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most popular piece. It often echoes the imagery of 'Tis true, it looks at distance fair; Shakspeare, but has some fine lines, descriptive of
But if we do approach, the elvish queen
The fruit of Sodom will impair, She on a dewy leaf doth bathe,
And perish at a touch ; And as she sits, the leaf doth wave;
It being than in fancy less, There like a new-fallen flake of snow,
And we expect more than possess. Doth her white limbs in beauty show.
For by our pleasures we are cloy'd, Her garments fair her maids put on,
And so desire is done; Made of the pure light from the sun.
Or else, like rivers, they make wide Mirth and Melancholy is another of these fanciful
The channels where they run; personifications. The former woos the poetess to And either way true bliss destroys, dwell with her, promising sport and pleasure, and Making us narrow, or our joys. drawing a gloomy but forcible and poetical sketch
We covet pleasure easily, of her rival, Melancholy :
But ne'er true bliss possess; Her voice is low, and gives a hollow sound;
For many things must make it be, She hates the light, and is in darkness found;
But one may make it les3 : Or sits with blinking lamps, or tapers small,
Nay, were our state as we could choose it, Which various shadows make against the wall.
'Twould be consum'd by fear to lose it. She loves nought else but noise which discord makes,
What art thou, then, thou winged air, As croaking frogs whose dwelling is in lakes;
More weak and swift than fame! The raven's hoarse, the mandrake’s hollow groan,
Whose next successor is despair, And shrieking owls which fly i' the night alone;
And its attendant shame. The tolling bell, which for the dead rings out;
Th' experienc'd prince then reason had,
Who said of Pleasure- It is mad.'
[A Country Life.]
How sacred and how innocent In hollow caves, thatch'd houses, and low cells,
A country-life appears, She loves to live, and there alone she dwells.
How free from tumult, discontent, Melancholy thus describes her own dwelling:
From flattery or fears! I dwell in groves that gilt are with the sun ;
This was the first and happiest life, Sit on the banks by which clear waters run;
When man enjoy'd himself, In summers hot down in a shade I lie;
Till pride exchanged peace for strife,
And happiness for pelf.
Here taught the multitude;
The brave they here with honour fir'd, Some brushy woods, and some all champaigns be;
And civilis'd the rude. Returning back, I in fresh pastures go,
That golden age did entertain To hear how sheep do bleat, and cows do low;
No passion but of love: In winter cold, when nipping frosts come on,
The thoughts of ruling and of gain
Did ne'er their fancies move.
Them that do covet only rest,
A cottage will suffice: Not fill'd with cares how riches to increase;
It is not brave to be possess' I wish nor seek for vain and fruitless pleasures ;
Of earth, but to despise. No riches are, but what the mind intreasures.
Opinion is the rate of things, Thus am I solitary, live alone,
From hence our peace doth flow; Yet better lov'd, the more that I am known;
I have a better fate than kings, And though my face ill-favour'd at first sight,
Because I think it so. After acquaintance, it will give delight.
When all the stormy world doth roar, Refuse me not, for I shall constant be;
How unconcern'd am I!
I cannot fear to tumble lower,
Who never could be high.
Secure in these unenvied walls, MRS KATHERINE PHILIPS (1631-1664) was ho
I think not on the state, noured with the praise of Cowley and Dryden, and
And pity no man's ease that falls Jeremy Taylor addressed to her a 'Discourse on
From his ambition's height. Friendship.' Her poetical name of Orinda was highly popular with her contemporaries; but her
Silence and innocence are safe;
A heart that's nobly true, effusions are said to have been published without
At all these little arts can laugh, her consent. This amiable lady was the wife of
That do the world subdue ! James Philips of the Priory, Cardigan. She died of small-pox, a distemper then prevalent and fatal.
JOHN DRYDEN. [Against Pleasure—an Ode.]
