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“ Whereas on Thursday the 18th of this inftant, " in the evening, Mr. John Dryden was assaulted " and wounded in Rose-street, Covent-garden, by di“ verse men unknown. If any person shall make discovery
of the said offenders to the said Mr. Dryden, or “ to any justice of peace for the liberty of Westminsi fter, he shall not only receive fifty pounds, which “ is deposited in the hands of Mr. Blanchard, gold6 fmith, next door to Temple-bar, for the said
pur“ pose; but if the discoverer himself be one of the - actors, he shall have fifty pounds, without letting “ his name be known, or receiving the least trouble " by prosecution.” This advertisement was, on the 2d of January following pursued by another : viz.
“ Whereas there has been printed of late an ad“ vertisement about the discovery of those who as« faulted Mr. Dryden, with promise of pardon and « reward to the discoverer : for his farther encourage
ment, this is to give notice, that if the said disco" verer shall make known the person, who incited « him to that unlawful action ; not only the discove
rer himself, but any of those who committed the “ fact, shall be freed from all manner of prosecution.” Notwithstanding these repeated advertisements, both the contrivers and perpetrators of this illicit attack remained always a secret; but both Rochester and the before mentioned Duchess were shrewdly suspected to be at the bottom of it.
His comedy called Limberham, or the Kind Keeper, was
acted thrice in 1680: but was thought rather too particular than too loose; the age not being so squeamish as to disike it on the latter account only. Limberham was applied by the people to the Earl of Lauderdale, who was neither the youngest nor the most virtuous of men, and this was the true reason of its being discontinued : Dryden liked the play himself. He also, about this time, published a translation of Ovid's Epistles into English verse, two of which and the preface were of his own
composition : His Spanish Friar, or the Double Difcovery, was the product of the following year. This is an admirable tragi-comedy ; the serious part of which is beautifully tender and interesting; and the comic abounds with infinity of wit and humour, yet he somewhere profeffes a disike to it. But that which established his reputation upon the most solid basis was the poem of Absalom and Achitophel, in which he characterised the court of King Charles the Second, in the most lively terms; and what added to the force of his fatire or panegyric, was, through the whole, his firm adherence to truth.
It went through several editions ; and complimentary poems were poured in upon the editor, addressed to the unknown author, some of them signed by the greatest wits of the times.
The character of Zimri, in this celebrated fatire, was, without a key, universally given to the profligate duke of Buckingham, for whom it was meant. Our author, when first attacked by his grace, had given him no offence, but that of possessing a genius superior, a genius that like the sun among the stars, shone out with a splendor that eclipsed entirely the mob of wits which marked the reign of Charles the Second. The first edition of the Medal or Satire against Sedition, was also published about this time. It is a severe satire upon the Whigs. His Religio Laici, mảny tenets of which clash with those of the Hind and Panther, was the product of the following year.
In 1683 a play called the Duke of Guise, written by our author and Nat. Lee in conjunction, was acted by his majesty's servants, not without being strongly opposed by the Whigs, who found a likeness in many parts of it between the Dukes of Monmouth and Guife. The first scene of the fourth act, in which Guise appears as returned to Paris against the king's positive command, which exactly corresponded with a Similar action of Monmouth's, afforded room for
the remark, (but we are told in the Vindication, &c.) that it was written twenty years before ; fo that, unlefs Dryden had been endued with a spirit of prophecy, he could not have meant it as a reflection upon that unfortunate prince.
A pamphlet was written against this tragedy by one Thomas Hunt, entituled, A Defence of the Charter and municipal Rights of the City of London, &c. which the said Hunt supposes herein condemned, and the magiftrates already hung in effigy.. I have also before me a virulent attack upon it, in three sheets, 4to. called, Some Reflections on the pretended Parallel in the Play of the Duke of Guise, in the composing of which Shadwell was supposed to have been concerned.
