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Dryden, John / The works of John Dryden, now first collected in eighteen volumes. Volume 07
THE

WORKS

OF

JOHN DRYDEN,

NOW FIRST COLLECTED

_IN EIGHTEEN VOLUMES._



ILLUSTRATED

WITH NOTES,

HISTORICAL, CRITICAL, AND EXPLANATORY,

AND

A LIFE OF THE AUTHOR,

BY

WALTER SCOTT, ESQ.



VOL. VII.

LONDON:

PRINTED FOR WILLIAM MILLER, ALBEMARLE STREET,

BY JAMES BALLANTYNE AND CO. EDINBURGH


1808.


* * * * *


CONTENTS

OF

VOLUME SEVENTH.


The Duke of Guise, a Tragedy
Epistle Dedicatory to the Earl of Rochester
The Vindication of the Duke of Guise


Albion and Albanius, an Opera
Preface


Don Sebastian, a Tragedy
Epistle Dedicatory to the Earl of Leicester
Preface


* * * * *


THE

DUKE OF GUISE.


A TRAGEDY.


Outs de philotimoi physeis en tais politeiais to agan m
phylaxamenai, ti agathou meizon to kakon echousi.
PLUTARCH. IN AGESILAO.




THE DUKE OF GUISE.


In the latter part of Charles the Second's reign, the stage, as well
as every other engine which could affect the popular mind, was eagerly
employed in the service of the contending factions. Settle and
Shadwell had, in tragedy and comedy, contributed their mite to the
support of the popular cause. In the stormy session of parliament, in
1680, the famous bill was moved, for the exclusion of the Duke of
York, as a papist, from the succession, and accompanied by others of a
nature equally peremptory and determined. The most remarkable was a
bill to order an association for the safety of his majesty's person,
for defence of the protestant religion, for the preservation of the
protestant liege subjects against invasion and opposition, and for
preventing any papist from succeeding to the throne of England. To
recommend these rigid measures, and to keep up that zealous hatred and
terror of the catholic religion, which the plot had inspired, Settle
wrote his forgotten tragedy of "Pope Joan," in which he revives the
old fable of a female pope, and loads her with all the crimes of which
a priest, or a woman, could possibly be guilty. Shadwell's comedy of
the "Lancashire Witches" was levelled more immediately at the papists,
but interspersed with most gross and scurrilous reflections upon the
English divines of the high church party. Otway, Lee, and Dryden were
the formidable antagonists, whom the court opposed to the whig poets.
Thus arrayed and confronted, the stage absolutely foamed with
politics; the prologues and epilogues, in particular formed channels,
through which the tenets of the opposite parties were frequently
assailed, and the persons of their leaders and their poets exposed to
scandal and derision.