John DRYDEN, one of the great masters of EngThere's no such thing as pleasure here,
lish verse, and whose masculine satire has never been 'Tis all a perfect cheat,
excelled, was born at Oldwinckle, in NorthamptonWhich does but shine and disappear,
shire, in August 1631. His father, Erasmus Driden Whose charm is but deceit;
[the poet first spelled the name with a y], was a The empty bribe of yielding souls,
strict Puritan, of an ancient family, long established Which first betrays and then controls. | in Northamptonshire. John was one of fourteen children, but he was the eldest son, and received a lished a long poem, Annus Mirabilis, being an account good education, first at Westminster, and afterwards of the events of the year 1666. The style and versiat Trinity college, Cambridge. Dryden's first poetical fication seem to have been copied from Davenant ;
but Dryden's piece fully sustained his reputation. About the same time he wrote an Essay on Dramatic Poesy, in which he vindicates the use of rhyme in tragedy. The style of his prose was easy, natural, and graceful. The poet now undertook to write for the king's players no less than three plays a year, for which he was to receive one share and a quarter in the profits of the theatre, said to be about £300 per annum. He was afterwards made poet-laureate and royal historiographer, with a salary of £200. These were golden days; but they did not last. Dryden, however, went on manufacturing his rhymi plays,-in accordance with the vitiated French taste which then prevailed. He got involved in controversies and quarrels, chiefly at the instigation of Rochester, who set up a wretched rhymster, Elkanah Settle, in opposition to Dryden. The great poet was also successfully ridiculed by Buckingham in his * Rehearsal.' In 1681, Dryden published the satire of Absalom and Achitophel, written in the style of a scriptural narrative, the names and situations of personages in the holy text being applied to those contemporaries, to whom the author assigned places in his poem. The Duke of Monmouth was Absalom, and the Earl of Shaftesbury Achitophel; while the Duke of Buckingham was drawn under the character of Zimri. The success of this bold political satire
the most vigorous and elastic, the most finely versiyden
fied, varied, and beautiful, which the English language can boast-was almost unprecedented. Dryden
was now placed above all his poetical contemporaries. production was a set of heroic stanzas' on the death Shortly afterwards, he continued the feeling against of Cromwell, which possess a certain ripeness of style Shaftesbury in a poem called The Medal, a Satire and versification that promised future excellence. In against Sedition. The attacks of a rival poet, Shadall Waller's poem on the same subject, there is no- well, drew another vigorous satire from Dryden, thing equal to such verses as the following: Mac-Flecknoe. A second part of Absalom and His grandeur he deriv'd from heaven alone,
Achitophel was published in 1684, but the body of
the poem was written by Nahum Tate. Dryden conFor he was great ere Fortune made him so;
tributed about two hundred lines, containing highlyAnd wars, like mists that rise against the sun, Made him but greater seem, not greater grow.
wrought characters of Settle and Shadwell, under
the names of Doeg and Og. His antagonists,' says Nor was he like those stars which only shine
Scott, came on with infinite zeal and fury, disWhen to pale mariners they storms portend;
charged their ill-aimed blows on every side, and exHe had his calmer influence, and his mien
hausted their strength in violent and ineffectual Did love and majesty together blend.
rage ; but the keen and trenchant blade of Dryden When monarchy was restored, Dryden went over never makes a thrust in vain, and never strikes but with the tuneful throng who welcomed in Charles II. at a vulnerable point. In the same year was pubHe had done with the Puritans, and he wrote poetical lished Dryden's Religio Laici, a poem written to deaddresses to the king and the lord chancellor. The fend the church of England against the dissenters, amusements of the drama revived after the Restora- yet evincing a sceptical spirit with regard to revealed tion, and Dryden became a candidate for theatrical religion. The opening of this poem is singularly laurels. In 1662, and two following years, he pro solemn and majesticduced The Wild Gallant, The Rival Ladies, and Dim as the borrow'd beams of moon and stars The Indian Emperor; the last was very successful. To lonely, weary, wandering travellers, Dryden's name was now conspicuous; and in 1665 Is Reason to the soul; and as on high he married the Lady Elizabeth Howard, daughter | Those rolling fires discover but the sky, of the Earl of Berkshire. The match added Not light us here; so Reason's glimmering ray neither to his wealth nor his happiness, and the Was lent, not to assure our doubtful way, poet afterwards revenged himself by constantly But guide us upward to a better day. inveighing against matrimony. When his wife | And as those nightly tapers disappear, wished to be a book, that she might enjoy more When day's bright lord ascends our hemisphere; of his company, Dryden is said to have replied, So pale grows Reason at Religion's sight;
