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without laws, arts, arms, or policy. I remem . ber poor Nat. Lee, who was then upon the verge of madness, yet made a sober and a witty answer to a bad poet, who told him, “ It was an easy thing to write like a madman.”-“ No,” said be, “it is very difficult to write like a madman, but it is a very easy matter to write like a fool." Otway and he are safe by death from all attacks, but we poor poets inhabitant (to use Mr. Cowley's expression) are at the mercy of wretched scribblers : and when they cannot fasten upon our verses, they fall upon our morals, our prin. ciples of state and religion. For my principles of religion, I will not justify them to you : I. know yours are far different. For the same reason I shall say nothing of my principles of state. I believe you in yours follow the dictates of your reason, as I in mine do those of my conscience. If I thought myself in an error, I would retract it. I am sure that I suffer for them; and Milton makes even the devil say, that no creature is in love with pain. For my morals betwixt man and man, I am not to be my own judge. I appeal to the world, if I have deceived or defrauded any man: and for my private conversation, they who see me every day can be the best witnesses, whether or no it be blameless and inoffensive. Hitherto I have no reason to complain that men of either party shun my company. I have never been an impudent beggar at the doors of noblemen: my visits have indeed been too rare to be unacceptable; and but just enough to testify my gratitude for their bounty, which I have frequently received, but always unasked, as themselves will witness.
a. I have written more than I needed to you on
this subject; for I dare say you justify me to yourself. As for that which I first intended for the principal subject of this letter, which is my friend's passion and design of marriage, on better consideration I have changed my mind : for having had the honour to see my dear friend Wycherly's letter to him on that occasion, I find nothing to be added or amended. But as well as I love Mr. Wycherly, I confess I love myself so well that I will not show how much I am inferior to him in wit and judgment, by undertaking any thing after him. There is Moses and the Prophets in his council. Jupiter and Juno, as the poets tell us, made Tiresias their umpire in a merry dispute, which fell out in heaven betwixt them. Tiresias, you know, had been of both sexes, and therefore was a proper judge; our friend Mr. Wycherly is full as competent an arbitrator : he has been a batchelor, and married man, and is now a widower. Virgil says of Ceneus:
Nunc vir, nunc fæmina, Ceneus,
Yet I suppose he will not give any large commendations to his middle state ; nor, as the sailor said, will be fond after a shipwreck to put to sea again. If my friend will adventure after this, I can but wish him a good wind, as being his, and, my dear Mr. Dennis, your most affectionate and most faithful servant,
JOHN DRY DEN.
JOHN DRYDEN TO JACOB TONSON.
MR. TONSON, Some kind of intercourse must be carried on be. twixt us, while I am translating Virgil. Therefore I give you notice that I have done the seventh Eneid in the country; and intend some few days hence, to go upon the eighth : when that is finished, I expect fifty pounds in good silver; not such as I have had formerly. I am pot obliged to take gold *, neither will l; nor stay for it beyond four and twenty hours after it is due. I thank you for the civility of your last letter in the country ; but the thirty shillings upon every book remains with me. You always intended I should get nothing by the second subscriptions, as I found from first to last. And your promise to Mr. Congreve, that you had found a way for my benefit, which was an encouragement to my pains, came at last, for me to desire Sir Godfrey Kneller and Mr. Closterman to gather for me. I then told Mr. Congreve that I knew you too well to believe you meant me any kindness : and he promised me to believe accordingly of you, if you did not. But this is past ; and you shall have your bargain, if I live and have my health. You may send me word what you have done in my business with the earl of Derby; and I must have a place for the duke of Devonshire. Some of your friends will be glad to take back their three guineas. The
* Both the gold and silver coin were at this time much depreciated.
countess of Macclesfield gave her money to Will. Plowden before Christmas; but he remembered it not, and paid it not in. Mr. Aston tells me my Lord Derby expects but one book. I find my Lord Chesterfield and my Lord Petre are both left out; but my Lady Macclesfield must have a place, if I can possibly : and Will. Plowden shall pay you in three guineas, if I can obtain so much favour from you : I desire neither excuses nor reasons from you; for I am but too well satisfied already. The notes and prefaces shall be short; because you shall get the more by saving paper.
JOHN DRYDEN TO JACOB TONSON.
Friday forenoon. [Feb. 1695-6?] I RECEIVED your letter very kindly, because indeed I expected none; but thought you as very a tradesman as Bentley *, who has cursed our Virgil so heartily. I shall lose enough by your bill upon Mr. Knight; for after having taken it all in silver, and not in half crowns neither, but shillings and sixpences, none of the money will go; for which reason I have sent it all back again, and as the less loss will receive it in guineas at twenty-nine shillings each., 'Tis trou. blesome to be a loser, but it was my own fault to accept it this way, which I did to avoid more trouble.
I am not sorry that you will not allow any thing towards the notes; for to make them good
* Richard Bentley, a bookseller and printer. VOL. V.
would have cost me half a year's time at least. Those I write shall be only marginal, to help the unlearned, who understand not the poetical fables. The prefaces, as I intend them, will be somewhat more learned. It would require seven years to translate Virgil exactly. But I promise you once more to do my best in the four remain: ing books, as I have hitherto done in the foregoing. Upon trial I find all of your trade are sharpers, and you not more than others; therefore I have not wholly left you : Mr. Aston does not blame you for getting as good a bargain as you could, though I could have got a hundred pounds more : and you might have spared all your trouble, if you had thought fit to publish the proposals for the first subscriptions ; for I have guineas offered me every day, if there had been room ; I believe, modestly speaking, I have refused already twenty-five. I mislike nothing in your letter, therefore, but only your upbraiding me with the public encouragement, and my own reputation concerned in the notes; when I assure you I could not make them to my mind in less than half a year's time. Get the first half of Virgil transcribed as soon as possibly you can; that I may put the notes to it; and you may have the other four books which lie ready for you, when you bring the former; that the press may stay as little as possibly it can. My Lord Chesterfield has been to visit me, but I durst say nothing of Virgil to him, for fear there should be no void place for him : if there be, let me know; and tell me whether you have made room for the duke of Devonshire. Having no