Imágenes de páginas

“having, out of respect to the family, enjoined the “Lady Elizabeth, and her son, to keep their favour “concealed to the world, and let it pass for their own “expence), readily came out of their coaches, and “ attended Lord Jefferies up to the lady's bedside, “who was then sick. He repeated the purport of “what he had before said; but she absolutely re“fusing, he fell on his knees, vowing never to rise “till his request was granted. The rest of the com“pany by his desire kneeled also; and the lady, being “under a sudden surprize, fainted away. As soon “ as she recovered her speech, she cried, No, no. “Enough, gentlemen, replied he my lady is very “good, she says, Go, go. She repeated her former “words with all her strength, but in vain, for her “feeble voice was lost in their acclamations of joy; * and the Lord Jefferies ordered the hearsemen to “carry the corpse to Mr. Russel's, an undertaker in “Cheapside, and leave it there till he should send “ orders for the embalment, which, he added, should “be after the royal manner. His directions were “obeyed, the company dispersed, and Lady Eli“zabeth and her son remained inconsolable. The “next day Mr. Charles Dryden waited on the Lord “Halifax and the Bishop, to excuse his mother and “himself, by relating the real truth. But neither his

“ Lordship nor the Bishop would admit of any plea;

« especially the latter, who had the Abbey lighted, “the ground opened, the choir attending, an an“ them ready set, and himself waiting for some time “without any corpse to bury. The undertaker, “ after three days expectance of orders for embal“ment without receiving any, waited on the Lord

- “Jefferies,

[ocr errors]

“Jefferies; who, pretending ignorance of the matter, “turned it off with an ill-natured jest, saying, that “those who observed the orders of a drunken frolick “ deserved no better; that he remembered nothing “ at all of it; and that he might do what he pleased “with the corpse. Upon this, the undertaker “waited upon the Lady Elizabeth and her son, and “ threatened to bring the corpse home, and set it “before the door. They desired a day's respite, “ which was granted. Mr. Charles Dryden wrote a “handsome letter to the Lord Jefferies, who returned “it with this cool answer: “That he knew nothing “of the matter, and would be troubled no more “ about it.’ He then addressed the Lord Halifax “ and the bishop of Rochester, who absolutely re“fused to do any thing in it. In this distress Dr. “Garth sent for the corpse to the College of Physi“cians, and proposed a funeral by subscription, to “ which himself set a most noble example. At last “a day, about three weeks after Mr. Dryden's de“ cease, was appointed for the interment. Dr. Garth “pronounced a fine Latin oration, at the College, “over the corpse; which was attended to the Abbey “by a numerous train of coaches. When the funeral “ was over, Mr. Charles Dryden sent a challenge to “ the Lord Jefferies, who refusing to answer it, he “sent several others, and went often himself; but “could neither get a letter delivered, nor admittance “to speak to him ; which so incensed him, that he “resolved, since his Lordship refused to answer him “like a gentleman, that he would watch an oppor“tunity to meet and fight off-hand, though with “all the rules of honour; which his Lordship hearVol. IX. B B “ing, “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 appli“cation.” 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 tumultuary 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 distant, 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 compelled to be quiet 2 If he should thrust himself into an house, he would be sent roughly away; and, what is yet more to the 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*. a 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 dramatick works, accepted thanks for his intention to 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 sons, Charles, John, and Henry. Charles was usher of the palace to Pope Clement the XIth ; 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 Husband his own Cuckold. He is said to have died at Rome. Henry entered into some religious order. It is some proof of Dryden's sincerity in his second religion, that he taught it to his sons. A man, conscious of hypocritical profession in himself, is not 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 friendship, where he professed it, went beyond “his professions. He was of a very easy, of very “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 mis“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 possessed 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, and “went so far, as, by the natural turn of the con“versation in which he was engaged, it was neces“sarily 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 full * - -- ** as

* 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 occasion there was a performance of solemn Musick at the College, and that at the procession, 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 says, was Monday the 13th of May, which, according to Johnson, was twelve days after his decease, and shews how long his funeral was in suspense. 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, occasioned by the flesh growing over the nail, which being neglected produced a mortification in his leg. H.




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

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

B B 2 - . likely

« AnteriorContinuar »