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few known facts, without even the semblance of · consistency or probability, . .. i s..... · She begins by informing us, that some extraor, dinary incidents which evinced Dryden's grcat skill in judicial astrology, had been related to Lady Chudleigh at Bath, and that this Lady desired her to obtain from Lady Elizabeth Dryden the best information she could get concerning them : but immediately afterwards she says, that this talc of wonders was originally told to Lady Chudleigh at Bath in the year 1707, by Lady Elizabeth Dryden herself ; notwithstanding which, she requested a gentlewoman, who appears to have been Coriana herself, to interrogate Lady Elizabeth Dryden par. ticularly concerning these incidents; which she accordingly did; and then she subjoins a long narrative, taken from that Lady's own mouth, and in her very words. Corinna had previously in. formed us, that our author's widow, in the year 1703, became insane, and never afterwards recovered her understanding. We will, however, wave this inconsistency, and suppose that her information was derived froin Lady Elizabeth Dryden in 1702, before her mind became deranged, and two years before the death of her eldest son.; on
The age of eight being fixed on as the era of the first incident, the year in which it happened, according to Corinna's reckoning, must have been cither 1678 or 1679. In the summer then of one of those years, while the King was making a Pro
gress, we are to suppose that Dryden was invited to spend some months at Charlton, then the residence of his brother-in-law, Charles, the second Earl of Berkshire; but, says his Lady, “ I was invited to pass the summer at my uncle Mordaunt's country-scat. This (she adds) was well enough :" meaning, doubtless, the being separated from her husband for some months! In June, 1677, Henry Howard, the seventh Duke of Norfolk, was married to Mary,' the only daughter of Henry Mordaunt, second Earl of Peterborough. Lady Elizabeth Dryden was second cousin, by the half blood, to Henry Frederick, Earl of Arundel, grandfather to this seventh Duke of Norfolk; and the Duke and her grandchild, if she had had one, would have been fourth cousins. On this
? In 1685 her husband, thc Duke of Norfolk, separated himself from her; and in November, 1693, having brought an action in the King's Bench against Sir John Germain, for criminal conversation with the Duchess, he obtained a verdict; but only onc hundred marks, (6.66. 13. 4.) as damages. April 11th, 1700, they were divorced by act of parliament. Soon after the Duke's death, which happened in 1701, she married her gallant, Sir John Ger. main, a Dutch soldier of fortune, who had been made a Baronet by King William, in 1698. The Duchess of Norfolk died in 1705, and left him a large estate in Northamptonshire, which on his marriage afterwards with Lady Elizabeth Berkeley, (Swift's celebrated correspondent), was settled on her, and, on his death in 1718, be. came her property. The husband of that accomplished lady was so extremely ignorant, as the lace Horace, Earl solid ground it is, that, after his marriage, his wife's father, Henry, Earl of Peterborough, became Lady Elizabeth Dryden's uncle. Unluckily, however, he could not, even by the courtesy of the last age, have been considered as any relation whatsoever of our poet's wife ; though she and his daughter, in consequence of her marriage, accordo ing to the fashion of those days might have been accounted third, or rather fourth cousins..
. Whether Charles the Second made any Progress in August 1678, or 1679, I shall not stay to inquire ; though probably the inquiry would not add much credibility to this narrative. The age of Charles Dryden, alone, is fatal to it; for in either of those years, instead of being eight years old, he was either thirteen or fourteen ; and not very long afterwards was elected a King's Scholar into Westminster School: so that whatever accident happened to him at that period of his life, can have no relation to Dryden's supposed prediction, which was to be fulfilled in his son's eighth year; and if, on the
of Orford, told me, that at one period of his life he con. ceived that St. Matthew's Gospel was wriuen by. Sir Matthew Decker; to whom by his will, which was proved December 12, 1718,(PRE. OFF. Tennison, 238,) he con. signed the distribution of £.200, which he bequeated to the poor of the Dutch Congregation in London.-This extraordinary instance of gross ignorance was communi. cated to Lord Orford by the Lady Viscountess Fitzwil., liam, a very grave and sensible woman, who was Sir. Matthew Decker's daughter.
other hand, it should be contended, that he was buried under a wall, thirty feet long, tipped over by a pack of hounds in full cry, in 1673, when he really was of that age, then some degree of embar. rassment will arise from his mother being in that year at the country-seat of her pretended uncle Mordaunt ; no kind of relationship subsisting between even the house of Norfolk and Peterborough, till some years afterwards.
Lady Elizabeth Dryden (according to Corinna,) next informs us, that her son having escaped this misfortune, in due time accepted a kind invitation from another uncle of her's, Cardinal Howard, and removed to Rome; where, in his twenty-third year, agreeably to his father's prediction, he met with another dreadful accident : however, notwithstanding his falling from the top of one of the Towers of the Vatican,& five stories high, and nearly resembling the Monument, by which he was mashed to a nummy, he yet survived to tell this marvellous tale; being fated, it seems, to another kind of death. We cannot suppose a mother ignorant or forgetful of
• In the Vatican there are said to be eleven thousand rooms; but there is no tower of any kind connected with it. This dreadful accident, Corinna tells us, happened to Charles Dryden, shortly after he had been in attendance on some ladies of the palace, the Pope's nieces. But un. fortunately the Pope never entertains any females in the Vatican; nor have the ladies of Rome :iny opportunity of sceing his Holiness, except at churchi, in a procession, or on a journcy.
the age of her own child : unluckily, however, her son, Charles, attained his twenty-third year in 1688; when he was in London, and might indeed have tumbled from the top of the Monument, but could not, without the legs of Garagantua, have ascended one of the supposed towers of the Vatican : nor did he visit Rome till some years afterwards. As for Cardinal Howard, under whose patronage it is very probable he went there, it has already been shewn that he was young Dryden's third cousin, and instead of being uncle, was scarcely second cousin to his mother.
To conclude these fantastick figments, we are told that this Lady was exceedingly apprehensive of her son's dying a violent death in his thirtythird or thirty-fourth year; which his father had predicted, and she feared the more, on account of the frequent challenges sent by her son to Lord Jef. feries, in consequence of the outrage committed by that nobleman, at the time of Dryden's funeral. What ground she had for apprehension from a rencounter between Lord Jefferies and her son, wc have alrcady seen ; and if in 1702 she dreaded that he should die in his thirty-third or thirtyfourth year, her wits must have already left her ; as those two years of his life had previously passed over without any signal calamity; for they were the years 1698 and 1999; which he spent either in cxcursions with his father into Northamptonsliirc, or sitting quictly by the firc-sidc in his house in London.