« PrejšnjaNaprej »
ble poetaster, in an anonymous satire written some years before the Revolution; on which probably,
and I have noe eyes for his enemies' beauties, because I am not struck by their genius.
“I am, Sir,
"Your most humble
June the 4th, 1715,
" and faithful servant,
* See A SATIRE on the MODERN TRANSLATORS:
"But what excuse, what preface can atone
"For crimes which guilty Bayes has singly done?
Bayes, whose Rose-Alley ambuscade enjoin'd
"To be to vices which he practis'd kind;
· Bayes, who by all the club was thought most fit
"Her follies louder than her father roars ;
when he became a Tory, he did not reflect with much satisfaction; and on the same ground,
"To bear a second death, and greater pain,
May he still split on some unlucky coast,
" And have his works or dictionary lost;
"That he may know what Roman authors mean,
See also p. 519, n. 4.
Prior never published any satire but this, and one ON THE MODERN POETS, which he wrote in 1687 or 1688. From his HEADS OF A TREATISE UPON LEARNING, a manuscript formerly in the possession of the Duchess Dowager of Portland, it appears, that he abstained from this dangerous exercise of his talents, on prudential considerations. The latter part only of the passage to which I allude, relates to the subject before us; but as it contains some anecdotes of this poet, from his own pen, which have never been printed, I shall give it entire :
As to poetry, I mean the writing of verses, it is another thing. I would advise no man to attempt it,
except he cannot help it; and if he cannot, it is in vain to dissuade him from it. This genius is perceived so soon, even in our childhood, and increases so strongly in our youth, that he who has it never will be brought from it, do what you will. Cowley felt it at ten years, and Waller could not get rid of it at sixty. As to my own part, I felt this impulse very soon, and shall continue to feel it as long as I can think. I remember nothing farther in life, than that I made verses. I chose Guy of Warwick for my first hero; and killed Colborn, the Giant, before I was big enough for Westminster. But I had two accidents in youth, which hindered me from being quite
Rowe, who had too exquisite a taste to have been insensible to our author's powers, in a poetical epistle, published a few years before his death,
possessed with the Muse. I was bred in a college, [St. John's, Cambridge,] where prose was more in fashion than verse; and as soon as I had taken my first degree, was sent the King's Secretary to the Hague. There I had enough to do in studying my French and Dutch, and altering my Terentian and original style into that of Articles and Convention. So that poetry, which by the bent of my mind might have become the business of my life, was, by the happiness of my education, only the amusement of it; and in this too, from the prospect of some little fortune to be made, and friendship to be cultivated with the great men, I did not launch much into satire; which, however agreeable for the present to the writers or encouragers of it, does in time do neither of them good; considering the uncertainty of fortune and the various changes of Ministry, and that every man, as he resents, may punish in his turn of greatness;—and that in England a man is less safe as to politicks, than he is in a bark upon the coast, in regard to the change of the wind, and the danger of shipwreck."
In the latter part of this passage Prior had perhaps Arthur Maynwaring in his thoughts; who set out a strong Tory, and soon after the Revolution, wrote a very severe satire against King William and Queen Mary, entitled TARQUIN AND TULLIA; of which, probably, when he afterwards was connected with the Whigs, and became a member of the Kit-kat Club, he was thoroughly ashamed. In the STATE POEMS, vol. iii. p. 319, it is attributed to Dryden; but Pope told Mr. Spence, that it was written by Maynwaring. "That very hot copy of
verses," Pope calls it.
9 EPISTLE TO FLAVIA, Oldmixon, in his "Arts of
once intended to have inserted the following verses; which, though they were then suppressed, have been since restored to the place where they originally stood, and now make a part of that elegant poet's works:
"Wit, and the laws, had both the same ill fate,
“ And partial tyrants sway'd in either state. "Ill-natured censure would be sure to damn "An alien wit, of independent fame;
"While BAYES, grown old, and harden'd in offence, "Was suffer'd to write on, in spite of sense; "Back'd by his friends, the invader brought along "A crew of foreign words into our tongue, "To ruin and enslave the free-born English song: "Still the prevailing faction propp'd his throne, "And to four volumes let his plays run on."
These petty assaults, however, in no degree diminished the reputation of Dryden, which is now elevated beyond the reach of envy, ridicule, or satire; and posterity, to whose judgment with great calmness and magnanimity he appealed from his contemporary adversaries, has done him ample justice, by allotting to him that distinguished
Logick and Rhetorick," 1728, says, that Rowe had inserted these lines in a poem which he sent to the press, but afterwards recalled them; and that he copied them from Rowe's manuscript. He then subjoins them, as a literary curiosity. But though they did not appear in the Epistle to Flavia, in Rowe's Poems, printed in quarto in 1714, they were published with his name, in the same year, in Pemberton's Miscellany; and were afterwards inserted in the Epistle to which they originally belonged.
place in the Temple of Fame, to which no one now presumes to controvert his title.
Such is the amount of all the information which I have been able to obtain concerning this great writer. It is to be regretted that the history of his life was not undertaken at an early period, while some of his contemporaries were yet living, who might have supplied us with memorials which would have precluded the necessity of sometimes exploring our way by the glimmering twilight of uncertain tradition. From the various inquiries and researches that have been made for this work, I trust it will be easily perceived, that if the notices which have been procured of his private life and domestick manners in any degree have fallen short of the wishes of his admirers, the defect cannot justly be ascribed to a want of zeal or diligence in his biographer. To make Dryden better known to his countrymen than he hitherto has been; to delineate the man rather than the poet, by collecting from every quarter, and from sources hitherto unexplored, whatever might contribute to throw new light upon his character, and illustrate the history of his works, has been the principal object of the preceding pages. A critical examination of the merits and defects of his various productions formed no part of the present under