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THE LIFE OF DUKE.
De Richard Duke very few particulars have descended to posterity. The accounts of his family are obscure and imperfe&t. Jacob says, his father was an eminent citizen of London, but does not mention his profeflion. The year of his birth is not known.
The earliest circumstance that has been recorded concerning him, is the date of his admission to Westminster-school, which appears to have been in 1670.
It is probable, he was admitted a scholar upon the foundation, as he was elected to Trinity Col. ledge, Cambridge, in 1675.
What indications of genius he displayed in his school exercises, cannot now be certainly known; but he appears, from his writings, to have been an accomplished classical scholar, and early addicted to the study of poetry.
On his coming to Cambridge, he eplifted himself among the wits of the university, and was distinguished in the literary and fucial circles, for the elegance of his taste, and the sprightliness of his conversation.
He lived in habits of familiar intimacy with Otway, who appears, from his Epistle to him, and the Answer to it, to have resided some time at Cambridge, after he left Oxford, though it cannot be ascertained by the register of the university that he studied there.
In 1679, he addressed a copy of Verses to Dryden, on the appearance of his “ Troilus and CresGda,” in which he calls him, “our Master Poet, great King of Verse," and himfelf,“ an unknown, unheard-of private oame,”
“ A young beginner in the trade of wit." In 1680, came out a translation of Ovid's Epistles, by Dryden, and other popular names, to which he contributed the Epistles of Paris to Helen, and Acontius to Cydippe.
The same year, he wrote a Paftoral on the Death of Mary Ducbefs of Soutbampton ; a mode of writing which was then very fashionable among the wits on such occasions.
The year following, he attended the publication of “ Absalom and Achitophel,” with a poetical compliment to “ the unknown Author," in whose " mighty and immortal lines" he recognises " the informing genius” and “ divine flame" of his master, Dryden.
Soon after the appearance of “ Absalom and Achitophel,” he wrote a political poem, intituled The Review, which, though unfinished, is the most considerable of his original performances.
In an advertisement prefixed to it, the Editor says, “ he was persuaded to undertake it by Mr. Sheridan, the secretary to the Duke of York; but Mr. Duke, finding that gentleman designed to make use of his pen to vent his splecn against several persons at Court that were of another party than that he was engaged in, broke off proceeding in it, and left it (imperfe&) as it is now printed.”
lo 1682, he took his degree of Master of Arts, having been before a fellow of his college, or appointed to a fellowship soon after his gradnacion.
The same year, he wrote a poem on the Marriage of George Prince of Denmark to Lady Anne, which contains an elegant mixture of panegyric and poetry ; the conclusion is eminently happy.
In 1684, he wrote a poem on the Death of King Cbarles II., and tbe Inquguration of King James ; in which his loyalty and wit are equally conspicuous. The chara&er of Charles, though deficient
in truth, is a masterpiece of panegyric; and the compliment to James exhibits sufficient prooks ei his poetical, but not of his prophetical power.
He was engaged, among other wits, in the version of Juvenal, that goes under the name of Drs. den, and translated the Fourth Satire.
He contributed, also, several translations from Theocritus, Horace, and Virgil, co Dryda' Miscellany; in which most of his other poems were first published.
When he left the university, he entered into orders, as he humorously threatened, in the corck fion of his Epiftle to Otzeay :
Else I shall grow —
And wit, that at a quibble never fails. From this time, he appears to have fubdued his inclination to levity and conviviality; for he became a celebrated preacher, and obtained several ecclefiaftical preferments; being made a preberdary of Gloucester, a proctor in the convocation for that church, and a chaplain to Cares Aune.
In 1710, he was presented by the Bishop of Winchester to the valuable living of Witney, in or fordshire, which he enjoyed but a few months. On February 1710-11, having returned from 2: entertainment, he was found dead the next morning.
This is all that is known of Duke; a man who enjoyed the friendship and praises of Diges, Waller, Orway, Lee, Creech, and other contemporary wits; and who appears to have bees : polite and accomplished scholar and a respectable, though not a great poet.
klis foems were collected and published by Tonson, in 8vo, 1717, with the poems of Relcem mon and Buckingham, and have been reprinted in subsequent collections.
On his poetry much commendation cannot be bestowed. His Translations have nothing in them reinarkable. Like the versions of his associates, they are generally licentious, without compenfa:ing for their frecdom by their beauties. His Political Verses are not unskilfully written, though much debaled by sentiments of fervility and adulation. The Review, though imperfe&, has forme vigorous, and fome happy lines. His Songs are not inferior to other compositions of that kis! His Epifles are easy and familiar. lo all his pieces are to be found some elegancies of versifiation, and some felicities of diction.
His Sermons have been several times reprinted, and are ranked, by Dr. Felton, with the compoétions of Tillotson and Sprat.
