WILLIAM Walsh, the son of Joseph Walsh, ) those that had encouraged his juvenile studies : Esq. of Abberley, in Worcestershire, was born

-Granville the polite, in 1663, as appears from the account of Wood, who relates that at the age of fifteen he became, And knowing Walsh, would tell me I could write. in 1678, a gentleman commoner of Wadham In his “ Essay on Criticism” he had given College.

him more splendid praise; and, in the opinion He left the University without a degree, and of his more learned commentator, sacrificed a pursued his studies in London and at home ; little of his judgment to his gratitude. that he studied in whatever place, is apparent The time of his death I have not learned. It from the effect, for he became in Mr. Dryden's must have happened between 1707, when he opinion the best critic in the nation.

wrote to Pope, and 1711, when Pope praised He was not, however, merely a critic or a him in his “ Essay.” The epitaph makes him scholar, but a man of fashion; and, as Dennis re- forty-six years old: if Wood's account be right, marks, ostentatiously splendid in his dress. He he died in 1709. was likewise a member of parliament and a He is known more by his familiarity with courtier, knight of the shire for his native greater men, than by any thing done or written county in several parliaments; in another the by himself. representative of Richmond in Yorkshire; and His works are not numerous. In prose he gentleman of the horse to Queen Anne, under wrote “ Eugenia, a Defence of Women;" which the Duke of Somerset.

Dryden honoured with a Preface. Some of his verses show him to have been a “ Esculapius, or the Hospital of Fools,” pubzealous friend to the Revolution; but his poli- lished after his death. tical ardour did not abate his reverence or kind 6 A Collection of Letters and Poems, amoness for Dryden, to whom he gave a dissertation rous and gallant,” was published in the volumes on Virgil's “ Pastorals,” in which, however called Dryden's Miscellany, and some other ocstudied, he discovers some ignorance of the laws casional pieces. of French versification.

To his Poems and Letters is prefixed a very In 1705, he began to correspond with Mr. judicious Preface upon Epistolary Composition Pope, in whom he discovered very early the and Amorous Poetry. power of poetry. Their letters are written upon In his “ Golden Age restored,” there was the pastoral comedy of the Italians, and those something of humour, while the facts were repastorals which Pope was then preparing to cent; but it now strikes no longer. In his imipublish.

tation of Horace, the first stanzas are happily 'The kindnesses which are first experienced are turned; and in all his writings there are pleasseldom forgotten. Pope always retained a ing passages. He has, however, more elegance grateful memory of Walsh's notice, and men-than vigour, and seldom rises higher than to be tioned him in one of his latter pieces among pretty.


Of the great Poet, whose life I am about to de- / excite will require a display more ample than lineate, the curiosity which his reputation must can now be given. His contemporaries, how

* The Life of Dryden, though in point of composi ductions, is in many particulars incorrect. Mr. Ma. tion it is one of the most admirable of Johnson's pro. I lone, in the biography prefixed to his “ Prose Works ”

ever they reverenced his genius, left his life un-pox; and his poem has made of the pustules first written; and nothing therefore can be known rose-buds, and then gems: at last exalts them beyond what casual mention and uncertain tra- into stars; and says, dition have supplied.

No comet need fortel his change drew on,
John DRYDEN was born August 9, 1631,* at

Whose corpse might seem a constellation.
Aldwinkle, near Oundle, the son of Erasmus
Dryden, of Titchmersh; who was the third son

At the University he does not appear to have of Sir Erasmus Dryden, baronet, of Canons been eager of poetical distinction, or to have laAshby. All these places are in Northampton- vished his early wit either on fictitious subjects shire; but the original stock of the family was

or public occasions. He probably considered, in the county of Huntingdon.t He is reported by his last biographer, Der- that he who proposed to be an author ought first

to be a student. He obtained, whatever was the rick, to have inherited from his father an estate of two hundred a year, and to have been bred, reason, no fellowship in the College. Why he

was excluded cannot now be known, and it is as was said, an anabaptist. For either of these vain to guess : had he thought himself injured, particulars no authority is given. Such a for- he knew how to complain. In the Life of Plutune ought to have secured him from that po- tarch he mentions his education in the College verty which seeins always to have oppressed with gratitude ; but, in a prologue at Oxford, him; or, if he had wasted it, to have made him

he has these lines : ashamed of publishing his necessities. But though he had many enemies, who undoubtedly Oxford to him a dearer name shall be examined his life with a scrutiny sufficiently Than his own mother university; malicious, I do not remember that he is ever Thehes did his rude unknowing youth engage; charged with waste of his patrimony. He was,

