« EelmineJätka »
Nov. 12, 1699.
THE letter you were pleas'd to direct for me, to be left at the coffee-house last summer, was a great honour; and your versest were, thought, too good to be a woman's; some of my friends, to whom I read them, were of the same opinion. 'Tis not over-gallant, I must confess, to say this of the fair sex ; but most certain it is, that they generally write with more softness than strength. On the contrary, you want neither vigour in your thoughts, nor force in your expresand mesions, nor harmony in your numbers; thinks I find much of Orindat in your manner; to whom I had the honour to be related, and also to be known. But I continued not a day in the ignorance of the person to whom I was oblig'd; for, if you remember, you brought the verses to a bookseller's shop, and enquir'd there, how they might be sent to me. There happen'd to
Mrs. Thomas, " Curll's Corinna," well known as a hack authoress some years after this period, was now commencing her career. She was daughter of Emanuel Thomas, of the Inner Temple, bar rister. Her person, as well as her writings, seems to have been dedicated to the service of the public. The story of her having obtained a parcel of Pope's letters, written in youth, from Henry Cromwell, to whom they were addressed, and selling them to Curll the bookseller, is well known. In that cele. brated collection, 2d vol. 8vo. 1735, the following Jetters from Dryden also appear. It would seem Corinna had contrived to hook an acquaintance upon the good-natured poet, by the old pretext of sending him two poems for his opinion. She afterwards kept up some communication with his family, which she made the ground of two marvellous sto ries, one concerning the astrological predictions of the poet, the other respecting the mode of his fu neral.
"A Pastoral Elegy to the Memory of the Hon. Cecilia Bew," published afterwards in the Poems of Mrs. Thomas, 8vo. 1727.
1 Mrs. Catharine Philips, a poetess of the last age.
be in the same shop a gentleman, who heareing you speak of me, and seeing a paper in your hand, imagin'd it was a libel against me, and had you watch'd by his servant, till he knew both your name, and where you liv'd, of which he sent me word immediately. Though I have lost his letter, yet I remember you live some where about St. Giles's, and are an only daughter. You must have pass'd your time in reading much better books than mine; or otherwise you cou'd not have arriv'd to so much knowledge as I find you have. But whether Sylph or Nymph, I know not: those fine creatures, as your author, Count Gabalis, assures us,t have a mind to be christen'd, and since you do me the favour to desire a name from me, take that of Corinna, if you please; I mean not the lady with whom Ovid was in Love, but the famous Theban poetess, who overcame Pindar five times, as historians tell us. I would have call'd you Sapho, but that I hear you are handsomer. Since you find I am not altogether a stranger to you, be pleas'd to make me happier by a better knowledge of you; and in stead of so many unjust praises which you give me, think me only worthy of being,
Your most humble servant, and admirer,
She lived with her mother, Mrs. Elizabeth Thomas, (as we learn from Curll,) in Dyot street, St. Giles; but in the first edition of the letter, for the greater honour, she represents it as addressed to herself at Great Russel-street, Bloomsbury.
1 In this lively romance, written to ridicule the doctrines of the Rosicrucian philosophy, we are informed, that the Nymphs of water, air, earth, and fire, are anxions to connect themselves with the sages of the human race. I remember nothing about their wish to be baptized; but that desire was extremely strong among the fays, or female genii, of the North, who were anxious to demand it for the children they had by human fathers, as the means of securing to them that immortality which they themselves wanted. Einar Godmund, an ancient priest, informed the learned Torfæus, that they often solicited this favour, (usually in vain,) and were exceedingly incensed at the refusal. He gave an instance of Siward Fostre, who had promised to one of these fays, that if she bore him a child, he would cause it to be christened. In due time she appeared, and laid the child on the wall of the church-yard, with a chalice of gold and a rich cope, as an offering at the ceremony. But Siward, ashamed of this extraordinary intrigue, refused to acknowledge the child, which, therefore, remained unbaptized. The incensed mother reappeared and carried off the infant and the chalice, leaving behind the cope, fragments of which are still preserved. But she failed not to inflict upon Siward and his de. scendants, to the ninth generation, a peculiar dis. order, with which they were long afflicted. Other stories to the same purpose are told by Torfæus in his preface to the "History of Hrolf Kraka," 12mo. 1715. I suppose, bowever, that Dryden only recollected the practice of magicians, who, on invoking
THE great desire which I observe in you to write well, and those good parts which God Almighty and nature have bestow'd on you, make me not to doubt, that, by application to study, and the reading of the best authors, you may be absolute mistress of poetry. 'Tis an unprofitable art to those who profess it; but you, who write only for your diversion, may pass your hours with pleasure in it, and without preju dice; always avoiding (as I know you will,) the licence which Mrs. Behnt allowed her self, of writeing loosely, and giveing, if I may have leave to say so, some scandall to the modesty of her sex. I confess, I am the last man who ought, in justice, to arraign her, who have been my self too much a libertine in most of my poems; which I shou'd be well contented I had
time either to purge, or to see them fairly burn'd. But this I need not say to you, who are too well born, and too well principled, to fall into that mire.
