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against Shaftesbury went before a London grand jury, and was thrown out. The decision was received by the people of London with acclamations, and a medal was struck by his friends in commemoration of his triumph. The sale of
Absalom and Achitophel' was so rapid that a second edition appeared within a month. The medal celebrating Shaftesbury's escape from his persecutors furnished Dryden with a subject and a name for a new political satire, which was even more fierce against Shaftesbury than its predecessor. The Medal' was brought out in March 1682. This poem, as well as "Absalom and Achitophel,' was published anonymously, but there was no doubt as to the authorship of either poem; and Dryden's opponents were quick to produce answers, all more remarkable for virulence than literary merit. "The Medal of John Bayes,' by Shadwell, especially roused Dryden's anger. Shadwell and he had formerly been on friendly terms, and Dryden had written in 1678 a prologue to Shadwell's play, 'The True Widow.' They probably now quarrelled only on political grounds. There was now great fury between the partisans of the Duke of York and those of the Duke of Monmouth, and at this period arose the divisions and the names of Whig and Tory. Dryden was with the Tories, and Shadwell with Shaftesbury, Monmouth, and the Whigs. The Medal of John Bayes' provoked Dryden to write a new satire, 'Mac Flecknoe,' in which Shadwell is represented as the poetical heir of Flecknoe, an inferior poet and voluminous author, who had died some five years before. “Mac Flecknoe' was published in October 1682. In the following month a second part of ‘Absalom and Achitophel' appeared. Of this poem only a small portion was by Dryden; the bulk of the poem being the production of Nahum Tate, who afterwards translated the Psalms into verse, and became in time poet laureate. Dryden contributed two hundred lines, and he perhaps revised the whole of Tate's work.
Dryden now passed from politics to theology, and produced Religio Laici,' a clear and argumentative exposition in harmonious verse, of the Protestant faith. The merits of this poem are happily, and without exaggeration, described
by Dryden's friend and brother-poet, Lord Roscommon, in some lines of commendation which were prefixed to the poem on its publication :
• Let free impartial men from Dryden learn
Explained by unaffected eloquence.' A drama, the ‘Duke of Guise,' a joint work of Dryden and Nathaniel Lee, was brought out in December 1682. The two rival theatres had now found it necessary to combine, and this was the first new play brought out by the united company. In the prologue Dryden announced the play to be a parallel :
"Our play's a parallel; the Holy League
Begot our covenant ; Guisards got the Whig.' In spite of Dryden's zealous championship of the court, his salary remained unpaid, and his pecuniary distress was great. In a letter to Laurence Hyde, Earl of Rochester, a Commissioner of the Treasury, probably written in the latter part of 1683, he prays for the payment of the arrears of his salary, amounting to about 1300l., and asks also for some small appointment. He says in this letter, I have three sons growing to man's estate; I breed them all up to learning, beyond my fortune; but they are too hopeful to be neglected, though I want. Of these sons, Charles, the eldest, born in 1665 or 1666, entered Trinity College, Cambridge, as a Westminster Scholar, in June 1683; the second, John, born 1667 or 1668, was now at Westminster; and the youngest, Erasmus Henry, born in May 1669, had been admitted to the Charterhouse by the nomination of the King in February 1683. It was probably in consequence of Dryden's appeal to Rochester that an Exchequer warrant for the payment of half a year's salary and a quarter's pension was issued on the 6th of May, 1684; and there is reason to believe that in time all arrears were paid to him. He received also in December 1683 the appointment of Collector of Customs in London, which may have been a profitable appointment.
Various literary labours occupied the poet at this time. In 1683 he contributed a life and a preface to a new translation of Plutarch by various hands, and he translated, by order of the King, Maimbourg's ‘History of the League.' In 1684 and 1685 he published successively two volumes of poetical Miscellanies, containing, with some poems by other authors, translations of his own from Virgil, Horace, and Ovid. To the second volume his eldest son was a contributor.
On the 5th of February, 1685, Charles the Second died, and the crown passed to his brother James. Before the King's death Dryden had written an opera, 'Albion and Albanius,' to celebrate the triumph of the court party over the opposition; this had not yet been publicly acted, but it had been several times rehearsed at court with approval. "Albion and Albanius' was published after James's accession. But before this publication Dryden produced an ode to the memory of Charles under the title of Threnodia Augustalis,' in which both Charles and James were extravagantly lauded.
