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“ Mayor and Aldermen to be interdicted the sight of the London Cuckolds." This is the general strain, and therefore I shall be easily excused the labour of more transcription.
Brown does not wholly forget past transactions: “You began,” says Crites to Bayes, “ a very indifferent religion, and have not mended the matter in
your last choice. It was but reason that your Muse, which appeared first s in a Tyrant's quarrel, should employ her last efforts to justify the usur“pations of the Hind.”
Next year the nation was summoned to celebrate the birth cá the prince. Now was the time for Dryden to rouse his imagination, and strain his voice. Happy days were at hand, and he was willing to enjoy and diffuse the anticipared blessings. He published a poem, filled with predictions of greatness and prosperity! predictions, of which it is not necessary to tell how they have been verified.
A few months passed after these joyful notes, and every blossom of popish hope was blasted for ever by the Revolution. A papist now could be no longer Laureat. The revenue, which he had enjoyed with so much pride and praise, was transferred to Shadwell, an old enemy, whom he had formerly stigmatised by the name of Og. Dryden could not decently complain that he was deposed; but seemed very angry that Shadwell succeeded him, and has therefore celebrated the intruder's inauguration in a poem exquisitely satirical, called Mac Flecknoe ; of which the Dunciad, as Pope himself declares, is an imitation, though more extended in its plan, and more diversified in its incidents.
It is related by Prior, that Lord Dorset, when, as chamberlain, he was constrained to eject Dryden from his office, gave him from his own purse an allowance equal to the salary. This is no romantick or incredible act of generosity; an hundred a year is often enough given to claims less cogent, by men less famed for liberality. Yet Dryden always represented himself as suffering under a public infliction ; and once particularly demands respect for the patience with which he endured the loss of his little fortune. His patron might, indeed, enjoin him to suppress his bounty; but if he suffered nothing, he should not have complained.
During the short reign of king James he had written nothing for the stage*, being, in his opinion, more profitably employed in controversy and flattery. Of praise he might perhaps have been less lavish without inconvenience, for James was never said to have much regard for poetry : he was to be flattered only by adopting his religion.
Times were now changed: Dryden was no longer the court-poet, and was to look back for support to his former trade ; and having waited about two years, either considering himself as discountenanced by the publick, or perhaps expecting a second Revolution, he produced Don Sebastian in 1690; and in the next four years four dramas more.
* Albion and Albiarus must bowever be excepted. E.
In 1693 appeared a new version of Juvenal and Persius. Of Juvenal he translated the first; third, sixth, tenth, and sixteenth satires ; and of Persius the whole work, On this occasion he introduced his two sons to the publick, as nurselings of the Muses. The fourteenth of Juvenal was the work of John, and the seventh of Charles Dryden. He prefixed a very ample preface in the form of a dedication to lord Dorset ; and there gives an account of the design which he had once formed to write an epic poem on the actions either of Arthur or the Black Prince. He considered the epick as necessarily including some kind of supernatural agency, and had imagined a new kind of contest between the guardian angels of kingdoms, of whom he conceived that each might be represented zealous for his charge, without any intended opposition to the purposes of the Supreme Being, of which all created minds must in part be ignorant.
This is the most reasonable scheme of celestial interposition that ever was formed. The surprizes and terrors of enchantments, which have succeeded to the intrigues and oppositions of pagan deities, afford very striking scenes, and open a vast extent to the imagination; but, as Boileau observes, and Boileau will be seldom found mistaken, with this incurable defect, that in a contest between heaven and hell we know at the beginning which is to prevail ; for this reason we follow Rinaldo to the enchanted wood with more curiosity than terror.
In the scheme of Dryden there is one great difficulty, which yet he would perhaps have had address enough to surmount. In a war justice can be buton one side; and, to entitle the hero to the protection of angels, he must fight in defence of indubitable right. Yet some of the celestial beings, thus opposed to each other, must have been represented as defending guilt.
That this poem was never written, is reasonably to be lamented. It would doubtless have improved our numbers, and enlarged our language, and might perhaps have contributed by pleasing instruction to rectify our opinions, and purify our manners.
What he required as the indispensable condition of such an undertaking, a public stipend, was not likely in these times to be obtained. Riches were not become familiar to us, nor had the nation yer learned to be liberal.
This plz he charged Blackmore with stealing: only, says he, “The guar" dian angels of kingdoms were machines too ponderous for him to manage."
