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allowed, you are no freeborn subjects. If God has not blessed you with the talent of rhyming, make use of my poor stock and welcome : let your verses run upon my feet; and, for the utmost refuge of notorious blockheads, reduced to the last extremity of sense, turn my own lines upon me ; and, in utter despair of your own satire, make me satirize myself. Some of you have been driven to this bay already ; but, above all the rest, commend me to the Nonconformist parson, who writ the “ Whip and Key."* I am afraid it is not read so much as the piece deserves, because the bookseller is every week crying help at the end of his gazette, to get it off. You see I am charitable enough to do him a kindness, that it may be published as well as printed ; and that so much skill in Hebrew derivations may not lie for waste-paper in the shop. Yet I half suspect he went no farther for his learning, than the index of Hebrew names and etymologies, which are printed at the end of some English Bibles. If Achitophel signify the brother of a fool, the author of that poem will pass with his readers for the next of kin. And perhaps 'tis the relation that makes the kindness. Whatever the verses are, buy 'em up, I beseech you, out of pity; for I hear the conventicle is shut up, and the brother of Achitophel out of service.
Now footmen, you know, have the generosity to make a purse for a member of their society, who has had his livery pulled over his ears ; and even Protestant socks are bought up among you out of veneration to the name. A dissenter in poetry from sense and English will make as good a Protestant rhymer, as a dissenter from the Church of England a Protestant parson. Besides, if you encourage a young beginner, who knows but he may elevate his style a little above the vulgar epithets of profane, and saucy Jack, and atheistic scribbler, with which he treats me, when the fit of enthusiasm is strong upon him ; by which well-mannered and charitable expressions I was certain of his sect before I knew his name. What would you have more of a man? He has damned me in your cause from Genesis to the Revelations, and has half the texts of both the Testaments against me, if you will be so civil to yourselves as to take him for your interpreter, and not to take them for Irish witnesses. After all, perhaps you will tell me, that you retained him only for the opening of your cause, and that your main lawyer is yet behind. Now if it so happen he meet with no more reply than his predecessors, you may either conclude that I trust to the goodness of my cause, or fear my adversary, or disdain him, or what you please, for the short on't is, 'tis indifferent to your humble servant, whatever your party says or thinks of him.
*Among the answers to " Absalom and Achitophel" was a pamphlet called "A Whip for the Fool's Back," written by a Nonconformist clergyman whose name is not known, and who further published "A Key with the Whip, to open the Mystery and Iniquity of the Poem called Absalom and Achitophel."
+ "Derrick," says Scott, who is not often so severe and whose severity on this occasion is certainly not unwarranted, "is pleased to explain the brother of Achitophel' by favouring us with an account of Shaftesbury's brother, George Cooper, Esq. This is a remarkable instance of a knavish speech sleeping in a foolish ear. For the benefit of any person of equally obtuse intellects,
e necessary to say that the Nonconformist parson is the party meant, whom Dryden styles brother to Achitophel,' if Achitophel according to his own derivation be brother to a fool; and truly the commentator seems to have been of the kindred." A recent editor, Mr. R. Bell, has repeated Derrick's blunder. "Two other notes of Mr. Bell's on this poem are hardly less ludicrous. He thinks that Dryden "leads us to infer" that he had never seen Shaftesbury, from his saying in this Preface, “though he sat not five times to me, as he did to B., &c.;" and he interprets literally the description of the two Sheriffs as “ two such gouty hands" for the " loyal head," the Lord Mayor (line 182), observing, “They were not the only gouty members of the Whig party. Shaftesb'iry was a martyr to gout. The malady was strictly impartial, for Dryden himself sank under it." But for such a note, it would have been difficult to think it necessary to explain that Dryden. did not mean that the Sheriffs were sufferers from gout; and it may be taken for granted that Dryden had seen Shaftesbury very often, though Shaftesbury had not sat to him five times for the portrait of the following poem.
A SATIRE AGAINST SEDITION.
