Part 1 out of 7
Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Jayam Subramanian and PG Distributed
PRINTED BY BALLANTYNE AND COMPANY,
THE POETICAL WORKS
OF JOHN DRYDEN.
With Life, Critical Dissertation, and
REV. GEORGE GILFILLAN.
M. DCCC. LV.
THE LIFE OF JOHN DRYDEN.
John Dryden was born on the 9th of August 1631, at a place variously
denominated Aldwincle, or Oldwincle, All Saints; or at Oldwincle, St
Peter's, in Northamptonshire. The name Dryden or Driden, is from the
North. There are Drydens still in the town of Scotland where we now
write; and the poet's ancestors lived in the county of Cumberland. One
of them, named John, removed from a place called Staff-hill, to
Northamptonshire, where he succeeded to the estate of Canons-Ashby, by
marriage with the daughter of Sir John Cope. John Dryden was a
schoolmaster, a Puritan, and honoured, it is said, with the friendship
of the celebrated Erasmus, after whom he named his son, who succeeded to
the estate of Canons-Ashby, and, besides becoming a sheriff of the
county of Northamptonshire, was created a knight under James I. Sir
Erasmus had three sons, the third of whom, also an Erasmus, became the
father of our poet. His mother was Mary, the daughter of the Rev. Henry
Pickering, whose father, a zealous Puritan, had been one of the marked
victims in the Gunpowder Plot. Dryden thus had connexions both on his
father's and mother's side with that party, by deriding, defaming, and
opposing which he afterwards gained much of his poetical glory.
The poet was the eldest of fourteen children--four sons and ten
daughters. The honour of his birth is claimed, as already stated, by two
parishes, that of Oldwincle, All Saints, and that of Oldwincle, St
Peter's, as Homer's was of old by seven cities. His brothers and
sisters have been followed, by eager biographers, into their diverging
and deepening paths of obscurity--paths in which we do not choose to
attend them. Dryden received the rudiments of his education at Tichmarsh
or at Oundle--for here, too, we have conflicting statements. It is
certain, however, that he was admitted a king's scholar at Westminster,
under the tuition of Dr Busby, whom he always respected, and who
discovered in him poetical power. He encouraged him to write, as a
Thursday's night's task, a translation of the third Satire of Persius, a
writer precisely of that vigorously rhetorical, rapidly satirical, and
semi-poetical school, which Dryden was qualified to appreciate and to
mirror; besides other pieces of a similar kind which are lost. During
the last year of his residence at Westminster, and when only eighteen
years of age, he wrote one among the ninety-eight elegies which were
called forth by the sudden death of Henry Lord Hastings, and published
under the title of "Lachrymae Musarum." Hastings seems to have been an
amiable person, but he was besides a lord, and _hinc illoe lachrymae_.
We know not of what quality the other tears were, but assuredly Dryden's
is one of very suspicious sincerity, and of very little poetical merit.
But even the crocodile tears of a great genius, if they fall into a
fanciful shape, must be preserved; and we have preserved his,
accordingly, notwithstanding the false taste as well as doubtful truth
and honesty of this his earliest poem.
Shortly after, Dryden obtained a Westminster scholarship, and on the
11th of May 1650, entered on Trinity College, Cambridge. His tutor was
one John Templer, famous then as one of the many who had attempted to
put a hook in the jaws of old Hobbes, the Leviathan of his time, but
whose reply, as well as Hobbes' own book (like a whale disappearing from
a Shetland "voe" into the deep, with all the hooks and harpoons of his
enemies along with him) has been almost entirely forgotten. At
Cambridge, Dryden was noted for regularity and diligence, and took the
degree of B.A. in January 1653-4, and in 1657 was made A.M. by a
dispensation from the Archbishop of Canterbury. Once, indeed, he was
rusticated for a fortnight on account of some disobedience to the
vice-master. He resided, however, at his university three years after
the usual term; and although he did not become a Fellow, and made no
secret, in after days, of preferring Oxford to Cambridge, yet the reason
of this seems to have lain, not in any personal disgust, but in some
other cause, which, says Scott, "we may now search for in vain."
Up till June 1654, his father had continued to reside at his estate at
Blakesley, in Northamptonshire, when he died, leaving Dryden two-thirds
of a property, which was worth, in all, only L60 a-year. The other third
was bequeathed to his mother, during her lifetime. With this miserable
modicum of L40 a-year, the poet returned to Cambridge, and continued
there, doing little, and little known as one who could do anything, till
the year 1657. The only records of the diligence of his college years,
are the lines on the death of Lord Hastings, and one or two other
inconsiderable copies of verses. He probably, however, employed much
time in private study.
While at Cambridge, he met with a young lady, a cousin of his own--Honor
Driden, daughter of Sir John Driden of Chesterton--of whom he became
deeply enamoured. His suit was, however, rejected, although he continued
all his life on intimate terms with the family. Miss Driden died
unmarried, many years after her poet lover; and like the "Lass of
Ballochmyle" with Burns' homage, learned to value it more after he
became celebrated, and carefully preserved the solitary letter which
Dryden wrote her.
But now the university was to lose, and the world of London to receive,
the poet. In the year 1657, when about six-and-twenty years of age,
Dryden repaired to London, "clad in homely drugget," and with more
projects in his head than pence in his pocket. He was first employed by
his relative, Sir Gilbert Pickering--called the "Fiery Pickering," from
his Roundhead zeal--as a clerk or secretary. Here he came in contact
with Cromwell; and saw very clearly those great qualities of sagacity,
determination, courage, statesmanship, insight and genuine godliness,
which made him, next to Alfred the Great, the first monarch who ever
sat on the English throne. Two years after Dryden came to London,
Cromwell expired, and the poet wrote and published his Heroic Stanzas on
the hero's death, which we consider really his earliest poem. When
Richard resigned, Dryden, in common with the majority of the nation, saw
that the Roundhead cause was lost, and hastened to carry over his
talents to the gaining side. For this we do not blame him very severely,
although it certainly had been nobler if, like Milton, he had clung to
his party. Sir Walter Scott remarks, that Dryden never retracted the
praise he gave to Cromwell. In "Absalom and Achitophel" he sneers at
Richard as Ishbosheth, but says nothing against the deceased giant Saul.
It is clear, too, that at first his desertion of the Cromwell party was
a loss to the poet. He lost the chance of their favour, in case a
reaction should come, his situation as secretary, and the shelter of
Pickering's princely mansion. As might have been expected, his ancient
friends were indignant at the change, and not less so at the alteration
he thought proper at the same time to make in the spelling of his
name--from Driden to Dryden.
He went to reside in the obscure house of one Herringman, a bookseller,
in the New Exchange, and became for life a professional author. His
enemies afterwards reproached him bitterly for his mean circumstances at
this period of his life, and asserted that he was a mere drudge to
Herringman. He, at all events, did little in his own proper poetic
calling for two years. A poem on the Coronation of Charles, well fitted
to wipe away the stain of Cromwellism, and to attract upon the poet the
eye of that Rising-Sun, whose glory he sang with more zeal than truth; a
panegyric on the Lord Chancellor; and a satire on the Dutch; were all,
and are all short, and all savour of a vein somewhat hide-bound. He
planned, indeed, too, and partly wrote, one or more plays, and was
considered of consequence enough to be elected a member of the Royal
Society in 1662. Previous to this he had been introduced, through
Herringman, to Sir Robert Howard, son of the first Earl of Berkshire,
and a relation of Edward Howard, the author of "British Princes," and
the object of the witty wrath of Butler. Sir Robert, too, had a
poetical propensity, and Dryden and he became and continued intimate for
a number of years, the poet assisting the knight in his literary
compositions, particularly in a play entitled "The Indian Queen;" and
the latter inviting the former to the family seat at Charlton, where
Dryden met in an unlucky hour his future wife, Lady Elizabeth Howard,
the sister of Sir Robert. It was on the 1st of December 1663, in St
Swithin's, London, and with the consent of the Earl, who settled about
L60 a-year on his daughter, that this unhappy union took place. The lady
seems to have had absolutely none of the qualities which tend either to
command a husband's respect or to conciliate his regard, but is
described as a woman of violent temper and weak understanding. Much of
the bitterness of Dryden's satire, some of the coarse licentiousness of
his plays, and all the sarcasms at matrimony which he has scattered in
multitudes, throughout his works, may be traced to his domestic
Otherwise, the match had some advantages. It broke up, for a time at
least, some licentious connexions he had formed, particularly, after a
time, one with Mrs Reeves the actress, with whom, having laid aside his
Norwich drugget, he used to eat tarts at the Mulberry Gardens, "with a
sword and a Chadreux wig." It secured to him, including his own
property, an income of about L100 a-year--a sum equal to L300 now--and
which, on the death of his mother, three years later, was increased by
L20 more, or L60 at the present value of money. He was thus protected
for life against the meaner and more miserable necessities of the
literary man, under which many of his unfortunate rivals were crushed;
and if he could not always command luxuries, he was always sure of
To improve his circumstances, however, and to enable him to keep up a
style of living in unison with his lady's rank, he must write, and the
question arose, what mode of composition was likely to be the most
lucrative? Were he to continue to indite panegyrical verses, like those
to Clarendon, he stood a chance of having a few guineas tossed to him
now and then by a patron, like a crust to an unfortunate cur. Were he
to translate, or write prefaces for the booksellers, he might pay his
bill for salt, if diligent enough. For Satires as yet there was little
demand. The follies of the more fanatical of the Puritans were too
recent, although they were beginning to ripen for the hand of Butler;
and the far grosser absurdities of the Cavaliers were yet in blossom.
There remained nothing for an aspiring author but the stage, which
during the previous _regime_ had been abolished. While the French
Revolution was in progress, ay, even in the depths of the reign of
terror, the theatres were all open, and all crowded; but when Cromwell
was enacting his solemn and solitary part, before God, angels, and men,
the petty potentates--the gods and goddesses of the stage--vanished into
thin air. At his tremendous stamp their cue had been "_Exeunt omnes_"
and if the spirit of Shakspeare himself had witnessed the departure, he
would have added his Amen. And had he watched in their stead the
gigantic actor treading his trembling stage alone, with all the world
looking on, he might have remembered and re-applied his own magnificent
"O for a muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention!
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act,
And _monarchs_ to _behold_ the swelling scene!
