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FIELDING AND STEELE.
"There was a great similitude," observes Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, "between the character of Henry Fielding and Sir Richard Steele. They both agreed in wanting money in spite of all their friends-and would have wanted it if their hereditary lands had been as extensive as their imagination; yet each of them was so formed for happiness, it is a pity he was not immortal!"
Fortune comes to you in the only manner in which you would give her a hearty welcome; she is brought by Virtue, and attended by Honour.-Lyttelton to Chatham.
GIBBON'S OBLIGATIONS TO THE MILITIA.
"My principal obligation to the Militia," says Gibbon, at this time a captain in the Hampshire regiment, "was the making me an Englishman and a soldier. In this peaceful service I imbibed the rudiments of the language and the science of tactics, which opened a new field of study and observation. The discipline and evolutions of a modern battalion gave me a clearer notion of the phalanx and the legion; and the captain of the Hampshire grenadiers (the reader may smile) has not been useless to the historian of the Roman Empire."
A DESIGN ON THE POPEDOM.
The plan which the elder Scaliger devised for the recovery of his ancient honours and possessions was somewhat curious. His son was accustomed to relate, that the reason of his father's great proficiency in logic and scholastic divinity was the design which he had at one time conceived of obtaining the popedom, in order that he might recover from the Venetians by force of arms his principality of Verona.-Museum Criticum.
Spenser was learned in Latin and Greek, as well as in Italian; but either the fashion of the times, or some deficiency in his own taste, inclined him to prefer the modern to the ancient models. His genius was comprehensive and sublime, his style copious, his sense of harmony delicate; nothing seems to have been wanting to make him a poet of the highest rank but a more intimate acquaintance with the classic authors.-Beattie.
A NOBLE LAUNDRESS.
The Countess of Richmond would often say, on condition the princes of Christendom would march against the Turks, she would willingly attend them, and be their laundress.— Camden.
TRANSLATORS OF THE BIBLE.
It is worthy of remark, that while the list of the translators of the authorised version of our Bible, of course, comprises all the English theologians of their time most eminent for learning, yet, although they were forty-seven in number, not a person occurs in the list (with the exception of Henry Saville, if the same with the provost of Eton,) whose name is recorded as a contributor to general literature.-Aikin.
There was an attempt formerly to restore the Strathallan title, when the following evidence was given of the death of the last Lord Strathallan:-An aged general, who was called to prove that Lord Strathallan had fallen at the battle of Culloden, in the year 1746, gave his evidence to that effect. A noble lord suggested to the Lord Chancellor (Thurlow) to ask the witness how he knew that Lord Strathallan fell at Culloden. The Lord Chancellor put the question, and the witness answered-" Because, at the battle of Culloden, I thrust my spontoon through the body of the Viscount Strathallan."
There is a very ancient tax in France for providing the queen with pins; whence the term of pin-money has been, undoubtedly, applied by us to that provision for married women with which the husband is not to interfere.
When first the art of printing was discovered, one side only of a page was made use of; the expedient of impressing the other was not yet found out. Specimens of these early-printed books are in the library of the British Museum. Afterwards they thought of pasting the blank sides together, which made them appear like one leaf. It is singular that the Romans, who had stereotypes, or printing immovable types, with which they stamped their pottery, should have failed to apply the invention to their literary works.
LONDON SATURDAY JOURNAL.
PUBLISHED BY WILLIAM SMITH, 113, FLEET STREET.
SATURDAY, JUNE 20, 1840.
THE PLUM-TREE OF BRIGNOLLES. "It is of no use talking, mother; I must go to the aid of the King of Navarre.”
"Tush! tush, child! what will you do among all these great
"What others have done before me, mother, -or make my fortune, perhaps, or perhaps
"You may get knocked on the head."
"Not unlikely at any rate, it will be better than vegetating here, without any remains of our former possessions but that large plum-tree, with the fruit of which you amuse yourself in making sweetmeats."
"Don't despise the plum-tree or my sweetmeats; there are many worse things in the world than they are. The very last time the Count Olivier des Serres came this way and tasted them, 'My good mother Madelon,' said he, I only wish I had you at my estate at Pradel.'"'