In the mean time, I would advise you not to trust too much to Virgil's Pastorals; for as excellent as they are, yet Theocritus is far before him, both in softness of thought, and simplicity of expression. Mr. Creech has translated that Greek poet, which I have not read in English. If you have any considerable faults, they consist chiefly in the choice of words, and the placeing them so as to make the verse run smoothly; but I am at present so taken up with my own studies, that I have not leisure to descend to particulars; being, in the mean time, the fair Corinna's
Most humble and most
astral spirits, and binding them to their service, usually imposed onthem some distinguishing name. It is possible Paracelsus says something to the purpose in his Magna Philosophia.
In printing this letter, Mr. Malone says, he "followed a transcript which he made some years ago from the original. It is preserved in a small volume in the Bodleian Library, consisting chiefly of Pope's original Letters to Henry Cromwell, which Mrs. Thomas sold to Curl, the bookseller, who published them unfaithfully. It afterwards fell into the hands of Dr. Richard Rawlinson, by whom it was bequeathed to that Library."
† Afra Behn, whose plays, poems, and novels are very indecent; yet an aged lady, a relation of the editor, assured him, that, in the polite society of her youth, in which she held a distinguished place, these books were accounted proper reading; and added, with some humour, it was not till after a long interval, when she looked into them, at the age of seventy, that she was shocked at their indecorum.
P. S. I keep your two copies* till you want them, and are pleas'd to send for them.
TO MRS. STEWARD.
company to town.
Saturday, Nov. 6th, [1699.] AFTER a long expectation, Madam, at length your happy letter came to your servant, who had, was, my hopes of seeing you, and that you almost despair'd of it. The onely comfort I defer'd writeing, because you wou'd surprise me with your presence, and beare your relations has given me an apprehension, that my cousin, Your neighbour, Mr. Price, your father, is in danger of being made sheriff the following yeare; but I hope 'tis a jealousy without ground, and that the warm season only keeps him in the country.-If you come up next dy, which the author of it, one Mr. Dennis, cries week, you will be entertain'd with a new trageup at an excessive rate; and Colonel Codrington, who has seen it, prepares the world to give it loud applauses. 'Tis called "Iphigenia," and imitated from Euripides, an old Greek house; and another play of the same name is poet.† Lane.--I was lately to visite the Duchess of very shortly to come on the stage at DruryNorfolk; and she speaks of you with much affection and respect. Your cousin Montague, after the present session of parliament, will be created Earl of Bristoll, and I hope is much my friend; but I doubt I am in no condition of having a kindness done, having the Chancellour¶ my enemy; and not being capable of renounceing the cause for which I have so long suffer'd. My cousin Driden of Chesterton is
This is to be acted at Betterton's
• The Pastoral Elegy on Mrs. Bew, and the 'Triple League.
Colonel Codrington wrote an epilogue to Dennis's Iphigenia." Dryden here talks rather slightingly of his acquaintance; but "Iphigenia" is a most miserable piece.
Mary, the daughter of Henry Mordaunt, the second Earl of Peterborough, and wife of Thomas, the seventh Duke of Norfolk, afterwards divorced for criminal conversation with Sir John Germaine. See the proceedings in the State Trials.
The Right Hon. Charles Montague.
He was about a year after created Lord Halifax. Lord Somers.-Mr. Malone is of opinion, that this passage adds some support to what has been suggested in our author's Life, that a part of Dryden's "Satire to his Muse" was written in his younger days by this great man. Yet I cannot think, that great man would be concerned in so 11bellous a piece and in the same breath Dryden tells us, that he hoped Montague, who had really written against him, was much his friend.
was heer yesterday, to see my wife, though I
Your most faithfull oblig'd servant,
TO MRS. STEWARD.