Then should the warlike _Cromwell_ like himself
Assume the port of Mars; and at his heels,
Leash'd in like hounds, should famine, sword, and fire
Crouch for employment."
No sooner had this great man passed away, and an earnest age with him,
and Charles mounted the throne, than from the darkest recesses of the
stews and the taverns, from the depths within depths of Alsatia or Paris,
the whole tribe of dancers, fiddlers, drabs, mimes, stage-players, and
playwrights, knowing that their enemy was dead, and their hour of harvest
had come, emerged in swarming multitudes--multitudes swelled by the vast
tribe of play-goers, who had been counting the hours since a Falstaff
had made them laugh, an Ophelia made them weep, and a Lear made them
tremble. And had this only issued in the revival of the drama of
Shakspeare and Johnson, few could have had much to say in objection; for
that, in general, was as pure as it was powerful. But, alas, besides
them there had been a Beaumont, a Fletcher, and a Massinger, with their
unutterable abominations. Nay, the king and courtiers had imported from
France a taste which required for its gratification a licentiousness
still more abandoned, and to be cast, besides, into forms and shapes, as
stiff, stately, and elaborate as the material was vile, and were not
contented with pollution unless served up in a new, piquant, and
unnatural manner. Our poet understood this movement of his time right
well, and determined to conform to it. He knew that he could, better
than any man living, pander to the popular appetite for the
melodramatic, for the grandiloquent, and for the obscene. He knew the
taste of Charles, and that he, above all cooks, could dress up a
_ragout_ of that putrid perfection which his king relished. And he set
himself with his whole might so to do, and for thirty years and more
continued his degradation of genius--a degradation unexampled, whether
we consider the powers of the writer, the coarseness, quantity, and
elaboration of the pollutions he perpetrated, or the length of time in
which he was employed, in thus "profaning the God-given strength and
marring the lofty line."
His other biographers--Dr Johnson, alone, with brevity and seeming
reluctance--have enumerated and characterised all Dryden's plays. We
have decided only to speak of them very generally, and that for the
following reasons:--1st, We are reprinting none of them; 2dly, From what
we have read of them, we are certain that, even as works of art, they
are utterly unworthy of their author, and that in morals they are, as a
whole, a disgrace to human nature. We are not the least lenient or
indulgent of critics. We have every wish to pity the errors, and to bear
with the frequent escapades and aberrations of genius. But when we see,
as in Dryden's case, what we are forced to consider either a deliberate
and systematic attempt to poison the sources of virtue, or, at least, an
elaborate and incessant habit of conformity to the bad tastes of a bad
age, we can think of no plea fully available for his defence. Vain to
say, "he wrote for bread." He did not--he wrote only for the luxuries,
not the staff of life. Vain to say, "he consulted the taste of his
audience, and suited their atmosphere." But why did he _select_ that
atmosphere as his? And why so much gratuitous and superfluous iniquity
in his works? "But he wrote to gratify his monarch." This would form a
good enough excuse for a Sporus, "a white curd of ass' milk," but not
for a strong man like Dryden. But he was "no worse than others of his
age." Pitiful apology! since, being the ablest man of his day, and
therefore bound to be before it, he was in reality behind it, his plays
excelling all contemporary productions in wickedness as well as in wit.
But his own "conduct was latterly irreproachable." This we doubt, and
Scott doubts so too. But even though it were true, it were damaging,
because it would deprive him of the plea of passion, and reduce him from
the warm human painter to the cold demon-like sculptor of unclean and
abominable ideas. It never can be forgotten, that whenever Dryden
translated a filthy play, he made it filthier than in the original, and
that he has once and again scattered his satyr-like fancies in spots
such as the Paradise of Milton, and the Enchanted Isle of Shakspeare,
which every imagination and every heart previously had regarded as holy
ground. The only extenuating circumstance we can mention is, that his
pruriency was latterly in part relinquished and much deplored by
himself, and that his poetry is, on the whole, free from it. In our
critical paper, prefixed to the Second Volume, we intend to examine the
question, how far an author's faults are, or are not, to be charged upon
His next poem was "Annus Mirabilis," published in 1667, and counted
justly one of his most vigorous, though also one of the faultiest of his
poems. It includes glowing, although somewhat quaint and fantastic,
descriptions of the Dutch War and the Great Fire in London. In 1668, by
the death of Sir William Davenant, the post of Poet-Laureate became
vacant, and Dryden was appointed to it. He was also appointed
historiographer-royal. The salary of these two offices amounted to L200
a year, besides the famous annual butt of canary, while his profits from
the theatre were equivalent to L300. His whole income was thus, at the
very least, equal to a thousand pounds of our money--a great sum for a
poet in that or in any age. He published, the same year, an Essay on
"Dramatic Poetry," vindicating his own practice of rhymed heroic verse
in plays;--a stupid French innovation, which all the ingenuity of a
Dryden defended in vain. It was cast into the shape of a dialogue,--the
Duke of Dorset being one of the respondents,--and formed the first
specimen of Dryden's easy, rambling, but most vivid, vigorous, and
entertaining prose. No one was ever more ready than he to render reasons
for his writings,--for their faults as well as merits,--and to show by
more ingenious arguments, that, if they failed, they _ought_ to have
At this time we may consider Dryden's prosperity, although not his
powers, to have culminated. He had a handsome income, a run of
unparalleled popularity as a playwright; he was Poet-Laureate, a
favourite at court, and on terms of intimacy with many of the nobility,
and many of the eminent men of letters. The public would have at that
time bid high for his very snuff-papers, and were thankful for whatever
garbage he chose to throw at them from the stage. How different his
position from that of the great blind old man, at this time residing in
Bunhill-fields in obscurity and sorrow, and preparing to put off his
tabernacle, and take his flight to the Heavens of God! The one heard
every night the "claps of multitudes,"--the other the whispers of
angels, saying to his soul, "Sister-spirit, come away." The one was
revelling in reputation,--the other was listening to the far-off echoes
of a coming fame as wide as the world, and as permanent as the existence
of man. To do Dryden justice, he admired Milton; and although he did,
and that, too, immediately after Milton departed, venture to travestie
the "Paradise Lost" into a rhymed play, as dull as it is disgusting; and
although he knew that Milton had called him, somewhat harshly, a "good
rhymer, but no poet," yet he praised his genius at a time when it was
as little appreciated, as was the grandeur of his character.
But now the slave, in the chariot of Dryden's triumph, was about to
appear. First came, in 1671, the "Rehearsal," a play concocted among
various wits of the time, including Sprat, Clifford, poor Butler, of
"Hudibras," and chiefly the Duke of Buckingham. The object of this play
was to turn rhymed heroic tragedy, and especially the great playwright
of the day, under the name of Bayes, his person, manners, conversation,
and habits, into unmitigated ridicule. The plan has often since been
followed, with various success. Minor wits have delighted in clubbing
their small but poisoned missiles, and in aiming flights of minnikin
arrows at the Gullivers of their different periods. Thus Pope was
assailed by the "Dunces," whom he afterwards preserved in amber--that
terrible old lion, Bentley, by Boyle and his associates; and Wordsworth,
by the critics or criticasters of his day. Dryden acted with greater
prudence than any of those we have named, except indeed Bentley, who,
being assailed upon points involving the integrity of his scholarship,
and on which demonstrative contradiction was possible, felt himself
compelled to leave his lair, and to rend his enemies in pieces. But
Dryden--feeling on this occasion, at least, that a squib, however
personal and severe, cannot harm any man worthy of the name; and that
the very force of the laughter it produces, drives out the
sting--determined to answer it by silence, and to bide his time.
"Zimri," in Absalom and Achitophel, shows how deep had been his secret
oath of vengeance, and how carefully the sweltered "venom" had been
kept, in which at last he baptizes Buckingham, and embalms him at the
same time for the wonder and contempt of posterity. Here is the danger
of the smaller wits in a controversy of this kind. Their squibs excite a
sensation at the moment, and sometimes annoy the assaulted giant much,
and his friends and publishers more; but he continues to live and grow,
while their spiteful effusions perish; or worse, are preserved to the
everlasting shame of their authors, on the lowest shelf of the records
of their enemy's fame.
Two years after, occurred the famous controversy between Dryden and
Settle. Poor Elkanah Settle seemed raised up like another Mordecai to
poison the peace and disturb the false self-satisfaction of
Dryden,--raised up, rather--shall we say?--to wean the poet from a
sphere where his true place and power were not, and to prepare him for
other stages, where he was yet destined far more powerfully to play his
part. At all events, this should have been his inference from the
success of Settle. It should have taught him that a scene where a
pitiful poetaster, backed by mob-favour and the word of a Rochester,
could eclipse his glory, was no scene for him; and he ought instantly,
with proud humility, to have left the theatre for ever. Instead of this,
he fell into a violent passion with one who, like himself, had levelled
his desires to the "claps of multitudes," and had ravished the larger
share of the coveted prize! And so there commenced a long and ludicrous
controversy--dishonourable to Settle much; to Rochester and Dryden
more--between a mere insolent twaddler and a man of real and
transcendent genius. The particulars of the struggle are too humiliating
and contemptible to deserve a minute record. Suffice it, that Dryden,
assisted by his future foe, Shadwell, wrote a scurrilous attack on
Settle, and his successful play, "The Empress of Morocco;" to which
Settle, nothing daunted, replied in terms of equal coarseness, and that
Rochester, the patron of Settle, became mixed up in the fray, till,
having been severely handled by Dryden in his "Essay on Satire,"--a
production generally, and we think justly, attributed to Mulgrave and
Dryden in conjunction,--he took a mean and characteristic revenge. He
hired bravoes, who, waiting for Dryden as he was returning, on the 18th
December 1679, from Will's coffee-house to his own house in Gerard
Street, rushed out and severely beat and wounded him. That Dryden was
the author of the lines on Rochester has been doubted, although we think
they very much resemble a rough and hurried sketch from his pen; that
Rochester deserved the truculent treatment he received in them, this
anecdote sufficiently proves. It was partly, indeed, the manner of the
age. Had this nobleman existed _now_, and been pilloried by a true and
powerful pen, he would, in addition to his own anonymous assaults, have
stirred up a posse of his creatures to assist him in seeking, by
falsehoods, hypercriticisms, and abuse, to diminish the influence and
take away the good name of his opponent. The Satanic spirit is always
the same--its weapons and instruments are continually changing.
