Imágenes de páginas

“ing, left the town : and Mr. Charles Dryden could “ never have the satisfaction of meeting him, though " he sought it till his death with the utmost applica- tion.”

This story I once intended to omit, as it appears with no great evidence; nor have I met with any confirmation, but in a letter of Farquhar; and he only relates that the funeral of Dryden was tumuly tuary and confused *. · Supposing the story true, we may remark, that the gradual change of manners, though imperceptible in the process, appears great when different times, and those not very diftant, are compared. If at this time a young drunken Lord should interrupt the pompous regularity of a magnificent funeral, what would be the event, but that he would be justled out of the way and coinpelled to be quiet? If he should thrust himself into an house, he would be sent roughly away ; and, what is yet more to the

* An earlier account of Dryden's funeral than that above cited, though without the circumstances that preceded it, is given by Edward Ward, who in his London Spy, published in 1706, relates, that on the occafion there was a performance of solemn Mufick at the College, and that at the proceflion, which himself saw, standing at the end of Chancery-lane, Fleet-street, there was a concert of hautboys and trumpets. The day of Dryden's interment, he fays, was Monday the 13th of May, which, according to Johnson, was twelve days after his deceale, and shews how long his funeral was in suspenie. Ward knew not that the expence of it was defrayed by subscription; but compliments Lord Jefferies for so pious an undertaking. He also says, that the cause of Dryden's death was an inflammation in his toe, occafioned by the flesh growing over the nail, which being neglected produced a mortification in his leg. H.


honour of the present time, I believe that those, who had subscribed to the funeral of a man like Dryden, would not, for such an accident, have withdrawn their contributions *.

He was buried among the poets in Westminster Abbey, where, though the Duke of Newcastle had, in a general dedication prefixed by Congreve to his

ramatick works, accepted thanks for his intention of erecting him a monument, he lay long without distinction, till the Duke of Buckinghamshire gave him a tablet, inscribed only with the name of DRYDEN.

He married the Lady Elizabeth Howard, daughter of the Earl of Berkshire, with circumstances, according to the satire imputed to Lord Somers, not very honourable to either party; by her he had three fons, Charles, John, and Henry. Charles was usher of the palace to Pope Clement the Xlth; and, visiting England in 1704, was drowned in an attempt to swim across the Thames at Windsor.

John was author of a comedy called The Hufband his own Cuckold. He is said to have died at Rome. Henry entered into some religious order. It is some proof of Dryden's fincerity in his second religion, that he taught it to his fons. A man, conscious of hypocritical profession in himself, is not

* In the Register of the College of Physicians, is the following Entry : “ May 3, 1700. Comitiis Cenforiis ordinariis. At the “ request of several persons of quality, that Mr. Dryden might “ be carried from the College of Physicians to be interred at West“ minster, it was unanimously granted by the President and si Censors."

This entry is not calculated to afford any credit to the narrative concerning Lord Jefferies. R.

BB 2


likely to convert others; and, as his sons were qualified in 1693 to appear among the translators of Juvenal, they must have been taught some religion before their father's change.

Of the person of Dryden I know not any account; of his mind, the portrait which has been left by Congreve, who knew him with great familiarity, is such as adds our love of his manners to our admiration of his genius. “ He was,” we are told, “ of “ a nature exceedingly humane and compassionate, " ready to forgive injuries, and capable of a sincere “ reconciliation with those who had offended him. “ His friend thip, where he professed it, went beyond “ his professions. He was of a very easy, of very "s pleasing access; but somewhat slow, and, as it were “ diffident, in his advances to others : he had that

in nature which abhorred intrusion into any society “ whatever. He was therefore less known, and con“ sequently his character became more liable to mif“ apprehensions and misrepresentations : he was very “ modest, and very easily to be discountenanced in “ his approaches to his equals or superiors. As his “ reading had been very extensive, so was he very “ happy in a memory tenacious of every thing that “ he had read. He was not more pofleffed of know“ ledge than he was communicative of it; but then “ his communication was by no means pedantick, or « imposed upon the conversation, but just such, 6 and went so far, as, by the natural turn of the con“ versation in which he was engaged, it was necessa“ rily promoted or required. He was extremely " ready and gentle in his correction of the errors of any writer who thought fit to consult him, and


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 Chriftianity.

The persecution of criticks was not the worst of his vexations; he was much more disturbed by the importunities of want. His complaints of poverty are fo frequently repeated, either with the dejection of weakness finking in helpless misery, or the indig. nation 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 exigences. Such outcries were fürely 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.

[ocr errors]


Of his plays the profit 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 confideration 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 poffefsion. And I do hereby farther “ promise, and engage myself, to make up the faid • sum of two hundred and fifty guineas three hun“ dred 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.

“ Jacob Tonson. “ Sealed and delivered, being

“ first duly stampt, pursu-
" ant to the acts of parlia-
“ ment for that purpose,
“ in the presence of

“ Ben. Portlock,
" Will. Congreve."

6 March 24, 1698. «Received then of Mr. Jacob Tonson the sum " of two hundred fixty-eight pounds fifteen Chil

“ lings,


« AnteriorContinuar »