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of my salary; but I have two other advocates, my extreme wants, even almost to arresting, and my ill health, which cannot be repaired without immediate retireing into the country. A quarter's allowance is but the Jesuit's powder to my disease; the fit will return a fortnight hence. If I durst, I would plead a little merit, and some hazards of my life from the common enemyes; my refuseing advantages offered by them, and neglecting my beneficiall studyes, for the King's service: but I only thinke I merit not to sterve. I never apply'd myselfe to any interest contrary to your Lordship's; and on some occasions, perhaps not known to you, have not been unserviceable to the memory and reputation of my Lord, your father.* After this, my Lord, my conscience assures me, I may write boldly, though I cannot speake to you I have three sonns growing to man's estate; I breed them all up to learning, beyond my fortune; but they are too hopefull to be neglect ed, though I want. Be pleased to looke on me with an eye of compassion. Some small employment would render my condition easy. The King is not unsatisfied of me; the Duke has often promised me his assistance; and your Lordship is the conduit through which they passe, either in the Customes, or the Appeals of the Excise, or some other way, meanes cannot be wanting, if you please to have the will. 'Tis enough for one age to have neglect ed Mr. Cowley, and sterv'd Mr. Butler; but neither of them had the happiness to live till your Lordship's ministry. In the meane time, be pleased to give me a gracious and speedy answer to my present request of halfe a yeare's pention for my necessityes. I am going to write somewhat by his Majesty's command and cannot stir into the country for my health and studies, till I secure my family from want. You have many petitions of this nature, and cannot satisfy all; but I hope, from your goodness, to
both of which are conjectural. Hyde, Earl of Rochester, was made first commissioner of the treasury in 1679, and continued prime minister till September 1681. Let it be remembered by those men of talents, who may be tempted to engage in the sea of politics, that Dryden thus sued for what was his unquestionable due, within two years after having written "Absalom and Achitophel," and "The Medal," in defence of the government, to whom he was suppliant for so small a boon
Edward, Earl of Clarendon. It is uncertain in what manner our author undertook his defence.
The place which our author here solicits, (worth only 200 a year,) was the first office that Addison obtained, which he used to call "the little thing given me by Lord Halifax." Locke also, after the Revolution, was a commissioner of appeals.--Ma
be made an exception to your general rules,* be-
Most obedient humble servant,
TO MR. JACOB TONSON.
[The letters to Tonson are without dates. I have retained those which Mr. Malone has attached to them, from circumstances of internal evidence which it seems unnecessary to detail, but which appear in general satisfactory, though not given as absolutely conclusive.]
Monday Morning, [1684.] THE two melons you sent I received before your letter, which came foure houres after: I tasted one of them, which was too good to need an excuse; the other is yet untouched. You have written diverse things which give me great satisfaction; particularly that the History of the League is commended: and I hope the onely thing I feared in it is not found out.† Take it all together, and I dare say without vanity, 'tis the best translation of any history in English, though I cannot say 'tis the best history; but that is no fault of mine. I am glad my Lord Duke of Ormond has one; I did not forget him; but I thought his sorrows were too fresh upon him to receive a present of that nature. For my Lord Roscommon's Essay,§ I am of your opinion, that you should reprint it, and that you may safely venture on a thousand more. In my verses before it, pray let the printer mend his errour, and let the line stand
That heer his conqu'ring ancestors were nurs'd;-f Charles his copy¶ is all true. The other faults my Lord Roscommon will mend in the booke,
This application was successful; and Dryden elsewhere expresses his gratitude, that his wants were attended to and relieved during the penury of an exhausted Exchequer; Cowley's simile, he observed, was reversed, and Gideon's fleece was watered, while all around remained parched and arid.
↑ What this circumstance was cannot now be discovered.
I The Duchess of Ormond died July 1684.
The first edition of Lord Roscommon's "Essay on Translated Verse" appeared in 1684, and a second edition was published by Jacob Tonson in 4to, early in 1685.
In the first edition it stood,
"That here his conqu'ring ancestors was nursd," Latin verses by Charles Dryden, prefixed to Lord Roscommon's Essay.
or Mr. Chetwood* for him, if my Lord he gone for Ireland of which pray send me word.
