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“ judgments, it still remains to prove that our theatre needs 6 this total reformation.
s6 The faults, which he has found in their design are “ rather wittily aggravated in many places than reasonably “'urged; and as much may be returned on the Greeks by one who were as witty as himself.
“ They destroy not, if they are granted, the foundation “ of the fabrick: only take away from the beauty of the “symmetry; for example, the faults in the character of the
King, in King and No-king, are not, as he calls them, 66 such as render him detestable, but only imperfections “ which accompany human nature, and are for the most
part excused by the violence of his love; so that they destroy not our pity or concernment for him: this an
swer may be applied to most of his objections of that 66 kind.
“ And Rollo committing many murders, when he is an“swerable but for one, is too severely arraigned by him; “ for, it adds to our horror and detestation of the criminal; “ and poetick justice is not neglected neither; for we stab “him in our minds for every offence which he commits; " and the point, which the poet is to gain on the audience, “ is not so much in the death of an offender as the raising an horror of his crimes.
“ That the criminal should neither be wholly guilty, nor “wholly innocent, but so participating of both, as to move " both pity and terrour, is certainly a good rule, but not
perpetually to be observed; for, that were to make all
tragedies too much alike; which objection he foresaw, “ but has not fully answered.
“ To conclude, therefore ; if the plays of the ancients are more correctly plotted, ours are more beautifully “ written. And, if we can raise passions as high on worse “ foundations, it shews our genius in tragedy is greater; “ for in all other parts of it the English have manifestly o excelled them.”
THE original of the following letter is preserved in the Library at Lambeth, and was kindly imparted to the publick by the reverend Dr. Vyse.
Copy of an original Letter from John Dryden, Esq. to
his sons in Italy, from a MS. in the Lambeth Library,
66 In Roma. “ Franca per Mantoua.
Sept. the 3d, our style. “ Dear Sons, “ Being now at Sir William Bowyer's in the conntry, I “cannot write at large, because I find myself somewhat “ indisposed with a cold, and am thick of hearing, rather
worse than I was in town. I am glad to find, by your “ letter of July 26th, your style, that you are both in “ health; but wonder you should think me so negligent as
to forget to give you an account of the ship in which “ your parcel is to come. I have written to you two or “ three letters concerning it, which I have sent by safe “ hands, as I told you, and doubt not but you have them “ before this can arrive to you. Being out of town, I have “ forgotten the ship's name, which your mother will in“quire, and put it into her letter, which is joined with 66 mine. But the master's name I remember: he is called “ Mr. Ralph Thorp; the ship is bound to Leghorn, con“signed to Mr. Peter and Mr. Thomas Ball, merchants. “ I am of your opinion, that by Tonson's means almost all
our letters have miscarried for this last year. But, however, he has missed of his design in the Dedication,
though he had prepared the book for it; for, in every “ figure of Eneas he has caused him to be drawn like
King William, with a hooked nose. After my return “ to town, I intend to alter a play of Sir Robert Howard's, “ written long since, and lately put into my hands; 'tis o cailed The Conquest of China by the Tartars. It will cost
six weeks study, with the probable benefit of an “ hundred pounds. In the mean time I am writing a song “ for St. Cecilia's Feast, who, you know, is the patroness “ of musick. This is troublesome, and no way beneficial; “ but I could not deny the Stewards of the Feast, who “ came in a body to me to desire that kindness, one of
" them being Mr. Bridgeman, whose parents are your “ mother's friends. I hope to send you thirty guineas be“tween Michaelmas and Christmas, of which I will give * you an account when I come to town. I remember the “ counsel you give me in your letter; but dissembling,
though lawful in some cases, is not my talent; yet, for your sake, I will struggle with the plain openness of
my nature, and keep in my just resentments against that “ degenerate order. In the mean time I flatter not myself “ with any manner of hopes, but do my duty, and suffer “ for God's sake; being assured, before hand, never to be “ rewarded, though the times should alter. Towards the " latter end of this month, September, Charles will begin “ to recover his perfect health, according to his nativity, “ which, casting it myself, I am sure is true, and all " things hitherto have happened accordingly to the very “time that I predicted them: I hope at the same time to “recover more health, according to my age. Remember
me to poor Harry, whose prayers I earnestly desire.
