission in some troops then sent into Flanders. But Otway did not prosper in his military character: for he soon left his commission behind him, whatever was the reason, and came back to London in extreme indigence; which Rochester mentions with merciless insolence in the Session of the Poets : Tom Otway came next, Tom Shadwell's dear zany, And swears for heroicks he writes best of any ; lson Carlos his pockets so amply had fill’d, That his mange was quite cur’d, and his lice were all kill’d. But Apollo had seen his face on the stage, And prudently did not think fit to engage, The scum of a play-house, for the prop of an age. Don Carlos, from which he is represented as having received so much benefit, was played in 1675. It appears by the lampoon, to have had a great success, and is said to have been played thirty nights together. This however it is reasonable to doubt, as so long a continuance of one play upon the stage is a very wide deviation from the practice of that time; when the ardour for theatrical entertainments was not yet diffused through the whole people, and the audience, consisting nearly of the same persons, could be drawn together only by variety. The Orphan was exhibited in 1680. This is one of the few plays that keep possession of the stage, and has pleased for almost a century, through all the vicis
situdes of dramatick fashion. Of this play nothing new can easily be said. It is a domestick tragedy drawn from middle life. Its whole power is upon the affections; for it is not written with much comprehension of thought, or elegance of expression. But if the heart is interested, many other beauties may be waiting, yet not be missed. The same year produced “The History and Fall of Caius Marius;” much of which is borrowed from the “Romeo and Juliet” of Shakspeare. In 1683" was published the first, and next year; the second, parts of “The Soldier’s Fortune,” two comedies now forgotten ; and in 1685; his last and greatest dramatick work, “Venice Preserved,” a tragedy which still continues to be one of the favourites of the publick, notwithstanding the want of morality in the original design, and the despicable scenes of vile comedy with which he has diversified his tragick action. By comparing this with his Orphan, it will appear that his images were by time become stronger, and his language more energetick. The striking passages are in every mouth ; and the publick seems to judge rightly of the faults and excellencies of this play, that it is the work of a man not attentive to decency, nor zealous for virtue ; but of one who conceived forcibly, and drew originally, by consulting nature in his own breast. Together with those plays he wrote the poems which are in the present collection, and translated from the French the History of the Triumvirate. All this was performed before he was thirty-four years old ; for he died April 14, 1685, in a manner which I am unwilling to mention. Having been compelled by his necessities to contract debts, and hunted, as is supposed, by the terriers of the law, he retired to a publick house on Tower-hill, where he is said to have died of want; or, as it is related by one of his biographers, by swallowing, after a long fast, a piece of bread which charity had supplied. He went out, as is reported, almost naked, in the rage of hunger, and, finding a gentleman in a neighbouring. coffee-house, asked him for a shilling. The gentleman gave him a guinea; and Otway going away bought a roll, and was choked with the first mouthful. All this, I hope, is not true ; and there is this ground of better hope, that Pope, who lived near enough to be well informed, relates in Spence's Memorials that he died of a fever caught by violent pursuit of a thief that had robbed one of his friends. But that indigence, and its concomitants, sorrow and despondency, pressed hard upon him, has never been denied, whatever immediate cause might bring him to the grave. Of the poems which the late collection admits, the longest is the Poet's Complaint of his Muse, part of which I do not understand; and in that which is less obscure I find little to commend. The language is often gross, and the numbers are harsh. Otway had not much cultivated versification, nor much replenished his mind with general knowledge. His principal power was in moving the passions, to which Dryden" in his latter years left an illustrious testimony. He appears by some of his verses to have been a zealous royalist; and had what was in those times the common reward of loyalty; he lived and died neglected.
*1681. f 1684. # 1682.
EDMUND WALLER was born on the third of March, 1605, at Colshill in Hertfordshire. His father was Robert Waller, esquire, of Agmondesham, in Buckinghamshire, whose family was originally a branch of the Kentish Wallers; and his mother was the daughter of John Hampden, of Hampden in the same county, and sister to Hampden, the zealot of rebellion. His father died while he was yet an infant, but left him a yearly income of three thousand five hundred pounds; which rating together the value of money and the customs of life, we may reckon more than equivalent to ten thousand at the present time. He was educated by the care of his mother, at Eton ; and removed afterwards to King’s college in Cambridge. He was sent to parliament in his eighteenth, if not in his sixteenth year, and frequented the court of James the First, where he heard a very remarkable conversation, which the writer of the life prefixed to his works, who seems to have been well informed of facts, though he may sometimes err in chronology, has delivered as indubitably certain. '''“. He found Dr. Andrews, bishop of winchester, and Dr. Neale, bishop of Durham, standing behind his majesty’s chair; and there happencă something extraordinary,” continues this writer, “in the conversation those prelates had with the king, on which Mr. Waller did often reflect. His majesty asked the bishops, “My lords, cannot I take my subjects’ money when I want it, without all this formality of parliament " The bishop of Durham readily answered, “God forbid, sir, but you should : you are the breath of our nostrils.” Whereupon the king turned, and said to the bishop of Winchester, “Well, my lord, what say you ?” “Sir,” replied the bishop, “I have no skill to judge of parliamentary cases.” The king answered, “No put-offs, my lord; answer me presently,” “Then, sir,” said he, “I think it is lawful for you to take my brother Neale's money for he offers it.” Mr. Waller said, the company was pleased with this answer, and the wit of it seemed to affect the king ; for, a certain lord coming in soon after, his majesty cried out, “Oh, my lord, they say you lig with my lady.” “No sir,” says his lordship in confusion;
“but I like her company, because she has so much.
wit.” “Why then,” says the king, “do you not lig with my lord of Winchester there 7° Waller's political and poetical life began nearly together. In his eighteenth year he wrote the poem that appears first in his works, on “the prince's escape at St. Andero:” a piece which justifies the observation made by one of his editors, that he attained, by a felicity like instinct, a style which perhaps will never be obsolete; and that, “were we to Judge only by the wording, we could not know what was wrote at twenty, and what at fourscore.” His versification was, in his first essay, such as it appears in his last performance. By the perusal of Fairfax's translation of Tasso, to which, as Dryden" relates, he confessed himself indebted for the smoothness of his numbers, and by his own nicety of observation, he had already formed
* Preface to his fables. Dr. J. .