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1.7. Charles II, who is David in this poem, is described as Israel's monarch after Heaven's own heart,' as David is in Scripture. The Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart. (1 Sam. xiii. 14.) • I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.' (Acts xiii: 22.)
1. 17. this, changed to the by Broughton, and the error copied by following editors, including Scott.
1. 18. Absalon. So spelt here and in line 221 for the rhyme, in the early editions; elsewhere always Absalom. The Duke of Monmouth, here called Absalom, was the son of Charles by Lucy Walters, and born at Rotterdam, April 9, 1649. Till lately it has been always believed that Monmouth was the eldest of Charles Il's natural sons; but a recent publication at Rome from papers in the Jesuits' College there has made known, on the authority of Charles himself, that he had a son by a lady of the name of La Cloche, in Jersey, two or three years earlier, when he was sixteen or seventeen years old. This son entered the noviciate of the Jesuit Society at Rome in 1667, under the name of James La Cloche, and came secretly to England in 1668, calling himself Henri de Rohan. See Gentleman's Magazine for January 1866.
1. 19. inspired by. In the first edition it was with. 1. 30. Compare with this line Pope's
• And Paradise was opened in the wild.' Eloisa to Abelard, 133. I. 34. Annabel, Duchess of Monmouth, was Countess of Buccleuch in her own right, and was married to Monmouth in 1665. The name of Scott was afterwards given to Monmouth, and he was created Duke of Buccleuch. The Duchess of Monmouth was an early patron and constant friend of Dryden. He dedicated to her the play of The Indian Emperor, published in 1667. In the Vindication of the Duke of Guise (1683) Dryden calls her the patroness of my unworthy poetry'; and in his Dedication of King Arthur to Lord Halifax, in 1691, he says that the Duchess of Monmouth had read the play in manuscript and recommended it to Queen Mary; and he calls the Duchess ' my first and best patroness.'
1. 39. Amnon's murder. This is probably a reference to an attack, which Monmouth was believed to have instigated, on Sir John Coventry in 1670, by some officers and men of Monmouth's troop of horseguards, in revenge for a sarcasm uttered in the House of Commons about the King's amours. Coventry's nose was slit with a penknife. The House of Commons took up the affair very warmly, and a new act was passed, making it a capital felony to wound with intention to maim or disfigure, which went by the name of the Coventry Act. There was indeed no murder in this case, but Dryden probably desired to avoid precise identification..
1. 43. sincerely blest. See note on Annus Mirabilis, stanza 209, on this use of sincerely, meaning without alloy.'
1. 59. Hebron. In the second part of Absalom and Achitophel, both in Dryden's own part and in Tate's, Hebron means Scotland; and the key to this poem represents Hebron as Scotland. But in this, the only passage of the poem where Hebron occurs, Flanders would be more appropriate. Reference is perhaps made to Monk's march from Scotland to bring about the Restoration.
1. 92. worn and weakened. and changed by Derrick to or; the error copied by following editors, including Scott.
1. 112. Not weighed or winnowed. Derrick substituted nor for or, which has been followed by most editors, including Scott.
1. 118. Egyptian rites. Egypt, in this poem, stands for France, and the Egyptian rites are the Roman Catholic rites prevailing in France.
1. 121. And in first edition, instead of As.
1. 150. Achitophel, Anthony Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury. Dryden's subsequent poem of The Medal, not included in this volume, should be read, for a longer and more elaborate and severe attack on Shaftesbury. He had been Lord Chancellor in 1672-73. Dismissed from the chancellorship in November 1673, he was made President of the Privy Council in April 1679, on the reorganization of that body by the King to conciliate the parliamentary opposition. He was, however, removed from that office a few months after. Shaftesbury was now in the Tower, on a charge of high treason: he was apprehended at his house in London, July 2, 1681. After many delays, his trial came on in November, a few days after the publication of this poem, and the grand jury threw out the bill.
1. 152. counsel in first edition, instead of counsels.
11. 155-157. A correspondent of Notes and Queries, December 7, 1850 (vol. i. p. 468), has supplied the two following quotations in illustration of this triplet on Shaftesbury's fiery soul fretting his pigmy body and o'erinforming the tenement of clay. He was one of a lean body and visage, as if his eager soul, biting for anger at the clay of his body, desired to fret a passage through it.' (Fuller's Profane State.)
The purest soul that ere was sent
Into a clayey tenement.' Carew. 1. 163. Great wits, &c. •Nullum fit magnum ingenium sine mixtura dementiae. (Seneca, De Tranq. Anim. C. xv. s. 77.)
1. 167. The same idea of ill-usage of Shaftesbury's little body by his active mind appears in a sketch of him in Mulgrave's Essay on Satire, which was erroneously ascribed to Dryden.
• As by our little Machiavel we find
That nimblest creature of the busy kind :
No pity of its poor companion takes.
To use a body thus, though 'tis one's own. The Essay on Satire is said to have been written in 1675: it was first circulated in manuscript in 1679. Duke, a friend and imitator of Dryden, has described Shaftesbury in his poem called “The Review,' and some of his lines bear traces of Dryden's descriptions here and in The Medal.
