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Bayes. Faith, Mr. Haines you and I have had the worst luck of any two converts in the universe—we could get nohody breathing to believe one syllable of our conversion.
Haines. I complained of this to an honest justice of my acquaintance—" really says he, your case is "extremely mortifying and sad—but should you "abjure all religion, why then you would have the. "same reputation in the world still, as you have at
"present" Haines endeavours to persuade Bayes
to be re-converted—" first of all, set the fear of inte"rest before your eyes; you have been as true to "that principle, I am sure, as a City usurer to his "wicked principle of not lending."
Bayes. No matter for that, Sir, I have sacrificed that principle long ago.
Haines. Secondly, consider the fashion, Mr. Bayes, which they say you have dutifully followed in all the turnings and windings of the Government, from your panegyrick upon Oliver Cromwell down to your panegyrick upon the Prince of Wales—burn thy Hind and Panther, and then the Religio Laici and the Spanish Friar will come in play again—but if King James ever come in, Pll give thee a note under my hand and seal to return to the Roman Church, nay, rather than fail, I'll bear thee company myself.
In a subsequent Dialogue Tom Brown makes Timothy say that a conversion has taken place which no body could ever have expected—
Freeman. A conversion and that a remarkable one too! why then I fancy, Tim, that your friend Mr. Bayes is returned to his primitive church.
Timothy. Nay the Lord knows which is Mr. Bayes' primitive church.
In the Laureate 1687 it is said to Dryden—
"Tell me, for 'tis a truth you must allow,
"And at one time or other made thy own?"
In the following lines Dryden is said to have been bred a baptist, and afterwards to have turned an independent.
Dryden seems to have been indignant at being classed with Haines—but in this instance Tom Brown is quite right, as Dryden had made himself fair game —when he turned Papist, he must have wished the Spanish Fryar, with the appendages to it, buried in oblivion—In the dedication, he boasts that he has dedicated a Protestant play to a Protestant patron —in the Prologue he says—
"Though 'tis no more like sense in ancient plays, "Than Rome's religion like St. Peter's days."
In the 1st act he ridicules Processions—in the 2d the Invocation of Saints—in the 3d Auricular Confession—the whole of Dominic's character must have given great offence to the Catholics—Gomez in the 3d act observes—" They say every thing in the world "is good for something, as a toad, to suck up the "venom of the earth; but I never knew what a "Fryar was good for, till your pimping showed me" —The Epilogue is said to be written by a friend, but it is written so well, that one is tempted to suspect that this anonymous friend was Dryden himself—at least it may be supposed, that if he had not approved of the sentiments, he would not have accepted of the Epilogue—
"There's none I'm sure, who is a friend to love,
"But will our Fryar's character approve:
"Our Church, alas! (as Rome objects) does want
"One reason of the growth of Popery.
"So Mahomet's religion came in fashion,
"By the large leave it gave to fornication.
"Fear not the guilt, if you can pay for't well,
"There is no Dives in the Roman hell.
"Gold opens the strait gate, and lets him in;
"But want of money is a mortal sin.
"For all besides you may discount to heaven,
"And drop a bead to keep the tallies even.
"Hence to their Prince they will superior be;
"Rowse up you cuckolds of the northern climes,
"When they have lost the sound of Aaron's
Dryden concludes his Epilogue to the Princess of Cleve thus —
"But damn'd confessing is flat Popery."
Malone is very peremptory, and not only has no doubts of Dryden's sincerity himself, but will not allow any body else to have any, as he was uniform in his adherence to his new faith till the time of his death—but how could he be otherwise? if he had turned Protestant again, he would have exposed himself to the contempt of every person of sense on either side—the conversion and reconversion of Joe Haines was equally a subject for laughter, but Dryden had some character to lose—(see D. L. 1701 for Haines.)
Tom Brown however will not allow this, he says —" What reputation you have to lose is a mystery "to me, or to any one else that knows you—that "little you had has been lost and forfeited many "years ago—The City and Country Mouse ruined "the 'reputation of the Divine, as the Rehearsal "ruined the reputation of the Poet—so that upon "this score Mr. Bayes, whatever adversaries shall "fall upon you for the future, you may well com"fort yourself that you have no reputation to lose "to them—* * * * You know what your great "master Horace says, Servetur ad innim qualis ab "incepto processerit—and I am sure, you have kept "close to the text—as you began with a very indif"ferent religion, so (heaven be praised) you have not "much mended the matter since in your last choice "—and in my opinion, it was but reason that your "Muse, which appeared first in a Tyrant's quarrel, "should employ her last efforts to justifie the usur"pations of the Hind."
Many of the sentiments, which Dryden has inserted in his Religio Laici, and in the preface to it, are excellent—they would have done him great credit, if he had not abandoned them—when he did abandon them, they could not fail to rise up in judgment against him —let any person read the Religio Laici with impartiality and attention, and then judge if Dryden was likely to have turned Catholic under a Protestant king.
Malone concludes his life of Dryden by saying, "to make Dryden better known to his countrymen "than he hitherto has been; to delineate the man "rather than the poet, has been the principal object
"of the preceding pages" the public are much
obliged to Malone for his life of Dryden—how far he has done Dryden any service by calling the attention of the reader to his private character, may well be doubted—Malone says, "the age or rather the "Ministers of William the 3d do deserve to be devested for their neglect of so great a poet"—if the King and his Ministers had overlooked Dryden's political writings, and granted him a pension, they would have done well—but surely they do not deserve