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Brown does not wholly forget past transac-| tions: "You began," says Crites to Bayes, "a very different religion, and have not mended the matter in your last choice. It was but reason that your Muse, which appeared first in a tyrant's quarrel, should employ her last efforts to justify the usurpation of the Hind."
Next year the nation was summoned to celebrate the birth of 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 anticipated 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.
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 public, or perhaps expecting a second revolution, he produced " Don Sebastian" in 1690; and in the next four years four dramas more.
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 public, 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 epic as neces
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 ene-sarily including some kind of supernatural agenmy, whom he had formerly stigmatized 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 romantic or incredible act of generosity; a 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 con. troversy 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.
• All Dryden's biographers have misdated this poem, which Mr. Malone's more accurate researches prove to have been published on the 4th of October,
+ "Albion and Albanius" must however be excepted.-R.
cy, 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 surprises 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 prewe follow Rinaldo to vail; for this reason the enchanted wood with more curiosity than terror.
In a war
In the scheme of Dryden, there is one great difficulty, which yet he would, perhaps, have had address enough to surmount. justice can be but on 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 instructions 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 yet learned to be liberal.
This plan he charged Blackmore with stealing; “only,” says he, “the guardian angels of kingdoms were machines too ponderous for him to manage."
den's widow, that he would make a present of the ground, which was forty pounds, with all the other Abbey-fees. The Lord Halifax likewise sent to the Lady Elizabeth, and Mr. Charles Dryden her son, that, if they would
In 1694, he began the most laborious and difficult of all his works, the translation of Vir-give him leave to bury Mr. Dryden, he would gil; 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 economy of flattery, at once lavish and discreet, did not pass without observation.
This translation was censured by Milbourne, a clergyman, styled by Pope "the fairest of critics," 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 his book of "Fables" is the first "Iliad" 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 to 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 Rothester and dean of Westminster, sent the next day to the Lady Elizabeth Howard, Mr. Dry
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 refuse, 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 the Lord Chancellor Jefferies, with some of his rakish companions, coming 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 monument in the Abbey for him.' The gentlemen in the coaches, not knowing of the Bishop of Rochester's favour, nor of the Lord Halifax's generous 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 expense), readily came out of their coaches, and attended Lord Jefferies up to the Lady's bedside, 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 surprise, 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 vain, for her feeble voice was lost in their acclamations of joy; and the 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 embalmment, 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 Dryden waited on the Lord Halifax and the Bishop, to excuse his mother and himself, by relating the real truth. But neither his Lordship nor the Bishop would admit of any plea; especially the latter, who had the Abbey lighted, the ground opened, the choir attending, an anthem ready set, and himself wait
ing 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 ill-natured jest, saying, that those who observed the orders of a drunken frolic deserved no better; 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 Eliza beth 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 returned 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 posed a funeral by subscription, to which himself set a most noble example. At last a day, about three weeks after Mr. Dryden's 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 several others and went often himself; but could neither get a letter delivered nor admittance to speak to him; which so 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.*
An earlier account of Dryden's funeral 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 music at the College, and that at the procession, which himself saw, standing at the end of Chancery lane, 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 shows how long his funeral was in suspense. Ward knew not that the expense of it was defrayed by subscription; but compliments Lord Jefferies for so pious an undertaking. He also says, that the
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.*
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 dramatic 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, daughter to the Earl of Berkshire, with circumstances, according to the satire imputed to Lord Somers, 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.
John was author of a comedy called "The Husband his own Cuckold." He is said to have died at Rome. Henry entered into some religious order. It is some proof of Dryden's sincerity, in his second religion, that he taught it to his sons. A man, conscious of hypocritical profession in himself, is not likely to convert others; and, as his sons were qualified, in 1693, to appear among the translators of Juvenal, they must have been taught some religion before their father's change.
Of the person of Dryden I know not any account; of his mind, the portrait, which has been left by Congreve, who knew him with great familiarity, is such as adds our love of his manners to our admiration of his genius. "He was,' we are told," of a nature exceedingly humane
cause of Dryden's death was an inflammation in his toe, occasioned by the flesh growing over the nail, which, being neglected, produced a mortification in his leg.-H.
