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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.
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,
When I was call'd to a dispute,
Yet never envy did disjoin
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
From thence sad discontent, uneasy fears,
Grew with succeeding years.
Where Fortune's general game is play'd ;
But fools and knaves are fortunate and raised ; My forward spirit prompted me to find
A converse equal to my mind :
(As giddy callow boys
fond of toys)
Are gallantry and wit,
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,
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.
No beauty with my Muse's might compare, Lofty she seemd, and on her front sat a majestic
Upon her head a crown she bore,
And round her ivory neck she wore
With jewels and with gold,
Numberless to be told ;
And loved and wonder'd more and more.
Riches which never poet bad before. She promised me to raise my fortune and my name,
By royal favour, and by endless fame;