MADAM, Thursday, Dec. the 14th, 1699. WHEN I have either too much business or want of health, to write to you, I count my time is lost, or at least my conscience accuses me that I spend it ill. At this time my head is full of cares, and my body ill at ease. My book is printing, and my bookseller makes no hast. I had last night at bed-time an unwelcome fit of vomiting; and my sonn, Charles, lyes sick upon his bed with the colique, which has been violent upon him for almost a week. With all this, I cannot but remember that you accus'd me of barbarity, I hope in jeast onely, for mistaking one sheriff for another, which proceeded from my want of heareing well. I am heartily sorry that a chargeable office is fallen on my cousin Stuart. But my cousin Dryden comforts me, that it must have come one time or other, like the small-pox; and better have it young than old. I hope it will leave no great marks behind it, and that your fortune will no more feel it than your beauty, by the addition of a year's wearing. My cousine, your mother,
Erasmus Dryden, who lived in King's street, Westminster, and was a grocer. In Dec. 1710, he succeeded to the title of Baronet.
Jemima, Mrs. Steward's youngest daughter, probably then four or five years old. 1" Fables Ancient and Modern."
Elmes Steward, Esq., was appointed sheriff of the county of Northampton in Nov. 1699.
TO MRS. ELIZABETH THOMAS, JUN.
Friday, Dec. 29, 1699.
I HAVE sent your poems back again, after having kept them so long from you; by which you see I am like the rest of the world, an impudent borrower, and a bad pay-master. You take more care of my health than it deserves; that of an old man is always crazy, and, at present mine is worse than usual, by a St. Anthony's fire in one of my legs; though the swelling is much abated, yet the pain is not wholly gone, and I am too weak to stand upon it. If I re
• Dennis's "Iphigenia" was performed at the Iphigenia in Aulis," written by Abel Boyer, and, if theatre in Little Lincoln's Fields; and "Achilles, or we are to believe the author, corrected by Dryden, was acted at the theatre in Drury Lane. Dennis says in his Preface, that the success of his play was "neither despicable, nor extraordinary;" but Gildon, in his "Comparison between the two Stages," 8vo. 1702, informs us, that it was acted but six times; and that the other tragedy, after four representations, was laid aside.-Malone.
In the London Gazette, No. 3557, Thursday, December 14, 1699, it is mentioned, that a proclamation for preventing and punishing immorality and profaneness, had been issued out on the 11th instant. We know, by the experience of our own time, the justice of Dryden's observation.
cover, it is possible I may attempt Homer's Iliad. A specimen of it (the first book) is now in the press, among other poems of mine, which will make a volume in folio, of twelve shillings' price; and will be published within this month. I desire, fair author, that you will be pleas'd to continue me in your good graces, who am, with all sincerity and gratitude,
Your most humble servant, and admirer,
TO MRS. STEWARD.
Feb. 23d. 1699 [1700.] THOUGH I have not leisure to thank you for the last trouble I gave you, yet haveing by me two lampoons lately made, I know not but they may be worth your reading; and therefore have presum'd to send them. I know not the authours; but the town will be ghessing. The "Ballad of the Pews," which are lately rais'd higher at St. James's church,* is by some sayd to be Mr. Manwareing, or my Lord Peterborough. The poem of the "Confederates" some think to be Mr. Walsh; the copies are both lik'd.t And there are really two factions of
Not at St. James's Church, but at the Chapel Royal. The pews, it seems, were raised to prevent the devotions of the maids of honour from any distractions in time of service. But the ballad maliciously supposes, that the intention was to confine the sun-beams of their eyes to the preacher, Bishop Burnet.
This poem is a banter upon the interest which the nobility took in the disputes between the Drury. Lane theatre, where Skipwith was manager, and that in Lincoln's Inn Fields, of which Betterton was sovereign. The "Island Princess" of Fletcher had been converted into a sort of opera, by Peter Motteux, and acted at Drury-Lane in 1699. The peculiar taste of Rich forevery thing that respected show and machinery is well known.
The Confederates, or the First Happy Day of the
Ye vile traducers of the female kind,
Sir Thomas Skipwith, joint patentee and manager with Charles Rich of the Drury Lane theatre.
ladyes, for the two playhouses. If you do not understand the names of some persons mention'd, I can help you to the knowledge of them. You know Sir Tho. Skipwith is master of the
In bright array the well-train'd host appears;
The living honour of that ancient line.
He said:-Blest angels! for great ends design'd,
To him great Derwentwater thus replied: Thou mighty prince, in many dangers tried Born to dispute severe decrees of fate, The nursing father of a sickly state; Behold the pillars of thy lawful reign! Thy legal rights we promise to maintain; Our brightest nymphs shall thy dominions grace, With all the beauties of the Highland race; The beaus shall make thee their peculiar care, For beaus will always wait upon the fair: For thee kind Beereton and bold Webbe shall fight:11
Lord Scott shall ogle, and my spouse shall write:$$
Thus shall thy court our English youth engross, And all the Scotch, from Drummond down to Ross.
