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to be true, though there is apparently no direct testimony to its truth. It is said to have been written at Rushton not far from Kettering, in the poet's native county. Rushton had been (though it had passed from them at this time) the seat of the Treshams, one of the staunchest families to the old faith which Dryden had just embraced. They had held another seat in Northamptonshire-Lyveden, within a few miles of Aldwinkle and of all the scenes of the poet's youth ; and both at Lyveden and Rushton, architectural evidences of their devotion to the cause survive in the shape of buildings covered with symbolical carvings. The neighbourhood of Rushton, too, is singularly consonant to the scenery of the poem. It lay just on the southern fringe of the great forest of Rockingham, and the neighbourhood is still wonderfully timbered, though most of the actual wood owes its existence to the planting energy of Duke John of Montagu, half a century after Dryden's time. It would certainly not have been easy to conceive a better place for the conception and execution of this sylvan poem ; but, as a matter of fact, it seems impossible to obtain any
definite evidence of the connexion between the two.
The Hind and the Panther is in plan a sort of combination of Absalom and Achitophel, and of Religio Laici, but its three parts are by no means homogeneous. The first part, which is perhaps on the whole the best, contains the well-known apportionment of the characters of different beasts to the different churches and sects; the second contains the major part of the controversy between the Hind and the Panther; the third, which is as long as the other two put together, continues this controversy, but before very long diverges into allegorical and personal satire. The story of the Swallows, which the Panther
tells, is one of the liveliest of all Dryden's pieces of narration, and it is not easy to give the palm between it and the Hind's retort, the famous fable of the Doves, in which Burnet is caricatured with hardly less vigour and not much less truth than Buckingham and Shadwell in the satires proper. This told, the poem ends abruptly.
The Hind and the Panther was certain to provoke controversy, especially from the circumstances, presently to be discussed, under which it was written. Dryden had two points especially vulnerable, the one being personal the other literary. It was inevitable that his argument in Religio Laici should be contrasted with his argument in The Hind and the Panther. It was inevitable on the other hand that the singularities of construction in the latter poem should meet with animadversion. No defender of The Hind and the Panther, indeed, has ever attempted to defend it as a regular or classically proportioned piece of work. Its main theme is, as always with Dryden, merely a canvas whereon to embroider all sorts of episodes, digressions and ornaments. Yet his adversaries, in their blind animosity, went a great deal too far in the matter of condemnation, and showed themselves entirely ignorant of the history and requirements of allegory in general, and the beast-fable in particular. Dryden, like many other great men of letters, had an admiration for the incomparable story of Reynard the fox. It is characteristic, both of his enemies and of the age, that this was made a serious argument against him. This is specially done in a celebrated little pamphlet which has perhaps had the honour of being more overpraised than anything else of its kind in English literature. If any one wishes to appraise the value of the story that Dryden was seriously vexed by The Hind and the Panther transversed to the Story of the City and Country Mouse, he cannot do better than read that production. It is difficult to say what was or was not unworthy of Montague, whose published poems certainly do not authorize us to say that he wrote below himself on this occasion, but it assuredly is in the highest degree unworthy of Prior. Some tolerable parody of Dryden's own work, a good deal of heavy joking closely modelled on the Rehearsal and assigning to Mr. Bayes plenty of “i'gads" and the like catchwords, make up the staple of this piece, in which Mr. Christie has discovered “true wit," and the Quarterly Reviewer already cited, "exquisite satire." Among the severest of Messrs. Montague and Prior's strictures is a sarcastic reference to Reynard the fox. What was good enough for Dryden, for Goethe, and for Mr. Carlyle was childish rubbish to these brisk young critics. The story alluded to says that Dryden wept at the attack and complained that two young fellows to whom he had been civil should thus have treated an old man.
Now Dryden certainly did not consider himself an old man at this time, and he had "seen many others," as an admirable Gallicism has it, in the matter of attacks.
One more poem, and one only, remains to be noticed in this division. This was the luckless Britannia Rediviva, written on the birth of the most ill-starred of all Princes of Wales, born in the purple. It is in couplets, and as no work of Dryden's written at this time could be worthless, it contains some vigorous verse, but on the whole it is by far the worst of his serious poems; and it was no misfortune for his fame that the Revolution left it out of print for the rest of the author's life.
LIFE FROM 1680 TO 1688.
THAT portion of Dryden's life which extends from the Popish Plot to the Revolution is of so much more importance for the estimate of his personal character, as well as for that of his literary genius, than any other period of equal length, that it has seemed well to devote a separate chapter to the account and discussion of it. The question of Dryden's conversion, its motives and its sincerity, has of itself been more discussed than any
other point in his life, and on the opinions to be formed of it must depend the opinion which, on the whole, we form of him as a man. According to one view his conduct during these years places him among the class which paradox delights to describe as the “greatest and meanest of mankind," the men who compensate for the admirable qualities of their heads by the despicable infirmities of their hearts. According to another, his conduct, if not altogether wise, contains nothing discreditable to him, and some things which may be reasonably described as very much the contrary. Twenty years of play-writing had, in all probability, somewhat disgusted Dryden with the stage, and his Rose-Alley misfortune had shown him that even a scrupulous abstinence from meddling in politics or in personal satire would not save him from awkward consequences. His lucrative contract with the players had, beyond all doubt, ceased, and his official salaries, as we shall see, were paid with the usual irregularity. At the same time, as has been already pointed out, his turn of thought probably led him to take more interest in practical politics and in religious controversy than had been previously the case. The additional pension, which as
we have seen he had received, made his nominal income sufficient, and instead of writing plays invitâ Minervâ he took to writing satires and argumentative pieces to please himself. Other crumbs of royal favour fell to his lot from time to time. The broad pieces received for the Medal are very probably apocryphal, there is no doubt that his youngest son received, in February, 1683, a presentation to the Charterhouse from the king. This presentation it was which he was said to have received from Shaftesbury, as the price of the mitigating lines (“Yet fame deserved-easy of access") inserted in the later edition of Absalom and Achitophel. He was also indefatigable in undertaking and performing minor literary work of various kinds, which will be noticed later. Nor indeed could he afford to be idle ; his pensions were often unpaid, and it is just after the great series of his satires closed that we get a glimpse of this fact.
A letter is extant to Rochester-Hyde, not Wilmot-complaining of long arrears, and entreating some compensation in the shape of a place in the Customs, or the Excise, besides an instalment at least of the debt. It is this letter which contains the well-known phrase, “It is enough for one age to have neglected Mr. Cowley and starved Mr. Butler." As far as documentary evidence goes the answer to the appeal was a Treasury warrant for 751., the arrears being over 10001., and an appointment to a collectorship of Customs