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he now objects to her as inconsistencies, and accuses her of having recourse to tradition, or discarding it, as suited the argument which, for the time, she had in agitation. It is unnecessary here to trace the various grounds on which reformed churches prove, that the chain of apostolical tradition has been broken and shivered; and that the church, claiming the proud title of Infallible, has repeatedly sanctioned heresy and error.
Neither is it necessary to shew, how the Church of England stops short in her reception of traditions, adopting only these of the primitive church. Something on these points may be found in the notes. I may remark, that Dryden is of the Gallican or low Church of Rome, if I
may so speak, and rests the infallibility which he claims for her in the Pope and Council of the Church, and not in the Vicar of Christ alone. In point of literary interest, this Second Part is certainly beneath the other two. It furnishes, however, an excelJent specimen of poetical ratiocination upon a most unpromising subject.
The Third Part refers entirely to the politics of the day; and the poet has endeavoured, by a number of arguments, to remove the deep jealousy and apprehensions which the king's religion, and his zeal for proselytism, had awakened in the Church of England. He does not even spare to allege a recent adoption of presbyterian doctrines, as the reason for her unwonted resistance to the royal will; and all the vigour of his satire is pointed against the latitudinarian clergy, or, as they were finally called, the Low Church Party, who now began to assert, what James at length found a melancholy truth, that the doctrine of passive obedience and nonresistance was not peremptorily binding, when the church herself was endangered by the measures of the monarch. Stillingfieet, the personal antagonist of our author, in the controversy concerning the Duchess of York's posthumous declaration of faith, is personally and ferociously attacked. The poem concludes with a fable delivered by each of the disputants, of which the moral applies to the project and hopes of her rival. We have already said, that which is told by the Panther, as it is most spirited and pointed, proved, to the great regret of the author, most strictly prophetic. It is remarkable for containing a beautiful character of King James, as the other exhibits a satirical portrait of the historian Burnet, with whom the court party in general, and Dryden personally, was then at enmity.
The verse in which these doctrines, polemical and political, are delivered, is among the finest specimens of the English heroic stanza. The introductory verses, in particular, are lofty and dignified in the highest degree ; as are those, in which the splendour and majesty of the Church of Rome are set forth, in all the glowing colours of rich imagery and magnificent language. But the same praise extends to the versification of the whole poem. It never falls, never becomes rugged; rises with the dignified strain of the poetry; sinks into quaint familiarity, where sarcasm and humour are employed; and winds through all the mazes of theological argument, without becoming either obscure or prosaic. The arguments are in general advanced with an air of conviction and candour, which, in those days, must have required the protestant reader to be on his guard in the perusal, and which seems completely to ascertain the sincerity of the author in his new religious creed.
This controversial poem, containing a bold defiance to all who opposed the king's measures or faith, had no souner appeared, than our author became a more general object of attack than he had been even on the publication of “ Absalom and Achitophel.” Indeed, his enemies were now far more numerous, including most of his former friends, the Tories of the high church, excepting a very few who remained attached to James, and saw, with anxiety, his destruction precipitated by the measures he was adopting.
Montague and Prior were among the first to assail our author, in the parody, of which we have just given a large specimen. It must have been published before the 24th October 1687, for it is referred to in “ The Laureat,” another libel against Dryden, inscribed by Mr Luttrel with that date. This assault affected him the more, as coming from persons with whom he had lived on habits of civility. He is even said to have shed tears upon this PCcasion; a report probably exaggerated, but which serves to shew, that he was sensible he had exposed himself to the most unexpected assailants, by the unpopularity of the cause which he had espoused. Some further particulars respecting this controversy are mentioned in Dryden's Life. Another poet, or parodier, published “ The Revolter, a tragi-comedy," in which he brings the doctrines of the “ Religio Laici," and of the “ Hind and Panther,” in battle array against each other, and rails at the author of both with the most unbounded scurrility.
