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band during some entertainment upon the river, an amusement to which King Charles was particularly addicted.

Note VI.

The like was ne'er in Epsom blankets tost.---P. 434.

This seems to be in ridicule of the following elegant expression which Shadwell puts in the mouth of a fine lady: “Such a fellow as he deserves to be tossed in a blanket.” This, however, does not occur in " Epsom-Wells," but in another of Shadwell's comedies, called "The Sullen Lovers."

Note VII.

Methinks I see the new Arion sail,

The lute still trembling underneath thy nail.---P. 434. Shadwell appears to have been a proficient in music, and to have himself adjusted that of his opera of " Psyche," which Dryden here treats with such consummate contempt. Indeed, in the preface of that choice piece he affected to value himself more upon the music than the poetry, as appears from the following passage in the preface: "I had rather be author of one scene of comedy, like some of Ben Jonson's, than of all the best plays of this kind, that have been, or ever shall be written; good comedy requiring much more wit and judgment in the writer, than any rhiming, unnatural plays can do. This I have so little valued, that I have not altered six lines in it since it was first written, which (except the songs at the marriage of Psyche, in the last scene) was all done sixteen months since. In all the words which are sung, I did not so much take care of the wit or fancy of them, as the making of them proper for music; in which I cannot but have some little knowledge, having been bred, for many years of my youth, to some performance in it.

"I chalked out the way to the composer, (in all but the song of Furies and Devils, in the fifth act,) having designed which line I would have sung by one, which by two, which by three, which by four voices, &c. and what manner of humour I would have in all the vocal music."

Note VIII.

Not even the feet of thy own Psyche's rhyme,
Though they in number as in sense excel.-P. 435.

This unfortunate opera was imitated from the French of Moliere, and finished, as Shadwell assures us, in the space of five weeks. The author having no talents for poetry, and no ear for

versification, "Psyche" is one of the most contemptible of the frivolous dramatic class to which it belongs. It was, however, got up with extreme magnificence, and received much applause on its first appearance, in 1675. To justify the censure of Dryden, it is only necessary to quote a few of the verses, taken at random as a specimen, of what he afterwards calls "Prince Nicander's vein :" Nicander. Madam, I to this solitude am come,

Humbly from you to hear my latest doom.
Psyche. The first command which I did give,
Was, that you should not see me here;
The next command you will receive,
Much harsher will to you appear.

Nic. How long, fair Psyche, shall I sigh in vain ?
How long of scorn and cruelty complain?
Your eyes enough have wounded me,
You need not add your cruelty.

You against me too many weapons chuse,
Who am defenceless against each you use.

The poet himself seems so conscious of the sad inferiority of his verses, that he makes, in the preface, a half apology, implying a mortifying consciousness, that it was necessary to anticipate condemnation, by pleading guilty. "In a thing written in five weeks, as this was, there must needs be many errors, which I desire true critics to pass by; and which, perhaps, I see myself, but having much business, and indulging myself with some pleasure too, I have not had leisure to mend them; nor would it indeed be worth the pains, since there are so many splendid objects in the play, and such variety of diversion, as will not give the audience leave to mind the writing; and I doubt not but the candid reader will forgive the faults, when he considers, that the great design was to entertain the town with variety of music, curious dancing, splendid scenes, and machines; and that I do not, nor ever did intend, to value myself upon the writing of this play."

Shadwell, however, had no right to plead, that this affected contempt of his own lyric poetry ought to have disarmed the criticism of Dryden; because, in the very same preface, he sets out by insinuating, that he could easily have beaten our author on his own strong ground of rhyme, had he thought such a contest worth winning. So much, at least, may be inferred from the following declaration :

"In a good-natured country, I doubt not but this, my first essay in rhyme, would be at least forgiven, especially when I promise to offend no more in this kind; but I am sensible that here I must encounter a great many difficulties. In the first place, (though I expect more candour from the best writers in rhyme,) the more moderate of them (who have yet a numerous party,

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good judges being very scarce) are very much offended with me, for leaving my own province of comedy, to invade their dominion of rhyme but, methinks, they might be satisfied, since I have made but a small incursion, and am resolved to retire. And, were I never so powerful, they should escape me, as the northern people did the Romans; their craggy barren territories being not worth conquering."

Note IX.

-Pale with envy, Singleton forswore

The lute and sword, which he in triumph bore,

And cowed he ne'er would act Villerius more.-P. 435.

Singleton was a musical performer of some eminence, and is mentioned as such in one of Shadwell's comedies.-"'Sbud, they are the best music in England: there's the best shawm and bandore, and a fellow that acts Tom of Bedlam to a miracle; and they sing Charon, oh, gentle Charon! and, Come, my Daphne, better than Singleton and Clayton did."-Bury Fair, Act III. Scene I. Villerius, the grand master of the knights hospitallers, is a principal character in "The Siege of Rhodes," an opera by Sir William D'Avenant, where great part of the dialogue is in a sort of lyrical recitative; in the execution of which Singleton seems to have been celebrated. The first speech of this valorous chief of the order of St John runs thus:

Arm, arm! let our drums beat,
To all our outguards, a retreat;
And to our main-guards add

Files double lined; from the parade
Send horse to drive the fields,
Prevent what ripening summer yields;
To all the foe would save

Set fire, or give a secret grave.