In the middle of these political broils, Dryden was called upon, as he
informs us, by Lee, to return the assistance which that poet had
afforded in composing "OEdipus." The history of the Duke of Guise had
formerly occupied his attention, as an acceptable subject to the court
after the Restoration. A League, formed under pretence of religion,
and in defence of the king's authority, against his person, presented
facilities of application to the late civil wars, to which, we may be
sure, our poet was by no means insensible. But however apt these
allusions might have been in 1665, the events which had taken place in
1681-2 admitted of a closer parallel, and excited a deeper interest.
The unbounded power which Shaftesbury had acquired in the city of
London, and its state of factious fermentation, had been equalled by
nothing but the sway exercised by the leaders of the League in the
metropolis of France. The intrigues by which the Council of Sixteen
placed and displaced, flattered or libelled, those popular officers of
Paris, whom the French call _echevins_, admitted of a direct and
immediate comparison with the contest between the court and the whigs,
for the election of the sheriffs of London; contests which attained so
great violence, that, at one time, there was little reason to hope
they would have terminated without bloodshed. The tumultuous day of
the barricades, when Henry the second, after having in vain called in
the assistance of his guards, was obliged to abandon his capital to
the Duke of Guise and his faction, and assemble the states of his
kingdom at Blois, was not entirely without a parallel in the annals of
1681. The violence of the parliament at London had led to its
dissolution; and, in order to insure the tractability of their
successors, they were assembled, by the king, at Oxford, where a
concurrence of circumstances rendered the royal authority more
paramount than in any other city of the kingdom. To this parliament
the members came in an array, which more resembled the parliament of
the White Bands, in the reign of Edward the second, than any that had
since taken place. Yet, though armed, and attended by their retainers
and the more ardent of their favourers, the leaders of opposition
expressed their apprehensions of danger from the royal party. The
sixteen whig peers, in their memorable petition against this removal,
complained, that the parliament would at Oxford be exposed to the
bloody machinations of the papists and their adherents, "of whom too
many had crept into his majesty's guards." The aid of ballads and
libellous prints was called in, to represent this alteration of the
usual place of meeting as a manoeuvre to throw the parliament, its
members, and its votes, at the feet of an arbitrary monarch[1]. It is
probable that this meeting, which rather resembled a Polish diet than
a British parliament, would not have separated without some signal,
and perhaps bloody catastrophe, if the political art of Halifax, who
was at the head of the small moderate party, called Trimmers, joined
to the reluctance of either faction to commence hostilities against an
enemy as fully prepared as themselves, had not averted so eminent a
crisis. In all particulars, excepting the actual assassination, the
parliament of Oxford resembled the assembly of the States General at
Blois. The general character of the Duke of Monmouth certainly had not
many points of similarity to that of the Duke of Guise; but in one
particular incident his conduct had been formed on that model, and it
is an incident which makes a considerable figure in the tragedy. In
September 1679, after the king's illness, Monmouth was disgraced, and
obliged to leave the kingdom. He retired to Holland, where he resided
until the intrigues of Shaftesbury assured him the support of a party
so strongly popular, that he might return, in open defiance of the
court. In the November following, he conceived his presence necessary
to animate his partizans; and, without the king's permission for his
return, he embarked at the Brill, and landed at London on the 27th, at
midnight, where the tumultuous rejoicings of the popular party more
than compensated for the obscurity of his departure[2]. This bold step
was, in all its circumstances, very similar to the return of the Duke
of Guise from his government to Paris, against the express command of
Henry the second, together with his reception by the populace, whom he
came prepared to head in insurrection. Above all, the bill of
exclusion bore a striking resemblance to the proceedings of the League
against the King of Navarre, presumptive heir of the throne, whom, on
account of his attachment to the protestant faith, they threatened to
deprive of the succession.

The historical passages, corresponding in many particulars with such
striking accuracy, offered an excellent groundwork for a political
play, and the "Duke of Guise" was composed accordingly; Dryden making
use of the scenes which he had formerly written on the subject, and
Lee contributing the remainder, which he eked out by some scenes and
speeches adopted from the "Massacre of Paris," then, lying by him in
manuscript. The court, however, considered the representation of the
piece as at least of dubious propriety. The parallel was capable of
being so extended as to exhibit no very flattering picture of the
king's politics; and, on the other hand, it is possible, that the fate
of the Duke of Guise, as identified with Monmouth, might shock the
feelings of Charles, and the justice of the audience.

Accordingly, we learn from the "Vindication," that the representation
of the piece was prohibited; that it lay in the hands of the lord
chamberlain (Henry Lord Arlington) from before mid-summer, 1682, till
two months after that term; and that orders were not finally given for
its being acted until the month of December in the same year. The
king's tenderness for the Duke of Monmouth had by this time so far
given way, that he had ordered his arrest at Stafford; and, from the
dark preparations on both sides, it was obvious, that no measures were
any longer to be kept betwixt them. All the motives of delicacy and
prudence, which had prevented the representation of this obnoxious
party performance, were now therefore annihilated or overlooked.

