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its first appearance; and was, I think, long Almost every piece had a dedication, written considered as a very diverting entertainment. with such elegance and luxuriance of praise, as
« Cleomenes” (1692) is a tragedy, only re- neither haughtiness nor avarice could be immarkable as it occasioned an incident related in agined able to resist. But he seems to have the “ Guardian,” and allusively mentioned by made flattery too cheap. That praise is worth Dryden in his preface. As he came out from nothing of which the price is known. the representation, he was accosted thus by some To increase the value of his copies, he often airy stripling : “ Had I been left alone with a accompanied his work with a preface of criti. young beauty, I would not have spent my time cism'; a kind of learning then almost new in like your Spartan.” “ That, Sir,” said Dry- English language, and which he, who had conden, “ perhaps is true ; but give me leave to tell sidered with great accuracy the principles of you that you are no hero.”
writing, was able to distribute copiously as oc“ King Arthur” (1691) is another opera.
It casions arose. By these dissertations the publio was the last work that Dryden performed for judgment must have been much improved ; and King Charles, who did not live to see it exbi- Swift, who conversed with Dryden, relates that bited, and it does not seem to have been ever he regretted the success of his own instructions, brought upon the stage.* In the dedication to and found his readers made suddenly too skilful the Marquis of Halifax, there is a very elegant to be easily satisfied. character of Charles, and a pleasing account of His prologues had such reputation, that for his latter life. When this was first brought some time a play was considered as less likely to upon the stage, news that the Duke of Mon- be well received, if some of his verses did not mouth had landed was told in the theatre; upon introduce it. The price of a prologue was two which the company departed, and “ Arthur” guineas, till, being asked to write one for Mr. was exhibited no more.
Southern, he demanded three : “ Not,” said he, His last drama was “ Love Triumphant,” a young man, out of disrespect to you: but the tragi-comedy. In his dedication to the Earl of players have had my goods too cheap. Salisbury, he mentions “ the lowness of forture Though he declares that in his own opinion to which he has voluntarily reduced himself, his genius was not dramatic, he had great conand of which he has no reason to be ashamed.” fidence in his own fertility; for he is said to
This play appeared in 1694. It is said to have have engaged, by contract, to furnish four plays been unsuccessful. The catastrophe, proceeding a year. merely from a change of mind, is confessed by It is certain that in one year, 1678,+ he pubthe Author to be defective. Thus he began and lished “ All for Love," “ Assignation,” two ended his dramatic labours with ill success. parts of the “ Conquest of Granada,” « Sir
From such a number of theatrical pieces, it Martin Mar-all,” and the “ State of Innowill be supposed, by most readers, that he must cence;" six complete plays, with a celerity have improved his fortune; at least that such of performance, which, though all Langbaine's diligence with such abilities must have set pe- charges of plagiarism should be allowed, shows nury at defiance. But in Dryden's time the such facility of composition, such readiness of drama was very far from that universal appro- language, and such copiousness of sentiment, as, bation which it has now obtained. The play- since the time of Lopez de Vega, perhaps no house was abhorred by the puritans, and avoid- other author has ever possessed. ed by those who desired the character of serious- He did not enjoy his reputation, however ness or decency. A grave lawyer would have great, nor his profits, however small, without debased his dignity, and a young trader would molestation. He had critics to endure, and rihave impaired his credit, by appearing in those
vals to oppose.
The two most distinguished mansions of dissolute licentiousness. The pro- wits of the nobility, the Duke of Buckingham fits of the theatre, when so many classes of the and Earl of Rochester declared themselves his people were deducted from the audience, were enemies. not great: and the poet had, for a long time, but a single night. The first that had two nights * Johnson has here quoted from memory. War was Southern: and the first that had three was burton is the original relator of this anecdote, who Rowe. There were, however, in those days, says he had it from Southern himself. According to arts of improving a poet's profit, which Drys him, Dryden's usual price had been four guineas,
nd he made Southern pay six. In the edition of den forbore to practise; and a play therefore
Southern's plays, 1764, we have a different deviation seldom produced him more than a hundred from the truth, five and ten guineas. Malone.pounds by the accumulated gain of the third J. B. night, the dedication, and the copy.
+ Dr. Johnson in this assertion was misled by
Langbaine. Only one of these plays appeared in * This is a mistake. It was set to music by Pur. 1678. Nor were there more than three in any ouc cell, and well received, and is yet a favourite enter year. The dates are now added from the original tainment.-H.
