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Mean time while just encouragement you want, *
Else should we see your noble pencil trace
More cannot be by mortal art exprest;
TO MR. GRANVILLE,
ON HIS EXCELLENT TRAGEDY, CALLED HEROIC LOVE.
AUSPICIOUS poet, wert thou not my friend,
* Lines 164, 165, omitted in Tonson's folio and in subsequent editions.
George Granville, afterwards a Secretary of State, and created Lord Lansdowne by Queen Anne in 1711, when twelve peers were created to secure a majority for the Ministry in the House of Lords. Granville's play of “Heroic Love, or the Cruel Separation," which gave occasion to this complimentary poem of Dryden, was produced on the stage in 1698, and was recei much applause, Pope in one of his earliest poems couples him with Waller, who was his model. “Waller's strains or Granville's moving lays."
Pastorals, Spring, 46. Dryden had already once bequeathed his laurels to Congrevę. See the poem to Congreve.
Sharp to the world, but thoughtless of renown,
TO MY FRIEND MR. MOTTEUX, ||
* This is an attack on the players of Drury Lane, whose performances Dryden designates as "crab-vintage," as he explains in a note of his own. The accusation of "murdering plays, which they miscall reviving." refers to a revival of Dryden's “Almanzor” at Drury Lane, which had displeased him. This attack on the Drury Lane company provoked a retort from one of them, George Powel, in a Preface to a tragedy called "The Fatal Discovery, or Love in Ruins," 4to. 1698. After a slap at “ Almanzor," Powel says: “I confess he is a little severe, when he will allow our best performance to bear no better fruit than a crab vintage. Indeed, if we young actors spoke but half as sourly as his old gall scribbles, we should be crab all over.
+ Killed by Procne, his mother. (Ovid, Metam. vi. 620.)
1 “Mr. Betterton's company in Lincoln's Inn Fields." There had been a separation of the actors into two companies is
$ “Drury Lane Play-house.
li Peter Anthony Motteux was a French Huguenot who came over to England on the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and became a book seller and merchant in London, and had also a place in the Post Office. He translated “Don Quixote" into English; he also was editor of the "Gentleman's Journal." His knowledge of the English language was fully equal to Dryden's praise in this poem. Motteux's tragedy. "Beauty in Distress," was published in June 1608. with this complimentary poem prefixed. Jeremy Collier's attack on “the immorality and profaneness of the English stage," in which Dryden was severely handled, had appeared in the previous March : Dryden retaliates in this poem, and excuses himself for his attacks on the clergy. In his Epilogue to "The Pilgrim," written very shortly before his death, Dryden defended himseli against Collier : but it must be admitted that his self-defence is not complete or satisfactory.
Were they content to prune the lavish vine
So great a poet and so good a friend.
+ Corneille, a word of three syllables, as pronounced in French. Some modern editors have wrongly printed it Corneille. Even is to be pronounced as one syllable ev'n.
TO MY HONOURED KINSMAN, JOAN DRIDEN, *
OF CHESTERTON, IN THE COUNTY OF HUNTINGDON, ESQ.
How blessed is he who leads a country life,
Just, good, and wise, contending neighbours come
* The spe!ling Driden has always been preserved for the poet's cousin, to whom this poem is addressed. It has been seen that Dryden often spelt his own name with an i: this spelling occurs in one of Tonson's title-pages as late as 1688. The spelling of names at that time was very uncertain. The difference of spelling is convenient, to distinguish the two Johns. This John Driden was the poet's first cousin, being the second son of Sir hn Dryden, the elder brother of the poet's father Erasmus. He was a man of wealth, having inherited from his mother the property on which he resided, Chesterton, near Stilton, in Huntingdonshire. He was member for the county, and was an independent member of Parliament. This poem was written in 1600 and published in the “Fables" in the beginning of the next year. We know by letters of Dryden that he bestowed great care on the finishing of this poem, and was very proud of it. He writes to his cousin, Mrs. Steward, November 7, 1699: “The Earl of Dorset and your cousin Montague have both seen the two poems, to the Duchess of Ormond, and my worthy cousin Driden, and are of opinion that I never writ better. My other friends are divided in their judgments, which to prefer ; but the greater part are for those to my dear kinsman, which I have corrected with so much care, that they will now be worthy of his sight, and do neither of us any dishonour after our death." In a letter written to the same lady, after the publication of the volume, April 11, 1700. he says: “I always thought my verses to my cousin Driden were the best of the whole, and, to my comfort, the town thinks them so; and he, which pleases me most, is of the same judgment, as appears by a noble present he has sent me, which surprised me, because I did not in the least expect it." The present is said to have been sool. Dryden's intimacy with his cousin appears to have grown up towards the close of his life : his established fame probably excited his cousin's pride, and there was now political sympathy. The member for Huntingdonshire was in opposition to King William's ministry. Dryden was now hoping for something from the favour of Montague, who was the First Commissioner of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he wrote to Montague, October 1699, sending him this poem before publication, and deprecating offence at his political sentiments. Some lines reflecting on the Dutch valour in the war lately terminated he had omitted, he says, by the advice of his cousin, who thought them disrespectful to King William. “My cousin Driden saw them in the country, and the greatest exception he made to them was a satire against the Dutch valour in the last war. He desired me to omit it (to use his own words) 'out of the respect he had to his sovereign.' I obeyed his commands, and left only the praises which I think are due to the gallantry of my own countrymen. In the description which I have made of a Parliament-man, I think I have not only drawn the features of my worthy kinsman, but have also given my own opinion of what an Englishman in Parliament ought to be ; and deliver it as a memorial of my own principles to all posterity. I have consulted the judgment of my unbiassed friends, who have some of them the honour to be known to you: and they think there is nothing which can justly give offence in that part of the poem. I say not this to cast a blind on free judgment (which I could not do, if I endeavoured it), but to assure you that nothing relating to the public shall stand without your permission; for it were to want common sense to desire your patronage, and resolve to disoblige you."
Such are not your decrees; but so designed,
Promoting concord and composing strife,
How could he stand, when, put to double pain,
Not that my verse would blemish all the fair ;
No porter guards the passage of your door,
So may your stores and fruitful fields increase,
With crowds attended of your ancient race,
* Mr. Driden, to whom this poem is addressed, was second son of Sir John Dryden, and inherited from his mother, daughter of Sir Robert Bevile.
+ Champian, an old English spelling of the word, formed from the French campagne. The same spelling occurs in a passage in Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night,” in the first two folios. “Daylight and champian discovers not" (act 2, scene 5). Another old spelling is champion. See Halliwell's “ Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words."
1 Compare “industrious of the needle and the chart” (The Hind and the Panther, part 2, line szi).