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Or is it Fortune's work, that in your head
The curious net that is for fancies spread *
Lets through its meshes every meaner thought,
While rich ideas there are only caught ?
Sure that's not all; this is a piece too fair
To be the child of chance, and not of care.
No atoms casually together hurled
Could e'er produce so beautiful a world ;
Nor dare I such a doctrine here admit
As would destroy the providence of wit.
'Tis your strong genius then, which does not feel
Those weights would make a weaker spirit reel.
To carry weight, and run so lightly too,
Is what alone your Pegasus can do.
Great Hercules himself could ne'er do more
Than not to feel those heavens and gods he bore.
Your easier Odes, which for delight were penned,
Yet our instruction make their second end;
We're both enriched and pleased, like them that woo
At once a beauty and a fortune too.
Of moral knowledge Poesy was queen,
And still she might, had wanton wits not been,
Who, like ill guardians, lived themselves at large,
And, not content with that, debauched their charge.
Like some brave captain, your successful pen
Restores the exiled to her crown again,
And gives us hope, that having seen the days
When nothing flourished but fanatic bays,
All will at length in this opinion rest,
A sober Prince's government is best.
This is not all; your art the way has found
To make improvement of the richest ground,
That soil which those immortal laurels bore
That once the sacred Maro's temples wore. +
Elisa's I griefs are so expressed by you,
They are too eloquent to have been true.
Had she so spoke, Æneas had obeyed
What Dido rather than what Jove had said.
If funeral rites can give a ghost repose,
Your use so justly has discharged those,
Elisa's shade may now its wandering cease
And claim a title to the fields of peace.
But if Æneas be obliged, no less
Your kindness great Achilles doth confess,
* “Rete Mirabile," is Dryden's note on the "curious net” of this line. Rete mirabile is the name given to the network of blood vessels at the base of the brain of quadrupeds (Hooper's Medical Dictionary). Derrick has a note, which some succeeding editors have copied, explaining that this line is "a compliment to a poem of Sir Robert's, entitled Rete Mirabile.” But there is no such poem of Sir Robert's.
+ Referring to the translation of the Fourth Book of the Æneid, “Of the Loves of Dido and Æneas," in Sir R. Howard's volume.
Elisa, another name of Dido.
Who, dressed by Statius in too bold a look, *
Did ill become those virgin robes he took.
To understand how much we owe to you,
We must your numbers with your author's view :
Then we shall see his work was lamely rough,
Each figure stiff, as if designed in buff :
His colours laid so thick on every place
As only showed the paint, but hid the face.
But, as in perspective t we beauties see,
Which in the glass, not in the picture, be, I
• So here our sight obligingly mistakes
That wealth, which his your bounty only makes.
Thus vulgar dishes are by cooks disguised,
More for their dressing than their substance prized.
Your curious Notes $ so search into that age,
When all was fable but the sacred page,
That, since in that dark night we needs must stray,
We are at least misled in pleasant way.
But what we most admire, your verse no less
The prophet than the poet doth confess.
Ere our weak eyes discerned the doubtful streak
Of light, you saw great Charles his morning break.
So skilful seamen ken the land from far,
Which shows like mists to the dull passenger.
To Charles your Muse first pays her dutious love,
As still the ancients did begin from Jove;
With Monk you end, whose name preserved shall be, ll
As Rome recorded Rusus' memory,
* The translation of the “ Achilleis" of Statius.
+ The accent is on the first syllable of perspective. See the Address to Sir Godfrey Kneller, 37, 39, and Elegy on Mrs. Killigrew, 115.
I The use of be for are which occurs twice in this poem (see line 2a) is severely censured by Dryden in Ben Jonson in the part of his “Defence of the Epilogue to the Conquest of Granada, where he enumerates several of Ben Jonson's faults of grammar.
" When we, whose wishes conquered thee,
Thus by thy vices ruined be," is a couplet in Ben Jonson's "Catiline." Dryden says, “ Be there is false English for are, though the rhyme hides it." See also line 21 of Poem to Hóddesdon.
“Annotations on Statius." i Sir R. Howard's volume of poems begins with a Panegyric on Charles and ends with one on Monk.