Bnckingham characterised him, in 1671, by | ridicule the reigning poet, whoever he might the name of Bayes in “ The Rehearsal ;” a be. farce which he is said to have written with Much of the personal satire, to which it the assistance of Butler, the author of “ Hudi- might owe its first reception, is now lost or bras ;” Martin Clifford, of the Charter-house ; obscured. Bayes probably imitated the dress, and Dr. Sprat, the friend of Cowley, then his and mimicked the manner of Dryden: the cant chaplain. Dryden and his friends laughed at words which are so often in his mouth may be the length of time, and the number of hands, supposed to have been Dryden's habitual phrasemployed upon this performance; in which, es, or customary exclamations. Bayes, when though by some artifice of action it yet keeps he is to write, is blooded and purged; this, as possession of the stage, it is not possible now to Lamotte relates himself to have heard, was the find any thing that might not have been written real practice of the poet. without so long delay, or a confederacy so
There were other strokes in “ The Rehearsal”
by which malice was gratified ; the debate beTo adjust the minute events of literary his tween Love and Honour, which keeps Prince tory is tedious and troublesome; it requires Volscius in a single boot, is said to have alluded indeed no great force of understanding, but to the misconduct of the Duke of Ormond, who often depends upon inquiries which there is no lost Dublin to the rebels while he was toying opportunity of making, or is to be fetcbed from with a mistress. books and pamphlets not always at hand.
The Earl of Rochester, to suppress the reputa“ The Rehearsal” was played in 1671,* and tion of Dryden, took Settle into his protection, yet is represented as ridiculing passages in “ The and endeavoured to persuade the public that its Conquest of Granada” and “ Assignation,” approbation had been to that time misplaced. which were not published till 1678; in “ Mar- Settle was a while in high reputation ; his riage a-la-mode," published in 1673; and in
“ Empress of Morocco,” having first delighted “ Tyrannic Love,” in 1677. These contradic- the town, was carried in triumph to Whitehall, tions show how rashly satire is applied.+
and played by the ladies of the court. Now was It is said that this farce was originally intend the poetical meteor at the highest: the next ed against Davenant, who, in the first draught, moment began its fall. Rochester withdrew his was characterised by the name of Bilboa. patronage: seemingly resolved, says one of his Davenant had been soldier and an adven- biographers, “to have a judgment contrary to
that of the town;" perhaps being unable to enturer. There is one passage in “ The Rehearsal” dure any reputation beyond a certain height,
even when he had himself contributed to raise it. still remaining, which seems to have related
Neither critics nor rivals did Dryden much originally to Davenant. Bayes hurts his nose, and comes in with brown paper applied to the mischief, unless they gained from his own tembruise ; how this affected Dryden does not ap- bursts of resentment give reason to suspect. He
per the power of vexing him, which his frequent pear. Davenant's nose had suffered such diminution by mishaps among the women, that a
is always angry at some past, or afraid of some future censure ; but he lessens the smart of his
; patch upon that part evidently denoted him. It is said likewise that Sir Robert Howard and endeavours to repel the shafts of criticism
wounds by the balm of his own approbation, The design was probably to
by opposing a shield of adamantine confidence.
The perpetual accusation produced against
him, was that of plagiarism, against which he * It was published in 1672.-R.
never attempted any vigorous defence; for though + There is no contradiction, according to Mr. Ma- he was perhaps sometimes injuriously censured, lone, but what arises from Dr. Johnson's having he would, by denying part of the charge, have copied the erroneous dates assigned to these plays confessed the rest; and, as his adversaries by Langbaine.-C.
had the proof in their own hands, he, who This remark, as Mr. Malone observes, is founded
knew that wit had little power against facts, upon the erroneous dates with which Johnson was supplied by Langbaine. « The Rehearsal" was
wisely left, in that perplexity which it generally played in 1871, but not published till the next year. produces, a question which it was his interest to * The Wild Gallant was printed in 1669; “ The suppress, and which, unless provoked by vindiMaiden Queen” in 1668: “ Tyrannic Love” in 1670; cation, few were likely to examine. the two parts of “ Granada” were performed in
Though the life of a writer, from about thirty1689 and 1870, though not printed till 1672. Additions five to sixty-three, may be supposed to have been were afterwards made to “ The Rehearsal,” and sufficiently busied by the composition of eightamong these are the “ Parodies on Assignation," and-twenty pieces for the stage, Dryden found which are not to be found in Buckingham's play, as it originally appeared. Mr. Malone denies that there
room in the same space for many other underis any allusion to “ Marriage a-la-mode.” See MA- takings. LONE, p. 100.-J. B.