Your opinion of the Miscellanyost is likewise mine: I will for once lay by the "Religio Laici," till another time. But I must also add, that since we are to have nothing but new, I am resolved we will have nothing but good, whomever we disoblige. You will have of mine, four Odes of Horace, which I have already translated; another small translation of forty lines from Lucretius; the whole story of Nisus and Eurialus, both in the fifth and the ninth of Virgil's Eneids: and 1 care not who translates them beside me; for let him be friend or foe, I will please myself, and not give off in consideration of any man. There will be forty lines more of Virgil in another place, to answer those of Lucretius: I meane those very lines which Montague has compared in those two poets; and Homer shall sleep on for me,-I will not now meddle with him. And for the Act which remains of the Opera,‡ I believe I shall have no leysure to mind it, after I have done what I proposed; for my business here is to unweary my selfe after my studyes, not to drudge.
I am very glad you have pay'd Mr. Jones, because he has carryed him selfe so gentlemanlike to me; and, if ever it lyes in my power, I will requite it. I desire to know whether the Duke's House are makeing cloaths, and putting things in a readiness for the singing Opera, to be played immediately after Michaelmasse. For the actors in the two playes which are to be acted of mine this winter, I had spoken with Mr. Betterton by chance at the Coffee-house the afternoon before I came away; and I believe that the persons were all agreed on, to be just the same you mentioned; only Octavia was to be Mrs. Butler, in case Mrs. Cooke were not on the stage; and I know not whether Mrs. Percival, who is a comedian, will do well for Benzayda.
I came hither for health, and had a kind of hectique feavour for a fortnight of the time: I am now much better. Poore Jacke¶ is not yet Knightly Chetwood. He wrote Lord Roscom
1 Dryden was now about to publish the second
volume of the Miscellanies; in which it would ap pear to have been settled, that nothing should be inserted but what was new. "Religio Laici," therefore, as having been formerly published, was laid aside for the present.
Probably "Albion and Albanius," which was afterwards completed and ready to be performed in February 1634-5
§ The singing Opera was probably that of "King Arthur," to which "Albion and Albanius' was originally designed as a prelude. But it was not acted till after the Revolution.
All for Love," and " The Conquest of Granada." His second son.
recovered of an intermitting feavour, of which this is the twelfth day; but he mends, and now begins to eat flesh to add to this, my man, with over care of him, is fallen ill too, of the same distemper; so that I am deep in doctors, 'pothecaries, and nurses: but though many in this country fall sick of feavours, few or none dye. Your friend, Charles,* continues well. If you have any extraordinary newes, I shouldbe glad to heare it. I will answer Mr. Butler's letter next week for it requires no hast. I am yours, JOHN DRYDEN.
FROM JACOB TONSON TO JOHN DRYDEN, ESQ
[Probably written in Jan. or Feb. 1692-3.J
I HAVE here returned ye Ovid, wch I read wth a great deal of pleasure, and think nothing can be more entertaining; but by this letter you find I am not soe well satisfied as perhaps you might think. I hope at ye same time the matter of fact I lay down in this letter will appear grounds for it, and wch I beg you wou'd concider of; and then I believe I shall at least bee excused.
You may please, Sr, to remember, that upon my first proposal about ye 3d Miscellany, I of fer'd fifty pounds, and talk'd of several authours, without naming Ovid. You ask'd if it shou'd not be guynneas, and said I shou'd not repent it; upon wch I immediately comply'd, and left it wholy to you what, and for ye quantity too: and I declare it was the farthest in ye world from my thoughts that by leaving it to you I should have the less. Thus the case stood when you went into Essex. After I came out of Northamptonshire I wrote to you, and reseived a letter dated Monday Oct. 3d, 92, from wch letter I now write word for word what followes:
"I am translating about six hundred lines, or somewhat less, of ye first book of the Metamorphoses. If I cannot get my price, wch shall be twenty guynneas, I will translate the whole book; wch coming out before the whole translation, will spoyl Tate's undertakings. 'Tis one of the best I have ever made, and very pleasant. This, wth Heroe and Leander, and the piece of Homer, (or, if it be not enough, I will add more,) will make a good part of a Miscellany."
