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should have the benefit of the 3d performance, in consideration of his having enriched the piece with a Prologue and Epilogue, a Dialogue between two. Mad Lovers, and other additions. (Malone.)
The Secular Masque, written by Dryden and tacked to the end of this play, was doubtless intended to have been produced March 25th 1700, on which day the new year at that time began—it is a singular circumstance that Dryden, as well as some other eminent men of that day, should have fallen into an errour respecting the beginning of the century, conceiving that the 17th Century closed on the 24th of March 1699 and that the new century began on the following day—in conformity to which notion a splendid Jubilee was celebrated at Rome in the year 1700—by this kind of reckoning the second century began in the year 100, and the first, in opposition to the decisive evidence of the word itself, consisted of only ninety nine years. (Malone.)
Gildon, in his Comparison of the Two Stages in 1702, after mentioning the success with which Henry the 4th and Henry 8th had been revived at L. I. F., makes one of the speakers in the dialogue say "The "battle continued a long time doubtful, and victory "hovering over both Camps, Betterton solicits for "more auxiliaries from the same Author, and then "he flanks his enemy with Measure for Measure— "nay then says the whole party at D. L. we'll even "put the Pilgrim upon him—' ay faith so we will, "says Dryden, and if you will let my Son have the "profits of the 3d night, I'll give you a Secular "Masque '—' done,' says the House and so the bar"gain was struck."
Vanburgh offered Cibber the choice of any part in the Pilgrim; but he, seeing the principal characters were not in his line of acting, very properly chose the two small parts of the stuttering Cook* and mad Englishman—he very sensibly observes, that Actors are apt to measure the goodness of a part by the quantity or length of it, but that he thought none bad for being short, that were closely natural, nor any the better for being long, without that valuable quality.
Farquhar was the means of bringing Mrs. Oldfield before the Public —he accidentally at a tavern kept by a near relation of hers, heard a person reading a Comedy in a room behind the bar, with such just vivacity and humour of the characters, as gave him infinite satisfaction and surprize—his curiosity was so prevalent that he made a pretence to go into the room, where he was astonished at her beauty and discourse—he pressed her to pursue her amusement, but was obliged to depart without that satisfaction — he afterwards introduced her to Vanburgh—it was some time before they could prevail on her to come on the stage, tho', as she afterwards told Chetwood, she longed to be at it, and only wanted a few decent entreaties—(Chetwood)—she joined the company in 1699, but remained about a year almost a mute, till Vanburgh gave her the part of Alinda—( Cibber)— she had the Pilgrim for her benefit July 6 1700. (Malone.)
Dryden died on the 1st of May—Curll (in his Life of Mrs. Oldfield) says, that he died on the 3d night
* In the original play, the Servant in the 2d act did not stutter. of the Pilgrim—Malone, with good reason, does not believe this to have been the case—in the last speech of the Pilgrim, as acted in 1700, the Governour says —" You shall share with us an Entertainment the "late great Poet of our age prepared to celebrate "this day—let the Masque begin"—■Malone observes —" it should seem from this speech that the Secu"lar Masque was not acted till after Dryden's death" —it seems more probable, that the Secular Masque was acted on the 25th of March, and that the new Edition of the Pilgrim was not printed till after Dryden's death.
The Prologue and Epilogue have always been reckoned among Dryden's happiest effusions; in the former he has retaliated on Blackmore for his recent attack in the Satire against Wit—(Malone.)—he begins the Epilogue thus—
"Perhaps the parson stretch'd a point too far,
"The seeds of open vice, returning, brought.
Dryden concludes with—
"In short, we'll grow as moral as we can,
"While you have still your Oates, and we our
Dr. Johnson is wonderfully candid in his remarks on Dryden's turning Papist, but would he have been equally so, if Dryden had turned Presbyterian instead?—he says "that conversion will always be "suspected that apparently concurs with interest. "He that never finds his errour till it hinders his "progress towards wealth or honour, will not be "thought to love Truth only for herself. Yet it "may easily happen that information may come at a "commodious time; and as truth and interest are "not by any fatal necessity at variance, that one "may by accident introduce the other. I am willing "to believe that Dryden, having employed his mind, "active as it was, upon different studies, and filled "it, capacious as it was, with other materials, came "unprovided to the controversy, and wanted rather "skill to discover the right than virtue to maintain "it. But inquiries into the heart are not for man; "we must now leave him to his Judge"—he had before observed that Dryden's conversion at any other time might have passed with little censure— but how could it pass without censure at any time, after what Dryden had written against Popery? or how could the author of the Religio Laici be said to come unprovided to the Controversy?—the Religio Laici was published with a preface in 1682—many passages of which " smell confoundedly of the fagot," and either directly or indirectly contradict others in the Hind and Panther, which was published in April 1687.
The facetious Tom Brown attacked Dryden in two dialogues—one of which is called " The reason of "Mr. Bayes' changing his religion"—in 1691 he published " The reasons of Mr. Haines the Player's "conversion and reconversion"—in this last dialogue Bayes (Dryden) and Haines are the speakers—the latter relates a miracle—Bayes boggles about believing it—
Haines. Why, Mr. Bayes, couldst thou read over, and translate, and consequently believe, the history of St. Xavier, (for otherwise why didst thou print it ?) and canst thou with any face startle at my single miracle? oh thou uncircumcis'd infidel playwright! this 'tis to swallow the legend of Garagantua and boggle at poor Tom Thumb.