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derstands Latin, Greek, and Hebrew," from all which, to my certain knowledge, I acquit the other. Og may write against the king, if he pleases, so long as he drinks for him, and his writings will never do the government so much harm, as his drinking does it good; for true subjects will not be much perverted by his libels; but the wineduties rise considerably by his claret. He has often called me an atheist in print; I would believe more charitably of him, and that he only goes the broad way, because the other is too narrow for him. He may see, by this, I do not delight to meddle with his course of life, and his immoralities, though I have a long bead-roll of them. I have hitherto contented myself with the ridiculous part of him, which is enough, in all conscience, to employ one man; even without the story of his late fall at the Old Devil, where he broke no ribs, because the hardness of the stairs could reach no bones; and, for my part, I do not wonder how he came to fall, for I have always known him heavy: the miracle is, how he got up again. I have heard of a sea captain as fat as he, who, to escape arrests, would lay himself flat upon the ground, and let the bailiffs carry him to prison, if they could. If a messenger or two, nay, we may put in three or four, should come, he has friendly advertisement how to escape them. But to leave him, who is not worth any further consideration, now I have done laughing at him,—would every man knew his own talent, and that they, who are only born for drinking, would let both poetry and prose alone*!
t Shadwell, as he resembled Ben Jonson in extreme corpulence, and proposed him for the model of dramatic writing, seems to have affected the coarse and inelegant debauchery of his prototype. He lived chiefly in taverns, was a gross sensualist in his habits, and brutal
I am weary with tracing the absurdities and mistakes of our great lawyer, some of which indeed are wilful; as where he calls the Trimmers the more moderate sort of tories. It seems those politicians are odious to both sides; for neither own them to be theirs. We know them, and so does he too in his conscience, to be secret whigs, if they are any thing; but now the designs of whiggism are openly discovered, they tack about to save a stake; that is, they will not be villains to their own ruin. While the government was to be destroyed, and there was probability of compassing it, no men were so violent as they; but since their fortunes are in hazard
in his conversation. His fine gentlemen all partake of their parent'* grossness and vulgarity; they usually open their dialogue, by complaining of the effects of last night's debauch. He is probably the only author, who ever chose for his heroes a set of riotous bloods, or scowerert, as they were then termed, and expected the public should sympathise in their brutal orgies. True it is, that the heroes are whig scowerers; and, whilst breaking windows, stabbing watchmen, and beating passengers, do not fail to express a due zeal for the Protestant religion, and the liberty of the subject. Much of the interest also turns, it must be allowed, upon the Protestant scowerers aforesaid baffling and beating, without the least provocation, a set of inferior scowerers, who were Jacobites at least, if not Papists. Shadwell is thus described in the "Session* of the Poets:"
Next into the crowd Tom Shadweil does wallow,
Aod swears by his guls, his paunch, and his tallow,
Tis he that alone best pleases the age,
Himself and his wife have supported the stage. Apollo, well pleased with so bonny a lad, To oblige him, he told him he should be huge glad, Had he half so much wit as he fancied he had. However, to please so jovial a wit, And to keep him in humour, Apollo thought fit
To bid him drink on, and keep his old trick
Of railing at poets <
Those, who consult the full passage, will see good reason to think Dryden's censure on Shadwell's brutality by no means too .severe.
by the law, and their places at court by the king's displeasure, they pull in their horns, and talk more peaceably; in order, I suppose, to their vehemence on the right side, if they were to be believed. For in laying of colours, they observe a medium; black and white are too far distant to be placed directly by one another, without some shadowings to soften their contrarieties. It is Mariana, I think, (but am not certain) that makes the following relation; and let the noble family of Trimmers read their own fortune in it. "Don Pedro, king of Castile, surnamed the Cruel, who had been restored by the valour of our Edward the Black Prince, was finally dispossessed by Don Henry, the bastard, and he enjoyed the kingdom quietly, till his death; which when he felt approaching, he called his son to him, and gave him this his last counsel. I have (said he,) gained this kingdom, which I leave you, by the sword; for the right of inheritance was in Don Pedro; but the favour of the people, who hated my brother for his tyranny, was to me instead of title. You are now to be the peaceable possessor of what I have unjustly gotten; and your subjects are composed of these three sorts of men. One party espoused my brother's quarrel, which was the undoubted lawful cause; those, though they were my enemies, were men of principle and honour: Cherish them, and exalt them into places of trust about you, for in them you may confide safely, who prized their fidelity above their fortune. Another sort, are they who fought my cause against Don Pedro; to those you are indeed obliged, because of the accidental good they did me; for they intended only their private benefit, and helped to raise me, that I might afterwards promote them: you may continue them in their offices, if you please; but trust them no farther than you are forced; for what they did was
against their conscience. But there is a third sort, which, during the whole wars, were neuters; let them be crushed on all occasions, for their business was only their own security. They had neither courage enough to engage on my side, nor conscience enough to help their lawful sovereign: Therefore let them be made examples, as the worst sort of interested men, which certainly are enemies to both, and would be profitable to neither."
I have only a dark remembrance of this story, and have not the Spanish author by me, but, I think, I am not much mistaken in the main of it; and whether true or false, the counsel given, I am sure, is such, as ought, in common prudence, to be practised against Trimmers, whether the lawful or unlawful cause prevail. Loyal men may justly be displeased with this party, not for their moderation, as Mr Hunt insinuates, but because, under that mask of seeming mildness, there lies hidden either a deep treachery, or, at best, an interested lukewarmness. But he runs riot into almost treasonable expressions, as if "Trimmers were hated because they are not perfectly wicked, or perfectly deceived; of the Catiline make, bold, and without understanding; that can adhere to men that publicly profess murders, and applaud the design:" by all which villainous names he opprobriously calls his majesty's most loyal subjects; as if men must be perfectly wicked, who endeavour to support a lawful government; or perfectly deceived, who on no occasion dare take up arms against their sovereign: as if acknowledging the right of succession, and resolving to maintain it in the line, were to be in a Catiline conspiracy; and at last, (which is ridiculous enough, after so much serious treason) as if " to clap the Duke of Guise'' were to adhere to men that publicly profess murders, and applaud the design of the assassinating poets.
But together with his villainies, pray let his incoherences be observed. He commends the Trimmers, (at least tacitly excuses them) for men of some moderation; and this in opposition to the instruments of wickedness of the Catiline make, that are resolute and forward, and without consideration. But he forgets all this in the next twenty lines; for there he gives them their own, and tells them roundly, in internec'mo belfo, medii pro hostibus habentur. Neutral men are traitors, and assist by their inditferency to the destruction of the government. The plain English of his meaning is this; while matters are only in dispute, and in machination, he is contented they should be moderate; but when once the faction can bring about a civil war, then they are traitors, if they declare not openly for them.
"But it is not," says he, "the Duke of Guise who is to be assassinated, a turbulent, wicked, and haughty courtier, but an innocent and gentle prince." By his favour, our Duke of Guise was neither innocent nor gentle, nor a prince of the blood royal, though he pretended to descend from Charlemagne, and a genealogy was printed to that purpose, for which the author was punished,as he deserved; witness Davila, and the journals of Henry III. where the story is at large related. Well, who is it then? why, "it is a prince who has no fault, but that he is the king's son:" then he has no fault by consequence; for I am certain, that is no fault of his. The rest of the compliment is so silly, and so fulsome, as if he meant it all in ridicule; and to conclude the jest, he says, that "the best people of England have no other way left, to shew their loyalty to the king, their religion and government, in long intervals of parliament, than by prosecuting his son, for the sake of the king, and his own merit, with all the demonstrations of the highest esteem."