• His eldest son.
The Third Miscellany was published in July 1693
Those, Sr, and ye very words, and ye onely ones in that letter relating to that affair; and ye Monday following you came to town.-After your arrivall you shew'd Mr. Motteaux what you had done, (wch he told me was to ye end of ye story of Daphnis,) [Daphne,] and demanded, as you mention'd in your letter, twenty guyneas, wch that bookseller refus'd. Now, Sr, I the rather believe there was just soe much done, by reason ye number of lines you mention wth ye quantity of lines that agrees soe much of ye first book makes; wch upon counting ye Ovid, I finde to be in ye Lattin 566, in ye English 759; and ye bookseller told me there was noe more demanded of him for it. Now, Sr, what I entreat you wou'd please to consider of is this: that it is reasonable for me to expect at least as much favour from you as a strange bookseller; and I will never believe yt it can be in yr nature to use one ye worse for leaveing it to you; and if the matter of fact as I state it be true, (and upon my word what I mention I can shew you in yor letter,) then pray, Sr, consider how much dearer I then pay you offered it to ye other bookseller; for he might have had to ye end of ye story of Daphnis for 20 guynneas, wch is in
translation 759 lines; 759 lines, that makes for 40 guynneas 1518 lines; and all that I have for fifty guynneas are but 1446; soe that, if I have noe more, I pay 10 guynneas above 40,and have 72 lines less for fifty, in proportion, than the other bookseller shou'd have had for 40, at ye rate you offered him ye first part. This is, Sir, what I shall take as a great favour if you please to think of. I had intentions of letting you know this before; but till I had paid ye money, I would not ask to see the book, nor count the lines, least it shou'd look like a design of not keeping my word. When you have looked over ye rest of what you have already translated, I desire you would send it; and I own yt if you don't think fit to add something more, I must submit: 'tis wholly at yor choice, for I left it entirely to you; but I believe you cannot imagine I expected so little; for you were pleased to use me much kindlyer in Juvenall, whch is not recon'd soe easy to translate as Ovid. Sr, I humbly beg yor pardon for this long letter, and upon my word I had rather have yor good will than any man's alive; and, whatever you are pleased to doe, will alway acknowledge my self, Sr,
Yor most obliged humble Servt,
I AM much asham'd of my self, that I am so much behind-hand with you in kindness. Above all things I am sensible of your good nature, in bearing me company to this place, wherein, besides the cost, you must needs neglect your own business; but I will endeavour to make you some amends; and therefore I your desire you to command me something for service. I am sure you thought my Lord Radclyffet wou'd have done something: 1 ghess'd more truly, that he cou'd not; but I was too far ingag'd to desist, though I was tempted to it by the melancholique prospect I had of it. I have translated six hundred lines of Ovid; but I believe I shall not compasse his 772 lines under nine hundred or more of mine.-This time I cannot write to my wife, because he who is to carry my letter to Oundle, will not stay till I can write another. Pray, sir, let her know that I am well; and for feare the few damsins shou'd be all gone, desire her to buy me a sieve-full, to preserve whole, and not in mash.‡ I intend to come up at least a week before Michaelmass; for Sir Matthew§ is gone abroad, 1 suspect a wooeing, and his caleche is gone with him so that I have been but thrice at Tichmarsh, of which you were with me once. This disappointment makes the place wearysome to me, which otherwise wou'd be pleasant.
About a fortnight ago I had an intimation from a friend by letter, that one of the secretaryes, I suppose Trenchard,|| had informed the
The author was at this time in Northamptonshire. The original has no date but August 30th; but the year is ascertained by the reference to the Third Miscellany, which was published in July 1693.- Malone.
To whom the Third Miscellany is dedicated. I fear this alludes to some disappointment in the pe cuniary compliment usual on such occasions.