In 1694, he began the most laborious and difficult of all his works, the translation of Virgil; from which he borrowed two months, that he might turn Fresnoy's Art of Painting into English prose. The preface, which he boasts to have written in twelve mornings, exhibits a parallel of poetry and painting, with a miscellaneous collection of critical remarks, such as cost a mind stored like his no labour to produce them.
In 1697, he published his version of the works of Virgil; and, that no opportunity of profit might be lost, dedicated the Pastorals to the lord Clifford, the Georgics to the earl of Chesterfield, and the Æneid to the earl of Mulgrave. This oeconomy of flattery, at once lavish and discreet, did not pass without observation.
thic monument rs since
This translation was censured by Milbourne, a clergyman, styled by Pope «the fairest of criticks,” because he exhibited his own version to be compared with that which he condemned.
His last work was his Fables published in consequence, as is supposed, of a contract now in the hands of Mr. Tonson ; by which he obliged himself, in consideration of three hundred pounds; to finish for the press ten thousand
In this volume is comprised the well-known ode on St. Cecilia's day, which; as appeared by a letter communicated to Dr. Birch, he spent a fortnight in composing and correcting. But what is this to the patience and diligence of Boileau, whose Equivoque, a poem of only three hundred and forty-six lines, took from his life eleven months to write it, and three years to revise it!
Part of this book of Fables is the first İliad in English, intended as a specimen of a version of the whole. Considering into what hands Homer was to fall, the reader cannot but rejoice that this project went no further.
The time was now at hand which was put an end to all his schemes and labours. On the first of May 1701, having been some time, as he tells us, a cripple in his limbs, he died in Gerard-street, of a mortification in his leg.
There is extant a wild story relating to some vexatious events that happened at his funeral, which at the end of Congreve's Life, by a writer of I know not what credit, are thus related, as I find the account transferred to a biographical dictionary:
“ Mr. Dryden dying on the Wednesday morning, Dr. Thomas Sprat, then “ bishop of Rochester and dean of Westminster, sent the next day to the lady " Elizabeth Howard, Mr. Dryden's widow, that he would make a present of
the ground, which was forty pounds, with all the other abbey-fees. Thelord “ Halifax likewise sent to the lady Elizabeth, and Mr. Charles Dryden her “ son, that, if they would give him leave to bury Mr. Dryden, he would inter “him with a gentleman's private funeral, and afterwards bestow five hundred
pounds on a monument in the Abbey; which as they had no reason to refusė, " they accepted. On the Saturday following the company came; the corpse “ was put into a velvet hearse, and eighteen mourning coaches, filled with “ company, attended. When they were just ready to move, the lord Jefferies,
son of lord chancellor Jefferies, with some of his rakish companions com
ing by, asked whose funeral it was: and being told Mr. Dryden's, he said, “What! shall Dryden, the greatest honour and ornament of the nation, “ be buried after this private manner! No gentlemen, let all that 'loved “ Mr. Dryden, and honour his memory, alight and join with me in gaining “ my lady's consent to let me have the honour of his interment, which shall be * after another manner than this ; and I will bestow a thousand pounds on a
s monument in the Abbey for him.' The gentlemen in the coaches, not s knowing of the bishop of Rochester's favour, nor of the lord Halifax's
ge“ nerous design (they both having, out of respect to the family, enjoined - the lady Elizabeth and her son to keep their favour concealed to the world, “ and let it pass for their own expence), readily came out of the coaches and « attended Jord Jefferies up to the lady's bed-side, who was then sick. He
repeated the purport of what he had before said; but she absolutely refusing, “ he fell on his knees, vowing never to rise till his request was granted. The “ rest of the company by his desire kneeled also; and the lady being under a “ sudden surprize, fainted away. As soon as she recovered her speech, she “ cried, No, no. Enough, gentlemen, replied he; my lady is very good, she
says, Go, go. She repeated her former words with all her strength, but in si vain; for her feeble voice was lost in their acclamations of joy; and the «c lord Jefferies ordered the hearsemen to carry the corpse to Mr. Russel's, “ an undertaker in Cheapside, and leave it there till he should send orders for “ the embalment, which, he added, should be after the royal manner. His “ directions were obeyed, the company dispersed, and lady Elizabeth and her " son remained inconsolable. The next day Mr. Charles Dryclen waited on 65 the lord Hžlifax and the bishop, to excuse his mother and himself, by " relating the real truth. But neither his lordship nor the bishop would ad“ mit of any plea ; especially the latter, who had the Abbey lighted, the " ground opened, the choir attending, an anthem ready set, and himself 5 waiting for some time without any corpse to bury. The undertaker, after * three days expectance of orders for embalment without receiving any, “ waited on the lord Jefferies, who pretending ignorance of the “ matter, turned it off with an illnatured jest, saying, that those
