Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

EPISTLE THE FIRST.

TO MY

HONOURED FRIEND

SIR ROBERT HOWARD*,

ON HIS

EXCELLENT POEMS.

As there is music uninform’d by art
In those wild notes, which, with a merry heart,
The birds in unfrequented shades express,
Who, better taught at home, yet please us less:

* Sir Robert Howard, a younger fon of Thomas Earl of BerkAire, and brother to Mr. Dryden's lady, studied for fome time in Magdalene-college. He suffered many oppressions on account of his loyalty, and was one of the few of King Charles the Ild's friends, whom that monarch did not forget. Perhaps he had his present ends in it; for Sir Robert, who was a man of parts, helped him to obtain money in parliament, wherein he fate as burgess, first for Stockbridge, and afterwards for Caftle-Rising in Norfolk. He was, foon after the restoration, made a knight of the Bath, and one of the auditors of the Exchequer, valued at 3000l. per annum. Notwithstanding that he was supposed to be a great favourer of the Catholics, he foon took the oaths to King William, by whom he was made a privycounsellor in the beginning of the year 1689; and no man was a more open or inveterate enemy to the Nunjurors.

Several of his pieces, both in profe and verse, were published at different times; among which are the Duel of the Stags, a celebrated poem; the comedy of the Blind Lady; the Com

mittee, or, the Faithful Irishman; the Great Favortte, or, the Duke of Lerma ; the Indian Queen, a tragedy, written in conjunction with our author; the Surprizal, a tragi-comedy; and the Vestal Virgin, or the Roman Ladies, a tragedy: the laf has two different conclusions, one tragical, and the other, to use the author's own words, comical. The last five plays were collected together, and published by Tonfon, in a small 12mo voJume, in 1722. The Blind Lady was printed with some of his poems.

Langbaine speaks in very high terms of Sir Robert's merit, in which he is copied by Giles Jacob. See their Lives of the Poets.

This gentleman was, however, extremely positive, remarkably overbearing, and pretending to universal knowledge ; which failings, joined to his having then been of an opposite party, drew upon him the cenfure of Shadwell, who has fatirized him very severely in a play, called The Sullen Lovers, under the name of Sir Positive At-all, and his lady, whom he first kept, and afterwards married, under that of Lady Vain.

DERRICK. Ver. 1. As there is mufic] One would have thought from this elegant exordium, that Sir Robert Howard was a son of fancy, and warbled his native wood notes wild with peculiar freedom and felicity. His poems, which are hard and prosaic, are not of this kind. The edition to which these were prefixed were printed by Herringman, 1660, and contains a Panegyric to the King, Songs and Sonnets, the Blind Lady, a comedy; the fourth book of Virgil, the Achilleis of Statius, a panegyric on General Monk. The songs are without harmony of numbers ; the fourth book of Virgil lame and not faithful; the notes added to the Achilleis are fome of them learned ; the panegyric on Monk very inferior to that of Dryden. He wrote besides, the Committee, a comedy; the Great Favourite, a tragedy; the Indian Queen, a tragedy; the Surprizal, a tragi-comedy ; tbę Vestal Virgin, a tragedy. He was member of Parliament for Stockbridge, in Hampshire, and was brother-in-law to Mr, Dryden, who addressed his Annus Mirabilis to him, but quar, relled with him afterwards on defending dramatic rhyme, which Dryden defended in his Dialogue on Dramatic Poetry. In this epiftle, the lines 23, 25, 31, 40, 44, 60, 100, are all of them full of fulsome and false adulation. The most celebrated of

5

your

15

So in your verse a native sweetness dwells,
Which shames composure, and its art excels.
Singing no more can your soft numbers grace,
Than paint adds charms unto a beauteous face.
Yet as, when mighty rivers gently creep,
Their even calmness does suppose them deep; 10
Such is muse: no metaphor swell’d high
With dangerous boldness lifts her to the sky:
Those mounting fancies, when they fall again,
Shew fand and dirt at bottom do remain.
So firm a strength, and yet withal so sweet,
Did never but in Samson's riddle meet.
"Tis strange each line fo great a weight should

bear,
And yet no sign of toil, no sweat

appear. Either your art hides art, as stoics feign Then least to feel, when most they suffer pain; And

we, dull souls, admire, but cannot see What hidden springs within the engine be; Or 'tis fome happiness that still pursues Each act and motion of your graceful muse. Or is it fortune's work, that in

your

head The curious net that is for fancies spread,

21

25

Howard's poems was the Duel of the Stags. Shadwell severely satirized him under the character of Sir Positive At-all in his Sullen Lovers.

Dr. J. WARTON. Ver. 26. The curious net &c.] A compliment to a poem of Sir Robert's, entitled Rete Mirabile.

DERRICK.

30

34

Lets through its meshes every meaner thought,
While rich ideas there are only caught ?
Sure that's not all; this is a piece too fair
To be the child of chance, and not of care.
No atoms casually together hurld
Could e’er produce fo beautiful a world.
Nor dare I such a doctrine here admit,
As would destroy the providence of wit.
"Tis your strong genius then which does not feel
Those weights, would make a weaker spirit reel.
To carry weight, and run fo lightly too,
Is what alone your Pegasus can do.
Great Hercules himself could ne'er do more,
Than not to feel those heavens and gods he

bore.
Your easier odes, which for delight were penn'd,
Yet our instruction make their second end :
We're both enrich'd and pleas’d, like them that

40

[ocr errors]

45

At once a beauty, and a fortune too.
Of moral knowledge poesy was queen,
And still she might, had wanton wits not been;
Who, like ill guardians, liv’d themselves at

large, And, not content with that, debauch'd their

charge. Like some brave captain, your

successful

pen Restores the exil'd to her crown again;

50

« ПредишнаНапред »