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EPISTLE THE FIRST.
SIR ROBERT HOWARD*,
As there is music uninform’d by art
* 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
So in your verse a native sweetness dwells,
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
head The curious net that is for fancies spread,
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.
Lets through its meshes every meaner thought,
At once a beauty, and a fortune too.
large, And, not content with that, debauch'd their
charge. Like some brave captain, your
pen Restores the exil'd to her crown again;