« AnteriorContinuar »
I may own, I understand him better. As for the errours they pretend to find in me, I could easily shew them that the greatest part of them are beauties; and for the rest, I could recriminate upon the best poets of our nation, if I could resolve to accuse another of little faults, whom at the same time I admirc for greater excellencies. But I have neither concernment enough upon me to write any thing in my own defence, neither will I gratify the ambition of two wretched scribblers, who desire nothing more than to be answered. I have not wanted friends, even amongst strangers, who have defended me more strongly than my contemptible pedant could attack me; for the other, he is only like Fungoso in the play, who follows the fashion at a distance, and adores the Fastidious Brisk of Oxford. You can bear
8 In the year 1673, three satirical pamphlets appeared against our author, under the following titles :1. “ The CENSURE OF THE Rota on Mr. Dryden's CONQUEST OF GRANADA.” Printed at Oxford. 2.“ A Description of the Academy of the Athenian Virtuosi ; with a Discourse held there in Vindication of Mr. Dryden's CONQUEST OF GRANADA, against the author of THE CENSURE OF THE Rota.” 3. “ A Friendly Vindication of Mr. Dryden from the Author of The CENSURE OF THE Rota.” Printed at Cambridge. This pamphlet (and probably the other two also) was published after the representation, but before the publication, of LOVE IN A NUNNERY. Dryden probably here alludes to the supposed authors of these pieces. The contemptible pedant, I suspect, was Martin Clifford, Master of the Charter. me witness, that I have not consideration enough for either of them to be angry: let Mævius and Bavius admire each other; I wish to be hated by them and their fellows, by the same reason for which I desire to be loved by you. And I leave it to the world, whether their judgment of my poetry ought to be preferred to your's ; though they are as much prejudiced by their malice as I desire you should be led by your kindness, to be partial to,
And most faithful servant,
House, who was perhaps author of one of these pamphlets, and who had assisted the Duke of Buckingham in writing The REHEARSAL. The author of The CENSURE OF THE Rota was, according to Wood, Richard Leigh, who had been bred at Queen's College, Oxford, and was at this time a player in the Duke of York's Company; but whether he was one of the wretched scribblers here alluded to, I am unable to ascertain ; nor do I know who was meant by the Fastidius Brisk of Oxford.—Leigh's character seems to have nothing in common with Fungoso in Every MAN OUT OF HIS HUMOUR, except his being bred a student.
A MBO Y N A..
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE THE LORD CLIFFORD OF CHUDLEIGH.
IFTER so many favours, and those so great, conferred on me by your Lordship these many years, which I may call more properly one continued act of your generosity and goodness, I know not whether I should appear more ungrateful in my silence, or more extravagantly vain in my endeavours to acknowledge them ; for since all acknowledgments bear a face of payment, it may be thought that I have flattered myself into an opinion of being able to return some part of my obligements to you ; the just despair of which
9 This tragedy, which was acted at the Theatre Royal, was first printed in 1673, and must have been published between the 19th of June in that year, when Lord Clifford resigned the office of Lord High Treasurer, and the following September, when he died.
Thomas Lord Clifford, who together with Ashley, Buckingham, Arlington, and Lauderdale, formed the well-known junto denominated the CABAL, was a Roman Catholick, and about one year elder than our author, attempt, and the due veneration I have for his person to whom I must address, have almost driven me to receive only with a profound submission the effects of that virtue which is never to be comprehended but by admiration ; and the greatest note of admiration is silence. It is that noble passion to which poets raise their audience in highest subjects, and they have then gained over them the greatest victory, when they are ravished into a pleasure which is not to be expressed by words. To this pitch, my Lord, the sense of my gratitude had almost raised me;—to receive your favours, as the Jews of old received their law, with a mute wonder to think, that the loudness of acclamation was only the praise of men to men, and that the secret homage of the soul was a greater mark of reverence than an outward ceremonious joy, which might be counterfeit, and must be irreverent in its tumult. Neither, my Lord, have I a particular right to pay you my acknowledgments; you have been a good so universal, that almost every man in three nations may think me injurious to his propriety, that I invade your praises in undertaking to celebrate them alone; and that have assumed to myself a patron, who was no more to
having been born August 1, 1630. On the 20th of April, 1672, he was created a peer, and on the 28th of November following, was appointed Lord Treasurer of England; which office he held only seven months. His character is given by Hume, in his History, vol. vii. p. 470, and more fully by Macpherson, vol. i. p. 123.
be circumscribed than the sun and elements, which are of publick benefit to human kind.
As it was much in your power to oblige all who could pretend to merit from the publick, so it was more in your nature and inclination. If any went ill-satisfied from the Treasury, while it was in your Lordship's management, it proclaimed the want of desert, and not of friends. You distributed your Master's favour with so equal hands, that Justice herself could not have held the scales more even ; but with that natural propensity to do good, that had that treasure been your own, your inclination to bounty must have ruined you : no man attended to be denied ; no man bribed for expedition ; want and desert were pleas sufficient. By your own integrity, and your prudent choice of those whom you employed, the King gave all that he intended, and gratuities to his officers made not vain his bounty. . This, my Lord, were you in your publick capacity of High Treasurer, to which you ascended by such degrees, that your Royal Master saw your virtues still growing to his favours faster than they could rise to you. Both at home and abroad, with your sword * and with your counsel, you have served
2 Lord Clifford, previous to his promotion to the office of Lord High Treasurer, had been Comptroller and Treasurer of the Houshold, and one of the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury.
* In various sea-engagements with the Dutch, in 1665 and 1666.