But, how much soever he wrote, he was at
was once meant.
least once suspected of writing more: for, in written against the faction which, by Lord 1679, a paper of verses, called “ An Essay on Shaftesbury's incitement, set the Duke of MonSatire,” was shown about in manuscript; by mouth at its head. which the Earl of Rochester, the Dutchess of
Of this poem, in which personal satire was Portsmouth, and others, were so much provoked applied to the support of public principles, and that, as was supposed (for the actors were never in which therefore every mind was interested, discovered), they procured Dryden, whom they the reception was eager, and the sale so large, suspected as the author, to be waylaid and that my father, an old bookseller, told me he beaten. This incident is mentioned by the had not known it equalled but by Sacheverell's Duke of Buckinghamshire,* the true writer, in Trial. his “ Art of Poetry;" where he says of Dryden,
The reason of this general perusal Addison
has attempted to derive from the delight which Though praised and beaten for another's rhymes,
the mind feels in the investigation of secrets : His own deserve as great applause sometimes.
and thinks that curiosity to decipher the names His reputation in time was such, that his procured readers to the poem. There is no need name was thought necessary to the success of to inquire why those verses were read, which, to every poetical or literary performance, and there all the attractions of wit, elegance, and harmony, fore he was engaged to contribute something, added the co-operation of all the factious paswhatever it might be, to many publications. He sions, and filled every mind with triumph or prefixed the Life of Polybius to the translation of
resentment. Sir Henry Sheers : and those of Lucian and Plu
It could not be supposed that all the provocatarch, to versions of their works by different tion given by Dryden would be endured withhands. Of the English Tacitus he translated the Jout resistance or reply. Both his person and first book: and, if Gordon be credited, translated it his party were exposed in their turns to the from the French. Such a charge can hardly be shafts of satire, which, though neither so well mentioned without some degree of indignation; pointed, nor perhaps so well aimed, undoubtedly but it is not, I suppose, so much to be inferred, drew blood. that Dryden wanted the literature necessary to the
One of these poems is called “ Dryden's Satire perusal of Tacitus, as that, considering himself
on his Muse;" ascribed, though, as Pope says, as hidden in a crowd, he had no awe of the pub- falsely, to Somers, who was afterwards chancellic; and, writing merely for money, was con- lor. The poem, whosesoever it was, has much tented to get it by the nearest way:
virulence, and some sprightliness. The writer In 1680, the Epistles of Ovid being translated tells all the ill that he can collect both of Dryden by the poets of the time, among which one was
and his friends. the work of Dryden,t and another of Dryden
The poem of “ Absalom and Achitophel” had and Lord Mulgrave, it was necessary to intro
two answers now both forgotten ; one called duce them by a preface; and Dryden, who on
6 Azaria and Hushai ;'* the other, “ Absalom such occasions was regularly summoned, pre- Senior.” Of these hostile compositions, Dryfixed a discourse upon translation, which was
den apparently imputesAbsalom Senior" then struggling for the liberty that it now en
to Settle, by quoting in his verse against joys. Why it should find any difficulty in him the second line. “Azaria. and Hushai” breaking the shackles of verbal interpretation, was, as Wood says, imputed to him, though it which must for ever đebar it from elegance, it is somewhat unlikely that he should write twice would be difficult to conjecture, were not the
on the same occasion. This is a difficulty which power of prejudice every day observed. The I cannot remove, for want of a minuter knowauthority of Jonson, Sandys, and Holiday, had ledge of poetical transactions. fixed the judgment of the nation; and it was
The same year he published “ The Medal,” of not easily believed that a better way could be which the subject is a medal struck on Lord found than they had taken, though Fanshaw, Shaftesbury's escape from a prosecution, by the Denham, Waller, and Cowley, had tried to give ignoramus of a grand jury of Londoners. examples of a different practice.
In both poems he maintains the same princiIn 1681, Dryden became yet more conspicuous ples, and saw them both attacked by the same by uniting politics with poetry, in the memora- antagonist. Elkanah Settle, who had answered ble satire called “ Absalom and Achitophel,”
“ Absalom," appeared with equal courage in opposition to “ The Medal ;” and published an
answer called “ The Medal reversed,” with so * Mentioned by A. Wood, Athen. Oxon. vol. ü. much success in both encounters, that he left 804. 2d ed.-C.
+Dryden translated two entire epistles, “ Canace to Macareus,” and “ Dido to Æneas.' “ Helen to Paris” was translated by him and Lord Mulgrave.
