網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

"But he hath not used his patron Duke much better; for he hath put him under a most dismal and unfortunate character of a successor, excluded from the crown by act of state for his religion, who fought his way to the crown, changed his leligion, and died by the hand of a Roman assassinate.

"It is enough to make his great duke's courage quail, to find himself under such an unlucky and disastrous representation, and thus personated; besides, he hath offered a justification of an act of exclusion against a popish successor, in a Protestant kingdom, 4>y remembering what was done against the king of Navarre. •

"The Popish religion, in France, did, defacto, by act of state, exclude a Protestant prince, who is under no obligation, from his religion, to destroy his Popish subjects.

"Though a Popish prince is, to destroy his Protestant subjects."A Popish prince, to a Protestant kingdom, without more, must be the most insufferable tyrant, and exceed the character that any story can furnish for that sort of monster: And yet all the while to himself a religious and an applauded prince; discharged from the tortures that ordinarily tear and rend the hearts of the most cruel princes, and make them as uneasy to themselves as they are to their subjects, and sometimes prevail so far as to lay some restraints upon their wicked minds.

"But this his patron will impute to his want of judgment; for this poet's heroes are commonly such monsters as Theseus and Hercules are, renowned throughout all ages for destroying.

"But to excuse him, this man hath forsaken his post, and entered upon another province. To " The Observator" .\ it belongs to confound truth and falsehood; and, by his false colours and impostures, to put out the eyes of the people, and leave them without understanding.

"But our poet hath not so much art left him as to frame any thing agreeable, or verisimilar, to amuse the people, or wherewith to deceive them.

"His province is to corrupt the manners of the nation, and lay waste their morals; his understanding is clapt, and his brains are vitiated, and he is to rot the age.

"His endeavours are more happily applied, to extinguish the little remains of the virtue of the age by bold impieties, and befooling religion by impious and inept rlnmes, to confound virtue and vice, good and evil, and leave us without consciences."And thus we are prepared for destruction.

t A tory paper, then conducted with great zeal, and some controversial talent, by Sir Roger L'Estrange.

u But to give the world a taste of his atheism and impiety, I shall recite two of his verses, as recited upon the stage, viz.

For conscience, and heaven's fear, religious rules,
They are all state-bells to toll in pious foals;

which I have done the rather, that some honest judge, or justice, may direct a process against this bold impious man; or some honest surrogate, or official, may find leisure to proceed, ex officio, against him, notwithstanding at present they are so encumbered with the dissenters.

"Such public blasphemies against religion, never were unpunished in any country, or age, but this.

"But I have made too long a digression, but that it carries with it some instructions towards the preserving of the honour of your august city, viz.

"That you do not hereafter authorise the stage to expose and revile your great officers, and offices, by the indignities yourselves do them; whilst the Papists clap'their hands, and triumph at your public disgraces, and in the hopes they conceive thereby of the ruin of your government, as if that were as sure and certain to them, as it is to us, without doubt, that they once fired it.

"And further, for that it was fit to set forth to the world, of what spirit our enemies are, how they intend to attack us; as also, how bold they are with his majesty, what false and dishonourable representations they make of him, and present to the world upon a public theatre; which, I must confess, hath moved me with some passion."

This angry barrister was not the only adversary whom Dryden had to encounter on this occasion. Thomas Shadwell, a man of lome talents for comedy, and who professed to tread in the footsteps of Ben Jonson, had for some time been at variance with Dryden and Otway. He was probably the author of a poem, entitled, *'A Lenten Prologue, refused by the Players;" which is marked by Mr Luttrel, 11 th April, 16S3, and contains the following direct attack on " The Duke of Guise," and the author:

Our prologue wit grows flat; the nap's worn off,
And howsoe'er we turn and trim the. stuff.
The gloss is gone that looked at first so gaudy;
'Tis now no jest to hear young girls talk bawdry.
But plots and parties givr new matters birth.
And st.Ue distractions serve you here for mirth.
At England's cost poets now purchase tame;
While factious heals destroy us, without shame,
0 These wanton Neroes fiddle to ihi. flame;

The stage, like•old rump-pulpits, is become
The scene of news, a furious party's drum:
Here poets beat their bruins tor volunteers,
And take fast bold of Mtei by their ears;

Their jingling rbimes for reason here yon swallow.

Like Orpheus' music, it makes beasts to follow.

What an enlightening grace is want of bread!

How it can change a libeller's heart, and clear a laureat't head ,

Open his eyes, till the mad prophet see

Plots working in a future power to be! (Medal, p. 14.)

Traitors unformed to his second sight are clear.

And squadrons here and squadrons there appear;

Rebellion is the burden of the seer.

To Bayes, in vision, were of late revealed.

Whig armies, that at Knightsbridge lay concealed;

And though no mortal eye could see't before.

The battle just was entering at the door.

A dangerous association, signed by none,

The joiner's plot to seize the king alone.

Stephen with College• made this dire compact;

The watchful Irish took them in the fact,

Of riding armed; O traitorous overt act 1

With each of them an ancient Pistol sided.

Against the statute in that case provided.

But, why was such a host of swearers pressed?

Their succour was ill husbandry at best.