Soon after this, Dryden translated the Epistles of Ovid, thus breathing
himself for the far greater efforts which were before him. His mind
seems, for a season, to have balanced between various poetic plans. On
the one hand, the finger of his good genius showed him the fair heights
of epic song, waiting to be crowned by the coming of a new Virgil; on
the other side, the fierce fires of his passions pointed him downwards
to his many rivals and foes--the Cliffords, Leighs, Ravenscrofts,
Rochesters, and Settles--who seemed lying as a mark for his satiric
vengeance. He meditated, we know, an epic on Arthur, the hero of the
Round Table, and had, besides, many arrears of wrath lying past for
discharge; but circumstances arose which turned his thoughts away, for a
season, in a different direction from either Arthur or his personal
The political aspects of the times were now portentous in the extreme.
Charles II. had, partly by crime, partly by carelessness, and partly by
ill-fortune, become a most unpopular monarch, and the more so, because
the nation had no hope even from his death, since it was sure to hand
them over to the tender mercies of his brother, who had all his faults,
and some, in addition, of his own, without any of his merits. There was
but one hope, and that turned out a mere aurora borealis, connected with
the Duke of Monmouth, who, through his extraction by a bend sinister
from Charles, as well as through his popular manners, Protestant
principles, and gracious exterior, had become such a favourite with the
people, that strong efforts were made to exclude the Duke of York, and
to exalt him to the succession. These, however, were unsuccessful; and
Shaftesbury, their leading spirit, was accused of treason, and confined
to the Tower. It was at this crisis, when the nobility of the land were
divided, when its clergy were divided, when its literary men were
divided,--not in a silent feud, but in a raging rupture, that Dryden,
partly at the instigation of the Court, partly from his own impulse,
lifted up his powerful pen,--the sceptre of the press,--and, with
wonderful facility and felicity, wrote, and on the 17th November 1681,
published, the satire of "Absalom and Achitophel." Its poetical
merits--the choice of the names and period, although this is borrowed
from a previous writer--the appearance of the poem at the most critical
hour of the crisis--and, above all, the portraitures of character, so
easy and so graphic, so free and so fearless, distinguished equally by
their animus and their animation, and with dashes of generous painting
relieving and diversifying the general caricature of the
style,--rendered it instantly and irresistibly popular. It excited one
universal cry--from its friends, of admiration, and from its enemies, of
rage. Imitations and replies multiplies around it, and sounded like
assenting or like angry echoes. It did not, indeed, move the grand jury
to condemn Shaftesbury; but when, on his acquittal, a medal was struck
by his friends, bearing on one side the head and name of Shaftesbury,
and on the other, the sun obscured by a cloud rising over the Tower and
City of London, Dryden's aid was again solicited by the Court and the
King in person, to make this the subject of a second satire; and, with
great rapidity, he produced "The Medal--a Satire against Sedition,"
which, completing and colouring the photograph of Shaftesbury, formed
the real Second Part of "Absalom and Achitophel." What bore that name
came a year afterwards, when the times were changed, was written partly
by a feebler hand--Nahum Tate; and flew at inferior game--Dryden's own
personal rivals and detractors.
The principal of these was Shadwell, who had been an early friend of
Dryden's, and who certainly possessed a great deal of wit and talent, if
he did not attain to the measure of poetic genius. His principal power
lay in low comedy--his chief fault lay in his systematic and avowed
imitation of the rough and drunken manners of Ben Jonson. In the eye of
Dryden--whose own habits were convivial, although not to the same
extent--the real faults of his opponent were his popularity as a comic
writer, and his politics. Shadwell was a zealous Protestant, and the
bitterest of the many who replied to the "Medal." For this he became the
hero of "MacFlecknoe"--a masterly satire, holding him up to infamy and
contempt--besides sitting afterwards for the portrait of Og, in the
second part of "Absalom and Achitophel." Shadwell had, by and by, his
revenge, by obtaining the laureateship, after the Revolution, in room of
Dryden, and no doubt used the opportunity of drowning the memory of
defeat in the butt of generous canary which had now for ever passed the
door of his formidable rival.
Dryden's circumstances, at this time, were considerably straitened. His
pension as laureate was not regularly paid; the profits from the theatre
had somewhat fallen off. He tried in various ways, by prefacing a
translation of "Plutarch's Lives," by publishing a miscellany of
versions from Greek and Latin authors, and by writing prologues to plays
and prefaces to books, to supply his exhausted exchequer. His
good-humoured but heartless monarch set him on another task, for which
he was never paid, writing a translation of Maimbourg's "History of the
League," the object of which was to damage Shaftesbury and his party, by
branding them as enemies to monarchy. In 1682 he wrote his "Religio
Not long after, in February 1684, Charles II. became, for the first time
in his life, serious, as he felt death--the proverbial terror of
kings--rapidly rushing upon him. He tried to hide the great and terrible
fact from his eyes under the shield of a wafer. He died suddenly--a
member of the "holy Roman Catholic Church,"--and much regretted by all
his mistresses; and apparently by Dryden, who had been preparing the
opera of "Albion and Albanius," to commemorate the king's triumph over
the Whigs, when this event turned his harp into mourning, and his organ
into the voice of them that weep. He set himself to write a poem which
should at once express regret for the set, and homage to the rising,
sun. This was his "Threnodia Augustalis," a very unequal poem, but full
of inimitable passages, and discovering all that careless greatness
which characterised the genius of the poet.
Charles II. had, at Dryden's request, to whom arrears for four years had
been due, raised his laureate salary to L300. The additional hundred
dropped at the king's death, and James was mean enough even to curtail
the annual butt of sack. He probably had little hope of converting the
author of "Religio Laici" to his faith, else he would not have withheld
what Charles had so recently granted. Afterwards, when he ascertained
that an interesting process was going on in Dryden's mind, tending to
Popery, he perhaps thought that a little money cast into the crucible
might materially determine the projection in the proper way; or perhaps
the _prospect_ produced, or at least accelerated, the _process_. We
admire much in Scott's elaborate and ingenious defence of Dryden's
change of faith; and are ready to grant that it was only a Pyrrhonist,
not a Protestant, who became a Papist after all--but there was, as Dr
Johnson also thinks, an ugly _coincidence_ between the pension and the
conversion. Grant that it was not bestowed for the first time by James,
it had been withheld by him, and its restoration immediately followed
the change of his faith. Dr Johnson was pleased, when Andrew Miller said
that he "thanked God he was done with him," to know that Miller "thanked
God for anything;" and so, when we consider the blasphemy, profanity,
and filth of Dryden's plays, and the unsettled and veering state of his
religious and political opinions, we are almost glad to find him
becoming "anything," although it was only the votary of a dead and
corrupted form of Christianity. You like to see the fierce, capricious,
and destructive torrent fixed, although it be fixed in ice.
That he found comfort in his new religion, and proved his sincerity by
rearing up his children in the faith which his wife had also embraced,
and by remaining a Roman Catholic after the Revolution, and to his own
pecuniary loss, has often been asserted. But surely there is a point
where the most inconsistent man is obliged to stop, if he would escape
the character of an absolute weather-cock; and that there are charms and
comforts in the Popish creed for one who felt with Dryden, that he had,
partly in his practice, and far more in his writings, sinned against the
laws of morality and common decency, we readily grant. Whether these
charms he legitimate, and these comforts sound, is a very different
question. Had Dryden, besides, turned Protestant again, we question if
it would have saved him his laureate pensions, and it would certainly
have blasted him for ever, under the charge of ingratitude to his
benefactor James. On the whole, this passage of the poet's life is not
very creditable to his memory, and his indiscriminate admirers had
better let it alone. It would have strained the ingenuity and the
enthusiasm of Claud Halcro himself to have extracted matter for a
panegyrical ode on this conversion of "glorious John."
Admitted into the bosom of the Church, he soon found that he must prove
his faith by his works. He was employed by James to defend the reasons
of conversion to the Catholic faith alleged by Anne Duchess of York, and
the two other papers on the same subject which, found in Charles' strong
box, James had imprudently given to the world. This led him to a contest
with Stillingfleet, in which Dryden came off only second best. He next,
in an embowered walk, in a country retirement at Rushton, near his
birthplace, composed his strange, unequal, but brilliant and ingenious
poem, "The Hind and the Panther," the object of which was to advocate
King James' repeal of the Test Act, and to prove the immeasurable
superiority of the Church of Rome to that of England, as well as to all
the dissenting sects. This piece produced a prodigious clamour against
the author. Its plan was pronounced ridiculous--its argument
one-sided--its zeal assumed--and Montague and Prior, two young men then
rising into eminence, wrote a clever parody on it, entitled the "Town
and Country Mouse." In addition to this, he wrote a translation of
Varilla's "History of Heresies," and a life of Francis Xavier, the
famous apostle of the Indies, whose singular story, a tale of heroic
endurance and unexampled labours, but bedropt with the most flagrant
falsehoods, whether it be read in Dryden's easy and fascinating
narrative, or in the more gorgeous and coloured account of Sir James
Stephen, in the "Edinburgh Review," forms one of the most impressive
displays of human strength and folly, of the greatness of devoted
enthusiasm, and of the weakness and credulity of abject superstition.
In spite of all these attempts to bolster up a tottering throne and an
_effete_ faith, the Revolution came, and Dryden's hopes and prospects
sank like a vision of the night. And now came the hour of his enemies'
revenge! How the Settles, the Shadwells, and the Ravenscrofts, rejoiced
at the downfall of their great foe! and what ironical condolence, or
bitter satirical exultation, they poured over his humiliation! And,
worst of all, he durst not reply. "His powers of satire," says Scott,
"at this period, were of no more use to Dryden than a sword to a man who
cannot draw it." The fate of Milton in miniature had now befallen him;
and it says much for the strength of his mind, that, as in Milton's
case, Dryden's purest and best titles to fame date from his discomfiture
and degradation. Antaeus-like, he had now reached the ground, and the
touch of the ground to him, as to all giants, was inspiration.