This commission will probably remind the reader of the poetic diet recommended by Bayes.-"If I am to write familiar things, as sonnets to Armida, and the like, I make use of stewed prunes only, but, when I have a grand design in hand, I ever take physic, and let blood; for, when you would have pure swiftness of thought, and fiery flights of fancy, you must have a care of the pensive part. In fine, you must purge the belly.
Smith. By my troth, sir, this is a most admirable receipt for writing.
Bayes. Ay, 'tis my secret; and, in good earnest, I think one of the best I have."-Rehearsal, Act I. This is an instance of the minute and malicious diligence, with which the most trivial habits and tastes of our author were ridiculed in the "Re
Sir Matthew, with whom Dryden appears to have resided at this time, is unknown.
Sir John Trenchard, who was made one of the
queen, that I had abus'd her government (those were the words) in my epistle to my Lord Radcliffe; and that thereopon she had commanded her historiographer, Rymer, to fall upon my playes; which he assures me is now doeing. I doubt not his malice, from a former hint you gave me; and if he be employ'd, I am confident 'tis of his own seeking; who, you know, has spoken slightly of me in his last critique:* and that gave me occasion to snarl againe. In your next, let me know what you can learn of this matter. I am Mr. Congreve's true lover, and desire you to tell him, how kindly I take his often remembrances of me; I wish him all prosperity, and hope I shall never loose his affection; nor yours, sir, as being
Your most faithfull,
And much obliged Servant,
I had all your letters. Sir Matthew had your book when he came home last; and desir'd me to give you his acknowledgements.
MR. JOHH DENNIS† TO MR. DRyden.
You may see already by this presumptuous greeting, that encouragement gives as much assurance to friendship, as it imparts to love. You may see too, that a friend may semetimes proceed to acknowledge affection, by the very same degrees by which a lover declares his passion. This last at first confesses esteem, yet owns no passion but admiration. But as soon as he is animated by one kind expression, his look, his style, and his very soul are altered. But as sovereign beauties know very well, that he who confesses he esteems and admires them, implies that he loves them, or is inclined to love them a person of Mr. Dryden's exalted genius, can discern very well, that when we esteem him highly, 'tis respect restrains us, if we say no more. For where great esteem is without affection, 'tis often attended with envy, if not with hate; which passions detract even
Secretaries of State, March 23, 1691-2, died in office
in April 1695.
"A short view of tragedy," published (as appears from the Gentleman's Journal, by P. Motteux,) in December 1692. The date in the title page is 1693.
Dennis, the critic, afterwards so unfortunately distinguished by the satire of Pope. Like Rymer, and others, he retained considerable reputation for critical acumen, until he attempted to illustrate his precepts by his own compositions.
when they commend, and silence is their highest panegyrick. "Tis indeed impossible, that [ should refuse to love a man, who has so often given me all the pleasure that the most insatia ble mind can desire: when at any time I have been dejected by disappointments, or tormented by cruel passions, the recourse to your verses has calmed my soul, or raised it to transports which made it contemn tranquility. But though you have so often given me all the pleasure I was able to bear, I have reason to complain of you on this account, that you have confined my delight to a narrower compass, Suckling, Cowley, and Denham, who formerly ravished me in every part of them, now appear tasteless to me in most; and Waller himself, with all his gallantry, and all that admirable art of his turns, appears three quarters prose to me. Thus, 'tis plain, that your Muse has done me an injury; but she has made me amends for it. For she is like those extraordinary women, who, besides the regularity of their charming features, besides their engaging wit, have secret, unac countable, enchanting graces; which though they have been long and often enjoyed, make them always new and always desirable. I return you my hearty thanks for your most obliging letter. I had been very unreasonable if I had repined that the favour arrived no sooner. 'Tis allowable to grumble at the delaying a payment; but to murmur at the deferring a benefit, is to be impudently ungrateful beforehand. The com mendations which you give me, exceedingly sooth my vanity. For you with a breath can bestow or confirm reputation; a whole numberless people proclaims the praise which you give, and the judgments of three mighty kingdoms appear to depend upon yours. The people gave me some little applause before; but to whom, when they are in the humour, will they not give it? and to whom, when they were froward, will they not refuse it? Reputation with them depends upon chance, unless they are guided by those above them. They are but the keepers, as it were of the lottery which Fortune sets up for renown; upon which Fame is bound to attend with her trumpet, and sound when men draw the prizes. Thus I had rather have your approbation than the applause of Fame. Her commendation argues good luck, but Mr. Dryden's implies desert. Whatever low opinion I have hitherto had of myself, I have so great a value for your judgment, that for the sake of that, I shall be willing henceforward to believe that I am not wholly desertless; but that you may find me still more supportable, I shall endeavour to compensate whatever I want in those glittering qualities, by which the world
