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se credit of his author was gone. Now, if he " thinks it is recovered by his Answer, he will s perhaps go on with his translation; and " this niay be, for aught I know, as good an “ entertainment for him as the conversation “ that he had set on between the Hinds and « Panthers, and all the rest of animals, for or whom M. Varillas may serve well enough as :“ an author : and this history and that poem “ are such extraordinary things of their kind, “ that it will be but suitable to see the author 1,66 of the worst poem become likewise the tran“ Nator of the worst history that the age has “ produced, If his grace and his wit improve " both proportionably, he will hardly find “ that he has gained much by the change he "has made, from having no religion to chuse “ one of the worst. It is true, he had some" what to sink from in matter of wit; but “ as for his morals, it is scarce possible for “ him to grow a worse man than he was. “ He has lately wreaked his malice on me for “ spoiling his three months labour ; but in it to he has done me all the honour that any man “ can receive from him, which is to be rail“ ed at by him. If I had ill-nature enough " to prompt me to wish a very bad wilh for “ him, it should be, that he would go on and “ finish his translation. By that it will ap“ pear, whether the English nation, which is “ the most competent judge in this matter, " has, upon the seeing our debate, pronounc" ed in M. Varillas's favour, or in mine. It “ is true, Mr. D. will suffer a little by it; but • at least it will serve to keep him in from “ other extravagancies ; and if he gains little
“ honour by this work, yet he cannot lose so “ much by it as he has done by his last em“ ployment.”
Having probably felt his own inferiority in Theological controversy, he was desirous of trying whether, by bringing poetry to aid his arguments, he might become a more efficacious defender of his new profession. To reason in verse was, indeed, one of his powers ; but subtilty and harmony united are still feeble, when opposed to truth.
Actuated therefore by zeal for Rome, or hope of fame, he published the Hind and Panther, a poem in which the church of Rome, figured by the milk-white Hind, defends her tenets against the church of England, represented by the Panther, a beast beautiful, but spotted.
A fable which exhibits two beasts talking Theology, appears at once full of absurdity; and it was accordingly ridiculed in the City Mouse and Country Mouse, a parody, written by Montague, afterwards earl of Halifax, and Prior, who then gave the first specimen of his abilities.
The conversion of such a man, at such a time, was not likely to pass uncensured. Three dialogues were published by the facetious Thomas Brown, of which the two first were called Reasons of Mr. Bays's changing bis religion ; and the third The Reasons of Mr. Hains the player's converhon and re-converhon. The first was printed in 1688, the second not till 1690, the third in 1691. The clamour seems to have been long continued, and the subject to have strongly fixed the publick attention.
In the two first dialogues Bays is brought into the company of Crites and Eugenius, with whom he had formerly debated on dramatick poetry. The two talkers in the third are Mr. Bays and Mr. Hains.
Brown was a man not deficient in literature, nor destitute of fancy; but he seems to have thought it the pinacle of excellence to be a merry fellow, and therefore laid out his powers upon small jests or gross buffoonery, so that his performances have little intrinsick value, and were read only while they were recommended by the novelty of the events that occasioned them.
These dialogues are like his other works : what sense or knowledge they contain, is disgraced by the garb in which it is exhibited. One great source of pleasure is to call Dryden little Bays. Ajax, who happens to be mentioned, is be that wore as many cowhides upon his Jhield as would have furnished balf the king's army with Moe-leather.
Being asked whether he has seen the Hind and Panther, Crites answers : Seen it, Mr. Bays, why I can flir no where but it perfues me ; it haunts me worse than a pewter-buttoned serjeant does a decayed cit. Sometimes I meet it in a bandbox, when my laundress brings home my linen ; sometimes, whether I will or no, it lights my pipe at a coffee house ; sometimes it surprises me in a trunkmaker's shop; and sometimes it refreshes my memory for me on the backside of a Chancery-lane parcel. For your comfort too, Mr. Bays, I have not only seen it, as you may perceive, but have read it too, and can quote it as freely upon occasion As a frugal trademan can quote that noble trea
tise the Worth of a Penny to his extravagant 'prentice, that revels in stewed apples, and penny custards.
The whole animation of these compositions arises from a profusion of ludicrous and affected comparisons. To secure one's chastity, says Bays, little more is necesary than to leave off a correspondence with the other sex, which, to a wise man, is no greater a funishment than it would be to a fanatick parfon to be forbid seeing the Cheats and the Committee; or for my Lord Mayor and
Aldermen to be interdi&ted the fight of the London Cuckold.--This is the general strain, and therefore I shall be easily excused the labour of more transcription. · Brown does not wholly forget past tranfacti. ons: You began, say Crites to Bays, with a very indifferent religion, and have not mended the matter in your last choice. It was but reason that your Muse, which appeared first in a Tyrant's quarrel, should employ her last efforts to justify the usurpati, ons of the Hind
Next year the nation was fummoned to celebrate the birth of the Prince. Now was the time for Dryden to rouse his imagination, and strain his voice. Happy days were at hand, and he was willing to enjoy and diffuse the anticipated blessings. He published a poem, filled with predictions of greatness and prolperity; predictions of which it is not necessary to tell how they have been verified.
A few month's passed after these joyful notes, and every blossom of popish hope was blasted for ever by the Revolution. A papist now could be no longer Laureat. The revenue, which he had enjoyed with so much pride
and praise, was transferred to Shadwel, an old enemy, whom he had formerly stigmatised by the name of Og. Dryden could not decently complain that he was deposed; but seemed very angry that Shadwel lucceeded him, and has therefore celebrated the intruder's inauguration in a poem exquisitely satirical, called Mac Flecno; of which the Dunciad, as Pope himself declares, is an imitation, though more extended in its plan, and more diversified in its incidents.
It is related by Prior, that Lord Dorset, when, as chamberlain, he was constrained to eject Dryden from his office, gave him from his own purse an allowance equal to the salary. This is no romantick or incredible act of generosity; an hundred a year is often enough given to claims less cogent, by men less famed for liberality. Yet Dryden always represented himself as suffering under a publick infliction; and once particularly demands respect for the patience with which he endured the loss of his little fortune. His patron might, indeed, enjoin him to suppress his bounty; but if he suffered nothing, he should not have complained.
During the Mort reign of king James he had written nothing for the stage, being, in his own opinion, more profitably employed in controversy and flattery. Of praise he might perhaps have been less lavish without inconvenience, for James was never said to have much regard to poetry: he was to be flattered only by adopting his religion.
Times were now changed: Dryden was no longer the court-poet, and was to look back for support to his former trade; and having