Page images
PDF
EPUB

then a general expectation that Mr. : Montague would speedily erect a monument in WestminsterAbbey to the poet, of whom he had lately become a patron; but his remains lay so long without any memorial, that Garth, at the end of seventeen years, publickly lamented, that he who could make Kings immortal, and raise triumphal arches to heroes, wanted a poor square foot of stone to shew where his ashes were deposited,' In the

; These ladies were, Mrs. Manley, who contributed two clegics ;. the Hon. the Lady P[icrse]; Mrs. S[arah] F[ield] (who has also a pocm in Luctus BRITANNICI); Mrs. I. E.; Mrs. M[ary] P[ix] ; Mrs. C{atharine T[rot. ter]; Mrs. L. D.; Mrs. D. E.

In this Collection, of which I have never seen a copy, except that in Mr. Bindley's curious Library, (which is the copy that was presented to Mr. Montaguc,) there is not a single line worth quoting, nor onc circumstancc respect. ing Dryden, worth recording.

Richard Basset, the publisher, in one of those ad. dresses with which Mr. Montague was at this time daily fed, (for the Collection is dedicated to him,) speaks of his subscription towards Dryden's funeral, as an act of extraordinary munificence! “I think myself obliged, (says he,) to make a present of what is written in honour of the most consummate. poet amongst our English dead, to the most DISTINGUISHING amongst the living. You have been pleased already to show your respect to his mcmory, in contributing so largely towards his burial, notwithstanding he had that unhappiness of conduct, when alive, to give you cause to disclain the protection of him.” . - See p. 374. n. 5. • Preface to the translation of Ovid, folio, 1717...

same year, '(1717,) Thomas Pelham, Duke of Newcastle, who a few years before had succeeded to a very great estate, allowed Congreve to address him in the highest strain of panegyrick, for “the most noble, the most magnificent, and the most uncommon act of generosity ever recorded in history; that of having, from pure regard to merit, from an entire love of learning, and from that accurate taste and discernment which he had so carly obtained in the polite arts,-given order for erecting, at his own expence, a splendid monus ment to the memory of a man whom he never saw, but who was an honour to his country."* His Grace appears to have thought the order which he is said to have given, fully sufficient ; for no one step further does he appear to have taken, to complete this noble and unprecedented act of munificence, nor a single stone did he ever inscribe with the name of Dryden. At length John Sheffield, formerly Earl of Mulgrave and Marquis of Normanby, and now become Duke of Buckinghamshire, roused by some lines which were intended to be inscribed on Rowe's tomb,“ rescued his

* Dedication of Dryden's Plays, six vols. 12mo. 1717.

o Rowe having died in December, 1718, was buricd in Westminster-Abbcy; and a monument was crccted to his memory by his widow, at whose desire Pope wrote the following inscription for it:

“ Thy rcliques, Rowe, to this fair urn we trust,
“ And sacred place by Dryden's awful duse :
“ Bencath a rudc and nameless slunc he lies,
" To which thy tomb shall guide inquiring eyes :

[graphic]

.. One grateful wihankless land to conful rclict warench

country from the disgrace incurred by the long neglect of so great a poet, and defrayed the charge

“ Peace to thy gentle shade, and endless rest!

“ Blest in thy genius, in thy love too, blest! . “ One grateful woman to thy fame supplies,

“ What a whole thankless land to his denies."

The maiden name of Rowe's sorrorful rclict was Devcnish. She married, not long afterwards, Colonel Dcane; and, as Sir David Dalrymplc, Lord Hailes, some years ago informed me, was the widow supposed to be alluded to by Pope in the fourth and fifth of the following lines ; Dialogue II. 1738 :

“ Find you the virtue, and I'll find the verse :-
“ But random praise--the task can ne'er be done ;
“ Each mother asks it for her booby son;
“ Each widow asks it for the best of men,

“For him she weeps, and him she weds again." The mother was Catharine, Duchess of Buckinghamshire.

