Project Gutenberg's The Works of John Dryden, Vol. 9 (of 18), by John Dryden

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most
other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions
whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of
the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at  If you are not located in the United States, you'll have
to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this ebook.

Title: The Works of John Dryden, Vol. 9 (of 18)

Author: John Dryden

Editor: Walter Scott

Release Date: June 16, 2015 [EBook #49221]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Jane Robins and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at

















Poems, Historical and Political.
Heroic Stanzas to the Memory of Oliver Cromwell,3
Astrea Redux,25
To his Sacred Majesty, a Panegyric on his Coronation,53
To Lord Chancellor Hyde, presented on New-year's-day, 1662,63
Satire on the Dutch,71
To her Royal Highness the Duchess of York, on the
Victory gained by the Duke over the Dutch, &c.73
Annus Mirabilis, the Year of Wonders, 1666, an Historical Poem,81
Dedication to the Metropolis of Great Britain,89
An Account of Annus Mirabilis, in a Letter
to the Hon. Sir Robert Howard,92
Absalom and Achitophel, Part I.195[ii]
To the Reader,208
Notes on Part I.249
Part II.319
Notes on Part II.354
The Medal, a Satire against Sedition,407
Epistle to the Whigs,417





These verses compose the earliest of our author's political poems, and are among the first which he wrote, of any length or consequence. The first edition is now before me, by the favour of my friend Richard Heber, Esq.; and, while correcting this sheet, I received another copy from Mr Finlay, author of the "Vale of Ellerslie." It is of the last degree of rarity, since it has escaped the researches even of Mr Malone. The full title is, "A Poem upon the Death of his late Highness Oliver, Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland; written by Mr Dryden. London, printed for William Wilson, and are to be sold in Well-Yard, near Little St Bartholomew's Hospital, 1659," 4to. Upon comparing this rare edition with those of a later date, no material alterations occur, excepting that the spelling is modernized, and the title abridged.

Some of our author's biographers have deemed it necessary to apologise for his chusing this subject, by referring to his near connection with Sir Gilbert Pickering, the friend and confident of the deceased usurper. There is, however, little reason to suppose, that Dryden did any violence to his own inclinations, to gratify the political feelings of his kinsman and patron. He had been bred in anti-monarchical principles, and did not probably change, till the nation changed with him. The character of Cromwell was in itself an inviting theme to so true a poet. The man, of whom Clarendon said, that "even his enemies could not condemn him, without commending him at the same time," and of whose exploits Cowley has given so animating a detail; whom, in short, his very enemies could not mention without wonder, if they with-held applause,—afforded to those who favoured his politics many a point of view, in which the splendour of his character might hide its[4] blemishes.[1] It is remarkable, however, that, in handling this theme, Dryden has observed a singular and happy delicacy. The topic of the civil war is but slightly dwelt on; and, although Cromwell is extolled, his eulogist abstains from any reflections against those, through whom he cut his way to greatness. He considers the Protector when in his meridian height, but passes over the steps by which he attained that elevation. It is also remarkable, that although Sir Gilbert Pickering was one of Richard Cromwell's council, our author abstains from any compliment to that pageant of authority; when a panegyrick upon the son was a natural topic of consolation after mourning over the loss of his father. Sprat, upon the same occasion, did not omit this obvious topic, but[5] launched forth into prophecies, to which the event did very little credit.[2]

Notwithstanding these symptoms of caution and moderation, the subject of this first public essay of our author's poetical talents was repeatedly urged against him during the political controversies in which, through the reigns of Charles II. and his brother, he was constantly engaged. One offended antagonist carried his malice so far, as actually to reprint an edition of the Elegy, with a dull postscript, in which he makes Dryden acknowledge his alleged apostacy.[3]


Of the poetical merits of the Elegy, we have elsewhere spoken more fully. The manly and solemn march of the stanza gave promise of that acute poetical ear, which afterwards enabled Dryden to harmonize our verification. The ideas, though often far-fetched, and sometimes ambiguously expressed, indicate the strength and vigour of his mind. They give obvious tokens of a regeneration of taste; for though, in many instances, the conceits are very extravagant, yet they are, in general, much more moderate than those in the Elegy upon Lord Hastings, whose whole soul was rendered a celestial sphere, by the virtues which were stuck in it; and his body little less brilliantly ornamented by the pustules of small pox, which were first rose-buds, and then stars. The symptoms of emerging from the false taste and impertinent witticisms of Donne and Cowley, were probably more owing to our author's natural feeling of what were the proper attributes of poetry, than to any change in the taste of the age. Sprat, who also solemnizes the decease of Cromwell, runs absolutely riot in pindarics, and furnishes as excellent an instance of useless labour, and wit rendered ridiculous by misapplication, as can be found in Cowley himself. Cromwell's elevation is compared to the raising up of the brazen serpent, in the Pentateuch;[5] the classic metamorphosis of Ajax's blood into the hyacinth[6] furnishes a simile for the supposed revival of letters through the blood spilled by Cromwell; his sword is preferred to the flaming brand of the [7]cherub, because it had made a paradise, which the other only guarded; finally, the Protector's temper grew milder in the progress of his warfare, as his armour, being made of steel, grew smoother by use.[7] It must be allowed, that there are, in Dryden's poem, many, and greatly too many, epigrammatic turns; each is, however, briefly winded up in its own stanza; while the structure of Sprat's poem enabled him to hunt down his conceits through all the doubling and winding of his long pindaric strophé. Dryden, for example, says, that Cromwell strewed the island with victories,

Thick as the galaxy with stars is sown.

Sprat spins out nearly the same idea, in the following extraordinary manner:

Others' great actions are
But thinly scattered, here and there;
At best, but all one single star;
But thine the milky way;
All one continued light of undistinguished day.
They thronged so close, that nought else could be seen,
Scarce any common sky did come between.

By turning the reader's attention to this comparison betwixt the poems of Sprat and Dryden, I mean to shew, that our author was already weaning himself from that franticly witty stile of composition, which the most ingenious of his contemporaries continued to practise and admire; although he did not at once abandon it, but retrenched his quaint conceits before he finally discarded them.

The poem of Waller on Cromwell's death, excepting one unhappy and celebrated instance of the bathos,[8] is the best of his compositions; and, separately considered, must be allowed to be superior to that of Dryden, by whom he was soon after so far distanced in the poetical career.







And now 'tis time; for their officious haste,
Who would before have borne him to the sky,
Like eager Romans, ere all rites were past,
Did let too soon the sacred eagle fly.[9]
Though our best notes are treason to his fame,
Joined with the loud applause of public voice;
Since heaven, what praise we offer to his name,
Hath rendered too authentic by its choice.
Though in his praise no arts can liberal be,
Since they, whose muses have the highest flown,
Add not to his immortal memory,
But do an act of friendship to their own:
Yet 'tis our duty, and our interest too,
Such monuments as we can build to raise;
Lest all the world prevent what we should do,
And claim a title in him by their praise.
How shall I then begin, or where conclude,
To draw a fame so truly circular?
For in a round, what order can be shewed,
Where all the parts so equal perfect are?
His grandeur he derived from heaven alone;
For he was great, ere fortune made him so:
And wars, like mists that rise against the sun,
Made him but greater seem, not greater grow.
No borrowed bays his temples did adorn,
But to our crown he did fresh jewels bring;
Nor was his virtue poisoned soon as born,
With the too early thoughts of being king.
Fortune, (that easy mistress to the young,
But to her ancient servants coy and hard,)
Him at that age her favourites ranked among,
When she her best-loved Pompey did discard.[10]
He, private, marked the faults of others' sway,
And set as sea-marks for himself to shun;
Not like rash monarchs, who their youth betray
By acts their age too late would wish undone.
And yet dominion was not his design;
We owe that blessing, not to him, but heaven,
Which to fair acts unsought rewards did join;
Rewards, that less to him, than us, were given.
Our former chiefs, like sticklers of the war,
First sought to inflame the parties, then to poise:
The quarrel loved but did the cause abhor;
And did not strike to hurt, but make a noise.[11]
War, our consumption, was their gainful trade;
We inward bled whilst they prolonged our pain;
He fought to end our fighting, and essayed
To staunch the blood, by breathing of the vein.[12]
Swift and resistless through the land he past,
Like that bold Greek, who did the East subdue;
And made to battles such heroic haste,
As if on wings of victory he flew.
He fought, secure of fortune as of fame,
Till by new maps the island might be shewn;
Of conquests, which he strewed where'er he came,
Thick as the galaxy with stars is sown.[13]
His palms, though under weights they did not stand,
Still thrived;[14] no winter could his laurels fade:
Heaven, in his portrait, shewed a workman's hand,
And drew it perfect, yet without a shade.
Peace was the prize of all his toil and care,
Which war had banished, and did now restore:
Bolognia's walls thus mounted in the air,
To seat themselves more surely than before.[15]
Her safety rescued Ireland to him owes;[16]
And treacherous Scotland, to no interest true,
Yet blest that fate which did his arms dispose
Her land to civilize, as to subdue.[17]
Nor was he like those stars which only shine,
When to pale mariners they storms portend;
He had his calmer influence, and his mien
Did love and majesty together blend.
'Tis true, his countenance did imprint an awe,
And naturally all souls to his did bow;
As wands of divination downward draw,
And point to beds where sovereign gold doth grow.[18]
When past all offerings to Feretrian Jove,[19]
He Mars deposed, and arms to gowns made yield;
Successful councils did him soon approve,
As fit for close intrigues, as open field.
To suppliant Holland he vouchsafed a peace,
Our once bold rival of the British main;
Now tamely glad her unjust claim to cease,
And buy our friendship with her idol, gain.[20]
Fame of the asserted sea, through Europe blown,
Made France and Spain ambitious of his love;
Each knew that side must conquer he would own,
And for him fiercely, as for empire, strove.
No sooner was the Frenchman's cause embraced,
Than the light Monsieur the grave Don outweighed:[21]
His fortune turned the scale where'er 'twas cast,
Though Indian mines were in the other laid.
When absent, yet we conquered in his right;
For, though some meaner artist's skill were shown,
In mingling colours, or in placing light,
Yet still the fair designment was his own.
For, from all tempers he could service draw;
The worth of each, with its alloy, he knew;
And, as the confident of Nature, saw
How she complexions did divide and brew.[22]
Or he their single virtues did survey,
By intuition, in his own large breast;
Where all the rich ideas of them lay,
That were the rule and measure to the rest.
When such heroic virtue heaven sets out,
The stars, like commons, sullenly obey;
Because it drains them when it comes about,
And therefore is a tax they seldom pay.[23]
From this high spring our foreign conquests flow,
Which yet more glorious triumphs do portend;
Since their commencement to his arms they owe,
If springs as high as fountains may ascend.
He made us freemen of the continent,
Whom nature did like captives treat before;
To nobler preys the English lion sent,
And taught him first in Belgian walks to roar.[24]
That old unquestioned pirate of the land,
Proud Rome, with dread the fate of Dunkirk heard;
And, trembling, wished behind more Alps to stand,
Although an Alexander were her guard.[25]
By his command we boldly crossed the line.[26]
And bravely fought where southern stars arise;
We traced the far-fetched gold unto the mine,
And that, which bribed our fathers, made our prize.
Such was our prince; yet owned a soul above
The highest acts it could produce to show:
Thus, poor mechanic arts in public move,
Whilst the deep secrets beyond practice go.
Nor died he when his ebbing fame went less,
But when fresh laurels courted him to live:
He seemed but to prevent some new success,
As if above what triumphs earth could give.
His latest victories still thickest came,
As near the centre motion doth increase;
'Till he, pressed down by his own weighty name,
Did, like the vestal, under spoils decease.[27]
But first the ocean as a tribute sent
The giant prince of all her watry herd;
And the isle, when her protecting Genius went,
Upon his obsequies loud sighs conferred.[28]
No civil broils have since his death arose,
But faction now by habit does obey;
And wars have that respect for his repose,
As winds for halcyons when they breed at sea.
His ashes in a peaceful urn shall rest;[29]
His name a great example stands, to show,
How strangely high endeavours may be blessed,
Where piety and valour jointly go.



And now 'tis time; for their officious haste,
Who would before have borne him to the sky,
Like eager Romans, ere all rites were past,
Did let too soon the sacred eagle fly.—St. I. p. 8.

Cromwell's disease, a fever and tertian ague, was accompanied by fits of swooning, which occasioned, more than once, a premature report of his death. It was probably this circumstance, which made some of his fanatical chaplains doubt the fact, after it had actually taken place. "Say not he is dead," exclaimed one of them, like Omar over the corpse of Mahomet; "for, if ever the Lord heard my prayers, he has assured me of the life of the Protector." The two last lines of the stanza allude to the Roman custom of letting an eagle fly from the funeral pile of a deceased emperor, which represented his spirit soaring to the regions of bliss, or his guardian genius convoying it thither. It is described at length in the fourth book of Herodian, who says, that, after this ceremony of consecration, the deceased emperor was enrolled among the Roman deities.

Fortune, (that easy mistress to the young,
But to her ancient servants coy and hard,)
Him at that age her favourites ranked among,
When she her best-loved Pompey did discard.—St. VIII. p. 9.

Cromwell was upwards of forty before he made any remarkable figure; and Pompey, when he had attained the same period of life, was deserted by the good fortune which had accompanied his more early career.


Our former chiefs, like sticklers of the war,
First sought to inflame the parties, then to poise:
The quarrel loved, but did the cause abhor;
And did not strike to hurt, but make a noise.—St. XI. p. 10.

Essex, Manchester, Sir William Waller, and the earlier generals of the Parliament, were all of the Presbyterian party, who, though they had drawn the sword against the king, had no will to throw away the scabbard. They were disposed so to carry on the war, that, neither party being too much weakened, a sound and honourable peace might have been accomplished on equal terms. But the Independants flew at higher game; and, as the more violent party usually prevail during times of civil discord, they attained their object. Cromwell openly accused the Earl of Manchester of having refused to put an end to the war, after the last battle at Newbury, when a single charge upon the King's rear might have dissipated his army for ever. "I offered," he averred, "to perform the work with my own brigade of horse; let Manchester and the rest look on, if they thought fit: but he obstinately refused to permit the attempt, alleging, that, if the king's army was beaten, he would find another; but if that of the Parliament was overthrown, there would be an end of their cause, and they would be all punished as traitors." This suspicion of the compromising temper of the Presbyterian leaders, led to the famous self-denying ordinance, by which all members of both houses were declared incapable of holding a military command. By this new model, all the power of the army was thrown, nominally, into the hands of Fairfax, but, really and effectually, into that of Cromwell, who was formally excepted from the operation of the act, and of the Independants; men determined to push the war to extremity, and who at length triumphed over both King and Parliament.

He fought to end our fighting, and essayed
To staunch the blood, by breathing of the vein.—St. XII. p. 10.

This passage, which seems to imply nothing farther than that Cromwell conducted the war so as to push it to a conclusion, was afterwards invidiously interpreted by Dryden's enemies, as containing an explicit approbation of the execution of Charles I.

Thus, in the panegyric quoted in the introductory remarks to this poem,

Such wonders have thy powerful raptures shewn,
Pythagoras' transmigration thou'st outdone;
His souls of heroes and great chiefs expired,
Down into birds and noble beasts retired:
But then to savages and monsters dire,
Canst infuse sparks even of celestial fire;
Make treason glory, murderers heroes live,
And even to regicides canst godhead give.
Thus in thy songs the yet warm bloody dart,
Fresh reeking in a martyred monarch's heart,
Burnished by verse, and polished by thy lines,
The rubies in imperial crowns outshines;
Whilst in applause to that sad day's success,
So black a theme in so divine a dress,
Thy soaring flights Prometheus' thefts excel,
Whilst thou steal'st fire from heaven to enlighten hell.

The same accusation is urged in another libel, called "The Laureat:"

Nay, had our Charles, by Heaven's severe decree,
Been found, and murdered in the royal tree,
Even thou hadst praised the fact. His father slain,
Thou call'dst but gently breathing of a vein.
{  Impious and villainous, to bless the blow
{  That laid at once three lofty nations low,
{  And gave the royal cause a fatal overthrow!

Another witling, to add to the heinousness of this expression, assures us, that Dryden had at first declared for the king, then for the parliament, and, finally, for Cromwell:

I for the Royal Martyr first declared,
But, ere his head was off, I was prepared
To own the Rump, and for that cause did rhime;
But, those kicked out, next moment turned to him
Who routed them: called him my sovereign,
And praised his opening of the kingly vein.
Dialogue in Bedlam between Oliver's Porter, Fidler, and Poet.

These are examples of the inveteracy, with which Dryden's enemies were ready to wrest his expressions from the common interpretation into one more strong and unwarrantable. Dryden, sufficiently embarrassed by the praises he had bestowed on the Usurper, a charge from which he could not vindicate himself, took no notice of the uncandid lengths to which it was carried.

He fought, secure of fortune as of fame,
Till by new maps the island might be shewn;
Of conquests, which he strewed where'er he came,
Thick as the galaxy with stars is sown.—St. XIV. p. 10.


Notwithstanding the inconstancy of Victory during the civil war, she never deserted the banner of Cromwell. Even in undecided conflicts, the brigade, or wing, with which he fought, had always the superiority. The royalists never once saw him fly before them, during all the pitched battles in which he was engaged in England, Scotland, and Ireland.

His palms, though under weights they did not stand,—St. XV. p. 10.

It was anciently a popular notion, that the palm-tree throve best when pressed down with weights. An old scholiast defines it as "arbor nobilissima illa, quæ nulli cedit ponderi, sed contra assurgit et reluctatur."—Fabri Thesaurus ad verbum palma.

Bolognia's walls thus mounted in the air,
To seat themselves more surely than before.—St. XVI. p. 11.

This odd simile is borrowed from a very singular, and somewhat dubious event, said to have happened during the siege of Bologna in 1512. A mine had been run by the Spanish besieging army under a part of the wall, on which was built a chapel dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. Upon the explosion, the chapel and portion of the wall which formed its support were heaved into the air, so high, that (in spite of all the smoke and dust accompanying such an eruption) an elegant historian assures us, the besiegers could see, through the vacant space, the buildings of the town, and the defenders ready to man the breach. Nevertheless, the chapel and fragment of wall descended so exactly into the space they had formerly occupied, that the breach was completely and accurately repaired. The chapel acquired by this incident a great reputation for miraculous sanctity. The event is more fully narrated in the following passage of the original:

"Finita in ultimo la mina, e stando l'esercito armato per dare incontinente la battaglia, la quale perchè si desse con maggiori forze, era stata richiamata l'antiguardia, fece il Navarra dare il fuoco alla mina; la quale con grandissimo impeto, e romore gittò talmente in alto la cappella, che per quello spatio, che rimase tra'l terreno, e'l muro gittato in alto, fu da quelli, ch' erano fuora, veduta apertamente la città dentro, et i soldati che stavano preparati per difenderla; ma subito scendendo in giừ ritornò il muro intero nel luogo medesimo, onde la violentia del fuoco l'areva sbarrato, e si ricongiunse insieme, come se mai non fusse stato mosso: onde si non si potendo assaltare da quella parte, i capitani giudicurono non[19] si dovere dare solamente dall' altra. Attribuirono questo caso i Bolognesi a miracolo, riputando impossibile, che, senza l'ajutorio divino, fusse potuto riconguignersi cosi appunto ne' medesimi fondamenti; onde fu dipoi ampliata quella cappella, e frequentata con non piccola divotione del popolo." L'Istoria di Guicciardini, Libro Decimo.

Her safety rescued Ireland to him owes.—St. XVII. p. 11.

The gallant Ormond, who commanded for the king in Ireland, had reduced the island almost entirely under the royal authority, excepting the cities of Dublin and Londonderry, when the arrival of Cromwell, appointed lord governor by the parliament, entirely changed the scene. In less than ten months, that fated general over-ran the whole kingdom. Tredagh he took by storm; and such terror was struck into the minds of the Irish, by the bloody execution attending and following that assault, that almost all the other garrisons surrendered without resistance, or revolted to the parliament.

——Treacherous Scotland, to no interest true,
Yet blest that fate which did his arms dispose
Her land to civilize, as to subdue.—St. XVII. p. 11.

Cromwell's wars in Scotland form a brilliant part of his history. After narrowly escaping the snares of the veteran Lesley, whose admirable manœuvres compelled him, with woeful anticipations of farther misfortune, to retreat towards Dunbar, he was enabled, by the rashness of the Scottish kirkmen, totally to defeat that fine army. Edinburgh castle next surrendered; and the war being carried across the Forth, the Scots were again routed with slaughter at Inverkeithing. Then followed the irruption of the king into England, and the fatal defeat at Worcester, which Cromwell used to call his "crowning mercy."

Scotland is here called treacherous, because, having been the first to take up arms against King Charles I. she was the last to lay them down in behalf of his son; or rather, because the Presbyterian party in that country joined the young King against the Independants, as they had joined the Parliament against the Prelatists: for, the war, which in England related chiefly to dissentions concerning the Civil government, was in Scotland entirely to be referred to religious controversy.

Cromwell certainly did much to civilize Scotland. Some of his benefits were intentionally conferred, others flowed indirectly from the measures he adopted for the consolidation of his own authority. The English judges, whom he appointed, introduced into the administration of justice a purity and vigour, with which[20] Scotland had been hitherto unacquainted.[30] By the impoverishment, exile, and annihilation of the principal baronial families, the chains of feudal bondage were lightened upon the peasantry; and the pay of 18,000 men, levied to maintain the constituted authorities, enriched the lower orders, amongst whom it was spent. The English soldiers also introduced into Scotland some of the arts of a more civilized country. We may, however, hesitate to believe, that they taught the citizens of Aberdeen to make shoes and plant kail; because Dr Johnson, upon whose authority the tradition is given, informs us, that the peasantry live upon that vegetable alone, and that, when they had not kail, they probably had nothing; in which case, the English military guests had better have learned from their Aberdonian hosts the art of living upon nothing, than taught them a branch of gardening which their habits of abstinence rendered totally superfluous. But the garrisons established by Cromwell upon the skirts, and in the passes of the Highlands, restrained the predatory clans, and taught them, in no gentle manner, that respect for the property of their Lowland neighbours, which their lawful monarchs had vainly endeavoured to inculcate. An officer of engineers, quartered at Inverness shortly after 1720, says, that the name of Oliver still struck terror through the Highlands; and one very ancient laird declared to him, the appearance of the Protector's colours were so strongly impressed on his memory, that he still thought he saw them before his eyes, spread out by the wind, and bearing, in great golden characters, the word Emanuel.—Letters from the North of Scotland, Vol. I. p. 274.

As wands of divination downward draw,
And point to beds where sovereign gold doth grow.—St. XIX. p. 11.

The rod of divination, an admirable implement for a mineralogist, was a piece of forked hazel, which, being poised on the back of the hand, and so carried with great caution, inclined itself sympathetically to the earth, where mines or hidden treasures lay concealed beneath the surface. Derrick refers readers for further[21] information concerning the properties of this marvellous rod, and the way of using it, to La Physique Occultee, ou Traité de la Baguette Divinatoire, published at Amsterdam, 1613.

To suppliant Holland he vouchsafed a peace,
Our once bold rival of the British main;
Now tamely glad her unjust claim to cease,
And buy our friendship with her idol, gain.—St. XXI. p. 12.

The war betwixt the republics had been disastrous to the Dutch, and the peace of 1654 was degrading to the States, though not proportionally disadvantageous. They consented to desert the cause of the exiled Stuarts, and to punish the authors of the massacre at Amboyna; they yielded to the English the honour of the flag in the narrow seas; they agreed to pay to the East India Company eighty-five thousand pounds, in compensation of damage done to them; and they consented to the cession of the island of Polerone in the East Indies: lastly, by a secret article, the province of Holland guaranteed an assurance, that neither the young Prince of Orange, whose connection with the exiled family rendered him an object of the Protector's suspicion, nor any of his family, should be invested with the office of Stadtholder.

No sooner was the Frenchman's cause embraced,
Than the light Monsieur the grave Don outweighed.—St. XXIII. p. 12.

In 1655, Cromwell allied himself with the rising power of France against the declining monarchy of Spain; less guided, probably, by any general views of political expedience, than by the consideration, that the American and West India settlements of the latter power lay open to assault from the English fleet; while, had he embraced the other side, his own dominions were exposed to an invasion from the exiled king, with French auxiliaries. The splendid triumphs of Blake gave some ground for the poetical flourishes in the text.

And, as the confident of Nature, saw
How she complexions did divide and brew.—St. XXV. p. 12.

It was still fashionable, in the seventeenth century, to impute the distinguishing shades of human character to the influence of complexion.[22] The doctrine is concisely summed up in the following lines, which occur in an old MS. in the British Museum:

With a red man rede thy rede,
With a brown man break thy bread,
On a pale man draw thy knife,
From a black man keep thy wife.
He made us freemen of the continent,
Whom nature did like captives treat before;
To nobler preys the English lion sent,
And taught him first in Belgian walks to roar.—St. XXIX. p. 13.

The poet alludes to the exertions of the six thousand British auxiliaries, whom Cromwell sent to join Marshal Turenne in Flanders. These veterans, seasoned to the desperate and close mode of fighting, which the inveteracy of civil war had introduced, astonished the French by their audacity, and their contempt of the usual military precautions and calculations. There is a curious account, by Sir Thomas Morgan, of their exploits at Dunkirk and Ypres, which occurs in the third volume of the Harleian Miscellany, p. 326. The Duke of York was then with the Spanish army; and Dryden, on the change of times, lived to celebrate him for his gallant opposition to that body, which he here personifies as the British Lion. See the Dedication of the "Conquest of Granada," Vol. IV. p. 11. The English were made "free-men of the continent" by the cession of Dunkirk; and it is believed, that this was the first step towards giving England a share in the partition of Flanders, when that strange project was disconcerted by the death of Cromwell. There was no avoiding allusion to the British Lion. Sprat has also sent him forth, seeking whom he may devour:

——From his eyes
Made the same dreadful lightning rise,
Made him again affright the neighbouring floods,
His mighty thunder sound through all the woods.
That old unquestioned pirate of the land,
Proud Rome, with dread the fate of Dunkirk heard;
And, trembling, wished behind more Alps to stand,
Although an Alexander were her guard.—St. XXX. p. 13.

The pope being called Alexander the Sixth, Dryden did not disdain to turn this stanza upon an allusion to the Macedonian[23] hero; although it is obvious, that the pontiff was not a more effectual guardian to his city by bearing that warlike name, than if he had been called Benedict or Innocent. True it is, however, that the pope feared, and with great reason, some hostile attack from the powerful English squadron which swept the Mediterranean, under the command of Blake. Conscious that his papal character rendered him the object of the most inveterate enmity to the military saints of Cromwell's commonwealth, he had every reason to believe that they would find pride, pleasure, and profit, in attacking Antichrist, even in Babylon itself.

By his command we boldly crossed the line, &c.—St. XXXI. p. 13.

A powerful army and squadron were sent by Cromwell, under the command of Penn and Venables, to attack Hispaniola. The commanders quarrelled, and the main design misgave: they took, however, the island of Jamaica, whose importance long remained unknown; for, notwithstanding the manner in which Dryden has glossed over these operations in the West Indies, they were at the time universally considered as having been unfortunate. See "The World's mistake in Oliver Cromwell."

Till he, pressed down by his own weighty name,
Did, like the vestal, under spoils decease.—St. XXXIV. p. 14.

Tarpeia, the virgin who betrayed a gate of Rome to the Sabines, demanded, in recompense, what they wore on their left arms, meaning their golden bracelets. But the Sabines, detesting her treachery, or not disposed to gratify her avarice, chose to understand, that her request related to their bucklers, and flung them upon her in such numbers as to kill her.

But first the ocean as a tribute sent
The giant prince of all her watery herd;
And the isle, when her protecting Genius went,
Upon his obsequies loud sighs conferred.—St. XXXV. p. 14.

The circumstance, of the dreadful storm which happened on the day of Cromwell's death, is noticed by all writers. Many vessels were dashed on the coast, and trees and houses were overthrown,[24] upon the land. It seemed as if that active spirit, which had rode in the whirlwind while he lived, could not depart without an universal convulsion of nature. Waller has touched upon this remarkable incident with great felicity:

We must resign; heaven his great soul does claim,
In storms as loud as his immortal fame;
His dying groans, his last breath, shakes our isle,
And trees uncut fall for his funeral pile;
About his palace their broad roots were tost
Into the air:—so Romulus was lost;
New Rome in such a tempest missed her king,
And from obeying fell to worshipping.

But, while the authors of these threnodies explained this prodigious storm as attendant on the deification of the Protector, or at least the effects of the Genius of Britain's unbounded lamentation, the cavaliers unanimously agreed, that the tempest accompanied the transportation of his spirit to the infernal regions.

His ashes in a peaceful urn shall rest.—St. XXXVII. p. 14.

This prophecy, like that announcing the final close of civil broils, in the preceding stanza, was not doomed to be accomplished. The contending factions resumed their struggles in a month after the Protector's death; his body was dragged from the burial place of princes, to be exposed on the gibbet; and his head placed on the end of Westminster Hall. There is, however, an unauthenticated story, that Cromwell, foreseeing the Restoration, had commanded his remains to be interred secretly, and by night, in the field of Naseby, as near as possible to the spot where his prowess had gained that bloody day; and that, by a piece of refined and ingenious malice, his friends caused the body of Charles to be deposited in the empty coffin, which had received the funeral honours rendered to the Protector; thus turning the disgrace, which the royalists intended for the body of Cromwell, upon that of the royal martyr. The story may be found in the Harleian Miscellany, Vol. II. p. 269. But it is unworthy of credit, and seems to have been grounded upon the circumstance, that Cromwell's body, being in a very corrupted state, was buried privately before the grand procession. The restoration of the house of Stuart seemed then to be an event much out of the reach of calculation, even to persons less sanguine than Cromwell.


After so many years of civil war and domestic tyranny, the Restoration, an almost hopeless event, established the crown upon the head of the lawful successor, and the government upon its original footing. Dryden, among the numerous, I had almost said innumerable, bards,[31] who celebrated, or attempted to celebrate, this surprising event, distinguished himself by the following poem, to which he has given the apt name of Astræa Redux, from the hopes of justice and liberty returning with the lawful king.

The tone of praise, which Dryden has adopted, exhibits his usual felicity. There do not here occur any of these rants about the antiquity of the royal line,[32] and the indefeasible right of the lawful successor, which are the common topics of the herd, who[28] offered poetical congratulation to the restored monarch. Dryden rejoices with the chastised triumph of one, that had not forgot what it was to mourn. He looks back, as well as forwards; and it is upon the past sufferings of the people, and of the monarch, that he grounds the hope and expectation of their future happiness. The poet was perhaps sensible, that the claim of loyal merit was rather new in his family and person, and ought not therefore to be expressed with the extravagant colouring of the cavaliers. He ventures indeed upon prophecy, although past experience might have taught him it was dangerous ground. One prediction, however, has been (magno licet intervallo) accomplished to its fullest extent in our own age:

Your much-loved fleet shall, with a wide command,
Besiege the petty monarchs of the land.

The poem exhibits the taste which belongs to the earlier class of Dryden's compositions, bearing the same marks of attachment to the stile of Waller and Davenant. Some of the similes are brought out with singular ingenuity. Nothing can be more elegant than the turn he gives to the slow, gentle, and almost imperceptible manner, in which the great change which he celebrates was accomplished:

—— —— While we
The effect did feel, but scarce the manner see.
Frosts, that constrain the ground, and birth deny
To flowers that in its womb expecting lie,
Do seldom their usurping power withdraw,
But raging floods pursue their hasty thaw;
Our thaw was mild, the frost not chased away,
But kindly lost in heat of lengthened day.

On the other hand, it is surely unnecessary to point out to the reader the confusion of metaphor, where Virtue is said to dress the wounds of Charles with laurels;[33] the impertinent antithesis of finding "light alone in dark afflictions;" and the extravagance of representing the winds, that wafted Charles, as out of breath with joy. These, and other outrageous flights of wit, have been noticed and blamed by Johnson. I am not certain whether that great critic is equally just, in severely censuring the passage in which there is a short allusion to Heathen mythology.[34] Where the[29] tender, the passionate, or the sublime, ought to prevail, an allusion to classical fiction seldom fails to interrupt the tone of feeling which the author should seek to preserve; but in a poem, of which elegance of expression and ingenuity of device are the principal attributes, an allusion to the customs of Greece, or of Rome, while it gives a classic air to the composition, seems as little misplaced, as an apt quotation from the authors in which they are recorded.

The first edition of this poem is printed in folio by J. M. for Henry Herringman, 1660. It affords few and trifling corrections.




Jam redit et virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna.     Virg.
The last great age, foretold by sacred rhimes,
Renews its finished course; Saturnian times
Roll round again.

Now with a general peace the world was blest,
While ours, a world divided from the rest,
A dreadful quiet fell, and worser far
Than arms, a sullen interval of war.
Thus when black clouds draw down the lab'ring skies,
Ere yet abroad the winged thunder flies,
An horrid stillness first invades the ear,
And in that silence we the tempest fear.[35]
The ambitious Swede, like restless billows tost,
On this hand gaining what on that he lost,
Though in his life he blood and ruin breathed,
To his now guideless kingdom peace bequeathed;[36]
And heaven, that seemed regardless of our fate,
For France and Spain did miracles create;
Such mortal quarrels to compose in peace,
As nature bred, and interest did increase.
We sighed to hear the fair Iberian bride
Must grow a lily to the lily's side;[37]
While our cross stars denied us Charles' bed,
Whom our first flames and virgin love did wed.
For his long absence church and state did groan;
Madness the pulpit, faction seized the throne:
Experienced age in deep despair was lost,
To see the rebel thrive, the loyal crost:
Youth, that with joys had unacquainted been,
Envied gray hairs, that once good days had seen:
We thought our sires, not with their own content,
Had, ere we came to age, our portion spent.
Nor could our nobles hope their bold attempt,
Who ruined crowns, would coronets exempt:
For when, by their designing leaders taught
To strike at power, which for themselves they sought,
The vulgar, gulled into rebellion, armed,
Their blood to action by the prize was warmed.
The sacred purple, then, and scarlet gown,
Like sanguine dye to elephants, was shewn.[38]
Thus, when the bold Typhœus scaled the sky,
And forced great Jove from his own heaven to fly,
(What king, what crown, from treason's reach is free,
If Jove and Heaven can violated be?)
The lesser gods, that shared his prosperous state,
All suffered in the exiled Thunderer's fate.
The rabble now such freedom did enjoy,
As winds at sea, that use it to destroy:
Blind as the Cyclop, and as wild as he,
They owned a lawless savage liberty,
Like that our painted ancestors so prized,
Ere empire's arts their breasts had civilized.
How great were then our Charles' woes, who thus
Was forced to suffer for himself and us!
He, tossed by fate, and hurried up and down,
Heir to his father's sorrows, with his crown,
Could taste no sweets of youth's desired age,
But found his life too true a pilgrimage.
Unconquered yet in that forlorn estate,
His manly courage overcame his fate:
His wounds he took, like Romans, on his breast,
Which by his virtue were with laurels drest.
As souls reach heaven, while yet in bodies pent,
So did he live above his banishment.
That sun, which we beheld with cozened eyes
Within the water, moved along the skies.
How easy 'tis, when destiny proves kind,
With full-spread sails to run before the wind!
But those, that 'gainst stiff gales laveering go,
Must be at once resolved, and skilful too.
He would not, like soft Otho, hope prevent,
But stayed, and suffered fortune to repent.[39]
These virtues Galba in a stranger sought,
And Piso to adopted empire brought,[40]
How shall I then my doubtful thoughts express,
That must his sufferings both regret and bless!
For, when his early valour heaven had crost,
And all at Worc'ster but the honour lost;[41]
Forced into exile from his rightful throne,
He made all countries where he came his own;
And, viewing monarchs' secret arts of sway,
A royal factor for his kingdoms lay.
Thus, banished David spent abroad his time,
When to be God's anointed was his crime;
And, when restored, made his proud neighbours rue
Those choice remarks he from his travels drew.
Nor is he only by afflictions shown
To conquer others' realms, but rule his own;
Recovering hardly what he lost before,
His right endears it much, his purchase more.
Inured to suffer ere he came to reign,
No rash procedure will his actions stain:
To business ripened by digestive thought,
His future rule is into method brought;
As they, who, first, proportion understand,
With easy practice reach a master's hand.
Well might the ancient poets then confer
On Night the honoured name of Counsellor;
Since, struck with rays of prosperous fortune blind,
We light alone in dark afflictions find.
In such adversities to sceptres trained,
The name of Great his famous grandsire gained;[42]
Who yet, a king alone in name and right,
With hunger, cold, and angry Jove did fight;
Shocked by a covenanting League's vast powers,
As holy and as catholic as ours:[43]
'Till Fortune's fruitless spite had made it known,
Her blows not shook, but riveted, his throne.
Some lazy ages, lost in sleep and ease,
No action leave to busy chronicles:
Such, whose supine felicity but makes
In story chasms, in epocha[44] mistakes;
O'er whom Time gently shakes his wings of down,
Till with his silent sickle they are mown.
Such is not Charles[45] his too too active age,
Which, governed by the wild distempered rage
Of some black star, infecting all the skies,
Made him at his own cost, like Adam, wise.
Tremble, ye nations, which, secure before,
Laughed at those arms that 'gainst ourselves we bore;
Rouzed by the lash of his own stubborn tail,
Our Lion now will foreign foes assail.
With alga, who the sacred altar strews?
To all the sea-gods Charles an offering owes:
A bull to thee, Portunus, shall be slain,
A lamb to you, ye tempests of the main:[46]
For those loud storms, that did against him roar,
Have cast his shipwrecked vessel on the shore.
Yet, as wise artists mix their colours so,
That by degrees they from each other go;
Black steals unheeded from the neighbouring white,
Without offending the well-cozened sight:
So on us stole our blessed change; while we
The effect did feel, but scarce the manner see.
Frosts, that constrain the ground, and birth deny
To flowers that in its womb expecting lie,
Do seldom their usurping power withdraw,
But raging floods pursue their hasty thaw;
Our thaw was mild, the cold not chased away,
But lost in kindly heat of lengthened day.
Heaven would no bargain for its blessings drive,
But what we could not pay for, freely give.
The Prince of Peace would, like himself, confer
A gift unhoped, without the price of war:
Yet, as he knew his blessing's worth, took care,
That we should know it by repeated prayer;
Which stormed the skies, and ravished Charles from thence,
As heaven itself is took by violence.
Booth's forward valour only served to show,
He durst that duty pay, we all did owe:[47]
The attempt was fair; but heaven's prefixed hour
Not come: so, like the watchful traveller,
That by the moon's mistaken light did rise,
Lay down again, and closed his weary eyes.
'Twas Monk, whom Providence designed to loose
Those real bonds false freedom did impose.
The blessed saints, that watched this turning scene,
Did from their stars with joyful wonder lean,
To see small clues draw vastest weights along,
Not in their bulk, but in their order strong.
Thus, pencils can, by one slight touch, restore
Smiles to that changed face that wept before.
With ease such fond chimeras we pursue,
As fancy frames for fancy to subdue:
But when ourselves to action we betake,
It shuns the mint, like gold that chemists make.[48]
How hard was then his task, at once to be
What in the body natural we see!
Man's architect distinctly did ordain
The charge of muscles, nerves, and of the brain,
Through viewless conduits spirits to dispense;
The springs of motion from the seat of sense.
'Twas not the hasty product of a day,
But the well-ripened fruit of wise delay.
He, like a patient angler, ere he strook,
Would let them play a while upon the hook.
Our healthful food the stomach labours thus,
At first embracing what it straight doth crush.
Wise leaches will not vain receipts obtrude,
While growing pains pronounce the humours crude:
Deaf to complaints, they wait upon the ill,
Till some safe crisis authorize their skill.
Nor could his acts too close a vizard wear,
To 'scape their eyes whom guilt had taught to fear,
And guard with caution that polluted nest,
Whence Legion twice before was dispossest:[49]
Once sacred house, which when they entered in,
They thought the place could sanctify a sin;
Like those, that vainly hoped kind heaven would wink,
While to excess on martyrs' tombs they drink.
And, as devouter Turks first warn their souls
To part, before they taste forbidden bowls,[50]
So these, when their black crimes they went about,
First timely charmed their useless conscience out.
Religion's name against itself was made;
The shadow served the substance to invade:
Like zealous missions, they did care pretend
Of souls, in shew, but made the gold their end.
The incensed powers beheld with scorn, from high,
An heaven so far distant from the sky,
Which durst, with horses' hoofs that beat the ground,
And martial brass, bely the thunder's sound[51].
'Twas hence, at length, just vengeance thought it fit
To speed their ruin by their impious wit:
Thus Sforza, cursed with a too fertile brain,
Lost by his wiles the power has wit did gain.[52]
Henceforth their fougue must spend at lesser rate,
Than in its flames to wrap a nation's fate.
Suffered to live, they are like Helots set,
A virtuous shame within us to beget;[53]
For, by example most we sinned before,
And, glass-like,[54] clearness mixed with frailty bore.
But since, reformed by what we did amiss,
We by our sufferings learn to prize our bliss:
Like early lovers, whose unpractised hearts
Were long the may-game of malicious arts,
When once they find their jealousies were vain,
With double heat renew their fires again.
'Twas this produced the joy, that hurried o'er
Such swarms of English to the neighbouring shore,[55]
To fetch that prize, by which Batavia made
So rich amends for our impoverished trade.
Oh, had you seen from Scheveline's barren shore,[56]
(Crowded with troops, and barren now no more,)
Afflicted Holland to his farewell bring
True sorrow, Holland to regret a king![57]
While waiting him his royal fleet did ride,
And willing winds to their lower'd sails denied.
The wavering streamers, flags, and standart[58] out,
The merry seamen's rude but chearful shout;
{  And last the cannons' voice that shook the skies,
{  And, as it fares in sudden ecstasies,
{  At once bereft us both of ears and eyes.
The Naseby, now no longer England's shame,
But better to be lost in Charles his name,[59]
(Like some unequal bride in nobler sheets)
Receives her lord; the joyful London meets
The princely York, himself alone a freight;
The Swiftsure groans beneath great Gloster's weight:[60]
Secure as when the halcyon breeds, with these,
He, that was born to drown, might cross the seas.
Heaven could not own a Providence, and take
The wealth three nations ventured at a stake.
The same indulgence Charles his voyage blessed,
Which in his right had miracles confessed.
The winds, that never moderation knew,
Afraid to blow too much, too faintly blew;
Or, out of breath with joy, could not enlarge
Their straightened lungs, or conscious of their charge.
The British Amphytrite, smooth and clear,
In richer azure never did appear;
Proud her returning prince to entertain
With the submitted fasces of the main.
And welcome now, great monarch, to your own!
Behold the approaching clifts of Albion.
It is no longer motion cheats your view;
As you meet it, the land approacheth you.
The land returns, and, in the white it wears,
The marks of penitence and sorrow bears.[61]
But you, whose goodness your descent doth shew,
Your heavenly parentage and earthly too,
By that same mildness, which your father's crown
Before did ravish, shall secure your own.
Not tied to rules of policy, you find
Revenge less sweet than a forgiving mind.
Thus, when the Almighty would to Moses give
A sight of all he could behold and live;
A voice before his entry did proclaim,
Long-suffering, goodness, mercy, in his name.[62]
Your power to justice doth submit your cause,
Your goodness only is above the laws;[63]
Whose rigid letter, while pronounced by you,
Is softer made. So winds, that tempests brew,
When through Arabian groves they take their flight,
Made wanton with rich odours, lose their spite.
And as those lees, that trouble it, refine
The agitated soul of generous wine;
So tears of joy, for your returning spilt,
Work out, and expiate our former guilt.
Methinks I see those crowds on Dover's strand,
Who, in their haste to welcome you to land,
Choked up the beach with their still growing store,
And made a wilder torrent on the shore:
While, spurred with eager thoughts of past delight,
Those, who had seen you, court a second sight;
Preventing still your steps, and making haste
To meet you often wheresoe'er you past.
How shall I speak of that triumphant day,
When you renewed the expiring pomp of May!
A month that owns an interest in your name:
You and the flowers are its peculiar claim.[64]
That star, that at your birth shone out so bright,
It stained the duller sun's meridian light,
Did once again its potent fires renew,[65]
Guiding our eyes to find and worship you.
And now Time's whiter series is begun,
Which in soft centuries shall smoothly run:
Those clouds, that overcast your morn, shall fly,
Dispelled, to farthest corners of the sky.
Our nation, with united interest blest,
Not now content to poize, shall sway the rest.
Abroad your empire shall no limits know,
But, like the sea, in boundless circles flow;
Your much-loved fleet shall, with a wide command,
Besiege the petty monarchs of the land;
And, as old Time his offspring swallowed down,[66]
Our ocean in its depths all seas shall drown.
Their wealthy trade from pirates' rapine free,
Our merchants shall no more adventurers be;
Nor in the farthest east those dangers fear,
Which humble Holland must dissemble here.
Spain to your gift alone her Indies owes;
For, what the powerful takes not, he bestows:
And France, that did an exile's presence fear,[67]
May justly apprehend you still too near.
At home the hateful names of parties cease,
And factious souls are wearied into peace.
The discontented now are only they,
Whose crimes before did your just cause betray;
Of those your edicts some reclaim from sin,
But most your life and blest example win.
Oh happy prince, whom heaven hath taught the way
By paying vows to have more vows to pay!
Oh happy age! Oh times like those alone,
By fate reserved for great Augustus' throne!
When the joint growth of arms and arts foreshew
The world a monarch, and that monarch you.


Note I.

An horrid stillness first invades the ear,
And in that silence we the tempest fear.—P. 30.

The small wits of the time made themselves very merry with this couplet; because stillness, being a mere absence of sound, could not, it was said, be personified, as an active agent, or invader. Captain Ratcliff thus states the objection in his "News from Hell:"

Laureat, who was both learned and florid,
Was damned, long since, for "silence horrid;"
Nor had there been such clatter made,
But that this Silence did "invade."
Invade! and so't might well, 'tis clear;
But what did it invade?—an ear.
And for some other things, 'tis true,
"We follow Fate, that does pursue."

In the "Dialogue in Bedlam," between Oliver's porter, fiddler, and poet, the first of these persons thus addresses L'Estrange and Dryden, "the scene being adorned with several of the poet's own flowers:"

O glory, glory! who are these appear?
My fellow-servants, poet, fiddler, here?
Old Hodge the constant, Johny the sincere!
Who sent you hither? and, pray tell me, why?
A horrid silence does invade my eye,
While not one sound of voice from you I spy.

But, as Dr Johnson justly remarks, we hesitate not to say, the world is invaded by darkness, which is a privation of light; and why not by silence, which is a privation of sound?


Note II.

The ambitious Swede, like restless billows tost,
On this hand gaining what on that he lost,
Though in his life he blood and ruin breathed,
To his now guideless kingdom peace bequeathed.—P. 30.

The royal line of Sweden has produced more heroic and chivalrous monarchs, than any dynasty of Europe. The gallant Charles X. who is here mentioned, did not degenerate from this warlike stem. He was a nephew of the great Gustavus Adolphus; and, like him, was continually engaged in war, particularly against Poland and Austria. He died at Gottenburgh in 1660, and the peace of Sweden was soon afterwards restored by the treaty of Copenhagen.

Note III.

We sighed to hear the fair Iberian bride
Must grow a lily to the lily's side.—P. 31.

The death of Cromwell, and the unsettled state of England, prevented the execution of those ambitious schemes, which Cardinal Mazarine, then prime minister of France, had hoped to accomplish by the assistance of Britain. The Cardinal was therefore, in 1659, induced to accede to the treaty of the Pyrenees, by which peace was restored betwixt France and Spain; the union being cemented by the marriage of the Infanta to Louis XIV.—Charles II., then a needy fugitive, was in attendance upon the ministers of France and Spain, when they met on the frontiers for this great object; but he, who was soon to be so powerful a monarch, experienced on that occasion nothing but slights from Mazarine, and cold civility from Don Lewis de Haro.

Note IV.

The sacred purple, then, and scarlet gown,
Like sanguine dye to elephants, was shown.—P. 31.

This does not mean, as Derrick conceived, that these emblems of authority had as little effect upon the mob as if they had been shown to an elephant; but that the sight of them animated the people to such senseless fury, as elephants, and many other animals, are said to shew, upon seeing any object of a red colour.


Note V.

He would not, like soft Otho, fate prevent,
But stayed, and suffered fortune to repent.—P. 32.

The emperor Otho, whose mind and manners exhibited so many contradictions, is described as one of the most effeminate of men in his outward habits; his mind, however, was active and energetic. "Non erat Othonis, mollis et corpori similis, animus." Taciti, Lib. i. Historiarum.—He slew himself after the battle of Brixellum, in which he was vanquished by Vitellius. The prætorian guards, and his other followers, in vain urged him to try his fortune again in the field. Whether from that impatience of sustaining adversity, which luxurious habits seldom fail to produce, or from the generous desire of ending a disastrous civil war, he retained and executed his resolution. It is, however, no extraordinary compliment to Charles, that he did not, after his defeat at Worcester, follow an example more classical than inviting.

Note VI.

These virtues Galba in a stranger sought,
And Piso to adopted empire brought.—P. 32.

Galba adopted Piso Frugi Licinianus as his successor in the empire. He was a stranger to his blood, and only endeared to him by his good qualities. Tacitus puts these words in the mouth of Galba upon this occasion: "Nunc me, deorum hominumque consensu, ad imperium vocatum, preclara indoles tua, et amor patriæ impulit, ut principatum, de quo majores nostri armis certabant, bello adeptus, quiescenti offeram; exemplo divi Augusti, qui sororis filium Marcellum, dein generum Agrippam, mox nepotes suos, postremo Tiberium Neronem privignum, in proximo sibi fastigio, collocavit. Sed Augustus in domo successorem quæsivit, ego in republica: non quia propinquos aut socios belli non habeam; sed neque ipse imperium ambitione accessi, et judicii mei documentum sit non meæ tantum necessitudines quas tibi postposui sed et tuæ."—Lib. I. Historiarum, cap. xv.

Note VII.

All at Worc'ster but the honour lost.—P. 32.

This is in imitation of the famous letter which Francis the First of France wrote to his mother after the battle of Pavia: "Madam, all is lost except our honour." That of Charles II. certainly was not lost at Worcester. He gave many marks of personal courage, and was only hurried off the field by the torrent of fugitives.[44] He halted a large body of horse, and implored them to return, and but look upon the enemy; yet, though he advanced at their head, they all deserted him but a few of his immediate attendants.

Note VIII.

Shocked by a covenanting League's vast powers,
As holy and as catholic as ours.—P. 33.

The parallel between the French League and the Covenant had already occurred to Dryden as a proper subject for the stage; for, in the first year after the Restoration, he wrote several scenes of "The Duke of Guise," though it was not finished or acted till long afterwards. See Vol. VII. p. 137.

Note IX.

With alga, who the sacred altar strews?
To all the sea-gods Charles an offering owes:
A bull to thee, Portunus, shall be slain;
A lamb to you, ye tempests of the main.—P. 34.

The ceremonies of classical antiquity, observed by those who escaped from shipwreck, are here detailed. The alga, or sea-weed, sprinkled on the altar, alluded to the cause of their sacrifice. Portunus, otherwise called Portumnus, was a sea-god of some reputation. The Greeks called him Palæmon, which was formerly his earthly name. He is mentioned by Virgil:

Et Pater ipse, manu magnâ, Portunus euntem
Impulit. Æneidos, lib. v.

Note X.

Booth's forward valour only served to show,
He durst that duty pay, we all did owe.—P. 34.

Upon the death of Cromwell, in 1659, the cavaliers resolved upon a general rising; but their intentions being betrayed by Sir Richard Willis, the insurrection only took place at Chester, which was seized by Sir George Booth and Sir William Middleton. They ventured imprudently into the open field to face Lambert, by whom they were totally routed; so that the royal party in England never seemed to lie under such total depression, as when it was about to triumph over all opposition.


Note XI.

It shuns the mint, like gold that chemists make.—P. 35.

It is said, believe who list, that the ingenious Mr Robert Boyle invented a metal, which had all the properties of gold, except malleability.

Note XII.

——That polluted nest,
Whence Legion twice before was dispossest.—P. 35.

Alluding to Cromwell's dissolution of the Long Parliament, with the memorable words, "Ye are no longer a parliament; I tell you, ye are no longer a parliament; the Lord has done with you." General Harrison then pulled the speaker from the chair; and Worsley, with two file of musketeers, expelled the refractory members, Cromwell loading each of them with personal revilings. When the house was cleared, he, with great composure, locked the doors, and took the key home in his pocket. Legion was a second time dispossessed by the same kind of exorcism, when the House of Commons was occupied by that extraordinary assembly, usually called, from the name of a distinguished member, "Praise God Barebone's Parliament." This motley assembly of crazy fanatics, having shewn some disposition to extend the reign of the saints, in a manner rather inconsistent with Cromwell's views of exclusive domination, were suddenly dissolved by him. A remnant, headed by the frantic enthusiast Harrison, continued to sit till their deliberations were interrupted by White with a party of soldiers, who demanded, "what they did there?" "We are seeking the Lord," answered they. "Then go seek him elsewhere," rejoined the commander; "for to my knowledge he has not been here these many years." Or Dryden may have referred to the terms upon which Cromwell parted with his last parliament; to whom he swore, by the living God, they should not sit an hour longer; and calling upon the Lord to be judge between them, (to which many members answered, Amen,) turned them about their business. Indeed, when we consider, that the Long Parliament was, after Cromwell's death, restored and cashiered more than once, the line might have more properly run,

Whence Legion oft before was dispossessed.


Note XIII.

And, as devouter Turks first warn their souls
To part, before they taste forbidden bowls.—P. 36.

When a Turk is disposed to transgress the precept of the Koran, by drinking wine, he requests the favour of his soul to go into some retired corner of his body, in order to avoid contamination from the horrible potion.

Note XIV.

Thus Sforza, cursed with a too fertile brain,
Lost by his wiles the power his wit did gain.—P. 36.

This subtle politician was Lodovico, son of Francisco Sforza. He was one of the most restless and intriguing spirits, that Italy, the mother of political genius, has ever produced. His natural brother, Francisco Sforza, had acquired, by marriage, the duchy of Milan, which he left to his son Giovanni Galeazzo Sforza. Lodovico, under pretence of acting as his nephew's tutor, took into his own hands the supreme power; and, tired of governing under the name of another, at length deposed and murdered the young duke. In order to secure himself in his usurped domination, he invited the French into Italy, which they over-ran and conquered under Charles VIII. He became soon suspicious of these too powerful allies, and leagued with the Venetians to cut off the retreat of the French from Naples. In 1594, he made a pretended peace with Charles; and, in the year following, invited into Italy the Emperor Maximilian, by whose assistance he hoped to secure himself in Pisa, of which he had taken possession, and to conquer the Florentines, with whom he was at war. In all these, and many other ambiguous and versatile transactions, Sforza was so happy, that he used to call himself the Son of Fortune, as he was termed by others the Moor, from his dark complection, acute genius, and cruel disposition. But, in 1599, Lewis XII., who had pretensions upon the dukedom of Milan, as the grandson of Valentine Visconti, daughter of Giovanni Galeazzo, Duke of Milan, invaded the Milanese territory with a force which Sforza was unable to resist, and compelled him to fly into Germany with his treasures. In 1600, Sforza again returned to Italy at the head of an army of Swiss mercenaries, and repossessed himself of Milan, Como, and other places of importance. The Swiss, however, mutinied at Novara, and not only refused to fight in his behalf, but even to guard him to a place of security. As these unworthy Helvetians had made a private convention with the French, they permitted them to seize the person of Sforza, who was discovered[47] among the ranks of his faithless mercenaries, dressed and armed like a private Swiss soldier; a lamentable instance of the inconstancy of fortune. He was carried prisoner to France, where he ended his days in prison, A. D. 1608.

Note XV.

Henceforth their fougue must spend at lesser rate,
Than in its flames to wrap a nation's fate;
Suffered to live, they are like Helots set,
A virtuous shame within us to beget.—P. 36.

Those persons, who had sat in any illegal high court of justice, with a few others, were, at the Restoration, declared incapable of bearing any public office. In expressing their violent spirit, our author uses the unnecessary Gallicism fougue, although it might have been as well described by the English fire. Thus disqualified, the poet compares these republicans to the Spartan slaves, made drunk to excite the contempt of the youth for that degrading vice. By the bye, Dryden's kinsman, Sir Gilbert Pickering, was among the persons so incapacitated.

Note XVI.

'Twas this produced the joy, that hurried o'er
Such swarms of English to the neighbouring shore.—P. 37.

"Several persons now came to Breda, not as heretofore to Cologne and to Brussells, under disguises, and in fear of being discovered, but with bare faces, and the pride and vanity to be taken notice of, to present their duty to the king; some being employed to procure pardons for those who thought themselves in danger, and to stand in need of them; others brought good presents in English gold to the king, that their names, and the names of their friends who sent them, might be remembered among the first, who made demonstrations of their affections that way to his majesty, by supplying his necessities; which had been discontinued for many years, to a degree that cannot be believed, and ought not to be remembered." Clarendon, Vol. III. Part. II. p. 766. "In the mean time, Breda swarmed with English; a multitude repairing thither from all other places, as well as London, with presents, and protestations, how much they had longed and prayed for this blessed change, and magnifying their sufferings under the late tyrannical government, when some of them had been zealous instruments and promoters of it." Ibidem, p. 767.


Note XVII.

Scheveline's barren shore.—P. 37.

A small village near the Hague, at which Charles embarked on his joyful voyage.


——Holland to regret a king.—P. 37.

The States not only maintained Charles in royal splendour during his residence at Breda, and at the Hague, but loaded him with valuable gifts at his departure, particularly a bed worth L. 1000, and linen valued at L. 1000; both which articles his hardships had taught him to value, by sad experience of the want of them.

Note XIX.

The Naseby, now no longer England's shame,
But better to be lost in Charles his name.—P. 37.

When the English fleet came on the coast of Holland, the Duke of York took possession of it, as Lord High Admiral. "After he had spent the day there in receiving information of the state of the fleet, and a catalogue of the names of the several ships, his Highness returned with it that night to the king, that his majesty might make alterations, and new christen these ships, which too much preserved the memory of the late governors, and of the republic."—Clarendon. The Naseby was too odious a name to be preserved, and it was changed to the Royal Charles, and the Swiftsure to the James. The Royal Charles fell into the hands of the Dutch at the surprize of Chatham.

Note XX.

——Great Gloster's weight.—P. 37.

Henry of Oatlands, Duke of Glocester, third son of Charles I. He embarked on this occasion with his brother, by whom he was dearly beloved. He died of the small-pox on the 13th September following, deeply and generally lamented.

Note XXI.

It is no longer motion cheats your view;
As you meet it, the land approacheth you:
The land returns, and, in the white it wears,
The marks of penitence and sorrow bears.—P. 38.

Johnson remarks, that this extraordinary piece of complaisance in the land is not without a precedent. A French poet read to[49] Malherbe some verses, in which he mentioned the kingdom of France as advancing to meet the king. "Though this happened in my time," observed the critic, "it is strange I should not remember it." In the next couplet, Albion does penance in a sheet, because her cliffs are chalky; had they been black, she would have been in mourning of course. But the civility of such inanimate objects, according to the poets of this reign, was truly wonderful, considering their present insensibility. In a poem, "On the Arrival of her Royal Highness, and Happy Marriage to the Most Illustrious Prince James Duke of York, &c. 1673," not only do dolphins dance about the vessel, but, yet more surprising,

When first she launched, the ambitious waves no more
Would kiss the lips of the forsaken shore;
But, proud of such rich freight, began t' aspire,
As if they'd quench the elemental fire:
So that philosophers since scarce agree,
Whether the earth or ocean highest be.
The trembling compass had forgot to stir,
Instead o'the north pole, pointing still at her;
At which the pilot wonders, till he spies
Two north poles culminant at once,—her eyes.

Note XXII.

Thus, when the Almighty would to Moses give
A sight of all he could behold and live;
A voice before his entry did proclaim,
Long suffering, goodness, mercy, in His name.—P. 36.

"And he said, Thou shall not see my face: for there shall no man see me and live.

"And the Lord said, Behold there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock;

"And it shall come to pass, when my glory cometh by, that I will put thee into a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by;

"And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts, but my face shall not be seen." Exodus, Chap. XXXIII. verses 20, 21, 22, 23.

"And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord.

"And the Lord passed before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth." Exodus, Chap. XXXIV. verses 5, 6.



Your power to justice doth submit your cause,
Your goodness only is above the laws.—P. 36.

By the declaration of King Charles II., dated at Breda, 14th April, 1660, a free pardon was promised to all subjects, of what degree or quality soever, for their share in the late civil war, excepting only such as should hereafter be excepted by Parliament. The House of Peers, irritated by their sufferings during the late troubles, were disposed to make very general exceptions from the proposed indemnity. But the king came in person to the house, and beseeched them, in the most affecting terms, to extend the benefit of the bill to all who had not been the immediate instruments of his father's death. Upon which principle, the "Act of Oblivion" was constructed accordingly. Even among the judges of his father, the King distinguished Ingoldsby, and others, as fit objects of mercy. Thus the law's rigid letter, as pronounced by him, was "softer made."

Note XXIV.

How shall I speak of that triumphant day,
When you renewed the expiring pomp of May!
A month that owns an interest in your name;
You and the flowers are its peculiar claim.—P. 37.

Charles II. was born on the 29th of May, 1630, and upon the same day of the same month, 1660, he "renewed the expiring pomp of May," by making his triumphal entry into his metropolis, for the purpose of resuming the throne of his forefathers. The immense crowds which assembled to witness an event, which was to close the wounds of civil discord, seemed, says Clarendon, as if the whole kingdom had been gathered together. For a full account of his triumphant procession, with the cloth of gold, and cloth of silver, velvet cloaks, gold chains, kettle-drums, trumpets, and common council-men, see Baker's Chronicle. One part of the show was particularly striking to the actors in the late commotions: "I must confess," says the republican Ludlow, "it was a strange sight to me, to see the horse that had formerly belonged to our army, now put upon an employment, so different from that which they had at first undertaken; especially when I considered, that, for the most part, they had not been raised out of the meanest of the people, and without distinction, as other armies had been; but that they consisted of such as had engaged themselves from a spirit of liberty, in defence of their rights and religion." Ludlow's Memoirs, Vol. III. p. 16.


Note XXV.

That star, that at your birth shone out so bright,
It stained the duller sun's meridian light,
Did once again its potent fires renew.—P. 37.

There was a star visible on Charles' birth-day, 29th May, 1630; a circumstance much dwelt upon, by his party, during the civil wars. Lilly, the astrologer, who embraced the cause of the Commonwealth, assures us, it was nothing more than the planet Venus, which is sometimes visible in the day-time; and truly, if we judge of the matter by its influence on the merry monarch, Venus has the best title to be held the dominant power at his nativity. Lilly also repeats the following lines, presented to Charles I. (by the astrologer himself, I suppose,) when he went to St Paul's, to return thanks for the birth of his son:

Rex ubi Paulinias accessit gratus ad aras,
Immicuit medio lucida stella polo:
Dic divina mihi tractans ænigmata cœli,
Hæc oriens nobis quid sibi stella velit?
Magnus in occiduo princeps modo nascitur orbe,
Moxque sub eclipsi regna orientis erunt.
Lilly's Monarchy, or no Monarchy.

Our author seems to allude to this star in the "Duke of Guise," where, speaking literally of Henry III., but covertly of Charles II., he makes Melanax say,

————He cannot be deposed,
He may be killed; a violent fate attends him,
But at his birth there shone a regal star.
Vol. VII. p. 74.

A poetical follower of Monmouth introduces the Duke of York murmuring against the good fortune of his brother, and exclaiming,

Curse on that planet, whose benign ray
Gilds the bright pavement of the Milky Way;
And is so good, so influential
To the great master of the Milky Hall.

The same star, it would seem, was again visible in 1660.

Note XXVI.

And as old Time his offspring swallowed down.—P. 37.

The minutes, hours, days, and other subdivisions of time, may[52] be accounted his children, which he is fancifully said to devour, as he passes over them.


And France, that did an exile's presence fear.—P. 37.

Charles was obliged to leave France, less because his presence was feared in itself, than the displeasure of Cromwell, for affording him shelter.



The ceremony of Charles the Second's coronation was deferred until the year succeeding his Restoration, when it was solemnized with extreme magnificence, on the 22d April, 1661, being St George's day. Charles moved from the Tower to Whitehall, through a series of triumphal arches, stages, and pageants, all of which presented, at once, the joy and wealth of his people before the eyes of the monarch. The poets, it may readily be believed, joined in the general gratulation; but, from the rudeness of their style, and puerility of their conceits, Charles, whose taste was undoubted, must have soon distinguished our author's superior energy of diction, and harmony of language. In most respects we may consider this piece as written in the style of the preceding, yet with less affectation of witty and far-fetched allusion. The description of the spring, beginning, "Now our sad ruins are removed from sight," is elegantly fancied, and so smoothly expressed, that even the flow of the language seems to mark the mild and delightful influence of the season it describes. Much quaintness remains to be weeded out. The name of the king is sent on high, wrapped soft and warm in music, like flames on the wings of incense; and, anon, music has found a tomb in Charles, and lies drowned in her own sweetness; while the fragrant scent, begun from the royal person, and confined within the hallowed dome, flies round and descends on him in richer dew. Above all, we are startled to hear of

A queen, near whose chaste womb, ordained by fate,
The souls of kings unborn for bodies wait.

Neither, if we read (with the first edition) from instead of near, is the intelligibility, or decorum of the passage much improved. If any of the souls of these unborn monarchs waited for bodies from Queen Catharine, they waited long in vain. But with all these defects, there is in this little piece that animation of language and idea, which always affords the most secure promise of genius.

The first edition is printed for Henry Herringman, 1661.








In that wild deluge where the world was drowned,
When life and sin one common tomb had found,
The first small prospect of a rising hill
With various notes of joy the ark did fill:
Yet when that flood in its own depths was drowned,
It left behind it false and slippery ground;
And the more solemn pomp was still deferred,
'Till new-born nature in fresh looks appeared.
Thus, Royal Sir, to see you landed here,
Was cause enough of triumph for a year:
Nor would your care those glorious joys repeat,
'Till they at once might be secure and great;
'Till your kind beams, by their continued stay,
Had warmed the ground, and called the damps away.
Such vapours, while your powerful influence dries,
Then soonest vanish when they highest rise.
Had greater haste these sacred rites prepared,
Some guilty months had in your triumphs shared;[68]
But this untainted year is all your own,
Your glories may without our crimes be shown.
We had not yet exhausted all our store,
When you refreshed our joys by adding more:
As heaven, of old, dispensed celestial dew,
You gave us manna, and still gave us new.
Now our sad ruins are removed from sight,
The season too comes fraught with new delight:
Time seems not now beneath his years to stoop,
Nor do his wings with sickly feathers droop:
Soft western winds waft o'er the gaudy spring,
And opened scenes of flowers and blossoms bring,
To grace this happy day, while you appear,
Not king of us alone, but of the year.
All eyes you draw, and with the eyes the heart;
Of your own pomp yourself the greatest part:
Loud shouts the nation's happiness proclaim,
And heaven this day is feasted with your name.
Your cavalcade the fair spectators view,
From their high standings, yet look up to you.
From your brave train each singles out a prey,
And longs to date a conquest from your day.
Now charged with blessings while you seek repose,
Officious slumbers haste your eyes to close;
And glorious dreams stand ready to restore
The pleasing shapes of all you saw before.
Next to the sacred temple you are led,
Where waits a crown for your more sacred head.
How justly from the church that crown is due,
Preserved from ruin, and restored by you!
The grateful choir their harmony employ,
Not to make greater, but more solemn joy.
Wrapt soft and warm your name is sent on high,
As flames do on the wings of incense fly.
Music herself is lost; in vain she brings
Her choicest notes to praise the best of kings:
Her melting strains in you a tomb have found,
And lie like bees in their own sweetness drowned.
He, that brought peace, all[69] discord could atone,
His name is music of itself alone.
Now while the sacred oil anoints your head,
And fragrant scents, begun from you, are spread
Through the large dome, the people's joyful sound,
Sent back, is still preserved in hallowed ground;
Which in one blessing mixed descends on you,
As heightened spirits fall in richer dew.
Not that our wishes do increase your store;
Full of yourself you can admit no more.
We add not to your glory, but employ
Our time, like angels, in expressing joy.
Nor is it duty, or our hopes alone,
Create that joy, but full fruition:
We know those blessings, which we must possess,
And judge of future by past happiness.
No promise can oblige a prince so much
Still to be good, as long to have been such.
A noble emulation heats your breast,
And your own fame now robs you of your rest.
Good actions still must be maintained with good,
As bodies nourished with resembling food.
You have already quenched sedition's brand;
And zeal, which burnt it, only warms the land.
The jealous sects, that dare not trust their cause
So far from their own will as to the laws,
You for their umpire and their synod take,
And their appeal alone to Cæsar make.[70]
Kind heaven so rare a temper did provide,
That guilt repenting might in it confide.
Among our crimes oblivion may be set;
But 'tis our king's perfection to forget.
Virtues unknown to these rough northern climes,
From milder heavens you bring, without their crimes.
Your calmness does no after-storms provide,
Nor seeming patience mortal anger hide.
When empire first from families did spring,
Then every father governed as a king;
But you, that are a sovereign prince, allay
Imperial power with your paternal sway.
From those great cares when ease your soul unbends,
Your pleasures are designed to noble ends;
Born to command the mistress of the seas,
Your thoughts themselves in that blue empire please.
Hither in summer evenings you repair,
To taste the fraischeur of the purer air:
Undaunted here you ride, when winter raves,
With Cæsar's heart that rose above the waves.
More I could sing, but fear my numbers stays;
No loyal subject dares that courage praise.
In stately frigates most delight you find,[71]
Where well-drawn battles fire your martial mind.
What to your cares we owe, is learnt from hence,
When even your pleasures serve for our defence.
Beyond your court flows in the admitted tide,[72]
Where in new depths the wondering fishes glide:
Here in a royal bed the waters sleep;
When tired at sea, within this bay they creep.
Here the mistrustful fowl no harm suspects,[73]
So safe are all things which our king protects.
From your loved Thames a blessing yet is due,
Second alone to that it brought in you;
A queen, near whose chaste womb, ordained by fate,
The souls of kings unborn for bodies wait.
It was your love before made discord cease:
Your love is destined to your country's peace.
Both Indies,[74] rivals in your bed, provide
With gold or jewels to adorn your bride;
This to a mighty king presents rich ore,
While that with incense does a god implore.
Two kingdoms wait your doom; and, as you choose,
This must receive a crown, or that must lose.
Thus from your Royal Oak, like Jove's of old,
Are answers sought, and destinies foretold:
Propitious oracles are begged with vows,
And crowns that grow upon the sacred boughs[75].
Your subjects, while you weigh the nation's fate,
Suspend to both their doubtful love or hate.
Choose only, sir, that so they may possess
With their own peace their children's happiness.



Note I.

