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AN ESSAY ON HIS UFE AN:^ .GlENI^S, , ^Tr^l;/* 




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i^£*rtf. *V^«t^.30 



MlB t»f3 

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FIRST EDTTION, 1779-1780. 

TRB bodkflenen haTing determined to pobliih « ho&y of fiaf* 
fish poetiy, I vna persuaded t» p re ra iife them a preface to the works 
ef each author ; an ondertakiog, as it was then presentad to my mmd^ 
not very extensiTe or diffieuH. 

Mj purpose was only to have allotted to erery poet an adTertiae* 
mentylike those whieh we find in the French miscellanies, contain* 
ing a few dates and a general characteir ; bat 1 have been led beyond 
lay intention^ I hope, by the honest desire of giving useful pleanrt. 

In tins minate kind of histoty, the succetsion of facts is not eaa^ 
dhnnvered ; and I am not without suspicion that some <ii Dryden's 
-rotks are placed in wrong years. 1 have followed Langfaaine, as the 
^est authority for his plays : and if I Ihall hereafter obtain a mom 
•orrect chronology, wiirpubllsh it i but 1 do not yet kaMr tkal mj 
Moooot is erroneous.* . 

Dryden's Remarks on Rymer have been somewheref printed be« 
Ibre. The former edition I hare seen. This was transcribed for 
the press from his own manuscript. 

Am this undertaking was occasional and unforeseen, I must he n^i- 
pmeA to have engaged in it with lea provision of materials ihaa 
BHgkt have been accamulated by longer premeditation. Of the later 
vriters at least I might, by attention and inquiry, have gleaned many 
particulars, which would have diversified and enlifened my biegra- 
^y. These omissions, which it is now useless to laaaent, here becm 
often supplied by the kindness of Mr. Steevens and other friends ; 
and great assistance has been given me by Mr. Spence's collections^ 
of which 1 consider the communication as a fatrour worthy of pobUck 

* lianf^ne's anthority will not support the dates assigned to 
Dryden's plays. These are now rectified in the margin by refer* 
aiee to the original edition, the only guides to be relied on. R. 

t to Um edition of Bcftiimofit and Fletcher, by Mr. Cohnao. R. 

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/'Cowley 1 

Denham ------- 63 

'"^Butler ler 

Rochester • - 18* 

Roscommon - - - - - - 191 

Otway 202 

Waller ...--... 207 

Pomfret - - - - - - - 256 

Dorset -...---- 258 

Stepney 262 

J.Philips 265 

Walsh - - 281 


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X HE life of Cowley, notwithstanding the pehupy 
of Eirglish biography, has been written by Dr. Sprat, 
an author whose pregnancy of imagination and ele- 
gance of language have deservedly set him high in 
the ranks of literature ; but his zeal of friendship, 
or ambition of eloquence, has produced a funeral 
oration rather than a history : he has given the cha- 
racter, not the life of Cowley ; for he writes with so 
little detail, that scarcely any thing is distinctly known, 
but all is shewn confused and enlarged through the 
mist of panegyrick. 

Abraham Cowley was born in the year one thou- ^ ^ , 
sand six hundred and eighteen. -His father was a 
grocer, whose condition Dr. Sprat conceals under 
the general appellation of a citizen ; and, what would 
probably not have been less carefully suppressed, 
the omission of his name in the register of St. Dun- 
Stan's parish gives reason to suspect that his father 
was a secretary. Whoever he was, he died before 
the birth of his son, and consequently left him to the 
care of his mother; whom Wood represents as strug- 
gling earnestly to procure him a literary education, 
and who, as she lived to the age of eighty, had her 
solicitude rewarded by seeing her son eminent, and, 
I hope, by seeing him fortunate, and partaking his 
prosperity. We know at least, from Sprat*s account, 


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tliat he always acknowledged her "care, and justly 
paid the dues of filial gratitude. 

In the window of his mother's apartment lay Spen- 
ser's Fairy Queen ; in which he very early took de- 
light to read, till, by feeling the charms of verse, he 
became, as he relates, irrecoverably a poet. Such 
-^are the accidents which, sometimes remembered, 
and perhaps sometimes forgotten, produce that parti- 
cular designation of mind, and propensity for some 
certain science or employment, which is commonly 
called genius. JClifi_Lcue genius is a mind ,of .}arge 
general powers^ accidentally determined to some, ^ai'- 
ticular direction. Sir Joshua Reynolds, the great 
painter of the present age, had the first fondness for 
his art excited by the perusal of Richardsoh's treatise. 

By his mother's solicitation he was admitted in 
Westminster-school, where he was soon distinguish- 
ed. He was wont, says Sprat,, to relate " That he 
had this defect in his memory at that time, that his 
teachers never could bring it to retain the ordinary 
rules of grammar." 

This is an instance of the natural desire of man to 
propagate a wonder. It is surely very difficult to tell 
any thing as it was heard, when Sprat could not refrain 
from amplifying a commodious incident, though the 
book to which he prefixed his narrative contained its 
confutation A memory admitting some things, and 
rejecting others, an intellectual digestion that concoct- 
ed the pulp of learning, but refused the husks, had 
the appearance of an instinctive elegance, of a parti- 
cular, pro vision made by nature for literary politeness. 
But in the author's own honest relation, the marvel 
vanishes : he was, be says, such " an enemy to all 
constraint, tl^iat his master never could prevail on 
him to learn the rules without book." He does 


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- - --^-^'g* 


not tell that he could not learn the rules ; but that, 
beihg able to perform hi^ exercises without them, 
and being an " «nemy to constraint,*' he spared him- 
self the labour. 

Among the English poets, Cowley, Milton, and 
Pope, might be said "to lisp in numbers ;" and have 
given such early, proofs, not only of powers of lan- 
guage, but of comprehension of things, as to more 
tardy minds seem scarcely credible. But of the learn- 
ed puerilities of Cowley there is no doubt, since a 
volume of his poems was not only written, but print- 
ed in his thirteenth year ;* containing, with other 
poetical compositions, " The tragical history qf Pyra- 
mus and Thisbe, written when he was ten years old ; 
and " Constantia and Philetus," written two years 

While he was yet at .school he produced a comedy 
called « Love's Riddle,", though it was not published 
till he had been some time at Cambridge. This come- 
dy is of the pastoral kind, which requires no ac- 
quaintance with 'the living world, and therefore the 
time at which it was composed adds little to the won- 
ders of Cowley's minority. 

In 1636, he was removed to Cambridge,! where 
he continued his studies with great intenseness : for 
he is said to have written, while he was yet a young 
student, the greater part of his " Davideis;" a work 
of which the materials could not have been collected 
without the study of many years, but by a mind of 
the greatest vigour and activity. 

* This volame vas not pablished before tGSd^ when Cowley was 
fifteen yeai's old. Dr. Johnson, as well as former biographers, seems 
to have been misled by the portrait of Cowley being, by mistake, 
narked with the age of thirteen years. R. 

f He was candidate this year at Westminster-sehool for eleetion 
to Trinity college, but proved unsnecessful. N. 
B 2 


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Two years after the settlement ut Cambridge he 
published " Love's Riddle," with a poetical dedica- 
tion to sir Kenelm Digby ; of whose acquaintance 
all his contemporaries seem to have been ambitious ; 
and " Naufragium Joculare," a comedy written in 
Latin, but without due attention to the ancient mo- 
dels ; for it is not loose verse, but mere prose. It 
was printed, with a dedication in verse, to Dr. Com- 
. ber, master of the college ; but having neither the 
facility of a popular, nor the accuracy of a learned 
work, it seems to be now universally neglected. 

At the beginning of the. civil war, as the prince 
passed through Cambridge in his way to York, he 
was entertained with a representation- of the " Guar- 
dian,*' a comedy, which Cowley says was neither 
written nor acted, but rough drawn by him, and re- 
peated by the scholars. That this comedy was print- 
ed during his absence from his country he appears 
to have considered as injurious to his reputation ; 
though, during the suppression of the theatres, it was 
sometimes privately acted with sufficient approba- 

In 1643, being now master of arts, he was, by the 
prevalence of the parliament, ejected from Cam- 
bridge, and sheltered himself at St. John's College 
in Oxford : where, as is said by Wood, he publish- 
ed a satire, called " The Puritan and Papist," which 
wats only inserted in the last collection of his works;* 
atid so distinguished himself by the warmth of 
his loyalty and the elegance of his conversation, that 
he 'gained the kindness and confidence of those 

* In the first edition of thislife^ Dr. Johnson wrote, ** which was 
never inserted in any collection of his works:" but he altered the 
expression when the lives were collected into volumes Tl|e satire 
was added to Cowley's works by the particular direction of Ur. 
Johnson. N. " 

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who attended the king, and amongst others of lord 
Falkland, whose notice cast a lustre on all to whom 
it was extended. 

About the time when Oxford was surrendered to 
the parliament) he followed the queen to Paris, where 
he became secretary to the lord Jermyn, afterwards 
earl of St. Alban's, and was employed in such corres- 
pondence as the royal cause required, and particularly 
in cyphering and decyphering the letters that passed 
between the king and queen ; an employment of the 
highest confidence and honour. So wide was his 
province of intelligence, that, for several years, it fill- 
ed all his days and two or three nights in the week. 

In the year 1647, his '^ Mistress" was published ; 
for he imagined, as he declared in his preface to a sub- 
sequent edition, tliat " poets are scarcely thought 
freemen of their company without paying some du- 
ties, or obliging themselves to be true to love." 

This obligation to amorous ditties owes, I believe, 
its original to the fame of Petrarch, who in an age 
rude and uncultivated, by his tuneful homage to his 
Laura, refined the manners of the lettered world, 
and filled Europe with love and poetry. But the basis 
of all excellence is truth : he that professes love ought 
to feel its power. Petrarch was a real lover, and Lau- 
ra doubtless deserved his tenderness. Of Cowley, 
we are told by Barnes,* who had means enough of 
information, that, whatever he may talk of his own 
inflammability, and the variety of characters by which 
his heart was divided, he in reality was in love but 
once and then never had resolution to tell his pasdon. 

This consideration cannot but abate, in some mea- 
sure, the reader's esteem for the work and the author. 
To love excellence, is natural ; it is natural likewise 

^ Barnesii Anaci*eontem. Dr. J. 
B 3 


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for the lover to solicit reciprocal regard by an elabo- 
rate display of his own qualifications. • The desire of 
pleasing has in different men produced actions of 
heroism, and effusions of wit j but it seems as reason- 
able to appear the champion as the poet of an " airy 
nothing," and to quarrel as to write for what Cowley 
might have learned from his master Pindar to call 
*-' the dream of a shadow." 
* It is surely not difficult, in th^ solitude of a college, 
or in the bustle of the world, to find useful studies 
and serious employment. No man needs to be so 
burthened with life as to squander it in voluntary- 
dreams of fictitious occurrences. The man that sits^ 
down to suppose himself charged with treason t>r pe- 
culation, and heats his mind to an elaborate purgation 
of his* character from crimes which he was never* 
within the possibility of committing, differs only by 
the infrequcncy of his folly from him who praises 
beauty which he never saw; complains of jealousy 
which he iicver felt ; supposes himself sometimes 
invited, and sometimes forsaken; fatigues his fancy,- 
and ransacks his memory, for images which may ex* 
hibit the gaiety of hope, or the gloominess of despair ; 
and dresses his imaginary Chloris or Phyllis, some- 
times in ;flowers fading as her beauty, and sometimes 
in gems lasting as her virtues. 

At Paris, as secretary to lord Jermyn, he was en- 
gaged in transacting things of real importjmce with- 
real men and real women, and at that time did" not 
much employ his thoughts upon phantoms of gallan- 
tly. Some of his letters to Mr. Bennet, afterwardaC 
earl of Arlington, from April to December, in 1650, 
are preserved in " Miscellanea Aulica," a collection 
of papers published by Brown. These letters, being 
written like those of other men whose minds are 

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more on things than words, contribute no otherwise 
to his reputation than as they show him to have been 
above the affectation of unseasonable elegance, and 
to have known that the business of a statesman can 
be little forwarded by flowers of rhetorick. 

One passage, however, seems not unworthy of 
some notice. Speaking of the Scotch treaty then in 
agitation : 

" The Scotch treaty," says hfe " is the only thing 
now in which we are vitally concerned : I am one of 
the last hopers, and yet cannot now abstain from be- 
lieving that an agreement will be made ; all people 
upon the place incline to that of union. The Scotch 
will moderate something of the rigour of their de- 
mands; the mutual necessity of an accord is visible, 
the king is persuaded of it. And to tell you the 
truth (which I take to be an argument above all the 
rest) Virgil has told the same thing to that pur- 

This expression from a secretary of the present 
time would be considered as merely ludicrous, or at 
most as an ostentatious display of scholarship ; but the 
manners of that time were so tinged with superstition, 
that I cannot but suspect Cowley of having consult- 
ed on this great occasion the Virgilian lots,* and to 
have given some credit to the answer of his oracle. 

• Consulting the Virgilian lots, sortes Virgih'anse, is a method of 
divination hy the opening of Virgil, and applying to the circumstan- 
ces of the peruser the first passage in either of the two p^ges that 
he accidentally fixes his eye on It. is said that king Charles I. and 
lord Falkland, being in the Bodleian library, made this experiment 
of their future fortunes, and met with passages equally ominous to 
emch. That of the king was the following : 

At bello aud^lcis populi vexatus & armis, 
Finibus extorris complexu avulsus luli, 
Atixilium, imploret, Tideatque Indiana suorum 
B 4 

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Some years afterwards, " business," sajrs Sprats 
'.* passed of course into other hands v" and Cowley 
being no longer useful at Paris, was in 1656 sent baclt 

Fanera, nee, cum mj sab leges pacis iniqose 
Tradiderit, regno aut o\>tata luce frnatut* : 
Sed-eadat aiite diem, mediaque iiihumatns arena. 

JEueid IV. 6l5. 

Yet let a race untam'd, and haughty foes. 
His peaceful eatraiiee with dire arms oppo«e, 
Oppress'd with numbers in th' unequal field. 
His men discouraged, and himself expell'd: 
Let him for succour sue from pla«i^ to place, 
Torn from his subjects and his son's embrace. 
First let him see his friends In battle slain. 
And their untimely fate lament in vain ; 
And when at length the cruel war shall ce&se. 
On hard con<^tions may he buy his peace ; 
Nor let him then enjoy supreme commaady 
But fall untimely by some hostile hand* 
And lie MnburyM on tlie barren sAiid. 

Lord Falkland's: 


Nou hsec, O Palla, dederas promissa p^enti» 
Qautius ut sfevo vellas te credere Marti. , 
Haud ignarus eram, quantum nova gloria in armis, 
^f l)rsedulce decua primo certainine posset. 
Priraiti«6 jurenis miserse belique propinqai 
Dui*a rudimenta, &.nuUa exaudita Deoram, 
Vota precesque mcfe. 

iEndd Xf. 152. 

O Pallas, thou hast failed thy plighted word. 
To fight with caution, not to tempt the sword ; 
I^warn'd thee, but in vain, for well l.knew 
What perils youthful ardour would purtiie ; 
That boiling blood would carry thee too far. 
Young as tliou wert to dangers, raw to war. 
O curst essay of arms, disastrous doom. 
Prelude of bloody fields and fights to come ! 
Hani elements of unauspicious war, 
Vaia vows to Heaven, and unavftiiing care ! 

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into England, that, " under pretence of privacy and 
retirement, he might take occasion of giving* notice 
of the posture of things in this nation." 

Soon after his return to London, he was seized by 
some messengers of the usurping powers, who were 
set out in quest of another man ; and being examin- 
ed, was put into confinement, from which he was not 
dismissed without the security of a thousand pounds 
^ven by Dr. Scarborough. 

This year he published his poems, with a preface, 
in which he seems to have inserted something sup- 
pressed in subsequent editions, which was interpreted 
to denote some relaxation of his loyalty. In this pre- 
face he declares, that " his desire had been for some 
days past, and did still very vehemently continue, to 
Tetire himself to some of the American plantations, 
and to forsake this world for ever." 

From the obloquy which the appearance of submis- 
sion to the usurpers brought upon him, his biogra- 
pher has been vexy diligent to clear him, and indeed it 
does not seem to have lessened his reputation. His 
wish for retirement we can easily believe to be undis^- 
sembled ; a man harassed in one kingdom, and perse- 
cuted in another, who, after a course of business that 
employed all his days and half his nights, in cyphering 
and decyphering, comes to his own country and steps 
into a prison, will be willing enough to retire to some 
place 9f quiet and safety. Yet let neither our reve- 
rence for a genius, nor our pity for a sufferer, dispose 
us to forget that, if his activity was virtue, his retreat 
was cowardice. 

Hoffman, in bis Lexicon, gives a vQiy satibfactoiy acoount of this 
f ractiee of seeking fotes in books : and says, that it was used by the 
Pagans, the Jewish rabbins> and even the early Chi'istiaos \ |h& latter 
t^dcing the Mew Testament for their oracle. HL ^ 

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He then took upon himself the character of physi- 
cian, still, according to Sprat, with intention, " to 
dissemble the main design of his conung over," 
and, as Mr. Wood relates, " complying with the men 
then in power (which Was much taken notice of by 
the royal party) he obtained an order to be created 
doctor of physick : which being done, to his mind 
(whereby he gained the ill-will of some of his friends) 
he went into France again, having made a copy of 
verses on Oliver's death." 

This is no favourable representation, yet even in 
this not much wrong can be discovered. How far he 
complied with the men in power, is to be inquired be- 
fore he can be blamed. It is not said that he told them 
uny secrets, or assisted them by intelligence or any 
other act. If he only promised to be quiet, that they 
in whose hands he was might free him- from confine- 
ment, he did what no law of society prohibits. 

The man whose miscarriage in a just cause has put 
him in the power of his enemy may, without any vio- 
lation of his integrity, regain his liberty, or preserve 
hi^ life, by a promise of neutrality : for, the stipulation 
gives the enemy nothing which he had not before; the 
neutrality of a captive may be always secured by his 
imprisonment or death. He that is at the disposal 
of another may not promise to aid him in any injurir- 
ous act, because no power can compel active obedi- 
ence. He may engage to do nothing, but not to do ill. 

There is reason to think that Cowley promised lit- 
tle. It does not appear that his compliance gained hii|i 
confidence enough to be trusted without security, for 
the bond of^his baij was never cancelled ; nor that it 
made him think himself secure, for at that dissolution 
of government which followed the death of Oliver, he 
returned into France, where he resumed his fbtirifer 
station, and staid till the RestoratitJh. 

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« He continued," says his biographer, <* under these 
bonds till the general deliverance;'* it is therefore 
to be supposed, that he did not go to France, and act 
again for the king, without the consent of his bonds- 
man ; that he did not shew his loyalty at the hazard 
of his friend, but by his iriend's permission. 

Of the verses on Oliver's death, in which Wood's 
narrative seems to imply something encomiastick, 
there has been no appearance. There is a discourse, 
concerning his government, indeed, with verses in- 
termixed, but such as certainly gained its author no 
friends among the abettors of usurpation. ' 

A doctor of physick, however, he was made at Ox- 
ford in December 1657 ; and in the commencement of 
the Royal Society, of which an account has been given- 
by Dr. Birch, he appears busy iamong the experimen- 
tal philosophers with the title of Dr. Cowley. 

There is no reason for supposing that he 'ever at- 
tempted practice { but his preparatory studies have 
contributed something to the honour of his country. 
Considering botany as necessary to a physician, he 
retired into Kent ta gather plants; and as the predo- 
minance o£r a favourite study affects all subordinate 
Operations of the intellect, botany in the mind of 
Cowley turned into poetry. He composed in Latin 
^veral books^^ on plants, of which the first and second ! 
display the qualities of herbs, in elegiac verse; the 
third and fourth, the beauties of flowers, in various, 
mieasures, and the fifth and sixth, the uses of trees,, 
in heroick numbers. 

At the same time were produced, from the same 
university, the two great poets, Cowley and Milton, . 
of dissimilar genius, of opposite principles ; but con— 
curring in the cultivation of Latin poetry, in which. 
t)ie English^till their works and May's poeinapj^ear-*- 

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«d,* seemed mmhle to contest the palm with any other 
of the lettered nations. 

If the Latin performances of Cowley and Milton 
he compared (for May I hold to he 9i^>erior to hpth) 
the advantage seems to lie on the side of Cowlc^y. 
Milton is generally content^o express the thoughts of 
the ancients in their language ; Cowleyi without much 
less of purity or elegance, accommodates the diction 
of Rome to his own concepj^pns. 

At the Restoration, after all the diligence of hi^ 
long service, and with consciou^eiis iK»t only of the- 
merit of fidelity, but of the dignity of great abilities, 
he naturally expected ample preferments ; and, that 
lie might not be forgotten by his own fault, wrote a. 
Song of Triumph. But this w?i9 a time of such ge- 
neral hope, that great numbers were inevitably dis- 
appointed ; and Cowley found his reward very tedi- 
ously delayed. He had been promised by both Charles 
"the First and Second, the mastership of the Savoy ; 
'<but he lost it," says Wood, '< by certain persons^ 
enemies to the muses." 

The neglect of the cqurt was not his only mortifr- 
tation ; having, by such alteration as he thought pro- 
per, fitted his old comedy of « The Guardian" for the 
st^ge, he produced itf under the title of " The Cutter 
<' of Coleman-street."! It was treated on tjie st^giB 

* By May's poem we are here to andei'stand a continuation of 
Lucan's Pharsalia to the death of Julius Csesar, by Thomas May, 
an eminent poet and historian, who flourished in the retgn of Jftm«9 
and Charles 1, and of whom a life is given .io.llie Qipgr^pm^QrU^fft* 
x^ca. H. 

t 1663, 

i: Here is an error in the designation of tikis comedy, which onr 
itothor. copied from the title page of the latter editions of Cowley's 
^prks: the title of the play itself is without (he ar(ie]|e, **CAttePoC 
Coieraan -street,*' and that because a merry fh^iF^ing fellow about' 
the town, named Cutter, is a pmcipal chainicter hi it H. 


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>widi ^reat severity, and was aftterwasds eensiired as a 
satire on the king's partf . 

Mr. Dpfden, who went with Mr. Sprat to the first 
exhibition, related to Mr. Dennis, ^ &at, when they 
told Cowley how little favour had been shewn him, 
he received the news of his ill success, not with so 
much finnness as might have been expected from 
so great a man." 

What firmness they expected, or what weakness 
Cowley discovered, cannot be known. He that misses 
his end will never be as much pleased as he that at- 
tains it, even when he can impute no part of his failure 
to himself; and, when the end is to please the multi- 
tude, no man, perhaps, has a right, in thhigs admitting 
of gradation and comparison, to throw the whole blame 
upon his judges, and totally to exclude diffidence and 
shame by a haughty consciousness of his own excel- 

For the rejection of this play it is difficult now to 
find the reason : it certainly has, in a very great de- 
gree, the power of fixing attention and exciting mer- 
riment. From the charge of disaffection he 'exculpates 
himself in his preface, by observing how unlikely it is 
that, having followed the royal family through all their 
distresses, " he should choose the time of their re- 
storation to begin a quarrel with them;** It appears, 
however, from the Theatrical Register of Downes, 
the prompter, to have been popularly considered as a 
satire on the royalists. 

That he might shorten this tedious suspence, he 
published his pretensions and his discontent, in an 
ode called " The Complaint;" in which he styles 
himself the melancholy Cowley. This met with the 
tisual fortune of complaints, and seems to have ex- 
eited more contempt than pity. 

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These unlucky incidents are brought, maliciou^Lj- 
enough, together in some stanzas, written about that 
time, on the choice of a laureat ; a mode of satire, by 
which, since it was first introduced by Suckling, per- 
haps every generation of poets has been teazed. 

Saroy-missing Cowley came into the courts 

Making apologies for his had play : 
Every one gare him so good a report. 

That Apollo gave heed to all he could say ; 
Nor would he have had, 'tis thought, a rebuke. 

Unless he had done some notable folly ; 
Writ verses unjustly ln*praise of Sam Tuke, 

Or printed his pitiful Melancholy. 

His vehement desire of retirement now came ag^ 
upon him. " Not finding,*' says the morose Wood^ 
" that preferment conferred upon him which he ex- 
pected, while others for their money carried away, 
most places, he retired discontented into Surrey.'* 

*' He was now," says the courtly Sprat, weary of 
the vexations and formalities of an active condition. 
He had been perplexed with a long compliance to 
fdreign manners. He was satiated with the arts of a 
court ; which sort of life, though his virtue made it 
innocent to him, yet nothing could make it quiet. 
Those were the reasons that made him to follow the 
violent inclination of his own mind, which, in the 
greatest throng of his former business, had still, call- 
ed upon him, and represented to liim the true de- 
lights of solitary studies, of temperate pleasures, and 
a moderate revenue below the malice and flatteries 
of fortune.'* 

So differently are things seen ! and so differently 
are they shewn 1 but actions are visible, though mo- 
tives are sefvet. Cowley certainly retired ; first to 
Barn-elms, and afterwards to Chertsey, in Surrey. He 

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seems, however, to have lost part of his dread of the 
hum of men.* He thought himself now safe enough 
from intrusion, without the defence of mountains and 
oceans ; and, instead of seeking shelter in America, 
wisely went only so far from the bustle of life as that 
he might easily find his way back, when solitude should 
grow tedious. His retreat was at first but slenderly 
accommodated ; yet he soon obtained, by the interest 
of the earl of St. Alban's and the duke of Bucking- 
ham, such a lease of the queen's lands as afforded him 
an ample income. 

By the lovers of virtue and of wit it will be solicit- 
ously asked, if he now was happy. Let them peruse 
one of his letters accidentally preserved by Peck, 
which I recommend to the consideration of all that 
may hereafter pant for solitude. 


Chertaey^ May 21, 1^65. 
^* The first night that I came hither I caught sp 
" great a cold with a defluxion of rheum, as made me 
" keep my chamber ten days. And, two after, had 
<< such a bruise on my ribs with a fall, that I am yet 
** unable to move or turn myself in my bed. This is 
"my personal fortune here to begin with. And, be- 
« sides, I can get no money from my tenants, and have 
" my meadows eaten up every night by cattle put in 
" by my neighbours. What this signifies, or may come 
" to in time, God knows ; if it be ominous, it can end 
" in nothing less than hanging. Another misfortune 
<< has been, and stranger than all the rest, that you have 
" broke your wosd with me, and failed to come, even 
" though you told Mr. Bois that you would. This is 
« what they call monatri aintile. I do hope to recover^ 

• L'Allegro^ Milton. Dr. J. 

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<< my late hurt so farre within five or six days (though 
« it be uncertain yet whether I shall ever recovef it) 
** as to walk about again. And then, methinks, yoU 
" and I and the Dean might be very merry upon St. 
<* Ann's hill. You might very conveniently come 
« hither the way of Hampton Town, lying there one 
'^ night. I write this in pain, and can say no more : 
« Ferlmni mtfiientV 

He did not long enjoy the pleasure, ob sufi^r the 
uneasiness of solitude ; for he died at the Porch- 
house* in Chertsey, in 1667, in the 49th year of 
his age. 

He was buried with great pomp near Chaucej^ and 
Spenser ; and king Charles pronounced^ " That Mr. 
Cowley had not left behind him a better man in 
England." He is represented by Dr. Sprat as the 
most amiable of mankind ; and this posthumous praise 
may safely be credited, as it has never been contra- 
dicted by envy or by faction. 

Such are the remarks and memorials which I have 
been able to add to the narrative of Dr. Sprat ; who, 
writing when the feuds of the civil war were yet re- 
cent, and the minds of either party were easily irritat- 
ed, was obliged to pass over many transactions in 
general expressions, and to leave curiosity often un- 
satisfied. What he did not tell, cannot however now 
be known ; I must therefore recommend the perusal 
of his work, to which my narration can be considered 
only as a slender supplement. 

CowLET, like other poets who have written with 
narrow views, and, instead of tracing intellectual plea- 

* Now in the possession of Mr. Clark, alderman of London. Dr. 
J.-^Mv. Clark was in 1798 elected to the important office of eham- 
bertain of London; and has ever)' year siace been ananimously re- 
elected. N. 


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^ures in the minds of men, psad tlieir court to tem*> 
porary prejudices, has been at one time too mudi 
praisedy and too much neglected at another. 

Wit, like all other things subject by their nature to 
the choice (^ man, has its changes and fashions, and | 
at different times 4akes different forms. About the • 
beginning of the acTenteenth century, appeared a race 
of writers that may be termed the metaphysical poets ; 
of whom, in a criticism on the works of Cowley, it is 
not improper to give some account. 

The metaphysical poets were m^ of learning, and 
to_shcw their learning was their whole endeavour: 
but, unluckily resolving to shew it in rhyme, instead 
of writing poetry they only wrote verses, and very 
often such verses ^is stood the trial of the finger bet* 
ter than of the ear ; for the modulation was. s6 imper- 
feet that ihey were only found to be verses by count* 
ing the syllables. 

If the father of cmticism has rightly .denominated 
poetry ^n^w ^m^Imw, an imitative ^tr/, these writers 
will, ^i^MMxt great wrong, lose their eight to the name, 
ef poets; for they caimotiae saidtohave imitated any 
thing ; they neidiier copied nature nor life ; neither 
painted the iorms of inattec> nor represented the ope* 
Ta tions of intellect^ 

TEose however who deny tbem to he poets, allow 
them to xbe wits. Dryden vcoitfesses of himself and 
his contemporaries, that they fall hek>w Donne in wit ; 
but maintains, that they surpass him in poetry. 

If wit be well described by Pope, as being << thaft 
which has been often thought, but was never before 
so well expressed," they certainly never attained, 
nor never sought it; forthey endeavoured to be singu- 
lar inth^r thoughts, and were careless of their dicdon. 
Sut Pope's account of wit is undoubtedly ensoneous : 

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he depresses it below its natural dignity, and reduces 
it from strength of thought to happiness of language. 
If by h more noble and more adequate conception 
> that be considered as wit which is at once natura l and 
I nejsr, that which, though not obvious, is, upon its first 
^ production, acknowledged. J^lJhilJus^ if it be that 
which he that never found it wonders how he missedj 
to wit of this kind the metaphysical poets have seldom 
risen. Their thoughts are often new, but seldom na- 
tural; they are not obvious, but neither are they just; 
and the reader, far from wondering that he missed 
them, wonders more frequently by what perverseness 
of industry they were ever found. 

But wit, abstracted from its effects upon the hearerj 
I may be more rigorously and philosophically consider- 
^ ed as a kiQd of dUcordia concors ; a combination of 
I dissimilar images, or discovery of occult resemblances 
\ in things apparently unlike. Of wit, thus defined^ 
I they have more than enough. The most heterogene- 
' ous ideas are yoked by violence together ; nature and 
art are ransacked for illustrations, comparisons, and 
allusions ; their learning instructs, and their subtlety 
surprises ; but the reader commonly thinks his im- 
provement dearly bought, and though he sometimes 
admires, is seldom pleased. 

From this 'account of their compositions it will b» 
feadily inferred, that they were not successful in re- 
presenting or moving the affections. As they were 
I wholly employed on something tmexpected or sur- 
I prising, they had no regard to that uniformity of sen- 
I timent which enables us to conceive and to excite the 
! pains and the pleasure of other minds: they never 
\ inquired what, on any occasion, they should have said 
; or done ; but wrote rather as beholders than partakers 
of human nature ; as beings looking upon good and 

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COWLEY. * 25 

evil, impassive and at leisure ; as Epicurean deities, 
making remarks on the actions of men, and the vicis- 
situdes of life, without interest and without emotion. 
Their courtship was void of fondness, and their lamen- 
tation of sorrow. Their wish was only to say what 
they hoped had never been said before. 

Nor was the sublime more within their reach thail 
the pathetick ; for they never attempted that compre- 
hension and expanse of thought which at once fills the 
whole mind, and of which the first effect is sudden 
astonishment, and the second rational admiration. Sub- 
limity is produced by aggregation, and littleness by 
dispersion. Great thoughts are always general, and 
consist in positions not limited by exceptions, and in 
descriptions not descending to minuteness. It is with 
great propriety that subtlety, which in its original im- 
port means exility of particles, is taken in its meta- 
phorical meaning for nicety of distinction. Those 
writers who lay on the watch for novelty, could have 
little hope of greatness ; for great things cannot have 
escaped former observation. Their attempts were 
always analytick ; they broke every image into frag- 
ments ; and could no mofe represent, by their slender 
conceits and laboured particularities, the prospects of 
nature, or the scenes of life, than he who dissects a 
sun-beam with a prism, can exhibit the wide effuK 
gence of a summer noon. 

What they wanted, however, of the ^blime, they 
endeavoured to supply by hyperbole ; their amplifi- 
cation had no limits ; they left not only reason but 
fancy behind them ; and produced convbinations of 
confused magnificence, that not only could not be 
credited, but could not be imagined. 

' Yet great labour, directed by great abilities, is ne- 
ver wholly lost : if they frequently threw away their 


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wit upon false conceits, they- likewise sometimes 
struck out unexpected truth : if their conceits were 
far-fetched, they were often worth the carriage.jT To 
write on their plan it was at least necessaiy to read 
and think. No man could be horn a metaphysical poet, 
nor assume the dignity of a writer, by descriptkms 
eopied from descriptions, by imitations borrowed from 
imitations, by traditional imagery, and hereditary simi- 
li^s, by readiness of rhyme, and volubility ofsyllablest) 

In perusing the works of this race of authors, the 
mind is exercised, either by recollection or inquiry : 
cither something already learned is to be retrieved, 
•r something new is to be examined. If their great- 
ness seldom elevates, th»eir acuteness often eurpriaes ; 
if the Imagination is not always gratified, ai least the 
powers of reflection and compariscm are «mi^yed ; 
and in the mass of materials which ingenious absur*- 
dity has thrown together, genuine wit and useful 
knowledge may be sometimes found buried perhaps 
in grossne&s of expression, but useful to those who 
know their value; and such as, when they are ea;-. 
panded to perspicuity, and polished to elegance, may 
give lustre to works which have more propriety 
though leas copiousniess of sentiment. 

This kind of writing, which was, I believe, borrow- 
ed from Marino and hi^ followers, had been recom- 
mended by the example of Donne, a man of very ex- 
tensive and various knowledge ; and by Jonson, whose 
manner resembled that of Donne more in the rug- 
gedness of his Imes than in the cast of his sentiments. 

When their reputation was high, they had un- 
doubtedly more imitators than time has left behind. 
Their immediate successors, of whom any remem- 
brance can be said to remain, were Suckling, Waller, 
Denham, Cowley, Cleiveland, and Miltpn. Denham 

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Rowley. jy 

and Waller sought another iray to fame) by improving 
the harmony of our numbers. Milton tried the me- 
taphysic style only m fads lines upon Hobson the Car- 
rier. Cowley adopted it, and excelled his predeces- 
sors, hiaving as mweh sentiment and more musick. 
Suckling neither improved versification^ nor abound- 
ed in conceits. The fashionable style remained chiefly 
with Cowley ; Suckling could not xeach it, and Milton 
disdsaned it. 

Critical remarks are not easily understood without 
examples ; and I have therefore collected instances of 
the modes of writing by which this species of poets 
(for poets they were called by themselves and their 
admirers) was eminently distinguished. 

As the authors of this race were perhaps more de- 
sirous of being admired than understood, they some- 
times drew their conceits from recesses of learning 
not very much frequented by common readers of pa- 
etry. Thus Cowley on Knowledge : 

The sacred tree 'midst the fair orehard grew ; 

TJie phoenix Truth did on it rest. 

And built his "perfum'd nest, 
That right I'drphyrian tree which did traelogick shew:.. 

Each leaf did leaiHied notions give, 

And th' Apples were demonstrative : 
So clear their colour and divine^ 
Tliat every shade they cast did other lights outshine. 

On Anacreon continuing a lover in his old age :. 

Love was with thy life entwin'd. 

Close as heat with fire isjoin'd ; 

A powerful brand prescrib'd the date 

Of thine, like Me!eagei*'s fate. 

Th' antiperistasis of age 

More inflam'd ihy amorous rage. 

In the following verses we have an allusion to a 
Rabinical opinion concerning Manna ^ 

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Variety 1 ask, not : give me one 

To live perpetually upon. ^ 

The person Love does to us fit, 

Uke manna, has the taste of all in it. 

Thus Donne shews his medicinal knowledge in 
some encomiastick verses : 

In every thing there naturally grows . 
A balsamum to keep it fresh and new. 

If 'twere not injured by extrinsique blows ; 
Your youth and beauty are this balm in you. 

But you of learning and religion. 
And virtue and such ingredients have made 

A mithridate,^ whose operation ^ 

Keeps off, or cures, what can be done or said. 

Though the following lines of Donne, on the last 
night of the year, have something in them too scho- 
lastick, they are not inelegant : 

"This twilight of two years, nor past nor next. 

Some emblem is of me, or I of this. 
Who, meteor-like of stuff and form perplext. 

Whose what and where in disputation is. 

If 1 should call me any thing should miss. 
1 sum the years and me, and find me not 

Debtor to th' old, nor creditor to th' new. 
That cannot say, my thanks I have forgot. 

Nor trust I this with hopes ; and yet scarce true 

This bravery is, since these times shewed me you. 


Yet more abstruse and profound is DAine's refle.c- 
tion upon man as a microcosm : 

If men be worlds, there is in every one 
Something to answer in some proportion ; - 
All the world's riches : and in good men, this 
Virtue, our form's form, and our soul's soul, is 

Of thoughts so far fetched, as to be not only unex- 
pected, but unnatural, all their books are full. 

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To a lady who wrote poesies for rings. 

They who above do Tarioos circles find. 
Say, like a ring, th* equator heaven does bind. 
Wheu heaven shall be adom'd by thee, 
(Which then more heav'n Ihan 'tis will be) 

'I'is thou mast -write the poesy there. 

For it wanteth oni^ as yet 
Then the snn pass through't tvice a-year. 

The sun, which is esteem'd the god of wit Co wi* e v. 

The (Ufficulties which have been raised about iden- 
tity in philosophy, are by Cowley with still more per- 
plexity applied to love : 

Five years ago (says story) I lov'd you, 

For which you call me most inconstant now ; 

Pardon me, Madam, you mistake the man ; 

For I am not the same that I was then ; 

K'o flesh is now the same 'twas then in roe, 

And that my mind is ehang'd yourself may see. 

The same thoughts to retain still, and intents. 

Were more inconstant far : for accidents 

Must of all things most strangely inconstant prove. 

If from one subject they t* another move : 

My members then the father members were. 

From whence these take their birth which now are here. 

If then this Itody love what th' other did, 

*l'were incest, which by nature is forbid. 

The love of different women is, in geographical po- 
etry, compared to travels through different countries : 

Hast thou not found each woman's breast 

(The land where thou hast travelled) 
Either by savages possest, 

Or wild, and uninhabited ? 
What joy could'st take, or what repofe. 
In countries so nnciviliz'd as those ? 
iuust, th^ scorching dog-star, here 

Rages with immoderate heat ; 
Whilst pride, the rugged northern bear. 

In others makes the cold t(^ great. 
And where these are temperate known, 
The soil's all barren sand^ or rockf stonet 

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A lover, burnt up by his affection^ is compared to 

The fftte of Bgypt I sttstain, 
Aftd never feel the dew of rain 
From cloud» which in the head appear; 
Bat all my too roach moisture owe 
To overflowings of the heart below. 


The lover supposes his lady acquainted with Uje 
ancient laws of augury and rites of sacrifice : 

And yet this death of mine, I fear, 
Will ominous to her appear : 
When sound in every other part, 
Her sacrifice is found without a heart. 
For jhe last tempest of my death 
Shall sigh out that too with my breath. 

That the chaos was harmonised, has been recited 
of old ; but whence the different sounds arose remain- 
ed for a modem to discover : • ; 

Th* ungovern'd parts no correspondence knew ; 
An artless war frara thwarting motions grew ; 
Till they to number and fixt rules were brought. 
Water and air he for the tenor chose. 
Earth made the base ; the treble flame arose. 


The tears of lovers are ahvays of great poetical ac- 
count ; but Donne has extended them into worlds. 
If the lines are not easily understood, they naay be 
read again. I 

On a round ball 
A workman, that hath copies by, can lay 
An Europe, Afric, and an Asia, 
And quickly make that which was nothing all. 
So doth each tear, 
AVhich thee doth wear, 
A globe, yea world, by that impression gi*ow. 
Till thy tears mixt with mine do overflow 
This world, by waters sent ft-om thee roy heaven dis- 
solved so. 

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On reading the following lines, the reader may per- 
haps cry out— Co»/tt»ion worse confounded : 

Here lies a the sun, and a he moon here. 

She g:iTes the best light to his sphere. 

Or eaeh is both, and all, and so 
They unto one another nothing owe. Donnk. 

Who but Donne would have thought that a good 
man is a telescope ? 

Though <iod be our true glass through which we see 
All, since the being ofall things is he ; 
Tet are the trunks, which do to us derive 
Things in proportion fit, by perspective 
Deeds of goodmen ; for bj their living here. 
Virtues indeed remote, seem to be near. * 

Who would imagine it possible that in a -very few 
lines so many remote ideas could be brought toge- 
ther ? 

Since 'tis raj doom. Love's undershrieve. 

Why this ^eprieve ? 
Why doth my she advowsen fly 

Incumbency ? 
To sell thyself dost though intend 

By candle's end, 
And hold the contrast thus in doubt. 

Life's taper out ? 
Think but how soon the market fails. 
Your sex lives faster than the males ; 
And if to measure age's span. 
The sober Julian were th' account of man, 
Whilst you live by the fleet Ciivgorian. 


Of enormous and disgusting hyperpoles, these ftiay 
be examples : 

By every wind that comes this way. 

Send me at least a sigh or two. 
Such and so many I'll repay 

As shall themselves make wings to get to you. 



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In tears I'll waste these eyes, 

Bj love so Tainly fed ; 
So last of old the deluge punished. Cowlet^ 

All arm'd in brass, the riehest dress of vrkr, 
(A dismal glorious sight ! ) he dione afar. 
The sun himself started with the sudden fright, 
To see his beams return so dismal bright. 


An universal consternation : 

His bloodjr eyes he hurls round, his sharp paws 

Tear up the ground : then runs he wild about. 

Lashing his angry tail, and roaring out. 

Beasts creep into their dens, and tremble there ; 

Trees, though no wind is stirring, shake with fear; 

Siler«e and horror fill the place around ; 

Echo itself dares scarce repeat the sound. Cowley. 

Their fictions were often violent and unnatural. 
Of his Mistress bathing. 

The fish around her crowded, as they do 

To the false light that treacherous fishers shew. 

And all with as much ease tnight taken be. 

As she at first took me ; 

For ne'er did light so clear 

Among the waves appear. 
Though every night the sun himself set there. 


The poetical e£fect of a lover's name upon glass : 

My name engrav'd herein 
Doth contribute ray firmness to this glass ; 

Which ever since that charm, hath been 
As hard as that which grav'd it was. Donne. 

Their conceits were sentiments slight and trifling. 

* On an inconstant woman : 

He enjoys the calmy sunshine now. 

And no breath stirring hears, 
In the clear heaven of thy brow, 

No smallest cloi^d appears. 
He sees thee gentle, fair, and gay. 
And trusts the faithless April of thy May. 


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COWLEY. 33. 

Upon a paper written with the juice of lemon, and 
read by the fire : 

Nothing yet in thee is seee. 

But when a genial heat warms (faee within, 

A new-born wood of various lines there grows; 

Here buds an L, and there a B, 

Here spouts a V, and there a T, 
And^all the flourishing letters stand in rows. 


As they sought only for novelty, they did not much 
inquire whether their allusions were to things high 
or low, elegant or gross : whether they compared tlic 
Httle to the great, or the great to the littlei 

Physick and chirurgery for a lover. 

Gently, ah gently, madam, touch 
The wound, which you yourself have made ; 

That pain must needs be very much, 
Which makes me of your hand afraid. 

Coi'dials of pity give me now. 

For 1 too weak of purgings grow. Cow ley. 

The world and a clock. 

Mahol th' inferior world's fantastick face 
Through all the turns of matter^s maze did trace ; 
Great nature's well-set clock in pieces took : 
On all the springs and smallest wheels did look 
Of life and motion, and with- equal ait- 
Made up the whole again of -every part. Cowley. 

A coal-pit has not often found its poet ; but, that it 
may not want its due honour, Cleiveland has parallell- 
ed it with the sun : 

The moderate value of our guiltless ore 
Makes no man atheist, and no woman whore ; 
Yet why should hallow'd vestal's sacred shrine 
Deserve more honour than a flaming mine ? 
T'hese pregnant wombs of heat would fitter be. 
Than a few embers, for a deity 
Had he our pits, the Persian would admire 
Vo sun, bat warm'd devotioi^at our fire : 
C 2 

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He'd leave the trottiog whipster, aad prefer 
Our profound Vulcan 'bove that waggoner. 
For wants he heat, or light ? or would have 8tore« 
Or both ? 'tis here : and what can suns give more ? 
Nay, what's the sun, but, in a different name* 
A ceaUpit rampant, or a mine on flame ! 
Then let this trutl^reetprocally run. 
The sun's Heaven's coalery, and ooals our sun. 

Death, a voyage : 

No family 
t'er rigg'd a soul for Heaven's discoveiy, 
.Wilh whom more venturers might boldly dare 
Venture their stakes, with him in joy to share. 


Their thoughts and expressions were so^netitnes 
grossly absurd and such as no figures or licence can 
reconcile t^o the understanding. 

A lover neither dead nor alive : 

Then down 1 laid my head 

Down on cold earth ; and for a while was dead. 

And my freed soul to a strange somewhere fled ; 

Ah, sottish soul, said I, 

When back to its cage again I saw it fly ; 

Fool to resume her broken chain. 

And row her galley here again ! 

Fool, tothatbody to return 
Where it condem'd and destined is to bum ! 
Once dead, how can it be, 
Death should a thing so pleasant seem to thee. 
That thou should'st come to live it o*er again in me ? 

A lover's heart, a hand grenade: 

Woe to her stuborn heart if once mine come 

Into the self-same room ; 

'Twill tear and btow up all within. 
Like a grenado shot into a magazin. 
Then shall love keep the ashes, and torn parts, 

04' both our broken hearts : 

Shall '^ut of both one new one make : 
From her's th' allay, from mi^ie the metal take. 


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The poetical propagation of light; 

The prhioe's favour is diffus'd o'er all, 

Fro m which all fortanes, names, and natures h\\ : 

Then from rhose wombs of stars, the bride's bright ejes^ 

At erery glance a constelhition flies. 

And sowes the court with stars, and doth prevent. 

In light and power, the all>eyed firmMnent : 

First her eye kindles other ladies' eyes, 

Then from their beams their jewels' lustres rise ; 

And from their jewels torches do take Are, 

And aM is warmth, and light, and good dewre. 


They were in very little care to clothe their no- 
tions with elegance of dress, and therefore miss the 
notice and the praise which are often gained by those 
who think less, but are more diligent to adorn their 

• That a mistress beloved is fairer in idea than in real - 
ity, is by Cowley thus expressed : 

•«l* Thou in my fancy dosl much higher staiid, 

I'han woman can be placM by Nature's hand : 

And I must needs, I'm sure, a loser be. 

To change tiiee as tbou'rt there, fbr wwj thee. 

That prayer and labour should co-operate, are thus 
taught by Donne : - 

In none but us are such mix'd engines found. 
As hands of double office; for the ground 
We tin with them ; and them to Heaven we raised 
Who^rayeriess labours, or, without this, prays, 
Doth but one half; thatfs none. 

By the saro^ author, a copimon topick, the danger 
•f procrastination, is thus illustrated : 

-That which I should have begun 

In my youth's morning, now late must be done ; ] 
And 1, at giddy travellers must do. 
Which stray or sleep all day, and having lost 
Light and strength, dark and tir'd must fhefi ride pcsti 
e 3 


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All that man has to do is to live and die ; the sum 
of humanity is comprehended by Donne in the fol- 
lowing lines : 

Think in hovpoor a prison thou didst lie ; 

After enabled but to suck and cry. 

Think when 'twas grown to most^ 'twas a poor inn« 

A province pack'd up in two ytfrds of skin. 

And that usurp'd> or threaten'd, with a rage 

Of sickness, or their true mother, age. 

But think that death hath now enfranchis'd thee ; 

Thou hast thy expansion now, and liberty ; 

Think that a rusty piece discharg'd is flown 

In pieces, and the bullet is his own. 

And freely flies ; this to thy soul allow. 

Think thy shell broke, think thy soul hatch'd but now. 

They were sometimes indelicate and disgusting^/ 
Qowley thus apostrophises beauty : 

-Thou tyrant, which leavs't no man free ! 

Thou subtle thief, from whom nought safe can be ! 
'Ihou murtherer, which hast killM; and devil, wjiich 
would'st damn me ! 

Thus he addresses his mistress : 

Thou who in many a propriety. 

So truly art the sun to me. 

Add one more likeness, which I'm sure yov ctOi 

And let me and my sun beget a man. 

Thus he represents the meditation of a lover : 

Though in thy thoughts scarce any tracts we bee* 
So much as of original sin. 
Such charms thy beauty wears, as might 
Desires in dying confest saints excite. 

Thou with strange adultery 
Dost in each breast a brothel keep ; 

Awake all men do lust for thee» 

And some enjoy thee when they sleeps 

The true taste of tears. 

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Hither with ci^stal vials, lovers, eeme, 
And take my tears, which are love's wioe. 

And try your mistress' tears at home i 
For all are false, that taste not just like mine. DoNNa. 

This is yet more indelicate : 

As the sweet sweat of roses in a still. 

As that which from chaf'd musk-cats pores doth trill. 

As the almighty balm of the early East ; 

Such are the sweet drops of my mistress^ breast. 

And on her neck her skin such lustre sets, 

They seem no sweat drops, but pearl coronets ; 

Rank, sweaty froth thy mistress^ brow defiles. Donne. 

Their expressions sometimes raise horror> when 
they intend perhaps to be pathetick : 

As men in hell are from diseases free. 

So from all other ills am T, 

Free from their known formality : 
But all pains eminently lie in thee. Cowls y. 

They were not always strictly curious, whether the 
opinions from which they drew their illustrations 
■were true ; it was enough that they were popular. 
Bacon remarks, that some falsehoods are continued by 
tradition, because they supply commodious allusions. 

It gave a piteous groan, and so it broke ; 

In vain it something would have spoke ; 

The love within too strong for*t was. 

Like poison put into a Venice-glass. Cowley. 

In forming descriptions, they looked out, not for 
images, but for conceits. Night has been a common 
subject, which poets have contended to adorn. Dry- 
den's Night is well known ; Donne's is as follows : 

Thou seest me here at midnight,' now all rest : 
Time's dead low-water ; when all minds divest 
To-morrow's bu»ness ; when the labourers have 
Such rest in bed, that their last church-yard grave,. 
Subject to change, will scarce be a type of this ;. 
Now when the client, whose la&t hearing, is 
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To-morrow sleeps ; when the cofidemned nun, 
Who, when he opes his eyes, may shot them then. 
Again by death, althongh sad wateh he keep. 
Doth practice dying by a little sleep ; 
Thou at this midnight seest me. 

It must be however confessed of these writeFs 
that if they are upon common subjects often unne- 
cessarily and unpoetically subtle ; yet where scholas- 
tick speculation can be pi'operly admitted) their copi- 
ousness and acutenesss may justly be admired. What 
Cowley has written upon hope shows an unequalled 
fertility of invention : 

Hope, whose weak being ruin'd is, 

Alike if -it succeed and if it miss ; 
Whom good or ill does equally confound. 
And both the horns of fate's dilemma wound ; 

Vain shadow ! which dost vanish quite, 

Both at full noon and perfect night ! 

The stars have not a possibility 

Of blessing thee ; 
H* things then from their end we happy call, 
'Tis Hope is the most hopeless thing of all. 

Hope, thou bold taster/of delight. 

Who, whilst thou shonld'st but taste, devour'st H qilite ! 

Thou bring'st us an estate, yet leav'st at poor, 

B^logglng it with legacies before ! 

The joys which we entire should wed. 

Come deflower'd virgins to our bed ; 
Good fortunes without gain imported be, < 
Such mighty custom's paid lo thee : 
For joy, like wine kept close does better taste. 
If it take air before its spirits waste. 

To the following comparison of a man that travels 
and his wife that stays at home, with a pair of com- 
passes, it may be doubted whether absurdity or inge- 
nuity has better claim : 

Our two souls, therefore, which are one, 

Though 1 must go, endure n»t yet 
A breach, but an expansion, 

Like gold to airy thinness beat. 

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If tliejr be tvo, they are two 80 

As stiflTtwin comptisses are two ; 
Thy soal, the fix'd foot, makes nO show 

To move, bat doth if th' other do. 
And though it in the centre ait, 
• Yet, when the other far doth roam. 
It leans and hearkens after it, 

And grows erect as that comes home. 
Such wilt thoa be to me, who must, 

Like th* other foot obliquely ran. 
Thy firmness makes my circle just. 

And makes me end where I begun. Donnb. 

In all these examples it is apparent^ that whatever 
is improper or vicious is produced by a voluntary de- 
viation from nature in pursuit of something new and I 
strange ; and that the writers fail to give delight byj 
theV desire of exciting admiration. 

Having thus endeavoured to exhibit a general re- 
presentation of the style and sentiments of the meta- 
physical poets, it is now proper to examine particu- 
larly the works of Cowley 9 who was almost the last of 
that race, and undoubtedly the best. 

His Miscellanies contain a collection of short com- 
positions, written, some as they were dictated by a 
mind at leisure, and some as they were called forth by 
different occasions ; with great variety of style and 
sentiment, from burlesque levity to awful grandeur. 
Such an assemblage of diversified excellence no other 
poet has hitherto afforded. To choose the best among 
many g^d, is one of the most hazardous attemps of 
criticism. I know not whether Scaliger himself has 
persuaded many readers to join with him in his pre- 
ference of the two fevourite odes, which he estimate! 
in his raptures at the value of a kingdom. I will, how- 
ever, venture to recommend Cowley's first piece, 
which ought to be inscribed To my Muacy for want of 
which the second couplet is without reference. When 
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the title is added, there will still remain a defect ; for 
every piece ought to contain in itself whatever isne- 
ces^ffy to make it intelligible. Pope has some epi- 
taphs without names ; which are therefore epitaphs to 
be let, occupied indeed for the present, but hardly 

The ode on Wit is almost without a rival. It was 
about the time of Cowley that w«V, which had been till 
then used for intellection^ in contradistinction to w£//, 
took the meaning, whatever it be, which it now bears. 

Of all the passsiges in which poets have exempli- 
fied their own precepts, none will easily be found oC 
greater excellence than that in which Cowley con- 
demns exuberance of wit : 

Yet 'tis not to adorn and gild each part^ 
That shews more cost than art. 
Jewels at nose and lips but ill appear ; 
Rather than all things wit, let none be thetre. 
Several lights will not be seen, 
If thei*e be nothing else between. 
Men doubt because they stand so thick i' th* sky^ 
If those be stars which paint the galaxy. 

In his verses to lord Falkland, whom every man o£ 
his time was proud to praise, there are, as there mu^t 
be in all Cowley^s compositions, some striking 
thoughts, but they are not well wrought. His elegy 
dn sir Henry Wotton is vigorous and happy j tlie se-^ 
ries of thoughts is easy and natural ; and the conclu- 
sion, though a little weakened by the intrusion of. 
Alexander, is elegant and forcible. 

It may be remarked, that in this. elegy, and in most 
of his enomiastick poems, he. has forgotten or neg- 
lected to name his heroes. 

In his poem on the death of Hervey, there is much"* 
praise, but little passion; a very just and ample de-. 
lineation of such virtues as a studious privacy admits> 

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and such intellectual excellence as a mind not yet 
called forth to action can display. He knew how to 
distinguish, and how to commend, the qualities of his 
companion ; but, when he wishes to make us weep he 
forgets to weep himself, and diverts his sorrow by ima*- 
gining how his crown of bays, if he had it, would crackle 
in the^re. It is the odd fate of this thought to be the 
worse for being true. The bay leaf crackles remarka- 
bly as it bums ; as therefore this property was not as- 
signed it by chance, the mind must be thought suffi- 
ciently at ease that could attend to such minuteness of 
physiology. But the power of Cowley is not so much to 
move the affections, as to exercise the understanding. 
The Chronicle is a composition unrivalled and alone : 
such g^ety of fancy, such facility of expression, such 
varied similitude, such a succession of images, and 
such a dance of words, it is in vain to expect, except 
from Cowley. His strength always appears in his agil- 
ity ; his volatility is not the flutter of a light, but the 
bound of an elastic mind. His leyity never leaves his 
learning behind it ; the moralist, the politician, and 
the critick, mingle their influence even in this airy fro* 
lick of genius. To such a performance Suckling could 
have brought the gaiety, but not the knowledge ; 
Dryden could have supplied the knowledge ; but not 
the gaiety. 

The verses to Davenant, which are vigorously 
begun, and happily concluded, contain some hints 
of criticism very justly conceived and happily ex- 
pressed. Cowley*s critical abilities have not been 
sufficiently observed : the few decisions and remarks^ 
which his prefaces and his notes on the Davideis sup- 
ply, were at that time accessions to Englisft literature, 
and shew such skill as raises our wish for more ex- 

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The lines from Jersey are a very curious and pleas- 
ing specimen of the familiar dei^cending to the bur- 

His two metrical disquisitions for and agaitut rea- 
son are no mean specimens of metaphysical poetry. 
The stanzas against knowledge produce little convic- 
tion. In those which are intended to exalt the hu- 
man faculties, reason has its proper task assigned it, 
that of judging, not of things revealed, but of the re^ 
ality of revelation. In the yerses/or reason is a pas- 
sage which Bentky, in the only English verses which 
he is known to have written, seems to have copied, 
though with the inferiority of an imitator. 

The Holy Book like the eighth sphere doth skine y 

With thousand lights of truth divine, 

So numherless the stars, that to our eye 

It makes. all hut one galaxy. 

Yet reason must assist too ; for, in seas 

So vast and dangerous as these, 

Our course by stars aboTe we cannot know 

Without the compass too below. 

After this says Bentley :* 

Who travels in religions jar 
Truth raix'd with error, shade with rtjs. 
Like Whiston wanting pyx or stars. 
In ocean M'ide or sinks or strays. 

Cowley seems to have had what Milton is believed 
to have wanted, the skill to rate his own performances 
by their just value, and has therefore closed his Mis- 
cellanies with the verses upon Crashaw, which appar- 
ently expel' all that have gone before them, and in 
which <here are beauties which common authors may 
justly think'^flot only above their attainment, but above 
their ambition. 

* Dodsley's Collection- of Poems, toI. t. H. 

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To the Miscdlanies succeed the Jnacrefmtiquen^ot 
paraphrastical translations of some little poems, which 
pass, however justly, under the same name of Anacre- 
on. Of these song^ dedicated to festivity and gaietfy 
in which even the morality is. voluptuous, and which 
teach nothing but the enjoyment of the present day, 
fae has given rather a pleasing than a faithful repre- 
sentation, having retained their sprightliness, but lost 
their simplicity. The Anacreon of Cowley, like the 
Homer of Pope, has admitted the decoration of some 
modem graces, by which he is undoubtedly more ami- 
able to common readers, and perhaps, if they would 
honestly declare their own perceptions, to far the great* 
er part of those whom courtesy and ignorance are con- 
tent to style the learned. 

These little pieces will be foimd more £nished ia 
their kind than any other of Cowley's works. Tho 
diction shows nothing of the mould of time, and the 
sentiments are at no great distance from our present 
habitudes of thought. Real .mirth must* always be 
natural, and nature is uniform. Men have been wise 
in very different modes ; but they have always laughed 
the same way. 

Levity of thought naturally produced familiarity of 
language, and the familiar part of language continues 
long the same ; ^the dialogue of comedy, when it ia 
transcribed from popular manners and real life, is read 
from age to age with equal pleasure. The artifices of 
inversion, by which the established order of words is 
changed, or of innovation, by which new words or 
meanings of words are introduced, is practised, not 
by those who talk to be understood, but by those who 
write to be admired. *^ 

The Anacreontiques therefore of Cowley give now 
all the pleasure which they ever gave. If he was form* 
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another, his power seems to have been greatest in the 
fiuniliar and in the festive. 

The next class of his poems is called The MtBtrcBSy 
of which it is not necessary to select any particular 
pieces for praise or censure. They have all the same 
beauties and faults, and nearly in the same proportion. 
They are written with exuberance of wit, and with co- 
piousness of learning : and it is truly asserted by Sprat} 
that the plenitude of the writer's knowledge flows in 
upon his page, so that the reader is commonly sur- 
prised into some improvement. But considered as the 
verses of a lover, no man that has ever loved willmuch 
commend them. They are neither courtly nor pathet- 
ick, have neither gallantry nor fondness. His praises are 
too far sought, and too hyperbolical, either to express 
love or to excite it; every stanza is crowded with 
darts and flames, with wounds and death, with min- 
gled souls and with broken hearts. 

The principal artifice by which The Mistress is fill- 
ed with conceits is very copiously displayed by Addi- 
son. Love is by Cowley, as by other poets, expressed 
metaphorically by flame and fire; and. that which is 
true of real fire is said of love, for figurative fire, the 
same word in the same sentence retaining both signi- 
fications. Thus, " observing the cold regard of his 
mistress's eyes, and at the same time their power 
of producing love in him, he considers them as burn- 
ing-glasses made of ice. Finding himself able to 
live in the greatest extremities of love,, he con- 
cludes the torrid zone to be habitable. Upon the 
dying of a tree on which he had cut his loves, he 
observes that his flames had burnt up and withered 
the tree." <' 

These conceits Addison calls mixed wit ; that is, 
wit. which consists of thoughts true in one sense of the: 

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expressions and false in the other. Addison's reprci^ 
sentation is sufficiently indulgent: that confusion of 
images may entertain for a moment ; but, being unna- 
tural, it soon grows wearisome. Cowley delighted in 
it, as much as if he had invented it ; but, not to men- 
tion the antients, he might have found it full-blown in 
modern Italy. Thus Sannazaro t 

Aspiee qaam Tariis distringar Lesbia curis f 

Uror, et heu '. nostro manat ab igne liquor : 
Sam Nilus, sumque £tna simul ; restringite flammas 

O lacrimae, aut lacrimas ebibe flamma meas. 

One of the severe theologians of that time censured 
him as having published a book offirofane and iascivi- 
QU8 verses. From the charge of profaneness, the con- 
stant tenor of his life, which seems to have been emi- 
nently virtuous, and the general tendency of his opin- 
ions, which discovers no irreverence of religion, must 
defend him ; but that the accusation of lasciviousness 
is unjust, the perusal of liis work will sufficiently 

Cowley's Mistress has no power of seduction : she 
" plays round the head, but reaches not the heart." 
Her beauty and absence, her kindness an4 cruelty, 
her disdain and inconstancy, produce no correspon- 
dence of emotion. His poetical account of the vir- 
tues of plants, and colours of flowers, is not perused 
with Bftere sluggish frigidity. The compositions are 
such as might have been written for penance by a her- 
mit, or for hire by a philosophical rhymer who had on- 
ly heard of another sex ; for they turn the mind only 
on the writer, .whom, without thinking on a woman bol. 
s^s the subject of his task, we sometimes esteiem as 
learned, and sometimes despise as trifling, always ad- 
mire as ingenious, and always condemn as unnatural. 

The Pindarique Odes are now to be considered j a 

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species of Composition, which Cowley thinks Pancira* 
lus might have counted in his lut of thr*lost inventiotiB 
of antiquity^ and which he has made a bold and vigor* 
ons attempt to recover. 

The purpose with which he has paraphrased an 
Olympick and Nemaean ode is by himself sufficiently 
explained. His endeavour was not to show firecUely 
%vhat Pindar afioJce^ but bin manner of afieaking. He 
was therefore not at all restrained to his expression s, 
nor much to his sentiments ; nothing was required of 
him, but not to write as Pmdar would not have written. 

Of the Olympick ode, the beginning is, 1 think, 
above the original in elegance, and the conclusion be* 
low it in strength. The connexion is supplied with 
grea4 perspicuity ; and thoughts, which to a reader of 
less skill seem thrown together by chance, are conca- 
tenated without any abruption. Though the English 
mode cannot be called a translation, it may be very 
properly consulted as a commentary. 

The spirit of Pindar is indeed not everywhere equaU 
ly preserved. The following pretty lines are not such 
as his detfi mouth was used to pour :' 

Great Rhea's son. 
If in Olympus top, where thou 
Sitt'st to behold thy saered show 
If in Alpheus' silver flight, 
If in my verse thou take delight. 
My verse, great Uhea's son, which is. 
Loft} as that and smooth as this. 

In the Nemacan ode the reader must, in mere justice 
to Pindar, observe that whatever is said of the original 
new moon, her tender forehead and her horns^ is super- 
added by -his paraphrast, who has many other plays of 
words^and fancy unsuitable to the original : as. 

The table, fre^ for evVy guest. 
No doubt will thee admit. 
And feast more upon thee, than thou on it. 

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He sometimes .extends his author's thoughts with- 
out improving them. In the Olympionick an oath i^ 
menfioned in a single word, and Cowley spends three 
lines in swearing hj the Castalian Stream. We ar^ told 
of Theron's bounty, with a hint that he had enemies, 
which Cowley thus enlarges in rhyming prose : 

Bat in this thankless world the ghrer 
In envied even by the reeeiver ; 
'Tit now the cheap and frugal fashi<Ni 
Rather to hide than own the obligation : 
Nay, 'tift raueh wone than so $ 
It now an artifiee does grow 
Wrongs and.irijaries to do. 
Lest men should think we ow«. 

It is hard to concetre that a man of the first rank in 
learning and wit, when he was dealing out such minute 
morality iii such feeble diction, could imagine, either 
waking ot dreaming, that he imitated Pindar. 

In the following odes, where Cowley chooses his 
own subjects, he sometimes rises to dignity truly 
Pindaiick ; and if some deficiencies of language be 
forgiven, his strains are such as those of the Thebaa 
bard were to his contemporaries : 

Begin the song, and strike the Kving lyre : 

Lo how the years to come, a nameroas and weH-fitted quire 

AU hand in hand do decently adranee. 

And to my song with smooth and equal measure daflee ; 

While the dance lasts, how long soever it he. 

My musick's Toice shall bear it company \ 

Till all gentle notes be drown'd 

In the last trumpet's dreadful sound. 

After such enthusiasm, who will not lament to find 
the poet conclude with lines like these x^ 

But stop, my muse — 

Hold thy Pindariek Pegasus closely in, 

Which does to rage begin— » 

— 'Tis an unruly and an hard moutli'd hors*— 

'Twill no unskilful touch endure, ' ,. 

Bat flings writer and reader too that sits not sure. 

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The feult of Cowley, and perhaps all the writers of 
the metaphysical race, is that of pursuing his thoughts 
to the last ramifications, by which he loses the gran- 
deur of generality ; for df the greatest things the parts 
are little ; what is little can be but pretty, and by 
claiming dignity becomes ridiculous. Thus all the 
power of description is destroyed by a scrupulous 
enumeration ; and the force of metaphors is lost when 
the mind by the mention of particulars is turned more 
upon the original than the secondary sense, more upon 
that from which the illustration is drawn than that to 
which it is applied. 

Of this we have a very eminent example in the ode 
intituled The AfutCj who goes to take the air in an in- 
tellectual chariot, to which he harnesses fancy and 
judgment, wit and eloquence, memory and invention. 
How he distinguished wit from fancy, or how memory 
could properly contribute to motion, he has not ex.- 
plained : we are however content to suppose that he 
could have justified his own fiction, and wish to seer 
the muse begin her career ; but there is yet more t^ 
be done. 

Let the poBtilSon Nature mcMint, and let 

The coachman Art be set > 

And let die tdrj footmen, runniog all beside. 

Make a long^ row of goodly pride -; 

Figures, coneeits, raptures, aud seutences^ 

In a well-w(^rded dress. 

And innocent lores, and pleasant truths, and useful lies. 

In all their gaudy Uveriea, 

Every mind is now disgusted with this cumber of 
magnificence ; yet I cannot refuse myself the fous 
next lines : 

Mount glorious queen, thy travelling throne. 
And bid it to put on; 
For long though cheerful is the way. 
And Ufei^alas ! allows but one ill winter^ day. 

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In the same ode^ celebrating the power of the musei 
he gives her prescience, or, in poetical language, the 
foresight of eyents hatching in futurity ; but, having 
once an egg in his mind, he cannot forbear to shew vA 
that he knows what an egg contains : 

Thoa into the close nests of Time dost peep. 

And there with piercing eye 
Through the firm shell and the thick white dott spy 

Years to come a-forming lie. 
Close in their sacred secandine asleep. 

The same thought is more generally, and therefore 
more poetically expressed by Casimir, a writer who 
has many of the beauties and faults of Gowley : 

Omnihas Mundi Dominator horis 
Aptat m-gendas per inane pennas. 
Pars adhuc nido latet, et futures 
Crescit in annos. 

Cowley, whatever was his subject, seems to have 
been carried, by a kind of destiny, to the light and 
the familiar, or to conceits which require still more 
ignoble epithets. A slaughter in the Red Sea nevf 
dies the water's name: and England, during the civil 
war, was Mbion no more^ nor to be named from white. 
It is surely by some fascination not easily surmounted, 
that a writer professing to revive the noblest and 
highest writing in verse ^ makes this address to the 
new year : 

Nay if thou lov*st me, gentle year. 

Let not so much as lore be there. 

Vain, fruitless love 1 mean ; for, gentle year. 

Although 1 fear 
There's of this caution little need, 
. Yet, gentle year, take heed 
How thou dost make 
Such a mistake ; 
Such love I mcjan alone 
As by thy cruel predecessors has been shewn ^ 
For, though 1 have too much cause to doubt it, 
I (kin would try^ for once, if life can live without it. 

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The reader of this will be inclined to crjr out with 

Ye eritickey aay^ 
Hovf poor to this waa Pindar^a atyU! 
Even those who cannot perhaps find in the Isthmian 
or Nam«an songs what antiquity has disposed then) to 
expect, will at least see that they are ill-represented 
by such puny poetry ; and all will determine that if this 
be the old Theban strain, it is not worthy of revival: 

To the disproportion and incongruity of Cowley's 
sentiments must be added the uncertainty and loose- 
ness of his measures. He takes the liberty of using 
in any place a verse of any length from two syllables 
to twelve. The verses of Pindar have, as he observes, 
very little harmony to a modern ear ; yet, by examin- 
ing the syllables, we perceive them to bfe regular, and 
have reason enough for supposing that the ancient au- 
diences were delighted with the sound. The imitator 
ought therefore to have adopted what he found, and 
to have added what was wanting i to have preserved ft 
constant return of the same numbers, and to have sup- 
plied smoothness of transition and continuity of thought. 

It is urged by Dr. Sprat, thiat the irregtijarity of ' 
numbers is the very thing which makes that kind of 
poesy Jit for ait manner of subjects. But he should have 
remembered, tliat what is fit for every thing can fit 
nothing well. The gfeat pleasure of verse arises from 
the known measure of the lines, and uniform struc- 
ture of the stanzas, by which the voice is regulated, 
and the memory relieved. 

If the Pindarick style be, what Cowley thinks it, the 
highest and noblest kind of writing in -verse ^ it can be 
adapted only to hig^ and noble subjects ; and it will 
not be easy to reconcile the poet with the ciitick, or 
t(» conceive how that can be the lughest kind of writ- 

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ing in verse, which, according to Sprat, m chiefly to be 
preferred for its near affinity to ftrose. 

This la^ and lawless versification so much conceal* 
ed the deficiencies of the barren, ^nd flattered die lazi- 
ness of the idle, that it immediately overspread our 
books of poetry; all the boys and girls caught the 
pleasing fashion, and they that could do nothing else 
could write like Pindar. The rights of antiquity were 
invaded, and disorder tried to break into the Latin : a 
poem* on the Sheldonian Theatre, in which all kinds 
of verse are shaken together, is unhappily inserted in 
the Musie AngUcants, Pindarism prevailed about half 
a century ; but at last died gradually away, and other 
imitations supply its plade. 

The Pindarick odes have so long enjoyed the high- 
est degree of poetical i^eputation, that 1 am not willing 
to dismiss them with unabated censure ; and surely, 
though the mode of thejir composition be erroneous, 
yet many parts deserve at least that admiration which 
is due to great coniprehension of knowledge, and 
great fertility of fancy. The thoughts are often new, 
and often striking ; but the greatneids of one part, is 
disgraced by the littleness of another ; and total negli- 
gence of language gives the noblest conceptions the 
appearance of a fabrick august in the plan, but mean 
in the materials. Yet surely those yerses are not with- 
out a just claim to praise,; of which it may be said 
with truth, that no man but Cowley coukl have writ- 
ten them. 

The Oavideis now remains to W considered ; a 
poem which the author designed to have extended to 

• First poblished in quano, 1f»69, under the title of "Carmen 
Pindaricum in I heatruni SheUlonianum in solemnibus magnifiei 
Operis bncseniis Rccitntum JiiHi die 9, Anno 1669, a Crobetto 
Owen, A. B. -Ed. Chr. Alumno Authore/* K. 

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twelve books, merely, as he makes no scruple of de- 
claring, because the i£neid had that number ; but he 
%ad leisure or perseverance only to write the third 
part. Epick poems have been left unfinished by Vir- 
gil, Statius, Spenser, and Cowley. That we have not 
the whole Davideis is, however, not much to be re- 
gretted ; for in this undertaking Cowley is, tacitly at 
least, confessed to have miscarried. There are not 
many examples of so great a work, produced by an 
author generally read, and generally praised, that has 
crept through a century with so little regard. What- 
ever is said of Cowley, is meant of his other works. Of 
the Davideis no mention is made ; it never appears in 
books, nor emerges in conversation. By the Sfiectator 
it has been once quoted ; by Rhymer it has once been 
praised ; and by Dryden^ in " Mack Flecknoe," it has 
once been imitated ; nor do I recollect much other 
notice from its publication till now in the whole suc- 
cession of English literature. 

Of this silence and neglect, if the reason be inquir- 
ed, it will be found partly in the choice of the subject, 
and partly in the performance of the work. 

Sacred histoiy has been always read with submis- 
sive reverence, and an imagination overawed and con- 
trolled. We have been ^customed to acquiesce in 
the nakedness and simplicity of the authentic narra- 
tive, and to repose on its veracity with such humble 
confidence as suppresses curiosity. We go- with the 
historian as he goes, and stop with him when he stops. 
All amplification is frivolous and vain ; all addition to 
that which is already sufficient for the purposes of re- 
ligion seems not only useless, but in some degree 

Such events as were produced by the visible inter- 
position of Divine Power are above the powep of hu- 


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man genius to dignify. f*he miracle of creation, how« 
ever it may teem with images, is best described with 
little diffusion of language : He 9fiakc the word^ and 
they were made. 

We are told that Saul nvaa troubled with an evil 
spirit; from this Cowley takes an opportunity of de- 
scribing hell, and telling the history of Lucifer, who 
was, he says, 

Once general of a gilded hoit of 8prite% 
Like Helper leading forth the spangled nights. 
But down like lightning, which him struck, he came. 
And roar'd at his first plunge into the flame. 

Lucifer makes a speech to the inferior agents of 
mischief, in which there is something of heathenism, 
and therefore of impropriety ; and to give efficacy to 
his words, concludes by lashing hia breaat vnth hia long 
tail. Envy, after a pause, steps out, and among other 
declarations of her zeal utters these lines : 

Do thoa bat threat, loud storm's shall make reply. 
And thunder echo to the trembling sky ; 
Whilst raging seas swell to so bold an height. 
As shall the fire's proad element affright. 
Th' old drudging sun, from his long-beaten way, 
Shall at thy voice start, and mi^;uide the day. 
The jocund orbs shaH break their measur'd paee, 
And stubborn poles change their allotted place. 
Heaven's gilded troops shall flutter here and there. 
Leaving their boasting songs tun'd to a sphere. 

Every reader feels himself weary with this useless 
talk of an allegorical being. 

It is not only when the events are confessedly mira- 
culous, that fancy and fiction lose their effect : the 
whole system of life, while the theocracy was yet visi- 
ble, has an appearance so different from all other 
scenes of human action, that the reader of the Sacred. 
Volume habitually considers it as the peculiar mode of 
existence of a distinct species of mankind, that lived 

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54 ^ COWLEY. 

and acted with manners uncommunicable ; bo that it ia 
difficult even for imagination to place us in the state of 
them whose story is related^ and by consequence their 
joys and griefs are not easily adopted, nor can the at« 
tention be often interested in any thing that befalls 

To the subject thus originally indisposed to the re- 
. ception of poetical embellishments the writer brought 
little that Could reconcile impatience, or attract curi- 
osity. Nothing can be more disgusting than a narra- 
tive spangled with conceits ; and conceits are all that 
the Davideis supplies. 

One of the great sources of poetical delight is de- 
dcriptio^,* or the power of presenjing pictures to the 
mind. Cowley gives inferences instead of images^ 
and shews not what may be supposed to have been 
seen, but what thoughts the sight might have suggest- 
ed: When Virgil describes the stone which Turnup 
lifted against i&neas, he fixes the attention on its bulk 
and weight : 

Sazum circuiDSpicit ingens, 
Saxara antiquum, ingena, campo quod forte jfcebat 
Limes agro poentus, litem ut discerneret arvis 

Cowley says of the stone with which Cain slew his 

1 saw him fling the atone, as i/ he meant 
At Once his murther and his riionument. 

Of the sword taken from Goliah, he says, 

A svord so great, that it was only fit 

To cut off his great head that came with it 

Other poets describe death by some of its common 
appearances. Cowley says, with a learned allusion to 
sepulchral lamps real or fabulous, 

• Dr Wurton di^:cover<! «ome contrariety of opinion between this, 
•ad what is said of description in p. 42 &c 4d» C. 

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Twixtiiis right libsdeep piere'd the furiouibU^, 
And open'd wide those secret vessels where 
life's light goes out, when first they let in air. 

But he has allusions vulgar as well as learned. In 
a visionary succession of kings, 

Joas at first does bright and glorioas shew, 
In lifo's fresh mom bis fame does early crow. 

Describing an undisciplined army, after having ssdd 
with elegance, 

His forces seem'd no army, but a crowd. 
Heartless, unarm'd, disorderly, and loud. 

he gives them a fit of the ague. 

The allusions however are not always to vulgar 
things ; he offends by exaggeratmi as much, as by 'di- 
minution : 

The king was plac'd alone, and o'er his head 

A well wrought heaven of silk and gold was spread. 

Whatever he writes is always pplluted with Sojne 
conceit : 

"WHiere the sun's fruitful beams gire metals birth> 
Where he the growth of fatal gold does iee» 
Gold, which alone more influence has then he. 

In one passage he starts a sudden question to tlie 
confusion of philosophy : 

Ye learned heads, whom ivy gailands grace. 
Why doQB that twining plant the oak embrat*^ ; 
The oak for courtship, most of all unfit. 
And rough as are the winds that fight with it ? 

His expressions have sometimes a degree of fiaean- 
ness that surpasses expectation : 

Nay gentle guests, he cries, since now youVe vi, 
The story of your gallant friend health 
v6l. it, D 

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In a simile descriptive of the mormng : 

As glimmering stai's jast at th' approach ofday^ 
Cashier'd by troops, at last all drop away. 

The dress of Gabriel deserves attention : 

He took for skin a cloud most soft and bright. 

That e'er the mid-day siin pierc'd through with light ; 

Upon his cheeks a lively hlash he spread, 

Wash'd from the morning beaaties' deepest red : 

An harmless flatt'ring meteor shone for hair. 

And fell adown his shoulders with loose care; 

Me cuts out a silk mantle from the skies, 

Where the most sprightly azure pleased the eyes; 

This he with starry vapours sprinkles all, 

'fook in their prime ere they grow ripe and fall ; 

Of a new rainbow ere it fret or fade. 

The choicest piece cut out, a scarf is made. 

This a just specimen of Cowley's imagery : what 
might in general expressions be great and forcible, he 
weakens and makes ridiculous by branching it into 
small parts. That Gabriel was invested with the softest 
or brightest colours of the sky, we might have bcea 
told, and been dismissed to improve the idea in our dif- 
ferent proportions of conception ; but Cowley could 
not let us go till he had related where Gabriel got 
first his skin, and then his mantle, then his lace, and 
then his scarf, and related it in the terms of the mer- 
cer and tailor. 

