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accompany human nature, and are, for the most part, excused by the violence of his love; so that they destroy not our pity or concernment for him: this answer may be
applied to most of his objections of that kind.
“ And Rollo committing many murders, when he is answerable but for one, is too severely arraigned by him; for, it adds to our horrour and detestation of the criminal; and poetick justice is not neglected neither; for we stab him in our minds for every offence which he commits; and the point, which the poet is to gain on the audience, is not so much in the death of an offender as the raising an horrour of his crimes.
“ That the criminal should neither be wholly guilty, nor wholly innocent, but so participating of both as to move both pity and terrour, is certainly a good rule, but not perpetually to be observed; for that were to make all tragedies too much alike; which objection he foresaw, but has not fully answered.
“ To conclude, therefore; if the plays of the ancients are more correctly plotted, ours are more beautifully written. And, if we can raise passions as high on worse foundations, it shows our genius in tragedy is greater; for in all other parts of it the English have manifestly excelled them.”
The original of the following letter is preserved in the library at Lambeth, and was kindly imparted to the publick by the reverend Dr. Vyse.
Copy of an original letter from John Dryden, esq. to
his sons in Italy, from a MS. in the Lambeth library,
marked No. 933, p. 56. (Superscribed)
« All illustrissimo Sigre Carlo Dryden, Camariere d'Honore a S.S.
" In Roma. “ Franca per Mantoua.
« Dear Sons,
“ Sept. the H, our style. Being now at sir William Bowyer's in the country, I cannot write at large, because I find myself somewbat indisposed with a cold, and am thick of hearing, rather worse than I was in town. I am glad to find, by your letter of July 26th, your style, that you are both in health; but wonder you should think me so negligent as to forget to give you an account of the ship in which your parcel is to conie. I have written to you two or three letters concerning it, which I have sent by safe hands, as I told you, and doubt not but you have them before this can arrive to you. Being out of town, I have forgotten the ship's name, which your mother will inquire, and put it into her letter, which is joined with mine. . But the master's name I remember: he is called Mr. Ralph Thorp; the ship is bound to Leghorn, consigned to Mr. Peter and Mr. Thomas Ball, merchants. I am of your opinion, that by Tonson's means almost all our letters have miscarried for this last year. But, however, he has missed of his design in the dedication, though he had prepared the book for it; for in every figure of Æneas he has caused him to be drawn like king William, with a hooked nose. After my return to town, I intend to alter a play of sir Robert Howard's, written long since, and lately put by him into my hands ; 'tis called the Conquest of China by the Tartars. It will cost me six weeks' study, with the probable benefit of a hundred pounds. In the mean time, I am writing a song for St. Cecilia's Feast, who, you know, is the patroness of musick. This is troublesome, and no way beneficial ; but I could not deny the stewards of the feast, who came in a body to me to desire that kindness, one of them being Mr. Bridgman, whose parents are your mother's friends. I hope to send you thirty guineas between Michaelmas and Christmas, of which I will give you an account when I come to town. I remember the counsel you give me in your letter; but dissembling, though lawful in some cases, is not my talent; yet, for your sake, I will struggle with the plain
openness of my nature, and keep in my just resentments against that degenerate order. In the mean time I flatter not myself with any manner of hopes, but do my duty, and suffer for God's sake; being assured, beforehand, never to be rewarded, though the times should alter. Towards the latter end of this month, September, Charles will begin to recover his perfect health, according to his nativity, which, casting it myself, I am sure is true, and all things hitherto have happened accordingly to the very time that I predicted them: I hope, at the same time, to recover more health, according to my age. Remember me to poor Harry, whose prayers I earnestly desire. My Virgil succeeds in the world beyond its desert or my expectation. You know the profits might have been more; but neither my conscience nor my honour - would suffer me to take them: but I never can repent of my constancy, since I am thoroughly persuaded of the justice of the cause for which I suffer. It has pleased God to raise up many friends to me amongst my enemies, though they who ought to have been my friends are negligent of me. called to dinner, and cannot go on with this letter, which I desire you to excuse; and am
“ Your most affectionate father,
“ JOHN DRYDEN."
EDMUND Smith is one of those lucky writers who have, without much labour, attained high reputation, and who are mentioned with reverence, rather for the possession, than the exertion of uncommon abilities.
Of his life little is known; and that little claims no praise but what can be given to intellectual excellence, seldom employed to any virtuous purpose. His character, as given by Mr. Oldisworth, with all the partiality of friendship, which is said, by Dr. Burton, to show " what fine things one man of parts can say of another,” and which, however, comprises great part of what can be known of Mr. Smith, it is better to transcribe, at once, than to take by pieces. I shall subjoin such little memorials as accident has enabled me to collect.
Mr. Edmund Smith was the only son of an eminent mercbant, one Mr. Neale, by a daughter of the famous baron Lechmere. Some misfortunes of his father, which were soou followed by his death, were the occasion of the son's being left very young in the hands of a near relation, (one who married Mr. Neale's sister,) whose name was Smith.
This gentleman and his lady treated him as their own child, and put him to Westminster school, under the care of Dr. Busby; whence, after the loss of his faithful and generous guardian, (whose name he assumed and retained,) he was removed to Christ church, in Oxford, and there, by his aunt, handsomely maintained till her death ; after which he continued a member of that learned and ingenious society, till within five years of his own; though, some time before his leaving Christ church, he was sent for by his mother to Worcester, and owned and acknowledged as her legitimate son; which had not been mentioned, but to wipe off the aspersions that were ignorantly cast by some on his birth. It is to be remembered, for
our author's honour, that, when at Westminster election he stood a candidate for one of the universities, he so signally distinguished himself by his conspicuous performances, that there arose no small contention, between the representative electors of Trinity college, in Cambridge, and Christ church, in Oxon, which of those two royal societies should adopt him as their own. But the electors of Trinity college having the preference of choice that year, they resolutely elected him; who yet, being invited, at the same time, to Christ church, chose to accept of a studentship there. Mr. Smith's perfections, as well natural as acquired, seem to have been formed upon Horace's plan, who says,in his Art of Poetry:
Ego nec studium sine divite vena,
Altera poscit opem res, et conjurat amice. He was endowed by nature with all those excellent and necessary qualifications which are previous to the accomplishment of a great man. His memory was large and tenacious, yet, by a curious felicity, chiefly susceptible of the finest impressions it received from the best authors he read, which it always preserved in their primitive strength and amiable order.
He had a quickness of apprehension, and vivacity of understanding, which easily took in and surmounted the most subtile and knotty parts of mathematicks and metaphysicks. His wit was prompt and flowing, yet solid and piercing; his taste delicate, his head clear, and his way of expressing his thoughts perspicuous and engaging. I shall say nothing of his person, which yet was so well turned, that no neglect of himself in his dress could render it disagreeable ; insomuch, that the fair sex, who observed and esteemed him, at once commended and reproved him by the name of the handsome sloven. An eager but generous and noble emulation grew up with him ; which (as it were a rational sort of instinct) pushed him upon striving to excel in every art and science that could make him a credit