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We daily expect Manilius from him, an author worthy only of such hands; which, having formerly revealed the secrets of nature to us here on earth, is now discovering to us her palace in the skies, and, if I
honest translator of Lucretius with this profound piece of policy: Come, confess the truth, man; did you not ?
Bays. “ You could not have guessed better, Mr Crites, if you had dived into my diaphragma for the secret. It was not in my power, you must know, either to suppress the work, or to discommend it; because, to give the gentleman his due, it was performed beyond all expectation, and, what was a mighty matter, it suited as pat as might be with the philosophy of the town that was then in fashion. Now, to undermine and ruin him to all intents and purposes, I took these measures. I Aatter, hug, and caress him, like an Achitophel as I was; after the strangest manner imaginable, profess all the respect and friendship in the world for him; tell him that providence had certainly reserved him for working miracles in poetry; and that I had some ancient prophecies by me at home, which declared him to be the very person that was to deliver the immortal writers of former ages out of that Algerine captivity they had so long laboured under--
Crites. "Well, for daubing and wheedling, I'll let thee loose to any poet in Christendom.”
Bays. “That, if by his mighty feat he could form those Irish atons of Lucretius into so regular, and well-disciplined an army, could raise such harmony out of a dull unmusical philosopher, how glorious and exalted would his attempts be upon Horace, or what might we not expect from so advantageous, so promising an undertaking. And so, gentlemen, with the help of a little incense and flattery, I so cajoler this Æsop's crow, that he presentiy dropt his Epicurean cheese out of his mouth, to sing one of his unmusical ill-turned Odes of Horace. I persuaded this Welch courser to leave his ragged unaccessible precipices, where there was no coming after him, to try his strength and feet upon good plain ground, where an English vinegar-horse, I knew, would easily distance him." The Reasons of Mr Bayes changing his Religion considered in a Dialogue.
Shields, or whoever wrote Creecli's Life, in the collection to which 'Theophilus Cibber gave his name, has not only adopted this tale of scandal, but has added, that the great contempt expressed by Dryden for the translation of Horace, gave the author a shock, from which he never recovered, and, in short, occasion
might be allowed to say it, giving light to the stars of heaven:
Ergò vivida vis animi pervicit, et extra
ed his falling into low-spirits, and finally committing suicide. The passage, to which this note refers, is sufficient to clear our author from so gross and scandalous a reproach. It shews that after the publication of Creech's Horace he continued, in the most public manner, not only to speak kindly and respectfully of the translator, but to stimulate him to new exertions. It is hence evident, that no breach of friendship took place between them on this occasion; far less could Dryden have driven him to despair by harshness or contempt. The inference, that Dryden urged Creech to attempt Horace, because he foresaw his failure, seems the unfounded deduction of calumny and envy. In the dedication to the Translation of Horace, which is addressed to our author, Creech himself bears the following strong testimony to the liberality of Dryden's sentiments,
“ 'Tis you, sir, that have advanced our dramatic to its height, and showed that epic poetry is not confined to Italy and Greece. That you are honoured by the best, and envied by others, proclaims excellency and worth ; for, true honour is built only upon perfection ; and envy, as it is as sharp sighted, so 'tis as soaring as an eagle ; and who ever saw it stoop at a sparrow or a wren? and that candour and goodness have the greatest share in your composition, I dare appeal to every one whom you
any way favoured with your conversation; these so fill your mind, that there is no room left for pride, or any disobliging quality. This appears from the encouragement you are ready to give any tolerable attempts, and reach out a helping hand to all those who endeavour to climb that height where you are already seated. Even this owes its completion to those smiles which you condescended to bestow upon some parts of it, and now ventures to appear a second time, where at first it found a favourable entertainment."
The reader will observe that this dedication is prefixed to the second edition of the Translation of Horace; a circumstance which confutes the assertion that Dryden ridiculed the work, and indeed the whole of a tale, so malignantly invented by slander, and repeated by credulity.
* Marcus Manilius, a poet of the Augustan age, wrote the poem on astronomy, to which Dryden refers.
But, to return to Plutarch: you will find him particularly fond of Cleomenes his character; who, as he was the last of the Spartan heroes, so he was, in my opinion, the greatest. Even his enemy, Polybius, though engaged in the contrary faction, yet speaks honourably of him, and especially of his last action in Egypt. This author is also made English, and will shortly be published for the common be
What I have added to the story, is chiefly the love of Agathoclea, the king's mistress, whose name I have changed into Cassandra, only for the better sound; as I have also the name of Nicagoras, into that of Canus, for the same reason. Cratesiclæa, Pantheus, and Sosybius, are to be found in the story, with the same characters which they have in the tragedy. There is likewise mention made of the son of Cleomenes, who had resolution enough to throw himself headlong from a tower, when he had heard of his father's ill success. And for Cleora, whom I make the second wife of Cleomenes, (for Ægiatis was dead before) you will find a hint of her in Plutarch; for, he tells us, that after the loss of the battle at Sellasia, he returned to Sparta, and, entering his own house, was there attended by a free-born woman of Megalopolis.
The picture of Ptolemy Philopater is given by the fore-mentioned authors to the full. Both agree that he was an original of his kind; a lazy, effeminate, cowardly, cruel, and luxurious prince, managed by his favourite, and imposed on by his mistress. The son of Sosybius, whom I call Cleanthes,
* Sir Henry Shere published his Translation of Polybius in 1692-3, in two volumes, 8vo., to which there was prefixed a cha. racter of the author, and of his writings, by Dryden.
was a friend to Cleomenes; but, Plutarch says, he at length forsook him. I have given him a fairer character, and made it only a seeming treachery, which he practised. If any be so curious to enquire what became of Cassandra, whose fortune was left in suspence at the conclusion of the play, I must first inform them, that, after the death of Cleomenes, (the hero of my poem) I was obliged by the laws of the drama, to let fall the curtain immediately, because the action was then concluded. But Polybius tells us, that she survived Ptolemy, who reigned about twenty-seven years ; that, with her brother Agathocles, she governed Egypt in the minority of his son Ptolemy Epiphanes ; and that, finally, for oppressing of the people, both the brother and sister were slain in a popular insurrection.
There is nothing remaining, but my thanks to the town in general, and to the fair ladies in particular, for their kind reception of my piay. And, though I cannot retract what I said before, that I was not much concerned, in my own particular, for the embargo which was laid upon it, yet I think myself obliged, at the same time, to render my acknowledgments to those honourable persons, who were instrumental in the freeing it; for, as it was from a principle of nobleness in then, that they would not suffer one to want, who was grown old in their service, so, it is from a principle of another sort, that I have learned to possess my soul in patience, and not to be much disquieted with any disappointment of this nature.
[The following verses were sent me by a young gentleman, under
twenty years of age, whose modesty would have concealed his name ; but I learned it from another hand, and have taken the boldness to subscribe it without his leave. I presume that, on the reading of them, nobody can blame me for making Cleonidas speak abore his youth, when you see an Englishman so far surpassing my Spartan.]
TO MR DRYDEN ON HIS CLEOMENES.
Has youth then lost its great prerogative ?
have reconciled their differing praise,
learned the art,