Page images

“ Yet, let me tell you, Mr. Bayes, your best friends declare you a more competent judge of some sort of wit and delight, than of religion, or any controversie about it; they say, you manage rhythmes well, and that you have a good art in making high ideas of honour, and in speaking noble things : in this debate, it had been more edifying if you had wrote in prose; it would have rendered your speech more natural, and you would never have made so much contention, as you have done, between the rhythme and the sense. But I see, he is not in a condition of taking counsel, or of correcting his vices; therefore he will continue in defiance of all the means that can be used to the contrary, an endless Scribler, an empty Politician, an insolent Poet, and an idle pretender to Controversie ; so that he is resolved to rave against us as so many vile Hereticks; just as the Italians, French, and Spaniards, have had the vanity to boast, that all wit is to be sought for, no where, but amongst themselves : it is their established rule, that good sense has always kept near the warm sun, and scarce ever yet dared to come farther than the forty-ninth degree northward. This is a very unaccountable fancy; but they have the same opinion of religion too; as if all orthodoxy could not go out of the bounds which they have set it.

66 So Mr. Bayes his controversial writings are unanswerable, just as some places are impregnable, by reason of the dirt that lies about them; and to maintain a conflict any longer with his reasons, were to renew the old way of fighting with sand

bags, the true emblem of his unjointed, incoherent stuff; for if he goes on thus in making volumes of controversie, his best confuters will be the grocers and haberdashers of small wares, who will bind up their rotten raisins and mundungus in his papers; and his booksellers will dwell at the south side of Paul's, where his works shall be bound up, as his forefather William Prynnes were, in trunks, hat-cases, and band-boxes.”

During the latter years of King James and the beginning of the reign of King William, if we were to form our opinion from the pieces which Dryden gave the publick, we should be led to suppose, that for some time his literary exertions were less vigorous and constant than they had been at a preceding period; but he probably was equally diligent and studious as before; though for some time after the Revolution, which made a great change in his situation, he might not hazard any publication, from an apprehension that the unpopularity of his tenets might extend itself to his works. At this time, therefore, though we do not find the press teeming with his labours, I imagine his hours of leisure were employed in composing several of those pieces which were produced when time had a little softened the asperity of his tri- . umphant censurers and opponents.

In 1687, in addition to the poem last-mentioned, . he produced his first Ode on St. Cecilia's day; and in some months afterwards prepared for the happy series of years which he flattered himself were to run in long procession from the time a son

should be born to fill the English throne; on which event he produced his BRITANNIA RediVIVA, June 23, 1688, in less than a fortnight after the birth of the Prince, long known by the title of the PRETENDER. In the same or preceding year, probably, he addressed to his friend Sir George Etherege, an Epistle, in short familiar verse, on his being appointed Envoy to Ratisbon ;' which is of a different structure from all his other compositions, and confirms an observation made by Congreve, that there is scarcely any species of poetry in which he did not excel.

The reputation of Milton now daily increasing, our author's bookseller, Jacob Tonson, was encou. raged by Mr. Somers, at that time only a barrister, to print a new•and elegant edition of PARADISE Lost, in folio, of which three large impressions had already been dispersed in a less splendid form. By the encouragement and zeal of Somers, and the other admirers of that great poet, aided by the activity of Atterbury, who was then a Student of Christ-Church, in Oxford, and appears to have exerted himself much in promoting the scheme in that University,' above five hundred subscribers

Ś Sir George Etherege was appointed Envoy to Ra. tisbon in or before 1687, and died abroad about the year 1694.

6 Mr. Richardson ("* Explanatory Notes and Remarks on Par. Lost," p. cxviii.) contends, that Mr. Somers was not the principal promoter of this edition ; and Dr. Warton says, (Pope's Works, vol. viii. p. 121. n.) that “ Atterbury, and not Lord Somers, had the great merit of

were obtained, and the book was published in 1688. Dryden on this occasion was a subscriber,

procuring Milton's poem to be printed by subscription." But surely the testimony of Jacob Tonson, for whom the book was printed, may be relied on; and he expressly says in a Dedication of a subsequent edition to Lord Somers, that this nobleman's “ opinion and encouragement occasioned the first appearance of PARADISE Lost in the folio edition.” Atterbury, certainly, by his zeal and activity procured many subscriptions at Oxford (where he at that time resided); as appears from the following un. published Letter written by him to Tonson : Mr. Tonson,

* Mr. Creech assurd me on Saturday, that ye last Cutt was not graven, and therefore I thought I might stay a post longer then' ye time you fixd. This I chose the rather to do, because having been in ye country some time, I have not had lately ye opportunity of remembring some people of their promises to subscribe. The truth is, severall people put in their names, who did not immedi. ately deposit their money; so that I was willing, before I sent you any thing, to make yo subscribers and my account even. I have received above 5 pounds in crowns, and ye rest I shall have when I meet with ye men; so that you may securely return ye whole number of books to me, and I'll take care to have 'em convey'd, and ye you shall have y' full summ. The thinness of ye Uni. versity, particularly our house, and ye expectations people are in of greater affairs, have been ye cause that this thing has not gone forward, so well as it would have done at another time, especially if you had gone on imediately with it upon the first proposal : all people were then strangely fond of it. You talked a good while ago of paying in subscription money to Burghers: if your mind be ye same still, I'll pay him in 6 pounds upon a words and furnished Tonson with the well-known hex

notice. Before you write to me agen, pray do me the kindness to speak to Mr. Momford [Mountford] for a copy of the Oxford Prologue, which I have promised a Gentleman, but have here and there forgott a verse. I wrote to him according to your directions, but can hear nothing from him. Along with that I suppose you will send Dryden's Satyr;which, upon my word, shall be returned without a line transcrib'd. If you have any thing that's bold on your side of ye world, ye coach is a safe way of convey. ance. My Whole Duty of Man waits for yours; and if you think it worth your while to have the 1st Miscellany [and] yo piece of Spencers in 4to. (which you know I ow your sent you up along with it, it shall be done.

“I am your servant to command,

“ Fr. ATTERBURY. “ Creech preechd a bold sermon here on Gunpowder. Treason day. “Oxon, X' Church, Nov. 15, 1687.

Mr. Dickson.
Vincent Corbet. Mr. Rich. Atkins.
Dr. Bernard.

Mr. Rich. Backwell.
Dr. Harsnet.

Mr. Leigh Backwell.
Dr. Gibbons.

Dr. Woodard.
Mr. Bennet.

Mr. Owen Norton.
Mr. Richard Old. Mr. Rogers.
Mr. Harding.

Dr. Lewis Atterbury.
Mr. Sykes.

Mr. Sampson Estwick.
Mr. Tho. Newy. Mr. George Smalridge.
Mr. Fra. Hicman. Dr. William Beach.
Mr. Rich. Chapman. Mr. Codrington.
Mr. Cornelius Norwood. Mr. William Whitfield.
Mr. Lancelot Lake. Mr. John Whitfield.
Mr. Thistlethwait. Mr. Cowcher,
Mr. Rasbury.


« PreviousContinue »