Sometimes he indulges' himself in a digression, 
always conceived with his natui*al exuberance, and 
commonly, even where it is not long, continued till it 
is tedious. 

I' th' library a few choice authors stood. 

Yet 'twas well slor'd, for that small store was goo<L 

Writing, man's spiritual physick, was not then 

Itself, as now, gron^-n a disease of men. 

Learning (young virgin) but few suitors knew/ 

The common prostitute she lately grew. 

And with the spurious brood loads now the press ; 

Laborious eftcct? of idleness. 

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As the Davideis affords only four books^ though 
intended to consist of twelve, there is no opportunity 
Ibr such criticism as epic poems commonly supply. 
The plan of the whole work is very imperfectly shewn 
hy the third part. The duration of an unfinished ac- 
tion cannot be known* Of characters either not yet 
introduced, or shewn but upon few occasions, the full 
extent and the nice discriminations cannot be ascer- 
t£dned. The fable is plainly implex, formed rather 
from the Odyssey than the Iliad : and many artifices 
o£ diversification are employed, with the skill of a 
man acquainted with the best models. The past is 
recalled by narration, and the future anticipated by 
vision : but he has been ^o lavish of his poetical art, 
that it is difficult to imagine how he could fill eight 
books more withopt practising again the same modes 
of disposing his matter : and perhaps the perception 
of this growing incumbrance inclined him to stop. 
By this abruption posterity lost more instruction than 
delight. If the continuation of the Davideis can be 
missed, it is for the learning that had been diffused 
over it, and the notes in which it had been explained. 

Had not his characters been depraved like every 
other part, by improper decorations, they would have 
deserved uncommon praise. He gives Saul both the 
body and mind of a hero : 

His way once chose, lie forward thrust outright, 
Nor turn'd aside for danger or delight 

And .the different beauties of the lofty Merah and the 
gentle Michol are very justly conceived and strongly 

Rymer has declared the Davideis superior to the 
Jerusalem of Tasso, "which," says he, "the poet, 
with all his care, has not totally purged from pedan^ 

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<< try." If by pedantry is meant that minute knowledge 
\irhich is derived from particular sciences and studies, 
in opposition to the general notions supplied by a wide 
survey of life and nature, Cowley certainly errs, by in- 
troducing pedantry, far more frequently than Tasso. 
I know not, indeed, why they should be compared ; 
for the resemblance of Cowley's work to Tasso's is 
only that tliey both exhibit the agency of celestial and 
infernal spirits, in which however they differ widely ; 
for Cowley supposes them commonly to operate upon 
the mind by suggestion ; Tasso represents them as 
promoting or obstructing events by external Agency. 
Of particular passages that can be properly com- 
pared, I remember only the description of Heaven, in 
which the different manner of the two writers is suffi'tt 
ciently discernible. Cowley*s is scarcely description. 
Unless it be possible to describe by negatives ; for he 
tells us only what there is not in Heaven. Tasso endea- 
vours to represent the splendours and pleasures of the 
regions of happiness^ Tasso affords images, and Cow- 
ley sentiments. It happens, however, that Tasso's 
description affords some reason for Hymer's cen- 
sure. He says of the Supreme Being, 

HK^otto i piedi e futo e U natura 
Ministri humili, e'l moto^ e ch'il misura. 

The second line has in it more of pedantry than 
perhaps can be found in any other stanza of the poem . 

In the perusal of the Davideis, as of all Cowley's 
Works, we find wit and learning unprofitably squan- 
dered. Attention has no relief: the affections are 
never moved ; we are sometimes surprised, but ne- 
ver delighted, and find much to admire, but little to 
approve. Still however it is the work of Cowley, of 
atniiid capacious by nature, and replenished by study. 

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. In the general renew of Cowley's poetiy it will 
4ie found) that he wrote with abundant fertility, but 
ne^gent or unskilful selection : with much thought, 
but with little imagery ; that he is never pathetick, and 
rarely sublime ; but always either ingenious or learn- 
ed^ either acute or profound. 

It ia said by Denham in his elegy. 

To him no author vas unknown. 
Yet "What he writ was all his own. 

This wide posidon requires less limitatioti, when it 
is affirmed of Cowley, than perhaps of any othevpoet. 
— He read much, and yet borrowed little* 

His character of writing was indeed not his own : 
he unhappily adopted that which was predominant. 
He saw a certain way to present praise ; and, not sufH- 
ciently inquiring by what means the antients have 
continued to delight through all the changes of hu- 
man manners, he contented himself with a. deciduous 
laurel, of which the verdure in its spring was bright 
and gay, but which time has been continually stealings 
from his brows. . 

He was in his own time considered as of unrivalled 
excellence. Clarendon represents him as having ta-' 
ken a flight beyond all that went before him ; and Mil- 
ton is said to have declared, that the three greatest 
English poets were Spenser, Shakspeare, and Cowley. ^ 

His manner he had in common with others ; but 
'Jkis seDtiments were his own. Upon every subject he 
thought for himself; and such was his copiousness 
of knowledge, that something at once remote and ap- 
.plicable rushed into his mind ; yet it is not likely that 
he always rejected a commodious idea merely because 
another had used it : his known wealth was so great 
ibH he ipight have borrowed without loss of credit 

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In his elegy on sir Henry Wotton^ the last lines 
have such resemblance to the noble ei)igram\>f Gro*- 
tius on the death of Scaliger, that I cannot but think 
them copied from it, though they are copied by no ser- 
yile hand. 

One passage in his Mistress is so apparently bor* 
rowed from Donne, that he probably would not have 
written it, had it not mingled with his own thoughts, 
so as that he did not perceive himself taking it from 
another. ^ 

Although I think thou never found wilt be. 
Yet I'm resolved to search for thee ; 

The search itself rewards the pain?. 
So, though the chymic his great secret miss 
(For neither it in art or nature is,) 

Yet things well worth his toil he gains : 
And does his charge and labour pay 
AVith good u nought experiments by tlieway. 


Some that hare deeper digg'd love's mine than I,, 

Say, where his centric happiness doth lie : 

I have lov'd, and got, and told ; 

But should I love, get, tell, till I were old, 

1 should not find that hidden mysterj' } 

Oh, 'tis imposture all ! 

And as no chymic yet tli* elixir got, 

liut glorifies his pregnant pot. 

If by the way to him befal 

Some odoriferous thing, or medicinal. 

So lovers dream a rich and long delight, 

But^et a winler-seeming summer's night. 

Jonson and Donne, as Dr. Hurd remarks, were then 
ill the highest esteem. 

It is related by Clarendon that Cowley always ac- 
knowledges his obligation to the learning and indus- 
try of Jonson ; but I have fojund no traces of Jonson 
in his works : to emulate Donne appears to have been 
his purpose; and from Donne he may have leam^4 


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that familiarity with religious images, and that light 
allusion to sacred things, by which readers far short of 
sanctity are frequently offended; and which would 
not be borne in the present age, when devotion, per- 
haps not more fervent) is more delicate. 

Having produced one passage taken by Cowley 
ftom Donne I will recompense him by another which 
Milton seems to have borrowed from him. He says 
of Goliah, 

His spear, the trunk was of a lofly tree, 

"Which nature meant some tall ship's mai>t shoQld he. 

Milton of Satan : 

flis spear to equal which the tallest pir.e 
Hewn on Norwegian hills, to he the masl 
Of some great admiral, were hut a wand* 
He walked with. 

His diction was in his own time censured as negli- 
gent. He seems not to have known, or not to have 
considered, that words being arbitrary must owe ihcir 
power to association, and have the influence, and that 
only, which custom has given them. Language is 
the dress of thought : and as the noblest mien, or most 
graceful action would be degraded and Obscured by a 
garb appropriated to the gross employments of rus- 
ticks or mechanicks : so tdie most heroick sentiments 
will lose their efficacy, and the most splendid ideas 
drop their magnificence, if they are conveyed by words 
used commonly upon low and trivial occasions, deba- 
sed by vulgar mouths, and contaminated by inelegant 

Truth indeed is always truth, and reason is always 
reason ; they have an intrinsic and unaltei^ble value, 
and constitute that intellectual gold which defies de- 
struction ; but gold may be so concealed in baser 
matter, that only a chymist can recover it ; sense may 
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h^ 6o hidden in unrefined and plebeian vrords that 
none but philosophers can distinguish it ; and both 
may be so buried in impurities, as not to pay the cost 
of their extraction. 

The diction, being the vehicle of the thoughts, 
first presents itself to the intellectual eye r and if the 
first appearance offends, a further knowledge is not 
often sought. Whatever professes to benefit by pleas- 
ing, must please at once._ The pleasures of the 
mind imply something sudden and unexpected ; that 
which elevates fmust always surprise. What is per- 
ceived by slow degrees may gratify us with conscious- 
ness of improvement, but will never strike with the 
sense of pleastire. 

Of all this Cowley appears to have been without 
knowledge or without care. He makes no selection 
of words, nor seeks any neatness of phrase ; he has 
lio elegancies either lucky or elaborate , as his en- 
deavours were rather to impress sentences upon the 
understanding than images, on the fancy ; he has few 
epithets, arid those scattered without peculiar pro- 
priisty or nice adaptation. It seems to follow from the 
necessity of the subject, rather than the care of the 
writer, that the diction of his heroic poem is less 
familiar than that- of his slightest writings. He ha^ 
^iven not the same numbers, but the same diction, 
to the gentle Anacreon and the tempestuous Pindar. 

His versification seems to have had very little of 
his care ; and if what he thinks be true, that his 
numbers are unmusical only when they are ill-read, 
the art of reading them is at present lost ; for they 
are commonly harsh to modern ears. He has indeed 
many noble lines, such as the feeble care of Waller 
never could produce. The bulk of his thoughts 
sometimes swelled his verse to unexpected and in- 

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cvitable grandeur ; but his ezicellence of this kind is 
merely fortuitous: he sinks willingly dovnv to his 
general carelessness, uid avoids with very little care 
either meanness or asperity. 
His contractions are often rugged and harsh t 

One fling! a mountain, and its rirers tM> 
Torn up with *t 

His rhymes are very often made by pronouns, 
or particles, or the like unimportant words which 
disappoint the ear, and destroy the energy of the 

His combination of different measures is some- 
times dissonant and unpkasing ; he joins verses to- 
gether, of which, the former does not slide easily 
into the latter. 

The words do and didy. which so much degrade in 
present estimation the line that admits them, were, 
in the time of Cowley, little censured or avoided : 
how often he used them, and with how bad an effect,. 
at least to our ears, will appear by a passage, in 
which every reader will lament to see just and noble 
thoughts defrauded of their praise by inelegance of 
language : 

Where honour of where conscience doe^ not bind^ 

No othev law shall shackle me ; 

Slave to myself 1 ne'er will be ; 
Nor shall my future actions be confin'd 

By my own present mind. 
Who by resolves and vow* engaged does ^tand. 

For days that yet belong to fate. 
Does like an unthrift, mortgage his estate 

Before it falls into lu's hand ; 

The bondman of the cloister so 
All that he ihea receive doee always owe. 
And still as Time comes in, it goes away. 

Not to enjoy, but debts to pay ! 

XJfthappy slave, and pupil to a bell ! 
3> 5 

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Which his hour's work as well as hours does tcU : 
Unhappy till the last/ the kind releasing knell. 

His heroick lines are often formed of monosyllables ; 
but yet they are sometimes sweet and sonorous. 

He says of the Messiah, 

Roan^ the whole earth his dreaded name shall sound, 
^nd reach to workb that mtut not yet be found. 

In another place, of David, 

Yet hid him go seeurely, when he sends ; 
*Ti8 Saul that is his foe, and ive his friends. 
The man who has his God, no aid can lack / 
.Md -we vfho bid him go, -will bring him back. 

Yet amidst his negligence he sometimes attempted 
an improved and scientific versification ; of which 
it will be best to give his own account subjoined to 
this line : , 

Nor can the glory contain itself in th' endless space. 

<< I am sorry that it is necessary to admonish tlie 
ipiost part of readers, that it is not by negligence that 
this verse is so loose, long, and, as it were, vast ; it is 
to paint in the number the nature of the thing which 
. it describes, which I would have observed in divers 
other places of this poem, that else will pass for very 
iCareless verses : as before, 

And over-runs the neighb^ring^felds roith violent c<mr§^e. 
^^ In the second book ; 

Down a precipice deep, dtnen he casts them all.' 

Jind fell a-doxm his Moulders with loose care. 

<< In the third, 

JSrass was his helmet, his boots brass, and o'er 
His breast a thick plate of strong brass he wore, 

Ii) the fourth, 

JJke %ome fair pine overlooking aU the ignobler iwoct 

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Some from the rogka cast thenuelvea doivn headlong. 

*' And many more : but it is enough to instance in a 
few. The thing is, that the disposition of words and 
numbers should be such, as that, out of the ordep 
and sound of them, the things themselves may be 
represented. This the Greeks were not so accurate 
as to bind themselves to : neither have our English 
poets observed it, for aught I can find. The Latins 
(^qui MuBfu colunt Bcveriorea) sometimes did it ; and 
their prince, Virgil, always: in whom the examples 
are innumerable, and taken notice of by all judicious 
men, so that it is superfluous to collect them." * 

I know not whether he has, in many of these instan- 
ces, attained the representation or resemblance that 
he purposes. Verse can imitate only sound and mo- 
tion. A boundleaa verse a headlong verse, and a verse 
of Ara«» or of strong braae^ seem to comprise very 
incongruous and unsociable ideas. What there is 
peculiar in the sound of the line expressing looa^ care^ 
I cannot discover ; nor why the /iine is taller in an 
Alexandrine than in ten syllables. 

But not to defraud hiiir of his due praise, he has 
given one example of representative versification, 
which perhaps no other English line can equal : 

Begin, be bold, and venture to be wise : 

He vlio defers this work from day to day. 

Does on a river's Imnk expecting slay 

Till the whole stream that stopped him shall be gone, 

Whioh runs and as it nmsi forever shall run on, 

Cowley was, I believe, the first poet that mingled 
Alexandrines at pleasure with the common heroick 
of ten syllables ; and from him Dryden borrowed 
IX 6 

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the practice, whether ornamental or licentious. He 
considered the verse of twelve syllables as elevated 
and majestick, and has therefore deviated into that 
measure when he supposes the voice heard of the 
Supreme Being. 

The author of the Davideis is commended by 
Dryden for having written it in couplets, because he 
discovered that any staff was too lyrical fipr an heroic 
poem ; but this seems to have been known before by 
May 9Xi^ Sandy B^ the translators of the Pharsalia and 
the Metamorphoses. 

In the Davideis are some hemistichs, or verges left 
imperfect by the author, in imitation of Virgil, 
whom he. supposes not to have intended to complete 
them : tliat this opinion is erroneous, may be proba- 
bly concluded, because this truncation is imitated 
by no subsequent Roman poet ; because Virgil him- 
self filled up one broken line in the heat of recita- 
tion; because in one the sense' is now unfinished; 
and because all that can be done by a broken verse, 
a line intersected by a caauray and a full stop, will 
equally effect. 

Of triplets in his Davideis he makes no use^ and 
perhaps did not at first think them allowable ; but he 
appears afterwards to have changed his mind, for, ia 
the verses on the government of Cromwell he inserts 
them liberally with great happiness. 

After so much criticism on his poems, the essays 
which accompany them must not be forgotten. \ What 
i is said by Sprat of his conversation, that no man 
: could draw from it any suspicion of his excellence 
I in poetry, may be applied to these compositions. 
I No author ever kept his verse and his prose at a 
\ greater distance from each other. His thoughts are 
natural^ and his style has a smooth and placid equft- 


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. COWLEY. 6tr 

bility^ which has never yet obtained its due com- 
mendation. Nothing is far«sought, or hard-laboured ; 
but all is easy without feebleness^ and familiar without , 

It has been observed by Felton, in his Essay ok 
the Classicks, that Cowley was beloved by every 
muse that he courted ; and that he has rivalled the 
ancients in every kind of poetry but tragedy. 

It may be affirmed, without any encomiastick fer« 
vour, that he brought to his poetick labours a miod 
replete with learning, and that his pages are embel- 
lished with all the ornaments which books could sup- 
ply ; that he was^ the first who imparted to English 
numbers the enthusiasm of the greater ode, and the 
gaiety of the less ; that he was equally qualified for 
sprightly sallies, and for lofty flights ; that he was 
among those who freed translation from 8ervillity,and, 
instead of following his author at a distuice, walked 
by his ude ; and that, if he left versification yet im* 
provable, he left likewise from time to time such 
specimens of excellence as enabled succeeding poets 
to improve it. 

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Of sir JOHN DENHAM very little is known 
but what is related of him by Wood, or by himself. 

He was bom at Dublin, in 1615 ; the only son of sir 
John Denham, of Little Horsefy, in Essex, then chief 
baron t)f the exchequer in Ireland, and of Eleanor, 
daughter of sir Garret More, baron of Mellefont. 

Two years afterwards, his father, being made one of 
the. barons of the exchequer in England, brought him 
. 9Lway from his native country, and educated him iiv 
London. > . 

In 1 63 1 he was sent to Oxford, where he was con- 
sidered " as a dreaming young man, . given more to 
dice and cards than study:** and therefore gave no 
prognosticks of his future eminence ; nor was sus- 
pected to conceal under sluggishness and laxity, a 
genius born to improve the literature of his country. 

When he was, three years afterwards, removed to- 
Lincoln's Inn, he prosecuted the common law with 
sufficient appearance of application ; yet did not lose 
his propensity to cards and dice ; but was very often 
plundered by gamesters. 

Being severely reproved for this folly, he professed, 
and perhaps believed himself reclaimed ; and, to tes- 
tify the sincerity of his repentance, wrote and pub- 
lished « An Essay on Gaming," 

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He seems to have divided his stucties between law 
andpoetiy: for, in 1636, he translated the second 
toook of the ^neid. 

Two years after his father died ; and then, notwith- 
standing his resolutions and professions, he returned 
again to the vice of gaming, and lost several thousand 
pounds that had been left to him. 

In 1642 he published <<The Sophy.'* This seems 
to have given him his first hold of the public attention ; 
for Waller remarked, ^< That he .broke out like the 
Irish rebellion three score thousand strong, when no- 
body was aware, or in the least suspected it ;" an ob- 
servation which could have had no propriety, had his 
poetical abilities been known before.. 

He was after that pricked for sheriff of Surrey, and 
made governor of Famham Castle for the king ; but 
he soon resigned that charge, and retreated to Oxford,, 
where, in 1643, he published " Cooper's Hill." 
. This poem had such reputation as to excite the 
common, artifice by which envy degrades excellency. 
.^A report was spread that the performance was not 
his own, but that he had bought it of a vicar for forty 
pounds. The same attempt was made to rob Addison 
of Cato, and Pope of his Essay on Criticism. 

In 1647 the distresses of the royal family required 
him to engage in more dangerous employments. He 
was intrusted by the queen with a message to the 
king ; and by whatever means, so &r softened the 
ferocity of Hugh Peters, that, by his intercession ad> 
mission was procured Of the king's condescension 
he has given an account in the dedication of his 
works. ^ 

He was afterwards employed in carrying on the 
king's correspondence ; and^ as he says^ dischargMt 

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itttB ofiiee with great safety to the ix>yttlists : and, be- 
ing accidentally discovered by Hie adverse party's 
knowledge of Mr. Cowley's hand^ he escaped hapv 
pily bot^ for himself and his friends* 

He was yet engaged In a greater undertaking. la * 
April, 1648, he conveyed Jam^s the duke of York 
from London into France, and delivered him there to 
the queen and prince ef Wales. This year he pub- 
lished his translation of ^^ Cato Major." 

He now reuded In France*, as one of the followers 
of the exiled king ; «m1, to divert the melancholy df 
their condition, was sometimes enjoined by hia ma9> 
ter to write occasional verses ; one of which amuse- 
ments was probably his ode or song upon the embas- 
sy to Poland, by which he and lord Crofts prbcufred 
a contribution of ten thousand pounds from the Scotch 
that wandered over that kingdom. Poland was at that 
time very itnich^equented by itinerant traders, who, 
in a country of very Iktle eotmnerce and of great ex- 
lent, where «very man resided on his own estate, con* 
ttibuted very much to the accommodation of life, by 
bringing to every man's house those little necessaries 
which it was very inconvenient to want, and very trou* 
blesome to fetch. I have formerly read, without 
much reflection, of the multitude of Scotchmen that 
travelled with their wares hi Poland ; and that their 
numbers were not small, the success of this nego- 
tiation gives sufiicient evidence. 

About this time, what estate the war and the game- 
sters had left him^ was sold, by order of the parlia- 
ment; and when, in 1652, he returned to England, 
he was entertained by the Earl of Pembroke. 

Of the next year of lus life there is no account. At 
"the Restoration he obtained that which many missed? 

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the reward of his royalty ; being made surreyor of 
the king's buildings, and dignified with the onler of 
the Bath. He seems now to have learned some at- 
tention to money ; for Wood says, that he g^t by this 
place seven thousand pounds. 

After the Restoration, he wrote the poem on Pru- 
dence and Justice, and perhaps some of his odier 
pieces: and as he appears, whenever any serious 
question comes before him, to have been a man of 
piety he consecrated his poetical powers to religion, 
and made a metrical version of the Psalms of David. 
In this attempt he has failed ; but in sacred poetry 
who has succeeded ? 

It might be hoped that the favour of his master, and 
esteem of the publick would now make him happy. 
But human felicity is short and uncertain j a second 
marriage brought upon him so much disquiet, as 
for a time disordered his understanding ; and Butler 
lampooned him for his luaacy. I know i\ot whether 
the malignant lines were then made publick, nor what 
provocation incited Butler to do that which no provoca- 
tion can excuse. 

His frenzy lasted not long ;*.and he seems to have 
regained his full force of mind ; for he wrote after- 
wards his excellent poem upon the death of Cowley, 
whom he was not long to survive, for on the 19th oi 
March, 1668, he was buried by his side. 

Denham is deservedly considered as one of the 
fathers of EngKsh poetry. " Denham and Waller,''* 
says Prior, " improved our versification, and Dryden. 
perfected it.'* He has given specimens of various 
composition, descriptive, ludicrous^ didactic, and sub* 
lime. . 

* In Grammont** memoirs many cireamstancesare reistcd, both of 
^is marriage and his frenzy, rery little faTaunkle.|ohirJdttraeter. B^ 

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He appears to have had, in common with almost al| 
mankind, the ambition of being upon proper occasions 
a merry fellow, and in common with most of them to 
have been by nature, or by early habits, debarred from 
it. Nothing is less exhilarating than the ludicrousness 
of Denham ; he does not fail for want of efforts ; he 
is familiar, he is gross ; but he is never merry, unless 
the " Speech against Peace in the close Committee,'/ 
be excepted. For grave burlesque, however, his imi- 
tation of Davenant shews him to be well qualified. 

Of his more elevated occasional poenis there is 
perhaps none that does not deserve commendation. 
In the verses to Fletcher we have an image that h»s 
since been often adopted j 

But whither am I strayM ? I need not rawe 

Trophies to thee from other men's dispraise i 

Kor is thy fame on lesser rains bailt, 

Kor need thy j aster title the foul guilt 

Of eastern kings^ who to secure their reign/ 

Must have their brothers, sons, and kindred slkia. 

After Denham, Orrery, in ene of his prologues^ 

Poets are sultans, if they had their will ; 
For erery author would his bcother kill 

And Pope, 

Should such a man too fond to rule alone. 
Bear, like the Turk, no brother near the throne. 

But this is not the best of his little pieces : it is ex- 
belled by his poem to Fanshaw, and his elegy on 

. His praise of Fanshaw's version of Guarini contains 
a very sprightly and judicious character of a good 
translator : 

That servile t»ath thou nobly dost decline. 
Of trftcbg wo^ by word, and line by Ike. 

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Thofle are Uie laboured birth of tlariih braitti^ 
Not the effect of poetry, bat pains ; 
Cheap Valgar arta, vhoae narrowness affords 
No flight for thooghts, but poorly stiek at words. 
A new and nobler way thou dost pursue. 
To- make translations and translators too. 
They but preserve the ashes; thou the flame. 
True to his sense, but truer to his fame. 

The excellence of these lines is greater, as the truth 
Vhich they contain was not at that time generally 

His poem on the death of Cowley was his last, and, 
among his shorter works, his best performance ; the 
numbers are musical, 9fid the thoughts are just. 

^ Coopers hill" is the work that confers upon him 
the rank and dignity of an original author. He seems 
to have been, at least among us, the author of a spe- 
cies of composition that may be denominated local poe- 
tryy of which the fundamental subject is some parti- 
cular landscape, to be poetically described, with the 
addition of such embellishments as may be supplied 
l^y historical retrospection or incidental meditation. 

To trace a new scheme of poetry has in itself a very 
high claim to praise, and its praise is yet more when 
it is apparently copied by Garth and Pope ;* after 
whose names little will be gained by an enumeration of 
•mailer poets, that have left scarcely a corner of the 
island not dignified either by rhyme or blank verse, 

" Cooper's Hill," if it be maliciously inspected, will 
not be found without its faults. The digressions ai*e 
too long, the morality too frequent) and the sentiments 
sometimes such as will not bear a rigorous inquiry. 

The four verses, whichj since Dryden has com- 
mended them, almost every writer for a century past 
has imitated, are generally known : 

• By Garth, in his ** Poem oa Cla^mont ;" And by Vd^^^ 
IB his " Wmdsor Forest." 1^. 

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" O could: I flow like thee, Mcid make thy stream 

*' Mj great example, as it i# my tlkeme ! 

*' Though deep, yet elear ; thovgh gentle, yet not d«U ; 

" Strong widiout rage, wkhoixt o*erflowiDg I'im." 

T&e lines are in themselves not perfect : for most of 
the words, thus artfully opposed, are to be understood 
simply on one side of the comparison, and metaphor- 
ically on the other ; and if there be any language that 
does not express intellectual operations by material 
images, into that language they cannot be translated. 
But so much meaning is comprised in so f&w words ; 
the particulars of resemblance are so perspicaciously 
collected, and every mo'd^'tif^cxcellence separated 
from its adjacent fault by so nice a line of limitation ; 
the different parts of the sentence are so accurately 
adjusted ; and the flow of the last couplet is so smooth 
and sweet; that the passage, however celebrated, has 
not been praised above its merit. It has beauty pecu* 
, liar to itself, and must be numbered among those felt- 
cities which cannot be produced tt will by wit and 
labour, but must arise tme^pectiedly in some hour 
propitious to poetry. 

He appears to have been one of the first that under- 
stood the necessity of emancipating translation from 
the drudgery of counting lines and interpreting single 
words. How much this servile practice obscured tHfe 
clearest and deformed the most beautiful parts of the 
ancient authors, may be discovered Jby a perusal of 
our earlier versions ; some of them are the wdrks of 
men well qualified, not only by critical knowledge, but 
>y poetical genius, who yet, by a mistaken ambition 
of exactness, degraded at once their originals and 

Denham saw the better way, but has not pursued it 
*with great tucceiis. His versipns of Virgil arc not 

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pleasing; but they taught Drjrdeot to pleaie letter. 
His poetical imitaticMi of Tv^y on ^ Old A^j" has 
nekher the clttorneu of prote, nor. the spiighUines^ 
of poetry. , 

The << strength, of Denham," which Pope so em* 
phatically mentions, is to be Toimd in UMiiy lines and 
couplets, which convey much meaning in few woffdlf 
&nd exhibit the sentiment with more weight thin 

On the ThaTnes. 

Though vlth those streams he no rMembhuiee hold^ 
Whose foam isamber, and their gravel gold ; 
His genuine and lessguiity wealth t' e^iplore, 
Search not his bottom, bat survey his shore. 

On Strafford. 

His wisdom such, at once it did appear 

Three kingdoms' wonder, and three kingdoms' fear. 

While single he stood forth^ and seemM, although 

Each had an army, as an equal foe, 

Saeh was lus force of eloquence, to make 

The hearers more conoern'd than he that spake : 

Each seem'd to act that part he came to see^ 

And none was more a looker-on than he f 

So did he move our passions, some were known 

To wish, for the defence, the crime their own. 

Now private pity strove with publiekhate. 

Reason with rage, and^eloquence with fate^ 

On Cowley. 

To him no author was unknown. 

Yet what he wrote was all his own : 

Horace's wit, and Virgil's state^ 

He did not steal, but emulate ! 

And, when he would like them appear. 

Their gar5, but not their clothes, did wear. 

As one of Denham's principal claims to the regard 
of posterity arises from his improvement of our num- 
befs, his versification- ought to be considered. It 

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will ^af^ord that pleasure which arises from the ob- 
servation of a man of judgment^ naturally right, for- 
saking bad copies by degrees, and advancing towards 
a better practice as he gains more confidence in 

' In his translation of Virgil, written when he was 
about twenty^one years old, may be still found the 
•Id manner of continuing the sense ungracefully from 
verse to verse : 

Then all those 
Who in the dark our fury did escape, 
Hetuming, know our horrow'd arms, and shape, 
And diifei-ent dialect ; then their numbers swell 
And grow upon us ; first Chonsbeus fell 
Before Minerva's altar ; next did bleed * 
Just Bipheusy whom no Trojan did exceed 
In virtue, jet the gods his fate decreed. 
Than Uypanis and Djrroas, wounded by . 
Their friends ; nor thee, Pantheus, thy piety. 
Nor consecrated mitre, from the same 
I'll fate could save ; my country's funeral flame 
And Troy's cold ashes I attest, and call 
To witness for myself, that in their fall 
No foes, no death, nor danger, I deelin'd. 
Did, and deserv'd no less, my fate to find. 

From this kind of concatenated metre he afterwards 
refrained, and taught his followers the art of conclud- 
ing their sense in couplets ; which has perhaps been 
with rather too much constancy pursued. 

This passage exhibits one of those triplets which 
are not unfrequent in this first essay, but which it is to 
be supposed his maturer judgment disapproved, since 
in his latter works he has totally foreborne them. 

His rhymes are such as seem found without diffi- 
culty, by following the sense ; and are for the most 
part as exact at least as those of other poets, though 
now and then the reader is shifted off with what he 
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O how trattB/ortn'd/ 
How iDudi nnlike thftt Hector who return* d 
Clad in Achilles' spoily I 

And again: 

From thence a thousand lesser poets sprung 
Lake petty princes from the &11 of Rome. 

Sometimes the weight of rhyme is laid upon a word 
too feeble to sustain it : 

Troy confounded fiills 
From all her glories : if it might haTe stood 
By any power, by this right hand it ahot^d, 
— And though my outward state misfortune hath 
Deprest thus low, it cannot reach my faith. 
' — ThuB, hy his fraud, and our own faith overcome, 
A feigned tear destroys us against whom 
Tydides nor Achilles could prevail. 
Nor ten years' conflict, nor a thousand sail. 

He is not very careful to vary the ends of his verses ; 
in one passage the w^rd die rhymes three couplets in 

Most of these petty faults are in his first produc- 
tionS} where he was less skilful^ or at least less dex- 
trous in the use of words ; and though they had been 
more frequent, they could only have lessened the 
grace, not the strength of his composition. He is 
one of the writers that improved our taste, and ad- 
vanced our language ; and whom we ought therefore 
to read with gratitudof though having done much, he 
left much to do. 

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1 HE life of MiETON has been already written in 
so many forms^and with such minute inquiry;' that I 
might perhaps more properly have contented myself 
with the addition of a few notes on Mr Fenton's 
elegant abridgment, but that a new narrative was 
thought necessary to the uniformity of this edition. 

John Milton was by birth a gentleman, descended 
from the proprietors of Milton near Thame, in Ox- 
fordshire, one of whom forfeited his estate in the 
times of York and Lancaster. Which side he took 
I know not ; his descendant inherited no veneration 
for the White Rose. 

His grandfather John was keeper of the forest of 
Shotover, a zealous papist, who disinherited his son 
because he had forsaken the religion of 4)is ancestors^ 

His father, John, who was the son disinherited, 
had recourse for his support to the profession of a 
scrivener. He was a man eminent for his skill in 
mnsick, many of Jiis compositions being still to be 
found ; and his reputation in his profession was such, 
tl»t he grew rich, and retired to an estate. He had 
probably more than common literature, as his son 
addresses him in one of his most elaborate Latin po- 
ems. He married a gentlewoman of the name of 
Cfiston, a Welsh family, by whom he had two sons, 

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MlLTON> 79 

John, the poet, and Christopher, who studied the law, 
and adhered, as the law taught him, to the king's 
party, for which he was a while persecuted, but hav- 
ing, by his brother's interest, obtained permission to 
live in quiet, he supported himself so honourably by 
chamber-practice, that, soon after the accession of 
king James, he was knighted, and made a judge ; 
but his constitution being too weak for business, he 
retired before any disreputable compliances became 

He had likewise a daughter, Anne, whom he man- 
ried with a considerable fortune to Inward Philips, 
who came from Shrewsbury, and rose m the crown- 
ofi&ce to be secondary: by him she had two sons, 
John and Edward, who were educated by the poet, 
and from whom is derived the only authentick account 
of his domestick manners. 

John, the poet, was bom in his father's house, at 
the Spread Eagle, in Bread-street, Dec. 9, 1608, 
between &ix and seven in the morning. His father 
appears to have been very solicitous about his edu- 
^cation ; for he was instructed at first by private tui- 
tion, under the care of Thomas Young, who was 
afterwards cha^plain to the English merchants at Ham- 
burgh, and of whom we have reason to think well, 
since his scholar considered him as worthy of an 
epistolary elegy. 

He was then sent to St. Paul's school, under the 
t:are of Mr. Gill ; and removed in the beginning of 
his sixteenth year, to Christ's college in Cambridge, 
where he entered a sizar,* Feb. 12, 1624. 

* In this assertion Dr. Johnson was mistaken. Milton waa 
admitted a pensioner, and not a sizar, as will appear by the follov 
fng extract from the College Uegister : ** Johannes Milton Londi. 
tienfeis, filius Johannis^ institutus fuit ia Uterarum eleinentis sob 


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He was at this time eminently skilled in the Latin 
tongue ; and he himself by annexing the dates to 
his first compositions^ a boast of which the learned 
Politian had given him an example, seems to com- 
mend the earliness jof his own proficiency to the no- 
tice of posterity. But the products of his vernal 
fertility have been surpassed by many, and particu- 
larly by his contemporary Cowley. Of the powers 
of the mind it is difficult to form an estimate ; many 
have excelled Milton in their first essays, who never 
rose to works like Paradise Lost. 

At fifteen, a date which he uses till he is sixteen, 
he translated or versified two psalms, 114 and 136, 
which he thought worthy of the publick eye ; but they 
raise no expectations : they would in any numerous 
school have obtained praise, but not excited wonder. 

Many of his elegies appear to have been written 
in his eighteenth year, by which it appears that he 
had then read the Roman authors with very nice dis- 
cernment. I once heard Mr. Hampton, the transla- 
tor of Polybius, remark, what I think is true, that 
Milton was the first Englishman* who, after the re- 
vival of letters, wrote Latin verses with classick ele- 
gance. If any exceptions can be made, they are very 
few : Haddon and Ascham, the pride of Elizabeth's 
reign, however they have succeeded in prose, no soon- 
er attempt verse than they provoke derision. If we 
produced any thing worthy of notice before the ele- 
gies of Milton, it was perhaps Alabaster's Roxana.* 

Of the exercises which the rules of the university 
required, some were published by him in his maturer 
years. They had been undoubtedly applauded, for 

Mag'ro Gill Gymnasii PauUni, prsefecto ; admissus est Pcnsiouarias 
Minor Feb. 12, 1624, sub M'ro Chappell, solvitq prolngr. 10«.** R« 
• Published 1632. R. ^ 

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they were such as few can perform ; yet there is rea- 
son to suspect that he was regarded in his college 
with no great fondness. That he obtained no fellow- 
ship is certain ; but the unkindness with which he 
"was treated was not merely negative. I am ashamed 
to relate what I fear is true, that Milton was one of 
the last studehts in either university that suffered the 
pubiick indignity of corporal correction. 

It was, in the violence of controversial hostility 
objected to him, that he was expelled : this he stea- 
^dily denies, and it was apparently not true ; but it 
seems plain, from his own verses to Diodati, that he 
had incurred Rustication, a temporary dismission into 
the country, with perhaps the loss of a term: 

Me tenet urbs reflua quam Thamesis alluit unda, 

Meque nee invitum patria tlulcis habet. 
Jam nee arundit'erum mihi cura fevisere Camuin, 

Nee dud am vetiti me laris angit amor. — 
Nee duri libet usque Toinas perferre magistri, 

( 'ceteraque ingenio non subennda meo. 
Si sit hoc exilinm patrios adiisse penates, 

Et vacuum curis otia grata aequi, 
-Von yaXprofugi nomeen sortemve i*ecasdi 

Letus et exilii conditione fruor. 

I cannot find any meaning but this, which even 
kindness and reverence can give the term vetiti lari^ 
" a habitation from which he is excluded ;" or how 
exile can be otherwise interpreted. He declares yet 
more, that he is weary of enduring the threats of a 
rigorous master, and something else, which a temper 
like his cannot Undergo. What was more than threat 
was probably punishment. This poem, which men- 
tions his exile, proves likewise that it was not perpe- 
tual ; for it concludes with a resolution of returning 
some time to Cambridge. And it may be conjee* 
t^ired, from the willingness with which he has pel** 
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petuated the memory of his exile, that its cause was 
such as gave him no shame. 

He took both the usual degrees ; that of Batchelor 
in 1628, and that of Master in 1632 ; but he left the 
university v^rith no kindness for its institution, alien- 
ated either by the injudicious severity of his govern- 
ors, or his own captious perverseness. The cause 
cantfot now be known, but the effect appears in his 
writings. His scheme of education, inscribed to 
Hartlib, supersedes all academical instruction, being 
intended to comprise the whole time which men usu- 
ally spend in literature, from their entrance upon 
grammar, till they proceed as it is called, Masters of 
Arts. And in his discourse on the likeliest way to re- 
miove hirelings out of the church, he ingeniously pro- 
poses that " the profits of the lands forfeited by the act 
for superstitious uses should be applied to such acade- 
mies all over the land where languages and arts may 
be taught together ; so that youth may be at once 
brought up to a competency of learning and an honest 
trade by which means, such of them as had the gift, 
being enabled to support themselves (without tithes) 
by the latter, may, by the help of the former^ become 
worthy preachers.'* One of .his objections to aca- 
demical education, as it was then conducted, is, that 
men designed for orders in the church were permit- 
ted to act plays, " writhing and unboning their clergy 
limbs to all the antick and dishonest gestures of Trin- 
calos,* buffoons, and bawds, prostituting the shame of 
that ministry which they had, or were near having, to 
the eyes of courtiers and court ladies, their- grooms 
and mademoiselles." 

• By the mention of this name he evidently refers to Albemazor 
acted lit Cambridge in 1614. Ignoramus and other plays were per- 
formed at the same time. The practice was then veiy frequent* 
The last draraatick performance at either aniversity was I'Ke Grate- 
ful Fair, written by Christopher Smart, and represented at Pem- 
broke college, Cambridge, aboat 1747. K. 

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This is sufficiently peevish in a man who, when he 
mentions his exile from the college, relates, with 
great luxuriance, the compensation which the plea- 
sures of the theatre afford him. Plays were therefore 
only criminal when they were acted by academicks. 

He went to the university with a design of enter- 
ing into the church, but in time altered his mind ; 
for he declared, that whoever became a clergyman 
must " subscribe slave, and take an oath withal, which, 
unless he took with aconscience that could not retch, 
he must straight perjure hiifiself. ' He thought it 
better to prefer a blameless silence before the office 
of speaking, bought and begun with servitude and 

These expressions are, I find, applied to the sub- 
scription of the articles ; but it seems more probable 
that they relate to canonical obedience. I know not 
any of the articles which seem to thwart his opinions ; 
but the thoughts of obedience, whether canonical or 
civil, raised his indignation. 

His unwillingness to engage in the ministry, per- 
haps not yet advanced to a settled resolution of de- 
clining it, appears in a letter to one of his friends, 
-who had reproved his suspended and dilatory life, 
which he seems to have imputed to an insatiable cu- 
riosity, and fantastic luxury of various knowledge. 
To this he writes a cool and plausible answer^ in which 
he endeavours to persuade him that the delay pro- 
ceeds not from the delights of desultory study, but 
from the desire of obtaining more fitness for his task ; 
and that he goes on, not taking thought of being late, 
^o itgTves advantage to be more fit. 

When he left the university, he returned to his 
father then residing at Horton, in Buckinghamshire, 
with whom he lived five years, in which time he is 
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said to hove read all the Greek and Latin writers. 
With what limitations this universality is to be under- 
stood, who shall inform us ? 

It might be supposed, that he who read so much 
should have done nothing else ; but Milton found ^ 
time to write the Masque of Comus, which was pre- 
sented at Ludlow, then the residence of the lord- 
president of Wales, in 1634; and had the honour 
of being acted by the earl of Bridgewater's sons and 
daughter. The fiction is derived from' Homer's Circe:* 
but we never can refuse to any modern the liberty of 
borrowing from Homer : 

a quo ceu fonte percnni 

Vaturn Fieriis ora Hgantur aquis. 

His next production was Lycidas, en elegy, written 

* It ba«, nevertheless, its foundation in reality. The earl of 
Rpid);ewater being president of Wales in the year 1634, had his 
residence at Ludlow-castle in Shropshire, at which time lord Brack. 
\y and Mr. Kgerton, hid sons, and lady Alice l£gerton, hi> daughter^ 
passJHg through a plaee called the Hay-wood forest, or Haywood in 
Herefordshire, were benighted and the lady for a short time lost : 
this accident being reTated to their father, upon their arrival at his 
castle, Milton, at the request of his friend Henry Lawes, who taught 
mnsick in the family, wrote this masque. Lawes set it to muslck, and 
H was acted on Michaelmas night ; the two brothers, the you,,g ladr, 
and Lawes himself, bearing each a part in the representation. 

The lady Alice Kgerton became afterwards the wife of the earl 
of Carbury, who, at his seat called Golden.grove, in Caermerthen. 
shire, harboured Dr. Jeremy Tfiylor in the time of the usurpation. 
Among the doctor's sermons is one on her death, in which her 
character is finely pourtrayed. Her sister, lady Mary, was given in 
marriage to lord Herbert of Cherbury. 

Notwithstanding Di*. Johnson's assertion, that the fiction is derived 
from Homer's Circe, it n»ay Be conjectured, that it was rather taken 
from the Comus of Erycius Puteanus, in which, under the fiction of 
a dream, the characters of Comus and his attendants are delmeated, 
and the delights of sensualists exposed and reprobated. This little 
tract was published at Louvain, in 1611, and afterwards at Oxford, in 
1634, the very year in which Milton*s Comus was written. *J. 

Milton evidently was indebted to the Old Wives Tale of George 
Pe«le |b<r the plan of Comus. R. 

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in 1637, on the death of Mr. King, the son of sir 
John King, secretary for Irelaiid in the time of Eliza- 
beth, James, and Charles. King was much a favour- 
ite at Cambridge, and many of the wits joined to do 
honour to his memory. Milton's acquaintance with 
the Italian writers may be discovered by a mixture of 
longer and shorter verses, according to the rules of 
Tuscan poetry, and his malignity to the church, by 
some lines which are interpreted as threatening its 

He is supposed about this time to have written his 
Arcades ; for, while he lived at Hor^, he used some- 
times to steal from his studies a few days, which he 
spent at Harefield, the house of the countess dowager 
of Derby, where the Arcades made part of a drama- 
tick entertainment. 

He began now to grow weary of the country, and 
had some purpose of taking chambers in the Inns 
of Court, when the death of his mother set him at 
liberty to travel, for which he obtained his Other's 
consent, and sir Henry Wotton's directions ; with the 
celebrated precept of prudence, i pensieri stretti, ed 
il viso sciolto; "tKoughts close, and looks loose.'* 

In 1638 he left England, and went first to Paris; 
where, by the favour of lord Scudamore, he had the 
opportunity of visiting Grotius, then residing at the 
French court as ambassador from Christiana of Swe- 
den. From Paris he hasted into Italy, of which he 
had with particular diligence studied the language 
and literature ; and though he seems to have intended 
a very quick perambulation of the country, staid two 
months at Florence ; where he found his way into the 
academies, and produced his compositions with such 
applause as appears to have exalted him in his own 
opinion, and confirmed him in the hope, that, by labour 
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and intense study, which,*' says he, "I take to be 
my portion in this life,' joined with a strong propen- 
sity of nature," he might " leave something so writ- 
ten to after-times, as they should not willingly let it 
/ It appears in all his writings that he had the usual 
I concomitant of great abilities, a lofty and steady confi- 
\ dence in himself, perhaps not without some contempt 
\ of others ; for scarcely any man ever wrote so much 
and praised so few. Of his praise he was very frugal ; 
as he set its value high, and considered his mention 
of a name as a security against the waste of time, and 
a certain preservative from oblivion. 

At Florence he could not indeed complain that his 
merit wanted distinction. Carlo Dati presented him 
with an encomiastick inscription, in the tumid lapi* 
dary style ; and Francini wrote him an ode, of which 
the first stanza is only empty noise ; the rest are per* 
haps too diffuse on common topics : but the last is 
natural and beautiful. 

From Florence he went to Sienna, and from Sienni 
to Rome, where he waB again received with kindness 
by the learned and the great, rfolstenius, the keep- 
er of the Vatican library, who had resided three years 
at Oxford, introduced him to cardinal Barberini : and 
he, at a musical entertainment, waited for him at the 
door, and led him by the hand into the assembly. Here 
Selvaggl pndsed him in a distich, and Salsilli in a te- 
trastick ; neither of them of much value. The Italians 
were gainers by this literary commerce; for the enco- 
miums with which Milton repaid Salsilli, though not 
sficure agsdnst a stem grammarian, turn the balance 
indisputably in Milton's favour. 

Of these Italian testimonies, poor as they are, he 
was proud enough to publish them before his poems ; 

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though he says, he cannot be suspected but to have 
known that they were said non tarn de 9€y gu€tm suftra 

At Rome, as at Florence, he staid only two months ; 
a time indeed sufficient, if he desired only to ramble 
with an explainer of its antiquities, or to view palaces 
and count pictures; but certainly too short for the 
contemplation of learning, policy, or manners. 

From Rome he passed on to Naples, in company of 
a hermit, a companion from whom little could be ex- 
pected ; yet to him Milton owed his introduction to 
-Manso, marquis of Villa, who had been before the 
patron of Tasso. Manso was enough delighted with 
his accomplishments to honour him with a sorry dis- 
tich, in which he commends him for every thing but 
his religion : and Milton, in return, addressed him in 
a Latin poem, which must have raised an high opinion 
of English elegance and literature. 

His purpose was now to have visited Sicily and 
Greece ; but, hearing of the differences between the 
king and parliament, he thought it proper to hasten 
home, rather than pass his life in foreign amusement' 
while his countrymen were contending for theii 
rights. He therefore came back to Rome, though 
the merchants informed him of plots laid against him 
by the Jesuits^ for the liberty of his conversaticns 
on religion. He had sense enough to judge that there 
was no danger, and therefore kept on his way, and 
acted as before, neither obtruding nor shunnint- 
controversy. He had perhaps given some offence 
by visiting Galileo, then a prisoner in the Inqui- 
sition for philosophical heresy; and at Naples he 
was told by Manso, th^t, by his declarations on reli- 
gious questions, he had excluded himself from 
some distinctions which he should otherwise have 

B 5 

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paid him. But such conduct, though it did not please^ 
was yet sufficiently safe ; and Milton staid two months 
more at Rome, and went on to Florence without mo- 

From Florence he visited Lucca. He afterwards 
went to Venice ; and, having sent away a collection 
of musick and other books, travelled to Geneva, 
which he probably considered as the metropolis of 

Here he reposed as in a congenial element, and be- 
came acquainted with John Diodati and Frederick 
Spanheim, two learned professors of divinity. - From 
Geneva he passed through France ; and came hom€, 
after an absence of a year and three months. 

At his return he heard of the death of his friend 
Charles Diodati ; a man whom it is reasonable to sup- 
pose of great merit, since he was thought by Milton 
worthy of a poem, intituled Epitaphium Damonis, 
written with the common but childish imitation of 
pastoral life. 

He nqw hired a lodging at the house of one Rus- 
sel, a taylor, in St. Bride's Church-yard, and under- 
took the education of John and Edward Philips, his 
sister's sons. Finding his rooms too little, he took a 
house and garden in Aldergate -street,* which was not 
then so much out of the world as it is now ; and chose 

• This is inaccurately expressed : Philips, and Dr. Newton after 
him, «^J a garden-house, i. e. a house situated in a garden, and of 
which there* were, especially in the north suburbs of London, very 
many, if not few else. I'hc term is technical, and frequently 
occurs in the Athen. and Fast. Oxon. The meaning thereof may 
be collected from the article Thomas Farnaby, the famous school- 
master^ of whom the author says, that he taught in Goldsmith's 
Bents, in Cripplegate-parish, behind Kedeross-street, where -were 
large gardens and handsome houses. Milton's house in Jewin-street 
-was also a garden-house, as were indeed most of his dwellings after 
his settlement in London. kL 

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his dwelling at the upper end of a passage^ that he 
might avoid the noise of the street. Here he receiv- 
ed more boys, to be boarded and instructed. 

Let not our veneration for Milton forbid us to look 
with some degree of merriment on great promises 
and small performance, on the man who hastens 
home, because his countrymen are contending for 
their liberty, and, when he reaches the scene of ac- 
tion, vapours away his patriotism in a private board- 
ing-school. This is the period of his life from which 
all his biographers seem inclined to shrink. They 
are unwilling that Milton should be degraded to a 
school-master ; but, since it cannot be denied that 
he taught boys, one finds out that he taught for no- 
thing, and another that his motives was only zeal for 
the propagation of learning and virtue ; and all tell 
what they do not know to be true, only to excuse an 
act which no wise man will consider as in itself dis- 
graceful. His father was alive ; his allowance was 
not ample j and he supplied its deficiencies by an ho- 
nest and useful employment. 

It is told that, in the art of education hfi performed 
wonders ; and a formidable list is given of the au- 
thors, Greek and Latin, that were led in Aldergate- 
street by youth between ten and fifteen or sixteen 
years of age. Those who tell or receive these stories 
should consider, that nobody can be taught faster than 
he can learn. The speed of the horseman must be 
limited by the power of the horse. Every man that 
has ever undertaken to instruct others can tell what 
slow advances he has been able to make, and hoiw 
much patience it requires to recall vagrant inatten- 
tion to stimulate sluggish indifference, and to rectify 
absurd misapprehension. 

a a 

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, The purpose of Milton,^ as it seems, was to teach 
something more solid than the common literature of 
schools, by reading those authors that treat of physical 
subjects: such as the Georgick, and astronomical 
treatises of the ancients. This was a scheme of im- 
provement which seems to have busied many literary 
projectors of that age. Cowley, who had more means 
than Milton of knowing what was wanting to the em- 
bellishments of life, formed the same plan of educa- 
tion in his imaginary college. 
, But the truth is, that the knowledge of external na- 
ture, and the sciences which that knowledge requires 
or includes, are not the great or the frequent business 
of the human mind* Whether we provide for action 
or conversation, whether we wish to be useful or 
pleasing, the first requisite is the religious and moral 
knowledge of right and wrong; the next is an ac- 
quaintance with the history of mankind, and with 
those examples which may be said to embody truth> 
and prove by events 'the reasonableness of opinions- 
Prudence and Justice are virtues and excellencies of' 
all times and* of all places ; we are pe rpptnaHy myral- 
ists , but we are f feome tricigj^ftxt^^ Our 

intercourse with intellectual nature is necessary; 
our speculations upon matter are voluntary, and at 
leisure. Physiological learning is of such rare emer- 
gency that one may know another half his lifci without 
being able to estimate his skill in hydrostaticks or as- 
tronomy; but his moral and prudential character im- 
mediately appears. 

Those authors, therefore, are to be read at schools 
that supply most axioms of prudence, most principles 
of moral truth, and most materials for conversation ; 
and these purposes are best served by poets, orators, 
and historians. 


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Let me not be censured for this digression as pe^ 
dantick or paradoxical ; for, if I have Milton against 
me, I have Socrates on my side. It was his labour 
to turn philosophy from the study of nature to specu* 
lations upon life ; but the innovators whom I oppose 
are turning off attention from life to nature. They 
seem to think that we are placed here to watch the 
growth of plants, or the motions of the stars. Socra- 
tes was rather of opinion, that what we had to learh 
was, how to do good, and avoid evil. 

O'fit TCI ofidtyttfoto'i JttfxrrT «>«^o?*?t Trfvjt7«/. 

Of institutions we may judge by their effects. From 
this wonder-working academy, I dd not know that 
there ever proceeded xuiy man very eminent for 
knowledge : its only genuine product, I believe, is a 
small history of poetry, written in Latin, by his nephew 
Philips, of which perhaps none of my readers has ever 

That in his school, as in every thing else which he 
undertook, he laboured with great diligence, there is 
no reason for doubting. One part of his method de- 
serves general imitation. He was careful to instruct 
his scholars in religion. Every Sunday was spent 
upon theology ; of which he dictated a short system, 
gathered from: the writers that were then fashionaUe 
in the Dutch universities. - 

He set his pupils an example jof hard study and 
spare diet ; only now and then he allowed himself to 
pass a day of festivity and indulgence with some gay 
gentlemen of Gray's Inn. 

• " We may be sure at least that Dr. Johnson had never seen the 
book he speaks of; for it is entii^ty composed in English, though its 
title begins with two Latin words, *Theatrttm Pdetarumj or, a 
complete Collection of the Poets, &c.' a circumstance that probably- 
misled the biographer of Milton." jEuropean Magazine, June 
1787, p. 388. R. 


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He now began to engage in the controversies o the 
times, and lent his breath to blow the flames of con- 
tention. In 1641 he published a treatise of reforma- 
tion, in two books, against the established church, 
being willing to help the puritans, who were, he says, 
inferior to the prelates in learning. 

Hall, bishop of Norwich, had published An Humble 
Remonstrance in defence of Episcopacy ; to which, in 
1641, five ministers,* of whose names the first letters 
made the celebrated word Smectymnuus, g^ve their 
answer. Of this answer a confutation was attempted 
by the learned Usher, and to the confutation Milton 
published a reply, intituled. Of Prelatical Episcopacy, 
and whether it may be deduced from the Apostolical 
Times, by virtue of those Testimonies which are al- 
leged to that purpose in some late treatises, one 
whereof goes under the name 'of James, lord bishop 
of Armagh. 

I have transcribed this title to shew, by his con- 
'temptuous mention of Usher, that he had now adopted 
the puritanical savageness of manners. . His next work 
was, The Reason of Church Government urged 
against Prelacy, by Mr. John Milton, 1642. In this 
book he discovers, not with ostentatious exultation, 
but with calm confidence, his high opinion of his own 
powers ; and promises to undertake something, he 
yet knows not what, that may be of use and honour to 
his country. " This," says he, « is not to be obtained 
but by devout prayers to that Eternal Spirit that can en- 
rich with all utterance and knowledge, and sends out 
his seraplum, with the hallowed fire of his al^scr, to 
touch and purify the lips of whom he pleases. Ta 
this must be added industrious and select reading), 

* Stephen Marafaall, Edmund Calaniy^ Thomas Young, Matthev 
K«V€omeD« William Spurttow. R. 

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•T- mmim 


steady observation, and insight into all seemly and 
generous arts and affairs ; till which in some measure^ 
be compast, I refuse not to sustidn this expectation." 
From a promise like this, at once fervid, pious, and 
rational, might be expected the Paradise Lost. 

He published the same year two more pamphlets, 
upon the same question. To one of his antagonists, 
who affirms that he was vomited out of the university, 
he answers in general terms : « The fellows of the 
college, wherein I spent some years, at my parting, 
after I had taken two degrees, as the manner is, sig- 
nified many times how much better it would content 
them that I should stay. As for the common appro- 
bation or dislike of that place as now it is, that I should 
esteem or disesteem myself the more for that, too 
simple is the answerer, if he think to obtain with me. 
Of small practice were the physician who could not 
judge, by what she and her sister have of long time 
vomited, that the worser stuff she strongly keeps in 
her stomach, but the better she is ever kecking at, 
and is queasy ; she vomits now out of sickness ; but 
before it will be well with her she must vomit by 
strong physick. The university in the time of her 
better health, and my younger judgment, I never 
greatly admired, but now much less." 

This is surely the language of a man who thinks 
that he has been injured. He proceeds to describe the. 
course of his conduct, and the train of his thoughts ; 
and, because he has been suspected of incontinence, 
gives an account of his own purity : " that if I be 
justly charged," says he, " with this crime, it may 
come upon me with tenfold shame." 

The style of his piece is rough, and such perhaps 
was that of his antagonist. This roughness he justifies^ 
by great examples^ in a long digression. Sometimes 


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he tries to be humourous : << Lest I sihould take him 
for some chaplain in hand, some squire of the body to 
his prelate, one who serves not at the altar only, but 
ek the court-cupboard, he will bestow on us a pretty 
model of himself ; and sets me out half a doz^i ptisical 
mottoes, wherever he had them, hopping short in the 
measure of convulsion fits; in which labour the agony 
of his wit having escaped narrowly, instead of well- 
sized periods, he greets us with a quantity of thumb- 
ring poesiea. And thus ends this section, or rather 
dissection of himself* Such is the controversial mer- 
riment of Milton ; his gloomy seriousness is yet more 
offensive. Such is his malignity, that hell grows 
darker at his frown.^ 

His father, after Reading was taken by Essex, 
came to reside in his house : and his school increased. 
At Whitsuntide, in his thirty-fifth year, he married 
Mary, the daughter of Mr. Powel, a justice of the 
peace in Oxfordshire. He brought her to town with 
him, and expected all the advantages of a conjugal 
life. The lady, however seems not much to have de- 
lighted in the pleasures of spare diet and hard study ; 
for, as Philips relates, << having for a month led a 
philosophick life, after having been used at home to 
a great house, and much company and joviality, her 
friends, possibly by her own desire, made earnest 
suit to have her company the remaining part of the 
summer ; which was granted, upon a promise of her 
return at Michaelmas." 

Milton was too busy to much miss his wife ; he 
pursued his studies ; and now and then visited the 
lady Margaret Leigh, whom he has mentioned in 
one of his sonnets. At last Michaelmas arrived ; but 
tile lady had no inclination to return to the sullen 
gloom of her husband's habitation, and therefore very 

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willingly forgot her promise. He sent her a letter, 
but had no answer : he sent more with the same suc- 
cess. It could be alleged that letters miscarry ; he 
therefore dispatched a messenger, being by this time 
too angry to go himself. His messenger was sent 
back with some contempt. The family of the lady 
were cavaliers. 

In a man whose opinion of his own merit was like 
Milton's, less provocation than this might have raised 
violent resentment. Milton soon determined to repu- I 
diate her for disobedience ;^d being one of those | 
who could easily find arguments to justify inclination, ) 
published (in 1 644) the Doctrine and Discipline of 
Divorce][ which was followed by the Judgment of 
Martin Bucer, concerning Divorce; and the next 
year, his Tetrachordon, Expositions upon the four 
chief Places of Scripture which treat of Marriage. 

This innovation was opposed^ as might be expect- 
ed, by the clergy, who, then holding their famous as- 
sembly at Westminster, procured that the author 
should be called before the Lords ; " but that house," 
says Wood, " whether approving the doctrine, or not 
favouring his accusers, did soon dismiss him." ^ 

There seems not to have been much written against 
him, nor any thing by any writer of eminence. The 
antagonist that appeared is styled by him, a Serving 
Man turned Solicitor. Howel, in his Letters, men- 
dons the new doctrine with contempt ; and it was, I 
suppose, thought more worthy of derision than of con- 
futation. He complains of this neglect in two sonnets, 
of which the first is contemptible, and the second not 

From this time it is observed, that he became an 
enemy to the presbyterians, whom he had favoured 
before. He that changes his party by his humour is 

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not more virtuous than he that changes it by his inte- 
rest; he loves himself rathcr,than truth. 

His wife and her relations now found that Milton 
was not an unresisting sufferer of injuries; and per- 
ceiving that ' he had begun to put his doctrine in 
practice, by courting a young woman of great accom- 
plishments, the daughter of one Doctor Davis, who 
was however not ready to comply, they resolved to 
endeavour a re-union. He went sometimes to the 
house of one Blackborough, his relation, in the lane 
of St. Martin's le-Grand, and at one of his usual yisits 
was surprised to see his wife come from another room, 
and implore forgiveness on her knees. He resisted 
her intreaties for a while : « but partly,'* says Philips,. 
" his own generous nature, more inclinable to recon- 
ciliation than to perseverance in anger or revenge, 
and partly the strong intercession of frienis on both 
sides, soon brought him to an act of oblivion and a 
firm league of peace." It were injurious to omit, 
that Milton afterwards received her father and her 
brothers in his own house, when they were distress- 
ed with other royalists. 

He published about the same time his Areopagiti- 
ca, a Speech of Mr. John Milton for the liberty of un- 
licensed Printing. The danger of such unbounded 
liberty, and the danger of bounding it, have produced 
a problem in the science of government, which hu- 
man understanding seems hitherto unable to solve, 
If nothing may be published but what civil authority, 
shall have previously approved, power must always 
be the standard of truth : if every dreamer of innova- 
tions may propagate his projects, there can be no set- 
tlement ; if every murmurcr at government may dif- 
fuse discontent, there can be no peace ; and if every 
sceptiTck in theology may teach his follies, there can 

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be no religion. The remedy against these evils is to 
punish the authors ; for it is yet allowed that every 
society may^ punish, though not prevent^ the publica- 
tion of opinions which the society shall think perni- 
cious ; but this punishment, though it may crush the 
author, promotes the book ; and it seems not more 
reasonable to leave the right of printing unrestrained 
because writers may be afterwards censured, than it 
would be to sleep with doors unbolted, because by 
our laws we can hang a thief. 

But, whatever were his engagements, civil, or»do- 
mestick, poetry was never long out of his thoughts. 

About this time, 1645, a collection of his Latin and 
English poems appeared, in which the Allegro and 
Fenseroso, with some others were first published. 

He had taken a larger house in Barbican, for the 
reception of scholars ; but the numerous relations of 
his wife, to whom he generously granted rcffuge for a 
while, occupied his rooms. In time, however, they 
went away : " and the house again," says Philips^ 
<< now looked- like a house of the Muses only, though 
the accession of scholars was not great. Possibly 
his having proceeded so far in the education of youth 
may have been the occasion of his adversaries call- 
ing him pedagogue and schoolmaster ; whereas it 
is well known he never set up for a publick school, 
to teach all the young fry of a parish ; but only was 
willing to impart his learning and knowledge to his 
relations, and the sons of gentlemen who were his 
intimate friends, and that neither his writings nor 
his way of teaching ever savoured in the leaist of 

Thus laboriously does his nephew extenuate what 
cannot be denied, and what might be confessed, with- 
out disgrace. Milton was not a man who could be- 

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come mean by a mean employment. This, however^ 
his warmest friends seem not to have found ; they 
therefore shift and palliate. He did not sell literature 
to all comers at an open shop ; he was a chamber* 
milliner, aiid measured his commodities only to his 

Philips, evidently impatient of viewing him in this 
state of degradation, tells us that it was not long con- 
tinued : and, to raise his character again, has a mind 
to invest him with military splendour : " He is much 
mistaken," he says, ^ if there was not about this 
time a design of making him an adjutant-general in 
sir William Waller's army. But the new modell- 
ing of the army proved an obstruction to the design." 
An event cannot be set at a much greater distance 
than by having been only designed, about some time, 
if a man be not much mistaiken. Milton shall be a 
pedagogue no l<mger : for, if Philips be not much 
mistaken, somebody at some time designed him for 
a soldier. 

About the time that the army was new modelled, 
1645, he removed to a smaller house in Holboum, 
which opened backward into Lincoln's-Inn-Fields. 
He is not known t« have published any thing after- 
wards till the king's death, when finding his murder- 
ers condemned by the pres^yterians, he wrote a trea- 
tise to justify it, and to compose the minds of the 

He made some Remarks on the Articles of Peace 
between Ormond and the Irish Rebels. While he con- 
t<snted himself to write, he perhaps did only what his 
conscience dictated ; and if he did not very vigilantly 
watch the influence of his own passions, and the gra- 
dual prevalence of opinions, first willingly admitted, 
asid then habitually indulged ; if objections, by being 

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overlooked, were forgotten, and desire superinduced 
conviction ; he jret shared only the common weakness 
of mankind, and might be no less sincere than his op- / 
ponents. But as faction seldom leaves a man honest, \ 
however it might find him, Milton is suspected of 
having interpolated the book called Icon Basilike, 
which the council of state, to whom he was now made 
Latin secretary, employed him to censure, by insert- 
ing a prayer taken from Sidney's Arcadia, and impu- 
ting it to the king ; whom he charges, in his Icono- 
clastes, with the use of this prayer, as with a heavy 
crime, in the indecent language with which prospe- 
rity had emboldened the advocates for rebellion to 
insult all that is venerable or great : " Who would 
have imagined so little fear in him of the true All- 
seeing Deity — as, immediately before his death, to 
pop into the hands of the grave bishop that attended 
him, as a special relique of his saintly exercises, a 
prayer stolen word for word from the mouth of a 
heathen woman praying to a heathen god?" 

The papers which the king gave to Dr. Juxon on 
the scaffold, the regicides took away, so that they 
were at least the publishers of this prayer ; and Dr. 
Birch, who had examined the question with great 
care, was inclined to think them the forgers. The 
use of it by adaptation was innocent ; and they who 
could so noisily censure it, with a little extension of 
their malice, could contrive what they wanted to a«r 

King Charles the Second, being now sheltered in 
Holland, employed Salmasius, professor of polite 
learning at Leyden, to write a defence of his father 
and of monarchy; and, to excite his industry, gave 
him, as was reported, a hundred jacobuses. Salma- 
sius was a man of ^skill in languages, knowledge of 

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100 MILTOK. 

antiquity, and sagacity of emendatory criticism, al- 
most exceeding all hope of human*attainment ; and 
haying by excessive praises, been confirmed in great 
confidence of himself, though he probably had not 
much considered the principles of society, or the 
rights of government, undertook the employment 
without distrust of his own qualifications ; and^ as his 
expedition in writing was wonderful, in 1649, pub- 
lished Defensio Regis. 

T^o this Milton was required to write a sufficient 
answer; which he performed, 1651, in such a man- 
ner, that Hobbes declared himself unable to decide 
whose language was best, or whose arguments were 
worst. In my opinion, Milton's periods are smoother, 
neater, and more pointed ; but he delights himself 
with teasing his adversary as much as with confuting 
him. He makes a foolish allusion of Salmasius, whose 
doctrine he considers as servile and unmanly, to the. 
stream of Salmasius, which, whoever entered, left 
half his virility behind him. Salmasius was a French- 
man, and Was unhappily married to a scold. Tu es 
Gallus, says Milton, &, ut aiunt, nimium gallinaceus. 
But his supreme pleasure is to tax his adversary, so 
renowned for criticism, with vitious Latin*- He opens 
his book with telling that he has used persona, which, 
according to Milton, signifies only a mask, in a>s6nse 
not known to the Romans, by applying it as we apply 
person. But as Nemesis is always on the watch, it is 
memorable that he has enforced th6 charge of a sole*- 
cism by an expression in itself grossly solecistical, 
when for one of those supposed blunders, he says, as 
Ker, and I think some one before him, has remarked, 
propino te grammatistis tuis vapulandum. From va- 
pulo, which has a passive sense, vapulandus can never 
l>e derived. No tnan forgets his original trade r the 

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MILTON. 101 

rights of nations and of kings, sink into questions of 
grammar, it grammarians discuss them. 

Milton when he undertook this answer, was weak 
of body and dim of sight ; but his will was forward, 
and what was .wanting of health was supplied by zeal. 
He was rewarded with a thousand pounds, and his 
o ok was much read ; for paradox, recommended by 
spirit and elegance, easily gains attention ; and he, 
who told every man that he was equal to his king, 
could hardly want an audience. 

That the performance of Salmasius was not dis- 
persed with equal rapidity, or read with equal eager- 
ness, is very credible. He taught only the stale doc- 
trine of authority, and the unpleasing duty of submis- 
sion, and he had been so long not only the monarch 
but the tyrant of literature, that almost all mankind 
were delighted to find him defied and insulted by a 
new name, hot yet considered as any one's rival. If 
Christiana, as is said, commended the Defence of the 
People, her purpose must be to torment Salmasius, 
who was then at court ; for neither her civil station, 
nor her natural character, could dispose her to favour 
the doctrine, who was by birth a queen, and by ' tem- 
per despotick. 

That Salmasius was, from the appearance of Milton's 
book, treated with neglect, there is not much proof ; 
but to a man so long accustomed to admiration, a 
little praise of his antagonist would be sufiicieiitly 
offensive, and might incline him to leave Sweden 
from which however he was dismissed, not with any 
mark of contempt, but with a train of attendance 
scarcely less than regal. 

He prepared a reply, which, left as it was imper- 
fect, was published by his son in the year of the Res- 
toration. In the beginning, being probably most in 


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102 MILTON. 

pain for his Latinity, he endeavours to defend his use 
of the word persona ; but if I remember right, he 
misses a better authority than any that he has found, 
that of Juvenal in his fourth satire : 

— Quid agas, cam dira & fcedior omni 
Crimine Persona est ? 

As Salmasius reproached ^Milton with losing his 
eyes in the quarrel, Milton delighted himself with 
the belief that he had shortened Salmasius's life, and 
both perhaps with more malignity than reason. Sal- 
masius died at the Spa, Sept. 3, 1653 ; and, as contro- 
vertists are commonly said to be killed by their last 
dispute, Milton was flattered with the credit of de- 
stroying him. 

Cromwell had now dismissed the parliament by the 
authority of which he had destroyed monarchy, and 
commenced monarch himself, under the title of pro- 
tector, but with kingly and more than kingly power. 
That his authority was lawful, never was pretended ; 
he himself founded his right only in necessity; but 
Milton having now tasted the honey of public em* 
ployment, would not return to hunger and philosophy, 
but, continuing to exercise his office under a mani- 
fest usurpation, betrayed to his power that liberty 
which he had defended. Nothing can be more just 
than that rebellion should end in slavery ; that he who 
had justified the murder of his king, for some acts 
which seemed to him unlawful, should now sell his 
services and his flatteries to a tyrant, of whom it was 
evident that he could do nothing lawful. 

He had now been blind for some years ; but his vi* 
gour of intellect was such, that he was not disabled 
to discharge his office of Latin secretary, or continue 
his controversies. His mind was too eager to be di- 
verted, and too strong to be subdued. 

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MILTON- 103 

About this time his first wife died in childbed, hav- 
ing left him three daughters. As he probably did 
not much love her, he did not long continue the ap- 
pearance of lamenting her ; but after a short time 
married Catharine, the daughter of one captain Wood- 
cock, of Hackney ; a woman doubtless educated in 
opinions like his own. She died within a year, of 
childbirth, or some distemper that followed it ; and 
her husband honoured her memory with a poor 
Sonne t. 

The first reply to Milton's Defensio Populi was 
published in 1651, called ApoligiaproRege & Populo 
Anglicano, contra Johannis Polypragmatici, alias Mil- 
toni, defensionem destructivam Regis & Populi, Of 
this the author was not known ; but Milton, and his 
nephew Philips, under whose name he published an 
answer so much corrected by him that it might be 
called his own, imputed it to Bramhal ; and, knowing 
him no friend to regicides, thought themselves at 
liberty to treat him as if they had known what they 
only suspected. 

Next year appeared Regii Sanguinis clamor ad Coe- 
lum. Of this the author* was Peter du Moulin, who 
was afterwards prebendary of Canterbury ; but Morus, 
or More, a French minister, having the care of its 
publication, was treated as the writer by Milton, in 
his Defensio Secunda, and overwhelmed by such vio- 
lence of invective, that he began to shrink under the 
tempest, and gave his persecutors the means of know- 
ing the true author. Du Moulin was now in great 
danger ; but Milton's pride operated against his ma- 
lignity ; and both he and his friends were more will* 
ing that Du Moulin should escape than that he should 
be convicted of mistake. 


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104 MILTON. 

In this second defence he shews that his eloquence 
is not merely satirical ; the rudeness of his invective 
is equalled by the grossness of his flattery. " Desi- 
rimer, Cromuelle, tu solus superes, ad te summa nos- 
trarum re rum rediit, in te solo consistit insuperibili 
. tuse virtui cedimus cuncti, nemine vel obloquente, 
nisi qui a quales inaequalis ipse honores sibi quaerit> 
aut digniori concessos invidet, aut non intelligit nihil 
esse in societate hominum magis vel Deo gratum, vel 
rationi consentaneum, esse in civitate nihil aequius^ 
nihil utilius, quam potiii re rum dignissimum. Eum 
te agnoscunt omnes, Cromuelle, ea tu civis maximus 
& glorioftissimus,* dux publici consilii, exercituum 
fortissimorum imperator, pater patriae gessisti. Sic 
tu spontanea bonorum onmium & animitus missavoce 

Cesar, when he assumed the perpetual dictatorship* 
had not more servile or more elegant flattery. A trans- 
lation may shew its servility ;. but its elegance is less 
attainable. Having exposed the unskilfulness or self- 
ishness of the foi;mer government " We were left," 
says Milton, " to ourselves ; the whole national in- 
terest fell into your hands, and subsists only in your 
abilities. To your virtue, overpowering and resistless, 
every man gives way, except some who, without 
equal qualifications, aspire to equal honours, who envy 
the distinctions of merit greater than their own, or 
who have yet to learn, that in the coalition of human 
society, nothing is more pleasing to God, or more 
agreeable to reason, than that the highest mind 
should have the sovereign power. Such, sir, are you 
k>y general confession ; such are the things atchieved 

* It may be doubted whether gloriosissimus he here used with 
MiUoii'ti boasted purity. Bes glorioaa h an illustrious t/iiiig; b«it 
viv e-lorioaiu'is commonly a braggart, as in miles gloriosus. Dr. J. 

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MILTON. i05 

by you, the greatest and most glorious of our country- 
men the director of our public councils, the leader of 
unconquered armies, the father of your country; for 
by that title does every good man hail you with sin- 
cere and voluntary praise/' 

Next year, having defended all that wanted de- 
fence he found leisure to defend himself. He under- 
took his own vindication against More, whom he de- 
clares in his title to be justly called the author of the 
Regii Sanguinis Clamor. In this there is no want of 
vehemence or eloquence, nor does he forget his 
wonted wit. " Morus es ? an Momus ? an uterque 
idem est?" He then remembers that morus is Latin 
for a mulberry-tree, and hints at the known trans- 
formation : 

— Voma alba ferebat 
Qus post nigra tuHt Moras. 

With this piece ended his controversies ; and he 
from this time gave himself up to his private studies 
and his civil employment. 

As secretary to the protector, he is supposed to 
have written the declaration of the reasons for a war 
with Spain, ^is agency was considered as of great 
importance; for, when a treaty with Sweden was art- 
fully suspended, the delay was publickly imputed to 
Mr. Milton's indisposition ; and the Swedish agent 
was provoked to express his wonder, that only one 
man in England could write Latin, and that man blind. 

Being now forty-seven years old, and seeing him- 
self disincumbered from external interruptions, he 
seems to have recollected his former purposes, and 
to have resumed three great works which he had 
planned for his future employment ; an epick poem, 
the history of his country, and a dictionary of the La- 
tin tongue. 

F 2 

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106 • MILTON. 

To collect a dictionary seems a work of all other* 
least practicable in a state of blindness, because it de* 
pends upon perpetual and minute inspection and 
collation. Nor would Milton probably have begun it 
after he had lost his eyes ; but having had it always 
before him, he continued it, says Philips, almost to his 
dying day ; but the papers were so discomposed and 
deficient, that they could not be fitted for the press. 
The compilers of the Latin Dictionary; printed at Cam- 
bridge, had the use of those collections in three 
folios ; but what was their fate afterwards is not • 

To compile a history from various authors, when 
they can only be consulted by other eyes, is not easy, 
nor possible, but with more skilful and attentive help 
than can be comnlonly obtained ; and it was probably 
the difficulty of consulting and comparing that stop- 
ped Milton's narrative at the Conquest ; a period at 
which affairs were not yet vefy intricate, nor authors 
very numerous. 

For the subject of his epic poem, after much de- 
liberation, long choosing, and beginning late, he fixed 
upon Paradise Lost ; a design so comprehensive, that 

• The Cambridge Dictionar}', published in 4-to. 1693, is no oilier 
than a copy, with some small additions of that of Dr. Adam Littleton^ 
in 1685, by sundry persona, of whom, though their names are con- 
cealed, there is great reason to conjecture that Milton's nephew, 
Edward Philips, is one; for it is expressly said by Wood, Fasti, vol. 
I. p. 266, that Milton's '1 hesanrus came t J Ms hands; and it is as- 
serted, in the preface thereto, that the editors thereof had the use of 
three large folioa in manuscript, collected and digested into alpha- 
betical order by Mr. John Miiton. 

It has been remarked that the adciitions, together with the preface 
above mentioned, and a large part of the title of the Cambridge 
Dictionar} have been incorporated and printed with the subsequent 
editions of Littleton's Dictionary, till that of 1735. Vid. Biog. Brit. 
2985, in not. So that, for aught that appears to the contrary* 
Philips was the last possessor of Milton*a MS. H. 

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It could be justified only by success. He had once 
designed to celebrate king Arthur, as he hints in his 
verses to Mansus; but Arthur was reserved, says 
Fenton, to another destiny.* 

It appears by some sketches of poetical projects 
left in manuscript, and to be seen in a library t at 
Cambridge, that he had digested his thoughts on this 
subject into one of those wild dramas which were an- 
ciently called Mysteries ; and Philips had seen what 
he terms part of a tragedy, beginning witH the first 
ten lines of Satan's address to the sun. These my^-' 
terics consist of allegorical persons ; such as Justice, 
Mercy, Faith. Of the tragedy or mystery of Pai'adise 
Lost there are two plans : 

The Persons. 


Chorus of Angels. 
Heavenly Love. 
Lucfier. , 

^ ' > with the Serpent. 


Discontent, vMutes, 
Ignorance, f 
with others J J 

The Persons. 


Divine Justice, Wisdom^ 

Heavenly Love. 
The Evening Star, 

Chorus of Aixgels; 

Labour, "^ 
Sickness, [ 
Discontent, ^Mutes. 
Ignorance, I 
Fear, I 

Death, J 

• Id est, to be the subject of an heroick poem, written by sir 
fiichard Blackmore. U. 
t Trinity college. ^, 

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108 MILTON. 


Paradise Lost. 

The Persons. 
Moses -ir^dxoyijiw, recounting how he assumed hia 
true body ; that it corrupts not, because it is with 
God in the mount ; declares the like with Enoch and 
Elijah ; besides the purity of the place, that certain 
pure winds, dews, and clouds, preserve it from cor-- 
ruption ; whence exhorts to the sight of God ; tells 
they cannot see Adam in the state of iimocence, by 
reason of their sin. 

-- ' ( debating what should become of man, if 

Wisdom, J 

Chorus of Angels singing a hymn of the Creation, 


Heavenly Love. 

Evening Star. 

Chorussing the marriage-song, and describe paradise. 


Lucifer contriving Adam's ruin. 
Chorus fears for Adam, and relates Lucifer's re1)el- 
lion and fall. 


^^^^' I fallen. 
Eve, J 

Conscience cites them to God's examinatian. 

Chorus bewails, and tells the good Adam has lost. 


Adam and Eve driven out of paradise. 

presented by an angel with 

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MILTON. 109 

Labour, Grief, Hatred, Envy, War, Famine, 1 

Pestilence, Sickness, Discontent, Igno- > Mutes^ 
ranee, Fear, Death, . J 

To whom he gives their names. Likewise Winter, 

Heat, Tempest, &c. 
Faith, -J 

Hope, V comfort him and instruct him. 
Charity, J 

Chorus briefly concludes. 

Such was his first design, which could have pro- 
duced only an allegory, or mystery. The following 
sketch seems to have attained more maturity. 

