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“The restoration of royalty” (says lord Orford) “ brought back the arts, not taste. Charles II. “ had a turn to mechanics, none to the politer “ sciences-he was too indolent even to amuse “ himself. He introduced the fashions of the “ court of France, without its elegance. He had “ seen Louis XIV.countenance Corneille, Moliere, “ Boileau, le Sueur, who, forming themselves on “ the models of the ancients, seemed by the purity “ of their writings to have studied only in Sparta. “ Charles found as much genius at home; but “ how licentious, how indelicate was the style “ he permitted or demanded !- The sectaries, in e opposition to the king, had run into the ex“ treme against politeness: the new court, to in“ demnify themselves, and mark aversion to their “ rigid adversaries, took the other extreme, Ele
gance and delicacy were the point from which “ both sides started different ways; and taste was “ as little sought by the men of wit, as by those “ who called themselves the men of God."
These remarks, though applied to a reign which
has been immortalized by Dryden, and which produced the Paradise Lost of Milton, and the Hudibras of Butler, are certainly just. The detection of much political and religious hypocrisy gradually produced an indifference to the cause of real piety and virtue; and the morality imported from France by the king and his courtiers was scarcely worth the carriage. Of wit they had enough, and perhaps more than enough; for gaiety was the business of their lives, not a relaxation; but their manners wanted dignity, and even decency, and this want is generally observable in their literature.
Dr. Johnson, in his criticisms on the smaller poems of lord Rochester, has described nearly all the similar productions of his time.
“ As he cannot be supposed to have found “ leisure for any course of continued study, his “ pieces are commonly short, such as one fit of “ resolution would produce.
“ His songs have no particular character: they “ tell, like other songs, of scorn and kindness, dis“ mission and desertion, absence and inconstancy, “ with the common places of artificial courtship. “ They are commonly smooth and easy; but have “ little nature, and little sentiment.”
Was born in 1630, and received his education at Cambridge,
after which he became a member of Gray's Inn. At the age of 17 he published a novel called the “ Cyprian “ Academy,” svo. in which he introduced two dramatic pieces of his own composition, and in his riper age (says the editor of the Biographia Dramatica) wrote the tragedy of “ Mirza.” He was also the author of a collection of poems called “ Pocula Castalia,” 1650, 1.2mo. in which whatever is poetical, appears to be pilfered from other writers. In the following he has borrowed largely from Milton's Comus. Baron was the friend and correspondent of James Howell.
Mirth, and nuptial joys betide