Some guilty months had in your triumphs shared.

After the Restoration, several of the regicides were condemned to death; but the king, with unexampled lenity, remitted the capital punishment of many of these deep offenders. Only six of the king's judges were executed; and, when to that number are added, the fanatic Peters, who compared the suffering monarch to Barabbas, Coke, the solicitor, who pleaded against Charles on his mock trial, and Hacker, who commanded the guard, and brutally instigated, and even compelled them to cry for execution, we have the number of nine, who suffered for a fact, the most enormous in civilized history, till our age produced a parallel. There was also an insurrection of the fierce and hot-brained sect of fanatics, who called themselves fifth-monarchy men, and devoutly believed, that the Millennium, and the reign of the saints, was about to begin. Willing to contribute their share to this happy consummation, these enthusiasts, headed by the fanatic Venner, rushed into the streets of London; and, though but sixty in number, were not overpowered without long resistance, and much bloodshed. These incidents, Dryden, always happy in his allusion to the events of the day, assigns as a reason for deferring the coronation to an untainted year. Perhaps, however, he only meant to say, that, as Charles was not restored till May, 1660, the preceding months of that year were unworthy to share in the honour, which the coronation would have conferred upon it.


Note II.

The jealous sects——
You for their umpire, and their synod take,
And their appeal alone to Cæsar make.

The conferences held at Savoy House, betwixt the presbyterians and the bishops, excited hopes among those who did not understand the temper of theological controversy, that these two powerful divisions of the protestant church might be reconciled to each other. The quakers, anabaptists, and other inferior sects, applied, by petitions and humble addresses, to the king, to be permitted to worship God, according to their consciences. Thus, the whole modelling of ecclesiastical matters seemed to be in the hands of the king.

Note III.

In stately frigates most delight you find.

Charles the Second had a strong mechanical genius, and understood ship-building, in particular, more completely than became a monarch, if it were possible that a king of England could be too intimately acquainted with what concerns the bulwark of his empire. The king's skill in matters of navigation is thus celebrated by the author of a Poem upon his Majesty's Coronation, the 22d April, 1661, being St George's day.

The seaman's art, and his great end commerce,
Through all the corners of the universe,
Are not alone the subject of your care,
But your delight, and you their polar-star;
And even mechanic arts do find from you,
Both entertainment and improvement too.

Note IV.

Beyond your court flows in the admitted tide.

By the improvements made by Charles the Second on St James's Park, there was a connection made with the river, which Waller has celebrated in these lines, as a work of superior merit to founding a city.

Instead of rivers rolling by the side
Of Eden's garden, here flows in the tide.
The sea, which always served his empire, now
Pays tribute to our prince's pleasure too.
Of famous cities we the founders know;
But rivers old as seas, to which they go,
Are nature's bounty: 'tis of more renown,
To make a river, than to build a town.
On St James's Park, as lately improved by His Majesty.

Note V.

Here the mistrustful fowl no harm suspects.

The canal in St James's park formed a decoy for water-fowl, with which it was stocked. This circumstance, like the former, is noticed by Waller:

Whilst over head a flock of new-sprung fowl
Hangs in the air and does the sun controul.
Darkening the air, they hover o'er, and shrowd
The wanton sailors with a feathered cloud.

The water-fowl, thus celebrated, were particular favourites of the king, who fed them with his own hand. His affection for his dogs and ducks is noticed in many a libel.

Note VI.

Thus from your Royal Oak, like Jove's of old,
Are answers sought, and destinies foretold;
Propitious oracles are begged with vows,
And crowns that grow upon the sacred boughs.

This is in allusion to a device exhibited over the triumphal arch, in Leadenhall street, through which the king passed in his way from the Tower to Whitehall, on the day of his coronation. Behind a picture of the king appeared, deciphered in a large table, "the Royal Oak, bearing crowns and sceptres, instead of acorns; amongst the leaves in a label

Miraturque novas frondes et non suà poma.

As designing its reward, for the shelter it afforded his majesty, after the fight at Worcester."[76] These devices were invented by John Ogilby, gent., to the conduct of whom the poetical part of the coronation, as it is termed in his writ of privilege, was solely entrusted. The same fancy is commemorated, by the author of[62] "Loyal Reflections on his Majesty's Restoration, Procession, and Coronation," who thus apostrophises the Royal Oak:

Thou vegetive soul, whose glory 'tis and pride
To suffer wounds, or sink, not to divide;
Whose branches Ogilby's rich fancy made
Bear crowns for nuts, but thy best fruit was shade.
When Charles lodged in thy boughs, thou couldst not want
Many degrees to be a sensitive plant.


The great statesman, to whom Dryden made this new-year's offering, was the well known Earl of Clarendon, of whose administration Hume gives the following striking account:

"Clarendon not only behaved with wisdom and justice in the office of chancellor: all the counsels, which he gave the king, tended equally to promote the interest of prince and people. Charles, accustomed, in his exile, to pay entire deference to the judgment of this faithful servant, continued still to submit to his direction; and for some time no minister was ever possessed of more absolute authority. He moderated the forward zeal of the royalists, and tempered their appetite for revenge. With the opposite party, he endeavoured to preserve, inviolate, all the king's engagements. He kept an exact register of the promises which had been made, for any service; and he employed all his industry to fulfil them."

Notwithstanding the merits of Clarendon, and our author's prophecy in the following verses, that

He had already wearied fortune so,
She could no longer be his friend or foe;

this great statesman was doomed to be one of the numberless victims to the uncertainty of court favour. His fall took place in 1667, when he was attainted and banished. The popular discontent was chiefly excited against him, by a groundless charge of corruption; an accusation to which the vulgar lend a greedy and implicit faith, because ignorance is always suspicious, and low minds, not knowing how seldom avarice is the companion of ambition, conceive the opportunities of peculation to be not only[64] numerous, but irresistibly tempting. Accordingly, the heroes of Athens, as well as the patriots of Rome, were usually stigmatized with this crime; bare suspicion of which, it would seem, is usually held adequate to the fullest proof. Nor have instances been wanting in our own days, of a party adopting the same mode, to blacken the character of those, whose firmness and talents impeded their access to power, and public confidence.

In the address to the Chancellor, Dryden has indulged his ingenuity in all the varied and prolonged comparisons and conceits, which were the taste of his age. Johnson has exemplified Dryden's capacity of producing these elaborate trifles, by referring to the passage, which compares the connection between the king and his minister, to the visible horizon. "It is," says he, "so successfully laboured, that though at last it gives the mind more perplexity than pleasure, and seems hardly worth the study that it costs; yet it must be valued, as the proof of a mind at once subtle and comprehensive." The following couplet, referring to the friendship of Charles I, when in his distresses, for Clarendon, contains a comparison, which is eminently happy:

Our setting sun, from his declining seat,
Shot beams of kindness on you, not of heat.

In general, this poem displays more uniform adherence to the metaphysical style of Cowley, and his contemporaries, than occurs in any of Dryden's other compositions. May we not suppose, that, in addressing Clarendon, he adopted the style of those muses, with whom the Chancellor had conversed in his earlier days, in preference to the plainer and more correct taste, which Waller, and Denham, had begun to introduce; but which, to the aged statesman, could have brought no recollection of what he used to consider as poetry? Certain, at least, it is, that, to use the strong language of Johnson, Dryden never after ventured "to bring on the anvil such stubborn and unmanageable thoughts;" and these lines afford striking evidence, how the lever of genius, like that of machinery applied to material substances, can drag together, and compel the approximation of the most unsociable ideas. Our admiration of both, however, is much qualified, when they are applied rather to make exhibition of their own powers, than for any better purpose.




presented on new-year's day, 1662.


While flattering crouds officiously appear
To give themselves, not you, an happy year,
And by the greatness of their presents prove
How much they hope, but not how well they love,—
The Muses, who your early courtship boast,
Though now your flames are with their beauty lost,
Yet watch their time, that, if you have forgot
They were your mistresses, the world may not.
Decayed by time and wars, they only prove
Their former beauty by their former love;
And now present, as ancient ladies do,
That, courted long, at length are forced to woo:
For still they look on you with such kind eyes,
As those, that see the Church's sovereign rise,
From their own order chose, in whose high state
They think themselves the second choice of fate.
When our great monarch into exile went,
Wit and religion suffered banishment.
Thus once, when Troy was wrapped in fire and smoke,
The helpless gods their burning shrines forsook;
They with the vanquished prince and party go,
And leave their temples empty to the foe.
At length the Muses stand, restored again
To that great charge which nature did ordain;
And their loved druids seem revived by fate,
While you dispense the laws, and guide the state.
The nation's soul, our monarch, does dispense,
Through you, to us his vital influence:
You are the channel, where those spirits flow,
And work them higher, as to us they go.
In open prospect nothing bounds our eye,
Until the earth seems joined unto the sky:
So in this hemisphere, our utmost view
Is only bounded by our king and you;
Our sight is limited where you are joined,
And beyond that no farther heaven can find.
So well your virtues do with his agree,
That, though your orbs of different greatness be,
Yet both are for each other's use disposed,
His to inclose, and yours to be inclosed:
Nor could another in your room have been,
Except an emptiness had come between.
Well may he, then, to you his cares impart,
And share his burden where he shares his heart.
In you his sleep still wakes; his pleasures find
Their share of business in your labouring mind.
So, when the weary sun his place resigns,
He leaves his light, and by reflection shines.
Justice, that sits and frowns where public laws
Exclude soft mercy from a private cause,
In your tribunal most herself does please;
There only smiles because she lives at ease;
And, like young David, finds her strength the more,
When disincumbered from those arms she wore.
Heaven would your royal master should exceed
Most in that virtue, which we most did need;
And his mild father (who too late did find
All mercy vain but what with power was joined)
His fatal goodness left to fitter times,
Not to increase, but to absolve our crimes:
But when the heir of this vast treasure knew
How large a legacy was left to you,
(Too great for any subject to retain)
He wisely tied it to the crown again;
Yet, passing through your hands, it gathers more,
As streams, through mines, bear tincture of their ore.
While emp'ric politicians use deceit,
Hide what they give, and cure but by a cheat;
You boldly shew that skill which they pretend,
And work by means as noble as your end;
Which should you veil, we might unwind the clue,
As men do nature, till we came to you.
And, as the Indies were not found before
Those rich perfumes, which, from the happy shore,
The winds upon their balmy wings conveyed,
Whose guilty sweetness first their world betrayed;
So, by your counsels, we are brought to view
A rich and undiscovered world in you.
By you our monarch does that fame assure,
Which kings must have, or cannot live secure:
For prosperous princes gain their subjects' heart,
Who love that praise in which themselves have part.
By you he fits those subjects to obey,
As heaven's eternal monarch does convey
His power unseen, and man, to his designs,
By his bright ministers, the stars, inclines.
Our setting sun, from his declining seat,
Shot beams of kindness on you, not of heat;
And, when his love was bounded in a few
That were unhappy, that they might be true,
Made you the favourite of his last sad times,
That is a sufferer in his subjects' crimes:
Thus, those first favours you received, were sent,
Like heaven's rewards, in earthly punishment:
Yet fortune, conscious of your destiny,
E'en then took care to lay you softly by,
And wrapped your fate among her precious things,
Kept fresh to be unfolded with your king's.
Shewn all at once, you dazzled so our eyes,
As new-born Pallas did the gods surprise,
When, springing forth from Jove's new-closing wound,
She struck the warlike spear into the ground;
Which sprouting leaves did suddenly inclose,
And peaceful olives shaded as they rose.
How strangely active are the arts of peace,
Whose restless motions less than war's do cease!
Peace is not freed from labour, but from noise;
And war more force, but not more pains employs.
Such is the mighty swiftness of your mind,
That, like the earth, it leaves our sense behind,
While you so smoothly turn and roll our sphere,
That rapid motion does but rest appear.
For, as in nature's swiftness, with the throng
Of flying orbs while ours is borne along,
All seems at rest to the deluded eye,
Moved by the soul of the same harmony;
So, carried on by your unwearied care,
We rest in peace, and yet in motion share.
Let envy, then, those crimes within you see,
From which the happy never must be free;
(Envy, that does with misery reside,
The joy and the revenge of ruined pride.)
Think it not hard, if, at so cheap a rate,
You can secure the constancy of fate,
Whose kindness sent what does their malice seem,
By lesser ills the greater to redeem;
Nor can we this weak shower a tempest call,
But drops of heat that in the sun-shine fall.
You have already wearied Fortune so,
She cannot farther be your friend or foe;
But sits all breathless, and admires to feel
A fate so weighty, that it stops our wheel.
In all things else above our humble fate,
Your equal mind yet swells not into state,
But, like some mountain in those happy isles,
Where in perpetual spring young nature smiles,
Your greatness shews; no horror to affright,
But trees for shade, and flowers to court the sight:
Sometimes the hill submits itself a while
In small descents, which do its height beguile;
And sometimes mounts, but so as billows play,
Whose rise not hinders, but makes short, our way.
Your brow, which does no fear of thunder know,
Sees rolling tempests vainly beat below;
And, like Olympus' top, the impression wears
Of love and friendship writ in former years.
Yet unimpaired with labours, or with time,
Your age but seems to a new youth to climb.
Thus heavenly bodies do our time beget,
And measure change, but share no part of it.
And still it shall without a weight increase,
Like this new-year, whose motions never cease:
For, since the glorious course you have begun
Is led by Charles, as that is by the sun,
It must both weightless and immortal prove,
Because the centre of it is above.



This Satire was, as the title informs us, written in 1662: probably towards the latter end of the year, when Charles, having quarrelled with De Wit, then at the head of the public affairs of Holland, was endeavouring to patch up an union with France, to which kingdom he was naturally partial, against the States, whom he hated, both as a republic, and an association of vulgar merchants. This impolitic alliance did not then take place, notwithstanding the sale of Dunkirk, (conquered by the arms of Cromwell,) to France, for L.400,000. On the contrary, in 1665 France armed in defence of Holland. But this was contrary to the expectations and wishes of Charles; and accordingly Dryden, in 1662, alludes to the union of the two crowns against the States as a probable event.

The verses are adapted to the comprehension of the vulgar, whom they were intended to inflame. Bold invective, and coarse raillery, supply the place of the wit and argument, with which Dryden, when the time fitted, knew so well how to arm his satire.

The verses, such as they are, appeared to the author well qualified for the purpose intended; for, when, in 1672, his tragedy of "Amboyna" was brought forward, to exasperate the nation against Holland, the following verses were almost literally woven into the prologue and epilogue of that piece. See Vol. V. pp. 10. 87. Nevertheless, as forming a link in our author's poetical progress, the present Editor has imitated his predecessors, in reprinting them among his satires and political pieces.



As needy gallants, in the scrivener's hands,
Court the rich knaves that gripe their mortgaged lands;
The first fat buck of all the season's sent,
And keeper takes no fee in compliment;
The dotage of some Englishmen is such,
To fawn on those who ruin them,—the Dutch.
They shall have all, rather than make a war
With those who of the same religion are.
The Straits, the Guinea-trade, the herrings too;
Nay, to keep friendship, they shall pickle you.
Some are resolved not to find out the cheat,
But, cuckold-like, love them that do the feat.
What injuries soe'er upon us fall,
Yet still the same religion answers all:—
Religion wheedled us to civil war,
Drew English blood, and Dutchmen's now would spare.
Be gulled no longer, for you'll find it true,
They have no more religion, faith! than you.
Interest's the god they worship in their state;
And we, I take it, have not much of that.
Well monarchies may own religion's name;
But states are atheists in their very frame.
They share a sin: and such proportions fall,
That, like a stink, 'tis nothing to them all.
Think on their rapine, falsehood, cruelty,
And that, what once they were they still would be.
To one well-born the affront is worse and more,
When he's abused and baffled by a boor.
With an ill grace the Dutch their mischiefs do;
They've both ill nature and ill manners too.
Well may they boast themselves an ancient nation;
For they were bred ere manners were in fashion:
And their new commonwealth hath set them free
Only from honour and civility.
Venetians do not more uncouthly ride,
Than did their lubber state mankind bestride;
Their sway became them with as ill a main,
As their own paunches swell above their chin.
Yet is their empire no true growth, but humour,
And only two kings' touch can cure the tumour.[77]
As Cato fruits of Afric did display,
Let us before our eyes their Indies lay:
All loyal English will like him conclude,—
Let Cæsar live, and Carthage be subdued.[78]




The Duchess, here addressed, was Anne Hyde, daughter of the Earl of Clarendon, and first wife of James, Duke of York, afterwards James II. She appears to have been a woman of first-rate talents, as well as exemplary prudence. Of the last qualification she gave a singular proof, when her marriage with the Duke was declared. She had admitted James to her bed while abroad, under a solemn promise of marriage. Many endeavoured to dissuade him from completing this unequal alliance; and that a motive, at least an apology, might be supplied for a retreat from his engagements, Lord Falmouth, Killigrew, and other courtiers, did not hesitate to boast of favours received from the lady. When the king's regard for his minister, and James's attachment to his betrothed wife, occasioned the confirmation of the marriage, these zealous witnesses found themselves in an unpleasing predicament, till the Duchess took an opportunity of assuring them, that she was far from harbouring the least resentment at the reports they had raised, since they believed them calculated to promote the interest of their master and her husband.[79] It may be presumed, that Dryden had already attached himself to the fortunes of the Duke of York, since he so early addressed the princess, whose posthumous avowal of the Catholic faith he afterwards attempted to vindicate.

The victory of the 23d June, 1665, was gained by the British fleet, commanded by the Duke of York, over the Dutch, under the[74] famous Opdam. It was, like all naval actions between the English and the Dutch, a fierce, obstinate, and bloody conflict. The fleets met near Harwich on the 2d June; but the Dutch declined action upon that day, from a superstitious recollection that it was the anniversary of a dreadful defeat, received from Blake and Monk in 1653, in which they lost their famous Admiral, Von Tromp. But on the morning of the third, the fleets joined battle so near the shore, that the thunder of the combat was heard all along the English coast. York and Opdam singled each other out, and lay alongside in close action, till the Dutch vessel (a second rate) was blown up, and all on board perished. The Dutch fleet then dispersed and fled, losing nineteen ships sunk and taken, while the English lost only one. During this dreadful battle the Duke of York displayed the greatest personal courage. He was in the thickest of the fire, when one cannon-shot killed Lord Falmouth, Lord Muskerry, and Mr Boyle, by his side, and covered him with the gore of the most faithful and attached companions of his fortune. Yet this day, the brightest which ever shone on him, was not without a cloud. When the Dutch fleet were scattered, and an active pursuit was all that remained to the victors, Brounker, a gentleman of the Duke's bed-chamber, commanded Sir John Harman, in the Duke's name, to slacken sail. James was then asleep, and the flimsy pretext of not disturbing his repose was set up as a reason for this most untimely interference. The affair was never well explained. The Duke dismissed Brounker from his service, and a parliamentary investigation of his conduct took place.[80] But no adequate punishment was inflicted, and the nation saw, with displeasure, the fruits of a dear-bought and splendid victory lost by the unauthorized interference of an officious minion.

The Duchess, as we learn, amongst other authorities, from an old libel, came down to Harwich to see her husband embark, and[75] afterwards made the triumphant progress to the north, which is here commemorated. The splendour of her reception at Harwich is thus censured by the Satirist:

One thrifty ferry-boat, of mother-pearl,
Sufficed of old the Citherean girl;
Yet navies are but fopperies, when here
A small sea mask, and built to court your dear:
Three goddesses in one, Pallas for art,
Venus for sport, but Juno in your heart.
O Duchess, if thy nuptial pomp was mean,
'Tis paid with interest in thy naval scene.
Never did Roman Mark, within the Nile,
So feast the fair Egyptian crocodile;
Nor the Venetian Duke, with such a state,
The Adriatic marry at that rate.

The poem itself is adapted to the capacity and taste of a lady; and, if we compare it with that which Dryden had two years before addressed to the Chancellor, it strengthens, I think, very strongly the supposition, that the old taste of extravagant and over-laboured conceits, with which the latter abounds, was a stile purposely adapted to gratify the great Statesman to whom it was addressed, whose taste must necessarily have been formed upon the ancient standard. The address, which follows, is throughout easy and complimentary, much in the stile of Waller, as appears from comparing it with that veteran bard's poem on the same subject. Although upon a sublime subject, Dryden treats it in the light most capable of giving pleasure to a fair lady; and the journey of the duchess to the north is proposed as a theme, nearly as important as the celebrated victory of her husband.

Accordingly Dryden himself tells us, in the introductory letter to the "Annus Mirabilis," that, in these lines, he only affected smoothness of measure and softness of expression; and the verses themselves were originally introduced in that letter, to vindicate the character there given of them.





When, for our sakes, your hero you resigned
To swelling seas, and every faithless wind;
When you released his courage, and set free
A valour fatal to the enemy;
You lodged your country's cares within your breast,
(The mansion where soft love should only rest,)
And, ere our foes abroad were overcome,
The noblest conquest you had gained at home.
Ah, what concerns did both your souls divide!
Your honour gave us what your love denied;
And 'twas for him much easier to subdue
Those foes he fought with, than to part from you.
That glorious day, which two such navies saw,
As each unmatched might to the world give law,
Neptune, yet doubtful whom he should obey,
Held to them both the trident of the sea:
The winds were hushed, the waves in ranks were cast,
As awfully as when God's people past:
Those, yet uncertain on whose sails to blow,
These, where the wealth of nations ought to flow.
{  Then with the duke your Highness ruled the day:
{  While all the brave did his command obey,
{  The fair and pious under you did pray.
How powerful are chaste vows! the wind and tide
You bribed to combat on the English side.
Thus to your much-loved lord you did convey
An unknown succour, sent the nearest way.
New vigour to his wearied arms you brought,
(So Moses was upheld while Israel fought)[81]
While, from afar, we heard the cannon play,
Like distant thunder on a shiny day.[82]
For absent friends we were ashamed to fear,
When we considered what you ventured there.
Ships, men, and arms, our country might restore,
But such a leader could supply no more.
With generous thoughts of conquest he did burn,
Yet fought not more to vanquish than return.
Fortune and victory he did pursue,
To bring them, as his slaves, to wait on you:
Thus beauty ravished the rewards of fame,
And the fair triumphed, when the brave o'ercame.
Then, as you meant to spread another way
By land your conquests, far as his by sea,
Leaving our southern clime, you marched along
The stubborn north, ten thousand Cupids strong.
Like commons the nobility resort,
In crowding heaps, to fill your moving court:
To welcome your approach the vulgar run,
Like some new envoy from the distant sun;
And country beauties by their lovers go,
Blessing themselves, and wondering at the show.
So, when the new-born Phœnix first is seen,
Her feathered subjects all adore their queen,
And, while she makes her progress through the east,
From every grove her numerous train's increased:
Each poet of the air her glory sings,
And round him the pleased audience clap their wings.



Note I.

So Moses was upheld while Israel fought.

"And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.

"But Moses' hands were heavy, and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon: and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side, and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.

"And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword." Exodus, chap. xvii. 11, 12, 13th verses.

Note II.

While, from afar, we heard the cannon play,
Like distant thunder on a shiny day.

The noise of the battle was distinctly heard at London, as appears from the Introduction to our author's "Essay on Dramatic Poetry," where the dialogue is supposed to pass in a barge, in which the speakers had embarked to hear more distinctly, "those undulations of sound, which, though almost vanishing before they reached them, seemed yet to retain somewhat of their first horror which they had betwixt the fleets." And, by the sound seeming to retire from them, Eugenius draws an omen of the enemy's defeat. This whole scene is imagined with so much liveliness, that we can hardly doubt Dryden was actually an ear-witness of the combat.



This is the first poem of any length which Dryden gave to the public. Formerly he had only launched out in occasional verses, and, in some instances, on subjects of no prominent importance. He now spread a broader canvas, and prepared to depict a more extensive and magnificent scene. The various incidents of an eventful war between two powerful nations, who disputed the trident of the ocean, and the tremendous fire, which had laid London in ashes, were subjects which still continued to agitate the bosoms of his countrymen. These, therefore, he ventured to assume as the theme of his poem; and his choice is justified by the effects which it yet produces upon the reader.

There would have been no doubt, even had the author himself been silent, that he followed D'Avenant in the choice of the elegiac stanza, in which the Annus Mirabilis is composed. It is sounding and harmonious to the ear; and perhaps Dryden still annexed to the couplet the idea of that harshness, which was so long its characteristick in the hands of our early English writers. But the four-lined stanza has also its peculiar disadvantages; and they are admirably stated by the judicious critic, who first turned the Editor's eyes, and probably those of many others, on the neglected poem of "Gondibert."—"The necessity of comprising a sentence within the limits of the measure, is the tyranny of Procrustes to thought. For the sake of a disagreeable uniformity, expression must constantly be cramped or extenuated. In general, the latter expedient will be practised as the easiest; and thus both sentiment and language will be enfeebled by unmeaning expletives."[83] It is nevertheless true, that Dryden has very seldom suffered his poem to languish. Every stanza presents us either with vivid description, or with some strong thought, which is seldom suffered to glide into tenuity. But this structure of verse has often laid him under an odd and rather unpleasing necessity, of filling up his stanza, by coupling a simile, or a moral, expressed in the two last lines, along with[84] the fact, which had been announced in the two first. When these comments, or illustrations, however good in themselves, appear to be intruded upon the narrative or description, and not naturally to flow out of either, they must be considered as defects in composition; and a kind of versification, which compels frequent recurrence to such expedients for filling up the measure, has a disadvantage, for which mere harmony can hardly compensate. In the passages which follow, there is produced a stiff and awkward kind of balance between the story and the poet's reflections and illustrations.

Lawson among the foremost met his fate,
Whom sea-green Sirens from the rocks lament:
Thus as an offering for the Grecian state,
He first was killed, who first to battle went.

To nearest ports their shattered ships repair,
Where by our dreadful cannon they lay awed
So reverently men quit the open air,
Where thunder speaks the angry gods abroad.

Like hunted castors, conscious of their store,
Their way-laid wealth to Norway's coasts they bring;
There first the North's cold bosom spices bore,
And winter brooded on the eastern spring.

When, after such verses, we find one in which the author expresses a single idea so happily, as just to fill up the quatrain, the difference is immediately visible, betwixt a simile easily and naturally introduced, and stanzas made up and levelled with what a poet of those times would perhaps have ventured to call the travelled earth of versification:

And now four days the sun had seen our woes;
Four nights the moon beheld the incessant fire;
It seemed as if the stars more sickly rose,
And farther from the feverish north retire.

Of all these difficulties our author seems to have been aware, from his preliminary epistle to Sir Robert Howard; and it was probably the experimental conviction, that they were occasionally invincible, which induced him thenceforward to desert the quatrain; although he has decided that stanza to be more noble, and of greater dignity, both for the sound and number, than any other verse in use among us.

The turn of composition, as well as the structure of the verse, is adopted from "Gondibert." But Dryden, more completely master[85] of the English language, and a writer of much more lively imagination and expression, has, in general, greatly exceeded his master in conceiving and bringing out the far-fetched ideas and images, with which each has graced his poem. D'Avenant is often harsh and turgid, and the construction of his sentences extremely involved. Dryden has his obscure, and even unintelligible, passages; but they arise from the extravagance of the idea, not from the want of power to express it. For example, D'Avenant says,

Near her seems crucified that lucky thief,
In heaven's dark lottery prosperous more than wise,
Who groped at last by chance for heaven's relief,
And throngs undoes with hopes by one drawn prize.

We here perfectly understand the author's meaning, through his lumbering and unpoetical expression; but, in the following stanza, Dryden is unintelligible, because he had conceived an idea approaching to nonsense, while the words themselves are both poetical and expressive:

Then we upon our globe's last verge shall go,
And view the ocean leaning on the sky;
From thence our rolling neighbours we shall know,
And on the lunar world securely pry.

In short, Dryden never fails in the power of elegant expression, till he ventures upon something which it is impossible to express.

The love of conceit and point, that inveterate though decaying disease of the literature of the time, has not failed to infect the Annus Mirabilis. That monstrous verse, in which the extinction of the fire is described, cannot be too often quoted, both to expose the meanness of the image, and the confusion of the metaphor; for it will be noticed, that the extinguisher, so unhappily conceived, is not even employed in its own mean office. The flames of London are first a tallow candle; and secondly hawks, which, while pouncing on their quarry, are hooded with an extinguisher:

An hollow crystal pyramid he takes,
In firmamental waters dipt above;
Of it a broad extinguisher he makes,
And hoods the flames that to their quarry drove.

Passages also occur, in which, from the author's zealous desire to be technically minute, the style becomes low and vulgar. There is no doubt, that, as Dryden has observed, the proper terms of art may be not only justly, but with the highest advantage, employed in poetry; but such technical phrases require to be selected[86] with great judgment: they must bear relation to some striking and important object, or they are mean and trivial; and they must be at once generally intelligible, and more expressive in themselves than ordinary language, or they are unnecessarily obscure and pedantic. Dryden has failed in both these points, in his account of the repairs of the fleet.[84] Stanza 148, in particular, combines the faults of meanness and unnecessary obscurity, from the affected use of the dialect of the dock-yard:

Some the galled ropes with dawby marline bind,
Or searcloth masts with strong tarpawling coats:
To try new shrouds one mounts into the wind,
And one below their ease or stiffness notes.

Other examples might be produced of the faults of this remarkable poem; but it is time to say, that they are much overbalanced by its beauties. If Dryden is sometimes obscure, from the extravagance of his imagination, or the far-fetched labour of his similes, and if his desire to use appropriate language has occasionally led him into low and affected minuteness, this poem exhibits a far greater number of instances of happy and judicious illustration, beautiful description, and sublime morality. The comparison of the secret rise of the fire of London to the obscure birth of an usurper, is doubly striking, when we consider how closely the passage may be understood to bear reference to the recent domination of the Protector.[85] I will not load these preliminary observations, by inserting the whole of the striking passage, on the different manner in which the night, after the battle of the first of June, was passed on board the English and Dutch fleets; but certainly the 71st stanza will not lose, by being an hundred times quoted:

In dreams they fearful precipices tread;
Or, shipwrecked, labour to some distant shore;
Or in dark churches walk among the dead;
They wake with horror, and dare sleep no more.

The verses, in which Prince Rupert and his enemy are compared to a greyhound and hare, after a course so desperate as totally to exhaust both, have been always considered as exquisitely beautiful.[86] The description of the Loyal London partakes of the [87]beauties and faults which are dispersed through the poem. Nothing can be more majestic than her description, "firing the air with her sanguine streamers," and "riding upon her shadow in floating gold." We lament, that the weaver should have been so fascinated with his labours as to commence seaman; and still more, that, after describing her "roomy decks," and "depth of draught," she should furnish no grander simile than that of

——a sea-wasp floating on the waves.

More unqualified approbation may be justly afforded to the whole description of the Dutch homeward-bound fleet, captured in sight of their desired haven; and the fine moral lessons which the poet takes the opportunity to inculcate, from so unexpected an incident. The 34th stanza has a tenderness and simplicity, which every lover of true poetry must admire:

This careful husband had been long away,
Whom his chaste wife and little children mourn;
Who on their fingers learned to tell the day
On which their father promised to return.

I will only point out to attention the beautiful and happily expressed simile of the eagle in stanzas 107 and 108, and then, in imitation of honest John Bunyan,

No more detain the readers in the porch,
Or keep them from the day-light with a torch.

The title of Annus Mirabilis did not, according to Mr Malone, originate with Dryden; a prose tract, so intitled, being published in 1662.[87] Neither was he the last that used it; for, the learned[88] editor of "Predictions and Observations, collected from Mr J. Partridge's Almanacks for 1687 and 1688," has so entitled his astrological lucubrations.

The Annus Mirabilis was first printed in octavo, in 1667, the year succeeding that which was the subject of the poem. The quarto edition of 1688, which seems very correct, has been employed in correcting that of Derrick in a few trifling instances.




As, perhaps, I am the first who ever presented a work of this nature to the metropolis of any nation, so it is likewise consonant to justice, that he, who was to give the first example of such a dedication, should begin it with that city, which has set a pattern to all others, of true loyalty, invincible courage, and unshaken constancy. Other cities have been praised for the same virtues, but I am much deceived if any have so dearly purchased their reputation: their fame has been won them by cheaper trials than an expensive, though necessary war, a consuming pestilence, and a more consuming fire. To submit yourselves with that humility to the judgments of heaven, and, at the same time, to raise yourselves with that vigour above all human enemies; to be combated at once from above, and from[90] below; to be struck down, and to triumph,—I know not whether such trials have been ever paralleled in any nation: the resolution and successes of them never can be. Never had prince or people more mutual reason to love each other, if suffering for each other can endear affection. You have come together a pair of matchless lovers, through many difficulties; he, through a long exile, various traverses of fortune, and the interposition of many rivals, who violently ravished and with-held you from him; and certainly you have had your share in sufferings. But providence has cast upon you want of trade, that you might appear bountiful to your country's necessities; and the rest of your afflictions are not more the effects of God's displeasure (frequent examples of them having been in the reign of the most excellent princes) than occasions for the manifesting of your christian and civil virtues. To you, therefore, this Year of Wonders is justly dedicated, because you have made it so; you, who are to stand a wonder to all years and ages; and who have built yourselves an immortal monument on your own ruins. You are now a Phœnix in her ashes, and, as far as humanity can approach, a great emblem of the suffering Deity; but heaven never made so much piety and virtue to leave it miserable. I have heard, indeed, of some virtuous persons who have ended unfortunately, but never of any virtuous nation: Providence is engaged too deeply, when the cause becomes so general; and I cannot imagine it has resolved that ruin of the people at home, which it has blessed abroad with such successes. I am therefore to conclude, that your sufferings are at an end; and that one part of my poem has not been more an history of your destruction, than the other a prophecy of your restoration.[91] The accomplishment of which happiness, as it is the wish of all true Englishmen, so is it by none more passionately desired, than by

The greatest of your admirers,

And most humble of your servants,

John Dryden.




I am so many ways obliged to you, and so little able to return your favours, that, like those who owe too much, I can only live by getting farther into your debt. You have not only been careful of my fortune, which was the effect of your nobleness, but you have been solicitous of my reputation, which is that of your kindness. It is not long since I gave you the trouble of perusing a play for me,[89] and now, instead of an acknowledgment, I have given you a greater, in the correction of a poem. But since you are to bear this persecution, I will at least give you the encouragement of a martyr,—you[93] could never suffer in a nobler cause; for I have chosen the most heroic subject, which any poet could desire. I have taken upon me to describe the motives, the beginning, progress, and successes, of a most just and necessary war; in it, the care, management, and prudence of our king; the conduct and valour of a royal admiral, and of two incomparable generals; the invincible courage of our captains and seamen; and three glorious victories, the result of all. After this, I have, in the Fire, the most deplorable, but withal the greatest, argument that can be imagined; the destruction being so swift, so sudden, so vast and miserable, as nothing can parallel in story. The former part of this poem, relating to the war, is but a due expiation for my not serving my king and country in it. All gentlemen are almost obliged to it; and I know no reason we should give that advantage to the commonalty of England, to be foremost in brave actions, which the nobles of France would never suffer in their peasants. I should not have written this but to a person, who has been ever forward to appear in all employments, whither his honour and generosity have called him. The latter part of my poem, which describes the Fire, I owe, first, to the piety and fatherly affection of our monarch to his suffering subjects; and, in the second place, to the courage, loyalty, and magnanimity of the city; both which were so conspicuous, that I have wanted words to celebrate them as they deserve. I have called my poem historical, not epic, though both the actions and actors are as much heroic as any poem can contain. But, since the action is not properly one, nor that accomplished in the last successes, I have judged it too bold a title for a few stanzas, which are little more in number than a single Iliad, or the longest of the Æneids. For this[94] reason, (I mean not of length, but broken action, tied too severely to the laws of history) I am apt to agree with those, who rank Lucan rather among historians in verse, than Epic poets; in whose room, if I am not deceived, Silius Italicus, though a worse writer, may more justly be admitted. I have chosen to write my poem in quatrains, or stanzas of four in alternate rhyme, because I have ever judged them more noble, and of greater dignity, both for the sound and number, than any other verse in use amongst us; in which I am sure I have your approbation. The learned languages have certainly a great advantage of us, in not being tied to the slavery of any rhyme; and were less constrained in the quantity of every syllable, which they might vary with spondees or dactyls, besides so many other helps of grammatical figures, for the lengthening or abbreviation of them, than the modern are in the close of that one syllable, which often confines, and more often corrupts, the sense of all the rest. But in this necessity of our rhymes, I have always found the couplet verse most easy, (though not so proper for this occasion,) for there the work is sooner at an end, every two lines concluding the labour of the poet; but in quatrains he is to carry it farther on, and not only so, but to bear along in his head the troublesome sense of four lines together. For, those, who write correctly in this kind, must needs acknowledge, that the last line of the stanza is to be considered in the composition of the first. Neither can we give ourselves the liberty of making any part of a verse for the sake of rhyme, or concluding with a word which is not current English, or using the variety of female rhymes,[90] all which our fathers practised; and for the female rhymes, they are still in use amongst other nations;[95] with the Italian in every line, with the Spaniard promiscuously, with the French alternately, as those who have read the Alaric, the Pucelle, or any of their later poems, will agree with me. And besides this, they write in Alexandrines, or verses of six feet; such as, amongst us, is the old translation of Homer by Chapman:[91] all which, by lengthening of their chain, makes the sphere of their activity the larger.

I have dwelt too long upon the choice of my stanza, which you may remember is much better defended in the preface to "Gondibert;" and therefore I will hasten to acquaint you with my endeavours in the writing. In general I will only say, I have never yet seen the description of any naval fight in the proper terms which are used at sea; and if there be any such, in another language, as that of Lucan in the third of his Pharsalia, yet I could not avail myself of it in the English; the terms of art in every tongue bearing more of the idiom of it than any other words. We hear indeed among our poets, of the thundering of guns, the smoke, the disorder, and the slaughter; but all these are common notions. And certainly, as those, who in a logical dispute keep in general terms, would hide a fallacy; so those, who do it in any poetical description, would veil their ignorance:[92]


Descriptas servare vices, operumque colores,
Cur ego, si nequeo ignoroque, poeta salutor?

For my own part, if I had little knowledge of the sea, yet I have thought it no shame to learn; and if I have made some few mistakes, it is only, as you can bear me witness, because I have wanted opportunity to correct them; the whole poem being first written, and now sent you from a place, where I have not so much as the converse of any seaman. Yet though the trouble I had in writing it was great, it was more than recompensed by the pleasure. I found myself so warm in celebrating the praises of military men, two such especially as the prince and general, that it is no wonder if they inspired me with thoughts above my ordinary level. And I am well satisfied, that, as they are incomparably the best subject I ever had, excepting only the royal family, so also, that this I have written of them is much better than what I have performed on any other. I have been forced to help out other arguments, but this has been bountiful to me; they have been low and barren of praise,[93] and I have exalted them, and made them fruitful; but here—Omnia sponte suà reddit justissima tellus. I have had a large, a fair, and a pleasant field; so fertile, that, without my cultivating, it has given me two harvests in a summer, and in both oppressed the reaper. All other greatness in subjects is only counterfeit; it will not endure the test of danger; the greatness of arms is only real. Other greatness burdens a nation with its weight; this supports it with[97] its strength. And as it is the happiness of the age, so it is the peculiar goodness of the best of kings, that we may praise his subjects without offending him. Doubtless it proceeds from a just confidence of his own virtue, which the lustre of no other can be so great as to darken in him; for the good or the valiant are never safely praised under a bad or a degenerate prince.

But to return from this digression to a farther account of my poem; I must crave leave to tell you, that as I have endeavoured to adorn it with noble thoughts, so much more to express those thoughts with elocution. The composition of all poems is, or ought to be, of wit;[94] and wit in the poet, or wit-writing, (if you will give me leave to use a school-distinction) is no other than the faculty of imagination in the writer, which, like a nimble spaniel, beats over and ranges through the field of memory, 'till it springs the quarry it hunted after; or, without metaphor, which searches over all the memory for the species or ideas of those things, which it designs to represent. Wit written is that which is well defined, the happy result of thought, or product of imagination. But to proceed from wit, in the general notion of it, to the proper wit of an Heroic or Historical Poem, I judge it chiefly to consist in the delightful imagining of persons, actions, passions, or things. It is not the jerk or sting of an epigram, nor the seeming contradiction of a poor antithesis, (the delight of an ill-judging audience in a play of rhyme,) nor the gingle of a more poor paronomasia;[95] neither is it so much the morality of a grave sentence, affected by Lucan, but more sparingly used by Virgil; but it is [98]some lively and apt description, dressed in such colours of speech, that it sets before your eyes the absent object, as perfectly, and more delightfully than nature. So then the first happiness of the poet's imagination is properly invention, or finding of the thought; the second is fancy, or the variation, deriving, or moulding, of that thought, as the judgment represents it proper to the subject; the third is elocution, or the art of clothing and adorning that thought, so found and varied, in apt, significant, and sounding words. The quickness of the imagination is seen in the invention, the fertility in the fancy, and the accuracy in the expression. For the two first of these, Ovid is famous amongst the poets; for the latter, Virgil. Ovid images more often the movements and affections of the mind, either combating between two contrary passions, or extremely discomposed by one. His words therefore are the least part of his care; for he pictures nature in disorder, with which the study and choice of words is inconsistent. This is the proper wit of dialogue or discourse, and consequently of the drama, where all that is said is supposed to be the effect of sudden thought; which, though it excludes not the quickness of wit in repartees, yet admits not a too curious election of words, too frequent allusions, or use of tropes, or, in fine, any thing that shews remoteness of thought, or labour in the writer. On the other side, Virgil speaks not so often to us in the person of another, like Ovid, but in his own: he relates almost all things as from himself, and thereby gains more liberty than the other, to express his thoughts with all the graces of elocution, to write more figuratively, and to confess as well the labour as the force of his imagination. Though he describes his Dido well and naturally, in the violence of her passions, yet he must yield in that to the Myrrha, the Biblis, the Althæa, of Ovid;[99] for, as great an admirer of him as I am, I must acknowledge, that if I see not more of their souls than I see of Dido's, at least I have a greater concernment for them: and that convinces me, that Ovid has touched those tender strokes more delicately than Virgil could. But when action or persons are to be described, when any such image is to be set before us, how bold, how masterly, are the strokes of Virgil! We see the objects he presents us with in their native figures, in their proper motions; but so we see them, as our own eyes could never have beheld them so beautiful in themselves. We see the soul of the poet, like that universal one of which he speaks, informing and moving through all his pictures:

——Totamque infusa per artus
Mens agitat molem, et magno se corpore miscet.

We behold him embellishing his images, as he makes Venus breathing beauty upon her son Æneas:

——lumenque juventæ
Purpureum, & lætos oculis afflârat honores:
Quale manus addunt ebori decus, aut ubi flavo
Argentum, Pariusve lapis, circundatur auro.

See his Tempest, his Funeral Sports, his Combat of Turnus and Æneas: and in his "Georgics," which I esteem the divinest part of all his writings, the Plague, the Country, the Battle of the Bulls, the labour of the Bees; and those many other excellent images of nature, most of which are neither great in themselves, nor have any natural ornament to bear them up; but the words wherewith he describes them are so excellent, that it might be well applied to him, which was said by Ovid, Materium superabat opus: the very sound of his words has often somewhat that is connatural to the subject; and while we read him, we sit, as in a play, beholding the scenes of what he represents. To perform[100] this, he made frequent use of tropes, which you know change the nature of a known word, by applying it to some other signification; and this is it which Horace means in his Epistle to the Piso's:

Dixeris egregiè, notum si callida verbum
Reddiderit junctura novum.——

But I am sensible I have presumed too far to entertain you with a rude discourse of that art, which you both know so well, and put into practice with so much happiness. Yet before I leave Virgil, I must own the vanity to tell you, and by you the world, that he has been my master in this poem. I have followed him every where, I know not with what success, but I am sure with diligence enough; my images are many of them copied from him, and the rest are imitations of him. My expressions also are as near as the idioms of the two languages would admit of in translation. And this, sir, I have done with that boldness, for which I will stand accountable to any of our little critics, who, perhaps, are no better acquainted with him than I am. Upon your first perusal of this poem, you have taken notice of some words, which I have innovated (if it be too bold for me to say refined) upon his Latin; which, as I offer not to introduce into English prose, so I hope they are neither improper, nor altogether inelegant in verse; and, in this, Horace will again defend me:

Et nova, fictaque nuper, habebunt verba fidem, si
Græco fonte cadunt, parcè detorta.——

The inference is exceeding plain; for, if a Roman poet might have liberty to coin a word, supposing only that it was derived from the Greek, was put into a Latin termination, and that he used this liberty but seldom, and with modesty; how much more justly may I challenge that privilege to do it[101] with the same prerequisites, from the best and most judicious of Latin writers? In some places, where either the fancy or the words were his, or any other's, I have noted it in the margin, that I might not seem a plagiary;[96] in others I have neglected it, to avoid as well tediousness, as the affectation of doing it too often. Such descriptions or images well wrought, which I promise not for mine, are, as I have said, the adequate delight of heroic poesy; for they beget admiration, which is its proper object; as the images of the burlesque, which is contrary to this, by the same reason beget laughter: for, the one shews nature beautified, as in the picture of a fair woman, which we all admire; the other shews her deformed, as in that of a lazar, or of a fool with distorted face and antique gestures, at which we cannot forbear to laugh, because it is a deviation from nature. But though the same images serve equally for the Epic poesy, and for the Historic and Panegyric, which are branches of it, yet a several sort of sculpture is to be used in them. If some of them are to be like those of Juvenal, stantes in curribus Æmiliani, heroes drawn in their triumphal chariots, and in their full proportion; others are to be like that of Virgil, spirantia mollius æra: there is somewhat more of softness and tenderness to be shewn in them. You will soon find I write not this without concern. Some, who have seen a paper of verses, which I wrote last year to her highness the Duchess, have accused them of that only thing I could defend in them. They said, I did humi serpere,—that I wanted not only height of fancy, but dignity of words, to set it off. I might well answer with that[102] of Horace, Nunc non erat his locus; I knew I addressed them to a lady, and accordingly I affected the softness of expression, and the smoothness of measure, rather than the height of thought; and in what I did endeavour, it is no vanity to say I have succeeded. I detest arrogance; but there is some difference betwixt that and a just defence. But I will not farther bribe your candour, or the reader's. I leave them to speak for me; and, if they can, to make out that character, not pretending to a greater, which I have given them.[97]

And now, sir, it is time I should relieve you from the tedious length of this account. You have better and more profitable employment for your hours, and I wrong the public to detain you longer. In conclusion, I must leave my poem to you with all its faults, which I hope to find fewer in the printing by your emendations. I know you are not of the number of those, of whom the younger Pliny speaks; Nec sunt parum multi, qui carpere amicos suos judicium vocant: I am rather too secure of you on that side. Your candour in pardoning my errors may make you more remiss in correcting them; if you will not withal consider, that they come into the world with your approbation, and through your hands. I beg from you the greatest favour you can confer upon an absent person, since I repose upon your management what is dearest to me, my fame and reputation; and therefore I hope it will stir you up to make my poem fairer by many of your blots: if not, you know the story of the gamester who married the rich man's daughter, and when her father denied the portion, christened all the children by his sirname, that if, in conclusion, they must[103] beg, they should do so by one name, as well as by the other. But, since the reproach of my faults will light on you, it is but reason I should do you that justice to the readers, to let them know, that, if there be any thing tolerable in this poem, they owe the argument to your choice, the writing to your encouragement, the correction to your judgment, and the care of it to your friendship, to which he must ever acknowledge himself to owe all things, who is,


The most obedient, and most

Faithful of your servants,

John Dryden.

From Charlton, in Wiltshire,
Nov. 10, 1666.



