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ICHOLAS ROWE, descended from an ancient family in Devonshire, was the son of John Rowe, Esquire, a barrister of reputation and extensive practice. He was born in 1673, at the house of his maternal grandfather, at Little Berkford, in Bed-* fordshire. Being placed at Westminster-school, under Dr. Busby, he pursued the classical studies of that place with credit. At the age of sixteen he was removed from school, and entered a student of the Middle Temple, it being his father's intention to bring him up to his own profession; but the death of this parent, when Nicholas was only nineteen, freed him from what he probably thought a pursuit foreign to his disposition; and he turned his chief studies to poetry and polite literature. At the age of twenty-five he produced his first tragedy, "The Ambitious Stepmother;" which was afterwards succeeded by "Tamerlane ;" "The Fair Penitent;""Ulysses;""The Royal Convert ;"
"Jane Shore ;" and "Lady Jane Grey." Of these, though all have their merits, the third and the two last alone keep possession of the stage; but Jane Shore in particular never fails to be viewed with deep interest. His plays, from which are derived his principal claims upon posterity, are chiefly founded on the model of French tragedy; and in his diction, which is poetical without being bombastic or affected; in his versification, which is singularly sweet; and in tirades of sentiment, given with force and elegance, he has few competitors.
As a miscellaneous poet, Rowe occupies but an inconsiderable place among his countrymen; but it has been thought proper to give some of his songs or ballads in the pastoral strain; which have a touching simplicity, scarcely excelled by any pieces of the kind. His principal efforts, however, were in poetical translation; and his version of Lucan's Pharsalia has been placed by Dr. Johnson among the greatest productions of English poetry.
In politics, Rowe joined the party of the Whigs, under whose influence he had some gainful posts, without reckoning that of poet-laureat, on the accession of George I. He was twice married to women of good connections, by the first of whom he had a son, and by the second, a daughter. died in December, 1718, in the 45th year of his age, and was interred among the poets in Westminster Abbey.
A SONG, TO THE TUNE OF "GRIM KING OF THE " GHOSTS.
DESPAIRING beside a clear stream,
A shepherd forsaken was laid;
The wind that blew over the plain,
To his sighs with a sigh did reply; And the brook, in return to his pain, Ran mournfully murmuring by.
"Alas, silly swain that I was!"
Thus sadly complaining, he cry'd, "When first I beheld that fair face, 'Twere better by far I had dy'd. She talk'd, and I bless'd the dear tongue;
When she smil'd, 'twas a pleasure too great.
I listen'd, and cry'd, when she sung,
Was nightingale ever so sweet?
"How foolish was I to believe
She could doat on so lowly a clown, Or that her fond heart would not grieve, To forsake the fine folk of the town?
To think that a beauty so gay,
So kind and so constant would prove;
"What though I have skill to complain,
Though the Muses my temples have crown'd; What though, when they hear my soft strain, The virgins sit weeping around.
Ah, Colin, thy hopes are in vain,
"And you, my companions so dear,
Forbear to accuse the false maid.
Though through the wide world I should range,
Let her come with the nymphs of the plain,
Is to shade me with cypress and yew;
Let her own that her shepherd was true.
"Then to her new love let her go, And deck her in golden array,
Be finest at every fine show,
And frolic it all the long day;
THE CONTENTED SHEPHERD.
TO MRS. A D
As on a summer's day
In the greenwood shade I lay,
As her fancy mov'd,
And as she passed by
With a scornful glance of her eye,
"For a swain must it be,
Like a lazy loon for to die!
"And dost thou nothing heed, What Pan our God has decreed; What a prize to-day
Shall be given away,
To the sweetest shepherd's reed!
"There's not a single swain
Of all this fruitful plain,
But with hopes and fears
The bonny boon to gain.
"Shall another maiden shine
In brighter array than thine?
Tune thy pipe once again,
* Afterwards his wife.