* In the Register of the College of Physicians, 1s the following entry: "May 3, 1700. Comitiis Censoriis 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 narrative concerning Lord Jefferies.-R.
Tradition, however, has not allowed that his confidence in himself exempted him from jealousy of others. He is accused of envy and insidiousness; and is particularly charged with inciting Creech to translate Horace that he might lose the reputation which Lucretius had given him.
and compassionate, ready to forgive injuries, and capable of a sincere reconciliation with those who had offended him. His friendship, where he professed it, went beyond his profession. He was of a very easy, of very pleasing access; but somewhat slow, and, as it were, diffident in his advances to others: he had that in nature which abhorred intrusion into any society whatever. Of this charge we immediately discover that He was therefore less known, and consequently it is merely conjectural; the purpose was such his character became more liable to misappre-as no man would confess; and a crime that adhensions and misrepresentations: he was very mits no proof, why should we believe? modest, and very easily to be discountenanced in his approaches to his equals or superiors. As his reading had been very extensive, so was he very happy in a memory tenacious of every thing | that he had read. He was not more possessed of knowledge than he was communicative of it; but then his communication was by no means pedantic, or imposed upon the conversation, but just such, and went so far, as, by the natural turn of the conversation in which he was en-tertaining. He declares of himself that he was gaged, it was necessarily promoted or required. He was extremely ready and gentle in his correction of the errors of any writer who thought fit to consult him, and full as ready and patient to admit the reprehensions of others, in respect of his own oversights or mistakes."
He has been described as magisterially presiding over the younger writers, and assuming the distribution of poetical fame; but he who excels has a right to teach, and he whose judgment is incontestible may without usurpation examine and decide.
Congreve represents him as ready to advise and instruct; but there is reason to believe that his communication was rather useful than en
saturnine, and not one of those whose sprightly
Nor wine nor love could ever see me gay;
There are men whose powers operate only at leisure and in retirement, and whose intellectual vigour deserts them in conversation; whom
To this account of Congreve nothing can be objected but the fondness of friendship; and to have excited that fondness in such a mind is no small degree of praise. The disposition of Dry-merriment confuses, and objection disconcerts: den, however, is shown in this character rather whose bashfulness restrains their exertion, and as it exhibited itself in cursory conversation, suffers them not to speak till the time of speakthan as it operated on the more important parts ing is past; or whose attention to their own of life. His placability and his friendship in- character makes them unwilling to utter at deed were solid virtues; but courtesy and good-hazard what has not been considered, and canhumour are often found with little real worth. Since Congreve, who knew him well, has told us no more, the rest must be collected as it can from other testimonies, and particularly from those notices which Dryden has very liberally given us of himself.
not be recalled.
Of Dryden's sluggishness in conversation it is vain to search or to guess the cause. He certainly wanted neither sentiments nor language; his intellectual treasures were great, though they were locked up from his own use. "His thoughts," when he wrote, "flowed in upon him so fast, that his only care was which to
The modesty which made him so slow to advance, and so easy to be repulsed, was certainly no suspicion of deficient merit, or unconcious-choose, and which to reject." Such rapidity of ness of his own value: he appears to have known, in its whole extent, the dignity of his own character, and to have set a very high value on his own powers and performances. He probably did not offer his conversation, because he expected it to be solicited; and he retired from a cold reception, not submissive but indignant, with such deference of his own greatness as made him unwilling to expose it to neglect or violation.
His modesty was by no means inconsistent with ostentatiousness; he is diligent enough to remind the world of his merit, and expresses with very little scruple his high opinion of his own powers; but his self-commendations are read without scorn or indignation; we allow his claims, and love his frankness.
composition naturally promises a flow of talk;
The merit of pleasing must, however, be estl-
mated by the means. Favour is not always gained by good actions or laudable qualities. Caresses and preferments are often bestowed on the auxiliaries of vice, the procurers of pleasure, or the flatterers of vanity. Dryden has never been charged with any personal agency unworthy of a good character: he abetted vice and vanity only with his pen. One of his enemies has accused him of lewdness in his conversation; but if accusation without proof be credited, who shall be innocent?