He chooses Athens in his riper age. indeed, sometimes reproached for his first re

was not till the death of Cromwell, in 1658, ligion. I am therefore inclined to believe that that he became a public candidate for fame, * by Derrick’s intelligence was partly true, and part- publishing “ Heroic Stanzas on the late Lord ly erroneous. S

Protector;" which, compared with the verses From Westminster School, where he was in- of Sprat and Waller, on the same occasion, were structed as one of the King's scholars by Dr. sufficient to raise great expectations of the rising Busby, whom he long after continued to reve

Poet. rence, he was, in 1650, elected to one of the

When the King was restored, Dryden, like Westminster scholarships at Cambridge. || Of his school performances has appeared only opinion, or his profession, and published “ As

the other panegyrists of usurpation, changed his a poem on the death of Lord Hastings, composed trea Redux, a Poem on the happy Restoration with great ambition of such conceits as, notwith- and Return of his most sacred Majesty King standing the reformation begun by Waller and

Charles the Second.” Denham, the example of Cowley still kept in reputation. Lord Hastings died of the smallcasion, shared with such numbers, that it pro

The reproach of inconstancy was, on this oc

duced neither hatred nor disgrace! if he changed, bas collected a much more ample and accurate he changed with the nation. It was, however, account; and from that valuable work several dates

not totally forgotten when his reputation raised and other particulars have been here set right.- him enemies.

The same year, he praised the new King in a * Mr. Malone has lately proved that there is no satisfactory evidence for this date. The inscription second poem on his restoration. In the « As

trea on Dryden's monument says only natus 1632. See was the line, Malone's Life of Dryden, prefixed to his " Critical

An horrid stillness first inrades the ear, and Miscellaneous Prose Works,” p. 3, note-C.

And in that silence we a tempest fear+ Of Cumberland. Ibid. p. 10.-C.

#Mr. Malone has furnished us with a detailed account of our Poet's circumstances; from which it for which he was persecuted with perpetual riappears that although he was possessed of a sufficient dicule, perhaps with more than was deserved, income in the early part of his life, he was consider- Silence is indeed mere privation; and, so conably embarrassed at its close.—See Malone's Life, p. sidered, cannot invade ; but privation likewise 440.-J. B.

certainly is darkness, and probably cold ; yet $ Mr. Derrick's Life of Dryden was prefixed to a poetry has never been refused the right of asvery beautiful and correct edition of Dryden's Mis- cribing effects or agency to them as to positive cellanies, published by the Tonsons in 1760, 4 vols. 8vo. Derrick's part, however, was poorly executed, and the edition Dever became popular.-C.

• This is a mistake. His poem on the death of | He went off to Trinity College, and was admitted Lord Hastings appeared in a volume entitled “ Tears to a bachelor's degree in Jan. 1653-4, and in 1657 was of the Muses on the death of Henry Lord Hastid gs' made master of arts.-C.

Svo. 1649." Maloue.-J. B.

J. B.

powers. No man scruples to say, that darkness hearing; for Orrery was himself a writer of hinders him from his work; or that cold has rhyming tragedies. killed the plants. Death is also privation ; yet He then joined with Sir Robert Howard in who has made any difficulty of assigning to - The Indian Queen,” a tragedy in rhyme. death a dart and the power of striking ?