* « In short, the whole poem, if it may deserve that name, is a piece of deformed, arrogant nonsense, and self-contradiction, drest up in fine language, like an ugly brazen-faced whore, peeping through the costly trappings of a point de Venise cornet. I call it nonsense, because unseasonable; and arrogant, because impertinent : For could Mr Bayes have so little wit, to think himself a sufficient champion 10 decide the high mysteries of faith and transubstantiation, and the nice disputes concerning traditions and infallibility, in a discourse between “ The Hind and the Panther,” which, undetermined hitherto, have exercised all the learning in the world ? Or, could he think the grand arcana of divinity a subject fit to be handled in flourishing rhyme, by the author of « The Duke of Guise," or " The Conquest of Peru,". or “ The Spanish Friar :" Doubts which Mr Bayes is no more able to unfold, than Saffold to resolve a question in astrology. And all this only as a tale to usher in bis beloved character, and to shew the excellency of his wit in abusing honest men. If these were his thoughts, as we cannot rationally otherwise believe, seeing that no man of understanding will undertake an enterprise, wherein he does not think himself to have some advantage of his predecessors; then does this romance, I say, of The Panther and the Hind, fall undot the most fatal censure of unseasonable folly and saucy impertinence. Nor can I think, that the more solid, prudent, and learned persons of the Roman Church, con him any thanks for laying the prophane fingers of a tum-coat upon the altar of their sacred debates.”—The Revolter, a tragi-comedy, acted hetween The Hind and Panther and Religio Laici, &c. 1687.
Not only new enemies arose against him, but the hostility of former and deceased foes seemed to experience a sort of resurrection. Four Letters, by Matthew Clifford of the Charter-House, containing notes upon Dryden's poems and plays, were now either published for the first time, or raked up from the obscurity of a dead-born edition, to fill up the cry of criticism against him on all sides. They are coarse and virulent to the last degree, and so far served the purpose of the publishers; but, as they had no reference to “ The Hind and Panther,” that defect was removed by a supplementary Letter from the facetious Tom Brown, an author, whose sole wish was to attain the reputation of a successful buffoon, and who, like the jesters of old, having once made himself thoroughly absurd and ridiculous, gained a sort of privilege to make others feel his grotesque raillery. * Besides the reflections contained in this letter, Brown also published " The New Converts exposed, or Reasons for Mr Bayes changing his Religion," in two parts ; the first of which appeared in 1688, and the second in 1690. From a passage in the preface to the first part, which may serve as a sample of Tom's buffoonery, we learn, Dryden publicly complained, that, although he had put his name to “ The Hind and Panther,” those who criticized or replied to that poem
* The following is the commencement of his “ Reflections on the Hind and Panther," in a letter to a friend, 1687 : - “ The present you have made me of “ The Hind and Panther," is various. ly talked of here in the country. Some wonder what kind of champion the Roman Catholics have now gotten ; for they have had divers ways of representing themselves ; but this of rhyming us to death, is altogether new and unheard of,' before Mr Bayes set about it; and, indeed, he hath done it in the sparkishest poem that ever was seen. 'Tis true, he hath written a great many things; but he never had such pure swiftness of thought, as in this composition, nor such fiery flights of fancy. Such hath always been his dramatical and scenical way of scribbling, that there was no post nor pillar in the town exempt from the pasting up of the titles of his plays; insomuch, that the footboys, for want of skill in reading, do now (as we hear) often bring away, by mistake, the title of a new book against the Church of England, instead of taking down the play for the afternoon. Yet, if he did it well or handsomely, he might deserve some pardon; but, alas ! how ridiculously doth he appear in print for any religion, who hath made it his business to Jaugh at all! How can he stand up for any mode of worship, who hath been accustomed to bite, and spit his venom against the very name thereof?
• Wherefore, I cannot but wish our adversaries joy on their new-converted hero, Mr Bayes; whose principle it is to fight single with whole armies ; and this one quality he prefers before all the moral virtues put together. The Roman Catholics may talk what they will, of their Bellarmine and Perrone, their Hector and Achilles, and I know not who; but I desire them all, te
had not imitated his example.
shew one such champion for the cause, as this Drawcansir : For he is the man that kills whole nations at once ; who, as he never wrote any thing, that any one can imagine has ever been the practice of the world, so, in his late endeavours to pen controversy, you shall hardly find one word to the pur. pose. He is that accomplished person, who loves reasoning so much in verse, and hath got a kuack of writing it smoothly. The subject (he treats of in this poem) did, in bis opinion, require more than ordinary spirit and flame; therefore, he supposed it to be too great for prose; for he is too proud to creep servilely after sense ; so that, in his verse, he soars high above the reach of it. To do this, there is no need of brain, 'tis but scanning right; the labour is in the finger, not in the head.