His history, from this date, becomes, still more than in the former
portions of it, a history of his publications. He was forced back by
necessity to the stage. In 1690, and in the next two years, he produced
four dramas,--one of them, indeed, adapted from the French, but the
other three, original; and one, Don Sebastian, deemed to rank among the
best of his dramatic works. In 1693, another volume of miscellanies,
with more translations, appeared. He also published, about this time, a
new version of "Juvenal and Persius," portions of which were contributed
by his sons John and Charles. His last play, "Love Triumphant," was
enacted--as his first, the "Wild Gallant," had been--without success;
and it is remarkable, that while the curtain dropped heavily and slowly
upon Dryden, it was opening upon Congreve, whose first comedy was
enacted the same year with Dryden's last, and who became the lawful heir
of much of Dryden's licentiousness, and of more than his elegance and
He next commenced the translation of "Virgil," which in the course of
three years he completed, and gave to the world. It was published in
July 1697. He had dashed it off with the utmost freedom and fire, and no
work was ever more thoroughly identified with its translator. It is
_Dryden's_ "Virgil," every line of it. A great and almost national
interest was felt in the undertaking, such as would be felt now, were it
announced that Tennyson was engaged in a translation of Goethe. Addison
supplied arguments, and an essay on the "Georgics." A dedication to the
new king was expected by the Court, but inexorably declined by the poet.
It came forth, notwithstanding, amidst universal applause; nor was the
remuneration for the times small, amounting to at least L1200 or L1400.
So soon as this great work was off his hands, by way, we suppose, as
Scott was used to say, of "refreshing the machiner," Dryden wrote his
famous ode, "Alexander's Feast," for a meeting of the Musical Society on
St Cecilia's day,--wrote it, according to Bolingbroke, at one sitting,
although he spent, it is said, a fortnight in polishing it into its
present rounded and perfect form. It took the public by storm, and
excited a greater sensation than any of the poet's productions, except
"Absalom and Achitophel." Dryden himself, when complimented on it as the
finest ode in the language, owned the soft impeachment, and said, "A
nobler ode never was produced, and never will;" and in a manner, if not
absolutely, he was right.
Dryden was now again at sea for a subject. Sometimes he revolved once
more his favourite plan of an Epic poem, and "Edward the Black Prince"
loomed for a season before him as its hero. Sometimes he looked up with
an ambitious eye to Homer, and we see his hand "pawing" like the hoof of
the war-horse in Job, as he smelled his battle afar off, and panted to
do for Achilles and Hector what he had done for Turnus and AEneas. He
meant to have turned the "Iliad" into blank verse; but, after all,
translated the only book of it which he published into rhyme. But, in
fine, he determined to modernise some of the fine old tales of Boccacio
and Chaucer; and in March 1699-1700, appeared his brilliant "Fables,"
with some other poems from his pen, for which he received L300 at
This was his last publication of size, although he was labouring on when
death surprised him, and within the last three weeks of his life had
written the "Secular Margin," and the prologue and the epilogue to
Fletcher's "Pilgrim,"--productions remarkable as showing the ruling
passion strong in death,--the squabbling litterateur and satirist
combating and kicking his enemies to the last,--Jeremy Collier, for
having accused him of licentiousness in his dramas; Milbourne, for
having attacked his "Georgics;" and poor Blackmore for having doubted
the orthodoxy of "Religio Laici," and the decency of "Amphitryon" and
He had now to go a pilgrimage himself to a far country. He had long been
troubled with gout and gravel; but next came erysipelas in one of his
legs; and at last mortification, superinduced by a neglected
inflammation in his toe, carried him off at three o'clock on Wednesday
morning the 1st of May 1700. He died a Roman Catholic, and in "entire
resignation to the Divine will." He died so poor, that he was buried by
subscription, Lords Montague and Jeffries delaying the interment till
the necessary funds were raised. The body, after lying embalmed and in
state for ten days in the College of Physicians, was buried with great
pomp in Westminster Abbey, where now, between the graves of Chaucer and
Cowley, reposes the dust of Dryden.
His lady survived him fourteen years, and died insane. His eldest son
Charles was drowned in 1704 at Datchett, while seeking to swim across
the Thames. John died at Rome of a fever in 1701. Erasmus, who was
supposed to inherit his mother's malady, died in 1710; and the title
which he had derived from Sir Robert passed to his uncle, the brother of
the poet, and thence to his grandson. Sir Henry Edward Leigh Dryden, of
Canons-Ashby, is now the representative of the ancient family.
We reserve till our next volume a criticism on Dryden's genius and
works. As to his habits and manners, little is known, and that little is
worn threadbare by his many biographers. In appearance he became, in
his maturer years, fat and florid, and obtained the name of "Poet
Squab." His portraits show a shrewd, but rather sluggish face, with long
gray hair floating down his cheeks, not unlike Coleridge, but without
his dreamy eye, like a nebulous star. His conversation was less
sprightly than solid. Sometimes men suspected that he had "sold all his
thoughts to his booksellers." His manners are by his friends pronounced
"modest;" and the word modest has since been amiably confounded by his
biographers with "pure." Bashful he seems to have been to awkwardness;
but he was by no means a model of the virtues. He loved to sit at Will's
coffee-house, and be the arbiter of criticism. His favourite stimulus
was snuff, and his favourite amusement angling. He had a bad address, a
down look, and little of the air of a gentleman. Addison is reported to
have taught him latterly the intemperate use of wine; but this was said
by Dennis, who admired Dryden, and who hated Addison; and his testimony
is impotent against either party. We admire the simplicity of the
critics who can read his plays, and then find himself a model of
continence and virtue. "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth
speaketh;" and a more polluted mouth than Dryden's never uttered its
depravities on the stage. We cannot, in fine, call him personally a very
honest, a very high-minded, or a very good man, although we are willing
to count him amiable, ready to make very considerable allowance for his
period and his circumstances, not disposed to think him so much a
renegado and deliberate knave as a fickle, needy, and childish
changeling, in the matter of his "perversion" to Popery; although we
yield to none in admiration of the varied, highly-cultured, masculine,
and magnificent forces of his genius.
ON THE DEATH OF LORD HASTINGS
HEROIC STANZAS ON THE DEATH OF OLIVER CROMWELL
ASTRAEA REDUX. A POEM ON THE HAPPY RESTORATION AND RETURN
OF HIS SACRED MAJESTY CHARLES II., 1660
TO HIS SACRED MAJESTY. A PANEGYRIC ON HIS CORONATION
TO THE LORD CHANCELLOR HYDE. PRESENTED ON NEW YEAR'S DAY, 1662
SATIRE ON THE DUTCH
TO HER ROYAL HIGHNESS THE DUCHESS, ON THE MEMORABLE VICTORY GAINED
BY THE DUKE OVER THE HOLLANDERS, JUNE 3, 1665; AND ON HER
JOURNEY AFTERWARDS INTO THE NORTH
ANNUS MIRABILIS: THE YEAR OF WONDERS, 1666. AN HISTORICAL POEM
AN ESSAY UPON SATIRE. BY MR DRYDEN AND THE EARL OF MULGRAVE, 1679
ABSALOM AND ACHITOPHEL
THE MEDAL. A SATIRE AGAINST SEDITION
RELIGIO LAICI; OR, A LAYMAN'S FAITH. AN EPISTLE
THRENODIA AUGUSTALIS: A FUNERAL PINDARIC POEM, SACRED TO
THE HAPPY MEMORY OF KING CHARLES II
VENI CREATOR SPIRITUS, PARAPHRASED
THE HIND AND THE PANTHER. A POEM, IN THREE PARTS
BRITANNIA REDIVIVA. A POEM ON THE PRINCE, BORN JUNE 10, 1688
ON THE DEATH OF LORD HASTINGS.
Must noble Hastings immaturely die,
The honour of his ancient family;
Beauty and learning thus together meet,
To bring a winding for a wedding-sheet?
Must Virtue prove Death's harbinger? must she,
With him expiring, feel mortality?
Is death, Sin's wages, Grace's now? shall Art
Make us more learned, only to depart?
If merit be disease; if virtue death;
To be good, not to be; who'd then bequeath 10
Himself to discipline? who'd not esteem
Labour a crime? study, self-murder deem?
Our noble youth now have pretence to be
Dunces securely, ignorant healthfully.
Rare linguist, whose worth speaks itself, whose praise,
Though not his own, all tongues besides do raise:
Than whom great Alexander may seem less,
Who conquer'd men, but not their languages.
In his mouth nations spake; his tongue might be
Interpreter to Greece, France, Italy. 20
His native soil was the four parts o' the Earth;
All Europe was too narrow for his birth.
A young apostle; and, with reverence may
I speak it, inspired with gift of tongues, as they.
Nature gave him, a child, what men in vain
Oft strive, by art though further'd, to obtain.
His body was an orb, his sublime soul
Did move on Virtue's and on Learning's pole:
Whose regular motions better to our view,
Than Archimedes sphere, the Heavens did show. 30
Graces and virtues, languages and arts,
Beauty and learning, fill'd up all the parts.
Heaven's gifts, which do like falling stars appear
Scatter'd in others; all, as in their sphere,
Were fix'd, conglobate in his soul; and thence
Shone through his body, with sweet influence;
Letting their glories so on each limb fall,
The whole frame render'd was celestial.
Come, learned Ptolemy and trial make,
If thou this hero's altitude canst take: 40
But that transcends thy skill; thrice happy all,
Could we but prove thus astronomical.
Lived Tycho now, struck with this ray which shone
More bright i' the morn, than others' beam at noon.
He'd take his astrolabe, and seek out here
What new star 'twas did gild our hemisphere.
Replenish'd then with such rare gifts as these,
Where was room left for such a foul disease?
The nation's sin hath drawn that veil, which shrouds
Our day-spring in so sad benighting clouds: 50
Heaven would no longer trust its pledge; but thus
Recall'd it; rapt its Ganymede from us.
Was there no milder way but the small-pox,
The very filthiness of Pandora's box?
So many spots, like naeves on Venus' soil,
One jewel set off with so many a foil;
Blisters with pride swell'd, which through's flesh did sprout
Like rose-buds, stuck i' th' lily-skin about.
Each little pimple had a tear in it,
To wail the fault its rising did commit: 60
Which, rebel-like, with its own lord at strife,
Thus made an insurrection 'gainst his life.
Or were these gems sent to adorn his skin,
The cabinet of a richer soul within?
No comet need foretell his change drew on,
Whose corpse might seem a constellation.
Oh! had he died of old, how great a strife
Had been, who from his death should draw their life!
Who should, by one rich draught, become whate'er
Seneca, Cato, Numa, Caesar, were,-- 70
Learn'd, virtuous, pious, great; and have by this
An universal metempsychosis!
