1739 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Nicholas Rowe

Anonymous, in "The Apotheosis of Milton" Gentleman's Magazine 9 (January 1739) 20.



As he was going on, I observ'd a vigorous young Man step up to take his Seat; he had a noble Freedom in his Look, his Dress resembled that of the Romans, in the Decay of their Virtue and Liberty; and the Stuff of which it was composed, was wrought in the most vivid Colours. Had he not taken his Seat betwixt Otway and Dryden, he might have made an Appearance inferior to none in the Assembly, but when he was seated near these incomparable Poets, his Air seem'd to have more of Fierceness than of Majesty; and tho' his Habit appear'd better fitted to his Shape than either of theirs, yet when compar'd with Otway's, it lost much of the Splendor that at first so much struck the Eye. The Person who now engages your Attention, says the Genius, is Mr. Rowe; who, tho' excelled in Genius by a few, is equall'd in judgment by no dramatick Author, who has wrote for the English Stage; at least in Tragedy. But Death deprived him of the Encomiums he so justly merited by his Translation of the Pharsalia. His Success in that Work was owing to what alone can recommend every Attempt of that Kind; I mean a Sympathy of Genius, and a Similarity of Manners with those which the Authors of the Original enjoy'd while alive.