“ However, if Mr Bayes would be pleased to abate a little of the exuberan, ey of his fancy and wit; to dispense with his ornaments and superfluencies of invention and satire, a man might consider, whether he should submit to his argument; but take away the railing, and no argument remains; so that one may beat the bush a whole day, and, after so much labour, only spring a butterfly, or start a hedge-hog.
“ For all this, is it not great pity to see a man, in the flower of his romantic conceptions, in the full vigour of his studies on love and honour, to fall into such a distraction, as to walk through the thorns and briars of controversy, unless his confessor hath commanded it, as a penance for some past sins? that'a man, who hath read Don Quixote for the greatest part of his life, should pretend to interpret the Bible, or trace the footsteps of tradition, even in the darkest agès?”—Four Letters, &c.
* “ To draw now to an end, Mr Bayes, I hear, has lately complained, at Willis' Coffeehouse, of the ill usage he has met in the world, that whereas he had the generosity and assurance to set his own name to his late piece of polemic poetry, yet others, who have pretended to answer him, wanted the breeding and civility to do the like : Now, because I would not willingly disoblige a person of Mr Bayes's character, I do here fairly, and before all the world, assure him that my name is Dudly Tomkinson, and that I live within two miles of St Michael's Mount, in Cornwall, and have, in my time, been both constable, church-warden, and overseer of the parish; by the same to. ken, that the little gallery next the belfry, the new motto about the pulpit, the king's arms, the ten commandments, and the great sun-dial in the churchyard, will transmit my, name to all posterity. Furthermore, (if it will do him any good at all) I can make a pretty shift to read without spectacles ; wear my own bair, which is somewhat incliving to red; have a large mole on my left cheek; am mightily troubled with corns; and, what is peculiar to my constitution, after half-a-dozen bottles of claret, which I generally carry home every night from the tavern, I never fail of a stool or two next morning; besides, use to smoke a pipe every day after dinner, and afterwards steal a nap for an hour or two in the old wicker-chair ar the oven; take “ The quadrant that a Philistine tailor, took the height of Goliah by, when he made him his last suit of clothes; for the giant being a man of extraordinary dimensions, it was impossible to do this in any other way than your designers use when they take the height of a country-steeple,” &c. &c.Reasons for Mr Bayes changing his Religion. See Preface.
Another of these witty varlets published, in 1688, “ Religie Laici, or a Layman's Faith, touching the Supreme Head and infallible Guide of the Church, in two letters, &c. by J. R. a convert of Mr Bayes,” licensed June the 1st, 1688. From this pamphlet we have given some extracts in the introductory remarks to # Religio Laici," pp. 9, 10.
There were, besides, many libels of the most personal kind poured forth against Dryden by the poets who supplied the usual demand of the hawkers. One of the most virulent contains a singular exhibition of rage and impotence. It pr fesses to contain a review of our poet's life and literary labours, and calls itself “ The Laureat." This, as containing some curious particulars, is given
gentle purgatives spring and fall; and it has been my custom, any time these sixteen years, (as all the parish can testify) to ride in Gambadoes. Nay, to win the heart of him for ever, I invite him here, before the courteous reader, to a country regale, (provided he will before hand promise not to debauch my wife,) where he shall have sugar to his roastbeef, and vinegar to his butter; and lastly, to make him amends for the tediousness of the journey, a parcel of relics to carry home with him, which I believe can scarce be matched in the whole Christian world; but, because I have no great fancy that way, I don't care if I part with them to so worthy a person; they are as followeth:
“ St Gregory's Ritual, bound up in the same calve’s-skin that the old gentleman, in St Luke, roasted at the return of his prodigal son.
* THE LAUREAT.
Jack Squab's history, in a little drawn,
Down to his evening from his morning dawn.