Page images

revolution which he had to witness both in church and state; but even this part of his conduct may charitably be attributed to a natural timidity and diffidence in his disposition, which almost all his biographers agree in his possessing. According to Congreve, he was humane, compassionate, forgiving, and sincerely friendly. His reading extensive his memory tenacious, readily communicative, candid in his opinions of other writers, and patient under reprehension. He was distant to strangers and averse to intrusion. Of all men the most modest and easily discountenanced in his approaches either to his superiors or equals. In this eulogium Congreve may be considered as discharging an obligation imposed by Dryden, who in his verses on the Comedy of the "Double Dealer," says, "Be kind to my remains; and O defend,

against your judgment, your departed friend!
Let not th' insulting foe my fame pursue,

but shade those laurels which descend to you." An editor of Dryden's poems, remarks with great justice, that of his writings posterity has been just to his fame, and he now stands in full possession of that established reputation, so meritoriously due to the sprightliness of his wit, the liveliness of his imagination, the beauty of his sentiments and expression, but especially that improved harmony of his numbers, so happily begun by his predecessor Waller; and, if since brought to greater perfection by Mr. Pope, it has been owned by himself that Dryden was his model. The style of Tillotson was Dryden's prototype, on which he improved his prose, so as to have become the most correct writer of his time. The last editions

of Dryden's Works are by Scott, complete in 18 vol. 8vo. bds 91. 9s. Miller; and his prose Works by Malone, 4 vol. 8yo. 21. 2s. Cadell.


Creator spirit, by whose aid

the world's foundations first were laid,
come visit every pious mind;

come pour thy joys on human kind;
from sin and sorrow set us free,
and make thy temples worthy thee.
O source of uncreated light,
the Father's promised Paraclete!
thrice holy fount, thrice holy fire,
our hearts with heavenly love inspire;
come, and thy sacred unction bring
to sanctify us, while we sing.

Plenteous of grace, descend from high,
rich in thy sevenfold energy!

thou strength of his Almighty hand,

whose power does heaven and earth command.
Proceeding spirit, our defence,

who dost the gifts of tongues dispense,
and crown'st thy gift with eloquence!
Refine and purge our earthly parts;
but, oh, inflame and fire our hearts!
our frailties help, our vice controul,
submit the senses to the soul;
and when rebellious they are grown,
then lay thy hand, and hold them down.
Chase from our minds th' infernal foe,
and peace, the fruit of love, bestow;
and, lest our feet should step astray,
protect and guide us in the way.
Make us eternal truths receive,
and practise all that we believe;

give us thyself, that we may see
the Father, and the Son, by thee.

Immortal honour, endless fame,
attend th' Almighty Father's name:
the Saviour Son be glorify'd,
who for lost man's redemption dy'd:
and equal adoration be,

eternal Paraclete, to thee.


All human things are subject to decay, and when fate summons, monarchs must obey. This Flecknoe found, who, like Augustus, young was call'd to empire, and had govern'd long: in prose and verse, was own'd, without dispute, through all the realms of Nonsense, absolute. This aged prince, now flourishing in peace, and blest with issue of a large increase; worn out with business, did at length debate to settle the succession of the state:

[ocr errors]

and, pondering, which of all his sons was fit to reign, and wage immortal war with wit, cry'd, "T is resolv'd; for nature pleads, that he should only rule, who most resembles me. Shadwell alone my perfect image bears, mature in dulness from his tender years: Shadwell alone, of all my sons, is he who stands confirm'd in full stupidity. The rest to some faint meaning make pretence, but Shadwell never deviates into sense, Some beams of wit on other souls may fall, strike through, and make a lucid interval: but Shadwell's genuine night admits no ray, his rising fogs prevail upon the day.

Besides, his godly fabric fills the eye,

and seems design'd for thoughtless majesty: thoughtless as monarch oaks, that shade the plain, and spread in solemn state supinely reign. Heywood and Shirley were but types of thee, thou last great prophet of tautology! Ev'n 1, a dunce of more renown than they, was sent before but to prepare thy way; and coarsely clad in Norwich drugget, came to teach the nations in thy greater name. My warbling lute, the lute 1 whilom strung, when to king John of Portugal I sung, was but the prelude to that glorious day, when thou on silver Thames didst cut thy way, with well-tim'd oars before the royal barge, swell'd with the pride of thy celestial charge; and, big with hymn, commander of an host, the like was ne'er in Epsom blankets tost. Methinks I see the new Arion sail,

the lute still trembling underneath thy nail,
at thy well-sharpened thumb from shore to shore
the trebles sqeak for fear, the bases roar:
Echoes from Pissing-Alley, Shadwell call,
and Shadwell they resound from Aston-Hall.
About thy boat the little fishes throng,
as at the morning toast that floats along.
Sometimes, as prince of thy harmonious band,
thou wield'st thy papers in thy threshing hand,
St. Andre's feet ne'er kept more equal time,
not even the feet of thy own Pysche's rhyme:
though they in numbers as in sense excel;
so just, so like tautology they fell,

that, pale with envy, Singleton foreswore
the lute and sword, which he in triumph bore,
and vow'd he ne'er would act Villerius more.'

Here stopt the good old sire, and wept for joy, in silent raptures of the hopeful boy. All arguments, but most his plays, persuade, that for anointed dulness he was inade.

Close to the walls which fair Augusta bind, (the fair Augusta much to tears inclin'd) an ancient fabric rais'd t' inform the sight, there stood of yore, and Barbican it hight; a watch-tower once; but now, so fate ordains, of all the pile an empty name remains: from it's old ruins brothel-houses rise, scenes of lewd loves, and of polluted joys, where their vast courts the mother-strumpets keep, and, undisturb'd by watch, in silence sleep. Near those a nursery erects it's head,

where queens are form'd, and future heroes bred; where unfledg'd actors learn to laugh and cry, where infant punks their tender voices try, and little Maximins the gods defy.

Great Fletcher never treads in buskins here, nor greater Jonson dare in socks appear; but gentle Simkin just reception finds amidst this monument of vanish'd minds: pure clinches the suburbian Muse affords, and Panton waging harmless war with words. Here Flecknoe, as a place to fame well known, ambitiously design'd his Shadwell's throne. For ancient Decker prophecy'd long since, that in this pile should reign a mighty prince, born for a scourge of wit, and flail of sense, to whom true dulness should some Pysches owe, but worlds of misers from his pen should flow: humourists and hypocrites it should produce, whole Raymond families, and tribes of Bruce.

« EelmineJätka »