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bition, are as various as the subject would admit, without violating the simplicity of nature, which úniformly prevails. This may be extended to the whole of the plot and denouement, which latter is conducted with considerable felicity. The diction, without aspiring to splendour or elegance, is just and poetical. The figures, though not numerous, are striking and well chosen. As the climax of distress approaches, the language assumes a tender and pathetic character, expressive of the subject; and, by degrees, becomes so irresistibly moving, that few of those who follow the distresses of the “Orphan" to their close, can refuse to participate in emotions similar to those of Mrs. Barry, the celebrated actress, who declared, that when playing the part of Monimia, slie vever uttered the words, “ Ah! poor Castalio!" without tears.
Lest it should be imagined that partiality has assumed the disguise of candour, some notice will now be taken of the imperfections of this play: and, first, the defect of it's moral. Otway concludes it with these lines:
To search the means by which the fates have plagu'd us. 'Tis thus that heav'n it's empire does maintain; It may afflict, but man must not complain.
This is a gloomy reflection. Although the distress of the scene, in which the innocent are complicated with the guilty, may be supposed to extort such a sentiment from a thoughtless mind; the poet is bound to viudicate the distributions of Providence from heedless cen
sures arising out of the dull perceptions of mortality. The mischievous tendency of falshood and disingenuousness, seems to be the moral inference which, without any art of the poet, we may deduce from the piece; and in this view of the subject, Castalio deserves less compassion, and Polydore less indignation, than they respectively receive. The plot, in common with that of Shakespeare's “ Measure for Measure," labours under the charge of indecency. There are likewise some sentiments which border upon libertinism. In Acasto’s advice to his sons, the limits between truth and satire are so indistinct, that he appears at one time to discourse inconsistently with his character.
It is generally supposed, that in Acasto may be found the portrait of the first Duke of Ormond; and the resemblance is sufficiently strong to warrant the conjecture, notwithstanding it iinplies a severe reproach upon the king for his neglect of him.
- When for what he had borne
These disgraceful epithets will apply, with truth, to the Duke of Buckingham, among other characters of equal profligacy, who interposed themselves between the king and Ormond*.
* In Carte's life of this excellent nobleman, may be seen many points of the resemblance before alluded to.
The “ Orphan" was represented in 1680, and printed, 4to. the same year. The flattering dedication to the Duchess of York, when read in connection with a sentence in the beginning of the third act of the play, reflects neither honour upon the object, nor eredit upon the panegyrist. Voltaire is unaccountably mistaken in saying it is dedicated to the Duchess of Cleveland.
HER ROYAL HIGHNESS
AFTER having a great while wished to write some thing that might be worthy to lay at Your Highness's feet, and finding it impossible: since the world has been so kind to me to judge of this poein to my advantage, as the most pardonable fault which I have made in it's kind; I had sinned against myself, if I had not chosen this opportunity to implore (what my ambition is most fond of) your favour and protection.
For though fortune would not so far bless endeayours, as to encourage them with Your Royal Highness's presence, when this came into the world; yet, I cannot but declare it was my design and hopes, it might have been your divertisement in that happy season,
you returned again to cheer all those eyes that bad before wept for your departure, and enliven all hearts that had wept for your absence: when wit ought to have paid it's choicest tributes in, and joy have known no limits, then I hoped my little mite would not have been rejected; though my ill fortune was too hard for me, and I lost a greater honour, by Your Royal Highness's absence, than all the applauses of the world besides can make me reparation for.
Nevertheless, I thought myself not quite unhappy, so
* Mary-Beatrix Eleonora of Este, daughter of the Duke of Modena.' She was the Duke of York's second wife,
long as I had hopes this way yet to recompense my disappointment past: when I considered also, that poetry might claim right to a little share in your favour: for Tasso and Ariosto, some of the best, have made their names eternal, by transmitting to after-ages the glory of your ancestors; and under the spreading of that shade, where two of the best have planted their laurels, how honoured should I be, who am the worst, if but a branch might grow for me!
I dare not think of offering any thing in this address, that might look like a panegyric, for fear lest, when I have done my best, the world should condemn me, for saying too little, and you yourself check me, for meddling with a task upfit for
talent. For the description of virtues and perfections so rare as your's are, ought to be done by as deliberate, as skilfula hand; the features must be drawn very fine, to be like; hasty daubing would but spoil the picture, and make it so unnatural, as must want false lights to set it off: and your virtue can receive no more lustre from praises, than your beauty can be improved by art; which, as it charms the bravest prince that ever aniazed the world with his virtue; so let but all other hearts enquire into themselves, and then judge how it ought to be praised.
Your love too, as none but that great hero, who has it, could deserve it, and therefore, by a particular lot from heaven, was destined to so extraordinary a blessing, so matchless for itself, and so wondrous for it's constancy, shall be remembered to your immortal hopour, when all other transactions of the age you live in, shall be forgotten.
But I forget that I am to ask pardon for the fault I have been all this while committing. Wherefore, I beg Your Highness to forgive me this presumption, and that you will be pleased to think well of one, who cannot help resolving, with all the actions of life, to endeavour to deserve it: nay more, I would beg, and hope it may be granted, that I may, through your's, never want an