Page images

and a witty answer to a bad poet, who told him, "It was an easie thing to write like a madman:" "No," said he, "it is very difficult to write like a madman, but it is a very easie matter to write like a fool." Otway and he are safe by death from all attacks, but we poor poets militant (to use Mr. Cowley's expression) are at the mercy of wretched scribblers: and when they cannot fasten upon our verses, they fall upon our morals, our principles of state, and religion. For my principles of religion, I will not justifie them to you: I know yours are far different. For the same reason, I shall say nothing of my principles of state. I believe you in yours follow the dictates of your reason, as I in mine do those of my conscience. If I thought myself in an errour, I would retract it. I am sure that I suffer for them; and Milton makes even the Devil that no creature is in love with pain. For my morals betwixt man and man, I am not to be my own judge. I appeal to the world, if I have deceived or defrauded any man: and for my private conversation, they who see me every day can be the best witnesses, whether or no it be blameless and inoffensive. Hitherto I have no reason to complain that men of either party shun my company. I have never been an impudent beggar at the doors of noblemen: my visits have indeed been too rare to be unacceptable; and but just enough to testifie my gratitude for their bounty, which I have frequently received, but always unasked, as themselves will witness.


I have written more than I needed to you on this subject; for I dare say you justifie me to yourself. As for that which I first intended for the principal subject of this letter, which is my friend's passion and his design of marriage, on better consideration I have changed my mind; for having had the honour to see my dear friend Wycherly's letter to him on that occasion, I find nothing to be added or amended. But as well as I love Mr. Wycherly, I confess I love myself so well, that I will not shew how much I am inferiour to him in wit and judgment, by undertaking any thing after him. There is Moses and the Prophets in his council. Jupiter and Juno, as the poets tell us, made Tiresias their umpire in a certain merry dispute, which fell out in heaven betwixt them. Tiresias, you know, had been of both sexes, and therefore was a proper judge; our friend Mr. Wycherly is full as competent an arbitrator; he has been a bachelor, and marryed man, and is now a widower. Virgil says of Ceneus,

-Nunc vir, nunc fœmina, Ceneus,
Rursus et in veterem fato revoluta figuram.

Yet I suppose he will not give any large com-
mendations to his middle state: nor, as the
sailer said, will be fond after a shipwrack to put
to sea again.* If my friend will adventure after
this, I can but wish him a good wind, as being
his, and
My dear Mr. Dennis,

Your most affectionate
and most faithful Servant,



[The copy money for translating the Eneid was fifty pounds for each book The rising of the second subscription seems to allude to the practice of fixing a day, after which no subscriptions were to be received except on payment of an advanced price. The first subscribers to Dryden's Virgil paid five guineas; a plate was dedicated to each of them, and ornamented with his arms. A second class paid two guineas only, and were not so honoured In the subsequent letters there occur several allusions to these arrangements, and to the transference of names from the higher to the lower class.]

Probably written in April 1695. MR. TONSON, Wednesday morning. IT is now three dayes since I have ended the fourth Eneid; and am this morning beginning to transcribe it, as you may do after vards; for I am willing some few of my friends may see it, and shall give leave to you, to shew your transcription to some others, whose names I will tell you. The paying Ned Sheldon the fifty pounds put me upon this speed; but I intend not so much to overtoil myself, after the sixth book is ended. If the second subscriptions rise, I will take so much the more time, because the profit will incourage me the more; if not, I must make the more haste; yet always with as much care as I am able. But however, I will not fail in my paines of translating the sixth Eneid with the same exactness as I have performed the fourth: because that book is my greatest favourite. You know money is now very scrupulously receiv'd in the last which you did me the favour to change for my wife, besides the clip'd money, there were at least forty shillings brass. You may, if you please, come to me at the Coffee-house this afternoon, or at farthest to-morrow, that we may take care together, where and when I may receive the

Dryden's evil opinion of the state of matrimony never fails to glance forth upon such occasions as the present.

fifty pounds and the guinneys; which must be some time this week.

I am your servant,


I have written to my Lord Lawderdail, for his decorations.*



Saturday, June the 8th, (f. 1695.)


