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proposes that all wit should be re-coined before it is current, and appoints masters of assay, who shall reject all that is light or debased. "Tis true, that when the coarse and worthless dross Is purg’d away, there will be mighty loss : E'en Congreve, Southern, manly Wycherly, When thus refin'd will grievous sufferers be. Into the melting-pot when Dryden comes, What horrid stench will rise, what noisome fumes! How will he shrink when all his lewd allay, And wicked mixture, shall be purged away ! Thus stands the passage in the last edition; but in the original there was an abatement of the censure, beginning thus: But what remains will be so pure, 'twill bear Th’ examination of the most severe. Blackmore, finding the censure resented, and the civility disregarded, ungenerously omitted the softer part. Such variations discover a writer who consults his passions more than his virtue; and it may be reasonably supposed that Dryden imputes his enmity to its true cause. Of Milbourne he wrote only in general terms, such as are always ready at the call of anger, whether just or not: a short extract will be sufficient. “He pretends a quarrel to me, that I have fallen foul upon priesthood; if I have, I am only to ask a pardon of good priests, and am afraid his share of the reparation will come to little. Let him be satisfied that he shall never be able to force himself upon me for an adversary; I contemn him too much to enter into competition with him. “As for the rest of those who have written against me, they are such scoundrels that they deserve not the least notice to be taken of them. Blackmore and Milbourne are only distinguished from the crowd by being remembered to their infamy.”

Dryden indeed discovered, in many of his writings, an affected and absurd malignity to priests and priesthood, which naturally raised him many enemies, and which was sometimes as unseasonably resented as it was exerted. Trapp is angry that he calls the sacrificer in the Georgics “The Holy Butcher:” the translation is not indeed ridiculous; but Trapp's anger arises from his zeal, not for the author, but the priest; as if any reproach of the follies of paganism could be extended to the preachers of truth. Dryden's dislike of the priesthood is imputed by Langbaine, and I think by Brown, to a repulse which he suffered when he solicited ordination; but he denies, in the preface to his Fables, that he ever designed to enter into the church ; and such a denial he would not have hazarded, if he could have been convicted of falsehood. Malevolence to the clergy is seldom at a great distance from irreverence of religion, and Dryden affords no exception to this observation. His writings exhibit many passages, which, with all the allowance that can be made for characters and occasions, are such as piety would not have admitted, and such as may vitiate light and unprincipled minds. But there is no reason for supposing that he disbelieved the religion which he disobeyed. He forgot his duty rather than disowned it. His tendency to profaneness is the effect of levity, negligence, and loose conversation, with a desire of accommodating himself to the corruption of the times, by venturing to be wicked as far as he durst. When he professed himself a convert to popery, he did not pretend to have received any new conviction of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. The persecution of criticks was not the worst of his vexations; he was much rhore disturbed by the importunities of want. His complaints of poverty are so frequently repeated, either with the dejection of weakness sinking in helpless misery, or the indignation of merit claiming its tribute from mankind, that it is impossible not to detest the age which could impose on such a man the necessity of such solicitations, or not to despise the man who could submit to such solicitations without necessity. Whether by the world’s neglect, or his own imprudence, I am afraid that the greatest part of his life was passed in exigencies. Such outcries were surely never uttered but in severe pain. Of his supplies or his expences no probable estimate can now be made. Except the salary of the laureat, to which king James added the office of historiographer, perhaps with some additional emoluments, his whole revenue seems to have been casual ; and it is well known that he seldom lives frugally who lives by chance. Hope is always liberal ; and they that trust her promises make little scruple of revelling to-day on the profits of the morrow. Of his plays the profits was not great; and of the

produce of his other works very little intelligence

can be had. By discoursing with the late amiable Mr. Tonson, I could not find that any memorials of the transactions between his predecessor and Dryden had been preserved, except the following papers:

“I do hereby promise to pay John Dryden, esq. or order, on the 25th of March, 1699, the sum of two hundred and fifty guineas, in consideration of ten thousand verses, which the said John Dryden, esq. is to deliver to me, Jacob Tonson, when finished, whereof seven thousand five hundred verses, more or less, are already in the said Jacob Tonson’s possession. And I do hereby farther promise and engage myself to make up the said sum of two hundred and fifty guineas

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three hundred pounds sterling to the said John Dryden, esq. his executors, administrators, or assigns, at the beginning of the second impression of the said ten thousand verses. “In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal, this 20th day of March, 1698–9. “JAcoB Tonsox. “Sealed and delivered, being first duly stampt, pursuant to the acts of parliament, for that purpose, in the presence of Ben. Portlock, Will. Congreve.” “March 24, 1698. “Received then of Mr. Jacob Tonson, the sum of two hundred sixty-eight pounds fifteen shillings, in pursuance of an agreement for ten thousand verses, to be delivered by me to the said Jacob Tonson, whereof I have already delivered to him about seven thousand five hundred, more or less ; he the said Jacob Tonson • being obliged to make up the foresaid sula of two hundred sixty-eight pounds fifteen shillings, three hundred pounds, at the beginning of the second impression of the foresaid ten thousand verses; “I say, received by me “ Jo HN DRY DEN. “Witness, Charles Dryden.” Two hundred and fifty guineas, at ll. 1s. 6d. is 2681. 15s. It is manifest, from the dates of this contract, that it relates to the volume of Fables, which contains about twelve thousand verses, and for which therefore the payment must have been afterwards enlarged. I have been told of another letter yet remaining in which he desires Tonson to bring him money, to pay for a watch which he had ordered for his son, and which the maker would not leave without the price. The inevitable consequence of poverty is dependence. Dryden had probably no recourse in his

exigencies but to his bookseller. The particular character of Tonson I do not know ; but the general conduct of traders was much less liberal in those times than in our own ; their views were narrower, and their manners grosser. To the mercantile ruggedness of that race, the delicacy of the poet was sometimes exposed. Lord Bolingbroke, who in his youth had cultivated poetry, related to Dr. King of Oxford, that one day when he visited Dryden, they heard, as they were conversing, another person entering the house. “This,” said Dryden, “is Tonson. You will take care not to depart before he goes away : for I have not completed the sheet which I promised him; and if you leave me unprotected, I must suffer all the rudeness to which his resentment can prompt his tongue.” What rewards he obtained for his poems, besides the payment of the bookseller, cannot be known. Mr. Derrick, who consulted some of his relations, was informed that his Fables obtained five hundred pounds from the duchess of Ormond ; a present not unsuitable to the magnificence of that splendid family; and he quotes Moyle, as relating that forty pounds were paid by a musical society for the use of Alexander's Feast. In those days the oeconomy of government was yet unsettled, and the payments of the exchequer were dilatory and uncertain; of this disorder there is reason to believe that the laureat sometimes felt the effects; for, in one of his prefaces he complains of those, who, being intrusted with the distribution of the prince's bounty, suffer those that depend upon it to languish in penury. Of his petty habits or slight amusements, tradition

has retained little. Of the only two men whom I -

bave found to whom he was personally known, one

told me, that at the house which he frequented, called Y OL. IX. Q

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