Be an almanac then, my dear, that I may change So dies, and so dissolves, in supernatural light. you once a year. In his play of the Spanish Friar, Dryden's doubts about religion were soon dispelled he most unpolitely states, that woman was made
by his embracing the Roman Catholic faith. Satisfrom the dross and refuse of a man;' upon which
fied or overpowered by the prospect of an infallible his antagonist, Jeremy Collier, remarks, with some
guide, he closed in with the court of James II., and humour and smartness, 'I did not know before that
gladly exclaimeda man's dross lay in his ribs; I believe it sometimes lies higher.' All Dryden's plays are marked with
| Good life be now my task-my doubts are done. licentiousness, that vice of the age, which he fostered, His change of religion happening at a time when it rather than attempted to check. In 1667 he pub- suited his interests to become a Catholic, was looked
upon with suspicion. The candour evinced by Dr Virgil excels in tenderness and in a calm and serene Jobnson on this subject, and the patient inquiry of dignity. This laborious undertaking brought the Sir Walter Scott, have settled the point. We may poet a sum of about £1200. His publisher, Tonson, lament the fall of the great poet, but his conduct is endeavoured in vain to get the poet to inscribe the not fairly open to the charge of sordid and unprin- translation to King William, and, failing in this, he cipled selfishness. He brought up his family and died in his new belief. The first public fruits of Dryden's change of creed were his allegorical poem of the Hind and Panther, in which the main argument of the Roman church, all that has or can be said for tradition and authority, is fully stated. The wit in the Hind and Panther,' says Hallam, is sharp, ready, and pleasant; the reasoning is sometimes admirably close and strong; it is the energy of Bossuet in verse.' The Hind is the church of Rome, the Panther the church of England, while the Independents, Quakers, Anabaptists, and other sects, are represented as bears, hares, boars, &c. The Calvinists are strongly but coarsely caricaturedMore haughty than the rest, the wolfish race Appear, with belly gaunt and famish'd face Never was so deform'd a beast of grace. His ragged tail betwixt his legs he wears, Close clapp'd for shame, but his rough crest he rears, And pricks up his predestinating ears. The obloquy and censure which Dryden's change of religion entailed upon him, is glanced at in the
Hind and Panther,' with more depth of feeling than he usually evincedIf joys hereafter must be purchas'd here With loss of all that mortals hold so dear, Then welcome infamy and public shame, And last, a long farewell to worldly fame! 'Tis said with ease, but, oh, how hardly tried
Burleigh House, By haughty souls to human honour tied !
where part of the translation of Virgil was executed. O sharp convulsive pangs of agonizing pride!
took care to make the engraver 'aggravate the nose Down, then, thou rebel, never more to rise,
of Eneas in the plates, into a sufficient resemblance And what thou did'st, and dost so dearly prize, of the hooked promontory of the Deliverer's counteThat fame, that darling fame, make that thy sacrifice ! nance.' The immortal Ode to St Cecilia, commonly 'Tis nothing thou hast given; then add thy tears called Alexander's Feast, was Dryden's next work; For a long race of unrepenting years :
and it is the loftiest and most imaginative of all his 'Tis nothing yet, yet all thou hast to give;
compositions. No one has ever qualified his adThen add those may be years thou hast to live: miration of this noble poem. In 1699 Dryden pubYet nothing still; then poor and naked come; lished his Fables, 7500 verses, more or less, as the Thy Father will receive his unthrift home,
contract with Tonson bears, being a partial delivery And thy blest Saviour's blood discharge the mighty sum. to account of 10,000 verses, which he agreed to furHe had previously, in the same poem, alluded to the nish for the sum of 250 guineas, to be made up to • weight of ancient witness,' or tradition, which had £300 upon publication of a second edition. The poet prevailed over private reason; and his feelings were was now in his sixty-eighth year, but his fancy was strongly excited—
brighter and more prolific than ever; it was like a But, gracious God! how well dost thou provide
brilliant sunset, or a river that expands in breadth, For erring judgments an unerring guide!
and fertilises a wider tract of country, ere it is finally Thy throne is darkness in th' abyss of light,
engulfed in the ocean. The 'Fables' are imitations A blaze of glory that forbids the sight.
of Boccaccio and Chaucer, and afford the finest speO teach me to believe thee thus conceal’d,
cimens of Dryden's happy versification. No narraAnd search no farther than thyself reveal'd;
tive-poems in the language have been more generally But her alone for my director take,
admired or read. They shed a glory on the last. Whom thou hast promised never to forsake!
days of the poet, who died on the 1st of May 1700.
