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poetry. At twenty-five he produced The Ambitious Stepmother, which was received with so much favour, that he devoted himself from that time wholly to the more elegant parts of writing.
His next tragedy (1702) was Tamerlane, in which, under the name of Tamerlane, he intended to characterise king William, and Lewis the Fourteenth under that of 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 that can raise horror and detestatior.; and whatever good was withheld from him, that it
might not be thrown away, was bestowed upon king William.
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 fign.
The Fair Penitent, his next production (1703), is one of the most pleasing tragedies on the stage, where it
fill keeps its turns of appearing, and probably will long keep them, for thereis scarcely any work of any poet at once lo interesting by the fable, and so delightful by the language. The story is domestick, and therefore easily received by the imagination, and affimilated to common life; the diction is exquisitely harmonious, and soft or spritely as occafion requires.
The character of Lothario seems to have been expanded by Richardson into Lovelace, but he has excelled his original in the moral effe&t of the fietion. Lothario, with gaiety which cannot be hated, and bravery which cannot be despised, retains too inuch of the fpectator's kindness. It was in the
power of Richardson alone to teach us at once ésteem 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 act is not equal to the former; the events of the drama are exhausted, and little remains but to talk of what is paft. It has been observedl, that the title of the play does not sufficiently correspond with the behaviour of Calista, who at last thews no evident figns of repentance, but may be reasonably suspected of feeling pain from detection rather than from guilt, and expresses more shame than sorrow, and more rage than shame.
His next (1706) was Ulysses; 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 easily take forms from imagination. The scene lies among our ancestors in our own