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Then thus continu'd he: My son, advance
Still in new impudence, new ignorance.
Success Tet others teach, learn thou from me
Pangs without birth, and fruitless industry
Let Virtuosos in five years be writ;
Yet not one thought accuse thy toil of wit.
Let gentle George in triumph tread the stage,
Make Dorimant betray, and Loveit rage;
Let Cully, Cockwood, Fopling, charm the pit,
And in their folly show the writer's wit.
Yet still thy fools shall stand in thy defence, 165
And justify their author's want of sense.
Let them be all by thy own model made
Of dulness, and desire no foreign aid;
That they to future ages may be known,
Not copies drawn, but issue of thy own.
Nay, let thy men of wit too be the same,
All full of thee, and differing but in name.
But let no alien Sedley interpose,
To lard with wit thy hungry Epsom prose.
And when false flowers of rhetoric thou wouldst cull,
Trust nature, do not labour to be dull ;
But write thy best, and top; and, in each line,
Sir Formal's oratory will be thine:
V. 149. Let Virtuosos in five years be writ] Shadwell's play of the Virtv.oso, in which Sir Formal Trifle, a florid coxcombical orator, is a principal character, was first acted in 1676; and he tells the Duke of Newcastle, in the dedication, that liere he has endeavoured at humour, wit, and satire.' D.
V. 164. To lard with wit thy hungry Epsom prose] Alluding to Shadwell's comedy, called Epsom Wells. D.
Sir Formal, though unsought, attends thy quill,
And does thy northern dedications fill.
Nor let false friends seduce thy mind to fame,
By arrogating Jonson's hostile name.
Let father Flecknoe fire thy mind with praise,
And uncle Ogleby thy envy raise.
Thou art my blood, where Jonson has no part:
What share have we in nature, or in art ?
Where did his wit on learning fix a brand,
And rail at arts he did not understand ?
Where made he love in prince Nicander's vein,
Or swept the dust in Psyche's humble strain ?
Where sold he bargains, “whip-stitch, kiss my ass,'
Promis'd a play, and dwindled to a farce?
When did his muse from Fletcher scenes purloin,
As thou whole Etherege dost transfuse to thine ?
But so transfus'd, as oil and waters flow,
His always floats above, thine sinks below.
This is thy province, this thy wondrous way,
New humours to invent for each new play:
This is that boasted bias of thy mind,
By which one way to dulness 'tis inclin'd:
Which makes thy writings lean on one side still,
And, in all changes, that way bends thy will.
Nor let thy mountain-belly make pretence
Of likeness ; thine 's a tympany of sense.
V. 179. prince Nicander's vein) A character of a lover in the opera of Psyche. D.
V. 193. Nor let thy mountain-belly, &c.] Alluding to Shadwell's form, who was pretty lusty. D.
A tun of man in thy large bulk is writ,
But sure thou 'rt but a kilderkin of wit.
Like mine, thy gentle numbers feebly creep;
Thy tragic muse gives smiles, thy comic sleep.
With whate'er gall thou sett'st thyself to write,
Thy inoffensive satires never bite
In thy felonious art though venom lies,
It does but touch thy Irish pen, and dies.
Thy genius calls thee not to purchase fame
In keen Iambics, but mild Anagram.
Leave writing plays, and choose for thy command
Some peaceful province in Acrostic land.
There thou may'st Wings display and Altars raise,
And torture one poor word ten thousand ways.
Or, if thou wouldst thy different talents suit,
Set thy own songs, and sing them to thy lute. 210
He said ; but his last words were scarcely heard:
For Bruce and Longvil had a trap prepar'd,
And down they sent the yet declaiming bard.
Sinking he left his drugget robe behind,
Borne upwards by a subterranean wind.
The mantle fell to the young prophet's part,
With double portion of his father's art.
V. 212. For Bruce and Longvil, &c.] Two very heavy characters in Shadwell's Virtuoso, whom he calls gentlemen of wit and good sense. D.
TO MY HONOURED FRIEND SIR ROBERT HOWARD,* ON HIS
As there is music uninform’d by art
In those wild notes, which, with a merry heart,
The birds in unfrequented shades express,
Who, better taught at home, yet please us less :
* Sir Robert Howard, a younger son of Thomas Earl of Berkshire, and brother to Mr. Dryden's lady, studied for some time in Magdalen College. He suffered many oppressions on account of his loyalty, and was one of the few of King Charles the Second's friends, whom that monarch did not forget. Perhaps he had his present ends in it; for Sir Robert, who was a man of parts, helped him to obtain money in parliament, wherein he sate as burgess, first for Stockbridge, and afterwards for Castle Rising in Norfolk. He was, soon after the restoration, made a knight of the Bath, and one of the auditors of the Exchequer, valued at £3000 per annum. Notwithstanding that he was supposed to be a great favourer of the Catholics, he soon took the oaths to King William, by whom he was made a privy-counsellor in the beginning of the year 1689; and no man was a more open or inveterate enemy to the Nonjurors.
Several of his pieces, both in prose and verse, were published at different times; among which are the Duel of the Stags, a celebrated poem; the comedy of the Blind Lady; the Com mittee, or the Faithful Irishman; the Great Favourite, or the VOL. II.
So in your verse a native sweetness dwells,
Which shames composure, and its art excels.
Singing no more can your soft numbers grace,
Than paint adds charms unto a beauteous face.
Yet as, when mighty rivers gently creep,
Their even calmness does suppose them deep; 10
Such is your muse: no metaphor swell’d high
With dangerous boldness lifts her to the sky:
Those mounting fancies, when they fall again,
Show sand and dirt at bottom do remain.
So firm a strength, and yet withal so sweet,
Did never but in Samson's riddle meet.
'Tis strange each line so great a weight should bear,
And yet no sign of toil, no sweat appear.
Either your art hides art, as stoics feign
Duke of Lerma; the Indian Queen, a tragedy, written in conjunction with our author; the Surprizal, a tragi-comedy; and the Vestal Virgin, or the Roman Ladies, a tragedy: the last has two different conclusions, one tragical, and the other, to use thie author's own words, comical. The last five plays were collected together, and published by Tonson, in a small 12mo volume, in 1722. The Blind Lady was printed with some of his poems.
Langbaine speaks in very high terms of Sir Robert's merit, in which he is copied by Giles Jacob. See their Lives of the Poets.
This gentleman was, however, extremely positive, remarkably overbearing, and pretending to universal knowledge; which failings, joined to his having then been of an opposite party, drew upon him the censure of Shadwell, who has satirized liim very severely in a play, called The Sullen Lovers, under the name of Sir Positive At-all, and his lady, whom he first kept, and afterwards married, under that of Lady Vain. D.