A subscription was made for a public funeral; and My thoughtless youth was wing'd with vain desires, My manhood, long misled by wandering fires,
his remains, after being embalmed, and lying in state Follow'd false lights, and when their glimpse was gone,
twelve days, were interred with great pomp in WestMy pride struck out new sparkles of her own.
minster Abbey. Such was I; such by nature still I am;
Dryden has been very fortunate in his critics, anBe thine the glory, and be mine the shame!
notators, and biographers. His life by Johnson is
the most carefully written, the most eloquent and The Revolution in 1688 deprived Dryden of his discriminating of all the Lives of the Poets.' Malone office of laureate. But the want of independent collected and edited his essays and other prose writincome seems only to have stimulated his faculties, ings : and Sir Walter Scott wrote a copious life of the and his latter unendowed years produced the noblest poet, and edited a complete edition of his works, the of his works. Besides several plays, he now gave to whole extending to eighteen volumes. the world versions of Juvenal and Persius, and—a It has become the fashion to print the works of still weightier taska translation of Virgil. The some of our poets in the order in which they were latter is considered the least happy of all his great written, not as arranged and published by themselves. works. Dryden was deficient in sensibility, while Cowper and Burns have been presented in this shape, and the consequence is, that light ephemeral trifles, He sought the storms; but, for a calm unfit, or personal sallies, are thrust in between the more Would steer too nigh the sands to boast his wit. durable memorials of genius, disturbing their sym- Great wits are sure to madness near allied, metry and effect. In the case of Dryden, however, And thin partitions do their bounds divide ;* such a chronological survey would be instructive ; | Else why should he, with wealth and honour blest, for, between the Annus Mirabilis' and the Ode to Refuse his age the needful hours of rest ? St Cecilia' or the ‘Fables,' through the plays and Punish a body which he could not please ; poems, how varied is the range in style and taste! | Bankrupt of life, yet prodigal of ease ? It is like the progress of Spenser's ‘Good Knight,' And all to leave what with his toil he won, through labyrinths of uncertainty, fantastic conceits, To that unfeather'd two-legg'd thing, a son; flowery vice, and unnatural splendour, to the sober Got, while his soul did huddled notions try, daylight of truth, virtue, and reason. Dryden never And born a shapeless lump, like anarchy. attained to finished excellence in composition. His In friendship false, implacable in hate; genius was debased by the false taste of the age, and Resolv'd to ruin or to rule the state: his mind vitiated by its bad morals. He mangled To compass this, the triple bond he broke, the natural delicacy and simplicity of Shakspeare's The pillars of the public safety shook, • Tempest;' and where even Chaucer is pure, Dryden | And fitted Israel for a foreign yoke : is impure. This great high-priest of all the nine.' Then, seized with fear, yet still affecting fame, remarks Mr Campbell, was not a confessor to the
Usurp'd a patriot's all-atoning name. finer secrets of the human breast. Had the subject
So easy still it proves, in factious times, of “ Eloisa" fallen into his hands, he would have left
With public zeal to cancel private crimes ; but a coarse draught of her passion.' But if Dryden
How safe is treason, and how sacred ill was deficient in the higher emotions of love and ten
Where none can sin against the people's will! derness, their absence is partly atoned for in his late
Where crowds can wink, and no offence be known, works, by wide surveys of nature and mankind, by
Since in another's guilt they find their own! elevated reasoning and declamation, and by the
Yet fame desery'd no enemy can grudge ; hearty individuality of his satire. The 'brave negli
The statesman we abhor, but praise the judge. gence of his versification, and his 'long resounding
In Israel's courts ne'er sat an Abethdin line,' have an indescribable charm. His style is like
With more discerning eyes, or hands more clean, his own Panther, of the spotted kind,' and its faults
Unbrib'd, unsought, the wretched to redress, and virtues lie equally mixed; but it is beloved in
Swift of despatch, and easy of access. spite of spots and blemishes, and pleases longer than