The foregoing inscription intended for Rowe, belong. ing, as Dr. Johnson long ago observed, rather to Dryden than Rowe, was changed afterwards to that now on his tomb. The second couplet, however, roused Sheffield, Duke of Buckinghamshire, who defrayed the expence of the plain monument afterwards erected, (on this hint, as Pope tells us,) to our poa's memory. It was probably designed by Kent, and the present bust was executed by Schcemaker. From the following entry in the Chapter book of the collegiate church of St. Peter, Westminster,

it appears that a bust of inferior workmanship kept its · place on our author's tomb for above ten years, previous to Scheemaker being employed: "..

" At a Chapter held the 20th day of Nov. 1731, “ Ordered, that her Grace the Dutchess of Buckinghamshire have leave to change the present bust of Mr. Dryden, for a better."

of a very plain and unexpensive monument to his memory in Westminster-Abbey, which that nobleman did not live to sec completed.

The original monument probably did not cost more than £.100. Scheemaker, as his scholar, Mr. Nollekens, in. forms me, probably received for his bust, twenty-five guincas. From the total silence of the Treasurer's books, which have been carefully examined with this view, it may be collected, that no fees were reccived by the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, on Dryden's interment, nor any fine required on erecting his monument in the Abbey.

The epitaph at first intended by Pope for this monument, “ This Sheffield rais'd; the sacred dust below

“ Was Dryden once :-ihe rest who does not know ?" seems to have been suggested by a passage in a letter from Atterbury to him, without date, but apparently written at Bromley, in the latter end of September, 1720:

• What I said to you in mine, about the monument, was intended only to quicken, not to alarm you. It is not worth your while to know what I meant by it; but when I see you, you shall. I hope you may be at the Deanery, towards the end of October, by which time I think of settling there for the winter. What do you think of some such short inscription as this in Latin, which may, in a few words, say all that is to be said of Dryden, and yet nothing more than he deserves ?

" JOHANNI DRYDENO,

CUI POESIS ANGLICANA

VIM SUAM AC VENERES DEBET ;
ET SI QUA IN POSTERUM AUGEBITUR LAUDE, ·

EST ADHUC DEBITURA.

HONORIS ERGO P. ETC. " To show you that I am as much in carnest in the affair as you yourself, something I will send you of this kind, It is much to the honour of Dr. John Shadwell,: the son of Dryden's celebrated antagonist, that, in a private letter written from Paris, about three months

in English. If your design holds of fixing Dryden's name only below, and his busto abovc, may not lines like these be graved just under the name?

This Sheffield rais'd, to Dryden's ashes just ; “ Herc fix'd his name, and there his laureld bust: .

What else the Musc in marble might express, " Is known alrcady: praise would make him less.

“ Or thus: : " More needs not ; when acknowledg'd mcrits reign,

“ Praise is impertinent, and censure vain.”

The thought is ncarly the same as in the following lines in Luctus BRITANNICI, by William Marston, of Trinity College, Cambridge:

" In JOANNEM Dryden, poetarum facile principem. Si quis in has ædes intret fortasse viator,

Busta poetarum dum veneranda notet, Cernat et exuvias Drydeni,-plura refcrre .

Haud opus : ad laudes vox ea sola satis." From Atterbury's letter it appears, that this epitaph was left by the Duke of Buckingham, (who died in the fol. lowing February) entirely to Pope. None of the pro. posed inscriptions, however, were adopted ; but, instead of them, the following words:

“ J. DR Y DE N.
Natus 1632. Mortuus 1 Maii. 1700.
Joanncs Sheffield, Dux Buckingliamiensis posuit.

1720." If Dryden was born on the 9th of August, 1631, (as Pope himself tells us he was, in his inaccurate account of this very inscription, fifteen years afterwards,) when he died, he wanked three months of being sixty-ninc years old

« PreviousContinue »