Must all these aged sires in one funeral
Expire? all die in one so young, so small?
Who, had he lived his life out, his great fame
Had swoln 'bove any Greek or Roman name.
But hasty Winter, with one blast, hath brought
The hopes of Autumn, Summer, Spring, to nought.
Thus fades the oak i' the sprig, i' the blade the corn;
Thus without young, this Phoenix dies, new born: 80
Must then old three-legg'd graybeards, with their gout,
Catarrhs, rheums, aches, live three long ages out?
Time's offals, only fit for the hospital!
Or to hang antiquaries' rooms withal!
Must drunkards, lechers, spent with sinning, live
With such helps as broths, possets, physic give?
None live, but such as should die? shall we meet
With none but ghostly fathers in the street?
Grief makes me rail; sorrow will force its way;
And showers of tears, tempestuous sighs best lay. 90
The tongue may fail; but overflowing eyes
Will weep out lasting streams of elegies.
But thou, O virgin-widow, left alone,
Now thy beloved, heaven-ravish'd spouse is gone,
Whose skilful sire in vain strove to apply
Medicines, when thy balm was no remedy,--
With greater than Platonic love, O wed
His soul, though not his body, to thy bed:
Let that make thee a mother; bring thou forth
The ideas of his virtue, knowledge, worth; 100
Transcribe the original in new copies, give
Hastings o' the better part: so shall he live
In's nobler half; and the great grandsire be
Of an heroic divine progeny:
An issue, which to eternity shall last,
Yet but the irradiations which he cast.
Erect no mausoleums: for his best
Monument is his spouse's marble breast.
* * * * *
[Footnote 1: 'Lord Hastings:' the nobleman herein lamented, was styled
Henry Lord Hastings, son to Ferdinand Earl of Huntingdon. He died before
his father in 1649, being then in his twentieth year, and on the day
preceding that which had been fixed for his marriage.]
[Footnote 2: 'Archimedes:' a famous geometrician, who was killed at the
taking of Syracuse, in the 542d year of Rome. He made a glass sphere,
wherein the motions of the heavenly bodies were wonderfully described.]
[Footnote 3: 'Ptolemy:' Claudius Ptolemaeus, a celebrated mathematician
in the reign of M. Aurelius Antoninus.]
[Footnote 4: 'Tycho:' Tycho Brahe]
* * * * *
HEROIC STANZAS ON THE DEATH OF OLIVER CROMWELL,
WRITTEN AFTER HIS FUNERAL.
1 And now 'tis time; for their officious haste,
Who would before have borne him to the sky,
Like eager Romans, ere all rites were past,
Did let too soon the sacred eagle fly.
2 Though our best notes are treason to his fame,
Join'd with the loud applause of public voice;
Since Heaven, what praise we offer to his name,
Hath render'd too authentic by its choice.
3 Though in his praise no arts can liberal be,
Since they, whose muses have the highest flown,
Add not to his immortal memory,
But do an act of friendship to their own:
4 Yet 'tis our duty, and our interest too,
Such monuments as we can build to raise;
Lest all the world prevent what we should do,
And claim a title in him by their praise.
5 How shall I then begin, or where conclude,
To draw a fame so truly circular?
For in a round what order can be show'd,
Where all the parts so equal perfect are?
6 His grandeur he derived from Heaven alone;
For he was great ere fortune made him so:
And wars, like mists that rise against the sun,
Made him but greater seem, not greater grow.
7 No borrow'd bays his temples did adorn,
But to our crown he did fresh jewels bring;
Nor was his virtue poison'd soon as born,
With the too early thoughts of being king.
8 Fortune (that easy mistress to the young,
But to her ancient servants coy and hard),
Him at that age her favourites rank'd among,
When she her best-loved Pompey did discard.
9 He, private, mark'd the faults of others' sway,
And set as sea-marks for himself to shun:
Not like rash monarchs, who their youth betray
By acts their age too late would wish undone.
10 And yet dominion was not his design;
We owe that blessing, not to him, but Heaven,
Which to fair acts unsought rewards did join;
Rewards, that less to him, than us, were given.
11 Our former chiefs, like sticklers of the war,
First sought to inflame the parties, then to poise:
The quarrel loved, but did the cause abhor;
And did not strike to hurt, but make a noise.
12 War, our consumption, was their gainful trade:
We inward bled, whilst they prolong'd our pain;
He fought to end our fighting, and essay'd
To staunch the blood by breathing of the vein.
13 Swift and resistless through the land he past,
Like that bold Greek who did the East subdue,
And made to battles such heroic haste,
As if on wings of victory he flew.
14 He fought secure of fortune as of fame:
Still by new maps the island might be shown,
Of conquests, which he strew'd where'er he came,
Thick as the galaxy with stars is sown.
15 His palms, though under weights they did not stand,
Still thrived; no winter could his laurels fade:
Heaven in his portrait show'd a workman's hand,
And drew it perfect, yet without a shade.
16 Peace was the prize of all his toil and care,
Which war had banish'd, and did now restore:
Bologna's walls thus mounted in the air,
To seat themselves more surely than before.
17 Her safety rescued Ireland to him owes;
And treacherous Scotland, to no interest true,
Yet blest that fate which did his arms dispose
Her land to civilize, as to subdue.
18 Nor was he like those stars which, only shine,
When to pale mariners they storms portend:
He had his calmer influence, and his mien
Did love and majesty together blend.
19 'Tis true, his countenance did imprint an awe;
And naturally all souls to his did bow,
As wands of divination downward draw,
And point to beds where sovereign gold doth grow.
20 When past all offerings to Feretrian Jove,
He Mars deposed, and arms to gowns made yield;
Successful councils did him soon approve
As fit for close intrigues, as open field.
21 To suppliant Holland he vouchsafed a peace,
Our once bold rival of the British main,
Now tamely glad her unjust claim to cease,
And buy our friendship with her idol, gain.
22 Fame of the asserted sea through Europe blown,
Made France and Spain ambitious of his love;
Each knew that side must conquer he would own;
And for him fiercely, as for empire, strove.
23 No sooner was the Frenchman's cause embraced,
Than the light Monsieur the grave Don outweigh'd;
His fortune turn'd the scale where'er 'twas cast,
Though Indian mines were in the other laid.
24 When absent, yet we conquer'd in his right:
For though some meaner artist's skill were shown
In mingling colours or in placing light,
Yet still the fair designment was his own.
25 For from all tempers he could service draw;
The worth of each, with its alloy, he knew;
And, as the confidant of Nature, saw
How she complexions did divide and brew.
26 Or he their single virtues did survey,
By intuition, in his own large breast;
Where all the rich ideas of them lay;
That were the rule and measure to the rest.
27 When such heroic virtue Heaven sets out,
The stars, like commons, sullenly obey;
Because it drains them when it comes about,
And therefore is a tax they seldom pay.
28 From this high spring our foreign conquests flow,
Which yet more glorious triumphs do portend;
Since their commencement to his arms they owe,
If springs as high as fountains may ascend.
29 He made us freemen of the Continent,
Whom Nature did like captives treat before;
To nobler preys the English lion sent,
And taught him first in Belgian walks to roar.
30 That old unquestion'd pirate of the land,
Proud Rome, with dread the fate of Dunkirk heard;
And trembling wish'd behind more Alps to stand,
Although an Alexander were her guard.
31 By his command we boldly cross'd the line,
And bravely fought where southern stars arise;
We traced the far-fetch'd gold unto the mine,
And that which bribed our fathers made our prize.
32 Such was our prince; yet own'd a soul above
The highest acts it could produce to show:
Thus poor mechanic arts in public move,
Whilst the deep secrets beyond practice go.
33 Nor died he when his ebbing fame went less,
But when fresh laurels courted him to live:
He seem'd but to prevent some new success,
As if above what triumphs earth could give.
34 His latest victories still thickest came,
As near the centre motion doth increase;
Till he, press'd down by his own weighty name,
Did, like the vestal, under spoils decease.
35 But first the ocean as a tribute sent
The giant prince of all her watery herd;
And the Isle, when her protecting genius went,
Upon his obsequies loud sighs conferr'd.
36 No civil broils have since his death arose,
But faction now by habit does obey;
And wars have that respect for his repose,
As winds for halcyons, when they breed at sea.
37 His ashes in a peaceful urn shall rest;
His name a great example stands, to show
How strangely high endeavours may be blest,
Where piety and valour jointly go.
* * * * *
[Footnote 5: 'Sacred eagle:' the Romans let fly an eagle from the pile
of a dead Emperor.]
[Footnote 6: 'Bold Greek:' Alexander the Great.]
[Footnote 7: 'Palms' were thought to grow best under pressure.]
[Footnote 8: 'Bologna's walls,' &c.: alluding to a Popish story about
the wall of Bologna, on which was an image of the Virgin, being blown
up, and falling exactly into its place again.]
[Footnote 9: 'Wands:' see the 'Antiquary.']
[Footnote 10: 'Frenchman's cause:' the treaty of alliance which Cromwell
entered into with France against the Spaniards.]
[Footnote 11: 'Freemen of the Continent:' by the taking of Dunkirk.]
[Footnote 12: 'Alexander:' Alexander VII., at this time Pope.]
[Footnote 13: 'Vestal:' Tarpeia.]
[Footnote 14: 'Loud sighs:' the tempest which occurred at Cromwell's
[Footnote 15: 'Peaceful urn:' Dryden no true prophet--Cromwell's bones
having been dragged out of the royal vault, and exposed on the gibbet in
* * * * *
A POEM ON THE HAPPY RESTORATION AND RETURN OF HIS SACRED MAJESTY CHARLES
"Jam redit et virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna."--VIRG.
"The last great age, foretold by sacred rhymes,
Renews its finish'd course; Saturnian times
Roll round again."
Now with a general peace the world was blest,
While ours, a world divided from the rest,
A dreadful quiet felt, and worser far
Than arms, a sullen interval of war:
Thus when black clouds draw down the labouring skies,
Ere yet abroad the winged thunder flies,
An horrid stillness first invades the ear,
And in that silence we the tempest fear.
The ambitious Swede, like restless billows tost,
On this hand gaining what on that he lost, 10
Though in his life he blood and ruin breathed,
To his now guideless kingdom peace bequeath'd.
And Heaven, that seem'd regardless of our fate,
For France and Spain did miracles create;
Such mortal quarrels to compose in peace,
As nature bred, and interest did increase.