Our author's part of the "Duke of Guise" is important, though not of
great extent, as his scenes contain some of the most striking
political sketches. The debate of the Council of Sixteen, with which
the play opens, was his composition; the whole of the fourth act,
which makes him responsible for the alleged parallel betwixt Guise and
Monmouth, and the ridicule cast upon the sheriffs and citizens of the
popular party, with the first part of the fifth, which implicates him
in vindicating the assassination of Guise. The character and
sentiments of the king, in these scenes, are drawn very closely after
Davila, as the reader will easily see, from the Italian original
subjoined in the notes. That picturesque historian had indeed
anticipated almost all that even a poet could do, in conveying a
portraiture, equally minute and striking, of the stormy period which
he had undertaken to describe; and, had his powers of description been
inferior, it is probable, that Dryden, hampered as he was, by
restraints of prudence and delicacy, would not have chosen to go far
beyond the authority to which he referred the lord chamberlain. The
language of the play, at least in these scenes, seldom rises above
that of the higher tone of historical oratory; and the descriptions
are almost literally taken from Davila, and thrown into beautiful
verse. In the character of Marmoutiere, there seems to be an allusion
to the duchess of Buccleuch and Monmouth, whose influence was always,
and sometimes successfully, used to detach her husband from the
desperate schemes of Shaftesbury and Armstrong. The introduction of
the necromancer, Malicorn, seems to refer to some artifices, by which
the party of Monmouth endeavoured to call to their assistance the
sanction of supernatural powers[3]. The particular story of Malicorn
is said to be taken from a narrative in Rosset's _Histoires
Tragiques_, a work which the present editor has never seen. In the
conference between Malicorn and Melanax, Dryden has made much use of
his astrological knowledge; and its mystical terms give a solemnity to
the spirit's predictions, which was probably deepened by the poet's
secret belief in this visionary study. As he borrowed liberally from
Davila in the other parts of the play, he has not here disdained to
use the assistance of Pulci, from whose romantic poem he has
translated one or two striking passages, as the reader will find upon
consulting the notes. The last scene betwixt the necromancer and the
fiend is horribly fine: the description of the approach of the Evil
One, and the effect which his presence produces upon the attendants,
the domestic animals, and the wizard himself, is an instance, amongst
many, of the powerful interest which may be produced by a judicious
appeal to the early prejudices of superstition. I may be pardoned,
however, when I add, that such scenes are, in general, unfit for the
stage, where the actual appearance of a demon is apt to excite
emotions rather ludicrous than terrific. Accordingly, that of Dryden
failed in the representation. The circumstance, upon which the
destruction of the wizard turns, is rather puerile; but there are many
similar fables in the annals of popular superstition[4].

Lee's part of this play is, in general, very well written, and
contains less rant than he usually puts in the mouths of his
characters.

The factions have been long at rest which were so deeply agitated by
the first representation of this performance; yet some pains has been
taken to trace those points of resemblance, which gave so much offence
to one party, and triumph to the other. Many must doubtless have
escaped our notice; but enough remains to shew the singular felicity
with which Dryden, in the present instance, as in that of "Absalom and
Achitophel," could adapt the narrative of ancient or foreign
transactions to the political events of his own time, and "moralize
two meanings in one word." Altogether abstracted from this
consideration, the "Duke of Guise," as a historical play, possesses
merit amply sufficient to rescue it from the oblivion into which it
has fallen.

The play was first acted 4th December, 1682, and encountered a stormy
and dubious, if not an unfavourable, reception. But as, the strength
of the court party increased, the piece was enabled to maintain its
ground with more general approbation. It was performed by the united
companies, and printed in 1683.


Footnotes:
1. I cannot resist transcribing that ballad, which cost poor College,
the protestant joiner, so extremely dear. It is extracted from Mr
Luttrell's collection, who has marked it thus. "A most scandalous
libel against the government, for which, with other things, College
was justly executed." The justice of the execution may, I think, be
questioned, unless, like Cinna the poet, the luckless ballad-monger
was hanged for his bad verses. There is prefixed a cut,
representing the king with a double face, carrying the house of
commons in a shew-box at his back. In another copartment, he sticks
fast in the mud with his burden. In another, Topham, the serjeant
of the house of commons, with the other officers of parliament,
liberate the members, and cram the bishops into the shew-box.

A RAREE SHOW.

To the tune of--"I am a senseless thing."

_Leviathan._

Come hither, Topham, come, with a hey, with a hey;
Bring a pipe and a drum, with a ho;
Where'er about I go,
Attend my raree show,
With a hey, trany, nony, nony, no.

_Topham._

That monstrous foul beast, with a hey, with a hey,
Has houses twain in's chest, with a ho;
O Cowper, Hughes, and Snow,
Stop thief with raree show,
With a hey, &c.