The parts which either of them wrote are not In settling the order of his works there is some distinguished. difficulty; for, even when they are important “ The Indian Emperor” was published in enough to be formally offered to a patron, he 1667. It is a tragedy in rhyme, intended for a does not commonly date his dedication; the time sequel to Howard's “ Indian Queen.” Of this of writing and publishing is not always the same; connection notice was given to the qudience by nor can the first editions be easily found, if even printed bills, distributed at the door; an expefrom them could be obtained the necessary infor- dient supposed to be ridiculed in “ The Rehearmation. *

sal,” where Bayes tells how many reams he The time at which his first play was exhibited has printed, to instil into the audience some is not certainly known, because it was not print- conception of his plot. ed till it was, some years afterwards, altered and In this play is the description of Night, which revived ; but since the plays are said to be print- Rymer has made famous by preferring it to ed in the order in which they were written, those of all other poets. from the dates of some, those of others may be The practice of making tragedies in rhyme inferred; and thus it may be collected, that in

was introduced soon after the Restoration, as it 1663, in the thirty-second year of his life, he com

seems by the Earl of Orrery, in compliance menced a. writer for the stage; compelled un with the opinion of Charles the Second, who doubtedly by necessity, for he appears never to had formed his taste by the French theatre; and have loved that exercise of his genius, or to have Dryden, who wrote, and made no difficulty of much pleased himself with his own dramas. declaring that he wrote only to please, and who

Of the stage, when he had once invaded it, he perhaps knew that by his dexterity of versi ficakept possession for many years ; not indeed tion he was more likely to excel others in rhyme without the competition of rivals who some-than without it, very readily adopted his mastimes prevailed, or the censure of critics, which ter's preference. He therefore made rhyming was often poignant and often just; but with tragedies, till, by the prevalence of manifest such a degree of reputation, as made him at least propriety, he seems to have grown ashamed of secure of being heard, whatever might be the making them any longer. final determination of the public.

To this play is prefixed a vehement defence His first piece was a comedy called “ The of dramatic rhyme, in confutation of the preface Wild Gallant.”+ He began with no happy to “ The Duke of Lerma,” in which Sir auguries ; for his performance was so much dis-Robert Howard had censured it. approved, that he was compelled to recal it, and

In 1667, he published “ Annus Mirabilis, the change it from its imperfect state to the form in Year of Wonders,” which may be esteemed one which it now appears, and which is yet suffi- of his most elaborate works. ciently defective to vindicate the critics.

It is addressed to Sir Robert Howard by a I wish that there were no necessity of fol- letter, which is not properly a dedication; and lowing the progress of his theatrical fame, or writing to a poet, he has interspersed many critical tracing the meanders of his mind through the observat ns, of which some are common, and whole series of his dramatic performances; it some perhaps ventured without much considerawill be fit, however, to enumerate them, and tion. He began, even now, to exercise the to take especial notice of those that are distin- domination of conscious genius, by recommendguished by any peculiarity, intrinsic or concom- ing his own performance : “ I am satisfied that itant; for the composition and fate of eight-and- as the Prince and General” [Rupert and Monk] twenty dramas include too much of a poetical “ are incomparably the best subjects I ever had, life to be omitted.

so what I have written on them is much better In 1664, he published “ The Rival Ladies," than what I have performed on any other. As which he dedicated to the Earl of Orrery, a I have endeavoured to adorn my poem with man of high reputation both as a writer and as noble thoughts, so much more to express those a statesman. In this play he made his essay of thoughts with elocution." dramatic rhyme, which he defends, in his dedi It is written in quatrains, or heroic stanzas cation, with sufficient certainty of a favourable of four lines ; a measure which he had learned

from the “ Gondibert” of Davenant, and which

he then thought the most majestic that the * The order of his plays has been accurately ascer

English language affords. Of this stanza he tained by Mr. Malone.-C. The “ Duke of Guise" was his first attempt in the

mentions the incumbrances, increased as they drama, but laid aside and afterwards uew modelled.

were by the exactness which the age required. Sve Malone, p. 61.-J. B.

It was throughout his life, very much his cus


tom to recommend his works by representation

“ Sir Martin Mar-all ” (1668) is a comedy, of the difficulties that he had encountered, with published without preface or dedication, and at out appearing to have sufficiently considered, first without the name of the author. Langthat where there is no difficulty, there is no praise. baine charges it, like most of the rest, with