We sigh'd to hear the fair Iberian bride
Must grow a lily to the lily's side;
While our cross stars denied us Charles' bed,
Whom our first flames and virgin love did wed. 20
For his long absence Church and State did groan;
Madness the pulpit, faction seized the throne:
Experienced age in deep despair was lost,
To see the rebel thrive, the loyal cross'd:
Youth that with joys had unacquainted been,
Envied gray hairs that once good days had seen:
We thought our sires, not with their own content,
Had, ere we came to age, our portion spent.
Nor could our nobles hope their bold attempt 30
Who ruin'd crowns would coronets exempt:
For when by their designing leaders taught
To strike at power, which for themselves they sought,
The vulgar, gull'd into rebellion, arm'd;
Their blood to action by the prize was warm'd.
The sacred purple, then, and scarlet gown,
Like sanguine dye to elephants, was shown.
Thus when the bold Typhoeus scaled the sky,
And forced great Jove from his own Heaven to fly,
(What king, what crown from treason's reach is free,
If Jove and Heaven can violated be?) 40
The lesser gods, that shared his prosperous state,
All suffer'd in the exiled Thunderer's fate.
The rabble now such freedom did enjoy,
As winds at sea, that use it to destroy:
Blind as the Cyclop, and as wild as he,
They own'd a lawless, savage liberty;
Like that our painted ancestors so prized,
Ere empire's arts their breasts had civilized.
How great were then our Charles' woes, who thus
Was forced to suffer for himself and us! 50
He, tost by fate, and hurried up and down,
Heir to his father's sorrows, with his crown,
Could taste no sweets of youth's desired age,
But found his life too true a pilgrimage.
Unconquer'd yet in that forlorn estate,
His manly courage overcame his fate.
His wounds he took, like Romans, on his breast,
Which by his virtue were with laurels drest.
As souls reach Heaven while yet in bodies pent,
So did he live above his banishment. 60
That sun, which we beheld with cozen'd eyes
Within the water, moved along the skies.
How easy 'tis, when destiny proves kind,
With full-spread sails to run before the wind!
But those that 'gainst stiff gales laveering go,
Must be at once resolved and skilful too.
He would not, like soft Otho, hope prevent,
But stay'd, and suffer'd fortune to repent.
These virtues Galba in a stranger sought,
And Piso to adopted empire brought. 70
How shall I then my doubtful thoughts express,
That must his sufferings both regret and bless?
For when his early valour Heaven had cross'd;
And all at Worcester but the honour lost;
Forced into exile from his rightful throne,
He made all countries where he came his own;
And viewing monarchs' secret arts of sway,
A royal factor for his kingdoms lay.
Thus banish'd David spent abroad his time,
When to be God's anointed was his crime; 80
And when restored, made his proud neighbours rue
Those choice remarks he from his travels drew.
Nor is he only by afflictions shown
To conquer other realms, but rule his own:
Recovering hardly what he lost before,
His right endears it much; his purchase more.
Inured to suffer ere he came to reign,
No rash procedure will his actions stain:
To business, ripen'd by digestive thought,
His future rule is into method brought: 90
As they who first proportion understand,
With easy practice reach a master's hand.
Well might the ancient poets then confer
On Night the honour'd name of Counsellor,
Since, struck with rays of prosperous fortune blind,
We light alone in dark afflictions find.
In such adversities to sceptre train'd,
The name of Great his famous grandsire gain'd:
Who yet a king alone in name and right,
With hunger, cold, and angry Jove did fight; 100
Shock'd by a covenanting league's vast powers,
As holy and as catholic as ours:
Till fortune's fruitless spite had made it known,
Her blows, not shook, but riveted, his throne.
Some lazy ages, lost in sleep and ease,
No action leave to busy chronicles:
Such, whose supine felicity but makes
In story chasms, in epoch's mistakes;
O'er whom Time gently shakes his wings of down,
Till, with his silent sickle, they are mown. 110
Such is not Charles' too, too active age,
Which, govern'd by the wild distemper'd rage
Of some black star infecting all the skies,
Made him at his own cost, like Adam, wise.
Tremble, ye nations, which, secure before,
Laugh'd at those arms that 'gainst ourselves we bore;
Roused by the lash of his own stubborn tail,
Our lion now will foreign foes assail.
With alga who the sacred altar strews?
To all the sea-gods Charles an offering owes: 120
A bull to thee, Portumnus, shall be slain,
A lamb to you, ye Tempests of the main:
For those loud storms that did against him roar,
Have cast his shipwreck'd vessel on the shore.
Yet as wise artists mix their colours so,
That by degrees they from each other go;
Black steals unheeded from the neighbouring white,
Without offending the well-cozen'd sight:
So on us stole our blessed change; while we
The effect did feel, but scarce the manner see. 130
Frosts that constrain the ground, and birth deny
To flowers that in its womb expecting lie,
Do seldom their usurping power withdraw,
But raging floods pursue their hasty thaw.
Our thaw was mild, the cold not chased away,
But lost in kindly heat of lengthen'd day.
Heaven would no bargain for its blessings drive,
But what we could not pay for, freely give.
The Prince of peace would like himself confer
A gift unhoped, without the price of war: 140
Yet, as he knew his blessing's worth, took care,
That we should know it by repeated prayer;
Which storm'd the skies, and ravish'd Charles from thence,
As heaven itself is took by violence.
Booth's forward valour only served to show
He durst that duty pay we all did owe.
The attempt was fair; but Heaven's prefixed hour
Not come: so like the watchful traveller,
That by the moon's mistaken light did rise,
Lay down again, and closed his weary eyes. 150
'Twas Monk whom Providence design'd to loose
Those real bonds false freedom did impose.
The blessed saints that watch'd this turning scene,
Did from their stars with joyful wonder lean,
To see small clues draw vastest weights along,
Not in their bulk, but in their order, strong.
Thus pencils can by one slight touch restore
Smiles to that changed face that wept before.
With ease such fond chimeras we pursue,
As fancy frames for fancy to subdue: 160
But when ourselves to action we betake,
It shuns the mint like gold that chemists make.
How hard was then his task! at once to be,
What in the body natural we see!
Man's Architect distinctly did ordain
The charge of muscles, nerves, and of the brain,
Through viewless conduits spirits to dispense;
The springs of motion from the seat of sense.
'Twas not the hasty product of a day,
But the well-ripen'd fruit of wise delay. 170
He, like a patient angler, ere he strook,
Would let him play a while upon the hook.
Our healthful food the stomach labours thus,
At first embracing what it straight doth crush.
Wise leeches will not vain receipts obtrude,
While growing pains pronounce the humours crude:
Deaf to complaints, they wait upon the ill,
Till some safe crisis authorise their skill.
Nor could his acts too close a vizard wear,
To 'scape their eyes whom guilt had taught to fear, 180
And guard with caution that polluted nest,
Whence Legion twice before was dispossess'd:
Once sacred house; which, when they enter'd in,
They thought the place could sanctify a sin;
Like those that vainly hoped kind Heaven would wink,
While to excess on martyrs' tombs they drink.
And as devouter Turks first warn their souls
To part, before they taste forbidden bowls:
So these, when their black crimes they went about,
First timely charm'd their useless conscience out. 190
Religion's name against itself was made;
The shadow served the substance to invade:
Like zealous missions, they did care pretend
Of souls in show, but made the gold their end.
The incensed powers beheld with scorn from high
An heaven so far distant from the sky,
Which durst, with horses' hoofs that beat the ground,
And martial brass, belie the thunder's sound.
'Twas hence at length just vengeance thought it fit
To speed their ruin by their impious wit. 200
Thus Sforza, cursed with a too fertile brain,
Lost by his wiles the power his wit did gain.
Henceforth their fougue must spend at lesser rate,
Than in its flames to wrap a nation's fate.
Suffer'd to live, they are like helots set,
A virtuous shame within us to beget.
For by example most we sinn'd before,
And glass-like clearness mix'd with frailty bore.
But, since reform'd by what we did amiss,
We by our sufferings learn to prize our bliss: 210
Like early lovers, whose unpractised hearts
Were long the May-game of malicious arts,
When once they find their jealousies were vain,
With double heat renew their fires again.
'Twas this produced the joy that hurried o'er
Such swarms of English to the neighbouring shore,
To fetch that prize, by which Batavia made
So rich amends for our impoverish'd trade.
Oh! had you seen from Schevelin's barren shore,
(Crowded with troops, and barren now no more,) 220
Afflicted Holland to his farewell bring
True sorrow, Holland to regret a king!
While waiting him his royal fleet did ride,
And willing winds to their lower'd sails denied.
The wavering streamers, flags, and standard out,
The merry seamen's rude but cheerful shout:
And last the cannon's voice, that shook the skies,
And as it fares in sudden ecstasies,
At once bereft us both of ears and eyes.
The Naseby, now no longer England's shame, 230
But better to be lost in Charles' name,
(Like some unequal bride in nobler sheets)
Receives her lord: the joyful London meets
The princely York, himself alone a freight;
The Swiftsure groans beneath great Gloster's weight:
Secure as when the halcyon breeds, with these,
He that was born to drown might cross the seas.
Heaven could not own a Providence, and take
The wealth three nations ventured at a stake.
The same indulgence Charles' voyage bless'd, 240
Which in his right had miracles confess'd.
The winds that never moderation knew,
Afraid to blow too much, too faintly blew;
Or, out of breath with joy, could not enlarge
Their straighten'd lungs, or conscious of their charge.
The British Amphitrite, smooth and clear,
In richer azure never did appear;
Proud her returning prince to entertain
With the submitted fasces of the main.
And welcome now, great monarch, to your own! 250
Behold the approaching cliffs of Albion:
It is no longer motion cheats your view,
As you meet it, the land approacheth you.
The land returns, and, in the white it wears,
The marks of penitence and sorrow bears.
But you, whose goodness your descent doth show,
Your heavenly parentage and earthly too;
By that same mildness, which your father's crown
Before did ravish, shall secure your own.
Not tied to rules of policy, you find 260
Revenge less sweet than a forgiving mind.
Thus, when the Almighty would to Moses give
A sight of all he could behold and live;
A voice before his entry did proclaim
Long-suffering, goodness, mercy, in his name.