Adam unpar^diGcdi - _ 

The angel Gabriel, either descending or entering ; 
shewing, since this globe was created, his frequency 
as much on earth as in heaven ; describes Paradise. 
Ne3(t, the Chorus, shewing the reason of his coming 
to keep his watch in Paradise, after Lucifer's rebel- 
lion, by command from God ; and withal expressing 
his desire to see and know more concerning this en' 
cellent new creature, man. Th© (mgel Gabriel, as by 
his name signifying a prince of power, tracing Para- 
dise with a more free office, passes by the station of 
the Chorus, and, desired by them, relates what he 
knew of man ; as the creation of Eve, with their love 
and marriage. After this, Lucifer appears ; after his 
overthrow, bemoans himself, seeks revenge on man. 
The Chorus prepare resistance on his first approach. 
At last, after discourse of enmity on either side, he 
departs : whereat the Chorus sings of the battle and 
victory in Heaven, against him and his accomplices : 
as before, after the first act, was sung a hymn of the 
creation. Here again may appear Lucifer, relating 
and exulting in what he had done to the destruction 

F 4 



no MiLtOK. 

of man. Man next, and Eve having by this time been 
seduced by the Serpent, appears confusedly covered 
with leaves. Conscience in a shape accuses him ; 
Justice cites him to a place whither Jehovah called 
for him. In the mean while, the Chorus entertains 
the stage, and is informed by some angel the manner 
of the fall. Here the Chorus bewails Adam's fall ; 
Adam then and Eve return ; accuse one another ; but 
especially Adam lays the blame to his wife ; is stub- 
born in his offence. Justice appears, reasons with 
him, convinces him. The Chorus admonisheth 
Adam, and bids him beware J^ucifer's example of 
impenitence. The angel i& sent to banish theni QUt 
of Paradise ; but before causes to pass before his eyes, 
in shapes, a mask of s^ll the evils of this life and 
world. He is humbled, relents, despairs; at last ap- 
pears Mercy, comforts him, promises the Messiah > 
then calls in Faith, Hope, and Charity; instructs him; 
he repents, gives God the glory, submits to his pen- 
alty. The Chorus briefly concludes. Compare this 
with the former drAUght. 

These are very imperfect rudiments of Paradise 
Lost; but it is pleasant to see great works in their 
seminal state, pregnant with latent possibilities of ex- 
cellence ; nor could there be any more delightful en- 
tertainment than to trace their gradual growth and 
expansion, and to observe how they are sometimes 
suddenly improved by accidental hints, and sometimes 
slowly improved by steady meditation. 

Invention is almost the only literary labour which 
blindness cannot obstruct, and therefore he naturally 
solaced his solitude by the indulgence of his fancy, 
* and the melody of his numbers. He had done what 
he knew to be necessarily previous to poetical excel- 
lence ; he had made himself acquainted with aeemly 

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arts and affairs ; his comprehension was extended by 
irarious knowledge, and his memory stored with intel- 
lectual treasures. He was skilful in many languages, 
and had by reading and composition attained the fulF 
mastery of his own. He would have wanted Uttle 
help from books, had he retained the power of pe- 
rusing them. 

But while his greater designs were advancing, hav- 
ing now, like many other authors, caught the love of 
publication, he amused himself, as he could, with lit- 
tle productions. He sent to the press, 1 658, a manu* 
script of Raleigh, called The. Cabinet Council ; and 
next year gratified his malevolence to the clergy by a 
Treatise of Civil Power in Ecclesiastical Cases, and 
the Means of removing Hirelings.outof the Church. 

Oliver was now dead; Ri&hard was constrained 
to resign : the system of extemporary government, 
which had been held together only by force, naturally 
fell into fragments when that force was taken away ; 
and Milton saw himself and his cause in equal danger 
But he had still hope of doing something. He wrpte 
letters, which Toland has published, to such men as 
he thought friends to the new commonwealth ; and 
even in the year of the Restoration he bated no jot of 
heart or hope, but was fantastical enough to think that 
the nation, agitated as it was, m^ght be setled by a 
pamphlet, caUed A ready and easy Way to establish 
a free Commwiwealth ; which was, however, enough 
considered to be both seriously and ludicrously an- 

The obstinate enthusiasm of the commonwealth- 
men was very remarkable. When the king was ap- 
parently returning, Harrington, with a few associates 
as fanatical as himself, used to meet, with all the gra- 
vity of politicid importance, to settle an equal govern* 

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112 MILTON. 

liient \>y rotation : and Milton, kicking when he could 
strike no longer, was foolish enough to publish, a. few 
weeks before the Restoration, Notes* upon a sermon 
fffieached by one Griffiths, intituled, The Fear of God 
and the king. To« these notes an answer was written 
by L'Estrange, in a pamphlet petulantly called No 
Blind Guides. 

But whatever Milton could write, or men of great- 
er activity could do, the king was now about to be 
restored, with thclrresistible approbation of the peo- 
ple. He was therefore no longer secretary, and was 
consequently obliged to quit the house which he held 
by his office ; and proportioning his sense of danger 
to his opinion of the importance of his writings^ 
thought it convenient to seek some shelter, and hid 
himself for a time in Bartholomew-Close, by West«^ 

I cannot but remark a kind of respect, perhaps unr 
consciously, paid to this great man by his biogra- 
phers ; every house in which he resided is histori- 
cally mentioned, as if it were an injury to neglect 
naming any place that he honoured by his presence. 

The king, with lenity of which the world has had 
perhaps no other example, declined to be the judge 
or avenger of his own or his father's wrongs ; and 
promised to admit into the act of oblivion all, except 
those whom the parliament should except ; and the 
parliament doomed none to capital punishment but 
the wretches who had immediately co-operated in the 
murder of the king. Milton was certainly not one of 
them ; he had only justified what they had done. 

This justification was indeed sufficiently offensive ; 
aad (June 1 6) an order was issued to seize Milton's 
Defence, and Goodwin's Obstructors of Justice, ano- 
ther book Qf the same tendency, and bum them by 

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MILTON. 113 

the common hangman. The attorney-general was 
ordered to prosecute the authors ; but Milton was not 
seized, nor perhaps very diligently pursued. 

Not long after (August 19) the flutter of innumer- 
able bosoms were stilled by an act, which the king, 
that his mercy might want no recommendation of ele- 
gance , rather called an Act of Oblivion than of grace. 
Goodwin was named, with nineteen more, as incapaci- 
tated for any public trust ; but of Milton there was no 

Of this tenderness shown to Milton, the curiosity 
of mankind has not forbom to inquire the reason. 
Burnet thinks he was forgotten ; but this is another 
instance which may confirm Dalrymple*s observation, 
who says, " that whenever Buraet's narrations are 
examined, Ke appears to be mistaken." 

Forgotten he was not ; for his prosecution was or- 
dered; it must be therefore by design that he was 
included in the general oblivion. He is said to have 
had friends in the house, such as Marvel, Morrice, 
and sir Thomas Clarges : and undoubtedly a man like 
him must have had influence. A very particular story 
of his escape is told by Richardson* in his Memoirs, 
which he received from Pope, as delivered by Better- 
ton, who might have heard it from Davenant. In the 
war between the king and parliament Davenant was 
made prisoner, and condemned to die; but was spared 
at the request of Milton. When the turn of success 
brought Milton into the like danger, Davenant repays 
ed the benefit by appearing in his favour. Here is a 
reciprocation of generosity and gratitude so pleasing, 
that the tale makes its own way to credit. But, if help 
were wanted, I know not where to find it. The danger 

* It was loUl before by A. Wood in Alh. Oion. vol. 11. p. 412, 2d 
cdk, C. 

» 6 

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of Davenant is certain from hid own relation ; but of 
his escape there is no account. Betterton's narration 
can be traced no higher ; it is not known that he had 
it from Davenant. We are told that the benefit ex- 
changed was life for life ; but it seems not certain that 
Milton's life ever was in danger. Goodwin, who had 
committed the same kind of crime, escaped with in- 
capacitation ; and, as exclusion from publick trust is 
a punishment which the power of government can 
commonly inflict without the help of a particular law, 
it required no great interest to exempt Milton from 
a censure little more than verbal. Something may be 
reasonably ascribed to veneration and compassion, to 
veneration of his abilities, and compassion for his dis- 
tresses, which made it fit to forgive his malice for his 
learning. He was now poor and blind ; and who 
would pursue with violence an illustrious enemy, de^ 
pvessed by fortune, and disarmed by nature ?* 

The publication of the Act of Oblivion put him in 
the same condition with his fellow-subjects. He was, 
however, upon some pretence now not known, in the 
custody of the serjeant in December ; and when he 
was released, upon his refusal of the fees demanded, 
he and the serjeant were called before the house* 
He was now safe within the shade of oblivion, and 
knew himself to be as much out of the power of a 
gpriping officer as any otHer man. How the question 
was determined is not known. Milton would hardly 

* A different Account of the means by'which Milton secured him- 
self is given by aii historian lately brought to light. " Milton, Latia 
secretary to Cromwell, distinguished hy his writings in^ favour of the 
rights and liberties of the people, pretended to be dead, and had a 
publick fuoerjil procession. I'be king applauded his policy in escap* 
ing the punishment of death, by a seasonable shew of dying." Cutt- 
mngham*9 Hittory of Great Britain, vol. 1. p. 14. R. 

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MILTON. 115 

have contended, but that he knew himself to haye 
right on his side. 

He then removed to Jewin -street, near Aldersgate- 
street ;. and, being blind and by no means wealthy, 
wanted a domestic): companion and attendant ; and 
therefore, by the recomipendation of Dr. Paget, mar- 
ried Elizabeth Minshul, of a gentleman's family in 
Cheshire, probably without a fortune. All his wives 
were virgins ; for he has declared that he thought it 
gross and indelicate to be a second husband ; upon 
what other principles his choice was made cannot 
now be known ; but marriage aSbrded not much of 
his happiness. The first wife left him in disgust, and 
was brought back only by terror ; the second, in- 
deed, seems to have been more a favourite, but her 
life was short. The third, as Philips relates, oppres* 
sed his children in his life time, and cheated them at 
his death. ' 

Soon after his marriage, according to an obscure 
story, he was ofiered the continuance of his employ*' 
ment, and, being pressed by his wife to accept it, an- 
swered, " You, like other women, want to ride in 
your coach ; my wish is to live and die an honest 
man." If he considered the J^atin secratary as exer- 
cising any of the powers of government, he that had 
shared authority, either with the parliament or Crom.- 
well, might have forborn to talk very loudly of his 
honesty ; and if he thought the office purely minis- 
terial, he certainly might have honestly retained it 
under the king. But this t^e has too little evidence 
to deserve a disquisition ; large offers and sturdy re- 
jections are among the most common topicks of 

He had so much either of prudence or gratitude, 
that he forbore to disturb the new settlement with 


by Google 

116 MILTON; 

any of his political or ecclesiastical opinions, and 
from this time devoted himself to poetry and litera- 
ture. Of his zeal for learning in all its parts, he gave 
a proof by publishing, the next year, 1661, Accidence 
commenced Grammar^ a little book which has no- 
thing remarkable, but that \ts author, who had been 
lately defending the supreme powers of his country, 
and was then writing Paradise Lost, could descend 
from his elevation to rescue children from the per- 
plexity of grammatical confusion, and the trouble of 
lessons unnecessarily repeated. 

About this time Elwood the quaker, being recom- 
mended to him as one who would read Latin to him 
for the advantage of his conversation, attended him 
every afternoon except on Sundays. Milton, who, in 
his letter to Hartlib, had declared, that to read Latin 
with an English mouth is as ill a hearing as low 
French, required that Elwood should leam and prac- 
tise the Italian pronunciation, which, he said, was ne- 
cessary, if he would talk with foreigners. This seems 
to have been a task troublesome without use. There 
is little reason for preferring the Italian pronunciation 
to our own, except that it is more general ; and to 
teach it to an Englishman is only to make him a fo* 
reigner at home. He who travels, if he speaks Latin, 
may so soon learn the sounds which every native 
gives it, that he need make no provision before his 
journey ; and if strangers visit us, it is their business 
to practise such conformity to our modes as they ex- 
pect from us in their own country. Elwood complied 
with the directions, and improved himself by his at- 
tendance ; for he relates, that Milton, having a cu- 
rious ear, knew by his voice when he read what he 
did not understand, and would stop him, and open the 
most difficult passages. 

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In a short time he took a house in the Artillery 
Walk, leading to Bunhill Fields; the mention of 
which concludes the register of Milton's removals 
and habitations. He lived longer in this place than 
in any other. 

He was now busied by Paradise Lost. Whence he 
drew the original design has been variously conjec- 
tured by men who cannot bear to think themselves 
ignorant of that which, at last, neither diligence nor 
sagachy can discover. Some find the hint in an Ita« 
lian tragedy. Voltaire tells a wild and unauthorised 
story of a farce seen by Milton in Italy, which opened 
thus: Let the rainbow be the fiddlestick of the fiddle 
of heaven. It has been already shown that the first 
conception was a tragedy or mystery, not of a narra- 
tive, but a dramatick work, which he is supposed to 
have begun to reduce to its present form about this 
time, 1665, when he finished his dispute with the de- 
fenders of the king. 

He long before had promised to adorn his native 
country by some great performance, while he had yet 
perhaps no settled design, and was stimulated only by 
such expectations as naturally arose from the survey 
of his attainments, and the consciousness of his pow- 
ers. What he should undertake, it was difficult to 
determine. He was long choosing, and began late. 

While he was obliged to divide his time between 
his private studies and affairs of state, his poetical 
labour must have been often interrupted ; and per- 
haps, he did little more in that busy time than con- 
struct the narrative, adjust the episodes, proportion 
the parts, accumulate images and sentiments, and 
treasure in his memory, or preserve in writing, such 
hints as books or meditation would supply. Nothing 
particular is known of his intellectual operations 

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118 MiLTOIf.' 

while he waa a statesman ; for, having every help and 
accommodation at hand, he had no need of uncommon 

Being driven from all publick stations, he is yet too 
great not to be traced by curiosity to his retirement ; 
where he has been found by Mr. Richardson, the fond- 
est of his admirers, sitting before his door in a gray 
coat of coarse cloth, in warm sultry weather, to enjoy 
the fresh air ; and so, as well as in his own room, rcr 
ceiving the visits of people of distinguished parts as- 
well as quality. His visitors of high quality must now 
be imagined to be few ; but men of parts might rea- 
sonably court the conversation of a man so generally 
illustrious, that foreigners are reported, by Wood, ta 
have visited the house in Bread-street where he was 
bom. \ 

According to another account, he was seen in a 
small house, neatly enough dressed in black clothes, 
sitting in a room hung with rusty green ; pale but not 
cadaverous, with chalkstones in his hands. He said, 
that if it were not for the gout, his blindness would 
be tolerable. 

In the intervals of his pain, being made unable to 
use the common exercises, he used to swing in a 
chair, and sometimes played upon an organ. 

He was now confessedly and visibly employed upon 
his poem, of which the progress might be noted by 
those with whom he was familiar ; for he was obliged 
when he had composed as many lines as his memory 
would conveniently retain, to employ some friend in 
Writing them, having, at least for part of the time^ 
no regular attendant. This gave opportunity to ob* 
servations and reports. 

Mr Philips observes that there was a very remark- 
able circumstance in the composure of Paradise l«ost» 

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MILTON. 119 

^* which I have particular reason," says he, << to re- 
member ; for whereas I had the perusal of it from the 
-very begimiing for some years, as I went from time to 
time to vist him, in parcels of ten, twenty, or thirty 
verses at a time (which being written by whatever 
hand came next, might possibly want correction as to 
the orthography and pointing) having, as the summer 
came on, not being shewed any for a considerable 
while, and desiring the reason thereof, was answered, 
that his vein never happily flowed but from the au» 
tunmal equinox to the vernal ; and that whatever he 
attempted at other times was never to his satisfaction, 
though he courted his fancy never so much ; so that, 
in all the yeara he was about his poem he may be 
said to have spent half his time therein." 

Upon this relation Toland remarks, that in his 
opinion Philips had ntiistaken the time of the year ; 
for Milton in his elegies, declares, that with the ad- 
vance of the spring he feels the increase of his poeti- 
cal force, redeunt in carmina vires. To this it is 
answered, that Philips could hardly mistake time so 
well marked ; and it may be added, that Milton might 
find different times of the year favourable to different 
parts of life. Mr. Richardson conceives it impossi- 
ble that such a work should be suspended for six 
months, or for one. It may go on faster or slower, 
but it must go on. By what necessity, it must con- 
tinually go on, or why it might not be laid aside and 
resumed, it is not easy to discover. 

This dependence of the soul upon the seasons, 
those temporary and periodical ebba and flows of in- 
tellect, may I suppose, justly be derided as the fumes 
of vain imagination. Sapiens dominabitur astris. 
The author that thinks himself weather-bound will 
find, with a little help from hellebore, that he is onlf 

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120 MILTON. 

idle or exhausted. But while this notion has posses- 
sion of the head, it produces the inability which it 
supposes. Our powers owe much of their energy 
to our hopes ; possunt quia posse videntur. 

When success seems attainable, diligence is en- 
forced ; but when it is admitted that the faculties are 
suppressed by a cross wind, or a cloudy sky, the day 
is given up without resistance ; for who can contend 
with the course of nature ? 

From such prepossessions Milton seems not to 
have been free. There prevailed in his time an opi- 
nion that the world was in its decay, and that we have 
had the misfortune to be produced in the decrepitude 
of nature. It was suspected that the whole creation 
languished, that neither trees nor animals had the 
height or bulk of their predecessors, a|^d that every 
thing was daily sinking by gradual diminution.* 
Milton appears to suspect that souls partake of the 
general degeneracy, and is not without some fear that 
his book is to be written in an age too late for he- 
^ick poesy. 

Another opinion wanders about the world, and some- 
times finds recepdon among wise men ; an opinion 
that restrains the operations of the mind to particular 
regions, and supposes that a luckless mortal may be 
bom in a degree of latitude too high or too lowforwis- 

* This opinion is, with great learniDg and ingenuity, refuted in a 
boolc now very little known, "An apology or declaration of the 
power and providence of God in the government of tlie world, by 
Dr. Creorge Hake will.'* London, folio, 1635 The first who ventured 
to propagate it in this eonntiy was Ur. Gabriel Goodman, bishop of 
Gkmoester, a roan of a versatile temper, and the author of a book 
itttitnled, <*The fall of man, or the coiroption of nature proved by 
natural reason." Lond. 1616 and 1624, quarto. He was plundered 
in the usurpation, turned Roman Gatl^olic, and ^ied in obscurity* 
6eeAthen.OjLOD.vol.L7«7. 11. 

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MILTON. 121 

dom or for wit. From this fancjr, wild as it is, he had 
not wholly cleared his head, when he feared lest the 
climate of his country might be too cold for flights of 

Into a mind already occupied by such fancies^ ano- 
ther not more reasonable might easily . find its way. 
Hq that could fear lest his genius had fidlen upon too 
old a world, or too chill a climate, might consistently 
magnify to himself the influence of the seasons, 
and belicTe his faculties to be vigorous only half the 

His submission to the seasons was at least more 
reasonable than his dread of decaying nature, or a fri- 
gid zone ; for general causes must operate uniformly 
in a general abatement of mental power ; if less could 
be performed by the writer, less likewise would con* 
tent the judges of his work. Among this lagging 
race of ^grovellers he might still have risen into em- 
inence by producing something which they should 
not willingly let die. However inferior to the he- 
roes who were bom in better ages, he might still 
be grcftt ftmoag hia contemporaries, with the hope of 
growing everyday greater in the dwindle of posterity. 
He might still be the giant among the pygmies, the 
one-eyed monarch of the blind. 

Of his artifices of study, or particular hours of 
composition, we have little account, and there was 
perhaps little to be told. Richardson, who seems to 
have been very diligent in his inquiries, but discovers 
always a wish to find Milton discriminated from other 
men, relates, that <^ he would sometimes lie awake 
whole nights, but not a verse could he make ; and on 
a sudden his poetical faculty would rush upon him 
with an impetus or astrum and his daughter was im- 
mediately called to secure what came. At o^r 

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122 MILTON. 

times he would dictate perhaps forty lines in a breath, 
and then reduce them to half the number. 

These bursts of light, and involutions of darkness, 
these transient and involuntary excursions and retro* 
.cessions of invention having some appearance of de- 
viation from the common train of nature, are eagerly 
. caught by the lovers of a wonder. Yet something of 
this inequality happens to every man in every mode 
of exertion, manual or mental. The mechanick cannot 
handle his hammer and his file at all times with equal 
dexterity ; there are hours, he knows not why, when 
his hand is out. By Mr. Richardson's relation, casu- 
ally conveyed, much regard cannot be claimed. That, 
in his intellectual hour, Milton called for his daughter 
to secure what came, may be questioned ; for unluck- 
ily it happens to be known that his daughters were ' 
never taught to write ; nor would he have been obliged, 
as is universally confessed, to have employed any cas- 
ual visitor in disburthening hi& memory, if lus daugh- 
ter could have performed the office. 

The story of reducing his exuberance has been 
told of other authors, and, though doubtles true of 
every fertile and copious mind, seems to have been 
gratuitously transferred to Milton. 

What he has told us, and we cannot now know 
more, is, that he composed much of ]^is poem in the 
night and morning, I suppose before his mind wa& 
disturbed with common business ; and that he poured 
out with great fluency his unpremeditated verse. 
Versification, free, like his, from the distresses of 
rhyme, must, by a work so long, be made prompt and 
habitual ; and, when his thoughts were once adjusted,, 
the words would come at his command. 

At what particular times of his life the parts of his 
^mfrk were written, cannot often be koowxu Th^ 

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MILTON. 123 

beginning of the third book shows that he had lost 
his sight ; and the introduction to the seventh, that 
the return of the king had clouded him with discoun- 
tenance, and that he was oifended by the licentious 
festivity of the Restoration. There are no other inter- 
nal notes of time. Milton, being now cleared from 
all effects of his disloyalty, had nothing required from 
him but the common duty of living in quiet, to be re- 
warded with the common right of protection; but this, 
which, when he skulked from the approach of his 
king was perhaps more than he hoped, seems not to 
have satisfied him ; for no sooner is he safe thah he 
finds himself in danger, fallen on evil days and evil 
tongues, and with darkness and with danger com- 
passed round. 'This darkness, had his eyes been bet- 
ter employed, had undoubtedly deserved compassion ; 
but to add the mention of danger was ungrateful and 
unjust. He was fallen indeed on evil days ; the time 
was come in which regicides could no longer boast 
their wickedness. But of evil tongues for Milton to 
complain, required impudence at least equal to his 
other powers ; Milton, whose warmest advocates 
must allow, that he never spared any asperity of re- 
proach, or brutality of insolence. 

But the charge itself seems to be false ; for it 
would be hard to recollect any reproach cast upon 
him, either serious or ludicrous, through the whole 
remaining part of his life. He pursued his studies, 
or his amusements, without persecution, molestation, 
or insult. Such is the reverence paid to great abilities, 
however misused : they who contemplated in Milton 
the scholar and the wit, were contented to forget the 
reviler of his king. 

When the plague, 1665, raged in London, Milton 
took refuge at Chalfont, in Bucks ; where Elwood, 

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124 MILTON. 

who had taken the house for him, first saw a complete 
copy of Paradise Lost, and having perused it, said to 
him, " Thou hast said a great deal upon Paradise 
Lost ; what hast thou to say upon Paradise Found I" 

Next year, when the danger of infection had ceased, 
he returned to Bunhill-fields, and designed the publi- 
cation of his poem. A license was necessary, and he 
could expect no. great kindness from a chaplain of the 
archbishop of Canterbury. He seems, however, to 
have been treated with tenderness ; for though objec- 
tions were made to particular passages, and among 
them to the simile of the sun eclipsed in the first 
book, yet the license was granted ; and he sold his 
copy, April 27, 1 667, to Samuel Simmons, for an im- 
mediate payment of five pounds, with a stipulation to 
receive five pounds more when thirteen hundred 
should be sold of the first edition ; and again five 
pounds after the sale of the same number of the se- 
cond edition ; and another five pounds after the same 
sale of the third. None of the three editions were 
to be extended beyond fifteen hundred copies. 

The first edition was of ten books in a small quarto. 
The titles were varied from year to year ; and an adver-v 
tisement and the arguments of the books were omit- 
ted in some copies, and inserted in others. 

The sale gave him in two years a right to his se- 
cond payment, for which the receipt was signed 
April 26, 1669. The second edition was not given till 
1 674 ; it was printed in small octavo ; and the number 
of books was increased to twelve, by a division of the 
seventh and twelfth ; and some other small improve- 
ments were made. The third edition was published 
in 1678 ; and the widow to whom the copy was then 
to devolve, sold all her claims to simmons for eight 
poi:^nd9, according to her receipt given Dec. 21, 1680. 

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. MILTON. i35 

Simmons had already agreed to transfer the whole 
right to Brabazon Aylmer for twenty-five pounds ; 
and Aylmer sold to Jacob Tonson half, August 17, 
1683, and half, March 24, 1690, at a price consider- 
ably enlarged. In the history of Paradise Lost a de- 
duction thus minute will rather gratify than fatigue. 

The slow sale and tardy reputation of this poem 
have been always mentioned as evidences of neglected 
merit, and of the uncertainty of literary fame ; and 
inquiries have been made, and conjectures offered, 
about the causes of its long obscurity and late recep- 
tion. But has the case been truly stated ? Have not 
lamentation and wonder been lavished on an evil that 
was never felt ? 

That in the reigns of Charles and James the Para- 
dise Lostreceivednopublick acclamations, is readily 
confessed. Wit and literature were on the side of 
the court ; and who that solicited favour or fashion 
would venture to praise the defender of the regicides? 
All that he himself could think his due, from evil 
tongues in evil days, was that reverential silence 
which was generously preserved. But it cannot be 
inferred that his poem was not read, or not, however 
unwillingly, admired. 

The sale, if it be considered, will justify the pub- 
lick* Those who have no power to judge of past 
times but by their own, should always doubt their 
conclusions. The call for books was not in Milton's 
age what it is in the present. To read was not then 
a general amusement ; neither traders, nor of^en gen- 
tlemen thought themselves disgraced by ignorance. 
The women had not then aspired to literature, nor 
was every house supplied with a closet of knowledge. 
Those, indeed, who professed learning, were not less 
learned than at any other time ; but of that middle 

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race of students who read for pleasure or accomplish- 
ments, and who buy the numerous products of mo- 
dem typography, the number was then comparatively 
small. To prove the paucity of readers, it may be 
sufficient to remark, that the nation had been satisfied, 
from 1623 to 1664, that is, forty-one years, with only 
two editions of the works of Shakspeare, which pro- 
bably did not together make one thousand copies. 

The sale of thirteen hundred copies in two years, 
in opposition to so much recent enmity, and to a style 
of versification new to all, and disgusting to many, 
was an uncommon example of the prevalence of ge-r 
nius. The demand did not immediately increase ; for 
many more readers than were supplied at first the 
nation did not afford. Only three thousand were sold 
in eleven years ; for it forced its way without assis- 
tance ; its admirers did not dare to publish their opi- 
nion ; the opportunities now given of attracting notice 
by advertisements were then very few ; the means of 
proclaiming the publication of new books have been 
produced by that general literature which now per- 
vades the nation through all its ranks. 

But the reputation and price of the copy still ad- 
vanced, till the Revolution put an end to the secrecy 
of love, and Paradise Lost broke into open view with 
sufficient security of kind reception. 

Fancy can hardly forbear to conjecture with what 
temper Milton surveyed the silent progress of his 
work, and marked his reputation stealing its way in a 
kind of subterraneous current through fear and si- 
lence. I cannot but conceive him calm and confident, 
little disappointed, not at all dejected, relying on his 
own merit with steady consciousness, and waiting, 
without impatience, the vicissitudes of opinion, and 
the impartiality of a future generation. 

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MILTON. isr 

»: In^e nCttfi time be continued his studies and sup- 
plied the ^ant o^ sight by a very odd expedient, of 
wt^ch Philips gives the following account. 

Mr. Philips tell u«, " that though our author had 
4aiiy about him one or other to read, some persons of 
man's estate^ who, of their owti accord, greedily catch- 
^ at the oppoftiHifty of being his ceaders, that they 
might as -well reap the benefit of what they read to 
Jutn, as obUge him by the benefit cif their reading ; 
and others ef younger years were sent by their parents 
to the same end ; yet excusing only the eldest daugh- 
ter by reason of her bodily infirmity and difficult utter- 
aoice of speech (which, to say truth, I doubt was the 
principul cause of excusing her) the other two were 
condemtted to the performance of reading,. and exact- 
ly pronouncing of all the languages of whatever book 
he should, at (Hie time^or other, think fit to.peruse^ 
viz. the Hebrew, (and I think the Syriack)theGre«k, 
the Latin, the Italian, Spanish, and French. All which 
sorts of books, to be confined to read, without undet^ 
standing one word, must needs be a trial. of patience 
almost beyond ^n^hxtaace* Yj^ it was endured by 
both for a long time^ though the irksomeness of this 
-eropioyiiientceuld not be always concealeil, but broke 
out more and more into expresswns of Uneasiness i so 
that at length they were all, even the eldest also, sent 
out to lear& some curious and ingenious sorts of manu- 
facture, that ai» proper for women to learn, particu- 
larly embroideries in gold or silver.'' 

In the scene of misery which this mode of intellec- 
tual labour «ets bektre our e;es, it is hard to deter- 
mine whether the daughters or the father are most to 
be lamented. A language not understood can neve^ 
be so read as to gi« pleasure^ and very seldom so as 
to conifey meaning, if lew m»n 'Would have had re- 

VOL. IX. <» 

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solution to write books with such embairassments, 
few likewise would have wanted ability to find some 
better expedient. 

Three years after his Paradise Lost, 1 667, he pub- 
lished his History of England^ comprising the whole 
fable -of Geoffrey of Momnouth, and continued to the 
Norman invasion. Why he should have given the 
first part, which he seems not to believe, and which is 
tmiversally rejected, it is difficult to conjecture. The 
style in hal-sh ; but it has somethinjg of rough vigour, 
which perhaps may often strike, though it cannot 

On this- histoiy the licenser again fixed his claws, 
and before he would transmit it to the press tore out 
S4^eral parts. Some censul^es of the Saxon 'monks 
were taken away, lest they should be applied to the 
modern clergy; aiid a character of the long parlia- 
jKJtent and assembly divines was excluded ; of which 
the author gave a copy to the earl of Anglesey, and 
which being afterward published, ^as been since in- 
serted in its proper place* 

The^ same year were printed, Paradise Regained, 
and Sampson Agonietes, a tragedy written in imita- 
tion of the ancients, and never designed by tl^ author 
for the stage. As these poems were published by 
another bookseller, it has been asked whether Sim- 
mons was discouraged from receiving them by the 
slow sale of thje formef. Why a wriicr changed his 
bookseller a hundre'd years ago, I am far from hoping 
to discover. Certainly, he who in two years sells thir- 
teen hundred copies of a volume in quaito, . bought 
for two payments of five pounds each, has no reason 
to repent his purchase; 

When Milton, showed Paradise Regained to El- 
woqtj, « This," .said he, ^ is o\ving to you ; for you 

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put it in my head by the question yoH put to me at 
Chalfoiit, which otherwise I had not thought of.** 

Jlis last poetical oifspiing^-was his favourite. He 
could ^ot, as Elwood relates, endure to hear Paradise 
Lost preferred to Paradise Regaiaed. Many causes 
may vitiate a writer'^ judgment of his own works* 
On that which has cost him much labour he setjj a 
high value, because be is unwilling to think that he 
has been diligent in vain ; what has been produced 
without toilsome efforts is c<Misidered with delight, as 
a proof .of vigorous faculties, and fertile invention ; 
and the last work, whatever it be, has necessajiHy 
most. of the grace of novelty. Milton, however it 
happened^ had this prejudice, and had it to himself. 

To that multiplicity of attainments, and extent of 
comprehension, that entitled this great author to our 
veneration, may be added^akind of humble dignity, 
which did not disdain the meanest services to litera- 
ture. The epick poet, the controvertist, the politician, 
having already descended to accommodate children 
with a book of rudiments, now, in the last years of his 
life, composed a book of logick, (or the initiation of 
students in philosophy ; and published, 1672, ^rtis 
Logicx plenior Institutio ad Petri Rami Methodum 
concinnata ; that is, <' A new Scheme of Logick^ ac- 
cording to the Method of Ramus.'* I know not whe- 
ther, even Jn this book, he did not intend an act of 
hostility, against the Universities ; for Ramus was one 
of the first oppugners of the old philosophy, who dis- 
turbed with innovations the quiet of the schools. 

His polemical disposition again revived. He had 
now been safe so long, that he forgot his fcars^ and 
publislied a Treatise of true Religion, Heresy, 
Schism, Toleration, and the best Means to prevent 
the Growth of Popery. 

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But this little tract is toiodestly wiitten, with re* 
Bpeolful mention of the church of England) and an 
appeal to the thirty-^nine articles. His principle of 
toleration is, agreement in the sufficiency of the 
scriptures ; and he extends it to all who, whatever 
their opinions are, profess to derive them from the 
sacred books. ' The papists appeal to other testimo- 
nies, and are therefore, in^ his opinion, not to be per- 
mitted the liberty of cither publick or privrnte wor- 
ship ; for though they plead ccmscience, we have no 
warrant, he says, to regard conscience whioh is not 
grounded in scripture. 

Those who are not convinced by his reasons, may 
be perhaps delighted with his wit. The term Roman 
cathollck is, he says, one of the pope's bulls ; it is 
particular universal, or catholick schismattck. 

He has, however, something better. As the best 
preservative against popery, he recommends the dili- 
gent perusal of the scriptures, a duty from which he 
warns the busy part of mankind n6t td think them- 
selves excused. 

He now reprinted his juvenile poems, with some 

In the last year of his life he sent to the press, 
seeming to take deUght in publication, a collection of 
Familiar Epistles in Latin ; to which, being too few 
to make a volume, he added some academical exer- 
cises, which perhaps he perused with pleasure, as 
they recalled to his memory the days of youth, but for 
which nothing but veneration for his name could now 
procure a reader. 

When he had attained his sixty-sixth year^ the 
gout, with which he had been long tormented, pre- 
vailed over the enfeebled powers of nature. He diei 
by a quiet and silent expiration, about the tenth of 


by Google 

MILTON; 131 

November, 1674^ at hk house in Bunhill-fields ; and 
wa» bttricd next hia fether inr the chancel of St. Gilea 
at Cripplegate. His funeral was very splendidly and 
numerously attended. 

Upon his grave there is supposed to have been n<» 
memorial ; but in our time -a monument has been 
erectedin Westminster^abbey To the author of Para- 
dise Lost, by Mr. Benson, who has in the inscription 
bestowed more words upon himself than upon Milton. 

When the inscription for the monument of Philips, 
in which he was said-tobe soli Miltono secundus, was 
exhibited to Dr. Sprat, then dean of Westminster, he 
refused to admit it ; the name of Milton was, in hia 
opinion, too detestable to be read on the wall of a 
building dedicated to devotion. Atterbuiy, who suc- 
ceeded him, being author of the inscription, permitted 
its reception. " And such has been the change of pub- 
lick opinion,*' said Dr. Gregory, from whom I heard 
this account, " that I have seen erected in the church 
a statue of that man, whose name I once knew consi* 
dered as a poiludon orf its walls." 

Milton has the reputation of having been in his 
youth eminently beautiful, so as to have been called 
the lady of his college. His hair, which was of a 
light brown, parted at the fore-top, and hung dowu 
upon his shoulders, according to the picture which 
he has given of' Adam. He was, however, not of the 
heroiek stature, but rather below the middle size, ac- 
cording to Mr. Richardson, who mentions him as hav- 
ing narrowly escaped from being short and thick. Her 
was vigorous and active, and delighted in the exer^ 
cise of the sword, in which be is refcated to have beea 
eminently skilful. His VPeapon was, I believe, not the 
rapier^ but the back-sword, of which he recommend^^ 
t&Quse ifl his^book on education. 
6 S 

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132 MILTON. 

His eyes are said to never have been bright*; butj if 
he was a dexterous fencer, they must have been once 

His domestick habits, so far as they are known, 
were those of a severe student. He di^nk little strong 
4rinkof any kind, and fed without excess in quantity, 
and in his earlier years without delicacy of choice. In 
his youth he studied late at night ; but afterwards 
changed his hours, and rested in bed from nine to 
four in the summer, and five in winter. The course 
of his day was best known after he was lilind. When 
he first rose, he heard a chapter in the Hebrew bible, 
and then studied till twelve ; then took some exercise 
for an hour ; then dined, then played on the organ, 
and sang, or heard another sing ; then studied to mx ; 
then entertained his visitors till eight ; then supped, 
and, after a pipe of tobacco and a glass of water, went 
to bed. 

So is his life described ; but this even tenour-ap- 
pears attainable only in cDlleges. . He that lives in th,e 
world will sometimes have the succession of his prac- 
tice broken and confused. Visitors, of whom Milton 
is represented to have had great numbers, will com& 
and stay unseasonably ; business, of which every man 
has s^nie, must be done when others will do it. 

When he did hot care to rise early, he had some- 
thing read to him by his bed-side ; perhaps at this 
time his daughters were employed. He composed 
much in the mornitig, and dictated in the day, sitting 
obliquely in an elbow-chdir, with his leg thrown over 
the arm. _ 

Fortune appears not to have had much of his care.. 
In the civil wars he lent his personal estate to the par- 
liament ; but when, after the contest was decided, he 
solicited repay ment>^e met not only with neglect^ hut 

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MILTON. 133 

sharp rebuke ; and, having tired botli himself and his 
friends, wa& given up to poverty and hopeless indig- 
nation} till he showed how able he was .to do greater 
service. He was then made JLat^in secretary, with two 
hundred pounds a-year ; and had a thousand pounds 
for his Defence of the People. His widow, who, after. 
his death, retired to.Namptwich in Cheshire, and died 
about 1729>, is said to have reported that he lost two 
thousand poupds by entrusting it to a scrivener ; and 
that, in the general de^pred^iou apou the church, he 
had grat^ped an estate of about sixty pounds a-yeai; 
belonging to Westmins^r-abbey, which, like other 
sharers of the plunder of rebellion, he was afterward 
obliged to return. Two thousand pounds which he 
had placed in the excise*office, w^re also lo»t. There 
is yet no reason to believe that he was ever reduced 
to indigence. His wants, being few, were compe- 
tently supplied. He sold his library before his death, 
and left his family fiiftepn hundred pounds, on which 
his widow Md hold, and oi^ly gpave one hundred to 
each of hi& daughters. . 

His literature .was unquestionably great He read 
all the languages^ -which are considered either as 
learned or polite; Hebrew, with its t\vo dialects, 
Greek, Latin, Italian, French, and Spanish. In Ls^ 
tin his skill was such as placets him in the first rank 
of- writers and criticks ;xand he appears to have cul- 
tivated Italian with uncommon diligence. The books 
in which his daughter;, who used to read to him, re* 
presented him^ as most delighting, after Homer, 
ivhich he could almost repeat, were Ovid's Meta- 
morphoses and Euripides. His £ui:ipides is, by Mr» 
Cradock's kindness, no>v in my hands ; the margin is 
sometimes noted j bi^t I have found nothing remark-v 
able. \ . . ^ - . , ., 

G 4 

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134 MILTON. 

Of the English poets he set most Tftlueti|Ma Sp«a-' 
ser, Sbakspeare, and Cowle^^ Spenser was apparently 
his favQurite; Shakspeare he may easily be &iipposed* 
to like, with every other skilful reader ; but I should 
not have ejqjected tliat Cowley, whose ideas vf excel- 
lenee were difTerent from his own, would have had 
much of his approbation* His. character of Dryden, 
who sometimes visited him, was,. that he was a, good 
rhyjnist, but no poet. ^ 

His theological opinions are said to have been first 
calvinisticai ; and afterwards, p^k-haps when he began 
to hate the prcsbyterians, to have tended towards ar* 
minianism. In the mixed questions of theology aad 
government, he iiev^er thinks that he canTece^e ^t 
enough from popery or prelacy ; but what Baudiua 
says of Erasmus seems applicable ,to him, magis ha.-* 
iKiit quod fugeret, quam quod sequeretur. He had . 
determined rather what to condemn, than what to ap«» 
prove. He has not associated himself with any de- 
nomination of protestants ; we know rather what he 
was not, than what he was. He was not of the church 
of Rome ; he was not of the church of England. of no church i» ^langerous. Religion, of 
which the rewards are distant, and which is animated 
duly by faith and hope, will glide by degrees out. of 
the mind, unless it be iavigorated and^eimpresse^ bf 
external ordinances, by stated calls to worship, and- 
tt& salutary influence of example, Mikon, who ap« 
pears to have had full convictiori of the truth of Chris- 
tianity, and to have regarded the iioly scriptures with 
the profoundest veneration, to have been untainted by 
an. heretical peculiarity of opinion, and to have lived 
in a confirmed belief of t^e Ihimediate and occasional 
agency of Providence, yet grew old \fithout any visi- 
Itte worship. In the distribution of his hours, there- 

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was no hOOT of prayer, either -solitary or with his 
household; omitting publick -prayers, he omitted all.. 

Of this omission the reason has been sought upon 
a supposition which t>ught never to be made, that 
men live with their own approbation, and justify their 
conduct to themselves. Prayer certainly was not 
thought superfluous by him, who represents our first 
parents as praying acceptably in the state of inno- 
cence, and efficaciously ^fter their fell. That he lived 
without prayer can hardly be affirmed ; his studies and 
meditations were an habitual prayer. The neglect of 
it in his family was probably a &ult for which he con- 
demtied himself, and which Ite intended to correct, 
but that death/ as too often happens^^intercepted his:^ 
reformation. - 

His political notions were those of an acrimoniou^ii 
and surly republican, for which it is not known that he 
gave any better Teason than that a popular govern* 
meat was the most frugal ; for the trappings of a mo* 
narchy would set up an ordinary commonwealth. It 
is surely very shallow policy that supposes money ta 
be the chief good ; and even this, without consider- 
ing that the support and expence of a court is, for 
the most part, only a-^rticular kind of traffic k, by 
which money is circulated, without any national im- 

Milton's republicanism was^ I am afraid^ founded in 
an envious hatred- of greatness, and a. sullen desire of 
independence ; in petulance impatient of controul, and 
pride disdainful of superiority. He hated monarchs 
in the state, and prelates in.tlie church ; for he hated 
all whopi be was required to obey. It is to be sus- 
pected, that his predominant desire was to destroy 
rather than establish, and that he felt not so much 
the love of liberty as repugnance to authoriijt. ^ 
^ 3 


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136 MILTON. 

Ithas been obsenredt that they who most loudly 
clamour for liberty do not most liberally grant it. 
What we know of Milton^s character, in^ domestick 
relaticMis, U9 that he was severe and arbitraiy. His 
family consisted Jof Women^; aad there appears in hii^ 
books something like qt Turkish, contempt of females, 
as subordinate and inferior beings. That his own 
daughters might not break the ranks, he suffered 
them to be depressed by a mean and penurious eda-* 
cation. He thought women made only lor obedience, 
and man only for rebelion. 

Of his family some account may be expected. His 
sister, first married to Mr. Philips, afterward roamed 
to Mr. Agar, a friend -of her first husband, who suc- 
ceeded him in the crown-office. She had by her first 
liusband Edward and John, the two nephews whom 
Milton educated ; and, by her second, two daughters. 

His brother, sir Christopher, had two daughters, 
Mary and Catharine ;* and a son, Thomas, who suc- 
ceeded Agar in the crown«K>ffice, and left a daughter 
living in 1749, inGrosvcnor-strcet. 

Milton had children only by his first wife; Anne,^ 
Mary, and Deborah. Anne, though deforilfied, mar- 
ried a master-builder, and died of her first child. 
Mary died single. Deborah married Abraham Clark, 
a weaver in Spitalfields,- and lived seventy-six years, 
to August 1727. This is the daughter of whom pub- 
lick mention has been made. She could repeat the 

. • Bath diese persons were living at Holloway about the year 
1734, nnd at that time ])Ossess€d such a dejri'ee of healthand strength 
M enabled (hem on Sundays ami ]>rayer-da_vs to walk a mile lip a 
steep hai to Highg^ate chapel. One of them was ninety -two at the 
liihe of her death> Their part* ntag© was known to few, and their 
names were corrupted into Melton. B} the crown-office, mention- 
in tl)^ two last paragraphs, we are to understand the crown-office 
efthe eoortofchaaeery. H. 

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fifst, lines of Homer, the Metamorphoses^ and some 
of Euripides, by having often read them. Yet here 
incredulity is ready to make a stand. Many tepetr- 
tions are necessaty to fix in the memory lints not un- 
derstood; apd why should Milton wish or want to- 
hear them so often ? These lines were at the begin- 
ning of the poems. Of a book written it a language 
not' understood, the beginning raises no more atten* 
tiort than the end; and a^ those that understand it 
know commonly the beginning best, its rehearsal will 
seldom be necessary, ' It is not likely thdt Milton re- 
quired any passage to be so much repeated as that 
his daughter could learn it ; nT)r likely that he de-» 
sired the ' initial lines to be read at all ; n6r that the 
daughter, weary of the drudgery of pronouncing un- 
ideal sounds, would voluntai'ily cofttmit them to me- 

To this gentlewoman Addison made a present, and 
promised some establishment, but died soon after. 
Queen Caroline sent her fifty guineas. ' She had seven 
sons and t^lree daughters ; but none of them had any 
children except her son Cale^b and her daughter Eli- 
zabeth. Caleb went to fort St. George in the East 
Indies, and had two 5ons,~^ of whom nothing is now 
known. EUziabetbimarried Thomas Foster, a weaver 
in Spitalfields ; and.had seven children, who all died. 
She kept a petty grocex^s or chandler's Shop, first at 
Hollowayj and afterward in Gock-lane, near Shortt- 
ditch church. ^ She knew little of her grandfather, 
and that little was not good. She told of his hai'sb- 
ness to his daughters, and' his refusal to have them 
taught to write ; and, in opposition to other accounts 
represented hixa a5^ delicate, though temperate, -in his 
diet, ^ 

G S 

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f3ft MILTON- 

lu 175#^ Afirii 5, Ccuaius was played for her bencie^ 
She had so little aequ^ntance with. diversio& or gsde** 
tf, that she did not know what was intended when » 
benefit w» offered her. The profits of the night were 
only? one hundred and tliirty pounds, though Diu New^ 
ton brougtit a large contribution ; and twenty pounds 
were given by Tonson, a man. who is- to be praised «& 
often as he is named. Of this sum one hundred poundsr 
were placed in the stocks^ after soihe debate betweei^ 
ker aftd iier husband in whose name it shotdd be enter- 
ed; and the "rest augmented, their little stock, witb* 
which they removed to Isitngton. This was the 
greatest benefaction that Paradise Lost ever procured 
the aut|tor*s descendants r and to this he who has noMr , 
attempted to relate, his life had the honour of contri* 
tatiDg a fm^Dgtte.^ 

In tlie examination of Milton's poetical works, I 
shall pay so much regard to time as to begin with his^ 
•juvenile productions* For his early pieces he -seemc^ 
to have had a degree of fondness not very laudable ;• 
what he lias once written he resolves to preserve, and" 
gives to the publick an unfinished poem, which h^ 
broke offl^cause he was nothing satisfied with what 
lie had done, supposing his readers less nice than hini-' 
self. These preludes to his future labours are in 
Italian^ Latin, and English. Of the Italian I cannot 
pretend to speak as a critick ; but I have heard them 
commended by a man well qualified to decide tbeir 
merit. The Latin pieces are lusciously elegant j but 

* Ffintedintliefirstvolameof thiseolIee<loii. 


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MILTON. ^ . IS9 

the delight Mrhkb thc^ viffotd i» vaJihsv hf tite eioiui- 
site imitation oCrtJbe, ancieot ^vrriters, by- the purity pf 
the dictiQiiy ao4.the4iaFSCH>ity of theaun]ib^&, than by 
«iy |»ower ef invention or vigour of sentiment. Tbey 
aire niQft all ^ equal ifalue ; the elegies excel the odes ; 
and some of the exercises on. Gunpowder Treason 
mi^t htmm been spdj?ed« 

The Elngfoh poemS) though they make no promises 
of Paradise Lost,* have this evidence oi^niuS) that 
they hoveaeast original and unborrowed. But their 
peculiarity is not excellence; if they di^er froQti 
Terses of others, they differ for the worse ; for they 
are too often distinguished by repulsive harshness ^ 
die combinatioas of words are new, but they are not 
pleasing ; the rhyii»es and epithets seem to be labori- 
ously sought, and violcntiy apptic4« 
7 That in the early parts of his life he. wrote with 
much care appears from his manusciupts, happily pre- 
served at Gaml»idge> in which many of his smallei! 
works are found, as they were first written, with the 
subsequent corrections. Such relicks show how ex* 
cellence is acquired ; what we hope ever to do witl| 
ease, we must learn first to do with diligence. 

Those who admire the beauties of this great poel, 
sometimes force their own judgment into false appro- 
bation of his little pieces, and'preV»il upoif themselves 
to think that admirable which fs only singular. All 
that short compositions can eomtnonly attain 43 neat- 
ness and elegance. Milton never learned the art of 
doing little things with grace ; he overlooked^ the 
milder excellence of suavity and softness ; he was a 
Hon that had no skill in dandling the kidi 

• With ^he exception of Com us in which Dr. Johnson afterwards 
Bijs, may very plainly be distoYcred the dawn or twilight of Pai'a- 
diseliost C. ' ' 


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140 MILTOK.^ 

0%ie of the poeitis on which much praised h&s been 
bestowed is Lyoidas ; of which the diction is harsh^ 
the rhymes tincertain, and the numbers unpleasing. ' 
What beauty there is we must therefope seek itf the 
sentiments and images. It is not to be considered a» 
the effusionof real passion ; for pftssion r^ns hot after 
remote allusions and obscure opinions; Passion plucks 
no berries from the myrtle and iTy, nor calls upon 
Arethuse and Mincius, nor tells of rough satyrs and* 
fauns with cloven heel. VV^ere there^ is leisure for 
fiction there is little grief. 

In this poem there is no nature^ for there is no- 
jtruth ; there is ho art, for there is nothing new. Its 
form is that of a pastoral, easy, vulvar, and therefore 
disgusting ; whatever images it can supply are long 
^ago exhausted ; and its Inherent improbability always 
forces dissatisfactign on the mind. When Cowley 
tells of Hervey, that they studied- together, it is easy 
to suppose how much he must miss the companion of 
his labours, and the partner of his discoveries ; . but 
what image of tenderneas can be excited by these 
lines ! ^ 

" We drove a field, and both together heard 
What time the grsiy fly windt her sakry horo, 
Batt£nijig our flockg with the fresh dews of night.*/ 

We know that they never drove a field, and that- 
th^y had no flocks to batten ; and though it be allowed 
that the representation may be allegorical, the true 
meaning is so uncertain and remote, that it is never 
sought, because it cannot be known when it i§ found. 

Among the flocks, and copses, and flowers, appear 
the heathen deities; Jove and Phoebus,. Neptune and- 
-fiolus, with a long trains of mythological imagery^ 
Such as a college easily supplies. Nothing can less 
display knowledge^ or less exercise invention^ ti^an to 

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MILTON. 141 

tell how ft shepherd ha» lost his compatiion^ and m^it 
now feed his flocks alone, without any judge of his 
skill in piping ; and how one god asks another god 
what is become of Lycidas, and how neither god can 
teH. He who thus grieves will excite no sympathy*; 
he who thus praises will confer no honour. 

This poem has yet a grosser fault. With these 
trifling Actions are mkigled the most awful and sacred 
truths such as ought never to be polli/ted with such 
irreverent combinations. The shepherd likewise is 
now a feeder of sheep> and afterwards an ecclesiastical 
pastor, a superjntendant of a christian flock. Such 
equivocations^ are. always unskilful ; and here they are 
indecent, and at least approach to impiety, of which^ 
however, I believe the writer not to have been^. 
conscious. - . 

Such is the power of reputation justly acquired 
that its blaze drives away the eye from nice exami^ 
nadon. Surely no man could have &ncied that he 
read Lycidas with pleasure^ had he not known ita 

Of the two pieces, L' Allegro and II Penseroso, i 
believe opinion is uniforqa; every man that reads 
them, reads them with pleasure. The author's design 
is not what Theobald has remarked; merely to show 
how objects derive their colours from the mind, by 
representing the operation of the same things upon 
the gay^ and the melancholy temper, or upon the 
same man as he is diflerently^ disposed: but rather , 
how, among the successive variety of appearances, 
every disposition of mind takes hold <»i those by which 
it may be gratified. 

The cheerful man hears the lark in the morning ^ the 
picnsive niau hears the nightingale in the evening. 
The cheerful man sees the cock strut} and hears the 


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i ^iFiBiU i w wt^** 

142 Mivroif. 


h^o and hovnda echo ii> the wood; then walks, net 
unseen, to observe the glory of the rising sun, or listen 
|o the unging miik-maid, md view the labours of the 
ploughman and the mower; then casta his eyes about , 
bun aver scenes of smiling plenty, and looks up to the 
distant tower,the residence of some fair inhabitant; thu& 
he pursues rural gaiety jthrough a day of labcmr or of 
][^ay9 and delights himself at night with the . fanciful 
Barratijuefr <^ superstitious ignorance. 

The pensive man, at oi^e time, walks unseen to 
muse at midnight ; ^nd at another hears the suUen 
curfew. If the weather drives him home, he sits in a- 
room V ghted only by glowing embers ; or by a lonely 
lamp outwatehes the north »tar, to discover the habi* 
tation of separate semis, Bad varies the sjiades of'^medi? 
tation by cootctnpdttttng^ -tho n[M^^liix<^ent ami pathetick 
deenes of tragiek and epick poetry. When the morn- 
ing eon\es, a morning gloomy vnitji rain and wind, he 
il^alks into the daris. trackless woods, faUs asleep by 
aome«.mu9maring water, and with melancholy enthu^ 
siasm expects some dream of prognostication, or somcr 
musick played'^by aerial performers* 

Both mirth and melancholy are solitary^ silent inha^ 
bitants of the Inreast, that neither receive nor trans- 
mit communication ; no mention is therefore made 
of a philosopliical friend, or a pleasant companbnw 
The seriousness 4oes not arise from any participation 
of calamity, nor the gaiety from the pleasures of the 

The nftan of cheer£ulnestf having exhausted the 
country, tries %yhat towered chies will afford, and 
mingles with scenes of splendour gay assemblies, 
Aad miptial fesUvities. ; but he mingles a mere spec- 
tator, as, wh^i the learned comedies of Joqs(»i^ or' 

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the wHd dramas of Sbakspeare, are e^ibibited, he ati> 
tends the theatre. 

The pensive man never loses himself in crowds but 
walks the cloister, or frequents the cathedral. Milton 
probably had not yet fo}::safcen the church. 

Both his <:haracters delight b musick ; but he fteems. 
to thinkthatcheerfulTiotes would have obtained froi» 
Pluto a jKomplele dismission of Eurydice, of jurhom 
solemn sounds only procured a couditioniftl release. ^ 

For the old age of cheerfulness he n&akes no provi- 
sion ; but melancholy he conducts with great dignity 
to the close of life. His cheerfulness \& without lev- 
ity, -and his pensiveness without asperity. 

Through these two poems the images are properly^ 
selected, and' nicely distinguishe<I ; but the colours o£ 
the diction seem not sufiiciently discriminated. I knavip 
not whether-the characlerftare kept sufikienUy apart. 
No mirth can, indeed, be found in his melancholy ; 
but i am afraid that I always meet -some melancholy 
in hia mirth. They are^ two noble eiBforts of imagi- 
nation.* ^ 

JFhe greatest of his juveidile perfcM^mances is the 
Mask of Comus, in which may very /plainly be discos 
Tored the dawn or twilight of Paradise Lost. Miltoa 
appears to have formed very early that system of dic- 
tion, and mode of verse, which his n^turer judgment 
approved smd from which he never endeavoured nor 
desired to deviate. 

* Mr. WartonfiitimiHtea (and tfLa*e^eaabefitt|B doubt of tbe troth 
of his eoi^^eture) that Milton borrowed many of the images iti these 
two fine yoems from Burton's Anatomy of MeUnchol}^, a book pub- 
lished iu 1621, and at sundry times since, abounding in learning, curi- 
ous information, and pieasantry. Mt»* Warton s^ys, that Miltoa 
appears to have beeo an atteatift r«uk»r tli^reof ,* and to this asteK 
tion 1 add, -of my own knowledge, that it was a book that lir. tFoha- 
aon frequently resorted to^ as many others have done, for amusement 
aftec the fatigue of stady. IX. 


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144 MILTON. 

Nor does Comus affoi:d only a specimen of hi* 
language ; it exhibits likewise his power of descrip-* 
don and his vigour of sentiment, employed in the* 
praise and defence of virtue. A work more truly 
poetical is rarely found ; allusions, images, and de- 
scriptive epithetSj-embellUh almost every period with 
lavish decoration. As a series of lines, therefore, it 
naay be considered as worthy of ail the admiration 
with which theT votaries have received it. 

As a drama it is deficient. The action is not pro- 
bable. A mask in those parts were supernatural 
intervention is admitted, must indeed be given up to 
all the freaks of imagination ;- but, so far as the action 
is merely human, it ought to be reasonaMe^ which 
ean hardly be said of the conduct of the two brothers ; 
who, when their sister sinks with fatigue in a pathless 
wilderness, wander both away together in search of 
berries too far to find their way back, and leave a 
helpless lady to all the sadness and danger of soli- 
tude. This however it a detect ovetbalanced by its 

What dc serves more reprehension is, that the pro- 
logue spoken in the wild wood by the attendant spirit 
is addressed to the audience ; a mode of communica- 
tion so contrary to the nature of dramatick represen- 
tation, that no precedents ean supjjort it.' 

The discourse of the spirit is too long ; an objec- 
tion that may be made to almost at! the following: 
speeches ; they have not the sprightliness of a dia- 
logue animated by reciprocal contention, but seem 
rather declamations deliberately composed, and for- 
mally repeated, on a moral question. The auditor 
therefore listens us to a lecture, without passion> 
without anxiety. - ' 

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^.1^ ~ lim I TM 



The song of Comus has airiness and jollitf ; Riii, 
what may recommend Milton's nu)rals as well as his 
poetry, the invitations to pleasure are so general, -that 
they excite no distinct images of corrupt enjoyment, 
and take no dangerous hold on the fancy. 

The following soliloquies of Coihus ahd Ac lady 
are elegant but tedious. The song must owe much 
to the voice if it ever can delight. At last the bro- 
thers enter with too much tranquillity ; and, when they 
have feared lest their sister should be in danger, and 
hoped that she is not in danger, the elder makes a 
speech in praise 0f chastity and the younger finds haw 
fine it is to be a philosopher. 

Then descends the spirit in form of a shepherd j 
and the brother instead of being in haste to ask his 
help, praises his singing, and inquires his business in 
that place. It is remarkable, that at this interview 
the> brother is taken with a short fit of rhyming. 
The spirit relates that the lady is in the power of 
Con](u8 ; the brother moralizes again ; and the spirit 
makes a long narrationy of no use because it is false, 
and therefore unsuitable to a good being. 

In all these parts the language is poetical, and the 
sentiments are generous ; but there is somethii^g 
wanting to allure attentioi^. 

The dispute between the lady and Comus is the 
mos^t animated and affecting scene. of the drama 
and wants nothing but a brisker reciprocation of ob- 
jections and replies to invite attention and detain it 

The songs are vigorous, and full of imagery ; but 
they are harsh in their diction, and not very musical 
in their numbers. ^ 

Throughout the whole, the figures are too bold 
and the language too luxuriant for dialogue* It is a 


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dUS&a in the epick style, iiielegantly splendid, and 
tediously instructive. 

The sonnets* were written in different parta of Mil- 
ten's life, upon different occasiona. They deserve not 
any particular criticism ; for of the best it can only bo 
said, that tliey are not bad ; and perhaps only the 
eig^h and the twenty-first are triUy entitled to thi» 
slender commendation. The fabrick of a sonnet, 
however adapted to the Italian language, has never, 
succeeded in ours, which, having greater variety of 
termination, requires the rhymes to be often changed. 
Those little pieces maybe despatched without much 
anxiety ; a greater work calls for greater care. I am 
now to examine Paradise Lost 5 a poem, which, consi-^ 
dered with respect tedesign, may claim the first piace^ 
and with respect to performance, the second, amcHi^ 
/ the productions of the human mind. 
/ \lBy the general consent of criticks, the first praise of 
• genius is due to the writer of an epick poem, as it re- 
quires an assemblage of all the powers which are sing- 
ly sufficient for other compositiohs. Poetry is the art 
of uniting pleasure with truth, by calling imagination 
to tlie help of reason. Epick poetry undertakes to teach 
the most important truths by the most pleasing pre- 
cepts, and therefore relates some great event in the 
most affecting manner. History must supply the wri* 
ter with the rudiments of narration, which he must 
improve and ekalt by a nobler art, must animate by 
di'amatick enei-gy, and diversify by retrospection and 
anticipation; morality must teach him the exact 
bounds, and different shades, of vice and virtue; 
from policy, and the practice of life, he has to learn 
the discriminations of character, and the tendency of 
Ae passions, either single or combined; and physiolo- 
gy must supply hin^ with illustrations and images. 

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Ta put these mftterials to poetical use, is tequiredhan 
imagination capable of painting nature, and realizing 
fictionj Nor is he yet a poet till-he hiftatianicci the 
whole extension of his language, distinguished '.A\ the 
delicacies of phrase, and all the colours of words, and 
learned to adjust their different sounds to all the vari- 
eties of metrical modulation. 

fiossu is of opinion that the poet's first work is to 
find a moral, which his fable is afterw^irds to illustrate 
-and establish. This seems to have been the process ^ 
only of Milton ;. the moral of other poems is inciden- 
tal and cons^uent; in Milton's only it is essential and 
intrinsick. His purpose was the most useful and the 
most arduous; to vindicate the ways of God to man; 
to show the reasonableness of religion, and the^heces- 
sity of obedience to the divine law. 

To convey this moral there must be a fable , a nar- Q 
ration artfully constructed, so as to excite curiosity, 
and surprise expectation. In this part of his work, 
Milton must be confessed to have equalled every other 
poet. He has involved in hh account of the lall of 
man the events which preceded, asd those that were 
to follow it: he has interwoven the whole system of 
theology with such propriety, that every part appe«fft 
to be necessary ; and scarcely any recital is wished 
shorter for the sake of quickening^the progress of the 
main action. 

The subject of an epick poem is nattiraHy an event 
of great importance. That of Milton is not the de» 
struction of a city, the conduct of a colony, or the 
foundation of an empire. His subject is the fate of 
worlds, the revolutions of heaven and of earth: rebel- 
lion against the Supreme King, raised by the liighest 
order of created beings ; the overthrow of their host, 
and the punishment of their crime ;' the creation of a 

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t4« MILTON. 

ne^. race 4>f reasonable creatures; their original hap- 
piness and innocence, their forfeiture of immortality, 
and their restoration to hope and peac^. 

Great events can be hastened or retarded only by 
~ persons of elevated dignity. Before the greatness 
displayed in Milton's poem, all other greatness 
shrinks away. The weakest of his agents are the 
highest and noblest of human beings, the original 
parents ©f mankio4 ; with whose actions the elernents 
consented j on whose rectitude, or deviation of will 
.depended the state of terrestrial nature,^ and the con- 
dition of all the future inhabitants of the globe. 

Of the other agents in the poem, the chief are such 
as it is irreverence to namfe on slight occasions. 
The rest were lower powers ; 

-of 'which the least could wield 

Those elements, and arm him with the force 
Of all their regions ; 

powers which only the controul of Omnipotence re- 
strains from laying creatioci waste^ and filling, the 
vast expanse of space with ruin and confusion. To 
display the motives and actions of beings tlius supe- 
rior, so far as iiuman reason can es^amine them, or 
Imman imagination represent them, is the task which 
tlus mighty poet has undertaken and performed. 

In the examiination of epick poems much specula- 
tion is commonly employed upon the characters. 
The characters in the Paradise Lost which admit of 
examination, are those of angels and of man ; of angels 
good and evil i of man in his kmocent and sinful 

Among the angels, the virtue of Raphael is mild 
and placid, of easy condescension and free communi- 
cation ; that of Michael is regal and lofty, and, as may 
seem, attentive to the dignity of his Own nature. Ab- 
diel and Gabriel appear occasionally, and act fts every 

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MILTON. 14* 

incident requires ; the solitary fidelity of Abdial i»^ 
very aniiahly painted. 

Of the evil angeU the characters are more diversi- 
fied. To Satan, as Addison observes, such sentiments 
are given as suit the most exalted a^d the most de- 
praved being* Milton has been cei^ured by Clarke* 
for the impiety which sometimes breaks from Satan's 
mouth ; for there are thoughts, as he justly remarksi 
which no observation of qharacter ban justify, because 
no good man would willingly permit them to pass, 
however transiently, through his own mind. To make 
Satan speak as a rebel, without any such expressions 
as might taint the reader's imagination, was indeed 
one of the great difficulties in Milton*s undertaking ; 
and I cannot but think that he has extricated himself 
with great happiness. There is in Satan's speeches 
little that can give pain to a pious ear. The language 
of rebellion cannot be the same with that of obedi- 
ence. The malignity of Satan foams in haughtiness 
and obstinacy; but his expressions are commonly 
general, and no otherwise offensive than as they are 

The other chiefs of the celestial rebellion are very 
Judiciously discriminated in the first and second 
books ; and the ferocious character of Moloch appears, 
both in the battle and the council with exact consist- 

To Adam and to Eve are given, during their inno- 
cence, such sentiments as innocence can generate and 
utter. Their love is pure benevolence and mutual 
veneration ; their repasts are without luxury, and their 
diligence without toil. Their addresses to their Maker 
Jiave little more than the voice of admiration and gra* 

• Author of the Essay on Study. Dp. J. 

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tso 4IILTON. 

tiitadc. rniidon left them nothing to i^ ; aftd inno- 
cence left them nothing to fear, 
• Bvit with guilt enter distrust and discowl, mutual 
ftccusation, an^ stubborn setf-defence ; they reg^ 
each other with alienated mimls, a«d dread their 
Creator as the avenger of their transgresaion. At last 
they seek sheKer in his mercy, soften to repentance, 
end melt in supplication. Both before and after the 
fall, the superiority of Adam is diligently sustwned. 

Of thejrob^le^QSi^^ ^"^^ ^^J^^ ^^.* 

Tulgar epick poem, which immerge the critic^ in 
deep consideration, the Paradise Lost rehires littlfc 
to be said. It contains the histoiy of a miracle, of 
• Creation and redemption; it displays' the power and 
the mercy of the Supreme Being ; the probable there- 
fore is marvellous, and the marvellous is probable. 
The substance of tlie narrative is truth; and, as truth 
allows no choice, it is like necessity, superior to rule. 
To the accidental or adventitious parts, as to eveiy 
thing human, some slight exceptions may be made ; ^ 
but the main fabrick is immovably supported. 

It is justly remarked by Addison, that this poem ha^ 
b/ the nature of its subject, the advantage above all 
«thers,thatit IS universally and perpetually interesting. 
All mankind will, through all ages, bear tlie same re- 
lation to Adam and to Eve, and must partake of that 
good and evil which extend to themselves* 

Of the machineryr so called from 0iot aw finxf^^rs 
by which is meant the occasional interposition of su- 
pernatural power, ap.Qfcher fertile topick of critical re- 
irlarksjlrere is no room to speak, because every thing 
is done under the immediate and visible direction of 
heaven ; but the rule is* so far observed, that no part 
of the action, could have been accomplished by any 
other means. 

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MILTON. 151 

Of episodes , I think there are only two, contuned 
in Raphael's relation of the war in heaveu, and Mi- 
chael's prophetick account of the changes to happen 
in this world. Both are closely connected with the 
great action ; one was necessary to Adam as a warning, 
the other as a consolation. 

To the completeness or integrity of the design, no- 
thing can be objected ; it has distinctly and clearly 
what Aristotle requires, a beginning, a middle, and 
an end. There is perhaps no poem, of the same 
length, from which so little can be taken without ap- 
parent mutilation. Here are naijanei^LgaBips, nor is 
there any long description of a^sb^^ The short di-^ 
g^gg^yQfta«at the beginning of the third, seventh, and 
ninth books might doubtless be spared ; but super- 
fluities so beautiful who would take away ? or \tho 
does not wish that the author of the Iliad had grati- 
fied succeeding ages with a little knowledge of him- 
self? Perhaps no passages are more frequently or 
more attentively read than those extrinsick para- 
graphs ; and, since the end of poetry is pleasure, that 
cannot be unpoetical with which all are pleased. 

The questions, whether- the action of the poem>be / 
strictly one, whether the poem can be properly termed 
heroick, and who is the hero, are raised by such read- 
ers as draw their principles of judgment rather from 
books than from reason. Milton, though he entitled 
paradise Lost only a poem, yet calls it himself heroick 
song. Dryden,. petulantly and indecently, denies the 
heroism of Adam, because he .was overcome : but 
there is no reason why the hero should' not be un- 
fortunate, except established practice, since success 
and virtue do not go necessarily together. Cato is 
the hero of Lucan ; but Lucan's authority will not be 
suffered by Quintilian to decide. However, if suc- 


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152 MILTON. 

cess l)e necessary, Adam's deceiver was, at last, 
crushed ; Ad^m was restored to his Maker's favour, 
^nd therefore may securely resume his human rank. 

After the scheme and fabrick of the poem, must be 
considered its component parts, the sentiments and 
the diction. 

The sentiments, as expressive of manners, or ap- 
propriated to characters, are, for the greater part, 
unexceptionably just. 

Sglendid^passages, containing lessons of morality, 
or precepts of prudjiK occur seldom. Such is the 
original formation of this poem, that as it admits no 
human manners till the fall, it can give little assist- 
ance to human conduct. Its end is to raise the 
thoughts above sublunaiy cares or pleasures. Yet 
the praise of that fortitude, with which Abdiel main- 
tained his singularity of virtue ^against the scorn of 
multitudes, may be accommodated to all times ; and 
Raphael's reproof of Adam's curiosity after the plane- 
tary motions, with the answer returned by Adam may 
be confidently opposed to any rule of life which any 
poet has delivered 

The thoughts which are occasionally called forth 
in the progress, are such as could only be produced 
by an imagination in the highest degree fervid and 
active, to which materials were supplied by incessant' 
study and unlimited curiosity. The heat of Milton's 
mind might be said to sublimate his learning, to 
throw off into his work the spirit of science, unmin- 
gled with its grosser parts. 

He had considered creation in its whole extent, 
and his descriptions are therefore learned. He had ac- 
customed his imagination to unrestrained indulgence, 
and his conceptions therefore were extensive. The 
characteristick quality of his poem is sublimity. He. 

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MILTON. 153 

sometimes descends to the elegant, but his element 
is the great. He can occasionally invest himself 
with grace; but his natural port is gigantick lofti- 
ness.* He can please when pleasure is required ; but 
it is his peculiar power to astonish. 

He seems to have been well acquainted with his 
own genius, and to know what it was that nature 
had bestowed upon him more bountifully than upon 
others ; the power of displaying the vast, illuminat- 
ing the splendid, enforcing the awful, darkening the 
gloomy, and aggravating the dreadful ; he therefore 
chose a subject on which too much could not be said 
on which he might tire his fancy without the censure 
of extravagance. 

The appearances of nature, and the occurrences of 
life did not satiate his appetite of greatness. To paint 
things as they are, requires a minute attention, and 
employs the memory rather than the fancy. Milton's 
delight was to sport in the wide regions of possibility ; 
reality was a scene too narrow for his mind. He sent 
his faculties out upon discovery, into worlds where 
only imagination can travel, and delighted to form 
new modes of existence, and furnish sentiment and 
action to superior beings, to trace the counsels of hell, 
or accompany the choirs of heaven. 

But he could not be always in other worlds ; he 

must sometimes revisit earth, and tell of things visible 

and known. • When he cannot raise wonder by the 

V sublimity of his mind, he gives delight by its fertility. 

Whatever be his subject he never fails to fill the 
imagination. But his images and descriptions of the 
scenes or operations of nature do not seem to be al- 
ways copied from original form, nor to have the fresh- 
ness, raciness, and energy of immediate observation. 

* Algarotti terms it gigantesca subiimita Miltoniana. Dr J. 
H 2 

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He saw nature, as Drydeii expresses it, through the 
spectacles of* books; and on most occasions calls 
learning to his assistance. The garden of Eden hrioga 
to his mind the vale of Enna, where Proserpine was 
gathering flowers. Satan makes his way through 
fighting elements, like Argo between the Cyanean 
rocks, or Ulysses between the two Sicilian whirlpools, 
when he shunned Charybdas on the larboard. The 
mythological allusions have been justly censured, as 
not being »lways used with notice of their vanity; 
but they contribute variety to the nai^ration, and 
produce an alternate exercise of the memory and the 

His similies are less numerous, and more various, 
than those of his predecessors. But he does not con- 
fine himself within the limits of rigorous comparison : 
his great excellence is amplitude, and he expands 
the adventitious image beyond the dimensions which 
the occasion required. Thus, comparing the shield 
of Satan to the oi^ of the moon, he crowds the imagi- 
nation with the discovery of the telescope, and all the 
Wonders whkh the telescope discovers. 

Of his moral sentiments it is hardly praise to affirm 
that they excel those of all other poets ; for this su- 
periority he was indebted to his acquaintance with the 
sacred writings. The ancient epick poets, wanting 
the light of revelation, were very unskilful teachers 
of virtue ; their principal characters may be great, but 
they are not amiable. The reader may rise from 
their works with a greater degree of active or passive 
fortitude, and sometimes of prudence ; but he will be 
able to carry away few precepts of justice, and none 
of mercy. 

From the Italian writers it appears that the advanta- 
ges of even christian knowledge maybe possessed in 

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MILTON. 155 

Tulii. Ariosto's pravity is generally known; and, 
though the deliverance of Jerusalem may be consi- 
dered as a sacred subject^ the poet has been very 
sparing of moral instruction. 

In Milton every line breathes sanctity of thought, 
and purity of manners, except when the train of the 
narration requires the introduction of the rebellious 
spirits ; and even they are compelled to acknowledge 
their subjection to God in such a manner as excites 
reverence, and confirms piety. 

Of human beings there are but two ; but those two 
are the parents of mankind, venerable before their fall 
for dignity and innocence, and amiable after it for re- 
pentance and submission. In their first state their 
affection is tender without weakness, and their piety 
sublime without presumption. When they have sin- 
ned, they show how discord begins in mutual frailty, 
and how it ought to cease in mutual forbearance ; how 
confidence of the divine favour is forfeited by sin, and 
how hope of pardon may be obtained by penitence and 
prayer. A state of innocence we can only conceive, 
if indeed) in our present misery, it be possible to con- 
ceive it ; but the sentiments and worship proper to a 
fallen and offending being, we have all to learn, as we 
have all to practise. 

The poet whatever be done, is always great. Our 
progenitors, in their first state, conversed with angels ; 
even when folly and sin had degraded them, they had 
not in their humiliation the port of mean suitors ; and 
they rise again to reverential regard, when we find 
that their prayers were heard. 

As human passions did not enter the world before 
the fall, there is in the Paradise Lost little opportunity 
for the pathetick ; but what little there is has not been 
lost. That passion which h peculiar to rational nature 
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156 MILTON. 

the anguish arising from the consciousness of trans- 
gression> and the horrors attending the sense of the 
divine displeasure, are very justly described and forci- 
bly impressed. But the passions are moved only on 
one occasion ; sublimity is the general and preventing 
quality of this poem ; sublimity variously modified, 
sometimes descriptive, sometimes argumentative. 

The defects and faults of Paradise Lost, for faults 
and defects every work of man must have, it is the 
business of impartial criticism to discover. As, in 
displaying the excellence of Milton, I have not made 
long quotations, because of selecting beauties there 
had been no end, I shall in the same general manner 
mention that which seems to deserve censure ; for 
-what Englishman can take delight in transcribing 
passages, which, if they lessen the reputation of Milton, 
diminish in some degree the honour of pur country ? 

The generality of my scheme does not admit the 
frequent notice of verbal inaccuracies ; which Bentley, 
perhaps better skilled in grammar than in poetry, 
has often found, though he sometimes made them, and 
which he imputed to the obtrusions of a reviser, 
whom the author's blindness obliged him to employ. 
A supposition rash and groundless, if he thought it 
true ; and vile and pernicious, if, as is said, he in pri- 
vate allowed it to be fialse. 

The plan of Paradise Lost has this inconvenience, 
that it comprises neither human actions nor human 
manners.* The man and woman who act and suffer 
are in a state which no other man or woman can ever 
know. The reader finds no transaction in which he 
can be engaged ; beholds no condition in which he 

* But says Dr. Wart on, it has throughout a reference to human 
life and aciiona C. 

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MILTON. 157 

can by any effort of imagination place himself; he 
has, therefore, Uttle natural curiosity or sympathy. 

We all, indeed, feel the effects of Adam's disobe- 
dience ; we all sin like Adam, and like him must all 
bewail our offences ; we have restless and insidious 
enemies in the fallen angels ; and in the blessed spi- 
rits we have guardians and friends ; in the redemption 
of mankind we hope to be included ; in the description 
of heaven and hell we are surely interested, as we are, 
all to reside hereafter either in the regions of horror 
or bliss. 

But these truths are too important to be new ; they 
have been taught to our infancy ; they have mingled 
with our solitary thoughts and familiar conversation, 
and are habitually interwoven with the whole texture 
of life. Being therefore not new, they raise no unac- 
customed emotion in the mind ; what we knew before, 
we cannot learn ; what is not unexpected, cannot 

Of the ideas suggested by these awful scenes, from 
some we recede w;ith reverence, except when stated 
hours require their association ; and from others we 
shrink with horror, or admit them only as salutary 
inflictions, as counterpoises to our interests and pas< 
sions. Such images rather obstruct the career of 
fancy than incite it. 

Pleasure and terror are indeed the genuine sources 
of poetry ; but poetical pleasure must be such as hu- 
man imagination can at least conceive ; and poetical 
terror such as human strength and fortitude may com- 
bat. The good and evil of eternity are too ponderous 
for the wings of wit ; the mind sinks under them with 
passive helplessness, content with calm belief and 
humble adoration. 

Known truths^ however, may take a different ap- 
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158 MILTON. 

pearance, and be conyeyed to the miod by a ne w train 
of intermediate images. This Milton has undertaken) 
and performed with pregnancy and vigour of mind 
peculiar to himself. Whoever considers the few 
radical positions which the scriptures afforde d him, 
will wonder by what energetick operation he expand- 
ed them to such extent, and ramified them to so much 
variety, restrained as he was by religious reverence 
from licentiousness of fiction. 

Here is a full display of the united force of study 
and genius : of a great accumulation of materials, with 
judgment to digest, and fancy to combine them : Mil- 
ton was able to select from nature, or from story, from 
ancient fable, or from modern science, whatever could 
illustrate or adorn his thoughts. An accumuladon of 
knowledge impregnated his mind, fermented by atudyt 
and exalted by imagination. 

It has been therefore said, without an indecent 
hyperbole, by one of his encomiasts, that in reading 
Paradise Lost, we read a book of universal knowledge. 
f But original deficience cannot be supplied. The 
1 want of human interest is always felt Paradise Lost 
is one of the books which the reader admires and lays 
down, and forgets to take up again. None ever wished 
it longer than it is. Its perusal is a duty rather than a 
pleasure. We read Milton for instruction, retire haras- 
sed and overburdened, and look elsewhere for recre- 
ation ; we desert our master, and seek for companions. 
Another inconvenience of Milton's design is, that 
it requires the description of what cannot be described,^ 
♦^e agency of spirits. He saw that immateriality 
'supplied no images, and that he could not show angela 
acting but by instruments of action; he therefore 
invested them with form and matter. This being 
necessary, was therefore defensible; .and he should 

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MILTON. 15^ 

have secured the consistency of his 6y stem, by keep- 
ing immateriality out of sight, and enticing liis reader 
to drop it from his^ thoughts. But he has unhappily 
perplexed his poetry with his philosophy. His infer-* 
nal and celestial powers are sometimes pure spirit, 
and sometimes animated body. When Satan walks 
with his lance upon the burning marl, he has a body, 
when, in his passage between hell and the new world, 
he is in danger of sinking in the vacuity, and is sup- 
ported by a gust of rising vapours, he has a body ^ 
Mrhen he animates the toad, he seems to be mere 
spirit, that can penetrate matter at pleasure ; when he 
starts up in his own shape, he has at least a deter- 
mined form ; and when he is brought before Gabriel, 
he has a spear and a shield, which he had the power 
of hiding in the toad, though the arms of the contend- 
ing angels are evidently material. 

