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him, " as if," says the author of a pretended letter under the name of St. Evremont; “ he would be still in contradiction to the town." Nor did Shadwell or Settle escape from his satire, though, for particular purposes, he at one period was their protector. But in addition to the general inconstancy or jealousy of his nature, another motive prompted him to endeavour to mortify and depress our author: this was Dryden's attachment to Sheffield, Earl of Mulgrave, who had publickly branded Rochester as a coward for refusing to fight him. Dryden's intimacy with Sheffield probably commenced about the end of the year 1673, when he was twenty-five years old; from which time to that of his own death, Rochester was a determined cnemy of our author. In return for the Dedication of MARRIAGE A-LA-MODE in the spring of that year, he appears to have written a letter of thanks to Dryden, not now extant, which produced the letter from the poet already mentioned: but soon afterwards all friendly correspondence and intercourse must have ceased between them; for in this very year he warmly espoused the interest of Elkanah Settle, introduced him at Court as a rival, if not superiour poct, and wrote a Prologue which was spoken before that author's EMPRESS of Morocco, when it was exhibited at Whitehall. To this play, which was published in 1673, is prefixed a Dedication containing some sarcasms on Dryden, or as he expresses it, “ a most arrogant, calumniating, ill-natured, and scandalous pre
facc;" and still more to aggravate the offence, the play was ornamented with sculptures, and sold at an uncommon price. To discourage Settle's petulance, Dryden, in conjunction with Crowne and Shadwell, with whom he was then on amicable terms, in 1674, wrote some Strictures on The EMPRESS of Morocco, to shew how little the author of that tragedy was entitled to the new rank in which Rochester had placed him. That a man who in his proudest days appears to have been desirous of acquiring fame by the contrivance of a puppet-shew,' and by writing verses for the City Pageants, who finally was sunk so low as to be employed in making machinery for Bartholomew Fair, and in his old age condescended to act in the Droll of St. George in a dragon of green leather of his own invention, that such a man should ever have been the antagonist and rival of Dryden, is so extraordinary, that were not the fact supported by indisputable evidence, it would scarcely be credited. Nothing however, says Dennis, “ is more certain, than that Mr. Settle, who is now (1717] the City Poet, was formerly a poet of the Court. And at what time was he so? Why, in the reign of King Charles the Second, when that Court was more gallant and more polite • • In fire-works give him leave to vent his spite,
“ These are the only serpents he can write :
Second Part of ABSALOM and ACHITOPHEL.
than ever the English Court perhaps had been before : when there was at Court the present and the late Duke of Buckingham, the late Earl of Dorsct, Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, famous for his wit and poetry, Sir Charles Sidley, Mr: Saville, Mr. Buckley, and several others. ,
“Mr. Settle's first tragedy, CANBYSES, KING OF Persia, was acted for three wecks together. The second, which was The Express or Morocco, was acted for a month together, and was in such high esteem both with the Court and Town, that it was acted at Whitehall before the King by the gentlemen and ladies of the Court; and the Prologue, which was spoken by the Lady Betty . Howard, was writ by the famous Lord Rochester. The bookseller who printed it, depending upon the prepossession of the town, ventured to distinguish it from all the plays that had been ever pub lished before ; for it was the first play that ever was sold in England for two shillings, and the first that ever was printed with cuts. The booksellers at that time of day had not discovered so much of the weakness of their gentle readers as they have done since, nor so plainly discovered that fools, like children, are to be drawn in by gewgaws.Well; but what was the event of this great suco cess ? Mr. Settle began to grow insolent, as any one may see, who reads the Epistle Dedicatory to The EMPRESS OF Morocco: Mr. Dryden, Mr. Shadwell, and Mr. Crowne, began to grow jealous ; and they three in confederacy wrote Remarks on.
The EMPRESS OP Morocco. Mr. Settle answered them; and, according to the opinion which the town then had of the matter, (for I have utterly forgot the controversy,) had by much the better of them all. In short, Mr. Settle was then a formidable rival to Mr. Dryden; and I remember very well, that not only the town, but the Uni. versity of Cambridge, was very much divided in their opinions about the preference that ought to be given to them ; and in both places the younger fry inclined to Elkanah."
This account, though in general true, like many others which I have had occasion to examine, is not true in all its parts. Dennis, who was born in 1657, went to Caius College in Cambridge some years after The EMPRESS or Morocco was first acted,' at which time he was at Harrow school : his relation therefore in some measure must have been grounded upon hearsay. CAMBYSES, instead of being played for three weeks together, was acted only six nights successively :* and therefore some
so Johannes Dennis, Francisci filius, éphippiarii, Londini natus, litcrisq; gram. institutus per an, sub magistro Ellys, deinde apud Harrowe sub magistro Horne per quinqucnnium, admissus esą Jan. 13, 1675, Pen. Min. in Comm. Scholar. an. natus 18. sub tutela · Magistri Ellys.” Coll. Caii. Regr.
1679. Joh. Dennis, Coll. Caii. Art. Bac. Ibidem.
4 Rosc. Angl. p. 23. Downes, the author of that book was Prompter to the Duke of York's Company of . Comedians, by whom CAMBYSES was acted.
allowance must be made for exaggeration with respect to THE EMPRESS of Morocco. Dennis's testimony, however, is perfectly unexceptionable with regard to the University of Cambridge, of which he became a member in January, 1675-6; and after all abatements, it appears that in London, partly from the protection of Rochester, and partly by the clamour of the party for whom Settle at a subsequent period wrote, he was for several years preposterously elevated into a competition with Dryden. Rochester, how:ver, soon grew weary of him, and that he might not be too much elated by the recent applause which he had received, in 1675 recommended Crowne to the King to write the Masque of Calisto, which was performed at Court by the Princesses, Mary and Anne, each of whom sat afterwards on the English throne, and five other ladies; aided by several noblemen, and various performers from the King's Theatre, who joined in the songs and dances.
s The persons of this Masque were represented as follows: Calisto, by the Lady Mary; Nyphe, by Lady Anne ; Jupiter, by Lady Henrietta Wentworth (for whom the Duke of Monmouth deserted his wife); Juno, by the Countess of Sussex; Psecas, by Lady Mary Mordaunt; Diana, by Mrs. Blague, late Maid of Honour to the Queen; and Mercury by Mrs. Sarah Jennings, Maid of Honour to the Duchess of York, and afterwards Duchess of Marlborough.
Nymphs attending Diana, and performers in the Dances, the Countess of Derby, the Countess of Pem