In thriving arts long time had Holland grown,
Crouching at home and cruel when abroad;
Scarce leaving us the means to claim our own;
Our king they courted, and our merchants awed.[98]
Trade, which like blood should circularly flow,
Stopped in their channels, found its freedom lost;
Thither the wealth of all the world did go,
And seemed but shipwrecked on so base a coast.
For them alone the heavens had kindly heat,
In eastern quarries ripening precious dew;[99]
For them the Idumæan balm did sweat,
And in hot Ceylon spicy forests grew.
The sun but seemed the labourer of the year;
Each waxing moon supplied her watery store,[100]
To swell those tides, which from the Line did bear
Their brim-full vessels to the Belgian shore.
Thus, mighty in her ships, stood Carthage long,
And swept the riches of the world from far;
Yet stooped to Rome, less wealthy, but more strong;
And this may prove our second Punic war.[101]
What peace can be, where both to one pretend?
(But they more diligent, and we more strong,)
Or if a peace, it soon must have an end;
For they would grow too powerful, were it long.
Behold two nations then, engaged so far,
That each seven years the fit must shake each land;
Where France will side to weaken us by war,
Who only can his vast designs withstand.
See how he feeds the Iberian[102] with delays,
To render us his timely friendship vain;
And while his secret soul on Flanders preys,
He rocks the cradle of the babe of Spain.[103]
Such deep designs of empire does he lay
O'er them, whose cause he seems to take in hand;
And prudently would make them lords at sea,
To whom with ease he can give laws by land.
This saw our king; and long within his breast
His pensive counsels balanced to and fro;
He grieved the land he freed should be oppressed,
And he less for it than usurpers do.[104]
His generous mind the fair ideas drew
Of fame and honour, which in dangers lay;
Where wealth, like fruit on precipices, grew,
Not to be gathered but by birds of prey.
The loss and gain each fatally were great;
And still his subjects called aloud for war:
But peaceful kings, o'er martial people set,
Each other's poize and counterbalance are.
He first surveyed the charge with careful eyes,
Which none but mighty monarchs could maintain;
Yet judged, like vapours that from limbecks rise,
It would in richer showers descend again.
At length resolved to assert the watery ball,
He in himself did whole Armadas bring;
Him aged seamen might their master call,
And chuse for general, were he not their king.[105]
It seems as every ship their sovereign knows,
His awful summons they so soon obey;—
So hear the scaly herd when Proteus blows,
And so to pasture follow through the sea.[106]
To see this fleet upon the ocean move,
Angels drew wide the curtains of the skies;
And heaven, as if there wanted lights above,
For tapers made two glaring comets rise.[107]
Whether they unctuous exhalations are,
Fired by the sun, or seeming so alone;
Or each some more remote and slippery star,
Which loses footing when to mortals shewn;
Or one, that bright companion of the sun,[108]
Whose glorious aspect sealed our new-born king;
And now, a round of greater years begun,
New influence from his walks of light did bring.
Victorious York did first, with famed success,
To his known valour make the Dutch give place;[109]
Thus heaven our monarch's fortune did confess,
Beginning conquest from his royal race.
But since it was decreed, auspicious king,
In Britain's right that thou shouldst wed the main,
Heaven, as a gage, would cast some precious thing,
And therefore doomed that Lawson should be slain.[110]
Lawson amongst the foremost met his fate,
Whom sea-green Sirens from the rocks lament;
Thus, as an offering for the Grecian state,
He first was killed, who first to battle went.[111]
Their chief blown up, in air, not waves, expired,
To which his pride presumed to give the law;[112]
The Dutch confessed heaven present, and retired,
And all was Britain the wide ocean saw.
To nearest ports their shattered ships repair,
Where by our dreadful cannon they lay awed;
So reverently men quit the open air,
Where thunder speaks the angry gods abroad.
And now approached their fleet from India, fraught
With all the riches of the rising sun;
And precious sand from southern climates brought,
The fatal regions where the war begun.[113]
Like hunted castors, conscious of their store,[114]
Their way-laid wealth to Norway's coast they bring;
There first the North's cold bosom spices bore,
And winter brooded on the eastern spring.
By the rich scent we found our perfumed prey,
Which, flanked with rocks, did close in covert lie;
And round about their murdering cannon lay,
At once to threaten and invite the eye.
Fiercer than cannon, and than rocks more hard,
The English undertake the unequal war;
Seven ships alone, by which the port is barred,
Besiege the Indies, and all Denmark dare.
These fight like husbands, but like lovers those;
These fain would keep, and those more fain enjoy;
And to such height their frantic passion grows,
That what both love, both hazard to destroy.
Amidst whole heaps of spices lights a ball,
And now their odours armed against them fly;
Some preciously by shattered porcelain fall,
And some by aromatic splinters die.
And though by tempests of the prize bereft,
In heaven's inclemency some ease we find;
Our foes we vanquished by our valour left,
And only yielded to the seas and wind.
Nor wholly lost we so deserved a prey;
For storms, repenting, part of it restored;
Which as a tribute from the Baltic sea,
The British ocean sent her mighty lord.[115]
Go, mortals, now, and vex yourselves in vain
For wealth, which so uncertainly must come;
When what was brought so far, and with such pain,
Was only kept to lose it nearer home.
The son, who twice three months on th' ocean tost,
Prepared to tell what he had passed before,
Now sees in English ships the Holland coast,
And parents' arms, in vain, stretched from the shore.
This careful husband had been long away,
Whom his chaste wife and little children mourn;
Who on their fingers learned to tell the day,
On which their father promised to return.
Such are the proud designs of human-kind,
And so we suffer shipwreck every where![116]
Alas, what port can such a pilot find,
Who in the night of fate must blindly steer!
The undistinguished seeds of good and ill,
Heaven in his bosom from our knowledge hides;
And draws them in contempt of human skill,
Which oft, for friends mistaken, foes provides.
Let Munster's prelate ever be accurst,
In whom we seek the German faith in vain;[117]
Alas, that he should teach the English first,
That fraud and avarice in the church could reign!
Happy, who never trust a stranger's will,
Whose friendship's in his interest understood;
Since money given but tempts him to be ill,
When power is too remote to make him good.
Till now, alone the mighty nations strove;
The rest, at gaze, without the lists did stand;
And threatening France, placed like a painted Jove,
Kept idle thunder in his lifted hand.
That eunuch guardian of rich Holland's trade,
Who envies us what he wants power to enjoy;
Whose noiseful valour does no foe invade,
And weak assistance will his friends destroy.
Offended that we fought without his leave,
He takes this time his secret hate to shew;
Which Charles does with a mind so calm receive,
As one that neither seeks nor shuns his foe.
With France, to aid the Dutch, the Danes unite;
France as their tyrant, Denmark as their slave.[118]
But when with one three nations join to fight,
They silently confess that one more brave.
Lewis had chased the English from his shore,
But Charles the French as subjects does invite;[119]
Would heaven for each some Solomon restore,
Who, by their mercy, may decide their right.
Were subjects so but only by their choice,
And not from birth did forced dominion take,
Our prince alone would have the public voice,
And all his neighbours' realms would deserts make.
He without fear a dangerous war pursues,
Which without rashness he began before;
As honour made him first the danger chuse,
So still he makes it good on virtue's score.
The doubled charge his subjects' love supplies,
Who in that bounty to themselves are kind:
So glad Egyptians see their Nilus rise,
And in his plenty their abundance find.[120]
With equal power he does two chiefs create,
Two such as each seemed worthiest when alone;[121]
Each able to sustain a nation's fate,
Since both had found a greater in their own.
Both great in courage, conduct, and in fame,
Yet neither envious of the other's praise;
Their duty, faith, and interest too the same,
Like mighty partners equally they raise.
The Prince long time had courted fortune's love,
But once possessed did absolutely reign;
Thus with their Amazons the heroes strove,
And conquered first those beauties they would gain.
The Duke beheld, like Scipio, with disdain,
That Carthage, which he ruined, rise once more;
And shook aloft the fasces of the main,
To fright those slaves with what they felt before.
Together to the watery camp they haste,
Whom matrons passing to their children show;
Infants first vows for them to heaven are cast,
And future people bless them as they go.[122]
With them no riotous pomp, nor Asian train,
To infect a navy with their gaudy fears;
To make slow fights, and victories but vain;
But war severely, like itself, appears.
Diffusive of themselves, where'er they pass,
They make that warmth in others they expect;
Their valour works like bodies on a glass,
And does its image on their main project.
Our fleet divides, and straight the Dutch appear,
In number, and a famed commander, bold;[123]
The narrow seas can scarce their navy bear,
Or crowded vessels can their soldiers hold.
The Duke, less numerous, but in courage more,
On wings of all the winds to combat flies;
His murdering guns a loud defiance roar,
And bloody crosses on his flag-staffs rise.
Both furl their sails, and strip them for the fight;
Their folded sheets dismiss the useless air;
The Elean plains could boast no nobler sight,[124]
When struggling champions did their bodies bare.
Born each by other in a distant line,
The sea-built forts in dreadful order move;
So vast the noise, as if not fleets did join,
But lands unfixed, and floating nations strove.[125]
Now passed, on either side they nimbly tack;
Both strive to intercept and guide the wind;
And, in its eye, more closely they come back,[126]
To finish all the deaths they left behind.
On high-raised decks the haughty Belgians ride,
Beneath whose shade our humble frigates go;
Such port the elephant bears, and so defied
By the rhinoceros, her unequal foe.
And as the built,[127] so different is the fight,
Their mounting shot is on our sails designed;
Deep in their hulls our deadly bullets light,
And through the yielding planks a passage find.[128]
Our dreaded admiral from far they threat,
Whose battered rigging their whole war receives;
All bare, like some old oak which tempests beat,
He stands, and sees below his scattered leaves.
Heroes of old, when wounded, shelter sought;
But he, who meets all danger with disdain,
Even in their face his ship to anchor brought,
And steeple-high stood propt upon the main.[129]
At this excess of courage, all amazed,
The foremost of his foes awhile withdraw;
With such respect in entered Rome they gazed,
Who on high chairs the god-like Fathers saw.[130]
And now, as where Patroclus' body lay,
Here Trojan chiefs advanced, and there the Greek;
Ours o'er the Duke their pious wings display,
And theirs the noblest spoils of Britain seek.
Meantime his busy mariners he hastes,
His shattered sails with rigging to restore;
And willing pines ascend his broken masts,
Whose lofty heads rise higher than before.
Straight to the Dutch he turns his dreadful prow,
More fierce the important quarrel to decide;
Like swans, in long array, his vessels show,
Whose crests advancing do the waves divide.
They charge, recharge, and all along the sea
They drive, and squander the huge Belgian fleet;
Berkley alone, who nearest danger lay,
Did a like fate with lost Creusa meet.[131]
The night comes on, we eager to pursue
The combat still, and they ashamed to leave;
Till the last streaks of dying day withdrew,
And doubtful moonlight did our rage deceive.
In the English fleet each ship resounds with joy,
And loud applause of their great leader's fame;
In fiery dreams the Dutch they still destroy,
And, slumbering, smile at the imagined flame.
Not so the Holland fleet, who, tired and done,
Stretched on their decks, like weary oxen, lie;
Faint sweats all down their mighty members run,
Vast bulks, which little souls but ill supply.
In dreams they fearful precipices tread;
Or, shipwrecked, labour to some distant shore;
Or in dark churches walk among the dead;
They wake with horror, and dare sleep no more,
The morn they look on with unwilling eyes,
Till from their main-top joyful news they hear
Of ships, which, by their mould, bring new supplies,
And in their colours Belgian lions bear.[132]
Our watchful general had discerned from far
This mighty succour, which made glad the foe;
He sighed, but, like a father of the war,
His face spake hope, while deep his sorrows flow.[133]
His wounded men he first sends off to shore,
Never, till now, unwilling to obey;
They, not their wounds, but want of strength, deplore,
And think them happy, who with him can stay.
Then to the rest, "Rejoice," said he, "to-day;
In you the fortune of Great Britain lies;
Among so brave a people, you are they,
Whom heaven has chose to fight for such a prize.
"If number English courages could quell,
We should at first have shun'd, not met, our foes,
Whose numerous sails the fearful only tell;[134]
Courage from hearts, and not from numbers grows."[135]
He said, nor needed more to say; with haste,
To their known stations, cheerfully they go;
And, all at once, disdaining to be last,
Solicit every gale to meet the foe.
Nor did the encouraged Belgians long delay,
But, bold in others, not themselves, they stood;
So thick, our navy scarce could steer their way,
But seemed to wander in a moving wood.
Our little fleet was now engaged so far,
That, like the sword-fish in the whale they fought;[136]
The combat only seemed a civil war,
Till through their bowels we our passage wrought.
Never had valour, no not ours before
Done aught like this upon the land or main;
Where, not to be o'ercome, was to do more
Than all the conquests former kings did gain.
The mighty ghosts of our great Harries rose,
And armed Edwards looked with anxious eyes,
To see this fleet among unequal foes,
By which fate promised them their Charles should rise.
Meantime the Belgians tack upon our rear,
And raking chase-guns through our sterns they send;
Close by their fire-ships, like jackals, appear,
Who on their lions for the prey attend.[137]
Silent, in smoke of cannon, they come on;
Such vapours once did fiery Cacus hide:[138]
In these, the height of pleased revenge is shewn,
Who burn contented by another's side.
Sometimes from fighting squadrons of each fleet,
Deceived themselves, or to preserve some friend,
Two grappling Ætnas on the ocean meet,
And English fires with Belgian flames contend.
Now, at each tack, our little fleet grows less;
And, like maimed fowl, swim lagging on the main.
Their greater loss their numbers scarce confess,
While they lose cheaper than the English gain.
Have you not seen, when whistled from the fist,
Some falcon stoops at what her eye designed,
And with her eagerness the quarry missed,
Straight flies at check, and clips it down the wind?[139]
The dastard crow, that to the wood made wing,
And sees the groves no shelter can afford,
With her loud caws her craven kind does bring,
Who, safe in numbers, cuff the noble bird.
Among the Dutch thus Albemarle did fare:
He could not conquer, and disdained to fly;
Past hope of safety, 'twas his latest care,
Like falling Cæsar, decently to die.
Yet pity did his manly spirit move,
To see those perish who so well had fought;
And generously with his despair he strove,
Resolved to live till he their safety wrought.
Let other muses write his prosperous fate,
Of conquered nations tell, and kings restored;
But mine shall sing of his eclipsed estate,
Which, like the sun's, more wonders does afford.
He drew his mighty frigates all before,
On which the foe his fruitless force employs;
His weak ones deep into his rear he bore,
Remote from guns, as sick men from the noise.[140]
His fiery cannon did their passage guide,
And following smoke obscured them from the foe:
Thus Israel, safe from the Egyptians' pride.
By flaming pillars, and by clouds did go.
Elsewhere the Belgian force we did defeat,
But here our courages did theirs subdue;
So Xenophon once led that famed retreat,
Which first the Asian empire overthrew.
The foe approached; and one for his bold sin
Was sunk, as he that touched the ark was slain:[141]
The wild waves mastered him, and sucked him in,
And smiling eddies dimpled on the main.
This seen, the rest at awful distance stood;
As if they had been there as servants set,
To stay, or to go on, as he thought good,
And not pursue, but wait on his retreat.
So Libyan huntsmen, on some sandy plain,
From shady coverts roused, the lion chace;
The kingly beast roars out with loud disdain,
And slowly moves, unknowing to give place.[142]
But if some one approach to dare his force,
He swings his tail, and swiftly turns him round:
With one paw seizes on his trembling horse,
And with the other tears him to the ground.
Amidst these toils succeeds the balmy night;
Now hissing waters the quenched guns restore;
And weary waves, withdrawing from the fight,
Lie lulled and panting on the silent shore.[143]
The moon shone clear on the becalmed flood,
Where, while her beams like glittering silver play,
Upon the deck our careful general stood,
And deeply mused on the succeeding day.[144]
"That happy sun," said he, "will rise again,
Who twice victorious did our navy see;
And I alone must view him rise in vain,
Without one ray of all his star for me.
"Yet, like an English general will I die,
And all the ocean make my spacious grave:
Women and cowards on the land may lie;
The sea's a tomb that's proper for the brave."
Restless he passed the remnant of the night,
Till the fresh air proclaimed the morning nigh;
And burning ships, the martyrs of the fight,
With paler fires beheld the eastern sky.
But now his stores of ammunition spent,
His naked valour is his only guard;
Rare thunders are from his dumb cannon sent,
And solitary guns are scarcely heard.
Thus far had fortune power, here forced to stay,
No longer durst with fortune be at strife;
This as a ransom Albemarle did pay,
For all the glories of so great a life.
For now brave Rupert from afar appears,
Whose waving streamers the glad general knows;
With full-spread sails his eager navy steers,
And every ship in swift proportion grows.[145]
The anxious prince had heard the cannon long,
And, from that length of time, dire omens drew
Of English overmatched, and Dutch too strong,
Who never fought three days, but to pursue.
Then, as an eagle, who with pious care
Was beating widely on the wing for prey,
To her now silent eiry does repair,
And finds her callow infants forced away;
Stung with her love, she stoops upon the plain,
The broken air loud whistling as she flies;
She stops and listens, and shoots forth again,
And guides her pinions by her young ones cries.
With such kind passion hastes the prince to fight,
And spreads his flying canvas to the sound;
Him, whom no danger, were he there, could fright,
Now absent, every little noise can wound.
As in a drought the thirsty creatures cry,
And gape upon the gathered clouds for rain;
And first the martlet meets it in the sky,
And with wet wings joys all the feathered train;
With such glad hearts did our despairing men
Salute the appearance of the prince's fleet;
And each ambitiously would claim the ken,
That with first eyes did distant safety meet.
The Dutch, who came like greedy hinds before,
To reap the harvest their ripe ears did yield,
Now look like those, when rolling thunders roar,
And sheets of lightning blast the standing field.
Full in the prince's passage, hills of sand,
And dangerous flats, in secret ambush lay;
Where the false tides skim o'er the covered land,
And seamen, with dissembled depths, betray.
The wily Dutch, who, like fallen angels, feared
This new Messiah's coming, there did wait,
And round the verge their braving vessels steered,
To tempt his courage with so fair a bait.
But he, unmoved, contemns their idle threat,
Secure of fame whene'er he please to fight;
His cold experience tempers all his heat,
And inbred worth doth boasting valour slight.
Heroic virtue did his actions guide,
And he the substance, not the appearance, chose;
To rescue one such friend he took more pride,
Than to destroy whole thousands of such foes.
But when approached, in strict embraces bound,
Rupert and Albemarle together grow;
He joys to have his friend in safety found,
Which he to none but to that friend would owe.
The cheerful soldiers, with new stores supplied,
Now long to execute their spleenful will;
And, in revenge for those three days they tried,
Wish one, like Joshua's, when the sun stood still.
Thus reinforced, against the adverse fleet,[146]
Still doubling ours, brave Rupert leads the way;
With the first blushes of the morn they meet,
And bring night back upon the new-born day.
His presence soon blows up the kindling fight,
And his loud guns speak thick like angry men;
It seemed as slaughter had been breathed all night,
And death new-pointed his dull dart agen.
The Dutch too well his mighty conduct knew,
And matchless courage, since the former fight;
Whose navy like a stiff-stretched cord did shew,
Till he bore in, and bent them into flight.
The wind he shares, while half their fleet offends
His open side, and high above him shows;
Upon the rest at pleasure he descends,
And, doubly harmed, he double harms bestows.
Behind, the general mends his weary pace,
And sullenly to his revenge he sails;
So glides some trodden serpent on the grass,
And long behind his wounded volume trails.[147]
The increasing sound is borne to either shore,
And for their stakes the throwing nations fear;
Their passions double with the cannons' roar,
And with warm wishes each man combats there.
Plied thick and close as when the fight begun,
Their huge unwieldy navy wastes away:
So sicken waneing moons too near the sun,
And blunt their crescents on the edge of day.
And now, reduced on equal terms to fight,
Their ships like wasted patrimonies show;
Where the thin scattering trees admit the light,
And shun each other's shadows as they grow.
The warlike prince had sever'd from the rest
Two giant ships, the pride of all the main;
Which with his one so vigorously he pressed,
And flew so home, they could not rise again.
Already battered, by his lee they lay;
In vain upon the passing winds they call;
The passing winds through their torn canvas play,
And flagging sails on heartless sailors fall.
Their opened sides receive a gloomy light,
Dreadful as day let into shades below;
Without, grim death rides barefaced in their sight,
And urges entering billows as they flow.
When one dire shot, the last they could supply,
Close by the board the prince's main-mast bore:
All three, now helpless, by each other lie,
And this offends not, and those fear no more.
So have I seen some fearful hare maintain
A course, till tired before the dog she lay;
Who, stretched behind her, pants upon the plain,
Past power to kill, as she to get away.
With his loll'd tongue he faintly licks his prey;
His warm breath blows her flix[148] up as she lies;
She, trembling, creeps upon the ground away,
And looks back to him with beseeching eyes.
The prince unjustly does his stars accuse,
Which hindered him to push his fortune on;
For what they to his courage did refuse,
By mortal valour never must be done.
This lucky hour the wise Batavian takes,
And warns his tattered fleet to follow home;
Proud to have so got off with equal stakes,
Where 'twas a triumph not to be o'ercome.[149]
The general's force, as kept alive by fight,
Now not opposed, no longer can pursue;
Lasting till heaven had done his courage right;
When he had conquered, he his weakness knew.
He casts a frown on the departing foe,
And sighs to see him quit the watery field;
His stern fixed eyes no satisfaction show,
For all the glories which the fight did yield.
Though, as when fiends did miracles avow,
He stands confessed e'en by the boastful Dutch;
He only does his conquest disavow,
And thinks too little what they found too much.
Returned, he with the fleet resolved to stay;
No tender thoughts of home his heart divide;
Domestic joys and cares he puts away,
For realms are households which the great must guide.[150]
As those, who unripe veins in mines explore,
On the rich bed again the warm turf lay,
Till time digests the yet imperfect ore,
And know it will be gold another day;[151]
So looks our monarch on this early fight,
Th' essay and rudiments of great success;
Which all-maturing time must bring to light,
While he, like heaven, does each day's labour bless.
Heaven ended not the first or second day,
Yet each was perfect to the work designed:
God and kings work, when they their work survey,
A passive aptness in all subjects find.
In burdened vessels first, with speedy care,
His plenteous stores do season'd timber send;
Thither the brawny carpenters repair,
And as the surgeons of maimed ships attend.
With cord and canvas from rich Hamburgh sent,
His navy's molted wings he imps[152] once more;
Tall Norway fir, their masts in battle spent,
And English oak, sprung leaks and planks restore.
All hands employed, the royal work grows warm;
Like labouring bees on a long summer's day,
Some sound the trumpet for the rest to swarm,
And some on bells of tasted lilies play.
With glewy wax some new foundations lay,
Of virgin-combs, which from the roof are hung;
Some armed within doors, upon duty stay,
Or tend the sick, or educate the young.[153]
So here some pick out bullets from the sides,
Some drive old oakum through each seam and rift;
Their left hand does the caulking-iron guide,
The rattling mallet with the right they lift.
With boiling pitch another near at hand,
From friendly Sweden[154] brought, the seams in-stops;
Which well paid o'er, the salt sea waves withstand,
And shakes them from the rising beak in drops.
Some the galled ropes with dawby marline[155] bind,
Or searcloth masts with strong tarpawling[156] coats;
To try new shrouds, one mounts into the wind,
And one below their ease or stiffness notes.
Our careful monarch stands in person by,
His new-cast cannons' firmness to explore;
The strength of big-corn'd powder loves to try,
And ball and cartridge sorts for every bore.
Each day brings fresh supplies of arms and men,
And ships which all last winter were abroad;
And such as fitted since the fight had been,
Or new from stocks, were fallen into the road.
The goodly London, in her gallant trim,
The Phœnix-daughter of the vanished old,[157]
Like a rich bride does to the ocean swim,
And on her shadow rides in floating gold.
Her flag aloft, spread ruffling to the wind,
And sanguine streamers, seem the flood to fire;
The weaver, charmed with what his loom designed,
Goes on to sea, and knows not to retire.
With roomy decks, her guns of mighty strength,
Whose low-laid mouths each mounting billow laves;
Deep in her draught, and warlike in her length,
She seems a sea-wasp flying on the waves.
This martial present, piously designed,
The loyal city give their best-loved king;
And, with a bounty ample as the wind,
Built, fitted, and maintained, to aid him bring.
By viewing nature, nature's handmaid, art,
Makes mighty things from small beginnings grow:
Thus fishes first to shipping did impart,
Their tail the rudder, and their head the prow.
Some log, perhaps, upon the waters swam,
An useless drift, which, rudely cut within;
And hollow'd, first a floating trough became,
And cross some rivulet passage did begin.
In shipping such as this, the Irish kern,
And untaught Indian, on the stream did glide;
Ere sharp-keel'd boats to stem the flood did learn,
Or fin-like oars did spread from either side.
Add but a sail, and Saturn so appeared,
When from lost empire he to exile went,
And with the golden age to Tyber steer'd,
Where coin and commerce first he did invent.
Rude as their ships was navigation then;
No useful compass or meridian known;
Coasting, they kept the land within their ken,
And knew no north but when the Pole-star shone.
Of all, who since have used the open sea,
Than the bold English none more fame have won;
Beyond the year, and out of heaven's high way,[158]
They make discoveries where they see no sun.
But what so long in vain, and yet unknown,
By poor mankind's benighted wit is sought,
Shall in this age to Britain first be shewn,
And hence be to admiring nations taught.
The ebbs of tides, and their mysterious flow,
We, as art's elements, shall understand;
And as by line upon the ocean go,
Whose paths shall be familiar as the land.
Instructed ships shall sail to quick commerce,[159]
By which remotest regions are allied;
Which makes one city of the universe,
Where some may gain, and all may be supplied.
Then we upon our globe's last verge shall go,
And view the ocean leaning on the sky:
From thence our rolling neighbours we shall know,
And on the lunar world securely pry.
This I foretel from your auspicious care,[160]
Who great in search of God and nature grow;
Who best your wise Creator's praise declare,
Since best to praise His works is best to know.
O truly royal! who behold the law,
And rule of beings in your Maker's mind;[161]
And thence, like limbecs, rich ideas draw,
To fit the levelled use of human-kind.
But first the toils of war we must endure,
And from the injurious Dutch redeem the seas;
War makes the valiant of his right secure,
And gives up fraud to be chastised with ease.
Already were the Belgians on our coast,[162]
Whose fleet more mighty every day became
By late success, which they did falsely boast,
And now, by first appearing, seemed to claim.
Designing, subtile, diligent, and close,
They knew to manage war with wise delay;
Yet all those arts their vanity did cross,
And by their pride their prudence did betray.
Nor staid the English long; but, well supplied,
Appear as numerous as the insulting foe;
The combat now by courage must be tried,
And the success the braver nation show.
There was the Plymouth squadron now come in,
Which in the Straits last winter was abroad;
Which twice on Biscay's working bay had been,
And on the midland sea the French had awed.
Old expert Allen, loyal all along,
Famed for his action on the Smyrna fleet;[163]
And Holmes, whose name shall live in epic song,
While music numbers, or while verse has feet.[164]
Holmes, the Achates of the general's fight,
Who first bewitched our eyes with Guinea gold;
As once old Cato, in the Roman sight,
The tempting fruits of Afric did unfold.
With him went Spragge, as bountiful as brave,
Whom his high courage to command had brought;[165]
Harman, who did the twice-fired Harry save,
And in his burning ship undaunted fought.[166]
Young Hollis on a muse by Mars begot,
Born, Cæsar-like, to write and act great deeds;
Impatient to revenge his fatal shot,
His right hand doubly to his left succeeds.[167]
Thousands were there in darker fame that dwell,
Whose deeds some nobler poem shall adorn;
And, though to me unknown, they sure fought well,
Whom Rupert led, and who were British born.
Of every size an hundred fighting sail;
So vast the navy now at anchor rides,
That underneath it the pressed waters fail,
And with its weight it shoulders off the tides.
Now, anchors weighed, the seamen shout so shrill,
That heaven and earth, and the wide ocean, rings;
A breeze from westward waits their sails to fill,
And rests in those high beds his downy wings.
The wary Dutch this gathering storm foresaw,
And durst not bide it on the English coast;
Behind their treacherous shallows they withdraw,
And there lay snares to catch the British host.
So the false spider, when her nets are spread,
Deep ambushed in her silent den does lie,
And feels far off the trembling of her thread,
Whose filmy cord should bind the struggling fly;
Then, if at last she find him fast beset,
She issues forth, and runs along her loom;
She joys to touch the captive in her net,
And drag the little wretch in triumph home.
The Belgians hoped, that, with disordered haste,
Our deep-cut keels upon the sands might run;
Or, if with caution leisurely were past,
Their numerous gross[168] might charge us one by one.
But with a fore-wind pushing them above,
And swelling tide that heaved them from below,
O'er the blind flats our warlike squadrons move,
And with spread sails to welcome battle go.
It seemed as there the British Neptune stood,
With all his hosts of waters at command;
Beneath them to submit the officious flood,
And with his trident shoved them off the sand.[169]
To the pale foes they suddenly draw near,
And summon them to unexpected fight:
They start like murderers when ghosts appear,
And draw their curtains in the dead of night.
Now van to van the foremost squadrons meet,
The midmost battles hastening up behind;[170]
Who view far off the storm of falling sleet,
And hear their thunder rattling in the wind.
At length the adverse admirals appear,
The two bold champions of each country's right;
Their eyes describe the lists as they come near,
And draw the lines of death before they fight.
The distance judged for shot of every size,
The linstocks touch, the ponderous ball expires:[171]
The vigorous seaman every port-hole plies,
And adds his heart to every gun he fires!
Fierce was the fight on the proud Belgians' side,
For honour, which they seldom sought before;
But now they by their own vain boasts were tied,
And forced, at least in shew, to prize it more.
But sharp remembrance on the English part,
And shame of being matched by such a foe,
Rouse conscious virtue up in every heart,
And seeming to be stronger, makes them so.[172]
Nor long the Belgians could that fleet sustain,
Which did two generals' fates, and Cæsar's bear;
Each several ship a victory did gain,
As Rupert or as Albemarle were there.
Their battered admiral too soon withdrew,
Unthanked by ours for his unfinished fight;
But he the minds of his Dutch masters knew,
Who called that providence, which we called flight.
Never did men more joyfully obey,
Or sooner understood the sign to fly;
With such alacrity they bore away,
As if, to praise them, all the States stood by.
O famous leader of the Belgian fleet,
Thy monument inscribed such praise shall wear,
As Varro, timely flying, once did meet,
Because he did not of his Rome despair.[173]
Behold that navy, which, a while before,
Provoked the tardy English close to fight;
Now draw their beaten vessels close to shore,
As larks lie dared, to shun the hobbies'[174] flight.
Whoe'er would English monuments survey,
In other records may our courage know;
But let them hide the story of this day,
Whose fame was blemished by too base a foe.
Or if too busily they will inquire
Into a victory, which we disdain;
Then let them know, the Belgians did retire,
Before the patron saint of injured Spain.[175]
Repenting England this revengeful day
To Philip's manes[176] did an offering bring;
England, which first, by leading them astray,
Hatched up rebellion to destroy her king.
Our fathers bent their baneful industry,
To check a monarchy that slowly grew;
But did not France or Holland's fate foresee,
Whose rising power to swift dominion flew.
In fortune's empire blindly thus we go,
And wander after pathless destiny;
Whose dark resorts since prudence cannot know,
In vain it would provide for what shall be.
But whate'er English to the blessed shall go,
And the fourth Harry or first Orange meet;
Find him disowning of a Bourbon foe,
And him detesting a Batavian fleet.[177]
Now on their coasts our conquering navy rides,
Way-lays their merchants, and their land besets;
Each day new wealth without their care provides;
They lie asleep with prizes in their nets.
So close behind some promontory lie
The huge leviathans to attend their prey;
And give no chace, but swallow in the fry,
Which through their gaping jaws mistake the way.
Nor was this all; in ports and roads remote,
Destructive fires among whole fleets we send;
Triumphant flames upon the water float,
And out-bound ships at home their voyage end.[178]
Those various squadrons, variously designed,
Each vessel freighted with a several load,
Each squadron waiting for a several wind,
All find but one,—to burn them in the road.
Some bound for Guinea, golden sand to find,
Bore all the gauds the simple natives wear;
Some for the pride of Turkish courts designed,
For folded turbans finest Holland bear.
Some English wool vexed in a Belgian loom,
And into cloth of spongy softness made,
Did into France, or colder Denmark, doom,
To ruin with worse ware our staple trade.
Our greedy seamen rummage every hold,
Smile on the booty of each wealthier chest;
And, as the priests who with their gods make bold,
Take what they like, and sacrifice the rest.
But ah! how insincere are all our joys!
Which sent from heaven, like lightning, make no stay;
Their palling taste the journey's length destroys,
Or grief, sent post, o'ertakes them on the way.
Swelled with our late successes on the foe,
Which France and Holland wanted power to cross,
We urge an unseen fate to lay us low,
And feed their envious eyes with English loss.
Each element his dread command obeys,
Who makes or ruins with a smile or frown;
Who, as by one he did our nation raise,
So now he with another pulls us down.
Yet London, empress of the northern clime,
By an high fate thou greatly didst expire;
Great as the world's, which, at the death of time,
Must fall, and rise a nobler frame by fire.[179]
As when some dire usurper heaven provides,
To scourge his country with a lawless sway;
His birth, perhaps, some petty village hides,
And sets his cradle out of fortune's way:
Till fully ripe his swelling fate breaks out,
And hurries him to mighty mischiefs on;
His prince, surprised at first, no ill could doubt,
And wants the power to meet it when 'tis known:
Such was the rise of this prodigious fire,
Which in mean buildings first obscurely bred,
From thence did soon to open streets aspire,
And straight to palaces and temples spread.
The diligence of trades and noiseful gain,
And luxury more late, asleep were laid;
All was the night's; and, in her silent reign,
No sound the rest of nature did invade.
In this deep quiet, from what source unknown,
Those seeds of fire their fatal birth disclose;
And, first, few scattering sparks about were blown,
Big with the flames that to our ruin rose.
Then in some close-pent room it crept along,
And, smouldering as it went, in silence fed;
Till th' infant monster, with devouring strong,
Walked boldly upright with exalted head.
Now, like some rich or mighty murderer,
Too great for prison, which he breaks with gold;
Who fresher for new mischiefs does appear,
And dares the world to tax him with the old:
So 'scapes the insulting Fire his narrow jail,
And makes small outlets into open air;
There the fierce winds his tender force assail,
And beat him downward to his first repair.
The winds, like crafty courtezans, with-held
His flames from burning, but to blow them more;
And, every fresh attempt, he is repelled
With faint denials, weaker than before.[180]
And now, no longer letted of his prey,
He leaps up at it with enraged desire;
O'erlooks the neighbours with a wide survey,
And nods at every house his threatning fire.
The ghosts of traitors from the bridge descend,
With bold fanatic spectres to rejoice;
About the fire into a dance they bend,
And sing their sabbath notes with feeble voice.[181]
Our guardian angel saw them where they sate,
Above the palace of our slumbering king;
He sighed, abandoning his charge to fate,
And, drooping, oft looked back upon the wing.
At length the crackling noise and dreadful blaze
Called up some waking lover to the sight;
And long it was ere he the rest could raise,
Whose heavy eyelids yet were full of night.
The next to danger, hot pursued by fate,
Half-clothed, half-naked, hastily retire;
And frighted mothers strike their breasts too late,
For helpless infants left amidst the fire.
Their cries soon waken all the dwellers near;
Now murmuring noises rise in every street;
The more remote run stumbling with their fear,
And in the dark men jostle as they meet.
So weary bees in little cells repose;
But if night-robbers lift the well-stored hive,
An humming through their waxen city grows,
And out upon each other's wings they drive.
Now streets grow thronged, and busy as by day;
Some run for buckets to the hallowed quire;
Some cut the pipes, and some the engines play,
And some, more bold, mount ladders to the fire.
In vain; for from the east a Belgian wind
His hostile breath through the dry rafters sent;
The flames, impelled, soon left their foes behind,
And forward with a wanton fury went.
A key of fire ran all along the shore,
And lightened all the river with a blaze;[182]
The wakened tides began again to roar,
And wondering fish in shining waters gaze.
Old father Thames raised up his reverend head,
But feared the fate of Simois would return;[183]
Deep in his ooze he sought his sedgy bed,
And shrunk his waters back into his urn.
The fire, mean-time, walks in a broader gross;[184]
To either hand his wings he opens wide;
He wades the streets, and straight he reaches cross,
And plays his longing flames on the other side.
At first they warm, then scorch, and then they take;
Now with long necks from side to side they feed;
At length, grown strong, their mother-fire forsake,
And a new colony of flames succeed.
To every nobler portion of the town
The curling billows roll their restless tide;
In parties now they straggle up and down,
As armies, unopposed, for prey divide.
One mighty squadron with a side-wind sped,
Through narrow lanes his cumbered fire does haste;
By powerful charms of gold and silver led,
The Lombard bankers and the Change to waste.
Another backward to the Tower would go,
And slowly eats his way against the wind;
But the main body of the marching foe
Against the imperial palace is designed.
Now day appears, and with the day the king,[185]
Whose early care had robbed him of his rest;
Far off the cracks of falling houses ring,
And shrieks of subjects pierce his tender breast.
Near as he draws, thick harbingers of smoke,
With gloomy pillars, cover all the place;
Whose little intervals of night are broke
By sparks, that drive against his sacred face.
More than his guards his sorrows made him known,
And pious tears, which down his cheeks did shower;
The wretched in his grief forgot their own,
So much the pity of a king has power.
He wept the flames of what he loved so well,
And what so well had merited his love;
For never prince in grace did more excel,
Or royal city more in duty strove.
Nor with an idle care did he behold;
Subjects may grieve, but monarchs must redress;
He chears the fearful, and commends the bold,
And makes despairers hope for good success.
Himself directs what first is to be done,
And orders all the succours which they bring;
The helpful and the good about him run,
And form an army worthy such a king.
He sees the dire contagion spread so fast,
That where it seizes all relief is vain;
And therefore must unwillingly lay waste
That country, which would else the foe maintain.
The powder blows up all before the fire;[186]
The amazed flames stand gathered on a heap;
And from the precipice's brink retire,
Afraid to venture on so large a leap.
Thus fighting fires a while themselves consume,
But straight, like Turks forced on to win or die,
They first lay tender bridges of their fume,
And o'er the breach in unctuous vapours fly.
Part stay for passage, till a gust of wind
Ships o'er their forces in a shining sheet;
Part creeping under ground, their journey blind,
And climbing from below their fellows meet.
Thus to some desert plain, or old wood-side,
Dire night-hags come from far to dance their round;
And o'er broad rivers on their fiends they ride,
Or sweep in clouds above the blasted ground.
No help avails; for, hydra-like, the fire
Lifts up his hundred heads to aim his way;
And scarce the wealthy can one half retire,
Before he rushes in to share the prey.
The rich grow suppliant, and the poor grow proud;
Those offer mighty gain, and these ask more;
So void of pity is the ignoble crowd,
When others' ruin may increase their store.
As those who live by shores with joy behold
Some wealthy vessel split or stranded nigh;
And from the rocks leap down for shipwrecked gold,
And seek the tempests which the others fly:
So these but wait the owners' last despair,
And what's permitted to the flames invade;
E'en from their jaws they hungry morsels tear,
And on their backs the spoils of Vulcan lade.
The days were all in this lost labour spent;
And when the weary king gave place to night,
His beams he to his royal brother lent,
And so shone still in his reflective light.[187]
Night came, but without darkness or repose,
A dismal picture of the general doom;
Where souls, distracted when the trumpet blows,
And half unready, with their bodies come.
Those who have homes, when home they do repair,
To a last lodging call their wandering friends;
Their short uneasy sleeps are broke with care,
To look how near their own destruction tends.
Those, who have none, sit round where once it was,
And with full eyes each wonted room require;
Haunting the yet warm ashes of the place,
As murdered men walk where they did expire.
Some stir up coals and watch the vestal fire,
Others in vain from sight of ruin run;
And while through burning lab'rinths they retire,
With loathing eyes repeat what they would shun.
The most in fields, like herded beasts, lie down,
To dews obnoxious on the grassy floor;[188]
And while their babes in sleep their sorrows drown,
Sad parents watch the remnants of their store.
While by the motion of the flames they guess
What streets are burning now, and what are near,
An infant, waking, to the paps would press,
And meets, instead of milk, a falling tear.
No thought can ease them but their sovereign's care,
Whose praise the afflicted as their comfort sing;
E'en those, whom want might drive to just despair,
Think life a blessing under such a king.
Meantime he sadly suffers in their grief,
Outweeps an hermit, and outprays a saint;
All the long night he studies their relief,
How they may be supplied, and he may want.
"O God," said he, "thou patron of my days,
Guide of my youth in exile and distress!
Who me, unfriended, brought'st by wond'rous ways,
The kingdom of my fathers to possess:
"Be thou my judge, with what unwearied care
I since have laboured for my people's good;
To bind the bruises of a civil war,
And stop the issues of their wasting blood.
"Thou, who hast taught me to forgive the ill,
And recompense, as friends, the good misled;
If mercy be a precept of thy will,
Return that mercy on thy servant's head.
"Or if my heedless youth has stepped astray,
Too soon forgetful of thy gracious hand,
On me alone thy just displeasure lay,
But take thy judgments from this mourning land.
"We all have sinned; and thou hast laid us low,
As humble earth, from whence at first we came:
Like flying shades before the clouds we show,
And shrink like parchment in consuming flame.
"O let it be enough what thou hast done;
When spotted deaths ran arm'd through every street,
With poisoned darts, which not the good could shun,
The speedy could out-fly, or valiant meet.[189]
"The living few, and frequent funerals then,
Proclaimed thy wrath on this forsaken place;
And now those few, who are returned again,
Thy searching judgments to their dwellings trace.
"O pass not, Lord, an absolute decree,
Or bind thy sentence unconditional;
But in thy sentence our remorse foresee,
And in that foresight this thy doom recal.
"Thy threatnings, Lord, as thine, thou may'st revoke;
But, if immutable and fixed they stand,
Continue still thyself to give the stroke,
And let not foreign foes oppress thy land."[190]
The Eternal heard, and from the heavenly quire
Chose out the cherub with the flaming sword;
And bade him swiftly drive the approaching fire
From where our naval magazines were stored.
The blessed minister his wings displayed,
And like a shooting star he cleft the night:
He charged the flames, and those that disobeyed,
He lashed to duty with his sword of light.
The fugitive flames, chastised, went forth to prey
On pious structures, by our fathers reared;
By which to heaven they did affect the way,
Ere faith in churchmen without works was heard.
The wanting orphans saw, with watery eyes,
Their founders' charity in dust laid low;
And sent to God their ever-answered cries;
For he protects the poor, who made them so.
Nor could thy fabric, Paul's, defend thee long,
Though thou wert sacred to thy Maker's praise;
Though made immortal by a poet's song,
And poets' songs the Theban walls could raise.[191]
The daring flames peeped in, and saw from far
The awful beauties of the sacred quire;
But since it was prophaned by civil war,
Heaven thought it fit to have it purged by fire.
Now down the narrow streets it swiftly came,
And, widely opening, did on both sides prey;
This benefit we sadly owe the flame,
If only ruin must enlarge our way.
And now four days the sun had seen our woes;
Four nights the moon beheld the incessant fire;
It seemed as if the stars more sickly rose,
And farther from the feverish north retire.
In the empyrean heaven, the blessed abode,
The Thrones and the Dominions prostrate lie,
Not daring to behold their angry God;
And an hushed silence damps the tuneful sky.
At length the Almighty cast a pitying eye,
And mercy softly touched his melting breast;
He saw the town's one half in rubbish lie,
And eager flames drive on to storm the rest.[192]
An hollow crystal pyramid he takes,
In firmamental waters dipt above;
Of it a broad extinguisher he makes,
And hoods the flames that to their quarry drove.
The vanquished fires withdraw from every place,[193]
Or, full with feeding, sink into a sleep:
Each household genius shows again his face,
And from the hearths the little Lares creep.
Our king this more than natural change beholds;
With sober joy his heart and eyes abound:
To the All-good his lifted hands he folds,
And thanks him low on his redeemed ground.
As when sharp frosts had long constrained the earth,
A kindly thaw unlocks it with cold rain;
And first the tender blade peeps up to birth,
And straight the green fields laugh with promised grain.
By such degrees the spreading gladness grew
In every heart which fear had froze before;
The standing streets with so much joy they view,
That with less grief the perished they deplore.
The father of the people opened wide
His stores, and all the poor with plenty fed:
Thus God's anointed God's own place supplied,
And filled the empty with his daily bread.
This royal bounty brought its own reward,
And in their minds so deep did print the sense,
That if their ruins sadly they regard,
'Tis but with fear the sight might drive him thence.
But so may he live long, that town to sway,
Which by his auspice they will nobler make,
As he will hatch their ashes by his stay,
And not their humble ruins now forsake.[194]
They have not lost their loyalty by fire;
Nor is their courage or their wealth so low,
That from his wars they poorly would retire,
Or beg the pity of a vanquished foe.
Not with more constancy the Jews, of old,
By Cyrus from rewarded exile sent,
Their royal city did in dust behold,
Or with more vigour to rebuild it went.[195]
The utmost malice of the stars is past,
And two dire comets, which have scourged the town,
In their own plague and fire have breathed their last,
Or dimly in their sinking sockets frown.
Now frequent trines the happier lights among,
And high-raised Jove, from his dark prison freed,
Those weights took off that on his planet hung,
Will gloriously the new-laid works succeed.[196]
Methinks already from this chemic flame,
I see a city of more precious mould;
Rich as the town[197] which gives the Indies name,
With silver paved, and all divine with gold.
Already labouring with a mighty fate,
She shakes the rubbish from her mountain brow,
And seems to have renewed her charter's date,
Which heaven will to the death of time allow.
More great than human now, and more august,[198]
Now deified she from her fires does rise;
Her widening streets on new foundations trust,
And opening into larger parts she flies.[199]
Before, she like some shepherdess did show,
Who sat to bathe her by a river's side;
Not answering to her fame, but rude and low,
Nor taught the beauteous arts of modern pride.
Now, like a maiden queen, she will behold,
From her high turrets, hourly suitors come;
The East with incense, and the West with gold,
Will stand like suppliants to receive her doom.
The silver Thames, her own domestic flood,
Shall bear her vessels like a sweeping train;
And often wind, as of his mistress proud,
With longing eyes to meet her face again.
The wealthy Tagus, and the wealthier Rhine,
The glory of their towns no more shall boast;
And Seyne, that would with Belgian rivers join,[200]
Shall find her lustre stained, and traffic lost.
The venturous merchant, who designed more far,
And touches on our hospitable shore,
Charmed with the splendour of this northern star,
Shall here unlade him, and depart no more.
Our powerful navy shall no longer meet,
The wealth of France or Holland to invade;
The beauty of this town, without a fleet,
From all the world shall vindicate her trade.
And while this famed emporium we prepare,
The British ocean shall such triumphs boast,
That those, who now disdain our trade to share,
Shall rob like pirates on our wealthy coast.
Already we have conquered half the war,
And the less dangerous part is left behind;
Our trouble now is but to make them dare,
And not so great to vanquish as to find.[201]
Thus to the eastern wealth through storms we go,
But now, the Cape once doubled, fear no more;
A constant trade-wind will securely blow,
And gently lay us on the spicy shore.[202]



Note I.

In thriving arts long time had Holland grown,
Crouching at home, and cruel when abroad;
Scarce leaving us the means to claim our own;
Our king they courted, and our merchants awed.
St. 1. p. 104.

The jealousy of commerce between Holland and England recommended a Dutch war to the nation; while the king, insensible to the many advances made him by the States, cherished a hearty detestation at their mode of government, and the manners of their people in general. Some of the regicides had sought shelter in Holland; and it was only by the uncommon alertness of Downes, the British ambassador, that they were seized and sent to England. Nay, De Witt, and other leaders in the States, kept up a secret correspondence with Ludlow, and the other banished republican English, in hopes that their party might yet find work for Charles in his own kingdom. Meanwhile, they extended beyond measure their personal deference for Charles; willing to avoid a war, which, in any event, must be prejudicial to their commerce, and which, from the valour which the English had displayed in 1653, might probably be unfortunate. But the interest of the East Indian and African Companies, both of which were highly favoured by Charles in the beginning of his reign, and the unatoned injuries which they had sustained from the Dutch, were a sufficient counterpoise to every pacific overture on the part of Holland.


Note II.

And this may prove our second Punic war.
St. 5. p. 105.

The first being that which the Parliament declared against the States, and which Cromwell carried on with great success in 1653-4.

Note III.

See how he feeds the Iberian with delays,
To render us his timely friendship vain;
And while his secret soul on Flanders preys,
He rocks the cradle of the babe of Spain.
St. 8. p. 105.

France, a nation ever remarkable for seeing, almost intuitively, her own interest, was not willing that the domineering spirit of Cromwell should revive under the restored monarchy of England. Richelieu had been forced to comply, to a certain extent, with the rash, and often impolitic, but always energetic and daring, schemes of the Protector, endeavouring, at the same time, to make them subservient to his own purposes. But when there was no danger of England uniting with Spain and Holland against France, it was much more the interest of that kingdom, that the two great naval powers should waste their strength in mutual warfare, or even that France should assist the weaker, than that she should join with the stronger, to oppress the other entirely. Besides, the French faction, with De Witt at their head, was now paramount in Holland; and the indirect effect of any signal success of the English must be the restoration of the house of Orange, so closely allied to Charles II., and the hereditary enemy of France, to the dignity of the office of Stadtholder; an office, which, with the family who held it, has been uniformly respected or degraded, as the English or French faction prevailed in the United Provinces. The French court had therefore various reasons for making the Dutch "lords by sea," since they could give them "law by land;" and these finally weighed so deeply, as to lead them to take a part, though but a cold one, against Britain in this very war.

The Spanish provinces in the Netherlands had always been the object of French cupidity; and, according to count D'Estrade, a scheme was now formed for dividing them between France and Holland; which, however, the French court took great and successful care to conceal from the party who were to be sufferers. This policy Dryden has termed, "rocking the cradle of the babe of Spain."


Note IV.

Him aged seamen might their master call,
And chuse for general, were he not their king.
St. 14. p. 107.

"As it is on all hands confessed, that never any English, perhaps I might say, any prince, without distinction of countries, understood maritime affairs so well as Charles II. did; so it cannot surprise any intelligent reader, when we assert, that the English navy received very great advantages from his skill and care in matters of this nature. It must indeed be allowed, that he found the fleet, at his restoration, in an excellent situation, and abundance of very able men employed therein; and it must likewise be confessed, to the honour of his government, that he preserved them in their several posts, without any respect to party, which, without question, contributed not a little to the increase of our naval power. How intent he was, for the first ten years of his reign, in promoting whatever had a tendency this way, appears from all the candid histories of those times, from the collections of orders, and other public papers relating to the direction of the navy while the duke of York was admiral, published of late;[203] and, in a short and narrow compass, from the speech made by the lord-keeper Bridgeman, who affirmed, that, from 1660 to 1670, the charge of the navy had never amounted to less than 500,000l. a year."—Lives of the Admirals, Vol. II. p. 331.

Note V.

And heaven, as if there wanted lights above,
For tapers made two glaring comets rise.
St. 16. p. 107.

A comet was seen on the 14th of December, 1664, which lasted almost three months; and another, the 6th of April, 1665, which was visible fourteen days.—Appendix to Sherburn's Translation of Manilius, p. 241. Comets, it is well known, were in extremely bad repute among the astrologers of this period. Lilly, an unquestionable authority, treats these stars with extreme severity; hardly justifiable by his blunt averment, that "truth is truth, and a horse is a horse."[204] Dryden himself, not contented with turning[161] these two blazing stars into farthing candles, has elsewhere, in this poem, charged them with causing the pestilence, and the great fire of London:

The utmost malice of the stars is past;
And two dire comets, which have scourged the town,
In their own plague and fire have breathed their last,
Or dimly in their sinking sockets frown.

The evil opinion which the astrologers entertained of comets, they summed up in these barbarous lines:

Octo Cometa mala hæc fulgendo per Æthera signat;
Ventus, Sterilitas, Aqua, Pestis prædominantur
Rixa, Tremor, moritur Dux, fit mutatio regni.

Note VI.

Victorious York did first, with famed success,
To his known valour make the Dutch give place;
St. 19. p. 108.

This battle, one of the most decisive and glorious fought during the war, our author had already celebrated in the verses to the Duchess, immediately preceding this poem; to which, and to the notes, the reader is referred. The famous Dutch admiral Opdam, in his flag-ship, the Eintracht, blew up, while closely engaged with the duke of York in the Royal Charles. Shortly afterwards, four or five Dutch vessels became unmanageable, fell on board of each other, and were all burned by a single fire-ship. Three others were destroyed in the same condition, and by the same means. Two Dutch vice-admirals were killed, whose ships, bearing away, drew many out of the line, so that Van Tromp, who fought gallantly, had, out of a hundred and three ships, only thirty left, to continue a retreating action. This victory was gained on the 3d. June, 1665.

Note VII.

And therefore doomed that Lawson should be slain.
St. 20. p. 108.

Sir John Lawson, the gallant seaman here mentioned, rose from a mean station in the navy, to be an admiral under the Parliament. He distinguished himself in the Dutch war of 1653, by the incredible damage which the flying squadron he commanded did to the commerce of the States. He entered afterwards into some cabals with the fifth-monarchy-men, a set of pretended saints, who would hear of nothing but a theocracy. It does not appear, whether, on[162] the part of Lawson, this was an alliance of policy or principle; but it cost the admiral an imprisonment under the vigilant administration of Cromwell. He was set at liberty, and declared by the Parliament vice-admiral of the Channel fleet, which he induced by his influence to declare for the Restoration. The admiral was rewarded for this service by the honour of knighthood, and high trust from his sovereign. In the great battle off Loestoff, sir John Lawson met the glorious death which Dryden has here commemorated. He was rear-admiral to the duke of York, and maintained his high character for valour and seaman-ship till late in the action, when he received a musket-shot in the knee, and by its effects was prevented from enjoying the victory, to which he had greatly contributed. He died a few days after the action, in full enjoyment of his country's triumph, and his own glory.

Note VIII.

Their chief blown up, in air, not waves, expired,
To which his pride presumed to give the law.
St. 22. p. 108.

The Dutch occasionally conducted their naval expeditions with great and insolent affectation of superiority. Upon one occasion their admiral sailed with a broom at his main-top-gallant-mast, to signify, he had swept the narrow seas of the English. Opdam, as already mentioned, blew up, while along side of the Duke of York. Some imputed this accident to the revenge of a negro slave; others, to some carelessness in the distribution of the ammunition.

Note IX.

Like hunted castors, conscious of their store,
Their way-laid wealth to Norway's coasts they bring.
St. 25. p. 109.

This alludes to an action variously judged of, and very much noted at the period. The Turkey and East India fleets of Holland, very richly laden, and consisting, according to D'Estrades, of ten Indiamen, seventeen ships from Smyrna, and twenty-eight from other ports, valued at 25 millions of livres, having gone north about to avoid encountering the English, and finding, that they could not with safety attempt to get into their own harbours even by that circuitous route, had taken shelter in the bay of Bergen. The earl of Sandwich, who now commanded the fleet, the duke of York having gone ashore, dispatched sir Thomas Tydiman with a squadron[163] to attack them. It is said, that the king of Denmark privately encouraged this attempt, on condition of sharing the wealthy spoils of the Hollanders, and that messengers were actually dispatched by him, bearing orders to the governor of Bergen to afford them no protection. If this was so, the English admiral, after lying three days inactive before the bay, ruined the design by a premature attack upon the fleet ere the royal mandate had arrived, when the Danish governor took the natural and generous course of vindicating the neutrality of his harbour, permitted the Dutch to fortify themselves by erecting batteries on shore, and supported them by the fire from the castle, which covered the bay. Notwithstanding this interference of the Danes, which seems to have been unexpected, the English admiral bore into the bay, commenced the assault with great fury, and continued it until a contrary wind, joined to the brave opposition of the Dutch and Danes, obliged him to desist from the attempt. On this subject, we may, I think, conclude, that the attack was premature, if the admiral had good reason to expect the assistance of Denmark, but too long delayed if he was to depend on his own strength. The scheme is thus satirized by Rochester:

The Bergen business was well laid,
Though we paid dear for that design,
Had we not three days parleying staid,
The Dutch fleet there, Charles, had been thine.
Though the false Dane agreed to sell 'um,
He cheated us, and saved Skellum.
The Insipids.

Another wit of the time says,

To Bergen we with confidence made haste,
And the secret spoils by hope already taste.
Though Clifford in the character appear
Of supra cargo to our fleet, and there
Wearing a signet ready to clap on,
And seize all for his master Arlington.[205]

Now can our navy see the wished for port,
But there (to see the fortune) was a fort;
Sandwich would not be beaten, nor yet beat;
Fools only fight, the prudent use to treat.
His cousin Mountague, by court disaster,
Dwindled into the wooden horse's master;
To speak of peace seemed amongst all most proper,
Had Talbot treated then of nought but copper;
For what are forts, when void of ammunition,
With friends, or foes, what would we more condition?
Yet we, three days, till the Dutch furnished all,
Men, powder, money, cannon—treat with wall:
Then Tydeman, finding the Danes would not,
Sent in six captains bravely to be shot,
And Mountague, though drest like any bride,
And aboard him too, yet was reached and died.

The following more serious account of the Bergen attempt is taken from a poet, who started with our author in the race of panegyric, on the exploits of the naval war. His work is entitled a Poem, being an Essay upon the Present War with the Dutch 1666, by John James.

Trusting the north as the securer way,
They court the night for treasures of the day;
Sweet spices, gums, and all the sun can boast,
Or the indulgence of the Indian coast,
Pay tribute to their hopes, which, lest they may
Perish near home, in withered Norway stay;
Where that rough Satyr, Bergen, is possessed
Of the rich spoils of the luxurious east.
The port was the dark burden of that womb,
Whose liquid bowels are the greedy tomb
Of trade and hope, by art improved to be
From foes a refuge, boisterous winds, and sea.
The worth and safety, though not equal fate
Of this fair prize, might Jason's emulate;
That yellow fleece, bulls hoofed with thunder kept,
And a near watchful guard, that never slept.
This cloistered, in the hostile harbour lay,
Maintained by castles and a treacherous way.
The English, that this proud return did wait,
More conscious of revenge than guilty fate,
Attempt, with one bold squadron of their fleet,
To render vows, though not their hopes, complete.
Obsequious to their courage, they dispense
Through the sad lake a bloody influence;
Which bears in sight of the unfaithful shore,
And spoils the freight we would have saved before.
Art, fury, all to ruin had designed
These joys of peace, but the enamoured wind,
Which, like a Phœnix, in that nest would lie,
And with a surfeit of these odours die,
Thus jealous grown, does with full cheeks oppose
These flames, which ships dissembled to our foes.
Retreating thence as lions, which some wile,
Or stratagem, did of their prey beguile,
We cleave the briny element, to meet
Dodona, sacred to our Jove, the fleet.


Note X.

Nor wholly lost we so deserv'd a prey;
For storms, repenting, part of it restor'd:
Which, as a tribute from the Baltic sea,
The British ocean sent her mighty lord.
St. 31. p. 110.

The famous De Witt set sail at the head of the Dutch fleet in person, to relieve the ships, which were still detained in Bergen by the Danish governor. It seems they had found a new enemy in their old protector, who refused to let them sail, until they paid a ransom of 100,000 crowns. The arrival of De Witt made Alfeldt change his note, and the persecuted Hollanders sailed from their harbour of dubious refuge, at no heavier a composition, than leaving the cannon, which they had sent ashore, to mount the land batteries against the English. But in their return, De Witt's large fleet and valuable cargo were scattered in a storm: the vice-admiral, and rear-admiral of the East India fleet, ships of immense value, with several merchant vessels and men of war, were picked up by the English squadrons, and so furnished the tribute which Dryden alludes to in this and the following verses.

Note XI.

Let Munster's prelate ever be accurs'd,
In whom we seek the German faith in vain.
St. 37 p. 111.

Tacitus had informed our author, that the German faith was proverbial, "Nullos mortalium fide aut armis ante Germanos esse." Bertrand Von Der Ghalen, the warlike Bishop of Munster, whom the poet pronounces an exception to this honourable distinction of the Germans, was the only ally of Charles upon the Continent, during this war. He burst into the United States, at the head of a mercenary army of 20,000 men. With this force, he over-ran the province of Overyssell, where his soldiers distinguished themselves less by military valour, than by an exorbitant licence, rapine, and cruelty, which did little honour to their reverend general. But his progress was speedily checked by a French army; and, as the elector of Brandenburgh threatened his states with invasion, he found himself compelled to make a separate peace, assigning as a reason, amongst others, the irregularity of remitting the promised subsidies from England. This is rather inconsistent with Dryden's charge, that "money given, had tempted him to ill;" but in such cases, the party subsidized usually thinks he has received too little for his service, as those, who pay him, are apt to suppose he has had too much. Sir William Temple was dispatched,[166] to prevent the Bishop from making the separate peace here complained of, but he did not arrive till after it had been signed.

Note XII.

With France, to aid the Dutch, the Danes unite;
France as their tyrant, Denmark as their slave.
St. 42. p. 112.

France, unwilling to expose her infant navy in a war with England, long endeavoured to mediate between the two great maritime states, and did not undertake to support the Dutch in then perilous conflict, until all means of negociation had been exhausted, and the tottering state of Holland rendered immediate aid necessary. About the same time, Denmark, after much vacillating and double-handed policy, at length openly united with France and Holland, against England. The French declaration of war was made in January 1665-6, and that of Denmark soon afterwards.

Note XIII.

Lewis had chased the English from his shore;
But Charles, the French, as subjects, does invite.
St. 43. p. 112.

By the French declaration of war, all intercourse was prohibited between the belligerent nations, and the subjects of England were ordered to leave France. But, in the English counter-declaration, this usual prohibitory clause was qualified by the king's declaration, "That all such of the French or Dutch nation remaining in his dominions, as should demean themselves dutifully, without corresponding with his enemies, should be safe in their persons and estates, and free from all molestation and trouble;" and further the king declared, "That if any of the French or Low Country subjects upon any reason should come into his kingdoms, they should be all protected in their persons and estates, and especially those of the reformed religion, whose interest should ever be particularly owned by him."—Ralph's History. Vol. I. p. 159.

Note XIV.

The double charge his subjects' love supplies,
Who in that bounty to themselves are kind;
So glad Egyptians see their Nilus rise,
And in his plenty their abundance find.—St. 46. p. 112.

This beautiful and appropriate simile is applied to the liberal supply, voted by the House of Commons, mentioned in the address to the king, at the prorogation in 1665. After reminding[167] the king of their engagement, to assist him with their lives and fortunes against the Dutch, the address proceeds: "The English man useth to speak as he writes, and the English parliament, to speak as they think. No security on earth can be greater than the engagement of your two houses of parliament. Sed quid verba audiam, dum facta videam! As a demonstration of their fidelity, I am commanded to present unto your Majesty this bill, whereby they have given into your Majesty twelve hundred and fifty thousand pounds, to be levied in two years, beginning from Christmas next, by quarterly payments, added to the former royal aid. And, that your Majesty's occasions may be supplied with ready money, we have, by the bill, prepared an undoubted security for all such persons as shall bring their monies unto the public bank of the Exchequer. As the rivers do naturally empty themselves unto the sea, so we hope the veins of gold and silver in this nation will plentifully run into this ocean, for the maintenance of your Majesty's just sovereignty of the seas." It is possible, that the quaint expressions, contained in the last sentence, suggested to Dryden the simile, which so far excels that of the speaker.

Note XV.

With equal power he does two chiefs create.—St. 47. p. 112.

The Duke of York being the heir apparent of the crown, it was not judged proper that he should expose himself in a second sea-fight, likely to prove as bloody and dangerous as that of the 3d June 1664. Prince Rupert and the Duke of Albemarle were appointed to the command of the grand fleet, in the absence of the Earl of Sandwich, who was then absent, as ambassador in Spain. These two great men had neither of them been bred to the sea. Prince Rupert was well known by the distinguished part which he had taken for his uncle, Charles I., in the great civil war. When the royal cause became untenable on land, he long endeavoured to maintain it by sea, assuming for that purpose the command of the fleet, which had revolted from the Parliament to the Prince of Wales. The Prince did not relinquish his war against the Commonwealth, and their Spanish allies, until his whole fleet had been destroyed, by severe service and tempests. At the period of the Dutch war, age, and a long train of misfortunes, had chastened the original fire of his temper, and taught him that prudence, which he wanted in the civil wars; when, with his impetuous but ill-disciplined cavalry, he usually bore down all before him, but vanished from the field in pursuit of the vanquished, leaving his less successful friends exposed without support. In other respects, he was fitted for a great commander, both by his natural talents and acquired endowments,[168] and was a great favourite with the nation, because, though a foreigner, he bore a heart truly English.

George Monk, Duke of Albemarle, the restorer of English monarchy, united in his person some very different qualities. With a steady, reserved, and even tardy manner, he was in action fierce and daring to the last degree; adopting the most desperate course, with the air and manner of the most cool deliberation. He had signalized himself against the Dutch, during the war of the commonwealth, being in the chief command of the fleet, when they received the dreadful defeat in 1653, to which our poet alludes in the following lines:

The Duke beheld, like Scipio, with disdain
The Carthage which he ruined rise once more;
And shook aloft the fasces of the main,
To fright those slaves with what they fell before.

The Duke accepted the joint command with Prince Rupert, in 1665, much against the advice of his friends, who accounted it rash in him to stake upon the issue of a battle the well-earned fame which he had acquired by signal successes in war, and by accomplishing a mighty revolution without bloodshed. But he resolved to exert his talents once more for his country in this trying crisis; a circumstance highly gratifying to the seamen, who crowded to man the fleet, saying, they were sure, "Honest George would see them well fed and duly paid;" a compliment more honourable than many of more courtly expression.

Note XVI.

Our fleet divides, and straight the Dutch appear,
In number, and a famed commander, bold.—St. 54. p. 114.

When Prince Rupert and Albemarle were about to sail from the Downs, they received advice from the king, that the French had fitted out a strong squadron to join with the Dutch fleet, accompanied by a positive order, that Prince Rupert, with seventy men of war, should sail in quest of the French, and fight them before the intended junction. This order occasioned the separation of the fleet; a circumstance, which, as the intelligence concerning the supposed French squadron was totally false, occasioned a heavy, and, but for the bravery of Albemarle, an overwhelming disaster. On the first of June, the Duke descried the Dutch fleet, consisting of seventy six sail, under the famous De Ruyter, whereas he himself had not above fifty. After calling a council of war, in which it was agreed in spite of all odds to engage the enemy, the Duke began the battle, which was continued with incredible fury during that whole day. The event will be found in the ensuing notes.


Note XVII.

And as the built, so different is the fight;
Their mounting shot is on our sails designed:
Deep in their hulls our deadly bullets light,
And through the yielding planks a passage find.
St. 62. p. 115.

The narrative of this fight, published by authority, has this passage. "It is certain, that they must every where have suffered a much greater loss of men than we, from the difference in our manner of fighting; for they, shooting high, and at a great distance, damaged us most in our rigging; and we, on the other hand, forbearing to shoot but when we came near, and then levelling most at the hulls, must needs have done more execution upon their men." The Dutch, on the other hand, did great damage to the rigging of the British squadron by the use of chain-shot, then a new invention:

Ruyter no less with virtuous fury burns,
And prodigies for miracles returns;
Yet he observed how still his iron balls
Recoiled in vain against our oaken walls;
How the hard pellets fell away as dead,
By our inchanted timber fillipped.
Leave then, said he, the invulnerable keel;
We'll find their feeble, like Achilles' heel.
He, quickly taught, pours in continual clouds
Of charmed dilemmas through our sinewed shrouds;
Forests of masts fall with their rude embrace,
Our stiff sails mashed and netted into lace,
Till our whole navy lay their wanton mark,
Nor any ship could sail but as the ark:
Shot in the wing, so at the fowler's call,
The disappointed bird doth fluttering fall.
Yet Monk, disabled, still such valour shews,
That none into his mortal gripe dare close;
So some old bustard maimed, yet loth to yield,
Duels the fowler in Newmarket field.
Instructions to a Painter, p. 2.

It is curious to observe how long this characteristic difference, betwixt the English mode of fighting and that of the seamen of all other nations, appears to have distinguished them.


Heroes of old, when wounded, shelter sought:
But he, who meets all danger with disdain,
Even in their face his ship to anchor brought,
And steeple-high stood propt upon the main.
St. 62. p. 115.

The daring spirit of Monk was not more conspicuous at any period of his adventurous life than in this grand and desperate action.[170] Mulgrave avers he saw him charge a pocket-pistol, with the desperate design of firing it into the powder-room, if he should be reduced to extremity. In the course of the action, a chain-shot took away part of his breeches, without disconcerting the steady countenance of the wearer.[206] Having made a sudden tack to avoid a sand bank, his ship carried away her top-mast, so that he was compelled to lie bye for two or three hours to repair that damage, in the face of the enemy.

Note XIX.

Berkley alone, who nearest danger lay,
Did a like fate with lost Creusa meet.—St. 67. p. 116.

Vice-admiral Sir William Berkley endeavoured to fight his way through the enemy, who were five to one. When his ship was a wreck, his crew almost cut to pieces, and himself desperately wounded, he continued to refuse quarter, killed with his own hand several of the enemy who attempted to board, and, at length, when mortally wounded by a musket-ball in the throat, retired into his cabin, where he was found dead, stretched at length upon the table, and covered with the blood which flowed from his wounds.

Note XX.

——— Joyful lines they hear
Of ships, which, by their mould, bring new supplies;
And in their colours Belgian lions bear.—St. 72. p. 117.

The Dutch, in the morning of the 2d of June, were reinforced[171] by a fresh squadron of sixteen men of war, giving them a decided and dreadful superiority to the English, whom, at the very first, they had greatly outnumbered.

Note XXI.

"If number English courages could quell,
We should at first have shun'd, not met our foes,
Whose numerous sails the fearful only tell;
Courage from hearts, and not from numbers grows."
St. 76. p. 118.

The famous speech of Monk is thus given in the Lives of the Admirals.

"If we had dreaded the number of our enemies, we should have fled yesterday; but, though we are inferior to them in ships, we are in all things else superior. Force gives them courage; let us, if we need it, borrow resolution from the thoughts of what we have formerly performed. Let the enemy feel, that, though our fleet be divided, our spirit is entire. At the worst, it will be more honourable to die bravely in our element, than to be made spectacles to the Dutch. To be overcome is the fortune of war, but to fly is the fashion of cowards. Let us teach the world, that Englishmen had rather be acquainted with death than fear."—Vol. 2. p. 367.

Note XXII.

Our little fleet was now engaged so far,
That like the sword-fish in the whale they fought.
St. 79. p. 118.

The battle was renewed on the second day, with the same desperate courage, which had distinguished the first battle. The English charged, as was then the expression, twice through the whole Dutch fleet, doing and receiving infinite damage. But this unequal warfare could not last long, "when, at each tack, our little fleet grew less."

The English had by this time lost, at least, nine vessels sunk and taken; and Monk bearing away with twenty six, being all that remained in a condition to fight, was pursued by De Ruyter with nearly three times that number.



Close by, their fire-ships, like jackals, appear,
Who on their lions for the prey attend.
St. 82. p. 119.

Fire-ships, now only employed against fleets in harbour, and seldom even then, were at this time used during every great naval engagement. The Dutch wars, especially, were distinguished by the frequent use of these dreadful engines of destruction on both sides. The last instance, I believe, of their being employed in open sea in the British service, occurred in the engagement of Matthews and Lestock in the Mediterranean, where they did little execution. The reason of their disuse appears to be, that modern fleets consist of a few large vessels, which easily communicate by signal, and are little apt to fall into such confusion as that fire-ships can approach them with safety, and with any chance of effect. In the 17th century, fleets consisted of a very great number of comparatively small vessels, sometimes a hundred and upwards, which, from the imperfect nature of their signals, were perpetually getting into disorder, and affording opportunities for the fire-ships to act with all their fearful consequences. In the battle of Southwold Bay, in 1672, the gallant Earl of Sandwich, in his fine ship the Royal James, after sinking three fire-ships, was burned by a fourth; and the contest of the Harry with three fire-ships, in this very battle, will be found in a subsequent note.

Note XXIV.

He drew his mighty frigates all before,
On which the foe his fruitless force employs:
His weak ones deep into his rear he bore,
Remote from guns, as sick men from the noise.
St. 91. p. 120.

Dryden has here inverted the order of the Duke's retreat. His disabled or shattered ships were all ordered to stretch a-head, and he himself in the rear, with sixteen of his ablest vessels, his own occupying the centre, sustained all the efforts of the Dutch pursuers. The disabled vessels were therefore the headmost ships, and not placed in the rear, where, in the circumstances, they must inevitably have been taken.


Note XXV.

The foe approached; and one, for his bold sin,
Was sunk, as he that touched the ark was slain.
St. 94. p. 121.

The simile is taken, not very decently, from 1 Chronicles, Chap. XIII.

Verse 7. "And they carried the ark of God in a new cart, out of the house of Abinadab, and Uzza and Ahio drove the cart.

8. "And when they came to the threshing floor of Chidin, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark, for the oxen stumbled.

10. "And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him, because he put his hand to the ark; and there he died before God."

Note XXVI.

For now brave Rupert from afar appears,
Whose waving streamers the glad general knows.
St. 105. p. 123.

The English, upon the 3d of June, seemed to have nothing left them save the glory of a desperate defence, when, about noon, a third fleet was descried, crowding every sail to the assistance of the vanquished English, or to complete the triumph of the victorious Hollanders. It might have been the French squadron under the Duke of Beaufort, and the naval power of England was ruined for ever. Albemarle, however, bore boldly down towards the advancing strangers, and, with inexpressible sensations, discovered Prince Rupert, with the white squadron of England, hastening to his relief. Betwixt the fleets of Albemarle and Rupert lay some dangerous shoals, noticed by Dryden in Stanza 114. On one of these, called the Galloper, Admiral Sir George Ayscue was so unfortunate as to strand his vessel, the Royal Prince, one of the largest in the fleet, and forced by his own seamen to strike his flag. He was made prisoner by the Dutch, who burned his ship, and, after leading him in a sort of triumph through various parts of the United Provinces, at length imprisoned him in the castle of Louverstein. Albemarle observing the cause of this disaster, and that the Dutch had sent a squadron of their fleet to the edge of the sands, as if to provoke the Prince, acquainted him by signal and message, that he should by no means bear up against that squadron, there being a dangerous sand between them; and that the appearance of the Dutch in that place was to tempt him into the toil. Skinner's Life of Monk. The English fleets, however,[174] formed a junction, which completed the business of the third day's action.


Thus reinforced, against the adverse fleet,
Still doubling ours, brave Rupert led the way.
St. 119. p. 125.

On the morning of the 4th of June, this long and bloody contest was again renewed. The English were now the assailants, as in the first action. Prince Rupert, with his fresh squadron, led the van, and was followed by Albemarle. The fleets fought their way five times through and through each other; when, after much and desperate fighting on both sides, both the English admirals were disabled, and the combatants, after four days constant and bloody fighting, finally separated, as if by mutual consent.


This lucky hour the wise Batavian takes,
And warns his tattered fleet to follow home;
Proud to have so got off with equal stakes,
Where 'twas a triumph not to be o'ercome.
St. 134. p. 128.

The poet is here more modest than the court of England, who claimed an absolute victory. Ralph says, with some justice, that "to recount the precise issue of this unparalleled engagement, and ascertain the loss on either side, seems to be alike impossible. Both nations claimed the honour of the victory, and both affronted the Common Father of the Universe with their impious acknowledgments, when they ought to have approached Him in sackcloth and ashes, for having wantonly sacrificed so many innocent, gallant, and meritorious men, in a dispute that common sense, and common honesty, might have adjusted in half an hour." History, Vol. I. p. 132. De Witt himself, the sworn foe of England, bore the following remarkable testimony to the gallantry of her seamen: "If the English were beat, their defeat did them more honour than all their former victories. No fleet but theirs could, after the first day's fight, have been brought to engage again. English men may be killed, English ships may be burned, but English courage is invincible." Quoted, in the "Lives of the Admirals," from a MS. history by Wicquefort.


Note XXIX.

Returned, he with the fleet resolved to stay;
No tender thoughts of home his heart divide;
Domestic joys and cares he puts away,
For realms are households, which the great must guide.
St. 138. p. 129.

The Duke of Albemarle was not more remarkable for bravery in action, than for his hatred of all corrupt practices in paying and victualling the navy. His presence accelerated the necessary repairs, while the sternness of his discipline repressed all those hateful peculations, by which the servants of the public sometimes betray their trust, and sap her dearest bulwark. The satirist alludes to this in the following lines, which he puts in the mouth of the Duchess of Albemarle, hailing her husband's return to port:

Well, George, in spite of them, there safe dost ride,
Lessened in nought, I hope, but thy backside;
For, as to reputation, this retreat
Of thine exceeds their victories so great;
Nor shalt thou stir from thence, by my consent,
Till thou hast made the Dutch and them repent.

Fall to thy work there, George, as I do here;
Cherish the valiant up, cowards cashier:
See that the men have pay, and beef, and beer.
Find out the cheats of the four millioneer,—
Out of the very beer they sell the malt,
Powder of pow der, from powder'd beef the salt.
Put thy hand to the tub;—instead of ox,
They victual with French pork that hath the p—.
Never such cotqueens by small arts to wring;
Ne'er such ill huswives in the managing;
Pursers at sea know fewer cheats than they;
Mariners on shore less madly spend their pay.
See that thou hast new sails thyself, and spoil
All their sea-market, and their cable coil.
Look that good chaplains on each ship do wait,
Nor the sea-diocese be impropriate:
Look to the sick and wounded prisoners; all
Is prize,—they even rob the hospital:
Recover back the prizes too; in vain
We fight, if all be taken that is ta'en.
Instructions to a Painter.


Note XXX.

As those who unripe veins in mines explore,
On the rich bed again the warm turf lay,
Till time digest the yet imperfect ore,
And know it will be gold another day.
St. 139. p. 129.

It was believed by the ancient chemists, that gold (the noblest of metals) was formed in the earth by a sort of chemical process, and might be detected in an imperfect state; in which case the miner's only resource was to close up the vein, and leave Nature to perfect the great work. It was this rooted and inveterate belief which caused so many to give faith to the fable of alchemy. For, if gold was thus gradually formed in the veins of the earth, the alchemist had only to discover the process which Nature pursued in her task, and he obtained the grand secret.

Note XXXI.

The goodly London, in her gallant trim,
The Phœnix-daughter of the vanished old.
St. 151. p. 131.

The former vessel, called the London, had been destroyed by fire. The city now built a new vessel, under the name of the Loyal London, and presented her as a free gift to Charles. This ship was a favourite theme of the poets of the day:

Whether by chance or plot the London died,
She'll rise the Loyal London purified.
That child, which doth from loyal parents spring,
May brag that he's the godson of a king.
—     —     —     —     —     —
No sooner was blown out the London, when
London took breath, and blew her in again.

Another bard not only compares the ship to the city from which she derived her name, but proves the captain to be the Lord Mayor, with this slight difference, that he carries his own sword, instead of having a sword-bearer to take that trouble. The passage occurs in a "Poem upon his Majesty's late declarations for toleration, and publication of war against the Hollander, by T. S. of Grey's Inn, Esq."

The Loyal London follows next to these;
Some call her the metropolis of seas,
About whose walls not Thames but seas now cling,
Wondering to see a city thus on wing.


Wondering to see a city thus on wing.
Venice no more shall Neptune's darling be,
That stays ashore while this pursues the sea;
Here valiant Spragge (like the Lord Mayor) appears,
Only this difference—Spragge his own sword bears,
My lord's supported is by other hands;
This rules the sea, while t'other rules the lands:
Nor is there wanting to increase his state
A cap of maintenance; since his sober pate
Still to his active hands commends advice,
'Tis happy to be valiant and wise.

This second London had also the ill hap to perish by fire, being burned by the Dutch, in the disgraceful surprise of Chatham, 1667.


O truly royal! who behold the law,
And rule of Beings in your Maker's mind.
St. 166. p. 134.

In this and the preceding stanza, our author, from the improved arts of ship-building and navigation, is led to compliment the Royal Society, then newly instituted, of which he was himself a member.


Already were the Belgians on our coast.—St. 168. p. 134.

Notwithstanding the exertions made by Charles and his ministers, and celebrated with such minuteness by the poet, the Dutch fleet, which needed fewer repairs, was first at sea, and their admirals braved the coast of England, dating letters and dispatches, "From the fleet in the mouth of the river of London." The English were about a fortnight behind their enemies in preparation, owing chiefly to the difficulty of manning their fleet.


Old expert Allen, loyal all along,
Famed for his action on the Smyrna fleet.
St. 172. p. 135.

Sir Thomas Allen, vice-admiral of the White, and, as I believe, an old cavalier, opened the war by an action of some consequence in the Mediterranean. With a squadron of eight or nine ships, he attacked the Dutch homeward-bound Smyrna fleet, near Cadiz; consisting of forty merchant vessels, many of which were in these days capable of a stout resistance, and a convoy of four ships of war. Allen defeated them totally, killed their commodore, Brackel,[178] took or sunk four of their richest ships, and drove the rest into the bay of Cadiz. He commanded the van in the engagement of July 25, 1666.

Note XXXV.

Holmes, the Achates of the general's fight;
Who first bewitched our eyes with Guinea gold.
St. 173. p. 135.

Sir Robert Holmes, rear-admiral of the White, is called the General's Achates, from the eager fidelity with which he supported Albemarle. The injuries which the African company sustained from the Dutch, and particularly their taking Cape Corfe Castle, had occasioned Sir Robert Holmes' being dispatched to the coast of Guinea in 1661, for the purpose of making reprisals. Having done them some damage on this visit, he returned for the same purpose in 1663; when he took Goree, and the Dutch merchant-men lying there, of whom he made prize, though the nations were not actually at war. He was repulsed from St George Del Mina, the chief of the Dutch forts on the coast of Africa, but was successful in taking Cape Corfe, the principal object of his voyage. He also took from the Dutch a colony in North America, called Nova Belgia, and bestowed on it the present name of New York. The Dutch preferred a heavy complaint against Holmes, for these warlike aggressions. But it would appear, that, if he had exceeded his instructions, he had not disobliged those by whom they were given; for, although he was committed to the Tower, he was speedily liberated, upon pleading, that he had found, on board a Dutch prize, instructions to seize the English fort at Coromantin.


With him went Spragge, as bountiful as brave,
Whom his high courage to command had brought.
St. 174. p. 135.

Sir Edward Spragge, knighted by King Charles, for his gallant behaviour on the 3d of June 1665, was one of the best and bravest officers whom the English navy (Leonum Nutrix) has ever produced. He distinguished himself in the battle of four days, already celebrated; and in that of the 25th of July, which Dryden is proceeding to detail, he carried a flag under Sir Jeremiah Smith, admiral of the Blue. The brunt of the battle fell upon this division, because, itself the weakest, it was encountered by that of Van Tromp, the strongest and best manned squadron of the enemy. Spragge afterwards distinguished himself by defending Sheerness, and by chastising the Algerines. But the last scene of his life[179] crowned all his naval achievements. In the battle of the 11th of August 1672, Tromp and he engaged like personal enemies, so that the conflict resembled less a chance rencontre in the confusion of battle, than a fixed and appointed duel between these admirals. Both were forced to shift their flag aboard other vessels, and instantly renewed with the utmost fury their individual contest. In shifting his flag for the second time, a chance cannon-ball pierced Sir Edward Spragge's barge, and that gallant admiral was drowned, to the grief, it is said, of Tromp, his generous enemy. He left behind him, according to the account both of friends and foes, the character of one of the bravest men and best commanders who ever fought at sea; nor was he less lamented by his friends on shore, for those civilized manners, and that gentle disposition, which almost always attend enlightened valour.


Harman, who did twice-fired Harry save,
And in his burning ship undaunted fought.—St. 174. p. 135.

This alludes to an exploit of Sir John Harman, who commanded the Henry in the four days combat. He belonged to the Blue squadron, which broke through the Dutch fleet; but, the Swiftsure and Essex being taken, his single vessel had great part of the Zealand division to contend with.—"His ship being disabled, the Dutch Admiral, Evertz, called to Sir John, and offered him quarter, who answered, 'No, sir, it is not come to that yet,' and immediately discharged a broadside; by which Evertz was killed, and several of his ships damaged, which so discouraged their captains, that they quitted the Henry, and sent three fire-ships to burn her. The first grappled on her starboard quarters, and there began to arise so thick a smoke, that it was impossible to perceive where the irons were fixed. At last, when the ship began to blaze, the boatswain of the Henry threw himself on board of it, discovered, and removed the grappling irons, and in the same instant, jumped on board his own ship. He had scarce done this, before another fire-ship was fixed on the larboard; this did its business so effectually, that the sails were quickly on fire, which frightened the chaplain and fifty men over board. Upon this, Sir John drew his sword, and threatened to kill any man who should attempt to provide for his own safety, by leaving the ship. This obliged them to endeavour to put out the fire, which in a short time they did; but the cordage being burned, the crossbeam fell down, and broke Sir John's leg; at which instant, the third fire-ship bore down, but four pieces of cannon, laden with chain-shot, disabled her. So that, after all, Sir John brought his ship into Harwich, where he repaired her as well as he could;[180] and, notwithstanding his broken leg, put to sea again to seek the Dutch."[207]


Young Hollis, on a muse by Mars begot,
Born, Cæsar-like, to write and act great deeds:
Impatient to revenge his fatal shot,
His right hand doubly to his left succeeds.—St. 175. p. 135.

Sir Frescheville Hollis, mentioned in this verse, was the son of Frescheville Hollis, of Grimsby, by his second wife, Mrs Elizabeth Molesworth. His father signalized himself in the civil wars, as appears from a sign manual of Charles II., dated Jersey, December 4th, 1649, authorising him to bear, or, two piles gules, quarterly, with his paternal coat, and setting forth,—that in parliament he strenuously asserted the king's prerogative; and, being colonel of a regiment in time of the rebellion, behaved with exemplary valour against the rebels, in the several battles of Kenton, Banbury, Brantford, Newark, Atherton, Bradford, and Newbury; and when the rebels had possessed themselves of the chief places of England, he with no less fortitude engaged with those that were besieged by them in Colchester.

How Sir Frescheville Hollis' mother merited the title of a muse, or by what writings he signalised himself, I am really ignorant. There were few men of quality who did not at this time aspire to something of a literary character. As the taste for conceits began to decay before the turn for ridicule and persiflage, which characterised the wits of the court of Charles, Dryden was often ridiculed for the pedigree he has assigned to this literary champion. Buckingham alludes to it in his "Poetical Reflections[181] on the Poem of Absalom and Achitophel," where he calls Dryden, a

—— —— metaphor of man,
Got on a muse by Father Publican:
For 'tis not harder much if we tax nature,
That lines should give a poet such a feature,
Than that his verse a hero should us shew,
Produced by such a feat, as famous too.

The noble author of this flat parody informs us, by marginal notes, that the "Father Publican" means a committee man, and adds on the word Hero, "See's Sir Denzil Hollis." By which, by the way, we may notice, that his Grace's accuracy was much of a piece with his poetry; for the hero's name was Frescheville.

Sir Frescheville Hollis was a man of high spirit and enterprise. He lost an arm in the great sea-fight of the 3d June, a circumstance alluded to in the verses. He was Rear-Admiral of the squadron, with which Sir Robert Holmes attacked the Dutch Smyrna fleet, near the Isle of Wight, in 1671-2. Finally, he was killed in the desperate action off Southwould bay, 28th May, 1672. There is a remarkable passage in his will, made on the 17th May, 1665; by which, after stating he was going to sea, as commander of a man-of-war, he directs,—"In case my body should be brought to land to be buried, I desire that some stone may be laid over me, with this inscription:—Know, reader, whatsoever thou be, if I had lived, it was my intent not to have owed my memory to any other monument but what my sword should raise for me of honour and victory."—Collins' Historical Collections of the families of Cavendish, Hollis, &c. page 74.


Now van to van the foremost squadrons meet,
The midmost battles hastening up behind.—St. 186. p. 137.

The particulars of the memorable engagement, thus introduced and described in the following stanzas, are thus narrated in the "Lives of the Admirals." Vol. 11.

"On the 25th of July, about noon, the English came up with the enemy, off the North-foreland. Sir Thomas Allen with the White squadron began the battle, by attacking Evertz. Prince Rupert and the Duke, about one in the afternoon, made a desperate attack upon de Ruyter, and, after fighting about three hours, were obliged to go on board another ship. In this space, the White squadron had entirely defeated their enemies; Admiral Evertz, his vice-admiral de Vries, and his rear-admiral Kœnders, being all killed, the vice-admiral of Zealand taken, and another[182] ship of 50 guns burnt. The prince and duke fought de Ruyter ship to ship, disabled the Guelderland of 66 guns, which was one of his seconds, killed the captain of another, and mortally wounded two more, upon which the Dutch squadron began to fly. However, vice-admiral Van-Nes stood bravely by de Ruyter, and received great damage; yet, being at last deserted by all but seven ships, they yielded to necessity, and followed the rest of their fleet as fast as they could. De Ruyter's ship was so miserably torn, and his crew so dispirited and fatigued, that he could have made but little resistance, and nothing but the want of wind hindered the English from boarding him. As for admiral Van Tromp, he was engaged with Sir Jeremiah Smith at a distance, and so could not assist his friends. As his was the strongest squadron of the Dutch fleet, and Smith's the weakest of the English, we had not great advantage on that side; yet some we had, his vice-admiral's ship being disabled, and his rear-admiral killed; which, however, did not hinder his fighting it out with much bravery, as long as there was light.

"Admiral de Ruyter continued his retreat that night, and the next day Prince Rupert and the Duke of Albemarle pursued him with part of the Red squadron, as fast as the wind would permit. A fire-ship bore down upon the Dutch admiral, and missed very little of setting him on fire. They then cannonaded again, when de Ruyter found himself so hard pressed, and his fleet in such eminent danger, that, in a fit of despair, he cried out, 'My God, what a wretch am I! amongst so many thousand bullets, is not there one to put me out of my pain?' By degrees, however, he drew near their own shallow coast, where the English could not follow him. Upon this occasion, Prince Rupert insulted the Dutch admiral, by sending a little shallop, called the Fanfan, with two small guns on board, which, being rowed near de Ruyter's vessel, fired upon him for two hours together; but at last a ball from the Dutch admiral so damaged his contemptible enemy, that the crew were forced to row, and that briskly, to save their lives. The enemy being driven over the flats into the wylings, the English went to lie at Schonevelt, the usual rendezvous of the Dutch fleets."

Note XL.

O famous leader of the Belgian fleet,
Thy monument inscribed such praise shall wear,
As Varro, timely flying, once did meet,
Because he did not of his Rome despair.—St. 194. p. 139.

Michael Adrien de Ruyter, a gallant and successful admiral, was born in 1607, chosen lieutenant-admiral of the States in[183] 1666, and died in 1676, being mortally wounded in an engagement with the French in Sicily. Dryden compares him to Terentius Varro, who commanded the Romans at the battle of Cannæ, and to whom, after that dreadful defeat, the senate voted their thanks,—"Quia de Republica non desperasset."

Note XLI.

Then let them know, the Belgians did retire
Before the patron saint of injured Spain.
St. 197. p. 139.

The battle was fought on the 25th of July, which is the day of St James, the tutelar saint of Spain. From this circumstance, the poet takes an opportunity, in the following stanzas, to inculcate a political doctrine, which the war with Holland and France had rendered fashionable. It contains an impeachment of the policy of Queen Elizabeth, who, by supporting the Netherlands against Philip of Spain, laid, as our author contends, the foundation for rebellion, and the establishment of a republic in England. The power of the Spanish monarchy, the poet avers, was slower in its growth, and a less reasonable object of jealousy to the English, than the more active and energetic governments of France and Holland.

Note XLII.

But whate'er English to the blessed shall go,
And the fourth Henry or first Orange meet,
Find him disowning of a Bourbon foe,
And him detesting a Batavian fleet.
St. 201. p. 140.

The poet here follows up the doctrine he has laid down, by a very bold averment, that Henry IV. of France, and the first Prince of Orange, instructed in sound policy by their translation to the blessed, would, the one disown the war against Henry III. into which he was compelled to enter to vindicate his right of succession to the crown against the immediate possessor, and the other detest the Dutch naval power, although the only means which could secure his country's independence.


Nor was this all: in ports and roads remote,
Destructive fires among whole fleets we send;
Triumphant flames upon the waters float,
And out-bound ships at home their voyage end.
St. 204. p. 140.

Immediately after the battle of the 25th, the victorious fleet of[184] England sailed for the Dutch coast, to attack the islands of Vlie and Schelling; for which purpose, a squadron, well manned, and with a sufficient number of fire-ships, was detached under the command of Sir Robert Holmes. "On the 8th of July, about seven in the morning, this squadron weighed, divided from the rest of the fleet, and came to anchor about a league from the Buoys, where they met the prince's pleasure-boat, called the Fanfan, who had discovered in the harbour a considerable number of ships near the Vlie, which proved to be 170 merchant-ships, the least of which was not less than 200 ton burden, with two men of war, which had lately conveyed near a hundred of the aforesaid ships from the northward, homeward-bound, some from the Straits, some from Guinea, some from Russia, some from the East countries; the rest were outward-bound ships, all of which likewise were very richly laden.