The vulgar inhabitants of Pandaemonium, being in- 
corporeal spirits, are at large, though without numbeiS 
in a limited space ; yet in the battle, when they were 
overwhelmed by mountains, their armour hurt them, 
crushed in upon their substance, now grown gross by 
sinning. This likewise happened to the uneorrupted 
angels, who were overthrown the sooner for their 
arms, for unarmed they might easily as spirits have 
evaded by contraction or remove. Even as spirits they 
are hardly spiritual : for contraction and remove arfc 
images of matter ; but if they could have escaped with- 
out their armour, they might have escaped from it, 
and left only the empty cover to be battt^red. Uriel 
when he rides on a sunbeam, is material ; Siatan is 
imaterial when he is afraid of the prowess of Adam. 

The confusion of spirit and matter which pervades 
the whole narration of the war of heaven, fills it with 
incongruity ; and the book in which it is related is, I . 
H 5 

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160 MILTON. 

bejieve, the favourite of children, and gradually ne- 
glected as knowledge is increased. 

Aftelf the operation of immaterial agents, which 
cannot be explained, may be considered that of alle- 
gorical persons, which have no real existence. To 
exalt causes into agents, to invest abstract ideas with 
form, and animate them with activity, has always been 
the right of poetry. But such airy beings are, for the 
most part, suffered only to do their natural office and 
l-etire. Thus fame tells a tale, and victory hovers over 
a general, or perches on a standard ; but fame and vic- 
tory can do no more. To give them any real employ- 
ment, or ascribe to them any material agency, is to 
make them allegorical 90 longer, but to shock the 
mind by ascribing effects to nonenitj:. In the Pro- 
metheus of iEschylus, we see violence and strength, 
and in the Alcestis of Euripides, we see death brought 
upon the stage, all as active persons of the drama ; but 
no precedents can justify absurdity. 

Milton's allegory of sin and death is undoubtedly 
faulty. Sin is indeed the mother of death, and may be 
allowed to be the portress of hell ; but wheii they stop 
the journey of Satan, a journey described as real, and 
when death offers him battle, the allegory is broken. 
That sin and death should have shown the way to hell, 
might have been allowed ; but they cannot facilitate 
the passage by building abridge, because the difficulty 
of Satan's passage is described as real and sensible, 
and the bridge ought to be only figurative. The hell 
assigned to the rebellious spirits is described as not 
less local than the residence of man. It is placed in 
some distant part of space, separated from the regions 
of harmony and order by a chaotic waste, and an unoc- 
cupied vacuity ; but sin and death worked up a mole 

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MILTON. 161 

of aggravated soil, cemented with asphaltas ; a work 
too bulky for ideal architects. 

This unskilful allegory appears to me one of the 
greatest faults of the poem ; and to this there was no 
temptation but the author's opinion of its beauty. 

To the conduct of the narrative some objection*, 
may be made. Satan is with great expectation brought 
before Gabriel in Paradise, and is suffered to go away 
unmolested. Tne creation of man is represented aa 
the consequence of the vacuity left in heaven by the 
expulsion of the rebels ; yet Satan mentions it as a 
report rife in heaven before his departure. 

To find sentiments for the state of innocence was 
very difficult ; and something of anticipation perhaps 
8 now and then discovered. Adam*s discourse of 
dreams seems not to be the speculation of a new- 
created being. I know not whether his answer to the 
angel's reproof for curiosity does not want something 
of propriety ; it is the speech of a man acquainted 
with many other men. Some philosophical notions, 
especially when the philosophy is false, might have 
been better omitted. The angel, in a comparison, 
speaks of timorous deer, before deer were yet timor- 
ous, and before Adam could understand the Com- 

Dryden remarks, that Milton has some fiats amonjg^ 
his elevations. This is only to say that all the parts 
are not equal. In every work one part must be for 
the sake of others ; a palace must have passages ; a 
poem must have traoisitions. It is no more to be re- 
quired that wit should always be blazing, than that 
the sun should always stand at noon. In a great work 
there is a vicissitude of luminous and opaque parts, 
as there is in the world a succession of day^and night. 
Milton, when he has expatiated in the sky may b^ 
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163 MILTON. 

allowed sometimes to revisit earth ; for what other 
author ever soared so high, or sustained his flight so 
long ? 

Milton, being well versed in the Italian poets, ap« 
pears to have borrowed often from them; and, as 
every man catches something from his companions, 
his desire of imitating Ariosto's levity has disgraced 
his work with the paradise of fools ; a fiction not in 
itself ill imagined, but too ludicrous for its place. 

His play on words, in which he delights^ too often ; 
his equivocations, which Bentley endeavours to de« 
fend by the example ef the ancients ; his unnecessaryr 
and ungraceful use of terms of art ; it is not neces- 
sary to mention, because they are easily remarked^ 
and generally censured ; ^nd at last bear so little pro- 
portion to the whole, that they scarcely deserve the 
attention of a critick. 

Such are the faults of that wonderful performanee^ 
Paradise Lost ; which he who can put in balance with 
its beauties, must be considered not as nice but as 
dull, as less to' be censured for want of candour, than 
pitied for want of sensibility. 

Of Paradise Regained, the general judgment seema 
now to be right, that it is in many parts elegant^ and 
everywhere instructive. It was not to be supposed 
that the writer of Paradise Lost could ever write with- 
out great effusions of fancy and exalted precepts o£ 
wisdom. The basis of Paradise Regained is narrow f 
*a dialogue without action can never please like »i 
union of the narrative and dnonatick powers. Had 
this poem been written not by Milton, but hy some 
imitator, it would have claimed and received universal 

If Paradise Regained has been too much depreciat- 
ed Sampson Agonistes has in requilal been too oMich 

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mdmired. It could <»ily 1)e by long^ pfejudice and the 
bigotry of learning) that Miltcfti CQitld prefer the an- 
cient tragediea, with their encumbrance of a chorus» 
Co the exhibitions of the French and English stages $ 
and it is only by a blind confidence in the reputation 
of Milton, that a drama can be praised in wMch the 
intermediate parts have neither cause nor conse- 
quence, neither hasten nor retard the catastrophe. 

In this tragedy are however many particular beau-* 
^es, many jttst senuments and striking lines : but it 
wants that power of attracting the attention which a 
well-connected plan produces. 

Milton would not have excelled in dramatick writ- 
ing; he knew human nature only in the gross, and 
bad never studied the shades of character, nor the 
eombinations of concurring, nor the perplexity of con** 
Vending passions. He had read muchi and knew what 
tlooks could teach ; but had mingled little in the 
world, and was deficient in the knowledge which ex- 
perience must confer. ' 

Through all his greater works there prevails an 
uniform peculiarity of diction, a mode and cast of ex- 
pression, which bears little resemblance to that of any 
former writer : and which is so far removed from 
common use, that an unlearned reader, when he first 
opens his book, finds himself surprized by a new lan- 

This novelty has been, by those who can find no- 
thing wrong Id Milton, imputed to his laborious en- 
deavours af^er words suitable to the grandeur of his 
ideas. Our language, says Addison, sunk under him. 
. But the truth is, that both in prose and verse, he had 
formed his style by a perverse and pedantiek princi- 
ple. He was desirous to use English words with a 
foreign idiom. This in all his prose is discovered 

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164 MILTON. 

and condemned ; for there jtidgment operates freely 
neither softened by the beauty, nor awed by the dig- 
nity of his thoughts ; but such is the power of his 
. poetry, that his caH is obeyed without resistance, the 
reader feels himself in captivity to a higher and a 
nobler mind, and criticism sinks in admiration. 

Milton's style was not modified by his subject; 
what is shown with greater extent in Paradise Lost, 
may be found iv Comus, One source of his peculi- 
arity was his familiarity with the Tuscan poets ; the 
disposition of his words is, I think, frequently Italian ; 
perhaps sometimes combined with other tongues. 

Of him, at last, may be said what Jonson says of 
Spenser, that he wrote no language, but has ionned 
what Butler calls a Babylonish dialect, itself harsh 
and barbarous, but made by exalted genius and exten- 
sive learning the vehicle of so much instruction and 
so much pleasure, that, like other lovers, we find 
grace in its deformity. 

Whatever be the faults of his diction, he cannot 
want the praise of copiousness and variety: he was 
master of his language in its full extent ; and has se- 
lected the melodious words with such diligence, that 
from his book alone the art of English poetry might 
be learned. 

After his diction, something must be said of his ver* 
sification. The measure, he says, is the English he- 
roick verse without rhyme. Of this mode he had 
many examples among the Italians, and some in his 
own country. The earl of Surrey is said to have 
translated one of Virgirs boolfrs without rhyme ; and 
beside our tragedies, a few short poems had appeared 
in blank verse ; particularity one tending to reconcile * 
the nation to Raleigh's wild attempt upon Guiana, and 
probably written by Raleigh himself. These petty 

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performances cannot be supposed to have much influ- 
enced Milton, who more probably took his hint from 
Trissino's Italia Liberata; and, finding blank verse 
easier than rhyme, was desirous of persuading himself 
that it is better. 

Rhyme, he says, and says truly, is no necessary ad- 
junct of true poetry. But, perhaps^ of poetry as a men- 
tal operation, metre, or musick is no necessary ad- 
junct : it is however by the musick of metre that poet- 
ry has been discriminated in all languages ; and in> lan- 
guages melodiously constructed, with a due propor- 
tion of long and short syllables, metre is sufiicient. But 
one language cannot communicate its rules to ano- 
ther ; where metre is scanty and imperfect, some help 
is necessary. [The musick of the English heroick line 
strikes the ear so faintly, that it is easily lost, unless 
all the syllables of every line co-operate together ; this 
co-operation can be only obtained by the preservation 
of every verse unmingled with another, as a distinct 
system of sounds ; and this distinctness is obtained and 
preserved by the artifice of rhyme. The variety of 
pauses, so much boasted by the lovers of blank verse 
changes the measures of an English poet to the peri- 
ods of a declaimer ;;and there are only a few skilful 
and happy readers of Milton, who enable their audi- 
ence to perceive where the. lines endorbeginTJ Blank 
verse, said an ingenious critick, seems to be verse 
oply to the eye. 

Poetry may subsist without rhyme, but English 
poetry will not often please ; nor can rhyme ever be 
safely spared but where the subject is able to support 
itself. Blank verse makes some approach to that 
which is called the lapidary style ;. has neither the 
easiness of prose, nor the melody of numbers, and 
therefore tires by long continuance. Of the Italian 


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166 MILTON. 

trritcrs without rhjrtne, whom Milton alleges as pre# 
Cedents not one is popular ; what reason eon Id urge 
in its defence, has been confuted by the ear. 

But, whatever be the advantage of rhyme, I cannot 
prevail on myself to wish that Milton had been a 
rhymer ; for I cannot wish his work to be other than it 
is ; yet, like other heroes, he is to be admired rather 
than imitated. He that thinks himself capable of aston- 
ishing, may write blank verse ; but those that hope 
only to please must condescend to rhyme. 

The highest praise of genius is original invention. • 
Milton cannot be said to have contrived the structure - 
of an epick poem, and therefore owes reverence to 
that vigour and amplitude of mind to which all gene- 
rations must be indebted for the art of poetical narra- 
tion, for the texture of the fable, the variation of inci- 
dentS) the interposition of dialogue and all the strata- 
gems that surprise and enchain attention. But of all 
the borrowei's from Homer, Milton is perhaps the 
least indebted. He was naturally a thinker for him- 
self, confident of his own abilities, and disdainful of 
help or hinderance : he did not refuse admission to 
the thoughts or images of his predecessors, but he 
did not seek them. From his contemporaries he 
neither courted not received support ; there is in his 
writings nothing by which the pride of other antluH^s 
might be gratified, or ftivour gained ; no exchange of 
praise, nor solicitation of support. His great works 
were performed under discountenance, and in blind- 
ness ; but difficulties vanished at his touch ; he was 
born for whatever is arduous ; and his work is not the 
greatest of heroick poems, only because it is not the 

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\J¥ the great author of Hudibras there is a life |)re« 
fixed to the latter editions of his poem, by an unknown 
writer, and therefore of disputable authority ; and 
some account is incidentally giyen by Wood, who 
confesses the uncertainty of his own narrative ; more 
however than they knew cannot now be learned, and 
nothing remains but to compare and copy them. 

SAMtJSL BuTLRR was bom inthe parish of Strens- 
ham in Woroestershire, according to his biographer, 
in 1613. This account Dr. Nash finds confirmed by 
the rei^stcr. He was christened Feb. 14. 

His father's condition- is variously represented. 
Wood mentions him as competently wealthy; but 
Mr. Longueviile, the son of Butler's principal friend, 
says he was an honest farmer with some small estate, 
who made a shift to educate his son at the grammar* 
school of Worcester, under Mr.- Henry Bright,* from 

• These arc the words of the author of the short account of Bat- 
1 er, prefixed to Hadibras, which Dr. Johnson, notwithstanding what 
he says above, seems to have supposed was written by Mr. Longue* 
Tille, the father ; bat the contrary is to he inferred from a sqbseqaent 
passage, wherein the author laments that he had neither such an ae- 
qaaintance nor interest with Mr. LongueTille as to procure from 
hrm the golden remains of Butler there mentioned He was proba* 
hly led into the mistake by a note in the Biog. Brit. p. 1077, signiiy- 
iagthat the son of this gentleman vas Ihfm^ in 1730. 

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16« BUTLER. 

whose care he removed for a short time to Cam- 
bridge ; but, for want of money, was never made a 
member of any college. Wood leaves us rather 
doubtful whether he went to Cambridge or Oxford ; 
but at last makes him pass six or seven years at Cam- 
bridge without knowing in what hall or college; 
yet it can hardly be imagined that he lived so long ia 
either university, but as belonging to one house or 
another ; and it is still less likely that he cquld have 
so long inhabited a place of learning with so little dis- 
tinction as to leave his residence uncertain. Dr. Nash 
has discovered thai his father vas owner of a house 
and a little land, worth about eight pounds, a year, still 
called Butler's tenement. 

Wood has his information from his brother, whose 
narrative placed him at Cambridge, in opposition to 
that of his neighbours, which sent him to Oxford. 
The brother seems the best authority, till, by confes- 
sing his inability to tell his hall or col]^ge, he gives, 
reason to suspect that he was resolved to bestow on 
him an academical education ; but durst not name a 
college, for fear of detection. 

He was for some time, according to the author of 

Of this friend and generous patron of Butler, Mr. William Lon- 
gneville, I find an account, written by a person who was m ell ac- 
quainted with him, to this eife«t ; Tiz. that he was a conveyancing 
lawyer, and a bencher of the Inner Teiniple, and had raised himself 
from a low beginning to yery great eminence in that profession; 
that he was eloquent and learned, of dpotless integrity ; that he sup- 
ported an aged father who had ruined his foi*tunes by extravagance, 
and by his industry aud application re-edified a ruined family ; that 
he supported Butler, who, but for him, must literally have starved ; 
and received from him as a recompence the papers called his Re- 
mains. Liife of the lord-keeper Guilford, p. 289. I'hese have since 
l)een given to the publick by Mr. Thyer, of Manchester ; and the 
.originals are now in the hands of the Hev. Dr. Farmer^ master of 
Emanuel College, Cambridge. H. 

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BUTLER. 169 

his life, clerk to Mr. Jeffery*s of Earl's Croomb in 
Worcestershire, an eminent justice of the peace. In 
his service he had not only leisure for study, but for 
recreation ; his amusements were musick and paint- 
ing : and the reward of his pencil was the fiiendship 
of the celebrated Cooper. Some pictures, said to be 
his, were shown to Dr. Nash, at Earl's Croomb ; but 
when he inquired for them some years afterward, he 
found them destroyed to stop windows^ and owns that 
they hardly deserved a better fate. 

He was afterward admitted into the family of the 
countess of Kent, where he had the use of a library 
and so much recommended himself to Seldeti, that 
be was often employed by him in literary business. 
Selden, as is well known, was steward to the countess, 
and is supposed to have gained much of his wealth by 
managing her estate. 

In what character Butler was admitted into that 
lady's service, how long he continued in it, and why 
he left it, is, like the other incidents of his life, utter- 
ly unknown. 

The vicissitudes of his condition placed him afteis 
wards in the family of sir Samuel Luke, one of Crom- 
well's officers. Here he observed so much of the 
' character of the sectaries, that he is said to have writ- 
ten or begun his poem at this time ; and it is likely 
that such a design would be formed in a place where 
he saw the principles and practices of the rebels, au- 
dacious and undisguised in the confidence of success. 

At length the king returned, and the time came in 
which loyalty hoped for its reward. Butler, however, 
was only made secretary to the earl of Carbury, pre- 
sident of the principality of Wales ; who conferred on 
him the stewardship of Ludlow 'Castle, when the coupt 
ef the marches was revived. 

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iro BUTLER. 

In this part of his life, he married Mrs. Herbert, ^ 
gentlewoman of a good family ; and lived, says Wood, 
upon her fortune, having studied the common law, 
but never practised it. A fortune she had, says his 
biographer, but it was lost by bad securities^ 

In 1663 was published the first part, contidning 
three cantos, of the poem of Hudibras, which, as 
Prior relates, was made known at court by the taste 
and influence of the earl of Dorset. When iv was 
known, it was necessarily admired : the king quoted, 
.the courtiers studied, and the whole party of the roy- 
alists applauded it. Every eye watched for the golden 
sdiower which was to fall upon the author, who cer- 
tainly was not without his part in the general ex- 

In 1664 the second part appeared ; the curiosity of 
the nation was rekindled, and the writer was again 
praised and elated. But praise was his whole reward. 
Clarendon, says Wood, gave him reason to hope for 
^ places and employments of value and credit ;" but 
no such advantages did he ever obtain. It is reported, 
that the king once gave him three hundred guineas ; 
but of this temporary bounty I find no proof. 

Wood relates that he was secretary to Villiers duke 
4f Buckingham, when he was chancellor of Cam- 
bridge : this is doubted by the other writer, who yet 
allows the duke to have been his frequent benefactor. 
That both these accounts are false there is reason to 
suspect from a story told by Packe, in his account of 
the life of Wycherley ; and from some verses which 
Mr. Thyer has published in the author's remains. 

" Mr. Wycherley," says Packe, " had always laid 
hold of any opportunity which offered of representing 
to the duke of Buckingham how well Mr. Butler had 
deserved of the r(^al family, by vrriting his inimitable 

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BUTLER. 171 

Iludibras ; and that it was a reproach to the court, 
that a person of his loyalty and wit should suffer in 
obscurity, and under the wants he did. The duke 
always seemed to hearken to him with attention 
enough ; and, after some time, undertook to recom* 
mend his pretensions to his majesty. Mr. Wycher- 
ley, in hopes to keep him steady to his* word, obtained 
of his grace to name a day, when he might introduce 
that modest and unfortunate poet to his new patron. 
At last an appointment was made, and the place of 
meeting was agreed to be the Roebuck* Mr. Butler 
and his friend attended accordingly ; the duke joined 
them ; but as the d— 1 would have it, the door of the 
room where they sat was open, and his grace, whe 
had seated himself near it, observing a pimp of his 
acquaintance, the creature too was a knight, trip by 
with a brace of ladies, immediately quitted his engage- 
ment to follow another kind of business, at which 
he was more ready than in doing good offices to men 
of desert ; though no one was better qualified than 
he, both in regard Xo his fortune and understanding, 
to protect them ; and, from that time to the day of his 
death, poor Butler never found the least effect of his 
p romise." 

Such is the story. The verses are 'written with a 
degree of acrimony, such as neglect and disappoint- 
ment might naturally excite ; and such as it would 
be hard to imagine Butler capable of expressing 
against a man who had any claim to his gratitude. 

Notwithstanding this discouragement and neglect, 
he still prosecuted his design ; and in 1678 published 
a third part, which still leaves the poem imperfect 
and abrupt. How much more he originally intended, 
or with what events the action was to be concluded, 
it is vain to conjecture. Nor can it be thought strange 

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172 BUTLER. 

that he should stop here, however unexpectedly. To 
write without reward is sufficiently unpieasing. He 
had now arrived at an age when he might think it 
proper to be in jest no longer, and perhaps his health 
might now begin to fail. 

- He died in 1680 ; and Mr. Longueville, having un- 
successfully solicited a subscription for his interment 
in Westminster abbey, buried him at his own cost in 
the church ySird of Covent Garden.* Dr. Simon Pa- 
trick read the service. 

• Granger was informed by Dr. Pearce, who named 
for his authority Mr. Lowndes of the treasury, that 
Butler had a yearly pension of an hundred pounds. 
This is contradicted by all tradition, by the complaints 
of Oldham, and by the reproaches of Dry den ; and I 
am afrsiid will never be confirmed. 

About sixty years afterward, Mr. Barber, a printer, 
mayor of London, and a friend tp Butler's principles, 
bestowed on him a monuifient in Westminster abbey, 
thus inscribed : 

M. S. ' , 


Qui Strenshamise in agro Vigorn. nat 1612, 

obiit Lond. 1680. 

Vir doctus imprimis, aeer, integer ; 

Operibus logenii, non item pnemiis, foelix ; 

Satyrici apud nos Carminis Artifex egregius ; 

Quo simulatsc Ueligionis Larvam detraxit, 

Et Perduelliam scelera liberrimfe exagitavit ; 

Scriptorum in suo genere, Primus Sc Postremus. 

Ne, cui Tiyo deerant ferh omnia, 

Deesset etiam mortuo Tumulus, 

Hoc tandem posito marmore, curavit 

Johannes Barber, Civis Londinensis, 1721. 

* In a note in the "Biographia Britannica," p. 1075, he is said, 
on the authority of the younger Mr. Longueville, to have lived for 
some years in Bose-street, Covent Garden, and also that be died 
there ; the latter of these particulars is rendered highly probable, 
by his being interred in the cemetery of that parish. 

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BUTLER. 173 

After his death were published three small volumes 
•f his posthumous works : I know not by whom col« 
lected, or by what authority ascertained ;* and lately, 
two volumes more have been printed by Mr. Thyer 
of Manchester, indubitably genuine. From none of 
these pieces can his life be traced, or his character 
discovered. Some verses, in the last collection, show 
him to have been among those who ridiculed the in- 
stitution of the royal society, of which the enemies 
were for some time very numerous and very acrimo- 
nious, for what reason it is hard to conceive, since the 
philosophers professed not to advance doctrines, but 
to produce facts ; and the most zealous enemy of in- 
novation must admit the gradual progress of experi? 
ence, however he may oppose hypothetical temerity. 

In this mist of obscurity passed the life of Butler, 
a man whose name can only perish with his language. 
The mode and place of his edacation are unknown ; 
the events of his life are variously related ; and all 
that can be told with certainty is, that he was poor. 

The poem of Hudibrasis one of those compositions 
of which a nation may justly boast ; as the images 
which it exhibits are domestick, the sentiments un- 
borrowed and unexpected, and the strain of, diction 
original and peculiar. We must not, however, suffer 
the pride which we assume as the countrymen of 
Butler, to make any encroachment upon justice, nor 
appropriate those honours, which others have a right 
to share. The poem of Hudibras is not wholly Eng- 
lish ; the original idea is to be found in the history of 
Don Quixote ; a book to which a mind of the greatest 
powers may be indebted without disgrace.* 

Ce.\a. les shows a man, who having, by the inces- 
sant, yetusal of iixredibie tales, subjected his under- 

* 1 hey were collecttd into one, and published in 12mo. 1732. H 

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174 BUTLER. 

standing to his imagination, and fkmiliarized his mind 
by pertinacious meditation to trains of incredible 
events, and scenes of impossible existe nee, goes out 
inr.the pride of knighthood to rediess wrongs, and de- 
fend virgins, to rescue captive princesses, and tumble 
usurpers from their thrones ; attended by a squire, 
whose cunning, too low for the suspicion of a gene- 
rous mind, enables him often to cheat his master. 

The hero of Butler is a presbyterian justice, who, 
in the confidence of legal authority, and the rage of 
zealous ignorance, ranges the country to repress su- 
perstition and correct abuses, accon^panied by an in- 
dependent clerk, disputatious and obstinate, with 
whom he often debates, but never conquers him. 

Cervantes had so m\ich kindness for Don Quixote, 
that however he embarrasses him with absutd dis- 
tresses, he gives him so much sense and virtue as 
may preserve out esteem ; wherever he is, or what- 
ever he does, he is made, by matchless dexterity com- 
monly ridiculous, but never contemptible. 

But for poor Hudibras, his poet had no tenderness ; 
he chooses not that any pity should be shown or re- 
spect paid him : he gives him up at once to laughter 
.and contempt, without any quality that can (fignify or 
protect him. 

In forming the character of Hudibras, and describ- 
ing his person and habiliments, the author seems to 
labour with a tumultous confusion of dissimilar 
ideas. He had read the history of the mock knights- 
errant ; he knew the notions and manners of a presby- 
terian magistrate, and tried to unite the absurdities 
of both, ho\^ever distant, in one personage. Thus he 
gives him that pedantick ostentation of knowledge 
which has no relation to chivalry, and loads him with 
martial encumbrances that can add nothing to his civil 

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BUTLER. 175 

dignity. He sends him out a colonelling, and yet 
never brings him within sight of war. 

If Hudibras be considered as the representative of 
the preshyterians, it is not easy to say why his wea- 
pons should be represented as' ridiculous or useless ; 
for, whatever judgment might be passed upon their 
knowledge or their argruments, experience had suffi- 
ciently shown that their swords were not to be de- 

The hero, thus compounded of swaggerer and pe- 
dant, of knight and j ustice, is led forth to action, with 
his squire Ralpho, an independent enthusiast. 

Of the contexture of events planned by the author, 
which is called the action of the poem, since it is 
left imperfect, no judgment can be made. It is pro- 
bable that the hero was to be led through many luck- 
less adventures, which would give occasion, like his- 
attack upon the bear andjiddle^ to expose the ridicu- 
lous rigour of the secretaries ; like his encounter with 
Sidrophel and Whacum, > to make superstition and 
credulity contemptible ; or, like his recourse to the 
low retailer of the law, discover the fraudulent prac-* • 
tices of different professions. 

What series of events he would have formed, or in 
what manner he would have rewarded or punished 
his hero, it is now vain to conjecture. His work 
must have had, as it seems, the defect which Dryden 
imputes to Spenser ; the action could not have been 
one ; there could only have been a succession of in- 
cidents, each of which might have happened without 
the rest, and which could not all co-operate to any 
single conclusion. 

The discontinuity of the action might however 
have been easily forgiven, if there had been action 
enough ; but I believe every readet* regrets the pau- 


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176 BUTLER. 

city of events, and complains that in the poem of 
Hudibras, as in the history of Thucydides, there 
is more said than done. The scenes are too seldom 
changed, and the attention is tired with long con- 

It is incieed much more easy to form dialogues 
than to corftrive adventures. Every position makes 
w^ay for an argument, and every objection dictates an 
iinswer. When two disputants are engaged upon a 
complicated and extensive question, the difficulty is 
not to continue, but to end the controversy. But 
whether it be tJlat we comprehend but few of the 
possibilities of life, or that life itself alfords little va- 
riety, every man who has. tried knows how much la- 
bour it will cost to form such a combination of cir- 
cufnstances, as shall have |t once the grace of novelty 
and credibility, and delight fancy without violence to 

Perhaps the dialogue of this poem is not perfect. 
Some power of engaging the attention might have 
been added to it, by quicker reciprocation, by season- 
able interruptions, by sudden questions, and by a 
nearer approach to dramatick sprightliness ; without 
which fictitious speeches will always tire, however 
spacrkling with sentences, and however variegated 
wuth allusions. 

The great source of pleasure is variety. Unifor- 
mity must tire at la^t, though it be uniformity of ex- 
cellence. We love to expect; and when expecta- 
tion is disappointed or gratified, we want to be again 
expecting. For this impatience of the present, whoever 
would please must make provision. The skilful writ- 
er iritat^ mulcety makes a due distribution of the. still 
and animated parts. It is for want of this artful in- 
tertextujje, and tliose necessary changes, that the 

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BUTLER. \rr 

•whole of a book may be tedious, though all the parts 
are praised. 

If inexhaustible wit could give perpetual pleasure, 
no eye would ever leave half-read the work of Butler; 
for what poet has ever brought so many remote 
images so happily together ? It is scarcely possible 
to peruse a page without finding some association of 
images that was never found before. By the first 
paragraph the reader is amused, by the next he is 
delighted, and by a few more strained to ^astonish- 
ment ; but astonishment is a toilsome pleasure ; he is 
soon weary of wondering, and longs to be diverted. 

Omnia vuU belle Matho dicei'C, die al'q lando 
Et bene, die iieutiiim, die aliquando luitle. 

Imagination is useless without knowledge ; nature 
■^ives in vain the power of combination, unless study 
and observation supply materials to be combined. 
Butler's treasures of knowledge appear proportioned 
to his expense : whatever topick employs his mind, 
he shows himself qualified to expand and illustrate it 
with ali the accessaries .that books can furnish : he is 
found not only to have travelled the beaten road, but 
the by-paths of literature ; not only to have taken ge- 
neral surveys, but to have examined particulars with 
minute inspection. 

If the French boast the learning of Rabel-us, we 
need not be afraid of confronting them with Butler. 

But the most valuable parts of his performance are 
those which retired study and native wit cannot sup- 
ply. He that 'merely makes a book from books may 
be useful, but can scarcely' be great Butler had 
not suffered life to glide beside him unseen or unob- 
served. He had watched with great diligence the 
operations of human nature, and traced the effects 
I 2 

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of opinion, humour, interest, and passion. From 
such remarks proceeded that great number of senten- 
tious distichs' which have passed into conversation, 
and are added as proverbial axioms to the general 
stock of practical knowledge. 

When any work has b6en viewed and admired, the 
first question of intelligent curiosity is, how was it 
performed ? Hudibras was not a hasty effusion ; it was 
not produced by a sudden tumult of imagination, or 
a short paroxysm of violent labour. To accumulate 
such a mass of sentiment at the call of accidental de- 
sire, or of sudden necessity, is beyond the reach and 
power of the most active and comprehensive mind. 
I am informed by Mr. Thyer of Manchester, the 
excellent editor of this author's relicks^ that he could 
shew something like Hudibras in prose. He has in 
his possession the common-place book, in which But- 
ler reposited, not such events or precepts as are ga- 
thered by reading, but such remarks, similitudes, 
allusions, assemblages, or inferences, as occasion 
prompted, or meditation produced, those thoughts 
that were generated in his own mind, and might be 
usefully applied to some future purpose. Such is 
the labour of those who write for immortality. 

But human works are not easily found without a 
perishable part. Of the ancient poets every reader 
ice Is the mythology tedious and oppressive. Of Hu- 
dibras, the manners, being founded on opinions, are 
temporary and local, and therefore become every day 
less intelligible, and less striking. What Cicero 
says of philosophy is true likewise of wit and humour, 
that ^' time eff^ices the fictions of opinion, and con- 
<^ firms the determinations of nature." Such man- 
ners as depend upon standing relations and general 
passions are co-extended with the race of man ; but 

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BUTLER: .r79 

these modifications of life and peculiarities of prac- 
tice, which are the progeny of error and pcrvcrse- 
ness, or at best of some accidental iufluence or tran- 
sient persuasion, must perish with their parents. 

Much therefore of that humour which transported 
the last * century with nierriment is lost to us, w^ 
do not know the sour solemnity, the sullen supersti- 
tion, the gloomy moroseness, and the stubborn scru- 
ples, of the ancient puritans ; or, if we knew them, 
derive our information only from books, or from tra- 
.dition, have never had them before our eyes, and 
cannot but by recollection and study understand the 
lines in which they are satirized. Our grandfathers 
knew the picture from the life ; we judge of the life 
by contemplating the picture. 

It is scarcely possible, in the regularity and com- 
posure of the present time, to image the tumult of 
absurdity, and clamour of contradiction, which per- 
plexed doctrine, disordered practice, and disturbed 
both public and private quiet, in that age when sub- 
ordination was broken, and awe was hissed away; 
when any unsettled innovator, who could hatch a half- 
formed notion produced it to the publick ; when every 
man might become a preacher, and almost every 
preacher could collect a congregation. 

The wisdom of the nation is very reasonably sup- 
posed to reside in the parliament. What can be con- 
cluded of the lower classes of the people, when in one 
of the parliaments summoned by Cromwell it wjis 
seriously 'proposed, that all the records in the Tower 
should be burnt, that all memory of things past 
should be effaced, and that tke whole system of life 
should commence anew ? 

• The sevcnteeMih. 
I 3 

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>80 BUTLER. 

We have never been witnesses of animosities cs> 
eited by the use of mince-pies and plum-porridge ; 
i)or seen with what abhorrence those who could eatr 
them at all other times of the year, would shrink 
from them in I>eccmber. An old puritan, who was 
^hve in my childhood^ being at one of the feasts of 
the church invited by a neighbour to partake his 
cheer, told him, that if he would treat him at an ale- 
house with beer brewed for all times and seasons, he 
should accept his kindness, but would have none of 
his superstitious meats or drinks. 

One of the puritanical tenets was the illegality of 
all games of chance ; and he that reads Gataker upon 
Lots moy see how much learning and reason one of 
the first scholars of his age t-liought necessary to prove 
that it was no crime to throw a die, or play, at cards^ 
or to hide a shilhng for the reckoning. 

Astrology," howevef, against which so much of the 
satire is directed, was not more the foliy of the pu- 
ritans than of others. It had in that time a very ex- 
tensive dominion. Its predictions, raised hopes and 
fears in minds which ought to have rejected it with 
contempt. In hazardous undertakings, care was taken 
to begin under the influence of a propitious planet ; 
and, when the king was prisoner in Carisbrook cas- 
tle, an astrologer was consulted what hour would be 
found most favourable to an escape. 

What effect tliis poem, had upon the publick, whe- 
ther it shamed imposture, or reclaimed credulity, is 
not easily determined. Cheats can seldom stand long 
against laughter. It is certain that the credit of pla- 
netary intelligence wor^ fast away ; though some men 
of knowledge, and Dry den among them, continued to 
believe that conjunctions arid oppositions had a great 

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BUTLER. . 18 i 

part ia the distribution of good or evil, and in the 
government of sublunary things. 

Poetical action ought to be probable upon certain 
suppositions; and such -probability as burlesque re- 
quires is here violated only by one incident. Nothing 
can show more plainly the necessity of doing some- 
thing, and the difficulty of finding something to do, 
than that Butler was reduced to transfer ta his hero 
the flaggellation of Sancho, not the most agreeable 
fiction of Cervantes ; very suitable indeed to the man- 
ners of that age and nation^ which ascribed wonder- 
ful efficacy to voluntary penances; but so remote 
from the practice and opinions of the Hudibrastick 
time, that judgment and imagination are alike offend- 

The diction of this poem is grossly fiaimiliar, and the 
numbers purposely neglected, except in a few places 
where the thougphts by their native excellence secure 
themselves from violation, being such as mean lan- 
guage cannot express. % The mode of versification 
has been blamed by Dryden, who regrets that the 
heroick measure was not rather chosen. To the cri- 
tical sentence of Dryden the highest reverence would 
be due, were not his decisions often precipitate, and 
his opinions immature. When he wished to change 
the measure, he probably w^uld have been willing to 
change more. If he intended that, when the num- 
bers were* heroick, the diction should still remain 
vulgar, he planned a very heterogeneous and unnatu- 
ral composition. If he preferred a general stateli- 
ness both of sound and words, he can be only under- 
stood to wish Butler had undertaken a different 

The measure is quick, sprightly > and colloqui^tl, 
suitable to the vulgarity of the words and the levity 
I 4l 

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182 BUTLER. 

of the sentiments. But such numbers and such dic- 
tion can gain regard only when they are used by a 
writer whose vigour of &ncy and copiousness of 
knowledge entitle him to contempt of oniaments, and 
who, in confidence of the novelty and justness of his 
concepdohs, can afford to throw metaphors and epi- 
thets away. To another that conveys conunon. 
thoughts in careless versification, it will only be said, 
"Pauper videri Cinna vult, & est pauper.'.* The 
meaning and diction will be worthy of each other, 
and criticism may justly doom them to perish t6ge« 

Nor even though another Butler should arise, would 
another Hudibras obtain the same regard. Burlesque 
consists in a disproportion between the style and. the 
sentiments, or between the adventitious sentiments 
and the fundamental subject. It therefore, like all 
bodies compounded qf heterogeneous parts contains 
in it a principle of corruption. All disproportion is 
unnatural ; and from what is unnatural we can de- 
rive only the pleasure which novelty produces. We 
admire it awhile as a strange thing ; but, when it is 
no longer strange, we perceive its deformity. It is 
a kind of artifice, which by frequent repetition de- 
tects itself; and the reader, learning in time what 
he is to expect, lays down his book, as the spectator 
turns away from a second exhibition of those tricks, 
of which the only use is to show that ^hey can be 

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John WILMOT, oAt^rward earl of Rochester,^ 
the son of HenT ^^arl of Rochesteirjljetter known- by 
the 'tide o€ lord Wilmot, so often mentioned in Cla- 
rendon's history, was bom April it), 1647, at Ditch- 
ley in Oxfordshire. After a grammatical education 
at the school of Burford, he entered a nobleman into 
Wadhkm college in 1659, only twelve years old ; and 
in 1661, at fourteen, was, with some other persons of 
high rank, made master of arts by lord Clarendon in. 

He travelled afterward into France and Italy ; and 
at his return devoted himself to- the court. lii 1665 
he went to sea with Sandwich, and distinguished him- 
self at Bergen by uncommon intrepidity ; and the 
next summer served again on board sir Edward 
Spragge, who, in the heat of the engagement, having 
a message of reproof to send to one of his captains, 
could find no man ready to carry it but Wilmot, who, 
in an open boat, went and returned amidst the storm. 
of shot. 

But his reputation for bravery was not lasting ; he. 
was reproached for slinking away in street quarrels, 
and leaving his companions to shift as they could 
without him; and Sheffield duke of Buckingham has . 
left a story of his refusal to fight him. 

He had very early an inclination to intemperance, 
which he totdly subdued in his travetoi but^ when 

S 5 



he became a courtier, he unhappily addicted himself 
to dissolute and vicious company, by which his prin- 
ciples were corrupted, and his manners depraved. 
He lost all sense of religious restraint, and finding it 
not convenient to admit the ^authority of laws which 
he wa$ resolved not to obey, sheltered his wickedness 
behind U^adelity. 

As he excelled^ that noisy and licentious merri^ 
ment which wine incltt>«^ his companions eagerly- 
encouraged him in excess, and ix^^iuingly indulged 
it ; till, as he cohfessed to Dr. Bumevy he was for 
five years togethej*^ cpntinually drunk, or so much 
inflamed by frequent ebrietyy as in no interval to be 
master of himself. 

In this state he played piany frolics, which it is not 
for his honour that we should remember, and which 
are not now distinctly known. He often pursued low 
amours in mean disguises, and always acted with 
great exactness and dexterity the characters which 
he assumed. 

He once erected a stage on Tower^iill, and ha- 
rangued the populace as a mountebank ; and, having: 
made physic part of his study, is said to have practised 
it successfully. 

He was so much in favour with king Charles, that 
he was made one of the gentlemen of ^the bed*chanx- 
ber, and comptroller of Woodstock Park. 

Having an active and inquisitive mind, he never, 
except in his paroxysms of intemperance, was wholly' 
negUg^i^t ^^ study ; he read what is considered as 
polite leaiiung so much, that he is mentioned by Wood 
as the greatest scholar of all the nobility. Sometimes 
he retired into the country, and amused himself with 
writing libels, in which he did not pretend to coQ^ne 
bimself to truth. 

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His favourite author in French was BoileaU) and in 
English Cowley. 

Thus in a course of drunken gaiety, and gross sen- 
suality, with intervals of study perhaps yet more cri- 
minal, with an avowed contempt of all decency, and v 
order, a total disregard of every moral, and a ifeso- 
lute denial of every religious obligation, he lived 
worthless and useless, and blazed out his youth and 
his health in lavish voluptuousness ; till, at the age of 
one-and-thirty, he had exhausted the fund of life, 
and reduced himself to a state of weakness and 

At this time he was led to an acquaintance with Dr. 
Burnet, to wkom he Ijdd open with great freedom the 
tenour of his opinions, and the course of his life, and 
from whom he received such conviction of the rea- 
sonableness of moral duty, and the truth of Christiani- 
ty, as produced a total change both of his manners 
and opinions. The account of those salutary confer- 
ences is given by Burnet, in a book, entitled, " Some 
^' passages of the life and death of John earl of Ro- 
" Chester," which the critic ought to read for its 
elegance, the philosopher for its arguments, and the 
saint for its piety. It were an injury to the reader to 
offer him lui abridgment. 

He died July 26, 16&0, before he had completed his 
thirty-fourth year ; and was sa worn away by a long 
illness, that life went out without a struggle. 

Lord Rochester was eminent for the vigour of his* 
colloquial wit, and remarkable for many wild prankjs 
and sallies of extravagance. The glare of his gene- 
ral character diffused itself upon his writings ; the 
compositions of a man whose name was heard so 
often, were certain of attention, and from many rea- 
ders certain of applause. Thisiblaze of reputation is. 

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not yet quite extinguished ; and his poetry still re- 
tains some splendour beyoQd that which genius has 

Wood and Burnet give" us reason to believe, that 
much was imputed to him which he did not write. 
I know not by whom the original collection was made, 
or by what authority its genuineness was ascertained* 
The first edition was published in the year of his 
death, with an air of concealment, professing in the 
title-page to be printed at Aruwerp. 

Of some of the pieces, however, there is no doul^. 
The imitation of Horace's Satire, the verses tO' lord 
Mulgrave, Satire against Man, the verses upon J^o- 
things and perhaps some others, are I believe genuine) 
and perhaps most of those which the late collection 

As he cannot be supposed to have found leisure 
for any course of continued study, his pieces are 
commonly short, such as one fit of resolution would 

His songs have no particular character ; they tell, 
like other songs, in smooth and easy language, of 
scorn and kindness, dismission and desertion, absence, 
and inconstancy, with the conamon-places of artificial 
courtship. They are commonly smooth and easy ; 
but have little nature, and little sentiment. 

His imitation of Horace on Lucilius is not inele- 
gant, or unhappy. In the reig^ of Charles the Second 
f^egan that adaption, which has since been very fre- 
quent, of ancient poetry to present times ; and per- 
haps few will be found where the parallelism is 
better preserved than in this. The versification is 
indeed sometimes careless^ but it is sometimes vigor- 
ous and weighty. 

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The strongest effort of kis muse is hi? poem upoa 
J^othm^, He is 90t the fir^ who has chosen this barren 
topick for the boast of his fe|^y. There is a poem 
called Mhil in Latin by PaUcratj a poet and critick 
of the sixteenth century in France, who, in his 
own epitaph, expresses his zeal for good poetry 
thus : 

M olUter ossa quiescent, 
Sint modo carminibus non ooerata malis. 

His works are not common, and therefore I shall 
subjoin his verses. 

In examining this performance, nothing must be 
considered as having not only a negative but a kind 
of positive signification ; as, I need not fear thieves ; 
I have nothing ; 9nd nothing is a very powerful pro- 
tector. In the first part of the sentence it is taken 
negatively; in the second it is taken positively, as 
an agent. In one of Boileau's lines it was a quesdon, 
whether he should use a rienfairey ovu ne Hen /aire ; 
and the first w^s preferred because it gave rien a sense 
in some sort positive. JVothing can be a subject only 
in its positive sense, and such a sense i^ given it in 
the first line. 

JSTmthing, thou elder brother ev'n to shade. 
In this line, I know not whether he does not allude 
to a curious book Dc Umbra^ by Wowerus, which, 
having told the qu^ities of shade^ concludes with a 
poem in which are these lines : 

Jam primum terrain validis circuraspice claustris 
Suspensam totam, deeus admirable mandi 
Terrasque traetusque maris, eamposque liquentes 
Aeris et vasti laqaeata palatia oosU— — 
OmnibuB umbra prior. 

The positive sense is generally preserved with great 
fikill through the whole poem ; though sometimes, in 

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a subordinate sense, the negative nothing is injtrdicious* 
ly mingled. Passerat confounds the two senses. 

Another of his^ost ^gorous pieces is his lampoon 
on sir Car Scrope, who, in a poem called "The 
Praise of Satire," had some lines like these ;* 

He who can push into a midnight fray 
His brave eompanion, and then run awaj. 
Leaving him to be murdered in the street. 
Then put it off with some buffoon conoeit ; 
Him thus dishonour'd, for jnvlt'you own. 
And court him as top fidler of the town* 

This was meant of Rochester, whose buffoon conceit 
was, I suppose, a saying often mentioned, that every, 
man would be a coward if he durst ,• and drew from- him 
those furious verses ; to which Scrope nuide in reply 
an epigram, ending with these lines: 

Thou cans't hurt [no man's fame'with thy ill word; 
Thy pen is full as harmless as thy sword. 

Of the satire against man, Rochester can only 
claim what remsdns when all Boileau's part is taken 

In all his works there is sprightliness and vigour, 
and every where may be found tokens of a mind which 
study might have carried to excellence. What more 
can be expected from a life spent in ostentatious con- 
tempt of regularity, and ended befc^re the abilities o£ 
many other men began tobe displayed ?t 

• I quote from memory. Dr. J. 

t The late George Steevens, esq, made the selection o( Roehes- 
tei^s {toems which appears in Dr. Johnson's edition ; but Mr. Malone 
observes that the same task had been performed in the early part of 
the last century by Jacob Tonsoik C. 


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Poems CL V. Joannxs Passeratii, 

{legil in Academia Parisiensi Professoris, 

Ad omatissimum virumERRicuM Memmiun. 

Janus ad est, festse poscant sua dona Kalendse, 
Munus abest festis quo<l possim offeree Kaleutlis. 
Siccine Castalius nobis exaruit humor ? 
Usque ade6 ingenii nostri est exhausta facultas, 
Ininiunem ut videat redeuntis jauitor anni ? 
Quod nusquaiu est, potius nova per vesti^a quseraia. 

Ecce autem partes dum sese versat in omnes 
Invenit mea Musa NiHir.» ne despioe munus. 
Nam NIHIL estgemjnisy nihil est pretiosius aura. 
Hue animum, hue igitur vultus adverte benignos : 
Res no^a narratur qu» nulU audita priorum^ 
Ausonii & Graii dixerunt caetera vates, 
Ausoniae iudiotum nihil est GrsBcseque Camoen^^ 

E coelo quaeunque Ceres sua prospicit arva, 
AutgenitorUquldisorbein compleclitur ulnis 
Oceanus, nihil Interitusetoriginis expers. 
Immortale nihil, nihil omni parte beatura. 
Quod si hinc majestas &c vis divina probatur, 
Kum quid honore de^m, num quid digaabimur arls ? 
Conspectu lucis nihil est jucundius almse, • ' 

Vere nihil, nihil irriguo tbrmosius horto, 
Floridius pratis, Zephyri clementius aura ; 
In hello sanctum nihil est, Martisque tumultu: 
Justum in pace nihil, nihil est in foedere tutum. 
F«lix cui nihil est, (fuerant hteo vota Tibullo) 
Non timet insidiat : fures, incendia temnit : 
Solieitas sequttur nuHo sub judice lites. 
Itle ipse inviotis qui subjicit omnia fatis 
Zenonis sapiens, nihil ad'mirat^r & optat. 
Socraticique gregis fuit ista scientia quondam. 
Scire nihil studio cui nunc incumbitur uni. 
Nee quicquam in ludo mavultdidicisse juventus. 
Ad magnas duta dueet opes, hi culmen honorum. 
Nosce nihil, noscesfertur quod Pjthagorese 
Grano herere fahse cui vox adjunct a negautis. 
Multi Mercurio freti duce viscera terr» 
Pura liquefaeiiut simul, k patrimonia miscent. 




Aroano inttantes operi Sc earbonibas atris, 
. Qui tandem exliaasti damnis, fractiqae labore, 
InveiMunt atque inventum nihil usque requirant. 
Hoc dimetiri non ulla deoempeda poasit : 
Nee numeret Libycs numerum qui callet arens : 
£t Phfsbo ignotum nihil est, nihil altius astris. 
Ttkque, tibi licet eximium sit mentis acumea, 
Omnem in nataram penetrans, et in abdita reruro> 
Pace toa, Memmi, nihil ignorare vidSris. 
Sole tamen nihil est, a puro clarius igne. 
Tange nihil, dicesque nihil sine corpore tangi. 
Cerne nihil, cerni dices nihil absque colore. 
Sordum audit loquitiirque nihil sine voce volatque 
Absque ope pennarum, U graditur sine cruribus vllin* 
Absque loco motuque nihil per inane vagatur. 
Humano generi utilius nihil arte medendi. 

* Ne rhombos igitur, neu Thessala murmura tentet 
Idafia vacuum trajectus arundine pectus, 
Neu legat Idseo Dictseum in vertice gramea. 

' Yulneribus stevi nihil auxilitur amoris. 
Vexerit & quemvis trans ma»tasportitorundas. 
Ad superosimo nihil bunc revocabit ab ori^o. 
Infemi nihil inflectit prsecordia regis, 
Parear&mque colos, & inexorabile pensum. 
Obruta Phlegneis oampis Tltania pubes 
Fttlmineo sensit nihil esse potentius ictu : 
Porrigitur magni nihil extra moenia mondi : 
Ditque NIHIL metuunt. Quid.longo carmine plura 
Comm'emorem ? Yirtute nihil prsstantius ipsa, * 
Splendiditts nihil est ; nihil est Jore denique majus. 
Sed tempus finem argutis imponere nugis : 
Ne'tibi si multa landem mea carmina charta, 
De nirilo NTKiLi parlant fastidia versus.. 

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WeNTWORTH DILLON, carl of Roacommon, 
was the son ' of James Dillon and Elizabeth Went- 
worth, sister to the earl of StraiTord. He was bom 
in Ireland* during the lieutenancf of Straffordi who, 
being both his uncle and his godfather, gave him his 
own bimame. His father, the third earl of Roscom- 
mon, had been c<Miverted by Usher to the protestant 
religion ; and when the popish rebellion broke out, 
Strafford thmking the family in great danger from the 
fury of the Irish, sent for his godson, and j>laced him 
at his own seat in Yorkshire, where he was instructed 
in Latin: which he learned so as to write it with 
purity and elegance, though he was never able to re« 
tain the rules of grammar. 

Such is the account given by Mr. Fenton, from 
whose notes on Waller most of this account must be 
borrowed, though I know not whether all that he 
relates is certain. The instructor whom he assigns to 
Roscommon, is one Dr. Hall, by whom he cannot 
mean the famous Hall, then an old man and a bishop. 

When th& storm broke out upon Strafford, his 
house was a shelter no longer ; and Dillon, by the 
advice of Ubher, was sent to Caen, where the protes- 

• The Biog. Britan. says, probably aboat the year 1632 ; but this, 
irinconaistcritwith the date of Straffonl's TiceroyaJty in the fellow-' 
ing page. C 


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tants had then an university, and continued his stuV 
dies under Bochart. 

Young Dillon, who was sent to study under Bo* 
chart, and who is represented as having already made 
great proficiency in literature, could not be mere 
than nine years old. Strafford went to govern Ireland 
in 1633, and was put to death eight years afterward. 
That he was sent to Caen, is certain ; that he was a 
great scholar, may be doubted. 

At Caen he is said to have had some preternatural 
intelligence of his father's death. • 

<< The lord Roscommon, being a boy of ten years 
<< of age, at Caen in Normandy, one day was, as it 
« were, madly extravagant in playing, leaping, get- 
« ting over the tables, boards, &c. He was wont to 
^ be sober enough; they said, God grant this bodes 
<< no ill-luck to him i In the heat of this extravagant 
w fit he cries out. My father ia dead. A fortnight 
*^ after, news came from Ireland that his father was 
<< dead. This account I had from Mr. Knolles, who 
^ was his governor, and then with him, dince eecre- 
«< tary to the earl of Strafford ; and I have heard his 
<( lordship's relations confirm the same." jiudrey*s 

The present age is very little inclined to favour any 
accounts of this kind, nor will the name of Aubrey^ 
much recommend it to credit ; it ought not, however, 
to be omitted, because better evidence of a fact cannot 
easily be found than is here offered ; and it must be 
by preserving such relations that we may at last judge 
how much they are to be regarded. If we stay to 
examine this account, we shall see difficulties on both 
sides ; here is a reladon of a fact given by a man who 
had no interest to deceive, and who could not be de- 
ceived himself; and here is, on the other hand, a 

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teiracle which produces no effect j the order of na- 
ture is interrupted, to discover not a future but only a 
distant event, the knowledge of which is of no use to 
him to whom it is revealed. B etween these difficulties 
what way shall be found ? Is reason or testimony to 
be rejected? I believe what Osborne says of an ap- 
pearance of sanctity may be applied to such impulses 
or anticipations as this: Do not tvkoUy aUght themj 
because they may be true ; but do not easily trust themy 
because they may be false. 

The state both of England and Ireland was at this 
time such, that he who was absent from either coun- 
try had very little temptation to return ; and there- 
:fore Roscommon, when he left Caen, travelled into 
Italy, and amused himself with its antiquities, and 
particularly with medals^ in which he acquired un- 
common still. 

At the r estoration, with the other friends of mo- 
narchy, he came to England, was made captain of 
the band of pensioners, and learned so much of the 
dissoluteness of the court, that he addicted himself 
immoderately to gaming, by which he was engaged 
in frequent quarrels, and which undoubtedly brought 
upon him its usual concomitants, extravagance and 

After some time, a dispute about part of his estate 
forced him into Ireland, where he was made by the 
duke of Ormond captain of the guards, and met with 
an adventure thus related by Fenton. 

« He was at Dublin as much as ever distempered 
" with the same fatal affection for play, which en- 
*' gaged him in one adventure that well deserves to 
*' be related. As he returned to his lodgings from 
" a gaming-table, he was attacked in the dark hj 
** three ruffians, who were employed to assassinate 


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« him. The earl defended himself with so much 
<^ resolution, that he dispatched one of the aggres- 
<< sorsy whilst a gentleman, accidentally passing that 
<< way, interposed, and disarmed another : the third 
>* secured himself by flight. This generous assistsoit 
<^ was a disbanded officer, of a good family and fair. 
" reputation ; who, by what we call the partiality of 
" fortune, to avoid censuring the liuquities of the 
<< times, wanted even a plain suit of clothes to make 
<< a decent appearance at the castle. But his lord- 
<< ship on this occasion, presenting him to the duke 
** of Ormond, with great importunity prevailed with 
^ his grace, that he might resign his post of captain. 
" of the guards to his friend ; which for about three 
<< years the gentleman enjoyed, and, upon his death, 
^< the (luke returned the commission to his generous^ 
*< benefetctor." 

When he had finished his business, he returned to 
London : was made master of the horse to the dutch- 
ess of York ; and married the lady Frances, daughter 
of the earl of Burlington, and widow of colonel 

He now busied his mind with literary projects, 
imd formed the plan of a society for refining our Ian* 
guage and fixing its standard ; in UmttOionj says Fen- 
ton, of those learned and fio&te sociefUs vdth vfhick he 
had been acquainted abroad. In this design his friend 
Dryden is said to have assisted him. 

The same design, it is well known, was revived by 
Dr. Swift in the ministry of Oxford; but it has never 
siilce been publickly mentioned, though at that time 
great expectations were formed by some of its esta- 
blishment and its effects. Such a society might, 
perhaps, without much difficulty, be collected; but 


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that it would produce what is expected from it, may 
be doubted. 

The Italian academy seems to hare obtained its ' 
end. The language was refined, and so fixed that 
it has changed but little. The French academy 
thought that they refined their language, and doubt- 
less thought rightly ; but the event has not shown 
that they fixed it; for the French of the present time 
is very different from that of the last century. 

In this country an academy could be expected to 
do but little. If an academician's place were profita- 
ble, it would be given by interest; if attendance 
were gratuitous, it would be rarely paid, and no man 
would endure the least disgust. Unanimity is impos- 
sible, and debate would separate the assembly. 
. But suppose the philological decree made and 
promulgated, what would be its authority ? In abso- 
lute governments ; there is sometimes a general re- 
verence paid to all that has the sanction of power, 
and the. countenance of greatness. How little this is 
the state of our country needs not to be told. We 
live in an age in which it is a kind of publick sport to 
refuse all respect that cannot be enforced. The edicts 
of an English academy would probably l^e read by 
manyf only that they might be sure to disobey them. 

That our language is in perpetual danger of cor* 
ruption cannot be denied ; but what prevention can 
be found ? The present manners of the nation would 
deride authority ; and therefore nothing is left but 
that every writer should criticise himself. 

Ali hopes of new literary institutions were quickly 
suppressed by the contentious turbulence of king 
James's reign ; and Roscommon^ foreseeing that some 
violent concussion of the state was at hand, purposed 
to retire to Jlome, alleging, that it waa beat- to nt near 

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the chimney when the chamber smoked; a sentence, of 
which the application seems not very clear. 

His departure was delayed by the gout ; and he 
"was so impatient either of hinderance or of pain, that 
he submitted himself to a French empiric k, who is 
said to have repelled the disease into his bowels. 

At the moment in which he expired, he uttered, 
with an energy of voice that expressed the most fer- 
vent devotion, two lines of his own version of Die 

My God, my father, and my friend. 
Do not forsake me in my end. ^ 

He died in 1684; and was buried with great pom;> 
in Westminster Abbey. 

His poetical character is given by Mr. Fenton : 

** In his writings," says Fenton, " we view the 
<' image of a mind which was naturally serious and 
- *' solid ; richly furnished and adorned with all the 
"ornaments of learning, unaffectedly disposed in 
" the most regular and elegant order. His imagina- 
*< tion might have probably been more fruitful and 
*' sprightly, if his judgment had been less severe. 
<' But that severity, delivered in a masculine, clear, 
*' succinct style, contributed to make him so eminent 
*' in the didactical manner, that no man, with justice, 
*< can affirm he was ever equalled by any of our na- 
" tion, without confessing at the same time that he 
" is inferior to none. In s6me other kinds of writing 
> " his genius seems to have wanted fire to attain the 
« point of perfection ; but who can attain it ?'* 

From this account of the riches of his mind, who 
would not imagine that ^ they had been displayed in 
large volumes and numerous performances ? Who 
would not, after the perusal of this character, be 
surprised to find that all the proofs of this genius^ 

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and knowledge, and judgment, are not sufficient to 
forin a single book, or to appear otherwise than in 
conjunction with the works of some other writer of 
the same petty size ?* But thus it is that characters 
are written : we know somewhat, and we imagine the 
rest. The observation, that his imagination would 
probably have been more fruitful and sprightly if his 
judgment had been less severe, may be answered, by 
a > emarker somewhat inclined to cavil, by a contrary 
supposition, that his judgment would probably hav« 
been less severe, if his imagination had been more 
fruitful. It is ridiculous to oppose judgment to 
imagination ; for it does not appear that men have 
lecessarily less of one as they have more of the 

We must allow of Roscommon, what Fentoi^ has 
. it mentioned so distinctly as he ought, and what is 
jQWerj much to his honour, that he is perhaps the 
only correct writer in verse before Addison ; and 
(itiat, if there are not so many or so great beauties in 
his compositions as in those of some contemporaries, 
there are at least fewer faults. Nor is this his highest 
praise ; for Mr. Pope ha^ celebrated him as the only 
moral writer of king Charles's reign : 

Unhappy Dryden ! in all Charles's days, 
Uoscomison only boasts unspotted lays. 

His great work is his essay on translated rerse ; of 

• I'hey were published, together with those of Diike^ in an octavo 
volume, in 1717. 'I'he editor whoever he was, professes to have 
taken great care to procure and insert all of his lordship^s poems 
that are truly genuine. The truth of this assertion is flatly denied 
by the author of an account of Mr. John Pomfret, prefixed to his re- 
>mRin!} ; who asserts that the Prospect of Death was written by that 
person many years af\er lord Roscommon's decease ; as alsO) that the ^ 
paraphi-ase of the prayer of Jeremy was written by a gentleman Of 
the name of Southcourt, living in the yeac 1724. 11. 

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which Dryden writes thus in the prefate to his mis- 
cellanies : 

<< It was my lord Roscommon's essay on translated 
w verse," says Dryden, " which made me mieasy, till 
<< I tried whether or no I was capable of following 
<< his rules, and of reducing the speculation into 
« practice. For many a fidr precept in poetry is like a 
<< seeming demonstration in mathemodcks, very spe- 
<< cibus in the diagram, but failing in the mechanick 
^ operation. I think I have generally observed his 
^ instructions : I am sure my reason is sufficiently 
^ convinced both of their truth and usefulness; 
^ which, in other words, is to confess no less a va- 
** nity than to pretend that I have, at least in some 
<< places, made examples to his rules." 

This declaration of Dryden will, I am afraid, be 
found little more than one of those cursory civilities 
which one author pays to another ; for when the sum 
of lord Roscommon's precepts is collected, it will 
not be easy to discover how they can qualify their 
reader for a better performance of translation than 
ifnight have been attained by his own reflections. 

He that can abstract his mind from the elegance 
of the poetry, and confine it to the sense of the pre- 
cepts, will find no other direction than that the author * 
should be suitable to the translator's genius ; that he 
should be such as may deserve a translation ; that he 
who intends to translate him should endeavour to 
understand him ; that perspicuity should be studied, 
and unusual and uncouth names sparingly inserted ; 
and that the style of the original should be copied in 
its elevation and depression. These are the rules 
that are celebrated as so definite and important ; and 
for the delivery of which to mankind so much ho- 
nour has been paid. Roscommon has indeed deserved 

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his praises, had they been given with discernment, 
and bestowed not on the rules themselves, but the art 
with which they are introduced, and the decorations 
with which they are adorned. 

The essay, though generally excellent, is not with- 
out its faults. The story of the quack, borrowed from 
Boileau, was not worth the importation ; h6 has con- 
founded the British and Saxon mythology : 

I grant that from 'some mossy idol oak, 

In double rhymes our Thor and Woden spoke. 

The oak, as I think Gildon has observed, belonged 
to the British druids, and Thor and Woden were Saxon 
deities. Of the double rhymes^ which he so liberally 
supposes, he certainly had no knowledge. 

His interi)osition of a long paragraph of blank 
verses is unwarrantably licentious. Latin poets might 
as well have introduced a series of iambicks among 
their heroicks. 

His next work is the translation of the Art of 
Poetry ; which has received, in my opinion, not less 
praise than it deserves. Blank verse, left merely to 
its numbers, has little operation either on the ear or 
mind ; it can hardly support itself without bold figures 
and striking images. A poem frigidly didactick, with- 
out rhyme, is so near to prose, that the reader only 
scorns it for pretending to be verse. 
- Having disentangled himself from the difficulties 
of rhyme, he may justly be expected to give the sense 
of Horace with great exactness, and to suppress no 
subtility of sentiment for the difficulty of expressing 
it. This demand, however, his translation will not 
satisfy ; what he found obscure, I do not know that he 
has ever cleared. 


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Among his smaller works, the Eclogue of Virgil, 
and the Dies Irx are well translated ; though the best 
line in the Dies Irae is borrowed from Dryden. In 
return, succeeding poets have borrowed from Ros- 

• In the verses on the lap-dog, the pronouns Mou and 
you are oflPensively confounded ; and the turn at the 
end is from Waller. 

His versions of the two odes of Horace are made 
with great liberty, which is not recompensed by much 
elegance or vigour. 

His political verses are sprightly, and when they 
were written must have been very popular. 

Of the scene of Guarini, and the prologue of Pom- 
Mrs. Philips, in her letters to sir Charles Cotterel, 
has given the history. 

" Lord Roscommon," says she, " is certainly one of 

the most promising young noblemen in Ireland. He 

has paraphased a psalm admirably ; and a scene of 

Pastor Fido very finely, in some places much better 

than sir Richard Fanshaw. This was undertaken 

merely in compliment to me, who happened to say, 

that it was the best scene in Italian, and the worst in 

English. He was only two hours about it. It begins 

thus : 

^ •* I)enrh«VPy proves, and you the dark retreat 
" Uf silent hoiror, rest's eternal seat." 

From these lines, which are since somewhat mend- 
ed, it appears that he did not think a work of two 
hours fit to endure the eye of criticism without re- 

When Mrs. Philips was in Ireland some ladies that 
had seen her translation of Pompey resolved to bring 
it on the stage at Dublin ; and, to promote their de- 
sign, lordR oscommon gave them* a prologue, and sir 

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Edward Bering an epilogue ; " which," says she, 
"are the best performances of those kinds I ever 
saw." If this is not criticism, it is at least gratitude. 
The thought of bringing Caesar and Pompey into 
Ireland, the only country over which Caesar never 
had any power, is lucky. 

Of Roscommon's works, the judgment of the pub- 
lick seems to be right. He is elegant, but not great ; 
he never labours after exquisite beauties, and he 
seldom falls into gross faults. His versification is 
smooth, but rarely vigorous, and his rhymes are re- 
markably exact. He improved taste, if he did not en- 
large knowledge, and may be numbered among the 
benefactors to English literature.* 

• This life was originally written by Dr. Jokiison in the Gentle- 
aan'3 Magazine, for May, 1748. It then had notes, which are now 
incorporated with the text. C. 

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Of THOMAS OTWAY, one of the first names b 
the English drama, little is known ; nor is there any 
part of that little which his biographer can take plea- 
sure in relating. 

He was born at Trottin, in Sussex, March 3, 1651, 
the son of Mr. Humphry Otway, rector of Woolbed- 
ing. From Winchester-school, where he was educa- 
ted, he was entered, in 1669, & commoner of Christ- 
church ; but left the university without a degree, 
whether for want of money, or from impatience of 
academical restraint, or mere eagerness to mingle 
with the world, is not known. 

It seems likely that he was in hope of being busy 
and conspicuous ; for he went to London, and com- 
menced player ; but found himself unable to gain any 
reputation on the stage.* 
This kind of inability he shared with Shakspeare 
. and Jonson, as he shaixd likewise some of their ex- 
. cellencies. It seems reasonable to expect that a great 
dramatick poet should without difficulty become a 
' great actor ; that he who can feel, could express ; 
that he who can excite passion, should exhibit with 

• In Koscius Anglicanus, by Downes the prompter, p. 34, we 
learn that it was the character of the king, in Mrs. Behn's forced 
Marriage, «r the Jealous Bridegroom, which Mr Otway attempted 
to perform, and failed in. This erent appears to have happened in 
the year 1672. K. 

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OTWAY. 303 

great readiness its external modes : but since expe- 
rience has fully proved, that of those powers, what- 
ever be their affinity, one may be possessed in a 
great degree by him who has very little of the other ; 
it must be allowed that they depend upon different fa- 
culties, or on different use of the same faculty ; that 
the actor must have a pliancy of mien, a flexibility 
of countenance, and a variety of tones, which the "poet 
may be easily supposed to want ; or that the attention 
of the poet and the player have been differently em- 
ployed ; the one has been considering thought, and the 
other action; one has watched the heart, and the 
other contemplated the face. 

Though he could not gdn much notice as a player, 
he felt in himself such powers as might qualify for a 
dramatick author ; and, in 1 675, his twenty-fifth year, 
produced Alcibiades, a tragedy ; whether from the 
Alcibiade of Palaprat, I have not means to inquire. 
Langbaine, the great detector of plagiarism, is silent. 

In 1677 he published Titus and Berenice, translated 
from Rapin, with the Cheats of Scapin, from Molicre ; 
and in 1678, Friendship 4n Fashion, a comedy, which, 
whatever might be its first reception, w^s, upon its 
revival at Drury-lane in 1749, hissed off the stage for 
immorality and obscenity. 

Want of morals, or of decency, did not in those 
days exclude any man from the company of the wealthy 
and the gay, if he brought with him any powers of en- 
tertainment ; and Otway is said to have been at this 
time a favourite companion of the dissolute wits. But 
as he who desires no virtue in his companion has no 
virtue in himself, those whom Otway frequented had 
no purpose of doing more for him than to pay his 
reckoning. They desired only to drink and laugh : 
their fondness was without benevolence* and their fa« 
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204 OTWAY. 

mitiarity without friendship. Men of wit, says one'of 
Otway's biographers, received at that time no favour 
from the great, but to share their riots ; from which 
they were dismissed again to their own narrow cir- 
cumstances. Thus they languished in poverty without 
the support of eminence. 

Some exception, however, must be made. The 
earl of Plymouth, one of king Charles's natural sons, 
procured for him a comet's commission in some 
troops then sent into Flanders. But Otway did not 
prosper in his military character : for he soon left his 
commission behind him, whatever was the reason, and 
came back to London in extreipe indigence ; which 
Rochester mentions with merciless insolence in the 
Session of the Poets : 

. Tom Otway came next, Tom Shadwell's dear zany. 
And swears for heroicks he writea best of any ; 
Don Carlos his pockets so amply had fiU'd, 
That his mange was qaite cur'd, and his lice were all kill'd. 
But Apollo had seen his face oo the stage. 
And prudently did not think fit to engage. 
The scum of a play-house, for the prop of an age. 

Don Carlos, from which 1ft is represented as hav- 
ing received so much 1>enefit, was pfayed in 4 675. It 
appears by the -lampoon, to have had a great success, 
and is said to have been played thirty nights together. 
This however it is reasonable to doubt, as so long a 
continuance of one play upon the stage is a very wide 
deviation from the practice of that time ; when the 
ardour for theatrical entertainments was not yet dif- 
fused through* the whole people, and the audience, 
consisting nearly of the same persons, could be drawn 
together only by variety. 

The Orphan was exhibited in 1680. This is one of 
the few plays that keep possession of the stage, and 
has pleased for almost a century, through all the vicis- 


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OTWAY. 305 

situdes of dramatick fashion. Of this play nothing new 
can easily be said. It is a domestick tragedy drawn 
from middle life. Its whole power is upon the affec- 
tions ; for it is not written with much comprehension 
' of thought, or elegance of expression. But if the 
heart is interested, many other beauties may be want- 
ing, yet not be missed. 

The same fcav produced" The History and Fall of 
Caius Marius ;" much of which is borrowed from the 
" Romeo and Juliet" oC Shakspeare. 

In 1683* was published the first, and next ye^rf 
the second, parts of " The Soldier's Fortune," two 
comedies now forgotten; and in 1685| his last and 
greatest dramatick work, " Venice Preserved," a tra- 
gedy which still continues to be one of the favourites 
of the publick, notwithstanding the want of morality 
in the original design, and the despicable scenes of 
vile comedy with which he has diversified his tragick 
action, fiy comparing this with his Orphan, it will 
appear that his images were by time become stronger, 
and his language more energetick. The striking pas- 
sages are in every mouth ; and the publick seems to 
judge rightly of the faults and excellencies of this 
play, that it is the work of a man not attentive to de- 
cency, nor zealous for virtue ; but of one who con- 
ceived forcibly, and drew originally, by consulting 
nature in his own breast. 

Together with those plays he wrote the poems 
which are in the present collection, and translated 
from the Frencji the History of the Triumvirate. 

All this was performed before he was thirty-four 
years old ; for he died April 14, 1685, in a manner 
which I am unwilling to mention. Having been com- 
pelled by his necessities to contract debts, and hunted, 

•1681. -f 1684. 4 1682. 

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206 ^ OTWAY. 

as is supposed, by the terriers of the law, he retired 
to a publick house on Tower-hill, where he is said to 
have died of want ; or, as it is related by one of his 
biographers, by swallowing, after a long fast, a piece 
of bread which charity had supplied. He went out, as 
is reported, almost naked, in the rage of hunger, and, 
finding a gentleman in a neighbouring coffee*housc, 
asked him for a shilling. The gentleman gave him a 
guinea ; and Otway going away bought a roll, and was 
choked with the first mouthful. All this, I hope, 
is not true ; and there is this ground of better hope, 
that Pope, who lived near enough to be well informed, 
relates in Spence's Memorials that he died of a fever 
caught by violent pursuit of a thief that had robbed 
one of his friends. But that indigence, and its con- 
comitants, sorrow and despondency, pressed hawl up- 
on him, has never been denied, whatever immediate 
cause might bring him to the grave. 

Of the poems which the late coilectidn admits, the 
longest is the Poet's Complaint of his Muse, part of 
which I do not understand ; and in that which is less 
obscure I find little to commend. The language is 
often gross, and the numbers are harsh. Otway had 
not much cultivated versification, nor much replenish- 
ed his mind with general knowledge. His principal 
power was. in moving the passions, to which Dry den* 
in his latter years left an illustrious testimony. He 
appears by some of his verses to have been a zealous 
royalist ; and had what was in those times the common 
reward of loyalty ; he lived and died neglected. 

* 14 his preface to Fresnoy's Art of Ptiatini^. Dr. J. 


by Google 



iDMUND WALLER was born on the third of 
March, 1605, at Colshiil in Hertfordshire. His father 
was Robert Waller, esquire, of Agmondesham, in 
Buckinghamshire, whose family was originally- a 
branch of the Kentish Wallers ; and his mother was 
the daughter of John Hampden, of Hampden in the 
same county, and sister to Hampden, the zealot of re- 

His father died while he was yet an infant, but left 
him a yearly income of three thousand five hundred 
pounds ; which rating together the value of money 
and the customs of life, we may reckon more than 
equivalent to ten thousand at the present time. 

He was educated by the care of his mother, at 
Eton ; and removed afterwards to King's college in 
Cambridge. He was sent to parliament in his eight- 
eenth, if not in his sixteenth year, and frequented the 
court of James the First, where he heard a very re- 
^markable conversation, which the writer of the life 
prefixed to his works, who seems to have been well 
informed of facts, though he may sometimes err in 
chronology, has delivered ^s indubitably certain. 

" He found Dr. Andrews, bishop of Winchester, 
and Dr. Neale, bishop of Durham, standing behind 
his majesty*s chair ; and there happened something 
extraordinary,'* continues this writer, '' in the con- 
versation those prelates had with the king, on which 

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208 WALLER. 

Mr. Waller did often reflect. His majesty asked the 
bishops, " My lords, cannot I take my subjects' mo- 
ney when I want it, without all this formality of par- 
liament ?*' The bishop of Durham readily answered) 
" God forbid, sir, but you should : you are the breath 
of our nostrils." Whereupon the king turned, and 
said to the bishop of Winchester, " Well, my lord, 
what say you ?" " Sir,*' replied the bishop, " I have 
no skill to'judge of parliamentary cases." The king 
answered, " No put-offs, my lord ; .answer me pre- 
sently," " Then, sir," said he, " I think it is lawful 
for you to take my brother Neale's money for he offers 
it." Mr. Waller said, the company was pleased with, 
this answer, and the wit of it seemed to affect the 
king ; for, a certain lord coming in soon after, his ma- 
jesty cried out, " Oh, my lord, they say you lig with 
my lady." " No sir," says his lordship in confusion ; 
<< but I like her company, because she has so much 
wit." " Why then," says the king, " do you not lig 
with -my lord of Winchester there ?" 

Waller's political and poetical life began nearly to-^ 
gether. In his eighteenth year he wrote the poem that 
appears first in his works, on " the prince's escape at 
St. Andero :" a piece which justifies the observation 
made by one. of his editors, that he attained, by a fe- 
licity like instinct, a style which perhaps will never 
be obsolete ; and that, " were we to judge only by the 
wording, we could not know what was wrote at twentyi 
and what at fourscore." His versification was, in his 
first essay, such as it appears in his last performance. 
By the perusal of Fairfax's translation of Tasso, ^o 
which, as Dryden* relates, he confessed himself in- 
debted for the smoothness of his numbers, and by 
his own nicety of.observaition, he had already formed 
* Preface to his fables. Dr. J. 

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WALLER. 209 

such a system of metrical harmony as he never after- 
ward much needed, or much endeavoured to improve. 
Dehham correctied his numbers by experience, and 
gained ground gradually upon the ruggedness of his 
age ; but what was acquired by Denham, was inherit- 
ed by Waller. 

The next poem, of which the subject seems to fix 
the time, is supposed by Mr. Fenton to be the address 
to the queen, which he considers as congratulating 
her arrival, in Waller's twentieth year. He is appa- 
rently mistaken ; for the mention of the nation's obli- 
gations to her frequent pregnancy, proves that it was 
written when she had brought many children. We 
have therefore no date of any other poetical produc- 
tion before that which the murder of the .duke of 
Buckingham occasioned ; the steadiness with which 
the king received the news in the chapel, deserved 
. indeed to be rescued from oblivion. 

Neither of these pieces that seem to carry their 
own dates could have been the sudden effusion of 
fancy. In the verses on the prince's escape, the pre- 
diction of his marriage with the princess ^f. France, 
must have been written after the event ; in the other, 
the promises of the king's kit^dness to the descendants 
of Buckingham, which could not be properly praised 
till it had appeared by its effects, show that time was 
taken for revision and improvement. It is not known 
that they were published till they appearedlong after- 
ward with other poems. 

Waller was not one of those idolaters of praise who 
cultivate their minds at the expense of their fortunes. 
Rich as he was by inheritance, he took care early to 
grow richer, by marrying Mrs. Banks, a great heiress 
in the city, whom the interest of the court was em- 
ployed to obtain for Mr. Crofts. Having brought 
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310 WALLER. 

him a son who died foung, and a daughter, who waft 
afterward mtUTied to Mr. Dormer, of Oxfordshire, she 
died in childbed, and left him a widower of about five« 
and-twenty, gay and wealthy, to please himself with 
another marriage. 

Being too young to resist beauty, and probably too 
vain to think himself resistible, he fixed his ^heart, 
perhaps half fondly and half ambitiously, upon the 
lady Dorothea Sidney, eldest daughter of the eari of 
Leicester, whom he courted by all the poetry in which 
Sacharissa is celebrated ; the name is derived from 
the Latin appellation of sugar, and implies, if it means 
any thing, a spiritless mildjiess, and dull good-nature, 
such as excites rather tenderness than esteem, and 
such as, though always treated with kindness, is never 
honoured or admired. 

Yet he describes Sacharissa as a sublime predomi- 
nating beauty, of lofty charms, and imperious iniiu-^ 
ence, on whom he looks with amazement rather than 
fondness, whose chains he wishes, though in vain, to 
break, and whose presence is wine that inflames to 

His acquaintance with this high-bom dame gave 
wit no opportunity of boasting its influence ; she waa 
not to be subdued by the powers of verse, but rejected 
his addresses, it is said, with disddn, and drove him 
away, to solace his disappointment with Amoret or^ 
Phillis. She married, in 1 639, the earl of Sunderland, 
who died at Newberry, in the king's cause ; and, in 
her old age, meeting somewhere with Waller, asked 
him when he would again write such verses upon her ; 
" When you are as young madam," s^d he, " and as 
handsome as you were then.** 

In this part of his life it was that he was known to 
Clarendon, among the rest of the men who were 

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WALLER. 211 

eaiHient in Chat age for gfeniut and iitamture; but 
kaowa so little to hia advantage, that they^ who read 
his character will not ranch condemn Sacharissa, that 
she did not descend from her rank to his embraceSf 
nor think evevy excellence comprised in wit. 

The lady was, indeed, inexorable ; but his uncom* 
inon qualifications, though they had no power upon 
her, recommended him to the scholars, and states- 
men ; and undoubtedly many beauties of that time) 
however they might receive his love, were proud of 
his praises. Who they were, whom he dignifies with 
poetical names, cannot now be known. Amoret, ac- 
cording to Mr, Fenton, was the lady Sophia Murray. 
Perhaps by traditions preserved in families more may 
¥e discovered. 

From the verses written at Penshurst, it has been 
ooilected that he diverted his disappointment by a 
voyage ; and his biographers, from his poem on the 
whales, think it not improbable that he visited the 
Bermudas ; but it seems much more likely that he 
should amuse himself with forming an imaginary 
scene, than that so important an incident, as a visit to 
America, should have been left floating in conjectural 

From his twenty-eighth to his thirty-fifth year, he 
wrote his pieces on the reduction of Sallee ; on the 
reparation of St. Paul's ; to the king on his navy ; the 
panegyrick on the queen mother ; the two poems to 
the earl of Northumberland ; and perhaps others, of 
which the time cannot be discovered. 

