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before Dryden conformed to the same religion. This step has been the cause of much obloquy on one side, and has found much excuse on the other; but if it be considered, from a view of his past life, that, in changing his religious profession, he could have had little difficulty to encounter, it will appear no breach of candour to suppose that his immediate motive was nothing more than personal interest. The reward he obtained from his compliance was an addition to his pension of 100 l. per annum. Some time after he was engaged in a work which was the longest single piece he ever composed. This was his elaborate controversial poem of “The Hind and Panther.” When completed, notwithstanding its unpromising subject, and signal absurdity of plan, such was the power of Dryden's verse, that it was read with avidity, and bore every mark of occupying the public attention. The birth of a Prince called forth a congratulatory poem from Dryden, entitled “ Britannia Rediviva,” in which he ventured to use a poet's privilege of prophesy, foretelling a commencing era of prosperity to the nation and the church from this auspicious event; but in wain' for the revolution took place within a few months, and the hopes of the party were blasted for ever. Dryden was a severe sufferer from the change: his posts and pensions were taken away, and the poetical laurei was conferred upon his insignificant rival, Shadwell. He was now, in advanced life, to depend upon his own exertions for a security from absolute indigence. His faculties were equal to the emergency; and it will surprise some theorists
THE YEAR of wox DElts, 1666.
I, thriving arts long time had Holland grown,
Trade, which like blood should circularly flow,
Thither the wealth of all the world did go,
For them alone the Heavens had kindly heat;
For then the Idumaean balm did sweat,
The Sun but seem'd the labourer of the year; Each waxing Moon supply'd her watery store,
To swell those tides which from the line did bear Their brim-full vessels to the Belgian shore.
Thus, mighty in her ships, stood Carthage long,
Yet stoop'd to Rome, less wealthy, but more strong:
to be told, that the ten concluding years of his life, in which he wrote for bread, and composed at a certain rate per line, were those of many of the pieces which have most contributed to immortalise his name. They were those of his translation of Juvenal and Persius; of that of Virgil entire, a work which enriches the English language, and has greatly promoted the author's fame; of his celebrated Alexander's Feast; and of his Fables, containing some of the richest and most truly poetical pieces which he ever composed. Of these, several will appear in the subsequent collection of his works. Nor ought his prose writings to be neglected, which, chiefly consisting of the critical essays prefixed to his poems, are performances of extraordinary vigour and comprehension of mind, and afford, perhaps, the best specimens of genuine English.
Dryden died of a spreading inflammation in one of his toes, on the first of May, 1700, and was buried in Westminster Abbey, next to the tomb of Chaucer. No monument marked his grave, till a plain one, with his bust, was erected, at the expence of Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham. He left behind him three sons, all brought up to letters. His own character was cold and reserved, backward in personal advances to the great, and rather heavy in conversation. In fact, he was too much engaged in literature to devote much of his time to society. Few writers of his time delighted so much to approach the verge of prophaneness; whence it may be inferred, that though religion was an interesting topic of discussion to him, he had very little of its spirit in his heart.
What peace can be, where both to one pretcnd 2
Or if a peace, it soon must have an end;
Behold two nations then, engag’d so far,
Where France will side to weaken us by war,
See how he feeds th’ Iberian with delays, To render us his timely friendship vain:
And while his secret soul on Flanders preys, He rocks the cradle of the babe of Spain.
Such deep designs of empire does he lay
And prudently would make them lords at sea,
This saw our king; and long within his breast His pensive counsels balanc'd to and fro:
He griev'd the land he freed should be oppress'd, And he less for it than usurpers do.
His generous mind the fair ideas drew