"Sir Robert Holmes, considering that, if he should proceed, as his design was first, to attempt a descent upon the land, that numerous fleet might possibly pour in such numbers of men, as might render the success hazardous, resolved to begin with the ships; and, accordingly, having ordered the Advice and the Hampshire to lie without the Buoys, he weighed with the rest of his fleet; and, the wind being contrary, he turned, with much ado, into Schelling road, where the Tyger came to anchor, and immediately Sir Robert went on board the Fanfan, and hoisted his flag, upon which the officers came on board him, and there it was ordered that the Pembroke, which drew the least water, with the fire-ships, should fall in amongst the enemy's fleet, with what speed they could. Captain Brown, with his fire-ships, chose very bravely to lay the biggest man of war aboard, and burned him downright. Another fire-ship, running up at the same time to the other man of war, he, backing his sails, escaped the present execution of the fire-ship, but so as to run himself by it on ground, where he was presently taken by some of the long-boats, and fired. The other three fire-ships clapped the three great merchant-men on board, which carried flags in their main-tops, and burned them. This put their fleet into great confusion, which Sir Robert Holmes perceiving, made a signal for all the officers to come on board again, and presently gave orders that Sir William Jennings, with all the boats that could be spared, should take the advantage, and fall in, sink, burn, and destroy all they could, but with a strict command that they should not plunder. The execution was so well followed, each captain destroying his share, some twelve, some fifteen merchant-men, that, of the whole fleet, there escaped not above eight or nine ships, one of which was a Guinea man of war, of 24 guns, and three small privateers. These ships, being driven up into a narrower corner of the stream, served[185] to protect four or five merchant men that were a-head of them, where it was not possible for our boats to come at them, though even these few were much damaged.

"The next day, being the 10th of August, it was found more expedient to land upon the coast of Schelling, than upon Vlie, which was performed by Sir Robert Holmes, with eleven companies, in his long-boats, and he landed with little or no opposition. When he came on shore, he left one company to secure his boats, and with the other ten marched three miles up into the country, to the capital town, called Brandaris, in which there were upwards of a thousand fine houses; where, keeping five companies upon the skirt of the town, to prevent any surprise of the enemy, he sent the other five to set fire to the place: But, finding them somewhat slow to execute that order, and fearing they might be tempted to forget themselves in the pillage, he was himself forced to set fire to some houses to the windward, the sooner to dispatch the work, and hasten his men away, which burned with such violence, that in half an hour's time most part of the town was in a light flame. This place was reported, by those who were found in it, to have been very rich, and so it appeared by some of the soldiers' pockets; but very few people were to be seen there, having had time to escape from the danger, except some old men and women, who were used by the English, after they fell into their hands, with all possible gentleness and humanity.

"This blow greatly affected the Dutch, who, according to their own accounts, suffered the loss of near six millions of guilders; and, if we take the ships into this computation, they confess they were losers to the amount of eleven millions, or one million, one hundred thousand pounds sterling."—Lives of the Admirals, Vol. II. p. 269, from the account of Sir Robert Holmes.

Note XLIV.

Yet London, empress of the northern clime,
By a high fate thou greatly didst expire;
Great as the world's, which, at the death of Time,
Must fall, and rise a nobler frame by fire.
St. 212. p. 142.
"Esse quoque in fatis reminiscitur, adfore tempus,
Quo mare, quo tellus, correptaque regia cœli
Ardeat; et mundi moles operosa laboret."
Ovid. Metam. Lib. I.

The dreadful Fire of London befel almost ere the inhabitants had done with rejoicing over the flames which consumed the fleet at Vlie, and the town of Brandaris. This horrible conflagration[186] took its rise in the house of one Farryner, an obscure baker in Pudding-lane, near New Fish Street. It broke out on the night preceding the 2d September, 1666, with astonishing fury; and the houses in the lane, and its neighbourhood, being entirely constructed of timber, warped, and dried by a long drought, its progress was soon so rapid, that the inhabitants were content to escape from it with their lives, without attempting to save their moveables, far less to intercept the progress of the conflagration. In the morning, the attempts to stop a fire, now become so general, and which raged amidst such combustible buildings, proved totally ineffectual. The narrowness of the streets, and the nature of the houses was such, that, where one house was on fire, the devastation soon became general; and a strong east wind (a Belgian wind, as Dryden calls it), prevailing through the whole day, the flames, by various means of approach, occupied and surrounded the greater part of the city, properly so called. The magazines of naval stores, pitch, tar, hemp, dried wood, and other materials for shipping, which occupied the yards by the side of the river, soon caught the flames, to which they afforded a most horrible supply of strength and nourishment. All help seemed now to be in vain; for it is one thing to quench a fire, which has only occupied a few houses, and against which all the skill and exertion of those best qualified to check its progress can be at once directed, and another to extinguish a conflagration which occupies many streets, and which, if quelled in one spot where skillfully opposed, is triumphant in many others, where its ravages are only the object of wonder and lamentation to the heartless and ignorant citizens. At length universal destruction and dismay prevented the adoption of uniform or effectual measures against the destruction which seemed to impend in every quarter. The progress and extinction of this horrible fire will be learned from the text, and the following notes.

Note XLV.

The ghosts of traitors from the bridge descend,
With bold fanatic spectres to rejoice;
About the fire into a dance they bend,
And sing their Sabbath notes with feeble voice.
St. 223. p. 144.

This most beautiful stanza requires but little illustration. London Bridge, as early as Shakespeare's time, was a place allotted for affixing the heads of persons executed for treason. Thus Catesby to Hastings,

The princes both make high account of you—
—For they account his head upon the bridge.


The skulls of the regicides, of the fifth-monarchy insurgents, of Philips, Gibb, Tongue, and other fanatics executed for a conspiracy in 1662, were placed on the Bridge, Towerhill, Temple-bar, and other conspicuous places of elevation; that of the famous Hugh Peters, in particular, was stationed upon the bridge. The Sabbath notes, imputed to this assembly of fanatic spectres, are the infernal hymns chaunted at the witches' Sabbath; a meeting, concerning which antiquity told and believed many strange things.

Note XLVI.

Old father Thames raised up his reverend head,
But feared the fate of Simois would return.
St. 232. p. 145.

Dryden, in the hurry of composition, has here made a slight inaccuracy. It was not Simois, but Xanthus, otherwise called Scamander, who, having undertaken to drown Achilles, was nearly dried up by the devouring fires of Vulcan. He called, indeed, upon his brother river to assist him in his undertaking, but Simois appears to have maintained a prudent neutrality. See the Iliad, Book XXI.


Now day appears, and with the day the king.
St. 238. p. 146.

The king, by his conduct during this emergency, gained more upon the hearts of his subjects, than by any action of his life. Completely awakened, by so dreadful an emergence, from his usual lethargy of pleasure and indolence, he came into the now half-burned city, with his brother and the nobility, and gave an admirable specimen of what his character was capable, when in a state of full exertion. Not contented with passive expressions of sorrow and sympathy, he issued the most prudent orders, and animated their execution by his presence. His anxiety was divided betwixt the task of stopping the conflagration, and the no less necessary and piteous duty of relieving those thousands, who, having lost their all by the fire, had neither a morsel of food, nor a place of shelter. For the one purpose, he spared neither commands, threats, example, nor liberal rewards, which he lavished with his own hand; for the other, he opened his naval and military magazines, and distributed among the miserable and starving sufferers, the provisions designed for his fleet and army. In fine, such were his exertions, and so grateful were his people, that they deemed his presence had an almost supernatural power, and clamourously entreated not to be deprived of it, when, after the fire was quenched, he was about to leave London.



The powder blows up all before the fire.
St. 245. p. 147.

"So many houses were now burning together, that water could not be had in sufficient quantities where it was wanted. The only remedy left was, to blow up houses at convenient distances from those which were on fire, and to make, by that means, void spaces, at which the fury of the conflagration should spend itself for want of fuel. But this means also proved ineffectual; for the fire, in some places, made its way by means of the combustible part of the rubbish of the ruined houses, not well cleared, and in others, by flakes of burning matter of different kinds, which were carried through the air, by the impetuous wind, to great distances. And the city being at that time almost all built of very old timber, which had besides been parched and scorched by the sun the whole preceding summer, one of the hottest and dryest that had been ever known, it came to pass that, wherever such fiery matter chanced to light, it seldom wanted fit fuel to work and feed upon."—Baker's Chronicle, p. 642. Edit. 1730.

Note XLIX.

The days were all in this lost labour spent;
And, when the weary king gave place to night,
His beams he to his royal brother lent,
And so shone still in his reflective light.
St. 253. p. 149.

The Duke of York was as active and vigilant as his brother upon this melancholy occasion. His exertions and seasonable directions, prevented the fire from breaking out afresh from the Inner Temple, after it had been got under in other places of the town. Yet the idle calumny, which stigmatized the Roman Catholics, as the authors of the conflagration, was often extended to James himself. In that tissue of falsehood and misrepresentation, which Titus Oates entitled, "A Picture of the Late King James," he charges him "with beholding the flames with joy, and the ruins with much rejoicing," p. 30, and says he would have impeached him, as an accessary to the raising of that fire, had he not promised to Prince Rupert to bring forward no accusation that could hurt the king; "for I could not charge you," says he, "but must charge him too." In which case, by the way, this able witness would have made the king accessary to his own murder, which, according to Oates' own evidence, was to have been perpetrated during the fire, had not the hearts of the Jesuits failed them, on seeing the zeal with which he laboured to extinguish it.


Note L.

The most, in fields, like herded beasts, lie down,
To dews obnoxious on the grassy floor.
St. 258. p. 149.

In this, and foregoing verses, the miseries of those, whose houses were consumed, are strikingly painted. Many fled for refuge to the houses of friends, and lodged there the remnants of their property, which they had been able to save. These were often forced to abandon their places of asylum, by a fresh invasion of the devouring element, and to yield up to its rage all which they had before rescued. At length, distrusting safety in the city itself, the villages in its vicinity soon became filled with fugitives, till, in the end, no place of refuge was left but the open fields, where thousands remained for several nights, without shelter, watching the progress of the flames, which were consuming the metropolis.

Note LI.

O let it be enough what thou hast done,
When spotted deaths ran armed through every street,
With poisoned darts, which not the good could shun,
The speedy could out-fly, or valiant meet.
St. 267. p. 151.

In 1665, the plague broke out in London with the most dreadful fury. In one year, upwards of 90,000 inhabitants were cut off by this frightful visitation. The citizens were driven into the country, and so desolate was the metropolis, through death and desertion, that the grass is said actually to have grown in Cheapside.

Note LII.

Thy threatnings, Lord, as thine, thou mayst revoke;
But, if immutable and fixed they stand,
Continue still thyself to give the stroke,
And let not foreign foes oppress thy land.—St. 270. p. 151.

The poet puts into the prayer of Charles the solemn and striking choice of David, when, as a penalty for his presumption in numbering the children of Israel, he was compelled to make an election between three years famine, three years subjugation to his enemies, or three days pestilence. "And David said unto God, I am in a great strait: let me fall now into the hand of the Lord, for very great are his mercies; but let me not fall into the hand of man." Dryden had already, in Stanza 265, paraphrased the patriotic prayer of David: "Let thy hand, I pray thee, O Lord[190] my God, be on me, and on my father's house, but not on thy people, that they should be plagued." Chron. Book I. ch. xxi.

Note LIII.

Nor could thy fabric, Paul's, defend thee long,
Though thou wert sacred to thy Maker's praise;
Though made immortal by a poet's song,
And poets songs the Theban walls could raise.
St. 275. p. 152.

Waller had addressed a poem to Charles I. upon his Majesty's repairing St Paul's. Denham, in the commencement of "Cowper's Hill," alludes both to the labours of the monarch, and of the poet:

Paul's, the late theme of such a muse, whose flight
Has bravely reached and soared above thy height,
Now shalt thou stand, though sword, or time, or fire,
Or zeal more fierce than they, thy fall conspire;
Secure whilst thee the best of poets sings,
Preserved from ruin by the best of kings.

The fire of London, however, neither respected the labours of Charles, the song of Waller, nor the prophecy of Sir John Denham. During the conflagration, as St Paul's was in an insulated situation, and constructed of strong stone-work, it was long thought to be in no danger from the fire, and many of the sufferers employed it as a place of deposit for the wreck of their goods and fortunes. But the whole adjoining buildings in the churchyard being in a light flame, it became impossible, even for the massy fabric of the cathedral, to resist the combustion. The wood arches and supports being consumed, the stone-work gave way with a most horrible crash, and buried the whole edifice in a pile of smoking ruins.

Note LIV.

He saw the town's one half in rubbish lie,
And eager flames drive on to storm the rest.
St. 280. p. 153.

The inscription on the monument states, that the fire consumed eighty-nine churches, the city-gates, Guildhall, many public structures, hospitals, schools, libraries, a vast number of stately edifices, thirteen thousand two hundred dwelling houses, four hundred streets. Three hundred and seventy-three acres within the city walls, and sixty-three acres and three roods without the walls, remained heaped with the smoking ruins of the houses, which had once occupied them.


Note LV.

The vanquished fires withdraw from every place.—St. 282. p. 153.

About ten o'clock of the evening of Tuesday the 5th of September, after the fire had raged for three days, the high east wind, which had been the means of forcing on its ravages, began to abate, and, in proportion, the efforts used to stop the progress of the flames became effectual. In some places, houses being opportunely blown up prevented the further spreading of the fire; in others, the flames, spent for lack of fuel, seemed to go out of themselves. On the morning of the 6th, the conflagration was totally extinguished.

The prejudices of the times assigned different causes for this tragical event, according to the political principles of the discordant parties. Most agreed, that the fire was raised by design; for, although the multitude are content to allow, that a private person may die suddenly of a natural disorder, or that a cottage may be consumed by accidental fire; yet the death of a king, or the conflagration of a metropolis, must, according to their habits of thinking, arise from some dark and dismal plot, planned, doubtless, by those, whose religious or political sentiments are most remote from their own. The royalists accused the fanatics; the puritans the papists, of being the raisers of this dreadful fire. Some suspected even the king and duke of York; though it is somewhat difficult to see any advantage they could derive from burning a city, which had been just loading them both with treasures. The Monument, whose inscription adopts one of these rash opinions, is a more stately, but not a more respectable, record of prejudice, than the stone figure in Smithfield, whose tablet declares, the fire must have been specially and exclusively a judgment for the crime of Gluttony, since it began in Pudding-Lane, and ended in Pye-Corner!

An event so signally calamitous called forth, as may be readily supposed, the condolence and consolations, such as they were, of the poets of the day. One author, who designs himself J. A. Fellow of King's College, Cambridge, poured forth verses "Upon the late lamentable Fire in London, in an humble imitation of the most incomparable Mr Cowley his Pindaric strain." This usurper of the Theban lyre informs us, that

About those hours which silence keep.
To tempt the froward world to ease;
Just at the time when, clothed with subtile air.
Guilty spirits use to appear;
When the hard students to their pillows creep;
(All but the aged men that wake,
Who in the morn their slumbers take,)
When fires themselves are put to sleep,
(Only the thrifty lights that burn, and melancholy persons please;)
Just then a message came,
Brought by a murmuring wind;
(Not to every obvious flame,
Thousand of those it left behind.)
And chose a treacherous heap of sparks,
Which buried in their ashes lay;
Which, when discovered by some secret marks,
The air fan'd the pale dust away:
What less than Heaven could ere this message send?
The embers glowing, waked, and did attend.
In an unusual tone
The embassy delivered was;
The teeming air itself did groan,
Nor for its burden could it farther pass.
Their dialects, but to themselves unknown,
Only by sad effects we see,
They did agree,
To execute the great decree;
And all with the same secrecy conspire,
That as heaven whispered to the air, the air should to the fire.
The drowsy coals no sooner understand
The purport of their large command,
And that the officious wind did there attend
Its needful aid to lend,
But suddenly they seek out
The work they were to go about;
And sparks, that had before inactive lain,
Each separate had its portion ta'en;
Though scattered for a while, designed to meet again.
Thus far contrived the wary fire,
Thinking how many 'twould undo;
Fearing their just complaint,
And the perpetual restraint;
It winked, as one would think 'twould fain
Have slept again;
Had not the cruel wind rose higher,
Which forced the drooping coals revive,
To save themselves alive.
Thus without fresh supply of food,
Not able to subsist,
Much less resist
A breath by which they were so rudely kist,
They seized a neighbouring stack of wood,
Which straight into one horrid flame did turn,
Not as it stood designed to burn.
Thus, while each other they oppose.
Poor mortals trace the mighty foes,
By the vast desolations each makes where'er he goes.

Besides this choice imitation of Cowley, we have "Londini quod reliquum, or London's Remains," in Latin and English; "Actio in Londini Incendiarios, the Conflagration of London, poetically delineated;" Londinenses Lacrymæ, or "London's tears mingled with[193] her ashes;" and, doubtless, many other poems on the same memorable event.


Not with more constancy the Jews, of old,
By Cyrus from rewarded exile sent
Their royal city did in dust behold,
Or with more vigour to rebuild it went.—St. 290. p. 155.

When Cyrus conquered Babylon, he restored the Jewish tribes to their native land, after seventy years captivity. The mixed feelings, with which they began to rebuild their ruined temple and city, are emphatically described in the book of Ezra, chap. iii.

"11. And they sung together by course, praising and giving thanks unto the Lord, because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever towards Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.

"12. But many of the priests and Levites, and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice, and many shouted loud for joy.

"13. So that the people could not discover the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people; for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off."

Note LIX.

Now frequent trines the happier lights among,
And high-raised Jove, from his dark prison freed,
Those weights took off that on his planet hung,
Will gloriously the new-laid works succeed.
St. 292. p. 155.

According to the jargon of astrology, a trine, or triangular conjunction of planets, was supposed to be eminently benign to mankind. To this Dryden adds the circumstance of the planet Jove being in his ascension, as a favourable aspect. Our poet was not above being seriously influenced by these fooleries; and I dare say will be found, on reference to any almanack of 1666, to have given a very accurate account of the relative state of the heavenly bodies in that year.


Note LX.

More great than human now, and more august,
Now deified she from her fires does rise;
Her widening streets on new foundations trust,
And opening into larger parts she flies.—St. 295. p. 156.

It is here truly stated, that the calamity of the great fire was ultimately attended with excellent consequences to the city. By a proclamation from the king, of an arbitrary and dictatorial nature, but which the emergency seems to have justified, the citizens were prohibited from rebuilding their houses, except with solid materials, and upon such plans as should be set forth by a committee appointed for the purpose. In this manner, the endless disputes about property, whose boundaries were now undistinguishable, were at once silenced, and provision was made for the improvements in widening the streets, and prohibiting the use of lath and timber, of which materials the houses were formerly composed. "Had the king," says Hume, "been enabled to carry his power still farther, and made the houses be rebuilt with perfect regularity, and entirely upon one plan, he had contributed much to the convenience, as well as embellishment, of the city. Great advantages, however, have resulted from the alterations, though not carried to the full length. London became much more healthful after the fire. The plague, which used to break out with great fury twice or thrice every century, and indeed which was always lurking in some corner or other of the city, has scarcely ever appeared since that calamity."—Vol. VII. p. 4l6.



——Si proprius stes
Te capiet magis——


The following poem has been uniformly and universally admired, not only as one of Dryden's most excellent performances, but as indisputably the best and most nervous political satire that ever was written. It is said to have been undertaken at the command of Charles; and if so, no king was ever better obeyed. The general state of parties in England during the last years of the reign of Charles II. has been often noticed, particularly in the notes on "The Duke of Guise," Vol. VI. Shaftesbury, dismissed from the administration, had bent his whole genius for intrigue, to effect the exclusion of the Duke of York from the crown of England, even at the risque of a civil war. Monmouth had thrown himself into the arms of the same party, flattered by the prospect of occupying that place from which his uncle was to be excluded. Every thing seemed to flatter his ambition. The pretensions of the Duke's daughters must necessarily have been compromised by the exclusion of their father. At any rate, they were not likely to be supported by a powerful party, while Monmouth, by his own personal influence, and that of Shaftesbury, was at the head of all, whom zeal for religion, disappointed ambition, restlessness of temper, love of liberty, or desire of licentiousness, had united in opposition to the measures of the court. Every engine which judgement or wit could dictate, was employed by either party to place their cause in the most favourable light, and prejudice that of their adversaries. Among these, the poem which follows was the most powerful, and the most successful. The time of its appearance was chosen with as much art, as the poem displays genius. Shaftesbury had been committed to the Tower on a charge of high treason on the 2d July, and the poem was published a few days before a bill of indictment was presented against him. The sensation excited by such a poem, at such a time, was intense and universal.

It has been hitherto generally supposed, that the idea of applying to Charles and Monmouth the apt characters and story of Absalom and Achitophel, and indeed the general plan of drawing a[198] poetical parallel from scriptural history to modern times, was exclusively our author's. This appears to be a mistake. So far back as 1679, some favourer of Lord Stafford and of the Catholic cause ventured to paraphrase the story of Naboth's vineyard, and to apply it to the condemnation of that unfortunate nobleman for the Catholic plot. In that piece, the scripture names and characters are given to the objects of the poet's satire, precisely on the plan adopted by Dryden in "Absalom and Achitophel,"[208] as the[199] reader will perceive from the extracts in the note. Not only had the scheme of a similar poem been conceived, but the very passage of Scripture, adopted by Dryden as the foundation of his parable, had been already applied to Charles and his undutiful son. There appeared, in 1680, a small tract, called "Absalom's Conspiracy, or the Tragedy of Treason," which, as it seems to have furnished the general argument of Dryden's poem, and has been unnoticed by any former commentator, I have subjoined to these introductory remarks. (See p. 205.)

In a "Letter also to his grace the duke of Monmouth, this 15 July 1680, by a true lover of his person and the peace of the kingdom," the same adaptation is thus warmly urged.

"These are the men (speaking of Monmouth's advisers) that would, with Joab, send for the wise woman to persuade king David to admit of a return for Absalom his son; and when they had effected it, leave him to himself, till anger and passion had set fire to the field of Joab. These are the men, that would have advised Absalom to make chariots, and to take fifty men to run before him, and appoint his time and station beside the way of the gate, to enquire of the tribes of Israel, that came up to the king for justice, what their controversies and matters were. These are the men, that would have advised young Absalom, that since David had appointed no one to hear their grieveances (which was a political lye), and relieve their oppressions, to wish, "Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man that hath any suit or cause might come to me, and I would do him justice!" In short, these unprincipled men were they that set on Absalom to steal away the hearts of the people from the king; these are they, that advised[200] him to go to Hebron to pay his vow; and these are the men, that led him into actual rebellion against his father, and to be destroyed by some of the very hands that had assisted him in those pernicious counsels." Somers' Tracts, p. 111.

The parallel, from its aptness to the circumstances, appears to have become popular; for Shaftesbury was distinguished by the nickname of Achitophel[209] before the appearance of the following poem.

On the merits of Dryden's satire, all critics have been long agreed. "If it be considered," says Dr Johnson, "as a poem political and controversial, it will be found to comprise all the excellencies of which the subject is susceptible; acrimony of censure, elegance of praise, artful delineation of character, variety and vigour of sentiment, happy turns of language, and pleasing harmony of numbers; and all these raised to such a height as can scarcely be found in any other English composition." The more deeply we examine the plan of the piece, the more reason we will find to applaud the exquisite skill of the author. In the character of Absalom, particularly, he had a delicate task to perform. He was to draw the misguided and offending son, but not the hardened reprobate; for Charles, notwithstanding his just indignation, was to the end of his reign partial to this unfortunate prince, and anxious to detach him from his desperate counsellors. Dryden has, accordingly, liberally transferred all the fouler part of the accusation to the shoulders of Achitophel, while he is tender of the fame of Absalom. We may suppose, that, in doing so, the poet indulged his own feelings: the Duchess of Buccleuch had been his most early patroness, and he had received personal favours from Monmouth himself,[210] These recollections must have had weight[201] with him, when engaged in composing this party poem; and we may readily believe him, when he affirms, that David could not be more tender of the young man's life, than he would be of his reputation. In many of the other characters, that of Buckingham in particular, a certain degree of mercy is preserved, even amid the severity of satire. The follies of Zimri are exposed to ridicule; but his guilt, (and the age accused him of most foul crimes,) is left in the shade. Even in drawing the character of Achitophel, such a degree of justice is rendered to his acute talents, and to his merits as a judge, that we are gained by the poet's apparent candour to give him credit for the truth of the portrait in its harsher features. It is remarkable, that the only considerable additions made to the poem, after the first edition, have a tendency rather to mollify than to sharpen the satire. The following additional passage, in the character of Achitophel, stands in this predicament:

So easy still it proves in factious times,
With public zeal to cancel private crimes.
How safe is treason, and how sacred ill,
Where none can sin against the people's will?
Where crowds can wink, and no offence be known,
Since in another's guilt they find their own?
Yet fame deserved no enemy can grudge;
The statesman we abhor, but praise the judge.
In Israel's courts ne'er sat an Abethdin
With more discerning eyes, or hands more clean,
Unbribed, unsought, the wretched to redress;
Swift of dispatch, and easy of access.

A report was circulated, and has crept into the "Biographia Britannica," that this addition was made in consequence of Shaftesbury's having conferred a favour upon Dryden, and his family,[211] in the interval between the first and second edition of "Absalom[202] and Achitophel;" but this Mr Malone has refuted in the most satisfactory manner.

A passage, expressive of kind wishes towards Monmouth, was also added in the second addition:

But oh that yet he would repent and live!
How easy 'tis for parents to forgive;
With how few tears a pardon might be won,
From nature pleading for a darling son!

These, and other passages, in which Dryden has softened the severity of his muse, evince not only the poet's taste and judgment, but that tone of honourable and just feeling, which distinguishes a true satire from a libellous lampoon.

It was not consistent with Dryden's subject to introduce much imagery or description into "Absalom and Achitophel;" but, though Dr Johnson has remarked this as a disadvantage to the poem, it was, I think, amply compensated by the good effects which the restraint produced on our author's style of composition. The reader has already seen in how many instances Dryden gave way to the false taste of his age, which, indeed, furnished the strongest temptation to a vigorous mind, naturally delighting to exert itself in working out an ingenious parallel between remote and dissimilar ideas. A fiery horse is taught his regular paces by the restraining discipline of the manege; and, in the same way, the subject of "Absalom and Achitophel," which confined the poet to the expression of sentiment and character, and left no room for excursions into the regions of metaphysical poetry, probably had the effect of restraining his exertions within the bounds of true taste, whose precincts he would be less likely to overleap, even when again turned loose upon a more fanciful theme. It is certain that "Absalom and Achitophel" is as remarkable for correctness of taste, as for fire and spirit of composition; nor ought the reader, amidst so many appropriate beauties, to regret those flights of imagination, which could not have been indulged without impropriety.

Another objection, stated to this poem, has been the abrupt and unsatisfactory nature of the conclusion. The factions, and their leaders, are described; and, when our expectation is at the highest, the danger is at once dispelled by a speech from the throne. "Who," says Johnson, "can forbear to think of an enchanted castle, with a wide moat, and lofty battlements, which[203] vanishes at once into air, when the destined knight blows his horn before it." Yet, with great deference to such authority, it may be considered as somewhat hard to expect the merit of a well-conducted story in a poem merely intended as a designation of various living characters. He, who collects a gallery of portraits, disclaims, by the very act of doing so, any intention of presenting a series of historical events. Each separate style of poetry has its merits and disadvantages, but we should not expect a historical work to contain the poignancy of a satire, or a satire to exhibit the majestic and interesting story of an epic poem. Besides, there had actually been an important crisis, and highly favourable to the court, produced by the king's behaviour at Oxford, and by the sudden dissolution of that parliament, which, according to Shaftesbury, was to have rendered the Duke of York as abandoned an exile as the first murderer Cain. This stroke of power was executed so unexpectedly, that the Commons had not the slightest suspicion of what was intended, till they were summoned by the Black Rod to attend the king. Oxford, so lately crowded with the armed factionaries and partizans of royalty and democracy, was at once deserted, and left to its usual stillness and seclusion. The blow was fatal to the country party, as it dispersed that body in which they had knit up their strength, and which alone could give their proceedings the sanction of law.

The success of "Absalom and Achitophel" was unexampled. Dr Johnson's father, a bookseller, told him, it was exceeded by nothing in his remembrance, excepting that of Sacheverel's Sermon. The allusions which it contained became universally known; and the allegorical names seemed to be inalienably entailed upon the persons to whom Dryden had assigned them. Not only were they in perpetual use amongst the court poets of the day,[212] but the[204] parable was repeatedly inculcated and preached upon from the pulpit,[213] and echoed and re-echoed in all the addresses of the time.[214]

The poem was at first published without a name, a circumstance which must have added to the curiosity of the public; there were, however, few writers, save the author, who could be suspected even for a moment, and it is probable he did not remain long concealed. The poem was published on the 17th November, 1681,[215] and, as early as the 10th of December, Dryden is attacked as the author, in a miserable Grubstreet poem, called "Towser the Second," supposed to be written by Henry Care.[216] Then came forth, on the 14th, His Grace of Buckingham's "Poetical Reflections," which are amply analysed in our notes. A non-conformist[205] clergyman (name unknown) advanced to the charge on the 25th, with a pamphlet termed, "A Whip for the Fool's Back;" and followed it up with the "Key with the Whip, to open the mystery and iniquity of the poem called Absalom and Achitophel." Then Samuel Pordage published "Azariah and Hushai;" and, finally, our author's old antagonist, Elkanah Settle, brought up the heavy rear with a ponderous pamphlet entitled, "Absalom Senior; or, Achitophel Transposed, a Poem." All these laborious and indignant vindications and rebutters served only to shew how much the faction was hurt by this spirited satire, and how unable they were to make an effectual retort. Were we to judge of their strength in other respects, from the efforts of their writers, we should esteem them very unworthy of Dryden's satire, and exclaim, as Tybalt does to Benvolio,

What dost thou, drawn, among these heartless hinds?

Accordingly, Dryden takes but slight and contemptuous notice of any of his antagonists, save Shadwell and Settle, on whom he inflicts a severe flagellation in the Second Part. On the other hand, Nahum Tate, and other tory poets, came forth with congratulatory verses, the inferiority of which served to shew that Dryden's force did not lie in the principles and subject which he had in common with these poetasters, but in the incommunicable resources of his own genius.

The first part of "Absalom and Achitophel" is in folio, "Printed for J. T. (Jacob Tonson) and are to be sold by W. Davis, in Amen corner, 1681." A second edition was issued before the end of December, which was followed by many more. Mr Malone believes that the edition which appeared in the Miscellanies was the sixth; and a quarto copy, now before me, dated 1692, calls itself "the Seventh Edition, augmented and revised." Two Latin versions of "Absalom and Achitophel" were executed; one by the famous Atterbury, afterwards bishop of Rochester, the other by Dr Coward.

"Absalom's Conspiracy: or, the Tragedy of Treason." London, printed in the year 1680. Folio, containing two pages. Reprinted in the Harleian Miscellany.

"There is nothing so dangerous either to societies in general, or to particular persons, as ambition; the temptations of sovereignty, and the glittering lustre of a crown, have been guilty of all the fearful consequences that can be within the compass of imagination. For this, mighty nations have been drowned in blood, populous cities have been made, desolate, laid in ashes, and left without inhabitants; for this, parents have lost all the sense and tenderness[206] of nature; and children, all the sentiments of duty and obedience; the eternal laws of good and just, the laws of nature and of nations, of God and religion, have been violated; men have been transformed into the cruelty of beasts, and into the rage and malice of devils.

"Instances, both modern and ancient, of this, are innumerable; but this of Absalom is a tragedy, whose antiquity and truth do equally recommend it as an example to all posterity, and a caution to all mankind, to take care how they embark in ambitious and unlawful designs; and it is a particular caveat to all young men, to beware of such counsellors as the old Achitophel, lest, while they are tempted with the hopes of a crown, they hasten on their own destiny, and come to an untimely end.

"Absalom was the third son of David by Maachah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur, who was one of David's concubines; he, seeing his title to the crown upon the score of lawful succession would not do, resolved to make good what was defective in it by open force, by dethroning his father.

"Now the arts he used to accomplish his design were these. First, he studied popularity; he rose up early, he was industrious and diligent in his way; he placed himself in the way of the gate; and when any man came for judgment, he courteously entered into discourse with him. This feigned condescension was the first step of his ambition. Secondly, he depraved his father's government: the king was careless, drowned in his pleasures; the counsellors were evil; no man regarded the petitioners: Absalom said unto him,—See, thy matters are good and right, it is but reason that you petition for; but there is no man that will hear thee from the king; there is no justice to be found, your petitions are rejected. Thirdly, he insinuates what he would do if he were in authority; how easy access should be to him; he would do them justice; he would hear and redress their grievances, receive their petitions, and give them gracious answers:—Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man might come unto me, and I would do him justice! And, when any man came to do him obeysance, he put forth his hand, and took him and kissed him; and thus he stole away the hearts of the people from their lawful king, his father and sovereign.

"But all this would not do; he therefore joins himself to one Achitophel, an old man of a shrewd head, and discontented heart. This Achitophel, it seems, had been a great counsellor of David's; but was now under some disgrace, as appears by Absalom's sending for him from Gilo, his city, whither he was in discontent retreated, because David had advanced Hushai into his privy-council; and no doubt can be made, but he was of the conspiracy before, by his ready joining with Absalom as soon as the matters were ripe for execution.


"Absalom having thus laid his train, and made secret provision for his intended rebellion, dispatches his emissaries abroad, to give notice by his spies, that all the confederates should be ready at the sound of the trumpet, and say, Absalom reigneth in Hebron; and immediately a great multitude was gathered to him; for the conspiracy was strong; some went out of malice, and some in their simplicity followed him, and knew not any thing.

"David is forced to fly from his son, but still he had a loyal party that stuck close to him. Achitophel gave devilish counsel, but God disappointed it strangely; for Hushai, pretending to come over to their party, put Absalom upon a plausible expedient, which proved his ruin. So impossible is it for treason to be secure, that no person who forms a conspiracy, but there may be some, who, under pretence of the greatest kindness, may insinuate themselves, only to discover their secrets, and ruin their intentions, either by revealing their treason, or disappointing it; and certainly, of all men, traitors are least to be trusted; for they who can be perfidious to one, can never be true to any.

"The matter comes at last to the decision of the sword. Absalom's party are defeated, and many slain, and Absalom himself, seeking to save himself by flight in the wood, is entangled in a tree by his own hair, which was his pride; and his mule going from under him, there left him hanging till Joab came, and, with three darts, made at once an end of his life and the rebellion. Thus ended his youthful and foolish ambition, making him an eternal monument of infamy, and an instance of the justice of divine vengeance, and what will be the conclusion of ambition, treason, and conspiracy, against lawful kings and governors: A severe admonition to all green heads, to avoid the temptations of grey Achitophels.

"Achitophel, the engineer of all this mischief, seeing his counsel despised, and foreseeing the event, prevented the hand of the executioner, and, in revenge upon himself, went home and hanged himself; give fair warning to all treacherous counsellors, to see what their devilish counsels will lead them to at last; mischievous counsel ever falling in conclusion upon the heads where first it was contrived, as naturally as dirty kennels fall into the common-sewer.

"Whatsoever was written aforetime, was written for our instruction: for holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."



It is not my intention to make an apology for my poem; some will think it needs no excuse, and others will receive none. The design I am sure is honest; but he who draws his pen for one party, must expect to make enemies of the other. For wit and fool, are consequents of Whig and Tory;[217][209] and every man is a knave or an ass to the contrary side. There is a treasury of merits in the fanatic church, as well as in the popish; and a pennyworth to be had of saintship, honesty, and poetry, for the lewd, the factious, and the blockheads; but the longest chapter in Deuteronomy has not curses enough for an Anti-Bromingham.[218] My comfort is,[210] their manifest prejudice to my cause will render their judgment of less authority against me. Yet, if a poem have genius, it will force its own reception in the world; for there is a sweetness in good verse, which tickles even while it hurts; and no man can be heartily angry with him who pleases him against his will. The commendation of adversaries is the greatest triumph of a writer, because it never comes unless extorted. But I can be satisfied on more easy terms; if I happen to please the more moderate sort, I shall be sure of an honest[211] party, and, in all probability, of the best judges; for the least concerned are commonly the least corrupt. And I confess I have laid in for those, by rebating the satire, where justice would allow it, from carrying too sharp an edge. They who can criticise so weakly, as to imagine I have done my worst, may be convinced, at their own cost, that I can write severely, with more ease than I can gently. I have but laughed at some men's follies, when I could have declaimed against their vices; and other men's virtues I have commended, as freely as I have taxed their crimes. And now, if you are a malicious reader, I expect you should return upon me, that I affect to be thought more impartial than I am; but if men are not to be judged by their professions, God forgive you commonwealth's-men for professing so plausibly for the government! You cannot be so unconscionable as to charge me for not subscribing my name; for that would reflect too grossly upon your own party, who never dare, though they have the advantage of a jury to secure them. If you like not my poem, the fault may possibly be in my writing; though it is hard for an author to judge against himself: but more probably it is in your morals, which cannot bear the truth of[212] it. The violent on both sides will condemn the character of Absalom, as either too favourably or too hardly drawn. But they are not the violent whom I desire to please. The fault on the right hand is to extenuate, palliate, and indulge; and, to confess freely, I have endeavoured to commit it. Besides the respect which I owe his birth, I have a greater for his heroic virtues; and David himself could not be more tender of the young man's life, than I would be of his reputation. But since the most excellent natures are always the most easy, and, as being such, are the soonest perverted by ill counsels, especially when baited with fame and glory, it is no more a wonder that he withstood not the temptations of Achitophel, than it was for Adam not to have resisted the two devils, the serpent and the woman. The conclusion of the story I purposely forbore to prosecute, because I could not obtain from myself to shew Absalom unfortunate. The frame of it was cut out but for a picture to the waist; and if the draught be so far true, it is as much as I designed.

Were I the inventor, who am only the historian, I should certainly conclude the piece, with the reconcilement of Absalom to David. And who knows but this may come to pass? Things were not brought to an extremity where I left the story; there seems yet to be room left for a composure; hereafter there may be only for pity. I have not so much as an uncharitable wish against Achitophel, but am content to be accused of a good-natured error, and to hope with Origen, that the devil himself may at last be saved. For which reason, in this poem, he is neither brought to set his house in order, nor to dispose of his person afterwards as he in wisdom shall think fit. God is infinitely merciful; and his vicegerent is only not so, because he is not infinite.

The true end of satire is the amendment of vices[213] by correction. And he, who writes honestly, is no more an enemy to the offender, than the physician to the patient, when he prescribes harsh remedies to an inveterate disease; for those are only in order to prevent the chirurgeon's work of an Ense rescindendum, which I wish not to my very enemies. To conclude all; if the body politic have any analogy to the natural, in my weak judgment, an act of oblivion were as necessary in a hot distempered state, as an opiate would be in a raging fever.


The following Recommendatory Verses, Dryden thought worthy of being prefixed to the later editions of his "Absalom and Achitophel," for which reason they are here retained. It will be observed, that they all mention the author as unknown. This, however, we are not to understand literally; since it is obvious, from the contemporary libels, that Dryden was well known for the author. But, till he placed his name in the title page, his friends were not to affect to know more than that told them; as it is impolite to recognize a person who affects a disguise.


Take it as earnest of a faith renewed,
Your theme is vast, your verse divinely good:
{  Where, though the Nine their beauteous stroaks repeat,
{  And the turned lines on golden anvils beat,
{  It looks as if they strook them at a heat.
{  So all serenely great, so just refined,
{  Like angels love to humane seed enclined,
{  It starts a giant, and exalts the kind.
'Tis spirit seen, whose fiery atoms roul,
So brightly fierce, each syllable's a soul.
'Tis miniature of man, but he's all heart;
'Tis what the world would be, but wants the art;
To whom even the Phanatics altars raise,
Bow in their own despite, and grin your praise.
As if a Milton from the dead arose,
Filed off the rust, and the right party chose.
Nor, Sir, be shocked at what the gloomy say,
Turn not your feet too inward, nor too splay.
'Tis gracious all, and great; push on your theme,
Lean your grieved head on David's diadem.
David, that rebel Israel's envy moved,
David, by God and all good men beloved.
The beauties of your Absalom excell;
But more the charms of charming Annabel;
Of Annabel, than May's first morn more bright,
Chearfull as summer's noon, and chast as winter's night.
Of Annabel the muses dearest theme,
Of Annabel the angel of my dream.
Thus let a broken eloquence attend,
And to your master-piece these shadows send.


I thought,—forgive my sin,—the boasted fire
Of poets' souls did long ago expire;
Of folly or of madness did accuse
The wretch that thought himself possest with muse;
Laughed at the God within, that did inspire
With more than human thoughts the tuneful quire;
But sure 'tis more than fancy, or the dream
Of rhimers slumbring by the muses stream.
Some livelier spark of heaven, and more refined
From earthly dross, fills the great poet's mind.
Witness these mighty and immortal lines,
Through each of which th' informing genius shines.
Scarce a diviner flame inspired the king,
Of whom thy muse does so sublimely sing.
Not David's self could in a nobler verse
His gloriously offending son rehearse,
Though in his breast the prophet's fury met
The father's fondness, and the poet's wit.
Here all consent in wonder and in praise,
And to the unknown poet altars raise.
Which thou must needs accept with equal joy,
As when Ænæas heard the wars of Troy,
Wrapt up himself in darkness and unseen,
Extolled with wonder by the Tyrian Queen.
Sure thou already art secure of fame,
Nor want'st new glories to exalt thy name;
What father else would have refused to own
So great a son as god-like Absalon? R. D.



Hail heaven-born muse! hail every sacred page!
The glory of our isle and of our age.
{  The inspiring sun to Albion draws more nigh,
{  The north at length teems with a work to vie
{  With Homer's flame and Virgil's majesty.
{  While Pindus lofty heights our poet sought,
{  (His ravisht mind with vast ideas fraught,)
{  Our language failed beneath his rising thought;
{  This checks not his attempt, for Maro's mines,
{  He drains of all their gold t'adorn his lines;
{  Through each of which the Mantuan Genius shines.
The rock obeyed the powerful Hebrew guide,
Her flinty breast, dissolved into a tide;
Thus on our stubborn language he prevails,
And makes the Helicon in which he sails.
The dialect, as well as sense, invents,
And, with his poem, a new speech presents.
Hail then thou matchless bard, thou great unknown,
That give your country fame, yet shun your own!
In vain—for every where your praise you find,
And not to meet it, you must shun mankind.
{  Your loyal theme each loyal reader draws,
{  And even the factious give your verse applause,
{  Whose lightning strikes to ground their idol cause.
The cause for whose dear sake they drank a flood
Of civil gore, nor spared the royal-blood;
The cause whose growth to crush, our prelates wrote
In vain, almost in vain our Heroes fought.
Yet by one stab of your keen satyr dies;
Before your sacred lines their shattered Dagon lies.
Oh! If unworthy we appear to know
The sire, to whom this lovely birth we owe;
Denyed our ready homage to express,
And can at best but thankfull be by guess;
This hope remains,—May David's god-like mind,
(For him 'twas wrote) the unknown author find;
And, having found, shower equal favours down,
On wit so vast as could oblige a crown. N. T.

Some scribbler of the day also, thinking Dryden's meaning not sufficiently clear, wrote "Absalon's ix worthies, or a key to a late book, or poem, entitled AB, and AC," marked by Mr Luttrell, as[216] bought, 10 March 1682-3. It concludes with the following address.


Homer, amazed, resigns the hill to you,
And stands i'the crowd, amidst the panting crew;
Virgil and Horace dare not shew their face,
And long admired Juv'nal quits his place;
For this one mighty poem hath done more
Than all those poets could have done before.
Satyr, or statesman, poet, or divine,
Thou any thing, thou every thing thats fine,
Thy lines will make young Absalon relent;
And, though 'tis hard, Achitophel repent;
And stop—as thou has done——
Thus once thy rival muse, on Cooper's hill,
With the true story would not Fatme[220] kill.
No politics exclude repentance quite;
Despair makes rebels obstinately fight;
'Tis well when errors do for mercy call;
Unbloody conquests are the best of all.
Methinks I see a numerous mixed croud
Of seduced patriots crying out aloud
For grace, to royal David. He, with tears,
Holds forth his sceptre, to prevent their fears,
And bids them welcome to his tender breast:
Thus may the people, thus the king be blest.
Then tunes his harp, thy praises to rehearse,
Who owes his son and subjects to thy verse.



In pious times, ere priestcraft did begin,
Before polygamy was made a sin;
When man on many multiplied his kind,
Ere one to one was cursedly confined;
When nature prompted, and no law denied,
Promiscuous use of concubine and bride;
Then Israel's monarch[221] after heaven's own heart,
His vigorous warmth did variously impart
To wives and slaves; and, wide as his command,
Scattered his Maker's image through the land.
Michal, of royal blood, the crown did wear,[222]
A soil ungrateful to the tiller's care.
Not so the rest; for several mothers bore
To god-like David several sons before.
But since like slaves his bed they did ascend,
No true succession could their seed attend.
Of all the[223] numerous progeny was none
So beautiful, so brave, as Absalon;[224]
Whether inspired by[225] by some diviner lust,
His father got him with a greater gust;
Or that his conscious destiny made way,
By manly beauty, to imperial sway.
Early in foreign fields he won renown,
With kings and states, allied to Israel's crown;
In peace the thoughts of war he could remove,
And seemed as he were only born for love.
Whate'er he did, was done with so much ease,
In him alone twas natural to please;
His motions all accompanied with grace,
And paradise was opened in his face.
With secret joy indulgent David viewed
His youthful image in his son renewed;
To all his wishes nothing he denied,
And made the charming Annabel his bride.[226]
What faults he had,—for who from faults is free?
His father could not, or he would not see.
Some warm excesses, which the law forbore,
Were construed youth that purged by boiling o'er;
And Amnon's murder, by a specious name,
Was called a just revenge for injured fame.[227]
Thus praised and loved, the noble youth remained,
While David undisturbed in Sion reigned.
But life can never be sincerely blest;
Heaven punishes the bad, and proves the best.
The Jews, a headstrong, moody, murmuring race,
As ever tried the extent and stretch of grace;
God's pampered people, whom, debauched with ease,
No king could govern, nor no God could please;
Gods they had tried of every shape and size,
That godsmiths could produce, or priests devise;
These Adam-wits, too fortunately free,
Began to dream they wanted liberty;
And when no rule, no precedent was found,
Of men, by laws less circumscribed and bound;
They led their wild desires to woods and caves,
And thought that all but savages were slaves.
They who, when Saul[228] was dead, without a blow,
Made foolish Ishbosheth[229] the crown forego;
Who banished David[230] did from Hebron[231] bring,
And with a general shout proclaimed him king;
Those very Jews, who at their very best,
Their humour more than loyalty exprest,
Now wondered why so long they had obeyed
An idol monarch, which their hands had made;
Thought they might ruin him they could create,
Or melt him to that golden calf,—a state.
But these were random bolts; no formed design,
Nor interest made the factious crowd to join:
The sober part of Israel, free from stain,
Well knew the value of a peaceful reign;
And, looking backward with a wise affright,
Saw seams of wounds dishonest to the sight;
In contemplation of whose ugly scars,
They curst the memory of civil wars.
The moderate sort of men, thus qualified,
Inclined the balance to the better side;
And David's mildness managed it so well,
The bad found no occasion to rebel.
But when to sin our biassed nature leans,
The careful devil is still at hand with means,
And providently pimps for ill desires;
The good old cause, revived, a plot requires.
Plots, true or false, are necessary things,
To raise up commonwealths, and ruin kings.
The inhabitants of old Jerusalem[232]
Were Jebusites[233]; the town so called from them;
And theirs the native right.——
But when the chosen people grew more strong,
The rightful cause at length became the wrong;
And every loss the men of Jebus bore,
They still were thought God's enemies the more.
Thus worn or[234] weakened, well or ill content,
Submit they must to David's government;
Impoverished and deprived of all command,
Their taxes doubled as they lost their land;
And, what was harder yet to flesh and blood,
Their gods disgraced, and burnt like common wood.
This set the heathen priesthood in a flame;
For priests of all religions are the same.
Of whatsoe'er descent their godhead be,
Stock, stone, or other homely pedigree,
In his defence his servants are as bold,
As if he had been born of beaten gold.
The Jewish rabbins, though their enemies,
In this conclude them honest men and wise;
For 'twas their duty, all the learned think,
To espouse his cause, by whom they eat and drink.
From hence began that plot, the nation's curse,
Bad in itself, but represented worse;[235]
Raised in extremes, and in extremes decried;
With oaths affirmed, with dying vows denied;
Not weighed nor winnowed by the multitude,
But swallowed in the mass, unchewed and crude.
Some truth there was, but dashed and brewed with lies,
To please the fools, and puzzle all the wise.
Succeeding times did equal folly call,
Believing nothing, or believing all.
The Egyptian rites the Jebusites embraced,
Where gods were recommended by their taste.
Such savoury deities must needs be good,
As served at once for worship and for food.[236]
By force they could not introduce these gods,—
For ten to one in former days was odds,—
So fraud was used, the sacrificer's trade;
Fools are more hard to conquer than persuade.
Their busy teachers mingled with the Jews,
And raked for converts even the court and stews;
Which Hebrew priests the more unkindly took,
Because the fleece accompanies the flock.
Some thought they God's anointed meant to slay
By guns, invented since full many a day:
Our author swears it not; but who can know
How far the devil and Jebusites may go?[237]
This plot, which failed for want of common sense,
Had yet a deep and dangerous consequence;
For as, when raging fevers boil the blood,
The standing lake soon floats into a flood,
And every hostile humour, which before
Slept quiet in its channels, bubbles o'er;
So several factions, from this first ferment,
Work up to foam, and threat the government.
Some by their friends, more by themselves thought wise,
Opposed the power to which they could not rise;
Some had in courts been great, and, thrown from thence,
Like fiends, were hardened in impenitence;
Some, by their monarch's fatal mercy, grown
From pardoned rebels kinsmen to the throne,
Were raised in power and public office high;
Strong bands, if bands ungrateful men could tie.
Of these the false Achitophel[238] was first;
A name to all succeeding ages curst:
For close designs, and crooked counsels fit;
Sagacious, bold, and turbulent of wit;
Restless, unfixed in principles and place;
In power unpleased, impatient of disgrace;
{  A fiery soul, which, working out its way,
{  Fretted the pigmy-body to decay,
{  And o'er-informed the tenement of clay;
A daring pilot in extremity;
Pleased with the danger, when the waves went high
He sought the storms; but, for a calm unfit,
Would steer too nigh the sands, to boast his wit.
Great wits are sure to madness near allied,
And thin partitions do their bounds divide;
Else, why should he, with wealth and honour blest,
Refuse his age the needful hours of rest?
Punish a body which he could not please;
Bankrupt of life, yet prodigal of ease?
And all to leave what with his toil he won,
To that unfeathered two-legged thing, a son;[239]
Got, while his soul did huddled notions try;
And born a shapeless lump, like anarchy.
In friendship false, implacable in hate;
Resolved to ruin, or to rule the state.
{  To compass this the triple bond he broke;
{  The pillars of the public safety shook;
{  And fitted Israel for a foreign yoke;[240]
Then, seized with fear, yet still affecting fame,
Usurped a patriot's all-atoning name.[241]
So easy still it proves in factious times,
With public zeal to cancel private crimes.
How safe is treason, and how sacred ill,
Where none can sin against the people's will?
Where crowds can wink, and no offence be known,
Since in another's guilt they find their own?
Yet fame deserved no enemy can grudge;
The statesman we abhor, but praise the judge.
In Israel's courts ne'er sat an Abethdin[242]
With more discerning eyes, or hands more clean,
Unbribed, unsought, the wretched to redress;
Swift of dispatch, and easy of access.
Oh! had he been content to serve the crown,
With virtue only proper to the gown;
Or had the rankness of the soil been freed
From cockle, that oppressed the noble seed;
David for him his tuneful harp had strung,
And heaven had wanted one immortal song.
But wild ambition loves to slide, not stand,
And fortune's ice prefers to virtue's land.
Achitophel, grown weary to possess
A lawful fame, and lazy happiness,
Disdained the golden fruit to gather free,
And lent the crowd his arm to shake the tree.
Now, manifest of crimes contrived long since,
He stood at bold defiance with his prince;
Held up the buckler of the people's cause
Against the crown, and skulked behind the laws.[243]
The wished occasion of the plot he takes;
Some circumstances finds, but more he makes;
By buzzing emissaries, fills the ears
Of listening crowds with jealousies and fears,
Of arbitrary counsels brought to light,
And proves the king himself a Jebusite.
Weak arguments! which yet, he knew full well,
Were strong with people easy to rebel.
For, governed by the moon, the giddy Jews
Tread the same track when she the prime renews;
And once in twenty years their scribes record,
By natural instinct they change their lord.
Achitophel still wants a chief, and none
Was found so fit as warlike Absalon.
Not that he wished his greatness to create,
For politicians neither love nor hate;
But, for he knew his title not allowed,
Would keep him still depending on the crowd;
That kingly power, thus ebbing out, might be
Drawn to the dregs of a democracy.
Him he attempts with studied arts to please,
And sheds his venom in such words as these.
Auspicious prince, at whose nativity
Some royal planet ruled the southern sky;
Thy longing country's darling and desire;
Their cloudy pillar and their guardian fire;
Their second Moses, whose extended wand
Divides[244] the seas, and shews the promised land;
Whose dawning day, in every distant age,
Has exercised the sacred prophet's rage;
The people's prayer, the glad diviner's theme,
The young men's vision, and the old men's dream!
Thee, Saviour, thee the nation's vows confess,
And, never satisfied with seeing, bless;
Swift unbespoken pomps thy steps proclaim,
And stammering babes are taught to lisp thy name.
How long wilt thou the general joy detain,
Starve and defraud the people of thy reign;
Content ingloriously to pass thy days,
Like one of virtue's fools that feed on praise;
'Till thy fresh glories, which now shine so bright,
Grow stale, and tarnish with our daily sight?
Believe me, royal youth, thy fruit must be
Or gathered ripe, or rot upon the tree.
Heaven has to all allotted, soon or late,
Some lucky revolution of their fate;
Whose motions if we watch and guide with skill,
(For human good depends on human will,)
Our fortune rolls as from a smooth descent,
And from the first impression takes the bent;
But, if unseized, she glides away like wind,
And leaves repenting folly far behind.
Now, now she meets you with a glorious prize,
And spreads her locks before you as she flies.
Had thus old David, from whose loins you spring,
Not dared, when fortune called him, to be king,
At Gath[245] an exile he might still remain,
And heaven's anointing oil had been in vain.
Let his successful youth your hopes engage;
But shun the example of declining age:
Behold him setting in his western skies,
The shadows lengthening as the vapours rise.
{  He is not now, as when, on Jordan's[246] sand,
{  The joyful people thronged to see him land,
{  Covering the beach and blackening all the strand;
But, like the prince of angels, from his height
Comes tumbling downward with diminished light;
Betrayed by one poor plot to public scorn,
Our only blessing since his curst return;
Those heaps of people which one sheaf did bind,
Blown off and scattered by a puff of wind.
What strength can he to your designs oppose,
Naked of friends, and round beset with foes?
If Pharaoh's[247] doubtful succour he should use,
A foreign aid would more incense the Jews;
Proud Egypt[248] would dissembled friendship bring;
Foment the war, but not support the king:
Nor would the royal party e'er unite
With Pharaoh's arms, to assist the Jebusite;
Or, if they should, their interest soon would break,
And with such odious aid make David weak.
All sorts of men, by my successful arts
Abhorring kings, estrange their altered hearts
From David's rule; and 'tis their general cry,
Religion, commonwealth, and liberty.
If you, as champion of the public good,
Add to their arms a chief of royal blood,
What may not Israel hope, and what applause
Might such a general gain by such a cause?
Not barren praise alone, that gaudy flower
Fair only to the sight, but solid power;
And nobler is a limited command,
Given by the love of all your native land,
Than a successive title, long and dark,
Drawn from the mouldy rolls of Noah's ark.[249]
What cannot praise effect in mighty minds,
When flattery sooths, and when ambition blinds?
Desire of power, on earth a vicious weed,
Yet, sprung from high, is of celestial seed;
In God 'tis glory; and when men aspire,
'Tis but a spark too much of heavenly fire.
The ambitious youth, too covetous of fame,
Too full of angel's metal in his frame,
Unwarily was led from virtue's ways,
Made drunk with honour, and debauched with praise.
Half loath, and half consenting to the ill,—
For royal blood within him struggled still,—
He thus replied.—And what pretence have I
To take up arms for public liberty?
My father governs with unquestioned right,
The faith's defender, and mankind's delight;
Good, gracious, just, observant of the laws;
And heaven by wonders has espoused his cause.
Whom has he wronged in all his peaceful reign?
Who sues for justice to his throne in vain?
What millions has he pardoned of his foes,
Whom just revenge did to his wrath expose?
Mild, easy, humble, studious of our good,
Inclined to mercy, and averse from blood.
If mildness ill with stubborn Israel suit,
His crime is God's beloved attribute.
What could he gain his people to betray,
Or change his right for arbitrary sway?
Let haughty Pharaoh curse with such a reign
His fruitful Nile, and yoke a servile train.
If David's rule Jerusalem displease,
The dog-star heats their brains to this disease.
Why then should I, encouraging the bad,
Turn rebel, and run popularly mad?
Were he a tyrant, who by lawless might
Oppressed the Jews, and raised the Jebusite,
Well might I mourn; but nature's holy bands
Would curb my spirits, and restrain my hands:
The people might assert their liberty;
But what was right in them were crime in me.
His favour leaves me nothing to require,
Prevents my wishes, and out-runs desire.
What more can I expect while David lives?
All but his kingly diadem he gives;
And that—But there he paused; then sighing, said—
Is justly destined for a worthier head;
For, when my father from his toils shall rest,
And late augment the number of the blest,
His lawful issue shall the throne ascend,
Or the collateral line, where that shall end.
His brother, though oppressed with vulgar spite,[250]
Yet dauntless, and secure of native right,
Of every royal virtue stands possest;
Still dear to all the bravest and the best.
His courage foes, his friends his truth proclaim;
His loyalty the king, the world his fame.
His mercy even the offending crowd will find;
For sure he comes of a forgiving kind.
Why should I then repine at heaven's decree,
Which gives me no pretence to royalty?
Yet oh that fate, propitiously inclined,
Had raised my birth, or had debased my mind;
To my large soul not all her treasure lent,
And then betrayed it to a mean descent!
I find, I find my mounting spirits bold,
And David's part disdains my mother's mould.
Why am I scanted by a niggard birth?
My soul disclaims the kindred of her earth;
And, made for empire, whispers me within,
Desire of greatness is a god-like sin.
Him staggering so, when hell's dire agent found,
While fainting virtue scarce maintained her ground,
He pours fresh forces in, and thus replies:
The eternal God, supremely good and wise,
Imparts not these prodigious gifts in vain.
What wonders are reserved to bless your reign!
Against your will your arguments have shown,
Such virtue's only given to guide a throne.
Not that your father's mildness I contemn;
But manly force becomes the diadem.
'Tis true, he grants the people all they crave;
And more, perhaps, than subjects ought to have;
For lavish grants suppose a monarch tame,
And more his goodness than his wit proclaim:
But when should people strive their bonds to break,
If not when kings are negligent, or weak?
Let him give on till he can give no more,
The thrifty sanhedrim shall keep him poor;
And every shekel, which he can receive,
Shall cost a limb of his prerogative.
To ply him with new plots shall be my care,
Or plunge him deep in some expensive war;
Which when his treasure can no more supply,
He must, with the remains of kingship, buy.
His faithful friends, our jealousies and fears
Call Jebusites, and Pharaoh's pensioners;
Whom when our fury from his aid has torn,
He shall be naked left to public scorn.
The next successor, whom I fear and hate,
My arts have made obnoxious to the state;
Turned all his virtues to his overthrow,
And gained our elders to pronounce a foe.[251]
His right, for sums of necessary gold,
Shall first be pawned, and afterwards be sold;
'Till time shall ever-wanting David draw,
To pass your doubtful title into law:
If not, the people have a right supreme
To make their kings; for kings are made for them.
All empire is no more than power in trust,
Which, when resumed, can be no longer just.
Succession, for the general good designed,
In its own wrong a nation cannot bind;
If altering that the people can relieve,
Better one suffer than a nation grieve.
The Jews well know their power; ere Saul[252] they chose,
God was their king, and God they durst depose.
Urge now your piety, your filial name,
A father's right, and fear of future fame;—
The public good, that universal call,
To which even heaven submitted, answers all.
Nor let his love enchant your generous mind;
'Tis nature's trick to propagate her kind.
Our fond begetters, who would never die,
Love but themselves in their posterity.
Or let his kindness by the effects be tried,
Or let him lay his vain pretence aside.
God said, he loved your father; could he bring
A better proof, than to anoint him king?
It surely shewed he loved the shepherd well,
Who gave so fair a flock as Israel.
Would David have you thought his darling son?
What means he then to alienate the crown?
The name of godly he may blush to bear;
Is't[253] after God's own heart to cheat his heir?
He to his brother gives supreme command,
To you a legacy of barren land;
Perhaps the old harp, on which he thrums his lays,
Or some dull Hebrew ballad in your praise.
Then the next heir, a prince severe and wise,
Already looks on you with jealous eyes;[254]
Sees through the thin disguises of your arts,
And marks your progress in the people's hearts;
Though now his mighty soul its grief contains,
He meditates revenge who least complains;
And like a lion, slumbering in the way,
Or sleep dissembling, while he waits his prey,
His fearless foes within his distance draws,
Constrains his roaring, and contracts his paws;
'Till, at the last, his time for fury found,
He shoots with sudden vengeance from the ground;
The prostrate vulgar passes o'er and spares,
But with a lordly rage his hunters tears.
Your case no tame expedients will afford;
Resolve on death, or conquest by the sword,
Which for no less a stake than life you draw;
And self defence is nature's eldest law.
Leave the warm people no considering time;
For then rebellion may be thought a crime.
Avail[255] yourself of what occasion gives,
But try your title while your father lives;
And that your arms may have a fair pretence,
Proclaim you take them in the kings defence;
Whose sacred life each minute would expose
To plots, from seeming friends, and secret foes.
And who can sound the depth of David's soul?[256]
Perhaps his fear his kindness may controul.
He fears his brother, though he loves his son,
For plighted vows too late to be undone.
If so, by force he wishes to be gained;
Like women's lechery to seem constrained.
Doubt not; but, when he most affects the frown,
Commit a pleasing rape upon the crown.
Secure his person to secure your cause;
They, who possess the prince, possess the laws.
He said, and this advice, above the rest,
With Absalom's mild nature suited best;
Unblamed of life, ambition set aside,
Not stained with cruelty, not puft with pride.
How happy had he been, if destiny
Had higher placed his birth, or not so high!
His kingly virtues might have claimed a throne,
And blest all other countries but his own;
But charming greatness since so few refuse,
'Tis juster to lament him than accuse.
Strong were his hopes a rival to remove,
With blandishments to gain the public love;
To head the faction while their zeal was hot,
And popularly prosecute the plot.
To further this, Achitophel unites
The malcontents of all the Israelites;
Whose differing parties he could wisely join,
For several ends, to serve the same design.
The best,—and of the princes some were such,
Who thought the power of monarchy too much;
Mistaken men, and patriots in their hearts;
Not wicked, but seduced by impious arts.
By these the springs of property were bent,
And wound so high, they cracked the government.
The next for interest sought to embroil the state,
To sell their duty at a dearer rate,
And make their Jewish markets of the throne;
Pretending public good, to serve their own.
Others thought kings an useless heavy load,
Who cost too much, and did too little good.
These were for laying honest David by,
On principles of pure good husbandry.[257]
With them joined all the haranguers of the throng;
That thought to get preferment by the tongue.
Who follow next a double danger bring,
Not only hating David, but the king;
The Solymæan rout; well versed, of old,
In godly faction, and in treason bold;
Cowring and quaking at a conqueror's sword,
But lofty to a lawful prince restored;
Saw with disdain an Ethnic plot begun,
And scorned by Jebusites to be outdone.
Hot Levites[258] headed these; who, pulled before
From the ark, which in the judges' days they bore,[259]
Resumed their cant, and, with a zealous cry,
Pursued their old beloved theocracy;
Where sanhedrim and priest enslaved the nation,
And justified their spoils by inspiration.
For who so fit to reign as Aaron's race,
If once dominion they could found in grace?
These led the pack; though not of surest scent,
Yet deepest mouthed against the government.
A numerous host of dreaming saints succeed,
Of the true old enthusiastic breed;
'Gainst form and order they their power employ,
Nothing to build, and all things to destroy.
But far more numerous was the herd of such,
Who think too little, and who talk too much.
These out of mere instinct, they knew not why,
Adored their fathers' God, and property;
And, by the same blind benefit of fate,
The devil and the Jebusite did hate;
Born to be saved, even in their own despite.
Because they could not help believing right.
Such were the tools; but a whole Hydra more
Remains of sprouting heads too long to score.
Some of their chiefs were princes of the land:
In the first rank of these did Zimri[260] stand;
A man so various, that he seemed to be
Not one, but all mankind's epitome;
Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong,
Was every thing by starts, and nothing long;
But, in the course of one revolving moon,
Was chemist, fidler, statesman, and buffoon;
Then all for women, painting, rhyming, drinking,
Besides ten thousand freaks that died in thinking.
Blest madman, who could every hour employ,
With something new to wish, or to enjoy!
Railing and praising were his usual themes;
And both, to shew his judgment, in extremes;
So over violent, or over civil,
That every man with him was God or devil.
In squandering wealth was his peculiar art;
Nothing went unrewarded but desert.
Beggared by fools, whom still he found too late;
He had his jest, and they had his estate.
He laughed himself from court; then sought relief
By forming parties, but could ne'er be chief;
For, spite of him, the weight of business fell
On Absalom, and wise Achitophel;
Thus, wicked but in will, of means bereft,
He left not faction, but of that was left.
Titles and names 'twere tedious to rehearse
Of lords, below the dignity of verse.
Wits, warriors, commonwealths-men, were the best;
Kind husbands, and mere nobles, all the rest.
And therefore, in the name of dulness, be
The well-hung Balaam and cold Caleb free;
And canting Nadab let oblivion damn,[261]
Who made new porridge for the paschal lamb.
Let friendship's holy band some names assure;
Some their own worth, and some let scorn secure.
Nor shall the rascal rabble here have place,
Whom kings no titles gave, and God no grace:
Not bull-faced Jonas,[262] who could statutes draw
To mean rebellion, and make treason law.
But he, though bad, is followed by a worse,
The wretch, who heaven's anointed dared to curse;
Shimei,[263]—whose youth did early promise bring
Of zeal to God, and hatred to his king,—
Did wisely from expensive sins refrain,
And never broke the sabbath but for gain:
Nor ever was he known an oath to vent,
Or curse, unless against a government.
Thus heaping wealth, by the most ready way
Among the jews, which was—to cheat and pray;
The city, to reward his pious hate
Against his master, chose him magistrate.
His hand a vase of justice did uphold;
His neck was loaded with a chain of gold.
During his office treason was no crime;
The sons of Belial had a glorious time:
For Shimei, though not prodigal of pelf,
Yet loved his wicked neighbour as himself.
{  When two or three were gathered to declaim
{  Against the monarch of Jerusalem,
{  Shimei was always in the midst of them:
And, if they cursed the king when he was by,
Would rather curse than break good company.
If any durst his factious friends accuse,
He packed a jury of dissenting jews;[264]
Whose fellow-feeling in the Godly cause
Would free the suffering saint from human laws:
For laws are only made to punish those
Who serve the king, and to protect his foes.
If any leisure time he had from power,—
Because 'tis sin to misemploy an hour,—
His business was, by writing, to persuade,
That kings were useless, and a clog to trade:[265]
And, that his noble style he might refine,
No Rechabite more shunned the fumes of wine.
Chaste were his cellars, and his shrieval board
The grossness of a city-feast abhorred.
His cooks, with long disuse, their trade forgot;
Cool was his kitchen, though his brains were hot.
Such frugal virtue malice may accuse;
But sure 'twas necessary to the Jews:
For towns, once burnt, such magistrates require,
As dare not tempt God's providence by fire.
With spiritual food he fed his servants well,
But free from flesh, that made the Jews rebel:
And Moses' laws he held in more account,
For forty days of fasting in the mount.
To speak the rest, (who better are forgot,)
Would tire a well-breathed witness of the plot.
Yet Corah,[266] thou shalt from oblivion pass;
Erect thyself, thou monumental brass,
High as the serpent of thy metal made,
While nations stand secure beneath thy shade!
What though his birth were base, yet comets rise
From earthy vapours, ere they shine in skies.
Prodigious actions may as well be done
By weaver's issue, as by prince's son.
This arch-attestor for the public good
By that one deed ennobles all his blood.
Who ever asked the witnesses high race,
Whose oath with martyrdom did Stephen grace?
Ours was a Levite, and, as times went then,
His tribe were God Almighty's gentlemen.
Sunk were his eyes, his voice was harsh and loud:[267]
Sure signs he neither choleric was, nor proud:
His long chin proved his wit; his saint-like grace
A church vermillion, and a Moses' face.
His memory, miraculously great,
Could plots, exceeding man's belief, repeat;
Which therefore cannot be accounted lies,
For human wit could never such devise.
Some future truths are mingled in his book;
But where the witness failed the prophet spoke:
Some things like visionary flight appear;
The spirit caught him up,—the Lord knows where,
And gave him his rabinical degree,
Unknown to foreign university.[268]
His judgment yet his memory did excel;
Which pieced his wonderous evidence so well,
And suited to the temper of the times,
Then groaning under Jebusitic crimes.
Let Israel's foes suspect his heavenly call,
And rashly judge his writ apocryphal;
Our laws for such affronts have forfeits made:
He takes his life, who takes away his trade.
Were I myself in witness Corah's place,
The wretch, who did me such a dire disgrace,
Should whet my memory, though once forgot,
To make him an appendix of my plot.
His zeal to heaven made him his prince despise,
And load his person with indignities.
But zeal peculiar privilege affords,
Indulging latitude to deeds and words:
And Corah might for Agag's[269] murder call,
In terms as coarse as Samuel used to Saul.
What others in his evidence did join,
The best that could be had for love or coin,
In Corah's own predicament will fall:
For witness is a common name to all.
Surrounded thus with friends of every sort,
Deluded Absalom forsakes the court;
Impatient of high hopes, urged with renown,
And fired with near possession of a crown.
The admiring crowd are dazzled with surprise,
And on his goodly person feed their eyes.
His joys concealed,[270] he sets himself to show;
On each side bowing popularly low:
His looks, his gestures, and his words he frames,
And with familiar ease repeats their names.
Thus formed by nature, furnished out with arts,
He glides unfelt into their secret hearts.
Then with a kind compassionating look,
And sighs, bespeaking pity ere he spoke,
Few words he said; but easy those and fit,
More slow than Hybla-drops, and far more sweet.
I mourn, my countrymen, your lost estate;
Though far unable to prevent your fate:
Behold a banished man, for your dear cause
Exposed a prey to arbitrary laws!
Yet oh! that I alone could be undone,
Cut off from empire, and no more a son!
{  Now all your liberties a spoil are made;
{  Egypt and Tyrus[271] intercept your trade,
{  And Jebusites your sacred rites invade.
My father,—whom with reverence yet I name—
Charmed into ease, is careless of his fame;
And, bribed with petty sums of foreign gold,
Is grown in Bathsheba's embraces old;[272]
Exalts his enemies, his friends destroys,
And all his power against himself employs.
He gives,—and let him give,—my right away:
But why should he his own and yours betray?
He, only he, can make the nation bleed,
And he alone from my revenge is freed.
Take then my tears,—with that he wiped his eyes,—
'Tis all the aid my present power supplies:
No court-informer can these arms accuse;
These arms may sons against their fathers use:
And 'tis my wish, the next successor's reign
May make no other Israelite complain.
Youth, beauty, graceful action seldom fail;
But common interest always will prevail;
And pity never ceases to be shown
To him who makes the people's wrongs his own.
The crowd, that still believe their kings oppress,
With lifted hands their young Messiah bless:
Who now begins his progress to ordain
With chariots, horsemen, and a numerous train:[273]
From east to west his glories he displays,
And, like the sun, the promised land surveys.
Fame runs before him as the morning-star,
And shouts of joy salute him from afar;
Each house receives him as a guardian god,
And consecrates the place of his abode.
But hospitable treats did most commend
Wise Issachar, his wealthy western friend.[274]
This moving court, that caught the people's eyes,
And seemed but pomp, did other ends disguise:
Achitophel had formed it, with intent
To sound the depths, and fathom, where it went,
The people's hearts, distinguish friends from foes,
And try their strength before they came to blows.
Yet all was coloured with a smooth pretence
Of specious love, and duty to their prince.
Religion, and redress of grievances,
(Two names that always cheat, and always please,)
Are often urged; and good king David's life,
Endangered by a brother and a wife.[275]
Thus in a pageant-shew a plot is made;
And peace itself is war in masquerade.
Oh foolish Israel! never warned by ill!
Still the same bait, and circumvented still!
Did ever men forsake their present ease,
In midst of health imagine a disease,
Take pains contingent mischiefs to foresee,
Make heirs for monarchs, and for God decree?
What shall we think? Can people give away,
Both for themselves and sons, their native sway?
Then they are left defenceless to the sword
Of each unbounded, arbitrary lord:
And laws are vain, by which we right enjoy,
If kings unquestioned can those laws destroy.
Yet if the crowd be judge of fit and just,
And kings are only officers in trust,
Then this resuming covenant was declared
When kings were made, or is for ever barred.
If those, who gave the sceptre, could not tie,
By their own deed, their own posterity,
How then could Adam bind his future race?
How could his forfeit on mankind take place?
Or how could heavenly justice damn us all,
Who ne'er consented to our father's fall?
Then kings are slaves to those whom they command,
And tenants to their people's pleasure stand.
Add, that the power, for property allowed,
Is mischievously seated in the crowd;
For who can be secure of private right,
If sovereign sway may be dissolved by might?
Nor is the people's judgment always true:
The most may err as grossly as the few;
And faultless kings run down by common cry,
For vice, oppression, and for tyranny.
What standard is there in a fickle rout,
Which, flowing to the mark, runs faster out?
Nor only crowds but Sanhedrims may be
Infected with this public lunacy,
And share the madness of rebellious times,
To murder monarchs for imagined crimes.
If they may give and take whene'er they please,
Not kings alone, the Godhead's images,
But government itself, at length must fall
To nature's state, where all have right to all.
Yet, grant our lords, the people, kings can make,
What prudent men a settled throne would shake?
For whatsoe'er their sufferings were before,
That change they covet makes them suffer more.
All other errors but disturb a state;
But innovation is the blow of fate.
If ancient fabrics nod, and threat to fall,
To patch their flaws, and buttress up the wall,
Thus far 'tis duty: but here fix the mark;
For all beyond it is to touch the ark.
To change foundations, cast the frame anew,
Is work for rebels, who base ends pursue;
At once divine and human laws controul,
And mend the parts by ruin of the whole.
The tampering world is subject to this curse,
To physic their disease into a worse.
Now what relief can righteous David bring?
How fatal 'tis to be too good a king!
Friends he has few, so high the madness grows;
Who dare be such must be the people's foes.
Yet some there were, even in the worst of days;
Some let me name, and naming is to praise.
In this short file Barzillai[276] first appears;
Barzillai, crowned with honour and with years.
Long since, the rising rebels he withstood
In regions waste beyond the Jordan's flood:[277]
Unfortunately brave to buoy the state;
But sinking underneath his master's fate:
In exile with his godlike prince he mourned;
For him he suffered, and with him returned.
The court he practised, not the courtier's art:
Large was his wealth, but larger was his heart,
Which well the noblest objects knew to choose,
The fighting warrior, and recording muse.
His bed could once a fruitful issue boast;
Now more than half a father's name is lost.
His eldest hope, with every grace adorned,
By me, so heaven will have it, always mourned,
And always honoured, snatched in manhood's prime
By unequal fates, and providence's crime:[278]
{  Yet not before the goal of honour won,
{  All parts fulfilled of subject and of son:
{  Swift was the race, but short the time to run.
Oh narrow circle, but of power divine,
Scanted in space, and perfect in thy line!
By sea, by land, thy matchless worth was known,
Arms thy delight, and war was all thy own:
Thy force infused the fainting Tyrians[279] prop'd,
And haughty Pharaoh found his fortune stop'd.
Oh ancient honour! Oh unconquered hand,
Whom foes unpunished never could withstand!
But Israel was unworthy of his name:[280]
Short is the date of all immoderate fame.[281]
It looks as heaven our ruin had designed,
And durst not trust thy fortune and thy mind.
Now, free from earth, thy disencumbered soul
Mounts up, and leaves behind the clouds and starry pole:
From thence thy kindred legions may'st thou bring,
To aid the guardian angel of thy king.
Here stop, my muse; here cease thy painful flight;
No pinions can pursue immortal height:
Tell good Barzillai thou canst sing no more,
And tell thy soul she should have fled before:
Or fled she with his life, and left this verse
To hang on her departed patron's hearse?
Now take thy steepy flight from heaven, and see
If thou canst find on earth another he:
Another he would be too hard to find;
See then whom thou canst see not far behind.
Zadoc the priest,[282] whom, shunning power and place,
His lowly mind advanced to David's grace.
With him the Sagan[283] of Jerusalem,
Of hospitable soul, and noble stem;
Him of the western dome,[284] whose weighty sense
Flows in fit words, and heavenly eloquence.
The prophet's sons, by such example led,
To learning and to loyalty were bred:
For colleges on bounteous kings depend,
And never rebel was to arts a friend.
To these succeed the pillars of the laws;
Who best can plead, and best can judge a cause.
Next them a train of loyal peers ascend;
Sharp-judging Adriel,[285] the muses friend,
Himself a muse: in Sanhedrim's debate,
True to his prince, but not a slave of state:
Whom David's love with honours did adorn,
That from his disobedient son were torn.
Jotham, of piercing wit, and pregnant thought,[286]
Endued by nature, and by learning taught,
To move assemblies, who but only tried
The worse a-while, then chose the better side:
Nor chose alone, but turned the balance too;
So much the weight of one brave man can do.
Hushai, the friend of David in distress;
In public storms, of manly stedfastness;[287]
By foreign treaties he informed his youth,
And joined experience to his native truth.
His frugal care supplied the wanting throne;
Frugal for that, but bounteous of his own:
'Tis easy conduct when exchequers flow,
But hard the task to manage well the low;
For sovereign power is too depressed or high,
When kings are forced to sell, or crowds to buy.
Indulge one labour more, my weary muse,
For Amiel; who can Amiel's praise refuse?[288]
Of ancient race by birth, but nobler yet
In his own worth, and without title great:
The Sanhedrim long time as chief he ruled,
Their reason guided, and their passion cooled:
So dexterous was he in the crown's defence,
So formed to speak a loyal nation's sense,
That, as their band was Israel's tribes in small,
So fit was he to represent them all.
Now rasher charioteers the seat ascend,
Whose loose careers his steady skill commend:
They, like the unequal ruler of the day,
Misguide the seasons, and mistake the way;
While he, withdrawn, at their mad labours smiles,
And safe enjoys the sabbath of his toils.
{  These were the chief; a small but faithful band
{  Of worthies, in the breach who dared to stand,
{  And tempt the united fury of the land.
With grief they viewed such powerful engines bent,
To batter down the lawful government.
A numerous faction, with pretended frights,
In Sanhedrims to plume the legal rights;
The true successor from the court removed;
The plot, by hireling witnesses, improved.
These ills they saw, and, as their duty bound,
They shewed the king the danger of the wound;
That no concessions from the throne would please,
But lenitives fomented the disease:
That Absalom, ambitious of the crown,
Was made the lure to draw the people down:
That false Achitophel's pernicious hate
Had turned the plot to ruin church and state:
The council violent, the rabble worse;
That Shimei taught Jerusalem to curse.
With all these loads of injuries opprest,
And long revolving in his careful breast
The event of things, at last, his patience tired,
Thus, from his royal throne, by heaven inspired,
The god-like David spoke; with awful fear
His train their Maker in their master hear.[289]
Thus long, have I by native mercy swayed,
My wrongs dissembled, my revenge delayed;
So willing to forgive the offending age;
So much the father did the king assuage.
But now so far my clemency they slight,
The offenders question my forgiving right.[290]
That one was made for many, they contend;
But 'tis to rule; for that's a monarch's end.
They call my tenderness of blood, my fear;
Though manly tempers can the longest bear.
Yet since they will divert my native course,
'Tis time to shew I am not good by force.
Those heaped affronts, that haughty subjects bring,
Are burdens for a camel, not a king.
Kings are the public pillars of the state,
Born to sustain and prop the nation's weight:
If my young Sampson will pretend a call
To shake the column, let him share the fall:[291]
But oh, that yet he would repent and live!
How easy 'tis for parents to forgive!
With how few tears a pardon might be won
From nature, pleading for a darling son!
Poor, pitied youth, by my paternal care
Raised up to all the height his frame could bear!
Had God ordained his fate for empire born,
He would have given his soul another turn:
Gulled with a patriot's name, whose modern sense
Is one that would by law supplant his prince;
The people's brave, the politician's tool;
Never was patriot yet, but was a fool.
Whence comes it, that religion and the laws
Should more be Absalom's than David's cause?
His old instructor, ere he lost his place,
Was never thought endued with so much grace.
Good heavens, how faction can a patriot paint!
My rebel ever proves my people's saint.
Would they impose an heir upon the throne?
Let Sanhedrims be taught to give their own.
A king's at least a part of government;
And mine as requisite as their consent:
Without my leave a future king to chuse,
Infers a right the present to depose.
True, they petition me to approve their choice;
But Esau's hands suit ill with Jacob's voice.
My pious subjects for my safety pray;
Which to secure, they take my power away.
From plots and treasons heaven preserve my years,
But save me most from my petitioners![292]
Unsatiate as the barren womb or grave;
God cannot grant so much as they can crave.
What then is left, but with a jealous eye
To guard the small remains of royalty?
The law shall still direct my peaceful sway,
And the same law teach rebels to obey:
Votes shall no more established power controul,—
Such votes, as make a part exceed the whole
No groundless clamours shall my friend remove,
Nor crowds have power to punish ere they prove;
For Gods and god-like kings their care express,
Still to defend their servants in distress
{  Oh, that my power to saving were confined!
{  Why am I forced, like heaven, against my mind,
{  To make examples of another kind?
Must I at length the sword of justice draw?
Oh curst effects of necessary law!
How ill my fear they by my mercy scan!
Beware the fury of a patient man.
Law they require, let law then shew her face;
They could not be content to look on grace,
Her hinder parts, but with a daring eye,
To tempt the terror of her front, and die.
By their own arts 'tis righteously decreed,
Those dire artificers of death shall bleed.
Against themselves their witnesses will swear,[293]
'Till, viper like, their mother-plot they tear;
And suck for nutriment that bloody gore,
Which was their principle of life before.
Their Belial with their Beelzebub will fight;
Thus on my foes, my foes shall do me right:
Nor doubt the event; for factious crowds engage,
In their first onset, all their brutal rage.
Then let them take an unresisted course;
Retire, and traverse, and delude their force:
But when they stand all breathless, urge the fight,
And rise upon them with redoubled might:
For lawful power is still superior found;
When long driven back, at length it stands the ground.
He said; the Almighty, nodding, gave consent,
And peals of thunder shook the firmament.
Henceforth a series of new time began,
The mighty years in long procession ran;
Once more the god-like David was restored,
And willing nations knew their lawful lord.