When he had lost all hopes of Sacharissa, he looked 
round him for an easier conquest, and gained a lady 
of the family of Bresse, or Breaux. The time of his 
jnarriage is not exactly known. It has not been dis- 
covered that this wife was won by his poetry ; nor is 

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212 WALLER. 

any thing told of her, but that she brought him many 
children. He doubtless praised some whom he would 
have been afraid to marry, and perhaps married one 
Vhom he would have been ashamed to praise. Many 
qualities contribute to domestick happiness, upon 
which poetry has no , colours to bestow ; and many 
airs and sallies may delight imagination, which he* 
who flatters them never can approve. There are 
charms made only for distant admiration. No spec- 
tacle is nobler than a blaze. 

Of this wife, his biographers have recorded that she 
gave him {ive sons and eight daughters. 

During the longintervalof parliament, he is repre- 
sented as living among those with whom it was most 
honourable to converse, and^ enjoying an exuberant 
fortune, with that independence and liberty of speech 
aacl conduot, which wealth ought always to produce. 
He was, however, considered as the kinsman of Hamp* 
den, and was therefore supposed by the courtiers not 
to favour them. 

When the parliament was called in 1 640, it appear- 
ed that Waller's political character had not been mis- 
taken. The king's demand of a supply produced one 
of those noisy speeches which disaffection and dis- 
content regiilarly dictate ; a speech filled with hyper* 
bolical complaints of imaginary grievances : " They,'* 
says he, " who think themselves already undone, can 
never apprehend themselves in danger ; and they who 
have nothing left can never give freely." Political 
truth is equally in danger from the praises of court- 
iers ; and the^ Exclamations of patriots. ' 

He then proceeds to rail at the clergy, being sure 
at that tinie of a favourable audience. His topick is 
such as will always serve its purpose ; an accusation of 
acting and preaching only for preferment : and he ex- 

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WALLER. . 213 

horts the commons carefully to provide for their pro- 
tection against pulpit law. 

It always gratifies curiosity to trace a sentiment. 
Waller has in his speech quoted Hooker in one pas- 
sage ; and in another has copied him without quoting. 
" Religion," says Waller, " ought to be tlie first thing 
in our purpose and desires ; but that which is first in 
dignity is not always to precede in order of time ; for 
well-being supposes a being ; and the first impediment 
which men naturally endeavour to remove, is the" want 
• of those things without which they cannot subsist. 
God first assigned unto Adam maintenance of life, 
and gave him a title to the rest of the creatures before 
he appointed a fkw to observe." 

" God first assigned Adam," says Hooker, " mdn- 
tenance of life, and then , appointed him a law to ob- 
serve. True, it is that the kingdom of God must be 
the first thing in our purpose and desires ; biit inas- 
much as a righteous life presupposeth life, inas- 
much as to live virtuously it is impossible, except we 
live ; therefore the first impediment which naturally 
we endeavour to remove is penury and want of things 
without which we cannot live." Book L sect 9. 

The speech is vehement ; but the great position 
that grievances ought to be redressed before supplies 
are granted, is agreeable enough to law and reason ; 
nor was Waller, if his biographer may be credited, 
such an enemy to the king, as not to wish his distresses 
lightened ; for he relates, " that the king sent parti- 
cularly to Waller, to second his demand of some sub- 
sidies to pay off the array j and sir Henry Vune ob- 
jecting against first voting a supply, because the king 
would not accept unless, it came up to his proportion^ 
Mr. Waller spoke earnestly to sir Thomas Jerniin> 
comptroller of the household, to save his master from 
the effects of so bold a falsity : for, he said^ I am but 

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21* WALLER. 

% country gentleman, and cannot pretend to know the 
king's mind : but sir Thomas durst not contradict the 
secretary ; and his son, the earl of St. Albans, after- 
ward told Mr. Waller, that his father's cowardice 
ruined the king." 

In the long parliament, which, unhappily for the 
nation, met Nov. 3, 1640, Waller represented Ag- 
mondesham the third time ; and was considered by 
the discontented party as a man sufficiently trusty and 
acrimonious to be employed in managing the prose- 
cution of judge Crawley, for his opinion in favour of 
ship-money ; and his speech shows that he did not dis- 
appoint their expectations. He was probably the more 
ardent, as his uncle Hampden had been particularly 
engaged in the dispute, and, by a senCence which 
seems generally to be thought unconstitutional, par- 
ticularly injured. 

He was not, however, a bigot to his party, nor 
adopted all their opinions. When the great question, 
whether episcopacy ought to be abolished, was debat- 
ed, he spoke against the innovation so coolly, so rea- 
sonably, and so firmly, that it is not without great 
injury to his name that his speech, which was as fol- 
lows, has been hitherto omitted in his works. 

* " There is no doubt but the sense of what this na- 
tion hath suffered from the present bishops hath pro- 
duced these complaints ; and the apprehensions men 
have of suffering the like, in time to come, make so 
many desire the taking away of episcopacy: but I 
conceive it is possible that we may not now take a. 
right measure of the minds of the people by their pe- 
titions ; for, when they subscribed them, the bishops, 
were armed with a dangerous commission of makings 

* This speech has been retrlewcl, from a paper printed at diat 
time> by ihe writers of the rarliamentary History. Dr. J. 

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new canons, imposing new oaths, and the like ; but 
now we have disarmed them of that power. These 
petitioners lately did look upon episcopacy as a beast 
armed with horns and claws ; but now that we have 
cut and pared them, and may, if we see cause, yet re- 
duce it into narrower bounds, it may, perhaps, be more 
agreeable. Howsoever, if they be still in passion, it ' 
becomes us soberly to consider the right use and an- 
tiquity thereof; and not to comply further with a ge- 
neral desire, than may stand with a general good. 

" We have already shewed, that episcopacy and the 
evils thereof are mingled like water and oil ; we have 
also, in part, severed them ;' but I believe you will find,* 
that our laws and the present government of the 
church are mingled like wine and water ; so insepa- 
rable, that the abrogation of, at least, a hundred of our 
laws is desired in these petitions. I have often heard 
a noble answer of the lords commended in this house, 
to a proposition of like nature, but of less consequence ; • 
they gave no other reason of their refusal but tliis, 
Nolumus mutare Leges Angliae ; it was tlie bishops 
who so answered then ; and it would become the dig- 
nity and wisdom of this house to answer the people 
now with a nolumus mutare. 

^ I see some are moved with' a number of hands 
against the bishops ; which, I confess, rather inclines 
me to their defence ; for I look upon episcopacy as a 
counterscarp, or out- work ; which if it be taken by 
this assault of the people, and withal this mystery once 
revealed. That we must deny them nothing when they 
ask it thus in troops, we may, in the next place, have 
' as hard a task to' defend our property) as we have 
lately had to recover it from the prerogative. If, by 
multiplying hands and petitions, they prevail for an 
equality in things ecclesiastical, the next demand per« 

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216 WALLER. 

haps may be. lex agragria, the like equality in things 

" The Roman story tells us, * That when the people 
began to flock about the senate, and were more curi- 
ous to direct and know what was done, than to obey^ 
that commonwealth soon came to ruin ; their legem 
rogare grew quickly to be a legem ferre : and after, 
when their legions had found that they could make a 
dictator, they never suffered the senate to have a voice 
any more in such election.' 

" If these great innovations proceed, I shall expect 
a flat and level in learning too, as well as in church 
preferments : honos alit aries. And though it be true 
that grave and pious men do study for learning sake, 
and embrace virtue for itself ; yet it is true that youth, 
which is the season when learning is gotten, is not 
without ambition ; nor will ever take pains to excel 
in any thing, when there is not some hope of excelling 
others in reward and dignity. 

" There are two reasons chiefly alleged agsdnst our 

<^ First, scripture, which, as some men think, points 
out another form. 

" Second, the abuses of the present superiors. 

" For scripture, I will not dispute it in this place ; 
but I am confident that, whenever an equal division 
of lands and goods shall be desired, there will be as 
many places in scripture found out, which seem to 
favour that, as there are now alleged against the pre- 
lacy or preferment of the church. And as for abuses, 
where you are now in the remonstrance told what 
this and that poor man hath suffered by the bishops, 
you maybe presented with a thousand instances of 
poor men that have received hard measure from their 

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WALLER, 21.7 

landlords ; and of lyorldly goods abused; to the injury 
of others and disadvantage of the owners. 

" And therefore, Mr. Speaker, my humble motion 
is, That we may settle men's minds herein ; and, by 
a question, declare our resolution to reform, that is^ 
not to abolish, episcopacy." 

It cannot but be wished that he, who could speak 
in this manner had been able to act with spirit and 

When the commons began to set the royal authority 
at open defiance. Waller is said to have withdrawn 
from the house, and to have returned with the king's 
permission ; and, when the king set .up his standard^ 
he sent him a thousand broad pieces. He continued 
however to sit in the rebellious conventicle ; but 
" spoke," says Clarendon, " with great sharpness 
and freedom, which, now there was no danger of 
being out-voted, was not restrained ; and therefore 
used as an argument against those who were gone 
upon pretence that they were not suffered to deliver 
their opinion freely in the house, which could not be 
believed, when all men knew what liberty Mr. Waller 
took, and spoke every day with impunity against the 
sense and proceedings of the house." 

Waller, as he continued to sit, was one of the com- 
missioners nominated by the parliament to treat with 
the king at Oxford ; and when they were presented, 
the king said to him, " Though you are the last, you 
are not the lowest nor the least in my favour." Whit- 
lock, who, being another of the commissioners, was 
witness of this kindness, imputes it to the king's 
knowledge of the plot, in which Waller appeared 
afterwards to have been engaged against the parlia- 
ment. Fenton, with equal probability, believes that 
this attempt to promote the royal cause arose from his 

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318 WALLER. 

sensibility of the king's tenderness. Whitlock says 
nothing of his behaviour at Oxford : he was sent with 
several others to add pomp to the commission, but 
was not one of those to whom the trust of treating 
was imparted. 

The engagement known by the name of Waller's 
ploty was soon afterwards discovered. Waller had 
m brother-in-law, Tomkyns, who was clerk of the 
queen's council, and at the same time had a very nu- 
merous acquaintance, and great influence, in the city. 
Waller and he, conversing with great confidence, told 
both their own secrets and those qf their friends ; and, 
surveying the wide extent of their conversation, ima- 
gined that they found in the majority of all ranks 
great disapprobation of the violence of the commons, 
and unwillingness to continue the war. They knew 
that many favoured the king, whose fear concealed 
their loyalty ; and many desired peace, though they 
durst not oppose the clamour for war ^ and they ima« 
gined that, if those who had these good intenUons 
could be informed of their own strength, and enabled 
by intelligence to act together, they might overpower 
the fury of sedition, by refusing to comply with the 
ordinance for the twentieth part, and the other taxes 
levied for the support of the rebel army, and by unit- 
ing great numbers in a petition for peace. They pro- 
ceeded with great caution. Three only met in one 
place, and no man was allowed to impart the plot to 
more than two others ; so that, if any should be sus- 
pected or seized, more than three could not be endan- 

Lord Conway joined in the design, and. Clarendon 
imagines, incidentally mingled, as he was a soldier, 
some martial hopes or projects, which however were 
•nly mentioned, the m»m design being to bring the 


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WALLER. ,^ 319 

loyal inhabitants to the knowledge of each other ; for 
which purpose there was to be appointed one in every 
district, to distinguish the friends of the king,^the ad- 
herents to the parliament, and the neutrals. How far 
they proceeded does not appear ; the result of their 
inquiry,* as Pym declared,* was, that within the walls, 
for one that was for the royalists, there were three 
against them ; but that without the walls, for one that 
was against them, thjere were five for them. Whether 
this was said from knowledge or guess, was perhaps 
never inquiredjr 

It is the opinion of Clarendon, that in Waller's plan 
no violence or sanguinary resistance was" comprised ; 
that he intended only to abate the confidence of the 
rebek by publick declarations, and to weaken their 
power by an opposition to new supplies. This, in 
calmer times, and more than this, is done without fear ; 
but such was the acrimony of the commons, that no 
method of obstructing them was safe. 

About this time another design was formed by sir 
Nicholas Crispe, a man of loyalty that deserves per- 
petual remembrance : when he was a merchant in the 
city, he gave and procured the king in his exigencies, 
an hundred thousand pounds ; and, when he was 
driven from the exchange, raised a jregiment, and 
commanded it. 

Sir Nicholas Battered himself with an opinion, that 
some provocation would so much exasperate, or some 
opportunity so much encourage, the king's friends in 
the city, that they would break out in open resistance, 
and would then want only a lawful standard, and an 
authorised commander ; and extorted from the king, 
whose judgment too frequently yielded to importu- 
nity, a commission of array, directed to such as he 
• Farliamentar}' History, Vol. XII. Dr. J. 

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820 WALLER. 

thought proper to nominate, which was sent to Lon- 
don by the lady Aubigney. She knew iiot what she 
carried, but was to deliver it on the communication of 
a certain token which sir Nicholas imparted. 

This commission could be only intended to lie 
ready till the time should require it. To have attempt- 
ed to raise any forces, would have been certain destruc- 
tion ; k could be of use oivly when the forces should 
appear. This was, however, An act preparatory to mar- 
tial hostility. Crispe would undoubtedly have put an 
end to the session of parliament, had his strength been 
equal to his zeal ; and out of the design of Crispe, 
which involved very little danger, and that of Waller, 
which was an act purely civil, they compounded a 
horrid and dreadful plot. 

The distovery of Waller's design is variously re- 
lated. In Clarendon's History it is told that a servant 
of Tomkyns, lurking behind the hangings when his 
master was in conference with Waller, heard enough 
to qualify him for an informer, and carried his intelli- 
gence to Pym. A manuscript, quoted in the Life of 
Waller, relates, that " he was betrayed by his sister 
Price, and her presbyteriah chaplain, Mr. Goode, who 
stole some of his papers ; and if he had not strangely 
dreamed the Qight before that his sister had betrayed 
him, and thereupon burned the rest of his papers by 
the fire that was in his chimney, he had certainly lost 
his life by it." The question cannot be decided. It 
is not unreasonable to believe that the men in power, 
receiving intelligence from the sister, would employ 
the servant of Tomkyns to listen at the conference, 
that they might avoid an act so offensive as that of 
destroying the brother by the sister's testimony. 

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WALLER. 221 

The plot was published in the most terrifick 

On the 31st of May, 1643, at a solemn fast, when 
they were listening to the sermon, a messenger en- 
tered the church, and communicated his errand to 
Pym, who whispered it to others that were placed 
near him, and then went vvith them out of the church, 
leaving the rest in solicitude and amazement. They 
immediately sent guards to proper places, and that 
night apprehended Tomkyns and Waller; having 
yet traced nothing but that letters had been intercept- 
ed, from which it appears that the parliament and the 
city were soon to be delivered into the hands of the 

They perhaps yet knew little themselves, beyond 
some general and indistinct notices. '* But Waller," 
says Clarendon, '' was so confounded with fear, that 
he confessed whatever he had heard, said, thought, 
or seen ; all that he knew of himself, and all that he 
suspected of others, without concealing any person of 
what degree or quality soever, or any discourse which 
he had ever upon any occasion entertained with them ; 
what sudi and such ladies of great honour, to whom 
upon the credit of his wit and great reputation, he 
had been admitted, had spoke to him in their chambers 
upon the proceedings in the houses, and how they had 
encouraged him to oppose them ; what correspond- 
ence and intercourse they had with some ministers of 
state at Oxford, and how they had conveyed ail intel- 
ligence thither." He accused the earl of Portland 
and lord Conway as co-operating in the transaction ; 
and testified that the earl of Northumberland had de- 
clared himself disposed in favour of any attempt that 
might check the violence of the parliament and recon- 
cile them to the king. 

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i«* WALLER. 

He undoubtedly confessed much which they could 
never have discovered, and perhaps somewhat which 
they would wished to have been suppressed ; for it 
is inconvenient, in the conflict of factions, to have 
that disaffection known which cannot safely be 

Tomkyns was seized on the same night with Wal- 
ler, and appears likewise to have partaken of his cow- 
ardice ; for he gave notice of Crispe*s commission of 
array, of which Clarendon never knew how it was dis- 
covered. Tomkyns had been sent with the token ap- 
pointed, to demand it from lady Aubigney, and had 
buried it in his garden, where, by his direction, it was 
dug up ; and thus the rebels obtained, what Claren- 
don confesses them to have had, the original copy. 

It can raise no wonder that they formed one plot out 
of these two designs, however remote from each other, 
when they saw the same agent employed in both, and 
found the commission of array in the hands of him 
who was employed in collecting the opinions and af- 
fections of the people. 

Of the plot thus combined, they took care to make 
the most. They sent Pym among the citizens, to tell 
them of their imminent danger, and happy escape ; 
and inform them, that the design was, " to seize the 
lord mayor and all the committee of militia, and would 
not spare one of them." They drew up a vow and 
covenant to be taken by every member of either 
house, by which ^he declared his detestation of all 
conspiracies against the parliament, and his resolu- 
tion to detect and oppose them. They then appointed 
a day of thanksgiving for this wonderful delivery ; 
which shut out, says Clarendon, all doubts whether 
there had been such a deliverance, and whether the 
plot was real or fictitious. 

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WALLER. 223 

On June 1 1, the earl of Portland and lord Conway 
were committed, one to the custody of the mayor, and 
the other of the shenff: but their lands and goods 
were not seized. 

Waller was still to immerse himself deeper in igno- 
miny. The earl of Portland and lord Conway denied 
the charge ; and there was no evidence against them 
but the confession of Waller, of which undoubtedly 
many would be inclined to question the veracity. ' 
With these doubts he was so much terrified, that he 
endeavoured to persuade Portland* to a declaration 
tike his own, by a letter extant in Fenton's edition. 
"But for me," says he, "you had never known any 
thing of this business, which was prepared for ano- 
ther ; and therefore I cannot imagine why you should 
hide it so far as to contract your own ruin by conceal- 
ing it, and persisting unreasonably to hide that truth, 
which without you already is, and will every day be 
Tiiade more manifest. Can you imagine yourself bound 
in honour to keep that secret which is already re- • 
vealed by another ? or possible it should still be a se- 
cret, which is known to one of the other sex ? — If 
you persist to be cruel to yourself for their sakes who 
deserve it not, it will nevertheless be made appear, 
ere long, I fear, to your ruin. Surely, if I had the 
happiness to wsdt on you, I could move you to com- 
passionate both yourself and me, who, desperate as 
my case is, am desirous to die with the honour of 
being known to have declared the truth. You have no 
reason to contend to hide what is already revealed — 
inconsiderately to throw away yourself, for the interest 
of others, to whom you are less obliged than you are 
aware of.*' 

This persuasion seems to have had little effect. 
Portland sent, June 29, a letter to the lords, to tell 

VOL. IX. L . 

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224 WALLER. 

them, that he " is in custody, as he conceives, with- 
out any charge ; and that, by what Mr. Waller had 
threatened him with since he was imprisoned, he 
doth apprehend a very cruel, long, and ruinous re- 
straint: — He therefore prays, that he may not find 
the effects of Mr. Waller's threats, a long and close 
imprisonment ; but may be speedily brought to a legal 
trial, and then he is confident the vanity and false- 
hood of those informations which have been given 
against him will appear/' 

In consequence of this letter, the lords ordered 
Portland and Waller to be confronted ; when the one 
repeated his charge, and the other his denial. The 
examination of the plot being continued, July 1, 
Thinn, usher of the house of lords, deposed that Mr. 
Waller having had a conference with the lord Port- 
land in an upper room, lord Portland said, when he 
came down, "Do me the favour to tell my lord 
[Northumberland, that Mr. Waller. has extremely 
pressed me to save my own life and his, by throwing 
the blame upon the lord Conway and the earl of 

Waller, in his letter to Portland, tells him of the 
reasons which he could urge with resistless efficacy 
in a personal conference ; bjut he overrated his own 
oratory ; his vehemence, whether of persuasion or 
in treaty, was returned with contempt. 

One of his arguments with Portland is, that the 
plot is already known to a woman. This woman was 
doubtless lady Aubigney, who, upon this occasion was 
committed, to custody ; but who, in realty, wh^n she 
delivered the commission, knew not v^hat it was. , 

The parliament then proceeded against the conspi- 
rators, and committed their trial to a council of war. 
-Tomkyns and Chaloner Ivere hanged near their own 

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WALLER. 225 

doors. Tomkyns, vrhen he came to die, said it "was a 
foolish business ; and indeed there seems to have been 
no hope that it should escape discovery ; for though 
never more than three met at a time, yet a design so 
extensive must, by necessity, be communicated to 
many, who could not be expected to be all faithful and 
all prudent. Chaloner was attended at his execution 
by Hugh Peters. His crime was, that he had commis- 
sion to raise money for the king ; but it appears not 
that the money wasto be expended upon the advance- 
ment of either Crispe's or Waller's plot. 

The earl of Northumberland, being too great for 
prosecution, was only once examined before the lords. 
ThesCarl of Portland and lord Conway persisting to 
deny the charge, and no testimony but Waller's yet 
appearing against them, were, after a long imprison- 
ment, adpiitted to bail. Hassel, the king's messenger, 
who carried the letters to Oxford, died the night be- 
fore his trial. Hampden escaped death, perhaps by 
the interest of his family ; but was kept in prison to 
the end of his life. They whose names were inserted 
in the commission of array were not capitally punish- 
ed, as it could not be proved that they had consented 
to their own nomination but they were considered as 
malignants, and their estates were seized. 

" Waller, though confessedly," says Clarendon, 
*< the most guilty, with, incredible dissimulation af- 
fected such a remorse of conscience, that his trial was 
^ut off, out of christian compassion, till he might re- 
cover his understanding. What ase he made of this 
interval, with what liberality and success he distri- 
buted flattery and money, and how, when he was 
brought (July 4) before the house, he confessed and 
lamented, and submitted and implored, may be read 
in the history of the rebellion (B. vii.) The speiech, 
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226 WALLER. 

to which Ciarendon ascrH^es the preservadotiof kts 
dear-bought life, is inserted in his works. The great 
historian, however, seems to have been mistaken in 
relating that he prevailed in the principal part of his 
supplication, not to be tried by a council of war ; for, 
according to Whitlock, he was by expulsion from the 
house abandoned to the tribunal which he so much 
dreaded, and, being tried and condemned, was re- 
prieved by Essex ; but after a year's imprisonment, 
in which time resentment grew less acrimonicma, 
paying a fine of ten thousand pounds, he was permit** 
ted to recollect himself in another country. 

Of his behaviour in this part of his life it is not ne- 
cessary to direct the reader's opinion. ** Let us not," 
says his last ingenious biographer,* '< condemn him 
with untempered severity, because he was not a pro- 
digy which the world hath seldom seen, because his 
character included not the poet, the orator, and the 

For the place of his exile he chose France, and 
stayed some time at Roan, where his daughter Mar- 
garet was born, who was afterwards his favourite, and 
his amanuensis. He then removed to Paris, where he 
lived with great splendour and hospitality; and from 
time to time amused himself with poetry, in which he 
sometimes speaks of the rebels and their usurpation, 
in the natural language of an honest man. 

At last it became necessary, for his support, to sell 
his wife's jewels ; and being reduced, as he said> at 
last to the rump jewel, he solicited from Cromwell 
permission to return, and obtained it by the interest 
of colonel Scroop, to whom his sister was married. 
Upon the remains of a fortune which the danger of 

* Life of Waller, prefixed $o an edition of his works, published in 
1773, hy Pcrci\-al Stockdale. C. 

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WALLER- 227 

his life had very much diminished) he lived at Hall* 
barn, a house built by himself, very near to Beacons- 
£eld, where his mother resided. His mother, though 
related to Cromwell and Hampden, was zealous for 
the royal cause, and, when Cromwell visited her, used 
to reproach him ; he, in return, would throw a napkin 
at her, and say he would not dispute with his aunt ; 
but finding in time that she acted for the king, as well 
as talked, he made her a prisoner to her own daughter, 
in her own house. If he would do any thing, he could 
not do less. 

Cromwell, now protector, received Waller as his 
kinsman, to familiar conversation. Waller, as he used 
to relate, found him sufficiently versed in ancient his- 
tory ; and when any of his enthusiastick friends came 
to advise or consult him, could sometimes overhear 
him discoursing in the cant of the times: but when he 
returned, he would say, " Cousin Waller, I must talk 
to these men in their own way:*' and resumed the com- 
mon style of conversation. 

He repaid the protector for his favours (I65i) by 
the famous panegyrick, which ha& been always con- 
sidered as the first of his poetical productions. His 
choice of encomiastick topicks is very judicious ; for 
he considers Cromwell in his exaltation, without in- 
quiring how he attained it ; there is consequently no 
mention of the rebel or the regicide. All the former 
part of his hero's life is veiled with shades ; and no- 
thing is brought to view but the chief, the governor, 
the defender of England's honour, and the enlarger 
of her dominion. The act of violence by which he 
obtained the supreme power is lightly treated, and de- 
cently justified. It was certainly to be desired that 
the detestable band should be dissolved, which had 
destroyed the church, murdered the king, and filled 
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228 WALLER. 

the nation ^ith tumult and oppression ; yet Cromiirell 
had not the right of dissolving them, for all that he 
had before done could be justiiied only by supposing 
them invested with lawful authority. But combina- 
tions of wickedness would overwhelm the world by 
the advantage which licentious principles afford, did 
not those who have long practised perfidy grow futh* 
less to each other. 

In the poem on the war with Spain are some passa- 
ges at least equal to the best parts of the Panegyrick ; 
and, in the conclusion, the poet ventures yet a higher 
flight of flattery, by recommending royalty to Crom- 
well and the nation. Cromwell was very desirous, as 
appears from his conversation, related by Whitlock) of 
adding the title to the power of monarchy, and is sup- 
-posed to have been withheld from it partly by fear 
of the army, and partly by fear of the laws, which, 
when he should govern by the name of king, would 
have restrained, his authority. * When therefore a de- 
putation was solemnly sent to invite him to the crown, 
he, after a long conference, refused it ; but is said 
to hitve fainted in his coach, when he parted from 

The poem on the death of the protector seems to 
have been dictated by real veneration for his memory. 
Dryden and Sprat wrote on the same occasion ; but 
they were young men, struggling into notice, and 
hoping for some favour from the ruling party. Waller 
had little to expect ; he had received nothing but his- 
pardon from Cromwell, and was not likely to ask any 
thing from those who should succeed him. 

Soon afterwards, the Restoration supplied him with 
another subject ; -and he exerted his imagination, his 
elegance, and his melody, with equal alacrity, for 
Charles the Second. It is not possible to read, withr 



waller; 2291 

out some contempt and indignation, poems of the 
same author, ascribing the highest degree of power 
and piety to Charles the First, then transferring the 
same power and piety to Oliver Cromwell ; now in- 
viting Oliver to take the crown, and then congratulat- 
ing Charles the Second on his, recovered right. Nei- 
ther Cromwell nor Charles could value his testimony 
as the effect of conviction, or receive his praises as. ' 
effusions of reverence ; they could consider them: 
but as . the labour of invention, and the tribute of 

Poets, indeed, profess fiction ; but the legitimate 
end of fiction is the conveyance of truth ; and he that 
has flattery ready for all whom the vicissitudes of the 
world happen to exalt, must be scorned as a prosti- 
tuted mind, that may retain the glitter of wit, but has 
lost the dignity of virtue. 

The Congratulation was considered as inferior in 
poetical merit to the Panegyrick ; and it is reported, 
that, when the king told Waller of the disparity, he 
answored, " Poets, sir, succeed better in fiction than 
in truth.*' 

The Congratulation is indeed not inferior to the 
Panegyrick, either by decay of genius, or for' want 
of diligence ; but because Cromwell had done much, 
and Charles had done little. Cromwell wanted nothing 
to raise him to heroick excellence but virtue ; and 
virtue his poet thought himself at liberty to supply. 
Charles had yet only the merit of struggling without 
success, and suffering without despair. A life of 
escapes and indigence could supply poetry with no 
splendid images. 

In the first parliament summoned by Charles the 
Second, March 8, 1661, Waller sat for Hastings, inv 

S^isseXf afid served for different places in all the 
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230 WALLER. 

parliaments in that reign. In a time when fancy and 
gaiety were the most powerful recommendations to 
regard, it is not likely that Waller was forgotten. He 
passed his time in the company that was highest, both 
in rank and wit, from which even his obstinate sobriety 
did not exclude him. Though he drank water, he was 
enabled by his fertility of mind to heighten the mirth 
' of bacchanalian assemblies ; and Mr. Saville said, that 
^< no man in England should keep him company with- 
out drinking but Ned Waller." 

The praise given him by St. Evremond is a proof of 
his reputation ; for it was oi^y by his reputation that 
he could, be knonnrn as a writer, to a mui who» though 
lie lived a great part of a long life upon an English 
pension, never condescended to understand the laxi^ 
guage of the nation that maintained him. 

In parliament " he was," says Rurnet, '* the delight 
of the house, and though old, said the liveliest things 
of any among them.*' This, however, is said in his ac* 
count of the year seventy-five, wlien Waller was only 
seventy. His name as aspeaker occur&often in C^rey*si» 
collections ; Gut I have found no extracts that can bo 
more t]UOted as, exhibiting sallies of gsdety than cogen- 
cy of argument. 

He was of such consideration, 'that his remarks were 
circulated and recorded. When the duke of York'* 
influence was high both in Scotland and England, it 
drew, says Burnet, a lively leflection from Waller 
the celebrated wit. He said, " the house of comm<»i» 
had resolved that the duke should not reign after the 
king's death ; but the king, in opposition to them, had 
resolved that he should reign even in his life." If 
there appear no extraordinary liveliness in this re- 
mark, yet its reception proves the speaker to have 
been a celebrated wit, to have had a name which men 
of wit were prQud of mentioning. 

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He did not suffer reputation to die gradually away, 
-which may easily happen in a long life ; but renewed 
his claim to poetical distinction from time to time, as 
occasions were offered, either by publick events or 
private incidents ; and contenting himself with tlie in- 
fluence of his muse, or loving quiet better than influ- 
ence, he never accepted any ofiice of magistracy. 

He was not, however, without some attention to his. 
fortune ; for he asked from the king, in 1665, tlie pro* 
vostship of Eton college, and obtained it ; but Claren- 
don refused to put the seal to the grant, alleging that 
it could be held only by a clergyman. It is known tliat 
sir Henry Wotton qualified himself for it by deacon's 

To Ihis opposition the Biographia imputes the vio- 
lence and acrimony with which Waller joined Buck- 
ingham's faction in tlie prosecution of Clarendon. 
The motive was illiberal and dishonest, and shewed 
that more than sixty yeai's had not been able to teach 
him morality. His accusation is such as conscience 
can hardly be supposed to dictate without the help of 
malice. " We were to be governed by Janizaries 
instead of parliaments, and are in danger from a worse, 
plot than that of the fifth of November ; then if the 
lords and commons had been destroyed, there had 
been a succession ; but here both had been destroyed 
for ever.'' This is the language of a man who is gla<l 
of an opportunity to rail, and ready to sacrifice truth 
to interest at one time, and to anger at another. 

A year after the chancellor's banishment, another 
vacancy gave him encouragement for another petition 
which the king referred to the council, who, after 
hearing the question argued by lawyers for three 
days, determined that the office could be held only by 
• clergyman, according to the act of uniformity, since 

L 5 

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232 WALLER. 

the provosts had always received institution as for si 
parsonage from the bishops of Lincoln. The king^ 
then said, he could not break the law which he had 
made ; and Dr. Zachary Cradock, famous for a single 
sermon, at most for two sermons, was chosen by the 

That he asked any thing more is not known ; it is 
certiin that he obtained nothing, though he continued 
obsequious to the court through the rest of Charles's 

At, the accession of king James, in 1685, he was 
chosen for parliament, being then fourscore, at Salt- 
ash in Cornwall ; and wrote a presage of the downfall 
of the Turkish empire, which he presented to the* 
king on his birth-day. It is remarked by his com- 
mentator Fen ton, that in reading Tasso he had early 
imbibed a veneration for the heroes of the holy war, 
and a zealous enmity to the Turks, w,hich -never left 
him. James, however, having soon after begun what 
lie thought a holy war at home, made haste to put all 
molestation of the Turks out of his power. 

James treated him with kindness and familiarity, of 
which instances are given by the writer of his life. 
One day taking him into the closet, the king asked 
him how he liked one of the pictures : " My eyes,** 
said Waller, " are dim, and I do not know it.'* The 
king said it was the princess of Orange. " She is,**^ 
said Waller, " like the greatest woman in the world.** 
The king asked who was that ; and was answered 
queen Elizabeth. "I wonder,*' said the king, "you 
should think so ; but I must confess she had a wise 
council." " And, sir," said Waller, " did npu ever 
know a fool choose a wise one ?" Such is the story, 
which I once heard of some other man. Pointed ax- 
ioms, and acute replies, fly loose about the world, and 

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WALLER. . 233; 

are assigned successively to those whom it may be the. 
fashion to celebrate. 

When the king knew that he was about to marry 
his daughter to Dr. Birch, a clergyman, he ordered & 
' French gentleman to tell him^ that "the king won- 
dered he could think of marr}^ing his vdaughter to a 
falling church/' " The king," said Waller, " does me 
great honour in taking notice of my domestick affairs ; 
but I have lived long enough to observe that this full- 
ing church has got a trick of rising again/' 

He took notice to his friends of the king's conduct ; 
and said tliat " he would be left like a whale upon the 
strand." Whether he was privy to any of the transac- 
tions which ended in the revolution, is not known. 
His heir joined the prince of Orange. 

Having now attained an age beyond which the laws- 
of hature.seldom suffer life to be extended, otherwise 
than by a future state, he seems to have turned his- 
mind upon preparation for the decisive hour, and 
therefore consecrated his poetry to devotion. It i% 
pleasing to discover that his piety was without weak- 
ness ; that his intellectual powers continued vigorous : 
and that the lines which he composed, wiien he, for 
age, could neither read nor write, are not inferior to 
the effusions of his youth. 

Towards the decline of life, he bought a. small house 
with a little land at Goleshill ; and said, " he should 
be glad to die, like the stag, where he was roused." 
This, however, did not happen. When he was at 
Beaconsfield, he found his legs grow tumid: he went 
to Windsor, where sir Charles Scarborough then at- 
tended the king, and requested him, as both a friend 
and physician, to tell him what that swelling meant. 
^*^Sir," aiiswered Scarborough, " your blood ^ill run 


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234 WALLER. 

no longer." Waller repeated some lines of Virgil, 
and went home to die. 

As the disease increased upon him^ he composed 
himself for his departure ; and calling upon Dr. Birch 
to give him the holy sacrament^ he desired his chil- 
dren to take it with him, and made an earnest decla^ 
ration of his faith in Christianity. It now appeared 
what part of his conversation with the great could be 
remembered with delight. He related, that being 
present when the duke of Buckingham talked pro- 
fanely before king Charles, he said to him, " My Lord, 
I am a great deal older than your grace, and have, I 
believe, heard more arguments for atheism than ever 
your grace did ; but I have lived long enough to see 
there is nothing in them ; and so, I hope, your grace 

He died October 21, 1687, and was buried at Bea^ 
consfield, with a monument erected by his son's ex- 
ecutors, for which Rymer wrote the inscription, and 
which, I hope is now rescued from dilq>idation. 

He left several children by his second wife ; of 
whom, his daughter was married to Dr. Birch. Ben- 
jamin, the eldest son, was disinherited, and sent to 
New Jersey, as wanting common understanding. Ed- 
mund, the second son, inherited the estate, and repre- 
sented Agmondesham, in parliament, but at last turn- 
ed quaker. William, the third son, was a merchant 
in London. Stephen, the fourth, was an eminent doc- 
tor of laws, and one of the commissioners for the 
union. There is said to have been a fifth, of whom 
no account has descended. 

The character of Waller, both moral and intellec- 
tual, has been drawn by Clarendon, to whom he was 
familiarly known, with nicety, which certainly none to 
whom he was not known, can presume to emulate. It 

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WALLER. aars* 

i& idierefore inserted here, with such remarks wk 
others have supplied ; after which nothing remftina* 
but a critical examination of his poetry. 

" Edmund Waller," says Clarendon, "was bom to 
a. very fair estate, by the parsimony or frugality of a. 
wise father and mother : and he thought it so com*^ 
mendable an advantage, that he resolved to improve^ 
it with his utmost care, upon which in his nature he 
was too much intent ; and, in order to that) he was so 
much reserved and retired, that he was scarcely ever 
heard of, till by his address and dexterity he had got- 
ten a very rich wife in the city, against all the recom- 
mendation and countenance and authority of the court, 
which was thoroughly engaged on the behalf of Mr. 
Crofts, and which used to be successful, in that age, 
against any opposition. He had the good fortune to 
have an alliance and friendship with Dr. Morley, who 
had assisted and instructed him in the reading many 
good books to which his natural parts and prompti- 
tude inclined him, especially the poets ; and at the 
age when other men used to give over writing verses 
(for, he was near thirty years when he first engaged 
himself in that exercise, at least that he was known to 
do so,) he surprised the town with two or three pie- 
ces of that kind as if a tenth muse had been newly born 
to cherish drooping poetry. The doctor at that time 
brought him into that company which was most cele- 
brated for good conversation ; where he was received 
and esteemed with great applause and respect. He 
was a very pleasant discourser in earnest and in jest, 
and therefore very grateful to all kind of company, 
where he was not the less esteemed for being very 

" Ele had been even nursed in parliaments, where he 
sat when he was very young j and so, when they were 

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i*e8uined again (after a. long intermission), he appear^^ 
ed in those assemblies with great advantage ; having 
a graceful way of speaking, and by thinking much on 
several arguments (which his temper and complexion, 
that had much of melancholick, inclined him to), he 
seemed often to speak upon the sudden, when the oc- 
casion had only administered the opportunity of say- 
ing what he hacl thoroughly considered, which gave a 
great lustre to all he said ; which yet was rather of de- 
light than weight. There needs no more be said to 
extol the excellence and power of his wit, and plea- 
santness of his conversation, than that it was of mag- 
nitude enough to cover a world of very great faults ;- 
that is, so to cover them, that tliey were not taken no- 
tice of to ,his reproach, viz. a narrowness in his nature 
to the lowest degree ; an abjectness and want of cou-- 
rage to support him in any virtuous undertaking ; an 
insinuation and servile flattery to the height the vain- 
est and most imperious nature could be contented 
with ; that it preserved and won his life from those 
who were most resolved to take it, and in an occasion 
in which he ought to have been ambitious to have lost 
it ; and then preserved him again from the reproach 
and the contempt that was due to him for so preserv- 
ing it, and for vindicating it at such a price that it had 
power to reconcile him to those whom he had most 
offended and provoked ; and continued to his age with 
that rare felicity, that his company was acceptable 
where his spirit was odious ; and he was at least pitied 
where he was mo^t detested." 

Such is the account of Clarendon ; on which it may 
not be improper to make some remarks. 

" He was very little known till he had obtained a rich, 
wife in the city.'' 


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WALLER. 23r 

He obtained a rich wife about the age of thrce-and- 
twenty ; an ag;e, before which few men arc conspicu- 
ous much to their advantage. He was known, how- 
ever, in parliament and at court ; and, if he spent part 
of his time in privacy, it is not unreasonable to sup- 
pose that he endeavoured the improvement of his 
mind as well as of his fortune. 

That Clarendon might misjudge the motive of his 
retirement is the more probable, because he has evi- 
dently mistaken the commencement of his jjoetry, 
which he supposes him not to have attempted before 
thirty. As his first pieces were perhaps not printed, 
the succession of his compositions was not known ; 
and Clarendon who cannot be imagined to have been 
very studious of poetry, did not rectify his first opinion 
by consulting Waller's book. 

Clarendon observes that he was introduced to the 
wits of the age by Dr. Morley ; but the writer of his 
life relates that he was already among them, when, 
hearing a noise in the street, and inquiring the cause, 
they found a son of Ben Jonson under an arrest./ This 
was Morley, whom Waller set free at the expense of 
one hundred pounds, took him into the country as 
director of his studies, and then procured him admis- 
sion into the company of the friends of literature. Of 
this fact Clarendon had a nearer knowledge than the 
biographer, and is therefore more to be credited. 

The account of Waller's parliamentary eloquence 
is seconded by Burnet, who, though he calls him 
" the delight of the house," adds, that " he was only 
concerned to say that which should make him be ap- 
plauded, he never laid the business of the house to 
heart, being a vain and empty, though a witty man.** 

Of his insinuation and flattery it is not unreasonable 
to believe that the truth is told. Ascham, in his cle- 



23a WALLER; 

gant description of thoae whom in modem languaf er 
we term wits, says that they are open flatterers^ and; 
privy mockers. Waller shewed a little of botii wheit, 
upon sight of the duchess of Newcastle's verses, on. 
the death of a stag, he declared tliat he would give all 
his own compositions to have written them, and beings 
charged with the exorbitance of his adulation, answer* 
ed, " that nothing was toa much to be given^ that- a 
lady might be saved from the disgrace of such a vil»- 
perfonnance." This, however, w;as no very mischiev'^i 
OU8 or very unusual deviation Trom tinith : had hisy 
hypocrisy been confined to such transactions, he might 
have been forgiven, though not praised ; for who for- 
bears to flatter an author or a lady ? 

Of the laxity of his political principles, and th^ 
weakness of his resolutiou, he experienced the nature 
effect, by losing the esteem of every party. From 
Cromwell he had only his recall ; and from Charles the- 
Second, who delighted in his company, he obtained 
only the pardon of his relation Hampden, and the safety 
of Hampden's sou. 

As far as conjecture can be made from the whole of 
his writing and his conduct, he was halntually and de- 
liberately a friend to monarchy. His deviation to- 
wards democracy proceeded from his connection with 
Hampden, for whose sake he prosecuted Crawley with 
great bitterness ; and the invective which he pro- 
nounced on that occasion was so popular, that twenty 
thousand copies are said by his biographer to have 
been sold in one day. 

It is confessed that his faults still left him many 
friends, at least many companions. His convivial 
power of pleasing is universally acknowledged ; but 
those who conveised with him intimately, found him 
not only passionatCx especially in his pkl age, but re- 

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WALLER. 239 

sentful ; so that the interpoaition of friends was sorne^ 
times necessary. 

His wit and his poetry naturally connected him with 
the polite writers of his time : he was joined with 
lord Buckhurst in the translation of Comeille's Pom- 
pey ; and is said to have added his help to that of 
Cowley in the original draft of the Rehearsal. 

The care of his fortune,, which Clarendon imputes 
to him in a degree little less than criminal, was either 
not constant or not successful ; for having inherited a 
patrimony of three thousand five hundred pounds » 
]r^ear in the time of James^ the First, and augmented it 
at least by one wealthy marriage, he left) about thet 
time of the Revolution, an income of not more than 
twelve or thirteeoi. hundred ; which when the different 
value of money, is retokoned, will b^ found perhaps not 
more than a fourth part of what he once possessed. 

Of this diminution, part was the consequence of thet 
gifts which he was forced to scatter, smd the fine? 
iRhich he was condemned to pay at the detection of 
his plot ; and if his estate, asr is related in hh life, 
. was sequestered,, he had pi*obably contracted debtS' 
when he lived.ia exile; for we are told, that at Paris 
b e lived in splendour, and was the only Englishman, 
except the lord St. Alhan's^ that kept a table. 

His unlucky plot compelled him to sell a thousand^ 
a^year ; of the waste of the rest there is no account; 
except that he is confessed by his htografiher to have 
been a bad economist. He seems to have deviated' 
from the common practice ; to have been a hoarder in 
ki& first years, and a squanderer in his last. 

Of his course of studies, or choice of books, nothing 
is known more than that he professed himself unable 
to read Chapman's translation of Homer without rap^ 
ture. His opinion concerning the duty ot a poet is 

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240 WALLER. 

contained in his declaration, that " he would blot front 
hh works any line that did not contain some motiye to 

The characters by which Waller intended to distin- 
guish his writing are sprightliness and dignity ; in his 
smallest pieces he endeavours to be gay; in the larger 
to be great. Of his airy and light productions, the 
chief source is gallantry, that attentive reverence of 
female excellence which has descended to us from 
the Gothic ages. As his poems are commonly occasi- 
onal, and his addresses personal, he was not so liber- 
ally supplied with grand as with soft images; for 
beauty is more easily found than magnanimity. 

The delicacy which he cultivated, restrains him to 
a certain nicety andYaution, even when he writes upon 
the slightest matt v. He has, therefore in his whole 
volume, nothing burlesque, and seldom any thing lu- 
dicrous or familiar. He seems always to do his best ; 
though his subjects are often unworthy of his care. 

It is not easy to think without some contempt on an 
author, who is growing illustrious in his opinion by- 
verses, at one time, " To a Lady who can do any thing 
but sleep when she pleases ;" at another, *^ To a Lady 
who can sleep when she pleases ;** now, " To a Lady, 
on her passing through a crowd of people ;" then, 
" On a braid of divers colours, woven by four Ladies;'* 
" On a tree cut in paper," or, " To a Lady, from 
whom he received the copy of verses on the paper 
tree, which for many years had been missing." 

Genius now and then produces a lucky trifle. We 
still rea.d the Dove of Anacreon, and Sparrow of Ca- 
tullus ; and a writer naturally pleases himself with a 
performance which owes nothing. to the subject. But 
compositions merely pretty have the fate of othec- 


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pretty things, and are quitted in time for something 
useful ; they are flowers fragrant aud fair, but of short 
duration ; or they are blossoms to be valued only as 
they foretel fruits. 

Among Waller's little poems are some which their 
excellency ought to secure from oblivion ; as, To 
Amoret, comparing the different modes of regard with 
which he looks on her and Sacharissa ; and the verses 
On Love, that begin, Anger in hasty words or blows. 

In others he is not equally successful ; sometimes 
his thoughts are deficient, and sometimes his expres- 

The numbers are not ahvays musical j as, 

Fair Venus, in thy soft arms 

The god of rage confine ; 
For thy whispers are the charms 

Which only can divert his fierce design. 
What though he frown, and to tumult do incline ; 

Thou the flame 

Kindled in his breast can tame 
With that snow which unmelted hes on thine. 

He seldom indeed fetches an amorous sentiment 
from the depths of science ; his thoughts are for the 
most part easily understood, and his images such as 
the superficies of nature readily supplies ; he has a 
just claim to popularity, because he writes to common 
degrees of knowledge ; and is free at least from philo- 
sophical pedantry, unless perhaps the end of a song 
to the sun may be excepted, in which he is too much a 
Copernican. To which may be added the simile of 
the palm, in the verses on her passing through a 
crowd ; and a line in a more serious poem on the 
Restoration, about vipers and treacle, which can only 
be understood by those who happen to know the com- 
position of the Theriaca. 

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24& WALLER; 

His thoughts are sometimes hyperbolics^l) «Bd his' 

images unnatural: 

——The plants admire, 
No less than those of old did Orpheus' lyre : 
If she sit down, with tops all tow'rds her bowM ; 
They round about her into arbours crowd : 
Or if she walks, in even ranks they stand, 
Like some well-marshallM and obsequious band. 

In another place : 

While in the park 1 sing, the listening deer 
Attend ray passion, and forget to fear: 
M^hen to the beeches I report my flame. 
They bow their heads, as if they felt the same. 
To gods appealing* when I reach t^ir bf^wfers^ 
With loud complaints they answer me in showers. 
To thee a wild and cruel soul is given ! 
More deaf than trees, and prouder than the heaveo ! 

On the head of a stag : 

O fertile head ! wTiich every year 
Could such a crop of wonder bear ! 
The teeming earth did never bring 
So soon, so hard, so huge a thing : 
Which^ might it never ha-vebcea-cast, 
Eaeh year?s growth adde4 to the la^ . 
These lofty branches bad supply'd 
The earth's bold son^s prodigious pride ; 
Heaven with these engines had been scai'd. 
When mountains beap'4 on mountains faif d; 

Sometimes, having succeeded in the first part, he 
makes a feeble conclusion. In the song of " Sacha- 
rissa*s and Amoret's friendship,'* the two last stanzas 
ought to have been omitted. 

His images of gallantry are not always in the high- 
est degree delicate. 

Then shall my love this doubt displace. 

And gain such trust that 1 may come 
And banquet sometimes on thy face. 

But make my constant meals at home. 


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WALLER. 243 

Some ttpplicaldons may be thought too remote and 
uneonsequeatial ; as in the verses on the lady danciag • 

The sun in figures such as these 
Joys with the moen to play : 

To the sweet strains they advance, 
Which do result from their own spheres ; 

As this nymph's dance 
Moves ^ith the numbers which she hears. 

Sometimes a thought, which might perhaps fill a 
distich, is expanded and attenuated till it grows weak 
and almost evanescent : 

Chloriis ! since first our calm of peace 

Was frighted hence, this good we find. 
Your favours with your fears increase. 

And growing mischiefs make you kind. 
So the fair tree, which still preserves 
f Her fruit, and state, while no wind blows, 
In storms from that uprightness swerves : 

And the glad earlh about her strows 

With treasure from her yitelding boughs. 

His irnages are not always distinct ; as, in the fol- 
lowing passage, he confounds Love as a person with 
' Love as a passion : 

Some other nymphs, with colours faint. 
And pencil slow, may Cupid paint. 
And a weak heart in time destroy ; 
She has a stamp, and prints the boy ; 
Can, with a single look, inflame 
The coldest breast, the rudest tame. 

His sallies of casual flattery are sometimes elegant 
and happy, as that in. return for the silver pen ; and 
sometimes empty and trifling, as that upon the card 
torn by the queen. There^are a few lines written in 
the duchess's Tasso, which he is said by Fenton to 
have kept a summer under correction. It happened 
to Waller, as to others, that his success was not al- 
ways in proportion to his labour. 

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244 Waller. 

Of these petty compositions neither the beauties 
nor the faults deserve much atteiition. The amorous 
verses have this to recommend them, that they are 
less hyperbolical than those of some other poets. 
Waller is not always at the last* gasp ; he does not die 
of a frown, nor live upon a smile. There is, however, 
too much love, and too many trifles. Little things are 
made too important, and the empire of beauty is re- 
presented as exerting its influence farther than can be 
allowed by the multiplicity of human passions, and the 
variety of human wants. Such books, therefore, may 
be considered as shewing the world under a false ap- 
pearance, and so far as they obtain credit from the 
young and inexperienced, as misleading expectation, 
and misguiding practice. 

Of his nobler and more weighty performances, the 
greater part is panegyrical 2 for of praise he was very 
lavish, as is observed by his imitator lord Lansdowne : 

No satyr stalks within the hallowM ground, 
But queens and heroines, kings and gods abound ; 
GI017 and arms and love are all the sound. 


In the first poem, on the danger of the prince on 
the coast of Spain, there is a puerile and ridiculous 
mention of Arion at the beginning ; and the last para- 
graph, on the cable, is in part ridiculously mean, and 
in part ridiculously tumid. The poem, however, is 
such as may be justly praised, without much allowance 
for the state of our poetry and language at that time. 

The two next poems are upon the king's behaviour 
at the death of Buckingham, and upon his navy. 

He has, in the first, used the pagan deities with 
great propriety : 

Twas want of such a precedent as this 

Made the old heathens fmrae their gods amiss. 


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WALLKR. 245 

In tlie poem on the navy those lines are very noble 
which suppose the king's power secure against a se- 
cond deluge ; so noble, that it were almost criminal to 
remark the mistake of centre for surface, or to say- 
that the empire of the, sea would be worth little if 
it were not that the waters terminate in land. 

The poem upon Sallee has forcible sentiments ; but 

the conclusion is feeble. That on the repairs of St. 

Paul's has something vulgar and obvious ; such as the 

mention of Amphion; and something violent and 

.harsh: as, 

So all our minds with his conspire to grace 
The Oentiles' great apostle, and deface 
Those state-obscuring- sheds, that like a chain 
SeemM to confine, and fetter him again : 
Which the glad saint shakes off at liis commaiid. 
As once the viper from his sacred hand. 
So joys the aged oak when we divide 
The creeping ivy from his injur'd side. 

Of the two last couplets, the first is extravagant, and 
the second mean. 

His praise of the queen is too much exaggerated ; 
and the thought, that she " saves lovers, by cutting 
off hope, as gangrenes ai*e cured by lopping the limb,'* 
presents nothing to the mind but disgust and horror. 

Of the battle of the Summer islands, it seems not 
easy to say whether it is intended to raise terror or 
merriment. The beginning is too splendid for jest, 
and the conclusion too light for seriousness. The ver- 
sification is studied, the scenes are diligently display- 
ed, and the images artfully amplified ; but, as it ends 
neither in joy or sorrow, it will scarcely be read a se- 
cond time. 

The Panegyrick upon Cromwell has obtained from 
the publick a very libei^l dividend of praise, which 
however cannot be said to have been unjustly lavished 

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246 WALLER. 

for such a aeries of verses had rarely appeared before 
in the English language. Of the lines some are grand, 
fiome are graceful, and all are musical. There is now 
and then a feeble verse, or a trifling thought; but its 
great fault is the choice of its hero. 

The poem of the War with Sp^dn begins with lines 
more vigorous and striking than Waller is accustom- 
ed to produce. The succeeding parts are variegated 
with better passages and worse. There is something 
too far-fetched in the comparison of the Spaniards 
drawing the English on, by saluting St. Lucar with 
cannon, to lambs awakening the lion by bleating. The 
fate of the marquis and his lady, who were burnt in 
their ship, would have moved more, had the poet not 
made him die like the phoenix, because he had spices 
about him, nor expressed their affection, and their 
end by a conceit at once false and vulgar : 

Alive, in equal flames of love they burn'd. 
And nov together are to ashes tum'd. 

The verses to Charles, on his return, were doubt- 
less intended to counterbalance the panegyrick on 
Cromwell. If it has been thought inferior to that with 
which it is naturally compai*ed, the cause ofitsdefi- 
cience has been already remarked. 

The remaining pieces it is not necessary to examine 
singly* They must be supposed to have faults and 
beauties of the same kind with the rest. The sacred 
poems, however, deserve particular regard; they 
were the work of Waller's declining life, of those 
hours in which he looked upon the fame and the folly 
of the time past with the sentiments which his great 
predecessor Petrarch bequeathed to posterity, upon 
his review of that love and poetry which have given 
him immorality* 


byGooQle I 

_v J 

WALLER. 245r 

That mttoral jealousy which makes every man un- 
twining to allow much excellence in another, always 
produces a disposition to believe that the mind grows 
old with the body ; and that he, whom we are now 
forced to confess superior, is hastening daily to a 
level with ourselves. By delighting to think this of 
the Hving, we learn to think it of the dead^ and Fen- 
ton, with all his kindness for Waller, has the luck to 
mark the exact time when his genius passed the ze- 
nith, which he places at his fifty-fifth year. This is 
to allot the mind but a small portion. Intellectual de- 
cay is doubtless not uncommon ;. but it seems not to 
be universal. Newton was in his eighty-fifth year 
improving his chronology, a few days before his death; 
and Waller appears not, in my opinion, to have lost at 
eighty-two. any part of his poetical power. 

His sacred poems do not please like some of his 
other works ; but before the fatal fifty-five, had he 
written on the same subjects, his success would 
hardly have been better. 

It has been the frequent lamentation of good men^ 
that verse has been too little applied to the purposes 
of worship, and many attempts have been made to 
animate devotion by pious poetry. That they have 
very seldom attained their end is sufficiently knowUf 
-and it may not be improper to inquire why they have 
miscarried. ■» 

Let no pious ear be offended if I advance, in oppo- 
sition to many authorities, that poetical devotion can- 
not often please. The doctrines of religion may in- 
deed be defended in a didactick poem ; and he, who 
has the happy power of arguing in verse, will not lose 
it because his subject is sacred. A poet may describe 
the beauty and the grandeur of nature, the flowers of 
spring, and the harvests of autumn, th^ vicissitudes 


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24«> WALLER- 

df the tide, and the revolutions of the sky, and praise 
the Maker for his works, in lines which no reader 
shall lay aside. The subject of the disputation is not 
piety, but the motives to piety ; that of the descrip- 
tion is not God, but the works of God. 

Contemplative piety, or the intercourse between 
God and the human soul, cannot be poetical. Man, 
admitted to implore the mercy of his Creator, and 
plead the merits of his Redeemer, is already in a 
higher state than poetry can confer. 

The essence of poetry is invention ; such invjention 
as, by producing something unexpected, surprises 
and delights. The topicks of devotion are few, and 
being few are universally known ; but few aa they 
are, they can be made no more ; they can receive no 
grace from novelty of sentiment, tmd Very little from 
novelty of expression. 

Poetry pleases by exhibiting an idea more grateful 
to the mind than things themselves afford. This ef- 
fect proceeds from the display of those parts of nature 
which attract, and the concealment of those which 
repel, the imagination : but religion must be shown 
as it is ; suppression and addition equally corrupt it ; 
and such as it is, it is known already. 

From poetry the reader justly expects, and from 
good poetry always obtains, the enlargement of his 
comprehension and elevation of his fancy ; but this is 
rarely to be hoped by christians from metrical devo- 
'tion. Whatever is great, desirable, or tremendous, 
is comprised in the name of the Supreme Being. Om- 
nipotence cannot be exalted ; infinity cannot be am- 
plified ; perfection cannot be improved. 

The employments of pious meditation are faith^ 
thanksgiving, repentance, and supplication. Faith^ 
invaritibly uniform, ca&not be invested by fancy witli 

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decorations. Thanksgiving, the most joyful of ail 
holy effusions^ yet addressed to a Being without pa«- 
nions, is confined to a few modes, and is to be felt 
rather than expressed. Repentance, trembling in the 
presence of the judge, Is not at leisure for cadences 
and epithets. Supplication of man to man may diffuse 
itself through many topicksof persiutsion^ but Stup- 
plication to God can only cry for mercy. 

Of sentiments purely religious, it will be found 
that the most simple expression is the most sublime. 
Poetryloses its lustre and its power, because it is ap- 
plied to the decoration of something more excellent 
than itaelf. All that pious verse can do is to help the 
memory, and delight the ear, and for these purposes 
it may be very useful ; but it supplies nothing to the 
mind. The ideas of christian theology are too simple 
for eloquence, too sacred for fiction, and too majes- 
tick for ornament ; to recommend them by tropes and 
figures, is to magnify by a concave mirror the sideral 

As much of WalleT's reputation was owing to the 
softness and smoothness of his numbers ; it is proper 
to conBider those minute particulars to which a versi- 
'fier must attend. 

He GjCrtainly very much excelled in smoothness 
most of the writers who were living when his poetry 
commenced. The poets of Elizabeth had attained an 
art of modulation, which was afterwards neglected or 
forgotten. Fairfax was acknowledged by him as feis 
model J and he might have studied with, advantage 
the poem of Davies,* which, though merely pliilo- 
sophical, yet seldom leaves the ear ungratified. 

* Sir John Daviea* intituled, " Nosce teipsum. This Oracle ear- 
pounded in two Elegies; 1. Of Humane .Knowledge ; II. Oi' th« 
Stwle of m&D aod the Immortallcie tivereef, 1599." K, ^ _ _ 



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B«t he was rather smooth than strong ; of the full 
resounding line, which^Pope attributes to Dryden, he 
has given very few examples. The ciitical decisioQ 
has given the praise of strength to Denham, and of 
sweetness to Waller. 

His excellence of versification has some abate- 
ments. He uses the expletive do very frequently j 
and though he lived to^ec it almost universally eject- 
ed) was not more careful to avoid it in his last com- 
positions than in his first. Praise had given him con- 
fidence ; and finding the world satisfied, he satisfied 

«. His rhymes are sometimes weak words : ao is found 
to make the rhyme twice in ten lines, and occurs often 
V as a rhyme through his book. 

) His double rhymes, in heroic verse, have been 

censured by Mrs. Phillips, who was his rival in the 

translation of Comeille's Pompey ; and more faults 

* '"' might be found, were not the inquiry below atteri^ 

"^'^v He sometinles uses the obsolete termination of 
^ verbs, as waxethy affecteth; and sometimes retains the 
? final syllable of the preterite, as amazed^ supfioaed^ 
of which I know not whether it is^ not to the detri- 
ment of our language that we have totally rejected 

Of triplets he is sparing ; but he did not wholly 
forbear them ; of an Alexandrine he has given no 

The general character of his poetry is elegance 
and gaiety. He is never pathetick, and very rarely- 
sublime. He seems neither to have had a mind much 
televated by nature, nor amplified by learning. His 
thoughts are such as a liberal conversation and large 
^Rcquaint»ice with life would easily supply. They had 

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WALLER. 251 

however then, perhaps, that grace of novelty, which 
they are now often supposed to want by those wha, 
having already found them in later books, do not 
know or enquire who produced them first. This 
treatment is unjust. Let not the original author lose 
by his imitators. 

Praise, however, should be due before it is given. 
The author of Waller's life ascribes to him the first 
practice of what Erythraeus and some late criticks call 
alliteratio7iy of using in the same verse many words 
beginning with the same letter. But this knatk^ 
whatever be its value, was so frequent among early 
writers, that Gascoigne, a writer of the sixteenth cen^ 
tury, warns the young poet against affecting it: 
Shakspeare, in- the Midsummer Mght^a Dream^ is 
supposed to lidicule it ; and in another play the sonnet 
of Holofemea fiilly displays itv 

Ha borrows too many of his sentences and illustra- 
tions from .the old mythology, for which it is vain to 
plead the example of ancient poets ; the deities which 
they introduced so frequently, were considered as 
realities, so far as tp be received by the imagination, 
whatever sober reason might even then determine. 
But of these images time has tarnished the splendour. 
A fiction, not only detected but despised, can never 
afford a solid basis to any position, though sometimes 
it may funiish a transient allusion, or slight illustra- 
tion. No modern monarch can be much exalted by 
hearing that, as Hercules had his c/ud, he has his 
navy, • , 

But of the praise of Waller, though much may 
be taken away, much will remain ; for it cannot be 
denied, that he added something to our elegance of 
diction, and something to our propriety of thought ; 
and to him may b^ applied what Tasso said, with 

M o 

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^252 WALLER. 

equal spMt and justice, of himself and Gu^rini, 
when, having perused the Pastor Fidoj he cried out^ 
« If he had not read Aminta^ he had not excelled 
« it." 

As Waller professed himself to have learned the 
art of versification from Fairfax, it has been thought 
proper to subjoin a specimen of his work, which, 
after Mr. Hoole's translation, will perhaps not be 
soon reprinted. By knowing the state &i which 
Waller found our poetiy, the reader may judge how 
much be improved it. 


Ermiiiia's steed (this while) his mistresse bore 
Through forests thfcke amoDg the shadie treene^ 
Her feeble hand the bridle raines fordore, 
Halfe in a swoaqa she was for feare I weei»e ; 
But her flit courser spared nere the morey 
To beare her through the desart woods unseene 
Of her strong foes, that chas'd her throitgh the pls^ 
And stUl pursuM^ but stilt pHrsa'dia ¥4inej^ 

n. . 

Like as the wearie honndsat last retire, 
Windiesse, displeased, fV>om the fruiHeMe ohae*, 
When the sUe beast TaptsUt in btt^ and l^rir^ < 
No art ii^or pains ean rpwse out of his,place : 
The Christian knights so full of shame and ire 
Returned backe, with faint and wearie pace 1 

Tet still the fearfiiU Dame Ibd, swift as Vui^ 

Kor euer staid,; nor «uer lookt' behmde. 

Through thieke and thinae, all night, all day^ siie drittcd^- 
Withouten comfort, companie, or guide. 
Her plaints^ and teares with euer^ thought reiuued, 
She h^^d and saw |ier greefes, but naught beside. 
But when the sunne his burning chariot dined 
In Thetis waue, and wearie teame vntide, ^ % 

Op lordans sandie bank% her course slie staid. 
At last, there downe she light, and downe she laid. 


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WALLER. 255 


Her teares^her dnoke ; her food, her sorrowings; 
This was her diet that vnhappie night : 
But sleepe (that sweet repose and quiet brings) 
To ease the greefes of discontented wight, 
Spi-ed fooith his tender, soft, and nimble wings. 
In his dull armes foulding the virgin bright : 
And loue, his mother, and the graces kept 
StroDge watch and warde, whde this faire ladie slept. 
The J)irds awaktt; her with their morning song, 
Their warbling mu&ickc pefirsther tender care, 
The muritj^uring brookes and whisUiug windcs among 
The ratling boughes, and Icaues, tlicir parts did beare ; 
Her eieavnclos'd beheld the groues along, 
Of swaincs and shepherd groomes that dwelling weare ; 
And that sweet noise, birds, winds, and waters sent, 
Prouokt again the vhrgifi to lament. 
Her plMuts were interrupted Avith a sound. 
That seemM from thickest l^ushes to pr6ceed» 
Some iolly shepherd sung a lustte round, * 

And to his voice had tun'd his oaten reed ; 
Thither she went, an oUl man there she found 
(At whose right hand his little flock did feed) 
Sat making baskets, his three sonnes among 
That learn'd their fiither's art, and learif d his song. 
Beholding one in shining armes a|)peare 
The see\ie man and his were sorfe disraftld ; ' 
But sweet Brminia comforted their feare, ' ' ' ' 
Her ventall rp, her visage c^en laid. 
You happy folke, of heau'n beloued deare, ^ . 

Work on (quoth she) upon your harmless traict. 
These dreadfull armes 1 beare no warfare bring 
To joftr sweet toile, nor those sweet tunes you sing. 


But father, sinoe this land, Ui^se townes and towres, 
Deirtroied »re with sword, with fire and spoil e, 
How way it he, tmhurt that you and yours • "* 

In nfetie thus, applie your harrnlesse toilel ***** 
My aafHMS (ijuoth he) this pore estate of ours * * ^ . . -% 
Is «Mf m§t from storm of warlike broile ; - ** i^ 
This wfldemesse doth vs in saftie keepe, ^ 

No thundering drum, no trumpet breaks o«r sl^eji^ 
M 4 • • ♦ 


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354 WALLER. 


Haply iast heau'ns defence and shield of right. 

Doth loue the inuocenee of simple swains. 

The thunderbolts on highest mountains light. 

And seld or neaer strike the lower plaines: 

So kiags have cause to fear BeUonaes might 

Not they whose sweat and toile their dinner gjunes^ 

Nor ever grecdie soldier was etitised 

By pouertie, neglected and despised. 

pouertie, chefe of the heau'nly brood, ^ 
Deai^er to me than wealth or kingly crowne ^ 
No M'ish for honour, thirst of others good, ' 
Can moue my heart, contented with mine owne > 
We quench our thirst with water of this flood, 
jNor fear we poison should therein be throwne : 

These Htt'^ iivtcks of shee^e. and tender goatea 
Giue milke for food, and wool to make us coates. 
XI. . ' 

We little wish, wc need but little wealtbi • 
. From cold and hunge^^ vs^o doath and iee<l ; 
These are my sonnes, their care ]M'esflrues from stealth 
Their fathers flocks, nor servants moe 1 need : 
• ' Amid these groues I ¥ aike oft for my healthy 
And to the fishes, birds, and beastes giue heed. 
Hnr th^ are fed, in forrest, spring and lake. 
And ttdr contentment for ensampte take. 
Time was (for each Qne hath his doatlngtime, 
Theae siluer leeks \i6te golden tresses than) 
That countrie life k hated as a crime. 
And %Dm the forrests sweet contentment ran, 
' • To Memphis' stately pallace would I clime, 
And there became the mightie caliphes man. 
And though 1 but a simple gardner weare^ 
Yet could I marke abuses, see and heare. 
fintised OR «kh liope of fvtare fain% 

1 wiSred lfe^§ wlMgt did wf aonle ^please ; 

But «kfft«q^ yoQik was spent, nvy lippe was ralne^ 
tStkimf Mtive streugth at last dMrease ^ ^ 
t ijWi ny k>sse of lustie yeeres complaine. 
And whfct Iliad cnjoy'd the countries peace ; 
I bod the court farewell, and with content 
Mf bkter ^ here have i (^aiet speaL 

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-j^ '»' 

.1?-*'^-,. .. 

WALLER. 255 


While thus he spake, Ermyiia husht and still 
His wise discourses heard, with great attention. 
His speeches graoe those idle fencies kill, 
Which in her troubled soule bred sucli disaentioD> 
After much thought reformed was her will, 
Witliin those wdods to dwell i^as her intentioiiy^ 

Till fortune should oceasioit new aifovd. 

To turne her home to ber desired Ldrd. 
She said therefore, O shepherd fortunate ! 
I'hat troubles some didst whilom feele and proue^ 
Tet Jiuest now in this contented state, ' 
Let ray mishap thj thoughts to pitie' moue, 
To entcrtaine me as a willing male 
In shepherds life, which I admire and loue ; 

Within these pleasant groues perchance my hart, 

Of her discomforts, may rnload some part. 
If goH or wealth of most esteemed deare,. 
•If iew els rich, thoU diddest hold in. prise, 
Sttch store thereof, such pleritie haue I seen. 
As to a gi»eedie minde might we^l suffice : 
With, that dowoe trickled many a siluer teare^ 
Two christall streames fell from her watrie eics ; 

Part of her sad misfortunes than she told. 

And wept, and with her wept that shepherd old. 
With speeches kinde, he gan the virgin dcare 
Towards his cottage gently home to guide y 
His aged wife there made her homely cheare,. 
Yet welcomde her, and plast her by her side* 
l^e princesse cfaonda poore pastoraes geare, 
A.kei'chiefe course vpon her head she tide ; 

But yet her gestures and her looks (I gesse) 

Were such, as ill beseem'd a shepherdesse. 
Not those rude garments could obscure, and hide 
The lieau'nly beautie of her angels face. 
Nor was her princely ofspring damnifide. 
Of onght dispirag'de, by those labours bace ;. 
Her little fiocks to pasture woul({ she guide. 
And milke her goates, aBd in their foldes them place.. 

Both cheese and butter could she make, and frame 

Her aelie to please the shepherd and his dame. 
M. 5 

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Of MR. lOHN POMFRET noticing is known buj' 
fn»ti a slight .and €(Hifu»«d accoimt prefixed to Ms 
poems by^a nameless friend ; who relates, that he was 
the son of the Rev. Mr. Pomfret, rector of Luton, in 
Bedfordshire ; that he was bred at Cambridge ;* en- 
tered into orders, and was rector of Maiden in Bed- 
fordshire, and might have risen in the church ; but 
that, when he applied to Dr. Compton, bishop of Lon- 
don) for institution to a living of considerable value, 
t6 which he had been presented, he found a trouble- 
some obstruction raised by a malicious interpretatioii 
of some passages in his Choice; from which it was 
inferred, that he conddered happiness as more likely 
ib be found in the co^npany of a mistress than of a 

This reproach was easily obliterated: for it had 
^ppened to Pomfret as to ahnost all other men who 
plan schemes of iifo ; he had departed from his pur- 
pose, and was then married. 

The malice of his enemies had however a yeff 
&tal consequence : the delay c<mstrained his attend- 
tace in London, where he caught the smaIl*pox, and 
died in 1703, in the thirty-sixth year of his age. 

^ He WM of Queen's eottege there* xad, by the UnivraraUj -rest's* 
ter» appears to have takeo his baehcioi^s degree in t€Si, and his 
]auter*8 1698. U.*-41iB fitkor vas «f Tmi^. 0. 



by Google 


Be imMiAiiit Ut poms ia tm9;mdh»imm 

-always the &vourhe of th^ clasa Cff x^ead^^ who^ 
without vi^ty or i-»iiti|y">Mi i>^^^ <^y ^^^ ovn 
• amusemeiit* 

Hit Pi^oic^ exhibits ^ system of life aib^ted to 
eomsB^ Qot]fm8^^4 eyen to common ea^p^aations ; 
such a 9tato as affi>rds ptnity asd tranquiliityy with* 
out exclitMon of inii^Sectual' pleasures. ' Perhaps jil^ 
composition in our lanj^uage has been' *often^' perils^ 
ed than Pomfret's CAWcf « . - • "^ * * 

In his other poems there ii an^ Isasy ^riliib^^ ; iHKk 
ple^itote 6t sffto<Mh metre is IdStcMed to the ear> an^ 
the mlad is not oppressed with ponderous or estafr*^ 
l^d wWi iotrkate sentiment. He pleases many; 
and ie'who pleases many m^rst hfire'scrme species of 
iftent* . *, , 


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F tbe earl of Dorset the character Has beei¥^|pp|| 
so hopjfff^ and m eleg^^lf lagr Pric^, to whom he iri|^ 
&mi|i«rl|r ka^wnt ttuA nothing ea« bft ^Ulded i^^% 
GMiial hand ; and, as its author is sa genfcallj^ fS^ 
it. would be useless officiousness to transcribe, it, 

Charles Sackville was bora January ^^#, 1637, 
Having been educated under a prival;e tutor^ he tra^ 
veiled into Italy, and returned a U^e before the £Ur 
tttoration^ He wns chosen into the first parliament 
that wa^ called^ £or East Gxiiistead in Sus^isi) and 
soon became a favourite of Charles ^e Second ; but 
undertook no publick employment, being toofager %£ 
the riotous and licentious pleasure^ yrhich young; 
men of high rank, who aspired to be (bought .wits, at 
that time imagined themselves intitled to indulge.*. 

One of these frolicks has, by the industry of Wood, 
tome down to- posterity.. Sackville, who was then 
lord Buckhurst, with sir Charles Sedley and sir Tho- 
ms^s Ogle, got drunk, at the Cock, in Bow-aU«et, hj 
Covent garden, and, going into the balcony, exposed 
themselves to the populace in very indecent postures. 
At last, as they grew warmer, Sedley stood forth na- 
ked, and harangued the populace in such profane a n- 
guage,that the publick indignation was awakened ; the 
crowd attempted to force the door, and, being re* 
pulsed, drove in the performers with stgnes^ and broke 
the windows of the house. 

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.,.#'f'.^ ,.,. 

DORSET. ts^ 

Fur this misdemeanmir they were ihdi^iedi and 
Sedley was-' fined five hundred pounds : what was the" 
sentence of the others is not known. Sedley employed 
KilHf rew and another to procure a renussion from, 
the king ; but (mark the friendship of the dissolute 1) 
tJief beg^ged ^e iiae for themselves, and exacted it to 
fik» laat groat. 

- In 1 665, lord Buckhurst attended the duke of York 
W ft volunteer in- the Dutch war ; and was in the battle 
(MtSmit 3, wheneighteen great Dutch ships were ta- 
ken, fourteen lithiC^ trsm destroyed, and Opdam the 
admiral, who engaged ttfe duke, was blown up beside* 
him^^th*all his crew. 

On the day before the battle, he is^ said to have 
composed the cefebrated song, To ali you ladiea now €t£ 
tmd^ with eqiial tranquillity of minS and promptitude 
ei wk. Seldom any splendid story is wholly true. I 
kave iMifd, fwom the late earl of Orrery, who was 
likely tor ^Mpe #ooi hereditary intelligence, that lord 
]kickh»tt%lf'lKk<'been a week employed upon it^ and 
mAj retottoined or ftnishod it on tlfe memorable even- 
ing. Hut b'fba this, . whatever it iftay saBtract from his 
iftci^tji^ leaves him his courage. 

He was soon after made a gentleman of the bed- 
chamber, and sent on short embassies to Prance. 

In t674, the estate of his uncle James Cranfield^ 
carl of Middfesex, came to.himby its, ow»er*a death, 
and 4he tkk wm coeferred on him die yea^ af^er^ In 
1677, he became, by the death of his fatf^er, earl of 
Dorset, and inherited the estate of his family. 

In 1684, having buried his jRrst wife, of the family 
of Bagot^ who'leff him no chiW, he married a daugh* 
ter of the earl of Northampton, celebrated both fbir 
1>eauty and understanding. 

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,, -^.m,^...^ ^. ^M?**Wiv^^. 


He iMeUed Bone hmwnMm notice iMMfir^l^ 
Jamea ; but socm fonmd k oteceMQrjr to oj^poae the 
Tioknce of hift iimoYatioa% lod vitK wme otheir lord* 
appeared in Westminster-haH tx> conHetuaiGe tbe> kfcr 
abops at tlieir trial. ... 

As enormities grew eyery da^ lata supportilde} km 
found it necessary to concur in the reyolatioAi * flto 
11^18 oife of those loBds vrho sat every da)r in coiu^' 
to preserve the publick peace, eit&F tke kin^'ax 
ture; and, what is not the ivat illuslfio«s ; 
his life, was empk^ed to co«lai^i%r |ln«ieeaa 
to Nottingham with a guard,^cikas asig^ alarm tte 
populace as they passed, with false apprahw mi i niia ti 
her danger. Whatever end may be designed, there is 
always something despicable in'aHrkk. 

He became, as ntay be easily supposed, a &.vounM 
of king William^ who, the day after his acceaalMf 
made htm lord chamberlain of the tousaiiMI^ «■! 
gave him afterward the garter, fla^ happjtqd to be 
aaaeng those that wara loaaeii wiftik ^.> lBia|^ m aai 
open boig 8ixleen*hSurs, m very r^ng^ asaii.^iii' w«»* 
ther, oat^ tAOM ^IMimA Sia be/dm Mhm0i^ 
declined; and on January l^^ ifO^Oi, kir iUt 9^ 

He was a man whoee eleganco and judgment were^ 
universally co«tfessed, and whose bounty to tile tearaed 
and witty wfta generally known. 7a €!» indhlgesk 
affection of ^liiie puirtick, lord Eoebeaair bore aanpiv 
testimony In this remark : / know nu M^ itUj tui 
lord Buckhurst may do whai he wHt^ 'g^t «i netfcr in^th^ 

H such a man attempted poetry. We oaanot wonder 
that his w^ks were praised. Dry den,' whom, * if 
Prior tells truth, he distinguished by his beneficence^ 
and who lavished his blandishments on those who are 

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DORSET. 2«l 

not known to tote so well deserved them^ luictertak- 
Ib^ to produce authors of our owb country supmor 
to those of aodquity, sayS) / would instance your lord- 
9hlfi in satire J and Shakafieare in tragedy. Would it be 
Imagined that) of this rival to antiquity, all the satlre» 
Trere little personal invectives, and that his longest 
composition was a song of eleven stanzas ? 

The blame, however, of this exaggerated praise 
fiiUs on the encomiast, not upon the author ; who«e 
performances are, what they pretend to be, the effu- 
sions of a man of wit ; gay^ vigorous, and airy, ifii 
▼erses to Howard show great fertility of miiid ; aad 
his DfMa haft been imitated by Pope. 


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VJEORGE STEPNEY^ descended from the Step.-^ 
Beys of Pendigrast in Pembrokeshire, was born at 
Westminster, in 1663. Of. his father's condition or 
fortune I have no acccount.* Having received the 
first part of his education at Westminster, where he 
passed six ye.ars in the college^ he went at nineteen 
to Cambridge,! where he continued a friendship be- 
gun at school, with Mr. Montague, afterward earl of 
Hali&x. They came to London together, and are 
said to have been invited ihto publick life by the duke 
of Dorset.. 

His qualifications recommended him to many fo- 
reign employments, so that his time Seems to have 
been spent in negotiations. In 1692 he was sent en- 
voy to the elecbH^^ Brandenburgh : in 1693 to the 
Imperial Court ;^. l«94 to the elector of Saxony - 
in 1696, to thrf^lectors of Ment* and Cologne, and 
the'^congress at Francfort ; in 1.698 a second time ta- 
Brandenburgh; m. 1699 to the king of Poland; in 
1701 again to the emperor; and in 1706 to the 

• It has been conjectured that oar poet was either son or gran^r 
son of Charles third son of sir #ohn St epne^r, the first baronet o^ 
that family. See Granger*s History, toI II, p. 396,edit. 8vo. 1775* 
Mr. Cole says, the poet's father was a grocer. Cole's MSS. in Bril- 
Mus. C. 

t He was entered of Trinity college, and took his master's degree 
in 1689. U. 

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atates general. In 1697 he wa» made one of the 
commissioners of trade. His life was busy, and not 
long. He died in 1707 ; and is buried in Westmin- 
ster Abbey, with this epitaph, which Jacob trans- 
scribed : 

H. S. E. 

Georgius St£Pnexus> Armige:^ 


Ob Ingenii ac'amei>» 

Literarum Scientiam, 

Moruui Suavkatem, 

Rerum Usum, 

Virorum Amplissiniorum Cousuctudincni, 

Lingiix, Styli, ac Vit» Elegantiam, 

Fneelan Offieia emn BritannM&tam Europe prtestHa, 

Sua state mal^aiB celebcatus, 

Apud posteros ncaper celebrandus ;. 