After commending the Bishop of Rochester, he says :
“ Mr. Duke may be also mentioned, under the double capacity of a poet and a divinc. He is a bright example in the several parts of writing, whether we consider his Originals, his Tranlative Paraphrafes, or Imitations. But here I can only mention him as a divine, but with this peculiar commendation, that in his Sermons, besides liveliness of wit, purity and correctness of flyle, and justoesse: argument, we see many fine allusions to the ancients, several beautiful passages handsomely incarperated in the train of his own though:s; and, to fay all in a word, claffic learning and a Chrif.com Spirit."
His moral and poctical character is briefly, but judiciously and wittily given by Dr. Jekaler, though it contains a supposition with regard to his later sentiments of some of his compolitics, fə which there is no foundation, as none of his verses, even the most light and airy, are offenfive to virtue or decency.
“ He appears, from his writings, to have been not ill qualified for poetical compositions. tis poems are not below mediocrity; nor have I found much in them to be praised. With the wit, bet seems to have shared the dissoluteness of the times; for some of his compositions are fuch, as he must have reviewed with deteftation in his latter days.
Perhaps, like some other foolish young men, he rather talked than lived vicioudy, in 20 30 where he that would be thought a wit was afraid to say his prayers; and whatever migł:c hare beca bad in the first part of his life, was surely condemned and reformed by his better judgment."
PO E M S.
And he who, when the winds and seas were high,
Oppos’d his skill, and did their rage defy,
No diminution to his honour thought, " Ambages; sed summa sequar faftigia rerum." T' enjoy the pleasure of the calm he brought.
VIRG. (Should he alone be so the people's fave,
As not to share the blessings that he gave ?) How have we wander'd a long dismal night, But nut till, full of providential care, Led through blind paths by each deluding light! He chose a pilot in his place to steer: Now plung'd in mire, now by sharp brambles torn, One in his father's councils and his own With tempests beat, and to the winds a scorn! Long exercis'd, and grey in business grown; Loft, weary'd, spene! but see the eastern Itar Whose confirmi'd judgment and fagacious wit And glimmering light dawns kindly from afar: Knew all the sands on which rash monarchis split; Bright Goddess, hail ! while we by thee survey Of rising winds could, ere they blew, inform, The various errors of our painful way;
And from which quarter to expect the storin. F While, guided by some clew of heavenly thread, Such was, or such he feem'd, whom Cælar chofe,
The labyrinch perplex'd we backward tread, And did all empire's cares in him repose, Through rulers' avarice, pride, ambition, hate, That, after all his toils and dangers past, Perverse cabals, and winding turns of state, He might lie down and taste some eale at last. The senare's rage, and all the crooked lincs
Now stands the statesman of the helm pofseft, Of incoherent plots and wild designs;
On him alone three mighty nations reit; Till, getting out where first we enter'd in, Byrsa. his name, bred at the wrangling bar, A new bright race of glory we begin.
And skill'd in arms of that litigious war; As, after Winter, Spring's glad face appears, But more to Wit's peacefuller arts inclin'd, As the blest shore to shipwreck'd mariners, Learning's Mæcenas, and the Muses' friend; Success to lovers, glory to the brave,
Him every Muse in every age had sung, Health to the sick, or freedom to the fave; His casy flowing wit and charming tongue, Such was grcat Cæsar's day! the wondrous day, Had not the treacherous voice of power infpir'd That long in Fate's dark borom hatching lay, His mounting thoughts, and wild ambition fir’d; Heaven to absolve, and satisfaction bring,
Disdaining less alliances to own, For twenty years of misery and fin!
He now sets up for kinsnian of the throne ; What shouts, what triumph, what unruly joy, And Anna, by the power her father gain'd, Swell'd every breaft, did every tongue employ, Buck'd with great Cæsar's absolute command, With rays direct, whilft on his people shone On false pretence of former contracts made, The king triumphant from the martyr's throne ! Is forc'd on brave + Britannicus's bed. Was ever prince like him to mortals given?
Thus rais'd, his insolence his wit out-vy'd, So much the joy of earth, and care of heaven! And meanest avarice maintain'd his pride: Under the preffure of unequal fate,
When Cæsar, to confirm his infant state, Of so ere& a mind, and soul so great!
