« AnteriorContinuar »
Life and WRITINGS
NICHOLAS ROWE, Efn;
In a LETTER to a Friend.
Am as much ashamed to give you so small an Account, as unwilling to deny you any, upon fo earnest a Request, of the Life and Writings of Mr. Rowe. In
a Dearth of Wit, it is but a melancholly Reckoning, to tell what has been,
and how much our Friend preserved it, in art Age not much inclined to encourage it, even in a Genius like his ; and which none but he indeed could have made encouraged at all.
To make Amends for the fabulous Derivations of the Ancient Poets, how unfit foever I am to speak of his Works; you may be certain that the following Account of his Family is true.
His Ancestors were Gentlemen thro' many Descents, but I wave the Particulars of them: yet think that Remark not unnecessary, not only for his Honour but that of Poetry, since it is seldom seen that Men have excelled in that way, without owing fomething to the Blood and Spirit of their Forefathers, as well as to Art, Learning and Education.
He was the Son of John Rowe, Esq; and born at Little Berkford, in the County of Bedford, tho' the Family came originally from Lambertoun in Devonshire. It is probable that his Father, who was an Eminent Lawyer, and called to be Serjeant, made that new Purchase in another County, and fo trans
planted the most remarkable Branch of the Family thither.
As to his Education, I have often heard him say, that it began at a private GrammarSchool in Highgate, but the Taste he had there of the Classic Authors, was improved and finished under the Care of the Great Dr. Busby. I don't know by what Accident it happened that those Studies he so much delighted in, were not continued to a University Education, but it is most likely that under the gainful Study of the Law was his Father's best Prospect. Accordingly he was entered of the Middle-Temple, went thro? the usual Studies and Exercises, and was called to the Bar ; where he made no mean Figure. But the Spirit of Poetry soon got the better of the Works of Profit, and while he still kept his Chambers, a Play or two of his came upon the Stage with great Success.
In such a private Account as this, you must not expect the Dates of every Action or Performance of Mr. Rowe's, my Business being only to tell you that about this time he was distinguished by, and acquainted with the
most eminent Personages of both Sexes, and made as handsome a Figure in the World, as a good Man and a good Poet could do. Yet I don't find lie was in any publick Employment before the Duke of Queensberry made him his Secretary, with whom he not only lived in an honourable Service, but a near Familiarity and Friendship.
Since His M A J E S'T Y's Accellion, he was made Poet Laureat, and one of the Land Surveyors of the Customs in the Port of London.
The Prince of Wales conferred on him the Place of Clerk of his Council, and the Lord Chancellor Parker, made him his Secretary for the Presentations, the very Day he received the Seals, and without his asking it.
He was twice Married, first to a Daughter of Mr. Auditor Parsons; and afterwards to Mrs. Devenijh, a Gentlewoman of a good Family in Dorsetshire : by the first he had a Son, and by the second Daughter, both yet Living
He died the oth Day of December, 1718, in the forty fifth Year of his Age, was interred on the 19th in Westminster-Abbey, and the Bishop of Rochester, out of a particular Mark of Esteem for him, as being his SchoolFellow, honoured his Alhes by performing the last Offices himself. I dare not venture to give you his Character, either as a Companion, a Friend, or a Poet. It may be enougls to say, that all good and learned Men loved him : That his Conversation either struck out Mirth, or promoted Learning or Honour wherever he went : That the Openness of a Gentleman, the 'unstudied Eloquence of a Scholar, and the perfect Freedom of an Enge lifhman, attended him in all his Actions. His Ashes are too fresh to say any thing more of him which would not look like Flattery, and that is a Task I am as far from, as he was.
His Writings, if I am any Judge of English have in them Strength, and Purity of Language : A certain Elegance which strikes you at first View, and which all People must own to be natural, because it is eafily remembered. As a Poet, he had the Force of imagination in a great Degree; just Allusions, proper Metaphors, and fine Descriptions, are so com