Hayes's crowned muse, by sovereign right of satire,

Without desert, can dub a man a traitor;

And tories, without troubling law or reason,

By loyal instinct can find plots and treason.

A more formal attack was made in a pamphlet, entitled, "Some Reflections on the pretended parallel in the Play called the Duke of Guise." This Dryden, in the following Vindication, supposes to have been sketched by Shadwell, and finished by a gentleman of the Temple f. In these Reflections, the obvious ground of at

* Alluding to the fate of Stephen College, the Protestant joiner; a meddling, pragmatical fellow, who put himself so far forward in the disputes at Oxford, as to draw down the vengeance of the court. He was very harshly treated during his trial; and though in the toils, and deprived of all assist* ance, defended himself with right English manliness. He was charged with the ballad on page 6. and with coming to Oxford armed to attack the guards. He said he did not deny he had pistols in his holsters at Oxford; to which Jefferies answered, indecently, but not unaptly, he " thought a chissel might have been more proper for a joiner." Poor College was executed; a vengeance unworthy of the king, who might have apostrophised him as Hamlet does Polonius:

Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell; I took thee for thy betters—take thy fortune. Thou fiudst, to be too busy is some danger.

t Anthony Wood is followed by Mr Malone in supposing, that Hunt him•elf is the Terrplar alluded to. But Dryden seems obviously to talk of the author of the Defence, and the two Reflectors, as three separate persons. He calls them, "the sputtering triumvirate, Mr Hunt, and the two Reflectors;" and again, "What says my lord chief baron (i. e. Hunt) to the business? tack, occupied by Hunt, is again resumed. The general indecency of a theatrical exhibition, which alluded to state-transactions of a grave and most important nature; the indecorum of comparing the king to such a monarch as Henry III., infamous for treachery, cruelty, and vices of the most profligate nature; above all, the parallel betwixt the Dukes of Monmouth and Guise, by which the former is exhibited as a traitor to his father, and recommended as no improper object for assassination—are topics insisted on at some length, and with great vehemence.

Our author was not insensible to these attacks, by which his loyalty to the king, and the decency of his conduct towards Monmouth, the king's offending, but still beloved, son, and once Dryden's own patron, stood painfully compromised. Accordingly, shortly after these pamphlets had appeared, the following advertisement was annexed to "The Duke of Guise:"

"There was a preface intended to this play in vindication of it, against two scurrilous libels lately printed; but it was judged, that a defence of this nature would require more room than a preface reasonably could allow. For this cause, and for the importunities of the stationers, who hastened their impression, it is deferred for some little time, and will be printed by itself. Most men are already of opinion, that neither of the pamphlets deserve an answer, because they are stuffed with open falsities, and sometimes contradict each other; but, for once, they shall have a day or two thrown away upon them, though I break an old custom for their sakes, which was,—to scorn them."

The resolution, thus announced, did not give universal satisfaction to our author's friends; one of whom published the following remonstrance, which contains some good sense, in very indifferent poetry:

An Epode to his worthy Friend John Dryden, to advise him not to answer two malicious Pamphlets against his Tragedy called " The Duke of Guise." {Marked by Luttrel, 10 March, 16820

Can angry frowns rest on thy noble brow

For trivial things;
Or, can a stream of muddy water flow

From the Muses' springs;
Or great Apollo bend his vengeful bow

'Gainst popular stings?
Desist thy passion then; do not engage
Thyself against the wittols of the age.

What says the livery-man Templar? What says Og, the king of Basan (i. e. Shadwell) to it?" The Templar may be discovered, when we learn, who hired .a lircry-gown to give a vote among the electors.

Should we by stiff Tom Thimble's faction fall,

Lord, with what noise
The Coffee throats would bellow, and the Ball

O'tnc Change rejoice,
And with the company of Pinner's Hall

Lift up their voice!Once the head's gone, the good cause is secure; The members cannot long resist our power.

Crop not their humours; let the wits proceed

Till they have thrown
Their venom up; and made themselves indeed

Rare fops o'ergrown:
Let them on nasty garbage prey and feed,

Till all is done;And, by thy great resentment, think it fit
To crush their hopes, as humble as their wit.

Consider the occasion, and you'll find

Yourself severe.
And unto rashness much more here inclined.

By far, than they're:
Consider them as in their proper kind,

'Tween rage and tear,
And then the reason will appear most plain,—
A worm that's trod on will turn back again.

What if they censure without brain or sense,

'Tis now the fashion;
Each giddy fop endeavours to commence

A reformation.
Pardon them for their native ignorance.

And brainsick passion;
For, after all, true men of sense will say,—
Their works can never parallel thy play.

'Twere fond to pamper spleen, 'cause owls detest

The light of day;
Or real nonsense, which endures no test,

Condemns ihy play.
Lodge not such petty trifles in thy breast,

But bar their sway; ,And let them know, that thy heroic bays Can scorn their censure, as it doth their praise.

Think not thy answer will their vice reclaim.

Whose heads are proof
Against all reason, and in spite of shame

Will stand aloof;
'Twould cherish further libels on thy fame,

Should these thee move.
Stand firm, my Dryden, raaugrc all their plots.
Thy bays shall flourish when their ivy ruts.

« 上一頁繼續 »