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to Ireland, where the duke of Ormond made him captain of his
Roscommon, not more learn'd than good,
“ And ev'ry author's virtues—but his own.”
To the Dutchess of York.
On the twenty first of November 1673, the duke of York was married to the princess Mary d'Efte, then about fifteen years of age, and extremely handsome. The ceremony was performed at Dover by the bishop of Oxford. It was against the rules of policy for him at that time to wed a Roman catholic; and the parliament addressed against it.
To Sir George Etheridge. Sir George was at Ratisbon in 1686, at which time there verses were transcribed. In a letter of his to George duke of Buckingham, dated at Ratisbon, October 21, 1689, we have the following passage :
“ They tell me my old acquaintance Mr. Dryden has left off “ the theatre, and wholly applies himself to the study of the “ controversies between the two churches. Pray heaven this “ strange alteration in him portend nothing disastrous to the “ state ; but I have all along observed that poets do religion as “ little service by drawing their pens for it, as divines do poetry " by pretending to versification.”
To Mr. Thomas Southerne, on bis Comedy called The Wives Excuse.
The success of this play was but indifferent; but fo high was our author's opinion of its merit, that, on this very account, he bequeathed to this poet the writing of the last act of his Cleomenes; which, Southerne says, “ when it comes into the world, “ will appear so considerable a trust, that all the town will par. “ don me for defending this play, that preferred me to it.'s
Mr. Southerne was born in Dublin in 1660, and bred to the law in the Middle-Temple, London ; but forfouk that dry study for the more agreeable service of the Muses. He wrote several dramatic pieces, none of which now keep the stage but Oronooko, and the Fatal Marriage, than which perhaps our theatre pofseffes none more affecting. The latter has been lately exhibited at Drury-Lane, with good alterations; and, were it possible to add to Mr. Garrick's character as an actor, his performance of Biron, which is rather insignificant in itself, is so capital, it would do it. Mr. Southerne died in London in 1746, being a man of religion, @conomy, and virtue.- -Rara avis.
EPISTLE IX. To Henry Higden, Esq; on bis translation of the tenth fatire of Juvenal.
have not seen this translation, and therefore could not fix the date of it exactly; but as our author publifhed his Juvenal in 1693, it is reasonable to conclude Mr. Higden's was antecedent to it. This gentleman brought a comedy on the stage in 1693, called the Wary Widow, or Sir Noisy Parrot, which was damned, and he complains hardly of the ill usage; for the Bear-Garden critics treated it with cat-calls. It is printed, and dedicated to the courtly Earl of Dorset : Sir Charles Sedley wrote the prologue, and it was ushered into the world with several copies of verfes, The audience were disinissed at the end of he third act, the author having contrived so much drinking of punch in the play, that the actors all got drunk, and were unable to finish it. See G. Jacob's Lives of ibe Poets.
To my dear Friend Mr. Congreve. England and Ireland both have contended for the birth of this miracle of wit; and that the former is entitled to that lionor,
appears from his own information to Giles Jacob, which may be found in his Lives of the Poets. Congreve's first play, the Old Batchelor, was revised by Dryden, and proved the occasion of their friendship; as it also procured the author the patronage of Montague Earl of Hallifax, which was accompanied with arpointments in the revenue, valued at above 1200 l. per ann. The Double Dealer was his second play. He wrote three more, viz. Love for Love, the Way of the World, and a tragedy called the Mourning Bride. His comedies are allowed to be the best that ever were introduced upon any stage. His wit is endless and astonishing, but too redundant; his manners are every where just, and his characters are often inimitable copies from life. He died in Surry-street in the Strand, aged fifty-seven, Anno 1728-9, and was interred in Westminster-abbey.
Thus old Romano bow'd to Raphael, &c. Julio Romano was the master of the great Raphael, who is reckoned the finest painter the world ever saw.
EPISTLE XI. .