As, on the restoration of Charles the Second, Dryden, to win royal favour, had broken away from all the associations of his youth, and had appeared without delay as the eager champion of monarchy, so now, when a declared Roman Catholic was seated on the throne, and to be a Roman Catholic seemed the best way to advancement, he was soon convinced that it was right to be a Roman Catholic. Before his conversion James had continued him in the posts of Poet Laureate and Historiographer Royal; and shortly after it, in March 1686, the additional pension of 100l. a year, which had been granted him by Charles, was renewed by letters patent. Lord Macaulay, who has represented this pension granted by James as the reward of Dryden's conversion, wrote before it was known to be merely a renewal of an old pension granted to Dryden by his predecessor, and he has certainly exaggerated its effects in producing that conversion; but it would be difficult to prove that Lord Macaulay has been unjust in ascribing Dryden's change of religion to interested motivesa.
& History of England, vol. ii. p. 96.
During the greater part of the year 1686 Dryden was engaged in writing 'The Hind and the Panther,' an elaborate defence in verse of his new religion. This poem is in the form of a dialogue between a milkwhite Hind, representing the Church of Rome, and a Panther, representing the Church of England; and the Hind has of course the best of the discussion. The author of Religio Laici' and of 'The Spanish Friar,' could not bring himself to treat the Church to which he so lately belonged with entire disrespect; and the Panther is described as
sure the noblest next the Hind,
Nor wholly stands condemned nor wholly free.' The various dissenting bodies are introduced into the poem under the names of different animals. This, the most imaginative and the longest of Dryden's poems, was published in April 1687.
Dryden's first ode for St. Cecilia's day was written in November 1687, at the request of a musical society formed four years before the celebration of the feast of St. Cecilia, the guardian saint of music b.
On June 10, 1688, the Queen gave birth to a son, an event which was hailed with joy by all the friends of the Court, while the Protestant party declared the child an imposture. The birth of the Prince was celebrated by Dryden in a poem entitled “Britannia Rediviva,' which was very hastily composed, and is one of his least successful efforts.
There was a very short interval between the birth of
6 A perfect text of so celebrated a poem is of much literary importance. The editors have generally substituted uprooted for Dryden's better word unrooted in the line
* And trees unrooted left their place.' This is one of very many similar corrections in the Globe edition of Dryden's Poems.
James's unfortunate heir and the Revolution, which drove
James into exile, placed William and Mary on the throne, and y destroyed Dryden's prospects of advancement. His newly
adopted religion made it impossible for him to take the oaths required of all holders of office, and to recant now would have been at once indecent and unprofitable. His offices of Poet Laureate and Historiographer Royal, his place in the Customs, and his pension of rool. a year, were now all lost by him. It was stated by Prior, and has been often repeated on his authority, that the Earl of Dorset, who was now appointed Lord Chamberlain, made the poet an allowance from his own purse equivalent to the official salary he had lost. This is a mistake; but there is no doubt that Dorset at different times made Dryden handsome presents of money, and the poet, in his · Discourse on Satire,' dedicated to Dorset in 1693, gratefully acknowledges his generosity. Sheffield, Earl of Mulgrave, was also bountiful to him in his reduced
circumstances. 1 In his fallen fortunes Dryden turned once more to the
drama. In 1690 he produced two plays. The first was a tragedy called "Don Sebastian.' Though one of his best dramas, it was not very successful, and Dryden attributed the failure of it to its length, or in his own language, to his having exceeded “the proper compass of a play.' A comedy, 'Amphitryon, produced in the same year, had better success. At the time of Charles the Second's death Dryden was engaged in writing, as a sequel to 'Albion and Albanius,' an opera, 'King Arthur, or the British Worthy. This work, much altered to suit the altered times, was now brought out with great success. About the representation of his next play there was some difficulty. The story of 'Cleomenes, King of Sparta,' was of an exiled king seeking protection at a foreign court. King William was absent in Holland, and Mary, the Regent, feeling that the play was disagreeably suggestive of her father's position at St. Germains, objected to its being acted. Her objections were, however, overcome by Dryden's friends, and 'Cleomenes' was produced in May