Drown'd in oblivion all old names of hate,
By threatening many, but excepting none
And royal grace retailid for rebel gold :
* Earl of Clarendon. † Duke of York. No Janger threstening from the peaceful tide;
That teaches monarchs to oblige their foes, But Cæsar, looking with a just disdain
Upon their hold pretences to the main, For thefe, he said, would fill beg on and serve ; Sent forth his royal brother from his fide, 'Tis the old badge of loyalty to starve :
To lash their insolence, and curb their pride : But harden'd rehels must by bribes be won, Britannicus, by whose high virtues gracid, And paid for all the mighty ills they've done : The present age contends with all the pait; When wealth and honour from their treasons flow, Him Heaven a pattern did for heroes form., How can they choose but very loyal grow? Slow to advise, but eager to perform, This falle ungrateful maxim Byrla taught, In council calm, fierce as a form in fight, Vast sums of wealth from thriving rebels brought; Danger his sport, and labour his delight: Titles and power to thieves and traitors fold, To him the fleet and camp, the sea and field, Swell’d his ftreich'd coffers with o'erflowing gold. Did cqual harvests of bright glory yield. Hence all these tears in these first seeds was sown No less each civil virtue him commends, His country's following ruin, and his own. The best of subjects, bro: hers, miafters, friends ; Of that accurst and facrilegious crew,
To merit just, to needy virtue kind, Which great by merit of rebellion grow,
True to his word, and constant to his friend; Had all unactive perish'd and unknown,
What's well resolv'd, as bravely he pursues, The false * Antonius had suffic'd alone,
Fix'd in his choice, as careful how to choot. To all fucceeding ages to proclaim
Honour was born, not planted in his heart, Of this state principle the guilt and shame. And Virtue came by nature, not by art : Antonius early in rebellious race
Where glory calls, and Cæsar gives command, Swiftiy set out, nor Nackening in his pace, He flies; his pointed thunder in his hard. The same ambition that his youthful heat
The Belgian Acet endeavour'd, but in vain, Urg'd to all ills, the little daring brat
The tempest of his fury to sustain : With unabated ardour does engage,
Shatter'd and torn, before his fags they fiy The lathfome dregs of his decrepit age;
Like doves that the exalted eagle ípy, Bold, full of native and acquir'd deceit,
Ready to stoop and seize them from on high : Of sprightly cunning and malicious wit;
He, Neptune like, when, from his watery bed Refliess, projecting still some new design, Above the waves lifting his awful head, Seill drawing round the government his line, He smiles, and to liis chariot gives the rein, Bold on the walls, or busy in the mine :
In triumph rides o'er the asserted main, Leud as the stews, but to the blinded eyes And now returns, the watery empire won, of the dull crowd as Puritan precise ;
At Cæsar's feet to lay his trident down. Before their light he draws the juggler's cloud But who the shouts and iriumphs can relate Oi public intereft, and the people's good. Of the glad ifle thac his return did wait? The working ferment of his active mind,
Rejoicing crowds attend him on the grand, In his weak body's calk with pain confin’d, Loud as the sea, and numerous as the lande Would burst the rotten vessel where 'tis pent, A joy too great to be by words expreft, But that 'tis tapt to give the treason vent.
Shines in each eye, and beats in every breaf: Such were the men that from the statesman's So joy the many, but the wiser few hand
The godlike prince with silent wonder view. Not pardon only, but promotion gain'd:
The grateful fenate his high acts coníus All offices of dignity or power
In a vast gift, but than his merit less. These swarming locusts grecdily desour;
Britannicus is all the voice of Fame, Preferr'd to all the secrets of the state,
Britannicus! the knows no other name ; These senseless singers in the council fate,
The people's darling, and the court's delight, In their unjust deceitful balance laid,
Lovely in peace, as dreadful in the fighe The great concerns of war and peace were weigh’d. Shall he, mall ever he, who now commands
This wise + Lovisius knew, whole mighty mind So many thousand hearts, and tongues, and 123ks; Had universal empire long design'd;
Shall ever he, by some Arange crime of fate, And when he all things found were bought and Fall under the ignoble vulgar's hare? fold,
Who knows? the turns of Fortune who can ed? 'Thought nothing there impossible to gold: Who fix her globe, or stop the rolling wheel! With mighty jums, through secret channels The crowd's a fea, whose wants run high or bor, brought,
According as the winds, their leaders, blow. On the corrupted counsellors he wrought: All calm and smooth, till from fome corner la «Igainst the neighbouring Belgians they declare An envious blast, that makes the billows rike: A hazardous and an expensive war.
The blast, that whence it comes, or where it gosting Their fresh affronts and matchless insolence
We know not ; but where'er it lists it blow. To Cæsar's bonour made a fair pretence; Was not of old the Jewish rabble's cry Mere outside this, but, ruling by his pay, Hofunna first, and after crucify? Cunning Lovisius did this project lay,
Now Byrsa with full orb illustrious fooe, By mutual damages to weaken those
With beams reflected from his glorious fent ; Who only could his vast designs oppose.
All power his own, but what was given to the * Earl of Shaftesbury, + French King.
Thai counsellors by him from rebels rości