There seems to be, in the conduct of Sir plagiarism ; and observes, that the song is tranRobert Howard and Dryden towards each slated from Voiture, allowing however that both other, something that is not now easily to be the sense and measure are exactly observed. explained. * Dryden, in his dedication to the “ The Tempest” (1670) is an alteration of Earl of Orrery, had defended dramatic rhyme; Shakspeare's play, made by Dryden in conjuncand Howard, in a preface to a collection of tion with Davenant; whom,

says he, “I plays, had censured his opinion. Dryden vindi- found of so quick a fancy, that nothing was cated himself in his “ Dialogue on Dramatic proposed to him in which he could not suddenly Poetry:" Howard, in his preface to “the Duke produce a thought extremely pleasant and surof Lerma,” animadverted on the vindication ; prising; and those first thoughts of his, conand Dryden, in a preface to “ The Indian Em- trary to the Latin proverb, were not always the peror," replied to the animadversions with least happy; and as his fancy was quick, so great asperity, and almost with contumely. likewise were the products of it remote and The dedication to this play is dated the year in new. He borrowed not of any other; and his which the “ Annus Mirabilis” was published. imaginations were such as could not easily enter Here appears a strange inconsistency; but into any other man.” Langbaine affords some help, by relating that The effect produced by the conjunction of the answer to Howard was not published in these two powerful minds was, that to Shakthe first edition of the play, but was added speare's monster, Caliban, is added a sister monwhen it was afterwards reprinted: and as ster, Sycorax; and a woman, who, in the The Duke of Lerma" did not appear till original play, had never seen a man, is in this 1668, the same year in which the dialogue was brought acquainted with a man that had never published, there was time enough for enmity to seen a woman. grow up between authors, who, writing both About this time, in 1673, Dryden seems to for the theatre, were naturally rivals.

have had his quiet much disturbed by the sucHe was now so much distinguished, that in cess of “ The Empress of Morocco," a tragedy 1668t he succeeded Sir William Davenant as written in rhyme by Elkanah Settle; which poet-laureat. The salary of the laureat had was so much applauded, as to make him think been raised in favour of Johnson, by Charles his supremacy of reputation in some danger. the First, from a hundred marks to one hun- Settle had not only been prosperous on the dred pounds a year, and a tierce of wine: a stage, but, in the confidence of success, had pubrevenue in those days not inadequate to the lished his play with sculptures and a preface of conveniences of life.

Here was

one offence added to The same year, he published his Essay on another; and, for the last blast of inflammation, Dramatic Poetry, an elegant and instructive it was acted at Whitehall by the court ladies. dialogue, in which we are told, by Prior, that Dryden could not now repress those emothe principal character is meant to represent the tions, which he called indignation, and others Duke of Dorset. This work seems to have jealousy; but wrote upon the play and the degiven Addison a model for his Dialogues upon dication such criticism as malignant impatience Medals.

could pour out in haste. “ Secret Love, or the Maiden Queen” (1668)

Of Settle he gives this character : “He's an is a tragi-comedy. In the preface he discusses animal of a most deplored understanding, witha curious question, whether a poet can judge out reading and conversation. His being is in well of his own productions ? and determines a twilight of sense, and some glimmering of very justly, that, of the plan and disposition, thought which he never can fashion into wit and all that can be reduced to principles of or English. His style is boisterous and rough science, the author may depend upon his own hewn, his rhyme incorrigibly lewd, and his opinion; but that, in those parts where fancy numbers perpetually harsh and ill-sounding. predominates, self-love may easily deceive. He The little talent which he has, is fancy. He might have observed, that what is good only sometimes labours with a thought; but, with because it pleases, cannot be pronounced good the pudder he makes to bring it into the world, till it has been found to please.

'tis commonly still-born; so that, for want of learning and elocution, he will never be able to

express any thing either naturally or justly.” * See Malone, p. 91.-J. B. + He did not succeed Davenant till Aug. 18, 1670;

This is not very decent; yet this is one of the bat Mr. Malone informs us, that the patent had a pages in which criticism prevails over brutal retrospect, and the salary commenced from the fury. He proceeds: “ He has a heavy hand at Midsummer after D'Avenant's death.-C.

fools, and a great felicity in writing nonsense

for them. Fools they will be in spite of him. but a taste to stay the stomach ; we shall have a His king, his two empresses, his villain, and his more plentiful mess presently. sub-villain, nay, his hero, have all a certain na “ Now to dish up the poet's broth, that I protural cast of the father—their folly was born and mised : bred in them, and something of the Elkanah will be visible.”

