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Trottin, Sussex, 1651-1685.

After experiencing several reverses of fortune in other walks

of life, Otway took to writing for the stage. The age of Charles II. abounded in wit and licentiousness, and Otway was not deficient in either; his tragedies are how. ever peculiarły tender, and forcible. But Otway's reward is to be found in his posthumous fame; his contemporaries were blind to, or jealous of his merits, and he did not always meet the success he ought to have commanded. Poverty made his death more than commonly wretched; it is even said, that, in his extreme hunger, he was choaked with a piece of bread, which he was too eager in devouring: A bitter reflection on those who knew, and slighted his claims to protection.

The Poet's Complaint of his Muse.





I AM a wretch of honest race : My parents not obscure, nor high in titles were :

They left me heir to no disgrace.

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My father was (a thing now rare)

Loyal and brave, my mother chaste and fair : The pledge of marriage-vows was only I; Alone I liv'd their much-loved fondled boy; They gave me generous education; high They strove to raise my mind; and with it grew

their joy. The sages

that instructed me in arts,
And knowledge, oft would praise my parts,
And cheer my parents' longing hearts.

When I was call'd to a dispute,
My fellow-pupils oft stood mute :

Yet never envy did disjoin
Their hearts from me, nor pride distemper mine.
Thus my first years in happiness I past,

did taste : But, Oh! a deadly portion came at last.

As I lay loosely on my bed, A thousand pleasant thoughts triumphing in my

head, And as my sense on the rich banquet fed, A voice (it seem'd no more, so busy I

Was with myself, I saw not who was nigh) Pierc'd through my ears ; Arise, thy good Senan

der's dead.' It shook my brain, and from their feast my frighted

senses fled.

bitter cup


From thence sad discontent, uneasy fears,
And anxious doubts of what I had to do,

Grew with succeeding years.
The world was wide, but whither should I go?
I, whose blooming hopes all wither'd were,
Who'd little fortune, and a deal of care ?
To Britain's great metropolis I stray'd,

Where Fortune's general game is play'd ;
Where honesty and wit are often praised,

But fools and knaves are fortunate and raised ; My forward spirit prompted me to find

A converse equal to my mind :
But by raw judgment easily misled,

(As giddy callow boys

fond of toys)
I miss'd the brave and wise, and in their stead
On every sort of vanity I fed.
Gay coxcombs, cowards, knaves, and prating fools,
Bullies of o'ergrown bulks and little souls,
Gamesters, half-wits, and spendthrifts (such as

Mischievous midnight frolics bred by drink

Are gallantry and wit,
Because to sheir lewd understandings fit)

Were those wherewith two years at least I spent, To all their fulsome follies most incorrigibly bent ;

Till at the last, myself more to abuse,
I grew

in love with a deceitful Muse.


No fair deceiver ever used such charms, T'ensnare a tender youth, and win his heart;

Or when she had him in her arms,

Secured his love with greater art.
I fancy'd, or I dream'd (as poets always do)

No beauty with my Muse's might compare, Lofty she seemd, and on her front sat a majestic

Awful, yet kind; severe, yet fair.

Upon her head a crown she bore,
Of laurel, which she told me should be mine :

And round her ivory neck she wore
A rope of largest pearl. Each part of her did shine

With jewels and with gold,

Numberless to be told ;
Which in imagination I did behold,

And loved and wonder'd more and more.
Said she, these riches all, my darling, shall be thine,

Riches which never poet bad before. She promised me to raise my fortune and my name,

By royal favour, and by endless fame;

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