“ Azaria and Hushai” was written by Samuel MALONE.-J. B.
Pordage, a dramatic writer of that time.-C.
the palm doubtful, and divided the suffrages of That conversion will always be suspected that the nation. Such are the revolutions of fame, apparently concurs with interest. He that never or such is the prevalence of fashion, that the finds his error till it hinders his progress towards man, whose works have not yet been thought to wealth or honour, will not be thought to love deserve the care of collecting them, who died truth only for herself. Yet it may easily hapforgotten in an hospital, and whose latter years pen, that information may come at a commodiwere spent in contriving shows for fairs, ous time; and as truth and interest are not by and carrying an elegy or epithalamium, of any fatal necessity at variance, that one may by which the beginning and end were occasional- accident introduce the other. When opinions ly varied, but the intermediate parts were al- are struggling into popularity, the arguments ways the same, to every house where there was by which they are opposed or defended become a funeral or a wedding, might with truth have more known; and he that changes his profession had inscribed upon his stone,
would perhaps have changed it before, with the
like opportunities of instruction. This was the Here lies the Rival and Antagonist of Dryden. then state of popery ; every artifice was used to
show it in its fairest form ; and it must be for his rebellion, severely chastised owned to be a religion of external appearance by Dryden, under the name of “ Doeg,” in the sufficiently attractive. second part of “ Absalom and Achitophel ;” and It is natural to hope that a comprehensive is was, perhaps, for his factious audacity made likewise an elevated sou and that whoever is the city poet, whose annual office was to describe wise is also honest. I am willing to believe the glories of the Mayor's day. Of these bards that Dryden, having employed his mind, active he was the last, and seems not much to have de- as it was, upon different studies, and filled it, served even this degree of regard, if it was paid capacious as it was, with other materials, came to his political opinions : for he afterwards unprovided to the controversy, and wanted wrote a panegyric on the virtues of Judge Jeffe- rather skill to discover the right, than virtue to ries; and what more could have been done by maintain it. But inquiries into the heart are the meanest zealot for prerogative?
not for man; we must now leave him to his Of translated fragments, or occasional poems, Judge. to enumerate the titles, or settle the dates, would The priests, having strengthened their cause be tedious, with little use. It may be observed by so powerful an adherent, were not long bethat, as Dryden's genius was commonly excit- fore they brought him into action. They ened by some personal regard, he rarely writes gaged him to defend the controversial papers upon a general topic.
found in the strong box of Charles II. ; and, Soon after the accession of King James, when what yet was harder, to defend them against the design of reconciling the nation to the church Stillingfleet. of Rome became apparent,and the religion of the With hopes of promoting popery, he was emcourt gave the only efficacious title to its favours, ployed to translate Maimbourg's History of the Dryden declared himself a convert to popery. League; which he published with a large introThis at any other time might have passed with duction. His name is likewise prefixed to the little censure. Sir Kenelm Digby embraced pope- English Life of Francis Xavier; but I know ry; the two Reynolds's reciprocally converted not that he ever owned himself the translator. one another ;* and Chilling worth himself was Perhaps the use of his name was a pious fraud ; awhile so entangled in the wilds of controversy, which, however, seems not to have had much as to retire for quiet to an infallible church. If effect; for neither of the books, I believe, were men of argument and study can find such diffi
ever popular. culties, or such motives as may either unite The version of Xavier's Life is commended them to the church of Rome, or detain them in by Brown, in a pamphlet not written to flatter; uncertainty, there can be no wonder that a man and the occasion of it is said to have been, that who perhaps never inquired why he was a pro- the Queen, when she solicited a son, made testant, should by an artful and experienced
vows to him as her tutelary saint. disputant be made a papist, overborne by the sud
He was supposed to have undertaken to transden violence of new and unexpected arguments, late Yarillas's “ History of Heresies ;” and or deceived by a representation which shows only when Burnet published remarks upon it, to the doubts on one part, and only the evidence on have written an Answer;* upon which Burnet the other.
makes the following observation :
“ I have been informed from England, that a
gentleman who is famous both for poetry and * Dr. John Reynolds, who lived temp. Jac. I. was several other things, had spent three months in at first à zealous papist, and his brother William as earnest a protestant; but, by mutual disputation, each converted the other. See Fuller's Church History, p. 47, Book X.-H.