Your power to justice doth submit your cause,
Your goodness only is above the laws;
Whose rigid letter, while pronounced by you,
Is softer made. So winds that tempests brew,
When through Arabian groves they take their flight, 270
Made wanton with rich odours, lose their spite.
And as those lees, that trouble it, refine
The agitated soul of generous wine;
So tears of joy, for your returning spilt,
Work out, and expiate our former guilt.
Methinks I see those crowds on Dover's strand,
Who, in their haste to welcome you to land,
Choked up the beach with their still growing store,
And made a wilder torrent on the shore:
While, spurr'd with eager thoughts of past delight, 280
Those, who had seen you, court a second sight;
Preventing still your steps, and making haste
To meet you often wheresoe'er you past.
How shall I speak of that triumphant day,
When you renew'd the expiring pomp of May!
(A month that owns an interest in your name:
You and the flowers are its peculiar claim.)
That star that at your birth shone out so bright,
It stain'd the duller sun's meridian light,
Did once again its potent fires renew, 290
Guiding our eyes to find and worship you.
And now Time's whiter series is begun,
Which in soft centuries shall smoothly run:
Those clouds, that overcast your morn, shall fly,
Dispell'd to farthest corners of the sky.
Our nation with united interest blest,
Not now content to poise, shall sway the rest.
Abroad your empire shall no limits know,
But, like the sea, in boundless circles flow.
Your much-loved fleet shall, with a wide command, 300
Besiege the petty monarchs of the land:
And as old Time his offspring swallow'd down,
Our ocean in its depths all seas shall drown.
Their wealthy trade from pirates' rapine free,
Our merchants shall no more adventurers be:
Nor in the farthest East those dangers fear,
Which humble Holland must dissemble here.
Spain to your gift alone her Indies owes;
For what the powerful takes not, he bestows:
And France, that did an exile's presence fear, 310
May justly apprehend you still too near.
At home the hateful names of parties cease,
And factious souls are wearied into peace.
The discontented now are only they
Whose crimes before did your just cause betray:
Of those, your edicts some reclaim from sin,
But most your life and blest example win.
Oh, happy prince! whom Heaven hath taught the way,
By paying vows to have more vows to pay!
Oh, happy age! oh times like those alone, 320
By fate reserved for great Augustus' throne!
When the joint growth of arms and arts foreshow
The world a monarch, and that monarch you.
* * * * *
[Footnote 16: 'Ambitious Swede:' Charles X., named also Gustavus, nephew
to the great Gustavus Adolphus.]
[Footnote 17: 'Iberian bride:' the Infanta of Spain was betrothed to
[Footnote 18: 'Otho:' see Juvenal.]
[Footnote 19: 'Galba:' Roman emperor, who adopted Piso.]
[Footnote 20: 'Famous grandsire:' Charles II. was grandson by the
mother's side to Henry IV. of France.]
[Footnote 21: 'With alga,' &c. : these lines refer to the ceremonies used
by such heathens as escaped from shipwreck. _Alga marina_, or sea-weed,
was strewed about the altar, and a lamb sacrificed to the winds.]
[Footnote 22: 'Portumnus:' Palaemon, or Melicerta, god of shipwrecked
[Footnote 23: 'Booth's:' Sir George Booth, an unsuccessful and premature
warrior on the Royal side in 1659.]
[Footnote 24: 'Fougue:' a French word used for the fire and spirit of a
[Footnote 25: 'Schevelin:' a village about a mile from the Hague, at
which Charles II. embarked for England.]
[Footnote 26: 'Naseby:' the ship in which Charles II. returned from
[Footnote 27: 'Great Gloster:' Henry, Duke of Gloucester, third son of
Charles I., landed at Dover with his brother in 1660, and died of the
smallpox soon afterwards.]
[Footnote 28: Charles entered London on the 29th of May.]
[Footnote 29: 'Star:' said to have shone on the day of Charles' birth,
and outshone the sun.]
* * * * *
TO HIS SACRED MAJESTY.
A PANEGYRIC ON HIS CORONATION.
In that wild deluge where the world was drown'd,
When life and sin one common tomb had found,
The first small prospect of a rising hill
With various notes of joy the ark did fill:
Yet when that flood in its own depths was drown'd,
It left behind it false and slippery ground;
And the more solemn pomp was still deferr'd,
Till new-born nature in fresh looks appear'd.
Thus, Royal Sir, to see you landed here,
Was cause enough of triumph for a year: 10
Nor would your care those glorious joys repeat,
Till they at once might be secure and great:
Till your kind beams, by their continued stay,
Had warm'd the ground, and call'd the damps away,
Such vapours, while your powerful influence dries,
Then soonest vanish when they highest rise.
Had greater haste these sacred rites prepared,
Some guilty months had in your triumphs shared:
But this untainted year is all your own;
Your glories may without our crimes be shown. 20
We had not yet exhausted all our store,
When you refresh'd our joys by adding more:
As Heaven, of old, dispensed celestial dew,
You gave us manna, and still give us new.
Now our sad ruins are removed from sight,
The season too comes fraught with new delight:
Time seems not now beneath his years to stoop,
Nor do his wings with sickly feathers droop:
Soft western winds waft o'er the gaudy spring,
And open'd scenes of flowers and blossoms bring, 30
To grace this happy day, while you appear,
Not king of us alone, but of the year.
All eyes you draw, and with the eyes the heart:
Of your own pomp, yourself the greatest part:
Loud shouts the nation's happiness proclaim,
And Heaven this day is feasted with your name.
Your cavalcade the fair spectators view,
From their high standings, yet look up to you.
From your brave train each singles out a prey,
And longs to date a conquest from your day. 40
Now charged with blessings while you seek repose,
Officious slumbers haste your eyes to close;
And glorious dreams stand ready to restore
The pleasing shapes of all you saw before.
Next to the sacred temple you are led,
Where waits a crown for your more sacred head:
How justly from the church that crown is due,
Preserved from ruin, and restored by you!
The grateful choir their harmony employ,
Not to make greater, but more solemn joy. 50
Wrapt soft and warm your name is sent on high,
As flames do on the wings of incense fly:
Music herself is lost; in vain she brings
Her choicest notes to praise the best of kings:
Her melting strains in you a tomb have found,
And lie like bees in their own sweetness drown'd.
He that brought peace, all discord could atone,
His name is music of itself alone.
Now while the sacred oil anoints your head,
And fragrant scents, begun from you, are spread 60
Through the large dome; the people's joyful sound,
Sent back, is still preserved in hallow'd ground;
Which in one blessing mix'd descends on you;
As heighten'd spirits fall in richer dew.
Not that our wishes do increase your store,
Full of yourself, you can admit no more:
We add not to your glory, but employ
Our time, like angels, in expressing joy.
Nor is it duty, or our hopes alone,
Create that joy, but full fruition: 70
We know those blessings, which we must possess,
And judge of future by past happiness.
No promise can oblige a prince so much
Still to be good, as long to have been such.
A noble emulation heats your breast,
And your own fame now robs you of your rest.
Good actions still must be maintain'd with good,
As bodies nourish'd with resembling food.
You have already quench'd sedition's brand;
And zeal, which burnt it, only warms the land. 80
The jealous sects, that dare not trust their cause
So far from their own will as to the laws,
You for their umpire and their synod take,
And their appeal alone to Caesar make.
Kind Heaven so rare a temper did provide,
That guilt, repenting, might in it confide.
Among our crimes oblivion may be set;
But 'tis our king's perfection to forget.
Virtues unknown to these rough northern climes
From milder heavens you bring, without their crimes. 90
Your calmness does no after-storms provide,
Nor seeming patience mortal anger hide.
When empire first from families did spring,
Then every father govern'd as a king:
But you, that are a sovereign prince, allay
Imperial power with your paternal sway.
From those great cares when ease your soul unbends,
Your pleasures are design'd to noble ends:
Born to command the mistress of the seas,
Your thoughts themselves in that blue empire please. 100
Hither in summer evenings you repair
To taste the _fraicheur_ of the purer air:
Undaunted here you ride, when winter raves,
With Caesar's heart that rose above the waves.
More I could sing, but fear my numbers stays;
No loyal subject dares that courage praise.
In stately frigates most delight you find,
Where well-drawn battles fire your martial mind.
What to your cares we owe, is learnt from hence,
When even your pleasures serve for our defence. 110
Beyond your court flows in th' admitted tide,
Where in new depths the wondering fishes glide:
Here in a royal bed the waters sleep;
When tired at sea, within this bay they creep.
Here the mistrustful fowl no harm suspects,
So safe are all things which our king protects.
From your loved Thames a blessing yet is due,
Second alone to that it brought in you;
A queen, near whose chaste womb, ordain'd by fate,
The souls of kings unborn for bodies wait. 120
It was your love before made discord cease:
Your love is destined to your country's peace.
Both Indies, rivals in your bed, provide
With gold or jewels to adorn your bride.
This to a mighty king presents rich ore,
While that with incense does a god implore.
Two kingdoms wait your doom, and, as you choose,
This must receive a crown, or that must lose.
Thus from your royal oak, like Jove's of old,
Are answers sought, and destinies foretold: 130
Propitious oracles are begg'd with vows,
And crowns that grow upon the sacred boughs.
Your subjects, while you weigh the nation's fate,
Suspend to both their doubtful love or hate:
Choose only, Sir, that so they may possess,
With their own peace their children's happiness.
* * * * *
[Footnote 30: 'Royal bed:' the river led from the Thames through St
* * * * *
TO THE LORD CHANCELLOR HYDE.
PRESENTED ON NEW YEAR'S DAY, 1662.
While flattering crowds officiously appear
To give themselves, not you, a happy year;
And by the greatness of their presents prove
How much they hope, but not how well they love;
The Muses, who your early courtship boast,
Though now your flames are with their beauty lost,
Yet watch their time, that, if you have forgot
They were your mistresses, the world may not:
Decay'd by time and wars, they only prove
Their former beauty by your former love; 10
And now present, as ancient ladies do,
That, courted long, at length are forced to woo.
For still they look on you with such kind eyes,
As those that see the church's sovereign rise;
From their own order chose, in whose high state,
They think themselves the second choice of fate.
When our great monarch into exile went,
Wit and religion suffer'd banishment.
Thus once, when Troy was wrapp'd in fire and smoke,
The helpless gods their burning shrines forsook; 20
They with the vanquish'd prince and party go,
And leave their temples empty to the foe.