For when we're dead, and our freed souls enlarged, This is Dryden's general declamation; I will of nature's grosser burden we're discharged, not withhold from the reader a particular re

Then, gentle as a happy lover's sigh, mark. Having gone through the first act, he

Like wand'ring meteors through the air we'll ily

And in our airy walk, as subtle guests, says, “ to conclude this act with the most rumb

We'll steal into our cruel fathers' breasts, ling piece of nonsense spoken yet:

There read their souls, and track each passion's

sphere, To flattering lightuing our feign'd smiles conform, See how Revenge moves therc, Ambition here; Which, back'd with thunder, do but gild a storm. And in their orbs view the dark characters

Of sieges, ruins, murders, blood, and wars. Conform a smile to lightning, make a smile imitate

We'll blot out all those hideous draughts, and write

Pure and white forms; then with a radiant light lightning, and flattering lightning; lightning sure

Their breasts encircle, till their passions be is a threatening thing. And this lightning must

Gentle as nature in its infancy; gild a storm. Now, if I must conform my smiles Till, soften’d by our charms, their furies cease, to lightning, then my smiles must gild a storm And their revenge resolves into a peace. too: to gild with smiles is a new invention of Thus by our death their quarrel ends, gilding. And gild a storm by being backed with whom living we made foes, dead we'll make friends. thunder. Thunder is part of the storm; so one part of the storm must help to gild another part, “ If this be not a very liberal mess, I will refer and help by backing; as if a man would gild a myself to the stomach of any moderate guest. thing the better for being backed, or having a And a rare mess it is, far excelling any Westload upon his back. So that here is gilding by minster white-broth. It is a kind of giblet porconforming, smiling, lightning, backing, and thun- ridge, made of the giblets of a couple of young dering. The whole is as if I should say thus: I geese, stodged full of meteors, orbs, spheres, track, will make my counterfeit smiles look like a flat- hideous draughts, dark characters, white forms, and tering stone-horse, which, being backed with a radiant lights, designed not only to please appetite, trooper, does but gild the battle. I am mis- and indulge luxury; but it is also physical, betaken if nonsense is not here pretty thick sown. ing an approved medicine to purge choler; for Sure the poet writ these two lines a-board some it is propounded, by Morena, as a recipe to cure smack in a storm, and, being sea-sick, spewed their fathers of their choleric humours; and, up a good lump of clotted nonsense at once.” were it written in characters as barbarous as the

Here is perhaps a sufficient specimen; but as words, might very well pass for a doctor's bill the pamphlet, though Dryden's, bas never been To conclude; it is porridge, 'tis a recipe, 'tis a pig thought worthy of republication, and is not eas with a pudding in the belly, 'tis I know not ily to be found, it may gratify curiosity to quote what : for, certainly, never any one that preit more largely :

tended to write sense had the impudence before

to put such stuff as this into the mouths of those Whene'er she bleeds, that were to speak it before an audience, whom He no severer a damnation needs,

he did not take to be all fools; and after that to Than dares pronounce the sentence of her death,

print it too, and expose it to the examination of Than the infection that attends that breath.

the world. But let us see what we can make of

this stuff : That attends that breath. The poet is at breath again; breath can never ’scape him; and here he brings in a breath that must be infectious with For when we're dead, and our freed souls enlarged— pronouncing a sentence; and this sentence is not to be pronounced till the condemned party bleeds ;

Here he tells what it is to be dead; it is to have that is, she must be executed first, and sentenced

our freed souls set free. Now, if to have a soul after ; and the pronouncing of this sentence will set free, is to be dead; then, to have a freed soul be infectious; that is, others will catch the dis- set free, is to have a dead man die. ease of that sentence, and this infecting of others will torment a man's self. The whole is thus : Then, gentle as a happy lover's sighwhen she bleeds, thou needest no greater hell or torment to thyself, than infecting of others by pronounc “ They two like one sigh, and that one sigh like ing a sentence upon her. What hodge-podge does two wandering meteors, he make here! Never was Dutch grout such elogging, thick, indigestible stuff. But this is

-Shall fly through the air

« VorigeDoorgaan »