My Virgil succeeds in the world beyond its desert or my “ expectation. You know the profits might have been
more; but neither my conscience nor my honour would “ suffer me to take them: but I never can repent
my constancy, since I am thoroughly persuaded of the jus«« tice of the cause for which I suffer. It has pleased God “ to raise up many friends to me amongst my enemies, “ though they who ought to have been my friends are neg“ ligent of me. I am called to dinner, and cannot go on 66 with this letter, which I desire you to excuse; and am
66 Your most affectionate father,
66 John Dryden."
EDMUND SMITH is one of those lucky writers who have, without much labour, attained high reputation, and who are mentioned with reverence rather for the possession than the exertion of uncommon abilities.
Of his life little is known; and that little claims no praise but what can be given to intellectual excellence, seldom employed to any virtuous purpose. His character, as given by Mr. Oldisworth, with all the partiality of friendship, which is said by Dr. Burton to shew “what fine things
one man of parts can say of another,” and which, however, comprises great part of what can be known of Mr. Smith, it is better to transcribe at once than to take by pieces. I shall subjoin such little memorials as accident has enabled me to collect.
Mr. EDMUND SMITH was the only son of an eminent merchant, one Mr. Neale, by a daughter of the famous Baron Lechmere. Some misfortunes of his father, which were soon followed by his death, were the occasion of the son's being left very young in the hands of a near relation (one who inarried Mr. Neale's sister), whose name was Smith.
This gentleman and his lady treated him as their own child, and put him to Westminster-school under the care of Dr. Busby; whence, after the loss of his faithful and generous guardian (whose name he assumed and retained), he was removed to Christ-church in Oxford, and there by his aunt handsomely maintained till her death; after which he continued a member of that learned and ingenious society till within five years of his own; though, some time before his leaving Christ-church, he was sent for by his mother to Worcester, and owned and acknowledged as her legitimate son; which had not been mentioned, but to wipe off the aspersions that were ignorantly cast by some on his birth. It is to be remembered, for our author's honour, that, when at Westminster election he stood a candidate for one of the universities, he so signally distinguished himself by his conspicuous performances, that there arose no small contention, between the representative electors of Trinity-college in Cambridge and Christ-church in Oxon, which of those two royal societies should adopt him as their
But the electors of Trinity-college having the preference of choice that year, they resolutely elected him; who yet, being invited at the same time to Christ-church, chose to accept of a studentship there.
Mr. Smith's perfections, as well natural as acquired, seem to have been formed upon Horace's plan, who says, in his “ Art of “ Poetry:”
Ego nec studiuin sine divite venâ,
He was endowed by Nature with all those excellent and necessary qualifications which are previous to the accomplishment of a great man. His memory was large and tenacious, yet by a curious felicity chiefly susceptible of the finest impressions it received from the best authors he read, which it always preserved in their primitive strength and amiable order.
He had a quickness of apprehension, and vivacity of understanding, which easily took in and surmounted the most subtle and knotty parts of mathematicks and metaphysicks. His wit was prompt and flowing, yet solid and piercing; his taste delicate, his head clear, and his way of expressing his thoughts perspicuous and engaging. I shall say nothing of his person, which yet was so well turned, that no neglect of himself in his dress could render it disagreeable; insomuch that the fair sex, who observed and esteemed him, at once commended and reproved him by the name of the handsome sloven. An
generous and noble emulation grew up with him; which (as it were a rational sort of instinct) pushed him upon striving to excel in every art and science that could make him a credit to his college, and that college the ornament of the