• Antonius, early in rebellious race
The working ferment of his active mind,
But that 'tis tapt to give the treason vent.' The last line is an unseemly allusion to an abscess from which Shaftesbury suffered, originally caused by a fall from a carriage, when he went out to meet King Charles at Breda on the eve of the Restoration. The abscess, which was internal, at one time endangered his life. A severe operation restored him to health, which was afterwards preserved by means of a silver pipe which kept the wound always open.
1. 170. unfeathered two-legged thing. Dryden has here appropriated for ribaldry Plato's humorous definition of man, a two-footed animal without wings, [Wov démouv äntepov. Shaftesbury's son was a man of no ability, but was the father of an able man, the third Earl, the metaphysician, author of the Characteristics. Shaftesbury was three times married, but had only two children, sons, by his second wife, Lady Frances Cecil, who died in 1653: one of the two died in infancy.
1. 175. the triple bond. The triple alliance of England, Holland, and Sweden of 1667, directed against France. In June 1670, a second treaty, of which Shaftesbury, though at the time a prominent minister, knew nothing, was made with France for war against Holland and the establishment of the Roman Catholic religion in England. The English commissioners who signed this treaty were Arlington, Clifford, Lord Arundel of Wardour, and Sir Richard Bellings; the last two were not ministers. Another treaty was afterwards concluded on December 31, in appearance solely for alliance with France and war against Holland, and this was signed by Buckingham, Shaftesbury (then Lord Ashley), and Lauderdale, together with Arlington and Clifford. But Charles's engagement about the Roman Catholic religion in the treaty of June remained binding; and that treaty was a secret from Buckingham, Shaftesbury, and Lauderdale. Shaftesbury has his share of responsibility for a treaty of alliance with France for a war against Holland. But no one was louder at the time for this war and for the French alliance than Dryden, who wrote in 1673 a bad play, Amboyna, for the express purpose of inflaming the English public against the Dutch. He there proclaimed the alliance of the two kings of England and France to be necessary to destroy the pride of Holland:
Yet is their empire no true growth, but humour,
And only two kings' touch can cure the tumour.' These two lines are from Dryden's Epilogue to Amboyna, and the Epilogue concludes with a reference to Cato's · Delenda est Carthago,' quoted by Shaftesbury in his speech for the King as Chancellor to Parliament in February 1673. Dryden perhaps derived the idea from Shaftesbury's famous speech,
“All loyal English will like him conclude,
Let Cæsar live, and Carthage be subdued.'
• Thus framed for ill, he loosed our triple hold
But he by art our native strength betrayed.' This is a flagrant example of Dryden's reckless inconsistency and unscrupulousness in attack. 1. 179. Assumed in first edition instead of Usurped.
all-atoning, all-reconciling. The verb atone was used differently in Dryden's time from its present use. It meant to 'harmonize,' 'unite,' and was used transitively. Thus in Dryden's Poem on the Coronation, 57:
"He that brought peace and discord could atone,
His name is music of itself alone. • To atone her anger' (Love Triumphant, Act iv. Sc. I), •To atone the people' (Vindication of Duke of Guise). Atone was also spelt attone, the two t's coming from the old spelling of at with two t's; the origin of the word being at one, 'to make at one. Atone is used similarly in Shakespeare : • I would do much to atone them for the love I bear to Cassio ' (Othello Act iv. Sc. I).
Since we cannot atone you, we shall see
King Richard II, Act i. Sc. 1. Elsewhere in Shakespeare alone is used intransitively, meaning 'to agree, as in Coriolanus :
He and Aufidius can no more atone
Than violentest contrariety.' 11. 180–191. These twelve lines were added in the second edition of the poem. A very absurd story has been told, that these lines, containing high praise of Shaftesbury as a Judge, were added by Dryden in gratitude for the gift of a nomination to the Charterhouse School for his third son, Erasmus, by Shaftesbury, after the publication of Absalom and Achitophel. The story was first published in Kippis's edition of the Biographia Britannica, published in 1779. Malone took great pains to refute this very improbable story. Dryden's son Erasmus was admitted to the Charterhouse in February 1683, on a nomination from the King. The first edition of this poem appeared in November, and the second in December, 1681. The story is simply impossible. Immediately after the publication of Absalom and Achitophel, Shaftesbury could not have abased himself by offering a favour to Dryden, even if Dryden were likely to accept it; and then in a few months, in March 1682, Dryden published The Medal, a yet more savage attack on his supposed forgiving benefactor. After all, the idea of praising Shaftesbury as a Judge is in the lines 192-7, which were in the first edition. Why so much praise was added in the second edition may be variously explained. Dryden may have thought that further explanation was necessary for connecting the passage beginning in line 192,
• Oh! had he been content to serve the crown,' with the preceding denunciation of Shaftesbury as a politician. Or he may have thought that higher praise of him as a Judge might increase by contrast the effect of his abuse of the statesman. Or, as Shaftesbury had in the interval been acquitted of the charge of high treason and had triumphed over his enemies, Dryden may have wished to say something conciliatory for one whom he had so fiercely attacked, and who might now again become formidable.
1. 188. Abbethdin, the president of the Jewish judicature. The word is compounded of ab, . father,' and beth-din, 'house of judgment,' and means literally · father of the house of judgment.'
1. 196. What is meant by David's tuning his harp for Achitophel if he had been other than he was, and its then resulting that • Heaven had wanted