PlurimasLtgat'O! cs o'j».'t 

£a Fide, l^ffigjentia, ae Feliei. ate,, ' 

-fJ t Aag^BtisainK^ram Prmeipum 

^ tii^iflmi hi Annsd 

Spem in iilo repositam 

Nunqtiam fefelleriti ' 

Hand rard superaverit 

Post ioDguni honorum Corsum- 

Brevi I'empom Spatib confectum. 

Cum Naturte parum, Famie satis vixerat, 

Aairoam ad alUora aspirautem plaoide efflarit^ 

On the left hand, 

G. S. 

£x Equestri Familia Stepheiorum^ 

Dc Pendegraat, in CoraiUtu 

Pcmbrochiensi ov'iundus, 

Westmoiiast^rii natus est, A. ]i. IdBX 

ElectQS in Coliegium 

Santi Petri Westmonast. A. 1076. 

Sancti Triuitatis Cantab. 1682. 

CoBsiliariorun c^uibus Commercii 

Cura oommissa est 1697. 

CheUeiae inortuus, & comitante 

Magna Procemm 

f reqaentia* h»G etatus, 170r. 

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It is reported that the juyenile com^oftitions of 
Stepney made grey authors blush^ I know nxA whether 
his poems will appear such woaders to the present 
age. One caonot always easily find the reason for 
which the world has sometimes conspired to squander 
praise. It is not very unlikely that he wrote very 
early as well as he ever wrote ; and the performances 
of youth bave many favourers, because the authors 
yet lay no clsdm to. publick honours, and are therefore 
not considered as rivals by the distributors of fame. 

He apparently professed himself a poet, and added 
his name to those of the other wits in the version of 
Juvenal; but he is a vmry licentious translator, and 
does not recompense his neglect of the author by 
beauties of his own. In his original poems, now and 
then> a happy line may perhaps be £oivyi,and now and 
then a short composition maf give pleasure. But 
there is, in the whole, little cither of the grace of wit, 
or the vigout of nature. 

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John philips was bom on the 30th of Decemr 
bcr, 1676, at Baiupton in Oxfordshire ; of which place 
his father, Dr. Stephen Philips, archdeacon of Salop, 
was minister. The first part of his education was 
domestick ; after which he was sent to Winchester, 
where, as we are told by I>>. Sewel, his biographer, ke 
was so(jn distiirguished by the superiority of his exer- 
cises ; and, what is less easily to be credited, so mudk 
endeared himself to his schoolfellows by Ms civility 
attd ig^d nature^ that they, without Bsurmur or lit* 
will, saw him indulged by the master with particular 
famnuiiities. It is related, that when he was at school, 
Ike seldom iMngled in pla^* whh the other boys, but 
retired to his chamber ; where his sovereign pleasure 
was to sit, hour after hour, while his hair was combed 
by somebody, whose service he found means to proi- 

* Isa»c YoBstas rekitos, that he alae deUghted in having his hair 
combed when he oould have it done by barban or other pertons 
skilled in the rules of proasdy. Of the passage that eontains this 
rldiculons fancy^ the following is a translatien: '* Many people take 
delight in Ihe rubbing of their limbs, and th« eomblog of theirhair $ 
but these eKereisea vould delight much more, if the serrants at the 
baths, and if the barbers, were so skilful in this ^rt, that they could 
express any measures with their fingers. I remember that more 
than once 1 have ftlten into the hands of men of this sort, who eould 
imitate any measure of sangs in combing the hair, ao as sametimes 
to express very intelligibly iambics, trochees, dactyls, &o. from 
whence there arose to me no small dettght." See his Treatise dtf 
Poematum eantu & viribut Rythmi. Oxoa. 1673, p. 6$. il. 

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266 J. PHIUPS, 

At school he became acquainted with the poets, 
ancient and modern, and fixed his attention particular- 
ly on Milton. 

In 1694 he entered himself at Christ-church, a 
college at that time in the highest reputation, hj the 
transmission of Busby's scholars to the care first of 
Fell, and afterwards of Aklrich. Here he was dis- 
tinguished as a genius eminent among the eminent, 
as^d for friendship particularly intimate with Mr, 
Smith, the author of Plmdra and Hlfifiolytus. The 
profession which he intended to follow was that of 
physick ; and he took much delight in natural history, 
of which^ botany was his favourite part. 

His reputation was coftfin«d to lu& friend^ and to 
the university; till about 1703 he extended it to a 
wider circle by the Sfilendid Sidliing^ iprhich struck the 
publick attention with a mode of writing new and un^ 

This performance raised him so high, that, when 
Europe resounded with the victory of Ble]|beim, he 
was, probably with an occult opposition to Addison^ 
employed to deliver the acclamation of the_ tories-. 
It is said that he would willingly have declined the 
task, but that his friends urged it upon him. It ap- 
pears that he wrote this poem at the house of Mr. St. 

Blenheim was" published in 1705. The next year 
produced his great work, the poem upon Cidcr^ in 
two books ^ which was received with loud praises, 
and continued long to be read, as an imitation of 
Virgil's Georgic^ which needed not shun the pre- 
sence of the original; 

H^ then grew probably more confident of his own 
abilities, and 1)egan to meditate a poem on the Last 

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J. PHILIPS. 26r 

May ; a subject on which no mind can hope to equal 

This work he did not live to finish ; his diseases, a 
•slow consumption and an asthma, put a stop to his stu- 
dies, and on Feb. 15, 1708, at the beginning of his 
thirty-third year, put an end to his life. 

He was buried in the cathedral of' Hereford ; and 
sir Simon Harcourt, afterward lord chancellor, gave 
him a' monument in Westminster Abbey. The in- 
scription at Westminster was written, as I have heard, 
by Dr. Atterbury, though commonly given to Dn 

His epitaph at Hereford : 


r Dom. 1708. 
<M\t 15 die Feb. Anno | ^^^ ^^^ 3, 

Ossa si requiras, hanc Urnara inspice : 
Si Ingenium nescias^ipsi us Opera consule : 
Si Tumulum desideras, 
Templum adi Westraonasteriense : 
Qualis quantusque Vir fuerit, 
Dicat elegans ilia & prssclara, 
Qu» cenotaphium ibi decorat, 
Qukm interim erga Cognatos pius & officiosus^ 

I'estetus hoc saxura 

A Maria. Philips Matre ipsius pientissima, 

Dilecti Filii Memorial non sine Lacrymis dicatum. 

His epitaph at Westminster : 

Herefordise conduntur Ossa, 

Hoc in DelubfO statuitur imago, 

Britanniam omnero pervagatur Fama, 


<lui Yiris iK>nis doetisque jnxta eharns^ 

Immortale suuu) Ingeniam, 

Eruditione multiplici excultura, 

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HI iro aniiBi eaadorei 

Eximia morum sioiplicitatCy 


Litteraram Amcenionim sHini, 

; Quam W'lAtanifle Poer aenthre empemt. 

Inter Mdis Ghristi Alaranos jugker ezpleyil^ 

In illo Muaanim Domicilio 

Prseclaris JEiualorum stadiis excitatas 

Optimis scribendi Magistris semper intentus^ 

Carmma aermone Patno eomposait 

A Grseou Latinisqae fonUbus feliciter dedacta> ^ 

Atticis Remanisque auribus omnino di^na, 

Versuum quippe Harmoniank 

Rythmo didioerat. 

Antiquo illo, libero, multifprmi 

Ad res ipsas apto prorsus, & atteroperato^ 

NoQ numeris in eundem fer^ orbem redeuntibus, 

Non €)lausularuin similiter cadentium sono 

Metiri : 

, Uoi in hoc laudis genere Miltoso secundos* 

Primoque poene par. 

Res seu Tenues, seu Grandes^ seu Mediocres 

Ornandas suraserat, 

Nusqaam, non quod decuit, ' 

Kt videt, & assecutus est, 

Egregius, quocunque Stylum Yerteret, 

Fandi author, & Modorum artifex. 

Fas sit Huic, 

Auso licfet k tua Metporam Lege discedere, 

C Poesis Anglicansc Pater, atque Conditor, Chaucere, 

Alteram tibi latus 6Iaudere, 

Vatum cert* Cineres, tuostindique stipantium 

Non dedecebit Chomm. 

Simon Harcourt, Mile3a 

Viri ben6 de se, de Litteris meriti 

Quoad viveret Fautor, 

Post Obitum pi^ ra'eraop, 

Hoc ilii Sax urn poni voloit. 

J. Philips, Stephani, S. T, P. Archidiacoiii 

Salop. Filius, natus est Bamptoiiise 

In agro Oxon. Dec. 30, I6r6. 
OWit Herefordise, Feb, 16, 1708. 

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J. PHILIPS. 369 

Philips has been always praised, without contradic- 
tion, as a man modest, blameless, and pious ; who bore 
Ciarf owness of fortune without discontent, and tedious 
«lld painful maladies without impatience ; belored by 
those that knew him, but not ambitious to be known. 
He was probably not formed for a wide circle. His 
conversation is commended for its innocent gaiety, 
which seems to have flowed only among his intimates » 
for I have been told, that he was in company silent 
and barren, and employed only upon the pleiwure of 
his pipe. His addiction to tobacco is mentioned by 
(me of his biographers, who remarks that in all his 
writings, except Blenheim^ he has found an opportunity 
of celebrating the fragrant fume. In common life he 
was probably one of those who please by not ofiFend- 
ing, and whose person was loved because his writings 
were admired. He died honoured and lamented, be- 
fore any part of his reputation had withered, and be- 
fore his patron St. John had disgraced him. 

His works are few. The ** Splendid Shilling" has 
the uncommon merit of an original design, unless it 
maybe thought precluded by the ancient Centos. To 
degrade the sounding words and stately construction 
of Milton by an application to the lowest and most 
trivial things, gratifies the mind with a tiEiomentary 
triumph over that grandeur which hitherto held its 
captives in admiration ; the words and things are pre- 
sented with a new appearance, and novelty is always 
grateful where it gives no pain. 

But the merit of such performances begins and 
ends with the first author. He that should again adapt 
Milton's praise to the gross incidents of common life, 
and even adapt it with more art, which would not be 
difficult, must yet expect but a small part of the praise 

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sro ' J. philips;. 

which Philips lias obtained ; he can onl|f hope to be 
considered as the repeater of a jest. 

" The parody on Milton,*' says Gildon, " is the only 
*< tolerable production of its author." This is a cen- 
sure too dogmatical and violent. The poem of « Blen- 
heim" was never denied to be tolerable, even by those 
who do not allow it supreme excellence. It is indeed 
the poem of a scholar, alt inexpert of war; of a man 
who writes books from books, and studies the world in 
a coUe^. He seems to have formed his ideas of the 
field of Blenheim from the battles of the heroick ages,^ 
or the tales of chivalry, with very little comprehension 
of the qualities necessary to the composl^on of a 
modem hero, which Addison has displayed with so 
much propriety. He makes Marlborough behold at 
a distance the slaughter made by Tallard, then haste to 
encounter and restrain him, and mow his way through 
ranks made headless by his sword. 

He imitates Milton's numbers indeed, but inutates 
them very injudiciously. Deformity is easily copied ; 
and whatever there is in Miltoii which the reader 
wishes away, all thatis obsolete, peculiar, or licentious, 
is accumulated with great care by Philips. Milton's 
verse was harmonious, in proportion to the general 
state of OUT metre in Milton's age ; and, if he had writ- 
ten after the improvements made by Dry den, it is rea- 
sonable to believe that he would have admitted a more 
pleasing modulation of numbers into his work ; bu 
Philips sits down with a resolution to make no moro 
musick than he found ; to want all that his master want- 
ed, though he is very far from having what his master 
had. Those asperities, therefore, that are venerable 
in the Paradise Lost, are contemptible in the Bleu- 


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J. PHILIPS. 271 

' . There is a Latin ode written* to his patron St. John^ 
in return for a present of wine and tobacco, which can- 
not be passed without notice. It is gay and elegant, 
and exhibits several artful accommodations of classick 
expresMons to new purposes. It seems better turned 
than the ode of Hannes.* 

To the poem on Cider, written in imitation of the 
Oeorgics, may be given this peculiar praise, that it is 
grounded in truth ; that the precepts .which it contains 
are exact and just; and that it is therefore, at,once, a 
book of entertainment and of science. This I was told 
by Miller, the great gardener and botanist, whose ex- 
pression was, that there were many books written on 
the same subject in prose, which do not contain so 
much truth as that poem. 

In the disposition of his matter, so as to intersperse 
precepts relating to the culture of trees with senti- 
ments more generally alluring, and in easy and grace- 
ful transitions from one subject to another, he has very 
diligently imitated his master ; but he unhappily pleas- 
ed himself with blank verse, and supposed that the 
numbers of Milton, which impress the mind with 
veneration, combined as they are with subjects of in- 
conceivable grandeur, v could be sustained by images 
which at most can rise only to elegance. Contending 
angels may shake the regions of Heaven in blank 
verse ; but the flow of equal measures, and the em- 
bellishment of rhyme, must recotnmend to our atten- 

• This ode I am willing to mention, liecause there seems to be an 
error in all the printed copies, which is, I find, retained in the last. 
They aU read : 

Quam Gratiarura cura dccentiu m 
O! O! labeliis cai Venus inaidet. 
The author probably wrote, 

Quam Gratiaram cura deceotium 
Omat ; labeliis cui Venus insidet Or. J. 

VOE. IX. * N 

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272 J. PHILIPS. 

tion the art of engrafting, and decide the merit of the 
i^dstreak and ficatmcdn. 

What study could confer, Philips had obtained j 
but natural deficience cannot be supplied. He seems 
not born to greatness and elevation* He is never lofty, 
nor does he often surprise with unexpected exc^ky*; 
but perhaps to his last poem may be applied \^ ... 
Tully said of the work of Lucretius, that it is written 
with much arty though ninth few blazee of genius. 

The f(^wing fragment, written by Edmund Smith, 
upon the works of Philips, has been transcribed 
from the Bodleian manuscripts. 
« A Prefatory Discourse to the poem on Mr. Philips, 
with a character of his writings. 
" It is altogether as equitable some account should 
be given of those who have distinguished themselves 
by their writings, as of those who are renowned for 
great actions. It is but reasonable they, who contri- 
bute so much to the immortality of other?, should 
have some share in it themselves ; and since their 
genius only is discovered by their works, it is just 
that their virtues should be recorded by their friends. 
For no modest men (as the person I write of was in 
perfection) will write their own panegyricks ; and it 
is very hard that they should go without reputation, 
only because they the more deserve it. The end o £ 
writing lives is for the imitation of the readers. It 
will be inlhe power of veiy few to imitate the duke o f 
Marlborough ; we must be content with admiring his 
great qualities and actions, without hopes of following 
them. The private and social virtues are more easil y 
transcribed. The life of Cowley is more instructive, 
as well as more fine than any we have in our language. 
Audit is to be wis^hed, since Mr. Philips had so m^ny 


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J. PHILIPS. 273 

•f the good qualities of that poet, that I had some of 
the abilities of his historian. 

The Grecian philosophers have had their lives writ- 
ten, their morals commended, and their sayings re- 
corded. Mr. Philips had all the virtues to which most 
iK.m only pretended, and all their integrity without 
iujy of their affectation. 

The French are very just to eminent men in this 
point ; not a learned man nor a poet can die, but all 
Europe must be acquainted with his accompl|riiments. 
They give praise, and expect it in their turns ; they 
commend their Patrus and Molieres as well as their 
Conde« and Turennes ; their Pellisons and Racines 
have their eulogies, as well as the prince whom they 
celebrate ; and their poems, their mercuries, and 
orations, nay their very gazettes, are filled .with the 
praises of the learned. 

I am satisfied, had they a Philips among therii, and 
known how to value him ; had they one of his learn- 
ing, his temper, but above all of that particular turn 
of humour, that altogether new genius, he had been 
an example to their poets, and a subject of their pane- 
gyricks, and perhaps set in competition with the an- 
cients, to whom only he ought to submit. 

I shall therefore endeavour to do justice to his me- 
moty, since nobody else undertakes it. And indeed 
I can assign no cause why so many of his acquaint- 
ance (that arc as willing and more able than myself to 
give an account of him') should forbear to celebrate 
the memory of one so dear to them, but only that they 
look upon it as a work entirely belonging to me. 

I shall content myself with giving only a character 
of the person and his writings, without meddling with 
the transactions of his life, which was altogether pri- 
vate : I shall only make this known observation of his 
M 2 

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274 J. PHILIPS. 

familyT) that there was scarcely so many exlraordinary 
men in any one. I have been acquainted with five of 
his brothers, (of which three are still living) all men * 
of fine parts, yet all of a very unlike temper and ge- 
nius. So that their fruitful mother, like the mother 
of tlie gods, seems to have produced a numerous off- 
spring, all of different though uncommon faculties. 
Of the living, neither their modesty, nor the humour 
of the present age, permits me to speak : of the dead, 
I may siq^ someUiing. 

One of them had made the greatest progress in the 
study of the law of nature and nations of any one I 
know. He had perfectly mastered, and even im- 
proved, the notions of Grotius, and the more refined 
ones of Puffendorf, He could refute Hobbes with as 
much solidity as some of greater name, and expose 
him with as much wit as Echard. That noble study, 
which requires the greatest reach of reason and nicety 
of distinction, was not at all difficult to him. 'Twas 
a national loss to be deprived of one who understood 
a science so necessary, and yet so unknown in Eng- 
land. I shall add only, he had the same honesty and 
sincerity as the person I write of, but more heat : the 
former was more inclined to argue, the latter to di- 
vert : one employed his reason more ; the other his 
imagination : the former had been well qualified for 
those posts, which the modesty of the latter made 
him refuse. His other dead brother would have been 
an oroament to the college of which he was a mem- 
ber. He had a genius either for poetry or oratoiy ; 
and, though very young, composed several very 
agreeable pieces. In all probability, he would have 
written as finely as his brother did nobly. He might 
have been the Waller, as the other was the Milton of 
his time. The one might celebrate Marlborough, 

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the other his beautiful offspring. This had not been 
so fit to describe the actions of heroes as the virtues 
, of private raen. In a word, he had been fitter for mj 
place ; and, while his brother was writing upon the 
greatest men that any age ever produced, in a style 
equal to them, he might have served as a panegyrist 
on him. 

This is all I think necessary to say of his family. I 
shall proceed to himself and his writings ; which I 
shall first treat of, because I know they are censured 
by some out of envy, and more out of ignorance. 

The Splendid Shilling, which is far the least con- 
siderable, has the more general reputation, and per- 
haps hinders the character of the rest. The sty\» 
agreed so well with the burlesque, that the ignorant 
thought it could become nothing else. Every body 
is pleased with tliat work. But to judge rightly of the 
other requirssa^pfeetmasteiy or poetry Ma~€^^ 
cism, a just contempt of the little turns and witticisms 
now in vogue, and above all, a perfect understanding 
of poetical diction and description. 

All that have any taste for poetry will agree, that 
the great burlesque is much to be preferred to the 
low. It is much easier to make a gi'eat thing appear 
little, than a little one great : Cotton and others of a 
very low genius have done the former ; but Philips, 
Garth, and Boileau, only the latter. 

A picture in miniature is every painter's talent ; but 
a piece for a cupola, where all the figures arc enlarged, 
yet proportioned to the eye, requires a master's hand 

It must still be more acceptable than the low bur-' 
lesque, because the images of the latter are mean and 
filthy, and the language itself entirely unknown to all 
men of good breeding. The style of Billingsgate 
would not make a very agreeable figure at St. Jameses* 
N 3 

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276 J. PHILIPS. 

-A gentleman would take but little pleasure in lan- 
guage which he would think it hard to be accosted in, 
OP in reading words which he could not pronounce 
without blushing. The lofty burlesque is the more 
to be admired, because, to write it, the author must 
be master of two of the most different talents in na- 
ture. A talent to find out and expose what is ridicu- 
lous, is very different from that which is to raise and 
elevate. We must read Virgil and Milton for the 
one, an(LHorace and Hudibras for the other. We 
know thIFthe authors of excellent comedies have of- 
ten failed in the grave style, and the tragedian as often 
in comedy. Admiration and laughter are of such op- 
posite natures, that they are seldom created' by the 
same person. The man of mirth is always observin^^ 
the follies and weaknesses, the serious writer the 
virtues or crimes, of mankind ; one is pleased with 
contemplating a beau, the other a hero : eveniroia 
the same object they would draw different ideas t 
Achilles would appear in very different lights ta 
Thersites and Alexander ; the one would adnSffe the 
courage and greatness of his soul ; the other would 
ridicule the vanity and rashness of his temper. A^ 
the satirist says to Hannibal : ' 

1, curre, per Alpes, 

TJt x>ueri8 placeas, & dcclamatlo fias. 

The contrariety of style to the subject pleases the 
more strongly, because it is more surprising ; the ex- 
pectation of the reader is pleasantly deceived, who 
expects an humble style from the subject, or a great 
subject from the style. It pleases the more univer- 
sally, because it is agreeable to the taste both of th« 
grave and the merry ; but more particularly so to those 
who have a relish of the best writers, and the noblest 
sort^f poetiy. I shall produce only one passage out of 
this poet, which is the misfortune of his galligaskins ; 

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J. philips: . 277. 

M J galtigask 1 ns, -w faioh have long nv it hstood 
The winter's fnry and encroaching frosts, 
By time subdu'd (^vhat will not time subdue i) 

This is admirably pathetical, and shews very well the 
vicissitudes of sublunary things. The rest goes on to 
aprodigiouft height ; and a man in Greenland could 
hardly have made a more pathetick and terrible com- 
plaint. Is it not surprising that the. subject should be 
so mean, and the verse so pompous, that the least 
things in his poetry, as in a microscope, should grow 
great and formidable to the eye ; especial IjriraDusider- 
ing tliaj, not understanding French, he had no model 
for his style ? that he should have no writer to imitatCf 
and himself be inimitable ? that he should do all this 
before he was twenty? at an age which is usually 
pleased with a glare of false thoughts, little turns, and 
unnatural fustian ? at an age, at which Cowley, Dry- 
den, and I had almost said Virgil, were inconsidera- 
ble ? so soon was his imagination at its full strength, 
his judgment ripe, and his humour-complete. 

This poem was written for his own diversion, with- 
oirt any design of publication. It was communicated 
but to me : but soon spread, and fell into the hands 
of pirates. It was put out, vilely mangled, by Ben 
Bragge ; and impudently said to be corrected by the 
author. This grievance is now grown more epidemi- 
cal ; and no man now has a right to his own thoughts, 
or a title to his own writings. Xenophon answered the 
Persian, who demanded his arms, " We have nothing 
now left but our anus and our valour : if we surrender 
the one, how shall we make use of the other ?'* Poets 
have nothing but. their wits and their writings ; and if 
they are plundered of the latter, I don't see what good 
the former can do them. To pirate, and publiekly. 
own it, to prefix their names to the works they steal, 
to own and avow the theft, 1 believe, was never yet 

N 4 

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heard of biitt in Eagland.^ It will sduad oddly, to pos- 
terity, that, in a polite nation, in ,an enlightened age, 
under the direction of the most wise, most learned, 
and most generous encouragers of knowledge in the 
world, the property of a mechanick should be better 
secured than that of a scholar I that the poorest ma- 
nual operations should be more valued than the noblest 
products of the brain I tliat it should be felony to rob 
a cobler of a pair of shoes, and no crime to deprive the 
best author of his whole sub^stence ; that nothing 
should make a man a sure title to his own writings 
but the stupidity of them I that the works of Dryden 
should me^t with less encoui'agement thati those of 
bis own Flecknoe, or Blackmore I that Tillotson and 
St. Gporge, Tom Thumb and Temple^ should be set 
on an equal foot 1 This is the reason why this verjr 
paper has been so long delayed ; and, while the most 
impudent and scandalous libels are publickly vended 
by the pirates, this innocent work is forced to steal 
, abroad as if it were a libel. 

Our present writers are by these wretches reduced 
to the same condition Virgil was, when the centurion 
seized on his estate. But I don't doubt but I can fix. 
upon the Maecenas of the present age, that will re- 
trieve them from it. But, whatever effects this pira- 
cy may have upon us, it contributed very much to the. 
advantage of Mr. Philips ; it helped him to a reputa- 
tion which he neither desired nor expected, and to 
the honour of being put upon a work of which he did 
not think himself capable ; but the event shewed his 
modesty. And it was reasonable ^o hope, that he, who 
could raise mean subjects so high; should still be 
more, elevated on greater tliemes ; that he, that could 
draw such noble ideas from a shilling, could not fail 
upon such a subject as the duke of Marlborough, 
irhich is capable of heightening even the most low and 

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J.PHILIPS. 1179 

trifling^ genius. And, indeed, most of the great work* 
%hich have been produced in the world have bcea 
owmg less to the poet than the p&troo. ^ Men of the 
greatest genius ai*e sometimes lazy, and want a spur ; 
often modest, and dare not ventu *e m publick ; they 
certainly know their faults in the worst things ; and 
even their best things they are not fond of, because the 
idea of what they ought to be is far aboVe what thev 
are.' This induced me to believe that Virgil desired his. 
works might be burnt, had not the same Auoustus^that 
desired him to write them, preserved thfflBi from de* 
struction. A scribbling beau may imagine a poet may be 
induced to write, by the very pleasure he finds in wri- 
ting ; but that is seldom, when people arc necessitated 
to it. I have known men ipw, and use very hard lar 
hour, foi' diversicm, which, if they had been tijed to^ 
they* would have thought themselves very unhappy. 

fitit to return to Blenheim^ that work so. much ad** 
mired by some, and censured by others, I have oftca 
wished he had wrbte it in Latin, that he might be out 
6f the reach of the empty critick, who couM have aa 
Kttle understood his meaning in that lasiguage as tbcy 
do his beafuties in his own. 

False critieks have been the plague of ati ages ; 
Milton himself, in a very polite court, has been com- 
pared to the rumbling of a wheel-barrow : he had 
been on the wrong side, and therefore could not be a. 
good poet. And this, perhaps, may be Mr. Philips*a 

But I take generally the ignorance of his readers to. 
be the occasion of their dislike; People that have 
formed their taste upon the French writers can have 
no relish for Philips; they admire points and turns, and 
consequently have no judgment of what is great an<i 
majestiek ; he must look little in their eyes, when he 

soars so high as to be almost out of their view.. I can* 

N 5 ' 

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iv ... -■■ • ■ iiiii'^ 

280 J. PHILIPS. 

not, therefore, allow any admirer of the French to be a 
judge of Blenheim, nor any who takes Qouhours for a 
complete critick. He generally judges of the ancients 
by the moderns, and not the moderns by the ancients ; 
he takes those passages of their own authors to be 
really sublime which come the nearest to it ; he often 
caljs that a noble and a great thought which is only a 
pretty and a fine one : and has more instances of the 
sublime out of Ovid de Tristibus, than he has out of 
all Virgil, 

I shall aHow, therefore, only those to be judges of 
.Philips, who make the ancients, and particullirly Vir* 
gil, their standard. 

But, before I enter on this subject, I shall consider 
what is particular in the style of Philips, and examine 
what ought to be the style of heroick poety ; and next 
inquire how far he is come up to that style. 

His style is particular, because he lays aside rhyme, 
and writes in blank verse, and uses old words, and fre* 
quently postpones the adjective to the substantive^ 
and the substantive to the verb ; and leaves o\tt little 
particles, a, and the ; her, and his ; and uses frequent 
appositions. Now let us examine whether these al- 
terations of style be conformable to the true sublime. 

• ■ * » a 


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William WALSH, the son of Joseph Walsh, 
e»q. of Abberley in Worcestershire, was born in 1663,. 
as appears from the account of Wood, who relates, that 
at the age of fifteen he became, in 1678, a^entleman 
commoner of Wadham college. 

He left the university without a degree, and pur- 
sued his studies in London and at home ; that he stu- 
died, in whatever place, is apparent from the effect, for 
he became in Mr. Dryden's opinion, the best critick 
in the nation. 

He was not, however, merely a critick or a scholar, 
but a man of fashion, and, as Dennis remarks, ostenta- 
tiously splendid in his dress. He was likewise a 
member of parliainent and a courtier, knight of the 
shire for his native county in several parliaments ;, in 
another the representative of Richmond in Yorkshire ; 
and gentleman of the. horse to queen Anne, under the 
duke of Somerset. 

Some of his verses show him to have been a zealous 
friend to the Revolution ; but his political ardour did 
not abate his reverence or kindness for Dryden, to 
whom he gave a dissertation on Virgil's Pastorals, in 
which, however studied, he discovers some ignorance 
of the law^ of French versification. 

In 1705 he began to correspond with Mr. Pope, in 
whom he discovered very early the power of poetry. 
Their letters are written upon the pastoral comedy 
of tl^e Italians, and those pastorals which Pope was 
then preparing to publish. 

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2«2 WALSH. 

The kindnesses which are first experienced are sel- 
dom forgotten. Pope always retsdned a grateful 
memory of Walsh's notice, and mentioned him in 
one of his latter pieces among those that had encour- 
aged his juvenile studies : 

Granville the polite. 

And knowing Walsh, would tell m^l could write. 

In his essay on criticism he had^ given him more 
splendid praise ; and, in the opinion of his learned 
commentator, sacrificed a little of his judgment to his 
gi^atitude. '* 

The time of his death I have not learned. It must 
have happened between 1707, when he wrote to 
Pope, and 1711, when Pope praised him in his essay. 
The epitaph makes him forty-six years old : if Wood's 
account be right, he died in 1709. 

He is known more by his familiarity with greater 
men, than by any thing done or written by hinoself. 

His works are not numerous. In prose he wrote 
Eugenia, a Defence of Women ; which Dry den hon- 
oured with a preface. 

Esculapius, or the Hospital of Fools, published after 
his death. 

A Collection of Letters and Poems, amorous and 
gallant, was published in the volumes called Dryden's 
Miscellany, and some other occasional pieces. 

To his poems and letters is prefixed a very judi- 
cious preface upon epistolai^ composidon and amo- 
rous poetiy. 

In his Golden Age Restored, there was something 
of humour while the facts were recent ; but it now 
strikes no longer. In his imitation of Horace, the 
first stanzas are happily turned ; and in alHiis writings 
there are pleasing passages. He has, however, more 
elegance than vigour, and seldom rises higher thsw 
to be pretty. 

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UF the great poet whose life I am about to delineate 
the curiosity which his reputation must excite will 
yequire a display more ample than can now be given. 
His contemporaries, however they reverenced his 
genius, left his life unwritten ; and nothing therefore 
can be known beyond what casual niention and \m- 
certain tradition have supplied. 

John Dryden was born August 9, 1631,* at Aid- 
winkle, near Oundle, tlie son of Erasmus Dryden, of 
Titchmersh ; who was the third son of sir Erasmus 
Dryden, baronet, of Canons Ashby. All these places 
are in Northamptonshire ; but the original stock of 
the family was in the county of Huntingdon.f 

He is reported by his'last biographer, Derrick, to 
have inherited fKoih his father an estate of two hun- 
dred a year, and to have been bred, as was said, an 
anabaptiift. For either of these particulars no au- 
thority is given. Such a fortune ought ta have se- 
tjured him from that poverty which seems always to 
have oppressed him ; or, if he had wasted it, to have 
made him ashamed of publishing his necessities. 
But though he had many enemies, who undoubtedly 

* Mr. Malone. has lately proved that there is no satisfactor^r 
evidence for this date. The inscription on Dryden's monameiU 
says only natus 1632. See Malone's Life of Drjden, prefixed t9 
li^ <* Critieal and Misee^laneous Prose Works/' p. S, note. C 

t Of GwoberlluMl* IM* p. 10. G« 

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284 DRYp.EN. 

examined his li£p vith a scrutiny sufficiently mali^ 
cious, I do not remember thapt he is ever charged with 
waste of his patrimony. He was indeed sometimes 
reproached for his first religion. I am therefore in- 
clined to believe that Derrick's intelligence was partly 
true, and partly erroneous.* 

From Westminster school, where he was instructed 
as one of the king's scholars by Dr. Busby, whom he 
long after continued to reverence, be was in 1650 
elected to one of the Westminster scholarships at 

Of his school performances has appeared only a 
poem on the death of lord HastiijgSj composed with 
great ambition of such conceits as, notwithstanding 
the reformation begun by Waller aad Denham, the 
example of Cowley still kept in reputation. Lord 
HastinpTS died of the small pox ; and his poet has 
made of the pustules first rosebuds, and then gems ; 
at last exalts them, into stars ; and says, 

No comet need foretell his change drew on, 
Whose corpse might seem a constellation. 

At the university he does not appear to have been 
eager of poetical distinction, or to have lavished his 
early wit either on fictitious subjects or public fc occa- 
sions. Heprobably considered, that he who proposed 
to be an author ought first to be a student. He ob- 
tained, whatever was the reason, no fellowship in the 
college.. Why he was excluded cannot now be known, 
and it is vain to guess ; had he thought himself in- 
jured, he knew how to complain. In the life of Plu- 
tarch be mentions his education in the college with 

* Mr. Derrick's life of Drj'den was prefixed to a very beautiful 
and correct edition of Brydtn's miscellanies, publis^ied by the Ton- 
sons in 1760, 4 vol?. 8vo. Derrick's part, however, was poorly exe- 
cuted, and the edition never bi«Ame popular. C. 

f ile went off to Trinity eoUege, and wa6 tidmitted to a bacbelos-^ 
degree in Jan, 1653-4> and ra 1657 was made maoter of arts. C* 

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gratitude ; but,- in a prologue at Oxforci, he has these 
lines : 

Oxfonl to him a deRTtp name shall be 
Than his own motlier-uuiversitj ; 
- Thebes did h»8 rude, unknowing youih engage ; 
lie ehooses Athens in his riper age. 

It was not till the death of Cromwell, in 1658, that 
he became a publick candidate for fame, by publishing 
Heroick Stanzas on the late Lord Protector ; which, 
compared with the verses of Sprat and Waller on 
the same occasion, were sufficient to raise great ex- 
pectations of the .rising poet. 

When the king was restored, Dryden, like the 
other panegyrists of usurpation, changed his opinion, 
or his profession, and published Astr£a Redux, a 
I)Qem on the happy restoration and return of his most 
«acred majesty king Charles the Second. 

The reproach of inconstancy was, on this occasion, 
shared with such numbers, that it produced neither 
hatred nor disgrace ! if he changed, he changed with 
the nation. It was, however, not totally forgotten 
when his reputation radsed him enemies. 

The same year, he prsdsed the new king in a se- 
cond poem on his restoration. In the Astkba was 
the lines, 

An horrid stillness first invades the ear« 
And in that silence we a tempest fear— ^ 

for which he was persecuted with perpetual ridicule, 
perhaps with more than was deserved. Silence, is 
indeed mere privation ; and, so considered, cannot 
invade ; but, privation likewise certainly is darkness, 
and probably cold ; yet poetry has never been refused 
the right of ascribing effects or agency to them as to- 
positive powers. No mail scruples to say thatdarkness 
hinders him from his work ; or that cold has killed the 
ants. Death, is also privation ; yet who has made 

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2r»6 BRYDEl^. 

anf difficulty of assigning to death a d^t and the 
power of striking ? 

In settling the order of his works there is some 
difficulty ; for even when they are important ehough 
to be formally offered to a patron, he do^ not com- 
monly date his dedication ; the time of writing and 
publishing is not always the same ; nor can the first 
editions be easily found, if even from them could be 
obtained the necessary information.* 

The time at which his first play was exhibited is 
not certainly known, because it was not printed till it 
was, some years afterwards, altered and revived ; but 
since the plays are said to be printed in the order in 
which they were written, from the dates of some, 
those of others may be inferred ; and thus, it may be 
collected, that in 1663, in the thirty-second year of hi» 
life, he commenced a writer for the stage ; compelled 
undoubtj^dly by necessity, for he appears never to have 
loved that exercise of his genius, or to have much 
pleased himself with his own dramas. 

Of the stage, when he had once invaded it he kept 
possession for many years ; not indeed without the 
competition of rivals who sometimes prevailed, or the 
censure of criticks, which was often poignant aiid 
often just ; but with such a degree of reputation as 
made him at least secure of being heard, whatever 
might be the final determination of tiie publick. 

tiis first piece was a comedy, called The Wild Gal- 
lant. He began with no happy auguries; for his per^ 
formance was so much disapproved, that he was com* 
fuelled to recall it, and change it from its imperfect 
state to the form in which it now appears, arni whtoh 
is yet sufficiently defective to vindicate the CFiticks. 

I wish that there were no necessky of following the 
progress of his theatrical fame, or tmcitig the meaa^ 

* The order of his pUys has been accurately ascertaiaed by Mr. 
Malone. C« 

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DRYDEN. 287 

ders of his mind through the whole series of his dra« 
matick performances ; it will be fity however to enu- 
merate them) and to take especial notice of those that 
are distinguished by any peculiarity, intrinsick or con- 
comitant ; for the composition and fate of eight-and- 
twenty dramas include too much of a poetical life to 
be omitted.. 

In 1664, he^ published The Rival Ladies, which he 
dedicated to the earl of Orrery, a man of high reputa- 
tion, both as a writer, and as a statesman. In this 
play he made his essay of dramatick rhyme, which he 
defends, in his dedication, with sufficient certainty of 
a favourable hearing ; for Orrery was himself a writer 
of rhyming tragedies. 

He then joined with sir Robert Howard in The In- 
dian Queen, a tragedy in rhyme. The parts w^ich 
either of them wrote are not distinguished. 

The Indian Emperor was published in 1 667. It is 
a tragedy in rhyme, intended for a sequel to Howard's 
Indian Queen. Of this connexion notice was given to 
the audience by printed bills, distributed at the door ; 
an expedient supposed to be ridiculed in The Rehear* 
sal, where Bayes tells how many reams he has printed, 
to instil into. the audience some conception of his plot. 

In this play is the description of night, which Rymer 
has made famous by preferrii^ it to those of all other 

The practice of making tragedies in rhyme was in« 
troduced soon after the Restoration, as it seems by the 
earl of Orrery, in complianee with the opinion of 
Charles the Second, who had formed his taste by the 
French theatre ; and Dryden, who wrote, and made no 
difficulty of declaring that he wrote only to please, amt 
who perhaps knew that by his dexterity of versification 
he was more likely to excel others in ihyme, than with- 
out it, very re^ily adopted his master's preference* 

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288 , DRYDEN. 

He therefore made rhyming tragedies, till, by the pre- 
valence of manifest propriety, he seems to have grown 
ashamed of making them any longer* 

To this play is prefixed a very vehement defence of 
dramatick rhyme, in confutation of the preface to The 
Dtike of Lerma, in which sir Robert Howai^d had cen- 
sured it. 

In 1 667, he published Annus Mirabilis, the ¥ear of 
Wonders, which may be esteemed one of his most 
elaborate works. 

It is addressed to sir Robert Ho.^a ard by a letter, 
which is not properly a dedication ; and, writing to a 
poet, he has interspersed many critical observations^ 
of which some are common, and some perhaps ven- 
tured without much consideration. He began, even 
, now, to exercise the domination of conscious genius, 
^ by recommending hh own performance : <' I am satis- 
fied that as the prince and genei*al [Rupert and Ai«nk] 
are incomparably the best subjects I ever, had, so what 
I have written on them is much better than what I 
have performed on any other. As I have endeavoui*ed 
to adorn my poem with noble thoughts, so much more 
to express those thoughts with elocution." 
^ It is written in quatrins, or heriock stanzas of four 
lines ; a measure which h§ had learned from the Gon- 
divert of Davenant, and which he then thought the 
most majestick tha^ the English language affords. 
Of this stanza he mentions the incumbrgmces,. in- 
creased as they were by the exactness which the age 
, required. It was, thrpughout his life, very much his 
1 custom to recommend his works by repres^ntatioa of 
: the difiiculties that he had encountered, without ap- 
! pearing to have sufiiciently considered, that where 
there is no difficulty there is po praise. 

There seems to be, in the conduct of sir Robert 
Howard and Dryden towards each other, something 

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DRYDEN. 289 

that is not now easily to be explained. Dryden, in 
his dedication to the earl of Orrery, had defended 
dramatick rhyme ; and Howard, in the preface to a 
collection of plays, had censured his opinion. Dry- 
den vindicated himself in his dialogue on dramatick 
poetry : Howard, in his preface to The Duke of Lcr- 
ma, animadverted on the vindication ; and Dryden, in 
a preface to The Indian Emperor, replied to the ani- 
madversions with great asperity, and almost with cpn- 
tumely. The dedication to this play is dated the 
year in which the Annus Mirabilis was published. 
Here appears a strange inconsistency ; but Langbaine 
affords some help, by relating that the answer to 
Howard was not published in the first edition of the 
play, but was added when it was afterwards reprinted; 
and as the Duke of Lerma did not appear till 1668, 
the same year ia which the dialogue was published, 
there was time enough for enmity to grow up be- 
tween authors, who writing both for the theatre, were 
naturally rivals. 

He was now so much distinguished, that in I66fi* 
he succeeded sir William Davenant as poet-laureat. 
The salary of the laureat had been raised in favour: 
of Jonson, by Charles the First, from an hundred 
marks to one hundred pounds a year, and a tierce of 
wine ; a revenue in those days not inadequate to the 
conveniencies of life. 

•The same year, he published his essay on Dramsi* 
tick Poetry, an elegant and instructive dialogue, in 
which we are told, by Prior, that the principal charac- 
ter is meant to. represent the duke of Dorset. This 
work seems to have given Addison a model for his 
Dialogues upon Medals. 

• He cli<l not oblalfn the laurel till Aug. 18, 1670 ; but, Mr. Malone 
informs us, that the patent had a retrospect, and the salary cora- 
me&eed from the midsamiiier after l/Ayemtat's ^eftth. C. 

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290 DRYDEN- 

Secret Love, or the Maiden Queen, (1668) is a tra- 
gpL-comedy. In the preface he discusses a curious 
question, whether a poet can judge well of his own 
productions ? and determines very justly, that, of the 
plan and disposition, ahd all that can be reduced to 
principles of science, the author may depend upon 
his own opinion ; but that, in those parts where fancy 
predominates, self-love may easily deceive. He 
might have observed, that what is good only because 
It pleases, cannot be pronounced good till it has been 
found to please. 

Sir Martin Mar-all (^668) is a comedy, published 
without preface or dedication, and at first without 
tlie name of the author. Langbaine charges it like 
most of the rest, with plagiarism ; and observes, that 
,the song is translated from VoUure, allowing how- 
ever that both the sense 9fi^ nxe^^ure are axactl]^ 

The Tempest (l 670) is an alteration of Shakspcare'a 
play, made by Dryden in conjunction with Davenant ; 
•* whom," says he, ** I found of so quick a fancy, 
that nothing was proposed to him in which he could 
not suddenly produce a thought extremely pleasant 
and surprising ; and those first thoughts of his, con- 
trary to the Lectin proverb, were not always the least 
happy'; and as his fancy was quick, so likewise were 
the products of it remote and new. He borrowed 
iR>t of any other; and his imaginations were such as 
could not easily enter ijjjo any other man." 

The effect produced by the conjunction of these 
two powerful minds was, tliat to Shakspeare's mon- 
ster, Caliban, is added a sister-monster, Sycorax; 
and a woman, who, in the original play, had never 
seen a man, is in this brought acquainted with a man 
that had never seen a woman. 


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iiRYt)EN. 291 

About this time, in 1673, Dryden seems to have 
had his quiet much disturbed by the success of Th€| 
Empress of Morocco, a tragedy written in rhyme by 
Elkanah Settle ; which was so much applauded, a^ to 
tnakehim think his supremacy of reputation in some 
danger. Settle had not only been prosperous on the 
stage, but, in the confidence of success, had published 
his play, with sculptures and a preface of defiance. 
Here was one offence added to another ; and, for the 
last blast of inflammation, it was acted at Whitehall 
by the court ladies. 

Dryden could not now repress those emotions, 
which he called indignation, and others jealonsy ; J 
but wrote upon the play and the dedication such 
criticism as malignant impatience could pour out in 

Of Settle he gives this character : "He's an aninuil 
of a most deplored understanding, without reading 
and conversation. His being is in a twilight of sense, 
and some glimmering of thought which he can never 
fashion into wit or English. Hi's style is boisterous 
and rough-hewn, his rhyme incorrigibly lewd, and his 
numbers perpetually harsh and ill-sounding. The 
little talent which he has, is fancy. He sometimes 
labours with a thought ; but, with the pudder he 
makes to bring it into the world,' 'tis commonly still- 
born ; so that, for tvant of learning and elocution, he 
will never be able to express any thing either natu- 
rally or justly." ^ 

This is not very decent ; yet this is one of the ^ 
pages in which criticism prevails over brutal fury. 
He proceeds : « He has a heavy hand at fools, and a 
great felicity in writing nonsense for them. Fools 
they will be in spite of him. His king, his two em- 
presses, his villain and his sub-villain, nay his he^-o, 
have all a certain natural cast of the father— their 


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?92 BRYDEN. 

folly was born and bread in them, and something of 
the Elkanah will be visible." 

This is Dryden's general declamation ; I will not 
withhold from the reader a particular remark. Hav- 
ing gone through the first act, he says, " to conclude 
this act with the most rumbling piece of nonsense 
spoken yet: 

" ToflatteriAgligbtniog our fergoM smiles conform, 
Which, back'd with thuoder, do but gild a storm." 

Conform a smile t6 lightning, make a smile imitate 
lightning, and flattering lightning: lightning sure 
is a threatening thing. And this lightning must 
gild a storm. Now, if I must conform my smiles to 
lightning, then my smiles must gild a storm too : 
to gild with smiles, is a new invention of gilding. 
And gild a storm by being backed with thunder. 
Thunder is part of the storm; so one part of the 
storm must help to gild another part, and to help by 
backing ; as if a man would gild a thing the better 
for being backed, or having a load upon his back. 
So that here is gilding by conforming, smiling, light- 
ning, backing, and' thundering. The whole is as if I 
should say thus : I will make my counterfeit smiles 
look like a flattering stone horse, which, being backed 
with a trooper, does but gild the battle. I an^ mis- 
taken if nonsense is not here pretty thick sown. 
Sure the poet writ these two lines a-board some 
smack in a storm, and being sea-sick, spewed up a 
good lump of clotted nonsense atonce.'* 

Here is perhaps a suflicient specimen ; but as the 
pamphlet, though Dryden's, has never been thought 
worthy of republication, and is not easily to be found, 
it may gratify curiosity to quote it more largely : 

—Whene'er she bleeds, 
lie np severer a damnation needs. 
That dares pronounce the sentence of her death, 
ThAn the irifection that attends that breath. 


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DRYDEN. 293 

<^Tbat attends that breath.— —The poet is at breath 
again ; breath can never escape him ; and here he 
brings in a breath that must be infectious with pro- 
nouncing a sentence ; and this sentence is not to be 
pronounced till the condemned party bleeds ; that is, 
she must be executed first, and sentenced after ; and 
the pronouncing of this sentence will be infectious ; 
that is, others will catch the disease of that sentence, 
and this infecting of others will torment a man's self. 
The whole is thus : when she bleeds, thou needest no 
greater hell or torment to thyself, than infecting of 
others by pronouncing a sentence upon her. What 
hodge-podge does he make here ! Never was Dutch 
grout such clogging, thick, indigestible stuff*. But 
this is but a taste to stay the stomach ; we shall have 
a more plentiful mess presently. 

" Now to dish up the poet's broth, that I promised^ 

For when we're dead, and our freed souls ealarg'U, 
Of nature's gi'osser burden we're discharged, 
Then, gentle as a happy lover's sigh. 
Like wand'ring meteors through the air we'll fly. 
And in our airy walk as subtle guests. 
We'll steal into our cruel fathers' breasts, 
T}iere read their souls, and track each passion's sphere. 
See how revenge moves there, ambition here ; 
,And in their orbs view the dark oharactei'S 
Of sieges, ruins, murders, blood, and wars. 
We'll blot out all those hideous draughts and write 
Pure and white forms ; then with a radient light 
Their breasts encircle, till their passions be 
Gentle as nature in its infancy; 
Till, soften'd by our charms, their furies cease. 
And their revenge resolves into a peace. 
Thus by our death their quarrel ends, 
Whom living we made foes, dead we'll make friends. 

If this be not a very liberal mess, I will refer myself 
to the stomach of any moderate guest. And a rare 
mess it is, far excelling any Westminster white-broth. 
It is a kind of giblet porridge, made of the giblets of 

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294 DRYDEN. 

a couple of young geese, stodged full of meteors, orbs, 
spheres, track, hideous draughts, dark characters, 
white forms and radiant lights, designed not only to 
please appetite, and indulge luxury ; but it is also phy- 
sical, being an approved medicine to purge choler; 
for it is propounded, by Morena, as a receipt to cure 
their fathers of their cholerick humours ; and, were it 
written in characters as barbarous as the words, might 
very well pass for a doctor's bill. To conclude : it is 
porridge, 'tis a receipt, 'tis a pig with a pudding in 
the belly, 'tis I know not what : for, certainly, never 
any one that pretended to write sense had the impu- 
dence before to put such stuff as this into the mouths 
of those tha^ were to speak it before an audience, 
whom he did not take to be all fools ; and after that to 
print it too, and expose it to the examination of the 
world. But let us sec what we can make of this 

For when we're dead, And our freed souls enlarg'd-^— - 

Here he tells us what it is to be dead ; it is to have 
our freed souls set free. Now, if to have a soul set 
free, is to be dead ; then to have a freed soul set free, 
is to have a dead man die. 

Then, gently as a happy lover's sigh 

They two like one sigh, and that one sigh like two 
wandering meteors, 

—Shall fly through the aii^- 

That IS, they shall mount above like falling 'stars, or 
else they shall skip like' two Jacks with lanthorns, or 
Will with a whisp, and Madge with a candle," 

" And in their airy walk steal into their cruel 
fathers' breasts, like subtle guests. So that their 
fathers' breasts must be in an airy walk, an airy walk 
of a flier. And there they will read their souls, and 
track the spheres of tlieir passions. That is, these 

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Tvalkiti^ filers, Jack witli a lanthorn, "See. will pftt on his 
speetacles, and fall a reading §ouls ; and put on his 
pumps and fall a tracking of spheres : so that he will 
read and run, walk and fly, at the ssLme time I Oh ! 
Nimble Jack ! Then he will see, how revenge here, 
how ambition there . - The birds will hop about. 
And then view the dark characters of sieges, ruins, 
murder§, blood, and, wars, in their qrbs : Track the 
characters to their forms ! Oh ! rafe sport for Jack ! 
Never was place so full of game as these breasts ! 
You cannot stir, but flush .a sphere, start a charactCF^ 
or unkennel an orb 1" 

Settle's is said to have been the first play embel- 
lished with sculptures ; . those ornaments seem to 
have given poor Dryden great disturbance. He tries ^ 
however to ease his pain by venting his malice in a \ 
parody. * 

" The poet has not only been so imprudent to eir- 
pose ^11 this stuff, but so arrogant to defend it with 
an epistle ; Hke a saucy booth-keeper, that, when he 
had put a cheat upon the people, would wrangle and 
fight with any that would not like it, or would offfer 
to discover it ; for which arrogance our poet receives 
this correction ; and, to jerk him a little the sharper, 
I wiH not transpose his verse, but by the help of his 
own words transnonsense sense, that, by my stuffy 
people may judge the better what his is ; 

Great boy, thy tragedy and sculptures done. 
From press and plates, in fleets do homeward run : 
And, in ridiculous and humble pride, 
Their course in ballad-singers' iiaskets guide, 
. Whose greasy twigs do all new beauties take. 
From the gay shows thy dainty sculptures make. 
Thy lines a mess of rhyming nonsense yield, 
A senseless tale^ with fiatteringtuttiao fiU'd. 
Na grain of seme does in one line-aijpear. 
Thy words big bulk? of boisterous bombast b6ar. 
Vol. IX. o 

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29f DRYDEN. 

With%oiae ihty moires and from players' mcruths rebound^ 
• When their tongues dance to thy words' empty sound> 
By thee inspir'd the rumbKng verses roll. 
As if that rhyme and bombast l6nt a soaU 
And with that soul they seem taught duty too ; 
To huffing words does humble nonsense bow. 
As if it would thy worthless worth enhance. 
To th' lowest rank of fops thy praise advance. 
To whom, by instmet, all thy stuff is dear : 
Their loud olaps echo to the theatre. . . 

From breaths of fools thy commei^datton spreads. 
Fame sings thy praise with mouths of logger-heads. 
With noise and laughing each thy fustian greets, 
'Tis clapt by choirs of empty-headed cits, 
Wlio have their tribute sent, and homage given. 
As men in whispers send loud noise to Heaven. 

" Thus I have daubed him with his own puddle I and 
npw we are come from aboard his dancing, masking, 
rebounding, breathing fleet : and, as if we had landed 
at Gotham, we meet nothing but fools and nonsense." 

Such was the criticism to which the genius of 
Dryden could be reduced, between rage and terrour ; 
rage with little provocation, and terrour with little 
danger. To see the highest mind thus levelled with 
. the meanest, may produce some solace to the con* 
sciousness of weakness, and some mortification to 
"the pride of wisdom. But let it be remembered thai 
minds are not levelled in their powers, but when 
they are first levelled in their desires. Dryden and 
Settle had both placed their happiness in the claps of 

An Evenings Love, or Tha Mock Astrologer, a 
comedy, (1671) is dedicated to the illustrious^duke of 
Newcastle, whom he courts by adding to his praises 
those of his lady, not only as a lover but a partner of 
his studies. It is unpleasing to think how many 
names, once celebrated, are since forgotten. Of 
Newcastle's works nothing is now known but his 
Treatise on Horsemanship. 

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DRYDEN: 1197 

The preface seems very elaborately written, and 
contains many just remarks on the fathers of the 
English drama. Shakspeare's plots, he says, are in 
the hundred novels of Cinthio ; those of Beaumont and 
Fletcher, in Spanish stories ; Jonson only made them 
£o»r himself. His criticisms upon tragedy, comedy, 
and farce, are judicious and pro£6und. He endea- 
vours to defend the immorality of some of his come- 
dies by the example of former writers ; which is only r 
to say that he was not the first nor perhaps the greatests^ 
offender. Agadnst those that accused him of plagiar- 
ism he alleges a favourable exprcssi6n of the king : 
*< He only desired that they, who accuse me of thefts, 
would steal him plays like mine ;" and then relates 
how much labour he spends in fitting for the English 
stage what he borrows froni others. 

Tyrannick Love, or the Virgin Martyr, (1672) was 
another tragedy in rhyme, conspicuous for many pas- 
sages of strength and elegance, and many of empty 
noise and ridiculous turbulence. The rants of Max- 
imin have been always the sport of criticism ; and 
were at length, if his own confession may be trusted, 
the shame of the Writer. 

Of this play he has taken care to let the reader 
know, that it was contrived and written in seven 
weeks. Want of time is often his excuse, or per- 
haps shortness of time was his private boast in the 
form of an Apology. 

It was written before The Conquest of Granada, but 
published after it. The design is to recommend piety. 
" I considered that pleasure was not the only end of 
Poesy ; and that even the instructions of morality were 
not so wholly the business of a poet, as that the pre- 
cepts and examples of piety were to be omitted ; for to 
leave that employment altogether to the clergy, were 

to forget that religion was first taught in verse, which 
o 2 

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the laziness or dollness of succeeding priesihood- 
turned afterwards into prose." Thus foolishly conUt 
Dry den write,' rather than not show Im malice to the * 

The two parts of The Conquest of Granada (1672) 
are written with a seeming determination to glut the 
publick ^th dramatick wonders, to exhibit in its high* 
est elevation, e theatrical meteor of incredible love 
and impossible valour, and to leave no room lor a 
wilder flight to the extravagance of postemy. All 
; the rays of romantick heat, whether amonous or wac* 
- Hke, glow in Almanzor by a kind of ^concentration. 
He i^ above all laws ; he is exempt from all restnunts ; 
he ranges the world at will, and governs wherever 
lie appears. He fights without inquiring the cause^ 
and loves in spite of the obligations of justice, of 
rejection by his mistress, and of prohibition from the 
dead. Yet the scenes arej for the most part, delight- 
ful ; they exhibit a kind of illustrious depravity, and 
majestick madness, such as, if it is sometimes des- 
pised, is often reverenced, and in which-the ridicu- 
lous is mingled with the astonishing. 

In the Epilogue to the second part of The Conquest 
of Granada, Diyden indulges his favourite plesu&ure 
\of discrediting his predecessors ; and this Epilogue 
he has defended by a long postscript. He had pro- 
mised a second dialogue, in which' he should more 
fully treat of the virtues and faults of the English 
poets, who have wt^ttfenin the dramttick, epick, or 
lyrick way. This promise was never formally per- 
formed ; but, with respect to the dramatick writers, 
he has given us in his prefaces, and in this postscript, 
something equivalent ; but his purpose being to exalt 
himself by the comparison, he shows faults dii^inctly» 
ini only praises excellence in general terms. 

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A play thu9 wrkten, in professed defiance of pro- 
bability, naturally drew upoR itself the vi^few^s of 
the tjieat*e* One of the criticks that attacked it was 
Martin Clifford, to whom Sprat addressed the Life 
of Cowky, with such veneration of his critical pow- 
ers a»^mlghrnaturailly excite great expectations of in- 
istructions from his remarks. But let honest credulity 
beware of receiving, characters from contemporary 
writers. Clifford's, remaiks, by the favour of Dr. 
Percy, were at last obtained ; and, that no man may 
ever want them more, I will extract enough to satisfy 
all reasonable desire. 

In the first letter his observation is only general : 
*^ You do live," says he, "in as much ignorance and 
darkness as you did in^ the womb ; your writings are 
like a Jack^f-alMrades' &hop ; they have a variety, 
but nothing of value ; and if thou art not the duller 
plant-animal that ever the earth produced, all that 
I have conversed with are strangely mistaken in thee." 

In the second he tells him that Almanzor is not 
more copied from Achilles than from ancient Pistol, 
^ But I am/' says he, <%trangely n^istaken if I have n^t 
-seen this very Alman^or of yours in some disguise 
about this town^ and passing under another name. 
Pr'ythee tell me true, was not this Huffcap once the 
Indian Emperor ? smd at another time did he not call 
himself Maximin ? Was not Lyndaraxa once called 
Almeria ? I mean, under Montezuma the Indian em- 
peror. I protest and vow ttiey are either the same, or 
BO alike, that I cannot, for piy. heart, distinguish one 
from the other. "You are therefore a strange uncon- 
scionable thief;, thou art not content to sted from^ 
others, but dost rob thy poor wretched self too." 

Now was Settle's time to take his revenge. He 
wrote a vindication of his own lines ; and, if he is 
forced to yield any thing, makes hi^ reprisals upon 
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300 ORYDEN. 

his enemy. To say that Ms answer is ^ual to the 
censure, is no high commendation. To expose Drjr- 
ilen*8 method of analysing his expreasions^ he tries 
the same experiment upon the same description of 
the ships in The ]§idian Emperor, of which however 
he does not deny the excellence ; but intends to show-, 
that by studied misconstruction every thing may be 
equally represented as ridiculous. After so much of 
Dry den's elegant animadversions, justice requires 
that something of Scttle*s should be exhibited. The 
following observations are therefore extracted fr^m 
a quarto pamphlet of ninety-five pages : 

" Fate after him below with pain did more» 
<< And victory could scarce keep pace above." 

<< These two lines, if he can shew me any sense or 
thought in, or any thing bu^ bombast «id noise, he 
shall make me believe every word in his observation!^ 
on Morocco sense. 

" In the empress of Morocco were these lines : 

" I'll travel then to some remoter Sphere, 

" Till I find out new woridSy and crown you there."' 

On which Dryden made this remark : 

^ I believe. our learned author takes a sphere for 
a country ; the sphere of Morocco ; as if Morocco 
were the globe of earth and water ; but a globe is no 
sphere neither, by his leave,'* &c. " So sphere must 
not be sense, unless it relates to a circular motion 
about a globe, in which sense the astronomers use it. 
I would desire him to expound those lines in Granada-: 

** I'll to the turrets of the palace go. 
And add new fire to those that fight below. 
Thence hero-4ike with torshes by my side» 
(Far be the omen tho') my love IMl guide. 
No, like his better fortune I'll appear. 
With open arms, loose veil, and flowing hair, 
Just flying forward from my rowling aphecev" 

« I wonder, if he be so strict^ how he dares toAke so 

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boH with ^e sphere himself, and 'be so ciitieal in 
other men's writings. Fortune is fancied standingoa 
a globe, not on a sphere^ as he told-us in the first act. 
" Because Elkanah'a similies are the most unlike 
things to what they are comparec^in the world, I'll 
venture to start a simile in his Annus Mirabilis : he 
gives this poetical description of the ship called The, 

** The gootlly London in her gallant trim, 

The Phffinix -daughter of the vanqursht old. 

Like a rich hride does on the ocean swim. 

And on her shadow rides in floating gold. 

Her flag aloft spread rufiling in the wind, 

And sanguine streamers seemM the flood to fire : 

The weaver, charna'd with -what his loom desigti'd^ , 

Goes on to sea, and knows ndt to retire. 

With roomy decks her guns of mighty strength 

Whose low-laid mouths each mounting hilfow laves^ 

Deep tn her draught, and warlike in her length. 

She seems a sea-wasp flying in the waves.** 

<< What a wonderful pother is here, to make all these 
poetical beautifications of a ship ; that is, a phoenix in 
the first stanza, and but a wasp in the last; nay, to 
xnake his humble comparison of a wasp more ridicu- 
lous, he does not say it flies upon the waves as nimbly > 
as a wasp, or the like, but it seemed a wasp. But our 
author at the writing of this was not in his altitudes, 
to compare ships to fioaUng palaces : a comparison to 
the purpose was a perfection he did not arrivei to till 
the Indian Emperor's days* But perhaps his simili- 
tude has more in it than we imagine ; this ship had a 
great many guns Ux her, and they, put all together, 
made the sting in the wasp's tail ; for this is all the 
reason I can guess, why it seemed a wasp. But 
because we will allow him all we can to help out, let 
it be a phoenix sea-wasp, and the rarity of such an 
animal may do much towards hei^tenbg the fanc}r« 
O 4 

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j302 - rrRYBEN. 

« It had been much more to his purpose, if he had 

designed to render the senseless play little, to have 

searched for some such pedantry ^ this : 

. '* Two ifs scarce make one •i)088ibility. 
]f justice will take all^ and nottung give;. 
Jostice, isetbinks^ is not distributive. 
To die or kill you is the alternative. 
Rather than take your iite, I will not live." 

'' Observe how prettily our author chops logick ia 
heroick verse. Three such fustian canting words as 
distributive, alternative, and two ifs, no man but him- 
self would have come within the noise of. But he's 
a man of general learning, and all comes into his play. 

«' *T would have done well too if he could have met 
with tlie rant or two, worth the observation : such asj- 

" Move swiftly Sun, and fly a lover's pace j 

'* Leave months and weeks behind thee in thy race." ' 

*< But surely the Sun, whether he flies a lover's or 
not a lover's pace, leaves weeks and months, nay 
years too, behind him in his race. 

" Poor Robin, or any other of the Philo-mathe ma- 
ticks, would have given him satisfaction in the point. 

'* If I could kill thee now, tliy fate's so low. 
That I must stoop, ere 1 can give the blow. 
But mine is fixt so fur above thy crown. 
That all thy men, 
I'iled on thy back, can never pull it down." 

" Now where, Almanzor's fate is fixt, I can- 
tjot guess : but wherever it is, I believe Almanzor, 
and think that all Abdalla's subjects, piled upon one 
another, might not pull down his fate so well as. with.- 
out piling ; besides I think Abdalla so wise a man^ 
tiiat if Almanzor had told him piling his men upon his 
back might do the feat, he would scarcely bear such 
a weight, for the pleasure of the exploit ; but it is a 
huff, and let Abdalla do it if he dare. . • 

' " The people like a headlpng torrent go, . , 

Aod every dam tiiey break or ovei'flov* 

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But, un&ppas'd> they either lose their for«e, . 
Or wind in volumes to theirjformcr course :" 

a very pretty allusion, contrary to all sense or rea* 
son. Torrents, I take it, let them^wind never so 
much, can never return to their former course, unless^ , 
he can suppose tliat fountains can go upwards, which 
is impossible ; nay more, in the foregoing page he 
tells us so too ;. a trick of a very unfaithful memory. 
'* But can no more than fountains upward flow." 

which of a torrent, which signifies a rapid stream 
is much more impossible. Besides, if he goes to 
quibble, and say that it is possible by art water may 
be made return, and the same water run twice in one 
and the same channel ; then he quite confutes what 
he says : for it is by being opposed, that it runs iiKo 
its former course ; for all engines that make water so 
return, do it by compulsion and opposition. Or, if 
he means a headlong torrent fbr a tide> which would 
be ridiculous, yet they do not wind in volumes, but 
come fore-right back ( if their upright lies straight to 
their former course,) and that by opposition of the ' 
sea-water, that drives them back again. 

" And for fancy, when he lights of any thing Jike. 
it, 'tis a wonder if it be not borrowed. As here,- fbr 
example of, I .find the fanciful thought ia his Ann. 

" Old 'father Thkmes rais'd «p his reverend head : 
But fear'd the fate of Siraoeis would return : 
Di^ep in his ooze he sought his sedgy hed; 
■ And shrunk his waters haefc into his urn**' 

^ This 4s stolen from Cowley's Davideis, p. Gl. 

" Swift Jordan started,' and straight hacTcwar J fled 
Hidiiig amongst thick reeds his aged head. 
A lid wheQ the SpaiuArd« their assa&ltf begin, . 
At once beat those without aad those within." 

^^ This Almanzor speaks of himself; and. sure fcur 
oa^maa to conquer an army within the city^ ajid^iu- 

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3d4i DRYDJSN- 

otiier without the cky^ at once, is sometUog dlAcult : 
but this flight is pardonaUe to some we meet with m 
Granada : Osmin, speaking of Almanzor, 

" Who, like »teinpe8t that outrides the wind, 
** Made a just battle, ere the bodies join'd." 

" Pray what does this honourable person mean^ by a 
tempest that outrides the wind ! a tempest that out- 
rides itself? To suppose a tempest without wind, i»^- 
m bad as supposing a man to walk without feet ; for. 
if he supposes the tempest to be something distinct 
from the wind, yet) as being the effect of wind only^ 
to come before the cause is a little preposterous ; sq 
that, if he takes it one way, or if he takes it the other, 
those two ifs will scarcely make one possibility.^' 
''--JEhough of Settle. 

Marriage-a-la*Mode(1673) is a comedy dedicate4 
IQ the earl of Rochester ; whom he acknowledges not 
enly as the defender of his poetry, but the promoter 
of his fortune. Langbaine places this play in 1673. 
flic earl of Rochester, therefore, was the famoT}3 
Wilmot, whom yet tradition always represents as an 
chemy to Dry den, and who is mentioned by him with^ 
some disrespect in the preface to Juvenal. 

The Assignation, or Love in a Nunnery, a comedy^ 
(167S) was driven off the stage, against the opinion^ 
as the author says, of the^best judges. It is dedicated, 
in a very elegant address^ to sir Charles Sedley ; in. 
which he finds an opportunity for his usual complaint 
of hard treatment and unreasonable censure. . 

Amboyna(167a) is a tissue of minglfid dialogue 4n 
Ycrse and prose, and was perhaps written in less time 
4han The Virgin Martyr : though the aulhor thought 
not fit either ostentatiously or moumfully to tell how 
little labour it cost him, or at how short a warning he 
]ifoduced it. It was a temporary per£Mfm«mce, writ*. 
«fl^ ill the time of the Dtitch vmr) to^j^Mie.tbe mik^ 

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;&gain8t thdr eneimes^ to whom he hapes^ as he de- 
elares in his epiloguet to make his poetry^ not less de« 
structive than that by which Tyrtacus of old animated 
the Spartans. This play was writtw in the second 
Dutch war, hi 1673^ 

Troilus and Cressida (1679) is a plsqr altered from 
Shakspeare ; but so altered^ that, even in Langbaine% 
opinion, ^< the last scene in the third act is a master- 
piece/' It is introduced by a discourse on ^< the 
grounds of criticism in tragedy," to which I suspect 
that Rymer's book had given occasion. 

The Spanish Fryar (16a I) is- a tragi-comedy, emi- 
nent for the happy coincidence and coalition of the 
two plots. As it was written against the papists, it 
would naturally at that time have friends and ene- 
mies ; and partly by the popularity which it obtained 
at first, and partly by the real power both of tiie se- 
rious and risible part, it continued long a favourite oC 
the publick. 

It was Dryden's opinion, at least for some time, and 
he maintakis it iii the dedication of this play, that the t 
drama required an alteration of comick and tragick \ 
scenes ; and that it is necessary to mitigate by allevia- 
tions of merriment the pressure of pondei^ous events^ 
and the fatigue of toilsome passions. ^< Whoever,'*' 
says he, '^ cannot perform both parts^ is bujt half a 
writer for the stage." 

The Duke of Guise, a tragedy, (1683) written ia- 
conjunction with Lee, as Oedipus had been before, 
seems to deserve notice omly for the o£Fence which it 
gave to the remnant of the coireiiaiiters, and in general 
to the enemies of the court, who attacked him witli 
great violence, and were answered by him ; though at 
last he seema-to withdraw from the conflict, by trans-^ 
ferring the greater p«urt of the blame or merit ta hi* 
partnen It huppetkedbthat a ecmtsact had beta ma4m 

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between them^^by ^hich they were to joU in M^rmn|( ^ 
a play: and ^' he happened," saysj)ryden9 ^Uo claini 
the promise just upon the finishing of a. poem, when 
I would have been glad of a little respite. — ^Two-thirds 
- of it belonged to him ; and to nie only the first sceue 
of the play, the whole fouilh act, and the first half, or 
Bomewhat more, of the fifth," 

This was a play written professedly for the party 
«f the duke of York, whose succession was then 4>pr. 
posed. A parallel is intended between the, leaguers 
of France and the covenanters of England.: and (^ 
intention produced the controversy- 

. Albion and Albanius (1685) is a musi<;al drama jpr 
opera, written like The Duke of Gui^e, against the 
republicans. With what success it was performed, I 
liave not found.* . 

The State of Innocence and Fall of Man (1675) is 
termed by him an opera : it is rather .a tragedy in 
heroick rhyme, but of which the personages are such 
as cannot decently be exhibited on the stage. Sonie 
such production was foreseen by Marvely, who. writes 
thus to Milton : 

'* Or if a work 80 infinite be spann'd, 

JealOHB 1 was lest some less .tkiifa) band- 

(Saoh as ditqaiet always whattis weU| 

And by ill-ituitattng would-ascel,} 

Might hence presume the whole creation's day 

To efaahge iii scenes, and shew it in a play.*' 

V it IS another of his hasty productions |. for the heat' 
of his imagination raised it in a month. 

This composition is addressed to the princc^«. o£ 
Jtfodena) then duchess of York, in a stsain of flattery^ 

• Dowites says^jt was performed on a very unlucky day, vii. that 
en which the ^uke of Af onmouth landed iii the west ; and he inti- 
AatM» that the conttemation into wliileh the Idngdom w*s thrown hfk 
thia event was a rea«>n wl^ U WM If«iM'JSiie^>1l(|i%4i«ftMb.aBd iMHk 
tapaienditt received H; 

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^hkh. disgraces ge&tUS) and which it was wmdtrfar 
thai any man that knew the xaeaning of his own words 
could use wkhout sdf-detestation. It is an attempt 
t6 mingle earth and heaven, by praisb% human excel? 
lence in the language of religion. 

The preface contains an apology for heroick verse 
and poetick licence; by which is meant not any liberty 
taken* in contracting or extending words, but the use 
of bold fictions and ambitious figures. 

The reason which he gives for printing what was 
hever acted cannot be overpassed : " I was induced to 
it in my own defence, many hundred copies of it being 
dispersed abroad without my knowledge or consent } 
and every one gathering new faults, it became at length 
a libel against me." These copies, as they gathered 
faults^ were apparently manuacript, and his lived in an 
age very unlike oues> if many hundredt copies of fbur^ 
teen hundred lines were likely to be transcribed. An 
author has a right to print his own works, and need 
not seek an apology in falsehood ; biit he that could 
bear to write the dedication felt no pain in writing the 

Aureng Zebe (1676) is a tragedy founded, on. the 
actions of a great- prince ^en j'eigning, but over na-, 
tions not likely to employ- their^ criticks. upon the: 
transactions of the English, stage. If he had knbwiv 
and disliked his own character, our trade was not in, 
those times secure from his resentment. His country 
13 at such a dislance^. that the manners might b& 
safely falsified, and' the- incidents feigned; for the 
lemoteness of place is remarked,; by Racine, to- 
afibrd the same conveniencies to a poet as length of 

This play is written in rhyme, and has the appjear- 
aeee of being ^e most elaborate of aU. the dramas.. 
The personages are impigirbtl $ buvthe di^Jogue is^ 

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often domefttick, and therefore «ix8G«iilH»le of s^li* 
ments accommodated to familiar incideiHs. Tiie 
compltdnt of life i« celebrated ; and tliere are many 
other passages that may be read with pleasure. 

, This play is addressed to the earl of Molgrave, 
afterwards duke of Buckingfaam, himself, if not a 
poet, yet a writer of verses, and a critick* In this 
address Dryden gave the first hints of his intention 
to write an epick poem. He mentions his design 
in terms so obscure, that, he seems a&aid le«t his . 
plan should be purlcnned, as, he says, happened 
to him when he told it more plainly in his pre- 
face to Juvenal. *< The design," says he,- " you 
know is great, the story English, and neither too 
near the present times, nor too distant from them." 

AH for Love, or the World well Lost, (1678) a tra* 
gedy, founded upon the story of Antony and Cleopa- 
tra^ he tells us, << is the only play which^ he wrote for 
himself :*' the rest ^ere given to the people. It is by 
universal consent accounted the work in which he has 
admitted the fewest improprieties of style or charac- 
ter ; but it has one fault equal to many, though rather 
moral than critical, that, by admitting the romantick 
omnipotence of love, he has recommended, as lauda- 
ble and worthy of imitation, that conduct wMch» 
through all ages, the good have censured as vicious, 
and the bad despised as foolish. 

: Of this play the prologue and the epilogue, though 
written upon the common topicks of malicious and 
ignorant criticism, and wMiout any particular relatioii 
to the characters or incidents of the drama, are de-. 
aervedly celebrated for their elegance and. spiightti'* 

limberham, or the Kind Keeper, ( 1 630)is a come- 
dy, Mrhich, after the third night, was prohibited as toa 
indecent for the istagc, Wiat gave oifehw wias in thti 

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D&TDEN. 3m 

^mtuigr as the author says, atlered or omk^d. Dry« 
denconfesses that its indecency vras objected to ; but 
Langbaiue} who yet seldorndDarours him^ imputes its 
expulsion* to resentment, because it ^< ^o much <ex« 
posed the keeping part of the town." 

Oedipus (1679) is a tragedy formed by Dryden and 
Lee, in conjunction, from the works «f Sophocles, 
Seneca, and Corneille. Dryden planned the scenes, 
and composed the first and third acts^ 

Don Sebastian (1690) is commonly esteemed either 
the first or second of his dramatick performances. It 
Is too long to be all acted, and has many characters 
and many incidents ; and though it is not widiout sal" 
lies of frantick dignity, and more noise than meaning, 
yet» as it makes approaches to the possibilities of real 
life, and has some sentiments which leave a strong 
impression, it continued Icmg to attract attention. 
Amidst the distresses of princes, and the vicissitudes 
of empire, are inserted several scenes which the wri> 
ter intended for comick ; but which, I suppose, that 
age did not much commend, and this would not en- 
dure. There are, however,, passages of excellence; 
universally acknowledged ; the dispute and the recoD^ 
ciltation of Dora& and Sebastian has always been ad« 

This play was first acted in 1690|;after Dryden had 
for some years discontmued dramatick poetry. 

Amph3rtri30Bis a comedy derived from Plautus and 
Moliere. The dedication is dated Oct. 1690* Thi» 
play seems to have succeeded at its first appearance ; 
and was, I think, long considered as a very divertii^ 

Cleomenes (1692) is a tragedy, only remarkable alT 
it occasi<»)ed an incident related in the Guardian, and 
allusively mentioned by Dryden in his pre£ftce. As he 
came out from the representation, he was accosted 

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thua b)r^som^aiiy stripling: ^^Hadl been left alone 
with a young^beaut)r, I would not have spent my time 
like your Spartan." " That sir," said Dryden, ** per- 
haps is true ; but give me leave to tell you that you 
are no hero." 

King Arthur (1691) is another opereu It was the 
last work that Dryden performed for king Charles, 
who did not live to see it exhibited, and it does aot 
seem to have been ever brought upon the stage** In 
the dedication to the nmrquis of Halifax, there is a 
very elegant character of Charles, and a pleasing ac* 
count of his latter life. When this was first brought 
upon the stage, news that the duke of Monmouth ,had 
landed was told in the theatre ; upon which the com- 
pany departed; and Aithur was exhibited no more. 

His last drama was Love THmnphant, a tragi-^^ome- 
dy. In his dedication to the e^rl of Salisbury he men- 
tions ** the lowness of fortune to which he has volun- 
tary reduced himself, and of which he has no reason 
to be ashamed." 

This play appeared in 1 694. It is said to have.been 

unsuccessful. The ps^tastrophe, proceeding merely 

fr^n a change of mind, is confessed by the author to 

be defective. Thus he began and ended iiis drama- 

^tick labours with ill success. 

From such a number of theatrical pieces^ it will be 
supposed, by most readers, that he must have improv-^ 
ed hiis fortune ; at least that such diiigei^e with such 
abilities must have set penury at defiance. But in 
Dryden's time the drama was very far from that uni* 
versal approbation which it has now obtained. The 
l^ayhouse was abhorred by the puritans, and avoided 
hy those who desired the character of seriousness, op 

* This is a mistake. It^ds s^t to mustek by P«pe^, and well cie« 
«ttfcd,anUiiyetftfiiv«irittejit€»twiua«iit H*^ 


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— .... ^ i. — ^-- * 

BRYDE^N. sn 

ticcency. A grave lawyer would have dwibased his 
dignity, and a young trader would have impaired his 
credit, by appearing in those raansionis of dissolute 
licentiousness. The profits of the theatre, when so 
many classes of the people were deducted from the 
audience^ were not great ; and the poet had, for a long 
time, but a single night The first that had two nights 
was So\itherh : and the first that had three was Rowe. 
There were, however, in those days, arts of improving 
a poet's profit, which Dryden forbore to practise : and 
a play therefore seldom produced him more than a 
hundred pounds, by the accumulated gain of the third 
night, th^idedication, and the copy. 

Almost every piece had a dedication, written with 
such elegance and luxuriance of praise, as neither 
haughtiness nor avarice could be imagmed able to 
Insist. But he seems to have made flattery too cheap- 
That prsuse is worth nothing of which the pricp is 

To increase the value of his copies, he often accotnf- 
panied his work with a preface of critidsm ; a kind o( 
learning then almost new in the English language, and 
which he, who* had considered with great accuracy 
the principles of writing, was able to distribute copi- 
ously as occasions arose. By these dissertations the 
publick judgment must have been much improved; 
and Swift, who conversed with Dryden, relates that 
he regretted the success of his own instructions, and 
fotmd his readei's made suddenly too skilful to be 
easily satisfied. 

His prologues had such reputation, that for some 
time a play was considered as less likely to be well 
received, if some of his verses did not introduce ft. 
The price of a prologue was two guineas, till, being 
asked to write one for Mh Southern, he demanded 
three: "Not," said he, ** young man, out of idisre-^ 

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312 DRYDEjr, 

spect to. you ; but the playera faave had mj goods toe 

Though he declares that m his own opinion his 
genius was not dramatick, he had great confidence in 
his own fertility ; for he is said to have engaged, by 
contract) to furbish four plays a year. 

It is certain that in one year, 1678,* he published 
All for Love, Assignation, t^wo parts of the Conquest 
of Grenada, Sir Martin Mar-all, smd The State «of In- 
nocence, six complete plays, with a celerity of per- 
formance, which, though all Langbaine's charges of 
plagiarism should be allowed, shows such facility 6f 
composition, such readiness of lan^uagfi^^and such 
copiousness of sentiment^ as, since the time of Lqpez 
de Vega, perhaps no other author has ever possessed.^ 

He did not enjoy his reputation, however great, uor 
his profits, however small, without molestation* He 
had criticks to endure, and rivals to oppose. The two 
most distinguished wits of the nobility, the duke of 
Buckingham and earl of Rochester, declared them- 
selves, his enemies. 