is dazzled, with truth, with faith, and with zeal to serve you; qualities which for their rarity might be objects of wonder, but that men dare not appear to admire them, because their admiration would manifestly declare their want of them. Thus, Sir, let me assure you, that though you are acquainted with several gentlemen, whose eloquence and wit may capacitate them to offer their services with more address to you, yet no one can declare himself, with greater chearfulness, or with greater fidelity, or with more profound respect, than myself,
MY DEAR MR. DENNIS, WHEN I read a letter so full of my commendations as your last, I cannot but consider you as the master of a vast treasure, who having more than enough for yourself, are forced to ebb out upon your friends. You have indeed the best right to give them, since you have them in propriety; but they are no more mine when I receive them than the light of the moon can be allowed to be her own, who shines but by the reflexion of her brother. Your own poetry is a more powerful example, to prove that the modern writers may enter into comparison with the ancients, than any which Perrault could produce in France: yet neither he, nor you, who are a better critick, can persuade me, that there is any room left for a solid commendation at this time of day, at least for me.
If I undertake the translation of Virgil, the little which I can perform will shew at least, that no man is fit to write after him, in a barbarous modern tongue. Neither will his machines be of any service to a Christian poet.
how ineffectually they have been tryed by Tasso, and by Ariosto. It is using them too dully, if we only make devils of his gods: as if, for example, I would raise a storm, and make use of
olus, with this only difference of calling him Prince of the Air; what invention of mine would there be in this? or who would not see Virgil through me; only the same trick played over again by a bungling juggler? Boileau has well observed, that it is an easy matter in a Christian poem, for God to bring the Devil to reason.
I think I have given a better hint for new machines in my preface to Juvenal; where I have particularly recommended two subjects, one of King Arthur's conquest of the Saxons, and the other of the Black Prince in his conquest of Spain. But the guardian angels of monarchys and kingdoms are not to be touched by every hand: a man must be deeply conversant in the Platonic philosophy, to deal with them; and therefore I may reasonably expect, that no poet of our age will presume to handle those machines, for fear of discovering his own ignorance; or if he should, he might perhaps be ingrateful enough not to own me for his benefactour.*
After I have confessed thus much of our modern heroic poetry, I cannot but conclude with Mr. Rymer, that our English comedy is far beyond any thing of the ancients: and notwithstanding our irregularities, so is our tragedy. Shakspeare had a genius for it; and we know, in spite of Mr. Rymer, that genius alone is a greater virtue (if I may so call it) than all other qualifications put together. You see what success this learned critick has found in the world, after his blaspheming Shakspeare.† Almost all the faults which he has discovered are truly there; yet who will read Mr. Rymer, or not read Shakspeare? For my own part, I reverence Mr. Rymer's learning, but I detest his ill nature and his arrogance. I indeed, and such as I, have reason to be afraid of him, but Shakspeare has not.
English stand almost upon an equal foot with There is another part of poetry, in which the
the ancients; and it is that which we call Pinfamous Mr. Cowley; and of this, Sir, you are darique; introduced, but not perfected, by our one of the greatest masters. You have the sublimity of sense as well as sound, and know how far the boldness of a poet may lawfully extend. Ode; and reduce it either to the same measures I could wish you would cultivate this kind of which Pindar used, or give new measures of your own. For, as it is, it looks like a vast tract of land newly discovered; the soil is wonwith inhabitants, but almost all savages, without derfully fruitful, but unmanured; overstocked laws, arts, arms, or policy.
I remember poor Nat. Lee, who was then upon the verge of madness, yet made a sober