who observed the orders of a drunken frolick deserved no better ; " that he remembered nothing at all of it; and that he might do « what he pleased with the corpse. Upon this, the undertaker waited upon " the lady Elizabeth and her son, and threatened to bring the corpse home " and set it before the door. They desired a day's respite, which was granted, “ Mr. Charles Dryden wrote a handsome letter to the lord Jefferies, who re" turned it with this cool answer,' That he knew nothing of the matter, " and would be troubled no more about it.” He then addressed the lord Halifax " and the bishop of Rochester, who absolutely refused to do any thing in it. « In this distress Dr. Garth sent for the corpse to the College of Physicians, “ and proposed a funeral by subscription, to which himself set a most “ noble example. At last a day, about three weeks after Mr. Dryden decease, “ was appointed for the interment. Dr. Garth pronounced a fine latin oration, " at the College, over the corpse ; which was attended to the Abbey. by a' “numerous train of coaches. When the funeral was over, Mr. Charles Dryden "_sent a challenge to the lord Jefferies, who refusing to answer it, he sent s several others, and went often himself; but could neither get a letter deli“ vered, noradmittance to speak to him; whichso incensed him, that he resolved,
“ since his lordship refused to answer him like a gentleman, that he would “ watch an opportunity to meet, and fight off-hand, though with all the rules " of honour; which his Lordship hearing left the town: and Mr. Charles “ Dryden could never have the satisfaction of meeting him, though he sought “ it till his death with the utmost application.”
This story I once intended to omit, as it appears with no great evidence ; nor have I met with any confirmation, but in a letter of Farquhar; and he only relates that the funeral of Dryden was tumultuary and confused *.
Supposing the story true, we may remark, that the gradual change of manners, though imperceptible in the process, appears great when different times, and those not very distant are compared. If at this time a young drunken Lord should interrupt the pompous regularity of a magnificent funeral, what would be the event, but that he would be justled out of the way, and compelled to be quiet? If he should thrust himself into a house, he would be sent roughly away; and, what is yet more to the honour of the present time, I believe that those, who had subscribed to the funeral of a man like Dryden, would not, for such an accident, have withdrawn their contributions t.
He was buried among the poets in Westminster Abbey, where, though the duke of Newcastle had, in a general dedication prefixed by Congreve to his dramatick works, accepted thanks for his intention of erecting him a monument, he lay long without distinction, till the duke of Buckinghamshire gave him a tablet, inscribed only with the name of DRYDEN.
He married the lady Elizabeth Howard, daughther of the earl of Berkshire, with circumstances, according to the satire imputed to lord Sommers, not very honourable to either party : by her he had three sons. Charles, John, and Henry. Charles was Usher of the palace to Pope Clement the XIth; and, visiting England in 1704, was drowned in an attempt to swim across the Thames at Windsor.
* An earlier account of Dryden's fureral than that above cited, though without the circumstances that preceded it, is given by Edward Ward, who in his London Spy, published in 1706, relates, that on the occasion there was a performance of solemn Musick at the College, and that at the procession which himself saw, standing at the end of Chancerydlane, Fleet-street, there was a concert of hautboys and trumpets.
The day of Dryden's interment, he says was Monday the 13th of May, which according to Johnson, was twelve days after his decease, and shews how long bis funeral was in suspense. Ward knew not that the expence of it was defrayed by subscription ; but compliments Jord Jefferies for 60 pious an undertaking. He also says, that the cause of Dryden's death was an inflammation in his toe, occasioned by the flesh growing over the nail, which being neglected, pro duced a mortification in his leg. H.
+ In the Register of the College of Physicians, is the following Entry : “ May 3, 1900. Co“ mitiis Censocjis ordinariis. At the request of several persons of quality, that Mr. Dryden might “ be carried from the College of Physicians to be interred at Westminster, it was unanimously « granted by the President and Censors. *
This Entry is not calculated to afford any credit to the najrative concerning lord Jefferies. E.