Oh ! had he been content to serve the crown the verse of Pope, which, like the milk-white hind,
With virtues only proper for the gown; is immortal and unchanged.' The satirical portraits
Or had the rankness of the soil been freed of Pope, excepting those of Addison and Lord Her
From cockle, that oppress'd the noble seed; vey, are feeble compared with those of Dryden, whom
David for him his tuneful harp had strung, he acknowledged to be his master and instructor in
And heaven had wanted one immortal song. versification. The bard of Twickenham is too subtile,
But wild ambition loves to slide, not stand; polished, and refined. Dryden drew from the life,
And fortune's ice prefers to virtue's land. and hit off strong likenesses. Pope, like Sir Joshua
Achitophel, grown weary to possess
A lawful fame, and lazy happiness, Reynolds, refined in his colours, and many of his
| Disdain'd the golden fruit to gather free, pictures are faint and vanishing delineations. Dry
And lent the crowd his arm to shake the tree. den, with his tried and homely materials, and bold pencil, was true to nature; his sketches are still fresh as a genuine Vandyke or Rembrandt. His lan
(Character of Villiers, Duke of Buckingham.] guage, like his thoughts, was truly English. He
(From the same.] was sometimes Gallicised by the prevailing taste of
Some of their chiefs were princes of the land : the day ; but he felt that this was a license to be
In the first rank of these did Zimri stand ; sparingly used. If too many foreign words are
A man so various that he seem'd to be, poured in upon us,' said he, ‘it looks as if they were designed not to assist the natives, but to conquer Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong.
Not one, but all mankind's epitome : them. His lines, like the Sibyl's prophecies, must | Was ev'rything by starts, and nothing long: be read in the order in which they lie. In better But in the com times, and with more careful culture, Dryden's | Was chemist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon :
But, in the course of one revolving moon, genius would have avoided the vulgar descents which | Then all for women, painting, rhyming, drinking. he seldom escaped, except in his most finished pas- | Besides ten thousand freaks that died in thinking, sages and his choicest lyrical odes. As it is, his Blest madman! who could ev'ry hour employ muse was a fallen angel, cast down for manifold sins With something new to wish, or to enjoy, and impurities, yet radiant with light from heaven.
Railing and praising were his usual themes ; The natural freedom and magnificence of his verse
| And both, to show his judgment, in extremes ; it would be vain to eulogise.
So over-violent, or over-civil,
That ev'ry man with him was God or devil. [Character of Shaftesbury.]
In squandering wealth was his peculiar art;
Nothing went unrewarded but desert :
* The proposition of Dryden, that great wit is allied to mad
ness, will not bear the test of scrutiny. It has been successfully For close designs and crooked counsels fit;
combated by Hazlitt and Charles Lamb. The greatest wits,' Sagacious, bold, and turbulent of wit;
says Lamb, will ever be found to be the sanest writers It is Restless, unfix'd in principles and place :
impossible for the mind to conceive of a mad Shakspeare. The In power unpleas’d, impatient of disgrace:
greatness of wit, by which the poetic talent is here chiefly to be A fiery soul, which, working out its way,
understood, manifests itself in the admirable balance of all the Fretted the pigmy body to decay,
faculties. Madness is the disproportionate straining or excess And o'er-inform', the tenement of clay.
of any one of them.' Shaftesbury's restlessness was owing to his A daring pilot in extremity;
arnbition and his vanity; to a want of judgment and principle, Pleas'd with the danger when the waves went high, not an excess of wit.
Beggar'd by fools, whom still he found too late, And pond'ring which of all his sons was fit
To reign, and wage immortal war with Wit,
Shadwell,i alone, my perfect image bears, On Absalom and wise Achitophel :
Mature in dulness from his tender years: Thus, wicked but in will, of means bereft,
Shadwell, alone, of all my sons, was he, He left not faction, but of that was left.
| Who stands confirm'd in full stupidity.
The rest to some faint meaning make pretence; [Shaftesbury's Address to Monmouth.] But Shadwell never deviates into sense.
Some beams of wit on other souls may fall, (From the same.)
