« FöregåendeFortsätt »
with our author ; the Surprizal, a tragi-comedy; and the Vertal Virgin, or the Roman Ladies, a tragedy : the last 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 volume, 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 censure of Shadwell, who has satirized him very severely in a play, called The Sullen Lovers, under the name of Sir Positive Ai-all, and his lady, whom he first kept, and afterwards married, under that of Lady Vain.
as stoics, &c. The stoics were a seĉt of philosophers, founded at Athens by Zeno, reinarkable for their equanimity under misfortunes. They taught, that an unavoidable fate presided over every thing, the course of which could not be altered by Jupiter himself. Their opinions were disputed by the Platonists and Perripatetics.
The curious net, &c. A compliment to a poem of Sir Robert's, entitled Rete Mi. rabile.
Who dress'd by Statius, &c. Publius Papinius Statius, a Neapolitan bard, who lived at Rome in great favor with Domitian. He wrote the Thebaid, an Epic poem, in twelve books, one of which has been translated by Pope ; and the Achilleid: the latter is imperfect, and was translated by Sir Robert, with annotations; and these our author means to compliment in this passage. There is another translation of it, not yet published, by Mr. Brigantine, a young Oxonian, of excellent abilities.
With Monk you end, &c.
As Rome recorded Rufus' memory. P. Rutilius Rufus, conful of Rome, anno civ. 649, having the interest of his country much at heart, was banished by the influence of some designing people ; and, retiring to Smyrna, was so
highly respected, that most of the Asian potentates sent thither ambassadors to compliment hiin. Sylla would have revoked his exile, but he refused the offer, and gave himself up to study. Cic. in Brut. speaks of him as a man of great knowledge and application; a subtle reasoner, weli learned in the law, and an excellent Greek critic. We find these two lines written on him :
“ Hic fitus eft Rufus, qui pulso vindice quondam
Imperium afferuit non fibi, fed patriæ.”
E P I S T L E II.
To my honored friend Dr. Charleton, &c. The book that occafioned this epistle, made its appearance in quarto in 1663. It is dedicated to King Charles II, and entitled, Chorea Gigantum; or, The most famous Antiquity of Great Britain, Stone-Henge, standing on Salisbury-plain, restored to the Danes by Dr. Walter Charleton, M. D. and Physician in Ordinary to his Majesty. It was written in answer to a treatise of Inigo Jones's, which attributed this ftupendous pile to the Romans, fuppofing it to be a temple, by them dedicated to the god Cælum, or Cælus; and here that great architect let his imagination out-run his judgment, nay, his sense ; for he described it not as it is, but as it ought to be, in order to make it confifa tent with what he delivered. Dr. Charleton, who will have this to be a Danish monument, was countenanced in his opinion by Olaus Wormius, who wrote him several letters upon the subject; yet, that he was mistaken appears by the mention made of StoneHenge in Nennius's Hift. Britonum, a writer who lived two hundred years before the Danes came into England. Tho his book was approved of by many men of great erudition, and is not only very learned, but abounds with curious observations, it was but indifferently received, and raised many clamors against the author.
Envy, however, could not prevent Dr. Charleton's merits from being feen, nor divide him from the intimacy of Mr. Hobbes the philosopher ; Sir George Ent, a celebrated physician; the noble family of the Boyle's; and Dr. William Harvey, whose claim to the discovery of the circulation of the blood, he forceably defended againit the claim thereto set on foot by father Pauli Thus he
“ From dark oblivion Harvey's name shall save."
As that eminent physician was now dead, the doctor's behaviour upon this point was as generous an instance of gratitude and respect to his friend's memory, as it was a proof of his capacity and extensive learning. He was president of the college of physicians, from 1689 to 1691, when his affairs being not in the most flourishing state, he retired to the idle of Jersy, and died in 1707, aged eighty-eight years.
Among th' affertors of free reason's, &c. What follows of this epistle is looked upon as an elegant and curious review of the state of medical and philosophical knowledge in this kingdom for some preceding years.
The world to Bacon does not only, &c. Francis Bacon, Lord Verulam, Viscount St. Alban's, some time high-chancellor of England, and one of the greatest philosophers of his age. His works were published in 1740, by Millar, in four folio volumes, with a life prefixed by the ingenious David Mallett, Esq; which, for elegance, accuracy, and taste, is universally admired, and reckoned one of the best biographical pieces that ever was produced in this kingdom.
Gilbert hall live, &c. Dr. William Gilbert, a learned writer of the seventeenth century, physician both to Queen Elizabeth and King James. Anno 1600, he published a valuable treatise on the magnet, or loadstone, and magnetical bodies, and of that great magnet the earth.
