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Essays, Sketches and Illustrations of bygone Sussex

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242                             BYGONE SUSSEX.
Soldier's Fortune," which was coarse beyond even the indecency of the age, there came in February 1681-2, Otway's crowning triumph of " Venice Preserved," one of the great tragedies of our language. Otway's last piece was " The Atheist," a comedy. The dramatist, notwith­standing the success of his pieces, was in constant embarassment. The circumstances of his death have been variously stated ; one account is that he died from a fever following a chill, received whilst pursuing the murderer of a friend ; another says that he died in a sponging house ; the most sensational is, that in the pangs of starvation he begged a shilling from a gentleman, who gave him a guinea, and that purchasing a roll, the unhappy poet was choked by the first mouthful. It was said of him that he "languished in adversity, unpitied, and died in an alehouse, unlamented." This "hope and sorrow" of the age perished at the age of thirty three. Otway's poetry is of very trivial value, and his comedies are hopelessly disfigured by licentiousness, but in tragedy he reached the level of the Elizabethans. Rightly does Hazlitt admire in " Venice Pre­served," the "awful suspense of the situations; the conflict of duties and passions ; the intimate
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