Slike strani

tionably worthy of the highest praise, without forfeiting all pretensions to consistency and dignity of

was not ashamed thus to address John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, (then only twenty-eight years old,) in the Dedication of his comedy entitled LOVE IN THE Dark; for which I do not know that he ever was censured by any of his contemporaries :

[ocr errors]


Gentleman of his Majesty's Bedchamber.


come at last to be tried

call upon their fatally

Offenders, long connived at, for their lives, and are forced to indulgent friends to bring them off; for volunteer poets are at least as mad as those who, out of wantonness, play themselves into the gallies. It is high time to cast myself at your Lordship's feet, and humbly beg your protection to this rude piece, which grew the bolder by your encouragement. All poems, in their Dedications, ought to return to your Lordship, as all rivers to the sea, from whose depth and saltness they are seasoned and supplied; none of them ever coming to your Lordship's hands, without receiving some of the rich tinctures of your unerring judgment; and running with much more clearness, having past so fine a strainer. If this receives any approbation in the world, I must ascribe it principally to your Lordship's partial recommendations, and impartial


"Your Lordship is the first person in the world, by whom I have been highly and heroically obliged: and if the first impressions of gratitude may be as strong and captivating as those of the first love, they must needs be

character. Tonson, his bookseller, was so desirous of procuring this Dedication, which he probably

much more lasting and immutable, in my passion for your Lordship; since the world affords no object so high and admirable, ever to work a change, your Lordship being the most accomplished of all mankind that I ever knew, read, or heard of, by human testimony. Eminent beings are as hard to be believed, as they are to be under. stood; and no man can speak truth of your Lordship's superlative endowments without suspicion of flattery, nor conceal them without conviction of ignorance. That famous temper of weight, so rarely found in bodies, appears most illustriously in your Lordship's mind. Judg. ment and fancy, seldom concurring in other men, in any small proportion, are possessed by your Lordship in the highest degree that ever was allowed the soul of man; yet with so happy and harmonious a mixture, that neither of them predominate nor usurp, but, like two peaceful colleagues in empire, agree within themselves, and govern the rest of the world: acting, in your Lordship's noble and elevated mind, like fire and air in the upper region, whose purity makes them easily convertible, and mutually assistant, whilst they are always quarrelling and preying upon each other in gross inferior bodies. What was favourably said of my Lord Bacon in his time, may much more justly be affirmed of your Lordship in yours ;— That if ever there were a beam of knowledge immediately derived from GOD, upon any man, since the Creation, there is one upon yourself. Others, by wearisome steps, and regular gradations, climb up to knowledge; your Lordship is flown up to the top of the hill: you are an enthusiast in wit, a poet and philosopher by revelation; and have already, in your tender age, set out such new and glorious lights in poetry, yet those so orthodox and un

imagined would promote the sale of the book, that, in retouching the plates, he made the engraver throughout the work always represent Eneas with a hooked nose, that he might resemble the illustrious prince then on the throne."

From the time employed in this great work, Dryden borrowed two months in the year 1695, which were consumed in translating Du Fresnoy's

questionable, that all the heroes of antiquity must submit, or Homer and Virgil be judged nonconformists. For my part, I account it one of the great felicities of my life to have lived in your age; but much greater, to have had access to your person, and to have been cherished and enlightened by the influences and irradiations of so great a luminary. For, I must confess, I never return from your Lordship's most charming and instructive com versation, but I am inspired with a new genius, and improved in all those sciences I ever coveted the knowledge of: I find myself not only a better poet, a better philosopher, but much more than these, a better Christian: your Lordship's miraculous wit, and intellectual powers, being the greatest argument that ever I could meet with, for the immateriality of the soul; they being the highest exaltation of human nature, and, under Divine authority, much more convincing to suspicious reason, than all the pedantick proofs of the most learnedly peevish disputants : so that, I hope, I shall be obliged to your Lordship, not only for my reputation in this world, but my future happiness in the next.

"Reflect then, my Lord, I beseech you, on your own sublime perfections, the profuseness of your favours, my powerful (though presumptuous) inclination to your person; and judge, if it be possible, for any other man

Latin Poem on THE ART OF PAINTING2 which he prefixed a very pleasing Preface, the work of twelve mornings); a task probably sug gested by his friend Closterman the Painter, and Sir Godfrey Kneller, who were both active in procuring subscriptions to his Virgil; and in the end of the same year, on the death of Purcell, the celebrated Musician, he honoured his memory with an Ode. In the next year, I believe, he wrote the Life of Lucian, from regard to Mr. Moyle, (of whom he had madę honourable mention in the

living to pay your Lordship so sincere and affectionate a veneration, as

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors]

Obedient, and humble servant,

If this does not exhibit a perfect specimen of the true celestial style of Dedication, I know not where it can be found.



Letter from Dryden to his son Charles, Sept. 3,

Dryden, in this translation, which was published in June, 1695, (see London Gazette, N° 3094,) having been led into some errours by De Piles, who states in his Preface that his French version was made at the author's request, and revised by him, they were corrected in the second edition in 1716, by Mr. Jervas, with the assistance, it is supposed, of his friend and scholar, Pope. The late Mr. Mason, in 1782, published a poetical translation of the same piece, which is now incorporated in the works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, with very valuable annotations by that great painter.

Parallel of Poetry and Painting,)3 Sir Henry Shere*, and some other gentlemen, who were engaged in a

3" This foregoing remark, which gives the reason why imitation pleases, was sent me by Mr. Walter Moyle, a most ingenious young gentleman, conversant in all the studies of humanity, much above his years. He had also furnished me, according to my request, with all the parti. cular passages in Aristotle and Horace, which are used by them to explain the art of poetry by that of painting; which, if ever I have time to retouch this Essay, shall be inserted in their places."-So again, in the Life of Lucian: "The learning and judgment above his age, which every one observes in Mr. Moyle, are proofs of those abilities he shews in his country's service, where he was chose to serve it in the Senate, as his father had done.". Some further account of Mr. Moyle may be found in vol. iii. p. 382, n. 8.

+ In speaking of this gentleman in the notes on the Life of Polybius, and elsewhere, I have called him Sheers, following the ordinary corruption of the last age, into which even Lord Clarendon has fallen; that of adding the letter s, ad libitum, to the end of surnames. Thus Mr. St. John, afterwards Viscount Bolingbroke, appears ainong the Subscribers to our author's translation of Virgil, by the name of Henry St. Johns, Esq. But the following note by Dryden, (on a line in the fourth Georgick,) which contains a curious observation made by his friend, at the same time ascertains his true name :

[ocr errors]

My most ingenious friend, Sir Henry Shere, has observed through a glass-hive, that the young prince of the bees, or heir presumptive of the crown, approaches the king's apartment with great reverence, and for three successive mornings demands permission to lead forth a colony of that year's bees. If his petition be granted,

[blocks in formation]
« PrejšnjaNaprej »