For if he should escape, with a hey, with a hey,
With Halifaxe's trap, with a ho,
He'll carry good Dom. Com.
Unto the pope of Rome,
With a hey, &c.

_Leviathan._

Be quiet, ye dull tools, with a hey, with a hey,
As other free-born fools, with a ho,
Do not all gaping stand
To see my slight of hand.
With a hey, &c.

'Tis not to Rome that I, with a hey, with a hey,
Lug about my trumpery, with a ho,
But Oxford, York, Carlisle,
And round about the isle,
With a hey, &c.

But if they would come out, with a hey, with a hey,
Let them first make a vote, with a ho.
To yield up all they have,
And Tower lords to save,
With a hey, &c.

_Topham._

Now that is very hard, with a hey, with a hey,
Thou art worse than cut-nose guard, with a ho.
And Clifford, Danby, Hide,
Halifax does all outride,
With a hey, &c.

Holy Ghost, in bag of cloak, with a hey, with a hey,
Quaking King in royal oak, with a ho.
And Rosamond in bower,
All badges are of power.
With a hey, &c.

And popularity, with a hey, with a hey,
Adds power to majesty, with a ho;
But Dom. Com. in little ease,
Will all the world displease,
With a hey, &c.

_Leviathan._

Let 'um hate me, so they fear, with a hey, with a hey,
Curst fox has the best cheer, with a ho;
Two states, in blind house pent,
Make brave strong government.
With a hey, &c.

_Topham._

But child of heathen Hobbes, with a hey, with a hey,
Remember old Dry Bobs, with a ho,
For fleecing England's flocks.
Long fed with bits and knocks,
With a hey, &c.

_Leviathan._

What's past is not to come, with a hey, with a hey,
Now safe is David's bum, with a ho;
Then hey for Oxford ho,
Strong government, raree show,
With a hey, &c.

Raree show is resouled, with a hey, with a hey,
This is worse than desouled, with a ho;
May the mighty weight at's back
Make's lecherous loins to crack,
With a hey, &c.

Methinks he seems to stagger, with a hey, with a hey,
Who but now did so swagger, with a ho;
God's fish he's stuck in the mire,
And all the fat's in the fire,
With a hey, &c.

Help Cooper, Hughs, and Snow, with a hey, with a hey,
To pull down raree show, with a ho:
So, so, the gyant's down,
Let's masters out of pound,
With a hey, &c.

And now you've freed the nation, with a hey, with a hey,
Cram in the convocation, with a ho,
With pensioners all and some.
Into this chest of Rome,
With a hey, &c.

And thrust in six-and-twenty, with a hey, with a hey.
With _not guilties_ good plenty, with a ho,
And hoot them hence away
To Cologn or Breda,
With a hey, &c.

Haloo, the hunt's begun, with a hey, with a hey,
Like father like son, with a ho;
Raree show in French lap
Is gone to take a nap,
And succession has the clap,
With a hey, trany, nony, nony, no.

2. "The news of his landing being reported by the watch, it soon
spread abroad through the whole city; insomuch, that before
day-light they rang the bells at St Giles in the Fields, placing
several flambeaus on the top of the steeple, and divers great
bonefires were made, two of which were very large, one in the
Palace-yard at Westminster, and the other in Thames-street, near
the custom-house, which was kindled in the morning, and maintained
burning all day till evening, and then the universal joy of the
people was expressed in most of the streets throughout London and
Westminster by bone-fires, fireworks, and ringing of bells,
accompanied with loud acclamations of joy, to the great grief of
the papists." _An Account of the heroick Life and magnanimous
Actions of the most illustrious Protestant Prince, James, Duke of
Monmouth._ London, 1683. p. 95.