To Mr. Granville, on bis excellent Tragedy. George Granville, created baron Lansdowne in 1711, on the lait day of the year, was a man of fine parts and polithed understanding, sincere, good-natured, and agreeable. His poems are very pleasing, his versification being flowing, and his sentiments extremely refined. He had a great friendship for Dryden. The tragedy that gave birth to this poem was acted with applause at Lincoln's-Inn-Fields in 1696. He wrote also a comedy, called the She Gallants, the title of which he afterwards altered to Once a Lover, and Always a Lover; the British Enchanter, an opera ; and several other pieces. He died in the year 1735
And in despair, their empty pit to fill,
Set up some foreign monster in the bill.
-“ a glimmering ray,
EPIST LE XII.
Friend Mr. Motteux. Peter Motteux, to whom this piece is addreffed, was born in Normandy, but settled as a merchant in London very young, and lived in repute. He died in a house of ill fame near the Strand, and was supposed to have been murdered, in 1718. He produced eleven dramatic pieces, and his Beauty in Distress is thought much the best of them : it was played in Lincoln's-Inn. Fields by Betterton's company in 1698.
That e'en Corneille, &c. Pierre Corneille, a French dramatic poet of the seventeenth century. He found the French stage in the most wretched state, without order, taste, or regularity, and he reformed it intirely. “ It would be difficult (fays Racine, speaking of him) to find “ another poet possessed of fuck extraordinary talents, such ex“ cellent qualifications: the art, the strength, the judgment, the 66 wit of Corneille. One can never too much admire the subli“ mity and conduct of his subjects, the vehemence of his pal“ fions, the weight of his sentiments; the dignity, and, at the “ same time, the vast variety of his characters.” He was the Shakespeare of the French stage; but far from being equal to that inspired bard.
Wycberley in wit. William Wycherley, Efq; one of the most agreeable men of Charles Ild's age, wrote several poems, and four plays, viz. Love in a Wood, or St. James's Park; the Plain Dealer ; the Gentleman-Dancing-Master; and the Country Wife. He was intimate with all the men of genius of his time, much admired for his wit and conversation, and beloved by Charles II. from whom he received many substantial marks of favour. He married a countess dowager of Drogheda, which lost him the king's good graces; and she leaving him involved in a law-suit at her death, he was flung into prison, from whence king James released him. He soon after married a young wife with 1500l. fortune; but died eleven days after, being seventy-five years old.
EPIST LE XIII.
To my honored kinsman John Dryden, Esq; This poem was written in 1699. The person to whom it is addressed was cousin-german to the poet, and a younger brother
of the baronet. That he inherited his mother's fortune, the en. suing lines confirm:
“ The first-begotten had his father's share;
" But you, like Jacob, are Rebecca's heir."
But Maurus sweeps whole parishes, &c.
Garth, gen'rous as bis Muse, prescribes and gives. Sir Samuel Garth, a celebrated physician, as well as a writer, about the year 1696. He zealously promoted the erecting a difpensary, or apartment in the college of physicians, for the relief , of the fick poor, by giving them advice gratis, and supplying them with medicines at a very cheap rate. In this good design he was opposed not only by the apothecaries with great malevolence, but even by some selfish members of the faculty. It was for this reason he wrote a poem in fix canto's, called the Dispensary; the humour and spirit of which are admirable. Dr. Garth was one of the Kit-kat club, consisting of about forty noblemen and gentlemen, attached to the protestant succeflion in the house of Hanover. King George I. knighted him on his acceffion. He died in 1718-19.
“ His death (says Pope, in one of his letters) was very heroi“ cal, and yet unaffected enough to have made a faint or a phi“ losopher famous. If ever there was a good Christian, without “ knowing himself to be fo, it was Sir Samuel Garth."
Namur subdu'd, is England's palm, &c. In the year 1695, William III. carried Namur, after a fiege of one month. The garrison retired to the citadel, which capitulated upon honorable terms in another month. The courage of our men in this fiege was much admired, as was the conduct of the king.