"And I am sure I wish you were there with all my heart, or that you would stay quietly at Brignolles."
"I shall do no such thing. If you go to Paris, I go. Pooh! pooh! I have heard enough of the wars, and of warriors, not to know that good things are scarce enough among them; and my son shall not be famished if I can help it."
And so, in spite of all her son could urge to the contrary, the good Mere Madelon packed up her confitures, and proceeded with François to join the army of Henry IV., who was then besieging
There was no doubt in anybody's mind that Henry de Bourbon was the legitimate king of France; but the Council of the Sorbonne had decided, that as "a heretic and a maker of heretics, relapsed and excommunicated," he should never assume the crown; and they not only shut the gates of Paris against him, but promised the palm of martyrdom to whomsoever should die in defending the city against his claims. Henry was an excellent soldier, but he was too good a man to be a perfectly good general; and, as is well known, when the citizens of Paris were reduced to the point of yielding to him by famine, he permitted some peasants to enter the city with food, and thus furnished his enemies with arms against himself. "I would rather never become possessed of Paris," said the good monarch, "than see it destroyed by the ruin of so many of its citizens."
In the mean time, François and his mother had arrived at the camp; and, thanks to the care of Madelon, the tent of her son was better supplied with provisions than that of any other officer in the whole army. Time rolled on with a variety of fortune; sometimes Henry had the advantage, and sometimes his enemies. One evening, however, in June, 1590, Madelon saw her son enter the tent with sad and care-worn countenance.
"Bad news, mother," said he; "the Duke of Parma is approaching with a large army, and he will raise the siege.'
"Alas for our good King Henry!" cried the old woman; and she had scarcely uttered these words, when the curtain of the tent was gently turned on one side, and a tall handsome man, with a particularly frank and open countenance, walked in. "I am hungry and athirst, François," said he; "and I am come to ask you and your good mother if you will give me some supper?" "With all my heart," returned Madelon, "as far as my power
goes; and if you were King Henry himself, you could have no better than what I shall set before you."
"Ventre Saint Gris!" exclaimed the stranger; "it is long since Henry de Bourbon has seen such dainties as these before him. You forget, good mother, that the Bernese is poor, and that he has scarcely a horse to ride, linen to change, or a coat to cover him. I do assure you, also, as I happen to know something of his private affairs, that it is a very long time since he has eaten a good dinner."
"Yet he is our good King Henry for all that," said the old woman, her eyes filling with tears; "and Huguenot as he is, he should never want a dinner while I had one to give him, if I did but know how to send it to him."
The stranger laughed. "Take care," said he, "that Henry does not take you at your word."
"It is the king himself, mother," said François.
From that day till Henry was compelled to raise the siege of Paris, he dined every day at the table of François; and he never left the tent without taking with him a small box of Madelon's delicious plums, of which he was exceedingly fond, and which were dried in a way invented by Madelon herself, which was then unknown to everybody else. These days were the most critical in Henry's life, and it is, perhaps, not too much to say, that the good monarch was mainly indebted to the timely aid afforded him by François and his mother for his final success. fact, he felt grateful, and far from forgetting in his prosperity the friends who had assisted him in his misfortunes, one of his first acts after he was firmly established on the throne of France, was to give François a situation under Lesdiguières, the brave governor of Provence, which enabled the young man to pass half his time with his mother at Brignolles, while during the remaining half she lived with him at Grenoble.
Years rolled on, and France, under the sway of Henry, had become great and powerful. Commerce, agriculture, and the fine arts, all flourished; and justice was administered impartially to all who wanted it. To facilitate the administration of justice to those in the distant provinces, Henry was accustomed to hold occasionally what were called "open days ;" during which the king, attended by the chief officers of his court, sate in state to receive the petitions of all his subjects, whoever they might be, who thought themselves aggrieved by any member of the government.
The sitting at one of these open days of justice, as they were called, was just over, and the king and his attendants had arisen to retire, when an old woman, dressed in a showy chintz gown, and bright scarlet stiff calimanco petticoat, and with a basket on her arm, begged to see the king. You are too late, mother," said the soldiers; and they attempted to force her back, while she, on the other hand, appeared determined to make good her entry. At last the noise of the scuffle attracted the attention of Henry himself, who instantly ordered the petitioner to be admitted; and the old woman, shaking her clothes, and vehemently scolding the soldiers who had deranged them, was suffered to advance.
