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MAC FLECKNOE;

or,

A SATIRE ON THE TRUE BLUE PROTESTANT POET,

T. S.

INTRODUCTORY NOTE.

Among the answers to The Medalwas one by Thomas Shadwell, the dra. matist, who published a most savage poem against Dryden, called The Medal of

John Bayes.” Shadwell and Dryden had been friends; in 1678 Dryden had written the Epilogue for Shadwell's play, A True IVidow." But the fury of political opposition now produced the bitterest enmity. Shadwell was a strong Whig or True Blue. Severe as is the following satire on Shadwell, it is not too severe for. the provocation of Shadwell's most rancorous and scurrilous attack. Flecknoe, who gives the name to this poem, and of whom Shadwell is treated as the son and heir, was a dull poet, who had always laid himself open to ridicule. It is not known if he had ever given Dryden offence; but it is certain that his Epigrams,published in 1670, contain some lines addressed to Dryden of a most complimentary character, beginning :

Dryden, the Muses' darling and delight,

Than whom none ever flew so high a height."

Richard Flecknoe was an Irish man by birth; he had died in 1678. The plan of this poem required a dead author, and Flæknoe suited the purpose.

The Medalhad been published in March 1682. Mac Flecknoewas published in October of the same year. It was published anonymously, and not by. Tonson, but by a bookseller named Gruen; but the title-page, like that of The Medal," bore that it was by the author of Absalom and Achitophel.Shadwell has said in the Preface to his Translation of the Tenth Satire of Juvenal, published in 1687, that Dryden, being taxed by him with the anthorship, had denied it. Dryden may have felt himself entitled to deny when questioned by Shadwell, whose own 'attack had deprived him of all right of complaint and all claim to courtesy. But Dryden's authorship could not be, and of course was not, a secret. He spoke of the poem as his own in his Essay on Satirepublished in 1692; and Mac Flecknoeis printed at the beginning of the volume of Miscellanies edited by Dryden in 1684. The publication in this volume was the second edition of the poem ; a third edition, a reprint of that of 1684, appeared in 1692. The first edition contained many misprints : these were corrected, and a few changes introduced, in the second edition of 1684, published in the Miscellany Poems.The text, as altered in 1684, is Dryden's authorized text.

lub. Oct. 1682 MAC FLECKNOE.

All human things are subject to decay
And, when Fate summons, monarchs must obey. I
This Flecknoe found, who, like Augustus, young
Was called to empire and had governed long,
In prose and verse was owned without dispute
Through all the realms of Nonsense absolute. *
This aged prince, now flourishing in peace
And blest with issue of a large increase,
Worn out with business, did at length debate
To settle the succession of the state ;
And pondering which of all his sons was fit
To reign and wage immortal war with wit,
Cried, “ 'Tis resolved, for Nature pleads that he
“ Should only rule who most resembles mer
“Shadwell alone my perfect image bears, +
“Mature in dulness from his tender years ;

• Flecknoe died in 1678: the first of his many publications was in 1626. “Hierothalamium, or the Heavenly Nuptials of our blessed Saviour with a pious Soul." He was a Roman Catholic

ped that character after the Restoration of Charles II. Andrew Marvel, in his younger days, fell in with him at Rome, and has written a ludicrous poem upon him, entitled ** Flecknoe, an English priest at Rome." Marvel must have seen him at Rome some time between 1642 and 1645. He describes him as a poet and musician, ever reciting his poetry, and, when the hearer was tired, turning to his lute. He gives a grotesque description of his lank person :

“ This basso-relievo of a man

Who, as a camel tall, yet easily can
The needle's eye thread without any stitch;

His only impossible is to be rich."
And then he describes him as stuffing out his thin figure with his many rhymes :

“ Lest his too noble body, growing rare,

Should leave his soul to wander in the air,
He therefore circumscribes himself in rhymes,
And, swaddled in his own papers seven times,
Wears a close jacket of poetic buff,
With which he does his third dimension stuff."

Flecknoe must have died at a very advanced age in 1678. for Marvel speaks of him as an old man, and the time of their meeting at Rome could not have been later than 1644. Marvel in that year was twenty-four.

+ Thomas Shadwell, born 1640, died 1692, a writer of comedies, coarse and witty. His plays were generally in prose : the few exceptions, “ Psyche," which is in rhyme, and “The Royal Shepherdess," and Timon," which are in blank verse, do not place him high as a poet. But he was a man of wit ; and Rochester, who could judge, said of him, that "if he had burnt all he wrote, 3 and printed all he spoke, he would have had more wit and humour than any other poet." Dryden and Shadwell, now furious foes, had written together in 1674, in conjunction with Crowne, a very spiteful criticism on "The Empress of Morocco" by Settle. Shadwell and Settle were now both antagonists of Dryden: and they are pilloried together by Dryden as Og and Docg in the

“Shadwell alone of all my sons is he
“Who stands confirmed in full stupidity.
“ The rest to some faint meaning make pretence,
“ But Shadwell never deviates into sense.
“ Some beams of wit on other souls may fall,
“ Strike through and make a lucid interval ;
p. But Shadwell's genuine night admits no ray,
k His rising fogs prevail upon the day.
“Besides, his goodly fabric fills the eye
“ And seems designed for thoughtless majesty,*
“Thoughtless as monarch oaks that shade the plain
“ And, spread in solemn state, supinely reign.
“Heywood and Shirleyf were but types of thee,
“ Thou last great prophet of tautology. I
Even I, a dunce of inore renown than they,
“ Was sent before but to prepare thy way,
“And coarsely clad in Norwich drugget I came
“To teach the nations in thy greater name.
“My warbling lute, the lute I whilom strung,
“When to King John of Portugal I sung, $•
“Was but the prelude to that glorious day,
“When thou on silver Thames didst cut thy way,
“With well-timed oars before the royal barge,
“Swelled with the pride of thy celestial charge,
And, big with hymn, commander of an host;
The like was ne'er in Epsom blankets tost. ||
“Methinks I see the new Arion sail,
“The lute still trembling underneath thy nail.

fines which he supplied to Tate's Second Part of " Absalom and Achitophel." After the Revolution, King William took away from Dryden the offices.of Poet Laureat and Historiographer Royal, and gave them to Shadwell.

