« PreviousContinue »
fore;' and in 1691, Wood's ATHENÆ OXONIENSÉS i was issued out in the same manner...
Pope, speaking of his own great version, said to Mr. Spence, in 1736.-" I began the Iliad in my twenty-fifth year ; and it took up that and five more to finish it. Mr. Dryden, though they always talk of his being hurried so much, was as long in translating Virgil. Indeed he wrote plays and other things in the same period.". It is strange that this great poet, who lived so ncar the time, should have been so inaccurate in his account of his predecessor's performance ; for, Juring the period in which this translation was made, Dryden certainly wrote not a single play; and the work, instead of consuming six years, employed
* Early in the last century, Minshieu prefixed to his GUIDE TO THE TONGUES, (fol. 1617,) a List of those persons who had purchased his work, with a view to in. duce others to buy the remaining copies. This list he occasionally enlarged, by printing a new leaf. In my copy four hundred and twenty names are found. But it docs not appear that the noblemen and others whose names are given, (among whom we find Shakspeare's patron, the Earl of Southampton) countenanced thc un. dertaking, previous to the publication of the work; and therefore they cannot be considered as Subscribers, in the sense in which we now use the word.
- Wood disposed of about 415 copics by subscription; and it appears from an advertisement in the London Gazette, June 8, 1691, that cighty-five copies only remained for sale to non-subscribers.
s Spence's ANECDOTES.
but half that time. It appears to have been begun in the summer of 1694; and from a letter now before me, written by Basil Kennct to Jacob Tonson, in September, 1690, I learn, that it was then nearly finished ; so that it probably was sent to the press in the beginning of 1697 ; and it was published in the following July,“ not more than three years from its having been originally undertaken. It is painful to learn from one of our author's letters to Tonson, that he would have made the an. notations on this work much more ample, but that the bookseller would not make him any compensation for them. “I am not sorry (says he) that you would not allow any thing towards the Notes; for to make them good, would have cost half a year's time at least. ---- It would require scven years to translate Virgil exactly."
What the precise terms were, on which this version was given to the publick, it is now not cásy to ascertain. One set of Subscribers, consisting of one hundred and one persons, contributed five guineas each, to adorn the work with engravings;
6 In the London Gazette, (No. 3300,) Monday, June 28, 1697, is the following Advertisement :
“ The works of Virgil, containing his Pastorals, Geor. gicks, and Encis, translated into English verse by Mr. Dryden, and adorned with onc hundred cuts, will be finished this week, and be ready next weck to be delivered, as subscribed for, in quires, upon bringing the receipt for the first payment, and paying the second. Printed for Jacob Tonson,” &c,
which, however, were only the old plates used by Ogilby thirty-five years before, retouched.' The second set of Subscribers, who paid two guincas each, were two hundred and fifty-two; so that the whole subscription-money amounted to more than one thousand guineas: but from the first subscription a certain sum, perhaps two guineas of cach contribution, was retained by Tonson,' I suppose to defray the expence of the plates. What deduction was inade from the sum paid by the second set of Subscribers, I have no means of discovering ; but perhaps of this sum, one half was retained by the bookseller, and the remainder belonged to our author. Froin some passages in his letters to Tonson it may be collected, that he received fifty pounds for each of the Georgicks and Æneids, and probably the same sum for the whole of the Pastorals. If, therefore, we suppose
Spence. * Dryden's Letter (XVI.) to Jacob Tonson.
“I give you notice, that I have donc the scaventh Eneid in the country, and intend some few day's hence to go upon the ciglit: when that is finishid, I expect fifty pounds in good silver ; not such as I have had formerly." LETTER XIII. to Jacob Tonson.-See also LETTER X. “ 'Tis now three dayes since I have ended the fourth Eneid.... The paying Ned Sheldon fifty pounds put me upon this spccd. --- You may, if you please, come to me at the Coffee-house this afternoon, or at farthest tomorrow, that we may cake carc together, where and when I may receive the fifty pounds, and the guinneys." The guincas, I suppose, were part of the subscription-money.
that the bookseller was bound to furnish the Subscribers with their books, Dryden's profits, after all deductions, would be thirteen hundred and ninety-six pounds, twelve shillings and sixpence.' Pope, however, told Mr. Spence, that he had cleared every way, by this translation, only about twelve hundred pounds.' If his statement be correct, Tonson probably had a still larger portion of the second subscriptions than I have supposed. No apology can be necessary for the minuteness with which I have endeavoured to trace the history and profits of a work, which Pope pronounced to be “the most noble and spirited translation that he knew in any language.":
Swift has censured Dryden for dedicating this work to three different patrons, as if that were a novel practice, first introduced by our author. He might have been told of Spencer, of Chapman, of
'I estimate the guinea at £.1. 15. 6d., and in my cal. culation I have not included the third Gcorgick; for that having been purchased before, and printed in the FOURTH MISCELLANY, Tonson probably allowed nothing for it. • ANECDOTES.
The subscribers to Pope's Translation of the Iliad, were five hundred and seventy-five; and thc copies sub. scribed for werc six hundred and fifty-four. He there. fore, according to Dr. Johnson, “ gained by that work, five thousand threc hundred and twenty pounds, four shillings." Probably, however, he gained still more; for the Princess of Wales, the Earl of Oxford, and many other of his grcat friends, who appear in the List only as Subscribers for single copies, made him very liberal presents.
Fuller, and others, who were equally “ lavish and discreet," long before the publication of the English Virgil ; and in modern times, Garth, Young, and Thomson, have not disdained to follow Dryden's example. Swift, though his kinsman,' scems
It is not easy to ascertain the exact degrec of relation. ship between Dryden and Swife. He is said by his kins. man Deanc Swist, and by Hawkcsworth after him, to have been our author's second cousin ; the grandson of Elizabeth, one of the daughters of Sir Erasmus Driden; but this could not be the case, for that lady was married to Sir Richard Philipps, Bart. The wife, therefore, of Thomas Swift, Vicar of Goodrich, in Herefordshire, and grandfather to the celebrated Jonathan Swift, being ac. knowledged to have been Elizabeth Dryden, must be sought for in some other branch of the Dryden family. From MERCURIUS RUSTICUS, P. 75, it appears, that in October, 1642, she had, beside ten children who supplicated her plunderers for bread, an infant in the cradle, and afterwards she had three more children; so that she probably was younger than any of the daughters of Sir Erasmus Driden, all of whom, I believe, were born bc. fore the ycar 1600. On her husband's living being se. questered, the profits of it were consigned to Jonathan Dryden, minister, who was probably her brother; and they 'were, I conceive, the children of a brother of Sir Erasmus Driden: he had five brothers. If I am right in this conjecture, the Dean of St. Patrick's father, and our au. thor, were only second cousins. Swift's grandfather, Thomas, had ten sons, of which the fifth, Jonathan, (the Dean's father,) was probably named from Jonathan Dryden above mentioned, who was, I believc, his uncle: another of the sons (who, as well as Jonathan, was an ai