His works afford too many examples of dissolute licentiousness, and abject adulation; but they were probably, like his merriment, artificial and constrained; the effects of study and meditation, and his trade rather than his plea
Of the mind that can trade in corruption, and can deliberately pollute itself with ideal wickedness for the sake of spreading the contagion in society, I wish not to conceal or excuse the depravity. Such degradation of the dignity of genius, such abuse of superlative abilities, cannot be contemplated but with grief and indignation. What consolation can be had, Dryden has afforded, by living to repent, and to testify his repentance.
always intermingled a strain of discontent and lamentation, a sullen growl of resentment, or a querulous murmur of distress. His works are undervalued, his merit is unrewarded, and "he has few thanks to pay his stars that he was born among Englishmen." To his critics he is sometimes contemptuous, sometimes resentful, and sometimes submissive. The writer who thinks his works formed for duration, mistakes his interest when he mentions his enemies. He degrades his own dignity by showing that he was affected by their censures, and gives lasting importance to names, which left to themselves, would vanish from remembrance. From this principle Dryden did not often depart; his complaints are for the greater part general; he seldom pollutes his pages with an adverse name. He condescended indeed to a controversy with Settle, in which he perhaps may be considered rather as assaulting than repelling; and since Settle is sunk into oblivion, his libel remains injurious only to himself.
Among answers to critics no poetical attacks, or altercations, are to be included; they are like other poems, effusions of genius, produced as much to obtain praise as to obviate censure. These Dryden practised, and in these he ex
Of Collier, Blackmore, and Milbourne, he has made mention in the preface of his "Fables." To the censure of Collier, whose remarks may be rather termed admonitions than criticisms, he makes little reply; being, at the age of sixty-eight, attentive to better things than the claps of a playhouse. He complains of Collier's rudeness, and the "horse-play of his raillery;" and asserts, that, "in many places he has perverted by his glosses the meaning" of what he censures; but in other things he confesses that he is justly taxed; and says, with great calmness and candour, "I have pleaded guilty to all thoughts or expressions of mine that can be truly accused of obscenity, immorality, or profaneness, and retract them. If he be my enemy, let him triumph; if he be my friend, he will be glad of my repentance.' Yet as our best dispositions are imperfect, he left standing in the same book a reflection on Collier of great asperity, and indeed of more asperity than wit.
Of dramatic immorality he did not want ex-celled. amples among his predecessors, or companions among his contemporaries; but, in the meanness and servility of hyperbolical adulation, I know not whether, since the days in which the Roman emperors were deified, he has been ever equalled, except by Afra Behn in an address to Eleanor Gwyn. When once he has undertaken the task of praise, he no longer retains shame in himself, nor supposes it in his patron. As many odoriferous bodies are observed to diffuse perfumes from year to year, without sensible diminution of bulk or weight, he appears never to have impoverished his mint of flattery by his expenses, however lavish. He had all the forms of excellence, intellectual and moral, combined in his mind, with endless variation; and, when he had scattered on the hero of the day the golden shower of wit and virtue, he had ready for him, whom he wished to court on the morrow, new wit and virtue with another stamp. Of this kind of meanness he never seems to decline the practice, or lament the necessity: he considers the great as entitled to encomiastic homage, and brings praise rather as a tribute than a gift, more delighted with the fertility of his invention, than mortified by the prostitution of his judgment. It is indeed not certain, that on these occasions his judgment much rebelled against his interest. There are minds which easily sink into submission, that look on grandeur with undistinguishing reverence, and discover no defect where there is elevation of rank and affluence of riches.
Blackmore he represents as made his enemy by the poem of "Absalom and Achitophel,' which
he thinks a little hard upon his fanatic patrons :" and charges him with borrowing the plan of his " Arthur" from the Preface to Juvenal, "though he had," says he, "the baseness not to acknowledge his benefactor, but instead of it to traduce me in a libel."
The libel in which Blackmore traduced him was a "Satire upon Wit;" in which, having lamented the exuberance of false wit and the deficiency of true, he proposes that all wit
With his praises of others and of himself is should be recoined before it is current, and ap