* Shadwell was as large as Flecknoe had been thin. Shadwell's size is again alluded to illnaturedly near the end of the poem, lines 193-6, and still moi

den's lines in the Second Part of “ Absalom and Achitophel."

+ Thomas Heywood, a very prolific play-writer who flourished in the early part of the seventeenth century, and also an actor. He had, according to his own account," either an entire hand or a main finger" in two hundred and twenty plays (Langbaine's Dramatic Poets, p 257). James Shirley, another voluminous dramatic author of the same period, superior to Heywood, and judged by competent modern critics to have been unjustly treated by Dryden in this contemptuous mention. Indeed his contemporaries placed him next to Fletcher, and very near him (Langbaine, Pp. 474, 485). Shirley died in 1666, from fatigue and anxiety during the Fire of London.

I Curiously enough, there is a friendly account of Dryden, cominunicated to the "Gentleman's Magazine" in 1745, more than forty years after Dryden's death, by one who had known him, and who remembered him in the early part of his career of authorship, describing him as dressed in Norwich drugget in his early London life. “I remember plain John Dryden, before he paid his court with success to the great, in one uniform clothing of Norwich drugget." Shadwell came from Norfolk, and that may have been in Dryden's mind.

$ Flecknoe had lived some time at Lisbon, and had been kindly treated by K ing John. From Lisbon he made a voyage to Brazil, leaving Lisbon apparently in 1646, and returning there in 1649 or 1650. Having asked King John for his permission, which was necessary, for visiting Brazil, he received not only permission, but also a present of two hundred crowns to help to pay his expenses. This is stated in Flecknoe's "Travels of Ten Years in Europe, Asia, Afrique, and America." In his dedication of his "Moral Epigrams" to the Queen of England, in 1670, he mentions his great obligations to her father, King John of Portugal.

# A reference to Shadwell's play called “Epsom Wells," and to a phrase suitable enough in a comedy, which occurs in another of his plays, “The Sullen Lovers : " " Such a fellow as he deserves to be tossed in a blanket.”

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“At thy well-sharpened thumb from shore to shore
“ The treble squeaks for fear, the basses roar ; *
"Echoes from Pissing-alley Shadwell call,
"And Shadwell they resound from Aston-hall.
“About thy boat the little fishes throng,
“As at the morning toast that floats along. +
“Sometimes, as pripe of thy harmonious band,
“Thou wieldst thy papers in thy threshing hand.
“St. Andre feet ne'er kept more equal time,
“Not even the feet of thy own 'Psyche's's rhyme:
“Though they in number as in sense excel,
“So just, so like tautology, they fell
“That, pale with envy, Singleton forswore
“ The lute and sword which he in triumph bore,
“And vowed he ne'er would act Villerius more."||
Here stopped the good old sire and wept for joy,
In silent raptures of the hopeful boy.
(All arguments, but most his plays, persuade
That for anointed dulness he was made.

Close to the walls which fair Augusta bind,
(The fair Augusta much to fears inclined,) .
An ancient fabric raised to inform the sight
There stood of yore, and Barbican it hight;
A watch-tower once, but now, so fate ordains,
Of all the pile an empty name remains ;
From its old ruins brothel-houses rise,
Scenes of lewd loves and of polluted joys,
Where their vast courts the mother-strumpets keep,
And, undisturbed by watch, in silence sleep. **

* Shadwell was a musician as well as poet. In the Preface to his opera of " Psyche" he says that he guided the composing of the music for the songs, and claims to be allowed to have some knowledge of music, as he says that he had been bred to it during many years of his youth. + This line was substituted in the second edition for the following, which is in the first :

"And gently waft thee over all along.". 1 St. André was a celebrated French dancing-master. He is similarly alluded to by Dryden in the " Kind Keeper," act 3, sc. 1. "St. André never moved with such a grace."

OLDHAM, Imitation of Horace. $ “Psyche" was an opera in rhyme by Shadwell, produced in 1674.

Singleton was a singer of the time. Villerius, Grand Master of the Knights of Malta, was a principal character in Davenant's opera of “The Siege of Rhodes," where there is a long lyrical dialogue between Villerius and Solyman, the two opposed generals, which had been ridiculed in ** The Rehearsal" as a combination of “lute and sword;" and Dryden here does not disdain to follow in the wake of his adversary.

SA political reference to the fears of the King and Popery which prevailed in the city of London, ** A parody of two lines near the opening of the First Book of Cowley's "Davideis:"

“Where their vast court the mother-waters keep

And, undisturbed by moons, in silence sleep."
And the lines 76-7 are fashioned after another couplet of the same passage of the "Davideis :"

"Bencath the dens where unfletcht tempests lie,

And infant winds their tender voices try.'

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