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quented had no purpose of doing more for him than to pay his reckoning. They desired only to drink and laugh; their fondness was without benevolence, and their familiarity without friendship. Men of wit, fays one of Otway's biographers, received at that time no favour from the great but to share their riots; from which they were dismijfed again to their ownnarrow circumstances. T^hus 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 j which Rochester mentions with merciless insolence in the SeJJion of the Poets:
Tom Otway came next, Tom Shad well's dear zany, And swears for heroicks he writes best of
any; Don Carlos his pockets so amply had fill'd, That his mange was quite cured, and his lice
were all kill'd. But Apollo had seen his face on the stage, ~| And prudently did not think fit to engage J The scum of a play-house, for the prop of f an age. J
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 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, though all the vicissitudes of dramatic fashon. 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 wanting, yet not be missed.
The fame year produced The History of Caius Marius; much of which is borrowed from the Romeo and Juliet of Shakespeare.
In 1683 was published the first and next year the second parts of The Soldiers Fortune, two comedies now forgotten; and in 1685 his last and greatest dramatic 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 j and the publick seems to judge rightly of the faults and excellencies lencies of this play, that it is the work of a man not attentive to decency, nor zealous for virtue; but 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 this 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 died or 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 choaked with the first mouthful. All this, I hope, is not true; ~ ut that indigence, and its concomitants, sorrow and despondency, brought him to the grave has never been denied.
Of the poems which this collection admits, the longest is the Poefs 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 harlh. 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 j he lived and died neglected.
U K E.
Of Mr. RICHARD DUKE I can find few memorials. He was bred at Westminster and Cambridge; and Jacob relates, that he was some time tutor to the duke of Richmond.
He appears.from his writings to have been not ill qualified for poetical compositions; and being conscious of his powers, when he left the university he enlisted himself among the wits. He was the familiar friend of Otway; and was engaged, among other popular names* in the translation of Ovid and Juvenal. In his RevieWi though unfinished, are some vigorous lines. His poems are not below mediocrity; nor have I found much in them to be praised.
With the wit he seems to have shared the dissoluteness of the times; for some of his compositions are such as he must have reviewed with detestation in his later days, when he publimed those Sermons which Felton has commended.
Perhaps, like some other foolish young men, he rather talked than lived viciouily, in an age when he that would be thought a wit was afraid to say his prayers; and whatever might have been the first part of his life, it was surely condemned and reformed by his better judgement.