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Florimelo. The play was published in the following year, with a preface, in which Dryden states that Charles had 'graced’ the successful comedy with the title of his play.' Another comedy, Sir Martin Mar-all,' was brought out in the autumn of 1667 at the Duke's House. This was an adaptation of Molière's play, “L'Étourdi,' which had been translated by the Duke of Newcastle; and when it appeared on the stage, Pepys tells us that the general opinion was that it was a 'play by the Lord Duke of Newcastle, and corrected by Dryden. Dryden afterwards published himself as author, and we may take for granted that the authorship was really his. "The Tempest, or the Enchanted Island, produced at the Duke's Theatre in November, 1667, was an adaptation by Dryden and Davenant of Shakespeare's Tempest. The new play was nothing more nor less than a debasement of Shakespeare's, and Dryden doubtless knew well its inferiority. In the prologue he paid a fine tribute to the genius of Shakespeare. These are the opening lines :
• As when a tree's cut down, the secret root,
And is that Nature which they paint and draw.'
*But Shakespeare's magic could not copied be;
Within that circle none durst walk but he.' Again
But Shakespeare's power is sacred as a king's.' Dryden and Davenant's "Tempest' was published by Dryden in 1668, Davenant having died in the interval : and in the preface Dryden mentions that Davenant had taught him to venerate Shakespeare.
• Diary, March 2, 1667.
If Dryden's mutilation of the Tempest seems inconsistent with his reverence for Shakespeare, it must be borne in mind that Dryden wrote for money, that to adapt took less time than to create, and that the audiences for which he wrote neglected Shakespeare's plays and applauded Dryden’s.
• Those who have best succeeded on the stage
Have still conformed their genius to their age P.' The year 1667 had been one of great dramatic success for Dryden. The 'Maiden Queen, Sir Martin Mar-all,' and *The Tempest' had all been well received, and his first play, •The Wild Gallant, unsuccessful when it first appeared, had been revived with some success.
Until now the profits derived by Dryden from his plays had come from the third night's representation, which custom made the author's benefit from the prices received from his publisher, from presents in return for dedications, and probably also from a retaining fee from the King's company, to which all his plays were given. A successful “third night'of a play would probably at this time bring Dryden forty or at most fifty guineas, and the price of the copyright of one of his plays would now be but a trifle. Thus, for “Cleomenes,' one of his latest plays, he is known to have received thirty guineas, and no more; and this was probably the highest price he ever got. He is said never to have received, in his days of greatest fame, more than a hundred guineas for third night and copyright together. There had been no dedication to his last three published plays, the "Maiden Queen,' Sir Martin Mar-all,' and 'The Tempest. But henceforth his plays were always dedicated to some noble patron, who, according to the custom of the time, sent a present of money in return for the compliment. To recount Dryden's noble patrons is a necessary part of his biography. What I pretend by this dedication,' he said, in 1691, in dedicating 'King Arthur,' to George Savile Lord Halifax, 'is an honour which I do myself to posterity by acquainting them that I have been conversant with the first persons of the age in which I lived.'
p Dryden's Epilogue to the Second Part of • The Conquest of Granada.'
After the production of “The Tempest'he entered into a contract with the King's company, by which he bound himself to produce three plays a year, in return for a share and a quarter of the profits of the theatre, all which were divided into twelve shares and a quarter. Under this arrangement Dryden received from 1667 to 1672 a yearly income of from 300l. to 4001. a year. The King's Theatre was burnt down in 1672, and the losses of the company then reduced Dryden's share of profits to about 200l. a year. His reciprocal duty, to write three plays a year, was never fulfilled; but the company appear to have behaved always generously to him and not to have mulcted him for his shortcomings.
Under this new contract two comedies, 'An Evening's Love, or the Mock Astrologer,' an adaptation of the younger Corneille's 'Feint Astrologue,' and 'Ladies à la Mode,' were produced in 1668. "An Evening's Love' was not very successful. Evelyn went to see it, and was 'afflicted to see how the stage was degenerated and polluted by the licentious times 9.' The criticism of Samuel Pepys is very similar, and Herringman, the publisher, told Pepys that Dryden himself considered it but a fifth-rate play". Of 'Ladies à la Mode,' Pepys, from whom alone we have knowledge of it, says that it was a translation from the French, and that it was 'so mean a thing as when they came to say it would be acted again, both he that said it, Beeson, and the pit fell a laughing, there being this day not a quarter of the pit full.' It was never acted again, and Dryden never published it s.