Mary Tudor, natural daughter of Charles the Second, and lady of Lord Ratcliff, (now Earl of Derwentwater,) to whom Dryden dedicated his Third Miscellany.
† Arabella, daughter of Sir Edward Allen, Bart. She first married Francis Thompson, Esq, and was at this time the wife of Lord George Howard, (eldest son of Henry, the sixth Duke of Norfolk. by his second wife,) who died in March 1720-21.- Malone.
Elizabeth, daughter of Digby, Lord Gerard, and second wife of James, Duke of Hamilton, who was killed in a duel by Lord Mohun, in November, 1712-Malone.
Elizabeth, daughter of Charles Bertie of Uffington, in the county of Lincoln, Esq. a younger son of Montague, the second Earl of Lindsey. She was at this time the wife of Charles Mildmay, the second Lord Fitzwalter of that family. - Malone.
Margaret, daughter of George, Lord Chandos, and relict of William Brownlow of Humby, in Lincolnshire.
Richard Norton of Southwick, in Hampshire, Esq. Cibber's comedy, entitled, "Love's last Shift," was dedicated to this gentleman, in February 1696-7. Mr. Norton died December 10, 1732. m his sixty-ninth year.
Anthony Henley, of the Grange, in Hampshire, Esq., a man of parts and learning, and a correspondent of Swift, who died in 1711.
11 Perhaps General Webbe, whose "firm platoon" was afterwards celebrated by Tickell. Of the prowess of Mr. Beereton no memorials have been discovered.-Malone. 11 Lord Henry Scott, second surviving sou of James, Duka of Monmonth, who was born in 1676. In 1706 he was created Earl of Deloraine; and died about 1780.
The Earl of Derwentwater's poetry, which, according to Dryden, was none of the best.
TO MRS. STEWARD.
Tuesday, March 12th, 1699 [-1700.] 'Tis a week since I receiv'd the favour of a letter, which I have not yet acknowledg'd to you. About that time, my new poems were publish'd, which are not come till this day into my hands. They are a debt to you, I must con
Now in his throne the king securely sat;
This roused the monarch of the neighbouring
A drowsy prince, too careless of renown."
Thou bane of empire, foe to human kind,
Hold, said the foe, thy warlike host remove,
The king consents; and urged by public good, Wisely retreats to save his people's blood The moving legions leave the dusty plain, And safe at home poetic wars maintain.
The famous Betterton, who, in 1695, again divided the two companies, and headed that in Lincoln's inn Fields. ↑ Robert, third Earl of Scarsdale, a protector of Betterton's company.
fess; and I am glad, because they are so unworthy to be made a present. Your sisters, I hope, will be so kind to have them convey'd to you; that my writeings may have the honour of waiting on you, which is deny'd to me. The town encourages them with more applause than any thing of mine deserves; and particularly, my cousin Driden accepted one from me so very indulgently, that it makes me more and more in love with him. But all our hopes of the House of Commons are wholly dash'd. Our properties are destroy'd; and rather than we shou'd not perish, they have made a breach in the Magna. Charta; for which God forgive them! Congreve's new play has had but moderate success, though it deserves much better. I am neither in health, nor do I want afflictions of any kind; but I am, in all conditions, Madam,
Your most oblig'd obedient servant,
For Mrs. Stuart, att Cotterstock,
a book directed to her, These.
TO MRS. STEWARD.
MADAM, Thursday, April the 11th, 1700. THE ladies of the town have infected you at a distance; they are all of your opinion, and like my last book of Poems better than any thing they have formerly seen of mine. I always thought my verses to my cousin Driden were the best of the whole; and to my comfort, the town thinks them so; and he, which pleases mo most, is of the same judgment, as appears by a noble present he has sent me, which surprised me, because I did not in the least expect it. I doubt not, but he receiv'd what you were pleas'à to send him; because he sent me the letter, which you did me the favour to write me. At this very instant I heare the guns, which, goeing off, give me to understand, that the King is goeing to the Parliament to pass acts, and consequently to prorogue them; for yesterday I heard, that both he and the Lords have given
Alluding to the statutes imposing the oath of allegiance and supremacy on all Catholics, under the penalty of incapacity to hold landed property, 11 and 12 William III. cap. 4.
↑ The excellent comedy entitled the "Way of the World." It had cost Congreve much pains, and he was so much disgusted with the cold reception alluded to in the text, that he never again wrote for the stage.
1 His Fables.