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EPISTLE THE THIRTEENTH.
ON HIS EXCELLENT TRAGEDY,
GEORGE GRANVILLE, afterwards Lord Lansdowne of Biddiford, was distinguished, by the friendship of Dryden and Pope, from the mob of gentlemen who wrote with ease. He copied Waller, a model perhaps chosen from a judicious consideration of his own powers. His best piece is his Essay on Unnatural Flights in Poetry," in which he elegantly apologizes for Dryden having suffered his judgment to be swayed by a wild audience. Granville's play of the Heroic Love, or the Cruel Separation,” was acted in 1698 with great applause. It is a mythological drama on the love of Agamemnon and Briseis; and this being said, it is hardly necessary to add, that it now scarcely bears reading. Granville's unshaken attachment to Tory principles, as well as his excellent private character, probably gained him favour in our poet's eyes. Lord Lansdowne (for such became Granville's title when Queen Anne created twelve peers to secure a majority to ministry in the House of Lords) died on the 30th January, 1735.
EPISTLE THE THIRTEENTH.
Auspicious poet, wert thou not my friend,
Thus they jog on, still tricking, never thriving, And murdering plays, which they miscal reviving.* Our sense isnonsense, through their pipes convey’d; Scarce can a poet know the play he made,
* These sarcasms are levelled at the players; one of whom, George Powel, took it upon him to retort in the following very singular strain of effrontery, which Mr Malone transfers from the preface of a tragedy, called “ The Fatal Discovery, or Love in Ruins," published in 4to, 1698.
“ Here I am afraid he makes but a coarse compliment, when this great wit, with his treacherous memory, forgets, that he had given away his laurels upon record twice before, viz. once to Mr Congreve, and another time to Mr Southerne. Prythee, old Edipus, expound this mystery! Dost thou set up thy transubstantiation miracle in the donation of thy idol bays, that thou hast them fresh, new, and whole, to give them three times over ?
" For the most mortal stroke at us, he charges us with downright murdering of plays which we call reviting. I will not derogate from the merit of those senior actors of both sexes, of the other house, that shine in their several perfections, in whose lavish praises he is so highly transported; but, at the same time, he makes himself but an arbitrary judge on our side to condemn unheard, and that under no less a conviction than murder, when I cannot learn, for a fair judgment upon us, that his reverend crutches have ever brought him within our doors since the division of the companies [ 1695). 'Tis true, I think, we have revived some pieces of Dryden, as his “ Sebastian,” « Maiden Queen,” “ Marriage A-la-Mode, “ King Arthur," &c. But here let us be tried by a Christian jury, the audience, and not receive the bow-string from his Mahometan Grand Signiorship. 'Tis true, his more particular pique against us, as he has declared him self, is in relation to our reviving his “Almanzor.” There, indeed, he has reason to be angry for our waking that sleepy dowdy, and exposing his nonsense, not ours; and if that dish did not please him, we have a Scotch proverb for our justification, viz. 'twas rotten roasted, because, &c. and the world must expect, 'twas very
hard crutching up what Hart and Mohun before us could not prop. I confess, he is a little severe, when he will allow our best performance to bear no better fruit than a crab vintage. Indeed, if we young actors spoke but half as sourly as his old gall scribbles, we should be crab all over.” VOL. XI.
"Tis so disguised in death; nor thinks 'tis he
EPISTLE THE FOURTEENTH. .
TO MY FRIEND
ON HIS TRAGEDY
BEAUTY IN DISTRESS.
PUBLISHED IN 1698.
Peter Anthony Motteux was a French Huguenot, born at Rohan, in Normandy, in 1660. He emigrated upon the revocation of the edict of Nantz; and having friends in England of opulence and respectability, he became a merchant and bookseller of some eminence; besides enjoying a place in the Post-office, to which his skill as a linguist recommended him. This must have been considerable, if we judge by his proficiency in the language of England, certainly not the most easy to be commanded by a foreigner. Nevertheless, Motteux understood it so completely, as not only to write many occasional pieces of English poetry, but to execute a very good translation of Don Quixote," and compose no less than fifteen plays, several of which were very well received. He also conducted the “ Gentleman's Journal.” On the 19th February, 1717-18, this author was found dead in a house of bad fame, in the parish of St Clement Danes, not without suspicion of murder. Motteux appears
to have enjoyed the countenance of Dryden, who, in the following verses, consoles him under the censure of those who imputed to his play of Beauty in Distress," an irregu