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Actuated therefore by zeal for Rome, or hope of fame, he published the Hind and Pantber, a poem in which the Church of Rome, figured by the milkwhite Hind, defends her tenets against the Church of England, represented by the Panther, a beast beautiful, but fpotted.
A fable, which exhibits two beasts talking Theology, appears at once full of absurdity; and it was accordingly ridiculed in the City Mouse and Country Mouse, a parody, written by Montague, afterwards Earl of Halifax, and Prior, who then gave the first fpecimen of his abilities,
The conversion of such a man, at such a time, was not likely to pass uncensured. Three dialogues were published by the facetious Thomas Brown, of which the two first were called Reasons of Mr. Bayes's changing his Religion : and the third, the Reasons of Mr. Hains the Player's Conversion and Re-conversion. The first was printed in 1688, the second not till 1690, the third in 1691. The clamour seems to have been long continued, and the subject to have strongly fixed the publick attention,
In the two first dialogues Bayes is brought into the company of Crites and Eugenius, with whom he had formerly debated on dramatick poetry. The two talkers in the third are Mr. Bayes and Mr. Hains.
Brown was a man not deficient in literature, nor destitute of fancy; but he seems to have thought it the pinnacle of excellence to be a merry fellow; and therefore laid out his powers upon small jefts or gross buffoonery; so that his performances have little intrinfick value, and were read only while they were re
commended by the novelty of the event that occafioned them.
These dialogues are like his other works: what sense or knowledge they contain is disgraced by the garb in which it is exhibited. One great source of pleasure is to call Dryden little Bayes. Ajax, who happens to be mentioned, is " he that wore as many " cow-hides upon his shield as would have furnished 66. half the King's army with shoe-leather."
Being asked whether he had seen the Hind and Panther, Crites answers: " Seen it! Mr. Bayes, 56 why I can ftir no where but it pursues me; it “ haunts me worse than a pewter-buttoned serjeant " does a decayed cit. Sometimes I meet it in a 66 band-box, when my laundress brings home my “ linen; sometimes, whether I will or no, it lights “ my pipe at a coffee-house; sometimes it surprises “me in a trunk-maker's shop; and sometimes it re
freshes my memory for me on the backside of a “ Chancery-lane parcel. For your comfort too, “ Mr. Bayes, I have not only seen it, as you may “ perceive, but have read it too, and can quote it 56 as freely upon occasion as a frugal tradefinan can " quote that noble treatise the Worth of a Penny to
his extravagant 'prentice, that revels in ftewed " apples and penny custards."
The whole animation of these compositions arises from a profusion of ludicrous and affected comparisons.“ To secure one's chastity,” says Bayes, “ lit" tle more is necessary than to leave off a correspon“ dence with the other fex, which, to a wise man,
is no greater a punishment than it would be to a " fanatick person to forbid seeing The Cheats and
" The Committee; or for my Lord Mayor and Alder56 men to be interdicted the fight of The London “ Cuckolds." This is the general strain, and therefore I shall be easily excused the labour of more transcription.
Brown does not wholly forget past transactions : “ You began,” says Crites to Bayes, “ a very dif« ferent religion, and have not mended the matter “ in your last choice. It was but reason that your “ Muse, which appeared first in a tyrant's quarrel, “ Thould employ her last efforts to justify the usuros pation of the Hind,"
Next year the nation was fummoned to celebrate the birth of the Prince. Now was the time for Dryden to rouse his imagination, and strain his voice. Happy days were at hand, and he was willing to enjoy and diffuse the anticipated blessings. He published a poem, filled with predictions of greatness and prosperity; predictions, of which it is not necessary to tell how they have been verified.
A few months passed after these joyful notes, and every blossom of Popish Hope was blasted for ever by the Revolution. A Papist now could be no longer laureat. The revenue, which he had enjoyed with so much pride and praise, was transferred to Shadwell, an old enemy, whom he had formerly stigmatised by the name of Og. Dryden could not decently complain that he was deposed; but seemed very angry that Shadwell succeeded him, and has therefore celebrated the intruder's inauguration in a poem exquisitely satirical, called Mac Flecknoe; of which the Dunciad, as Pope himself declares, is an
. . ! imitation,
imitation, though more extended in its plan, and more diversified in its incidents.
It is related by Prior, that Lord Dorset, when as chamberlain he was constrained to eject Dryden from his office, gave him from his own purse an allowance equal to the salary. This is no romantick or incredible act of generosity; an hundred a year is often enough given to claims less cogent by men less famed for liberality. Yet Dryden always reprefented himself as suffering under a public infliction ; and once particularly demands respect for the patience with which he endured the loss of his little fortune. His patron might, indeed, enjoin him to suppress his bounty; but, if he suffered nothing, he should not have complained.
During the short reign of King James, he had written nothing for the stage *, being, in his opinion, more profitably employed in controversy and flattery. Of praise he might perhaps have been less Javish without inconvenience, for James was never said to have much regard for poetry: he was to be flattered only by adopting his religion.
Times were now changed : Dryden was no longer the court-poet, and was to look back for support to his former trade; and having waited about two years, either considering himself as discountenanced by the publick, or perhaps expecting a second Revolution, he produced Don Sebastian in 1690 ; and in the next four years four dramas more.
* Albion and Albianus must however be excepted.
In 1693 appeared a new version of Juvenal and Persius. Of Juvenal he translated the first, third, fixth, tenth, and sixteenth satires; and of Perfius the whole work. On this occasion he introduced his two sons to the publick, as nurselings of the Muses. The fourteenth of Juvenal was the work of John, and the seventh of Charles Dryden. He prefixed a very ample preface, in the form of a dedication to Lord Dorset; and there gives an account of the design which he had once formed to write an epick poem on the actions either of Arthur or the Black Prince. He considered the epick as necessarily including some kind of supernatural agency, and had imagined a new kind of contest between the guardian angels of kingdoms, of whom he conceived that each might be represented zealous for his charge, without any intended opposition to the purposes of the Supreme Being, of which all created minds must in part be ignorant.
This is the most reasonable scheme of celestial interposition that ever was formed. The surprizes and terrors of enchantments, which have succeeded to the intrigues and oppositions of Pagan deities, afford very striking scenes, and open a vast extent to the imagination ; but, as Boileau observes (and Boileau will be feldom found mistaken), with this incurable defect, that, in a contest between Heaven and Hell, we know at the beginning which is to prevail; for this reason we follow Rinaldo to the enchanted wood with more curiosity than terror.
In the scheme of Dryden there is one great difficulty, which yet he would perhaps have had address enough to surmount. In a war justice can be