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so rapidly distinguished him, that he was named for a King's scholarship at the age of twelve, though not elected until fifteen. Even then, however, the distinction brought no advantage ; for his father was so well pleased with his learning, that he entered him a student at the temple without any more loss of time,
During the three next years he is said to have still farther satisfied the expectations of his family, by the assiduity with which he read the statutes, and the ability with which he comprehended the laws of his country; but when only nineteen, his father died, he became his own master, and abandoned the severities of the legal profession for the lighter laurels of a poet.
His first production was the Ambitious Stepmother," a play which was written at the age of 25 ; and though described by his biographers to have been received with great applause, is now entirely forgotten, and does not seem to merit any other fate. To this succeeded the tragedy of “Tamerlane,' in 1702: composed at a period when political feelings were at an extreme height, it was in every line nerved to strengthen state party prejudice and gainsay partiality. Under the character of Tamerlane, he designed to personify the virtues of William the III.; and under the crimes of Bajazet to depict the tyranny of Louis the. XIV. The hit took, as every hit must always take, when backed by the influence of a government, and adapted to the passions of the people; but the two leading portraitures were as absurd on the one hand as unjust on the other. The Tamerlane of history is no such an excellent personage as the Tamerlane of the stage, and William the III. can never be identified with either of them : no piece of patient perfection such as Rowe's hero, ever drew the breath of life. The comparison between Bajazet and Louis is still less real, and, because the more uncharitable, is a less excusable licence. With this play, however, Rowe is reported to have been far better pleased than with any one of his other performances. The preference, however ill founded, is to be accounted for the vehemence with which Tamerlane was at first applauded was much greater than the juster praise bestowed on some of his other plays; and, as it laid the basis of his political distinctions, it may be easily conceived to have been always agreeable to his imagination.
Flushed with this success, the poet relaxed nothing in diligence, and "The Fair Penitent,' which was represented for the first time during the following year, received the tribute of possessing more appropriate beauties, and the reward of more lasting fame. The story of this tragedy is simply domestic, and deeply engaging; the versification is equable and harmonious; the moral striking, and the incidents well wrought. The character of La thario was original to the stage, and has supplied Richardson, the novelist, with a companion in Clarissa,' which has been ofte commended as an improvement upon the first idea. One pro minent fault has been found with the machinery of the piece the fourth act concludes the fable, and, consequently, the interest of the play. With this exception · The Fair Penitent' is still generally approved of, and often performed.
In 1706 he gave the public a drama upon the story • Ulysses,' wbich was damned at the onset, and has never since been redeemed.
* The Royal Convert' appeared in 1708, and, with better claims to favour, shared a similar fate. These were both tragedies ; but an attempt which he now made in comedy only deepened the disgrace of their failure. "The Biter intervened between the performances just mentioned, under such circumstances of discontent, that the manager was afraid to hazard a second representation of it. Rowe, however, is reported to have differed with the audience, and thought extremely wel of the composition. It is even asserted that he sat in the theatre chuckling with laughter, at what he conceived the wit of the dis logue, while the whole house resounded with booting and bissing.
This succession of adversity damped his efforts for some years but his next attempt was amply rewarded. “Jane Shore,' which was first brought out in 1714, is the tragedy by which Rowe is best known to posterity; and may now be justly considered a standard piece upon the British stage. In the preface to it
, be states that it is written in imitation of Shakspeare, though his commentators have all been at a loss to discover where the resemblance lies, unless it be in the barren fact, that the subject is a story of English history. Authors, however, may be allowed to deceive themselves, while they fulfil the main business of their lives, and gratify the public taste. "Jane Shore' is often played
, and always pleases: the distress is probable, and seizes upon sympathies—we forgive the wife out of pity for her sufferings
- and approbation of her repentance, and regard the husband, because he feels as we do ourselves, and also forgives her.
There is yet another of Rowe's tragedies to be mentioned, though it never succeeded; this was 'Jane Grey.' The story had been long in the hands of Smith, the elegant author of Phædrus and Hippolita ;' and upon his death was transmitted with his papers into the hands of Rowe. But what Smith died before he could finish, died of itself when finished by Rowe, who thenceforward wrote no more for the stage. As an author, however, he still continued active and successful. He edited an edition of Shakspeare, which Doctor Johnson, who performed the same part, thinks was better than the world supposed, or the author himself had promised. His translation of Lucan's · Pharsalia' deserves greater notice, for it is executed in a spirit of far higher merit. The character of the original has been declared more declamatory than poetical, and more philosophical than entertaining. Rowe's versification preserves this style with singular fidelity; the versification introduces no great improvements into our language; but, if never superior to his cotemporaries, he is also never inferior to them. Deficiencies are inseparable from all translations; but after this qualification, Rowe's 'Lucan' may, without farther reservation, be pronounced an estimable acquisition to our literature.