"You must kneel before the king," said one of the officers, putting his hand on her shoulders, before she had gone many steps. "Let me alone," returned the old woman, shaking him off pettishly. "I warrant ye, I know how to behave myself well enough; and let me tell you, the king will be glad enough to see me, and what I have got for him, rude as ye are." "And what have you got for me, my good mother?" said Henry,
holding out his hand, into which the old woman very gently put a small box of plums; and then spreading a handkerchief on the ground and tucking up her gown, she made preparations for kneeling.
"Ventre Saint Gris!" cried Henry, laughing, "it is the good Mère Madelon and her Brignolles plums. You see what a sweet tooth I am supposed to have," continued he, eating some of the plums, and holding the box out to his courtiers.
"An' it please your majesty," cried Madelon, who by this time was comfortably settled on her knees, "having a petition to present to your majesty, and knowing that your majesty was fond of plums
"You were quite right," said Henry, eating very fast.
knew that, in truth, the real crimes of these unhappy persons were probably only that they had offended the duke; but the duke was too powerful to be resisted, and the poor creatures were condemned to go through the mockery of a trial, which they, and all around them, knew beforehand would terminate in their conviction.
The court was assembled, and the huissiers were employed in driving back the people who had crowded somewhat too near the entrance, in the hope of hearing what was going on, when an old man of venerable appearance, with his long grey hairs hanging loosely over his shoulders, implored the soldiers to let him pass. "It is the father of the fair Agnes," cried the people. "A pretty thing," exclaimed the soldiers, "to admit you to the presence of the duke! Do we not know that he would as soon see
"I took the liberty to bring your majesty a box full of them," the devil?" continued the old woman.
"And very good they are," rejoined the king, still eating.
"At the same time," Madelon went on, "that I present my complaint against that servant of the devil, the Duke of Eperon." | "Hey! what! my good woman!" cried Henry, dropping the plum that was on its way to his mouth, and setting down the box. "This is too serious a matter to be treated lightly. The Duke of Eperon is a very powerful prince, and I must not listen to charges against him unless they are well supported. Come to me again at this hour to-morrow, Madelon, and let me hear what cause you have to complain."
The morrow came, but no Madelon; and that same day an event happened, which gave the monarch too much to occupy his thoughts, to allow him to notice the absence of his poor friend. On the day in question, Jean Chatel, a young fanatic, the son of a shopkeeper in Paris, mingling with the crowd in the antechamber of the king, attempted to stab him in the chest. Luckily Henry escaped the danger, from having stooped forward at that moment to embrace one of the great lords of the court, and the dagger only wounded his lip and broke one of his teeth. On being interrogated, the assassin, who was evidently half insane, declared, that feeling himself guilty of great crimes, he had determined to kill the king, whom he believed to be still a heretic in his heart, in the hope of thus winning a place in heaven; and be accused the Jesuits of putting this horrid and blasphemous thought into his head. The Jesuits had already many enemies, and this completed their disgrace. The Parliament met, and after a stormy debate, a decree was pronounced, banishing the Jesuits from France, and denouncing them as corrupters of youth, disturbers of the public peace, and enemies of both the king and the state."
The Duc d'Eperon, who had succeeded the brave Lesdiguières, reigned like a sovereign in Provence. Naturally proud and tyrannical, he took advantage of the yet scarcely settled state of the kingdom, to rule despotically over the people committed to his charge. Every one hated him, but, at the same time, every one trembled at and obeyed him. Henry had not half the power over the rest of France that the Duc d'Eperon had over Provence. It was enough even for the nobles to resist him to ensure their destruction; and his cruelty to his inferiors knew no bounds. If any woman of a rank beneath his own was unfortunate enough to attract his attention, whether a maiden or a wife, she was dragged away to form part of his seraglio; and if her relations dared to resist, they were arrested on some pretended charge and thrown into prison.
