1719 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Nicholas Rowe

Giles Jacob, in Poetical Register: or the Lives and Characters of the English Dramatick Poets (1719) 212-13.



This Gentleman was born at Little Beckford, in the County of Bedford. He is descended from the Family of the Rowes of Lamerton in Devonshire, and is the only surviving Son of John Rowe, Esq; Serjeant at Law. He was first plac'd to a private School at Highgate; and afterwards put under the Care of the Reverend Dr. Busby, in Westminster-School; from thence he remov'd to the Middle-Temple, where, after a considerable Progress in the Study of the Law, he was call'd to the Bar, and attain'd a Reputation suitable to his Merit; but he early quitted those dry and laborious Studies, to pursue the more pleasing Bent of Genius in polite Literature.

He was, in the late Reign, near Thee Years Under-Secretary to the Duke of Queensborough and Dover, Principal Secretary of State; and since his Majesty's Accession, he has had conferr'd on him the Places of Clerk of the Council to his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, Poet-Laureat to his Majesty, one of the Land-Surveyors of the Customs in the Port of London, and Secretary of the Presentations to the Lord High-Chancellor of Great Britain.

Mr. Rowe is easy and instructive in his Conversation, polite in his Manners, and perfectly sincere in his Professions of Friendship. In his Writings there is a beauty of Expression, a masterly Wit, a nervous Strength, and a Diction more exactly Dramatick than appears in the Works of any other Modern Author. His Talent is Tragedy, and he has oblig'd us with the following Performances:

I. The Ambitious Step-Mother; a Tragedy, acted at the Theatre in Lincolns-Inn-Fields. Dedicated to the Earl of Jersey.

II. TAMERLANE; a Tragedy, acted at the Theatre in Lincolns-Inn-Fields. Dedicated to the Marquiss of Hartington, now Duke of Devonshire. This Play was wrote in Compliment to King William III. It was first receiv'd (and continues still to be acted) with very great Applause.

III. The Fair Penitent; a Tragedy, acted at the Theatre in Lincolns-Inn-Fields. Dedicated to the Dutchess of Ormond.

IV. The Biter; a Comedy of Three Acts, perform'd at the Theatre in Lincolns-Inn-Fields.

V. ULYSSES; a Tragedy, acted at the Queen's Theatre in the Hay-Market. Dedicated to the Earl of Godolphin.

VI. The Royal Convert; a Tragedy, acted at the Queen's Theatre in the Hay-Market. Dedicted to Charles Earl of Halifax.

VII. The Tragedy of JANE SHORE; written in Imitation of Shakespear's Stile, acted at the Theatre Royal in Drury-Lane. Dedicated to the Duke of Queensborough and Dover.

VIII. The Tragedy of the Lady JANE GRAY; acted at the Theatre Royal in Drury-Lane. Dedicated to her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales.

All Mr. Rowe's Tragedies have succeeded, and indeed they cannot be too much applauded. They are now printed in Two Volumes 12mo, with a general Dedication to Edward Henry Earl of Warwick and Holland. Besides these, and his other Poetical Writings, he has given us an excellent Translation of LUCAN.

I cannot omit concluding with what a certain Gentleman has observ'd of Mr. Rowe, which is more just for being mention'd in a Satire [author's note: Faction Display'd].

'Twas He that wrote Immortal Tamerlane.