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us, frequently in print called him an Atheist.Roused at length by these repeated libels, on the 4th of October, 1682, he published his admirable satire entitled MAC-FLECKNOE," in which he has taken ample vengeance on his corpulent antagonist. THE BIOGRAPHIA BRITANNICA, the LIVES OF THE POETS, compiled by Shiels, Coxeter, and the younger Cibber,' and Derrick in his Life of Dry
"It was published originally in quarto, not by Jacob Tonson, but by D. Green, with the following title :"MAC-FLECKNOE, or a Satyr upon the true-blew Protestant Poet, T. S. By the Author of ABSALOM and ACHITOPHEL." It consists of one sheet and a half, and the price was only two-pence. At the end of the original edition is the following odd advertisement :
“A gentleman having a curious collection of poetry by the most ingenious of the age, intends to oblige the world with a poem every Wednesday morning, and with all new ones as they come to his hand."
7 The statement in Cibber's LIVES OF THE Poets, is curious. The writer supposed that the new Laureate, made in the room of Dryden after the Revolution, was Richard Flecknoe," for whom he had a confirmed aversion, in consequence of which he wrote a satire against him, called MAC-FLECKNOE." The writer seems to have thought that Mac and Anti were synonymous.— Derrick was not much more fortunate. Shadwell (says he) is the true hero of the piece. As for Richard MacFlecknoe, Esq. from whom the poem derives its name, he was an Irish priest," &c.
Flecknoe himself our author has elsewhere treated with boundless contempt. This poor poetaster, however, who died about the year 1678, wrote a copy of verses in praise
den, have all represented this celebrated poem as having been written in 1689, in consequence of his being then devested of the office of Laureate; and some or other of them led Dr. Johnson into the same errour.
To those who have an opportunity of perusing the many malicious and scurrilous libels against Dryden, issued out in the course of this year, his retaliation in this exquisite satire will appear extremely mild and moderate. What number of editions it passed through in a separate form, I am unable to ascertain, having only seen the first edition in quarto, which has been just mentioned. It was republished by Tonson in the first volume of Dryden's MISCELLANIES, early in 1684, with a few slight alterations, which, to gratify the curious reader, I shall give below : and probably a second, if not
of Dryden; and perhaps furnished him with an image which he has happily improved in the well-known lines on Settle:
"He was too warm on picking-work to dwell,
And, if they rhym'd and rattled, all was well.” "For his learning, (says Flecknoe, describing a school. boy,) 'tis all capping verses, and fagoting poets' loose lines, which fall from him as disorderly as fagot-sticks, when the band is broke." ENIGMATICAL Characters, 8vo, 1658, p. 77.
8 About thy boat the little fishes throng,
And gently waft the [thee] over all along.—1st ed.
a third, impression in quarto had been previously dispersed. Shadwell, a few years afterwards, in the Dedication of a very contemptible translation of
Thou wield'st thy paper-1st ed.
Thou wield'st thy papers-1684.
From near Bunhill, to distant Watling-street.-1st ed.
High on a state, of his own labours rear'd :
And lambent dullness play'd about his face. 1st ed. around his face. 1684.
That he to death true dullness would maintain; 1st ed. That he till death, &c. 1684.
Would bid defiance unto wit and sense. 1st ed.
Ne'er to have peace with wit, nor truce with sense. 1684.
Was placed a mighty mug-1st ed.
He placed, &c.
His temples, last, with poppy were o'erspread,—1st ed. with poppies were o'erspread,-1684.
The advancing throng loud acclamations make,
And omens of the future empire take ;—1st ed.
And omens of his future, &c.-1684.
And from his brows damps of oblivion shed:
let him stretch, &c.—1684.
Juvenal's Tenth Satire, (a happy foil to our poet's excellent version of the same piece,) had the audacity to assert, that when he taxed Dryden with being the author of MAC-FLECKNOE, " he denied it with all the execrations he could think of."-It is certain, however, that in the List of his Poems, which he subjoined, in 1690, to one of his plays, he did not enumerate either this satire or the Eulogy on Cromwell; but the omission of MACFLECKNOE in that list probably arose from delicacy, and the peculiar situation in which he then stood. In such an authoritative catalogue of his
Pangs without birth, a fruitless industry.—1st. ed.
Let gentle George with triumph-1st ed.
Let them be all of thy own model made—1st ed.
by thy own model-&c. 1684.
Not copies drawn, but issues of thine own.-1st ed. but issue, &c.—1684.
But let no alien Sydney interpose-1st ed.
But write thy best on th' top, and in each line
- that boasted bias of the mind,-1st ed.
And down they sent the yet declining bard:-1st ed. the yet declaiming bard:-1684.
Two or three of these variations, however, are manifestly
mere corrections of errours of the
poetical works, he might not wish publickly to avow himself the author of so bitter a satire on one whom his old friend, and at this time recent benefactor, thought worthy of that laurel which had been wrested from his own head.
Shadwell's reasoning on the propriety of the title of this poem furnishes a proof of the truth and accuracy of our author's delineation. Not being conscious, it should seem, that he is described as the poetical son of Flecknoe, and in sober sadness supposing himself represented as a native of Ireland, he expresses his wonder at Dryden's stupidity, which, he says, shews clearly that "he is not the dullest of mankind ;" and asks, "what possible reason can the author have for giving me the Irish name of MAC, when he knows I never saw Ireland till I was three-and-twenty years old, and was there but four months ?"
When MAC-FLECKNOE is perused, it is not easy to suppose that the writer should be able shortly afterwards to produce another satire of still more poignancy, on the same person; yet I know not whether the character of Og, which appeared in the Second Part of ABSALOM AND ACHITOPHEL, in less than a month after MAC-FLECKNOE, (Nov. 10, 1682,) is not entitled to that praise. Of the greater portion of the Second Part Tate was the author; but Dryden, having in the original work confined himself to the great political leaders of the party which he opposed, afterwards extended his satire to the hirelings of the cause,