"Hic situs est Rufus, pulso qui Vindice ndam
Imperium asseruit non sibi sed patriæ This epitaph, composed by Virginius Rufus for himself, is preserved in Pliny's Letters (vi, 1o, and ix, 19). Rufus was Governor of Germany in the last year of Nero's reign A.D. 68), when Julius Vindex, proprætor of Gaul, revolted from Nero and offered the emperorship to Galba, then in Spain. Rufus was urged by his own soldiers to try to make himself emperor: he refused, and he marched against Vindex and defeated him. Then his soldiers again urged him to make himself emperor: again he refused. When Nero perished, Galba was recognised emperor by the Senate. Rufus accompanied Galba to Rome. Galba soon perished, and was succeeded by Otho, who soon committed suicide. Then again Rufus was entreated and urged by his soldiers to make himself emperor; and on his refusing again, they threatened him, and their love so turned to hate that when he was accused of taking part in a conspiracy against Vitellius, they flocked to the Emperor to demand the death of Rufus. At the age of 83 he was made Consul for the second time by the Emperor Nerva, A.D. 97. He had been Consul for the first time, thirty-four years before, with Caius Memmius,
Who thought it greater honour to obey
His country's interest than the world to sway.
But to write worthy things of worthy men
Is the peculiar talent of your pen.
Yet let me take your mantle up, and I
Will venture in your right to prophesy :
This work, by merit first of fame secure,
Is likewise happy in its geniture ;
For, since 'tis boru when Charles ascends the throne,
It shares at once his fortune and its own,
TO MY HONOURED FRIEND DR. CHARLETON,
ON HIS LEARNED AND USEFUL WORKS, AND MORE PARTICULARLY THIS OF STONEHENGE, BY HIM RESTORED TO THE TRUE FOUNDERS. *
The longest tyranny that ever swayed
Was that wherein our ancestors betrayed
Their free-born reason to the Stagirite,
And made his torch their universal light.
So truth, while only one supplied the state,
Grew scarce and dear, and yet sophisticate ;
Until 'twas t bought, like empiric wares or charms,
Hard words sealed up with Aristotle's arms.
Columbus was the first that shook his throne,
And found a temperate in a torrid zone,
The feverish air fanned by a cooling breeze,
The fruitful vales set round with shady trees,
And guiltless men, that danced away their time,
Fresh as their groves and happy as their clime.
Had we still paid that homage to a name
Which only God and Nature justly claim,
The western seas had been our utmost bound,
Where poets still might dream the sun was drowned,
And all the stars, that shine in southern skies,
Ilad been admired by none but savage eyes.
* This poem is prefixed to a work in which Dr. Charleton endeavoured to prove that Stonehenge was a work of the Danes, in opposition to Inigo Jones, who assigned its origin to the Romans. Charleton's work, which bears the date 1663 on the title-page, was probably published in the end of 1662. The dedication to the King bears date April 27, 1662, and it was licensed September 21, 1662. Its full title is "Chorea Gigantum, or the most famous antiquity of Great Britain, Stonehenge, standing on Salisbury Plain, restored to the Danes, by Walter Charleton, M.D. and Physician in Ordinary to his Majesty." Charleton was born in 1619: he had been physician to Charles I.: he was a man of science, and author of several works; he died in 1707. Dryden's poem is here printed as it originally appeared in Dr. Charleton's work, 1663. The poem was republished in 1704, after Dryden's death, in the Fifth Part of the "Miscellany Poems," with some variations, most of which are not improvements, but which have been generally followed by subsequent editors. The poem is signed “ John Driden.”
Until t'was in original edition changed into till it was in “Miscellany Poems," and by Derrick, followed by Scott, into still it was; which spoils the sense,
Among the asserters of free reason's claim,
The English are* not the least in worth or fame.
The world to Bacon does not only owe
Its present knowledge, but its future too.
Gilbert shall live, + till loadstones cease to draw
Or British feets the boundless ocean awe,
And noble Boyle, I not less in nature seen,
Than his great brother, read in states and men.
The circling streams, once thought but pools, of blood
(Whether life's fuel or the body's food),
From dark oblivion Harvey's names shall save ;
While Ent || keeps all the honour that he gave.
Nor are you, learned friend, the least renowned ;
Whose fame, not circumscribed with English ground,
Flies like the nimble journeys of the light,
And is, like that, unspent too in its flight.