3. "A relation was published in the name of one Elizabeth Freeman,
afterwards called the mayor of Hatfield, setting forth, that, on
the 24th of January, the apparition of a woman, all in white [the
Duke of Monmouth's mother was here to be understood], with a white
veil over her face, accosted her with these words; 'Sweetheart, the
15th of May is appointed for the blood-royal to be poisoned. Be not
afraid, for I am sent to tell thee.' That on the 27th the same
appearance stood before her again, and she having then acquired
courage enough to lay it under the usual adjuration, in the name,
&c. it assumed a more glorious shape, and said in a harsher tone of
voice, 'Tell King Charles from me, and bid him not remove his
parliament (i.e. from London to Oxford), and stand to his council;'
adding, 'Do as I bid you.' That on the 26th, it appeared to her a
third time, but said only, 'Do your message;' and that on the next
night, when she saw it for the last time, it said nothing at all.
Those, who depend upon the people for support, must try all manner
of practices upon them, and such fooleries as these sometimes
operate more forcibly than experiments of a more rational kind.
Care was besides taken to have this relation attested by Sir Joseph
Jordan, a justice of peace, and the rector of Hatfield, Dr Lee, who
was one of the king's chaplains. Nay, the message was actually sent
to his majesty, and the whole forgery very officially circulated
over the kingdom." RALPH'S _History_ Vol. I. p. 562.

4. In truth, the devil and the conjuror did not always play upon the
square, but often took the most unfair advantages of each other.
There is more than one instance of bad faith in the history of that
renowned enchanter, Peter Fabel. On one occasion, he prevailed upon
the devil, when he came to carry him off, to repose himself in an
enchanted chair, from which he refused to liberate him, until he
had granted him an additional lease of seven years. When this term
was also expired, he had the eloquence and art to prevail on the
fiend to allow him a farther respite, till a wax taper, then nearly
expiring, was burned out. This boon being granted, he instantly put
out the light, and deposited the taper in the church at Edmonton.
Hence, in Weiver's "Funeral Monuments," he is thus mentioned: "Here
(at Edmonton) lieth interred, under a seemly tombe without
inscription, the body of Peter Fabell, as the report goes, upon
whom this fable was fathered, that he, by his wittie devices,
beguiled the devill." p 514. See also the _Book of his Merry
Prankes_. Another instance occurs, in the famous history of Friar
Bacon, (London 1666) where that renowned conjurer is recorded to
have saved a man, that had given himself to the devil on condition
of his debts being paid. "The case was referred to the friar.
'Deceiver of mankind, said he (speaking to the devil), it was thy
bargain never to meddle with him so long as he was indebted to any;
now how canst thou demand of him any thing, when he is indebted for
all he hath to thee? When he payeth thee thy money, then take him
as thy due; till then thou hast nothing to do with him; and so I
charge thee to be gone.' At this the devil vanished with great
horrour; but Fryar Bacon comforted the gentleman, and sent him home
with a quiet conscience, bidding him never to pay the devil's money
back, as he tendred his own safety, which he promised for to
observe." From these instances, Melanax might have quoted precedent
for insisting on the literal execution of his stipulation with
Malicorn, since, to give the devil his due, the strict legal
interpretation appears always to have been applied to bargains of
that nature.




TO

THE RIGHT HONOURABLE

LAWRENCE,

EARL OF ROCHESTER, &c.[1]