On the 4th of June, 1595, the Duke d'Eperon was about to hold a court at Grenoble, at which it was announced that he would hear the trials of an old woman accused of witchcraft, and of a young man suspected of treasonable designs against the king. Every one
"Or the king," shouted the people. "Oh! if our good King Henry were here, he would not suffer us to be trampled on !” "But he is not here, and not likely to be," said a soldier insolently; "so back with you, fellow!" And as he spoke, he struck the poor old man a violent blow on the face. This was the signal to the soldiery for a general attack upon the unfortunate victim; the poor old man was knocked down, and one of the soldiers, taking him by the heels, dragged him away, with his grey hairs. stained and clotted as they were with blood, literally trailing in the dust. Groans and hisses followed this base and cowardly action; but Lo one was bold enough to risk his own safety by interfering to prevent it; and a few minutes longer suffering would probably have terminated the poor old man's earthly woes, when suddenly the sound of trumpets was heard at a distance. The soldiers stopped, and stood aghast; for they well knew that only Henry himself, or some one armed with authority from him, would dare to break the silence which the duke had this day commanded to be held throughout the city. Their suspense, however, was not of long duration; for in less time than it has taken to relate it, Henry, in full armour, and attended by his principal officers, armed in like manner, gal❤* loped at full speed into the grand square; while the people, who had instantly recognised their king, made the air ring with shouts of "Long live Henry IV. !"
The king stopped when he approached the group of soldiers, and looked earnestly at the old man, whose feet having been dropped by the soldier who held them, and who had been assisted to rise by some one among the crowd, remained stupified, and staggering, and unconscious of what had happened.
"Let him be attended to, and taken care of," said the king to some of his attendants; and the old man was led away, while the king rode on till he reached the entrance to the court. Here he dismounted; but his foot had scarcely touched the ground, before he was met by the duke, who had hastened out on being told of Henry's arrival, and who earnestly entreated him to repair to the palace and take some refreshment after his journey.
"No, no! brother," said Henry; "I find that you were holding a court of justice when I arrived ; and God forbid that I should be a means of delaying justice to any one. My poor subjects have already suffered enough on my account; and my ambition now is to show them that I deserved fighting for. I aspire to the glorious title of Liberator and Restorer of France. Already, by the grace of God, the councils of my faithful servants, and the swords of my brave soldiers, I am firmly seated on my throne; and I now wish to relieve my people from the misery and slavery they have fallen into, and thus to restore my country to its ancient power and greatness. As, of course, your feelings are, or ought to be, the same as mine, I will sit beside you on your justice-seat, and lend my aid in enabling you to administer even-handed justice to all."
A very short time sufficed to place Henry in the seat of justice, while the late tyrant crouched humbly at his feet :-so true it is, that there is no real difference between the tyrant and the slave, save that produced by the circumstances with which both are surrounded. As soon as the proper officers had taken their places in the court, and order was restored, Henry commanded the prisoner to be brought before him; and the huissiers led forward a poor old woman, whose eye no sooner met that of the king, than she tried
to clasp her manacled hands together, while she cried fervently, "Thank God!"
"Why, Madelon!" exclaimed the king, inexpressibly shocked; "is it possible that I see you thus ?"
Yes, it was Madelon; and the king might well be shocked at the change only a few days of mental and bodily suffering had wrought in her appearance. She was still dressed in the largepatterned chintz gown and thick calamanco petticoat in which she had gone to court; but the bright colours of her gown and petticoat were soiled, and not only was their stiffness gone, but they were rent in many places. Her hair, which had been so neatly coiffed, hung loosely on her shoulders; her cheeks were thin, and her eyes hollow; and, in short, her whole aspect bespoke the extremity of her sufferings.
"My poor Madelon," continued the king in a softened voice, "I have been partly to blame for this; I should never have permitted you to leave me."
It is astonishing the effect produced by these few words, and the tone in which they were uttered, on the officers of the court. They hastened to strike the manacles off Madelon's arms, and respectfully placed a chair for her to sit on. The poor old woman threw herself upon it, and bursting into tears, exclaimed, "Then I shall not be burned for a witch after all!"
