« ÖncekiDevam »
images were by time become stronger, and his language more energetick. The striking passages are in every mouth; and the publick seems to judge rightly of the faults and excellencies of this play, that it is the work of a man not attentive to decency, nor zealous for virtue ; but of one who conceived forcibly, and drew originally, by consulting nature in his own breast.
Together with those plays he wrote the poems which are in the present collection, and translated from the French the History of the Triumvirate.
All this was performed before he was thirtyfour years old; for he died April 14, 1685, in a manner which I ain unwilling to mention. Having been compelled by his necellities to contract debts, and hunted, as is supposed, by the tarriers of the law, he retired to a publick house on Tower-hill, where he is said to have died of want; or, as it is related by one of his biographers, by swallowa ing, after a long fast, a piece of bread which charity had supplied. He went out, as is reported, almost naked in the rage of hunger,
and, finding a gentleman in a neighbouring coffee-house, asked him for a shilling. The gentleman gave him a guinea ; and Otway going away bought a roll, and was choaked with the first mouthful. All this, I hope, is not true; and there is this ground of better hope, that Pope, who lived near enough to be well informed, relates in Spence's Memorials, that he died of a fever caught by violent pursuit of a thief that had robbed one of his friends. But that indigence, and its concomitants, sorrow and despondency, pressed hard upon him, has never been denied, whatever immediate cause might bring him to the grave.
Of the puems which the present collection admits, the longest is the Poet's Complaint of bis Mufe, part of which I do not understand; and in that which is less obscure I find little to commend. The language is often gross, and the numbers are harsh. Otway had not much cultivated versification, nor much replenished his mind with general knowledge. His principal power was in moving the pasfions, to which Dryden * in his latter years * In his preface to Fresnoy's Art of Painting. Dr. J. VOL. I.
left an illustrious testimony. He appears by some of his verses to have been a zealous royalist, and had what was in those times the common reward of loyalty ; he lived and died neglected.
DMUND WALLER was born on the third of March,
1605; at Collhill in Hertfordshire. His father was Robert Waller, Esquire, of Agmondesham in Buckinghama Thire, whose family was originally a branch of the Kentish Wallers; and his mother was the daughter of John Hampden, of Hampden in the same county, and fifter to Hampden, the zealot of rebellion.
His father died while he was yet an infant, but left him a yearly income of three thoufand five hundred pounds; which, rating together the value of money and the customs of life, we may reckon more than equivalent to ten thousand at the present time.
He was educated, by the care of his mother at Eaton ; and removed afterwards to King's College in Cambridge. He was fent to parliament in his eighteenth, if not in his fixteenth
year, and frequented the court of James the First, where he heard a very remarkable conversation, which the writer of the Life prefixed to his Works, who seems to have been well informed of facts, though he may sometimes err in chronology, has delivered as indubitably certain :
“ He found Dr. Andrews, bishop of Win" chester, and Dr. Neale, bishop of Durham,
standing behind his Majesty's chair ; and “ there happened something extraordinary,” continues this writer, " in the conversation " thofe prelates had with the king, on which “ Mr. Waller did often reflect. His Majesty " asked the bishops, “ My Lords, cannot I “ take my subjects money, when I want it, “ without all this formality of parliament ?" “ The bishop of Durhain readily answered, • • God forbid, Sir, but you should: you are - the breath of cur noftrils.' Whereupon “ the King turned and said to the bishop of 5