Strike through, and make a lucid interval; Auspicious prince, at whose nativity
But Shadwell's genuine night admits no ray; Some royal planet rul'd the southern sky,
| His rising fogs prevail upon the day. Thy longing country's darling and desire,
Besides, his goodly fabric fills the eye, Their cloudy pillar and their guardian fire;
And seems design'd for thoughtless majesty: Their second Moses, whose extended wand
Thoughtless as monarch oaks, that shade the plain, Divides the seas, and shows the promis'd land; And, spread in solemn state, supinely reign. Whose dawning day in every distant age
Heywood and Shirley were but types of thee,
Thou last great prophet of Tautology!
And, coarsely clad in Norwich drugget, came
To teach the nations in thy greater name.
My warbling lute, the lute I whilom strung,
Was but the prelude to that glorious day
When thou on silver Thames didst cut thy way, Content ingloriously to pass thy days,
With well-tim'd oars, before the royal barge, Like one of Virtue's fools, that feed on praise ; Swell'd with the pride of thy celestial charge; Till thy fresh glories, which now shine so bright, And, big with hymn, commander of a host, Grow stale, and tarnish with our daily sight;
The like was ne'er in Epsom-blankets toss'd. Believe me, royal youth, thy fruit must be
Methinks I see the new Arion sail, Or gather'd ripe, or rot upon the tree :
The lute still trembling underneath thy nail. Heaven has to all allotted, soon or late,
At thy well-sharpen'd thumb, from shore to shore, Some lucky revolution of their fate;
The trebles squeak for fear, the bases roar: Whose motions, if we watch and guide with skill About thy boat the little fishes throng, (For human good depends on human will),
As at the morning toast that floats along. Our fortune rolls as from a smooth descent,
Sometimes, as prince of thy harmonious band, And from the first impression takes the bent;
Thou wield'st thy papers in thy thrashing hand. But if unseiz'd, she glides away like wind,
St Andre's feet2 ne'er kept more equal time; And leaves repenting folly far behind.
Not e'en the feet of thine own Psyche's rhyme :3 Now, now she meets you with a glorious prize, Though they in number as in sense excel; And spreads her locks before you as she flies !
So just, so like Tautology they fell, Had thus old David, from whose loins you spring, That, pale with envy, Singleton4 forswore Not dared, when fortune call'd him to be king, The lute and sword, which he in triumph bore, At Gath an exile he might still remain,
And vow'd he ne'er would act Villerius more. And heaven's anointing oil had been in vain.
Here stopp'd the good old sire, and wept for joy, Let his successful youth your hopes engage,
In silent raptures of the hopeful boy. But shun th' example of declining age;
All arguments, but most his plays, persuade, Behold him setting in his western skies,
That for anointed dulness he was made. The shadows lengthening as the vapours rise.
Close to the walls which fair Augusta bind He is not now as when on Jordan's sand,
(The fair Augusta, much to fears inclin'd) The joyful people throng'd to see him land,
An ancient fabric, raised t’inform the sight,
A watch-tower once; but now, so fate ordains,
Of all the pile an empty name remains : *
Near these a nursery erects its head, (The design of this poem is the sublime of personal satire.
Where queens are forin'd, and future herocs The leading idea is to represent the solemn inauguration of one inferior poet as the successor of another in the monarchy of
Where unfledg'd actors learn to laugh and cry, nonsense. The title involves this idea with a happy reference
Where infant punks their tender voices try, to the nation of the resigning sovereign-Mac, in Celtic, being
And little Maximins the gods defy. son.)
Great Fletcher never treads in buskins here, All human things are subject to decay;
Nor greater Jonson dares in socks appear; And, when Fate summons, monarchs must obey.
But gentle Simkin just reception finds
Amidst this monument of vanish'd minds;
1 Thomas Shadwell, the dramatic author, was a rival of This aged prince, now flourishing in peace,
Dryden's both in politics and poetry. His scenes of low comedy And blest with issue of a large increase,
evince considerable talent in the style of Ben Jonson, whom
he also resembled in his person and habits. Worn out with bus'ness, did at length debate
? A fashionable dancing-master. To settle the succession of the state;
3 Psyche was the name of one of Shadwell's operas. 1 Richard Flecknoe, an Irish Roman Catholio priest, and a
4 An actor in operas, celebrated for his performance of Vel
lerius in Davenant's Siege of Rhodes. well-known hackneyed poetaster of the day.