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DRYDEN AND STILLINGFLEET,
CONCERNING THE DUCHESS OF YORK's paper.
One of the first acts of King James the Second's reign, was the publication of two papers found in the strong box of his deceased brother Charles, assigning various reasons to prove, that the church of Rome was the only true church; with a copy of another written by his first duchess, Anne Hyde, stating the grounds of her conversion to the Catholic faith. These papers were announced to be published by his majesty's command; and, thus authenticated, were industriously dispersed over the kingdom. The learned Stillingfleet stood forward as the champion of the church of England, in refutation of the arguments alleged in the papers of the royal proselytes. f In answer, appeared “ A Defence of the Papers written by the late King, of blessed Memory, and Duchess of York, against the Answer made to them. By Command. London, 1636." This defence, like the answer of Stillingfleet, was divided into three parts, applying to the three papers; and it seems that these were drawn up by different hands.
* “ Copies of Two Papers written loy the late King Charles II., together with a Copy of a Paper written by the late Duchess of York. Published by his Majesty's command. London, 1686.”
+ His pamphlet is entitled, “ An Answer to some Papers lately printed, concerning the authority of the Catholic Church in matters of Faith, and the Reformation of the Church of England. London, 1686."-Stillingtleet withheld his name.
Dryden informs us, that he was concerned in the last, which seems to exclude the idea of his having any share in the first and second parts of the Defence ; * which, indeed, are written in a style more approaching to polemic controversy than that assumed by Dryden. Stillingfleet returned to the conflict, and published a “ Vindication of his Answer ;" in which he is severely personal upon Dryden, “ the brisk defender," as he calls him, of the duchess's paper, and the “
new convert” to the church of Rome. Dryden, personally assaulted, made a personal retort, both directly upon Stillingfeet, and upon Burnet, his coadjutor in the controversy; and to this we probably owe the character of the Buzzard in « The Hind and Panther,” as well as the reflections upon the moderate clergy, or Low Church divines, with which that piece abounds. +
In order to understand Dryden's defence, it is necessary to prefix the duchess's paper, and Stillinyfleet's answer to it.
• “ I refer myself to the judgment of those who have read the answer te thie defence of the late king's papers, and that of the dachess, in which låst I was concerned, how charitably I have been represented there."-Preface to the Hind and Panther, Vol X. p. 113, 114.
+ See Vol. X. p. 203-208, and the notes there referred to.
COPY OF A PAPER
THE LATE DUCHESS OF YORK, &c.
Ir is so reasonable to expect, that a person always bred up in the church of England, * and as well instructed in the doctrine of it, as the best divines and her capacity could make her, should be liable to many censures for leaving that, and making herself a member of the Roman Catholic church, to
* Morley, bishop of Winchester, who, as presently will be noticed, was chaplain in the family of Sir Edward Hyde during the usurpation, tells us, “ that the duchess, (then Miss Hyde,) as she was the eldest, so was she the forwardest, and most capable to receive instruction; for God having given her an extraordinary good understanding for one of her sex and years, so he had given her an extraordinary good inclination to the exercises of piety and devotion; so that, when she was not, as I remember, above twelve years of age, I did think her every way fit to be admitted to the receiving the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, which she did then, and always afterwards, with very great devotion, so long as she and I staid together in her father's house at Antwerp."--- Preface to Bishop Morley's Treatise, p. vi.