• This is a mistake. See Malone, p. 194, &c.-C.
translating M. Varillas's History; but that, as was not likely to pass uncensured. Three diaBoon as my Reflections appeared, he discon- logues were published by the facetions Thomas tinued his labour, finding the credit of his Brown, of which the two first were called “ Reaauthor was gone. Now, if he thinks it is re- sons of Mr. Bayes's changing his Religion ;" covered by his Answer, he will perhaps go on and the third, “ The Reasons of Mr. Hains the with his translation, and this may be, for Player's Conversion and Re-conversion.” The aught I know, as good an entertainment for first was printed in 1688, the second not till him as the conversation tḥat he had set on be- 1690, the third in 1691. The clamour seems to tween the Hinds and Panthers, and all the rest have been long continued, and the subject to of animals, for whom M. Varillas may serve have strongly fixed the public attention. well enough as an author; and this history and In the two first dialogues Bayes is brought that poem are such extraordinary things of their into the company of Crites and Eugenius, with kind, that it will be but suitable to see the whom he had formerly debated on dramatic author of the worst poem become likewise the poetry. The two talkers in the third are Mr. translator of the worst history that the age has Bayes and Mr. Hains. produced. If his grace and his wit improve Brown was a man not deficient in literature both proportionably, he will hardly find that nor destitute of fancy; but he seems to have he has gained much by the change he has made, thought it the pinnacle of excellence to be a from having no religion, to choose one of the merry fellow; and therefore laid out his powers worst. It is true, he had somewhat to sink upon small jests or gross buffoonery; so that his from in matter of wit; but, as for his morals, performances have little intrinsic value, and it is scarcely possible for him to grow a worse were read only while they were recommended man than he was. He has lately wreaked his by the novelty of the event that occasioned malice on me for spoiling his three months' them. Jabour; but in it he has done me all the honour These dialogues are like his other works : that any man can receive from him, which is to what sense or knowledge they contained is disbe railed at by him. If I had ill-nature enough graced by the garb in which it is exhibited. to prompt me to wish a very bad wish for him, One great source of pleasure is to call Dryden it should be, that he would go on and finish his little Bayes. Ajax, who happens to be mentranslation. By that it will appear, whether tioned, “ he that wore as many cow-hides the English nation, which is the most compe- upon his shield as would have furnished half tent judge in this matter, has, upon the seeing the King's army with shoe-leather.” our debate, pronounced in M. Varillas’s favour, Being asked whether he had seen the “ Hind or in mine. It is true, Mr. D. will suffer a and Panther,” Crites answers; “ Seen it! Mr. little by it; but, at least, it will serve to keep Bayes, why I can stir no where but it pursues him in from other extravagances; and if he me; it haunts me worse than a pewter-buttoned gains little honour by this work, yet he cannot sergeant does a decayed cit. Sometimes I meet lose so much by it as he has done by his last it in a bandbox, when my laundress brings employment.”
home my linen; sometimes, whether I will or Having probably felt his own inferiority in no, it lights my pipe at a coffee-house; sometheological controversy, he was desirous of try- times it surprises me in a trunk-maker's shop; ing whether, by bringing poetry to aid his argu- and sometimes it refreshes my memory for me ments, he might become a more efficacious de-on the back side of a Chancery-lane parcel. fender of his new profession. To reason in For your comfort too, Mr. Bayes, I have not. Verse was, indeed, one of his powers; but sub- only seen it, as you may perceive, but have readi tilty and harmony, united, are still feeble, when it too, and can quote it as freely upon occasion opposed to truth.
as a frugal tradesman can quote that noble Actuated therefore by zeal for Rome, or hope treatise, • The Worth of a Penny,' to his exof fame, he published “ The Hind and Pan-travagant ’prentice, that revels in stewed apples ther,” a poem in which the church of Rome, and penny custards.” figured by the “milk-white Hind,” defends her The whole animation of these compositions tenets against the church of England, repre- arises from a profusion of ludicrous and affected sented by the Panther, a beast beautiful, but comparisons. “ To secure one's chastity,” says spotted.
Bayes, “ little more is necessary than to leave A fable, which exhibits two beasts talking off a correspondence with the other sex, which, theology, appears at once full of absurdity; and to a wise man, is no greater a punishment than it was accordingly ridiculed in the “ City it would be to a fanatic person to forbid seeing Mouse and Country Mouse,” a parody, written The Cheats and The Corrmittee; or for my Lord by Montague, afterwards Earl of Halifax, and Mayor and Aldermen to be interdicted the sight Prior, who then gave the first specimen of bis of The London Cuckolds." This is the general abilities.
strain, and therefore I shall be easily excused The conversion of such a man, at such a time, the labour of more transcription.