Buckingham characterised him, in 1671, by the 
name of Bayes ^ The Rehearsal ^ a farce which he is 
said to have written with the assistance of Butler, the 
author of Hudibras ; Martin Clifford, of the Charter- 
house ; and Dr. Sprat, the friend of Cowley, then hia^ 
chaplain. Dryden and his friends laughed at the 
length of time, and the number of hands employed 
upon this performance ; in which, though by some 
artifice of acticm it yet keeps possession of the stage, 
it is not possible now to find any tiling that might not 
have been written without so long delay, or a con- 
federacy so numerous. 

* Dr. Johnson in this asseflioii wai misled by L«n|;b«iitte. Onlj o»e 
of these plkya appeared in 1678. Nor were ihete more than three 
in any one y«ar. The lUites are sov sMed from the ocigiiua ed&« 
tiona. R. 

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DRYDEN,. 313 

To adjust the minute events of literary history is 
tedious and troublesome^ it requires indeed no great 
force of understanding, but often depends upon inqui- 
ries which there is no opportunityof making, or is to be 
fetched from books and pamphlets not always at hand. 

The Rehearsal was played in 1671,* and yet is re- 
presented as ridiculing passages in The Conquest of 
Granadat and Assignation, which were not published 
till 1678 ; in Marriage-a-la-mode, published in 1673 ; 
and in Tyrannick Love, in 1 677, These contradictions 
' shoAv how rashly satire is applied.^ 

It is said that this farce was originally intended" 
against Davenant, who, in the first draught was char- 
|icterised by the name of Bilboa. Davenant had been 
a soldier and- an adventurer. 

There is one passage in The Rehearsal still remain-^ 
ihg, which seems to have related originally to Daven- 
ant. Bayes hurts his nose, and comes in with blx>wn 
paper applied to the bruise ; how thisvaffected Dryden 
does not appear. Davenant^s nose had suffered such 
ditninution by mishaps among the women, that a patch 
upon that part evidently denoted himi 

It is said likewise that sir Robert Howard was once 
meant. The design was probably to ridicule the 
reigning poet, whatever he might be. 

Much of the personal satire to which it might owe 
its first reception is now lost or obscured. Bayes pro- 
bably imitated the dress, and mimicked the manner of 
Dryden : the carit words which are so often in his 
mouth may be supposed to have been Dryden's habi- 

* It was published in 1 672. R. 

j- The Conquest of Granada was pabllshed in 1672 ; The Assig- 
nation, in 1673 ; Marriage-a-la-mode in tke same year ; and Tywm- 
niek hove in 1672. 

^ I'here is no contradiction, according to Mr. Maione, but vbat 
arises from Dr. Johnson's haTing copied th^ erroneoHS dates awigne^ 
to these plays bj I/angbame. C. 

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314 ^DRYDEN. 

tual phraseS} or customary exclamations. 'Bayes, when 
he is to write, is blooded and purged ; this, as Lamotte 
relates himself to have heard, was the real practice of 
the poet. 

There were other strokes in The Rehearsal, by 
which malice was gratified ; the debate between love 
and honour, which keeps prince Volscius in a single 
boot, is said to have alluded to the misconduct of the 
duke of Ormond, who lost Dublin to the rebels while 
he was toying with a mistress. 

The earl of Rochester, to suppress the reputation of 
Dryden, took Settle into his protection, and endea- 
voured to persuade the publick that its approbation 
had been to that time misplaced. Settle was a while 
in high reputation ; his Empress of Morocco, having 
first delighted the town, was carried in triumph to 
Whitehall, and played by the ladies of the court. 
Now was the poetical meteor at the highest : the next 
moment began its fell. Rochester withdrew his pa- 
tronage ; seemingly resolved says bne of his biogra- 
phers, " to have a judgment contrary to that of the 
town ; perhaps being unable to endure any reputation 
beyond a certain height, even when he had himself 
contributed to raise it." 

Neither criticks. nor rivals did Dryden much mis- 
chief, unless they gained from his own temper the 
power of vexhig him, which his frequent bursts of re- 
sentment give reason to syspect. He is always angry 
at some past, or afraid of some future censure ; hut he 
lessens the smart of his wounds by the balm of his 
own approbation, and endeavours to repel the shafts 
of criticism by opposing a shield of adamantine con- 

The nerpetual accusation produced against him, 
was ^that of plagiarism, against which ' he never at- 
teippted any vigorous defence j for though he was- 

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DRYDEN. 315 

perliaps sometimes .injuriously censisred, he would, 
by denying part of the charge, have confessed the 
rest ; and, as his adversaries had the proof in their 
own hands, he, who knew that wit had little power 
against facts, wisely left, in that perplexity which it 
generally produces, a question which it was his in- 
terest to suppress, and which iinless provoked by 
vindication, few were likely to examine. 

Though the life of a writer fVom atout thirty-five 
to sixty-three, may he supposed to have been suffici- 
ently busied by the composition of eight-and-twenty 
pieces for the stage. Drydeu found room in the same 
space for many other undertakings. 

But how much soever he wrote, he was at least 
once suspected of writing more ; for, in 1 679, a paper 
of verses, called An Essay pn Satire, was shewn 
about in manuscript ; by which the earl of Rochester, 
the duchess of Portsmouth and others were so much 
provoked, that, -as was supposed, for the actors were 
neve;* disco vored,-they procured Dryden, ^hom they 
suspected as the author, to be waylaid and beaten. 
This incident is mentioned by the duke of Bucking- 
hamshiiY,* the true writer, in his Art of Poetry; 
where he says of Dryden, 

*rhongh prais'd and beaten for another's phymee, 
llw own deserve as great app^laase sometimes. 

His reputation in time was such, that his name was 
Ihought necessary to the success of every poetical or 
literary performance, and therefore he was engaged 
to contribute something, whatever it might be, to 
many publications. He prefixed th« life of Polybius 
to the translation of sir Henry Sheers ; and fhose of 
Lucian and Plutarch, to versions of their works by 
different hands. Of the English Tacitus he translated 

♦ JkSetitioned by A. Wood, Athen. Oxon. vol. II. 804, 2d edit C. 


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316 DRYDEK. 

the first book ; and, if Gordoa be credited^ tisanafoted 
it from the Freoch. Such a charge can hardly be men- 
tioned without some deg;ree of indignation ; but it is 
not, I suppose, so much to be inferred, that Dryden 
wanted the literature necessary to the perusal of Ta- 
citus, as that, considering himself as hidden in a crowd 
he had no awe of the publick ; and, writing merely 
for money, was contented to get it by the nearest way. 

In 1680, the Epistles of Ovid being translated by 
the poets of the time, among which one was the work 
of Dryden, and another of Dryden and lord.Mulgrave, 
it was necessaiy to introduce them by a preface ; and 
Diyden, who on such occasions was regularly sun»»> 
rooned, prefixed a discourse upon translation, which 
was then struggling for the liberty that it now enjoys* 
Why it should find any difficulty in breaking tlie 
shackles of verbal interpretation, which mu^t forever 
debar it from ekgance, it would be difficult to conjee- 
ture, were not the power of prejudice every day ob- 
served. The authority of Jonson, Sandys, and Holi- 
day, had fixed the judgment of the nation ; a(ui it was 
not easily believed that a better way could be found 
than they had taken, though Fanshaw, Denham, Wal- 
ler, and Cowley had tried to give exapiples of a differ- 
ent practice. 

In 1681 Diyden became yet more conspicubus by 
uniting politicks with poetry, in the memorable sadre 
called Absalom and Achitophel, written against the 
faction which, by lord Shaftesbury's incitement set 
the duke of Monmouth at its head. 

Of this poem in which personal satire was applied 
to the support of publick principles, and in which 
therefore every mind was interested, the reception 
was eager, and the sale so large, that my father, an old 
bookseller, told me, he had not known it equalled but 
fty Sachevereirs Trial. 

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DRYDEN, 31? 

The reason of this genera] perusal Addison has at-* 
tempted to derive from the delight which the i^ind 
feels in the investigation of secrets ; and ^thinks that 
curiosity to decipher the names procured readers to 
the poem. There is no need to inquire why those 
verses were reid, which, to all the attractions of wit, 
elegance, and harmony, added the co-operation of all 
the factious passions, and filled every mind with tri- 
umph or resentment. 

It could rot be supposed that all the provocation 
given by Dry den T\'ould be endured without resistance 
or reply. Both his person and his party were ex- 
posed in their turns to the shafts of satire, which, 
though neither so well pointed, nor perhaps so well 
ainied, undoubtedly drew blood. 

One of these poems is called Dryden*s Satire on his 
Muse; ascribed, though as Pope says, falsely, to 
Somers, who was afterwards chancellor. The poem, 
whosesoever it was, has much virulence, and some 
sprightliness. The writer tells all the ill that he can 
collect both of Dryden and his friends. 

The poem of Absalom and Achitophel had two an- 
swers, now both forgotten ; one called Azpia and 
Hushai ;* the other Absalom senior. Of these hostile 
compositions, Dryden apparently imputes Absalom 
senior to Settle, by quoting it in his verses against 
him the secondjiine. Azaria and Hushai was, as Wood 
saysj imputed to him, though it is somewhat unlikely 
that he should write twice on the same occasion. 
This is a difficulty which I cannot remove, for want 
of a minuter knowledge of poetical transactions. 

The same yeai- he published The Medal, of which 
the subject is a medal struck on lord Shaftesbury's 

• Azaria and Hiishai was written by Samuel Pordagi, a drama- 
lick writer of that time. C. 


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escape fi*om a x^rosecotioii) by the ignoramns of a 
grand jury of Londoners. 

In both poems he maintains the sfttne prlheiples, 
and saw them both attack^ by the same antagonist. 
Elkanah Settle, vrh^ bad answered Absalom, appeared 
with equarcotrrage in oppositionto The Medal; and 
pxibiished an answer called The Medal reversed, with 
so much success in both encounters, that he left the 
palm doubtful, and divided the suffrages of the nation. 
Such are the revolutions of fame, or such is the preva- 
lence of fashion, that the man, whose works have not 
yet been thought to deserve the care of colleetiag 
them, who died forgotten in an hospital, ?ind whose 
latter years were &pent in contriving shows for fairs, 
and carrying an elegy or epithalamium, of which the 
beginning and end were occasionally varied^ but the 
intermediate parts were always the same, to evety 
house whei^e there was afttneralor a weddings might 
mth truth have had inscribed upon his stone, 

Here lies the rWal and aTitag^onist of Drjdeii. 

Settle was, for his rebellion, severely chastised by 
Dry den under the name of Doeg, in the second part 
of Absalom and Achitophel ; and was perhaps for his 
factious audacity made the city poet, whose annual 
office was to describe the glories of the mayor's day. 
Of these bards he was the 'last, and seems not much to 
have deserved even this degree of regard, if it was 
paid to his political opinions : for he afterwards wrote 
a panegyrick on the virtues of judge Jefferies; and 
what more could have been done by the meanest zea- 
lot for prerogative ? 

Of translated fragments, or occasional poems, to 
enumerate the titles or settle the dates, would be te- 
dious, witli little use. It may be observed, that, as 
Dryden's genius was commonly- excited by some per- 
gonal regard, he rarely writes upon a general topick. 


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BRYDEN. 319 

Soen after the accession of king James, when the 
design />f reconciling the nation to the church of 
Rome became apparent, and the religioo of the court 
gave the only efficacious title to its favours, Diyden 
declared himself a cpn.vert to popery. This at any 
other time might have passed with little censure. 
Sir'Kenelm Digby embraced popery ; the two Reyn- 
olds's reciprocally converted one another ;* and Chil- 
lingworth himself was a while so entangled in the 
wilds of controversy, as to retire for quiet to an infal- 
lible church. If men of argument and study can find 
such difficulties or such motives, as may either unite 
them to the church of Rome, or detain them in uncer- 
tainty^ there can be no wonder that a man, who perhapsr 
never inquired why he was a protestant, should by an 
artful and experienced disputant be. made a papist, 
overborne. by the sudden violence of new and unex- 
pected argunnents, or deceived by a representation 
which shows ojaly the doubts on one part, and only 
the evidence on the. other. v^ 

^ That conversion will always be suspected that ap- \ 
parently concurs with interest. He that never finds i 
his-errpr, till it hinders his progress towards wealth 
or honour, will, not be thought to love truth only for 
herself. Yet it may easily happen that information 
may come at a commodious time -, and, as truth and 
interest are not by any fatal necessity at variance, that 
one may by accident, introduce the ptl^cr. When 
opinions are struggling into popularity, the argu- 
ments by which tlieyare opposed or defended become 
more known ; and he that changes his profession 
would perhaps have changed, it before with the like 

* Dr. John Reynolds, who lived temp Jac. 1. was at first a zealous 
papist, and his brother WHiam as earnest a x^rotestant ; but, by mu- 
tual disputation, each converted the olheip. See Fullei's Church 
History, p. 47, 'book X- H. 

VOL. IX. r 

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a2a DRYDEN. 

c^pportuiudes cf bl&truction. This v^s the then iUie 
of popery; every artifice was used to show it in Us 
fairest form ; and U must be owned to be a religion 
of external appearance sufficiently attractive. 

It is natural to hope that a comprehensive is like-^ 
wise an elevated souU and that whoever is wise is also 
honest. I am willing to believe that Dryden, having 
employed his miod) active as it was^ upon different 
studies, and filled it, capacious as it was, with other 
materials, came unprovided to the controversy, a^d 
^"vanted rather skill to discovev the nght> than virtue to 
maintain it. But inquires into the heart are not fol^ 
man ; we must now leave him to his judge. 

The jpriests, having strengthened their cause hy so 
powerful an adherent,, were not long before they 
brought him into action. They engaged hm to-d^«- 
fend the controversial papers found in the strongbox 
of Charles the Second ; and, wl^at yet was hardei;, to 
defend them against Stillingfieet. 

With hopes of promoting popery, he wa3 enoployed 
to translate Maimbourg's History of the League ; 
which he published with a large intro4uctipn. His 
name is likewise prefixed to the English life of Fran- 
cis Xavier ; but I know not that he ev^r owijed himself 
the translator. Perhaps the use of \\is name was a 
pious fraud ; which however se^ms not to have had 
much effect ; for neither of the books, I believe, was 
ever popular. 

The version of Xayier's Life is commended by 
Brown, in a pamphlet not written to flatter j and the 
occasion of it is said to h^ve been, , that the que^n, 
^hen she solicited a son, nonde vows to him as her 
tutelary saint. " \ , 

He was supposed to have undertaken, to translate 
.Varillas's History of Heresises ; \and, when Burnet 
.published remarks upou it, to ha^ written an an- 

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^ DRYDEN. 331 

«\ret;* up<m which Burnet ift»kes the following 

observation 2 

<^ I have been informed from England, that a gen- 
tleman, who is famous both for poetry and several 
other things, had spent three montlis in translating 
M. Varillas's History ; but that, as soon as my reflec- 
tions appeared, he discontinued his labour, finding 
the credit of his author was gone. Now, if he thinks 
it is recovered by his answer, he will perhaps ga on 
with his translation ; and this may be, for aught I 
know, as good an entertainment for him as the con- 
versation that he had set on between the Hinds and 
Panthers, and all the rest of animals, for whom M. 
Varillas may serve well enough as an author ; and 
this iMstory and that poem are such extraordinary 
things of their kind, that it will be but suitable to 
see the author of the worst poem become likewise 
the translator of the worst history that the age has 
produced. If his grace and his wit improve both 
proportionably, he will hardly find that he has gained 
much by the change he has made, from having no 
religion, to choose one of the worst. It is true, he 
had somewhat to sink from in matter of wit ; but, as 
lor his morals, it is scarcely possible for him to grow 
a worse man than he was. He has lately wreaked his 
malice on me for spoiling his three months' labour ; 
but in it he has done me all the honour that any man 
can receive from him, which is to be railed at by him. 
If I had ill-nature enough to prompt me to wish a very 
bad wish for him, it should be, that he would go on 
and finish his translation. By that it will appear, 
whether the Engiish nation, which is the most com- 
petent judge in this matter, has, upon seeing our de- 
bate, pronounced iij M. Varillas's favour, or in mine. 
It is true, Mr. D. will suffer a little by it j but at 
* This is frmistake. See Malone^ {>. 19i-, See. C. 

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522 DRYDEN- 

' least it wiO serve to keep kim in from other extfav^* 
gancies ; and if he gains little honour by this work^ 
yet he cannot lose so much by it as he has done by his 

' last ^ployment/' 

Having probably f^lt his own inferiority in theolo- 
gical controversy, he iras desirous of trying whether, 
by bringing poetry to aid his arguments, he might 
become a more efficacious defender of his new pro- 
fession. To reason in verse was^ indeed, one of his 

\ powers; but ^ubtility and harmony, united, are still 
feeble, whei^ opposed to truth. 

Actuated therefore by zeal for Rome, or hope of 
fame, he published The Hind and Panther, a poem in 
which the church of Rome, figured by the milk-white 
Hind, defends her tenets against the church of Eng- 
land, represented by l;he Panther, a beast beautiful, 
but spotted. 

A fable, which exhibits two beasts talking theolo- 
gy, appears at once full of absurdity; and it was 
ftccor^ngly ridiculed in the City Mouse and Country 
Mouse, a parody, * written by Montague, afterwards 
earl of Halifiauc, and Prior^ who then gave the first 
specimen of his abilities. 

The conversion of such a man, at such a time, was 
not likely to pass uncensured. Three dialogues were 
published by the facetious Thomas Brown, of which 
the two first were called Reasons of Mr. Bayes 
changing his religion s and the third. The Reasons of 
Mr. Hains the Player's Conversion and Re-conver- 
sion. The first was pri^d in 1686, theseccuid hat 
till 1690, the third ina691. The clamour seems f 
have been long continued, and the «ubject to. have 
strongly fixed the publick attention. 

In the two first dialogues Bayes is bro\^ght into 
the company of Crites and Eugeiiius, with whom he 
had formerly debated ondramatick poetry. The 

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DRYDEN. 323 

two talkers in the third are Mr. Bayes and Mr. 

Brown was a man not deficient in literature, nor 
destitute of fancy ; but he seems to have thought it 
the pinnacle of excellence to be a merry fellow ; and 
therefore laid out his powers upon small jests or gross 
buffoonery ; so that his performances have little in- 
trinsick value, and were read only while they we»e 
recommended by the novelty of the event that occa- 
sioned them. 

These dialogues are like his other works: what 
sense or knowledge they contain is disgraced by the^ 
garb inwhichitis exhibited. One great source of 
pleasure is to call Dryden little Bayes. Ajax, who 
happens to be mentioned, is " he that wore as many 
cow-hides upon his shield as would have furnished 
half the king's army with shoe-leather." 

Being asked whether he had seen the Hind and 
Panther, Crites answers : " Seen it I Mr. Bayes, why 
I can stir no where but it pursues me ; it haunts me' 
worfee than a pewter-buttoned sergeant does a de- 
cayed cit. Sometimes I meet it in a band*box, when my 
laundress brings home my linen ; sometimes whether 
I will or no, it lights my pipe at a coffee-house ; some- 
times it surprises me in a trunk-maker's shop ; and 
sometimes it refreshes my memory for me on tlie 
backside of a chancery-lane parcel. For your com- 
fort too, Mr. Bayes, I have not ooAy seen it, as you 
may perceive, but have reac^it too, and can quote it 
as freely upc^ occasion as a frugal tradesman can 
quote that noble treatise The Worth of a Penny to his 
extravagant 'prcntke, that revels in stewed apples 
and penny custards." 

The whole animation of these compositions arises 
from a profusion of ludicrous and affected compari- 
p 3 


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334 DHYDEN. 

sons. « To secure one's chastily,^*^says Bayes, " little 
nM)re is necessary than to leave off a correspondence 
with the other «ex, which, to a wise man, is no greater 
a punishment than it would be to a fanatick person 
to forbid seeing The Cheats and the Committee ; op 
for my lord mayor and aldermen to be interdicted 
the sight 6f The London Cuckolds." This is the 
general strain, and therefore I shall be easily excused 
the labour of moi^e transcription. 

Brown does not wholly forget past transactions: 
" You began," says Crites to Bayes, " a very different 
i^Iigion, and have not mended the matter in your last 
choice. It was but reason that your muse, which 
appeared first in a tyrant's quarrel, should employ 
her last efforts to justify the usurpation of the Hind.*' 

Next year the nation was summoned to celebrate 
the birtli of the prince. Now was the time for Dry- 
den to rouse his imagination, and stndn his voice. 
Happy days were at hand, and he was willing to en- 
joy and diffuse the anticipated blessings. He pub* 
lished a poem, filled with predictions of greatness and 
prosperity ; predictions of which it is not necessary to 
tell how they have been verified. 

A few months passed after these joyful notes, and 
every blossom of popish hope was blasted for ever by 
the Revolution. A papist now could be no longer 
laiireat. The revenue which he had enjoyed with so 
much pride and praise, was transferred to Shadwell, 
an old enemy, whom he had formerly stigmatised by 
the name of Og. Dryden could not decently complain 
that he was deposed ; but seemed very angry that 
Shadwell succeeded him, and has therefore celebrated 
the intruder's inauguration in a poem exquisitely sa* 
€rical, called Mac Flecknoe ;* of which the'Dunciad; 

• All Dryden's l)iographers have misdated this poeui. which 
Mr. Malone's more accurate researches prove to hare been pob- 
lished on the 4th of October, 1688. C 

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DRYDEN. 325 

as Pope himself declares, is an imitation, though 
more extended in its plan, and more diversified in its 

It is related by Prior, that lord Dorset, when as 
chamberlain he was constrained to eject Dry den from 
, his office, gave him from his own purse an allowance 
equal to the- salary. This is no romantick or incredi- 
ble act of generosity ; an hundred a-year is often, 
enough given to claims less cos^ent by men less famed 
for liberality. Yet Dryden always represented him* 
self as suffering under a publick infliction ; and once 
particularly demands respect for the patience with 
ifhich he endured the loss of his little fortune. His 
patron . might, indeed, enjoin him to suppress his 
bounty ; but, if he suffered nothing, he should not have 

During the short reign of king James, he had writ- 
ten nothing for-the stage,* being in his opinion, more, 
profitably employed in controversy and flattery. Of 
praise he might perhaps have been less lavish without 
inconvenience, for James was never said to have much 
regard for poetry: he was to be flattered only by 
adopting his religion* 

' Times were now changed : Dryden was no longet 
the court-poet, and was to look back for, support to 
his former trade ; and having waited about two years, 
either considering himself as discountenanced by the 
publick, or perhaps expecting a second Revolution^ 
hQ produced Don Sebastian in 1690 ; and in thei^ext 
four years four dramas more* 

In 1693 appeared a new version of Juvenal and 

Persius. Of Juvenal he translated the first, third, 

sixth, tenth, and sixteenth satires; and of Persiui 

the whole work. On this occasion he introduced his 

two sons to the publick, as nurselings of the muses. 

* AlUan sad Afbudua must howeT«r l)e excepted* IL 
P 4 


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326 DRYDE^f. 

The fourteenth of Juvenal was the wori of John, and 
the seventh of Charles Dryden. He prefixed a very- 
ample preface, in the form of dedication to lord Dot- 
set ; and thei'e gives an account of the design which he 
had once formed to write an epick poem on the actions 
cither of Arthur or the Black Prince. He considered 
\he epick as necessarily including some kind of su- 
pernatural agency, and had imagined a new kind of 
contest between the guardian angels of kingdoms, of 
whom he conceived that each might be represented 
zealous for his charge, without any intended opposi- 
tion to the purposes of the Supreme Being, of which 
all created minds must in part be ignorant 

This is the most reasonable scheme of celestial in- 
terposition that ever was formed. The surprizes and 
terrors of enchantments, which have succeeded to the 
intrigues and oppositions of pagan deities, afford very 
striking scenes, and open a vast extent to the imagina*- 
tion ; but, as Boileau observes (and Boileau will be sel- 
dom found mistaken), with this incurable defect, that, 
in a contest between Heaven and Hell, we know at the 
beginning which is to prevail ; for this reason we fol- 
low Rin,aldo to the enchanted wood with more curios- 
ity than terror. 

In the scheme of Dryden there is one great diffi- 
culty, which yet he would perhaps have had address 
enough to surmount. In a war justice can be but on 
one side ; and, to entitle a hero to the proti^ction of 
angeils, he must fight in defence of indubitable right. 
Yet some of the celestial beings, thus opposed to each 
other, must have been represented as defending guilt. 

That this poem was never written, is reasonably to 

be lamented. It would doubtless have improved our 

numbers, and enlarged our language ; and might per- 

V haps have contributed by pleasing instructions to 

rectify our opinionsb and purify our manners. 

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DRYDEN. 327 

What he required as the indispensable condition of 
such an undertaking, a publick stipend, was not likely 
in these times to be obtained. Riciies were not be- 
come familiar to us.; nor had the nation yet learned to 
be liberal. 

This plan he charged Blackmore with stealing ; 
*^ only/* says he, " the guardian angels of kingdoms 
were machines too ponderous for him to manage." 

In 1694 he began the most laborious and difficult of 
all his works, the translation of V irgil ; from which 
he borrowed two months, that he might turn Fresnoy's 
Art of Painting into English prose. The preface, 
which he boasts to have written in twelve mornings, 
exhibits a parallel of'poetry and painting, with a mis- 
cellaneous collection of critical remarks, such as cost 
a mind stored like his no labour to produce them. 

In 1697 he published his version of the works of 
Virgil ; and that no opportunity of profit might be lost, 
dedicated the Pastorals to the lord Clifford, the Geor* 
gics to the earl of Chesterfield, and the Aneid to the 
earl of Mul grave. This economy of flattery, at once 
lavish and discreet, did not pass withqut observation. 

This translation was censured by Milbourne, a cler- 
gyman, styled by Pope, *' the fairest of criticks," 
because he exhibited his own version to be compared 
with that which he condemned. 

His last work was his Fables, published in conse- 
quence, as is supposed, of a contract now in the hands 
of Mr. Tonson, by which he obliged himself, in con-' 
sideration of three hundred pounds, to finish for the 
press ten thousand verses. 

In this volume is comprised the well-known ode on 
St. Cecilia's day, which, as appeai'ed by a letter com- 
municated to Dr. Birch, be spent a fortnight in com- 
posing ahd correcting. But what is this to the patien.ce 
and diligence of Boileau, whose Equivoque, a poeni of 
v5 ' .. ^ 


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328 DRYDEN. 

fttily thtee hunilred and forty-six lines^ toc^ frojm his 
life eleven months to write it, and three years to revi&» 

Part of his book of Fables is the first Iliad in £n^« 
lish, intended as a specimen of a"version of the whole» 
Considering into what hands Homer was to fall, th^ 
leader caniiot but rejoice that this project went no 

The time was now at hand whiclt was to put an en4 
to all his schemes and labours. On the fipst of May, 
1701, having been some time, as be tells us, a cripple 
in his limbs, he died, in Gemrd street, of a mortlfica^ 
tion in his leg. 

There is extant a wild story relating ta some vexa^* 
tious events that happened at his funeral, which, a( 
the end of Congreve*s Life, by a writer of I know not 
what credit, are thus related, as I find the accoui^i 
transferred to a biographical dictionary : 

" Mr. Dryden dying on the Wednesday momin|^^ 
"Or. Thomas Sprat, then bishop of Rochester and dea& 
^f Westminster, sent the next day to the lady Elizabetk 
Howard, Mr. Dryden's widow, that he would make « 
jwpesent of the ground, which was forty pounds,, witK 
all the other Abbey fees. The lord Halifax likewise 
sent to the lady Elizabeth, and Mr. Charles Drydeft^ 
her son, that, if they would give him leave to buiy 
Mr, Dryden, he would inter him with a gentleman's 
pfivaje funeral, and afterwards bestow five hundred 
. pounds on- ^ monument in the Abbey ; which, as they 
had no reason to refuse, they accepted. On the Satur- 
day following the company came ; the corpse was p«t 
into a velvet hearse ; and eighteen mourning coaches, 
filled \^ith company, attended. When they were, just 
"ready to move, the lord JefFeries, son of the lord chan- 
cellor JefTeries, with some of his rakkh companions^ 
coxning by, adbPd whose funeral it was : aad bein^ 

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toRYDEK* 529 

%M Mr. Drytfcn's, he said, ^ What) fthall Diyien, the 
greatest honour and omanient of the nation, be buried 
after this private manner 1 No, gentlemen, let ail that 
loved Mr. Dr^den, and honour his memory, alight 
and join with me in gaining my lady's consent to let 
me have the honour of his interment, which shall be» 
after another manner than this ; and I will bestow a. 
thousand pounds on a monument in the Abbey for 
him.* The gentlemen iii the coaches not knowing of 
thebkhop of Roche&ter*a favour^ nor of the lord Hali^ 
fax's generous design (they both having, out of re- 
spect to the family enjoined the lady Elizabeth and her 
son, to keep their favour concealed to the world, and 
let it pass for theif own expence), readily came out of 
their coaches, and attended lord Jeiferies up to the 
lady's bedside^ who was-^hen sick. He repeated the 
purport of what he had before said ; but she ahsolmtely 
refusing, he fell on his kne^s, vowing never to ri^ 
till his request was granted. The rest of the companjr 
by his desire kneeled also; and the lady, being undcrr 
n sudden surprize, fainted away. As. soon as she reco- 
vered her s{»6ech she cried JVoj no. Enough, gentle- 
men, replied he ; my lady is vei7 good, she says Q(^^ 
go. She repeated her former woi*ds with all her 
strength, but in ymqj for her feeble voice was lost iit 
their acclamations of joy ; and the lord Jefferies/ov- 
dered the hearsemen to carry the corpse to Mr. Rus- 
sets, an undertaker in Cheapside, ^nd leave it there 
^U he should send orders lor the embalment, whieh^ 
he added, should be after the royal manner.. His di- 
rections were obeyed, the company dispersed, and 
lady Elizabeth and her son remained inconsolableu- 
The next day Mr. Charles Dryd en waited on the loidr 
HalifSix and the bishop, to excuse his mother and him- 
self, by relating the real truth. But neither his lord- 
9bi^ nof tko bishop would admit of any plea;, esmcir- 
9 ^ ^^ 

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a*> DRYDEN- 

aSyjthe latt/er, wiiolmdthe.Abbeyliglited9 the gro«incl 
opened, the choir attending, an anthem ready set, and 
himself waiting for some time without any corpse to 
bury. The undertaker, after^three da^a' expectance 
of orders for embalment without receiving any, waited 
on the lord Jefieri^s ; who, pretending ignorance ot 
the matter, turned it off with an ill-natured jest, siting 
that tho$e who observed the orders of a drunkeja 
frolick deserved no better; that he cen\embered 
mothing at all; and that he might do wl^at he 
pleased with the corpse. Upon this the undertaker 
wuted upon the lady Elizabeth, and her son, and 
thre^enedto bring the corpse home, and set it before 
the door. They desired a day's respite, which was 
granted. Mr. Qliarles Dryden wrote aiiandsome letter 
to the lord Jefferies, who i^tumed it with this cool 
answer : ' That he k«ew nothing of the matter^ and 
would be troubled no more about it.' He tbeu ad'* 
dressed the lord Halifax and the bishop of Rochester^ 
who absolutely refused to do any thing in it. In- this 
distress Dr. Garth sent for the corpse to the Collegje 
of Physicians, and proposed a funeral by subscription} 
to which himself set a most noble example. At last at 
day, al»out three weeks after Mr. Dryden's dece^se^ 
was appointed for the interment. Dr. Garth pro- 
nounced a fine Latin oration, at the College, over the 
corpse; which was attended to the Abbey by a n^u- 
inerous train of coaches. When the funeral was over, 
<Mr. Charley Dryden sent a challenge to the lord Jef*. 
feries, who refusing to answer it, he sent several 
others, and went often himself ; but could neither get 
a letter delivered, nor admittance to speak to him ; 
which so incensed him, that he ifesolved, since his 
lordship refused to answer him like a gentlemaft, that 
he would watch an opportunity to meet and fight off- 
hand, tliough with all the rules of honour i which his 

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lordship hearictg; left the towif : and Mr. Charles 
lyryden could never have the satisfaction of meeting 
4iiin, though he sought it till his death with the ut- 
•iBost application." 

>' This story I once intended ta omit, as it appears 
with no great evidence ; nor have I met with any con** 
.firmation but in a letter of Farquhar ; and he only re- 
lates that the funeral of Dryden was tumtiltuaiy and 
» confused.* 

Supposing the story true, we may rems^, that the 
l^raduai change of manners, though imperceptible in 
the process, appears great when different times, and 
those not very distant, are compared. If at this time 
a young drunken lord should interrupt the pompous 
regularity of a magnificent funeral, what would be the 
event, but that he would be justled out of the way, 
and compelled to be quiet ? If he should thrust him^ 
self into a house, he would be sent roughly away ; and, 
what is yet more to the honour of the present time, I 
believe that those, who had subscribed to the funeral 
of a man like Dryden, would not, for Such an accident, 
have withdrawn their contributions.! 

• An earlier account of Dryden's funeral than that above cited, 
though without the ctrcumstances that preceded it, is ^ven by Ed- 
vard Ward, who in his London Spy, published in 1706, relates, that 
on the occasion tl^ere.was a performance of solemn musick at the 
college, and that at the procession, i^vhich himself saw, standing at 
the end of ('hancery lane. Fleet street, there was a concert of haut- 
boys and trumpets. The day of Dryden's interment, he says, was 
Mondav, the 43th of May, whieh, accordiog to Johnson, was twelve 
days after his decease, and shews how long his funeral was in sus- 
pense. Ward knew not thai the expense of it was defrayed by sub- 
scription ; but compliments lord JefFeries for sO pious an undei'tak- 
ing. He also says, that the cause ef Dryden's death was an iniiam- 
mation in his toe, occasioned by the flesh growing over the nail, 
-which being neglected, produced a mortification in his leg. H. 

f In the Register of the College of Physicians, is the following 
Entry : •* May 3, 1700. Comitiis t'ensoriis ordinuriis. At the re- 
quest of several persons of quality, that Mr. Dryden might be ear- 

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aas DRYDKN. 

He was buried amon^ the |>oets m WtBtmna^t 
Abbey, where, though the duke of Newcastle had ia 
1^ general dedication prefixed by Congreve to his dra« 
matick works, accepted thanks for his intention of 
erecting him a monument, he lay long without dis- 
tinction, till the duke of Buckinghamshire gave hirnn 
tablet, inscribed only with the name of DRYDEN. 

He married the lady Elizabeth Howard, daughter 
to the earl of Berkshire, with circumstancea^ accords 
Ing to the satire imputed to lord Somers, not very 
honourable to either party ; by her he bad three 8ons> 
Charles, John, and Henry. Charles was usher of the 
palace to pope Clement the XI ; and, yisiting England 
in 1704, was drowned in an attempt to swim across the 
Thames at Windsor. 

John was author of a comedy called The Husband 
his own Cuckold. He is said to have died at Romew 
Henry entered into some religious order. It is some 
proof of Dryden's sincerity in his second religion^ 
that he taught it to his sons. A man^ conscious of 
hsrpocritical profession in himself^ b not likely to con«- 
vert otliers ; and, as his sons were qualified in 169d to 
appear among the translators of Juvenal, they must 
have been taught some religion before their Other's 

Of the person of Drydcn I know not any account ; 
of his mind, the portrait which has been left by Con* 
greve, who knew him with great familiarity, is suck 
as adds our love of his manners to our. admiration of 
his genius. « He was,'' we are told, '* of a nature 
exceedingly humane and compassionate, ready to for- 
give injuries, and capable of a sincere reconciJiaUon 
with those who had offended him. His frieiidshipi^ 

ried from the College of Physicians to be interred al Westminster^. 
it was unanimously gi'anted by the presiilent and censors.'* 

This entry is not caUutated to afford any credit to Oie iuu!ratit« 
•ouceming lord Jcffertes. it. 

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DRYDEN. 3^3 

YThere he professed it^ went beyond hia professiQUs. 
He was of a very easy, of a very pleasing^ access ; but 
somewhat slow, and, as it were, diffident in liis advan- 
ces to others : he .had that in nature which abhorred 
intrusion into any society whatever. He was there* 
fore less known, and consequently his character be- 
came more liable to misapprehensions and misrepre- 
sentations ; he was very modest, and very easily to be 
discounteiianced'> in his approaches to his equals or 
superiors. As his reading had been very extensive, so 
was he very happy in a memory tenacious of Gvtrf 
l^ing that he had read. He was not more possessed 
of knowledge than he was communicative of it; but 
then his communication was by no means pedanticky 
or imposed upon the conversation^ but just such, and 
went so far, as, by the natural turn of the conversation 
in which he was engaged, it was necessarily promoted 
or required. He was extremely ready and gentle in 
his correction of the errors of any writer who thought 
fit to consult him, and full as ready and patient to ad- 
mit the reprehensions of others, in respect of his ov/u 
oversights or mistakes.'* 

Toahis account of Congreve nothing can be ol>- 
jected but the fondness of friendship; and to have 
excited that fondness in such a mind is^no small de*> 
gree of praise. The disposition of Dryden however, 
is shown in his character rather as it exhibited itself 
in cursory conversation, than as it operated on the 
more important parts of life. His placability and 
his friendship indeed were solid virtues ; but courtesy 
and good humour are often found with little real 
worth. Since Congreve, who knew him well, has 
told us no more, the retit must be collected ab it can 
from other testimonies, and paiticulaily from those 
notices which Dryden had very liberally given us of 

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The modesty which made him so slow to advance^ 
and so easy to be repulsed, was certainly no suspicion 
of deficient merit, or unconsciousness of his own 
value : he appears to have known, in its whole extent, 
the dignity of his own character, and to have set a 
very high value on his own powers and performances. 
He probably did not offer his conversation, because 
he expected it to be solicited ; and he retired from 
a cold reception, not submissive but indignant, with 
such deference of his own greatness as made him un- 
willing to expose it to neglect or violation. 

His modesty was by no means inconsistent with 

ostentatiousness ; he is diligent enough to remind the 

world of his merit, and expresses with very little 

scruple his high opinion of his own powers ; but his 

I self-commendations are read without scorn or indig- 

\ nation ; we allow his claims, and love his frankness. 

Tradition, however, has not allowed that his confi- 
dence in himself exempted him from jealousy of 
others. He is accused of envy and insidiousness ; 
and is particularly charged with inciting .Creech to 
translate Horace that he might lose the reputation 
which Lucretius had ^ven him. ^ 

Of this charge we immediately discover, that it is 
merely conjectural ; the purpose was such as no man 
would confess 4 and a crime that admits no proof, why 
' should we believe ? 

He has been described as magisterially presiding 
over the younger writers, and assuming the distribu- 
tion of poetical fame but he who excells has a right 
to teach, and he whose judgment is incontestible may 
without usurpation examine and decide. 

Congreve represents him as ready to advise and 
instruct ; but there is reason to believe that his com- 
munication was jather useful than entertaining. He 
declares of himself that he was saturnine, and not one 


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DRYDEN. 335 

©f those whose sprightly sayings diverted company ; 
and one of his censurers makes him say, 

Nor wine nor love could ever see me gay ; 
To writing bred, I knew not what to say. 

There are men Ivhose powers operate only at lei- 
sure and in retirement, and whose intellectual vigour 
deserts them in conversation ; whom merriment con- 1 
fuses, and objection disconcerts: whose bashfulhessj 
restrains their exertion, and suffers them not to speak* 
till the time of speaking is past; or whose attention 
to their own character makes them' unwilling to utter 
at hazard what has not been considered, and cannot be 

Of pryden*s sluggishness in conversation it is vain 
to search or to guess the cause. He certainly wanted 
neither sentiments nor language ; his intellectual 
treasures were great, though they were locked up 
from his own use. "His thoughts,^' when he wrote, 
flowed in upon him so fast, that his only care was 
which to chuse, and which to reject." Such rapidity 
of composition n^urally promises a flow of talk ; yet 
we must be content to believe what an enemy says of 
him, when he likewise says it of himself. Btlt whatr 
ever was his character as a companion, it appears that 
he lived in familiarity with the highest persons of his 
time. It is related by Carte of the duke of Ormond, 
that he used often to pass a night with Dryden, and 
those with whom Dryden consorted : who they were. 
Carte has not told, but certainly the convivial table at 
which Ormond sat was not surrounded with a plebeian 
society. He was indeed reproached with boasting of 
his familiarity with the great ; and Horace > ill support 
him in the opinion, that to please superiors is not the 
lowest kind (^ merit. 

The merit of pleasing must, however be estimated 
by the me&ns. Favour is not always gained by good 

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-536 DRYDEN. 

actions or laudable qualities! . Caresses and prefer- 
ments are often bestowed on the auxiliaries of vice> 
t^e procurers of pleasure, or the flatterers of vanity. 
Diyden has never been charged with any personal 
agency unworthy of a good character : he abetted vice 
and vanity only with his pen. One of his enemies has 
accused him of lewdness in his conversation ; but, if 
/accusation without proof be credited, who shall be in- 
' nocent? 

His works afford too many examples of dissolute 
licentiousness, • and abject adulation; but they were 
probably, like his merriment, artificial and constrain- 
ed ; the effects of study and meditation, and has trade 
rather than his pleasure. 

Of the mind that can trade in corruption, and can 
deliberately pollute itself with ideai wickedness for 
the sake of spreading the contagion in society, I wish 
not to conceal or excuse the depravity. Such degra^* 
dation of the dignity of genius, such abuse of supers 
lative abilities, cannot be contemplated but with grief 
and indignation. What consolation can be had, Dry* 
den has afforded, by living to repeat, and to testify his 

Of dramatick immorality he did not want examples 
among his predecessors, or companions among l^s 
contemporaries ; but, in the meanness and servility of 
hyperbolical adulation, I know not whether, since the 
days in which the Roman emperors were deified, he 
has been ever equalled, except by Afra Behn in an ad- 
dress to Eleanor Gwyn. When once he has under* 
taken the task of praise, he no longer retains shame 
in himself, nor .supposes it in his patron. As many 
odoriferous bodies are olraerved. to diffuse perfumes 
from year to year, without sensible diminution of bulk 
•r weight, he appears never to have impoverished his 
n»sit of flattery by his expences; however layislu -He 

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DRYDEN. t^7 

had all the JTorms of excelknce, intellectual and mo- 
ral, combined in his mind, with endless variation ; and, 
when he had scattered on the hero of the day the gol« 
den shower of wit and virtue, he had ready for him» 
whom he wished to court on the morrow, new wit and 
virtue with another stamp. Of this kind of meanness 
he nevTer seems to decline the practice, or lament tho 
necessity : he considers the great as entitled to eaco- 
miastick homage, and brings praise rather as a tribute 
than a gift, more detighted with the fertility of his in-^ 
vention, than mortified by the prostitution of his judg- J 
ment. It is indeed not certain, that on these occa- ^ 
sions his judgment much rebelled against his interest* 
There are minds which easily sink into submissicm^ 
that look on grandeur with undistinguishing rever* 
ence, and discover no defect where there is elevation 
ef rank and affluence of riches* 
' With his praises of others and of himself is alwaya 
intermingled a strain of discontent and lamentation, a 
sullen growl of resentment, or a querulous murmur 
of distress. His works are undervalued, his merit is 
unrewarded, and *' he has^ few thanks to pay his stars 
that he was born among Englishmen." To his crir 
treks he is sometimes contemptuous, sometimes re- 
sentful, and sometimes submissive. The writer who. 
thinks his works formed for duration, mistakes his 
interests when he mentions his enemies^ He dc^y 
grades his own dignity by showing that he was affect- 
ed by their censures, and givesi4asti»g importance to 
names^ which, left to themselves, would vamsh frosa 
remembrance. From this principle Dry den did not 
often depart ; hb complaints are for the greater part 
general i he seldom pollutes his pages with an adverse 
name. He condescended indeed to a controversy with 
Settle, in which he perhaps may be considered rather 
AS assaulting than repeUing ^ and «ince Settle Usu^k 

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S38 I>»YDEN. 

intoobli^non^ bis libel remains injurious only .to him- 

Among answers to criticks, no poetical attacks or 
altercations, are to be included ; they are like other 
poems, effusions of genius, produced as much to ob- 
tain praise as to obviate censure. These Dry den 
practised, and in these he excelled. 

Of CoUier, Blackmore, and Milboume, he has made 
mention in the preface of his Fables. To the censure 
ef Collier, whose remarks naajr be rather termed ad- 
monitions than criticisms, he ma^es little reply ; be- 
ing, at the age of sixty-eight, better things 
than the claps of a play-house. He complains of Col- 
lier's rudeness, arid the " ho^se play of his raillery ;'* 
and asserts that ^^ in many places h^ has perverted by 
his glosses the meankig'* of what he censures; imt in 
other things Jhe confesses that he is justly taxed ; and 
says, with great calmness and candour, '^ I hay^ pletd- 
ed guilty to all thoughts or ei^pressions of mine that 
can be truly accused of obscenity, immorality, or pro*" 
ianeness, and retract them. If he be my enemy, let hini 
triumph j if he be my friend» be will be glad of my re- 
pentance." Yet as our best dispositicms are imperfect, 
he left standing in the same book a reflection on Col- 
lier of great a^erityvand indeed of more asperity than 

Blackmore he represents as made his enemy by the 
poem of Absalom and Achitophel, which <' he thinks 
a little hard upon hi».&natick patrons;" and charges 
him with borrowing the plan of hia Arthur from the 
preface to Juvenal, ^ though he had,'* says he, " the 
baseness not to acknowledge hia benefactor, but in* 
stead of it to traduce me in a libel." , 

The tibe) in which Blackmore traduced him waa ^ 
Satire upon Wit ; in which, haying lamented the.^x- 
uberanceof false wit and the defioiency of true, he 

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drVden; ssr 

proposes that all wit should be re-coined before it is 
current, and appoints masters of assay, who shall reject 
all that is light or debased. 

• *Tis true, that when the coarse and worthless dross 
Is parg'd away, there will he mighty loss : 
E'en Qoiigreve, Soii^ern, manly Wycherly, ^ 

When thus refin'd will grievous sufferers he. 
Into the mehing-pot when Dryden comes, 
What hori'id stench will rise, what noisome fames! 
How will he shrink when alt his lewd allay. 
And Avicl^^d mixture, shall be purged away I 

Thus stands the passage in the last edition ; but in the 
original there was an abatement of the censure^ begin- 
niflg thus : 

But what remains will be so pure, 'twill bear 

Th' exanunation of the most severe. 

Blackmore, iinding the censure resented, and the 
civility disregarded, ungenerously omitted the softer 
part. Such variations discover' a writer who consults 
his passions more than his virtue ; and it may be rea- 
sonabl]^ supposed that Dryden imputes his' enmity to ' 
its true cause. < - 

Of Milbourne he wrote only in general terms, such 
astre always ready at the call of anger, whether just 
or not : a short extract will be sufficient. " He pre- 
tefids a quarrel to me^ that I have fallen foul upon 
priesthood ; if I have, I am only to ask a pardon of 
f^ood priests, and am afraid his sharfe of^ the reparation 
will come to little. Let him be satisfied that he shall 
never be able to force himself upon me^for an adver- 
sary ; I contemn him too much to enter into compe- 
tition with him. 

" As for th^ rest of those who have written against ' 
me, they are such scoundrels that they deserve not the 
least notice to be taken bfthem. Blackmore and Mil- 
bourne are only distinguished from the crowd by 
being remembered to their infamy/' 

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S40 l>RYD£iir, 

Drydcn indeed discovered,. in msaiy of hiiwritirigd, 
MXi affected and absurd malignity to priests and priest- 
hood; which naturally raised him many enemies, and 
vhich was sometimes as unseasonably resented as it 
was exerted. Trapp is angry that he calls the sacri- 
flcerin the Greorgics " The Holy Butcher :'* the trans- 
lation is not indeed ridiculous ; but Trapp*s anger 
arises from his zeal, not for the author, hut the priest ; 
as if any reproach of the follies of |)aganism could be 
extended to the preachers Of truth. 

Dryden's dislike of the priesthood is imputed by 
Langbaine, and I think by Brown, to a repulse nHikh 
he suffered when he solicited ordination ; but he de- 
nies, in the preface to his Fables, that he ever design- 
ed to enter into the churchy and such a denial he 
would not have hslzarded, if he could have been cen- 
victcd of falsehood. ' 

^ Malevolence to the clergy Is seldoni at a great 
distance from irreverence of religion, and Dryden 
affords no exception to thia observation. His writings 
exhibit many passages, whicl^ with all the allowance 
that can be made for characters and oeeaaions, are 
stlfeh as jHety would not have admitted, and suc^s 
may vitiate light and unprincipled minds. But there 
is no reason for supposing that be disbelieved the re- 
ligion which he disobeyed. He forgot his duty rather 
than disowned it. His tendency to profanenes^ is the 

• effect of levity, negligence, and loose conversation, 
with a dedre of accommodating himself to the cor- 
ruption of the times, by venturing to be wicked as far 
jfs he durst. When he professed himself a convert 

* to popery, he did not pretend to have received any 
hew conviction of the fundamental doctrines of 
Christianity* ' 

The persecution of criticks was not the worst of 
his vexations; he was much more disturbed hy the 

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BRYDEN. 341 

impQrtunitie& of want. His coimplaints of poirerty 
are so frequently repeated, either with the dejection 
of weakness sinking in helpleds miser];^ or the indig* 
nation of merit claiming its tribute from mankind, 
that it is impossible not to detest the age which could 
impose on such a man the necessity of such solicita- 
tions, or not to despise the man who could submit to 
such solicitations without necessity. 

Whether by the world's neglect, or his own imprit« 
dence, I am afraid that the greatest part of his iife 
was passed in exigencies. Su<:h outcries were surely 
never uttered but in severe pain^ Of his suf^lies « 
or his expences no probable estimate can now be 
made. Except the salary of the laureat, to which 
king James added the office of historiographer, per- 
haps with some additional emoluments, his whole 
revenue seems to have been casual ; and it is well 
known that he seldom lives frugally who lives by 
chance. Hope is always liberal ; and they that trust 
her promises make little scruple of revelling to-day 
on the profits of the movrow. 

Of his plays the profits was not great; and of the 
produce of his other works very little intelligence 
can be had. By discoursing with the late amiable 
Mr, Tonson, I could not find that any memorials 
of the transactions between his predecessor and Dry- 
den had been preserved, except the following papers : 

" I do hereby promise, to pay John Dryden, esq. or 
order, on the 25th of March, 1699> the sum of two hun- 
dred and fifty guineas, in consideration often thousand 
verses, which the said John Dryden, esq. is to deliver 
to me, Jacob Tonson^ when finished, whereof sevea 
thousand five hundred verses, more or less, are already 
in the said Jacob, Tonson' s possession. < And I do 
hereby farther promise and engage myself to make 
up the s«ud sum of two hundred and fifty guineaa 

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342 DRYDEN. 

three hundred pounds sterling to the said John Dry- 
den, esq, his executors, administrators, or assigns, 
at the beginning of the second impression of the said 
ten thousand verses. 

« In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand 
and seal, this 20th day of March, 1 698-9. 

" Jacob Tonsok. 

<< Sealed and delivered, being first duly stampt, 
pursuant to the acts of parliament, for that purpose^ 
in the presence of Ben. Portlock, Will. Congreve.** 

"March 24, 1698. 

^< Received then of Mr. Jacob Tonson, the sum of 
twa hundred sixty-eight pounds fifteen shillings, in 
pursuance of an agreement for ten thousand verses, to 
be delivered by me to the said Jacob' Tonson, whereof 
I have already delivered to him about seven thousand 
five hundred, more or less ; he the said Jacob Tonson 
being obliged, to make up the foresaid sum^ of two 
hundred sixty-eight pounds fifteen shillings, three 
hundred pounds, at the beginning of tbe second im- 
pression of the foresaid ten tlipusand verses ; 
" I say, received by me 

"John Drtoen. 
« Witness, Charles Dryden." 

Two hundred and fifty guineas, at 1/. U. 6rf. is 
268/. 15*. 

It is manifest, from the dates of this contract, that 
it relates to the volume of Fables, which contains about 
twelve thousand verses, and for which therefore the 
payment must have been afterwards enlarged. 

I have been told of another letter yet remaining in 
which he desires Tonson to bring hini money, to pay 
for a watch which he had ordered for his son, and 
which the maker would not leave without the price. 

The inevitable consequence of poverty is depen- ' 
denee. Dryden had probably no recourse in his 

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DliYDEN. 34^ 

exigencies but to his bookseller. Th^ particular 
character of Tonson I do not know ; but the genersi 
conduct of traders was mXich less liberal in those times 
than in our own ; their views were narrower, and thekr 
manners grosser. To the mercantile ruggedness of 
that race, the delicacy of the poet was sometimes ex- 
posed. Lord Bolingbroke, who in his youth had cul- 
tivated poetry, related to Dr. King of Oxford, that 
one day when he viteited Dry den, they heard^ as they 
were conversing, another perscai. entering the house. 
« This," said Dryden, « is Tonson. You will take 
care not to depart before he goes away : for I have not 
cdmp^leted the sheet which I promised him; and if 
you leave me unprotected, I must suffer all tlie rude- 
ness to which his resentment can prompt his totigue." 
What rewards he obtained for Ihs poems, besides 
the payment of the bookseller, cannot be known. 
Mr. Derrick, who consulted some of his relations, was 
informed that his Fables obtained five hundred pounds 
from the duchess of Ormond ; a present not unsuitable 
to the -magnificence of that splendid family; and he 
quotes Moyle, as relating that forty ^pounds were 
paid by a musical society for the use of Alexander's 

In those days the oeconotriy of government was yet 
unsettled, and the payments of the exchequer were 
dilatory and uncertain ; of this disorder there is rea- 
son to believe that the laureat sometimes felt the 
effects ; for, in one of his prefaces he complains of 
those, who, being intrusted With the distribution of 
the prince's bounty, suffer those that depend upon it 
to languish in penury. 

Of his petty habits or sHght amusements, tradition 
has* retsuned little. Of the only two men whom I 
have found to whom he was personally known, one 
told me, that at the house which he frec^uented, called 

VOL. IX. s Q " 

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344 0HYDEN. 

Will's €offee*house> the appeal up<m any literary 
dispute was made to him : and the other related, that 
his armed chiur> which in the winter had a settled 
and prescriptive place by the fire^ was in the summer 
placed in the balcony^ and that he called the two 
places his winterand his summer seat. This is all the 
intelligence which his two surviv<Mrs afforded me. 

One of his opinions will do him no honour in the 
present age, though in his own time, at least in the 
beginning of it, he was far from having it confined 
to himself. He put great confidence in the prog- 
nostications of judicial astr<^ogy. In the appendix 
to the Life of Congreve is a uarrs^ve of some of his 
predictions wonderfully fulfilled ; but I know not the 
writer's means of information, or character of veracity. 
That he had the configurauon^ of the horo^cope^ ia 
liis mind, and considered them as influencing the 
a&lrs of men, he does not forbear to hint. 

The utmost malice of the stars is past.— - 
Now frequent trihes the happier tights amofigy 
And high rais'd JoYe, from his dark, prison lreed» 
Those weights took oS that on bis planet hfii^ 
Win gloriously the new-kid works succeed. 

He has elsewhere shewn his attention to the planetary- 
powers ; and in the preface to his Fables has eodea^ 
Toured obliquely to justify his superstition by attribut- 
ing the same to some of the ancients. ^ The latter, 
added to this narrative, leaves no doubt of his notions 
or practice. 

So slight and so scanty is the knowledge which 

have been able to collect ponceming the private life 

, and domestick manners of a man whom every English 

generation mufit mention with reverence as a critick 

and a poet* 

/ Dryden may be properly considered as th^ father 
of English criticism^ as the writer who first taught 

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DRYDEN. 345 

us to determine upon principles the merit of compo* 
sition. Of oup former poets, the-grentest dramatist 
wrote without rules, conducted through life and na- 
ture bj a genius that rarely misled, and rarely deserted 
him. Of the rest, those who knew the laws of pror 
priet^ had neglected to teach them. 

Two Arts of English Poetry were written in the 
days of Elizabeth by Webb and Puttenham, from 
which something might be learned, and a few hints 
had been given by Jonson and Cowley ; but^ryden's 
Essay on Dramatick Poetry was the first regular and 
valuable treatise on the art of writing.'^ 

He who, having formed his opinions in the present 
age of English literature, turns back to peruse this 
dialogue, will not perhaps find much increase of 
knowledge, or much novelty of instruction ; but he 
is to remember that critical principles were then in 
the hands of a few, who had gathered them partly 
from the ancients, and partly from the Italians and 
French. The structure of dramatick poems was 
then not generally understood. Audiences applauded 
by instinct ; and poets perhaps often pleased by chance. 

A writer who obtained his full purpose loses him- 
self in his own lustre. Of an opinion which is no 
longer doubted, the evidence ceases to be examined. 
Of an art universally practised, the first teacher is 
forgotten. 'Learning once made popular is no longer 
learning ; it has the appearance of something which 
we have bestowed upon ourselves, as the dew appears 
to' rise from the field whieh it refreshes. ' 

ffo judge rightly of an author, we must transport 
ouTselves to his time, and examine what were the 
wants of his contemporaines, and what were his means 
of supplying them. 3 That which is easy at one time 
was difficult at another. Dryden at least imported 
his scienbe, and gave his country what it wanted be* 
R 2 

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au DRYDE$f. 

fore ; or rather^ he imported onlf the ixuiterial»» ahdT 
manufactured them by his own skill. 

The Dialogue on the Drama was one of his first 
essays of criticism, written when he was yet a time* 
Tous candidate for reputation, and therefore laboured 
with that diligence which he might allow himself 
somewhat to remit, when his name gave' sanction to 
his positions, and his awe of the pubiick was abated, 
partly by custom, and partly by success, it will not 
be easy to find, in all the opulence of our language, 
a treatise so art&iUy variegated with successive re- 
presentations of opposite probabilities, so enlivened 
with imagery, so brightened with illustrations. His 
portraits of the English dramatists are wrought -vtith 
great spirit and diligence. The account of Shakspeare 
may stand as a perpetual model of encomiastiek criti- 
<:ism ; eicact without minuteness, and lofty without 
exaggeration. The praise lavished by Longinus, on 
the attestation of the heroes of Marathon^ by Demos- 
thenes, fades away before it. In a few lines is exhibi- 
ted a character, so extensive in its comprehension, and 
so curious in its limitations, that nothing can be added, 
diminished, or reformed ; nor can the editors, and ad- 
mirers of Shakspeare, in all their emulation of reve- 
rence, boast of muoh more than of having diffused and 
paraphrased this epitome of excellence, of having 
changed Dryden's gold for baser metal, of lower value, 
though of greater bulk. 

In this, and in all his other essays on the same 
subject, the criticism of Dryden is the criticism of a 
poet; not a dull collection of theorems, nor a- rude 
detection of faults, which perhaps the censor was. not 
able to have committed ; but a gay and vigorous dis- 
sertation, where delight is mingled with instruction^ 
-and where the author proves his right of judgn^ex^ 
*7 hi» power of performance. 1 

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The different manner and effect with which crilicaj 
i&now ledge may be conveyed, was perhaps never more 
clearly exemplified than in the performances of Rymef 
and Dryden. It was said of a dispute between two 
mathematicians, " malim cum Scaligero errare, quam 
cum Clavie rect^ sapere ;" that, " it was more eligi- 
ble to go wrong with one, than right with the other.*' 
A tendency of the same khid every mind must feel 
at the perusal of Dryden*s prefaces and Rymer's dis- 
courses. With Dryden we are. wandering in quest of 
Truth ; whom we find, if we find her at all, drest in 
the graces of elegance ; and, if we miss her, the labour 
of the pursuit rewards itself ; we are led only through 
fi'agrance and flowers. Rymer, without taking a 
nearer, takes a rougher way ; every step is to be made 
through thorns and brambles ; and Truth , if we meet 
her, appears repulsive by her mien, and ungraceful 
by her habit. Dryden*s criticism has the majesty of a 
queen ; Rymer's has the ferocity of a tyrant. 

As he had studied with great diligence the art of 
poetry, and enlargedor rectified his notions, by expcf 
rience perpetually increasing, he had his mind stored 
-with principles and observations ; he poured out hi&. 
knowledge with little labour; for of labour, not- 
withstanding the multiplicity of his productions, there 
is sufficient reason to suspect that he was not a lover. 
To write con amore, with fondness for the employ- 
ment, with perpetual touches and retouches, with un- 
willingness to take leave of his own idea, and aj^ 
unwearied pursuit of unattainable perfection, was, I 
think,'no part of his character. 

His criticism may be considered as general or occa^ 
sional. In Y\i% general precepts, which depend upon the 
nature of things, and the structure of the human mind^ 
he may doubtless be safely recommended to the con- 
ftdenj:e of the reader ; but his occasional and particik^ 

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348 DRYBEN. 

lar posidons were sometimes interested^ sometimes 
negligent, and sometimes capricious. It is not with- 
out reason that Trapp, speaking of the praises which 
he bestows on Palamon and Arcite, says, ^Noyimus 
judicium Drydeni de poemate quodam Chauceri, 
pulchi*o sane illo, & admodum laudando^ nimirum 
quod non modo yere epicum sit, sid Iliada etiam atque 
^neada aequet, imo.superet. Sed novimus eodem 
tempore viri illius maximi bob semper accuratissimiis 
esse censuras, nee ad severissimam critices normain 
exactas r illo judice id plerumque optimum est, quod 
nunc prae manibus habet, 8c in quo nunc occupatur.^' 

He is therefore by no means constant to himself. 
His defence and desertion of dramatick rhyme is 
generally known. Spence, in his remarks on Pope's 
Odyssey, produces what he thinks an unconquerable 
quotation from Dryden*s pre&ce to the ;£neid, in far 
Tour of translating an epick poem^nto blank yerse ; but 
he forgets that \yhen his author attempted the Iliad, 
some years afterwards, he departed &om his own de« 
cision, and translated into rhyme. 

When he has any objection to obviate, or any UceBSe 
to defend, he is not yery scrupulous about what he 
asserts, nor very cautious, if the present purpose 
be served, not to entangle himself in his own sophis- 
tries. But when all arts are exhausted, Uke other 
hunted animals, he son^etimes stands at bay ; wh^en 
he cannot disown the grossness of, one of his plays, 
he declares that he knows not any law that prescribes 
morality to a comick poet. 

His remarks on ancient or modem writers are not 
always to be trusted. His parallel of the versifica- 
tion of Ovid with that of Claudian has been verjr 
justly censured by Sewel.» His comparison of the 

^ •Trcfeces to Ovid's MeUmorpho^es. Dr. J. 

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DRYDEN. 349 

first line of Virgil, with the first of Statius is not hap- 
pier. Virgil he says, is soft and gentle, and would 
have thought Statius mad if he had heard him thun- 
dering out 

Qu» superimposito moles geminftta eolosso. 

Statius perhaps heats himself, as he proceeds, to 
exaggeration somewhat hyperbolical ; but undoubt- 
edly Virgil would have been too hasty, if he had 
condemned him to straw for one sounding line. Dry- 
den wanted an instance, and the first that occurred 
was imprest into the service. 

What he wishes to say, he says at hazard; he 
cited Gorbuduc, which he had never seen ; gives a 
false account of Chapman's versification ; and disco- 
yers, in the preface to his Fables, that he translated 
the first book of the Iliad without knowing what was 
in the second. 

It will be difficult to prove that Dryden evei^ made 
any great advances in literature. As, having distin- 
guished himself at Westminster under the tuition of 
Busby, who advanced his scholars to a height ef 
knowledge very rarely attained in grammar-schools, 
he resided afterwards at Cambridge ; it is not to be 
supposed, that his skill in the ancient languages was 
deficient, compared with that of common students ; 
but his scholastick acquisitions seem not proportionate 
to his opportunities and abilities. He could not, like 
Milton or Cowley, have made his name iHustrious 
merely by his learning. He mentions but few books 
and those such as lie in the beaten track of regular 
study ; from which, if ever he departs, he is in danger 
of losing himself in unknown regions. 

In bis dialogue on the drama, he pronounces with 
great confidence that the Latin tragedy of Medea is 
not Ovid's, because it is not sufficiently interesting 
and patbetick* He might have determined the ques- 

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tion upon surer evidence ;. for it is quoted by Quift- 
tilian as the work of Seneca; and the only line 
which remains in Ovid's play, for one line is left us, 
is not there to be found. Thet-e was therefore no 
need of the gravity Of conjecture, or the discussion 
^f plot or sentiment, to find what was already known 
upon higher authority than sudi discussions cisui ever 

His literature, though not always free from osten- 
tation, will be commonly found either, obvious, and 
tnadc his own by the art of dressing it ;. or super- 
£ci^, which by what he gives, sho-H^s what he wanted : 
or erroneous, hastily collected, and negligently scat* 

Yet it cannot be said that his genius is ever unpra- 
vided of matter, or that his fancy languishes in penury 
of ideas. His works abound with knowledge, and 
sparkle with ilhist^ations. There is scarcely any 
science or faculty that does not supply him with occa- 
sional images and lucky similitudes ; every page dis- 
covers a niind very widely acquainted botli with art 
and nature, and in full possession of great stores of 
intellectual wealth. Of him that knows much it is 
jiatural to suppose that he has read with diligence : 
yet I rather believe that the knowledge of Dry den 
was gleaned from accidental intelligence and various 
conversation, by a quick apprehension, a judicious 
selection, and a happy memory, a keen appetite oi 
knowledge, and a powerful digestion ; by vigilance 
that permitted nothing to pass without notice, and a 
habit of reflection that suffered nothing useful to be 
.lost. A mind like Dryden's, always c urio it ^, always 
active, to which every understanding was proud to 
be associated, and of which every one solicited the 
regard, by an ambitious , display of himself, had a 
more pleasant, perhaps a nearer way to knowledge 

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than by the silent progress of solitary .reading. I 
do not suppose that he despised books, or inten- 
tionally, neglected them \ but that he was carried 
out) by the impetuosity of his genius, to more vivid 
and speedy instructors ; and that his studies were^ 
rather desultory and fortuitous than constant and 

It must be confessed that he scarcely ever appeara 
to want book-learning but when he mentions books; 
and to him may be transferred the praise which he 
l^ives his master Charles : . 

His conTersation, wit, and parts. 
His knowledge in the noblest useful arts, 
' Were such, dead authors could not giTie,- 

Bat habitudes of those that lire : . i 

Who, lighting; him,<did- greater lights receive ; f 

He ^drained from all, and all they knew, 
His apprehensions quick, his judgment true ; 

That the most learn 'd with shame eonfe8% 
His knowledge more, his-reading only less. . 

Of all this, however, if the proof be demanded, IT 
will not undertake to give it $ the atoms of probabilit)^^ * 
of which my opinion has been formed,^ lie scattered 
oyer ail; and by him who thinks the question 
worth his notice,'his works must be perused with very 
^lose attention. 

Criticism, either didactick or defensive, occup^s al-' 
most all his prose, except those pages which he has 
devoted to his patrons ; but none of his pv^efaces were; 
ever thought tedious. They have not the formality of 
a settled sCyfe, in which the first half of the sentence, 
betrays the other.* The pauses are never balancedf . 
nor the periods modelled : every word seems to drop- 
by chance, though it falls into its proper place. No-- 
thing is cold or languid ; the whole is airy, animated, 
iwid.YigQrous j.what is little, is gay j what is great, ifer 


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652 DRTDEN. 

aplendid. He may be bought to mention himself top 
frequently ; but) while he forces himself upon our es- 
teemy we cennot refuse hiiu to stand high in hia own. 
Every thing is excused by the play of images, and the 
sprightliness of expression. Though all is easy, nor- 
thing is feeble : though all seems carelessi there is no- 
thing harsh ; and though since his earlier works more 
' than a century has passed, they haye nothing yet un- 
couth or obsolete. * ^ 

He who writes much will not eadly escape a man^ 
ner— such a recurrence of pardcular modes as may 
be easily noted. Dryden is always another and the 
ame i he does not exhibit a second time the same ele^-* 
gances in the same form, nor appears to have any 
art other than that of expressing with clearae63 what 
he thinks with vigour. His style could not easily be 
imitated, either seriously or ludicrously ; for, being 
always equable, and always varied, it has no promi- 
nent or ^criminadve characters. The beauty who 
is totally free from disproportion of parts and features 
cannot he ridi<!uled by an overcharged resemblance. 
From his prose, however, Dryden derives only his 
accidental and secondary prsuse ; the venerati<m with 
^^ which his name is pronounced by every cultivator of 

\ iBnglish literature, is paid to him as he refined die 

language, improved the sentiments, and tuned the 
I numbers of English poetiy. 

\ After about half a century of forced thoughts, and 

ijugged metre, some advances towards nature and bar* 
mony had been already made by Waller and Denham ; 
they had shewn that long discourses in rhyme grew 
more pleasing when they were broken into couplets, 
and that verse consisted not only in the number but 
the arrangement of syllables^ 

But though they did ipuch, who can deny that they 
left much to do? Their works were not many, nor 
were their minds of very' ample comprehension* 

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1>RYDEN. 353 

More examples of move modes of composition were 
necessary for the establishment of regularity, and the 
introduction of propriety in word and thought. 

Every language of a learned nation necessarily 
divides itself into diction scholastick and popular, 
grave and familiar, elegant and gross j and from a 
nice distinction of these different parts arises a great 
part of the beauty of style. But, if we except a few 
minds, the favourites of nature, to whoiix their own 
original rectitude was in the place of rules, this deli- 
cacy of selection was little known to our authors ; 
our speech lay before them in a heap of confusion ; 
and every man took for every purpose what chance 
might offer him. 

/There was therefbre before the time of Drydenno 
l^etical diction, no system of words at once refined 
from the gro^sness of domestick use, and free from 
the harshness of terms appropriated to particular 
arts. Words too familiar, or too remote, defeat the 
purpose of a poet. From those sounds which we 
hear on small or oh coarse occasions, we do not easily 
receive strong impressions, or delightful images ; and 
words to which we are nearly strangers, whenever 
they occur, dtaw that attention on themselves which 
they should transmit to things. 

pThose happy combinations of words which distin- 
guish poetry from prose had been rarely attempted Q 
we had few elegances or flowers of speech ; the roses 
had not yet been plucked from the bramble, or differ- 
. ent colours had not been joined to enliven one another. 
It may be doubted whether Waller and Denham 
could have Over-borne the prejudices which had long 
prevailed, and which even then were sheltered by the 
protection of Cowley. The new versification, as it 
was called, may be considered aS owing its establish- 
ment to Dryden ; from whose time it is apparent that 

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English poeUy has had no tendency to relapse to iXA 
former savageness. 

The af&uence and comprehension of our language 
is very illustriously displayed in our poetical transla- 
tions of ancient writers ; a work which th^ French 
seem to relinquish in despair, and which we were long 
unahle to perform with dexterity. Ben Jonson thought 
it necessary to copy Horace almost word by word ^ 
feltham^ his contemporary, and adversaiy, considers 
it as indispensably requisite in a translation to give 
line for line. It is said that Sandys, wham Dry den 
calls the best versifier of the last age, has struggled 
hard to comprise every book of the English Metamor« 
phoses in the saine number of verses with the origi- 
nal. Ilolyday had nothing in view but to shew that he 
understood his author, with so little regard to the 
grandeur of his diction, or the volubility of his nunft- 
bers, that his metres . can hardly be called verses ^ 
they cannot, be read without reluctance, nor will the 
labour always be rewarded by understanding them« 
Cowley saw that such copyers were a servile races 
• he asserted his liberty, and spread his wings so boldly 
that he left kh authors^ It waa reserved, for Drydeu 
• \ to fix the limits of poetical liberty^ and give us jXist 
' rules and examples of translation. 

When languages are formed upon different princi- 
ples, It is impdssible that the same modes of expres- 
sion should always be elegant in both. While they 
run on together, the closest translation may be consi- 
dered as the best; but when they divaricate, eacli 
must take its natural course. Where correspondence 
cannot be obtained, it is necessary to be content ;witii 
something equivalent. " Translation therefore," saya 
Dryden, ^' is not so loose as paraphrase^ ^or so cIosq. 
as meiaphrase.*' 

All polished languages l^ve different styles i the.. 

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dryden: 9&S 

concise, the dURtse^the lofty, arid th<B hu»ble. In the 
proper choice^ of style conMSt&the resemblance which 
Di7den principally exaatsrfroni thetranslsutor. He i^ 
to exhibit his author's thoughts in sueh a dress of (fic- 
tion as the author would have given them, had his 
langjiage been English : rugged magnificence is not 
to be softened ; hyperbolical ostentation is not to Be 
repressed ; nor sententious affectation to have its 
point blunted. A translator is to be like his author ; 
it is not his business to excel him. 

The reasonableness of these rules seems sufficient 
for their vindication j and the effects produced by ob-? 
serving them were so happy, that I know not whether 
they were ever opposed but by sir Edward Sherburne, 
a man whose learning was greater than his powers of 
poetry, and who, being better qualified to give the 
meaning than the spirit of Seneca, has introduced his 
version of three tragedies by a defence of close trans- 
lation. The authority of Horace which the new trans- 
lators cited in defence of their practice, he has, by a 
judicious explanation, taken fairly from them ; but 
reason wants not Horace to support it. 
« It seldom happens that all the necessary causes con- 
cur to any great effect : will is wanting to power, or 
power to will,' or both are impeded by external ob- 
structions. The exigencies in which Drydfen was con- 
demned to pass his life arc- reasonably supposed to 
Have blasted his genius, to have driven out his works 
in a state of immaturity, and to have intercepted the 
full-blown elegance which longer growth would have 

Poverty, like other rigid powers, is sometimes too 
hastily accused. If the excellence of Dryden's works 
was lessened by his indigence, their number was in-' 
creased : and I know not how it will be proved, that 
ifhfif tiAd written less he would have written better; 

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3^« DBTDEN. 

or thirt indeed ke would have uodcrg^c the tofl of an 
author, if hciiad notbecn soUcitcd by some^ung more 
pressing than the love of praiae. 
But, as is said bf his SebasUan, 

What had been, is unknown j what is, appears 
We know that Dryden's several productions were so 
' many successive expedients for his support; his plays 
were therefore often borrowed ; and his poenas were 
almost all occasional. 

In an occasional performance no height of excel- 
. lence can be expected from any mind, however fertile 
in itself, and however stored with acquisiUons. He 
whose work is general and arbitrary has the choice of 
his matter, and Ukes that which his inclination and his 
studies have best qualified him to display and deco- 
rate. He is at liberty to delay his publication till be 
has sausfied his friends and himself, till he has reform- 
ed his first thoughts by subsequent examination, and 
. polished away^ose faults which the precipitance of 
" ardent composition is likely to leave behind it. Vir- 
gil is related to h^ve poured out a great number of 
lines in the morning, and to have passed the day in 
reducing them to fewer. 

The occasional poet is circumscribed by the nar- 
rowness of his subject Whatever can happen to man 
has happened so often that little remains for faacy or 
invention. ^ We have been all born; we have most of 
us been married ; and so many have died before ns, 
that our deaths can supply but few materials for a 
poet. In the fate of princes the publick has an in- 
terest ; and what happens to them of good or evil, the 
poets have always considered as business for the muse* 
But after so many inauguratory gratula,tions, nuptial 
hymns,, and funeral dirges, he must be highly favour- 
ed by nature, pr by fortune^ who says mj thing not 

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DHYDEN. 357 

^d before* Even war and conqaest) however splen- 
did, suggest no new images ; the triumphant chariot 
of a victorious monarch can he decked only with those 
ornaments that have graced hb predecessors. 

Not only matter but time is wanting. The poem 
Tnust not be delayed till the occasion is forgotten* 
The lucky moments of animated imagination cannot 
be attended ; elegances and illustrations cannot be 
multiplied by gradual accumulation ; the composition, 
must be despatched, while conversation is yet busy, 
and admiration fresh ; and haste is to be made, lest 
some other event should lay hold upon mankind. 

Occasional compositions may however secure to a 
writer the praise both of learning and facility ; for 
they cannot be the effect of long study, and must be 
furnished immediately from the treasures of the mind. 
The death of Cromwell was the first publick event 
which called forth Dryden's poetical powers. His he- 
roick stanzas hdve beauties and defects ; the thoughts 
are vigorous, and, though not always proper, shew a 
mind replete with ideas ; the numbers are smooth ; 
and the diction, if not altogether correct, is elegant 
and easy. 

Davenant was perhaps at this time his favourite 
author, though Gpndibert never appears to have been 
popular ; and from Davenant he learned to please his 
ear with the stanza of four lines alternately rhymed. 
Dryden very early formed his versification ; there 
are in this early production no traces of Donne's or 
Jonson's ruggedness ; but he did not so soon free 
his mind from the ambition of forced conceits. In his 
verses on the Restoration, he says of the king's exile, 

He, toss'd by fate — 
Could tagte no tweets of youth's desired age, 
But found his life too U'ue a pilgrimage. 

And afterwards, to show hOw virtue and wisdom 
are increased by adversity, he makes this remark i 

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85f DRYDEN^. 

WeR nlglit the ancient poets then confer, 

On night the hcmourM n^ine of coansellor, 

SiQce struck with ra^s of prosperous fortune blJM3^ 

We lifcht alone in dark afflictions find. ' * 

His praise of Monk's dexterity comprises such 
cluster of thoughts unallied to one another, as will not 
elsewhere^ be easily found : 

-Twas Monk^ whom Provideace design'd to loose 

Those real bonds false freedom did impose. 

The blessed sainjts that wateh'd this taming scen^ 

Did from their stai-s with joyfal wonder lean^. 

Tu see small clues draw rastest weights along, 

)4ot 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 soeh fond cfaimseras we pursue. 

As fancy frames, for fancj to subdue : 

But, w hen ourselves to action we bttake. 

It shuns the mint like gold that chemists make. 

How h»d was then his task, at once to be 

What in the body natural we see K 

Man's architect distinctly did ordain- 

The charge of muscles, nerves, and of the brain. 

Through viewless conduits spirits to dispense 

1 he springs of motion Urmn the seat of sense : 

1'was not the hasty |>roilact of a day. 

But the weli-ripen'd fruit of wise delaj. 

He like a patient angler, ere he strook, 

Would let them play awhile upon the hook; 

Our healthCiil^ food the stomach labours thus. 

At first embracing -what it strait doth crush. 

Wise kaches will not vain receipts obtrude. 

While growing pains pronounce the Immouis crude ; 

Deaf to comi>Uints, they wait upon the ill. 

Till some safe erisis authorize their skill. 

He had n<)t yet learned, indeed hte never learnei^ 
well,' to forbear the improper use of mythology. 
After having rewarded the heathen 'deities for theit 

With Alga who the sacred altar strows ? 
To all the sea-gods Charles an offering owes 4. 
A bull to thee, Portunis, shall be slain ; 
A.ram to yga, ye teml^ests of the main.. 


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, DRYDEN. ^ 349 

Me tells us, in the language of religion, 

Prayer storm'd the skies, and ravish'd Charles from thence- 
As heav'n itself is took by violence. 

And afterwards mentions one of the most awful t)asV 
taages of sacred history. 

Other conceits there are, too curious to' be quite 
omitted ; as, 

For h^ example most we sin n'd before. 

And, glass-like, clearness mix*d with frailty bore. 

How far he was yet from thinking it necessary to 
fibund his sentiments on nature, appears from the 
extravagance of his fictions and hyperboles: 

The winds, that never moderation knew, 

Afriud to blow too, much, too faintly blew ; 

Or, out of breath with joy, eoold not enlarge 

Their strait en'd lungs . - 

It is no longer motion cheats your yiew : 

As you meet it^ the land approaches you ; 

The land rettrms, and in the white it wears * 

The marks of penitence and sori'ow bears. 

I know not whether this fancy, however little b^ i^s 
value, was not borrowed. A French poet read to 
Malherbe some verses, in which he represents France 
as moving out of its place to receive the king. 
" Though this,*^ said Maliierbe, " was in my time, 1 d^ 
not remember it.'* 

His poem on the coronation has a more even tenor 
of thought. Some lines deserve to be quoted : ' 

You have already quench'd sedition's brand ; 

A nd zeal, that burnt it, only warms the land ; ' - • 

The jealoas sects that dorst not trust their c4uae. 

So far from their own wiU as to the laws. 

Him for tbeir umpire and their synod take. 

And their appeal alone to Cajsar make. 

Here may be found one particle of that old versificar 
tion, of which^ I believe> ia all his works^ ther^i is not 
another : 

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36a DBYDEN. 