Note I.

Michal, of royal blood, the crown did wear,
A soil ungrateful to the tiller's care.—P. 217.

Queen Catherine of Portugal, the wife of Charles II., resembled the daughter of Saul in the circumstance mentioned in the text. She was plain in her person, and consequently possessed little influence over her gallant husband. She was, however, always treated by him with decent civility; and indeed, when persecuted by the popular party, experienced his warmest protection. Her greatest fault was her being educated a Catholic; her greatest misfortune, her bearing the king no children; and her greatest foible an excessive love of dancing. It might have occurred to the good people of these times, that loving a ball was not a capital sin, even in a person whose figure excluded her from the hopes of gracing it; that a princess of Portugal must be a Catholic, if she had any religion at all; and, finally, that to bear children, it is necessary some one should take the trouble of getting them. But these obvious considerations did not prevent her being grossly abused in the libels of the times,[294] and very nearly made a party in Dr Titus Oates' Appendix to his Original Plot.


Note II.

Not so the rest; for several mothers bore
To god-like David several sons before.—P. 217.

Charles left a numerous family of illegitimate children by his various mistresses. Besides the Duke of Monmouth to be presently mentioned, he had a daughter by Lady Shannon, and the Earl of Plymouth by Mrs Catherine Pegge; by the Duchess of Cleveland he had the Dukes of Cleveland, Gratton, and Northumberland, and three daughters; by Mrs Eleanor Gwyn he had the Duke of St Alban's, and James Beauclerk; the Duchess of Portsmouth bore him the Duke of Richmond and Lennox: with a daughter by Mrs Mary Davies, the king's children amounted to the number of eight sons and five daughters.

Note III.

Of all the numerous progeny, was none
So beautiful, so brave, as Absalon.—P. 217.

James Stuart, Duke of Monmouth and Buccleuch, was born at Rotterdam, 9th April, 1649, in the very heat of the civil wars. He was the son of Charles II. and Mrs Lucy Walters, or Waters, otherwise called Barlow, a beautiful young lady, of a good Welch family. He was educated privately in Holland, under the assumed name of James Crofts; and the respect with which his mother and he were treated by the cavalier, afforded a foundation for the argument of his adherents, who afterwards contended, that the king had been privately married to that lady. After the Restoration, the king sent for this young gentleman to court, where the royal favour and his own personal and acquired accomplishments soon made him very remarkable. Of his outward appearance, Count Hamilton, the gay recorder of the gaieties of the court of Charles, has given us a most interesting description, which is not belied by portraits which are still preserved. "Nature," says the count, "perhaps never formed any thing so perfect as the external graces of his person." His face was beautiful; but it was a masculine beauty, unmixed with any thing weak or effeminate: each feature had its own peculiar and interesting turn of expression. He had admirable address in all active exercises, an attractive manner, and an air of princely majesty. Yet his mental qualities did not altogether support this prepossessing exterior; or rather his fate plunged him into scenes where more was necessary than the mind and manners which, in more regular times, would have distinguished him as an accomplished cavalier in peace and war. He was married, by the king's interference, to Anne Scott, Countess of Buccleuch, sole surviving child of Francis,[251] Earl of Buccleuch, and heiress of the extensive estate which the powerful family she represented had acquired on the frontiers of Scotland. The young prince had been previously created Duke of Orkney, a title now changed for that of Monmouth; and the king, upon his marriage, added to his honours the dukedom of Buccleuch. Thus favoured at home, he was also fortunate enough to have an opportunity of acquiring military fame, by serving two campaigns as a volunteer in Louis XIV.'s army against the Dutch. He particularly distinguished himself at the siege of Maestricht, where he led the storming party, took possession of the counterscarp, and made good his quarters against the repeated and desperate attempts of the besieged to dislodge him. Monmouth also served a campaign with the Dutch against the French, in 1678, and is on all hands allowed to have displayed great personal bravery; especially in the famous attack on the Duke of Luxemburgh's line before Mons, when the Prince of Orange, whose judgment can hardly be doubted, formed that good opinion of his military skill, which he stated when he offered to command the forces of his father-in-law against the Duke on his last unfortunate expedition. With that renown which is so willingly conferred upon the noble and the beautiful, the Duke returned to England, and met with a distinguished reception from Charles, by whom he was loaded with favours, as will appear from the following list of his titles and offices.

He was Duke of Monmouth and Buccleuch; Earl of Doncaster and Dalkeith; Lord Scott of Tinedale, Whichester, and Eskdale; Lord Great Chamberlain of Scotland, Lord-Lieutenant of the east Riding of Yorkshire; Governor of the town and citadel of Kingston upon Hull; Chief Justice in Eyre of all his Majesty's forests, chases, parks, and warrens on the south side of the Trent; Lord-General of all his Majesty's land forces; Captain of his Majesty's Life-guards of horse; Chancellor of the university of Cambridge; Master of horse to the King; one of the Lords of the Privy Council, and Knight of the order of the Garter.

Thus highly distinguished by rank, reputation, and royal favour, he appears for some time to have dedicated himself chiefly to the pleasures of the court, when an unfortunate quarrel with the Duke of York, in the rivalry of an intrigue,[295] laid the foundation for that difference, which was one great means of embroiling the latter years of Charles's reign, and finally cost Monmouth his head. When his quarrel with his uncle, whose unforgiving temper was well known, had become inveterate and irreconcileable, the Duke of Monmouth was led to head the faction most inimical to the interests of York, and speedily became distinguished by the name of the Protestant Duke, the dearest title that his party could bestow. The prospect which now opened itself before Monmouth was such[252] as might have turned the head of a man of deeper political capacity. The heir apparent, his personal enemy, had become the object of popular hatred to such a degree, that the bill, excluding him from the succession, seemed to have every chance of being carried through the House of Lords, as it had already passed the Commons. The rights of the Queen were not likely to interest any one; and it seems generally to have been believed, however unjustly as it proved, that Charles was too fond of Monmouth, too jealous of his brother, and too little scrupulous of ways and means, to hesitate at declaring this favourite youth his legitimate successor.

Under such favourable circumstances, it is no wonder that Monmouth gave way to the dictates of ambition; and while he probably conceived that he was only giving his father an opportunity to manifest his secret partiality, he became more and more deeply involved in the plots of Shaftesbury, whose bustling and intriguing spirit saw at once the use to be made of Monmouth's favour with the king, and popularity with the public. From that time, their union became close and inseparable; even while Shaftesbury was yet a member of the king's administration. Their meetings were conducted with a secrecy and mystery which argued their importance. According to Carte, they were held at Lord Shaftesbury's and Charleton's houses, both parties coming in private, and in hackney coaches. Some of Monmouth's partizans had even the boldness to assert the legitimacy of their patron, to prepare for his supplanting the Duke of York. When the insurrection of the Covenanters broke out in Scotland, Monmouth was employed against them, a duty which he executed with fidelity and success. He completely defeated the insurgents in the battle of Bothwell Bridge, and returned to the court in all the freshness of his laurels. This was in the year 1679, and Monmouth's good fortune had then attained its summit. He was beloved by the people, general of all the forces both in England and Scotland; London was at the devotion of Shaftesbury, the Duke of York banished to Brussels, and universally detested on account of his religion. At this important moment Charles fell ill of a fever at Windsor. Had he died it is very probable that Monmouth would have found himself in a condition to agitate successfully a title to the crown. But either the king's attachment to the Catholic religion, in the profession of which he finally died, or his sense of justice and hereditary right occasioned an extraordinary alteration of measures at this momentous crisis. The Duke of York was summoned from abroad, arrived at Windsor, and by his presence and activity at once resumed that ascendance over Charles, which his more stern genius had always possessed, and animated the sunken spirit of his own partizans. By a most sudden and surprising revolution, York was restored to all his brother's[253] favour. For although he was obliged to retire to Scotland to avoid the fury of the exclusionists, yet a sharper exile awaited his rival Monmouth, who, deprived of all his offices, was sent into the foreign banishment from which his uncle had just been recalled. Accordingly he retired to Holland, where he was courteously received by the States; and where Charles himself appears to have been desirous, that his darling son should find an honourable asylum. Meanwhile the factions waxed still more furious; and Shaftesbury, whose boast it was to "ride in the whirlwind and direct the storm," utterly embroiled the kingdom, by persuading Monmouth to return to England without licence from his father, and to furnish an ostensible head to that body of which the wily politician was himself the soul. This conduct deeply injured Monmouth in his father's favour, who refused to see him; and, by an enquiry and subsequent declaration made openly in council, and published in the Gazette, endeavoured to put an end to his hopes, by publicly declaring his illegitimacy. Wonderful as it may seem, this avowal was ascribed to the king's fear for his brother; and two daring pamphlets were actually published, to assert the legitimacy of Monmouth, against the express and solemn declaration of his father.[296] Monmouth himself, by various progresses through the kingdom, with an affectation of popularity which gained the vulgar but terrified the reflecting, above all, by a close alliance with the Machiavel, Shaftesbury, shewed his avowed determination to maintain his pretensions against those of the lawful successor. This was the state of parties in 1681, when "Absalom and Achitophel" first appeared.

The permission of so sharp a satire against the party of Monmouth, though much qualified as to his individual person, plainly shewed the king's intention to proceed with energy against the country party. Monmouth, in the midst of one of those splendid journies which he had made to display his strength, was arrested at Stafford, September 20, 1682, and obliged to enter bail for his peaceable deportment and appearance when called on, to answer any suit against him by the king. In the mean while, the dubious and mysterious cabal, called the Rye-house Plot, was concocted by two separate parties, moving in some degree towards the same point, but actuated by very different motives, adopting different modes of conduct, and in their mutual intrigues but slightly connected with each other. It appears certain, that Monmouth utterly abominated the proposal of Rumbold, and those who made[254] the assassination of the King and Duke of York the groundwork of their proposed insurrection. It is equally certain, that, with Sidney and Russell, he engaged in plans of reformation, or revolution, of that dubious description, which might have turned out good or evil, according to their power of managing the machine they were about to set in motion; a power almost always over-rated till the awful moment of experiment. Upon the discovery of these proceedings, Monmouth absconded, but generously signified to Lord Russell his determination to surrender himself if it could serve his friend; an offer which Russell, with the same generosity, positively rejected.

Notwithstanding the discovery which involved perhaps a charge of high treason, the king was so much convinced of Monmouth's innocence, so far as the safety of his person was concerned, that the influence of Halifax, who always strove to balance the power of the Duke of York by that of his nephew, procured him an opportunity of being restored to the king's favour, for which the minister had little thanks from the heir of the crown.[297] But Monmouth, by an excess of imprudence, in which, however, he displayed a noble spirit, forfeited the advantages he might have obtained at this crisis. Although he signed an acknowledgment of his guilt, in listening to counsels which could not be carried into effect, without a restraint on the king's person; he would not, on reflection, authorize the publication of a declaration, which must have had a fatal influence on the impending trial of his friends. He demanded it back, and received it; but accompanied with an order to leave the kingdom. He obeyed, and remained in honourable banishment in Holland, till after the accession of James II. to the throne. There is room to believe, that Monmouth would never have disturbed his uncle, had James not evinced a desire to follow him with vengeance even into his retreat. Wellwood has published a letter from him, in which he says, ambition is mortified within him, and expresses himself determined to live in retirement. But when the King insisted on the Prince of Orange driving him out of Holland, and proceeded to take measures to exclude him from Brussels, he appears to have become desperate. Even yet he prepared to retire to Sweden, but he was surrounded by fugitives from England and Scotland, who, as is always the case, represented the nation as agitated by their passions, and feeling for their individual oppression: Argyle, in particular, and the Scottish exiles, fired by the aggressions on their liberty and religion, anticipated a more warm support than they afterwards experienced.

Monmouth, thus driven upon his fate, set sail with three[255] ships; landed at Lyme with hardly an hundred followers; and, such was the magic of his popularity, soon found himself at the head of a considerable force. He baffled the Duke of Albemarle who attempted to coop him up at Lyme, and, advancing to Taunton took upon him fatally the title of King. At length, he surprised the Earl of Feversham, James's general, in his entrenchments near Bridgewater; and the native stubborn valour of his followers nearly proved too much for the discipline of the veterans, whom they attacked. The cowardice of Lord Grey,[298] who fled with the cavalry, led to a total defeat and much slaughter among Monmouth's forces. Still more fell a sacrifice to the bloody zeal of the brutal Jefferies. The Duke himself was taken in his flight; and, depressed by fatigue and disappointment, shewed some symptoms of weakness, inconsistent with his former character. He solicited his life by submissive letters to James, and, at length, obtained an interview with the king. But James forgot the noble, though homely popular saying,

A king's face
Should give grace.

With the natural sternness of his character, he only strove to extort from Monmouth a disavowal of his legitimacy, and a confession of his accomplices. To the former the Duke submitted; but, when urged to the latter, rose from the posture of supplication, and retorted with dignity the reproaches of James. When he returned to the Tower, he wrote a letter to the king, supposed to contain a secret, the revealing of which might have purchased his life. This letter he intrusted to Captain Scott of Dumbarton's regiment, a descendant of the family of Harden, and, consequently, related to the Duchess of Monmouth. The famous Blood is said to have compelled Scott to deliver up the letter, and carried it to Sunderland, who destroyed it.[299]

The Duke of Monmouth, finding all efforts to procure a pardon ineffectual, met death with great resolution. He smiled on the[256] guards who surrounded the scaffold, and whom in his better days he had commanded; bowed to the populace, who expressed by sighs and tears their interest in his fate; and submitted to his doom. His death was cruelly prolonged by the hesitation of the executioner, who, after several ineffectual strokes of the axe, threw it down, and could scarcely be prevailed on to finish his bloody work. The execution took place on the 15th of July, 1685.

It would be difficult, were it here necessary, to draw a character of the unfortunate Duke of Monmouth. His qualities and accomplishments were fitted for times more gentle than those in which he lived, where he might be compared to a pleasure barge struggling against a hurricane. In gentler times, he had proved a successful leader in war; and in peace, what the reviver of tragedy has aptly stiled, "An honoured courtly gentleman." Count Basil. Act I. Scene II.

Note IV.

And made the charming Annabel his bride.—P. 218.

Anne, Duchess of Buccleuch and Monmouth, a lady of high spirit, great beauty, and unimpeachable honour. We have had repeated occasion to mention her in the course of these notes. She was reckoned the richest heiress in Europe; as, upon the death of her elder sister, Anne Countess of Buccleuch, wife of Walter Earl of Tarras, she succeeded to the extensive land estate of that family. Charles made this advantageous match for his son, by the intervention of the young lady's mother, the Countess of Wemyss. The Duchess of Buccleuch was a distinguished protectress of poetical merit, and evinced her discriminating taste, by early selecting Dryden as the object of her patronage; she cultivated the friendship of the Duke of York, and established an intimacy between him and her husband, which paved the way for the advancement of the latter.[300] When by an occasional rivalry they quarrelled, and became irreconcileable enemies, she still opposed her prudence to the precipitate counsels of Monmouth's worse advisers. It is probable her influence saved his life, by determining him to make a timely confession, concerning all he knew of the Rye-house conspiracy, upon condition, it was not to be used against his friends. When he imprudently retracted that confession, her advice prevailed on him to offer a renewal of it.[301] Their last interview before the Duke's execution, is thus narrated in a MS. now before me.


"His behaviour all the time was brave and unmoved, and, even during the last conversation and farewell with his lady and children, which was the movingest scene in the world, and which no bye-standers could see without melting in tears, he did not shew the least concerndness. He declared before all the company, how averse the duchess had been to all his irregular courses, and that she had never been uneasy to him on any occasion whatsoever, but about women, and his failing of dutie to the late king. And that she knew nothing of his last designe, not having heard from himself a year before, which was his own fault, and noe unkindness in her, because she knew not how to direct her letters to him. In that, he gave her the kyndest character that could be, and begged her pardon of his many failings and offences to her, and prayed her to continue her kyndness and care to her poore children. At this expression she fell down on her knees, with her eyes full of teares, and begged him to pardon her if ever she had done any thing to offend and displease him; and embracing his knees, fell into a swoon, out of which they had much adoe to raise her up in a good while after. A little before, his children were brought to him, all crying about him; but he acquitted himself of these last adewes with much composure, shewing nothing of weakness and unmanliness." Account of the Actions and Behaviour of the Duke of Monmouth, from the time he was taken to his Execution, in a letter, dated July 16, 1685, MS., in the Duke of Buccleuch's library.

The Duchess of Monmouth's turn of mind, and her aversion to her husband's political intrigues, lead me to imagine, that Dryden sketched out her character under that of Marmoutiere in "the Duke of Guise;" whose expostulations with her lover apply exactly to the situation of this noble pair. If the Duke of Monmouth entertained a causeless jealousy of the intimacy of York with his lady, as the Duke of Buckingham seems to hint,[302] something like an allusion to this circumstance may be traced in the suspicions of Guise, and vindication of Marmoutiere.[303]

The Duchess of Buccleuch and Monmouth survived the catastrophe of her husband many years; during which she was resolute in asserting her right to be treated as a princess of the blood. She had two surviving sons by Monmouth; one of whom carried on the line of Buccleuch, and the other was created Earl of Deloraine. She was married a second time, in 1688, to Lord Cornwallis, by whom she had two surviving daughters. The Duchess died in 1732, in the eighty-first year of her life. King James made her Grace and her family a gift of all her original property, so far as forfeited by the Duke of Monmouth's condemnation.


Note V.

And Amnon's murder, by a specious name,
Was called a just revenge for injured fame.—P. 218.

There is a libel among the State Poems, relating to some obscure fray, in which the duke of Monmouth and some of his brothers appear to have been concerned. This was probably one of the youthful excesses alluded to.[304] But Amnon's murder seems to refer to the more noted assault upon sir John Coventry, which the reader may take in the words of Andrew Marvell.

"But an accident happened, which had like to have spoiled all. Sir John Coventry having moved (in the house of commons) for an imposition on the play houses, sir John Berkenhead, to excuse them, said they had been of great service to the king. Upon which, sir John Coventry desired that gentleman to explain "whether he meant the men or women players?"[305] Hereupon it is imagined, that the house adjourning from Tuesday, before, till Thursday after Christmas day, on the very Tuesday night of the adjournment, twenty-five of the duke of Monmouth's troop,[306] and some few foot, laid in wait from ten at night, till two in the morning, and as he returned from the Cock, where he supped, to his own house, they threw him down, and with a knife cut off almost all the end of his nose; but company coming, made them fearful to finish it; so they marched off. Sir Thomas Sands, lieutenant of the troop, commanded the party, and Obrian, the earl of Inchequin's son, was a principal actor. The court hereupon sometimes thought to carry it with a high hand, and question sir John for his words, and maintain the action; sometimes [259]they flagged in their councils. However, the king commanded sir Thomas Clarges, and sir W. Pulteney, to release Wroth, and Lake, who were two of the actors, and taken. But the night before the house met, they surrendered (to) him again. The house being but sullen the next day, the court did not oppose adjourning for some days longer, till it was filled. Then the house went upon Coventry's business, and voted that they would go upon nothing else whatever, till they had passed a bill, as they did, for Sands, Obrian, Parry, and Reeves, to come in by the sixteenth of February, or else be condemned, and never to be pardoned, but by an express act of parliament, and their names therein inserted, for fear of being pardoned in some general act of grace. Farther, all such actions, for the future, on any man, felony without clergy; and who shall otherwise strike or wound any parliament man, during his attendance, or going or coming, imprisonment for a year, treble damages, and incapacity. The bill having in some few days been despatched to the lords, the house has since gone on in grand committee upon the first 800,000l. bill, but are not yet half way. But now the lords, instead of the sixteenth of February, put twenty-five days after the king's royal assent, and that registered in their journal; they disagree in several other things, but adhere in that first which is material. So that, in this week, the houses will be in danger of splitting, without much wisdom or force. For, considering that sir Thomas Sands was the very person sent to Clarges and Pulteney, that Obrian was concealed in the duke of Monmouth's lodgings, that Wroth and Lake were bailed at sessions, by order from Mr Attorney, and, that all persons and things are perfectly discovered, that act will not be passed without great consequence." Letter from Andrew Marvel, to William Romsden, in Marvel's Works, Vol. I. p. 413.

This aggression led to what, from the name of the sufferer, is called the Coventry act, making cutting, and maiming the person, with intent to disfigure it, felony without benefit of clergy. A satirical ballad on this subject, called the Haymarket Hectors, was written by Andrew Marvel, which may be found in his works, and, with some variations, in the third vol. of the State poems. It has very little wit, to atone for a great deal of grossness.

Note VI.

From hence began that plot, the nation's curse;
Bad in itself, but represented worse:
Raised in extremes, and in extremes decried;
With oaths affirmed, with dying vows denied.—P. 220.

The Papist plot, like every criminal and mysterious transaction, where accomplices alone can give evidence, is involved in[260] much mystery. It is well known, that the zeal for making proselytes, with all its good and all its evil consequences, is deeply engrafted upon the catholic faith. There can be no doubt, from Coleman's correspondence, that there was in agitation, among the Catholics, a grand scheme to bring about the conversion of the British kingdoms to the Romish religion. Much seemed to favour this in the reign of Charles II. The king, though a latitudinarian, was believed addicted to the religion of those countries which had afforded him refuge in his adversity, and the Duke of York was an open and zealous Papist. From the letters of his secretary Coleman, it is obvious, that hopes were entertained of eradicating the great northern heresy; and the real existence of intrigues carried on with this purpose, unfortunately gave a colour to the monstrous and absurd falsehoods which the witnesses of the plot contrived to heap together. It is probable, that Oates, by whom the affair was first started, knew nothing, but by vague report and surmise, of the real designs of the Roman catholic party; since he would otherwise have accommodated his story better to their obvious interests. The catholics might gain much by the life of Charles; but a plot to assassinate him, would have been far from placing them an inch nearer their point, even supposing them to escape the odium of so horrible a crime. The Duke, it was true, was nearest in blood; but his succession to the throne, had the king been taken off by those of his sect, would have been a very difficult matter, since the very suspicion of such a catastrophe had nearly caused his exclusion. But when the faction involved the king also in the plot, which Oates positively charges upon him in his last publication, and thereby renders him an accessory before the fact to an attempt on his own life, the absurdity is fully completed. Even according to the statement of those who suppose that Charles had irritated the Roman catholics, by preferring his ease and quiet to their interest and his own religious feelings, his situation appears ludicrously distressing. For, on the one hand, he incurred the hatred of those who called themselves the Protestant party, for his obstinacy in exposing himself to be murdered by the papists; and, on the other hand, he was to be assassinated by the catholics, for not doing what, according to this supposition, he himself most wished to do. It would be far beyond our bounds, to notice the numberless gross absurdities to which Oates and the other witnesses deposed upon oath. It may appear almost incredible, in the present day, how such extravagant fictions should be successfully palmed upon the deluded public; but at that time there was not the same ready communication by the press, which now allows opportunity to canvass an extraordinary charge as soon as it is brought forward. The public at large had no means of judging of state matters, but from[261] the bribed libellers of faction, and the haranguers in coffee-houses, who gave what colour they pleased to the public news of the day.[307] Besides, the catholics had given an handle against themselves, by their own obscure intrigues; and it was impossible to forget the desperate scheme of the Gunpowder Plot, by which they had resolved to cut off the heresy in the time of King James. The crime of the fathers was, in this case, visited on the children; for no person probably would, or could, have believed in the catholic plot of 1678, had not the same religious sect meditated something equally desperate in 1606. It is true, the gunpowder conspiracy was proved by the most unexceptionable testimony; and the plot in Charles' time rested on the oaths of a few boldfaced villains, who contradicted both themselves and each other; but still popular credulity was prepared to believe any thing charged on a sect, who had shown themselves so devoted to their religious zeal, and so little scrupulous about means to gratify it. Another main prop of the Catholic plot was the mystery in which it was involved. If inconsistencies were pointed out, or improbabilities urged, the answer was, that the discovery had not yet reached the bottom of the plot. Thus the disposition of the vulgar to believe the atrocious and the marvellous, was heightened by the stimulus of ungratified curiosity, and still impending danger. "Every new witness," says North, "that came in, made us start—now we shall come to the bottom. And so it continued from one witness to another, year after year, till at length it had no bottom but in the bottomless pit."[308] Thus, betwixt villainy and credulity, the spirits of the people were exasperated and kept afloat, till the bloodhounds of the plot, like those formerly used in pursuit of marauders, had drenched their scent, and annihilated their powers of quest in the best blood in the kingdom.

The unfortunate victims, whose lives were sworn away by Oates and his accomplices, died averring their innocence; but the infuriated people for some time gave little credit to this solemn exculpation;[262] believing that the religion of the criminals, or at least the injunctions of their priests, imposed on them the obligation of denying, with their last breath, whatever, if confessed, could have prejudiced the catholic cause. As all high wrought frenzies are incapable of duration, that of the Roman catholic plot decayed greatly after the execution of the venerable Stafford. The decent and manly sobriety of his demeanour on the scaffold, the recollection of how much blood had been spilled, and how much more might be poured out like water, excited the late and repentant commiseration of the multitude: His protestations of innocence were answered by broken exclamations of "God bless you, my lord! we believe you." And after this last victim, the Popish plot, like a serpent which had wasted its poison, though its wreaths entangled many, and its terrors held their sway over more, did little effectual mischief. Even when long lifeless, and extinguished, this chimera, far in the succeeding reigns, continued, like the dragon slain by the Red-cross Knight, to be the object of popular fear, and the theme of credulous terrorists:

Some feared, and fled; some feared, and well it fained.
One, that would wiser seem than all the rest,
Warned him not touch; for yet, perhaps, remained
Some lingering life within his hollow breast;
Or, in his womb might lurk some hidden nest
Of many dragonettes, his fruitful seed;
Another said, that in his eyes did rest
Yet sparkling fire, and bade thereof take heed;
Another said, he saw him move his eyes indeed.

Note VII.

Some thought they God's anointed meant to slay
By guns, invented since full many a day.—P. 221.

The author alludes to the wonderful project to assassinate the king by Pickering and Groves, to which Oates bore testimony. Pickering, a man in easy circumstances, and whom religious zeal alone induced to murder his sovereign, was to have 30,000 masses; and Groves, a more mercenary ruffian, was to be recompensed with a sum, which, reckoning at a shilling a mass, should be an equivalent in money. But this scheme misgave, because, according to the evidence, the conscientious and opulent Mr Pickering had furnished himself for the exploit with an old pistol, the cock whereof was too loose to hold a flint. Another time they were to come to Windsor, to execute their bloody purpose with sword and dagger; but could find no better conveyance than miserable hack horses, one of which became lame, and disconcerted the expedition. Such at least was the apology made by Oates for[263] their not appearing, when a party were, upon his information, stationed to apprehend them.

Note VIII.

Of these, the false Achitophel was first.—P. 222.

Anthony, Earl of Shaftesbury, one of the principal heroes of this poem, was in the Tower when it was published, and very soon after was served with a bill of indictment for high treason; which was thrown out by the grand jury, who returned a verdict of Ignoramus. This gave rise to our author's next poem, "The Medal," and in the notes is contained some account of his lordship's life, to which the reader is referred for further information. We have already stated, that he was the counsellor of Monmouth, and the very soul of his party. Nothing can be more exquisitely satirical than the description which Dryden has here given of this famous statesman.

Note IX.

And all to leave what with his toil he won,
To that unfeathered, two-legged thing, a son;
Got while his soul did huddled notions try,
And born a shapeless lump, like anarchy.—P. 222.

Anthony Ashley Cooper, second Earl of Shaftesbury, and son of the great statesman, whom Dryden has dubbed his Achitophel. The contemptuous language used towards him, is said not to have reference to his outward appearance; for the portraits which remain represent him at uncommonly handsome. Nay, so much was his personal beauty an object of his attention, that he is said to have hastened his decease by his solicitude to remove, by violent means, an excrescence which disfigured his face. But the authority, from which these circumstances are quoted, seems to admit, that he was of a very insignificant character, at least not at all distinguished by mental abilities. Biographia Britannica, Vol. IV. p. 266. His want of capacity was a standing joke among the Tories. In an ironical pamphlet, called "A modest Vindication of the Earl of Shaftesbury, in a letter to a friend concerning his being elected King of Poland," we have, among the list of his officers of the crown, "Prince Prettyman Perkinoski (i.e. Monmouth), our adopted heir, because a little wiser than our own son, and designed to be offered to the diet as our successor."

It often happens, that men are more jealous of their own, or their ancestors' reputation for talents, than for virtue. The third Earl of Shaftesbury, author of the "Characteristics," is said to have resented more deeply this occasional attack on his father's[264] understanding, than the satire against his grandfather, in which Dryden has poured forth his whole energy. This passage is alleged to have been the occasion of his mentioning Dryden disrespectfully in several places of his works; a revenge more dishonourable to his Lordship's taste than to the object of his spleen.[309]

Note X.

To compass this, the triple bond he broke,
The pillars of the public safety shook,
And fitted Israel for a foreign yoke.—P. 222.

The Earl of Shaftesbury is allowed to have been a principal adviser of the Dutch war in 1672; by which the triple alliance between England, Sweden, and Holland, the chef d'œuvre of Sir William Temple's negociation, by which France and Spain were forced into the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, was for ever broken. It was he who applied to Holland the famous saying, Delenda est Carthago; and who, with all his wit and eloquence, furthered a closer connection with France, to the destruction of our natural ally. But when the success of the Dutch war was inferior to the expectations of this ardent statesman, when he found himself rivalled by Clifford and others in the favour of Charles, and when he perceived that the king, to preserve his quiet, would not hesitate to sacrifice an obnoxious minister, he chose to make what some of his biographers have called a short turn; and, by going over to the popular party, to escape the odium attached to the measures he had himself recommended.

Note XI.

In Israel's courts ne'er sat an Abethdin
With more discerning eyes, or hands more clean;
Unbribed, unsought, the wretched to redress,
Swift of dispatch, and easy of access.—P. 223.

In 1672, the seals were given to the Earl of Shaftesbury, on the resignation of the Lord Keeper, Sir Orlando Bridgeman; and he was invested with the office of Lord High Chancellor. In the judicial part of his duty, he appears to have merited the eulogium so elegantly expressed in the text. One of his biographers uses[265] the following strong expressions: "With what prudence and candour, honour, and integrity, he acquitted himself in that great and weighty employment, the transactions of the Court of Chancery, during the time of his chancellorship, will best testify. Justice, then, ran in an equal channel; so that the cause of the rich was not suffered to swallow up the rights of the poor, nor was the strong or cunning oppressor permitted to devour the weak or unskilful opposer: but the abused found relief suitable to their distress; and those by whom they were abused, a severe reprehension, answerable to their crimes. The mischievous consequences, which commonly arise from the delays and other practices of that court, were, by his ingenious and judicious management, very much abated, and every thing weighed and determined with such an exact judgment and equity, that it almost exceeds all possibility of belief."[310] Yet even in this high situation, Shaftesbury could not help displaying something of a temper more lively and freakish than was consistent with the gravity of his place. His dress was an odd mixture of the courtier and lawyer; being an ash-coloured gown, silver-laced, with pantaloons garnished with ribbons; nothing being black about him, save, peradventure, his hat, which North, though he saw him, cannot positively affirm to have been so.[311] Besides, he occasioned much dismay and discomfiture upon the first day of the term, which succeeded his appointment, by obliging the judges, law officers, &c. who came, as usual, to attend the great seal to Westminster-hall, to make this solemn procession on horseback, according to ancient custom. As long as the cavalcade was in the open street, this did well enough; but when they came to strait passages and interruptions, "for want of gravity in the beasts, and too much in the riders, there happened some curvetting, which made no small disorder. Judge Twisden, to his great affright, and the consternation of his grave brethren, was laid all along in the dirt; but all at length arrived safe, without loss of life or limb in the service."[312] This whimsical fancy of setting grave judges on managed horses, with hazard both of damage and ridicule, to say nothing of bodily distress and terror, is a curious trait of the mercurial Earl of Shaftesbury.

Note XII.

And proves the king himself a Jebusite.—P. 223.

As it was pretty well understood that Charles was friendly to the Catholic religion, which indeed he had secretly embraced, no[266] pains were spared to point out this tendency to the people, who connected with the faith of Rome all the bugbear horrors of the plot, as well as the real reasons which they had to dread its influence. Dryden probably alludes to the language held by Colledge, which was that of his party. Smith deposed against him, that, while he was carrying him to dine with one Alderman Willcox, he told him, "He was a man as true as steel, and a man that would endeavour to root out Popery.'—Says I, 'That may be easily done, if you can but prevail with the king to pass the bill against the duke of York.'—'No, no, (said he) now you are mistaken, for Rowley is as great a papist as the duke of York is, (now he called the king, Rowley,) and every way as dangerous to the Protestant interest, as is too apparent by his arbitrary ruling."—State Trials, Vol. iii. p. 359.

Note XIII.

And nobler is a limited command,
Given by the love of all your native land,
Than a successive title, long and dark,
Drawn from the mouldy rolls of Noah's ark.—P. 226.

The legitimacy of the duke of Monmouth, though boldly and repeatedly asserted by his immediate partizans, did not receive general credit even in the popular faction. It was one of Shaftesbury's principal advantages, to have chosen, for the ostensible head of his party, a candidate, whose right, had he ever attained the crown, must have fluctuated betwixt an elective and hereditary title. The consciousness of how much he was to depend upon Shaftesbury's arts, for stating and supporting so dubious a claim, obliged the duke to remain at the devotion of that intriguing politician. It seems to have been shrewdly suspected by some of Monmouth's friends, that Shaftesbury had no real intention of serving his interest. A poem, written by one of Monmouth's followers, called "Judah Betrayed, or the Egyptian Plot turned on the Israelites," expresses their fears, and very plainly intimates this suspicion: and the reader may bear with some bad poetry, to be convinced how far this faction was from being firmly united together:

For depth in politics, and statesman's brain,
Draw Hushai[313] next, attended by a train
Of peevish votaries, heart-sick with pride,
Too numerous for an apostate guide;
The odious name of patriot he does own,
And prophecies the downfall of a throne:
Forms in his aged fancy, robbed of health,
The strange ideas of a Commonwealth,
Then gains the proselyte dissenting Jews,
And arguments from liberty does use:
So treason veiled for liberty may go,
And traitors' heads like royalists may show.
All Judah's people had united been,
Had not he interposed, and stept between;
David in's subjects love had held his reign,
Had not he cut the fastening bond in twain,
And fatal discord sown in sanhedrin,
The much lamented hasty Judah's sin.
When either faction does produce their right
To succession, they tacitly do slight
The present king, and silent reasons bring
That he is not, or should not be, a king.—
We need not care; for heaven ne'er will own
Egyptian heir on Israelitish throne;
Nor will it ere auspiciously defend
Hushai, that only strives for's private end.
He wheedles Absalon with hopes of king,
And glistering toys of crowns does 'fore him fling;
Thus does he sooth to overthrow a crown,
And Absalon's the tool to beat it down;
And easy Absalon, by gentleness drawn,
(Though he has courage paralleled by none,)
The loss of crowns to come he now does dread,
Can heaven place them on a nobler head?
So great a soul as his 'twill never own
Should rule on any thing beneath a throne;
Or ere see Judah plagued or robbed of health,
By that unbounded thing a Commonwealth.

Note XIV.

The next successor, whom I fear and hate,
My arts have made obnoxious to the State;
Turned all his virtues to his overthrow,
And gained our elders to pronounce a foe.—P. 229.

In 1679, when the antipathy to popery had taken the deepest root in men's minds, the House of Commons passed a vote, "That the Duke of York's being a papist, and the hopes of his coming to the crown, had given the highest countenance to the present conspiracies and designs of the papists, against the king and the protestant religion." Charles endeavoured to parry the obvious consequences of this vote, by proposing to the council a set of limitations, which deprived his successor, if a catholic, of the chief branches of royalty. Shaftesbury, then president of the council, argued against this plan as totally ineffectual; urging, that when the future king should find a parliament to his mind, the limitations might be as effectually taken off as they could be imposed.[268] When the bill was brought in, for the total exclusion of the Duke of York from the succession, Shaftesbury favoured it with all his influence. It passed the Lower House by a very large majority, but was rejected by the House of Lords, where Halifax opposed it with very great ability. Shaftesbury, who had taken so decided a part against the Duke of York in his dearest interests, was now irreconcilable with him, and could only look for safety in his ruin.

Note XV.

'Till time shall ever-wanting David draw,
To pass your doubtful title into law:
If not, the people have a right supreme
To make their kings; for kings are made for them.—P. 229.

If we can believe the honourable Roger North, Lord Shaftesbury made a fair experiment, for the purpose of ascertaining whether Charles's love of ease and affection for Monmouth would induce him to consent to an alteration of the succession in his favour, to the prejudice of the Duke of York. He quotes a pamphlet, called, "The Earl of Shaftesbury's expedient to settle the nation, discoursed with his Majesty at Oxford, 24 March, 1681," which gives the following account of the transaction; and, as it was published at the time, and remained uncontradicted, either by Shaftesbury, or the king, probably contains some essential truth. The Earl of Shaftesbury having received, or pretended to receive, an unsigned letter, in a disguised hand, bustled away to court, "as hard," says the pamphleteer, "as legs, stick, and man could carry him." When he arrived there, the Lord Chamberlain conceiving the Duke of Monmouth might be in the secret, applied to him to know what the great concern was. His grace answered, with an appearance of hesitation, that it was something relating to himself, in which, as in other affairs of his, Lord Shaftesbury took a deeper concern than he desired. Meanwhile. Shaftesbury was introduced to the audience he solicited with the king, and produced the letter, containing, as he said, a plan for settling the interests of religion and state, which proved to be a proposal for calling the Duke of Monmouth to the succession. The king answered, he was surprized such a plan should be pressed upon him, after all the declarations he had made on the subject, and that, far from being more timorous, he became more resolute the nearer he approached his grave. Shaftesbury expressing great horror at such an expression, the king assured him he was no less anxious for his own preservation, than those who pretended to so much concern for the security of his person; and yet, that he would rather lay down his life than alter the true succession of the crown, against both law and conscience. For that, said the earl, let us alone; we will make[269] a law for it. To which the king replied, that, if such was his lordship's conscience, it was not his; and that he did not think even his life of sufficient value to be preserved with the forfeiture of his honour, and essential injury to the laws of the land.—North's Examen, p. 100. 123.

Note XVI.

Then the next heir, a prince severe and wise,
Already looks on you with jealous eyes.—P. 230.

Before James went to Flanders, he had testified a jealousy of Monmouth. "The Duke of York, before he went abroad," says Carte, "was concerned to see that the king could observe his frequent whispers at court to the Lord Shaftesbury, without being moved or expressing his dislike of it, but was much more alarmed at hearing of their frequent and clandestine meetings, without any apparent dissatisfaction expressed by his Majesty." p. 493. vol. II.

Note XVII.

The Solymæan rout—— ——
Saw with disdain an Ethnic plot begun,
And scorned by Jebusites to be outdone.—P. 232.

The royalists recriminated upon the popular party, the charge of plots and machinations against the government. There is no doubt that every engine was put in motion, to secure the mob of London, "the Solymean rout" of Dryden, to Shaftesbury's party. Every one has heard of the 30,000 brisk boys, who were ready to follow the wagging of his finger. The plots, and sham-plots, charged by the parties against each other, form a dismal picture of the depravity of the times. Settle thus ridicules the idea of the protestant, or fanatical plot for seizing the king at Oxford.

This hellish Ethnick plot the court alarms;
The traytors, seventy thousand strong, in arms,
Near Endor town lay ready at a call,
And garrisoned in airy castles all:
These warriors, on a sort of coursers rid,
Ne'er lodged in stables, or by man bestrid.
What though the steel, with which the rebels fought,
No forge ere felt, or anvil ever wrought;
Yet this magnetick plot for black designs,
Can raise cold iron from the very mines;
To this, were twenty under plots contrived
By malice, and by ignorance believed;
Till shams met shams, and plots with plots so crost,
That the true plot amongst the false was lost.
Absalom Senior.



In the first rank of these did Zimri stand;
A man so various, that he seemed to be
Not one, but all mankind's epitome.—P. 233.

This inimitable description refers, as is well known, to the famous George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, son of the favourite of Charles I., who was murdered by Felton. The Restoration put into the hands of the most lively, mercurial, ambitious, and licentious genius, who ever lived, an estate of 20,000l a-year, to be squandered in every wild scheme which the lust of power, of pleasure, of licence, or of whim, could dictate to an unrestrained imagination. Being refused the situation of President of the North, he was suspected of having favoured the disaffected in that part of England, and was disgraced accordingly. But, in 1666, he regained the favour of the king, and became a member of the famous administration called the Cabal, which first led Charles into unpopular and arbitrary measures, and laid the foundation for the troubles of his future reign. Buckingham changed sides about 1675, and, becoming attached to the country party, made a most active figure in all proceedings which had relation to the Popish plot; intrigued deeply with Shaftesbury, and distinguished himself as a promoter of the bill of exclusion. Hence, he stood an eminent mark for Dryden's satire; which, we may believe, was not the less poignant, that the poet had sustained a personal affront, from being depicted by his grace under the character of Bayes in the Rehearsal. As Dryden owed the Duke no favour, he has shewn him none. Yet, even here, the ridiculous, rather than the infamous part of his character, is touched upon; and the unprincipled libertine, who slew the Earl of Shrewsbury while his adulterous countess held his horse in the disguise of a page, and who boasted of caressing her before he changed the bloody cloaths in which he had murdered her husband,[314] is not exposed to hatred, while the spendthrift and castle-builder are held up to contempt. So just, however, is the picture drawn by Dryden, that it differs little from the following sober historical character.

"The Duke of Buckingham was a man of great parts, and an infinite deal of wit and humour; but wanted judgement, and had[271] no virtue, or principle of any kind. These essential defects made his whole life one continued train of inconsistencies. He was ambitious beyond measure, and implacable in his resentments; these qualities were the effects, or different faces of his pride; which, whenever he pleased to lay aside, no man living could be more entertaining in conversation. He had a wonderful talent in turning all things into ridicule; but, by his own conduct, made a more ridiculous figure in the world, than any other he could, with all his vivacity of wit, and turn of imagination, draw of others. Frolick and pleasure took up the greatest part of his life; and in these he neither had any taste, nor set himself any bounds; running into the wildest extravagancies, and pushing his debaucheries to a height, which even a libertine age could not help censuring as downright madness. He inherited the best estate which any subject had at that time in England; yet, his profuseness made him always necessitous; as that necessity made him grasp at every thing that would help to support his expences. He was lavish without generosity, and proud without magnanimity; and, though he did not want some bright talents, yet, no good one ever made part of his composition; for there was nothing so mean that he would not stoop to, nor any thing so flagrantly impious, but he was capable of undertaking."[315]

A patron like Buckingham, who piqued himself on his knowledge of literature, and had the means, if not the inclination, to be liberal, was not likely to want champions, such as they were, to repel the sharp attack of Dryden. Elkanah Settle compliments him with the following lines in his "Absalom Senior," some of which are really tolerable.

But who can Amiel's charming wit withstand,
The great state-pillar of the muses' land;
For lawless and ungoverned had the age
The nine wild sisters seen run mad with rage;
Debauched to savages, till his keen pen
Brought their long banished reason back again;
Driven by his satyrs into reason's fence,
And lashed the idle rovers into sense.
—   —   —   —   —   —   —
Amiel, whose generous gallantry, while fame
Shall have a tongue, shall never want a name;
Who, whilst his pomp his lavish gold consumes,
Moulted his wings to lend a throne his plumes;
Whilst an ungrateful court he did attend,
Too poor to pay, what it had pride to spend.


Another poet, at a period when interest could little sway his panegyrick, has apologized for the versatility and extravagance of the then deceased Duke of Buckingham:

What though black envy, with her ran'crous tongue,
And angry poets in embittered song,
While to new tracks thy boundless soul aspires,
Charge thee with roving change, and wandring fires?
Envy more base did never virtue wrong:
Thy wit, a torrent for the bank too strong,
In twenty smaller rills o'erflowed the dam,
Though the main channel still was Buckingham.[316]

Buckingham himself, smarting under the severity of Dryden's satire, strove to answer it in kind. He engaged in this work with more zeal and anger, than wit or prudence. It is one thing to write a farce, and another to support such a controversy with such an author. The Duke's pamphlet, however, sold at a high price, and had a celebrity, which is certainly rather to be imputed to the rank and reputation of the author, than to the merit of the performance. As it is the work of such an applauded wit, is exceedingly scarce, and relates entirely to the poem which I am illustrating, I shall here insert the introduction, and some extracts from the piece itself.

It is entitled "Poetic Reflections on a late Poem, entituled, Absalom and Achitophel, by a Person of Honour. London, printed for Richard Janeway, 1682. (14 December.)"

To the Reader.—"To epitomize which scandalous pamphlet, unworthy the denomination of poesy, no eye can inspect it without a prodigious amazement, the abuses being so gross and deliberate, that it seems rather a capital or national libel, than personal exposures, in order to an infamous detraction. For how does he character the King, but as a broad figure of scandalous inclinations, or contrived into such irregularities, as renders him rather the property of parasites and vice, than suitable to the accomplishment of so excellent a prince. Nay, he forces on king David such a royal resemblance, that he darkens his sanctity, in spite of illuminations from holy writ.

"Next, to take as near our king as he could, he calumniates the Duke of Monmouth, with that height of impudence, that his sense is far blacker than his ink, exposing him to all the censures that a murderer, a traitor, or what a subject of most ambitious evil can possibly comprehend.

"As to my Lord Shaftesbury, in his collusive Achitophel, what[273] does he other than exceed malice itself, or that the more prudent deserts of that Peer were to be so impeached before hand by his impious poem, as that he might be granted more emphatically condign of the hangman's axe, and which his muse does in effect take upon her to hasten.

"And if the season be well observed when this adulterate poem was spread, it will be found purposely divulged near the time when this lord, with his other noble partner, were to be brought to their trial; and, I suppose this poet thought himself enough assured of their condemnation, at least that his genius had not otherwise ventured to have trampled on persons of such eminent abilities and interest in the nation; a consideration, I confess, incited my pen, its preceding respect being paid to the duke of Monmouth, to vindicate their reputations where I thought it due.

When late Protector-ship was cannon proof,
And, cap-a-pe, had seized on Whitehall roof;
And next on Israelites durst look so big,
That, Tory-like, it loved not much the Whig;
A poet there starts up of wondrous fame,
Whether Scribe, or Pharisee, his race doth name,
Or more to intrigue the metaphor of man,
Got on a muse by father Publican;[317]
For 'tis not harder much if we tax nature,
That lines should give a poet such a feature,
Than that his verse a hero should us show,[318]
Produced by such a feat, as famous too;
His mingle such, what man presumes to think,
But he can figures daub with pen and ink.
A grace our mighty Nimrod late beheld,
When he within the royal palace dwelled;
And saw 'twas of import, if lines could bring
His greatness from usurper to be king;[319]
Or varnish so his praise, that little odds
Should seem 'twixt him and such called earthly gods;
And though no wit can royal blood infuse,
No more than melt a mother to a muse,
Yet much a certain poet undertook,
That men and manners deals in without book,
And might not more to gospel truth belong,
Than he if christened does by name of John.
—   —   —   —   —   —   —
Fame's impious hireling, and mean reward,
The knave that in his lines turns up his card;
Who, though no Raby thought in Hebrew writ,
He forced allusions that can closely fit;
To Jews, or English, much unknown before,
He made a talmud on his muses score;
Though hoped few critics will its genius carp,
So purely metaphors king David's harp;
And, by a soft encomium, near at hand,
Shews Bathsheba embraced throughout the land.

After much unintelligible panegyric on Shaftesbury, his Grace comes to Seymour:[320]

For Amiel, Amiel, who cannot endite,
Of his then value wont disdain to write;
The very him, with gown and mace did rule
The Sanhedrim, when guided by a fool;
The him that did both sense and reason shift.
That he to gainful place himself might lift;
The very him, that did adjust the seed
Of such as did their votes for money breed;
The mighty him, that frothy notions vents,
In hope to turn them into presidents;
The him of hims, although in judgment small,
That fain would be the biggest at Whitehall;
The he, that does for justice coin postpone,
As on account may be hereafter shown.

The noble author, with what cause the reader is now enabled to determine, piqued himself especially upon the satirical vigour of these last verses. "As to the character of Amiel, I confess my lines are something pointed: the one reason being, that it alludes much to a manner of expression of this writer's, as may be seen by the marginal notes; and a second will soon be allowed. The figure of Amiel has been so squeezed into paint, that his soul is seen in spite of the varnish." As these verses were written on an occasion, when personal indignation must have fired his Grace's wit, they incline us to believe, with Mr Malone, that his friends, Clifford and Sprat, had the greatest share in the lively farce of "The Rehearsal."

Buckingham's death was as awful a beacon as his life. He had dissipated a princely fortune, and lost both the means of procuring, and the power of enjoying, the pleasures to which he was devoted. He had fallen from the highest pinnacle of ambition, into the last degree of contempt and disregard. His dying scene, in a paltry inn in Yorkshire, has been immortalized by Pope's beautiful lines:

In the worst inn's worst room, with mat half hung,
The floors of plaister, and the walls of dung;
On once a flock-bed, but repaired with straw,
With tape-tied curtains, never meant to draw,
The George and Garter dangling from that bed,
Where tawdry yellow strove with dirty red,
Great Villiers lies! alas, how changed from him!
That life of pleasure, and that soul of whim;
Gallant and gay, in Cliefden's proud alcove,
The bower of wanton Shrewsbury and love;
Or just as gay at council, in a ring
Of mimicked statesmen, and a merry king;
No wit to flatter left of all his store,
No fool to laugh at, which he valued more;
There, victor of his health, of fortune, friends,
And fame, this lord of useless thousands ends!

Note XIX.

———Balaam.—P. 234.

The Earl of Huntington. A coarse reason is given by Luttrel in his MS. notes, for the epithet by which he is distinguished in the text.[321] He was one of the seventeen peers who signed a petition, beseeching Charles to have recourse to the advice of his parliament; and he himself presented it at Whitehall, on the 7th of December, 1679, in the name of the other lords subscribing. This advice was received very coldly by the king, who answered, "That he would consider of what they had offered, and could heartily wish, that all other people were as solicitous for the peace and good of the nation, as he would ever be." The Earl of Huntington also subscribed the petition and advice, presented by fifteen peers to the king, against removing the parliament to Oxford; where they stated, "Neither Lords nor Commons can be in safety, but will be daily exposed to the swords of the Papists, and their adherents, of whom too many are crept into your majesty's guards." Yet Lord Huntington did not go all the lengths of the Whig party. He became a privy councillor, was admitted to the honour of kissing the king's hand, and was stated in the Public Intelligencer, of the 25th of October, 1681, to have then confessed, that he had found by experience, "That they who promoted the bill of exclusion, were for the subversion of monarchy itself." Monmouth, Grey, and Herbert, state, in a paper published on this occasion, that Lord Huntington had denied the utterance of the said words; but, from the stile of their manifesto, it is obvious, they no longer regarded him as attached to their party. Ralph's History. Vol. I. p. 657. 709. Note.


Note XX.

———Cold Caleb.—P. 234.

Ford, Lord Grey of Wark, described among Absalom's IX worthies as

Chaste Caleb next, whose chill embraces charm
Women to ice, was yet in treason warm;
Of the ancient race of Jewish nobles come,
Whose title never lay in Christendom.

He appears to have been a man of very great indifference to his domestic concerns; as the Duke of Monmouth, under whose banners he enlisted himself, was generally believed to have an intrigue with Lady Grey. In an account of a mock apparition, which that lady is supposed to witness, she is made to state, "That on Saturday, the 29th of January, 1680, being alone in her closet about nine o'clock at night, she heard a voice behind her, which mildly said, sweetheart. At which she was at first not at all frightened, supposing it to be an apparition, which she says has often of late appeared to her in the absence of her lord, in the shape of a bright star and blue garter, but without hurting, or so much as frightening her." Lord Grey, ignorant or indifferent about these scandalous reports, went step for step with Monmouth in all his projects. He was a man of a restless temper, and lively talents, which he exercised in the service of the popular party. He was deep in the Rye-house Plot, and probably engaged in the very worst part of it; at least, Lord Howard deposed, that Grey was full of expectation of some great thing to be attempted on the day of the king's coming from Newmarket, which was that fixed by the inferior conspirators for his assassination. Upon the trial of Lord Russel, Howard was yet more particular, and said, that upon a dark intimation of an attempt on the king's person, the Duke of Monmouth, "with great emotion, struck his breast, and cried out, 'God so! kill the king! I will never suffer them.' That Lord Grey, with an oath, also observed upon it, that if they made such an attempt, they could not fail." Ramsey charged Lord Grey with arguing with Ferguson, on the project of the rising at Taunton. Grey, on the first discovery of this conspiracy, was arrested, but, filling the officers drunk, he escaped in a boat, and fled into Holland. He was afterwards very active in pushing on Monmouth to his desperate expedition in 1685. He landed with the duke at Lyme, and held the rank of general of horse in his army. Like many other politicians, his lordship proved totally devoid of that courage in executing bold plans, which he displayed in forming or abetting them. At the first skirmish at Bridport he ran away, although the troops he[277] commanded did not follow his example, but actually gained a victory, while he returned on the gallop to announce a total defeat. Monmouth, much shocked, asked Colonel Mathews what he should do with him? who answered, he believed there was not another general in Europe would have asked such a question. Lord Grey, however, fatally for Monmouth, continued in his trust, and commanded the horse at the battle of Sedgemore. There he behaved like a poltroon as formerly, fled with the whole cavalry, and left the foot, who behaved most gallantly, to be cut to pieces by the horse of King James, who, without amusing themselves with pursuit, wheeled, and fell upon the rear of the hardy western peasants. So infamous was Grey's conduct, that many writers at the time, thinking mere cowardice insufficient to account for it, have surmised, some, that he was employed by the king to decoy Monmouth to his destruction; and others, that jealousy of the domestic injury he had received from the duke, induced him to betray the army.[322] This caitiff peer was taken in the disguise of a shepherd, near Holt Lodge, in Dorsetshire; and confessed, that "since his landing in England, he had never enjoyed a quiet meal, or a night's repose." He was conveyed to London, and would probably have been executed, had it not been discovered, that his estate, which had been given to Lord Rochester, was so strictly entailed, that nothing could be got by his death. He, therefore, by the liberal distribution, it is said, of large sums of money, received a pardon from the king, and appeared as a witness on the trial of Lord Delamere; and was ready to do so on that of Hampden; yet he is supposed to have kept some secrets with respect to the politics of the Prince of Orange, in reward of which, he was raised to the rank of an Earl after the Revolution.—Dalrymple's Memoirs, Vol. I. p. 185.

Notwithstanding the attribute which Dryden has ascribed to Lord Grey in this poem, he afterwards proved a man of unprincipled gallantry; and 23d of November, 1682, was tried in the King's Bench for debauching lady Henrietta Berkeley, daughter of the Earl of Berkeley, to whose sister, lady Mary, he was himself married. See State Trials, Vol. III. p. 519.

Note XXI

And canting Nadab let oblivion damn,
Who made new porridge for the paschal lamb.—P. 234.

Lord Howard of Escricke, although an abandoned debauchee,[278] made occasional pretensions to piety. He was an intimate of Shaftesbury and of Monmouth, but detested by Russel on account of the infamy of his character. Plots, counter-plots, and sham-plots, were at this time wrought like mine and countermine by each party, under the other's vantage-ground. One Fitzharris had written a virulent libel against the court party, which he probably intended to father upon the whigs; but being seized by Sir William Waller, he changed his note, and averred, that he had been employed by the court to write this libel, and to fix it upon the exclusionists; and to this probable story he added, ex mera gratia, a new account of the old Popish Plot. The court resolved to make an example of Fitzharris; they tried and convicted him of treason, for the libel fell nothing short of it. When condemned, finding his sole resource in the mercy of the crown, he retracted his evidence against the court, and affirmed, that Treby, the recorder, and Bethel and Cornish, the two sheriffs, had induced him to forge that accusation; and that Lord Howard was the person who drew up instructions, pointing out to him what he was to swear, and urging him so to manage his evidence, as to criminate the Queen and the Duke of York. The confession of Fitzharris did not save his life, although he adhered to it upon the scaffold. Lord Howard, as involved in this criminal intrigue, was sent to the Tower, where he uttered and published a canting declaration, asserting his innocence, upon the truth of which he received the sacrament. He is said, however, to have taken the communion in lamb's wool, (i. e. ale poured on roasted apples and sugar,) to which profanation Dryden alludes, with too much levity, in the second line above quoted. The circumstance is also mentioned in "Absalom's IX Worthies:"

Then prophane Nadab, that hates all sacred things,
And on that score abominateth kings;
With Mahomet wine he damneth, with intent
To erect his Paschal-lamb's-wool-sacrament.

Lord Howard was at length set at liberty from the Tower, upon finding bail, when he engaged under Shaftesbury, and ran into all the excesses of the party. Being deeply involved in the Rye-house Plot, he fled upon the discovery of that affair, and was detected in his shirt, covered with soot, in a chimney; a sordid place of concealment, which well suited the spirit of the man. A tory ballad-maker has the following strain of prophetic exultation on Howard's commitment:

Next valiant and noble Lord Howard,
That formerly dealt in lambs-wool;
Who knowing what it is to be towered,
By impeaching may fill the jails full.
The Conspiracy, or the Discovery of the Fanatic Plot.


Accustomed to tamper with evidence, Howard did not hesitate to contaminate the noblest name in England, by practising the meannesses and villainies he had taught to others. For the sake of his shameful life, he bore witness against Russel and Sidney to all he knew, and probably to a great deal more. The former had always hated and despised Howard, and had only been induced to tolerate his company by the persuasions of Essex: The recollection, that, by introducing his best friend to the contagion of such company, he had, in fact, prepared his ruin, was one of the reasons assigned for that unfortunate peer's remorse and suicide.

Note XXII.

Not bull-faced Jonas, who could statutes draw
To mean rebellion, and make treason law.—P. 234.

Sir William Jones was an excellent lawyer, and, in his private character, an upright, worthy, and virtuous man; in his religion he had some tendency to nonconformity, and his political principles were of the popular cast. He was the king's attorney-general, and as such conducted all the prosecutions against those concerned in the Popish plot. He was, or affected to be, so deeply infected by the epidemic terror excited by this supposed conspiracy, that he had all his billets removed from his cellar, lest the Papists should throw in fire-balls, and set his house on fire. He closed, nevertheless, with the court, in an attempt to prohibit coffee-houses, on account of the facility which they afforded in propagating faction and scandal; for this, he was threatened by the country party with an impeachment in parliament. Sir William Jones shortly after resigned his office under government, and went into open opposition. He distinguished himself particularly, by supporting the bill of exclusion, and by a violent speech in the Oxford parliament, on the subject of the clerk's mislaying the Bill for repealing the 35th of Elizabeth, an act against dissenters. He was on his legs, as the phrase is, in the same house, arguing vehemently on the subject of Fitzharris, when the Black Rod knocked at the door, to announce the sudden and unexpected dissolution of the parliament. A well written pamphlet, entitled, "Advice to Grand Juries," which appeared on the eve of the presentment against Shaftesbury, is said to have had some effect in producing the ignoramus verdict, on that bill.