MY LORD,

The authors of this poem present it humbly to your lordship's
patronage, if you shall think it worthy of that honour. It has already
been a confessor, and was almost made a martyr for the royal cause:
but having stood two trials from its enemies,--one before it was
acted, another in the representation,--and having been in both
acquitted, it is now to stand the public censure in the reading: where
since, of necessity, it must have the same enemies, we hope it may
also find the same friends; and therein we are secure, not only of the
greater number, but of the more honest and loyal party. We only
expected bare justice in the permission to have it acted; and that we
had, after a severe and long examination, from an upright and knowing
judge, who, having heard both sides, and examined the merits of the
cause, in a strict perusal of the play, gave sentence for us, that it
was neither a libel, nor a parallel of particular persons[2]. In the
representation itself, it was persecuted with so notorious malice by
one side, that it procured us the partiality of the other; so that the
favour more than recompensed the prejudice. And it is happier to have
been saved (if so we were) by the indulgence of our good and faithful
fellow-subjects, than by our own deserts; because, thereby the
weakness of the faction is discovered, which, in us, at that time
attacked the government, and stood combined, like the members of the
rebellious League, against the lawful sovereign authority. To what
topic will they have recourse, when they are manifestly beaten from
their chief post, which has always been popularity, and majority of
voices? They will tell us,--that the voices of a people are not to be
gathered in a play-house; and yet, even there, the enemies, as well as
friends, have free admission: but, while our argument was serviceable
to their interests, they could boast, that the theatres were true
protestant; and came insulting to the plays, when their own triumphs
were represented[3]. But let them now assure themselves, that they can
make the major part of no assembly, except it be of a meeting-house[4].
Their tide of popularity is spent; and the natural current of
obedience is, in spite of them, at last prevalent. In which, my lord,
after the merciful providence of God, the unshaken resolution, and
prudent carriage of the king, and the inviolable duty, and manifest
innocence of his royal highness,--the prudent management of the
ministers is also most conspicuous. I am not particular in this
commendation, because I am unwilling to raise envy to your lordship,
who are too just, not to desire that praise should be communicated to
others, which was the common endeavour and co-operation of all. It is
enough, my lord, that your own part was neither obscure in it, nor
unhazardous. And if ever this excellent government, so well
established by the wisdom of our forefathers, and so much shaken by
the folly of this age, shall recover its ancient splendour, posterity
cannot be so ungrateful as to forget those, who, in the worst of
times, have stood undaunted by their king and country, and, for the
safeguard of both, have exposed themselves to the malice of false
patriots, and the madness of an headstrong rabble. But since this
glorious work is yet unfinished, and though we have reason to hope
well of the success, yet the event depends on the unsearchable
providence of Almighty God, it is no time to raise trophies, while
the victory is in dispute; but every man, by your example, to
contribute what is in his power to maintain so just a cause, on which
depends the future settlement and prosperity of three nations. The
pilot's prayer to Neptune was not amiss in the middle of the storm:
"Thou mayest do with me, O Neptune, what thou pleasest, but I will be
sure to hold fast the rudder." We are to trust firmly in the Deity,
but so as not to forget, that he commonly works by second causes, and
admits of our endeavours with his concurrence. For our own parts, we
are sensible, as we ought, how little we can contribute with our weak
assistance. The most we can boast of, is, that we are not so
inconsiderable as to want enemies, whom we have raised to ourselves
on no other account than that we are not of their number; and, since
that is their quarrel, they shall have daily occasion to hate us
more. It is not, my lord, that any man delights to see himself
pasquined and affronted by their inveterate scribblers; but, on the
other side, it ought to be our glory, that themselves believe not of
us what they write. Reasonable men are well satisfied for whose sakes
the venom of their party is shed on us; because they see, that at the
same time our adversaries spare not those to whom they owe allegiance
and veneration. Their despair has pushed them to break those bonds;
and it is observable, that the lower they are driven, the more
violently they write; as Lucifer and his companions were only proud
when angels, but grew malicious when devils. Let them rail, since it
is the only solace of their miseries, and the only revenge which, we
hope, they now can take. The greatest and the best of men are above
their reach; and, for our meanness, though they assault us like
footpads in the dark, their blows have done us little harm: we yet
live to justify ourselves in open day, to vindicate our loyalty to
the government, and to assure your lordship, with all submission and
sincerity, that we are

YOUR LORDSHIP'S
Most obedient, faithful servants,
JOHN DRYDEN.
NAT. LEE.


Footnotes:
1. Lawrence Hyde, created Earl of Rochester in 1682, was the second
son of the famous Lord Clarendon, and affords a rare instance of
the son of a disgraced minister recovering that favour at court,
which had been withdrawn from his father. He was now at the head of
the Commissioners for the Treasury, and a patron of our poet; as
appears from the terms of Dryden's letter, soliciting his interest
in very affecting terms, and from the subsequent dedication of
"Cleomenes," where he acknowledges his lordship's goodness during
the reign of two masters; and that, even from a bare treasury, his
success was contrary to that of Mr Cowley; Gideon's fleece having
been moistened, when all the ground was dry around it. The Earl of
Rochester was the more proper patron for the "Duke of Guise," as he
was a violent opponent of the bill of exclusion. He was Lord High
Treasurer in the reign of James II., and died in 1711.

