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« lord Jefferies ;
“ her son remained inconsolable. Thc next “ day Mr. Charles Dryden waited on the lord “ Hallifax and the bishop, to excuse his mo“ther and himself, by relating the real truth. “ But neither his lordship nor the bishop would “ admit of any plea; especially the latter, who “ had the Abbey lighted, the ground opened, “ the choir attending, an anthem ready set, “ and himself waiting for some time without “ any corpse to bury. The undertaker, after “ three days expectance of orders for embal“ ment without receiving any, waited on the
ries; who, pretending ignorance of “ the matter, turned it off with an ill-natured “ jest, saying, That those who observed the “ orders of a drunken frolick deserved - no
better ; that he remembered nothing at all “ of it; and that he might do what he pleased “ with the corpse. Upon this, the undertaker “ waited upon the lady Elizabeth and her son, “ and threatened to bring the corpse home, “ and set it before the door. They desired a “ day's respite, which was granted. Mr. “ Charles Dryden wrote a handsome letter to “ the lord Jefferies, who returned it with this “ cool answer, « That he knew nothing of " the matter, and would be troubled no more “ about it.” He then addressed the lord Hal“ lifax and the bishop of Rochester, who ab“ solutely refused to do any thing in it. In “ this distress Dr. Garth sent for the corpse “ to the College of Physicians, and proposed a “ funeral by subscription, to which himself “ set a most noble example. At last a day, “ about three weeks after Mr. Dryden's de“ cease, was appointed for the interment: Dr.
“ Garth pronounced a fine Latin oration, at “ the College, over the corpfe; which was at“ tended to the Abbey by a numerous train " of coaches. When the funeral was over, " Mr. Charles Dryden sent a challenge to the " lord Jefferies, who refusing to answer it, he « sent several others, and went often himself; « but could neither get a letter delivered, nor “ admittance to speak to him: which fo in" censed him, that he refolved, since his lord“ Thip refused to answer him like a gentleman, " that he would watch an opportunity to ci meet, and fight off-hand, though with all “ the rules of honour; which his lordship “ hearing, left the town: and Mr. Charles “ Dryden could never have the satisfaction of “ meeting him, though he fought it till his “ death with the utmost application.”
This story I once intended to omit, as it ap. pears with no great evidence; but having been fince informed that there is in the register of the College of Physicians an order relating to Dryden's funeral, I can doubt its truth no longer.
This gradual change of manners, though imperceptible in the process, appears great when different times, and those not very diftant, are compared. If at this time a young drunken Lord should interrupt the pompous regularity of a magnificent funeral, what would be the event, but that he would be justled out of the way, and compelled to be quiet? If he should thrust himself into a house, he would be sent roughly away; and what is yet more to the honour of the present time, I believe, that those who had subscribed to the fu
neral of a man like Dryden, would not, for such an accident, have withdrawn their contributions.
He was buried among the poets in Westminster Abbey, where, though the duke of Newcastle had, in a general dedication prefixed by Congreve to his dramatick works, accepted thanks for his intention of erecting him a monument, he lay long without distinction, till the duke of Buckinghamfhire gave him a tablet, inscribed only with the name of DR Y D E N
He married the lady Elizabeth Howard, daughter of the earl of Berkshire, with circumstances, according to the satire imputed to lord Somers, not very honourable to either party: by her he had three fons, Charles, John, and Henry. Charles was usher of the palace to pope Clement the XIth, and visiting England in 1704, was drowned in an attempt to swim cross the Thames at Windsor
John was author of a comedy called The Husand his own Cuckold. He is faid to have died at Rome. Henry entered into some religious order. It is fome proof of Dryden's fincerity in his second religion, that he taught it to his sons. A man conscious of hypocritical profession in himself, is not likely to con. vert others; and as his sons were qualified in 1693 to appear among the translators of Juvenal; they must have been taught some religion before their father's change.
Of the person of Dryden i know not any account; of his mind, the portrait which has been left by Congreve, who knew him with great familiarity, is such as adds our love of X 2
his manners to our admiration of his genius. " He was,” we are told, “ of a nature exceed“ ingly humane and compassionate, ready to “ forgive injuries, and capable of a fincere <s reconciliation with those that had offended “ him. His friendl;ip, where he professed it, “ went beyond his professions. He was of a “ very easy, of very pleasing access; but some“ whát now, and, as it were, diffident in his
advances to others : he had that in his na. “ ture which abhorred intrusion into any so“ ciety whatever. He was therefore less known, “ and consequently his character became more “! liable to misapprehensions and misrepresen“ tations: he was very modest, and very easily “ to be discountenanced in his approaches to “ his equals or superiors. As his reading had “ been very extensive, so was he very happy “ in a memory tenacious of every thing that “ he had read. He was not more possessed of “ knowledge than he was communicative of “ it; but then his communication was by no “ means pedantick, or imposed upon the con“ versation, but just such, and went so far, as “ by the natural turn of the conversation in “ which he was engaged, it was necessarily “ promoted or required. He was extreme “ ready, and gentle in his correction of the " errors of any writer who thought fit to con“ fult him, and full as ready and patient to " admit of the reprehension of others, in re" fpect of his own oversights or mistakes.”
To this account of Congreve nothing can be objected but the fondness of friendship, and to have excited that fondness in such a mind is no small degree of praise. The disposition of
Dryden, however, is shewn in this character rather as it exhibited itself in cursory conversation, than as it operated on the more important parts of life. His placability and his friendship indeed were solid virtues; but courtesy and good-humour are often found with little real worth. Since Congreve, who knew him well, has told us no more, the resc mult be collected as it can from other testimonies, and particularly from those notices which Dryden has very liberally given us of himself.
The modesty which made him so flow to advance, and so easy to be repulsed, was certainly no suspicion of deficient merit, or inconsciousness of his own value: he appears to have known, in its whole extent, the dignity of his character, and to have set a very high value on his own powers and performances. He probably did not offer his conversation, because he expected it to be solicited; and he retired from a cold reception, not submissive but indignant, with such reverence of his own greatness as made him unwilling to expose it to neglect or violation.
His modesty was by no means inconsistent with ostentatiousness : he is diligent enough to remind the world of his merit, and expresses with very little scruple his high opinion of his own powers; but his self-commendations are read without scorn or indignation ; we allow his claims, and love his frankness.
Tradition, however, has not allowed that his confidence in himself exempted him from jealousy of others. He is accused of envy and insidiousness; and is particularly charged with inciting Creech to translate Horace, that he