Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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236                Glimpses of Our Ancestors.
human heart with sympathy for human suffering. He had great faults, but he had still greater beauties, and these latter were his own, whilst the former were those of the age in which it was his hapless lot to be cast. When it is considered that at the age of 19 years he was thrown upon his own resources for a living, and in such a city as London, in such a reign as that of Charles the Second, it is wonderful that he retained such vigour and freshness of thought— such healthiness of feeling, as enabled him to picture the virtues and sorrows of a wife such as Belvidera. He never apparently re-visited, as Shakspeare so often did, his rural home—the little village of Trotton, with its church and river and pic­turesque scenery, nestling under the beautiful hills of Sussex and Hampshire—to drink in the fresh air and draw inspiration from the fair sights of the country. The home-ties snapped by the death of his father were never re-knit. Otway seems to have drifted about, a waif of London life—now in luck, now out of it, but oftener the latter than the former—until a wretched death closes the struggle. Yet his mother still lived—and in the old Sussex home of Woolbeding—she did not die until 1703, and, with a heart capable of such intense feeling as Otway's was, his thoughts must have sometimes travelled to her, and to that beautiful village in which the early part of his life was passed. Perhaps he looked forward to achieving fortune as well as fame before returning "home." For it is obvious that, demoralising as Otway's mode of life may have been, his genius had been ripening. His last production, "Venice Preserved," is far above all his other works. Strike out one or two attempts at comic scenes, and both the incidents and the verse of the remainder have a strength which soars into the highest region of poetry and passion. Love was the natural element of Otway, but whilst in Monimia and other characters there is a dangerous volup­tuousness in the pictures drawn of it, in Belvidera it is pure as well as impassioned, and the whole play gave promise that, had Otway lived, he would have reached a still higher point of excellence.
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