« הקודםהמשך »
made physician in ordinary to the king, and phyfician-general to the army.
He then undertook an edition of Ovid's Metamorphoses, translated by several hands; which he recommended by a Preface, written with more oftentation than ability; his notions are half-formed, and his materials immethodically confused. This was his last work. He died Jan. 18, 1717-18, and was buried at Harrow-on-the-Hill.
His personal character seems to have been social and liberal. He communicated himself through a very wide extent of acquaintance; and though firm in a party, at a time when firmness included virulence, yet he imparted his kindness to those who were not supposed to favour his principles. He was An early encourager of Pope, and was at once the friend of Addison and of Granville. He is accused of voluptuousness and irreligion; and Pope, who says, that “ if ever there was a good Christian, with“ out knowing himself to be so, it was Dr. Garth,” seems not able to deny what he is angry to hear, and loth to confess.
Pope afterwards declared himself convinced, that Garth died in the communion of the Church of Rome, having been privately reconciled. It is obserted by Lowth, that there is less distance than is thought between scepticism and popery ; and that a mind, wearied with perpetual doubt, willingly seeks repose in the bosom of an infallible Church.
His poetry has been praised at least equally to its merit. In the Dispensary there is a strain of smooth and free versification ; but few lines are eminently
elegant. No passages fall below mediocrity, and few rise much above it. The plan seems forined without just proportion to the subject; the means and end have no necessary connection. Refuel, in his Preface to Pope's Effay, remarks, that Garth exhibits no discrimination of characters; and that what any one says might, with equal propriety, have been said by another. The general design is, perhaps, open to criticism; but the composition can seldom be charged with inaccuracy or negligence. The author never slumbers in self-indulgence ; his full vigour is always exerted; scarcely a line is left unfinished; nor is it easy to find an expression used by constraint, or a thought imperfectly expressed. It was remarked by Pope, that the Dispensary had been corrected in every edition, and that every change was an improvement. It appears, however, to want something of poetical ardour, and something of general delectation ; and therefore, since it has been no longer supported by accidental and intrinfick popularity, it has been scarcely able to support itself.
NICHOLAS ROWE was born at Little Beckford, in Bedfordshire, in 1673. His family had long poflefled a considerable estate, with a good house, at Lambertoun in Devonshire *. His ancestor from whom he descended in a direct line received the arms borne by his descendants for his bravery in the Holy War. His father, John Rowe, who was the first that quitted his paternal acres to practise any part of profit, professed the law, and published Benlow's and Dallison's Reports in the reign of James the Second, when in opposition to the notions, then diligently propagated, of dispensing power, he ventured to remark how low his authors rated the prerogative. He was made a ferjeant, and died April 30, 1692. He was buried in the Temple church.
Nicholas was first sent to a private school at Highgate; and, being afterwards removed to Westmin
In the Villare, Lamerton. Orig. Edit.
ster, fter, was at twelve years * chosen one of the king's scholars. His master was Busby, who suffered none of his scholars to let their powers lie useless ; and his exercises in several languages are said to have been written with uncommon degrees of excellence, and yet to have cost him very little labour. .. that can raise horror and detestation; and whatever good was withheld from him, that it might not be thrown away, was bestowed upon king William.
At fixteen he had, in his father's opinion, made advances in learning sufficient to qualify hin for the study of law, and was entered a student of the Middle Temple, where for some time he read statutes . and reports with proficiency proportionate to the force of his mind, which was already such that he endeavoured to comprehend law, not as a series of precedents, or collection of positive precepts, but as a system of rational government, and impartial justice. · When he was nineteen, he was, by the death of
his father, left more to his own direction, and probably from that time suffered law gradually to give way to poetry. At twenty-five he produced the Ambitious Step-Mother, which was received with so much favour, that he devoted himself from that time wholly to elegant literature.
His next tragedy (1702) was Tamerlane, in which, under the name of Tamerlane, he intended to characterize king William, and Lewis the Fourteenth under Bajazet. The virtues of Tamerlane seem to have been arbitrarily assigned him by his poet, for I know not that history gives any other qualities than those which make a conqueror. The fashion, however, of the time was, to accumulate upon Lewis all
This was the tragedy which Rowe valued most, and that which probably, by the help of political auxiliaries, excited most applause ; but occasional poetry must often content itself with occasional praise. Tamerlane has for a long time been acted only once a year, on the night when king William landed. Our quarrel with Lewis has been long over ; and it now gratifies neither zeal nor malice to see him painted with aggravated features, like a Saracen upon a sign.
The Fair Penitent, his next production (1703), is one of the most pleasing tragedies on the stage, where it still keeps its turns of appearing, and probably will long keep them, for there is scarcely any work of any poet at once so interesting by the fable, and so delightful by the language. The story is domeftick, and therefore easily received by the imagination, and affimilated to common life; the diction is exquisitely harmonious, and soft or sprightly as occasion requires.
The character of Lothario seems to have been expanded by Richardson into Lovelace; but he has ex-. celled his original in the moral effect of the fiction. Loibario, with gaiety which cannot be hated, and bravery which cannot be despised, retains too much of the spectator's kindness. It was in the power of Richardson alone to teach us at once esteem and detestation, to make virtuous resentment over-power all the benevolence which wit, elegance, and courage, naturally excite ; and to lose at last the hero in the villain.