Page images

tant benefit, that it opened our poet's own way to distinction; which is thus celebrated by Baber:

-till blest years brought Cæsar home again,
Dryden to purpose never drew his pen.
He, happy favourite of the tuneful nine!
Came with an early offering to your shrine;
Embalm'd in deathless verse the monarch's fame ;
Verse, which shall keep it fresh in youthful prime,
When Rustal's sacred gift must yield to time.

Note VII.

Faith is a Christian's and a subject's test.—P. 78.

James, as well as his poet, was not slack in intimating to his subjects, that he expected them to possess a proper portion of this saving virtue. And, that they might not want an opportunity of exercising it, he was pleased, by his own royal proclamation, to continue the payment of the duties of the custom-house, which had been granted by parliament only during his brother's life.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]




In the Life of Dryden, there is an attempt to trace the progress and changes of those religious opinions, by which he was unfortunately conducted into the errors of Popery. With all the zeal of a new convert, he seems to have been impatient to invite others to follow his example, by detailing, in poetry, the arguments which had appeared to him unanswerable. "The Hind and the Panther" is the offspring of that rage for proselytism, which is a peculiar attribute of his new mother church. The author is anxious, in the preface, to represent this poem as a task which he had voluntarily undertaken, without receiving even the subject from any His assertion seems worthy of full credit; for although it was the most earnest desire of James II. to employ every possible mode for the conversion of his subjects, there is room to believe, that, if the poem had been written under his direction, the tone adopted by Dryden towards the sectaries would have been much more mild. It is a well-known point of history, that, in order to procure as many friends as possible to the repeal of the Test act and penal laws against the Catholics, James extended indulgence to the Puritans and sectarian non-conformists, the ancient enemies of his person, his family, and monarchial establishments in general. Dryden obviously was not in this court secret; the purpose of which was to unite those congregations, whom he has described under the parable of bloody bears, boars, wolves, foxes, &c. in a common interest with the Hind, against the exclusive privileges of the Panther and her subjects. His work was written with the precisely opposite intention of recommending an union between the Catholics and the church of England; at least, of persuading the latter to throw down the barriers, by which the

« PreviousContinue »