Sir William Jones is said to have regretted the share he took in the prosecutions on account of the plot; which is extremely probable, as his excellent talents, and sound legal principles, could not fail, when clamour and alarm were over, to teach him how far he had been misled. His anxiety for the situation of the country[280] is supposed to have accelerated his death, which took place in 1682, at Mr Hampden's house, in Buckingham-shire.


Shimei, whose youth did early promise bring
Of zeal to God, and hatred to his king.—P. 235.

Slingsby Bethel was son of Sir Walter Bethel, knight, by Mary, daughter of Sir Henry Slingsby of Scriven, in Yorkshire, and sister to Sir Henry Slingsby, a steady loyalist, who was condemned by Cromwell's high court of justice, and beheaded on Towerhill in 1655. Bethel was early attached to the fanatical interest, both by religious and political tenets; he was even a member of the Committee of Safety. But he was a staunch republican, and no friend to the Protector; being, it is believed, the author of that famous treatise, entitled "The World's Mistake in Oliver Cromwell." He was elected sheriff, with Cornish, on Midsummer-day 1680, and the choice was, in many respects, disadvantageous to the popular party. In the first place, they were both Independents; and, before taking upon them their offices, they conformed, and took the sacrament according to the church of England's ritual. It was believed, that nothing but the necessity of qualifying themselves to serve their party in this office, could have prevailed on them to have done so, and this gave advantages against their whole party. Besides, Cornish was a downright, plain-spoken republican, and Bethel had expressed himself very bluntly in justification of the execution of Charles I.; and was, therefore, obnoxious to every slur which the royalists could bring against him, as ill-disposed to monarchy. Further still, Bethel's extreme and sordid meanness gave great disgust to the citizens, who were accustomed to consider the exercise of a splendid and ostentatious hospitality as the principal part of a sheriff's duty. He kept no table, lived in a chop-house, and, long afterwards, whoever neglected to entertain during his shrievalty, was said to "Bethel the city." Bethel is mentioned among the subjects of deprecation in "The Loyal Litany:"

From serving great Charles, as his father before;
And disinheriting York, without why or wherefore;
And from such as Absalom has been, or more;
Libera nos, &c.
From Vulcan's treasons, late forged by the fan;
From starving of mice to be parliament-man;
From his copper face, that out-face all things can;
Libera nos, &c.


These two sheriffs first set the example of packing juries, when persons were to be tried for party offences; for they took the task of settling the pannels for juries out of the Compters into their own hands, and left the secondaries of the Compters, who had usually discharged that duty, only to return the lists, thus previously made up. In Middlesex, they had the assistance of Goodenough, the under-sheriff, a bustling and active partizan, who very narrowly escaped being hanged for the Rye-house Plot. By this selection of jurymen, the sheriffs insured a certainty of casting such bills as might be presented to the Grand Jury against any of their partizans. This practice was so openly avowed, that Settle has ventured to make it a subject of eulogy:

Next Hethriel write Baal's watchful foe, and late
Jerusalem's protecting magistrate;
Who, when false jurors were to frenzy charmed,
And, against innocence, even tribunals armed,
Saw depraved justice ope her ravenous maw,
And timely broke her canine teeth of law.

The Earl of Shaftesbury himself reaped the advantage of this manœuvre; which, from the technical word employed in the return of these bills, was called Ignoramus. Stephen Colledge, the Protestant joiner, also experienced the benefit of a packed jury, though concerned in all the seditious practices of the time. He was afterwards tried, condemned, and executed at Oxford, where he was out of the magic circle of the sheriff's protection; and, though I believe the man deserved to die, he certainly at last met with hard measure. His death was supposed to have broke the talisman of Ignoramus, and was considered as a triumph by the Tories, who, for a long time, had been unable to persuade a jury to find for the king.[323] When Lord Stafford was most unjustly condemned, Bethel[282] and his brother sheriff affected a barbarous scruple, whether the king was entitled to commute the statutory punishment of high treason into simple decapitation. The House of Commons ordered that the king's writ be obeyed. This hard-hearted conduct was an indulgence of their republican humour. Shortly after, Mr Bethel was found guilty of a riot and assault upon one of the king's watermen at the election of members of parliament for Southwark, 5th October, 1681. This person being active in the poll, Mr Bethel caned him, and told him he would have his coat (the king's livery) stripped over his ears. For this he was fined five merks. Bethel, notwithstanding his violence, was so fortunate as to escape the business of the Rye-house Plot. His brother sheriff, Cornish, was not so fortunate: He was a plain republican, and highly esteemed by Lord Russell, for having treated with indifference the apprehension of the Tower firing on the city, saying, they could only demolish a few chimneys. He was executed as an accomplice in the Rye-house conspiracy, upon the evidence of that very Goodenough, who had been his tool in packing the illegal juries; so that his death seemed a retribution for dishonouring and perverting the course of justice. James II. was afterwards satisfied that Cornish had been unjustly executed, and restored his estate to his family.

Note XXIV.

Yet Corah, thou shalt from oblivion pass;
Erect thyself, thou monumental brass,
High as the serpent of thy metal made,
While nations stand secure beneath thy shade!—P. 236.

Titus Oates, once called and believed the Saviour of his country, was one of the most infamous villains whom history is obliged to record. He was the son of an anabaptist ribbon-weaver, received a tolerably good education, and, having taken orders, was preferred to a small vicarage in Kent. Here the future protestant witness was guilty of various irregularities, for which he was at length silenced by the bishop, and by the Duke of Norfolk deprived of his qualification as chaplain. At this pinching emergency he became a papist, either for bread, or, as he afterwards boasted, for the purpose of insinuating himself into the secrets of the Jesuits, and betraying them.[324]


The Jesuits setting little store by their proselyte, whose talents lay only in cunning and impudence, he skulked about St Omers and other foreign seminaries in a miserable condition. Undoubtedly he had then the opportunity of acquiring that list of names of the order of Jesus with which he graced his plot, and might perhaps hear something generally of the plans, which these intriguing churchmen hoped to carry through in England by means of the Duke of York. Of these, however, he must have had a very imperfect suspicion; for the scheme which is displayed in the letters of Coleman, the duke's secretary, does not at all quadrate with the doctor's pretended discovery. When confronted with Coleman, he did not even know him personally. When the king asked him about the personal appearance of Don John of Austria, he described him, at a venture, as a tall thin black man, being the usual Spanish figure and complexion; but, unfortunately, he was little, fair, and fat. In a word, it was impossible such a villain could have obtained a moment's credit, but for the discovery of Coleman's actual intrigues, the furious temper of the times, and the mysterious death of Sir Edmondbury Godfrey. On that last occasion he displayed much dexterity. There was some difficulty in managing the evidence, whether to bring the assassination to the conspiracy, or the conspiracy to the assassination; but Oates contrived the matter with such ingenuity, that the murder became a proof, and the plot became a proof of the murder, to the universal conviction of the public. As to Oates' other qualities, he was, like every renegade, a licentious scoffer at religion, and, in his manners, addicted, it is said, to the most foul and unnatural debaucheries. When we consider his acts and monuments, it is almost impossible to believe, how so base a tool should have ever obtained credit and opportunity to do such mighty mischief.[325]

As for his family, to which Dryden alludes a little below, "he would needs," says North, "be descended of some ancient and worshipful stock; but there were not so many noble families strove for him, as there were cities strove for the parentele of Homer.[284] However, the heralds were sent for, to make out his pedigree, and give him a blazon. They were posed at the first of these, but they made good the blazon for him in a trice, and delivered it authenticamente, and it was engraved on his table and other plate; for he was rich, set up for a solemn housekeeper, and lived up to his quality."[326]

Dryden compares Oates to the brazen serpent raised up in the wilderness, by looking on which, the Israelites were cured of the bites of the fiery snakes. Sprat had applied the same simile, in a favourable sense, to Oliver Cromwell:

Thou, as once the healing serpent rose,
Was lifted up, not for thyself, but us.

Note XXV.

Sunk were his eyes, his voice was harsh and loud;
Sure signs he neither choleric was, nor proud:
His long chin proved his wit; his saint-like grace
A church vermilion, and a Moses' face.—P. 236.

North has left us some specimens of Oates' peculiar mode of pronounciation. Bedloe, his brother-witness in the plot, had been taken ill at Bristol, and, on his death-bed, held some conference with the Lord Chief-Justice North, then upon a circuit, who took down his examination, concerning which numerous reports went forth. It proved, however, to be the same story he had formerly told. Even Dr Oates himself was disappointed; and was heard to say aloud, as the Lord Chief-Justice passed through the court on a council-day, at all which times he was a diligent attendant, "Maay Laird Chaife-Jaistaice, whay this baisness of Baidlaw caims to naithaing." But his Lordship walked on without attending to his discourse.[327]

In personal appearance North informs us, that "he was a low man, of an ill-cut very short neck; and his visage and features were most particular. His mouth was the centre of his face, and a compass there would sweep his nose, forehead, and chin, within the perimeter. Cave quos Deus ipse notavit."[328] An engraving of the doctor, now before me, bears witness to this last peculiarity, and does justice to the cherubic plenitude of countenance and chin mentioned in the text. It is drawn and engraved by Richard White, and bears to be "the true originall, taken from the life, done for Henry Brome and Richard Chiswel; all others are counterfeit."


As the doctor's portrait is not now quite so common as when the lady, mentioned in the Spectator, wore it upon her fan, gloves, and handkerchief, the curious reader may be pleased to be informed, that this "true original" is prefixed to "The Witch of Endor, or the Witchcrafts of the Roman Jezebel, by Titus Oates, D. D. folio 1679." It is dedicated to the Earl of Shaftesbury, &c.; "the Publisher's affectionate good friend, and singular good Lord."

Note XXVI.

And gave him his rabinical degree,
Unknown to foreign university.—P. 237.

Oates pretended to have taken his doctor's degree at Salamanca, where it is shrewdly suspected he never was; at least where he certainly never took orders. The Tory libels of the time contain innumerable girds concerning this degree. There is, in the Luttrel Collection, "An Address from Salamanca to her (unknown) offspring, Dr T. O." Dryden often alludes to the circumstance; thus, in the epilogue to "Mithridates," acted 1681-2,

Shall we take orders? that will parts require;
Our colleges give no degrees for hire.—
Would Salamanca were a little nigher!


And Corah might for Agag's murder call,
In terms as coarse as Samuel used to Saul.—P. 237.

In the first book of Samuel, chap. xv., the reader will find the reproaches with which that prophet loaded Saul, for sparing, contrary to God's commandment, Agag, king of the Amalekites; concluding with the awful denunciation, that for his disobedience the Lord had rejected him from being king over Israel.

Agag's murder is to be understood of the mysterious death of Sir Edmondbury Godfrey. This gentleman was an active justice of peace, and had been knighted by Charles II., on account of his exertions during the fire of London. In other respects, he was low-spirited, and rather a timorous man, and, in the exercise of his office, favourable to the Catholics. Oates, finding the information he had lodged with the ministers concerning the Popish plot rather less ardently listened to than he expected, chose to utter before this magistrate a full declaration on the subject upon oath. His intention was probably to make the matter as public as possible. Godfrey expressed much unwillingness to have any thing to do with the matter at all; and when he had heard the story out, expressed[286] to his friends his fear that he should have no thanks for his pains, but would probably be the first martyr. This strange, and one would think absurd, boding proved too true; after having been missing for several days, this unfortunate man was found lying in a ditch, near Primrose-hill. There were marks of strangling round his neck; and although his own sword was thrust through his body, yet it turned out to have been done after death. His money and rings were safe; robbery was therefore out of the question. This murder ever will remain among the riddles of history. Three opinions have been entertained: 1st, North does not hesitate to affirm, that the contrivers and abettors of the plot murdered this poor man, to give some colour to the story of the bloody machinations of the Papists: But this seems too strange and desperate a course to be imputed to the opposition party at large without some positive proof; and as for Oates and his brother witnesses, (whom we will not injure by suspecting them capable of remorseful, or compunctious visitings,) their steps were, at this time, too much the object of observation to admit of their executing so bloody a plan with the necessary degree of secrecy. 2d, It has been thought that Godfrey, a man of a melancholy temperament, whose dark and cloudy spirit had been just agitated by a strange tale of blood and mystery, may have been wrought up to take that time to commit suicide. It is even positively asserted, that he hanged himself at home, and that his brothers conveyed the body to the place where it was found, to avoid the shame and other consequences of his fate becoming public. There is something plausible in this account; but it is entirely unsupported by proof of any kind. 3d, The grand solution, and indeed the only one which would go down at the time, was, that Godfrey had fallen by the papists. There were probably enough of fanatics in that sect to have executed such a deed, had it been of consequence to the progress of their religion: But there appears no adequate motive for taking off Godfrey, who had merely taken down a deposition which he could not refuse to receive, and who had besides endeavoured to serve the accused parties, by transmitting to Coleman an account of the affidavit; while Oates and his companions, the depositaries of the supposed secret, and whose death would stifle the plot for ever, were suffered to walk about, even unattempted. Positive evidence was however obtained, to silence all hypothetical reasoning on the subject. One Bedlow, a very infamous character, amid a thousand dreadful stories of fires raised by the Jesuits from 1666 downwards, charged the Catholics, and particularly Miles Prance, a silver-smith, with the death of Godfrey[329]. This man was imprisoned in Newgate; and, after[287] much communing with Shaftesbury and Buckingham, in which, it is said, neither threats, promises, nor actual tortures were spared, confessed himself an accomplice in the murder.[330] He retracted this confession before the privy-council; but being remanded to prison, new terrors, promises, and sufferings, induced him to retract that retractation. His story was a tissue of improbabilities; and he and Bedlow, when adduced as evidence on the trial of three poor men, whom they charged with strangling Godfrey, concealing the body in Somerset-House, and afterwards disposing of it on Primrose-hill, contradicted each other, and contradicted themselves. All was in vain: the three innocent victims of perjury were condemned and executed, and the witnesses promoted and rewarded, not with money only, but, strange to say, with universal respect and regard; although their merit, supposing it to be real, was that of murderers and incendiaries, who had turned evidence for the crown against their accomplices.

The outcry raised about Godfrey's murder at the time, and for long after, gave the plot its surest foundation and support. When his funeral rites were performed, the crowd was prodigious, and the papists were sufficiently cautious to keep within doors, or some might have been offered up as an oblation to the manes of Justice Godfrey. While the clergyman preached the funeral sermon of the protestant victim, two robust divines stood by him in the pulpit, lest, while rendering this last duty to the murdered magistrate,[288] he should in facie ecclesiæ be murdered by the papists. At the formal pope-burnings of the party, Sir Edmondbury, supported on a steed by his murderers, was a principal figure in the procession, preceded by a harbinger, who rung a bell, and admonished the people to remember Justice Godfrey. In short, this unfortunate gentleman's death, however it came about, continued long to be the watch-word and war-cry of those, who called themselves the true protestant party.


The crowd, that still believe their kings oppress,
With lifted hands their young Messiah bless;
Who now begins his progress to ordain,
With chariots, horsemen, and a numerous train.—P. 239.

"In August, 1680, the Duke of Monmouth went into the country to divert himself, visiting several gentlemen in the west of England, by whom he was received and entertained with a gallantry suitable to the greatness of his birth, and the relation he stood in to his majesty; incredible numbers of people flocking from all the adjacent parts to see this great champion of the English nation, who had been so successful against both the Dutch, French, and Scots. He went first into Wiltshire, and was pleased to honour the worthy esquire Thynne with his company for some days. From thence he went to Mr Speak's, in Somersetshire, in which progress he was caressed with the joyful acclamations of the country people, who came from all parts; twenty miles about the lanes and hedges being every where lined with men, women, and children, who, with incessant shouts, cried, "God bless King Charles and the Protestant Duke!" In some towns and parishes which he passed through, they strewed the streets and highways where he was to pass with herbs and flowers, especially at Ilchester and Pithyton; others presenting him with bottles of wine. When he came within ten miles of Mr Speak's, he was met by two thousand persons on horseback, whose numbers still increased as they drew nearer to Mr Speak's, and when they arrived there, they were reputed to be twenty thousand; wherefore they were forced to break down several pearch of his park pales to enlarge their passage to the house, where his grace and all this numerous company were entertained and treated, in an extraordinary manner.

"On the 26th, he went to Brompton; being met on the road by a great company of gentry and country people, who conducted him to Sir J. Sydenham's, where he was entertained at a noble and splendid dinner. The next day he went to Barrington, where he was pleased to honour Mr William Stroud with his company at[289] dinner; the entertainment being nothing inferior to what his Grace had met with in all other places. After dinner he went to Chard, where he arrived about five in the afternoon, attended with a train of five thousand horsemen; and there he was met and welcomed by a crowd of men, women, and children, who had not a mute among them, but were almost all of them made deaf by their own shouts and acclamations of joy. His Grace lay there that night, being treated at a very splendid supper; he lodged at the house of M. Prideaux.[331] The next day, having been entertained at a sumptuous dinner, he rid to Ilminster, and in the afternoon he went to Whitelackindon, where he lay that night; and the day following, which was Sunday, his grace observed the Sabbath with a religious care, and went to Ilminster church. On the 30th, he went to Calliton, where he was entertained by Sir Walter Young. The next day he went to Overton, where he was entertained, and lodged by Mr Dukes. From thence he went to Exeter, and was met by the citizens and the people of all the adjacent parts, to the number of twenty thousand persons; but that which was more remarkable, was the appearance of a brave company of brisk, stout young men, all clothed in linen waistcoats and drawers, white, and harmless, having not so much as a stick in their hands; they were in number about nine hundred or a thousand; they went three miles out of the city to meet his Grace, where they were drawn up all on a little hill, and divided into two parts, in which order they attended the Duke's coming, who rid up first between them, and then round each company; after which they united, and went hand in hand in order before, where he was no sooner arrived, but a universal shout from all parts echoed forth his welcome; the numerous concourse of people, the incredible and amazing acclamations, and the universal joy which then filled the whole city, far exceeding my pen to describe.[332]

"From thence he returned to Mr Speake's, where the whole country flocked again to see and admire him, not being enough satisfied with their former sight. From thence he went the next day to Mr Harvie's, near Yeovil, where he dined, and in the afternoon [290]he rid to Esquire Thynne's; people flocking from all the towns and villages thereabout to Howden-hill, where they attended the Duke's coming; and after they had, by loud acclamations, proclaimed his welcome amongst them, and expressed their joy for his safe return, they took their leave of him, returning his Grace their humble and hearty thanks for that kind visit, and for his having condescended to accept of their plain, but true-hearted entertainment. From thence he returned to London, wonderfully pleased with the noble and generous entertainment he met with at the several places where he came; every place striving to out-vye each other."[333]

At Tunbridge Wells. "Abundance of country people rudely crowded, after their rustic manner, to see the eldest son of their king and sovereign, every one extolling him to the skies, crying to one another, 'O what a brave man he is!' Some admired the beauty and make of his person; some the majesty and port of his carriage; and others, who had seen the king, the exact resemblance he bare to his majesty; affirming, they never, in all their lives, saw a son resemble a father more than the duke did the king; but all admired his affable and courteous disposition."[334]

These assemblies were chiefly made under pretence of cock-matches, horse-races, and other popular amusements; pretexts the more dangerous, as they were the well-known signals of rendezvous at which the cavaliers were wont to concert their plots against Cromwell. See the tract called "Killing no Murder." Foot races, wrestling matches, and other country pastimes, were also resorted to as an ostensible cause of meeting. These gave Monmouth an opportunity to display his personal agility and liberality. He wrestled, he ran, and carried off the prize, in both exercises; he then ran in his boots against the peasants in their shoes, and still obtained the victory. The prizes which he gained were freely distributed among his competitors. All these arts of popularity became the derision of his enemies, when he was forced into exile; as, for example, in the following verses:

Monmouth, for wit, who was able
To make to a crown a pretence;
The head and the hope of the rabble,
A loyal and politic prince:
But now he's gone into Holland
To be a king of no land,
Or else must be monarch of Poland;
Was ever son so loyal as he?
Was ever son so loyal as he?
Lord Gray, and Armstrong the bully,
That prudent and politic knight,
Who made of his grace such a cully,
Together have taken their flight,
Is this your races, horse-matches,
His grace's swift dispatches,
From shire to shire,
Under the hatches?
Now above deck you dare not appear.
The Conspiracy, or the Discovery of the Fanatic Plot.

These ostentatious progresses were devised by Shaftesbury, as a mode of manifesting the strength of Monmouth's party, and increasing his partizans and popularity. Among the higher ranks, they carried an air of defiance which rather hurt his cause; for reflecting and cautious men were slow to join in what seemed to be a preliminary for civil war. It was different with the lower orders, who, always biassed by what is more immediately addressed to their eye-sight, were led by these showy processions, and by the courtesy, activity, and fine presence of Monmouth, to doat on him to an incredible degree. Not only did the western peasantry, on his landing in 1685, crowd to join him in multitudes beyond what he could arm, but their attachment survived even his defeat and death; and they long believed, with fond credulity, that another person had been executed in his stead, and that their beloved protestant prince was still alive.

The arts of Absalom, in stealing the hearts of Israel from his father, form an exact parallel to the language which Dryden puts in the mouth of Monmouth.

"And it came to pass after this, that Absalom prepared him chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him. And Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the gate: and it was so, that when any man that had a controversy came to the king for judgment, then Absalom called unto him, and said, Of what city art thou? And he said, Thy servant is one of the tribes of Israel. And Absalom said unto him, See, thy matters are good and right; but there is no man deputed of the king to hear thee. Absalom said moreover, Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man, which hath any suit or cause, might come unto me, and I would do him justice! And it was so, that when any man came nigh unto him to do him obeisance, he put forth his hand, and took him, and kissed him. And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel, that came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel." 2d Sam. chap. xv. v. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.


Note XXX.

But hospitable treats did most commend
Wise Issachar, his western wealthy friend.—P. 239.

Thomas Thynne, esquire, of Longleat-hall, called, from his great wealth, Tom of Ten Thousand. He had been formerly a friend of the Duke of York, but, upon some quarrel between them, he attached himself warmly to Monmouth. Mr Thynne was one of those gentlemen, who petitioned for the speedy meeting of parliament, after it was prorogued in 1679, on account of the heat with which the house pursued the Exclusion Bill. The king received the intimation very ill; told Mr Thynne, he was surprised at persons of property countenancing such proceedings, and that he wished they would mind their own affairs, and leave him to attend to his. When Monmouth made his progress through the west of England, as mentioned in the last note, Mr Thynne received him at his country-seat with all the splendour and liberality of ancient English hospitality. This gentleman's tragical fate is well known. He was married to the Lady Ogle, sole heiress of the Northumberland estate; but, his bride going abroad, the marriage was never consummated. Count Konigsmark met the lady, fell in love with her person, or with her fortune, and could see no better road to both than by assassinating her husband. Accordingly, three foreigners, hired by the count, or dependents upon him, waylaid Mr Thynne's carriage, as it passed through Pall-Mall, and shot him with a blunderbuss, in the manner represented on his tombstone in Westminster Abbey.[335] The Duke of Monmouth had left the carriage about an hour before the murder; and sir John Reresby received the thanks of the king for his activity in apprehending the assassins, without which, suspicions might have arisen that the attempt was intended against Monmouth by the court party.[336] Monmouth himself remained all night with his dying [293]friend, and distinguished himself by his zeal and assiduity in furthering the search after the murderers. At length, Count Konigsmark was taken by Gibbons, one of Monmouth's attendants, who seized him, as he was going on ship-board. When apprehended, Gibbons charged him with the fact, and added, that he had like to have killed his master, the Duke of Monmouth; to which the Count answered, "they would not have killed him." The three actual assassins were condemned to death; but, by some foul play,[337] Konigsmark, who had employed them, and who came over to England expressly to see that they executed their bloody commission, was acquitted. Monmouth went to see these subaltern villains executed. Stern, at the gallows, complained that he died for a man's fortune whom he never spoke to, for a woman whom he never saw, for a dead man whom he never had a view of. True Narrative of the Horrid Plot, &c. fol. 1679. p. 64. State Trials, Vol. II. p. 503.

Note XXXI.

———Good King David's life,
Endangered by a brother and a wife.—P. 239.

The accusations against York and the Queen were no part of Oate's original plot. On the contrary, in the summary of his "True Narrative," he informs us, that the "Royal family of the Stuarts are condemned to be cut off, root and branch, and namely, the King, Duke of York, and Prince of Orange, because that family have not answered their expectation, nor have they any hopes that any of them will comply fully with this their bloody design, when fully discovered to them." And on the next page, it is again affirmed, that notwithstanding the Duke of York's zeal for the Catholic religion, "they design to dispose of him as is aforesaid." But when the public belief in the plot had taken root, and Shaftesbury had grafted upon it his doctrine of exclusion, Oates, by degrees,[294] charged the Duke, first with being the innocent and blind tool of the Catholics whom they intended to succeed his brother, though he knew nothing of their designs; and finally, with being at the very depth of all the villainy, and the immediate author of the Fire of London. As for the queen, her barrenness was a reason, for all the exclusionists desiring she should be removed, that the king might have a chance of legitimate issue, to the exclusion of the Duke of York. Animated by a belief, that this would be agreeable to the king, Oates had the boldness, at the bar of the House of Commons, to utter these words, in his affected phraseology, "Aye, Taitus Oates, accause Catherine, Quean of England, of haigh traison!" The grounds of his accusation are stated in the trial of Wakeman, the queen's physician, who, he alleged, was bribed with 15,000l to poison the king, in case he should escape the poniard of a Jesuit, named Coniers, and the pistols of Pickering and Groves. Oates then swore, that three Jesuits carried him with them to Somerset-house, where they were summoned to attend the Queen; that he remained in an anti-chamber when they were ushered into her presence; that he heard a female voice say, she would assist Sir George Wakeman in his project, and would no longer bear these repeated violations of her bed. When the fathers came out, he desired to see the queen, and when admitted into the anti-chamber, whence the female voice had proceeded, he saw the queen, who smiled graciously on him, and there was no other woman present. These impudent stories, with some blunders into which the best-breathed witness may fall, saved Wakeman's life.

The King immediately saw the tendency of this charge, and observed, "They think I have a mind for a new wife; but for all that, I will not see an innocent woman abused;" and certainly, had he given way to it, the Queen would have been in great danger.


In this short file Barzillai first appears,
Barzillai, crowned with honour and with years;
Long since the rising rebels he withstood,
In regions waste, beyond the Jordan's flood, &c.
P. 241.

James Butler, Duke, Marquis, and Earl of Ormond, Earl of Ossory and Brecknock, &c. &c. was as illustrious for his talents, as for his rank, and distinguished by virtues superior to both. In the difficult and dangerous situation of Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, he had to maintain the cause of Charles I. in that kingdom, with very slender means, at once against the confederated Irish Catholics,[295] and the parliamentary forces, the more formidable, though less numerous, enemies of the royal cause. In 1649, he was able, through consummate skill, both as a politician and general, to boast that he had reduced almost all Ireland under the royal authority, excepting the cities of Dublin and Londonderry. But Cromwell's arrival, with 8000 disciplined and veteran forces, effectually changed the scene. His first exploit was the storm of Tredagh, or Drogheda, where the besiegers put the whole garrison to the sword, and committed the most dreadful excesses of barbarity. After this terrible example of severity, hardly any of the royal garrisons could be prevailed on to make such a defence, as might expose them to the same extremity. Wexford, and New Ross, both very strong places, surrendered without a blow; all the forces under Lord Inchiquin revolted to the side of the parliament; and, at length, in 1650, Ormond saw himself under the necessity of abandoning the kingdom, which he had so long and valiantly defended. From Ireland he retreated to France, and accompanied King Charles during his exile. He was much trusted by that prince; and was charged with the task of withdrawing the Duke of Gloucester from the family of the queen mother, Henrietta, who was making every possible attempt to induce him to change his religion. This delicate commission he executed with dexterity and success. He had afterwards the satisfaction to forward a reconciliation between the king and his mother, who had been on bad terms on account of the queen's imprudent interference with her son's religious tenets. At the Restoration, the Marquis of Ormond, for such was then his title, was liberally rewarded, in lands and honours, for his steady attachment to the royal party. He was created Duke of Ormond in Ireland, and appointed steward of the household, groom of the stole, and privy counsellor for the three kingdoms. In 1661, he was made Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. As the duke was a steady friend of the great Clarendon, his services, and faithful zeal for the king's real interests, did not prevent his sharing in the disgrace of the chancellor. He had quarrelled with Lady Castlemaine, then the favourite mistress, who gave vent to her rage in the most abusive reproaches, and finally told the duke, she hoped to see him hanged; to which he made the memorable reply, that, far from wishing her ladyship's days shortened in return, his greatest desire was to see her grow old. When Clarendon was banished, the prevailing party, and especially the Duke of Buckingham, entertained a design of impeaching the Duke of Ormond, and succeeded so far as to deprive him of the lieutenancy of Ireland. The profligate Buckingham agitated a still darker project, and is supposed to have hired the famous Blood to attempt the assassination of his rival, in which the ruffian had nearly succeeded. When Blood was afterwards taken in his attempt to steal the regalia, the king[296] being desirous to spare his life, sent to Ormond to intimate his wish, that his grace would consent to the proposed pardon. Ormond nobly answered, if his majesty could forgive him the stealing of his crown, he might easily pardon the assault on his life. The gallant Earl of Ossery,[338] who guessed whence the attempt originally proceeded, seeing the Duke of Buckingham shortly afterwards in the presence, charged him with being the author of the intended assassination; and added, "if his father came to a violent end, he should be at no loss to know the author, should consider Buckingham as the murderer, and pistol him, if he stood behind the king's chair: this" he boldly added, "I tell you in the king's presence, that you may be sure I shall keep my word." It does not appear that this spirited speech met either a retort from Buckingham, or a check from the king. Although the Duke of Ormond escaped the more open, as well as the more secret practices of his enemies, he experienced much coldness from the king, partly on account of his disliking the French intrigues, and partly because he disdained to pay court to the royal mistresses. Yet he would not throw up the staff, which he held as lord-steward of the household, but continued his attendance on court with as much punctuality as if in the highest favour. This mode of conduct greatly embarrassed the good-natured, though unprincipled Charles, to whom Ormond's silent and unreproachful attentions were the most cutting memento of his own ingratitude. On one occasion, the king appeared so much confused, that the Duke of Buckingham asked him, whether he had lost the Duke of Ormond's favour, or Ormond had lost his, since, of the two, his majesty seemed most out of countenance?—In this neglected situation, the duke used good-humouredly to compare himself to an old neglected rusty clock; "yet, even that," said he, "points right once in the twelve hours, and so perhaps may I." On another occasion, when Colonel Cary Dillon pressed him for his interest with the king, and said, he had no friend at court, save God and his grace,—"Alas! poor Cary," said the duke, "thou couldst not have two friends who have so little influence there, and are so much neglected." During all the king's coldness, the duke never altered his political principles, although Charles carried his estrangement to the pitch of not even speaking to him. His opinion of Shaftesbury, and his party, may be learned from an incident which happened during his disgrace at court. "The day that the Earl of Shatesbury was declared lord-chancellor, the king broke through his ordinary rule (of not addressing the duke) and either[297] in doubt about the wisdom of the step he had taken, or out of curiosity to know the Duke of Ormond's sentiments of it, went up to him, and, taking him aside to a window, asked what he thought of his giving the seals to Lord Shaftesbury, whether he had done prudently or not? His grace replied, you have doubtless acted very prudently in so doing, if you know how to get them from him again." Carte, Vol. II. p. 462. At length, after the duke had attended court for a year without receiving a civil word from his sovereign, he suddenly received a message, that the king meant to sup with him. At the entertainment, no word of explanation took place, although the ancient cordiality between the king and his subject seemed to be fully restored. The next day, when the duke came to the court, as usual, the king observed, "Yonder comes Ormond; I have done all I can to disoblige him, and render him as discontented as others; but he will be loyal in spite of my teeth: I must even take him in again, as the fittest man to govern Ireland." Accordingly, the duke was restored to his office of lord-lieutenant in 1677.

He held this high situation during the ferment occasioned by the Popish plot; and although, according to Oates and Bedloe's information, one branch of that conspiracy was the murder of the duke, yet he did not escape suspicion of being accessary to it any more than the king, who was in the same predicament. Lord Shaftesbury, in the parliament of 1679, insinuated an accusation against the duke, on account of the alleged favour he shewed to Papists. From this charge he was vindicated by the Earl of Ossory, with an uncommon degree of spirited eloquence. Alter pleading his father's services against the Roman Catholic rebels, the danger of assassination from them which he had repeatedly escaped, and the active share he had in preventing the perversion of the Duke of Gloucester from the Protestant faith, he thus retorted upon Shaftesbury; "Having spoke of what he has done, I presume with the same truth to tell your lordship what he has not done. He never advised the breaking the triple league; he never advised the shutting up of the exchequer; he never advised the declaration for a toleration; he never advised the falling out with the Dutch, and the joining with France; he was not the author of that most excellent position, Delenda est Carthago; that Holland, a Protestant country, should, contrary to the true interest of England, be totally destroyed. I beg your lordship will be so just, as to judge of my father, and of all men, according to their actions and counsels."[339] Shaftesbury, abashed at this summary of his former political conduct, so different from that he was now pursuing, retracted[298] his accusation with some symptoms of confusion. It remained, however, a capital object with the Whigs, to remove, if possible, the Duke of Ormond from the management of Ireland, at least to put in such a council as should trammel his measures. The King's firmness disconcerted both these plans. At the momentous period when Shaftesbury was committed to the Tower, the Duke of Ormond was sent for to England, that his presence might add respectability and weight to the king's councils. He entered the city with great pomp; and was every where received with the veneration due to his rank, his age, and his services. He had never linked himself to any political faction; contented to serve the crown upon the old cavalier principles, which he always asserted. He was thought, however, to go too great lengths in advising the king to maintain his authority by harsh measures; nor were his experience and authority sufficient to prevent much confused jarring in the king's councils, betwixt Halifax, who was for holding the scales even between the factions, and the high-flying Tories, who were posting towards arbitrary power. Yet, as a steady supporter of the interests of the crown, particularly in the course of the city elections, he deserved the honour which Dryden has assigned him, of standing the first in the file of the king's friends.

The King was pleased to reward the services of Ormond by giving him the rank of an English Duke, in 1682. After having been so long threatened with removal, as a favourer of the Papists, he was actually deprived of the lieutenancy of Ireland, in 1684, for not being disposed to second James II. in the countenance which he meant to afford that sect. The great Duke of Ormond, to which epithet he has a just title, died on the 21 July, 1688, without witnessing the second banishment of the house of Stewart.

This great statesman was a particular patron of Dryden, as is evident from the dedication of "Plutarch's Lives;" where our author again expresses his respect for the father, and his regret for the son. After the death of both, our poet continued to enjoy the countenance of their successor, James, second Duke of Ormond, son of the gallant Ossory, to whom he has dedicated the Fables.


His bed could once a fruitful issue boast;
Now more than half a father's name is lost.
His eldest hope, with every grace adorned,
By me, so heaven will have it, always mourned,
And always honoured, snatched, in manhood's prime,
By unequal fates, and providence's crime.—P. 242.

The Duke of Ormond had eight sons, and two daughters. Six of those sons were dead in 1681, when this poem was published.[299] He, over whom Dryden pours forth this lamentation, was the gallant Thomas, Earl of Ossory, whom, in the last note, we have exhibited as the guardian of his father's life and reputation. At the age of twenty-one, his external appearance and accomplishments are thus described by one who knew him well:[340] "He is a young man, with a very handsome face, a good head of hair, a pretty big voice, well set, and a good round leg. He pleaseth me exceedingly; being very good-natured, asking many questions, and humouring the answers. He rides the great horse very well, is a good tennis player, fencer, and dancer. He understands music, and plays on the guittar and lute; speaks French eloquently, reads Italian fluently; is a good historian, and so well versed in romances, that, if a gallery be full of pictures, or hangings, he will tell the story of all that are there described. He shuts up his door at eight o'clock in the evening, and studies till midnight. He is temperate, courteous, and excellent in all his behaviour." When the Duke of Ormond went into exile, his son was imprisoned by Cromwell, but, being afterwards released, he went abroad. In 1659, he married the daughter of Beverwaert, governor of Sluys, a leading man in the States-General. Upon the Restoration, he was promoted in the army, which did not prevent his exerting his gallantry on another element; for, during the desperate action of four days in 1666, upon hearing the sound of the cannon, he contrived to get off from Harwich, and to get on board the Duke of Albemarle, to whom he brought the first news, that Prince Rupert was recalled to support him. He distinguished himself by his bravery during the battle in Southwold Bay, and by his liberality to the wounded seamen after the action. In 1673 he was made rear-admiral of the blue squadron; and, in the great battle in which Sir Edward Spragge was killed, he lay by to defend and bring off that admiral's disabled vessel. He is said to have formed a plan for revenging the surprise at Chatham, by a descent at Helvoetsluys; when he averred he would burn the Royal Charles, which the Dutch preserved as a trophy, and the whole Dutch fleet, with a half-penny candle, or consent, in case of failure, that his head should be placed beside Cromwell's on Westminster-Hall. But the scheme was not attempted; being prevented, it is said, by the envious interposition of Buckingham. In November 1674, the Earl of Ossory had the honour to be intrusted with the charge of arranging the match between the Prince of Orange and the Lady Mary. He served under the prince against the French with great credit, particularly in the famous battle of Mons, fought 1678, where, with the British[300] regiments under his command, he executed with glory the desperate service of beating the French out of their entrenchments. In April 1680, he was designed Governor of Tangiers, an appointment with which he was highly pleased; for his courage, being of a romantic and wild nature, delighted in the prospect of being opposed to such uncommon adversaries as the Moors. But, while he was busily preparing for his departure, he was seized with a malignant fever, during the delirium of which his mind was observed constantly to be occupied with his intended exploits against the besiegers of Tangiers.[341] He died on the 30th July, 1680, aged forty-six years. The lamentation for his loss was general and excessive; the noble reply of his venerable father, to those who offered him consolation, is well known: "Since he had borne the death of his king, he could support," he said, "that of his child; and would rather have his dead son, than any living son in Christendom."

The Earl of Ossory was a patron of learning; and was mourned, both in verse and prose, by many other writers, as well as Dryden. Settle, who then seems to have been in the Tory interest, published a heroic poem on his death. Flatman wrote a pindaric ode on the same occasion; for which he received, from the Duke of Ormond, a diamond ring of 100 guineas value.—See WOOD'S Athenæ Oxon. There is another ode written by K. C., perhaps Katherine Cockburn; finally, one bard, resolving to amuse the nation's mourning by his own, dedicates to Ossory's memory some exquisite stanzas, beginning thus: "Upon the Earl of Ossory, who died of a fever, 30th July, 1680."

The best sized pillar of the fairest pile,
That has of late been built on Ireland's isle,
Is fallen; some were too short, others too long,
Some are too old, and others much too young.
—   —   —   —   —   —   —
Who knew him well, could not believe that ever
He meant to die thus tamely of a fever.


After lamenting, in similar strains, that the subject of his muse had not

————fallen down a scaling ladder;
First by grenadoes rent, or, what is sadder,
Some royal ship his coffin should have been;

he complains, "weeps, and frets," that

————the king, the nation,
Ireland, his house, and the whole confederation
Of worthy men, his children, and his wife,
Were all trepanned and cozen'd of his life;
For he (who fire and hail was proof) with ice
Was burned, and with a peach shot in a trice.

It is curious, and not quite useless, to see how admirably such a poet can succeed in turning into farce the most lofty subject.


Zadoc the priest, whom, shunning power and place,
His lowly mind advanced to David's grace.—P. 243.

Sancroft, Archbishop of Canterbury, was, in principle and practice, a rigid high-church man. He even harboured notions favourable to the celibacy of the clergy, and other ascetic doctrines of the church of Rome. Burnet says, "that he was a man of solemn deportment, sullen gravity, and some learning." He made profession of the old cavalier faith and principles of loyalty, which rendered him acceptable to the court and the high-church party in general, although his temper was austere and reserved, and his manners dry and distant. Yet the Archbishop, though so harshly described by his brother of Sarum, displayed, on one urgent occasion, a becoming readiness to assert the doctrine of the church of England against those of Rome; and on another, the steadiness of his own political principles, although his adherence, in both instances, exposed him to persecution from those in power. While the head of the high-church party, this primate was the first to encourage the bishops and clergy to a refusal to read the king's declaration of indulgence; he concerted also, and signed the memorable petition, for which, with six other prelates, he suffered imprisonment and trial, by one of the most imprudent exertions of power which an infatuated monarch ever attempted. On the 16th of July, 1688, this primate recommended a set of articles to the bishops within his metropolitan jurisdiction, inculcating residence and attention to parochial duties; but especially, that the clergy should take heed of Romish emissaries, who, like the old serpent, insidiantur calcaneo, and besiege the beds of dying persons, to unsettle their faith. He also recommends a tender regard[302] to their "brethren, the protestant dissenters," and an union with them against the church of Rome. At the Revolution, the Archbishop was one of those privy counsellors who invited the Prince of Orange to take charge of the government; but as his principles did not permit him to accede to any step for removing King James from the throne, he declined sitting in the Convention of the estates. In conformity to the same principles, he refused to take the oaths of allegiance to the Revolution government; and was, in consequence, first suspended, and finally deprived of his dignity, in which he was succeeded by the famous Tillotson. He was regarded by the high-church party as a confessor, if not a martyr, for the doctrine of passive obedience. Sancroft died in 1693.

Note XXXV.

With him the Sagan of Jerusalem,
Of hospitable soul, and noble stem.—P. 243.

Compton, Bishop of London, was youngest son of the late, and brother to the then Earl of Northampton. He had been a soldier until he was thirty and upwards, when he exchanged the sword for the gown. He is said by Burnet to have been a great hater of Popery, and exact in performing the duties of his diocese; but unlearned, weak, and wilful. He was a high-church man, and held some reputation in the party, from his personal rank, and the dignity of his situation. In other respects, the bishop seems to have been good-tempered and hospitable, but much at the devotion of the Earl of Danby, who had early assisted him with his patronage. Although the Duke of York hated Compton, yet the charge of the education of the Princesses Mary and Anne devolved upon him. In the reign of James II., he distinguished himself in the House of Peers, by a severe rebuff to the insolence of Jefferies, the Chancellor. Soon after, the Bishop was cited before the illegal court, called the Ecclesiastical Commission, to answer for having refused to obey the king's command, by suspending Sharpe, a clergyman, who had preached a sermon against Popery. He requested a copy of their commission; but Jefferies, with his usual violence, told him, he might have it for a penny in any coffeehouse, and he might believe, in the mean while, that they were not such fools as to sit there without an effectual one. After some delay, he was suspended from his function, until the news of the Prince of Orange's intended expedition, when his suspension was removed. The credit which the bishop acquired by this persecution, amounted to what Mulgrave called a "reverential popularity, which," his lordship adds, "he of all the bishops would have found it most difficult to have acquired otherwise."[303] This led to the Bishop of London playing what, considering his age and situation, was rather a remarkable part in the Revolution; when Prince George of Denmark went over to the Prince of Orange, and the princess, his wife, afterwards Queen Anne, either fearing the resentment of her father, or determined by the councils of Lady Churchill, (afterwards the famous Duchess of Marlborough,) resolved to leave Whitehall, and abandon her father's party. The Bishop acted as her escort on this occasion; and, the time and circumstances reviving his military habits, he rode before her coach to Northampton, with pistols at his saddle, and a drawn sword in his hand. It may easily be believed, that Dryden did not greatly approve of this last exploit of his hospitable and noble Sagan; and he has left a pretty strong testimony of his latter opinion, if the verses called "Suum Cuique" are really written by him:

I should admit the booted prelate now,
But he is even for lampoon too low;
The scum and outcast of a royal race,
The nation's grievance, and the gown's disgrace.
None so unlearned did e'er at London sit;
This driveller does the holy chair b——.
I need not brand the spiritual parricide,
Nor draw the weapon dangling by his side;
The astonished world remembers that offence,
And knows he stole the daughter of his prince.
'Tis time enough, in some succeeding age,
To bring this mitred captain on the stage.


Him of the western dome, whose weighty sense
Flows in fit words, and heavenly eloquence.—P. 243.

Dolben, Bishop of Rochester, and Dean of Westminster, had borne arms in his youth for Charles I., who made him a major. He was, according to Burnet, an excellent preacher, but a man of more spirit than discretion, and imprudent in his behaviour. He is unanimously allowed to have been a good-natured easy man, of most amiable manners. In 1683, he was promoted to the see of York, and made a very good archbishop. Dolben died in 1686.

Settle attempts to droll upon the praises bestowed by Dryden on these three bishops, and assures us,

Not David's lyre could more his touch obey;
As their princes breathe and strike, they play.
{  'Gainst royal will they never can dispute;
{  But, by a strange tarantula struck mute,
{  Dance to no other tune but absolute:
Besides, they've sense of honour and who knows
How far the gratitude of priestcraft goes?
—   —   —   —   —   —   —
And what if now, like old Elisha fed,
To praise the sooty bird that brought them bread,
In pure acknowledgment, though in despite
Of their own sense, they paint the raven white?
Absalom Senior.


Sharp-judging Adriel, the muses friend,
Himself a muse.—P. 243.

Adriel is the Earl of Mulgrave, afterwards Marquis of Normanby and Duke of Buckingham. He was one of Dryden's most early and effectual patrons. The "Essay upon Satire" was their joint composition, and Dryden inscribed to him his play of "Aureng-Zebe." The praise bestowed by Dryden is, as usual, discriminating and appropriate. Mulgrave exhibits his "sharp judgement" in his "Essay on Poetry," which contains some good critical remarks; but of his lordship's poetical talents we have spoken sufficiently elsewhere.[342] His political principles were those of a staunch Tory, which he maintained through his whole life; and was zealous for the royal prerogative, although he had no small reason to complain of Charles II., who, to avenge himself of Mulgrave, for a supposed attachment to the Princess Anne, sent him to Tangiers, at the head of some troops, in a leaky vessel, which it was supposed must have perished in the voyage. Though Mulgrave was apprized of the danger, he scorned to shun it; and the Earl of Plymouth, a favourite son of the king, generously insisted upon sharing it along with him. This ungenerous attempt to destroy him, in the very act of performing his duty, with the refusal of a regiment, made a temporary change in Mulgrave's conduct. He connected himself for a time with the country party;[343] but he [305]soon returned to his original principles, and continued steadily to support the court during the progress of the Exclusion Bill, and in all the stormy debates of the troubled period to which Dryden's poem refers. Yet he evinced, that he was not a "slave of state;" for, although James II. made him Lord High Chamberlain, he withstood all the measures which that ill-advised prince adopted in behalf of the Catholic religion. He silenced a priest, who was labouring for his conversion, and had begun with the doctrine of transubstantiation, by the famous repartee, that "though he believed God made man, he could not believe that man was quits by making God in return." But he stood gallantly by King James to the very last, and had the courage to insist upon the council taking measures for the safety of that unfortunate monarch's person, when, after his first flight, he was seized by the sailors at Feversham.

Dryden says, Adriel was adorned with the "honours torn from his disobedient son;" because, when Monmouth was deprived of the government of Hull and lieutenancy of Yorkshire, the king conferred them upon the Earl of Mulgrave.


Jotham, of piercing wit, and pregnant thought,
Endued by nature, and by learning taught,
To move assemblies, who but only tried
The worse awhile, then chose the better side:
Nor chose alone, but turned the balance too;
So much the weight of one brave man, can do.—P. 243.

Sir George Saville, Viscount, Earl, and at length Marquis of Halifax, was the prime minister of Charles during the last years of his reign. He was a man of fine genius and lively imagination; but, as a politician, was guided rather by a desire to display the full extent of artful and nice management of parties, than by any steady or consistent principle of his own. He was at the head of the small party called Trimmers, who affected a sort of neutrality between the Whig and Tory factions, and were, of course, suspected and hated by both. He originally made a figure in opposition to the court, particularly upon the great debates concerning the test, which he keenly opposed. He voted at first for the bill of Exclusion; and used the jocular argument against hereditary government, that no man would chuse a man to drive his carriage, merely because his father had been a good coachman. But when that great question came finally to be debated in the House of Lords, on the 15th November, 1680, Halifax had changed his opinion; and he even conducted the opposition to the bill, and displayed an extent of capacity and eloquence, equally astonishing to friends[306] and foes, and which, perhaps, never was surpassed in that assembly. Even Shaftesbury sank before this versatile orator; and there seems little doubt, that his eloquence had a great effect in deciding the issue of that day's famous debate, by which the Exclusion Bill was thrown out for ever. The House of Commons was so much incensed against Halifax, that they voted an address for his removal from the king's councils. The king, however, found his own advantage in the fine and balancing policy of Halifax; and, far from consenting to his disgrace, promoted him to the rank of Marquis, and office of Privy Seal, which was hardly more displeasing to the Whigs than to the Duke of York. To the over-bearing measures of this prince, Halifax was secretly a determined opponent; it was his uniform object to detach Monmouth so far from the violent councils and party of Shaftesbury, that the interest which he still retained in the king's affections might be employed as a counterbalance to that of his brother. He prevailed upon the king to see Monmouth, after the discovery of the Rye-house Plot; and, had the duke then proved more practicable, it is possible, that, backed with the interest of Halifax, he might have regained his place in the king's favour. Upon this occasion, the Duke of York was not consulted, and made open show of his displeasure. Indeed Halifax told Sir John Reresby, that the Duke would never forgive him.[344] It is even said, that, immediately before the death of Charles, there was a scheme in agitation, under the management of Halifax, for recalling Monmouth, sending York to Scotland, calling a parliament, and totally changing the violent measures of the last two years.[345] If so, it was prevented by the king's sudden death, and left Halifax exposed to the resentment of his successor. For some time, James, in consideration of his great services during the dependence of the Bill of Exclusion, treated him with seeming confidence; but finding him unwilling to go the lengths he proposed in religious matters, and particularly in the proposed repeal of the test acts, he was totally disgraced. Alter this period, the Marquis of Halifax engaged with those lords who invited over the Prince of Orange; and joined so cordially in the Revolution, that he was made Keeper of the Seals by King William. He died in April 1695.

Amidst the various political changes of this thorough-paced statesman, it ought not to be forgotten, that, though he sided with the court during the last years of King Charles, his councils were a salutary check on the arbitrary measures urged by the Duke of York; and that he probably merited the praise, which Dryden elsewhere bestows on him, "of preventing a civil war, and extinguishing a growing fire, which was just ready to have broken forth."[346]



Hushai, the friend of David in distress;
In public storms, of manly stedfastness;
By foreign treaties he informed his youth,
And joined experience to his native truth.—P. 244.

Laurence Hyde, second son to the great Earl of Clarendon, created Earl of Rochester by Charles II. Even after his father's fall, he contrived to retain the confidence of Charles, and in 1676 was employed on an embassy to Poland. He was also one of the plenipotentiaries at the treaty of Nimeguen, and for some time ambassador in Holland; to which diplomatic situations Dryden alludes in the text. He was named one of the commissioners of the treasury in 1679, and had very considerable influence, by which the poet reaped some advantage; for, notwithstanding the exhausted state of the exchequer, he acknowledges, that, contrary to the famous comparison of Cowley, Gideon's fleece had been moistened, when all the ground around was parched. Rochester was a steady opposer of the Bill of Exclusion, for which, in 1681, he was voted a public enemy by the House of Commons. Indeed, that measure must have materially affected the interests of the Duke of York's daughters, to whom Rochester stood in the relation of maternal uncle. For the same reason, as well as from political principle, he as keenly withstood the Duke of Monmouth s pretensions; for which he is stigmatised by Settle, in lines of which the following is a specimen:

Of these, than subtile Caleb none more great;
Caleb, who shines where his lost father set.
—   —   —   —   —   —   —
Caleb, who does that hardy pilot make,
Steering in that hereditary track,
Blind to the sea-mark of a father's wrack.

Notwithstanding the compliments bestowed by Dryden on Rochester for his management of the exchequer, he was, when in the high situation of Lord Treasurer, 1682, accused of peculation by his rival Halifax, who so far prevailed, that Rochester was removed to the more honourable but less important office, of President of the Council; on which occasion his witty adversary first applied the since well-known phrase, of "his lordship's being kicked up stairs." After the accession of King James, Rochester was again made Lord Treasurer, but soon lost the staff for his repugnance to enter into the violent measures of that monarch. He had consented to be present at a conference between some Catholic and Protestant divines, but treated the arguments of the former with a contempt which James could not forgive. At the Revolution[308] he observed a sullen neutrality; and, though uncle to Queen Mary, never heartily acquiesced in her title to the crown, or reaped any benefit from its being occupied by so near a relation. King William never could forgive his once having passed through the Low Countries without waiting upon him.

He was a particular patron of Dryden, who inscribed to him the "Duke of Guise" and "Cleomenes," with expressions of great gratitude and respect. See Vol. VII. p. 13. Vol. VIII. p. 191.

Note XL.

Indulge one labour more, my weary muse,
For Amiel; who can Amiel's praise refuse?
Of ancient race by birth, but nobler yet
In his own worth, and without title great:
The Sanhedrim long time as chief he ruled,
Their reason guided, and their passion cooled.—P. 244.

Edward Seymour, afterward Sir Edward Seymour, Bart., was descended of the elder branch of the illustrious family of that name, and was ancestor of the present Duke of Somerset. He is said to have attached great importance to his high birth, and to have been esteemed the proudest commoner in England. He was speaker of the House of Commons under the Earl of Danby's administration; a post which he filled with a mixture of dexterity and dignity. Burnet says, he knew the House and every man of it so well, that at one glance he could tell the fate of every motion. This he used as a means of serving the court; contriving usually to protract the debate when their party were not assembled in strength. It was alleged by his enemies, that he was the channel through which gratuities were distributed to the court members; which charge is grossly urged in Settle's poem called "Absalom Senior."[347] These charges seem to be exaggerated;[309] at least it is certain, that Seymour's conduct as speaker was not uniformly, or servilely, guided by devotion to the court; and that he was acceptable to the Commons, for the Parliament, in 1679, chose him speaker anew, in opposition to Mr Meres, who was proposed by the court party. But when Seymour was next day presented as speaker to the king, he refused to receive him as such, and said, he had indispensable occasion for his services in another capacity. At this time the crown claimed a voice in the nomination of the speaker, and the dispute became very warm, till it was terminated by the king conceding, that the right of election was in the House, upon their passing from the election of Mr Seymour, and chusing Mr Sergeant Gregory. He was afterwards made Treasurer of the Navy, and was in that office in 1680, when an impeachment was moved against him for corruption and mal-administration. But the House of Lords repelled the impeachment; which seems only to have been founded in party clamour. In the following year he was voted a public enemy, for opposing the Bill of Exclusion. In the slavish parliament of 1685, Seymour had the boldness to deliver a speech on the irregularity of the elections, which had been much biassed by the crown. He told the House, that many doubted whether they were the true representatives of the people; and that little justice was expected on petitions, where too many were guilty to judge justly and impartially. He said, it concerned the House to look to this; for, if the nation saw no equity was to be expected from them, they might take means to make the members suffer that justice which they would not grant. No one among the astonished members had been aware of Seymour's intentions, so none were prepared either to second or answer this bold harangue. This statesman was a friend to the Revolution; he joined the Prince of Orange at Exeter, and was the first to propose that an association should be signed, without which, he observed, the insurgents were as a rope of sand. On this occasion, the Prince, meaning a compliment, asked Seymour if he was not of the Duke of Somerset's family? "No, please your royal highness," was the reply; "the Duke is of mine." This gave the Prince the first idea of the conscious dignity of an English commoner. William placed Devonshire under his government. In the parliament of 1700-1, Sir Edward Seymour was active in detecting the corrupt practices of elections, and received the thanks of the House for having protected its constitution.

Note XLI.

Thus, from his royal throne, by heaven inspired,
The godlike David spoke, &c.—P. 245.

Spence, on the authority of a priest whom he often met at Mr Pope's, has stated, that the king obliged Dryden to put his speech[310] to the Oxford Parliament into verse, and insert it at the close of "Absalom and Achitophel." Mr Malone has extracted the following parallel passages, which give some countenance to the tradition; although Dryden is just as likely to have versified them of his own accord as by the royal command; for this speech was the talisman by which he was to extricate David from all his difficulties.[348]

"The unwarrantable proceedings of the last House of Commons were the occasion of my parting with the last parliament; for I, who will never use arbitrary government myself, am resolved not to suffer it in others. —— I am unwilling to mention particulars, because I am desirous to forget faults; but whoever shall calmly consider what offers I have formerly made, and what assurances I made to the last Parliament,——and then shall reflect upon the strange unsuitable returns made to such propositions by men who were called together to consult, perhaps may wonder more that I had patience so long, than that at last I grew weary of their proceedings. —— I conclude with this one advice to you, that the rules and measures of all your votes may be the known and established laws of the land, which neither can nor ought to be departed from, nor changed, but by act of Parliament; and I may the more reasonably require, that you make the laws of the land your rule, because I am resolved they shall be mine."

Note XLII.

The offenders question my forgiving right.—P. 245.

In the case of the Earl of Danby, the King's power of granting him a pardon was warmly disputed; it being supposed, that the crown had no power to remit the penalty of high treason. So far was this notion stretched, that, as we have already seen, the sheriffs, Bethel and Cornish, contested, in the case of Lord Stafford, the king's right to exchange the statutory punishment of[311] hanging, drawing, and quartering, for that of beheading. They applied by petition to the House of Commons to have their scruples removed, and, proh pudor! received the countenance of Lord Russell in this brutal scruple. The king did not forget this circumstance when the writ was issued for Russell's execution: "He shall find," said Charles, in appointing the commutation of punishment, "that I have the privilege which he was pleased to deny in the case of Lord Stafford."

The petitioners, mentioned immediately afterwards, are those who called upon the king by petition to summon the parliament. These applications were highly displeasing to Charles, whose followers, to balance them, made equally violent addresses, expressing their abhorrence of tumultuary petitions. Almost every county and town was thus divided into petitioners, and addressers, or abhorrers, as they were sometimes called. The former experienced, on occasion of presenting their petitions, the royal frowns; while the latter were in a very summary manner committed, by the House of Commons, to the custody of their serjeant. This arbitrary course was ended by the refusal of one Stowel to submit to the arrest, which contempt the House were fain to pass over, by voting that he was indisposed.

Note XLIV.

By their own arts 'tis righteously decreed,
Those dire atificers of death shall bleed.
Against themselves their witnesses will swear,
Till, viper-like, their mother-plot they tear.—P. 247.

This is rather an imprudent avowal of what was actually the policy of the court faction at this time. They contrived to turn against Shaftesbury and his party, many of those very witnesses by whom so many Catholics had been brought to execution. Dugdale, Turberville, Haynes, and Smith, all of whom had been witnesses of the plot, now came as readily forward to convict Colledge, Howard, and Shaftesbury himself, of high treason. Such infamous traffic ought to have deprived them of credit on all sides; but it was the misfortune of the time, that, swear what they would one day, and the exact contrary the next, they, on each occasion, found a party to countenance, believe, and reward them.



Si quis tamen hæc quoque, si quis
Captus amore leget.—— 



The sensation produced in London, and indeed throughout the nation, by the first part of "Absalom and Achitophel," was so deep and extended, as never had been before occasioned by a similar performance. Neither was Dryden backward in pursuing the literary victory which he had obtained over the Whigs. He published "The Medal" upon the acquittal of the Earl of Shaftesbury, and the rejoicings with which his party had celebrated that memorable event. He even stooped to inferior game, and avenged himself of Shadwell's repeated attacks upon his literary reputation, his political principles, and his moral character, by the publication of "Mac Flecnoe," one of the most severe satires in the English language. Yet, according to the opinion of the royal party, more still remained to be done. The heads of Shaftesbury's faction had been held up to hatred, or ridicule, in "Absalom and Achitophel;" his own life had been more closely scrutinized, and his failings and crimes exposed more specifically in "The Medal;" but something, they conceived, was wanting, to silence and crush the underling writers and agitators of the party, and Dryden's assistance was again invoked for this purpose, as well as to celebrate some of the king's supporters and favourites, who were necessarily omitted in the original poem. But Dryden, being unwilling again to undertake a task upon which he had repeatedly laboured, deputed Nahum Tate to be his assistant in a second part of "Absalom and Achitophel;" reserving for himself only the execution of certain particular characters, and the general plan and revisal of the poem.

Of Tate, honoured with so high a trust by our great poet, biographers have preserved but a very imperfect memorial. He was the son of Dr Faithful Tate or Teat, was born in Ireland, and educated at Trinity College, Dublin. He wrote, or rather new modelled and translated, nine plays, of which, his alteration of King Lear still keeps the stage, in defiance of its gross departure from Shakespeare's plot and moral. During the reign of Charles and his successor, Tate was a keen Tory, as may be easily guessed from Dryden's[316] employing him in the honourable task of writing a second part to his admirable satire; yet, upon Shadwell's death, he was made poet laureat to King William, and retained that office till his own decease. His talent for poetry amounted to cold mediocrity; had he been a man of fortune, it would have raised him to the rank of an easy sonnet writer, or a person of wit and honour about town. As he was very poor, it is no disgrace to his muse, that she left him in that indigence from which far more distinguished poetical merit has been unable to raise those who possessed it. Tate died in the Mint, where he had taken refuge from his creditors, on the 12th of August, 1715. He had long been in extreme want, having owed almost his sole subsistence to the patronage or charity of the Earl of Dorset. His poetry is multifarious; but consists chiefly of pieces upon occasional subjects, written to supply the immediate wants of the author. The Psalms, of which he executed a translation, in conjunction with Dr Brady, are still used in the church of England, although, in the opinion of many persons, they are inferior to the old version.[349]

The following continuation of "Absalom and Achitophel," owes all its spirit to the touches and additions of the author of the first part. Those lines, to the number of two hundred, beginning,

Next these a troop of busy spirits press;

and concluding,

To talk like Doeg, and to write like thee,

are entirely composed by Dryden, and contain some of the most[317] masterly strokes of his pen. The portraits of Doeg and Og, under which names he stigmatized his personal antagonists, Settle and Shadwell, are executed with a strength of satirical colouring, unmatched in the English language. When we consider that Dryden had already, and very lately, made Shadwell the subject of an entire independent satire, it seems wonderful, with what ease he has executed a separate, and even more striking, caricature of his adversary, without repeating an idea or expression which he had used in "Mac Flecnoe." This is, indeed, partly owing to the dexterous division of his subject, as well as to the rich fertility of his vein of satire. For, after apparently exhausting upon his enemy all the opprobrium and contempt with which a literary character could be loaded, he seized this second occasion to brand and blacken his political and moral principles, and to exaggerate his former charge of dulness, by combining it with those of sedition, profaneness, and immorality. The characters of Ben Jochanan, Judas, Phaleg, &c. are all drawn with the same spirit and vivacity; and, on the whole, these lines are equal to any of the kind which our author ever wrote.

Had Dryden limited his assistance to furnishing this fragment, he would rather have injured than served his coadjutor, since it would have shone like a lamp in a dungeon, only to show the dreary waste in which it was inclosed. To prevent Tate from suffering too much by comparison, Dryden has obviously contributed much to the poem at large. Still, though Tate's lines have doubtless been weeded of much that would at once have ascertained their origin, our author's own couplet might have been addressed to Nahum on the assistance lent him. Dryden's spirit is

————so transfused, as oil and waters flow;
His always floats above, thine sinks below.

Much of the character of Corah, for example, is unquestionably Dryden's; so probably is that of Arod, and the verses generally descriptive of the Green-ribbon Club, which precede it. Such pungent satire is easily distinguished from the smooth insipid flow of other parts in which Dryden's corrections probably left nothing for censure, and which fate was unable to qualify with any thing entitled to praise. The character of Michal, of Dryden as Asaph, and some of the encomiastic passages, seem to show the extent of Tate's powers, when unsupported by the vivifying assistance of his powerful auxiliary. They are just decently versified, but flat, common-place, and uninteresting.

The second part of "Absalom and Achitophel" shared the fate of most continuations, and did not attain the popularity of the original. This was not entirely owing to the general inferiority[318] of the poetry; for there was enough of personal satire, and that immediately flowing from the keen pen of Dryden, to secure the attention both of friends and foes; but the parallel between the heroes of Scripture and the characters of the day, however striking at first, did not bear to be too long protracted. When the original comparison was made, its aptness at once pleased the imagination, and arrested the attention; but when prolonged in a second part, readers began to see there was little wit in continuing to draw out the allusion, till it consisted in nothing more than the invention of a Jewish name for a British author or statesman; the attempt at finding prototypes in Scripture for every modern character being necessarily abandoned. Besides, those who took it upon them to answer Dryden, had in general made use of the vehicle of satire which he had invented; and as, in the eyes of the public, the theme became stale and tarnished by repetition, his antagonists did him that injury by their stupidity, which their wit was unequal to accomplish. Add to all this, that whole lines, and even longer passages, not to mention images and sentiments, are by Tate, in his poverty of ideas, transferred from the first part of the satire to the second;[350] and we must allow, that the latter is deficient in the captivating grace of novelty.

The second part of "Absalom and Achitophel" appeared about November 10th, 1682, in folio. Tonson is the publisher.



