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was, a satire against the Dutch valour in the last
He desir’d me to omit it, (to use his own words) out of the respect he had to his Sovereign. I obey'd his commands, and left onely the praises, which I think are due to the gallantry of my own countrymen. In the description which I have made of a Parliament-man,? I think I have not only drawn the features of my worthy kinsman, but have also given my own opinion of what an Englishman in Parliament ought to be ; and deliver it as a memorial of my own principles to all posterity. I have consulted the judgment of my unbyass'd friends, who have some of them the honour to be known to you; and they think there is nothing which can justly give offence in that part of the poem. I say not this, to cast a blind on your judgment, (which I cou'd not do, if I indeavour'd it,) but to assure you, that nothing relateing to the publique shall stand without your permission ; for it were to want common sence to desire your patronage, and resolve to disoblige you : And as I will not hazard my hopes of your protection, .by refusing to obey you in any thing which I can perform with my conscience or my honour, so I am very confident you will never impose any other terms on me.— My thoughts at present are fix'd on Homer : and by my trans
? Beginning thus :
“ A patriot both the King and Country serves,
lation of the first Iliad, I find him a poet more according to my genius than Virgil, and consequently hope I may do him more justice, in his fiery way of writeing; which, as it is liable to more faults, so it is capable of more beauties than the exactness and sobriety of Virgil. Since 'tis for my country's honour as well as for my own, that I am willing to undertake this task, I despair not of being encourag'd in it by your favour, who am,
TO MRS. STEWARD.
Nov. 7th, [1699.) Even your expostulations are pleasing to me; for though they shew you angry, yet they are not without many expressions of your kindness; and therefore I am proud to be so chidden. Yet I cannot so fart abandon my own defence, as to confess any idleness or forgetfulness on my part. What has hind'red me from writeing to you, was neither ill health, nor a worse thing, ingratitude ; but a flood of little businesses, which yet are
* We find nearly the same sentiment in the Preface to the FABLES.
necessary to my subsistance, and of which † hop'd to have given you a good account before this time : but the Court rather speaks kindly of me, than does any thing for me, though they promise largely; and perhaps they think I will advance as they go backward, in which they will be much deceiv'd: for I can never go an inch beyond my conscience and my honour. If they will consider me as a man who has done my best to improve the language, and especially the poetry, and will be content with my acquiescence under the present Government, and forbearing satire on it, that I can promise, because I can perform it: but I can neither take the oaths, nor forsake my religion : because I know not what church to go to, if I leave the Catholique ; they are all so divided amongst them selves in matters of faith, necessary to salvation, and, yet all assumeing the name of Protestants. May God be pleas’d to open your eyes, as he has open'd mine! Truth is but one ; and they who have once heard of it, can plead no excuse, if they do not embrace it. But these are things too serious for a trifling letter. If you
desire to hear any thing more of my affairs, the Earl of Dorsett and your Cousin Montague have both seen the two poems, to the Duchess of Ormond, and my worthy Cousin Driden ; and are of opinion that I never writt better. My other friends are divided in their judgments, which to preferr ; but the greater part are for those to my dear kinsman; which I have
corrected with so much care, that they will now be worthy of his sight, and do neither of us any dishonour after our death.
There is this day to be acted a new tragedy, made by Mr. Hopkins,' and, as I believe, in rhime. He has formerly written a play in verse, call’d BOADICEA, which you fair ladyes lik’d; and is a poet who writes good verses without knowing how or why; I mean, he writes naturally well, without art, or learning, or good sence. Congreve is ill of the gout at Barnet Wells. I have had the honour of a visite from the Earl of Dorsett, and din’d with him--Matters in Scotland are in a high ferment,
: 9 FRIENDSHIP IMPROVED, a tragedy, written by Charles Hopkins, the son of Dr. Ezekiel Hopkins, Bishop of Derry in Ireland. He was bred for some years in the College of Dublin, from which he was removed to Queen's College, in Cambridge, where he took the degree of B. A. in 1688. His first tragedy, PYRRHUS, KING of Epirus, was exhibited in 1695; Boadicea, in 1697. He died in 1700, in the 36th year of his age.
" A Scottish Company of Adventurers, in 1698, had attempted to make a settlement for the purposes of commerce, on the coast of Darien, in America. In consequence of representations from the Spaniards, who were jealous of the new settlers, and of this project being disagreeable to the Dutch and English merchants, King William had sent orders to the Governours of the Colonies to issue proclamations forbidding his subjects in America to give any assistance to the Adventurers. The Company, after their miscarriage, sought relief by an address to the King; which not meeting with a favourable
and next door to a breach betwixt the two nations; but they say from Court, that France and we are hand and glove." "Tis thought, the King will endeavour to keep up a standing army, and make the stirr in Scotland his pretence for it: my Cousin Driden, and the Country Party, I suppose, will be against it; for when a spirit is rais’d, 'tis hard conjuring him down again.—You see I am dull by my writeing news; but it may be, my Cousin Creed? may be glad to hear what I believe is true, though not very pleasing. I hope he recovers health in the country, by his staying so long in it. My service to my Cousin Stuart and all at Oundle. I am, faire Cousine, Your most obedient Servant,
John DRYDEN. For Mrs. Stuart, Att Cotterstock near Oundle, In Northamptonshyre,
These. To be left at the Posthouse
answer, the whole Scottish nation was thrown into a high ferment, and about the end of the year 1699 seemed ripe for a general revolt.
2 Mr. John Driden, of Chesterton, at this time repre. presented the County of Huntingdon in parliament.
3 Mrs. Steward's father, Mr. John Creed, of Oundle.