The combination of the lute and sword, which Dryden alludes to, is ridiculed in "The Rehearsal," where Bayes informs his citical friends, that his whole battle is to be represented by two persons; "for I make 'em both come forth in armour cap-a-pee, with their swords drawn, and hung with a scarlet ribband at their wrists, (which, you know, represents fighting enough,) each of them holding a lute in his hand.---Smith. How, sir; instead of a buckler ?---Bayes. O Lord, O Lord! instead of a buckler! Pray, sir, do you ask no more questions. I make 'em, sir, play the battle in recitativo; and here's the conceit: Just at the very same instant that one sings, the other, sir, recovers you his sword, and puts himself into a warlike posture; so that you have at once your ear entertained with music and good language, and your eye

satisfied with the garb and accoutrements of war."---Rehearsal, Act V. The adverse generals enter accordingly, and perform a sort of duet, great part of which is a parody upon the lyrical dialogue of Villeriu and the Soldan Solyman, in the "Siege of Rhodes."

Note X.

Ancient Decker.---P. 436.

Decker, who did not altogether deserve the disgraceful classification which Dryden has here assigned to him, was a writer of the reign of James I., and the antagonist of Jonson. I suspect Dryden knew, or at least recollected, little more of him, than that he was ridiculed, by his more renowned adversary, under the character of Crispinus, in "The Poetaster." Indeed, nothing can be more unfortunate to an inferior wit, than to be engaged in controversy with an author of established reputation; since, though he may maintain his ground with his contemporaries, posterity will always judge of him by the character assigned in the writings of his antagonist. Decker was admitted to write in conjunction with Webster, Ford, Brome, and even Massinger; and though he was only employed to fill up the inferior scenes, he certainly displays some theatrical talent. Indeed he was judged, by many of his own time, to have retaliated Jonson's satire with success, in "The Untrussing of the Humorous Poet;" where Ben is designed under the character of Horace Junior. Besides, Decker possessed some tragic powers: "The Honest Whore," which is altogether his own production, has several scenes of great merit.

Note XI.

But worlds of Misers from his pen should flow;
Humorists, and Hypocrites, it should produce,

Whole Raymond families, and tribes of Bruce.---P. 436.

Shadwell translated, or rather imitated, Moliere's "L'Avare," under the title of "The Miser." In Langbaine's opinion, he has greatly improved upon his original; but in this, as in other cases, the critic is probably singular. "The Miser" was printed in


"The Humorists" was a play professedly written to expose the reigning vices of the age; but as it was supposed to contain many direct personal allusions, it was unfavourably received by the audience. Shadwell, by way, I suppose, of insinuating to the readers an accurate notion of the characters, or humours, which he means to represent, is, in this and other pieces, at great.

pains to give a long and minute account of each individual in the dramatis personœ. Thus we have have in "The Humorists," "Crazy,---One that is in pox, in debt, and all the misfortunes that can be; and, in the midst of all, in love with most women, and thinks most women in love with him.

"Drybob,---A fantastic coxcomb, that makes it his business to speak fine things and wit, as he thinks; and always takes notice, or makes others take notice, of any thing he thinks well said.

“ Brisk,---A brisk, airy, fantastic, singing, dancing coxcomb, that sets up for a well-bred man, and a man of honour; but mistakes in every thing, and values himself only upon the vanity and foppery of gentlemen."

I do not know what to make of the "Hypocrites." Shadwell wrote no play so entitled; nor is it likely he gave any assistance to Medbourne, who translated the famous "Tartuffe" of Moliere, for they were of different opinions in religion and politics. Perhaps Dryden means the characters of the Irish priest and Tory chaplain in "The Lancashire Witches."

Raymond is a character in "The Humorists," described in the dramatis persone as a "gentleman of wit and honour." Bruce a similar person in "The Virtuoso," characterized as a “gentleman of wit and sense." In these, and in all other characters where wit and an easy style were requisite, Shadwell failed totally. His forte lay in broad, strong comic painting.

Note XII.
Ogleby.---P. 436.

This gentleman, whose name, thanks to our author and Pope, has become almost proverbial for a bad poet, was originally a Scottish dancing-master, when probably Scottish dancing was not so fashionable as at present, and afterwards master of the revels in Ireland. He translated "The Iliad," "The Odyssey," "The Eneid," and " Esop's Fables," into verse; and his versions were splendidly adorned with sculpture. He also wrote three epic poems, one of which was fortunately burned in the fire of London. Moreover, he conducted the ceremony of Charles the Second's coronation, and erected a theatre in Dublin.

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* See Vol. IX. p. 61.

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