Since men, like beasts, each other's prey were made,
Since trade began, and priesthood grew a trade,
Since realms were formed, none, sure, so curst as those,
That madly their own happiness oppose;
There heaven itself, and god-like kings, in vain
Shower down the manna of a gentle reign;
While pampered crowds to mad sedition run,
And monarchs by indulgence are undone.
Thus David's clemency was[351] fatal grown,
While wealthy faction awed the wanting throne:
For now their sovereign's orders to contemn,
Was held the charter of Jerusalem;
His rights to invade, his tributes to refuse,
A privilege peculiar to the Jews;
As if from heavenly call this licence fell,
And Jacob's seed were chosen to rebel!
Achitophel, with triumph, sees his crimes
Thus suited to the madness of the times;
And Absalom, to make his hopes succeed,
Of flattering[352] charms no longer stands in need;
While fond of change, though ne'er so dearly bought,
Our tribes outstrip the youth's ambitious thought;
His swiftest hopes with swifter homage meet,
And crowd their servile necks beneath his feet.
Thus to his aid while pressing tides repair,
He mounts, and spreads his streamers in the air.
The charms of empire might his youth mislead,
But what can our besotted Israel plead?
Swayed by a monarch, whose serene command
Seems half the blessing of our promised land;
Whose only grievance is excess of ease,
Freedom our pain, and plenty our disease!
Yet as all folly would lay claim to sense,
And wickedness ne'er wanted a pretence,
With arguments they'd make their treason good,
And righteous David's self with slanders load:
That arts of foreign sway he did affect,
And guilty Jebusites[353] from law protect,
Whose very chiefs, convict, were never freed,
Nay we have seen their sacrifices bleed!
Accuser's infamy is urged in vain,
While in the bounds of sense they did contain;
But soon they launcht into the unfathomed tide,
And in the depths they knew disdained to ride;
For probable discoveries to dispense,
Was thought below a pensioned evidence;
Mere truth was dull, nor suited with the port
Of pampered Corah,[354] when advanced to court.
No less than wonders now they will impose,
And projects void of grace or sense disclose.
Such was the charge on pious Michal[355] brought;
Michal, that ne'er was cruel even in thought;
The best of queens, and most obedient wife,
Impeached of curst designs on David's life!
His life, the theme of her eternal prayer,
'Tis scarce so much his guardian angel's care.
Not summer morns such mildness can disclose,
The Hermon lily, nor the Sharon rose.
Neglecting each vain pomp of majesty,
Transported Michal feeds her thoughts on high.
She lives with angels, and, as angels do,
Quits heaven sometimes to bless the world below;
Where, cherished by her bounteous plenteous spring,
Reviving widows smile, and orphans sing.
Oh! when rebellious Israel's crimes at height,
Are threatened with her Lord's approaching fate,
The piety of Michal then remain
In heaven's remembrance, and prolong his reign!
Less desolation did the pest pursue,
That from Dan's limits to Beersheba slew;[356]
Less fatal the repeated wars of Tyre,[357]
And less Jerusalem's avenging fire.[358]
With gentler terror these our state o'er-ran,
Than since our evidencing days began!
On every cheek a pale confusion sat,
Continued fear beyond the worst of fate!
Trust was no more, art, science, useless made,
All occupations lost but Corah's trade.
Meanwhile a guard on modest Corah wait,
If not for safety, needful yet for state.[359]
Well might he deem each peer and prince his slave,
And lord it o'er the tribes which he could save:
Even vice in him was virtue—what sad fate,
But for his honesty, had seized our state?
And with what tyranny had we been curst,
Had Corah never proved a villain first?
To have told his knowledge of the intrigue in gross,
Had been, alas, to our deponent's loss:[360]
The travelled Levite had the experience got,
To husband well, and make the best of's plot;
And therefore, like an evidence of skill,
With wise reserves secured his pension still;
Nor quite of future power himself bereft,
But limbos large for unbelievers left,
And now his writ such reverence had got,
'Twas worse than plotting to suspect his plot:
Some were so well convinced, they made no doubt
Themselves to help the foundered swearers out;
Some had their sense imposed on by their fear,
But more for interest sake believe and swear:
Even to that height with some the frenzy grew,
They raged to find their danger not prove true.
Yet, than all these a viler crew remain,
Who with Achitophel the cry maintain;
Not urged by fear, nor through misguided sense,
(Blind zeal and starving need had some pretence,)
But for the good old cause, that did excite
The original rebel's wiles,—revenge, and spite.
These raise the plot, to have the scandal thrown
Upon the bright successor of the crown,
Whose virtue with such wrongs they had pursued,
As seemed all hope of pardon to exclude.
Thus, while on private ends their zeal is built,
The cheated crowd applaud and share their guilt.
Such practices as these, too gross to lie
Long unobserved by each discerning eye,
The more judicious Israelites unspelled,
Though still the charm the giddy rabble held;
Even Absalom, amidst the dazzling beams
Of empire, and ambition's flattering dreams,
Perceives the plot, too foul to be excused,
To aid designs, no less pernicious, used;[361]
And, filial sense yet striving in his breast,
Thus to Achitophel his doubts exprest.
Why are my thoughts upon a crown employed,
Which, once obtained, can be but half enjoyed?
Not so when virtue did my arms require,
And to my father's wars I flew entire.
My regal power how will my foes resent,
When I myself have scarce my own consent?
Give me a son's unblemished truth again,
Or quench the sparks of duty that remain.
How slight to force a throne that legions guard,
The task to me; to prove unjust, how hard!
And if the imagined guilt thus wound my thought,
What will it, when the tragic scene is wrought?
Dire war must first be conjured from below,
The realm we'd rule we first must overthrow;
{  And when the civil furies are on wing,
{  That blind and undistinguished slaughters fling,
{  Who knows what impious chance may reach the king?
Oh! rather let me perish in the strife,
Than have my crown the price of David's life!
Or, if the tempest of the war he stand,
In peace, some vile officious villain's hand
His soul's anointed temple may invade,
Or, prest by clamorous crowds, myself be made
His murtherer; rebellious crowds, whose guilt
Shall dread his vengeance till his blood be spilt;
Which if my filial tenderness oppose,
Since to the empire by their arms I rose,
Those very arms on me shall be employed,
A new usurper crowned, and I destroyed:
{  The same pretence of public good will hold,
{  And new Achitophels be found as bold
{  To urge the needful change,—perhaps the old.
He said. The statesman with a smile replies,
A smile that did his rising spleen disguise:—
My thoughts presumed our labours at an end,
And are we still with conscience to contend?
Whose want in kings as needful is allowed,
As 'tis for them to find it in the crowd.
Far in the doubtful passage you are gone,
And only can be safe by pressing on.
The crown's true heir, a prince severe and wise,
Has viewed your motions long with jealous eyes;
Your person's charms, your more prevailing arts,
And marked your progress in the people's hearts.
Whose patience is the effect of stinted power,
But treasures vengeance for the fatal hour;
And if remote the peril he can bring,
Your present danger's greater from the king.
Let not a parent's name deceive your sense,
Nor trust the father in a jealous prince!
Your trivial faults if he could so resent,
To doom you little less than banishment.
What rage must your presumption since inspire?
Against his orders your return from Tyre;[362]
Nor only so, but with a pomp more high,
And open court of popularity,
The factious tribes—And this reproof from thee?
The prince replies,—O statesman's winding skill!
They first condemn, that first advised the ill.—
Illustrious youth, returned Achitophel,
Misconstrue not the words that mean you well.
The course you steer I worthy blame conclude,
But 'tis because you leave it unpursued.
A monarch's crown with fate surrounded lies;
Who reach, lay hold on death that miss the prize.
Did you for this expose yourself to shew,
And to the crowd bow popularly low;
For this your glorious progress next ordain,
With chariots, horsemen, and a numerous train;
With fame before you like the morning star,
And shouts of joy saluting from afar?
Oh from the heights you've reached but take a view,
Scarce leading Lucifer could fall like you!
And must I here my shipwrecked arts bemoan?
Have I for this so oft made Israel groan?
Your single interest with the nation weighed,
And turned the scale where your desires were laid.
Even when at helm a course so dangerous moved
To land your hopes, as my removal proved.[363]
I not dispute, the royal youth replies,
The known perfection of your policies,
Nor in Achitophel yet grudge or blame
The privilege that statesmen ever claim;
Who private interest never yet pursued,
But still pretended 'twas for others' good:
What politician yet e'er 'scaped his fate,
Who saving his own neck not saved the state?
From hence on every humourous wind that veered,
With shifted sails a several course you steered.
What from a sway did David e'er pursue,
That seemed like absolute, but sprung from you?
Who at your instance quashed each penal law,
That kept dissenting factious Jews in awe;
And who suspends fixt law's, may abrogate,
That done, form new, and so enslave the state,[364]
Even property, whose champion now you stand,
And seem for this the idol of the land,
Did ne'er sustain such violence before,
As when your counsel shut the royal store;
Advice, that ruin to whole tribes procured,
But secret kept till your own banks secured.
Recount with this the triple covenant broke,
And Israel fitted for a foreign yoke;
Nor here your counsels fatal progress staid,
But sent our levied powers to Pharaoh's aid.
Hence Tyre and Israel, low in ruins laid,
And Egypt, once their scorn, their common terror made.
Even yet of such a season can we dream,
When royal rights you made your darling theme;
For power unlimited could reasons draw,
And place prerogative above the law;
Which on your fall from office grew unjust,
The laws made king, the king a slave in trust;
Whom with state-craft, to interest only true,
You now accuse of ills contrived by you.
To this hell's agent:—Royal youth, fix here;
Let interest be the star by which you steer.
Hence, to repose your trust in me was wise,
Whose interest most in your advancement lies;
A tie so firm as always will avail,
When friendship, nature, and religion fail.
On our's the safety of the crowd depends,
Secure the crowd, and we obtain our ends;
Whom I will cause so far our guilt to share,
Till they are made our champions by their fear.
What opposition can your rival bring,
While sanhedrims[365] are jealous of the king?
His strength as yet in David's friendship lies,
And what can David's self without supplies?
Who with exclusive bills must now dispense,
Debar the heir, or starve in his defence;
Conditions which our elders ne'er will quit,
And David's justice never can admit.
Or, forced by wants his brother to betray,
To your ambition next he clears the way;
For if succession once to nought they bring,
Their next advance removes the present king:
Persisting else his senates to dissolve,
In equal hazard shall his reign involve.
Our tribes, whom Pharaoh's power so much alarms,
Shall rise without their prince to oppose his arms.
Nor boots it on what cause at first they join;
Their troops, once up, are tools for our design.
At least such subtle covenants shall be made,
Till peace itself is war in masquerade.
Associations of mysterious sense,
Against, but seeming for, the king's defence,[366]
Even on their courts of justice fetters draw,
And from our agents muzzle up their law.
By which a conquest if we fail to make,
'Tis a drawn game at worst, and we secure our stake.
He said, and for the dire success depends
On various sects, by common guilt made friends;
Whose heads, though ne'er so differing in their creed,
I' th' point of treason yet were well agreed.
Amongst these, extorting Ishban[367] first appears,
Pursued by a meagre troop of bankrupt heirs.
Blest times, when Ishban, he whose occupation
So long has been to cheat, reforms the nation!
Ishban, of conscience suited to his trade,
As good a saint as usurer ever made.
Yet Mammon has not so engrost him quite,
But Belial lays as large a claim of spite;
Who, for those pardons from his prince he draws,
Returns reproaches, and cries up the cause.
That year in which the city he did sway,
He left rebellion in a hopeful way;
Yet his ambition once was found so bold,
To offer talents of extorted gold,
(Could David's wants have so been bribed,) to shame
And scandalize our peerage with his name;
For which, his dear sedition he'd forswear,
And e'en turn loyal, to be made a peer.
Next him, let railing Rabsheka have[368] place,
So full of zeal he has no need of grace;
A saint that can both flesh and spirit use,
Alike haunt conventicles and the stews;
Of whom the question difficult appears,
If most i' th' preacher's or the bawd's arrears.
What caution could appear too much in him,
That keeps the treasure of Jerusalem!
Let David's brother but approach the town,
Double our guards, he cries, we are undone.[369]
Protesting that he dares not sleep in's bed,
Lest he should rise next morn without his head.
[370]"Next these, a troop of busy spirits press,
Of little fortunes, and of conscience less;
With them the tribe, whose luxury had drained
Their banks, in former sequestrations gained;
Who rich and great by past rebellions grew,
And long to fish the troubled streams anew.
Some, future hopes, some, present payment draws,
To sell their conscience and espouse the cause.
Such stipends those vile hirelings best befit,
Priests without grace, and poets without wit.
Shall that false Hebronite escape our curse,
Judas,[371] that keeps the rebels' pension-purse;
Judas, that pays the treason-writer's fee,
Judas, that well deserves his name-sake's tree;
Who at Jerusalem's own gates erects
His college for a nursery of sects;
Young prophets with an early care secures,
And with the dung of his own arts manures!
What have the men of Hebron[372] here to do?
What part in Israel's promised land have you?
Here Phaleg,[373] the lay-Hebronite, is come,
'Cause like the rest he could not live at home;
Who from his own possessions could not drain
An omer even of Hebronitish grain,
Here struts it like a patriot, and talks high
Of injured subjects, altered property;
An emblem of that buzzing insect just,
That mounts the wheel, and thinks she raises dust.
Can dry bones live? or skeletons produce
The vital warmth of cuckoldizing juice?
Slim Phaleg could, and, at the table fed,
Returned the grateful product to the bed.
A waiting-man to travelling nobles chose,
He his own laws would saucily impose,
'Till bastinadoed back again he went,
To learn those manners he to teach was sent.
Chastized he ought to have retreated home,
But he reads politics to Absalom;
For never Hebronite, though kicked and scorned,
To his own country willingly returned.
—But, leaving famished Phaleg to be fed,
And to talk treason for his daily bread,
Let Hebron, nay let hell, produce a man
So made for mischief as Ben-Jochanan;[374]
A Jew of humble parentage was he,
By trade a Levite, though of low degree;
His pride no higher than the desk aspired,
But for the drudgery of priests was hired
To read and pray in linen ephod brave,
And pick up single shekels from the grave.
Married at last, and finding charge come faster,
He could not live by God, but changed his master;
Inspired by want, was made a factious tool,
They got a villain, and we lost a fool.
Still violent, whatever cause he took,
But most against the party he forsook:
For renegadoes, who ne'er turn by halves,
Are bound in conscience to be double knaves.
So this prose-prophet took most monstrous pains,
To let his masters see he earned his gains.
But as the devil owes all his imps a shame,
He chose the apostate[375] for his proper theme;
With little pains he made the picture true,
And from reflexion took the rogue he drew.
A wondrous work, to prove the Jewish nation
In every age a murmuring generation;
To trace them from their infancy of sinning,
And shew them factious from their first beginning.
To prove they could rebel, and rail, and mock,
Much to the credit of the chosen flock;
A strong authority which must convince,
That saints own no allegiance to their prince;
As 'tis a leading-card to make a whore,
To prove her mother had turned up before.
But, tell me, did the drunken patriarch bless
The son that shewed his father's nakedness?
Such thanks the present church thy pen will give,
Which proves rebellion was so primitive.
Must ancient failings be examples made?
Then murtherers from Cain may learn their trade.
As thou the heathen and the saint hast drawn,
Methinks the apostate was the better man;
And thy hot father, waving my respect,
Not of a mother-church, but of a sect.
And such he needs must be of thy inditing;
This comes of drinking asses milk and writing.
If Balack[376] should be called to leave his place,
As profit is the loudest call of grace,
His temple, dispossessed of one, would be
Replenished with seven devils more by thee.
Levi, thou art a load; I'll lay thee down,
And shew rebellion bare, without a gown;
Poor slaves in metre, dull and addle-pated,
Who rhime below even David's psalms translated:
Some in my speedy pace I must out-run,
As lame Mephibosheth the wizard's son;[377]
To make quick way I'll leap o'er heavy blocks,
Shun rotten Uzza[378] as I would the pox;
And hasten Og and Doeg to rehearse,
Two fools that crutch their feeble sense on verse;
Who by my muse to all succeeding times
Shall live, in spite of their own doggrel rhimes.
Doeg,[379] though without knowing how or why,
Made still a blundering kind of melody;
Spurred boldly on, and dashed through thick and thin,
Through sense and nonsense, never out nor in;
Free from all meaning, whether good or bad,
And, in one word, heroically mad.
{  He was too warm on picking-work to dwell,
{  But fagotted his notions as they fell,
{  And, if they rhimed and rattled, all was well.
Spiteful he is not, though he wrote a satire,
For still there goes some thinking to ill-nature;
He needs no more than birds and beasts to think,
All his occasions are to eat and drink.
If he call rogue and rascal from a garret,
He means you no more mischief than a parrot;
The words for friend and foe alike were made,
To fetter them in verse is all his trade.
For almonds he'll cry whore to his own mother,
And call young Absalom king David's brother.[380]
Let him be gallows-free by my consent,
And nothing suffer since he nothing meant;
Hanging supposes human soul and reason,
This animal's below committing treason;
Shall he be hanged who never could rebel?
That's a preferment for Achitophel.
The woman, that committed buggary,
Was rightly sentenced by the law to die;
But 'twas hard fate that to the gallows led
The dog, that never heard the statute read.[381]
Railing in other men may be a crime,
But ought to pass for mere instinct in him;
Instinct he follows and no farther knows,
For, to write verse with him is to transprose;[382]
'Twere pity treason at his door to lay,
Who makes heaven's gate a lock to its own key.
Let him rail on, let his invective muse
Have four-and-twenty letters to abuse,
Which if he jumbles to one line of sense,
Indict him of a capital offence.
In fire-works give him leave to vent his spite,
Those are the only serpents he can write;
The height of his ambition is, we know,
But to be master of a puppet-show;
On that one stage his works may yet appear,
And a month's harvest keeps him all the year.
{  Now stop your noses, readers, all and some,
{  For here's a tun of midnight-work to come,
{  [383]Og from a treason-tavern rolling home.
Round as a globe, and liquored every chink,
Goodly and great he sails behind his link.
With all this bulk there's nothing lost in Og,
For every inch, that is not fool, is rogue;
A monstrous mass of foul corrupted matter,
As all the devils had spewed to make the batter.
When wine has given him courage to blaspheme,
He curses God, but God before curst him;
And if man could have reason, none has more,
That made his paunch so rich, and him so poor.
With wealth he was not trusted, for heaven knew
What 'twas of old to pamper up a Jew;
To what would he on quail and pheasant swell,
That even on tripe and carrion could rebel?
But though heaven made him poor, with reverence speaking,
He never was a poet of God's making;
The midwife laid her hand on his thick skull,
With this prophetic blessing—be thou dull;
Drink, swear, and roar; forbear no lewd delight
Fit for thy bulk; do any thing but write.
Thou art of lasting make, like thoughtless men,
A strong nativity—but for the pen;
Eat opium, mingle arsenic in thy drink,
Still thou mayst live, avoiding pen and ink.
I see, I see, 'tis counsel given in vain,
For treason, botched in rhyme, will be thy bane;
Rhyme is the rock on which thou art to wreck,
'Tis fatal to thy fame and to thy neck.
Why should thy metre good king David blast?
A psalm of his will surely be thy last.
Darest thou presume in verse to meet thy foes,
Thou, whom the penny pamphlet foiled in prose?
Doeg, whom God for mankind's mirth has made,
O'er tops thy talent in thy very trade;
Doeg to thee, thy paintings are so coarse,
A poet is, though he's the poet's horse.
A double noose thou on thy neck dost pull,
For writing treason, and for writing dull;
To die for faction is a common evil,
But to be hanged for nonsense is the devil.
Hadst thou the glories of thy king exprest,
Thy praises had been satire at the best;
But thou in clumsy verse, unlickt, unpointed,
Hast shamefully defied the Lord's anointed.
I will not rake the dunghill of thy crimes,
For who would read thy life that reads thy rhymes?
But of king David's foes, be this the doom,
May all be like the young man Absalom;
And, for my foes, may this their blessing be,
To talk like Doeg, and to write like thee!"
Achitophel each rank, degree and age,
For various ends neglects not to engage;
The wise and rich, for purse and counsel brought,
The fools and beggars, for their number sought;
Who yet not only on the town depends,
For even in court the faction had its friends.
These thought the places they possest too small,
And in their hearts wished court and king to fall;
Whose names the muse, disdaining, holds i' th' dark,
Thrust in the villain herd without a mark;
With parasites and libel-spawning imps,
Intriguing fops, dull jesters, and worse pimps.
Disdain the rascal rabble to pursue,
Their set cabals are yet a viler crew.
See where involved in common smoke they sit,
Some for our mirth, some for our satire fit;
These gloomy, thoughtful, and on mischief bent,
While those for mere good fellowship frequent
The appointed club, can let sedition pass,
Sense, nonsense, any thing to employ the glass;[384]
And who believe, in their dull honest hearts,
The rest talk treason but to shew their parts;
Who ne'er had wit or will for mischief yet,
But pleased to be reputed of a set.
But in the sacred annals of our plot,
Industrious Arod[385] never be forgot;
The labours of this midnight-magistrate
May vie with Corah's to preserve the state.
In search of arms he failed not to lay hold
On war's most powerful dangerous weapon, gold.
On war's most powerful dangerous weapon, gold.
And last, to take from Jebusites all odds,
Their altars pillaged, stole their very gods.
Oft would he cry, when treasure he surprised,
'Tis Baalish gold in David's coin disguised.
Which to his house with richer reliques came,
While lumber idols only fed the flame;
For our wise rabble ne'er took pains to enquire,
What 'twas he burnt, so it made a rousing fire.
With which our elder was enriched no more
Than false Gehazi with the Syrian's store;
So poor, that when our chusing-tribes were met,
Even for his stinking votes he ran in debt;
For meat the wicked, and, as authors think,
The saints he choused for his electing drink;
Thus every shift and subtle method past,
And all to be no Zaken[386] at the last.
Now, raised on Tyre's sad ruins, Pharaoh's pride
Soared high, his legions threatning far and wide;
As when a battering storm engendered high,
By winds upheld, hangs hovering in the sky,
Is gazed upon by every trembling swain,
This for his vineyard fears, and that his grain,
For blooming plants, and flowers new opening; these
For lambs yeaned lately, and far-labouring bees;
To guard his stock each to the gods does call,
Uncertain where the fire-charged clouds will fall;
Even so the doubtful nations watch his arms,
With terror each expecting his alarms.
Where, Judah, where was now thy lion's roar?
Thou only couldst the captive lands restore;
But thou, with inbred broils and faction prest,
From Egypt need'st a guardian with the rest.
Thy prince from sanhedrims no trust allowed,
Too much the representers of the crowd,
Who for their own defence give no supply,
But what the crown's prerogatives must buy;[387]
As if their monarch's rights to violate
More needful were, than to preserve the state!
From present dangers they divert their care,
And all their fears are of the royal heir:
Whom now the reigning malice of his foes,
Unjudged would sentence, and ere crowned depose;
Religion the pretence, but their decree
To bar his reign, whate'er his faith shall be.
By sanhedrims and clamorous crowds thus prest,
What passions rent the righteous David's breast!
Who knows not how to oppose or to comply,
Unjust to grant, and dangerous to deny!
How near in this dark juncture Israel's fate,
Whose peace one sole expedient could create,
Which yet the extremest virtue did require,
Even of that prince whose downfal they conspire!
His absence David does with tears advise,
To appease their rage; undaunted he complies.[388]
Thus he, who, prodigal of blood and ease,
A royal life exposed to winds and seas,
At once contending with the waves and fire,
And heading danger in the wars of Tyre,[389]
Inglorious now forsakes his native sand,
And, like an exile, quits the promised land.
Our monarch scarce from pressing tears refrains,
And painfully his royal state maintains,
Who now, embracing on the extremest shore,
Almost revokes what he enjoined before;
Concludes, at last, more trust to be allowed
To storms and seas than to the raging crowd.—
Forbear, rash muse, the parting scene to draw,
With silence charmed as deep as their's that saw!
Not only our attending nobles weep,
But hardy sailors swell with tears the deep;
The tide restrained her course, and, more amazed,
The twin-stars on the royal brothers gazed;
While this sole fear——
Does trouble to our suffering hero bring,
Lest, next, the popular rage oppress the king.
Thus parting, each for the other's danger grieved,
The shore the king, and seas the prince received.—
Go, injured hero! while propitious gales,
Soft as thy consort's breath, inspire thy sails;
Well may she trust her beauties on a flood,
Where thy triumphant fleets so oft have rode!
Safe on thy breast reclined, her rest be deep,
Rocked, like a Nereid, by the waves asleep;
While happiest dreams her fancy entertain,
And to Elysian fields convert the main!
Go, injured hero! while the shores of Tyre
At thy approach so silent shall admire,
Who on thy thunder still their thoughts employ,
And greet thy landing with a trembling joy.
On heroes thus the prophet's fate is thrown,
Admired by every nation but their own;
Yet while our factious Jews his worth deny,
Their aching conscience gives their tongue the lie.
Even in the worst of men the noblest parts
Confess him, and he triumphs in their hearts;
Whom to his king the best respects commend,
Of subject, soldier, kinsman, prince and friend;
All sacred names of most divine esteem,
And to perfection all sustained by him;
Wise, just, and constant, courtly without art,
Swift to discern and to reward desert;
No hour of his in fruitless ease destroyed,
But on the noblest subjects still employed;
Whose steady soul ne'er learnt to separate
Between his monarch's interest and the state,
But heaps those blessings on the royal head,
Which he well knows must be on subjects shed.
On what pretence could then the vulgar rage
Against his worth, and native rights engage?
Religious fears their argument are made,
Religious fears his sacred rights invade!
Of future superstition they complain,
And Jebusitic worship in his reign;
With such alarms his foes the crowd deceive,
With dangers fright, which not themselves believe.
Since nothing can our sacred rites remove,
Whate'er the faith of the successor prove;
Our Jews their ark shall undisturbed retain,
At least while their religion is their gain,
Who know by old experience Baal's commands
Not only claimed their conscience but their lands.
They grudge God's tythes; how therefore shall they yield
An idol full possession of the field?
Grant such a prince enthroned, we must confess
The people's sufferings than that monarch's less,
Who must to hard conditions still be bound,
And for his quiet with the crowd compound;
Or should his thoughts to tyranny incline,
Where are the means to compass the design?
Our crown's revenues are too short a store,
And jealous sanhedrims would give no more.
As vain our fears of Egypt's potent aid;
Not so has Pharaoh learnt ambition's trade,
Nor ever with such measures can comply,
As shock the common rules of policy.
None dread like him the growth of Israel's king;
And he alone sufficient aids can bring,
Who knows that prince to Egypt can give law,
That on our stubborn tribes his yoke could draw;
At such profound expence he has not stood,
Nor dyed for this his hands so deep in blood;
Would ne'er through wrong and right his progress take,
Grudge his own rest, and keep the world awake,
To fix a lawless prince on Judah's throne,
First to invade our rights, and then his own;
His dear-gained conquests cheaply to despoil,
And reap the harvest of his crimes and toil.
We grant his wealth vast as our ocean's sand,
And curse its fatal influence on our land,
Which our bribed Jews so numerously partake,
That even an host his pensioners would make.
From these deceivers our divisions spring,
Our weakness, and the growth of Egypt's king;
These, with pretended friendship to the state,
Our crowd's suspicion of their prince create,
Both pleased and frightened with the specious cry,
To guard their sacred rights and property.
To ruin thus the chosen flock are sold,
While wolves are ta'en for guardians of the fold;
Seduced by these we groundlessly complain,
And loath the manna of a gentle reign;
Thus our forefathers' crooked paths are trod,
We trust our prince no more than they their God.
But all in vain our reasoning prophets preach,
To those whom sad experience ne'er could teach.
Who can commence new broils in bleeding scars,
And fresh remembrance of intestine wars;
When the same household mortal foes did yield,
And brothers stained with brothers' blood the field;
When sons' curst steel the fathers' gore did stain,
And mothers mourned for sons by fathers slain!
When thick as Egypt's locusts on the sand,
Our tribes lay slaughtered through the promised land,
Whose few survivors with worse fate remain,
To drag the bondage of a tyrant's reign;
Which scene of woes, unknowing, we renew
And madly even those ills we fear pursue;
While Pharaoh laughs at our domestic broils,
And safely crowds his tents with nations' spoils.
Yet our fierce sanhedrim, in restless rage,
Against our absent hero still engage,
And chiefly urge, such did their frenzy prove,
The only suit their prince forbids to move;
Which till obtained they cease affairs of state,
And real dangers wave for groundless hate.
Long David's patience waits relief to bring,
With all the indulgence of a lawful king,
Expecting till the troubled waves would cease,
But found the raging billows still increase.
The crowd, whose insolence forbearance swells,
While he forgives too far, almost rebels.
At last his deep resentments silence broke,
The imperial palace shook, while thus he spoke:
Then Justice wake, and Rigour take her time,
For lo! our mercy is become our crime.
While halting punishment her stroke delays,
Our sovereign right, heaven's sacred trust, decays;
For whose support even subjects' interest calls,
Woe to that kingdom where the monarch falls!
That prince, who yields the least of regal sway,
So far his people's freedom does betray.
Right lives by law, and law subsists by power;
Disarm the shepherd, wolves the flock devour.
Hard lot of empire o'er a stubborn race,
Which heaven itself in vain has tried with grace!
When will our reason's long-charmed eyes unclose,
And Israel judge between her friends and foes?
When shall we see expired deceivers' sway,
And credit what our God and monarchs say?
Dissembled patriots, bribed with Egypt's gold,[390]
Even sanhedrims in blind obedience hold;
Those patriots' falsehood in their actions see,
And judge by the pernicious fruit the tree;
If aught for which so loudly they declaim,
Religion, laws, and freedom, were their aim,
Our senates in due methods they had led,
To avoid those mischiefs which they seem'd to dread;
But first, e'er yet they propt the sinking state,
To impeach and charge, as urged by private hate,
Proves that they ne'er believed the fears they prest,
But barbarously destroyed the nation's rest.
O whither will ungoverned senates drive?
And to what bounds licentious votes arrive?
When their injustice we are pressed to share,
The monarch urged to exclude the lawful heir.
Are princes thus distinguished from the crowd,
And this the privilege of royal blood?
But grant we should confirm the wrongs they press,
His sufferings yet were than the people's less;
Condemned for life the murdering sword to wield,
And on their heirs entail a bloody field,
Thus madly their own freedom they betray,
And for the oppression which they fear make way;
Succession fixed by heaven, the kingdom's bar,
Which, once dissolved, admits the flood of war;
Waste, rapine, spoil, without the assault begin,
And our mad tribes supplant the fence within.
Since, then, their good they will not understand,
'Tis time to take the monarch's power in hand;
Authority and force to join with skill,
And save the lunatics against their will.
The same rough means that 'suage the crowd, appease
Our senates, raging with the crowd's disease.
Henceforth unbiassed measures let them draw
From no false gloss, but genuine text of law;
Nor urge those crimes upon religion's score,
Themselves so much in Jebusites abhor;
Whom laws convict, and only they, shall bleed,
Nor Pharisees by Pharisees be freed.
Impartial justice from our throne shall shower,
All shall have right, and we our sovereign power.
He said; the attendants heard with awful joy,
And glad presages their fixed thoughts employ.
From Hebron now the suffering heir returned,[391]
A realm that long with civil discord mourned;
Till his approach, like some arriving god,
Composed and healed the place of his abode;
The deluge checked that to Judea spread,
And stopped sedition at the fountain's head.
Thus in forgiving David's paths he drives,
And, chased from Israel, Israel's peace contrives.
The field confessed his power in arms before,
And seas proclaimed his triumphs to the shore;
As nobly has his sway in Hebron shown,
How fit to inherit godlike David's throne.
Through Sion's streets his glad arrival's spread,
And conscious faction shrinks her snaky head;
His train their sufferings think o'erpaid to see
The crowds applause with virtue once agree.
Success charms all, but zeal for worth distrest,
A virtue proper to the brave and best;
'Mongst whom was Jothran,[392] Jothran always bent
To serve the crown, and loyal by descent;
Whose constancy so firm, and conduct just,
Deserved at once two royal masters' trust;
Who Tyre's proud arms had manfully withstood
On seas, and gathered laurels from the flood;
Of learning yet no portion was denied,
Friend to the muses, and the muses' pride.
Nor can Benaiah's[393] worth forgotten lie,
Of steady soul when public storms were high;
Whose conduct, while the Moor fierce onsets made,
Secured at once our honour and our trade.
Such were the chiefs who most his sufferings mourned,
And viewed with silent joy the prince returned;
While those, that sought his absence to betray,
Press first, their nauseous false respects to pay;
Him still the officious hypocrites molest,
And with malicious duty break his rest.
While real transports thus his friends employ,
And foes are loud in their dissembled joy,
His triumphs, so resounded far and near,
Missed not his young ambitious rival's ear;
And as, when joyful hunters' clamorous train
Some slumbering lion wakes in Moab's plain,
Who oft had forced the bold assailants yield,
And scattered his pursuers through the field,
Disdaining, furls his mane, and tears the ground,
His eyes inflaming all the desart round,
With roar of seas directs his chasers' way,
Provokes from far, and dares them to the fray;
Such rage stormed now in Absalom's fierce breast,
Such indignation his fired eyes confest.
Where now was the instructor of his pride?
Slept the old pilot in so rough a tide,
Whose wiles had from the happy shore betrayed,
And thus on shelves the credulous youth conveyed?
In deep revolving thoughts he weighs his state,
Secure of craft, nor doubts to baffle fate;
At least, if his stormed bark must go adrift,
To baulk his charge, and for himself to shift,
In which his dextrous wit had oft been shown,
And in the wreck of kingdoms saved his own;
But now with more than common danger prest,
Of various resolutions stands possest,
Perceives the crowd's unstable zeal decay,
Lest their recanting chief the cause betray,
Who on a father's grace his hopes may ground,
And for his pardon with their heads compound.
Him therefore, e'er his fortune sup her time,
The statesman plots to engage in some bold crime
Past pardon; whether to attempt his bed,
Or threat with open arms the royal head,
Or other daring method, and unjust,
That may confirm him in the people's trust.
But, failing thus to ensnare him, not secure
How long his foiled ambition may endure,
Plots next to lay him by as past his date,
And try some new pretender's luckier fate;
Whose hopes with equal toil he would pursue,
Nor cares what claimer's crowned, except the true.
Wake, Absalom, approaching ruin shun,
And see, O see, for whom thou art undone!
How are thy honours and thy fame betrayed,
The property of desperate villains made!
Lost power and conscious fears their crimes create,
And guilt in them was little less than fate;
But why shouldst thou, from every grievance free,
Forsake thy vineyards for their stormy sea?
For thee did Canaan's milk and honey flow,
Love dressed thy bowers, and laurels sought thy brow;
Preferment, wealth, and power, thy vassals were,
And of a monarch all things but the care.
Oh, should our crimes again that curse draw down,
And rebel arms once more attempt the crown,
Sure ruin waits unhappy Absalon,
Alike by conquest or defeat undone.
Who could relentless see such youth, and charms,
Expire, with wretched fate, in impious arms?
A prince so formed, with earth's and heaven's applause,
To triumph o'er crowned heads in David's cause.
Or, grant him victor, still his hopes must fail,
Who, conquering, would not for himself prevail;
The faction, whom he trusts for future sway,
Him and the public would alike betray;
Amongst themselves divide the captive state,
And found their hydra-empire in his fate.
Thus having beat the clouds with painful flight,
The pitied youth, with sceptres in his sight,
(So have their cruel politics decreed,)
Must by that crew, that made him guilty, bleed!
For, could their pride brook any prince's sway,
Whom, but mild David, would they chose to obey?
Who once at such a gentle reign repine,
The fall of monarchy itself design;
From hate to that their reformations spring,
And David not their grievance, but the king.
Seized now with panic fear the faction lies,
Lest this clear truth strike Absalom's charmed eyes;
Lest he perceive, from long enchantment free,
What all, beside the flattered youth, must see.
But whate'er doubts his troubled bosom swell,
Fair carriage still became Achitophel;
Who now an envious festival installs,
And to survey their strength the faction calls,
Which fraud, religious worship too, must gild;
But oh how weakly does sedition build!
For, lo! the royal mandate issues forth,
Dashing at once their treason, zeal, and mirth.[394]
So have I seen disastrous chance invade,
Where careful emmets had their forage laid;
Whether fierce Vulcan's rage the furzy plain
Had seized, engendered by some careless swain;
Or swelling Neptune lawless inroads made,
And to their cell of store his flood conveyed;
The commonwealth, broke up, distracted go,
And, in wild haste, their loaded mates o'erthrow:
Even so our scattered guests confusedly meet,
With boiled, baked, roast, all justling in the street;
Dejecting all, and ruefully dismayed,
For shekel, without treat or treason paid.
Sedition's dark eclipse now fainter shows,
More bright each hour the royal planet grows,
Of force the clouds of envy to disperse,
In kind conjunction of assisting stars.
Here, labouring muse! those glorious chiefs relate,
That turned the doubtful scale of David's fate;
The rest of that illustrious band rehearse,
Immortalized in laureled Asaph's verse:
Hard task! yet will not I thy flight recall;
View heaven, and then enjoy thy glorious fall.
First write Bezaliel,[395] whose illustrious name
Forestals our praise, and gives his poet fame.
The Kenites rocky province his command,
A barren limb of fertile Canaan's land;
Which, for its generous natives, yet could be
Held worthy such a president as he.
Bezaliel with each grace and virtue fraught,
Serene his looks, serene his life and thought;
On whom so largely nature heaped her store,
There scarce remained for arts to give him more.
To aid the crown and state his greatest zeal,
His second care, that service to conceal;
Of dues observant, firm to every trust,
And to the needy always more than just;
Who truth from specious falsehood can divide,
Has all the gownsmen's skill without their pride;
Thus crowned with worth, from heights of honour won,
Sees all his glories copied in his son,[396]
Whose forward fame should every muse engage,
Whose youth boasts skill denied to others' age.
Men, manners, language, books of noblest kind,
Already are the conquest of his mind;
Whose loyalty, before its date, was prime,
Nor waited the dull course of rolling time;
The monster faction early he dismayed,
And David's cause long since confessed his aid.
Brave Abdael[397] o'er the prophet's school was placed;
Abdael, with all his father's virtue graced;
A hero who, while stars looked wondering down,
Without one Hebrew's blood restored the crown.
That praise was his; what therefore did remain
For following chiefs, but boldly to maintain
That crown restored? and in this rank of fame,
Brave Abdael with the first a place must claim.
Proceed, illustrious, happy chief proceed!
Fore-seize the garlands for thy brow decreed;
While the inspired tribe attend with noblest strain,
To register the glories thou shalt gain:
For sure the dew shall Gilboah's hills forsake,
And Jordan mix his stream with Sodom's lake;
Or seas retired their secret stores disclose,
And to the sun their scaly brood expose;
Or, swelled above the cliffs, their billows raise,
Before the muses leave their patron's praise.
Eliab[398] our next labour does invite
And hard the task to do Eliab right.
Long with the royal wanderer he roved,
And firm in all the turns of fortune proved.
Such ancient service, and desert so large,
Well claimed the royal household for his charge.
His age with only one mild heiress blessed,
In all the bloom of smiling nature dressed;
And blessed again, to see his flower allied
To David's stock, and made young Othriel's[399] bride.
The bright restorer of his father's youth,
Devoted to a son's and subject's truth:
Resolved to bear that prize of duty home,
So bravely sought, while sought by Absalom.
Ah, prince! the illustrious planet of thy birth,
And thy more powerful virtue, guard thy worth,
That no Achitophel thy ruin boast!
Israel too much in one such wreck has lost.
Even envy must consent to Helon's[400] worth;
Whose soul, though Egypt glories in his birth,
Could for our captive ark its zeal retain,
And Pharaoh's altars in their pomp disdain:
To slight his gods was small; with nobler pride,
He all the allurements of his court defied.
Whom profit nor example could betray,
But Israel's friend, and true to David's sway.
What acts of favour in his province fall,
On merit he confers, and freely all.
Our list of nobles next let Amri[401] grace,
Whose merits claimed the Abethdin's high place;
Who, with a loyalty that did excel,
Brought all the endowments of Achitophel.
Sincere was Amri, and not only knew,
But Israel's sanctions into practice drew;
Our laws, that did a boundless ocean seem,
Were coasted all, and fathomed all by him.
No rabbin speaks like him their mystic sense,
So just, and with such charms of eloquence;
To whom the double blessing does belong,
With Moses' inspiration, Aaron's tongue.
Than Sheva[402] none more loyal zeal have shown,
Wakeful as Judah's lion for the crown;
Who for that cause still combats in his age,
For which his youth with danger did engage.
In vain our factious priests the cant revive;
In vain seditious scribes with libel strive
To inflame the crowd; while he, with watchful eye,
Observes, and shoots their treasons as they fly:
Their weekly frauds his keen replies detect;
He undeceives more fast than they infect.
So Moses, when the pest on legions preyed,
Advanced his signal, and the plague was stayed.
Once more, my fainting muse, thy pinions try,
And strength's exhausted store let love supply.
What tribute, Asaph,[403] shall we render thee?
We'll crown thee with a wreath from thy own tree!
Thy laurel-grove no envy's flash can blast;[404]
The song of Asaph shall for ever last.
With wonder late posterity shall dwell
On Absalom and false Achitophel:
Thy strains shall be our slumbering prophets' dream,
And when our Zion virgins sing their theme,
Our jubilees shall with thy verse be graced;
The song of Asaph shall for ever last.
How fierce his satire, loosed; restrained, how tame;
How tender of the offending young man's fame!
How well his worth, and brave adventures stiled;
Just to his virtues, to his error mild!
No page of thine that fears the strictest view,
But teems with just reproof, or praise, as due;
Not Eden could a fairer prospect yield,
All paradise, without one barren field
Whose wit the censure of his foes has past:
The song of Asaph shall for ever last.
What praise for such rich strains shall we allow?
What just rewards the grateful crown bestow?
While bees in flowers rejoice, and flowers in dew,
While stars and fountains to their course are true,
While Judah's throne, and Zion's rock stand fast,
The song of Asaph, and the fame shall last.
Still Hebron's honoured happy soil retains
Our royal hero's beauteous dear remains;[405]
Who now sails off, with winds nor wishes slack,
To bring his sufferings' bright companion back.
But ere such transport can our sense employ,
A bitter grief must poison half our joy;
Nor can our coasts restored those blessings see
Without a bribe to envious destiny!
Cursed Sodom's doom forever fix the tide,
Where, by inglorious chance, the valiant died.
Give not insulting Askalon to know,
Nor let Gath's daughters triumph in our woe!
No sailor with the news swell Egypt's pride,
By what inglorious fate our valiant died!
Weep, Arnon! Jordan, weep thy fountains dry,
While Zion's rock dissolves for a supply.
Calm were the elements, night's silence deep,
The waves scarce murmuring, and the winds asleep;
Yet fate for ruin takes so still an hour,
And treacherous sands the princely bark devour;[406]
Then death unworthy seized a generous race,
To virtue's scandal, and the stars' disgrace!
Oh, had the indulgent powers vouchsafed to yield,
Instead of faithless shelves, a listed field;
A listed field of heaven's and David's foes,
Fierce as the troops that did his youth oppose,
Each life had on his slaughtered heap retired,
Not tamely and unconquering thus expired.
But destiny is now their only foe,
And, dying, even o'er that they triumph too;
With loud last breaths their masters 'scape applaud,
Of whom kind force could scarce the fates defraud;
Who, for such followers lost, O, matchless mind!
At his own safety now almost repined!—
Say, royal Sir, by all your fame in arms,
Your praise in peace, and by Urania's charms,
If all your suffering's past so nearly prest,
Or pierced with half so painful grief, your breast?
Thus some diviner muse her hero forms,
Not soothed with soft delights, but tossed in storms;
Nor stretched on roses in the myrtle grove,
Nor crowns his days with mirth, his nights with love,
But far removed in thundering camps is[407] found,
His slumbers short, his bed the herbless ground;
In tasks of danger always seen the first,
Feeds from the hedge, and slakes with ice his thirst.
Long must his patience strive with fortune's rage,
And long opposing gods themselves engage;
Must see his country flame, his friends destroyed,
Before the promised empire be enjoyed:
Such toil of fate must build a man of fame,
And such, to Israel's crown, the god-like David came.
What sudden beams dispel the clouds so fast,
Whose drenching rains laid all our vineyards waste?
The spring so far behind her course delayed,
On the instant is in all her bloom arrayed;
The winds breathe low, the element serene,
Yet, mark! what motion in the waves is seen!
Thronging and busy as Hyblæan swarms,
Or straggled soldiers summoned to their arms.
See where the princely bark in loosest pride,
With all her guardian fleet, adorns the tide!
High on her deck the royal lovers stand,
Our crimes to pardon e'er they touched our land.
Welcome to Israel and to David's breast!
Here all your toils, here all your sufferings rest.
This year did Ziloah[408] rule Jerusalem,
And boldly all sedition's syrtes[409] stem,
Howe'er encumbered with a viler pair
Than Ziph or Shimei,[410] to assist the chair;
Yet Ziloah's loyal labours so prevailed,
That faction, at the next election, failed;
When even the common cry did justice sound,
And merit by the multitude was crowned;
With David then was Israel's peace restored,
Crowds mourned their error, and obeyed their lord.



Note I.

That arts of foreign sway he did affect,
And guilty Jebusites from law protect,
Whose very chiefs, convict, were never freed;
Nay, we have seen their sacrificers bleed.—P. 320.

It is certain, that, whatever the private wishes of Charles may have been, he neither did nor durst interfere, by his royal prerogative, to prevent the execution of Stafford, Coleman, Langhorne, Plunket, and other Catholics of rank, who were condemned on account of the Popish Plot. Ireland, Fenwic, Gavan, Turner, and Harcourt, Jesuits, with Whitebread, the provincial of the order, were all tried, sentenced, and executed for the same conspiracy; persisting, to their last breath, in the most solemn and deliberate asseverations of innocence: But their dying testimonies only irritated the populace the more against a religion, which taught its votaries to go down to the grave with a manifest lie, as they supposed, in their right hand.


Note II.

Mere truth was dull, nor suited with the port
Of pampered Corah, when advanced to court.
—   —   —   —   —   —   —
Meanwhile a guard on modest Corah wait,
If not for safety, needful yet for state.—P. 320.

The Parliament, before whom Oates was examined, did not confine themselves to simple approbation of his conduct. He was treated in a manner suitable to the sense they had of his merit and importance. The charge of his personal safety was recommended by the House of Commons to the Lord General, the care of his lodgings and accommodation to the Lord Chamberlain, and that of supplying him with money to the Lord High Treasurer of England.

The state of Oates, in his splendour, is very well described by North: "He was now in his trine exaltation; his plot in full force, efficacy, and virtue; he walked about with his guards, assigned for fear of the Papists' murdering him. He had lodgings at Whitehall, and L. 1200 per annum pension; and no wonder, after he had the impudence to say to the House of Lords, in plain terms, that, if they would not help him to more money, he must be forced to help himself. He put on an episcopal garb, (except the lawn sleeves,) silk gown and cassock, great hat, sattin hatband and rose, long scarf, and was called, or blasphemously called himself, the Saviour of the Nation. Whoever he pointed at was taken up and committed; so that many people got out of his way as from a blast, and glad they could prove their last two years conversation. The very breath of him was pestilential; and if it brought not imprisonment or death over such on whom it fell, it surely poisoned reputation, and left good Protestants arrant Papists, and something worse than that, in danger of being put into the plot as traitors." Examen. p. 205.

Note III.

To have told his knowledge of the intrigue in gross,
Had been, alas! to our deponent's loss.—P. 322.

Oates never would say he had told all he knew, but always reserved some part of his evidence to be changed or altered with the shifting wind of faction or popularity. According to his first narrative, the plot was laid against the persons of the king and Duke of York; and their assassination was to take place during the fire of London. But he had the impudence to say, in his picture of King James, that both his brother and he were in that very plot[356] for firing the city, a secret which, he alleges, he could not discover at the time, on account of a promise to Prince Rupert; and is pleased to add, that the prince heartily repented of giving, and he of taking, that counsel. When he was asked, in the House of Commons, whether he had told all he knew of the conspiracy? this cautious witness, who was determined to have the whole credit of saving the kingdom his own way, instead of entrusting the House with the secret, told them a parable of a fox, who, having occasion to cross a frozen stream with a goose, and being unwilling to hazard his spoil, first carried over a stone of equal weight with the goose, to see if the ice would bear it. In short, neither he, nor any of his imitators, would say more, than that their immediate evidence was all which they as yet thought meet to declare.

This would have been tolerated no where but in England, and during that period of terror, suspicion, and infatuation, when these perjured caitiffs were as dear to the people as those who tell stories of Rawhead and Bloody-bones are to their nursery audience. The author has said, and with much truth,

'Twas worse than plotting to suspect his plot.

The discovery of Coleman's letters, however irreconcileable with the tale of the witnesses, above all, the murder of Godfrey, gave such a bloody confirmation, that the people swallowed all that could be told them about the horrors of the conspiracy; and, to use the warm expression of the author of the "Examen," one might have denied his Redeemer with less contest than attainted the veracity of Oates.

This popular ferment began to abate after the execution of Lord Stafford; and, as the witnesses sunk in reputation, the king began by degrees to discountenance Oates. He expelled him from Whitehall, withdrew his guards, and reduced his pension to L.600. Upon this Oates altered his dress, assumed a sword, and associated with the more desperate of the popular faction, such as Rumbold, Colledge, and Fergusson. In the reign of James II., his fortunes suffered a yet more melancholy reverse; for, being most satisfactorily convicted of perjury, by upwards of eighty witnesses, he was sentenced to two fines of 1000 merks each; to be whipped, on two different days, from Aldgate to Newgate, and from Newgate to Tyburn; to be imprisoned for life, and to be pilloried five times every year. James had the imprudence to exult in this cruel punishment. He told Sir John Reresby, that the Popish plot was now dead; and, when that courtier obsequiously answered, "and buried, please your majesty," he thought the jest worth repeating, which his brother would hardly have done. It is true, no punishment could be bad enough for the author of so many legal murders; but the severity of the sentence was an injury to[357] the law of the land, though done through the person of so vile a criminal. The man's impudence supported him under the conviction; and his fortitude under the punishment was the means of regaining a share of his fallen credit. After the Revolution, he was pardoned, and received a pension of L.400, with the amount of which he was much dissatisfied, as well as with the refusal of the Parliament to reverse his sentence, and restore his capacity for his old trade of bearing evidence.

Note IV.

Even Absalom———
Perceives the plot, too foul to be excused,
To aid designs, no less pernicious, used.—P. 323.

North, and other Tory writers, have affected to consider Shaftesbury as the original author of the Popish plot. Of this there is no proof whatever; and the internal evidence derived from the account of the plot itself, is altogether inconsistent with the very idea. Shaftesbury could never have given birth to such a heap of inconsistent fables; a plan which he had forged would have been ingenious, consistent with itself, accommodated to the circumstances of parties, and the times, and therefore, in all probability, being less suited to the vulgar palate, would not have made half the impression on the public. But we can easily believe the truth of what he is alleged to have said, "that whoever started the game, he had the full advantage of the chase." In fact, this wonderful tale, probably at first invented by two or three obscure knaves, with the sordid view of profiting by the credulity of the English nation, would have fallen to the ground, had it not been fostered and cherished by Shaftesbury, who very soon perceived it could be made the means of turning out Lord Danby, and driving matters to extremity against the Catholic faction. He might well indeed exult in his management in the former particular, since Danby was the first to introduce into the House of Commons that very discussion about the plot, to which, as Shaftesbury managed it, he himself fell a sacrifice.[411] But it was chiefly as a[358] means of bringing forward the Bill of Exclusion, and of crushing for ever the hopes of his mortal foe the Duke of York,[412] that Shaftesbury became the patron of all investigations connected with the plot, pushed them on with vigour and vehemence, and dipped himself deep in the blood of the innocent persons who fell sacrifices to the popular clamour he had excited, and to evidence, which much less than Shaftesbury's abilities might easily have discovered to be inconsistent and fabulous.

A humorous pamphlet, already quoted, represents Shaftesbury as abandoning his pretensions to the crown of Poland, for the purpose of following up the discovery of the Popish plot. "In the very height of all this expectation, one night as his majesty elect lay musing upon his bed, restless with the thoughts and expectation of the approaching empire, there appeared to him, by the light of a lamp that was burning in his chamber, a dreadful and most monstrous vision. The shape and figure of it was very confused and irregular: sometimes it looked like the whore of Babylon, naked, and of immense privities; presently, in the twinkling of an eye, the form was changed, and it appeared like a justice of the peace, strangled by a crew of ruffians, who afterwards ran him through the body with his own sword, that it might be thought he hanged himself; on a sudden it was altered again, and seemed a troop of pilgrims, armed with black bills, that came the Lord knows whence, landed the Lord knows where, and are gone the Lord knows whither. His majesty seeing it vary so often, and so terribly, calling up all the faith he had to his assistance, boldly demanded 'In the name of, &c. what art thou?' Instantly, after a terrible clap of thunder, accompanied with several flashes of lightning, it contracted itself into the shape of a doctor of Salamanca, and, in a hideous tone, cried out, 'I am a Plot. Woe to England! farewell till 78;' and vanished. No sooner was it gone, but a stupid amazement seized upon the majesty of Poland, and cast him into a deep sleep, where he lay till morning, when, awakening, he found himself stript of all the high and aspiring thoughts that before had filled his mind; pity and compassion towards his native country utterly cooled his ambition, and from that moment he laid by all thoughts of converting the Turk, and resolved to stay at home for confounding the pope.

"Thus has this good man, (for he is no more his majesty,) again[359] refused the highest promotion that perhaps any subject of England was ever raised to, merely to stand in a gap here, and slay the plague that was coming upon us."[413]

Note V.

Have I for this———
Even when at helm, a course so dangerous moved,
To land your hopes, as my removal proved.
P. 325.

In 1679, the national discontent running exceedingly high, both on account of the Popish plot, and for other reasons, the king, by the advice of Sir William Temple, summoned a council of thirty persons, fifteen of whom were the great officers of the crown, and fifteen chosen from the country party. Shaftesbury was made president of this council, against the opinion of Temple; and quickly found the means of pressing his favourite measure of the Exclusion Bill. Monmouth, upon whose interest in the king's affections he had great reliance, was the person whom he proposed to nominate as successor, either by a law to be passed for the purpose, or by prevailing on the king to declare him legitimate. For this purpose, the interest of Shaftesbury was exerted to have the duke sent down to Scotland, to oppose the insurgent Covenanters, whom he defeated at Bothwell Bridge. The king's illness, and the sudden revolution which took place in his councils, upon the unexpected return of the Duke of York from Flanders, ruined this project, and occasioned the disgrace of Monmouth, and the dismissal of Shaftesbury.

Note VI.

Amongst these, extorting Ishban first appears,
Pursued by a meagre troop of bankrupt heirs.
P. 328.

Sir Robert Clayton, alderman of London, and one of the representatives of the city during the two last parliaments of King Charles II., was warmly attached to the Whig party. He took an active concern, as a magistrate, in examining the sham-plotter, Fitz-Harris; and was charged by the Tories with an attempt to suborn that person to swear, that he had been hired by the court to fix a plot upon the Protestants. The examination of Fitz-Harris, who swore, and counter-swore, in many different[360] ways, besides avouching that he was bribed to concoct a sham-plot, and to ascribe it to the Whigs, (a base manœuvre, too often played off by both parties to be incredible,) added a thousand improbable falsehoods about a Papist plot against the Protestants. When removed from the city jail, and committed to the Tower, he told another story: He was then in the power of the king, and alleged, that Howard, and others, were in a plot to seize the king's person, and that they had employed him to contrive the aforesaid sham-plot, in order to charge upon the court the crime of subornation, &c. He added, that Clayton, Bethel, Cornish, and Treby, the city-recorder, extorted from him, by threats, his previous declaration concerning the Popish plot, and used the most urgent means to compel him to impute the guilt of Godfrey's murder to Danby, and to fix an accession to the Popish conspiracy on the queen and Duke of York. The man was executed adhering to this last story. Clayton, and the others accused of such infamous practices, exculpated themselves in a pamphlet, entitled, "Truth Vindicated," in which they showed many objections to Fitz-Harris's final declaration. We must be contented to leave the affair in mystery; and to regret there ever was a time in England, when the character and common practices of both the leading parties in the kingdom were by no means pure enough to exempt either from such foul suspicions.

Sir Robert Clayton, with the other London members, all of whom were zealous Whigs, and whose re-election was hailed by the acclamations of their party,[414] attended the Oxford Parliament in formidable array; they were escorted by a numerous band of armed partizans, who wore on their hats ribbons, bearing the label, "No Popery, no Slavery," and were obviously prepared for something more than an usual attendance upon their duty in the House of Commons. According to Dugdale's evidence, Sir Robert Clayton was present at a carousal at Lord Lovelace's, near[361] Oxford, where Colledge, one of their principal myrmidons, sung the unlucky ballad, which went so far towards his condemnation.[415]

The story, that Sir Robert Clayton wished to purchase a peerage, seems to have become popular. In the last will and testament of the Charter of London is this, among other jocular bequests; "To Sir Robert Clayton I bequeath all that the chamberlain has left of the common stock, to purchase Paddington manor, with the demesnes and appurtenances thereto, since there are now no dukedoms to be purchased; and it is thought that Tyburn, paying his arrears next year to the city, will yield a better rate than 20l. per cent. in the banker's hands."—Somers' Tracts, p. 185. His usury is also hinted at in a poem called, "The Duke of Buckingham's Litany," and its consequences are enumerated among the other follies of that prodigal peer:

From learning new morals from Bedlam Sir Payton;
And truth and modesty from Sir Ellis Layton;
From making our heirs, to be Morrice and Clayton,
Libera nos, Domine.

It ought to be mentioned to Sir Robert Clayton's honour, that out of his wealth, howsoever procured, he dedicated a portion to found the mathematical school in Christ Church Hospital.

Note VII.

Next him, let railing Rabsheka have place,
So full of zeal, he has no need of grace;
A saint, that can both flesh and spirit use,
Alike haunt conventicles and stews.—P. 328.

Sir Thomas Player, chamberlain of the city of London, was, like Sir Robert Clayton, one of the city members, both in the Westminster and Oxford parliaments; and, being as zealous as his colleague in the popular cause, what has been said concerning their mode of marching to Oxford, applies to him as well as to the other. He is accused of libertinism, in the pasquinade quoted in the last note, where the Charter of London makes him this bequest: "To Sir Thomas Player, I leave all the manor of Moorfields, with all the wenches and bawdy-houses thereunto belonging, with Mrs Cresswells[416] for his immediate inheritance, to enjoy and occupy all, from the bawd to the whore downward, at nineteen shillings in the pound cheaper than any other person, because[362] he may not exhaust the chamber by paying old arrears, nor embezzle the stock by running into new scores."[417]

Note VIII.

Let David's brother but approach the town,
Double our guards, he cries, we are undone.
P. 328.

When the Duke of York unexpectedly returned from Brussels, on the news of the king's illness, his arrival spread discomfiture through Shaftesbury's party in court, and rage and alarm among those in the city. Sir Thomas Player, at the head of a numerous body of citizens, or persons who called themselves so, made his appearance before the lord-mayor, and court of aldermen; and after having expatiated, in a set speech, upon the horrors of Popery, and upon the return of the Duke of York, whose religion had first led to the conspiracy, and whose recent arrival must necessarily give it new life, he gravely demanded, that the city-guards should be doubled, and that four companies, instead of two, should be appointed to duty every night. The lord-mayor, after some discussion, evaded Sir Thomas's request, by referring it to the livery. In the vehemence of the chamberlain's oratory, a remarkable expression, noticed in the text, chanced to escape him, "that he durst hardly go to sleep, for fear of awaking with his throat cut." In the pretended account of this interview, he is only made to say, that it was now out of doubt, that the Papists had burnt the city; "And if they had not been disappointed, would have cut our throats too at the same time, while we were endeavouring to save the small remainder of our goods." But the publisher acknowledges, he could give but an imperfect account of the "speech of this worthy and deserving knight, and the Lord Mayor's generous reply thereunto." "Cutting throats," indeed, appears to have been a frequent terror of the zealous knight. In the Westminster parliament, he made a speech on the Exclusion Bill, in which, after stating that he had read in Scripture of one man dying for a nation, but never of three nations dying for one man; he assured the House, that they "would be embroiled in blood before they were aware of it;" that he had "no patience to think of sitting still while his throat was a cutting;" and therefore prayed, they would endeavour to have laws that might enable them to defend themselves.[418] In the parliament of Oxford, Sir Thomas Player made a violent speech, upon Fitzharris being withdrawn from the city jail, and sent to the Tower, with a view, as he contended, of stifling his evidence against the Duke of York and the Papists; and concluded by making a motion, which was carried, that if any[363] judge, justice, or jury, should proceed upon him, and he be found guilty, they be declared guilty of his murder, and betrayers of the rights of the commons of England. In short, Sir Thomas Player was a hot-headed violent factionary; but Rouse, one of his dependants who suffered for the Rye-house plot, with his dying breath cleared Sir Thomas of any accession to that conspiracy; and declared, that he broke with Lord Shaftesbury, upon perceiving the violent plans which he agitated after his being freed from the Tower. State Trials, p. 750.

Note IX.

Judas, that keeps the rebels' pension-purse;
Judas, that pays the treason-writer's fee;
Judas, that well deserves his name-sake's tree;
Who at Jerusalem's own gates erects
His college for a nursery of sects.—P. 329.

Under the name of Judas, Dryden describes the famous Robert Ferguson, a native of Scotland, and, by profession, an independant preacher, and teacher of an academy at Islington.—Ath. Ox. Vol. II. p. 743. He was one of those dark, intriguing, subtile, and ferocious characters, that emerge into notice in times of turmoil and civil dissension, and whose appearance as certainly bodes revolution, as the gambols of the porpoise announce a tempest. Through the whole of his busy and desperate career, he appears to have been guided less by any principle, moral or political, than by the mere pleasure of dealing in matters deep and dangerous, and exerting his ingenuity to shake the quiet of the kingdom at the risk of his own neck. In organizing dark and bloody intrigues; in maintaining the courage of the zealots whom he engaged in them; in carrying on the mystic correspondence by which the different parts of the conspiracy were to be cemented and conjoined; in guarding against the risque of discovery, and, lastly, in effecting with nicety a hairbreadth escape when it had taken place,—all these perilous, dubious, and criminal manœuvres, at which the noble-minded revolt, and the peaceful are terrified, were the scenes in which the genius of Ferguson delighted to exert itself. When the magistracy of London was thrown into the hands of the crown, the charter annulled, and all means of accomplishing a revolution by the ancient existing authorities, were annihilated, such a character as Ferguson became of inestimable value to Shaftesbury, considering the new plans which he had in agitation, and the persons by whom they were to be accomplished. Accordingly, he shared much of that politician's confidence, while his influence, as a popular and violent preacher in the city, gave him every facility of selecting and training the persons fittest to assist in the meditated insurrection. His chapel, in Moorfields, was crowded with multitudes of fanatics, whom fired by his political[364] sermons, and occasionally stimulated by libels and pamphlets, from a private press of which he had the management, as well as of a purse that maintained it. He distributed most of the pamphlets written on the Whig party, and was by no means averse to father even the most dangerous of them; his vanity, according to Burnet, getting the better of his prudence. Some notable pieces, however, of his composition, are still known; his style was of that diffuse, coarse, and periphrastic nature, best suited to the apprehension of the vulgar, upon whose dull intellects sentiments are always impressive, in proportion to the length of time they are forced to dwell on them. He wrote the "Appeal from the Country to the City," where, in plain words, he points out the Duke of Monmouth as successor to the crown, and that because he had a dubious, or rather no title at all to claim it. "No person is fitter than his Grace the Duke of Monmouth, as well for quality, courage, and conduct, as for that his life and fortune stand on the same bottom with yours. He will stand by you, and therefore you ought to stand by him. And remember the old rule is, He, that has the worst title, ever makes the best king; as being constrained, by a gracious government, to supply what he wants in title; that, instead of God and my right, his motto may be, God and my people." He proceeds to quote a historical example for putting Monmouth on the throne, under the tutelage of Shaftesbury, by stating that, after the death of Alexander, nothing would pacify the dissensions which ensued, "but the choosing of King Philip's illegitimate son, Aridæus, who, notwithstanding that he was a man but of reasonable parts himself, might, as they thought, perform the office well enough, by the help of his wise protector Perdiceas." This extraordinary piece is filled with the most violent declamations against the Papists, in that tawdry, bombastic, and inflammatory eloquence, wherewith, to speak according to Dryden's parable, he "tempted Jerusalem to sin."[419]


Ferguson also wrote the second part of "No Protestant Plot," another very violent pamphlet, and several treatises on the same subject. Meanwhile, other means were prepared to effect the desired change of government. It is not necessary to enter particularly into the well-known history of the Rye-house plot. Every body knows, that, while Russel, Sidney, Monmouth, and others, undertook to raise an insurrection in the country, Shaftesbury promised to head ten thousand brisk boys in the city of London. Among these brisk boys were a fanatic party, who agitated projects of assassinating the King and the Duke of York, unknown to the more generous nobles, who proposed only to secure the king's person. In all and each of these cabals, Ferguson acted a distinguished part. When Shaftesbury fled from his house into lurking places about Wapping, he trusted Ferguson with the secret of his residence, although concealed from the noble-minded Russel, and the generous Monmouth. By his intervention, he heartened and encouraged the associates to break forth into open insurrection. With the inferior conspirators, Ferguson was yet more intimate, and seems, in fact, to have given life to the vague and desperate plans of lopping, as they called the assassination of the royal brothers, by the countenance which he pretended to procure the conspirators from those of superior rank. He told West, he would procure the Duke of Monmouth's written consent to his father's murder; although he afterwards allowed, he durst not even mention such a plan to him. At length, when Shaftesbury, weary of the delays of the other conspirators, left England for ever, Ferguson and Walcot were the companions of his flight. By this the plan of insurrection was for a time confounded, for the higher order of the malcontents were ignorant of the lines of communication by which the city cabal was conducted. Ferguson was therefore recalled, and in an evil hour returned from Holland. His arrival gave new life both to the upper and inferior conspiracy: in the former, six of the leaders formed themselves into a regular committee,[366] to extend their influence and correspondence through the kingdom, and unite measures with the disaffected in Scotland. The lower band of assassins matured and prepared their plan for assassinating the king and duke as they returned from Newmarket. Ferguson, who still acted in the capacity of treasurer, which Dryden has assigned him, paid for the arms provided for the enterprize; and, by his daring language, encouraged them to proceed. He offered, in mockery, to consecrate the blunderbuss with which Rumbold was to fire into the carriage; and when Sunday was fixed for the day of action, he quoted the old Scottish proverb, "the better day, the better deed." Even when, by the treachery of Keeling, the plot was finally discovered, and the conspirators were dispersing in dismay and terror, Ferguson took his leave of them with great gaiety, and, trusting to the plots of Argyle and Jerviswood, with which he was also intimate, told them, he hoped to meet them all at Dunbar. This indifference, at such a crisis, led to a supposition, that he had some secret correspondence with government: it was even said, that the messenger who arrested Ferguson suffered him to escape, but of this there seems no evidence. He retired to Holland, where he joined the unfortunate Monmouth, and was a principal agent in pushing him on to his western invasion, when, if left to himself, he would have remained in quiet. He drew the proclamation which Monmouth issued at his landing, a prolix, ill-worded production, stuffed with all the true, and all the false accusations against James II., and where the last so much drowned the others, that it was only calculated to make an impression on the lowest vulgar. He was always earnest with Monmouth, to take upon himself the title of king; and may be said to have contributed greatly to every false step which he made, and to the final destruction in which they ended. Of this Monmouth was so sensible, that he told the king in their last interview, "That Ferguson was chiefly the person who instigated him to set up his title of king, and had been a main adviser and contriver of the whole affair, as well to the attempting, as acting, what had been done;" but he had little to answer when Halifax expressed his surprise, that he should have given ear to him who, as he had long before told the late king, "was a bloody rogue, and always advised to the cutting of throats." Ferguson was taken, on this occasion, the third day after the battle of Sedgemore. Yet, when so much blood was spilt, both with, and without the forms of law, this man, who had been most active in the conspiracy against the king, when Duke of York, and had now organized an invasion and insurrection in his dominions, was, by the inexorable James, freely pardoned and dismissed, to council and assist the next conspiracy. Perhaps his life was saved by Sunderland, lest he had disclosed what he probably[367] knew of his intercourse with the Prince of Orange, and even with Monmouth himself. Ferguson seems, on his liberation, to have returned to Holland; and did not fail to take a share in the intrigues which preceded the Revolution. He managed the dissenters for the interest of the Prince of Orange; and endeavoured to press upon William a sense of their importance. But other, and more important engines, were now at work; and Ferguson seems to have enjoyed but a subaltern consideration: Burnet, who made such a figure in the expedition, avers, he did not even know him by sight.[420] When the Prince of Orange was at Exeter, the dissenters refused him the keys of their meeting house. But Ferguson was accustomed to surmount greater obstacles. "I will take," said he, laughing, "the kingdom of heaven by storm," and broke open the door with his own hand. After the Revolution was accomplished, one would have thought Ferguson's machinations might have ended. He had seen his party triumphant; he had been rewarded with a good post;[421] and, what was probably dearer to him than either principle or profit, his intrigues had successfully contributed to the achievement of a great change of government. But it was not in his nature to be in repose; and, having spent all the former part of his life in caballing to drive James from the throne, he now engaged with the same fervour in every conspiracy for his restoration. In the very year which succeeded that of the Revolution, we find him deeply engaged with Sir James Montgomery, and the other Scottish presbyterians, who, discontented with King William, had united with the Jacobites. The Marquis of Anandale having absconded on account of his share in this conspiracy, Ferguson secreted him for several weeks; a kindness which the Marquis repaid, by betraying him to government.[422] With his usual good fortune, he was dismissed; either in consideration of former services, or because a full proof against him was not to be obtained. After this, he continued to engage in every plot against the government; and each year published one or two pamphlets, which put his ears, if not his neck, in peril. His last grand exhibition was an attack upon Trenchard, the secretary of state, for the use of blank and general warrants.[423] But that adventure, as the romance writers say, was reserved for another demagogue. Finally, Ferguson, who had in this remarkable manner kept his promise of being engaged in every conspiracy of his time, and, had gained the honourable epithet of "The Plotter," died quietly, and in peace, after having repeatedly seen the scaffold stream with the[368] blood of the associates of his various machinations. One touch alone softens the character of this extraordinary incendiary. In all his difficulties, he is never charged with betraying his associates. His person is thus remarkably described in the proclamation for apprehending his person, among the other Rye-house assassins.

A description of several of the conspirators that are fled. London Gazette, from August 2d, to August 6th, 1683.

"Robert Ferguson, a tall lean man, dark-brown hair, a great Roman nose, thin jawed, heat in his face, speaks in the Scotch tone, a sharp piercing eye, stoops a little in the shoulders. He has a shuffling gait, that differs from all men; wears his periwig down almost over his eyes; about 45 or 46 years old."

Note X.

Here Phaleg, the lay Hebronite, is come.—P. 329.

Of James Forbes I can give but a slight account. He was placed by the Duke of Ormond as travelling tutor to the young Earl of Derby, who had married his grand-daughter. Carte says, he was a gentleman of parts, virtue, and prudence, but of too mild a nature to manage his pupil. In Paris the earl addicted himself to the society of one Merrit, a worthless profligate; and the governor having cautioned his charge against this acquaintance, was assaulted at disadvantage by Merrit, and dangerously wounded. Lord Derby, it seems, not only countenanced Merrit's assault upon Mr Forbes, but, at the instigation of some young French rakes, consented to his governor's being tossed in a blanket. The Duke of Ormond, finding that the earl was wild and impatient of restraint, and that his tutor's sage remonstrances had but little effect, recalled Forbes, and sent in his stead Colonel Thomas Fairfax, a gallant and brave man, and roughly honest. Lord Derby was at first restiff; but Fairfax telling him plainly, that he was sent to govern him, and would govern him, and that his lordship must submit, and should do it, the young nobleman had the sense to comply, broke off his evil acquaintances, and behaved ever after with great propriety.[424] Forbes's misadventures in Paris, though, according to Carte, they inferred no real dishonour, are severely alluded to by Dryden in the text. I am not anxious to unrip the ancient chronicle of scandal, in order to trace Phaleg's amours. He appears to have become one of Monmouth's dependants.


Note XI.

Let Hebron, nay let hell, produce a man,
So made for mischief as Ben-Jochanan.—P. 330.

The Reverend Samuel Johnson, a party-writer of considerable merit. He was a native of Warwickshire, and took orders after a regular course of study at Cambridge. He obtained the small living of Curingham, in Essex, by the patronage of a Mr Biddolph. The emoluments of this benefice did not exceed eighty pounds a-year; and it was the only church preferment he ever enjoyed. Dryden alludes to his poverty in describing his original situation. Mr Johnson's patron, observing his turn for politics, exhorted him to study the English constitution in Bracton and Fortescue; but by no means to make his sermons the vehicle for his political sentiments. The opinions which he formed in the course of study, were such as recommended him as chaplain to the famous Lord Russell.

While he was in this situation, and during the dependance of the Bill of Exclusion, he endeavoured at once to show the danger to a national religion from a sovereign who held opposite tenets, and to explode the doctrine of passive obedience, in a work entitled, "Julian the Apostate; with a short Account of his Life, and a Parallel betwixt Popery and Paganism." In this performance, according to Wood, he was assisted by Thomas Hunt the lawyer. This book, which made a good deal of noise at the time, was answered by the learned Hickes, in a treatise called "Jovian," in which, according to Anthony a Wood, the doctor hath, with unquestionable clearness, laid open the folly, "ignorance, weakness, and pernicious drift of that traitorous scribbler." Without entering into the controversy, there can be little doubt, that, so far as the argument from the example of the primitive Christians is sound, Johnson has fairly made out his case. Indeed Dryden has little left to say, except, that if they did resist Julian, which he seems to admit, they were very wrong in so doing, and the less that is said about it, the more will be the credit of the ancient church. Johnson prepared a reply to "Jovian," called, the "Arts of Julian to undermine Christianity;" but the Rye-house Plot having intervened, he did not judge it prudent to publish it. He was called before the Privy Council, who insisted upon knowing why this book, which had been entered at Stationers Hall, was not published? His answer alleged, that the ferment of the nation was so great as to render the further discussion of the question imprudent. They then demanded a copy of the book; and added, that, if they approved it, it should be published. To this insidious proposal he boldly replied, that, having suppressed the book, it only contained[370] his private thoughts, which he could be compelled to disclose to no man on earth. For this answer he was committed to prison, and his house searched for the copies, which had fortunately been bestowed elsewhere. The court finding themselves unable to reach Johnson for not publishing his second work, determined to try him for publishing his first. Accordingly, he was brought to the bar and insulted by Jefferies, who told him, he would give him a text, "Let every man study to be quiet, and mind his own business."—"I minded my business as an Englishman," answered this spirited man, "when I wrote that book." All defence was in vain; he was condemned to a heavy fine, and to lie in jail till it was paid, which in his circumstances was equal to a sentence of perpetual imprisonment. Even from his prison house, where he lay for five years, amid the accumulated distresses of sickness and poverty, he let his countrymen hear his voice, and failed not to enter an animated and vigorous protest against each new encroachment upon the liberty and religion of England.[425] At length, having published "An humble and hearty Address to all the English Protestants in this present Army,"[426] exhorting them not to serve as instruments to eradicate their religion and enslave their country, he again fell under the grasp of power, was tried and sentenced to be thrice pilloried, and whipped from Newgate to Tyburn; having been previously degraded from his ecclesiastical orders. He bore both the previous ceremony of degradation, and the cruel punishment which followed, with the greatest magnanimity. When they disrobed him, he told the divines present, that he could not but grieve, since all he had written was to keep the gowns on their backs, they should nevertheless be the unhappy instruments to pull off his. When they put a Bible into his hand as a part of the formality of degradation, and again took it from him, he was much affected, and said with tears, they could not, however, deprive him of the use and benefit of that sacred deposit.[427] On the 1st of December, 1686, he suffered the remainder of his inhuman[371] sentence; the pain being his, but the infamy that of the persons who imposed it.

After the Revolution, the proceedings against this staunch patriot were declared illegal; and he received a pension of L.300 yearly, with L.1000 in money, and a post for his son. Crewe, Bishop of Durham, who acted as one of the commissioners for discharging the duty of the Bishop of London, and as such was active in Mr Johnson's degradation, compounded with him against a suit at law, by payment of a handsome sum. Yet Johnson's dangers were not over; for, such was the enmity of the adherents of King James against him, that a party of desperate assassins broke into his house by night, beat, wounded, and threatened to pistol him, for the books he had written; but, upon his wife's intreaties, at length desisted from their bloody design. The latter part of his days were spent in quietness and independence.

