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and the production of such lyrick strains has since been considered a regular and important part of the duty of this office : a task, the weight of
written by Motteux (see Gent. Journ. for January and February, 1693-4); and one for the same occasion was written by Prior. It appears in his works, 8vo. 1709, p. 39, under the title of“ Hymn to the Sun : set by Dr. Purcell, and sung before their Majesties on New Year's Day, 1693-4." (Purcell, however, was never honoured with the degree of Doctor in Musick.) Tonson, in the fourth edition of Dryden's Miscellanies, says, it was written at the Hague, and intended to be sung, &c. Motteux expressly says, his Ode was sung. I know not how to re. concile these three discordant accounts. The King's birthday, however, in the succeeding November, was officially celebrated by Tate. See Gent. Journ. for October and November, 1694. This Ode of Tate's was set by Dr. Staggins ; of whom some account will be given hereafter.--Whether the admired Duet in a birthday Ode, beginning—“ Let Cæsar and Urania live,” which was set by Purcell, and sung in the reign of King Wil. liam and Queen Mary, was written by Tate, or whether during the remainder of that reign or the next he was assisted by any volunteer, I have no means of ascertaining. In 1707, Fenton published, in folio, “ An Ode to the Sun, for the New Year;" but from its great length it could not have been sung at Court. Rowe, as Lau. reate, wrote an Ode for the New Year, 1716; another for 1717; an Ode to Peace, sung on New Year's Day, 1718; and Birthday Odes for 1716 and 1718. His death having happened on the 6th of December in that year, the Ode for the New-Year, 1718-19, was furnished by George Jeffreys, Esq. From that time, probably, the Laureate produced two poetical compositions every year, though they have not always been preserved.
which one of the most ingenious of his successors in the poetical throne seems to have felt by anticipation ; having, before he was invested with the office, endeavoured to shew the propriety of abolishing a custom, which he thought would be more honoured in the breach than the observance.? Happily, however, a suggestion which would have deprived us of the most elegant compositions of this kind produced since the Revolution, not hav., ing been attended to, the united powers of melody and song are still annually employed on these topicks.
We are now arrived at the fourth period of our author's dramatick life. Being by the Revolution deprived of a considerable part of his income, he was once more constrained to derive some emolument from the stage, and in 1690 produced the tragedy of Don SEBASTIAN, which was acted with
7“ It is to be wished, (says Mr. Warton,) that another change might at least be suffered to take place in the ex. ecution of this institution, which is confessedly Gothick, and unaccommodated to modern manners : I mean, that the more than annual return of a composition on a trite argument would be no longer required. I am conscious I say this at a time, when the best of Kings affords the most just and copious theme for panegyrick ; but I speak it at a time, when the department is honourably filled by a poet of taste and genius, which are idly wasted on the most splendid subjects, when imposed by constraint, and perpetually repeated.” Hist. of Eng. Poet. vol. ij. p. 132. 4to. 1778.
great applause. In the same year his comedy, entitled AMPHITRYON, was not less successful.
The opera of King ARTHUR appears to have been written before the death of Charles the Second, though it was not performed till 1691, when by its own merit, and the aid of Purcell's musick, who was then greatly admired, it became a very popular entertainment. In the summer of the same year the tragedy of CLEOMENES was written ; but Dryden being prevented by illness from finishing it, consigned it to the care of his friend Southerne, by whose aid it was completed,' so as
86. It was (says Downes) excellently adorned with scenes and machines; the musical part set by the famous Mr. Henry Purcell, and dances made by Mr. Jo. Priest. The play and musick pleased the court and city; and being well performed, 'twas very gainful to the company." Rosc. Angl. p. 12.
Dr. Johnson's account of King ARTHUR is incorrect; for he supposed, at first, that it had never been performed, In the third edition of his Lives OF THE Poets, he inadvertently added a new paragraph to his account of this opera ; in which he observed, that, in consequence of the alarm caused by the Duke of Monmouth's invasion, it was performed but once : but this paragraph was evidently intended to be annexed to the account of the Opera of Albion and ALBANIUS; though, in truth, that piece was not so hastily dismissed from the scene. See p. 187. n. 3.
9 This circumstance we learn from the following passage in Southerne's Dedication of The Wives Excuse, OR CUCKOLDS MAKE THEMSELVES, to the Right Ho
to be acted, after some obstructions on political grounds,' in May, 1692 ; and about December,
nourable Thomas Wharton; which comedy was performed and published in 1692 :
“ These, Sir, are capital objections against me; but they hit very few faults, nor have they mortified me into a despair of pleasing the more reasonable part of mankind. If Mr. Dryden's judgment goes for any thing, I have it on my side; for, speaking of this play, he has publickly said, “ the town was kind to Sir ANTHONY LOVE, I needed them only to be just to this ;” and to prove there was more than friendship in his opinion, upon the credit of this play with him, falling sick last summer, he bequeathed to my care the last act of his tragedy of CLEOMENES, which, when it comes into the world, you will find to be so considerable a trust, that all the town will pardon me for defending this play, that preferred me to it. If modesty be sometimes a weakness, what I say can hardly be a crime : in a fair English trial both parties are allowed to be heard ; and, without this vanity of mentioning Mr. Dryden, I had lost the best evidence of my cause.
In the GENTLEMAN'S JOURNAL for April 1692, by Peter Motteux, I find the following paragraph relative to this piece:
“I was in hopes to have given you in this Letter an account of the acting of Dryden's CLEOMENES: it was to have appeared upon the stage on Saturday last, and you need not doubt but that the town was big with the expectation of the performance; but orders came from her Majesty to hinder its being acted; so that none can tell when it shall be played.”
“ I told you in my last, (says the same writer in the following month,) that none could tell when Mr. Dryden's
1693, his theatrick labours were concluded by the production of his last drama, LOVE TRIUMPHANT,
CLEOMENES would appear. Since that time, the innocence and merit of the play have raised it several eminent advocates, who have prevailed to have it acted; and you need not doubt but it has been with great applause.”
The noblemen who befriended our author on this oc. casion, by representing CLEOMENES as “ wholly innocent of those crimes which were laid unjustly to its charge," were Antony, Viscount Falkland, and Laurence, Earl of Rochester. What were the grounds of offence, does not appear. But the Queen, from whom the prohibition came, (the King being at that time in Holland,) was probably extremely fearful of any piece being introduced on the stage, that might admit of a political application to her own time, in consequence of the distress she had suffered a few years before at the representation of The Spanish Friar, which she ordered to be performed in June, 1689, it being the first play she went to see. Of her confusion and distress on that occasion a particular account is given in the following curious letter, written by Daniel Finch, second Earl of Nottingham, which seems to have been formerly in the possession of Oldys, and has been printed by Sir John Dalrymple, from a copy furnished by Dr. Percy, Lord Bishop of Dromore. It does not appear to whom the letter was addressed :
“ I am loth to send blank paper by a carrier, but am rather willing to send some of the tattle of the town, than nothing at all; which will at least serve for an hour's chat,—and then convert the scrawl to its proper use.
" The only day her Majesty gave herself the diversion of a play, and that on which she designed to see another, has furnished the town with discourse for near a month,