And noble Boyle, not lefs in nature seen
Than his great brother, &c. The Hon. Robert Boyle, seventh son to Richard Earl of Cork and Burlington, was born in 1626-7, at Lismore in Ireland. At eight years of age he was brought into England, and placed at Eton for education, where he continued near four years; and was then removed to Geneva, where he pursued his studies with intense application. He afterwards made the tour of Switzerland and Italy, and returning to England, on his father's death lived privately, mostly at Stalbridge and Oxford, during the trou. bles. He first planned the Royal Society, of which Dr. Charleton was also one of the first members. He applied himself chiefly to philosophical and mathematical studies; and we owe to him the invention of the air-pump. His works are numerous, large, and useful ; his knowledge was very extensive, and his virtues worthy of admiration. He died in 1691, aged lixty.
five, and lies buried in the chancel of St. Martin's-in-the-fields London. He was tall, tlender, and emaciated, with a pale cast of countenance, weak eyes, and much afflicted with the stone. The delicacy of his constitution obliged him to live very abstemiously, and he was good christian.
His brother was the famous Roger Boyle, Earl of Orrery, known during the inter-regnum, under the name of Lord Brogo hill. He was a solid statesman, an intrepid soldier, and a good writer. He wrote some political pieces relating to the affairs of Ireland ; besides eight plays, and several poems. His first play, entitled Henry the Fifth, was dressed in cloaths given to the actors by the king and his courtiers. Betterton, who played the part of Owen Tudor, wearing the king's coronation suit ; that of the Duke of York was worn by Joe Harris, whom we shall anon mention as an author, who played King Henry, &c.
The circling Areams
While Ent keeps all the honors that he gave. Dr. William Harvey, an eminent physician of the seventeenth century, being lecturer of anatomy and surgery in the college of physicians, communicated his discovery of the circulation of the blood in his public lectures of the year 1616, which being afterwards published to the world in the Exercitatio anatorica de motu cordis et sanguinis, was attacked by Æmilius Parisanus, who wrote a Refutatio Harvei, &c. to which Dr. George Eut printed a reply. He died in his eightieth year, anno 1657.
These ruins sheltered once, &c. In the dedication, made by Dr. Charleton, of his book, concerning Stone Henge to King Charles II. there is the following memorable passage, which gave occasion to the six concluding lines of this poem. “ I have had the honor to hear from that “ oracle of truth and wisdom, your majesty's own mouth : you " were pleased to visit that monument, and, for many hours to“ gether, entertain yourself with the delightful view thereof, “ when after the defeat of your loyal army at Worcester, Al“ mighty God, in infinite mercy to your three kingdoms, mira“ culously delivered you out of the bloody jaws of those ministers 4 of fin and cruelty.”
EPIST LE 111.
To the Lady Cafilemain. Mr. Dryden's first play called the Wild Gallant, was exa hibited with but indifferent success. The lady whose patronage he acknowledges in this epistle, was Barbara daughter of William Villiers Lord Grandison, who was killed in the king's service at the battle of Edge-hill in 1642, and buried in Chriftchurch in Oxford. This lady was one of Charles II's favorite mistresses for many years, and she bore him several children. 1. Charles Fitzroy, duke of Southampton ; 2. Henry Fitzroy, earl of Eufton and duke of Grafton; 3. George Fitzroy, earl of Northumberland ; 4. Charlotta, married to Sir Edward Henry Lee of Ditchley in Oxfordshire, afterwards earl of Litchfield, and brother to Eleonora countess of Abingdon, on whom Dryden has written a beautiful elegy ; 5. A daughter, whom the king denied to be his.
This lady was, before she was known to his majesty, married to Roger Palmer efq; who was creater earl of Castlemain, by whom she had a daughter, whom the king adopted, and who married with Thomas lord Dacres, earl of Sussex.
The countess of Castlemaine was afterwards created dutchefs of Cleveland.
EPIS T L E IV.
To Mr. Lee on his Alexander the Great.
Nat. Lee, the author of Alexander the Great and ten other plays, seemed inspired with all the enthusiasm of a poet. He often writes to the heart; and no man ever touched with more grace and tenderness on the paffion of love. “ His thoughts, " says Addison, are wonderfully suited for tragedy; but fre
quently lost in such a croud of words, that it is hard to see the “ beauty of them. There is infinite fire in his works; but so “ involved in smoke, that it does not appear in half its lustre.”
Lee, who was both an author and an actor, was for some time confined in Bedlam, being in a state of insanity; and is said to have perished in the streets by night, a coach running over, and crushing him to death. Dryden and he were in strict friend thip.
E PISTLE V.
To the Earl of Roscommon, &c. Wentworth Dillon, earl of Roscommon in Ireland, and a na. tive of that kingdom, was educated under bishop Hall in England, and was looked upon as one of the most hopeful young men of his time. He was captain of the band of pensioners; but gave up his commission, when his private affairs called him