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power of Richardson alone to teach us at once esteem and detestation, to make virtuous resentment overpower all the benevolence which wit, and elegance, and courage, naturally excite; and to lose at last the hero in the villain. .
The fifth a&t is not equal to the former; the events of the drama are exhausted, and little remains but to talk of what is past. It has been observed, that the title of the play does not suificiently correspond with the behaviour of Calista, who at last shews no evident signs of repentance, but may be reafonably fuspected of feeling pain from detection rather than from guilt, and expresses more shame than forrow, and more rage than shame.
His next (1706) was Ulyses; which, with the common fate of mythological stories, is now generally neglected. We have been too early acquainted with the poetical heroes to expect any pleasure from their revival ; to shew them as they have already been shewn, is to disgust by repetition ; to give them new qualities or new adventures, is to offend by violating received notions.
The Royal Convert (1708) seems to have a better claim to longevity. The fable is drawn from an obscure and barbarous age, to which fictions are most easily and properly adapted; for when objects are imperfectly seen, they eafily take forms from imagination. The scene lies among our ancestors in our own
country, and therefore very easily catches attention. Rhodogune is a personage truly tragical, of high spirit, and violent pafsions, great with tempestuous dignity, and wicked with a soul that would have been heroic if it had been virtuous. The motto seems to tell, that this play was not successful.
Rowe does not always remember what his characters require. In Tamerlane there is some ridiculous mention of the God of Love; and Rhodogune, a savage Saxon, talks of Venus, and the eagle that bears the thunder of Jupiter.
This play discovers its own date, by a prediction of the Union, in imitation of Cranmer's prophetick promises to Henry the Eighth. The anticipated
blessings blessings of union are not very naturally introduced, nor very happily expreffed.
He once (1700) tried to change his hand, he ventured on a comedy, and produced the Biter; with which, though it was unfavourabiy treated by the audience, he was himself delighted; for he is said to have fat in the house, laughing with great vchemence, whenever he had in his on opinion produced a jest. But finding that he and the publick had no sympathy of mirth, he tried at lighter scenes no more.
After the Royal Convert (1714) ap. peared Jane Share, written, as its author professes, in imitation of Shakespeare's ftile. In what he thought himself an imitator of Shakespeare it is not easy to conceive.
- The numbers, the diction, the fenti
ments, and the conduct, every thing in which imitation can confift, are remote in the utmost degree from the manner of Shakespeare, whose dramas it resembles only as it is an English story, and as some of the persons have their names in history. This play, consisting chiefly of domestick scenes and private distress, lays hold upon the heart. The wife is forgiven because the repents, and the husband is honoured because he forgives. This therefore is one of those pieces which we still welcome on the ftage.
His last tragedy (1715) was Lady Jane Grey. This subject had been chosen by Mr. Smith, whose papers were put into