Whatever truths have been by art or chance
Redeemed from error or from ignorance,
Thin in their authors, like rich veins in ore,
Your works unite, and still discover more.
Such is the healing virtue of your pen
To perfect cures on books as well as men.
Nor is this work the least : you well may give
To men new vigour, who make stones to live.
Through you the Danes, their short dominion lost,
A longer conquest than the Saxons boast.
Stonehenge, once thought a temple, you have found
A throne where kings, our earthly gods, were crowned ;
Where by their wondering subjects they were seen,
Joyed with their stature and their princely mien.
Our Sovereign here above the rest might stand,
And here be chose again to sway the land.
These ruins sheltered once his sacred head,
Then when from Worcester's fatal field he fled ; **
Watched by the genius of this royal place,
And mighty visions of the Danish race,
His refuge then was for a temple shown :
But, he restored, 'tis now become a throne. * Th English are of the original edition replaced in the “Miscellany Poems" by "Our nation's." This change is an improvement; but it is not necessary, and there is no proof that Dryden authorized the changes in this piece which appeared when Tonson reprinted it after his death.
Dr. William Gilbert, chief physician to Queen Elizabeth and James I. He was author of a treatise on the magnet, and inventor of an instrument for calculating the latitude.
Robert Boyle, the famous natural philosopher, son of the Earl of Cork. “His great brother, read in states and men," was Roger, Earl of Orrery, known as Lord Broghill before the Restoration. Dryden dedicated to Lord Orrery his play of “The Rival Ladies," published in 1664, in a similar strain of high panegyric. Lord Orrery was a poet as well as a politician.
Dr. William Harvey, the discoverer of the circulation of the blood. 11 Dr. George Ent, an eminent physician, knighted by Charles II. He was an intimate friend of Harvey, and edited Harvey's last work, entitled "Exercitatio de Generatione Animalium," published in 1651. He also wrote a defence of Harvey's theory of circulation.
Scott states that the first edition contains the words chose by instead of joyed with: but the statement appears to be a mistake. ** Thie line was changed, when reprinted in the "Miscellany Poems," into
" When he from Worcester's fatal battle fled."
As seamen, shipwracked on some happy shore,
Discover wealth in lands unknown before,
And what their art had laboured long in vain
By their misfortunes happily obtain,
So my much-envied Muse, by storms long tost,
Is thrown upon your hospitable coast,
And finds more favour by her ill success
Than she could hope for by her happiness.
Once Cato's virtue did the gods oppose,
While they the victor,+ he the vanquished chose :
But you have done what Cato could not do,
To choose the vanquished and restore him too.
Let others still triumph and gain their cause,
By their deserts or by the world's applause ;
Let merit crowns, and justice laurels give,
But let me happy by your pity live.
True poets empty fame and praise despise ;
Fame is the trumpet, but your smile the prize.
You sit above, and see vain men below
Contend for what you only can bestow;
But those great actions others do by chance,
Are, like your beauty, your inheritance :
So great a soul, such sweetness joined in one,
Could only spring from noble Grandison.
You, like the stars, not by reflection bright,
Are born to your own heaven, and your own light;
Like them are good, but from a nobler cause,
From your own knowledge, not from Nature's laws.
Your power you never use but for defence,
To guard your own or others' innocence :
* Lady Castlemaine was daughter of Viscount Grandison. She married Roger Palmer, Esq. who was created by Charles II. Earl of Castlemaine. She became Charles II.'s mistress immediately after the Restoration, and maintained for a long time favour and power. She was ultimately made Duchess of Cleveland. Dryden's first play, "The Wild Gallant," produced in the beginning of 1663, was not successful on the stage : but it pleased the King, as Dryden inforins us in his Preface on the publication of the play, and his Majesty may have been influenced by his mistress, Lady Castlemaine, who, it appears from this poem, consoled Dryden in his failure by her encouragement. In a "Session of the Poets,” in imitation of Suckling's poem, printed in the State Poems (vol i. p. 206), Dryden is named with this poem :
“ Dryden, who one would have thought had more wit,
The censure of every man did disdain,
Pleading some pitiful rhymes he had writ
In praise of the Countess of Castlemaine."
This poem was reprinted by Dryden in his third volume of “ Miscellany Poems,” 1693.
“Victrix causa Deis placuit, sed victa Catoni."
OviD, Fast. i. 525.