232 Glimpses of Our Ancestors.
in the ascendant; and even men of true genius, like Dryden and Otway, had to swim with the stream.
At the age of 18 years Otway, like Fletcher, was sent (from Winchester School) to the University of Oxford, which he left in 1670 without a degree, and betook himself, not to his Sussex home, but to London, " to seek his fortune." The reason for this step was pointed out by us in the Brighton Herald 20 years ago. An examination of the parish register of Woolbeding* at that time led to the discovery, not only of the entry of Otway's birth, but of the death of his father, then Rector of Woolbeding, in February, 1670. The death of the father, in Otway's as in Fletcher's case, threw the son on his own resources, at the early age of 19, and his tastes, probably, as well as his necessities drew him to the stage. In one of his minor poems, "The Poet's Complaint of his Muse," he thus describes his own situation at this time:—
I am a wretch of honest race: My parents not obscure, nor high in title were : They left me heir to no disgrace : .My father was (a thing now rare) Loyal and brave : my mother chaste and fair. Their pledge of marriage-vows was only I; Alone I liv'd, their much-lov'd fondled boy; They gave me generous education high, They strove to raise my mind, and with it grew their joy. The sages that instructed me in Arts,
And knowledge, oft would praise my parts, And cheer my parents' longing hearts. When I was called to a dispute, My fellow-pupils oft stood mute : Yet never envy did dis-join Their hearts from me, nor pride distemper mine. Thus my first years in happiness I past,
Nor any bitter cup did taste; But oh! a deadly potion came at last.
As I lay loosely on my bed, A thousand pleasant thoughts triumphing in my head, And as my senses on the rich banquet fed A voice (it seem'd no more, so busy I Was within myself, I saw not who was nigh) Pierc'd thro' my ears ; Arise, thy good Senander's dead. It shook my brain, and from their feast my frightened senses fled.
» Made by the courtesy and with the assistance of the Rev. F. Bourdillon, then the Incumbent of Woolbeding.