At length the Muses stand, restored again
To that great charge which Nature did ordain;
And their loved Druids seem revived by fate,
While you dispense the laws, and guide the state.
The nation's soul, our monarch, does dispense,
Through you, to us his vital influence:
You are the channel where those spirits flow,
And work them higher, as to us they go. 30
In open prospect nothing bounds our eye,
Until the earth seems join'd unto the sky:
So, in this hemisphere, our utmost view
Is only bounded by our king and you:
Our sight is limited where you are join'd,
And beyond that no farther heaven can find.
So well your virtues do with his agree,
That, though your orbs of different greatness be,
Yet both are for each other's use disposed,
His to enclose, and yours to be enclosed. 40
Nor could another in your room have been,
Except an emptiness had come between.
Well may he then to you his cares impart,
And share his burden where he shares his heart.
In you his sleep still wakes; his pleasures find
Their share of business in your labouring mind.
So when the weary sun his place resigns,
He leaves his light, and by reflection shines.
Justice, that sits and frowns where public laws
Exclude soft mercy from a private cause, 50
In your tribunal most herself does please;
There only smiles because she lives at ease;
And, like young David, finds her strength the more,
When disencumber'd from those arms she wore.
Heaven would our royal master should exceed
Most in that virtue which we most did need;
And his mild father (who too late did find
All mercy vain but what with power was join'd)
His fatal goodness left to fitter times,
Not to increase, but to absolve, our crimes: 60
But when the heir of this vast treasure knew
How large a legacy was left to you
(Too great for any subject to retain),
He wisely tied it to the crown again:
Yet, passing through your hands, it gathers more,
As streams, through mines, bear tincture of their ore.
While empiric politicians use deceit,
Hide what they give, and cure but by a cheat;
You boldly show that skill which they pretend,
And work by means as noble as your end: 70
Which should you veil, we might unwind the clew,
As men do nature, till we came to you.
And as the Indies were not found, before
Those rich perfumes, which, from the happy shore,
The winds upon their balmy wings convey'd,
Whose guilty sweetness first their world betray'd;
So by your counsels we are brought to view
A rich and undiscover'd world in you.
By you our monarch does that fame assure,
Which kings must have, or cannot live secure: 80
For prosperous princes gain their subjects' heart,
Who love that praise in which themselves have part.
By you he fits those subjects to obey,
As heaven's eternal Monarch does convey
His power unseen, and man to his designs,
By his bright ministers the stars, inclines.
Our setting sun, from his declining seat,
Shot beams of kindness on you, not of heat:
And, when his love was bounded in a few
That were unhappy that they might be true, 90
Made you the favourite of his last sad times,
That is a sufferer in his subjects' crimes:
Thus those first favours you received, were sent,
Like heaven's rewards in earthly punishment.
Yet fortune, conscious of your destiny,
Even then took care to lay you softly by;
And wrapp'd your fate among her precious things,
Kept fresh to be unfolded with your king's.
Shown all at once, you dazzled so our eyes,
As new born Pallas did the gods surprise, 100
When, springing forth from Jove's new-closing wound,
She struck the warlike spear into the ground;
Which sprouting leaves did suddenly enclose,
And peaceful olives shaded as they rose.
How strangely active are the arts of peace,
Whose restless motions less than war's do cease!
Peace is not freed from labour but from noise;
And war more force, but not more pains employs;
Such is the mighty swiftness of your mind,
That, like the earth, it leaves our sense behind; 110
While you so smoothly turn and roll our sphere,
That rapid motion does but rest appear.
For, as in nature's swiftness, with the throng
Of flying orbs while ours is borne along,
All seems at rest to the deluded eye,
Moved by the soul of the same harmony,--
So, carried on by your unwearied care,
We rest in peace, and yet in motion share.
Let envy then those crimes within you see,
From which the happy never must be free; 120
Envy, that does with misery reside,
The joy and the revenge of ruin'd pride.
Think it not hard, if at so cheap a rate
You can secure the constancy of fate,
Whose kindness sent what does their malice seem,
By lesser ills the greater to redeem.
Nor can we this weak shower a tempest call,
But drops of heat, that in the sunshine fall.
You have already wearied fortune so,
She cannot further be your friend or foe; 130
But sits all breathless, and admires to feel
A fate so weighty, that it stops her wheel.
In all things else above our humble fate,
Your equal mind yet swells not into state,
But, like some mountain in those happy isles,
Where in perpetual spring young nature smiles,
Your greatness shows: no horror to affright,
But trees for shade, and flowers to court the sight:
Sometimes the hill submits itself a while
In small descents, which do its height beguile: 140
And sometimes mounts, but so as billows play,
Whose rise not hinders, but makes short our way.
Your brow, which does no fear of thunder know,
Sees rolling tempests vainly beat below;
And, like Olympus' top, the impression wears
Of love and friendship writ in former years.
Yet, unimpair'd with labours, or with time,
Your age but seems to a new youth to climb.
Thus heavenly bodies do our time beget,
And measure change, but share no part of it. 150
And still it shall without a weight increase,
Like this new year, whose motions never cease.
For since the glorious course you have begun
Is led by Charles, as that is by the sun,
It must both weightless and immortal prove,
Because the centre of it is above.
* * * * *
[Footnote 31: 'Hyde:' the far-famed historian Clarendon.]
* * * * *
SATIRE ON THE DUTCH.
WRITTEN IN THE YEAR 1662.
As needy gallants, in the scrivener's hands,
Court the rich knaves that gripe their mortgaged lands;
The first fat buck of all the season's sent,
And keeper takes no fee in compliment;
The dotage of some Englishmen is such,
To fawn on those who ruin them--the Dutch.
They shall have all, rather than make a war
With those, who of the same religion are.
The Straits, the Guinea-trade, the herrings too;
Nay, to keep friendship, they shall pickle you. 10
Some are resolved not to find out the cheat,
But, cuckold-like, love them that do the feat.
What injuries soe'er upon us fall,
Yet still the same religion answers all.
Religion wheedled us to civil war,
Drew English blood, and Dutchmen's now would spare.
Be gull'd no longer; for you'll find it true,
They have no more religion, faith! than you.
Interest's the god they worship in their state,
And we, I take it, have not much of that 20
Well monarchies may own religion's name,
But states are atheists in their very frame.
They share a sin; and such proportions fall,
That, like a stink, 'tis nothing to them all.
Think on their rapine, falsehood, cruelty,
And that what once they were, they still would be.
To one well-born the affront is worse and more,
When he's abused and baffled by a boor.
With an ill grace the Dutch their mischiefs do;
They've both ill nature and ill manners too. 30
Well may they boast themselves an ancient nation;
For they were bred ere manners were in fashion:
And their new commonwealth has set them free
Only from honour and civility.
Venetians do not more uncouthly ride,
Than did their lubber state mankind bestride.
Their sway became them with as ill a mien,
As their own paunches swell above their chin.
Yet is their empire no true growth but humour,
And only two kings' touch can cure the tumour. 40
As Cato fruits of Afric did display,
Let us before our eyes their Indies lay:
All loyal English will like him conclude;
Let Caesar live, and Carthage be subdued.
* * * * *
[Footnote 32: 'Satire:' the same nearly with his prologue to 'Amboyna.']
[Footnote 33: 'Two kings:' alluding to projected union between France
* * * * *
TO HER ROYAL HIGHNESS THE DUCHESS,
ON THE MEMORABLE VICTORY GAINED BY THE DUKE OVER THE HOLLANDERS, JUNE 3,
1665. AND ON HER JOURNEY AFTERWARDS INTO THE NORTH.
When, for our sakes, your hero you resign'd
To swelling seas, and every faithless wind;
When you released his courage, and set free
A valour fatal to the enemy;
You lodged your country's cares within your breast
(The mansion where soft love should only rest):
And, ere our foes abroad were overcome,
The noblest conquest you had gain'd at home.
Ah, what concerns did both your souls divide!
Your honour gave us what your love denied: 10
And 'twas for him much easier to subdue
Those foes he fought with, than to part from you.
That glorious day, which two such navies saw,
As each unmatch'd might to the world give law.
Neptune, yet doubtful whom he should obey,
Held to them both the trident of the sea:
The winds were hush'd, the waves in ranks were cast,
As awfully as when God's people pass'd;
Those, yet uncertain on whose sails to blow,
These, where the wealth of nations ought to flow. 20
Then with the duke your highness ruled the day:
While all the brave did his command obey,
The fair and pious under you did pray.
How powerful are chaste vows! the wind and tide
You bribed to combat on the English, side.
Thus to your much-loved lord you did convey
An unknown succour, sent the nearest way.
New vigour to his wearied arms you brought
(So Moses was upheld while Israel fought),
While, from afar, we heard the cannon play, 30
Like distant thunder on a shiny day.
For absent friends we were ashamed to fear
When we consider'd what you ventured there.
Ships, men, and arms, our country might restore,
But such a leader could supply no more.
With generous thoughts of conquest he did burn,
Yet fought not more to vanquish than return.
Fortune and victory he did pursue,
To bring them as his slaves to wait on you.
Thus beauty ravish'd the rewards of fame, 40
And the fair triumph'd when the brave o'ercame.
Then, as you meant to spread another way
By land your conquests, far as his by sea,
Leaving our southern clime you march'd along
The stubborn North, ten thousand Cupids strong.
Like commons the nobility resort
In crowding heaps, to fill your moving court:
To welcome your approach the vulgar run,
Like some new envoy from the distant sun;
And country beauties by their lovers go, 50
Blessing themselves, and wondering at the show.
So when the new-born Phoenix first is seen,
Her feather'd subjects all adore their queen;
And while she makes her progress through the east,
From every grove her numerous train's increased;
Each poet of the air her glory sings,
And round him the pleased audience clap their wings.
* * * * *
[Footnote 34: 'The Duchess:' daughter to the great Earl of Clarendon;
married privately to Duke of York. For account of this victory, see Hume
or Macaulay. The duchess accompanied the duke to Harwich, and thence
made a progress north-wards, referred to here.]
[Footnote 35: 'Heard the cannon play:' the cannon were heard in London a
hundred miles from Lowestoff where the battle was fought.]
* * * * *
THE YEAR OF WONDERS, 1666.
AN HISTORICAL POEM.
* * * * *
AN ACCOUNT OF THE ENSUING POEM, IN A LETTER TO THE HONOURABLE SIR ROBERT