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refuge of notorious blockheads, reduced to the last extremity of senfe, turn my own lines against me; and, in utter despair of my own fatire, make me fatirize myself."
The whole poem is a fevere invective against the earl of Shaftsbury, who was uncle to that earl who wrote the Characteristics. Mr, Elkanah Settle wrote an answer to this poem, entitled the Medal Reversed. However contemptible Settle was as a poet, yet such was the prevalence of parties at that time, that, for some years, he was Dryden's rival on
In 1682, came out his Religio Laici, or a Layman's Faith. This piece is intended as a defence of revealed religion, and the excellency and authority of the scriptures, as the only rule of faith and manners, against Deifts, Papists, and Prefbyterians. He acquaints us, in the preface, that it was written for an ingenious young gentleman, his friend, upon his translation of Father Simons's Critical Hi. itory of the Old Testament, and that the style of it was epiftolary.
In 1684, he published a translation of M. Maimbourg's History of the League, in which he was employed by the command of king Charles II. on account of the plain parallel between the troubles of France and those of Great-Britain. Upon the death of Charles II. he wrote his Threnodia Auguftalis, a poem, sacred to the happy memory of thạc prince. Soon after the accession of James II. our au
thoř turned Roman Catholic, and, by this extraordinary step, drew upon himself abun. dance of ridicule from wits of the opposite faction; and, in 1689, he wrote a Defence of the Papers, written by the late king, of blessed memory, found in his strong box.
Mr. Dryden, in the above - mentioned piece, takes occasion to vindicate the autho. rity of the catholic church, in decreeing matters of faith, upon this principle, that the church is more visible than the scriptures, because the scriptures are seen by the church, and to abuse the reformation in England; which hè affirms was erected on the foundation of luft, facrilege, and usurpation. Dr. Stil. lingfleet hereupon answered Mr. Dryden, and treated him with some severity.
Another author affirms, That Mr. Dryden's tract is very light, in some places ridiculous ; and obferves, that his talent lay towards controversy no more in prose, than, by the Hind and Panther it appeared to do in verse. This poem of the Hind and Panther is a direct defence of the Romish church, in a dialogue between a Hind, which represents the church of Rome; and a Panther, which supports the character of the church of England. The first part of this poem confifts molt in general characters and narration ; " which,” says he, “ I have endeavoured to raise, and give it the majestic turn of heroic poetry. The second being matter of dispute, and chiefly concern
ing church authority, I was obliged to make as plain and perspicuous as possibly I could, yet not wholly neglecting the numbers, though I had not frequent occafion for the magnifi cence of verse. The third, which has more of the nature of domestic conversation, is, or ought to be, more free and familiar than the Ewo former. There are in it two episodes, or
fables, which are interwoven with the main · design; so that they are properly parts of it, though they are also diftinct stories of them. felves, In both of these I have made use of the common places of fatire, whether true or false, which are urged by the members of one church against the other."
Mr. Dryden speaks of his own conversion in the following terms : But, gracious God, how well doft thou pro
vide, For erring judgments an unerring guide ; Thy throne is darkness, in th' abyss of light; A blaze of glory that forbids the fight. Oh! teach me to believe thee thus concealed, And search no further than thyself revealed ; But her alone for my director take Whom thou hast promis'd never to forsake! My thoughtless youth was wing'd with vain
defires; My manhood, long misled by wand'ring fires
Follow'd false lights; and when their glimpse
This poem was attacked by Mr. Charles Montague, afterwards earl of Hallifax, and Mr. Matthew Prior, who joined in writing the Hind and Panther, transversed to the Country Mouse, and City Mouse, Lond. 1678, 4to. In the preface to which, the author obferves, That Mr. Dryden's poem naturally falls into ridicule; and, that, in this burlesque; nothing is represented monstrous and unnatu. ral, that is not equally so in the original. They afterwards remark, That they have this comfort under the severity of Mr. Dryden's satire, to see his abilities equally lessened with his opinion of them; and that he could not be a fit champion against the Panther. till he had laid aside his judgment.
Mr. Dryden is supposed to have been engaged in translating M. Varillas's History of Återefies, but to have dropped that design. This we learn from a passage in Burnet's reflections on the ninth book of the first volume of M. Varillas's Hiftory, being a reply to his answer,
* Original Poems
I shall here give the picture the doctor has drawn of this noble poet; which is, like a. great many of the doctor's other characters, rather exhibited to please himself, than accord. ing to the true resemblance. The doctor says,
'". I have been informed from England, that a gentleman, who is famous both for
po• etry and several other things, has spent three months in translating M. Varillas's History ; but, as soon as my reflections appeared, he discontinued his labours, finding the credit of his author being gone. Now, if he thinks it. is recovered by his answer, he will, perhaps, go on with his translation ; but this may be, for ought I know, as good an entertainmen: for him, as the conversation he has set on foot between the Hinds and Panthers, and all the rest of the animals, for whom M. Varillas. may ferre well enough as an author ; and this history, and that poem, are such extraordinary things of their kind, that it will be but fuitable to see the author of the worst poem become the translator of the worst history that the age has produced. If his grace and his wit improve so proportionably, we shall 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 fumewhat 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