"Heaven forbid !" cried the king. "But how is all this?" There was now no want of persons to step forward, and accuse
the Duke of Eperon of having forcibly seized on Agnes, the affianced wife of François; while, to quiet the complaints of the unfortunate young man, he had been thrown into prison on a charge of treason. A spy in the pay of the duke having heard the complaint of Madelon to the king, she had been privately removed from Paris and carried back to Provence; and the duke had hoped that the king would be too fully engaged with his own affairs to have time to look after those of his subjects.
It is hardly necessary to add, that the duke was thrown into prison on the charge of having abused his trust; and that as soon as he was deprived of his authority, innumerable tales of his cruelty and oppression came to light. In the end, indeed, proofs were obtained of his having been concerned in the late conspiracy against the king, and he was executed for high treason, amid the shouts and execrations of the whole population of Grenoble. François was made governor in his place; and from him and the fair Agnes descended a long line of counts of Provence; while Madelon, having confided the secret of her mode of preserving plums to the worthy Count Olivier des Serres, that excellent man published it to the world, in the year 1600, in his well-known work entitled the Théâtre d'Agriculture. This mode is still practised at Brignolles; and the delicate Brignolles plums, still constantly sold in our grocers' shops, are prepared in exactly the same way as those so much relished by Henry IV., and which owed their origin to the ingenuity and skill of La bonne Mère
THE oysters of the British coasts have long been admitted to be the best procurable in Europe. The Romans paid great prices for them, although it is not likely that they would then be taken to Italy in a fresh state. Of the British coasts, the districts most famous for their oysters are the shores of Kent and Essex. Those found near Milton, in Kent, and usually called the "Native" oys; ters, are perhaps the very best; they are small, round, plump, and white, with thin shells, which are easily opened. The oysters found in the river Coln, on which stands the city of Colchester, in Essex, are also of excellent quality, and are renowned over the whole island. Massinger has made them classical, by causing Justice Greedy, in "A New Way to Pay Old Debts," to say that he had nothing to speak of this morning before breakfast, except a barrel of Colchester oysters. The Coln, near that town, forms a great many arms and creeks exceedingly well suited for the formation of oyster-banks. The Dorsetshire oysters rank next in estimation to those of Essex. Those of Poole, especially, hold a high reputation; as do those of Faversham in Kent, of the Isle of Wight, and of
Tenby on the coast of South Wales. Vast quantities are carried to the continent from Kent. Several hundred vessels were at one time employed annually in this trad- alone. In London, during the proper season, the trade in oysters is very considerable, both for exportation into the country and native consumption. The dealers bestow great pains in preserving and feeding the oysters in tubs, containing an infusion of salt water and oatmeal.
Besides those on the English shores, oyster-banks are common on the northern coasts of Ireland. The Scottish capital has been, till a recent period, plentifully supplied with good oysters from the Frith of Forth, in its immediate vicinity. Nearly opposite to Leith there was a large depôt of them, formed around or near the islet of Inchkeith. Local poets speak with rapture of the delicious caller (that is, fresh) oysters which were to be had in Edinburgh for evening festivities. From mismanagement, or some other cause, the Edinburgh oysters have greatly degenerated in quality; and the town has consequently lost one of its objects of attraction. Dublin is supplied from Arklow, a little to the east, and oysters are conveyed to artificial beds, near the capital, on the northern side. short way from Dublin, additional supplies are procured for the At Sutton, Polebeg, and Dalkey, places but a tables of the Irish metropolitans.-London Courier.
THE BRITISH POETS.
POETRY has been defined as "the natural impression of any object or circumstance, by its vividness exciting an involuntary pathy, a certain modulation of the voice, or sounds expressing it."'* movement of imagination and passion, and producing, by symThese few words convey much meaning in a little compass, and give a clearer idea of what poetry really is, than a long dissertation. The poet must be observant, a watcher and a ponderer of men and things; his imagination and passions must be lively, and the former should be powerful to invest the object beheld, or thought conceived, in its own glory; he must possess a command of lan guage and an ear for music, or he will, however stimulated by sympathy, be unable to express his feelings, to impart to others the thoughts that burn within his own breast, and make his fellowmen partakers of his inspired visions.