Nor UJt doty, or otir hope done. 
Creates that joy, but full fruition. 

In the verses ta the lord chancellor Clarendon, 
two years afterwards, is a conceit so hopeless at the 
first view, that few would have attempted it ; and so 
successfulIjT laboured, that though at last it gives the 
reader more perplexity than pleasure, and seems 
hardly worth the study that it, costs, yet it must be 
valued a proof of a mind at once subtle and comp^e- 
hensive : 

In open prospeet nothing bounds our eye. 
Until the earth seems join'd onto the sky : 
So in this hemisphere oar utmost view 
IB only bounded bf our king and you : 
Our sight is limited where yon are joia'd 
And beyond that no farther Uepiven can find. 
So well your virtues do with his agree. 
That though your orbs ofdiffbrent greatness be« 
Yet both are lor eaeh other's use dispos'd. 
His to enclose, and yours to be enelos'd. 
Nor could another in your room have beeuj 
Except an emptiness had come between. 

The comparison of the chancellor to the Indies 
teaves all resemblance too far behind it : 

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 new and undiseover'd world in you. 

There is another comparison, for there is little else 
in the poem, of which, though perhaps it cannot, be 
explainedinto plain prosaick meaning, the mind per- 
ceives enough to be delighted, and readily forgives its. 
obscurity, for its magnificence : 

How strangely active are the arts of peace. 
Whose restless motions less than wars do cease ! 
Feaee is not freed from labour, but from noise ; ' 
And war more force, baynot more paii^ employs. 

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DRYDEN.' 561 

Suoh is the miglity swiftness of yooF mmdy 
' That, like the earth's^ it leaves our sense behind : 

While yoa 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^hile our's is borne along. 

All seems at rest to the deluded eye, 

MovM by the soul of the same harmony : 

So, carry'd on by your unwearied eare, 

We rest in peace, and yet in motion share. 

To this succeed four lines, which perhaps alPord 
Dryden's first attempt at those penetrating remarks 
on human nature, for which he seems to haye been 
peculiarly formed : - 

Let enry then those crimes within yod see, 
From which the happy never must bc'free ; 
Enry, that does with misery- reside, 
~ The joy and >the revenge of ruin'd pride. . 

Into this poem he seems •to have collected- all hb 
powers ; and after this he did not often bring upon 
his anvil such stubborn and unmalleable thoughts ; 
but, as a specimen of his abilities to unite the most 
unsociable matter, he has concluded with lines <^ 
which I think not myself obliged to tell the meaning : 

Yet .unimpair'd with labours, or with time. 
Your age but seems to a new youth to filimb. 
Thus heavenly bodies do our time beget. 
And measure ehange, but share no part of it : 
And still it shall without a weight increase, 
Like Uiis new year, whose motions never cease. 
For since the glorious coarse you have begua 
Is led by Charles, as that is by the sun. 
It muat both weightless and immortal prove. 
Because the centre of it is above. 

In the Annus Mirabilis he returned to the quatrain, 
which ft*om^ that tim^ he totally qv itted, perhaps from 
experience of its inconvenience, for he complains of 
its difficulty. This is one of his greatest attempts. 
He had subjects equal to his abilities, a great naval 
waTj and the fire of London. Battles have always 

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362 DRYDEN. 

been described in hcroick poetiy ; but a seafig^ht and 
artillery had yet Something of novelty. New arts arc 
long in the world before poets describe them ; for 
they borrow every thing from their predecessors, and 
commonly derive ver}' little from nature or from life. 
Boileau was the first French writer that bad ever 
hazarded in verse the mention of modern war, or the 
effects of gunpowder* We, who are less afraid of 
novelty, had already possession of those dreadful 
images. Waller had des.cribed a seafight. Milton 
had not yet transferred the invention of fire-arms t» 
the rebellious angels. 

TMs poem is written with great diligence, yet does 
not fully answer the expectation raised by such sub- 
jects and such a writer. With the stanza of Dav en ant 
he has sometimes his vein of parenthesis and inciden- 
tal disquisition, and stops his narrative for a wisi 

The general fault is, that he affords inore send* 
ment than description, and does not so much impress 
scenes upon the fancy, as deduce consequences and 
make comparisons. 

"The initial stanzas hare rather too much resem- 
blance to the first lines of Waller's poem on the war 
with Spain ; perhaps such a beginning is natural, and 
could not be avoided M'ithout affectation. Both Wal- 
ler and Dryden might take their hint from the poeih 
on the civil war of Rome, "Orbem jam totura,'* ficc. 

Of the king collecting his navy, he says, 

H seem«, as every ship their sovereign Icaows, 

His awful sumiBons they so soon obey : 
So hear the scaly tierds -when Proteus blowr. 

And 80 to pastare follow through the sea> 

It would riot be hard to believe that Dryden had 
written thc^ two first lines seriously,, aud that some 


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DRY0EN. 368 

wag^ fiad added tfie two latter in buriesque. Who 
ivduld expect the lines that imtttediately follow, 
which are indeed perhaps indecently hyperbolicalf 
but certainly in a mode totally differ<bnt ?. 

To «e^e thii fleet upon the ocean move. 

Angels drew wide the curtains of the skies; 

And heaven, as il there vcanted tights above. 
For taper« ai,ade two glaring oomets rise. 

The description of the attempt at Bergen will af- 
ford a very complete s|)ecimen of the descriptions in 
this poem: 

And now approach'd their fleet frora India, fraught 

With all the riches of the rising sun : ^ 

And precious sand froin southern climates brought, 
The fetal regions where the war begun. 

Like hunted castors, consciojis of their store. 
Their way-laid wealth to Norjway'&fioasttjbey brii^g: 

Then first the north's cold bosom spikes bore. 
And winter brooded on the eastern spring. 

fly the ric^ scent we found our perfumM prey, 
Which, flankM with rocks, did close in covert lie; 

And round about their murdering cffnnon lay. 
At on«e tb threaten and invite the ^e. 

Fiercer than cannon, amV'tlian rocks more har4> 

The Knglish undertake tV unequal war: 
Seven 8hii>s alon^, by which the port is barr'cl, 
■ Desiege the indies, and all Denmark dare. 

These fight like husbaiids, bat lik^ lovers those : 
These fain would keep, and those more fain enjoy 

And to such height their frantick passion grows^ 
That what both love, both hazard to destroy : 

Amidst whole heaps of spices lights a ball. 

And now their odours arm'd against them fiy : 

Some preciously by shattered porcelain fallf 
And some by aromatick splinters die. 

And, though by tempests of the prize bereft, 
In Heaven's inclemency some ease we fitid ; 

Our foes we vanquished by our valour left, 
Ajnd only yielded to the seas and win^. 


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364 DRYPEN. 

In this maaiier is the sublime too often mingled 
irith the ridiculous. The Dutch seek a shelter for a 
wealthy fleet : this surely needed no illustration ; yet 
they must fly, not like all the rest of mankind on the 
same occasion, but '^ like hunted castors ;" and they 
might with ajtrict propriety be hunted ; for we winded 
them by our noses— their perfumes betrayed them. 
The husband and the lover, though of more dignity 
than the castor, are images too domestick to mingle 
properly with the horrors of war. The two quatrains 
that follow are worthy of the author* 

The account of the different sensations with which< 
the two fleets retired, when the night parted them, is 
one of the fairest flowers of English poetry : 

The night comes on, we eager to pcmnie 

The combat still, and they asham'd to leaye i 
Till the hut atresks of d}ing da j withdraw. 

And doubtful moonlight did^ur rage dteeiTe. 

In th' English fleet each ship resounds with joy. 
And loud applanse of their great leaders fame : 

In fiery dreams the Dutch they still destroy, 
And> slumbering, smile at the imagtn'd flame. 

Not so the Holland fleet, who, tir'd and done, 
Stretch'd on their decks like weary oxen lie ; > 

Faint sweats all down their might}' members run, 
(Vast bulks, which little souls but ill supply). 

In dreams they fearful precipices tread. 
Or, shipwi^ckM, labour to some distant shore : 

Or, in dark churches, walk among the dead ; 
They wake with Iprror, and dare sleep no more. 

It is a general rule in poetry, that all appropriated 
' terms of art should be sunk in general expressions 
because poetiy is to speak an universal language. 
This rule is still stronger with regard to arts not 
liberal, or confined to few, and tbefcforc far removed 
from common knowledge ; and of this kind, certainly, 
is technical navigation. Yet Dryden was of opinion, 

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DRYDEN. 365 

hat a sea-fight ought to be d^sscribed in the nautical 
anguage ; <^ and certainly/' says he^ ^as those, wh« 
n a logical disputation keep to general termsy would 
lide a fallacy, so those who do it in poetical descrip* 
ion would veil their ignorance." 

Let us then appeal to eTxperience $ for by experience 
it last we learn as well what will please as what will 
>rofit. In the battle his terms, seem to haye been 
>lown away ; but he deals them liberally in the dock : 

So here aome piek out bullets from the"^ side, 
'Some drive old okum thro* each team aud rift : 

Xh^r left hand does the calking iron guide, -^ 
The rattling ma^/^/ with the right they lift. 

With boiling pitch another near at band 

(From friendly Sweden brought) the seams in-ttopa 

Which well laid o*er, the salt-sea waves withstand. 
And shake them, from the rising beak in drops. 

Some the ^aa*</ ropes with danby marUns^ bind. 
Or sear-cloth moists wkh strouj; tarpanfUng coats : 

To try new shvouds one mounts into the wind. 
And one below (heir ease or stiffness notes. 

I suppose there is not one term which every reader 
does not wish away. 

His digression to the original and progress of navi- 
gationy with his prospect of the advancement whii:h it 
shall receive from the-Royal Society, then newly insti« 
tuted, may be considered as an example seldom equal* 
led of seasonable excursion and ^rtful return. 

One line, however, leaves me discontented ; he 
says, that, 1^ the help of the philosophers, 

Inatracted ships shall sail to quick commerce. 
By which remotest regions are^llied. 

Which he is constrained to explain in a hotc « by a 
more exact measure of longitude." It had better 
become Dryden^s learning and genius to have laboured 
science into poetry, and have shown^ by explaining 
longitude, that verse did not refuse the ideas of 

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36a DRYDEN, 

His description of the ^re is painted by resolute i»e 
ditatiofiy out of a jmind better farmed to reason than ti 
ieel. The conflagration of a city, witjx all its tumults 
of concomitant distress, is one of the most dreadful 
spectacles which this world can offer to human eyes ; seems to raise little emotion in the breast of the 
poet; he watches the flame coolly from street to 
street, with now'a reflection and' now a simile, till ai 
last he meets the kin^, for whom he makes a speech, 
rather tedious in a time so busy ; and then follows 
again the progress of the fire. 

There are, however, in this part some passages that 
deserve attention : as in the beginning : 

The diligence of trades and noiaefal gain, 
^nd luxury more late, tis^eep were Inid! '^ 

AH was the Night's, and in her silent reign' 
No sound the rest of nattire did invade 

In this deep quiet.—— 

The expression " All was the Night's,^* is taken 
from Seneca, who remarks on Virgil's line, 
Omnia nocHs erant^ placfda Qojmposta guiete, 

that he might have concluded better^ 
OmfUit noctlt ^ant. 

The following qtiatrain is vigorous and animated : 

. The ghosts of traitors from the bridge descend. 
With bolfl fanatick spectres to rejoice ; 
Aboo| the fire into a dauce they bend. 
And sing their sabbath notes with feeble voice. 

His prediction of the improvements, which shall be 
made in the new city is elegatxt and poetical, and with 
an event which poets cannot always boast, has beeii 
Jtiappily verified- The poem concludes with a simil^ 
that might have better been omitted. 

Bryden, when he wrote this poem^ seems not ycl 
fully to, have formed his versification^ or settled hii 
system of proprie^. 


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HRYDEN. 36r 

Ffom this time he addicted himself almost wholly 
to the stage, " to which," says he, « my genius never 
much inclined me," merely as the most profitable 
market for poetry. By writing tragedies in rhyme, 
he continued to improve his diction and his numbers. 
According to the opinion of Harte, who had studied 
his works with great attention, he settled his princi- 
ples of versification in 1676, when he produced the 
play of Aureng Zebe ; and according to his own ac- 
count of the short time in which he wrote Tyrahnick 
Love, and The State of Innocence, he soon obtained 
the full effect of diligence, and added facility to ex- 

Rhyme has been so long banished from the theatre, 
that we know not its efilects upon the passions of an 
audience : but it has this convenience, that sentences 
stand more independent on each other, and striking 
passages are therefore easily selected and retained. 
Thus the description of Night in The Indian Empe- 
ror, and the rise and fall of empire in The Conquest 
of Granada, are more frequently repeated than smy 
lines in All for Love, or Doii Sebastian. 

To search his plays for vigorous sallies and senten- 
tipus elegances, or ta fix the dates of any little pieces 
wi\ich he wrote by chance, or by solicitation, were 
labour too tedious and minute. 

His dramatick labours did not so wltolly absorb his 
thoughts, but that he promulgated the laws of transla- 
tion in a preface to the English Epistles of Ovid ; one 
of which he translated, himself, and another in con- 
junction with the earl of Mul grave. 

Absalom and Achitophel, is a work so well known, 
tliat a particular Criticism is superfluous. If it be 
considered as a poem political and controversial, it 
will be found to comprise all the excellences of which 
the subject is susceptible ; acrimony of censure, ele- 


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gance of praise, artful delioeation of characters, varie- 
ty and vigour of se»timent, happy turns of language, 
and pleasing harmony of numbers ; and all these 
raised to such a height as can scarcely be found in 
any other English composition* 

It is not, however, without faults; some lines are 
inelegant or improper., and too many are irreligiously 
licentious. The original structure of the poem was 
defective ; allegories drawn to great length will always 
break; Charles could not run continually parallel with 

. The subject had likewise another inconvenience : 
it admitted little imagery or description ; and a long 
poem of mere sentiments easify becomes tedious; 
though all the parts are forcible, and every line kin- 
dles new rapture, the reader, if not relieved by the 
interposition of something that soothes the ^cy, 
grows weary of admiration, and defers the rest. 

As an approach to the historical truth was neces- 
sary, the action and catastrophe were not in the poet*s 
power; there is therefore an unpleasing disproportion 
between the beginning and the end. We are alarm- 
ed by a faction formed of many sects, various in their 
principles, but agreeing in their purpose of mischief; 
formidable for their numbers, and strong by their 
supports ; while the king's fri^ds are few andgweak. 
The chiefs on either part are set forth to view ; but, 
when expectation is at the height, the king makes a 
speech, and 

Henceforth a series of new times began. 

Who can forbear to thmk of an enchanted castle, 
with a wide moat and lofty battJements, walls of 
marble and gates of brass, which vanishes at once 
into air, when the destined knight blows his horn 
before it ? 

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In th« d^coiid pf&rty written bf Tate, t^er» Is, a long- 
insertion which, for its poignancy of satire, exceeds 
any part of the former. Personal resentment, though 
no laudable rdotive to satire, can add great force to 
general principles. Self-love is a busy prompter. 

The Medal written upon the same principles with 
Absalom and Achitophel, but upon a narrower planj 
gives less pleasure, though it discovers equal abilities 
in the writer. The superstructure cannot extend 
beyond the foundation ; a single character or incident 
cannot furnish as many ideas as a series of eventSf 
or multiplicity of agents. This poem, therefore,- 
since time has left it to itself, is not much read, nor 
perhaps generally understood v yet it abounds with 
touches both of humourous and serious satire. The 
picture of ^ man whose propensions to mischief are 
such that his best actions are but inability of wick- 
edness, is very Skilfully delineated and strongly 
coloured : 


Power uras his aim ; but, thrown from that po^teEeei 
The wretch tani'd toyal in his own datenoey 
And malice rroondf d htm to his prince. 
Him, in the angaish of his sonl, he senr'd ; 
Rewarded faster still than he deflerv'd: 
Behold Jiim now. e3(alted into trust ; 
His counselsr oft convenient, seldom just ; 
£'«n in the moststoeere advice hegftv«, 
Ue;had a grudging still to be a knave. 
The frauds, he learnt in. his fanatick yearSy 
Made him uneasy in his lawful gears, 
^ At least as little honest as he cou'd. 

And like white witches, mischievously good. 

To this first bias longingly, he leans; . ^ 

And rather would be great by wicked meansi 

Tke Threnodia, which, by a term I am afraid mi* 

ther authorized nor analogical, he calls Augustalisy 

is not among his happiest productions. Its first and 

obvious defect is the irregularity of its metre^ to wMcli 

a 2 

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the ears of that age, however, were accustomed. 
What is worse, it has neither tenderness nor dignity; 
it is nei^er magnificent nor pathetick. He seems to 
look round him for images which he cannot find, and 
what he has he distorts by endeavourihg to enlarge 
them. *'He is,*' he^says, "petrified with grief;*' but 
the marble somedmes relents, and trickles in a joke ; 

The 9008 of art all med'cines try'd. 

And every noble remedy apply'd : 
Witli emalation each eaaay'd 

Uis utmost skitl ; nay, more, they pray'd. 
Was never losing game with hotter eondaet play't}^. 

He" had been a little incluied to merriment before, 
upon the prayers of a nation for their dying sovereign ; 
nor was he serious enough to keep heathen fables 
out of his religion : 

With him the innnmerahfe crowd of armed prayers 

KnoekM at the gates of heaven, and knock'd aloud ; 
The first well -meaning rude petitioners 

All for his life assail'd the throne, 
AH would have brib'd the skies by offering up their own. 
. So great a throng not heaven itself could bar ; 
'Twas almost borne by force as in the giants war. 
The pray'rs, at least, for his reprieve,, were heard ; 
His death, like Hezekiah's, was deferi^d. . 

There is through the composition a desire of 
splendour without wealth. In the conclusion he 
seems too much pleased with the prospect of *the 
new reign to have lamented his old master with 
much sincerity. 

He did not miscarry in this attempt for want of 
iskill either in lyrick or elegiack poetry. His poem 
on the death of Mrs. Klllegrew is 'undoubtedly the 
noblest ode that our language ever has. produced. 
The first part flows With a torrent of enthusiasm. 
" Fervct immensusque ruit.'* All the stanzas indeed 
Are not equal. An iitiperial crown cannot be one 


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dryden: sri 

iSontinued diamond : the gems must be held together 
by some less valuable matter. 

In his first ode for Cecilia's day, which is lost in 
the splendour of the second, there are passages which 
would hay* dignified any other poet. The first stanza 
is vigorous and elegant, though the word diapason is 
too technical, and the rhymes are too remote from one 

From harmony^ from heavenly harmony. 

This universal fraqie began ; 
When nature tmderneath a heap of jaiTing atoms lay ; 

And could not heave her head. 
The tuneful voice was heard fi*om high. 

Arise ye more than dead. 
Then cold and hot, and moist and dry, 
In order to their stations leap. 

And musick's power ohey. 
From harmony from heavenly harmony. 

This universal frame began : 

From harmony to harmony 
Through all the compass of the notes it ran. 

The diapason closing full in man. 

The conclusion is likewise striking ; but it includes 
an image so. awful in itself, that it can owe little to 
poetry ; and I could wish the antithesis of musick un- 
tuning had found some other place. 

As from the power of sacred lays 
The spheres hegan to move, . 

Anfl nil no* th(> orfAt C.rv^Atnr^fi nml 

And sung the gi^eat Creator's praise 
To all the blessMabov^ : 

$o, when the last and direadful hour 
This «aunbling pageant shall devoar 
The trumpet shall be heard on high. 
The dead shall live, the living die. 
And musick shall untune the sky« 

Of his skill in elegy he haa given a specimen tn 
his Eleonora, of which the following lines discover 
th^ir author : 

R 3 

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3r3 DRTDEir. 

Thoailh att Uieie nre endowment ot ike mvkf 

Were id a narvow sfaeei of life eonfin'd, 

I'he figure wa3 with full perfection cpown'd. 

Though DOt so large an orh^ as truly round : 

As when in glory, through the publick plaoe. 

The apoib of •onqQer'd nations were to pass. 

And bat one day for triumph was allow'd. 

The consul was eonstrain'd his pomp to crowd » 

And so the swift procession hurry'd on 

That all, though not distinctly, might be shown; 

So, in the straitenM bounds of life eonfin'd, 

She giTe but glimpses of her glorious ipind : 

And multitudes of yirtues pass'd along ; 

Elach pressing foremost in the mighty throng," 

Ambitious to be seen, and then make room 

For greater multitudes that were to comer. 

Yet unemployed no^minute slipt away ; 

Moments were precious in tb short a stay. 

The haste of heaven to have her was so great, 

Thnt some were single acts, though each complete : 

And erery aet stood ready to repeat 

This piece, however, is not without its faults; 
there is so much likeness in the initial comparison, 
that there is no illustration. As a king would be 
lamented, Eleonora was lamented : 

As, when some great and graciotis monarch dies, 
Soft whJspers, first, and mournful murmurs, rise 
Among the sad attfeiufants ; then the soiind 
Soon gnthcrs voice, anil spreads the news ai*ound, 
Through town and country, till the dreadful blast 
h blown to distant colonies at last. 
Who then, perhaps, Mere offering vows in ram, 
For his long life, and for his happy reign; 
So slowly, by degrees, unwilling fame. 
Did matchless Eleonora's fate proclaim, ^ 
Till publick as the loss the news became. 

This is little better than to say in praise of a shrub, 
that it is as green as a tree ; or of a brook, that it 
traters a garden, as a river waters a country. 

Dryden confesses that he did not know the lady 
whom he celebrates : the praise being therefore in« 

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DRYDEN. 373 

evitably^ general, fixes no impression upon the reader, 
nor excites any tendency to love, nor much desire of 
imitation. Knowledge of the subject is to the poet 
what durable materials are to the architect. 

The Religio Laki, which borrows its title from the 
Reiigio Medici of Browne, is almost the only m ork of 
Dryden which can be considered as a voluntary effu- 
sion ; in this, therefore, it might be hoped, that the 
full effulgence of his genius would be found. But uiv 
happily the subject IB rather argumentative than po- 
etical ; be intended only a specimen of metrical dis- 
putation : 

And this nn polished injgged verse I chose, 
A» fittest for discourse, and nearest prose. 

This, however, is a composition of gfeat excellence 
in its kind, in which the familiar is very properly 
diversified with the solemn, and the gra^e with the 
humourous; in which metre has neither weakened 
the force, nor clouded the perspicuity of argument ; 
nor will it be easy to find another example equally 
happy of this middle kind of writing, which, though 
prosaick in some parts, rises to high poetry in others, 
and neither towers to the skies, nor creeps along the 

Of the same kind, or npt far distant from it, is The 
Hind and Panther, the longest of all Dryden's origi- 
nal poems ; an allegory intended to comprise and to 
decide the controversy between the Romanists and 
Protestants. TheiKzheme of the work is injudicious 
and incommodious ; for what can be more absurd than 
that one beast should counsel another to rest her fafth 
upon a pope and counsel ? He seems well enough 
skilled in the usual topicks of argument, endeavours to 
show the necessity of an infallible judge, and re- 
proaches the reformers with M^ant of unity ; but is 
\feak enough to ask^ why, since we see without 
R 4 

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374 DRYDEN. 

knowing hew^ we may xxot have an infallible judge 
without knowing where ? 

The Hind at one time is afraid to drink at the com- 
mon brook, because she may be worried ; but walk- 
ing ho^e with the Panther, talks by the way of the 
.Nicene fathers, and at last declares herself to be the 
Catholick church. 

This absurdity was very properly ridiculed in the 
City Mouse and Country Mous^ of Montague and 
Prior ; and in the detection and censure of the incon- 
gruity of the fiction chiefly consists the value of 
their performance, which, whatever reputation it 
might obtain by the help of temporary passions, 
tieems, to readers almost a century distant, not verjt 
forcible or animated. 

Pope, whose judgment was perhaps a little bribed 
by the subject, used to mention this poem as the 
most correct specimen of Dryden's versification. It 
was indeed written when he had completely formed 
his manner, and may be supposed to exhibit, negli- 
gence excepted, his deliberate and ultimate scheme 
of metre. 

We may therefore reasonably infer, that he did not 
approve the perpetual uniformity wbich confines the 
sense to couplets, since he has broken his lines in the 
initial paragraph. 

A milk-white hind immortftl and anchang*!}, 
Fed on the lawn9,'and iu the forest rang'd : 
Without unspotted, innocent within. 
She fear'd no danger, for she knew no sin. 
Yet had she oft been chac'd with horns and hounds. 
And Scythian shafts, and many winf^ed wounds 
Aim'd at her heart ; was often forced to fly, 
And doom'd to deat^i, though fated not to die. 

These lines are lofty, elegant, and musical, not- 
withstanding the interruption of the pause, of which 
the effect is rather increase of pleasure by variety, 
than offence by ruggedness. 

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BRYDEN. 3f5 

To the first paft it was his intention, he says, « ta 
givexhe majestick turn of heroick poesy ;** and per- 
haps he might have executed his design not unsuc- 
cessfully, bad not an opportunity of satire, which he 
cannot forbear, fallen sometimes in his way. The 
character of presbyterian, whose emblem is the Wolf, 
is not very heroically majestick : 

More haughty than the rest, the wolfish race 

Appear with belly gaunt and famish'd face i 

Never was so deform'd a beast of graee. n^ 

H is ragged tall betwixt his legs he wears; 

Close elapp'4 for shame ; hut lu4 (*ough crest he rears. 

And pricks up his predestinating ears. 

His general character of the other sorts of beasts 
that never go to church, though sprightly and keen, 
has, however, not much of heroick poesy ; 

These are the chief; tbnumber o'er Hft rest. 
And stand like Adam naming every beast. 
Were wearj work ; nor will the muse describe 
A slimy -born, and sun-begotten tribe. 
Who, far from steeples and their sacred sound, 
^n fields their snllen conyenticles found. 
These gross, half-animated lumps I leave ; 
Kor can I thiniL what thoughts they can conceive ; 
But, if they think at all, 'tis sore no higher 
Than matter, put in motion, may aspire : 
Souls that can scarce ferment their mass of olay, 
So drossy, so diYisible are they. 
As would bat serve pure bodies for alls^ ; 
Such souls as shards produce, such beetle things 
As only buzz to heaven with evening wings ; 
Strike in the dark, bffendlng hut by chance j * 

Such arji$. the blind>^ld blows of ignorance. 
They know no being, and hut hate a obrne ; 
To them the Hind and Panther are the same. 

One more instance and that taken from the nar- 
rative part, where style was more in his choice, will 
show h9W steadily he kep^ his resolution of heroick 

B 5 

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For when tlie kenl^ 8iia«*d, did late rep«r 
To femey heaths and to their forest Iaire» 
She made a mannerly ezcase to stay. 
Proffering the Hind to vaithcr half the way i 
lliat, since the aky wai elear» an hour of ta£k 
Might help her to heguUe the tedious walk. 
With much good-will the motion was embrac'dj 
To chat auhile on their adventures past: 
Nor had the gratefol Hind so aoon forgot 
Her friend and fellow -snfferer in the plot 
Yet, wondering how oflate she grew' estranged. 
Her forehead cloudy and her eount'naaee changfJ^ 
She thought this hour th' occasion would present 
To learn her secret cause of discontent. 
Which well she hop'd might be with ease redrcs^d. 
Considering her a well-bred civil beast. 
And more a gentlewomaa thaii (he rest 
After some commoa talk what rumours ran. 
The lady of the spotted rauif began. 


The second and third parts he professes to have 
reduced to diction more familiar and more saitable to 
diapute and conrersation ; the difference is not, how- 
ever} very easiljr perceived; the first has familiar^ 
and the two othert^hate sonorous, lines. The origi- 
nal incongruity runs through the whole $ the king is. 
i\ow Caesar, and now the Lion ; and the name Pan i& 
given to the Supreme Being. 

But when this constitutional absurdity is forgiven^ 
the poem must be confessed to be written with great 
smoothness of metre, a wide extent of knowledge, 
iXid an abundant multiplicity of images ; the contro* 
versy is embellished with pointed sentences, divers!- 
$ed by illustrations, and enlivened by sallies of invec- 
tive. Some of the facts to which allusions are made 
are now become obscure, and perhaps there may be 
many satirical passages little understood. 

As it was by its nature a work of defiance, a compo- 
sition which would naturally be examined with the 
Utmost acrimony of criticism, it ^ras probably J^bour- 

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DRYDEN. 377 

ed with uncommen attention, and there are, indeed, 
few negligences in the subordinate parts. The ori- 
ginal impropriety, and the subsequent unpopularity 
of the subject, added to the ridiculousness of its first 
elements, has sunk it into neglect ; but it raay be use- 
faWj studied, as an example of poetical ratiocination, 
in which th« argument suffers little from the metre. 

In the poem on The Birth of the Prince of Wales, 
nothing is very remarkable but the exorbitant adula- 
tion, arid that insensibility of the precipice on which 
the king was then standing, which the laureat appa- 
rently shared with the rest of the courtiers. A few 
months cured him of controversy, dismissed him 
from court, and made him again a play-wright and 

Of Juvenal there had been a translation by Stapyl- 
ton, and another by Holiday ; neither of them is very 
poetical. Stapylton is more smooth ; and Holiday's 
is more esteemed for the learning of his notes. A 
new version was proposed. to the poets of that time, 
slnd undertaken by them in conjunction. The main 
design was conducted by Dryden, whose reputation 
was such that no man was unwilling to serve the 
muses under him. 

The general character of this translation will be 
given, when it is said to preserve the wit, but to want 
the dignity, of the original. The peculiarity of Juve- 
nal is a mixture of gaiety and stateline&s, of pointed 
sentences, and declamatory grandeur. - His points 
have not been neglected ; but his gt*andeur none of 
the band seemed to consider as necessary to be imi- 
tated, except Creech, who undertook the thirteenth 
satire. It is therefore perhaps possible to give a' 
better representation of that great satirist, even in 
those parts which Dryden himself has translatedy 

B 6. 

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578 DRYDEN. 

some passages excepted^ which will never be ex- 

With Juvenal, was published Persius, translated 
wholly by Dryden. This woHil, though, like all other 
productions of Dryden, it may have shining parts^ 
seems to have been written merely for wages, in an 
uniform mediocrity, without any eager endeavour 
after excellence, or laborious effort of the mind. 

There wanders an opinion among the readers of 
poetry, that one of these satires is an exercise of the 
school. Dryden says, that he once translated it at 
school ; but not that he preserved or published the 
juvenile performance. 

Not long afterwards he undertook perhaps the most 
Arduous work of its kind, a translation of Virgil, fo^ 
which he had shown how well he was qualified 
by his version of the /PoUio, and two episodes, one 
ef Nisus and Euryalus, the other of Mesentius and 

In the comparison of Homer and Virgil, the dis- 
driminative excellence of Homer is elevation and 
comprehension of thought, and that of Virgil is grace 
and splendour of diction. The beauties of Homer 
are therefore difficult to be lost, and those of Virgil 
dfficult to be retiuned. The massy trunk of senti- 
ment is safe by its solidity, but the blossoms of elocu- 
tion easily drop away. The author, having the <:hoice 
6f his own images, selects those which he can best 
adorn ; the translator must, at ail hazards, follow hi& 
.original, and express thoughts which perhaps he 
would hot have chosen. When to this primary diffi- 
culty is added the inconvenience of a language so 
much inferior in harmony to the Latin, it <^nnot be 
expected that they who read the Georgics and the 
J&neid should be much delighted with apy versic^. 

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DRYDEl^I, srr 

AH these obstacles Dryden saw, and all these he de« 
termined to encounter. The expectation of his work 
was undoubtedly great ; tke nation considered its ho- 
nour as Intei'ested in the. event. One gave him the 
different editions of his author, another helped himjn 
the subordinate parts. The arguments of the several 
^ooks were gmn him -by Addison. 

The hopes of the publick were not disappointed. 
He produced, says Pope, ^^ the most noble and spir* 
ited translation that I know in any language.'* It cer- 
ixinly excelled whatever had appeared in English, 
and appears to.have satisfied his friends, and, for the 
^znost part, to^have silenced his enei3[iies. M ilbourne, 
indeed, a clergyman, attacked it ; but his outrages 
seem to be the ebullitions of a mind agitated by strong- 
er I'esentment than bad poetry can extite, and previ- 
ously resolved not to be pleased. 

His critkism extend»<»ily to the Preface, PastoraJsi 
and Georgics ; and, as he professes to give his anta- 
gonist an opportunity of reprisal, l^e has added his own 
version olUhe first and fourth pastorals, and tlie first 
Georgic. The woiid ha» forgotten his book; but, 
since his attempt has given him a place in literary 
history, I will preserve a specimen of his criticism, by 
inserting his remarks on the invocation before the first 
Georgic ; and of his poetry, by annexing his own ver- 

Ver. 1. 
Whftt makes a plenteous harvest, -when to turn 
The fruitful soil, and wlien to sow the com. 

<< It's unlucky, they say, to stumble at the threshold ; 
but what has a plenteous harvest to do here ? Virgil 
could not pretend to prescribe rules for that^which 
depends not on the husbandman's care, but the dis- 
position of Heaven altogether. Indeed, the plenteouis 
crop depends somewhat on the good method of tillage ; 

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380 DRYDEN. 

and vii^e the land's ill manured, tiie eotii) without a 
miracle, can be but indifferent : but the harvest may 
be good,' which is the properest epithet, tho* the. hus- 
bandman's skill were never so indifferent The next 
sentence is too literal, and when to plough ha4 been 
Virgil's meaning, and intelUgible to every body ; and 
when to sow the com is a needless addition. 

Ver. 3. 
The care of shei^p^ of oxen, and of kine. 
And when to geld the lambs, and shear the swine, 

would as well have fallen under the eura bourn gut 
cultua habendo ait fiecort^ as Mr. D's deduction of 

Ver. 5. 
The lurth and genius of the frugal bee 
I sing, M»cena8|, and I sing to thee. 

But where did exfterientia ever signify birth and ge- 
nius ? or what ground was there for such a figure in 
this place ? How much more manly is^Mr. Ogilby's 
version ! 

xlVhat makes rich groonds, ib v hat celestial sigiU^'- 
'Tisgood to plqugh, and marry elms with vines'; 
What best fits cattle^ vhat.with sheep agrees. 
And several arts improving frugal bees ; 
] sing, Mtecenas. 

Which four lines, tho* faulty enough, are yet inuch 
more to the purpose than Mr. D's six. 

Ver. 22. 
From fields and mountains to my song repair. 

For patrium linquens nemus; saltusque Lycaei-— 
Very well explained ! 

Ver 23, 24. 
|nvent(»* Pallas, of the fattening oil, 
Thou founder of the plough, and ploughman's toil ! 

Written as if these had been Fallas^s invention^— » 
The ploughman's toil is impertinent^ 

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Ver. 35, ■ . • . , 

I— The diroud-like expres s 

Why shroud-like ? Is a cypress, pulled up by the 
roots, which the scul|»ture in the last eclogue fills 
Silvanus's hand with, so very like a shroud ? Or 
did not Mr* D. think of that kind of cypress used 
oflen for scarves Snd hatbands at funerals formerly^ 
or for widows* veils, &c. I if so, *twis a deep, good 

. Ver. 26. 

T hat wear 
The royal honoiirs, atid inci-ease the year. 

What's meant by increasing the. year ? Did the 
gods or goddesses add more months, or days, or 
hours, to it ? Or how x:an arva tueri signify to weal* 
rurid honours ? Is this to translate, or abuse an au- 
thor? The next couplet is borrowed from Ogilby, 
I suppose, because less to the purpose than ordinaiy. 

Ver. 33. 
The patron of the world, and Rome's peeuliar guard. 

Idle, and none of Virgil's, no more than the sense 
of the precedent couplet ; so again, he interpolates 
Virgil with that and the round circle of the year to 
guide powerful of blessings, which thou strewest 
around; a ridiculous Latinism, and an impertinent 
addition ; indeed the whole period is but one piece 
of absurdity and nonsense, as those who lay it with 
the original must find. 

* Ver. 43, 43. 
And Neptune shall resign the f asees of the jea. 

Was he consul or dietator there ? 

And watery virgins foi^ thy bed shall strive. 
Both absurd interpolations. 

Ver. 47, 48. v 

"Where in the void of heaven a place is free. 
Ah> happy ZK- — d^ were that pltwe for thee ! 

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But where is that void ? Or, what^oes otip trans* 
latop mean by it ? He knows what Ovid says, God 
did to prevent such a void in heaven ; perhaps ihb 
was then forgotten : but Virgil talks more sensibly. 

Ver. 49. 
The scorpion ready to reeeive thy lavs. 

No, he wou|4,/^ot then have gotten out of his way 

so fast. 

Ver. 56. 
Though Proserpine affects her silent seat 

What made her then so angry with Ascalaphus^ for 
preventing her return? She was now mus'd to pa- 
tience under the determinations of fate> rslther than 
fond of her residence. 

Ver. 61, 62, 63. 
Pity the poet's and the ploughman's cares, 
Interest thy greatness in our mean affairs, 
And use tby-self betimes to bear oor prayers. 

Which is such a wretched perversion of Virgil's 
noble thought as vicars would have blushed at ; but 
Mr. Ogilby makes us some amends, by his better 
lines : 

O whereso'er thou arf, from thence inclinei 
And grant assistance to my bold design ; 
Pity, with me, poor husbandmen's aflidrs. 
And now, as \t translated, bear oar prayers. 

This is sense, and to the purpose : the other, poor 
mistaken stuff." 

Such were the strictures of IVfilboume, who found 
few abettors, and of whom it may be reasonably ima- 
gined, that many ^ho favoured bis design were 
ashamed of his insolence. 

When admiration had subsided, the translation was 
more coolly examined, and found, like all others, 
to be sometimes erroneous, and sometimes licen- 
tious. Those who could find faults^ thought they 

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DRYDEN. sas 

could avoid themi and Dr. Brady attempted in blank 
verse a translation of the J£neid, which, when drag- 
ged into the world, did not live^ long enough to cry 
I have never seen it ; but that such a version there 
is, or has been, perhaps some old catalogue informed 

With not much better success, Trapp, when his 
tragedy and his prelections had given him reputation, 
attempted another blank version of the .£,neid; to 
■which, notwithstanding the slight regard with which 
it was treated, he had afterwards perseverance enough 
to add the Eclogues and Georgics. His book may 
continue in existence as long as it is the clandestine 
refuge of school boys. 

Since the English ear has been accustomed to the 
xnellifluence of Pope's numbers, and the diction of 
poetry has become more splendid, new attempts have 
been made to translate Virgil; and all his works 
have been attempted by men better qualified to 
eontend with Dryden. I, will not engage myself 
in an invidious comparison, by opposing one passage 
to another; a work of which there would be no 
end, and which might be often offensive without 
use. ^ , 

It is not by comparing line with line that thp merit 
of great wx)rks is to be estimated, but by their general ? 
effects and ultimate result. It is easy to note a weak . 
line, and write one more vigorous in its place ; to .. 
find a happiness of expression in the original, and \ 
transplant it by force into the version: but what is 
given to the parts may be subducted from the wholei / 
and the reader may be weary, though the critick 
may commend. Works of imaginadoa excel by . 
their allurement and delight j by their power of ' 
attracting and det|iining the attention. That book 
is good in vain which the reader throvrs away. He 

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384 DRYtffiN. 

only is the master who keeps the mind in pleasing 
captivity ; whose pages are perused with eagerness, 
and in hope of new pleasure are perused again; 
and whose conclusion is perceived with an eye of 
{^rrowy such as the traveller casts upon departingf 

By his proportion of this predomination I will con- 
sent that Dryden should be tried ; of this, which, in 
opposition to reason, makes Ariosto the darling and 
the' pfiHiT'or Italy ; of this, which, in defiance of 
criticism, continues Shakspeare the sovereign of the 

His last work Was his Fables, in which he gave us 
the first example of a mode of writing which the Ita- 
lians call refaccimento, a renovation of ancient wri- 
ters, by modernizing their language. Thus the old 
poem of Boiardo, has been new-dressed by Dome- 
nichi and Bemi. The works of Chaucer, which upon 
this kind of rejuvenescence has been bestowed by 
i)ryden, require little criticism. The tale of the 
Cock seems hardly worth revival ; and the story of 
Palamon and Arcite, containing an action unsuitable 
to the times in which it is placed, can hardly be 
suffered to pass without censure of the hyperbolical 
commendation which Dryden has given it in the 
general preface, and in a poetical dedication, a piece 
where his original fondness of remote conceits seems 
to have revived. 

Of the three pieces borrowed from Boccace, Sigis- 
munda may be defended by the celebrity of the story. 
Theodore and Honoria, though it contains not much 
moral, yet afforded opportunities of striking descrip- 
tion. . And Cymon was fornrierly a tale of such repu- 
tation, that at the revival of letters it was translated 
into Latin by one of the Beroalds. 
' Whatever subjects employed his pen, he was still 

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improving our measures, and embellishing our lati' 

In this volume are interspersed some short origmal 
|ioems, which, with his prologues, epilogues, and 
songs, may be comprised in Congreve*s remark, that 
even tliosc, if he had written nothing else, would 
have entitled him to the praise of excellence in his 

One composition must however be distinguished. 
The Ode for St. Cecilia's Day, perhaps the last effort 
of his poetry, has been always considered as exhibit- 
ing the highest flight of fancy, and the exactest nicety 
of art. This is allowed to stand without a rival. If 
indeed there is any excellence beyond it, in some 
other of Dryden's works that excellence must be 
found. Compared with the Ode on Killegrew, it 
may be pronounced perhaps superior on the wholey 
but without any single part equal to the first stanza 
of the other. 

It is said to have cost Dryden a fortnight's labour ; 
but it does not want its negligences; some of the 
lines are without correspondent rhymes j a defect 
which I never detected but after an acquaintance of 
many years, and which the enthuftiatsm of the writer 
might hinder him from perceiving. 

His last stanza has less emotion than the former ; 
but it is not less elegant in the diction. The conclu^ 
sionis vicious ; the musick of Timotheus, which rais- 
ed a mortal to the skies, had only a metaphorical 
power ; that of Cecilia, which drew ah aiagel down^^ 
had a real effect: Uie crown, therefore, could not 
reasonably be divided. 

In a general survey of Dryden's labours, he appears 
to have a mind very comprehensive b^ nature, aiitl 
much enriched with acquired knowledge. His com** 

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386 DRYDEN. 

positions are the effects of a vigorous genius operat- 
ing upon large materials. 

The power that predominated in his intellectual 
operations was rather strong reason than quick sensi- 
bility* Upon all occasions that were presented he 
studied rather than felt, and produced sentiments 
not such as nature enforces, but meditation supplies. 
With the simple and elemental passions, as they 
spring separate in the mind, he seems not much ac- 
quainted ; and seldom describes them but as they are 
complicated by the various relations of society, and 
confused in the tumults and agitations of life. 

What he says of love may contribute to the expla- 
nation of ehis character ; 

Love various minds does variously inspire : 
It stirs in gentle bosoms gentle fire. 
Like that of incense on the altar laid ; 
But raging flames tempestuoiis souls invade : 
A fire which every windy passion blows^ 
With pride it mounts, or with revenge it glow. 

Dryden*s was not one of the gentle bosoms : love, 
as it subsists in itself, with no tendency but to the per- 
son loved, and wishihg only for correspondent kind- 
ness ; such love as shuts out all other interest, the 
love of the golden age, was too soft and subtle to put 
his faculties in motion. He hardly conceived it but 
in its turbulent effervescence with some other de- 
sires ; when it was inflamed by rivalry, or obstructed 
by difficulties ; when it invigorated ambition, or exas- 

. peratcd revenge! 

He is therefore, with all hb variety of elccellencc, 
not often pathetick ; and had so little sensibility of the 

, power of effusions purely natural^ that he did not es- 
teem them in others : simplicity gave him no plea- 
sure ; and for the first part of > his life he looked on 
Otway with contempt, though at last, indeed very late, 

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DRYDEN. 587 

lie confes&ed that in his play there was nature^ which 
is the chief beauty. \ 

We do not always know onr own motives. I am . 
not certain vhether it was not rather the difficulty 
•which he found in exhibitirg the genuine operations 
of the heai-ty than a servile submission to an injudi- 
cious audience, that filled his plays with false magni- 
ficence. It was necessary to fix attention; and the 
mind can be captivated only by recollection, or by cu- 
riosity ; by reviving natural sentiments, or impressing 
new appearances of things: sentences were readier 
at his call than images ; he could more easily fill the 
ear with splendid novelty, than awaken those ideas 
that slumber in the heart. 

The favourite exercise of his mind was ratiocina- 
tion ; and, that argument might not be too soon at an 
end, he delighted to talk of liberty and necessity, 
destiny and contingence ; these he discusses in the 
language of the school with so much profundity, 
that the terms which he uses are not always under- 
stood. It is indeed learning, but learning out of 

When once he had engaged himself in disputation 
thoughts flowed in on either side: he was now no 
longer at a loss ; he had always objections and sola* 
tions at command ; " verbaque provisam rem" — gave 
him matter for his verse, and he finds without diffi-^ 
culty verse for his matter. 

In comedy, for which he professes himself not na- 
turally qualified, the mirth which he excites will per- 
haps not be found so much to arise from any origi- 
nal humour, or peculiarity of character nicely distin- 
guished and diligently pursued, as from incidents and 
circumstances, artifices and surprises ; frgm j'ests of 
action rather than of sentiment. What he had of 
humourous or passionate, he seems to have had not 


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3d8 DRYDEN. 

from nature, but from other poets ; if not always as a 
plagiary, at least as an imitator. 

Next to argument, his delight was in wild and dar* 
ing sallies of sentiment, in the irregular and eccen- 
trick violence of wit. He delighted to tread upon the 
l)rink of meaning, where Hght and darkness beg^ t« 
mingle ; to approach the precipice of absurdity, and 
hover over the abyss of unideal vacancy. This incli- 
nation sometimes produced nonsense, which he knew; 


Move svifltly) svlti, and fly a lover's pace. 

Leave weeks and months behiAd thee in thy raee^ 

Amamel flies 
To guard thee from the demons of the air ; 
My flaming sword at>ove them to display. 
All keen, and ground upon the edge of day. 

And sometimes it issued in absurdities, of which per- 
haps he was not conscious : 

llien we upon oiu orb's last verge shall go^ 

And see the ocean leaning on the sky; 
From thence our rolling neighbours we shall know. 

And on the lunar vorld securely pry 

These lines have no meaning ; but may we not say, 
in imitation of Cowley on another booH^ 

'Tisso like sense, 'twill serve the turn as well. 

This endeavour after the grand and the new pro- 
duced many sentiments either great or bulky, and 
many images either just or splendid : 

I am as free as Nature first made man. 
Ere the base laws of servituife l>egan, 
Whett'lwiJd in woods the noble savage i-aa. 

— 'Tis but because the living death ne*er knew. 
They fear to prove it as a tWng that's new : 
Let me th* experiment before you try, 
I'll shew y^Qu first how easy 'tis to die. 

—There with a forest of their darts he strove, 
And stood like Capaaeus defying Jove. 


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DRY0EN. 389 

With his hroad swerd the boldest'beating doim. 
While Fate grew pale Lest he riiould win the towD» 
And turnM the iron leaves of his dark book 
To make new dooms, or mend what it mistook. 

—I beg no pity for this mouldering clay ; 

For if yoa give it burial, there it takes 

Possession of your earth : 

If burnt, and scattered in the air, the winds 

That strew my dust diffuse my royalty. 

And spread me o'er your clime ; for where one atom 

Of mine shall light, know there Sebastian reigns. 

Of these quotations the two first may be allowed to be 
great, the two latter only tumid. 

Of such selection there is no end. I will add only 
a few more passages ; of which the first, though it 
may perhaps be quite clear in prose, is not too obscure 
for poetry, as the meaning that it has is noble. 

No, there is a necessity in fate. 

Why still the brave bold man is fortunate : 

He keeps his object ever full in sight ; 

And that assurance holds him firm and right ; 

T'rue, 'tis a narrow way that leads to bliss, 

But right before there is no precipice ; 

Fear makes men look aside, and so their footing miss. 

Of the images which the two following citations af- 
ford, the first is elegant, the second magnificent; 
whether either be just let the reader judge : 

What precious drops are these. 
Which silently each other's track pursue. 
Bright as young diamonds in their in&nt dew ? 

Hesign your castle 

—Enter, brave Sir ; for, when you speak the word^ 
The gates shall open of their own accord ; 
The genius of the place its lord shall meet. 
And bow its towery forehead at your feet. 

These bursts of extravagance Dryden calls the 
Dalilahs of the theatre; and owns that many noisy lines 
of Maximin and Almanzor call out for vengeance upoi\ 
him : <^ but I kneW)" 9ays he, f' that they were bad 


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enough to please, even when I wrote them/* There is 
surely reason to suspect that he pleased himself as 
well as his audience ; and that tiiese, like the harlots 
of other men, had his love, though not his approbation. 

He had sometimes faults of a less generous and 
splendid kind. He makes, like almost all other poets, 
very frequent use of ppythology, and sometimes con- 
nects religion and fable too closely without distinction. 

He descends to dispjay his knowledge with pedan- 
tick ostentation; as when, in translating Virgil, he 
says, " tack to the larboard,*' and " veer starboard ;" 
and talks in another work, of " virtue spooning before 
the wind.*' His vanity now and then betrays his igno- 

They Nature's king through Nature's oplicks viewM ; 
Revers'd, they view'd hira lessen'd to their ejct. 

He had heard of reversing a telescope, and unluckilv 
reverses the object. 

He is soii^etimes unexpectedly mean. When he 
describes the Supreme Being as moved by prayer to 
stop the fire of London, what is his expression ? 

A hoHow crystal pyramid he takes. 

In firraamentai wafers dipp'd aboTe, 
Of this a hroad extinguisher he makes. 

And hoods the flames that to the quarry strove. I 

When he describes the last day, and the decisit^e 
tribunal, he intermingles this image : 

When rattling bones together fly, 
From the four quarters of the sky. 

It was ^indeed never in his power to resist the temp- 
tation of a jest. In his Elegy on Cromwell : I 
No sooner was the Frenchman's cause enibrae'd, I 
Than the light monsieur the grave don outweighed ; , 
Hh fortune turn'd tht scal e | 

He had a vanity, unworthy of his abilities, to show, 
as mar be suspected, the rank of the company with 
whom he lived, by the u«e of French words, which 

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B«YDEN* 391 

hid tSieii ci^pt kita conversation f $^li ^ fmeheur 
foi- coolness^ fougUe for turbialence, and a few mpre, 
none of M'hlch.the language has incorporated or -re- 
tained. They c<Mitinue onty where , they stood first, 
perpetual warnings to future Innovators. 

These are hi« faults of aifectation ; his faults of 
negligence are beyond recitaL Such is the uneven* 
ness oT his compositions, that ten lines ^re seldom 
fbund loKGthep without something of which the rea- 
der, is ashamed. Dry den was jm> rigid }udge of his 
own pages; he seldom struggled after supreme excel- 
lence, but snatched in haste what was within his 
reach; and when he could content others, was him- 
self contented. He did not keep present to his mind 
an idea of pure perfection; nor compare his ivorks 
such as they were, with what they might be made! 
He knew to whom he should be Opposed. He had 
more musick than Waller, more vigour than Denham, 
and more nature th«n Cowley; and from his contem- 
poraries he was in no dinger. Standing therefore in 
the highest place, he had no earc to rise by contead- 
ing with himself; but while there was no name above ' 
his own, was willing to enjoy fame on the easiest 

He was no lover of labour. What he thought suffi- 
cient, he did not stop to make better ; and allowed 
himseif to leave many parts unfinished, in confidence 
that the good lines would overbalance the bad. What 
he had once written, he dismissed from his thoughts; 
and I believe there is no example to be found of any 
correction or improvement made by him after publi- 
cation. The hastiness of his productions migtit be 
the effect of necessity ; but his subsequent neglect 
cwild hardly hetre my othei? cause than impatfence of 
study. ■ - 

VOI« IX* ft 


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393 DRYDEN. 

k What can be| sud of his versification will be little 

more than a dilation of the prsdse given it l^ Pope : 

Waller was ismooth ; but lirjden taught to join 
The yaryin^ verse ; the full -resounding line, 
The Imig iqfiBjestick mar6h, and energy divine. 

Some improvements had been already made in llng'- 
lish numbers ; but the full force of our language was 
not yet felt ; the verse that was smooth was commonly 
feeble. If Cowley had sometimes a finished line, he 
had it by chance. Dryden knew how to choose the 
flowing and the sonorous words ; to vary the pauses, 
and adjust the accents.; to diversify the cadence, and 
yet preserve the smoothness of his metre. 

Of triplets and alexandrises, though he did not in- 
troduce the use, he established it. The triplet has 
long subsisted among us. Dryden seems not to have 
traced it higher than to Chapman's Homer ; but it is 
to be found in Phaer's Virgil, written in the reign of 
Mary ; and in Hall's Satires, published five years be- 
fore the death of Elizabeth. 

The alexandrine was, I believe, first used by Spen- 
ser, for the sake of closing his stanza with a fuller 
sound. We had a longer measure of fourteen syllables, 
into which the iEneid was translated by Phaer, and 
other works of the ancients by other writers; of which 
Chapman's Iliad Was, I believe, the last. 

The two first lines of Phaer's third ^neid will ex- 
emplify this measure : 

When Asia's state was overthrown, and Priam's kingdom stout^ . 
All guiltless, by the power of gods above was rooted out. 

As these lines had their break, or csesura, always at 
the eighth syllable, it was thought, in time, ccHnmo- 
dious to divide them i and quatrains of lines, alter- 
nately consisting of eight and six syllables, make the 
most soft and pleasing of our lyrick mea^iires i m 

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DRYDEN. 393 

Relentless time, destroying power. 

Which stone and brass obey, 
Who giv'st to ev'ry flying hour 

To work some new decay. 

' In the alexandrine, when its power was once felt, 
some poems, as Drayton's Polyolbion, were wholly 
written; and sometimes the measures of twelve und 
fourteen syllables were interchanged with one another. 
Cowley was the first that inserted the alexandrhie at 
pleasure among the heroick lines often syllables, and 
from him Dryden professes to have adopted it. 

The triplet and alexandrine are not universally 
approved. Swift always censured them, and wrote 
some lines to ridicule them. In examining their 
propriety, it is to be considered that the essence of 
verse is regularity, and its ornament is variety. To 
write verse, is to dispose syllables and sounds har- 
monically by some known and settled rule ; a rule 
however lax enough to substitute similitude for iden- 
tity, to admit change without breach of order, and to 
relieve the ear without disappointing it. Thus a 
Latin hexameter is formed from dactyls and spondees 
differently combined ; the English heroick admits of 
acute or grave syllables variously disposed. The 
Latin never deviates into seven feet, or exceeds the 
number of seventeen syllables ; but the English alex- 
andrine breaks the lawful bounds, and surprises the 
reader with two syllables more than he expected. 

The effect of the triplet is the same ; the ear haa 
been accustomed to expect a new rhyme in every 
couplet; but is on a sudden surprised with three 
rhymes together, to which the reader could not ac- 
commodate his voice, did he not obtain notice of the 
change from the braces of the margins. Surely there 
is something unskilful b the necessity t>f such mecha- 
nical direction. 


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394 DRYDEN. 

Considering the metrical art simply as a science, 
and consequently excluding all casualty, we must 
allow that triplets and alexaiidrines, inserted by ca- 
price, are interruptions of that constancy to which 
science aspires. And though the variety which they 
pM'oduce may very justly be desired, yet, to make 
ppetry exact, there ought to be some stated mode of 
admitting them. 

But till some such regulation can be formed, I 
wish them still to be retained in their present state. 
They are sometimes convenient to the poet. Fcnton 
was of opinion, that Pryden was too liberal, and Pope 
too sparing in their use._ 

The rhymes of Dryden are commonly just, and he 
valued himself for his readiness in finding them ; but 
he is sometimes open to objection. 

It is the common practice of our poets to end the 
second line with a weak or grave syllable : 

Together o'er the Alps methinks we fly, 
FiU'd with ideas of fair Italy. 

Dryden sometimes puts the weak rhyme in the 

Laugh, all the powers that favour tyranny. 
And ail the standing army ot the sky. 

Sometimes he concludes a period or paragraph 
with the first Une of a couplet, which, though the 
French seem to do it without irregularity, always dis- 
pleases in English poetry. 

The alexandrine, though much his favourite, is 
not always very diligently fabricated by him. It 
invariably requires a break at the sixth syllable ; 
a rule which, the modem Frencji ppets never violatei 
but which Dryden sometimes neglected : 

And with paternal thunder vindicates his throne. 

Of Dryden's works it was said Jjy Pope, that " he 
could select from them better specimens of every 

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DRYDEN. 3^5 

mode of poetry than any other English writer could 
supply.*' Perhaps no nation ever produced a writer 
that enriched his language with suqh a variety of mo- 
dels. To him we owe the improvement, perhaps the 
completion of our metre, the refinement of our lan- 
guage, and much of the correctness of o;ir sentiments. 
By him we were taught " sapere 8c fari,*' to think 
naturally and express forcibly. Though Davies has 
reaspned in rhyme before him, it may be perhaps 
maintained that he was the first who joined argument 
with poetry. He showed us the true bounds of a 
translator's liberty. What was said of Rome, adorned 
by Augustus, may be applied by an easy metaphor, to 
English poetry embellished by Dryden, " lateritiam 
inyenit, marmoream reliquit." He foimd it brick 
and he left it marble. 

The invocation before the Georgics is here insert- 
ed from Mr. Milboume's ^rsion, that, according to 
his own proposal, his verses ma^ be compared with 
those which he censures. 

What makes the richest tilth, beneath what signs 

To plough^ and when to match your elms and vines ; 

What care with flocks, and what with herds agrees. 

And all the management of Qmgal bees : 

1 sing, Mecenas ! Ye immensely clear. 

Vast orbs of light, which guide the rolling year ! 

Bacchns, and mother Ceres, if by you 

We fatt'ning corn for hungry mast parsae. 

If taught by you, we first the cluster prest, 

And thin cold streams vith sprightly juice refresh^ ; 

Ye fawns, the present numens of the field. 

Wood nymphs and fawns, your kind assistance yield; 

Your gifts I sing : and thou, at whose fear'd stroke 

From rending earth the fiery courser broke. 

Great Neptune, O assist my artlul song ! 

And thou to whom the woods and groves belong^ 

Whose snowy heifers on her flow'ry plains ^ 

In mighty herds the Csean Me maintains ! 

Pan, happy shepherd, if thy cares divine, 

Efcr to imp tore thy MKnelus ineUne^ 

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»96 DRYDEN. 

Leave ibj Vjcmui vood and native grove. 
And with thj Incky smiles our work approve ; 
Be^ Pallas too, sweet oil's inventor, kind ; 
And he who first the erooked plough deag;n'd, 
Syl vanns, god of all the woods appear, 
Whoae hands a new-drawn tender cypress bear t 
Ye gods and goddesses, who e'er with love 
Would guard our pastures, and our fields improve ; 
Ye, who new plants from unknown lands supply,' 
Aud with condensing clouds obscure the sky. 
And drop them softly thence in fruitful showers ; 
Assist my enterprise, ye geutle powers ! 

And tliou^ great Cficsar ! though we know not yet 
Among what gods thou'lt fix thy lofty seat ; . 
Whether thou'lt he the kind tutelar god 
Of thy own Rome, or with thy awful nod 
Guide the vast world, while thy great hand shall bear 
The fruits and seasons of the turning year, 
And thy brigrht brows thy mother's myrtles wear; 
Whether thou'lt all the boimfiless oeean sway, 
And seamen only to thyself shall pray ; 
1 hule, the fairest island, kneel to thee. 
And, that thou may'st her son by marriage be, 
Tethys will for the happy pu^chase yield- 
To make a dovry of her wat'ry field : 

. Whether thou'lt add to heaven a brighter sign. 
And o'er the summer months serenely shines 
Where between Cancer and trigone. 
There yet remains a spacious room for thee j 
Where the hot Scorpion too his arm declines, 
And more to thee than half his arch resigns; 
Whate'er thou'lt be ; for sure the realms below 
No just pretence to thy command can show : 
No such ambition sways thy vast desires. 
Though Greece her j»wn Ely«an Fields admirep. 
And now, at last, contented Proserpine, 
Can all her mother's earnest prayers decline. 
Whale'er thou'lt be, O guide our gentle course j 

^ And with thy smiles our bold attempts enforce; 
With me Ih* unknowing rusticks' wants relieve. 
And, though o» earth, our sacred vows receive. 

Mr. Dryden, having received from Rymer his Re- 
marks on the Tragedies of the last Age, wrote obser- 
vations on the blanliL leaves ; which} having been in the 

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DRYDIW. 397 

possession of Mr. Garrick) are by his fatour commu- 
nicated to the publick, that no particle of Dryden 
may be lout. 

" That we may less wonder why pity and terror 
are not now the only springs on which our tragedies 
move, and that Shakspeare may be more excu'scd, 
Rapin confesses that the French tragedies now all run 
on the tendre ; and gives the reason, because love is 
the passion which most predominates in our souls, 
and that therefore .the passions represented become 
insipid, unless they are conformable to tiie thoughts 
of the audience. But it is to be concluded, that this 
passion works not now amongst flie French so strongly 
♦as the other two did amongst the ancients. Amongst 
tis, who have a stronger genius for writing, the ope- 
rations from^ the writing are much stronger ; for the 
raising of Shakspeare's passions is more from the 
-excellency of the words and thoughts, than the just- 
ness of the occasi<m ; and>if he has been able to pick 
single occasions, he has never founded the whole rea- 
sonably ; yet, by the genius of poetry in writing, he 
has succeeded. 

<* Rapin attiibutes more to^he dictio^ that is, to the 
wordfr and discourse of a tragedy, ^lan Aristotle has 
done, who places them in the last rank of beauties . 
perhaps, only last in order, because they are the last 
product of the design, of the disposition or connection 
of its parts 5 of thc<jharaeter8, of the manners of those' 
chara<f!er(r, and of the thoughts proceeding from those 
manners. Rapin's words are remarkable : * *Tis not 
the admirable intrigue, the surprising events, and 
extraordinary incidents, that make the beauty of a 
tragedy : His the discourses, when th^y are natursd 
and passionate : so are Shakspeare's.* 

" The parts of a poem, tragick or heroick, ate, ^ 

"1. Thefeble itself. : 

« 4 ^ , ...# 

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396 DRIDEN. 

^ % The order or manner of its contriTiMice, in 
rek^on of the parts to the whole. 

^ 3. The maanjU's, or decency <^ the chamcters, in 
BpeakiBg^or acting what U'proper for theniy and pro- 
per to be shown by the poet. 

<< 4. The thoughts which express the nuMmers. 

<* 5. The words whic^ expci^s those thoughts. 

^ lathe last of these Homer excels Virgil; VirgU 
all the other ancient poets; and Shaksgeare all 
modem poets. 

^ For the second. of these, the order : tite meuiiiig 
is, that a fable ought to have a beginning, nuddle, and 
va end, all just and natural; -so that that part, e, g. 
which is the middle, could not naturally be the begin- 
ning or end, and so of the rest : ^1 depe^jd on oae 
another,^ like the links of a curioue ehaia. II terror 
and pity are only to be raiaed, certs^»ily this ^msothor 
follows Aristotle'^ rules, and Sophocles and Ewrir 
pides* exi^mple ; but joy may be nifted loo, and tibit 
doubly, either by seeing a wicked m^ii piioisfaedt or a 
good man at las^ fortunate ; or perhaps ind^;nailifiii» to 
see wickedness prosperous, and goodness d^ppeasod.: 
both these m^y be pr o^tidblA to the mA of % tragedy, 
reformadoaof raaaners ; but t\^ lastimpropeciys ^^ 
a» it begetft pity in the audienee ; though Ari^tot}^ I 
cQnfe^, pki^ea tragedies of. tjaia^ kind in tbo 9ei{»>nd 

^ He wlw undertAken to niwwev. this e^c^llent cri- 
tique ^ Mr. ftyman in behftlf Qf Qur Eitg^sn points 
ngiun^t the Gc^ek^ ought to do it in this msvnner : eir 

^op/tendji far, which eoi^ts io thi^} thatr thc^9«?,f, «. 
ly^e des^ m^ conduct of it, is more CQuducing? ih 
the Greeks to those enda of tragedy^ which Aristotle 
and Ini propose, namely, to c^ufie tei ror sMid pity ; 
yet the granting this does not. iHt^f) Qi?#9M abeye 
Ae English poets. 


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DRYDEN. 399 

** But the answerer ought to prove two things : firsts 
that the fable is not the greatest master-piece of at 
tragedy, though it be the foundation of it. 

«* Secondly, that other ends as suitable to the na- 
ture of tragedy may be found in the English, which ^ 
were not in the Greek. 

" Aristotle places the fable first ; not qtioad dig- 
nhatem, sed quoad fundanfentuni ; for a fable, never 
so mevingly contrived to those ends of his, pity and 
terror, will operate nothing on our affecti6ns, ex- 
cept the characters, manners, thoughts, and wordsy 
are suitable. 

** So that it remains for Mr. Rymer to prove, that in 
all those or the greatest part of them, we are inferior 
to Sophocles and Euripides ; and this he has offered 
at, m some nfeaisure ; but, I think, a little partially to 
the ancients. 

" For the fable itself, ^is in the English more . 
adorned with episodes, and larger than in the Greek 
poets ; consequently more diverting. For, if the 
action be hut one, and that plain, without any cottiy- 
tertum of design or episode, i, e. underplot, how call 
it be so pleasing as the Eng&»h, which have botht 
underplot and a turned design, which keeps the 
audience in expectation of the catastrophe ? whereas 
in the Greek poets we see through the whole desigm 
at first. H. • 

** For the characters, they are neither so many not* 
80 various in Sophocles and Euiipides, as in Shak- 
spcare and Fletcher ; only they are more adapted to- 
those ends of tragedy which Aristotle commends to^ 
us, pity and terror. 

** The manners ftow from the characters,, and con^ 
sequently must partake of their advantages and dis^ 
advantage s«. 


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400 " DRYDEN. 

« The thoughts anci words, which are:the laurtli 
and fifth beauties of tragedy, are certaiuly more noble 
and more poetical in the English than in the Greek, 
which must be proTed by comparing them somewhat 
more equitably than Mr. Rymer has done. 

<( After all, we qeed not yield th^t the English way 
is less conducing to move pity and terror, because 
they oftoi show virtue oppt«83ed and vice punished ; 
where they do not boUi, or eitberj they are not to be 

^ And if we should grant that the Oreeka performed 
this better, perhapsk may admit of dispute, whether 
pity and terror are either .^he prime, or at least the 
only ends of -tragedy. 

« 'Tis not enough that Aristotte had s^d. so ; for, 
Aristotle drew his models of tragedy from Sophocles 
and Euripides ; and if he had seen ours, might have 
changed his mind. And chiefly we have t» say (what 
I hinted on pity and terror, in the last pan^raph 
save one,") that the punisimient of vice and reward of 
virtue are the most adequate ends o£ tragedy, because 
most conducing to good example of life. Now^ pity 
is not so easily raise4 for a criminal (andthe ancient 
tragedy always represents its chief person such) as 
it is for an innocent man ; and the suffering of inno- 
cence and punishment^f the offender is of the nature 
of English tragedy : contrarily, in the Greek, imio- 
cence is unhappy often and the offender escapes. 
Then we are not touched with th^ sufferings of any 
sort of men so much as of lovers ; and this was almost 
unknown to the ancients : so thai they neither admin- 
istered poetical justice, of which Mr. Rymer boasts^ 
so well aS we ; neither knew they the best common- 
place of pity, which is love, 

*' He therefore unjustly blames us for not huiLdmg 
on what the ancients left us ^ foritseems^ upon con- 

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DRYDEN. 401 

sideration, of the premises, that we have 'whoUy 
finished what they began. 

*' My judgment on this x»cce is this^ : that it is ex- 
tremely learned, but that the author of it is better read 
in the Greek than in the English poets : that all wri- 
ters ought to study this critique, as the best account 
I have ever seen of the ancients ; that the jmodei of 
tragedy, he has here givenr is excellent^ and ex** 
treinely correct ; but that it' is not the only model of 
all tragedy, because it is too much circumscribed in 
plot) characters, Sec. and, lastly, that we may be taught 
here justly to admire and imitate the ancients, without 
g^iving them the preference with this aiUhor, in prejur 
dice to our own country. ; , 

<< Ws»it of' method in this e;;Kcellent treatise make^ 
the thoughts of the au^or sometimes obscure. 

<^ His meaning, that pity and terror are to be moved 
is, that they are to be moved as the means conducing 
to the ends of tragedy, which are pleasure and instruct 

^< And these two ends may be thus distinguishedL 
The chief end of the poet is to please ; for his immer 
diate reputation depends on it. ^ 

" The great end of the poem is to instruct, which is 
performed by ma^iing pleasure the vehicle of that in- 
struction ; for, posey i^ an ai^t, and all arts are made tp 
profit. Rafiin. 

^ The pity, which the poet is to labour for,, is for 
the criminal, not for those or him whom he has mur- 
dered, or who have been the occasion of the tragedy. 
The terror is likewise in the punishment of the same 
criminal ; who, if he be represented too great an offen- 
der, will not be pitied ; if altogether innocent,'bis pun- 
ishment will be unjust. 

**AnoUier obscurity is, where he says, Sophocles 
perfected tragedy^ by introducing the third actor : 

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tbtt 189 h% ntaant thvee kinds of Actio»; one cod 
ptnj ringing, or speaking; another playing om tbei 
iMiMck ; a third dancing. 

^To make a true judgment in this competition b& 
twixt the Greek poets and the English^ in tragedy: 
^Consider, first, hew Arisaotle has defined ati^gedy 
Secondly, whskt he assignathe eadof it^to be. Thirdly 
what he thinks the beauties of it. Fosnhly^ the meam 
to attain the ei>d proposed. 

^ Compare the Greek and English tragtek poets just- 
Iff and irithout partialkjy according .to those r«les. 

*<Tfaen, secoQ^y, censider whedier Aristotle has 
Hiade a just definition of tragedy ; of its parts, of its 
ends, and of its beauties ; and whethev he, having not 
seen any others bat those of Sophocles, Euripidesi 
Ice. had or truly could <letermiBe what all the excel- 
ieneies of tragedy aretsnd wherein d^ consist 

* Next, shew In what ancientvtraged^r was deficient : 
for example, in the narrowness of its plots, mnd few- 
ness of persons ; and try whether that be not a &ult 
in the Oreek'poets; and wheth^^ their eitceUency was 
90 great, when the rariety waa visibly so little; or 
whether what they did was no^ very easy to do^ 

*Then make a judgment on what theEnglish have 
added to their beauties ; as, for example^ not &nlj more 
plot, btrt tJtM new passions ; aa namely, that &f love^ 
' scarcely touched on by the ancients, except iah this 
one example of Fh«dra, cited by Mr. Rymer; and ija 
that how short they were of Fletcher ! 

** Frove also that love, being an herotGk> paeaien, is 
fitfbf tragedy, which cannot be denied, because of the 
example alTeged of Phaedra; and how ferShakspeare 
has outdone them m friendship, &c. 

" To return to the beginning of this inquiry; consider 
if pity and terror be enough for tragedy to move: and 
I belieye, upon a Ixue de^itioa of tragedy h if Hi be 

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Pound tfmt its work eictends farther, and that it h to 
reform numners, by a delightful' representation of hu- 
man life in great persons, by wleiy of diah)gtie. If- this 
i>e true, then not only pity and terror are to%e mored, 
its 'the only means to bring us to virtue, but generally 
love to virtue, and hatred to vice ; by shewing the re- 
urards of one, and punishments of the oAer ; at least, 
by rendering virtue always amiable, though it be 
shown unfortunate ; and vice detestable, thoiigh it be 
shown triumphant. ' 

** If, then, the encouragement of virtue and dtscout" 
agement of vice be the proper endsof poetry in tragedy, 
pity void terror, though good means, are not the only. 
For aU the passions, in their turns, are to be set in a 
ferment) as joy, anger, love, fear, are to be used as 
the poet's common-places ; and a genend concern- 
ment for the principal actors is to be ndsed, by mak- 
ing them appear such in their diaracters, theirworda 
and actions, as will Interest the audience in their for- 

^ And if, after atl,in a larger sense, pity eomprehenda 
this concernment for the good, and terror incJndet de- 
testation for the bad, then iet us eonsider whether the 
English have not answered this end of tragedy as well 
as the ancients, or perhaps better. 

^ And here Mr. Rymer's objeetiomi agidnst these 
plays are to be impartially weighed, that we may see 
whether they are of weight enough to turn the bid- 
ance against our countrymen. 

***Tis evident those plays which he arraigns, have 
moved both those passions in a hlg^ degree upon the 

" To give the glory of thi-s away from the poet, and 
to place it upon the actors, seems unjust. 

** One reason is, because whatever actors they have 
founds the event has been tiie aame ; that iS) the same 

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404 DRYDEN. 

passions have been alvays moved ; ivhicb shows that 
there is something, of force and merit in the plays 
thcmselvesy conducing to the design of raising these 
tvo passions ; and suppose tliem ever to have been ex- 
cellently aetedtyet actioaonly adds grace^ vigour, and 
mpre lifeyupon the stage; but cannot give it wholly 
where it is not £r«t. But» secondly, I dare appeal to 
those who have never seen them acted, if they have 
not found these two passions moved within them : and 
if the general voice will carry it, Mr. Rymer'a pre- 
judice will take off his single testimony. 

*' This, being matter of fact, is reasonably to be ea* 
tablished by this, appeal; as, if one man says it is 
night, when the rest of the world c<mclude it to be 
day, there needs no fiirther argument against him, 
that it is so. 

^ If he urg^ that the general taste is depraved, his 
arguments to prove this can at best but evince that 
.•ur poets took not the best way to raise those pas- 
sions ; but experience proves against him^ that those 
n^eans, which they have used, have been successful; 
. and have produced them. 

^' And one reason of that success is, in my opinion, 
this ; that Shakspeare and Fletcher have written to 
the genius of the £^e and nation in which they lived; 
for though nature, as he objects, is «the same in all 
places, and reason too the same ; yet the climate, the 
age, the disposition of the people, to whom a poet 
writes, may be so different, that what pleased the 
Greeks would not satisfy an English audience. 

« And if they proceed upon a foundation of truer 
reason to please the Athenians, than Shakspeare and 
Fletcher to please the English, it only shows tliat the 
Athenians were a more judicious people ; but the 
poet's business is certainly, to please the audi/snce. 

" Whether our .English audience have been pleased 
hitherto with acomsi as he calls it; or with bread, is 

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DItYDfiN. 405 

tie next .qtiestion ; tkat is, whether the means which 
»hakspeare and Fletcher have qsed, in their plays, to 
alse those passions before named, be better applied 
o the ends by the Greek poets than by them. And 
perhaps we shall not grant him this wholly : let it be 
ielded that a. writer is not to run^dewn With the stream 
►r to please the people by their usual methods, bat ra- 
her to reform their judgments, it still remains to 
>rove that our theatre needs this total reformation. 

<< The faults, which he has found in their design are 
*ather wittily aggravated in many places than reason- 
ibly urged; and as much may be returned on the 
Greeks hy one who were as witty as himself. 

" They destroy not, if they are granted,the founde^ion 
of the fabrick ; only take away from the beauty of the 
symnvetry ; for example, the faults in the character of 
the king^ in King and No-king, are not, as he calls 
theni) such as render him detestable, but only imper- 
fections which aceon^iKiy^ buroim.- nature, and are for 
the most part excused by the violence of his love ; so 
that they destroy not our pity or concernmeBt fw 
bim : this answer may be applied to most of his objec- 
tions of that kind. 

"And Rollo committing many murders, when he is^ 
answeraWe but for one, is too severely arraigned by 
him ; for, it adds to our horror and detestation of the 
criminal; and poetick justice is not neglected neither; 
for we stab him m our minds for every offence which 
he commits ; and the point, which the poet is to gain 
on the audience^ is not so much in the death of an 
offender as the raising an horror of his crimes. * 

"That the criminal should neither be wholly guilty^ 
nor wholly innocent^ but so participating of both as to 
move both pity and terror, is certainly a good rul^, 
but not perpetually to be observed ; for> that were to 

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4»6 jmx&eaa. 

all tnq^tt t9m wnmch idike ; vUch cibjectti 

J^ foresawt but h»$ not CuUy anovered. 

« To CMicluiki therelbra; if the ^ys of Ae aackct 
are more correctly {>letled, oiirs ai^ more beautiM 
written. And, if me ean. rat«e pasMens as bigh « 
worfte ibundatioiiey' it ahows omt geniua in tra^edf ii 
greater ; for in all oiber paru eif it the EngUsfa han 
mamfeatly excelled them." 

Ths original of the toUowing letter b presenred ia 
tisie library at Lambeth) and was kindly imparted o 
the publick by the reverend Dr. Vyae; 
Copy of an original letter frem John Dryden^ esq. tt 

his sons in Ftaly, from a MS. in the Lambetk Xibn* 

ry, marked No. 933, p. 56. 


Carlo Dryden Camarieve 

d'HoRore A. S. 8. 


^Fnmca per Mantoua. 

Sept te ad> our style. 
^ Dear Sons, 
^ Being now at sir William Bowyer*s in the countryj 
I cannot write at large, because I find^myself somt- 
what indisposed with a cold^ and am thick of hearing) 
rather worse than I was in towQ. I am glad to find, 
hj your letter of July Sfith, your style, that you srej 
both in health ; but wonder you should think me so| 
negligent as to forget to give you an account of tht 
ship in which your parcel is to come. I have writtes 
to you two or three letters concerning it, which 1 hare 
sent by safe hands, as I told you, ain) doubt not but 
you have them before this can arrive to you. Being 
out of town, I have forgotten the ship's name, whidk 
your mother will inquire^ and put it into her letter^ 


by Google 

kidi is jouied wkh mine. But tAne iimtei^ name t 
^member:, he k^ called Mr. Ralph Thorp ; the 9hip 
. bound taLeghom, eonsign^ to Mn Peter aend Mr. . 
homtts Sail, merchants. I am of yo«nr opinion, that 
f To^soi»*s mean^s almost aH our letters haTO mxs* 
irried for this last year. Btit, however, he has misv' 
d of bis design in the dedication, though he had pre<- 
»ared the book £op it; for, in eyery figure of £neas 
:e has caused him te h« draiirn. tike king WHliamy 
dth a hooked' nose. .A^f^er mj return to town, I in^ 
end to after a play of m Robert Howard's, written 
&ng since, and Is^ly ptit into my hands; *tis called 
The Conquest ef China by the Tartars. It wilt cost 
AC six ^meeifcs study^ with the probable benefit of an 
lundred pounds. In tlie mean time I am writing a 
^ong for St. Cecilia's Feast, who, you know, is the 
patroness of musick. This is troublesome, and no 
way beneficial ; but I could not deny the stewards of 
the feast, who came in a body to me to desire that 
kindness, one of them being Mr. Bridgeman, whose 
parents are your mother's friends. I hope to send 
you thirty guineas between Michaelmas and Christ- 
mas, of which I will give you an account when I come 
to town. I remember the counsel you give me in your 
letter ; but dissembling, though lawful in some cases^ 
is not my talent ; yet, for your sake, I will struggle 
with the plain openness of my nature, and keep in 
my just resentments against that degenerate order. 
In the mean time, I flatter not myself with any man- 
ner of hopes, trut do my duty, suid suffer for God's 
sake ; being assured, before hand, never to be re- 
warded, though the times should alter. Towards the 
latter end of this month, September, Charles will 
begin to recover his perfect health, according to 
his nativity, which, casting it myself, I am sure is 
true, and all things hitheito have happened accord- 

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408 DRTDEN. 

iBglf to the yery time that I predicted thetn : I hope 
at the same time to reeover more health, according 
to mj age. Remember me to poor Hany, whose 
prayers I earnestly desire. My Virgil succeeds ia 
the world beyond its dese^ or my expectation. You 
know the profits might hare been more; but neither 
my conscience nor my honour would suffer me to 
take them : but I never can epent of ray ccmstancj, 
since I am thoroughly persuaded of the justice of the 
cause for which I suffer. It has pleased God to raise 
up many friends to me amongst my enemiesiy though 
they who ought to have been my friends are negli- 
gent of me. I am called to dinner, and cannot go on 
with this letter^ which I desire you to excuse ; and am 
« Your most affectionate father, 

" JOHW DrTD£K." 



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