2. Henry Bennet, Earl of Arlington, then Lord Chamberlain.

3. Dryden seems here to allude to the triumphant strain in which
Shadwell mentions the reception of "The Lancashire Witches:" "I
could not imagine," he says, "till I heard that great opposition
was designed against the play a month before it was acted, by a
party who, being ashamed to say it was for the sake of the Irish
priest, pretended that I had written a satire on the Church of
England; and several profest Papists railed at it violently before
they had seen it, alleging that for a reason, such dear friends
they are to our Church: and, notwithstanding all was put out that
could any way be wrested to an offence against the Church, yet they
came with the greatest malice in the world to hiss it; and many,
that called themselves Protestants, joined with them in that noble
enterprise.

"But, for all this, they came resolved to hiss it, right or wrong,
and had gotten mercenary fellows, who were such fools they did not
know when to hiss; and this was evident to all the audience. It was
wonderful to see men of great quality, and gentlemen, in so mean a
combination; but, to my great satisfaction, they came off as meanly
as I could wish. I had so numerous an assembly of the best sort of
men, who stood so generously in my defence for the three first
days, that they quashed all the vain attempts of my enemies; the
inconsiderable party of hissers yielded, and the play lived in
spite of them.

"Had it been never so bad, I had valued the honour of having so
many and such friends as eminently appeared for me, above that of
excelling the most admirable Jonson, if it were possible to be done
by me."

This flourish of exultation contains many things which were
doubtless offensive to Dryden's jealousy of dramatic fame, as well
as to his political principles. Nor was he probably insensible to
the affected praise bestowed on Jonson, whose merit, it was
fashionable to say, he had attempted to depreciate.

4. The greater, and, perhaps, the most formidable, part of those who
now opposed the court, were the remnants of the old fanatics, whose
religious principles were shocked by the dissolute manners of
Charles and his courtiers. These, of course, added little to the
force of the party in the theatres, which they never frequented.
Shadwell seems to acknowledge this disadvantage in the epilogue to
"The Lancashire Witches:"

Our Popes and friars on one side offend,
And yet, alas! the city's not our friend:
The city neither like us nor our wit,
They say their wives learn ogling in the pit;
They're from the boxes taught to make advances,
To answer stolen sighs and naughty glances.
We virtuous ladies some new ways must seek,
For all conspire our playing trade to break.

But although the citizens declined to frequent even the plays
written on their own side of the question, Armstrong, and the
personal followers of Monmouth, were of a gayer complexion, and
doubtless, as they were not inferior to the courtiers in the
licence assumed by the age, formed the principal part of the
audience at the protestant plays. The discovery of the Rye-house
Plot broke the strength of this part of the confederacy, and the
odium attending that enterprise rendered their opposition to the
court in public assemblies both fruitless and dangerous.




PROLOGUE

WRITTEN BY MR DRYDEN.

SPOKEN BY MR SMITH.


Our play's a parallel: the Holy League
Begot our Covenant: Guisards got the whig:
Whate'er our hot-brained sheriffs did advance,
Was, like our fashions, first produced in France;
And, when worn out, well scourged, and banished there,
Sent over, like their godly beggars, here.
Could the same trick, twice played, our nation gull?
It looks as if the devil were grown dull;
Or served us up, in scorn, his broken meat,
And thought we were not worth a better cheat.
The fulsome Covenant, one would think in reason,
Had given us all our bellies full of treason;
And yet, the name but changed, our nasty nation
Chews its own excrements, the Association[1].
'Tis true, we have not learned their poisoning way,
For that's a mode but newly come in play;
Resides, your drug's uncertain to prevail,
But your true protestant can never fail
With that compendious instrument, a flail[2].
Go on, and bite, even though the hook lies bare;
Twice in one age expel the lawful heir;
Once more decide religion by the sword,
And purchase for us a new tyrant lord.
Pray for your king, but yet your purses spare;
Make him not two-pence richer by your prayer.
To show you love him much, chastise him more,
And make him very great, and very poor.
Push him to wars, but still no peace advance;
Let him lose England, to recover France.
Cry freedom up, with popular noisy votes,
And get enough to cut each other's throats.
Lop all the rights that fence your monarch's throne;
For fear of too much power, pray leave him none.
A noise was made of arbitrary sway;
But, in revenge, you whigs have found a way
An arbitrary duty now to pay.
Let his own servants turn to save their stake,
Glean from his plenty, and his wants forsake;
But let some Judas near his person stay,
To swallow the last sop, and then betray.
Make London independent of the crown;
A realm apart; the kingdom of the town.
Let ignoramus juries find no traitors[3],
And ignoramus poets scribble satires.
And, that your meaning none may fail to scan,
Do what in coffee-houses you began,--
Pull down the master, and set up the man.