'Tis now high time for me to think of my second subscriptions; for the more time I have for collecting them, the larger they are like to be. I have now been idle just a fortnight; and therefore might have called sooner on you, for the remainder of the first subscriptions. And besides, Mr. Aston will be goeing into Cheshire a week hence, who is my onely help, and to whom you are onely beholding for makeing the bargain betwixt us, which is so much to my loss; but I repent nothing of it that is passed, but that I do not find myself capable of translating so great an author, and therefore feare to lose my own credit, and to hazard your profit, which it wou'd grieve me if you should loose, by your too good opinion of my abilities. I expected to have heard of you this week, according to the intimation you gave me of it; but that failing, I must defer it no longer than till the ensueing week, because Mr. Aston will afterwards be gone, if not sooner.

Be pleased to send me word what day will be most convenient to you; and be ready with the price of paper, and of the books. No matter for any dinner; for that is a charge to you, and I care not for it.t Mr. Congreve may be with us, as a common friend; for as you know him for yours, I make not the least doubt, but that he is much more mine; send an immediate answer, and you shall find me ready to do all things wch become

Your Servant,

• One of the subscribers of the higher class. The decorations were probably his armorial bearings.

It was an ancient British custom, and prevailed in Scotland within these forty years, to finish all bargains, contracts, and even consultations, at a tavern, that the parties might not, according to the ancient Caledonian phrase, part dry-lipp'd. The custom between authors and booksellers seems to have been universal; and the reader may recollect, that the supposed poisoning of the celebratedEdmund Curl took place at a meeting of this kind.



[Wednesday the 13th of 7ber. f. 1695.] MY GOOD FRIEND,

THIS is onely to acquaint you, that I have taken my place in the Oundel coach for Tuesday next; and hope to be at London on Wednesday night. I had not confidence enough to hope Mr. Southern and Mr. Congreve would have given me the favour of their company for the last foure miles; but since they will be so kind to a friend of theirs, who so truely loves both them and you, I will please myself with expecting it, if the weather be not so bad as to hinder


I assure you I lay up your last kindnesses to me in my heart: and the less I say of them, I charge them to account so much the more; being very sensible that I have not hitherto deserved them. Having been obliged to sit up all last night almost out of civility to strangers who were benighted, and to resign my bed to them, I am sleepy all this day; and if I had not taken a very lusty pike that day, they must have gone supperless to bed, foure ladyes and two gentlemen; for Mr. Dudley and I were alone, with but one man and no mayd in the house. This time I cannot write to my wife; do me the favour to let her know I received her letter, am well, and hope to be with her on Wednesday next, at night. No more but that

I am very inuch

Your Friend and Servant,



MR. TONSON, October the 29th, [f. 1695.] SOME kind of intercourse must be carryed on betwixt us, while I am translating Virgil. Therefore I give you notice that I have done the seaventh Eneid in the country ;* and intend some few days hence to go upon the eight: when that is finished, I expect fifty pounds in good silver; not such as I have have had formerly. I am not obliged to take gold, neither

At Burleigh, the seat of John, the fifth Earl of Essex.

Both the gold and silver coin were at this time much depreciated and reinained in a fluctuating state till a new coinage took place.

will I; nor stay for it beyond four-and-twenty houres after it is due. I thank you for the civility of your last letter in the country; but the thirty shillings upon every book remains with me. You always intended I should get nothing by the second subscriptions, as I found from first to last. And your promise to Mr. Congreve, that you had found a way for my benefit, which was an encouragement to my paines, came at last, for me to desire Sir Godfrey Kneller and Mr. Closterman to gather for me. I then told Mr. Congreve, that I knew you too well to believe you meant me any kindness: and he promised me to believe accordingly of you, if you did not. But this is past; and you shall have your bargain, if I live and have my health. You may send me word what you have done in my business with the Earl of Derby, and I must have a place for the Duke of Devonshire. Some of your friends will be glad to take back their three guinneys. The Countess of Macclesfield gave her money to Will Plowden before Christmas; but he remembered it not, and payd it not in. Mr. Aston tells me, my Lord Derby expects but one book. I find, my Lord Chesterfield and my Lord Petre are both left out; but my Lady Macclesfield must have a place, if I can possibly: and Will Plowden shall pay you in three guinneys if I can obtain so much favour from you.* I desire neither excuses nor reasons from you: for I am but too well satisfyed already. The Notes and Prefaces shall be short; because you shall get the more by saving paper.t