Dryden's mother died in 1670. He was an affectionate son, and there are indeed none but pleasant indications of his relations with members of his family. The first of some little bequests in the will of the mother, who had little to leave, is a silver tankard and her wedding-ring to her son, now so famous. I give and bequeath to my beloved son, John Dryden, a silver tankard marked with J. D., and a gold
a Evelyn's Diary, June 19, 1668.
ring, which was my wedding-ring. And it is my will that after the decease of my dear son, John Dryden, his eldest son, Charles Dryden, should have the ring as a gift from his grandmother, Mary Dryden.' On the death of his mother, Dryden came into possession of the whole of the little Blakesley estate, and the addition thus made to his income was not more than 2ol. a year: but his income at this time, derived from various sources, from his estate, his salary and his brain-work, probably amounted to about 700l. a year.
Three tragedies in heroic verse, "Tyrannic Love, or the Royal Martyr,' and 'Almanzor and Almahide, or the Conquest of Granada,' in two parts, each being a separate play, appeared in 1669 and 1670, and added greatly to Dryden's fame. "Tyrannic Love' was dedicated to the Duke of Monmouth, and “The Conquest of Granada’ to the Duke of York. In August 1670 he received a substantial mark of royal favour. The two appointments of Poet Laureate and Historiographer Royal, which had been vacant, the one since the death of Sir William Davenant in 1668, the other since the death of James Howell in 1666, were conferred upon Dryden, with a salary of 2001. a year and arrears from Midsummer 1668; and an annual butt of canary wine from the King's cellars was added to the salary.
In December 1671 'The Rehearsal' a farce the preparation of which had for some ten years occupied the second George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, and in which he is said to have had assistance from the author of 'Hudibras' and others, was brought out at the King's Theatre. The object of this farce was to ridicule the rhymed tragedies of the Restoration. The farce had been begun some time before the death of the former poet laureate, Davenant, and he had been the original hero, but Davenant dying before the farce was finished, Dryden, his successor in the laureateship, was caricatured in his stead as the poet ‘Bayes.' It is said that the Duke of Buckingham himself drilled the actor, Lacey, to whom the part of Bayes' was allotted, to imitate Dryden's manner t. The piece had a great success, and its fame endures;
+ Spence's Anecdotes (Villiers, Duke of Buckingham).
the name of Bayes stuck to Dryden through life. Dryden bore this attack in silence, claiming credit in later years for a forbearance which was probably prompted by prudence, for Buckingham was at the time a leading minister and in great favour with the King u.
During the year 1671 Dryden produced no play. In January 1672 the King's Theatre in Drury Lane was burnt down, and the company removed to a house in Lincoln's Inn Fields. The impoverished circumstances of the company, which directly affected himself, probably stimulated Dryden to exertion, and in this year he produced two new comedies, Marriage à la Mode,' which was very successful, and 'The Assignation, or Love in a Nunnery,' which was condemned. *Amboyna, or the Cruelties of the Dutch to the English Merchants,' was Dryden's next production. England and France were now jointly engaged in war against Holland, and the tragedy of ‘Amboyna' was written for the purpose of inflaming national feeling against the Dutch. This is one of Dryden's worst plays. It was written, he says, 'in haste, but with an English heart.' This eager advocate of the Dutch war of 1672 afterwards reviled and persecuted Shaftesbury for having promoted it. “Amboyna' was dedicated to Lord Clifford, Shaftesbury's colleague in what is called the Cabal Ministry, who was a private friend and zealous patron of Dryden. 'Marriage à la Mode' had been dedicated to Wilmot Earl of Rochester, who later became Dryden's virulent enemy, but of whom he now said, addressing him, "You have not only been careful of my reputation, but of my fortune,' and 'I have found the effects of your protection in all my concernments.' "The Assignation’ was dedicated to the witty and dissolute Sir Charles Sedley.
u There is a severe and vigorous poem on the Duke of Buckingham printed in the collection called “State Poems,' which some have ascribed to Dryden, but probably wrongly. The slow composition of · The Rehearsal' is there alluded to:
I come to his farce, which must needs be well done,