Poetry may be divided into two distinct classes; the Natural and the Artificial. The former has been so eloquently described by Mr. Hazlitt, that we shall venture again to borrow from his pages. "The poet of nature is one who, from the elements of beauty, of power, and of passion, in his own breast, sympathises with what ever is beautiful, and grand, and impassioned in nature, in its simple majesty, in its immediate appeal to the senses, to the thoughts and hearts of all men: so that the poet of nature, by the truth and depth and harmony of his mind, may be said to hold communion with the very soul of nature; to be identified with and to foreknow and to record the feelings of all men at all times and places, as they are liable to the same impressions; and to exert the same power over the minds of his readers that nature does. He sees things in their eternal beauty, for he sees them as they are; he feels them in their universal interest, for he feels them as they affect the first principles of his and our common nature. Such was Homer, such was Shakspere, whose works will last as long as nature, because they are a copy of the indestructible forms and everlasting impulses of nature, welling out from the bosom as from a perennial spring, or stamped upon the senses by the hand of their maker. The power of the imagination in them is the representa. tive power of all nature.
It has its centre in the human soul, and makes the circuit of the universe." Such poets are of the first class, among whom, Chaucer, Spenser, Shakspere, and Milton, hold the first rank.
The poet of art is more indebted to his observant powers than to the possession of that fore-knowledge supplied to the poet of nature by the infallible warnings of his imagination, for his success; and consequently is always more the poet of his own times than Dryden and Pope are at the head of this class of
of all time.
* Hazlitt's Lectures on the English Poets.
English Poets. The palm is more generally awarded to the latter, hut we would rather say "Let both divide the crown." Dryden possesses the merit of rescuing English poetry from the low state into which it had fallen in the latter days of .Elizabeth and her successors, in which conceits and plays on words (faults conspicuous even in Shakspere) were substituted for wit, and violent and far-fetched oppositions of ideas, and forced metaphors and allusions, assumed, with what have been termed by Dr. Johnson the 'metaphysical poets," the place of natural imagery and the free course of an unrestrained imagination.
Ben Jonson indulged too much in the metaphysical style, which was fostered by the pedantic taste of King James; Donne and Cowley followed him; it became the fashion, and was pursued to such extremes that the versification of the poets of this school became as rugged as their analogies were unnatural. Dryden led the way to a revival of the purity of English poetry. "There was before his time," says Dr. Johnson, "no poetical diction, no system of words at once refined from the grossness of domestic use, and free from the harshness of terms appropriated to particular arts. Words too familiar, or too remote, defeat the purpose of a poet. From those sounds which we hear on small or on coarse occasions we do not easily receive strong impressions or delightful images; and words to which we are nearly strangers, whenever they occur, draw that attention on themselves which they should transmit to things." His earliest efforts are remarkable for the power and correctness of their versification; and the longer he ielded the pen, the greater were the excellences he displayed. It ould have been strange indeed had he been free from all the faults f his age, but they are much more conspicuous in his earlier than is later productions.
Pope, with a delicate and even fastidious taste, is unrivalled for the elegance of his versification; but he wants the sturdy vigour which was the great excellence of Dryden. and although he is entitled to an equal rank, we must dispute his title to precedency. It is now. however, time to turn more immediately to the subject of this paper, and, in pursuance of the plan we have proposed to ourselves in giving a series of papers on the British Poets, to draw a brief sketch of his life, illustrating it by a few extracts from his
John Dryden, "glorious John," as he was called by his contemporaries, was born on or about the 9th of August, 1631. He was well descended on both paternal and maternal sides; his father, Erasmus, being of an ancient and good family in North amptonshire, and brother of Sir John Dryden of Canon's Ashby, whose title and estate ultimately descended to one of the poet's His mother was the daughter of the Rev. Henry Pickering, younger son of Sir Gilbert Pickering; a person who, though in considerable favour with James I., was a zealous Puritan, and so
hostile to the Catholics, that the projectors of the gunpowder plot
had resolved on his death as an episode to the main action.