Of all our antic sights and pageantry
* Shaftesbury had begun on the King's side. In 1643, when he was already twenty-two, he raised a regiment of foot and a troop of horse at his own charge for the King, from whom he received commissions to be colonel of the first, captain of the second, and governor of Weymouth and Portland; he was also in that year appointed Sheriff of Dorsetshire for the King. In the beginning of the following year he went over to the side of the Parliament. This “rebel ere a man" of twenty-three then performed military services in the West of England, under those early chiefs of the Parliament who had not proceeded against the King vigorously enough to please Dryden, when he sung the praises of Cromwell before the Restoration. See stanza ii of the poem on Oliver Cromwell
Shaftesbury, then Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper, was appointed a member of the Council of
Groaned, sighed, and prayed, while godliness was gain,
State after the dissolution of the Barebone's parliament in July 1653. and he continued to sit as member of this Council until December 1654, when he ceased to attend ; and after this he was estranged from Cromwell, why is not known. The salary of each member of this Council was 1000l. a year, but a paper printed in Thurloe's State Papers (it. 581) shows that Cooper never received any salary. A statement made by Shaftesbury himself after the Restoration, that he might freely speak because he never received any salary" (Parl. Hist. iv. 63. is thus by accident effectually confirmed. There is no authority, and probably no foundation, for the charge of bartering
Nor is there any truth in the imputation of his identifying himself with the “saints," because he was a member of the Barebone's parliament. He was an active member of a numerous moderate party in that assembly, which included Lord Lisle, Algernon Sydney's elder brother, afterwards earl of Leicester and a friend of Dryden; Edward Montagu, afterwards earl of Sandwich: Charles Howard, afterwards earl of Carlisle ; Rouse, the provost of Eton ; Sir Charles Wolseley, and several officers of the army: and this party ultimately prevailed over the fanatics. Bishop Burnet says of Shaftesbury that he was of great use to Cromwell “in withstanding the enthusiasts of that time" (Own Time, i. 165). The insinuation that Shaftesbury's licentiousness was the cause of his separation from the saints is also without authority, and the charge of licentiousness itself, as applied to Shaftesbury at that early period of his life. is probably without foundation ; while, as regards his later years, it may be safely said that the same accusation, grossly made by many revilers, one copying another, was a great exaggeration.
* See note on line 175 of "Absalom and Achitophel" for Dryden's former laudations of the policy here denounced, and of Lord Clifford, one of its chief promoters.
From hence those tears, that Ilium of our woe :
Forsaken of that hope;" a Gallicism. So in "Absalom and Achitophel," 568, in the de. scription of Buckingham :
“He left not faction, but of that was left.” + An Alexandrine of seven feet; Alexandrines of six feet are to be found in lines 90, 166, 262, and 305, and there is one in “ Absalom and Achitophel," line 851. This long Alexandrine of seven feet has been ridiculed by some of Dryden's detractors; but ridicule in this instance is not reason,
Who, to destroy the seeds of civil war,
The man who laughed but once, to see an ass
* This substantive, brate, taken from the French, a favourite word with Dryden, has not survived in our language; it has been superseded by bravo. “The people's brave, the politician's tool."
Absalom and Achitophel, 367. It occurs frequently in Dryden's plays : “Morat's too insolent, too much a brave."
Aurengzebe, act 1, sc. 1. + This refers to Marcus Licinius Crassus (grandson of the wealthy Crassus who acquired the name of Dives, and grandfather of the celebrated Triumvir, who was called Agelastus, because he never laughed (Plin. Hist. Nat. vii. 19). Cicero de Finibus, v. 30 says that he laughed once in his life, but does not mention the cause of his one laugh. Tertullian, in his Treatise on the Soul, says that Crassus died from a fit of laughter, and later writers give as the cause of his laughter that mentioned by Dryden.
Both forms chaw and chew occur in the early editions of Dryden's works. This rhyme occurs again in Drvden's Translation of the Seventh Eclogue of Virgil, 60 :
“Deformed like him who chaws Sardinian herbage to contract his jaws."