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which, the actor must mouth each couplet in a sort of recitative. The ease of the verse in "Aureng-Zebe," although managed with infinite address, did not escape censure. In the “ just remonstrance of affronted That,” transmitted to the Spectator, the offended conjunction is made to plead, “What great advantages was I of to Mr Dryden, in his . Indian Emperor ?'
You force me still to answer you in that,
“ And what a poor figure would Mr Bayes have made, without his Egad, and all that?” But, by means of this easy flow of versification, in which the rhime is sometimes almost lost by the pause being transferred to the middle of the line, Dryden, in some measure, indemnified himself for his confinement, and, at least, muffled the clank of his fetters. Still, however, neither the kind of verse, nor perhaps the poet himself, were formed for expressing rapid and ardent dialogue; and the beauties of " Aureng-Zebe" will be found chiefly to consist in strains of didactic morality, or solemn meditation. The passage, descriptive of life, has been distinguished by all the critics, down to Dr Johnson:
Aur. When I consider life, 'tis all a cheat ;
Nor is the answer of Nourmahal inferior in beauty :
Nour. 'Tis not for nothing that we life pursue ;
It might be difficult to point out a passage in English poetry, in which so common and melancholy a truth is expressed in such beautiful verse, varied with such just illustration. The declamation on virtue, also, has great merit, though, perhaps, not equal to that on the vanity of life:
Aur. How vain is virtue, which directs our ways
To this account may be added the following passage from Davies' “ Dramatic Miscellanies."
“ Dryden's last and most perfect rhiming tragedy was 'AurengZebe. In this play, the passions are strongly depicted, the characters well discriminated, and the diction more familiar and dra. matic than in any of his preceding pieces. Hart and Mohun greatly distinguished themselves in the characters of Aureng-Zebe, and the Old Emperor. Mrs Marshall was admired in Nourmahal, and Kynaston has been much extolled by Cibber, for his happy expression of the arrogant and savage fierceness in Morat. Booth, in some part of this character, says the same critical historian, was too tame, from an apprehension of raising the mirth of the audience improperly.
“ Though I pay great deference to Cibber's judgment, yet I am not sure whether Booth was not in the right. And I cannot help approving the answer which this actor gave to one, who told him he was surprised, that he neglected to give a spirited turn to the passage in question:
Nour. 'Twill not be safe to let him live an hour.
Sir,' said Booth, it was not through negligence, but by design, that I gave no spirit to that ludicrous bounce of Morat. I know very well, that a laugh of approbation may be obtained from the understanding few, but there is nothing more dangerous than exciting the laugh of simpletons, who know not where to stop. The majority is not the wisest part of the audience, and therefore I will run no hazard.'
“ The court greatly encouraged the play of 'Aureng-Zebe.' The author tells us in his dedication, that Charles II. altered an incident in the plot, and pronounced it to be the best of all Drya den's tragedies. It was revived at Drury-Lane about the year 1726, with the public approbation: The Old Emperor, Mills ; Wilkes, Aureng-Zebe ; Booth, Morat; Indamora, Mrs Oldfield; Melesinda, the first wife of Theophilus Cibber, a very pleasing actress, in person agreeable, and in private life unblemished. She died in 1733."-Vol. I. p. 157.
The introduction states all that can be said in favour of the management of the piece ; and it is somewhat amusing to see the anxiety which Dryden uses to justify the hazardous experiment, of ascribing to einperors and princesses the language of nature and of passion. He appears with difficulty to have satisfied himself, that the decorum of the scene was not as peremptory as the etiquette of a court. “ Aureng-Zebe" was received with the applause to which it is certainly entitled. It'was acted and printed in 1676.
THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
EARL OF MULGRAVE,
GENTLEMAN OF HIS MAJESTY'S BED-CHAMBER, AND
KNIGHT OF THE MOST NOBLE ORDER
OF THE GARTER.*
MY LORD, It is a severe reflection which Montaigne has made on princes, that we ought not, in reason, to have any expectations of favour from them; and that it is kindness enough, if they leave us in possession of The boldness of the censure shows the free spirit of the author: And the subjects of England mayjustly congratulate to themselves, that both the nature of our government, and the clemency of our king, secure us from any such complaint. I, in particular, who subsist wholly by his bounty, am obliged to give posterity a far other account of my
* John Sheffield, Earl of Mulgrave, afterwards created Marquis of Normandy, and at length Duke of Buckingham, made a great figure during the reigns of Charles II. of his unfortunate successor, of William the Third, and of Queen Anne. His bravery as a soldier, and abilities as a statesman, seem to have been unquestioned ; but for his poetical reputation, he was probably much indebted to the assistance of those wits whom he relieved and patronized. As, however, it has been allowed a sufficient proof of wisdom in a monarch, that he could chuse able ministers, so it is no slight commendation to the taste of this rhyming peer, that in youth he seour own.
lected Dryden to supply his own poetical deficiencies, and in age became the friend and the eulogist of Pope. We may observe, however, a melancholy difference betwixt the manner in which an independent man of letters is treated by the great, and that in which they think themselves entitled to use one to whom their countenance is of consequence. In addressing Pope, Sheffield contents himself with launching out into boundless panegyric, while his praise of Dryden, in his “Essay on Poetry," is qualified by a gentle sneer at the “ Hind and Panther,” our bard's most laboured production. His lordship is treating of satire:
The laureat here may justly claim our praise,
Lord Mulgrave, to distinguish him by his earliest title, certainly received considerable assistance from Dryden in “ The Essay on Satire," which occasioned Rochester's base revenge ; and was distinguishod by the name of the Rose-Alley Satire, from the place in wliich Dryden was way-laid and beaten by the hired bravoes of that worthless profligate. It is probable, that the patronage which Dryden received from Mulgrave, was not entirely of an empty and fruitless nature. It is at least certain, that their friendship continued uninterrupted till the death of our poet. The " Discourse upon Epic Poetry” is dedicated to Lord Mulgrave, then Duke of Buckingham, and in high favour with Queen Anne, for whom he is supposed to have long cherished a youthful passion. After the grave of Dryden had remained twenty years without a memorial, this nobleman had the honour to raise the present monument at his own expence; being the latest, and certainly one of the most honourable acts of his life.
Mr Malone, from Macky's “ Secret Services," gives the following character of Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham :-“He is a nobleman of learning and good natural parts, but of no principles. Violent for the high church, yet seldom goes to it. Very