Dryden received his education at Westminster under Dr. Busby, and was, whilst yet a boy, distinguished by the excellence of many English translations from the classics, performed as school exercises, none of which have been preserved. He was admitted at Trinity College, Cambridge, on the 11th of May, 1650, on a Westminster scholarship, and took his degree as bachelor of arts in January 1653-4; but although he continued to reside at college for three years longer, he never proceeded master or obtained a fellowship; nor did he in his after years preserve that affectionate feeling towards "Alma Mater" which is so usual with her sons. He transferred his affections from the banks of Cam to those of Isis, as is evident from the following lines :
"Oxford to him a dearer name shall be
Thebes did his green unknowing youth engage,
The origin of this dislike may probably be traced in Dryden's growing distaste to the Puritans, to whose cause the University of Cambridge was supposed to incline, whilst that of Oxford was notorious for its royalist principles. Although all his relations
were strict upholders of Puritan doctrines, he seems very early to have been disgusted with their tenets, which he satirised severely in his poems on every occasion that offered; and although, probably more from compulsion than liking, he honoured the memory of the Protector with an elegy on his death, yet in that performance-which possesses a considerable share of poetical | merit-he carefully avoids any offensive reference to the late king or his family, and dwells upon those qualities of Cromwell which were really praiseworthy, his courage, his military skill, and his talents for government.
He was at this time an inmate of the family of his cousin Sir Gilbert Pickering, officiating, as some writers have affirmed, as his secretary or clerk; but, immediately upon the Restoration, he openly espoused the royal cause, wrote his congratulatory poem, "Astræ Redux;" and further offended his relations by changing the spelling of his name from Driden to Dryden, a proceeding which, in all probability, was occasioned by the quarrel which must have ensued upon occasion of his "falling away."
His elegy on the Protector was frequently made a subject of reproach, and some lines in it were perverted from their true meaning, and construed as an approval of the execution of King Charles I.; and, as a matter of course, the political and poetical enemies of Dryden (it may be difficult to determine which of the two were the most virulent) rang all sorts of changes upon cant, time-serving, rebellion, treason, arrogant presumption, and the false taste of the "town," who could endure a pseudo-royalist Puritan poetaster. But, notwithstanding this unlucky elegy, it appears that Dryden's conduct was throughout his life consistent. It was not his interest, in a worldly point of view, to put himself in opposition to his family, who were opulent, and, although thrown into the shade by the change of the times, still possessed some degree of influence inseparable from their station. He had nothing save a small paternal estate, worth about sixty pounds a year, increased to ninety on the death of his mother, who had a life-interest in one-third, and was therefore compelled to seek for subsistence from his pen. The booksellers were his first supporters, and for some time he worked "journeyman author" for Herringham, who had a shop in the New Exchange,―writing prefaces, dedications, &c. &c. ; but his growing reputation, and the patronage (for no author could then hope to succeed without a patron) of Sir Robert Howard (younger son of Lord Berkshire), whose sister he afterwards married, greatly assisted to establish him in that literary dictatorship which he long enjoyed, enthroned in his arm-chair at Will's Coffee-house, at the fire-side in winter, and in the balcony in the more genial season, where all the "men of wit and talent about town" flocked round to listen to the oracle. The theatre, as the most lucrative branch of literature, drew his earliest attention; and his first effort was the rhyming others in rapid succession; and for several years he was under tragedy of the Duke of Guise:" this was followed by many contract with the King's House to furnish three plays every year, the consideration given being one-quarter share in the theatre, averaging between three and four hundred pounds a year. This and the proceeds of the offices of poet-laureat and royal historiographer, together with his own property, and it is presumed some accession upon his marriage with Lady Elizabeth Howard, which took place in 1665, enabled him to live in good style during the reigns of Charles and James. When, towards the end of the former monarch's reign, party began to run high, Dryden for a time forsook the stage, and, plunging into politics, supported the court-party by his writings both in prose and verse. This of course laid him open to much abuse from what was then called the "country party;" he was ridiculed by the Duke of Buckingham as the " Bayes" of "the Rehearsal," and attacked by Shadwell, a poet whose name has been preserved, like many of those embalmed to evil fame in the Dunciad, by the memorable castigation bestowed upon him in the inimitable satire of Macflecknoe. The open profession which Dryden, about the period when the "Exclusion Bill" was agitated, made of the Catholic religion, has been sometimes reflected on as no more than a piece