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to the point in question Lord Lansdowne's reasoning may have been, his character of Dryden strongly confirms what Congreve and others have said on the same subject; for which purpose chiefly it has been here introduced. As to the licentiousness of some of our author's comedies, of which almost every writer of the time, following the example of the Court,' was as guilty as Dryden, his best defence must ever be that which Dr. Johnson has made for him, that "he lived to repent, and to testify his repentance." The younger Burnet's assertion, however, that the poet's moral character
• See our author's Epilogue to THE PILGRIM : "But sure a banish'd Court, with lewdness fraught, "The seeds of open vice, returning, brought: “Thus lodg'd, as vice by great example thrives, "It first debauch'd the daughters and the wives. "London, a fruitful soil, yet never bore "So plentiful a crop of horns before. "The poets, who must live by Courts, or starve, "Were proud so good a government to serve; "And mixing with buffoons and pimps profane, "Tainted the stage for some small snip of gain; "For they, like harlots under bawds profest, "Took all the ungodly pains, and got the least. “Thus did the thriving malady prevail ; "The Court its head, the Poets but the tail. "The sin was of our native growth, 'tis true; "The scandal of the sin was wholly new : "Misses there were, but modestly conceal'd; "Whitehall the naked Venus first reveal'd; "Who standing, as at Cyprus, in her shrine, "The strumpet was adored with rites divine."
in private life was here not in contemplation, and that he was censured only as a dramatick poet, may justly be questioned; for in that case, his father should have written, " the plays of Dryden, the great master of dramatick poesy, abounding in immodesty and impurities of all sorts:" and the Bishop's own words elsewhere may also be urged in favour of a larger interpretation; for in his Defence of the Reflections on Varillas, where Dryden's dramatick writings were certainly not in contemplation, he had said of our author-" It is true he had somewhat to fink from, in matter of wit; but as to his morals, it is scarce possible for him to grow a worse man than he was. The first part of Burnet's History, containing the paffage in question, it should be remembered, was written recentibus odiis, about ten or twelve years after Dryden's celebrated controversial poem had exhibited him in no very favourable light; and it is not unreasonable to suppose that this circumstance was not entirely forgotten by the HISTORIAN OF HIS OWN TIME, when our poet was selected from the whole tribe of dramatick offenders, and represented as the person to whom principally the licentiousness of the stage was imputable, in such strong yet ambiguous terms, that whether the man was not intended to be censured as well as the poet, may yet be a question among criticks.
1 See p. 196.
2 Under the name of the BUZZARD, in THE HIND AND THE PANTHER.
How great soever Dryden's modesty may have been, he was fully sensible of his powers, and on many occasions very frankly avowed his confidence in his own abilities; which he felt, and did not disguise, at a time when he was yet but a candidate for fame," in the rudiments of his poetry, without a name or reputation in the world." The passages of this kind which are found in his works, are strongly confirmed by a story which the late Lord Chief Justice Marlay, who died above forty years ago, was fond of relating, and has been communicated to me by my friend, the Lord Bishop of Waterford, his only surviving son. His father became a Templar about the time that the famous Ode for St. Cecilia's day was produced; and being desirous of seeing the Wits, and hearing their conversation, began at an early period to frequent Will's Coffee-House, to which they resorted. ALEXANDER'S FEAST, not long after its appear
3 See the Epistle prefixed to ANNUS MIRABILIS, 1667: "And this, Sir, I have done with that boldness, for which I will not stand accountable to any of our little criticks, who perhaps are not better acquainted with him [Virgil] than I am.”
4 The Right Hon. Anthony Marlay, who was successively Attorney-General, Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer, and Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench in Ireland. He died in 1757.-This anecdote and a few other particulars here mentioned, I communicated some years ago to the editor of the BIOGRAPHIA DRAMATICA; which is noticed only to prevent the gentle critick from supposing it to have been borrowed from that work.
ance, being the theme of every Critick, young Marlay, among others, took an opportunity of paying his court to the author; and happening to sit next him, congratulated him on having produced the finest and noblest Ode that had ever been written in any language. "You are right, young gentleman, (replied Dryden,) a nobler Ode never was produced, nor ever will."
It has been suggested by a very learned and ingenious writer, that "by that strange fatality which seems to disqualify authors from judging of their own works, Dryden does not appear to have valued this piece; because he totally omits it in the enumeration and criticism he has given of the rest, in the Preface to the volume [of FABLES]." But the remark is, in the present instance, certainly unfounded. How highly he valued this Ode, appears, not only from the foregoing anecdote, but from a passage in one of his letters to Tonson, written probably in December, 1697: "I am glad to hear from all hands, that my Ode is esteemed the best of all my poetry, by all the town. I thought so myself, when I writ it; but being old, I mistrusted my own judgment. I hope it has done you service,
• All traditional sayings appear to disadvantage, and are liable to misconstruction, when unaccompanied by the little circumstances with which they were originally attended; the manner, the countenance, the tone of the voice, or some slight word which may have escaped the hearer, often qualifying what is said. The strength of this assertion was probably qualified in this way.
and will do more."-It was merely omitted to be mentioned in the introductory Essay prefixed to the volume of FABLES, because the object of that Preface was, to apprize the reader of the principal new pieces of which it consisted; and ALEXANDER'S FEAST was only a republication, having been printed two years before.
All those who respected talents were doubtless not less anxious to see and to converse with this great poet, than the learned Judge to whom we are indebted for the foregoing relation. Among these was Francis Lockier, afterwards Doctor in Divinity and Dean of Peterborough, whose account of his first acquaintance with Dryden has been preserved by Spence, in his ANECDOTES; which are enriched with so many judicious observations on men and literature by that gentleman, as render it a subject of the more regret, that a similar Collection made by him in the course of a long life, should not have been preserved; or, if preserved, should be secreted with such care, that no one knows where it may be found." "I was," says
My information concerning Dr. Lockier's Collection of Anecdotes is derived from a passage in the late Bishop Newton's Memoirs of his own Life, p. 48, 8vo. :
"His partiality for Peterborough [Dr. Zachary Pearce, afterwards Bishop of Rochester, is the person spoken of,] was owing to his connection with Dr. Lockier, the Dean, with whom he generally passed some time in every summer. Dr. Lockier was a man of ingenuity and learning, had seen a great deal of the world, and was a most pleasant and agreeable companion; was one of Dr. Pearce's most intimate friends, and at his death bequeathed to him