To all these, the Vindication of the Duke of Guise, which is generally printed after it, was published by way of answer. Here we are told that the Duke of Guise was our author's first piece, written foon after the Restoration, as the fairest way which the act of indemnity left of exposing the rise of the grand rebellion, or inter-regnum. It did not then appear, because condemned by a few friends in private, as unfit for the stage. It was again taken in hand, in compliance with the desire of Nat. Lee, with whom Dryden had promised to join in a second dramatic venture, in consequence of the success of Oedipus. Mr. Lee wrote two thirds of it, and our author the rest : viz. the first scene of the first act, the whole fourth act, and half, or rather more, of the fifth.
In the year 1684, he published Maimbourg's Hiftory of the League, transated from the French, by the king's especial desire, on account of the plain parallel subsisting between the troubles of France and England. His next piece was Threnodia Augustalis, a poem, sacred to the memory of the king. It appeared in the year 1685, as did an opera of his, entituled, Albion and Albanius, acted at the Queen's
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James the Second, on his accession, having im-
a fort of Vindication of some tenets of the Roman Catholic Church, they were answered by the very ingenious Dr. Stillingfieet: to whom our author, now a profeffed papist, made a reply which he calls, A Defence of the Papers written by the late King, of blessed Memory, and duchess of York, against the Answer made to them. This pamphlet contains 126 pages, besides the title and preface, and came out in 1686. COMMAND. The Hind and Panther, with which our second volume begins, appeared in 1687 ; the birth of a prince in 1688 occasioned a poem on that head ; and his translation of the Life of St. Francis Xavier, from the French of Bouhors, came out also this year.
He had been about this time employed in tranNating Varilla's History of Herefies, but laid the design aside; and this Dr. Burnet tells us he was induced to do, because he (the Dr.) had published reflexions on the work, that quite destroyed the credit of the author. He was dismissed from the office of poet-laureat at the revolution, and its being conferred on Tom Shadwell, was a more sensible mortification to him than his dismission: this gave rise to his beautiful satire of Maç Flecnoe, the first edition of which bears date 1689. His pension was generously continued to him by the munificent Earl of Dorset, who was lord-chamberlain to King William, out of his own private purse ; and grateful mention is made of our author's obligations to that elegant nobleman in the dedication of the Satires of Juvenal and Perfius,
The tragedy of Don Sebastian was exhibited at the Theatre-Royal in Drury-Lane, anno 1690; but being insupportably long, was curtailed even after the firft night's performance. The dedication of this performance to Sydney, Earl of Leicester, is a remarkably fine piece of writing.
Amphytrion, or, the Two Socias, a comedy, founded on Plautus and Moliere, was presented the same year ; as was also the dramatic
opera of King Arthur, or, the British Worthy : and both were received with very high applause.
In 1692, he gave his excellent tragedy of Cleomenes to the stage, and dedicated the copy of it to Laurence, Earl of Rochester, second son to the great Earl of Clarendon. The translation' of Juvenal, in which he had a considerable share: and that of Perfius, which was entirely his own, were first published in 1693. In the dedication, which is a long and beautiful discourse to the Earl of Dorset, he lays down a plan, according to which he intended to have erected an epic poem, and which Sir Richard Blackmore carried into execution in his poem of King Arthur. Dryden expresses the utmost contempt both for the piece and the man. His last dramatic piece is a tragicomedy, called Love-Triumphant, or, Nature will prevail, which is dedicated to James, earl of Salisbury, and was presented in 1694.
In 1695 our author published a translation into profe of Du Fresnoy's celebrated Latin Poem on the Art of Painting ; to which he has prefixed a long preface, in which there is a parallel of poetry and painting. At this time he was engaged in translating all Virgil's works : they did not make their appearance till 1697; and though greatly admired, passed not without being severely censured.“ But none, (says Pope) “ criticised upon them so fairly as Milbourne'; who at " the same time that he abused his translation, did “ Mr. Dryden the justice to print his own, which was " intolerable."