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Mr. Dennis, “ that when they told Cow“ ley how little favour had been shewn “ him, he received the news of his ill “ success, not with so much firmness as “ might have been expected from so “ great a man.”
What firmness they expected, or what weakness Cowley discovered, cannot be known.He that misses his end will never be as much pleased as he that attains it, even when he can impute no part of his failure to himself; and when the end is to please the multitude, no man perhaps has a right, in things admitting of gradation and comparison, to throw the whole blame upon. his judges, and totally to exclude diffi
dence and shame by a haughty consciousness of his own excellence.
For the rejection of this play, it is difficult now to find the reason : it certainly has, in a very great degree, the power of fixing attention and exciting merriment. From the charge of difaffection he exculpates himself in his preface, by observing how unlikely it is that, having followed the royal family through all their distresses, “ he should “chuse the time of their restoration to “ begin a quarrel with them.” It appears, however, from the Theatrical Register of Downes the prompter, to have been popularly considered as a fatire on the royalists.
:: That he might shorten this tedious suspense, he published his pretenfions and his discontent, in an ode called “ The Complaint ;” in which he stiles himself the melancholy Cowley. This met with the usual fortune of complaints, and seems to have excited more contempt than pity.
These unlucky incidents are brought, maliciously enough, together in some ftanzas, written about that time, on the choice of a laureat; a mode of fatire, by which, since it was first introduced by Suckling, perhaps every generation of poets has been teazed.
been teazed. . .
Savoy-missing Cowley came into the
court, Making apologies for his bad play ; Every one gave him so good a report, That Apollo gave heed to all he
could say : Nor would he have had, 'tis thought,
a rebuke, Unless he had done some notable
folly ; Writ verfes unjustly in praise of Sam
His vehement defire of retirement now came again upon him. “ Not "finding,”says the morose Wood,“ that “ preferment conferred upon him which
“ he expected, while others for their “money carried away most places, he “ retired discontented into Surrey,”
“ He was now,” says the courtly Sprat, “ weary of the vexations and “ formalities of an active condition. “ He had been perplexed with a ** long compliance to foreign man.. "ners. He was satiated with the arts s of a court; which fort of life, though “his virtue made it innocent to him, “ yet nothing could make it quiet. “ Those were the reasons that moved “ him to follow the violent inclination " of his own mind, which, in the great66.eft throng of his former business, « had still called upon him, and repre* sented to him the true delights of