Though Rowe lived to finish this work with the care and steadiness observable in all his productions, yet he did not survive to enjoy the satisfaction of witnessing the favourable reception it met with froin the public. He died in the year 1719,-the forty-fifth of his age ; and bequeathed the publication of his manuscripts to the care of his friend Dr. Welwood, who is the principal writer of his life.
Rowe was the friend of Addison and Pope, and was, moreover, distinguished by the countenance of many celebrated men, who headed the political party to which he always remained firmly attached. Steadily devoted to the pursuits of literature during his lifetime, he, nevertheless, found leisure for other services, and was esteemed a successful map of business. While the Duke of Queensbury was Secretary of State during the reign of Queen Anne, Rowe discharged the office of his under secretary with considerable reputation during a term of three years. When the place of power was changed for other ministers, he and the Whigs were obliged to retire in discontent; but a brighter interest superyened: his political friends resumed their sway, and he was made Poet Laureate to George the I. This era constituted the climax of his elevation, and must have added considerably to his fortune ; for he obtained various other appointments about the same period. -Amongst these are mentioned by his biographers, a surveyorship of the customs of the port of London, a clerkshiy of the council of the Prince of Wales, and a secretaryship of the presentations in the Court of Chancery : thus he lived amongst the great respected, and amongst his equals regarded His character is praised by Pope, but his heart was quarrelled with by Addison. With the world the former testimony should alone prevail; for the author of "Cato,' though apparently sincere in his professions of religion, was a captious friend, and a jealous competitor.
MONTAGUE, EARL OF SANDWICH.
There is not, and there never has been a service so distinguished by personal daring, and so elevated by heroic exploits, as the naval profession of Great Britain. Parallel deeds of individual valour and brilliant exploits may be cited from the annaks of other public bodies, which will happily vie with the celebrity of many of those acts by which the English fleet has won the honours of supremacy over the world; but no equal series of gallant evolutions, intrepid devotion, and desperate glory, unkare broken for ages, and altogether uncontrolled by vicissitudes, is to be found in the history of any nation of the earth. From the first date of its gallant rise above the ocean, it usurped the deathless character it now bears; and no one conjuncture could either time or tide, the adversity of nature, or the enmity of man, inter
pose to control its vigour, or abate its pride. Naturally enough the constellation of glowing names which contributed to this pre-eminence of success, is crowded and illustrious in the extreme: not a few ornaments of the service give interest to these volumes; and amongst the first who headed the roll will be found the subject of this sketch.
Edward, the only surviving son of Sir Sydney Montague, was born on the 27th of July, 1596, and first entered the service of his country in the Parliamentary army, which reduced Charles the I. to the scaffold, and elevated Cromwell, in his stead, to the government of the country. Though he rose rapidly to command, and acted a prominent part in many of the civil engagements of that disastrous time, still his authority was then always subordinate, and he had neither influence over, nor a share in the measures, which so brutally signalized the change of our constitution. Like many other distinguished men of that age, he became a sailor, when as a soldier his country required no assistance from his sword; and soon found the adventurous service of the ocean more congenial to the spirit of his bravery, than the tamer conflicts of the land, embittered as it was by domestic feud, and civil bloodshed. In the navy he rose to promotion, even with a greater celerity than he had already done in the army, and was early noticed with favour by the discriminating Protector. From him he received the rank of Admiral, and sailed under Blake, in his memorable expedition into the Mediterranean, with a reputation which fully sustained the confidence of the appointment.
Upon the death of Cromwell, Montague was appointed to the command of a formidable fleet, which passed into the Baltic to compose the differences of the Northern Powers, and deter them from any enterprise on behalf of the exiled Prince. The trust was successfully discharged; but some suspicions, which, in all probability, were not ill founded, of his having corresponded with Charles, obtained circulation, and he was in consequence suddenly supplanted in his office by Admiral Lawson, a rigid presbyterian, and staunch republican. The triumphant issue of General Monk's designs, however, soon replaced Montague in his former elevation; and he had the honour of being appointed to command the fleet which conveyed the restored monarch back to the throne of his ancestors. For the part he performed in this