The reader may contrast the character which Dryden has given of Johnson, with that of Hampden, who, in an account of him to the Duchess of Mazarine, says; "Being two years with him in the same prison, I had the opportunity to know him perfectly well; and, to speak my thoughts of him in one word, I can assure your Grace, that I never knew a man of better sense, of a more innocent life, nor of greater virtue, which was proof against all temptation, than Mr Johnson."—See Memorials of his Life prefixed to his Works in folio.

Note XII.

If Balack should be called to leave his place,
As profit is the loudest call of grace,
His temple, dispossessed of one, would be
Replenished with seven devils more by thee.—P. 331.

The famous Gilbert Burnet was then lecturer at St Clements, and preacher at the Rolls chapel, under the patronage of Sir Harbottle Grimstone, Master of the Rolls. King Charles was so anxious that he should be dismissed, as to make it his particular request to Sir Harbottle; but the Master excused himself. It was here he preached that famous sermon on the day of the Gunpowder Treason, 5th November, 1684, when he chose for his text, "Save me from the lion's mouth, thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns;" which, in spite of the doctor's protestations to the contrary, certain suspicious persons considered as an allusion to the supporters of the king's arms. For this he was finally disgraced, and turned out of the chapel of the Rolls. See note on the Buzzard, in the "Hind and Panther."


Note XIII.

Some in my speedy pace I must out-run,
As lame Mephibosheth, the wizard's son.—P. 331.

Samuel Pordage, a minor poet and dramatist of the time, drew this passing sarcasm on his person and pedigree, by a stupid poem, called "Azariah and Hushai," published 1681-2; being an attempt to imitate or answer "Absalom and Achitophel:" with what success the reader may judge, from the following character of Dryden:

Shimei, the poet laureat of that age,
The falling glory of the Jewish stage,
Who scourged the priest, and ridiculed the plot,
Like common men, must not be quite forgot.
Sweet was the muse that did his wit inspire,
Had he not let his hackney muse to hire:
But variously his knowing muse could sing,
Could Doeg praise, and could blaspheme the king;
The bad make good, good bad, and bad make worse.
Bless in heroics, and in satires curse.
Shimei to Zabed's[428] praise could tune his muse,
And princely Azaria could abuse.
Zimri, we know, he had no cause to praise,
Because he dubbed him with the name of Bayes:
Revenge on him did bitter venom shed,
Because he tore the laurel from his head;
Because he durst with his proud wit engage,
And brought his follies on the public stage.
Tell me, Apollo, for I can't divine,
Why wives he cursed, and praised the concubine;
Unless it were, that he had led his life
With a teeming matron, ere she was a wife;
Or that it best with his dear muse did suit,
Who was for hire a very prostitute.

He also stepped forward to break a lance with our author, on the subject of Shaftesbury's acquittal; and answered the "Medal" by a very stupid poem, called the "Medal Reversed." To all this scurrilous doggrel, Dryden only replied by the single couplet above quoted. He calls Mephibosheth "the wizard's son," because the Reverend John Pordage, vicar of Bradfield, in Berkshire, and father of the poet, Samuel, was ejected from his cure by the commissioners of Berkshire, for conversation with evil spirits, and for blasphemy, ignorance, scandalous behaviour, devilism, uncleanness, and heaven knows what. His case of insufficiency is among the State Trials, from which he seems to have been a crazy enthusiast,[373] who believed in a correspondence with genii and dæmons.

Samuel Pordage was a member of the society of Lincoln's Inn. He wrote three plays, namely, the "Troades," translated from Seneca, "Herod and Mariamne," and "The Siege of Babylon." He also published a romance called "Eliana," and prepared a new edition of "God's Revenge against Murder," which was published after his death. Pordage was, moreover, author of "Heroic Stanzas on his Majesty's Coronation, 1661," and probably of other occasional pieces, deservedly doomed to oblivion.

Note XIV.

Shun rotten Uzza as I would the pox.—P. 331.

Jack Hall, ranked as a sort of third-rate poet and courtier among the minor wits of the time. In the "Essay on Satire," he is mentioned as a companion of "little Sid, for simile renowned." Whether we suppose Sidley, or Sidney, to be represented under that character, as they were both at present in the country party, it is possible that Jack Hall went into opposition with his friend and admirer. See the note upon Hall, appended to the "Essay on Satire."

Note XV.

Doeg, though without knowing how or why,
Made still a blundering kind of melody.—P. 331.

Elkanah Settle, whose original quarrel with our author is detailed in the introductory remarks to their prose controversy, had now further incensed him, by tergiversation in politics: For Elkanah, although originally a Tory, was induced, probably by his connections as poet-laureat for the city, to go over to the party of Monmouth and Shaftesbury.[429] His new friends made use of his talents in a two-fold capacity. Shaftesbury employed him to write a pamphlet in favour of the Exclusion, entitled, "The Character[374] of a Popish Successor." When Settle afterwards recanted, he said, this piece, which made some noise at the time, was retouched by "his noble friend in Aldersgate Street," whose only objection was, that it was not sufficiently violent in favour of insurrection. Settle, having a mechanical turn, was also employed as chief engineer at the solemn pope-burning, which we have so often mentioned; in which charge he acquitted himself much to the satisfaction of his employers. On account of his literary and mechanical merits, Sir Roger L'Estrange allots him the double office of poet-laureat and master of the ordnance to the Whig faction, in the following passage of a dialogue between Jest and Earnest:

"Jest. For instance, I knew a lusty fellow, who would not willingly be thought valiant,[430] who has an indifferent hand at making of crackers, serpents, rockets, and the other playthings that are proper on the 5th of November; and has for such his skill received applause, and victuals, from the munificent gentlemen about Temple-bar.

"Earnest. And he, I'll warrant, is made master of the ordnance?

"Jest. True; and I think him very fit for it. But he's like to have another employment, of a strangely different nature; for, because this dull wretch, once upon a time, wrote a fulsomely nonsensical poem, in prose, being a character of a bugbear, he, forsooth, is designed poet-laureat too!

"Earnest. These two offices, as you say, one would think, should require diverse accomplishments: But then it may be said, that these may well enough be supplied by one man; the poet to make ballads in peace, and betake himself to his other business in war.

"Jest. Nay, his squibs and his poems have much what the same fortune; they crack and bounce, and the boys and girls laugh at them.

"Earnest. Well, how great are the advantages! I thought the[375] author of the satyric work upon the "Observator," and Heraclitus, or the Person of Honour, that obliged the pie-folks with poetical reflections upon "Absalom and Achitophel;" I say, I thought these forsaken scribblers might have bid fairest for the evergreen twig.

"Jest. I thought so too; but hunger will break stone-walls. Elk. promises to vindicate Lucifer's first rebellion for a few guineas. Poor Absalom and Achitophel must e'en hide themselves in the Old Testament again; and I question whether they'll be safe there from the fury of this mighty Cacadoggin.

"Earnest. Silly chit! has he not learned the apologue of the Serpent and the File? But fare him well."—Heraclitus Redens, No. 50.

From the last part of this passage, it appears that Settle was then labouring upon his answer to "Absalom and Achitophel," for which Dryden condemned him to a disgraceful immortality. At length he came forth with "Absalom Senior, or Achitophel Transprosed."[431]

In this piece Dryden's plan is followed, by applying the names and history of scripture to modern persons and events. Thus, Queen Elizabeth is Deborah, and Sir Francis Drake, Barak; the Papists are the worshippers of Baal, and the Duke of York is Absalom. This circumstance did not escape the wit of Dryden, who says of Settle, in the text,

For almonds he'll cry whore to his own mother,
Or call young Absalom King David's brother.

Indeed, Elkanah seems himself to have been sensible of the absurdity of this personification, by which the king's brother, almost as old as himself, was converted into the blooming son of David; and apologizes, in his preface addressed to the Tories, for "the freedom of clapping but about a score of years extraordinary on the back of Absalom. Neither is it," he continues, "altogether so unpardonable a poetical licence; since we find as great slips from the author of your own 'Absalom,' where we see him bring in a Zimri into the court of David, who, in the scripture story, died by the hand of Phineas, in the days of Moses.[432] Nay, in the [376]other extreme, we find him, in another place, talking of the martyrdom of Stephen, so many ages after; and, if so famous an author can forget his own rules of unity, time, and place, I hope you'll give a minor poet some grains of allowance."

Sir E. Godfrey's murder is disguised under that of Amnon, Tamar's rape being explained the discovery of the plot:

Baal's cabinet intrigues he open spread;
The ravish'd Tamar, for whose sake he bled.

As Settle's poems have long fallen into total oblivion, from which his name has only been rescued by the satirical pen of Dryden, and as he was once thought no unequal rival for that great poet, the reader may be curious to see a specimen of his style; I have therefore inserted the few of the leading characters of "Absalom Senior," in which he has "rhymed and rattled" with most tolerable success.

Duke of Monmouth.
In the first rank the youthful Ithream stood,
His princely veins filled with great David's blood;
With so much manly beauty in his face,
Scarce his high birth could lend a nobler grace;
And for a mind fit for this shrine of gold,
Heaven cast his soul in the same beauteous mould,
With all the sweets of prideless greatness blest,
And affable as Abraham's angel guest.
That second Moses' guide resolved to free
Our Israel from her threatening slavery;
Idolatry and chains, both from the rods
Of Pharaoh masters and Egyptian gods.
—   —   —   —   —   —   —
Such our Barzillai; but Barzillai too,
With Moses' fate does Moses' zeal pursue;
Leads to that bliss which his own silver hairs
Shall never reach, rich only to his heirs.
Kind patriot, who, to plant us banks of flowers,
With purling streams, cool shades, and summer bowers,
His age's needful rest away does fling,
Exhausts his autumn to adorn our spring;
While his last hours in toils and storms are hurled,
And only to enrich the inheriting world.
Thus prodigally throws his life's short span,
To play his country's generous pelican.


The ungainly appearance, uncouth delivery, and versatile politics of the famous Duke of Lauderdale, are thus described:

Let not that hideous bulk of honour 'scape,
Nadab, that sets the gazing crowd agape;
That old kirk-founder, whose coarse croak could sing
The saints, the cause, no bishop, and no king;
When greatness cleared his throat, and scoured his maw,
Roared out succession, and the penal law.
—   —   —   —   —   —   —
To Absalom's side does his Old Covenant bring,
With state razed out, and interlined with king.
Of low-born tools we bawling Shimei saw,
Jerusalem's late loud-tongued mouth of law;
By blessings from almighty bounty given,
Shimei, no common favourite of heaven,
Whom, lest posterity should lose the breed,
In five short moons indulgent heaven raised seed,
Made happy in an early teeming bride,
And laid a lovely heiress by her side.[433]

But, as was reasonably to be expected, Settle has exerted his whole powers of satire and poetry in the description of his antagonist Dryden: And here let me remark, that almost all the adversaries of our author commence their attack, by an unwilling compliment to his poetical powers:

But Amiel[434] had, alas! the fate to hear
An angry poet play his chronicler;
A poet raised above Oblivion's shade,
By his recorded verse immortal made.
But, sir, his livelier figure to engrave,
With branches added to the bays you gave,
No muse could more heroic feats rehearse;
Had with an equal all-applauding verse,
Great David's sceptre, and Saul's javelin, praised,
A pyramid to his saint, Interest, raised:
{  For which, religiously, no change he mist,
{  From commonwealth's man up to royalist;
{  Nay, would have been his own loathed thing, called priest;
Priest, which with so much gall he does describe,
'Cause once unworthy thought of Levi's tribe.
{  Near those bright towers, where Art has wonders done,
{  And at his feet proud Jordan's waters run,
{  Where David's sight glads the blest summer's sun,
A cell there stands, by pious founders raised,
Both for its wealth and learned rabbins praised;
To this did an ambitious bard aspire.
To be no less than lord of that blest choir;
Till wisdom deemed so sacred a command
A prize too great for his unhallowed hand.
Besides, lewd Fame had told his plighted vow
To Laura's cooing love, perched on a drooping bough;
Laura, in faithful constancy confined
To Ethiop's envoy, and to all mankind;
Laura, though rotten, yet of mould divine,
He had all her ——, and she had all his coin;
Her wit so far his purse and sense could drain.
Till every —— was sweetened to a strain;
And if at last his nature can reform,
As weary grown of love's tumultuous storm.
'Tis age's fault, not his, of power bereft,—
He left not whoring, but of that was left.

Settle's end was utterly inglorious. In 1683, he deserted the cause of the Whigs, and returned to that of the Tories; for whom he wrote several periodical tracts, in one of which, entitled, "A Narrative," he accused his old patron Shaftesbury of correcting the famous "Character of a Popish Successor;" and objecting, that it did not speak favourably enough of rebellion.[435] Whether compelled by poverty, or through zeal for the royal cause, he became a trooper in King James's army, when it was encamped on Hounslow-Heath.[436] Finally, he took the prophetic hint conveyed in Dryden's lines, and became, not indeed the master, but the assistant, to a puppet-show, kept by a Mrs Minns, in Bartholomew-fair. Thus, the expression, which Dryden had chiefly used in contemptuous allusion to the share which Settle had in directing the Pope-burning, and the fire-works which accompanied it, was literally fulfilled.[437] Nay, poor Elkanah, in his old age, was [379]at length obliged not only to write for the puppet-show, but to appear in it as a performer, inclosed in a case representing a green dragon of his own proper device. There are few readers, who need to be reminded of Pope's famous lines,—

Yet lo! in me what authors have to brag on!
Reduced at last to hiss in my own dragon.
Avert it, heaven! that thou, my Cibber, e'er
Should'st wag a serpent-tail in Smithfield fair!

In the close of life, this veteran scribbler found admission to the Charter-house; and in that hospital, in the year 1724, died the rival of Dryden.

In person, Elkanah Settle was tall, red-faced, and wore a satin cap over his short black hair.

Note XVI.

Now stop your noses, readers, all and some,
For here's a tun of midnight-work to come,
Og from a treason-tavern rolling home.—P. 333.

Our author had very shortly before the publication of the second part of "Absalom and Achitophel," made his enemy, Shadwell, the subject of a separate and cutting personal satire, called "Mac Flecnoe." That poem, as we have noticed in the introductory remarks, has reference principally to the literary character of his adversary; while, in the lines which follow, he considers him chiefly as a political writer, and factionary of the popular party. Shadwell's corpulence, his coarse and brutal debauchery, his harsh and clumsy style of poetry, fell under the lash on both occasions; and it is astonishing, with what a burning variety of colours these qualities are represented. The history of his literary disputes with Dryden may be perused in the introduction to "Mac Flecnoe." In the "Vindication of the Duke of Guise," Dryden has also given a severe flagellation to his corpulent adversary, in which he says, "that although Shadwell has often called him an atheist in print, he believes more charitably of his antagonist, and that he only goes the broad way, because the other is too narrow for him."

Besides avenging abundance of personal abuse, Dryden, in the person of Shadwell, chastises a great supporter of the Whig cause and principles. Shadwell himself complains, that, in the days of Charles and James, he "was silenced for a non-conformist poet." He was the chief among the "corrector-men," as the authors and[380] publishers of the Whig party were oddly entitled;[438] and received the reward of his principles at the Revolution, succeeding, as is well known, our author in the office of poet laureat. In the epilogue to the "Volunteers," a play of Shadwell's, acted after his death, the friends of the Revolution are called upon to applaud their favourite bard's last production:

Crown you his last performance with applause,
Who love, like him, our liberties and laws;
Let but the honest party do him right,
And their loud claps will give him fame, in spite
Of the faint hiss of grumbling Jacobite.

Note XVII.

These, gloomy, thoughtful, and on mischief bent;
While those for mere good fellowship frequent
The appointed club, can let sedition pass,
Sense, nonsense, any thing to employ the glass.—P. 335.

The reader will find some account of the King's Head Club, Vol. VII. p. 154. North gives the following lively account of the vulgar, as he calls them, of the popular faction. Their employ, according to him, was, "to run about whispering here and there, by which management they kept up the spirits of their fools, whose fire, without a continual pabulum of fresh news, talks, and hopes, would go out. Amongst these, the cues and hints went about; honest, drunken, lying fellows, good company, and always dear friends. A nod, with a wink, had a notable signification, if it followed, 'Have patience, you shall see.'—'I know somewhat extraordinary will be done shortly and soon, which will secure all on our side.' And thus passively wicked were these underlings, or fry of the party: they knew of the intrigue no more,[381] and were concerned as the wood of drums and the brass of trumpets are in the war."[439]—"The pastime of this meeting, called the Club, was very engaging to young gentlemen, and one, who had once tasted the conversation, could scarcely ever quit it. For some or others were continually coming and going, to import or export news or stories, as the trade required and afforded. There it was known in half an hour, what any member said at the committee of elections, or in the house, if it sat late. And every post carried the news and tales legitimated there, as also the malign constructions of all the good actions of the government, especially to places where elections were depending to shape men's characters into fit qualifications to be chosen or rejected. The Pope himself could not make saints so readily as they Papists, and so half-three-quarter Papists, as belief was prompt or difficult. And a lewd atheistical fellow was as readily washed clean, and made a zealous Protestant. For that genus of perfection was not wanted in this dispensation, where no vice, immorality, heresy, atheism, or blasphemous wit, had not professors ready to embrace willing disciples, who, for the sake of such sublimities of wit and sense as they were accounted, were ready to prostitute all principles of duty, and especially those that regarded allegiance to the crown."[440]

The well-known distinction of this famous club was a green ribband: in opposition to which, the Tories wore in their hats a scarlet ribband, with the motto, Rex et Hæredes. The prologue to "Anna Bullen" very sensibly expostulates against these party badges:

Was't not enough, vain men, of either side,
Two roses once the nation did divide;
But must it be in danger now agen,
Betwixt the scarlet and green ribbon men?


But in the sacred annals of our plot,
Industrious Arod never be forgot;
The labours of this midnight magistrate
May vie with Corah's, to preserve the state.—P. 335.

Sir William Waller, son of the parliamentary general of the same name, distinguished himself during the time of the Popish plot, by an uncommon decree of bustling activity. He was a justice of peace; and, unawed by the supposed fate of his brother in the commission, and in knighthood, Sir Edmondbury Godfrey, he stood forth the bold investigator of this bottomless conspiracy. It was he who had the fortune, by the assistance of Captain[382] Dangerfield, to detect what was called the Meal-Tub Plot, which that fellow, who had been trafficking with both factions, and probably meant to cheat both, chose to represent as a sham conspiracy, contrived to ruin Shaftesbury and his friends. Upon this occasion, Sir William had much closeting with a magnanimous midwife, called Mrs Cellier, whom Dangerfield charged as an agent of the court, and who afterwards alleged, that the knight took some uncommon means to extort confessions from her. Sir William Waller was also the person who discovered Fitzharris's Plot; and he intimated, that the king, who intended to turn it upon the Protestants, was so much displeased with his blowing up the project, that he threatened to have him assassinated. The Tories alleged, that the pleasure of making these discoveries was not Sir William's sole reward, any more than zeal was his only motive for gutting the Popish chapels. "In which," says North, "he proceeded with such scandalous rigour, as to bring forth the pictures and other furniture of great value, and burn them publicly; which gave occasion to suspect, and some said positively, that, under this pretence, he kept good things for himself; in a word, he was called the priest-catcher."[441] Anthony Wood joins in the accusation of his rifling the Papists' houses of goods, and appropriating chapel ornaments as popish trinkets. I find that respectable person, Miles Prance, the witness, enters into a solemn vindication of the justice, from the practices alleged by North, Wood, and by the poet. "Another damnable scandal they have broached, which, though it be principally levelled at Sir William Waller, as if he, under pretence of searching for priests, and seizing popish trinkets, should take away money, plate, and other things of value from the owners, and necklaces of pearl for beads; yet, since I very frequently went along with him, it does obliquely reflect upon me, and I cannot but do that worthy gentleman the right to justify him against such a most false, groundless, and malicious slander: I do therefore declare, in the presence of God, and shall be ready to attest upon oath, that whensoever I attended him in searches, which was almost every day, I could never discover in him the least inclination to any such base practices; but that, to the contrary, he behaved himself as a good Christian and just magistrate; for, wherever we came, what money we found was left in the owner's possession; and as for chalices, and pieces of plate belonging to priests, and used in their mass, or for keeping of holy oil, we did indeed batter or break them to pieces, but always returned[383] all the pieces to the proprietors. But their copes and priestly vestments, superstitious pictures, habits of monks belonging to their peculiar orders, and such like trumpery, we did sometimes take away, and cause them to be publicly burned, never making any advantage thereof. And as to any necklaces of pearl, reported to be by him taken away, I am more than confident the same is as arrand a lie, as that he thought one Bedingfield, whom he took at Newark, to have been the same Bedingfield, who died in the Gatehouse; for he well knew it was another man."[442] Prance confirms this attestation by a special case, in which Sir William returned to a priest, not only his money, but a silver tobacco-box.[443]

Derrick mentions Sir William standing candidate, in 1679, to be a member of Parliament, in which he failed; and adds, that the publicans, who trusted him, found much ado to get their money. When the court party gained an ascendance, Sir William Waller was first struck out of the commission, and afterwards committed to prison, to the great triumph of the Tories.[444] He afterwards went to Holland, and with Robert Ferguson and Bethel is specially excepted from the general pardon granted after Monmouth's defeat. Ralph, Vol. I. p. 918.


Note XIX.

Who for their own defence give no supply,
But what the crown's prerogatives must buy;
As if their monarch's rights to violate
More needful were, than to preserve the state!—P. 336.

The Whigs of those days had constant recourse to the desperate remedy of refusing supplies, when dissatisfied with the court. This ultimate measure ought only to be adopted in cases of extremity; because the want of means to maintain the usual current expences for the law, and the defence of the country, gives a perilous shock to the whole system of government. At that time, however, it was held so effectual a check, and so necessary, that the Whig citizens, in a paper of instructions furnished to their representatives in 1680-1, having thanked them for their good service, more especially for their zeal for the Exclusion Bill, proceed to recommend, "that they would still literally pursue the same measures, and grant no supplies to the crown, till they saw themselves effectually secured from popery and arbitrary power."

Note XX.

His absence David does with tears advise,
To appease their rage; undaunted he complies.—P. 337.

In 1678-9, when the plot hung like a comet over England, the king thought it necessary to assent to the counsel of the Earl of Danby, and request the Duke of York to give way to the storm, and silence the popular clamour, by retreating for a season to the Continent. The Duke requested a particular order, lest it should be supposed he fled from a consciousness of guilt. The order was in these words: "I have already given you my resolution at large, why I think it fit that you absent yourself some time beyond the seas. As I am truly sorry for the occasion, so you may be sure I shall never desire it longer than it may be absolutely necessary for your good and my service. In the meantime, I think proper to give it you under my hand, that I expect this compliance from you, and desire it may be as soon as conveniently you can. You may easily perceive with what trouble I write this to you, there being nothing I am more sensible of than the kindness you have ever had for me. I hope you are as just to me, as to be assured, that no absence, nor any thing else, can ever change me from being truly and kindly yours, C. R. February 28th 1678-9." Superscribed, "For my most dear friend the Duke of York."

Authors differ concerning the "store of parting tears," which were shed on the separation of the royal brothers. Burnet says,[385] that the duke wept much, but the king did not seem affected. Others affirm, that both brothers testified much emotion. The duke retired to Brussels, where he remained till the time of the king's illness, so often mentioned.

Note XXI.

Dissembled patriots, bribed with Egypt's gold,
Even sanhedrims in blind obedience hold.—P. 341.

That Charles II. was a pensioner of France, is now generally allowed. But, though Louis was willing to afford the king of England such supplies as to save him from the necessity of throwing himself on his parliament, it was equally his policy to foster such opposition to him in that assembly, as might totally engage the eyes of both parties upon domestic feuds, and withdraw them from marking his own ambitious strides towards universal power. For this it was necessary, that his minister Barillon should have an understanding with the leaders of the popular party. Hence each faction, as truly as loudly, accused the other of the unworthy dependence on France, to which both were in secret reduced. An account of the French intrigues with the popular party, and of the money distributed among their chiefs, may be found in Dalrymple's Memoirs.

Note XXII.

From Hebron now the suffering heir returned,
A realm that long with civil discord mourned;
Till his approach, like some arriving god,
Composed and healed the place of his abode.—P. 343.

In some respects, the presence of the Duke of York in Scotland was very acceptable to the nobles and gentry of that kingdom. There is, among Somers' Tracts, a letter from a person of quality in Scotland, who professes, that, although a zealous Protestant, he had been converted from his opinion in favour of the Bill of Exclusion, by "the personal knowledge of his very many excellencies and virtues." Doubtless, many circumstances drew the Scots to the faction and favour of the Duke. They saw the halls of their ancient palace again graced with the appearance of royalty, and occupied by a descendant of their long line of kings. The formal, grave, and stately decorum of James, was more suitable to the manners of a proud, reserved, and somewhat pedantic people, than the lighter manners of Charles. The proud, as well as the ingenious, know, and feel, the value of favours conferred by those who resemble them. York applied himself particularly to secure the personal attachment of the Highland chiefs, and to staunch the feuds[386] by which their clans were divided. He, no doubt, reckoned upon the assistance of these ready warriors, in case the sword had been drawn in England; but he little foresaw, that the last hopes of his family were to depend on the generous attachment of the descendants of the chieftains whom he then cultivated, and that his race were to involve in their fall the ruin of the patriarchal and feudal power of these faithful adherents. But if the conduct of James in these particulars was laudable, on the other hand, by introducing an inconsistent and absurd test into the law, by making it the means of ruining a loyal and innocent nobleman, the Earl of Argyle, by satiating his own eyes with the tortures inflicted on the Covenanters,—he gave tokens of that ill-judged and bigotted severity, which was the cause of his being precipitated from the throne. Settle gives a juster, if a less poetical, account of the manner in which he spent his exile:

Whilst sweating Absalon, in Israel pent,
For fresher air was to bleak Hebron sent,—
Cold Hebron, warmed by his approaching sight,
Flushed with his gold, and glowed with new delight,—
Till sacred, all-converting interest,
To loyalty their almost unknown guest,
Oped a broad gate, from whence forth issuing come
Decrees, tests, oaths, for well-soothed Absalom.


'Mongst whom was Jothran, Jothran always bent
To serve the crown, and loyal by descent.—P. 343.

Admiral Legge, created Earl of Dartmouth by Charles II., and a particular friend of the Duke of York. When James came to the throne, he loaded Dartmouth with favours, and paid a singular testimony to the family loyalty, celebrated in the text. In 1687, while the earl attended the king on his progress, the city of Coventry presented his majesty with a massive gold cup, which he instantly delivered to Lord Dartmouth, telling him, it was an acknowledgement from the city for the sufferings of his father, who had long lain in jail there, on account of his adherence to the king during the civil wars. In the succeeding year, Dartmouth was made admiral of the fleet of England. He was, perhaps, the worthiest man, and most faithful servant, in the court of King James, whom he truly loved and served, though he disapproved of his arbitrary encroachments, and spoke his mind on the subject without fear or scruple. Although a hereditary enemy of Lord Russell, Dartmouth had the generosity to interfere in his favour. He set sail from Torbay, with the English fleet, to intercept that of the Prince of Orange, at the time of the Revolution. Had they met,[387] a bloody action must have been the consequence; but God ordered it otherwise. The same wind, which carried the Dutch fleet into Torbay, forced back the English to the Downs; and before Dartmouth could again put to sea, the officers and sailors were as unwilling to resist the Prince of Orange, as the nobles and land army. When Lord Dartmouth found it was entirely out of his power to serve King James, he called a council of war, and joined in an address to King William. In 1691-2, he was committed to the Tower, on suspicion of holding correspondence with his old master.

Note XXIV.

Nor can Benaiah's worth forgotten lie,
Of steady soul when public storms were high;
Whose conduct, while the Moor fierce onsets made,
Secured at once our honour and our trade.—P. 343.

General Edward Sackville, a gentleman of good quality, related to the Dorset family, who had served at Tangier with great reputation, both for courage and judgment. Being a particular friend of the Duke of York, he expressed himself very contemptuously concerning the Popish conspiracy, saying, "they were sons of whores who believed there was a plot, and he was a lying rogue that said it." The Commons, being then in the very height of their fermentation on this subject, not only expelled Sackville from the House, but prepared an address to the king, that he might be made incapable of holding any office. He was committed to the Tower, but shortly afterwards set free, and restored to his military rank, though not to his seat in the House. After noticing Dartmouth, Sackville, and the other real friends of the Duke of York, the poet stigmatizes those concealed enemies, who now affected to congratulate his return:

——Those who sought his absence to betray,
Press first their nauseous false respects to pay;
Him still the officious hypocrites molest,
And with officious duty break his rest.

A marginal note on Luttrell's copy points out the Earl of Anglesea as particularly concerned in this sarcasm. In a prologue, spoken before the duke at his first appearance at the theatre after his return, Dryden is equally severe on these time-serving courtiers:

Still we are thronged so full with Reynard's race,
That loyal subjects scarce can find a place.
Thus modest truth is cast behind the crowd,
Truth speaks too low, hypocrisy too loud.
Let them be first to flatter in success;
Duty can stay, but guilt has need to press.


Note XXV.

Who now an envious festival installs,
And to survey their strength the faction calls,
Which fraud, religious worship too, must gild;
But oh how weakly does sedition build!
For, lo! the royal mandate issues forth,
Dashing at once their treason, zeal, and mirth.—P. 346.

The Duke of York maintained some interest in the city, by being captain-general of the Artillery Company, who invited him to dine at Merchant-Taylors' Hall, on April 21, 1682. The party of Monmouth and Shaftesbury resolved to have a meeting in opposition to that which was proposed; and tickets, at a guinea a piece, of which the following is a copy, were circulated among their adherents:

"It having pleased Almighty God, by his wonderful providence, to deliver and protect his majesties person, the Protestant religion, and English liberties, hitherto from the hellish and frequent attempts of their enemies the Papists; in testimony of thankfulness herein, and for the preserving and improving mutual love and charity among such as are sensible thereof, you are desired to meet many of the loyal Protestant nobility, gentry, clergy, and citizens, on Friday the 21st day of this instant April, 1682, at ten of the clock, at St Michael's Church, in Cornhill, there to hear a sermon, and from thence to go to Haberdashers' Hall, to dinner, and to bring this ticket with you."

A sermon was accordingly prepared for this great occasion;[445] and doubtless contained what is vulgarly called a touch of the times. All other preparations for this great entertainment were made with proper magnificence; but the design was utterly quashed by the following proclamation:

"Whitehall, April 19. His Majesty was pleased, this afternoon, to make the following order in council, at the court of Whitehall, this 19th day of April, 1682. By his Majesty, and the Lords of his Majesty's most honourable privy council.


"Whereas, the appointing of publique fasts and thanksgiving is matter of state, and belongs only to his majesty, by his prerogative, and his majesty being informed that, in the city of London, invitations have been made of great and unusual numbers, by printed tickets, one of which is hereunto annext; his majesty looks upon the same as an insolent attempt, in manifest derogation of his right, and of dangerous consequence: The matter of the said invitation being of a publique nature, and the manner of carrying it on, tending to sedition, and raising distinctions and confederacies among his subjects, against the known laws and peace of the kingdom, his majesty, therefore, by the advice of his council, hath thought fit, and doth hereby strictly charge and command the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of London, as they will answer the contrary at their peril, to take immediate and effectual care to prevent and hinder the said meeting, as an unlawful assembly; and all sheriffs, constables, and others his majesty's officers in the said city, are hereby commanded to be aiding and assisting therein."

This disappointment, trifling as it may seem, was of great disadvantage to the Whigs. It made them ridiculous; which is more fatal to a political party than any other misfortune; for few chuse to belong to the faction who have the laugh against them. The Tory poets exulted in the opportunity of showing their wit; and we have perpetual allusions to this ludicrous incident, in the fugitive pieces of the time. Thus, Otway, in the prologue to the "City Heiress, or Sir Timothy Treatall:"

This dæmon lately drew in many a guest,
To part with zealous guinny for no feast;
Who, but the most incorrigible fops,
Forever doomed in dismal cells, called shops,
To cheat and damn themselves to get their livings,
Would lay sweet money out in sham thanksgivings?
Sham-plots you may have paid for o'er and o'er,
But who e'er paid for a sham treat before?

In a congratulatory poem on the Whigs entertainment, we have a similar strain of exultation, though, I believe, it is there ironical:

Hollow boys, hollow, hollow once again!
'Tother half crown shall then reward your pain;
Alas! poor Whigg, where wilt thou sneaking go,
Thy wine is spilt, thy pyes and cakes are dough;
Down go the coppers, tables, shelves, and all,
And so fare well to Haberdashers' Hall.

"The Loyal Feast, appointed to be kept in Haberdashers' Hall,[390] on Friday the 21st of April, 1682, by his Majesty's most loyal true-blue Protestant Subjects, and how it was defeated."

The Whigs from north to south, from east to west,
Did all contribute to a loyal feast;
To this great work, a guiney was the least.
They cleared the stalls of fish, flesh, fowl, and beast,
Where Tony and brave Perkin was a guest;
But what succeeded this, made up the jest.
—   —   —   —   —   —   —
Tony was small, but of noble race,
And was beloved of every one;
He broached his tap, and it ran apace,
To make a solemn treat for all the town.
He sent to yeoman, knight, and lord,
The holy tribe to entertain,
With all the nation could afford;
But Tony will never be himself again.
—   —   —   —   —   —   —
With thanks and prayers for our good king,
They vowed to solemnize the day;
But royal Charles, he smoked the thing,
And sent the rabble with a pox away.
He sent his summons to the cit,
Seditious meetings to refrain;
The feast was broke, and the guests were beshit,
And Tony will never be himself again.
And now the capons fly about,
With fricassees of amber grice,
And chickens ready dressed, they shout
About the street for pence apiece.
The Whigs did wish the counsel choked,
Who did this noble feast restrain;
All down in the mouth, to be thus bawked,
Poor Tony will ne'er be himself again.

Note XXVI.

First write Bezaliel, whose illustrious name
Forestals our praise, and gives his poet fame:
The Kenites rocky province his command.—P. 347.

The Marquis of Worcester, Lord President of Wales, was a keen opponent of the Bill of Exclusion; insomuch, that, by a vote of the Commons in 1680, he was declared a favourer of Popery, (then an imputation of tremendous import,) and an address was appointed to be preferred against him, Halifax, Clarendon, and others, as enemies to the king and kingdom. It may be supposed, that this was far from lowering the marquis in the king's esteem; on the contrary, in 1682, he was created Duke of Beaufort. At the Duke of Monmouth's invasion he commanded in Bristol, and was[391] an effectual means of stopping his progress; for, when he approached that city, which contained many of his partisans, the Duke of Beaufort, finding there was great danger of an insurrection in the place, declared, that he would burn the town the instant he saw the slightest symptoms of disloyalty. When this was made known to Monmouth, he exclaimed, "God forbid I should be the means of exposing so noble a city to the double calamity of sword and fire!" Accordingly, he instantly altered the direction of his march, leaving behind him that rich and populous city, which, if he could have carried it, contained men to increase his forces, stores to supply them, arms to equip them, and money to pay them. This proved a fatal indulgence of compassion:

"Ambition should be made of sterner stuff."

The Duke of Beaufort continued to be a friend to James, after, by abdicating his throne, he had ceased to be a friend to himself. He voted against William in the Convention Parliament. Lord Herbert, of Ragland, the duke's eldest son, in whom he "saw all his glories copied," as the poet has it, was, according to Wood, entered at Christ Church, Oxford, and took the degree of Master of Arts in 1681.

An account of the Duke of Beaufort's noble house-keeping, and mode of educating his family, has been preserved by Roger North, and presents so curious a picture of the interior of a great family, in the end of the 17th century, that I think the reader will be pleased to see it:

"One year his lordship, (the Lord Chief Justice North, afterwards Lord Keeper Guilford,) concluding at Bristol, made a visit at Badminton to the Duke of Beaufort, and staid about a week. For the duke was descended from a North of his lordship's family, viz. one of the Lord Edward North's daughters, whom a lineal ancestor of his Grace married. So, besides conformity of principle, with respect to the public, they were, by this relation, qualified for mutual respect and honour. I mention this entertainment as an handle of shewing a princely way of living, which that noble duke used, above any other, except crowned heads, that I have had notice of in Europe; and, in some respects, greater than most of them, to whom he might have been an example. He had above L. 2000 per annum in his hands, which he managed by stewards, bailiffs, and servants; and, of that, a great part of the country, which was his own, lying round about him, was part, and the husbandmen, &c. were of his family, and provided for in his large expanded house. He bred all his horses, which came to the husbandry first colts, and, from thence, as they were fit, were taken into his equipage; and, as by age, or accident, they grew unfit for that service, they were returned to the place from[392] whence they came, and there expired; except what, for plenty or unfitness, were sold or disposed of. He had about two hundred persons in his family, all provided for, and, in his capital house, nine original tables covered every day: and, for the accommodation of so many, a large hall was built, with a sort of alcove at one end, for distinction; but yet the whole lay in the view of him that was chief, who had power to do what was proper for keeping order amongst them; and it was his charge to see it done. The tables were properly assigned, as, for example, the chief steward with the gentlemen and pages; the master of the horse with the coachmen and liveries; an under steward with the bailiffs and some husbandmen; the clerk of the kitchen with the bakers, brewers, &c. all together; and other more inferior people, under these, in places apart. The women had their dining-room also, and were distributed in like manner: my lady's chief woman with the gentlewomen; the housekeeper with the maids, and some others. The method of governing this great family was admirable and easy, and such as might have been a pattern for any management whatever; for, if the Duke or Duchess (who concerned herself much more than he did; for every day of her life, in the morning, she took her tour, and visited every office about the house, and so was her own superintendant) observed any thing amiss or suspicious, as a servant riding out, or the like, nothing was said to that servant, but his immediate superior, or one of an higher order, was sent for, who was to enquire and answer if leave had been given, or not; if not, such servant was straight turned away. No fault of order was passed by; for it may be concluded, there are enough of them that pass undiscovered. All the provisions of the family came from foreign parts, as merchandize. Soap and candle were made in the house, so likewise the malt was ground there; and all the drink that came to the duke's table, was of malt sun-dried upon the leads of his house. Those are large; and the lanthorn is in the centre of an asterisk of glades, cut through the wood of all the country round, four or five in a quarter, almost a perte de vue. Diverse of the gentlemen cut their trees and hedges to humour his vistos; and some planted their hills in his lines, for compliment, at their own charge. All the trees, planted in his parks and about, were fenced with a dry wall of stone, taken out where the tree was set. And with all this menagery and provision, no one, that comes and goes for visits, or affairs with the duke, (who was lord-lieutenant of four or five counties, and Lord President of Wales,) that could observe any thing more to do there than in any other nobleman's house; so little of vain ostentation was to be seen there. At the entrance where coaches ordinarily came in, the duke built a neat dwelling-house;[393] but pompous stables, which would accommodate forty horses, as well as the best stables he had. This was called the inn, and was contrived for the ease of the suitors, as I may call them; for, instead of half-a-crown to his servants at taking horse, sixpence there, for form, served the turn; and no servant of his came near a gentleman's horse; but they were brought by their own servants, except such as lodged, whose equipages were in his own stables.

"As for the duke and duchess, and their friends, there was no time of the day without diversion. Breakfast in her gallery, that opened into the gardens; then perhaps a deer was to be killed, or the gardens and parks, with the several sorts of deer, to be visited; and if it required mounting, horses of the duke's were brought for all the company. And so, in the afternoon, when the ladies were disposed to air, and the gentlemen with them, coaches and six came to hold them all. At half an hour after eleven, the bell rang to prayers, so at six in the evening; and, through a gallery, the best company went into an aisle in the church, (so near was it,) and the duke and duchess could see if all the family were there. The ordinary pastime of the ladies was in a gallery on the other side, where she had diverse gentlewomen commonly at work upon embroidery and fringe-making; for all the beds of state were made and finished in the house. The meats were very neat, and not gross; no servants in livery attended, but those called gentlemen only; and, in the several kinds, even down to the small beer, nothing could be more choice than the table was. It was an oblong and not an oval; and the duchess, with two daughters only, sat at the upper end. If the gentlemen chose a glass of wine, the civil offers were made either to go down into the vaults, which were very large and sumptuous, or servants, at a sign given, attended with salvers, &c. and many a brisk round went about; but no sitting at table with tobacco and healths, as the too common use is. And this way of entertaining continued a week, while we were there, with incomparable variety: for the duke had always some new project, building, walling, or planting, which he would show, and ask his friends their advice about; and nothing was forced or strained, but easy and familiar, as if it was, and really so I thought it to be, the common course and way of living in that family.

"One thing more I must needs relate, which the duke told us smiling, and it was this: When he was in the midst of his building, his neighbour, the Lord Chief Justice Hales, made him a visit; and observing the many contrivances the duke had for the disposing of so great a family, he craved leave to suggest one to him, which he thought would be much for his service, and it was, to[394] have but one door to his house, and the window of his study, where he sat most, open upon that. This shows how hard it is for even wise and learned men to consider things without themselves. The children of the family were bred with a philosophical care. No inferior servants were permitted to entertain them, lest some mean sentiments, or foolish notions and fables, should steal into them; and nothing was so strongly impressed upon them as a sense of honour. Witness the Lord Arthur, who, being about five years old, was very angry with the judge for hanging men. The judge told him, that, if they were not hanged, they would kill and steal. 'No,' said the little boy, 'you should make them promise upon their honour they will not do so, and then they will not.' It were well if this institutionary care of parents were always correspondent in the manners of all the children; for it is not often found to prove so." Life of the Lord Keeper Guilford, p. 132.


Brave Abdael o'er the prophet's school was placed;
Abdael, with all his father's virtue graced.—P. 348.

Christopher, Duke of Albemarle, son to the restorer of the monarchy. He seems to have had no particular character of his own, excepting that he was fond of mechanics, and suggested some improvements on the diving-bell. The Whig writers seldom mention him without a sneer at his understanding.[446] His talents were, however, sufficient to recommend him to be chancellor of Cambridge, in place of the Duke of Monmouth, once the idol of the university, but whose picture they, in 1682, consigned to the flames, with all the solemnities of dishonour.[447] There is a Pindaric ode upon the election of the Duke of Albemarle to this presidency over the seat of the Muses, containing a suitable quantity[395] of bombast and flattery; it concludes by promising his grace a poetical immortality:

Some happy favourite of the nine,
Some Spenser, Cowley, Dryden, shall be thine;
Happy bards, who erst did dream
Near thy own Cam's inspiring stream;
He midst the records of immortal fame,
He midst the stars shall fix thy name,
The muses safety, and the muses theme.

When Monmouth undertook his ill-fated expedition, Albemarle marched against him with the militia of Devon; but the ex-chancellor of Cambridge baffled the attempts of his successor to coop him up at Lyme, and compelled him to retreat with some disorder. Monmouth, after assuming the title of king, sent a summons to Albemarle to claim his allegiance, who returned a cold and contemptuous answer. In 1687, Albemarle was sent abroad as governor of Jamaica; in which island he died.


Eliab our next labour does invite,
And hard the task to do Eliab right.—P. 348.

Sir Henry Bennet was the constant attendant of Charles II. during his exile: after the Restoration, he became a member of the Cabal administration, and secretary of state. He was finally Lord Chamberlain, and through many turns of politics retained the favour of Charles II., perhaps as much from making himself useful in his pleasures, as from the recollection of his faithful attachment. He was learned, and accustomed to business; but, being naturally of a slow understanding, and having acquired a formal manner during his stay in Spain, much enhanced by a black patch which he wore to conceal a wound on his nose, there was something ridiculously stiff in his demeanour. Charles II., who put no value upon a friend in comparison to a jest, is said to have had much delight in seeing the Duke of Buckingham, or any of his gay courtiers, by the help of a black patch and a white staff, enact Harry Bennet. Mulgrave thinks, that a ludicrous idea being thus associated with Arlington, and all that concerned him, he came to be generally thought a man of less abilities, than he really was. He adds, he was of a generous temper, and served his friends warmly. Being once ungratefully used by one whom he had benefited, he asked Mulgrave, what effect he thought it would have upon him; and prevented his answer, by saying, it should neither cool his present friendship, nor prevent him of the greatest happiness of his life, which was to serve the first deserving person[396] that fell in his way.[448] Although the Duke of York disliked Arlington, yet he suffered him to retain his situation at court. His religion may have saved him from disgrace; for Arlington was privately a Catholic, and avowed himself to be so on his death-bed.[449] He died July, 1685.

Note XXIX.

And blessed again, to see his flower allied
To David's stock, and made young Othriel's bride.—P. 349.

Lady Isabella Bennet, only daughter and heiress of the Earl of Arlington, was married to Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Grafton, second son of Charles II. by the Duchess of Cleveland. This match was against the inclination of the duke's mother; for Derrick says, he saw a letter from her to Danby, dated at Paris, in 1675, thanking him for endeavouring to prevent the match. The Duke of Grafton was bred to the sea. After Monmouth had taken the popular courses which we have reviewed, the king endeavoured to set Grafton, though inferior in all personal accomplishments, in opposition to him, in the hearts of the people. He was appointed steward of the Loyal Apprentices' entertainment,[450] and otherwise [397]placed in the public eye, as the rival of Monmouth. He also was admitted to share his more profitable spoils, getting one of the regiments of the guards, formerly under Monmouth's command, when the Duke of Richmond was made Master of the Horse.[451] Grafton was sent against Monmouth on his landing in the west, and attempted to beat up his rear with a body of horse, as he marched towards Frome; but was defeated, and very nearly made prisoner.[452] The Duke of Grafton participated in the general discontent which James II's measures excited through the kingdom, and remonstrated against them with professional frankness. The king ridiculed a seaman's pretensions to tenderness of conscience; and Grafton answered sturdily, that "if he had not much religion himself, he belonged to a party who had." He was with the king when he headed his army to march against the Prince of Orange, and joined with Churchill, in exhorting him to hazard a battle. We must hope, that they meant to share the risque which they recommended; and that it was only a consciousness that the king had deserted his own cause, which induced them to go over to the prince, when their counsel was rejected. On the 28th September, 1690, the Duke of Grafton was mortally wounded at the siege of Cork, as he commanded the squadron which covered the landing. He seems to have been a brave, rough, hardy-tempered man, and would probably have made a figure as a naval officer.

Note XXX.

Even envy must consent to Helon's worth;
Whose soul, though Egypt glories in his birth,
Could for our captive ark its zeal retain,
And Pharaoh's altars in their pomp disdain.—P. 349.

Lewis Duras, Earl of Feversham, brother of the French Marshals Duras and De Lorge, and nephew to the famous Marshal Turenne. He was born of a Huguenot family, and retained his religion, or the form of it, when both his brothers conformed to the Catholic church. The Duke of York's opportune return from Flanders is said, by Sir John Reresby, to have been planned by this nobleman;[398] who is, therefore, introduced here with singular propriety. He is said to have been brave; but appears, from the only remarkable action in which he was ever engaged, to have been a bad general, and a cruel man. James II., who had a high esteem for Feversham, placed him at the head of that body of disciplined troops, which checked the career of Monmouth. He advanced to Bridgewater, of which Monmouth had got possession, with some of the finest regiments in the service, and 30 field pieces. The unfortunate adventurer seemed to have no refuge left, but to disperse his forces, and fly for his safety; when the mode in which Feversham conducted himself gave him a fair chance for victory and a crown. He encamped in the open country, three miles from the enemy, with only a dry ditch in his front; dispersed his cavalry in the neighbouring hamlets, and retired quietly to bed, without either sending out reconnoitering parties, or establishing advanced posts.[453] It is no wonder, that, that in such a careless state, he should have been completely surprised; it is only singular, that, even allowing for the cowardice of Lord Grey, who fled, instead of performing the safe and easy duty committed to him of firing the horse-quarters of Feversham's army, he should have been able to recover the consequences of his negligence. Monmouth's men fought for three hours after they had been deserted by their cavalry, with the innate courage of English peasants. Feversham was still hard pressed, notwithstanding the gallant assistance afforded him by Dumbarton; when the Bishop of Bath[399] and Wells decided the day, by causing the artillery to be turned upon the flank of Monmouth's followers. When they had given way, Feversham exhibited more of the cold-blooded cruelty of his country, than he had done of their genius and fiery valour, while the battle lasted. The military bishop also proved himself a better lawyer than the general, as he had shewn himself in the fight a better soldier; but it was not till a warm expostulation was made on his part that the general ceased to execute the prisoners by martial law, and reserved them to a still more cruel fate from the forms of law, as administered by the brutal Jefferies. Neither Feversham's blunders, nor his brutality, seemed to lessen his merit in the eye of his sovereign. He received the order of the Garter, on the 31st July, 1685, probably on the vacancy occasioned by the Duke of Monmouth's death, whose memory was on this occasion treated with signal ignominy.[454] At the time of the Revolution, Lord Feversham was commander in chief, and proved himself incapable of taking any spirited steps for James's interest; for the army he commanded, though the officers were disaffected, would probably have fought, had they been once fairly committed in opposition to the Dutch. When the king resolved to abandon everything, and forsake his kingdom, he left behind, a letter to Feversham, stating that he should not expect his troops at present to expose themselves. The general might have secured a part of his forces, by retreating along with the high-spirited Viscount of Dundee, who marched back into Scotland with the Scottish regiments; but Feversham was a man of another mould, and rather chose to augment the general confusion, by disbanding the army. When James was detected by the fishermen of Kent, in his attempt to leave the kingdom, Feversham, with a party of his guards, was sent to conduct him back to his capital. James also chose him for the messenger, when, yielding to sad necessity, he sent a letter to the Prince of Orange, inviting him to St James's. With a view, doubtless, to increase the terror of the king's mind, and precipitate his intention of a second flight, the prince arrested the bearer of this humiliating embassy. This was the last public occasion on which James had occasion to employ[400] the services of the unmilitary nephew of the great Turenne, whose name is connected with the most blame-worthy and most melancholy passages of his reign.

Note XXXI.

Our list of nobles next let Amri grace,
Whose merits claimed the Abethdin's high place;
Who, with a loyalty that did excel,
Brought all the endowments of Achitophel.—P. 349.

These lines, which sufficiently vouch their author to have been Tate, refer to Sir Heneage a Finch, an eminent lawyer, who was first attorney-general, and, upon Shaftesbury losing his seals, succeeded him as Lord Keeper. He was a most incorruptible judge, and could not be swayed in his decisions even by the king's interference, which upon all political occasions was omnipotent with him. He was a good lawyer, and a ready orator; but upon this last accomplishment, he set, as all lawyers do, rather too high a value: for they, whose profession necessarily leads them often to speak against their own opinion, and often to make much of trifles, are apt to lose, in the ingenuity of their arguments, the power of making a real impression upon the bosom of their hearers. North says, that the business, rather than the justice, of the court, flourished exceedingly under Finch; for he was a formalist, and took exceeding pleasure in encouraging and listening to nice distinctions of law, instead of taking a broad view of the equity of each case. He was a steady and active supporter of the Tory party on all occasions; in reward of which, he was created Earl of Nottingham. After a long and lingering disease, which terminated in a deep depression of spirits, this great lawyer died in 1682, and was succeeded by Lord Guilford, as Lord Keeper.


Than Sheva none more loyal zeal have shown,
Wakeful as Judah's lion for the crown.—P. 350.

Sir Roger L'Estrange was descended of a good family in Norfolk, and during the civil war was in arms for the king.[455] Being taken prisoner by the parliament, he was condemned to die, but found means to obtain a pardon. He was a good performer on the violin; a quality which recommended him to Cromwell, under[401] whose government he lived, if we may trust one of his antagonists, in ease and affluence; a circumstance with which he was afterwards as often reproached as our author with his panegyric on the Protector. The instant, however, that the restoration of monarchy approached, L'Estrange was among the first to hail it, and stepped forth to answer a pamphlet of Milton, on the subject of a republic, by a retort, which he irreverently entitled, "No Blind Guides." After the Restoration, he was the great champion of the court, the high church, and the Tory party. His principal vehicle of political instruction was the "Observator," a paper published twice a week; but he also edited another, called "Heraclitus Ridens;" and, independently of both, published answers, replies, rebutters, and sur-rebutters, to every attack made upon him, besides quires of pamphlets on all popular subjects. For these good services, he was knighted by King James. His style is in the last degree mean, crabbed, and low; yet he possesses some power of argument and sarcasm. He appears to have first invented, or at least first practised to a great extent, the foolish custom of printing emphatic passages in a different type from the rest of the page, and thereby too often effecting a point, which the reader is unable to trace. For the other deeds of L'Estrange, and his numerous bead-roll of fugitive pieces, the reader may consult the article in the Biographia.


Calm were the elements, night's silence deep,
The waves scarce murmuring, and the winds asleep;
Yet fate for ruin takes so still an hour,
And treacherous sands the princely bark devour.—P. 351.

The Duke of York, after a short visit to England, returned to Scotland by sea. The vessel unfortunately struck upon a bank, called the Lemman Ore; and the duke, with a few attendants, who crowded into the barge, were all who escaped from the wreck. Burnet says, that the duke showed no anxiety about the safety of any one save his dogs and his priests, whom the bishop maliciously classes together. Others say, he was principally interested about Churchill, who, at the Revolution, requited his anxiety but indifferently. The Gazette says, that when the barge put off, the poor sailors, who remained to perish, manned the sides in the usual honorary form, and, indifferent to their own fate, hailed the duke's safety with three cheers; a circumstance alluded to a few lines below, where it is said, the sufferers,

With last loud breaths, their master's 'scape applaud.

In this shipwreck perished the Earl of Roxburghe, Mr Hyde, a son of the great Clarendon, the Lord O'Brien, the Laird of Hoptoun,[402] Sir Joseph Douglas, Colonel Macnaughton, and about 300 seamen, besides the persons of the duke's retinue.

The verses, which follow those concerning this lamentable accident, describe the return of the Duke of York with his Duchess to England; a voyage which they performed without any sinister accident, and landed there upon the 27th May, 1682. On this occasion, they received many poetical greetings, both on the duke's escape and their happy arrival; as, for example, Otway's "Prologue to the Duchess, on her return from Scotland, at the Duke's theatre, at Venice Preserved, &c. acted 31st May, 1682."

"A Pindarique Ode on their Royal Highnesses Return from Scotland, after their escape at Sea."

"To the Duke on his Return, 29th May, 1682, written by Nathaniel Lee."

"A Congratulatory Poem to her Royal Highness, upon the arrival of their Royal Highnesses in England, May 27th, 1682."

"To his Royal Highness at his happy Return from Scotland, written by a Person of Quality, 30th May, 1682."

Heaven, who declares, in wonders so divine,
Care of succession in the rightful line,
That it protects you, with a guardian hand,
From Whiggish lemans, both of sea and land.

Also, "A Panegyric on their Royal Highnesses, and Congratulation on their Return from Scotland."


This year did Ziloah rule Jerusalem,
And boldly all sedition's syrtes stem.—P. 353.

Sir John Moor, the tory Lord Mayor, an aged and respectable citizen, of a mild character, and even hesitating and cautious in forming his measures, though sufficiently determined when once satisfied of their propriety. "Which character," says North, "was cut out for this time and public occasion; for nothing but such firmness of mind, and manifest goodness, with a seeming passive disposition, could have protected from those rages of violence, as very often threatened him, and which, probably, had broke loose on any one in his post, that had carried matters with a stern and minatory behaviour."[456] He was proposed by the court-party in the city for Lord Mayor, and, being scarcely opposed by the other faction, easily carried his election. The Whigs were led into this blunder, by mistaking[403] the principles, and under-rating the resolution, of the candidate. Sir John Moor had been bred a non-conformist; and, though he had taken the test with a view to civic honours, that was no more than had been done by Bethel, Cornish, and others, who retained in full vigour their sectarian principles. Besides, from the gentleness and softness of the new Lord Mayor's demeanour, his smooth and diffident way of talking in private, and his embarrassed elocution in public, they conceived that, even if completely gained by the court, he would prove too passive and timorous, to serve them essentially against active and energetic opponents. In both these particulars they were woefully mistaken. Sir John proved to be most keenly disposed to second all the court measures; and he was kept up to the pitch of resolution necessary for carrying them through, by the constant support, encouragement, and advice of the Duke of Ormond, whom the court employed to back him, and who, during the contests which followed, dined with the Lord Mayor two or three times every week.[457] This election, and its consequences, was a severe blow to the fanatical interest in the city; the jovial custom of banquets and feasting was revived; and the musicians, who had been long under restraint, were restored to their privilege, which they employed in chaunting forth the praises of Sir John the Restorer.[458] More, of Morehall, was not for a time more celebrated in song, than the Lord Mayor, his namesake;[404] and a general revolution appeared to have taken place in the manners, as well as the principles, of the citizens, which, under the Whig government, had savoured not a little of the ancient days of fanatical severity.

Note XXXV.

Howe'er encumbered with a viler pair
Than Ziph or Shimei, to assist the chair;
Yet Ziloah's loyal labours so prevailed,
That faction, at the next election, failed.—P. 353.

Ziph and Shimei were the Whig sheriffs in 1681; concerning whom, see note upon Shimei in Part First. The viler pair were Thomas Pilkington, and Samuel Shute, who followed out the practice of their predecessors, in the mode of packing the juries on political trials, and had the honour to arrange that which acquitted the Earl of Shaftesbury. They were much hated by the court; and, when they came with the recorder to invite the King to dine with the Lord Mayor, Charles forgot his usual politeness so far, as to answer sternly, "so agreeable was the city's invitation, that he would accept it, though brought by messengers so unwelcome to him as these two sheriffs."[464] Sir John Moor had a most violent contest with these two persons, concerning the election of sheriffs for the ensuing year, about which the court were exceedingly anxious.

It had been customary, when these elections were matters of little consequence, that the Lord Mayor designated a citizen to hold the office of sheriff, by the ceremony of drinking to him, and sending him the cup. It was agreed by the court, that this custom should be revived, as throwing the choice of one of the sheriffs into the hands of their partizan, Sir John Moor. This being settled, the Mayor, in full form, drank to Dudley North, brother of the Lord Keeper Guilford, a Levant merchant, who accepted of that expensive office, to please his brother, and to serve the court. The popular party determined to controvert this election; denying that a sheriff could be elected otherwise than by the Livery, and proposed Papillon and Dubois, sturdy Whigs, for their candidates. The court, on the other hand, contending that North was duly and incontrovertibly elected, by the jolly mode already mentioned, proposed a Mr Box for the other sheriff, whose office only they allowed to be vacant. The Common Hall, held on this occasion,[405] was as tumultuary as a raging tempest. At length the Lord Mayor, with the party who denied there were two vacancies, withdrew; while the country party remained, and polled for Papillon and Dubois, under the direction of Shute and Pilkington, the last year's sheriffs. The court, affecting to consider this as a riot, interfered on that pretext, and a warrant was granted for committing the sheriffs to the Tower. Having found bail to answer for a misdemeanour, they returned to the charge with the same ardour as ever, and were actually about to complete their poll, when the hall was adjourned by the orders of the Lord Mayor. The whole weight of the court was necessary to keep up the Lord Mayor's heart at this crisis. He was sent for to the Privy Council, encouraged, soothed, schooled, and finally assured, by a writing under the Lord Keeper's hand, that he might adjourn the Common Hall, &c. as he thought proper. Thus heartened, the Lord Mayor assumed to himself the whole management of the poll, although the sheriffs opened books for another, and, denying the legality of any election, excepting his own, declared Box duly returned. This citizen, however, apprehensive of the consequences of acting under so dubious a nomination, fined off, and declined to serve. One Rich was found, with more zeal and courage; and, during the tumult of a Common Hall, which resounded with the cries of "no election," &c. this gentleman was elected sheriff by a few of the Lord Mayor's partizans, and declared duly returned by the Lord Mayor, who immediately proceeded to dissolve the Common Hall. North and Rich were accordingly sworn in as sheriffs for the year; but a guard of the Train Bands was necessary to protect them, while they thus qualified themselves for entering on their office.

This contest was followed by another, for the office of Lord Mayor. Gould, the popular candidate, was returned by a considerable majority; but, upon a scrutiny, the court-party, by dint of real or pretended disqualifications, gained such an advantage, that Pritchard, their candidate, was returned by a majority of fourteen voices.

The importance of these elections was soon visible. The popular party were utterly disheartened, and their leaders exposed to the same practices from packing juries, which they had themselves employed. The court used their victory remorselessly. Pilkington, the ex-sheriff, was found liable in 100,000l. damages, for having said that "the Duke of York had fired the city, and was now come to cut all their throats." Those concerned in carrying on the double poll, were severely fined, as guilty of a riot. Sir Patience Ward, an alderman of the popular party, was declared obnoxious to a charge of perjury, for an inconsistence in his evidence on Pilkington's[406] trial.[465] In short, the royal vengeance was felt by all who had been active in opposition to the court.

But the extent of the court's victory was best evinced by the conduct of Shaftesbury; who, seeing his strong-hold, the magistracy of the city, thus invaded, and occupied by his enemies, fled from his house in Aldersgate-street, and for some time lay concealed in Wapping, trusting for his safety to the very lowest of mankind. From this hiding place, he sent forth messages to the other heads of the party, in which he urged the most desperate measures. But, finding it impossible to combine the various persons concerned in one plan of enterprize, and sensible of the danger of discovery, which each day's delay rendered more imminent, after a bitter contest between fear and rage, he fled to Amsterdam. His retreat was followed by the trial of the conspirators in the Rye-house Plot; and doubtless, the court, on that occasion, knew well how to avail themselves of the power of selecting juries so long possessed by their enemies, and now in their own hands. During the short remainder of this reign, the king's authority was paramount and supreme; his enemies were at his feet, and not a whisper of opposition disturbed his repose;—a deceitful and delusive calm, which his unfortunate successor soon saw changed into a tempest.


Per Graium populos, mediqæue per Elidis urbem
Ibat ovans; Divumque sibi poscebat honores.



The Medal was published in the beginning of March 1682, about four months after the appearance of the first part of "Absalom and Achitophel," and eight months before the publication of the second part of that poem. The circumstances, which led to it, require us to notice Shaftesbury's imprisonment and acquittal.

On the 2d July, 1681, the Earl of Shaftesbury was apprehended, by virtue of a warrant from council, and after his papers had been seized, and he himself had undergone an examination, was committed to the Tower. Upon the 24th November, 1681, a bill for high-treason was presented against him to the grand jury of Middlesex. When the witnesses were adduced, the jurors demanded, that they might be examined in private; and Pilkington, the Whig sheriff, required, that they should be examined separately. Both requests were refused by the court. One Booth was then examined, who swore, that Lord Shaftesbury had told him, he intended to carry down to the Oxford parliament a party of fifty gentlemen, and their servants, armed and mounted, to be commanded by a Captain Wilkinson; and that his Lordship stated this force to be provided, for the purpose of repelling any attack which the king's guards might make on the parliament, and, if necessary, to take the king from his bad advisers by force, and bring him to the city of London. The witness, said he, was invited by Wilkinson to be one of this band, and provided himself with a good horse and arms for the service; which was prevented by the sudden dissolution of the Oxford parliament. Seven other witnesses, Smith, Turberville, Haynes, and three persons called Macnamara, swore, that Shaftesbury had used to them, and each of them individually, the most treasonable expressions concerning the king's person; had declared he had no more title to the crown than the Duke of Buckingham; that he deserved to be deposed; and that he, Shaftesbury, would dethrone him, and convert the kingdom[410] into a commonwealth. Here was enough of swearing at least to make a true bill. But the character of the witnesses was infamous; Booth was a swindler, and could never give an account of the stable in which he kept his pretended charger, or produce any one who had seen it. Smith, by his own confession, had changed his religion twice, was one of the evidences of the Popish plot, and intimate with the villain Oates. Turberville stood in the same predicament of an infamous fellow, and an evidence for the plot; he is said to have apologised for his apostacy, by saying plainly, that "the Protestant citizens had forsaken him, and, God damn him, he would not starve." The other witnesses were Irishmen, and there was something remarkable in their history. They had pretended to discover a Catholic plot in Ireland, which, if one had existed any where, was doubtless the place where it might have been found. Their evidence, however, contained pretty much such a raw-head and bloody-bones story as that of Oates, and equally unworthy of credit. Yet Shaftesbury constituted himself their protector, and had them brought over to England, where he doubtless intended, that their Irish plot should be as warmly agitated in the Oxford parliament, as the English conspiracy in that of 1679. Macnamara's "Narrative of the Conspiracy" is dedicated to his Lordship, because it was not only known to the dedicator, "but to the whole Christian world, how conspicuous his Lordship had been for his indefatigable zeal and vigilance over the safety of his majesty's most sacred person, and the welfare of the whole extent of his dominions." The sudden dissolution of the Oxford parliament, which had such important consequences in various respects, prevented the prosecution of the Irish plot. Besides, it seems to have escaped even Shaftesbury, that popular terror, the most powerful of engines, loses its excitability by too frequent alarms. The theme of a plot began to be listened to with indifference. That of Ireland fell to the ground, without exciting clamour or terror, but the witnesses remained. There is a story of some Irish recruits, who, being detected in a brawl, justified themselves, by saying, they were paid by the king for fighting, and it was quite the same to them where they fought, or with whom. The witnesses were equally sedulous in their vocation, and equally indifferent about the application of their labours; for, finding the court had obtained an ascendency, they readily turned with the tide, and bore evidence, as we have seen, against their original protector and encourager. The Tories basely availed themselves of the readiness with which this hungry pack of bloodhounds turned against their huntsman, and triumphantly claimed for them the same credit which the Whigs had demanded in former cases; although they must have been conscious, that they were employing the worst arts, as well as the most infamous implements,[411] of their enemies. Besides the infamy of these men's character, their story was very improbable; as it could hardly be supposed, that Shaftesbury, the veteran leader of a party, should have committed himself so deeply in unnecessary and unreserved communication with these vulgar banditti, or expressed himself against the king in such low and gross language as they imputed to him.

Such being the oral testimony, and such its defects, the crown lawyers endeavoured to aid it, by founding upon certain papers found in Shaftesbury's study. One of these contained the names of the principal persons in the nation, divided into two lists, one titled, Worthy Men, and the other, Men Worthy; which last contained the principal Tories, and the legend was understood to mean, "men worthy to be hanged." This was too enigmatical to bear much argument. But there was also found a draught of an association against Popery, in which many dangerous topics were stated. It was thereby declared, that the Papist Plot was still advancing, and that the Catholics had been highly encouraged by James Duke of York; that mercenary forces had been levied, and kept on foot, contrary to law, and to the danger of the king's person: Therefore the persons associating were to bind themselves to defend, first the Protestant religion, and then the king's person and liberties of the subject, against all encroachment and usurpation of arbitrary power, and to endeavour to disband all such mercenary forces as were kept up in and about the city of London, to the great amazement and terror of all the good people of the land; also, never to consent that the Duke of York, or any professed Papist, should succeed to the crown, but by all lawful means, and by force of arms if necessary, to resist and oppose his so doing. By a still more formidable clause, it was provided, that the subscribers were to receive orders from the parliament if sitting; but if it should be dissolved, from the majority of the association itself. Lastly, that no one should separate from the rest of the association, on pain of being by the others prosecuted and suppressed, as a perjured person and public enemy. Much dangerous, and even treasonable, inference may be drawn from this model. But it was only an unsigned scroll, and did not appear to have been framed, or even revised and approved of, by Shaftesbury.

With such evidence against him, Shaftesbury might have gone safely before a jury of indifferent men, could such have been found. But the Whig sheriffs, Shute and Pilkington, left nothing to hazard, and took good care the assize should consist of men picked out of the very centre of their own party. We recognize the names of Godfrey, brother to Sir Edmondbury; of Papillon and Dubois, the Whig candidates for the shrievalty against North and Rich; of Sir Samuel Barnardiston, who maintained a furious[412] action against the high-sheriff of Suffolk, for a double return; of Shepherd, the wine-merchant, at whose house the Duke of Monmouth, Lord Russel, &c. afterwards held their meetings; of Edwin, the presbyterian, and others less noted in history, but not less remarkable at the time for the violence of their party-zeal. After a short consideration, they returned the bill Ignoramus; upon which there was a shout of continued applause in the court, which lasted for an hour, and the city, in the evening, blazed with bonfires, to celebrate the escape of their Protestant leader. Such was the history of this noted trial, which took place at a time when the course of law had lost its deep still channel, and all causes were carried by a fierce impetuous torrent, which threatened to break down the banks, and become a general inundation. Accustomed to a pure administration of justice, we now look back with disgust and horror upon times, when, to bring in a just verdict, it was necessary to assemble a packed jury.

The triumph of the Whigs was unbounded; and, among other symptoms of exultation, it displayed itself in that which gave rise to this poem of Dryden. This was a medal of Lord Shaftesbury, struck by William Bower, an artist, who had executed some popular pieces allusive to the Roman Catholic plot.[466] The obverse presented the bust of the earl, with the legend, Antonio Comiti De Shaftesbury; the reverse, a view of London, the bridge, and the Tower; the sun is rising above the Tower, and just in the act of dispersing a cloud; the legend around the exergue is Lætamur, and beneath is the date of his acquittal, 24th November, 1681. The partizans of the acquitted patriot wore these medals at their breasts; and care was taken that this emblem should be made as general as possible.[467]


The success of "Absalom and Achitophel" made the Tories look to our author as the only poet whose satire might check, or ridicule, the popular triumph of Shaftesbury. If the following anecdote, which Spence has given on the authority of a Catholic priest, a friend of Pope, be absolutely correct, Charles himself engaged Dryden to write on this theme. "One day as the king was walking in the Mall, and talking with Dryden, he said, 'If I was a poet, and I think I am poor enough to be one, I would write a poem on such a subject, in the following manner.' He then gave him the plan of "The Medal." Dryden took the hint, carried the poem, as soon as it was written, to the king, and had a present of a hundred broad pieces for it."

The merits of "The Medal," as a satirical poem, are universally acknowledged; nor does it greatly suffer from being placed, as the subject naturally invites, in comparison with "Absalom and Achitophel." The latter, as a group of figures, presents greater scope and variety, and may be therefore more generally interesting than the portrait of an individual; but it does not more fully display the abilities of the artist. Nothing can be more forcibly described, than the whole of Shaftesbury's political career; and, to use the nervous language of Johnson, "the picture of a man, whose propensions to mischief are such, that his best actions are but inability of wickedness, is very skilfully delineated, and strongly coloured." The comparison of his best and most politic councils, to the cures affected by those called white witches, whom it was unlawful to consult, because, even in accomplishing innocent purposes, they used infernal arts, is poignantly severe. The succeeding lines, in which the poet ridicules bitterly that appeal to the people, which the demagogues of that, as of all periods, were desirous to represent as the criterion of truth, contains the essence of all that an hundred philosophers can say upon the topic. His stern and indignant picture of the citizens of London, unjust as it is, if meant to express their general character, is, in individual instances, too often verified. That looseness which habitual chicane in trade introduces into mercantile morality; that bustling activity, which, however meritorious when within its sphere, is so apt to extend itself where its exertion is only mischievous and absurd; and that natural turn to democracy, which arises from frequenting popular meetings and from ambition of civic honours; that half-acquaintance with the affairs of other countries, and half-intimacy with the laws of