MR. TONSON, Friday night. [f. Dec. 1695.] MEETING Sir Robert Howard at the playhouse this morning, and asking him how he lik'd my seaventh Eneid, he told me you had not brought it. He goes out of town to-morrow, heing Satturday, after dinner. I desire you not to fail of carrying my manuscript for him to read in the country; and desire him to bring it up

• From inspecting the plates of Dryden's Virgil, it appears, that the Earl of Derby had one inscribed to him, as had Lord Chesterfield. But this wrathful letter made no farther impression on the mercantile obstinacy of Tonson; and neither the Duke of Dev. onshire, Loni Petre, nor Lady Macclesfield, obtained the place among the first subscribers, which Dryden so peremptorily demands for them.

This seems to be a bitter jibe at Jacob's parsimony.

with him, when he comes next to town. I doubt you have not yet been with my Lord Chesterfield, and am in pain about it. Yours,


When you have leysure, I shou'd be glad to see how Mr. Congreve and you have worded my propositions for Virgil. When my sonne's playt is acted, I intend to translate again, if my health continue. Some time next week let me heare from you concerning the propositions.




Friday forenoon. [f. Feb. 1695-6.j I RECEIV'D your letter very kindly, because indeed I expected none; but thought you as very a tradesman as Bentley.§ who has cursed our Virgil so heartily. I shall loose enough by your bill upon Mr. Knight || for after having taken it all in silver, and not in half-crowns neither, but shillings and sixpences, none of the money will go; for which reason I have sent it all back again, and as the less loss will receive it in guinneys at 29 shillings each. 'Tis troublesome to be a looser, but it was my own fault to accept it this way, which I did to avoyd more trouble.

I am not sorry that you will not allow any thing towards the notes; for to make them good, would have cost me half a yeare's time at least. Those I write shall be only marginall, to help the unlearned, who understand not the poeticall fables. The prefaces, as I intend them, will be somewhat more learned. It wou'd require seaven yeares to translate Virgil exactly. But I promise you once more to do my best in the four remaining books, as I have hitherto done in the foregoing. Upon triall I find all of your trade are sharpers, and you not more than others; therefore I have not wholly left you. Mr. Aston does not blame you for getting as good a

Perhaps the proposals for the second subscription. See Letter XI.

1" The Husband his own Cuckold," written by our author's second son, John, and published in July 1696.

Tonson's answer to the foregoing letter, seems to have been pacific and apologetical, yet peremp tory as to his terms.

$ Richard Bentley, a bookseller and printer, who lived in Russel Street, Covent Garden

A banker or goldsmith, afterwards notorious for his share in the South-Sea scheme, to which company he was cashier.

bargain as you cou'd, though I cou'd have gott an hundred pounds more; and you might have spared almost all your trouble if you had thought fit to publish the proposalls for the first subscriptions; for I have guynneas offered me every day, if there had been room; I believe, modestly speaking, I have refused already 25. I mislike nothing in your letter therefore, but onely your upbraiding me with the publique encouragement, and my own reputation concerned in the notes; when I assure you I cou'd not make them to my mind in less than half a year's time. Get the first half of Virgil transcribed as soon as possibly you can, that I may put the notes to it; and you may have the other four books which lye ready for you when you bring the former; that the press may stay as little as possibly it can. My Lord Chesterfield has been to visite me, but I durst say nothing of Virgil to him, for feare there should be no void place for him; if there be, let me know; and tell me whether you have made room for the Duke of Devonshire. Haveing no silver by me, I desire my Lord Derby's money, deducting your own. And let it be good, if you desire to oblige me, who am not your enemy, and may be your friend, JOHN DRYDEN.

