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'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 ANTHONT 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
larity of plot, and complication of incident. But the preliminary and more important part of the verses regards Jeremy Collier's violent attack upon the dramatic authors of the age for immorality and iudecency. To this charge, our author, on this as on other occasions, seems to plead guilty, while he deprecates the vi. rulence, and sometimes unfair severity of his adversary. The reader may compare the poetical defence here set up with that in the prose dedication to the “ Fables," and he will find in both the same grumbling, though subdued, acquiescence under the chastisement of the moralist; the poet much resembling an overmatched general, who is unwilling to surrender, though conscious of his inability to make an effectual resistance. See also Vol. VIII.
EPISTLE THE FOURTEENTH.
Tis hard, my friend, to write in such an age,
* The poet here endeavours to vindicate himself from the char of having often, and designedly, ridiculed the clerical function,
But let us first reform, and then so live,
pure gold, it bends at every touch. Our sturdy Teuton yet will art obey, More fit for manly thought, and strengthened with
allay. But whence art thou inspired, and thou alone, To flourish in an idiom not thy own? It moves our wonder, that a foreign guest Should overmatch the most, and match the best. In under-praising thy deserts, I wrong; Here find the first deficience of our tongue: Words, once my stock, are wanting, to commend So great a poet, and so good a friend.