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His death was occasioned by a singular accident ;* he paid a visit on foot, with his friend Sprat, to a gentleman in the neighbourhood of Chertsey, which they prolonged and feasted too much, till midnight. On their return home, they mistook their
way, and were obliged to pass the whole night exposed under a hedge, where Cowley caught a severe cold, attended with a fever, that terminated in his death.
* There is something remarkable in the circumstances that occasioned the deaths of three others of our poets.
OTway had an intimate friend who was murdered in the street. One may guess at his sorrow, who has so feelingly described true affection in his Venice Preserved. He pursued the murderer on foot, who fled to France, as far as Dover, where he was seized with a fever, occasioned by the fatigue, which afterwards carried him to his grave in London.
Sir John SUCKLING was robbed by his Valet-de-Chambre : the moment he discovered it, he clapped on his boots in a passionate hurry, and perceived not a large rusty nail that was concealed at the bottom, which pierced his heel, and brought on a mortification.
Lee had been some time confined for lunacy, to a very low diet; but one night he escaped from his physician, and drank 80 immoderately, that he fell down in the Strand, was run over by a hackney-coach, and killed on the spot. These three facts are from Mr. Spence, though Otway's death has been differently related.
The verses on Silence are a sensible imitation of the Earl of Rochester's on Nothing ; which piece, together with his Satire on Man, from the fourth of Boileau, and the tenth Satire of Horace, are the only pieces of this profligate nobleman, which modesty or common sense will allow any man to read. Rochester had much energy in his thoughts and diction; and though the ancient satirists often use great liberty in their expressions, yet, as the ingenious historian * observes, " their freedom no more resembles the licence of Rochester, than the nakedness of an Indian does that of a common prostitute."
Pope, in this imitation, has discovered a fund of solid sense, and just observation upon vice and folly, that are very remarkable in a person so extremely young as he was at the time he composed it. I believe, on a fair comparison with Rochester's lines, it will be found that, although the turn of the satire be copied, yet it is excelled. That Rochester should write a satire on Man, I am not surprized; it is the business of the Li
* Hume's History of Great Britain, Vol. II. pag. 434.
bertine to degrade his species, and debase the dignity of human nature, and thereby destroy the most efficacious incitements to lovely and laudable actions : but that a writer of Boileau's purity of manners should represent his kind in the dark and disagreeable colours he has done, with all the malignity of a discontented HOBBIST, is a lamentable perversion of fine talents, and is a real injury to society. It is a fact worthy the attention of those who study the history of learning, that the gross licentiousness, and applauded debauchery, of Charles the Second's court, proved almost as pernicious to the progress of polite literature and the fine arts, that began to revive after the Grand Rebellion, as the gloomy superstition, the absurd cant, and formal hypocrisy, that disgraced this nation during the usurpation of Cromwell.*
**Lord Bolingbroke used to relate, that his great grandfather Ireton, and Fleetwood, being one day engaged in a private drinking party with Cromwell, and wanting to uncork a bottle, they could not find their bottle-screw, which was fallen under the table. Just at that instant, an officer entered to inform the Protector, that a deputation from the Presbyterian 2
ARTESMISIA and PHRYNE are two characters in the manner of the Earl of Dorset, an elegant writer, and amiable man; equally noted for the severity of his satire, and the sweetness of his manners, and who gave the fairest proof that these two qualities are by no means incompatible. “ The greatest wits (says Addison) I have ever conversed with, were persons of the best tempers.” Dorset possessed the rare secret of uniting energy with ease in his striking compositions. His verses to Mr. Edward Howard, to Sir Thomas St. Serfe, his epilogue to the Tartuffe, his song written at sea in the first Dutch war, his ballad on knotting, and on Lewis XIV. may be named as examples of this happy talent, and as confutations of a sentiment of the judicious M. de Montesquieu, who, in his noble chapter on the English Constitution, Book 19, speaks thus of our writers :
“ As society, and the mixing in company, gives to men a quicker sense of ridi
ministers attended without. “ Tell them (says Cromwell, with a countenance instantly composed) that I am retired, that I cannot be disturbed, for I am seeking the Lord;" and turning afterwards to his companions, he added, “ These scoundrels think we are seeking the Lord, and we are only looking for our bottle-screw.”
cule, so retirement more disposes men to reflect on the heinousness of vice; the satirical writings, therefore, of such a nation, are sharp and severe; and we shall find among them many Juvenals, without discovering one Ho
The DESCRIPTION of the Life of a Country Parson is a lively imitation of Swift,* and is full of humour. The point of the likeness consists
* See a Pipe of Tobacco, p. 282, vol. 2. Dodsley's Miscell. where Mr. Hawkins Browne has imitated, from a hint of Dr. John Hoadly, six later English poets with success, viz. Swift, Pope, Thomson, Young, Phillips, Cibber. Some of these writers thinking themselves burlesqued, are said to have been mortified. But Pope observed on the occasion, “ Browne is an excellent copyist; and those who take his imitations amiss, are much in the wrong; they are very strongly mannered ; and few, perhaps, could write so well if they were not so.”In Pope's imitation of the sixth epistle of Horace, there were two remarkable lines, the second of which was thought to contain a heavy anticlimax:
Grac'd, as thou art, with all the power of words,
The unexpected flatness and familiarity of the last line, was thus ridiculed by Mr. Browne, with much humour :
Persuasion tips his tongue whene'er he talks,