Let me heare from you as speedily as you



Thursday morning, [f. Aug. 1696.] MR. TONSON,

I HAD yesterday morning two watches sent me by Mr. Tompion, which I am to send my sonnes this week. I cou'd not persuade him to take gold at any rate; but he will take a goldsmith's bill for two and twenty pounds, which is their price. I desire you wou'd give him such a bill, and abate it out of the next fifty pounds which you are to pay me when Virgil is finish'd. Ten Eneids are finish'd, and the ninth and tenth written out in my own hand. You may have them with the eight, which is in a foul copy, when you please to call for them, and to bring those which are transcrib'd. Mr. Tompion's man will be with me at four o'clock in the afternoon, and bring the watches, and must be paid at sight. I desire you therefore to procure a goldsmith's bill, and let me have it before that houre, and send an answer by my boy. Yours,





May 26th, 1696. SEND word, if you please, Sir, what is the most you will give for my sonn's play, that I may take the fairest chapman, as I am bound to do for his benefit; and if you have any silver which will go, iny wife will be glad of it. I lost thirty shillings or more by the last payment of fifty pounds, wch you made at Mr. Knights.



Sir Ro: Howard* writt me word, that if I cou'd make any advantage by being paid in clipp'd money, he would change it in the Exchequer.

• Sir Robert Howard had been appointed auditor of the Exchequer in 1673, and held that office till his death.



From the Coffee House. Nov. 25th.

MR. TONSON, Wednesday afternoon. I HAVE the remainder of my Northamptonshyre rents come up this weeke, and desire the favour of you to receive them for me, from the carrier of Tocester, who lodges at the Castle in Smithfield. I suppose it is the same man from whom you lately receiv'd them for my wife. Any time before ten o'clock to-morrow morning will serve the turne. If I were not deeply ingaged in my studyes, which will be finished in a day or two, I would not put you to this trouble. I have inclosed my tenant's letter to me, for you to shew the carrier, and to testify the summ, which is sixteen pounds and about tenn shillings; which the letter sets down. Pray, Sir, give in an acquittance for so much receiv'd, as I suppose you did last time. I am,

Your very faithful Servant.

[blocks in formation]




[f. Jan. 1696-7.]

ACCORDING to my promise, have sent you all that is properly yours of my translation. I desire, as you offer'd, that it should be transcrib'd in a legible hand, and then sent back to me for the last review. As for some notes on the margins, they are not every where, and when they are, are imperfect; so that you ought not to transcribe them, till I make them compleat. I feare you can scarcely make any thing of my foul copy; but it is the best I have. You see, my hand fails me, and therefore I write so short a letter. What I wrote yesterday was too sharp; but I doubt it is all true. Your boy's coming upon so unseasonable a visit, as if you were frighted for yourself, discomposed me.

Transcribe on very large paper, and leave a very large margin.

Send your boy for the foul copies, and he shall have them; for it will not satisfy me to send them by my own servant.

I cannot yet find the first sheet of the first Eneid. If it be lost; I will translate it over againe but perhaps it may be amongst the loose papers. The fourth and ninth Eclogues, which I have sent, are corrected in my wife's printed Miscellany.*



Tuesday Morning, July the 6th, 1697. MR. TONSON,

I DESIRE you wou'd let Mr. Patet know, I can print no more names of his subscribers than I have money for, before I print their names.

• The Eclogues of Virgil had been published in the first Miscellany. Dryden probably corrected them with a pen in Lady Elizabeth's copy of the printed book, and sent it to the bookseller as what is techni cally termed copy.

This person, in the last age, was frequently called "the learned tradesman." "Sir Andrew Fountaine (says Swift in his Journal, October 6, 1710,) came this morning, and caught me writing in bed. I went into the city with him, and we dined at the Chop-house, with Will Pate, the learned woollen-dra per then we sauntered at china shops and book. sellers; went to the tavern, and drank two pints of white wine," &c. Mr. William Pate was educated at Trinity Hall in Cambridge, where he took the degree of B C. L. He died in 1746, and was buried at Lee, in Kent.

Mr. Malone, who mentions these particulars,

He has my acknowledgment of ten guineas receiv'd from him; and, as I told you, I owe him for above three yards of fine cloath: let him reckon for it; and then there will remain the rest for me, out of the ten more names wch he has given in. If he has not money by him, let him blott out as many of his names as he thinks good; and print onely those for which he pays or strikes off, in adjusting the accounts betwixt me and him. This is so reasonable on both sides, that he cannot refuse it; but I wou'd have things ended now, because I am to deal with a draper, who is of my own perswasion,* and to whom I have promis'd my custome.

[blocks in formation]

BEING now at Sir William Bowyer's† in the country, I cannot write at large, because I find myself somewhat 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 come. 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 for

[blocks in formation]
« EelmineJätka »