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A calf an alderman, a goose a justice,
And rooks committee-men and trustees.
He'd run in debt by disputation,
And pay with ratiocination :
All this by syllogism, true
In mood and figure he would do.
For rhetoric, he could not ope
His mouth, but out there flew a trope;
And when he happened to break off
['the middle of his speech, or cough,
He had hard words, ready to show why,
And tell what rules he did it by :
Else, when with greatest art he spoke,
You'd think he talked like other folk;
For all a rhetorician's rules
Teach nothing but to name his tools.


He was of that stubborn crew
Of errant saints, whom all men grant
To be the true church militant;
Such as do build their faith upon
The holy text of pike and gun;
Decide all controversies by
Infallible artillery ;
And prove their doctrine orthodox
By apostolic blows and knocks;
Call fire, and sword, and desolation
A godly thorough reformation,
Which always must be carried on,
And still be doing, never done;

As if religion were intended
For nothing else but to be mended;
A sect whose chief devotion lies
In odd perverse antipathies ;
In falling out with that or this,
And finding somewhat still amiss ;
More peevish, cross, and splenetic,
Than dog distraught or monkey sick;
That with more care keep holiday
The wrong, than others the right way;
Compound for sins they are inclined to,
By damning those they have no mind to


This sword a dagger had his page, That was but little for his age; And therefore waited on him so As dwarfs upon knights-errant do: It was a serviceable dudgeon, Either for fighting, or for drudging : When it nad stabbed or broke a head, It would scrape trenchers, or chip bread; Toast cheese or bacon, though it were To bait a mouse-trap, would not care: 'T would make clean shoes, and in the earth Set leeks and onions, and so forth: It had been 'prentice to a brewer, Where this and more it did endure, But left the trade, as many more Have lately done on the same score.


He was

No English poet of distinction is marked by greater inequalities than John DRYDEN.

a man of superior genius, whose opinions hung somewhat loosely about him, and coming into notice at a time when a vicious taste in poetry prevailed, he took the lead in all the literary sins of his age. He gained thereby an immediate reputation which was almost unbounded; but in the “ sober second thought” of posterity, he is regarded only as the first of our second-rate poets. He was engaged in active authorship for nearly half a century. During this time a decided revolution in the public taste took place. As might be expected from the character of the man, his last poems are his best. He who, on the restoration of the dissolute Charles, had been a writer of plays marked by their licentiousness even in that licentious age, became under William a profound and able inculcator of morals and religion. The difference in the moral tone of his writings is not greater than their difference as to literary merit. The subjects which first engaged his attention, do not seem to be those for which he was by nature fitted; and as he imitated false models of style, his very genius served to make those faults more glaring. It was not till late in life that he found where his forte lay. He had a strong masculine understanding and an unbounded command of language, and, with perhaps the exception of Pope, has succeeded better than any other English poet, in the difficult art of reasoning in verse. The same qualities which fitted him for serious didactic poetry, contributed to the success which attended all his efforts as a writer of satire.

His writings, both in prose and verse, are exceedingly numerous. A complete edition of them was published a few years since, with a copious life by Sir Walter Scott, the whole extending to eighteen volumes.

Dryden was born in 1631, and died in 1700.


(From Religio Laici.)

Dim as the borrowed beams of moon and stars
To lonely, weary, wandering travellers,
Is Reason to the soul: and as on high,
Those rolling fires discover but the sky,
Not light us here; so Reason’s glimmering ray
Was lent, not to assure our doubtful way,
But guide us upward to a better day.
And as those nightly tapers disappear,
When day's bright lord ascends our hemisphere;
So pale grows Reason at Religion's sight;
So dies, and so dissolves in supernatural light.
Some few, whose lamps shone brighter, have been led
From cause to cause, to nature's secret head;
And found that one first principle must be:
But what, or who, that universal He;
Whether some soul encompassing this ball,
Unmade, unmoved; yet making, moving all;

Or various atoms' interfering dance
Leaped into form, the noble work of chance;
Or this great all was from eternity ;
Not e'en the Stagirite himself could see;
And Epicurus guessed as well as he:
And blindly groped they for a future state;
As rashly judged of providence and fate:
But least of all could their endeavours find
What most concerned the good of human kind :
For happiness was never to be found ;
But vanished from 'em like enchanted ground.
One thought Content the good to be enjoyed :

little accident destroyed :
The wiser madmen did for Virtue toil :
A thorny, or at best a barren soil:
In pleasure some their glutton souls would steep
But found their line too short, the well too deep;
And leaky vessels which no bliss could keep.
Thus anxious thoughts in endless circles roll,
Without a centre where to fix the soul:
In this wild maze their vain endeavours end :
How can the less the greater comprehend ?
Or finite reason reach Infinity?
For what could fathom God were more than He.

The Deist thinks he stands on firmer ground; Cries the mighty secret 's found : God is that spring of good ; supreme and best : We made to serve, and in that service blest; If so, some rules of worship must be given, Distributed alike to all by Heaven: Else God were partial, and to some denied The means his justice should for all provide.


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