Footnotes:
1. The association proposed in parliament was, by the royalists, said
to be, a revival of the Solemn League and Covenant. But the draught
of an association, found in Lord Shaftesbury's cabinet, and
produced on his trial, in which that memorable engagement seems to
be pretty closely copied, was probably what our poet alludes to.

2. The protestant flail was a kind of bludgeon, so jointed as to fold
together, and lie concealed in the pocket. They are supposed to
have been invented to arm the insurgents about this period. In the
trial of Braddon and Spoke for a misdemeanor, the recorder offered
to prove, that Braddon had bragged, that "he was the only inventor
of the protestant flails; an instrument you have heard of,
gentlemen, and for what use designed." This circumstance was not
omitted by Jefferies, in his characteristic address to the
prisoner. "But oh what a happiness it was for this sort of people,
that they had got Mr Braddon, an honest man and a man of courage,
says Mr Speke, a man _a propos_! and pray, says he to his friend,
give him the best advice you can, for he is a man very fit for the
purpose; and pray secure him under a sham name, for I'll undertake
there are such designs upon pious Mr Braddon, such connivances to
do him mischief, that, if he had not had his _protestant flail_
about him, somebody or other would have knocked him on the head;
and he is such a wonderful man, that all the king's courts must
needs conspire to do Mr Braddon a mischief. A very pretty sort of
man, upon my word, and he must be used accordingly." _State
Trials_, Vol. III. p. 897. In one of the scarce medals struck by
James II. Justice is represented weighing mural crowns, which
preponderate against a naked sword, a serpent, and a protestant
flail: on each side of the figure are a head and trunk,
representing those of Argyle and Monmouth. An accurate description
of this weapon occurs in the following passage from Roger North:
"There was much recommendation of silk armour, and the prudence of
being provided with it against the time protestants were to be
massacred. And accordingly there were abundance of these silken
backs, breasts, and pots (i.e. head-pieces), made and sold, that
were pretended to be pistol proof; in which any man dressed up was
as safe as in a house, for it was impossible any one could go to
strike him for laughing. So ridiculous was the figure, as they say,
of hogs in armour; an image of derision, insensible but to the
view, as I have had it. This was armour of defence; but our sparks
were not altogether so tame as to carry their provisions no
farther, for truly they intended to be assailants upon fair
occasion, and had for that end recommended also to them a certain
pocket weapon, which, for its design and efficacy, had the honour
to be called a _protestant flail_. It was for street and
crowd-work; and the engine lying perdue in a coat pocket, might
readily sally out to execution, and by clearing a great hall, a
piazza, or so, carry an election by a choice way of polling, called
_knocking down_. The handle resembled a farrier's blood-stick, and
the fall was joined to the end by a strong nervous ligature, that
in its swing fell just short of the hand, and was made of _lignum
vit_, or rather, as the poet termed it, _mortis_." _Examen._ p.
572. The following is the first stanza of "The Protestant Flail; an
excellent new song, to the tune of, Lacy's Maggot, or the Hobby
Horse." It is thus labelled by Luttrell: "A bonny thing, 14 June,
1632."

Listen a while, and I'll tell you a tale
Of a new device of a protestant flail;
With a thump, thump, thump a thump.
Thump a thump, thump.
This flail it was made of the finest wood,
All lined with lead, and notable good
For splitting of bones, and shedding the blood
Of all that withstood,
With a thump, &c.

3. Shaftesbury, College, and others, were liberated by grand juries,
who refused to find bills against them, bringing in what are
technically called verdicts of _ignoramus_.



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Main -> Dryden, John -> The works of John Dryden, now first collected in eighteen volumes. Volume 07