Page:A dictionary of printers and printing.djvu/591

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683

HISTORY OF PRINTING.

revolution to the time of George I. the price for the dedication of a play, was from five to ten guineas, when it rose to twenty; but sometimes a bargain was to be struck when the author and the play were alike indifferent. His prefaces are pleasing, notwithstanding the opposite opinions they contain, because his prose is the most nu- merous and sweet, the most mellow and generous of any our language has yet produced. His digressions and ramblings, he himself says he learned of honest Montaigne.

Mr. St John, afterwards lord Bolingbroke, happening to pay a morning visit to Dryden, found him in an unusual agitation of spirits, even to a trembling. On enquiring the cause, "I have been up all night," replied the old bard, " my musical friends made me promise to write them an Ode, for their feast of St. Cecilia. I have been so struck with the subject which oc- curred to me, that I could not leave it till I had completed it; here it is, finished at one sitting." And immediately showed him the Ode of Alex- ander's Feast, or the Power of Music, which places the British lyric poetry above that of any other nation; for in this ode there is a wonderful sublimity of thought, a loftiness and sweetness of expression, and a pleasing variety of numbers.

To the laudable industrv of Mr. Malone the curious reader is indebted for the publication of several letters from Dryden to Jacob Tonson, and of one from Tonson to the poet ; which con- 3iderably illustrate the history of both. The fiist of these was in 1684, preuaratory to the

Jirinting of the second volume ot those Mitcel- any Poenu which are equally known by the name of Dryden and of Tomon ; and is written in terms of great familiarity, with thanks for two melons. Tonson's letter is perfectly the Tradesman't — ^pleased with the translations of Ovid, which he had received for the third mis- cellany, but not with the price; having only 1446 lines for fifty guineas, when he expected to have had at the rate of 1518 lines for forty guineas ; adding that he had a better bargain with Juvenal, which is reckoned not so easy to translate as Ovid. Most of the other letters re- late to the translation of Viml, and contain repeated acknowledgments of Tonson's kind at- tention. " I thank you heartily," he says, " for the sherry ; it was toe best of the kind. I ever drank." — The current coin was at that period wretchedly debased. In one letter Dryden says, " I expect forty pounds in good silver; not such as I had formerly. I am not obliged to take gold; neither will I ; nor stay for it above four- and-twenty hours after it is due." Some little bickerings occasionally passed between the author and his bookseller ; but they do not seem to have prodiiced any lasting ill-will on either side. In 1698, when Diyden published his Fablet, Ton- son agreed to give him £268 for 10,000 verses ; and, to cotnplete the full number of lines stipu- lated for, he gave the bookseller the Epistle to hit Cousin, and the celebrated Musical Ode. " The conduct of traders in general in the seven- teenth century," as Mr. Muone observes, " was

less liberal, and their manners more ragged than at present ; and hence we find Dryden sometimei speaking of Tonson with a degree of asperity that confirms an anecdote communicated to Dr. Johnson by Dr. Eling, of Oxford, to whom Lord Bolingbroke related, ' that one day, when he visiteo Dryden, they heard, as they were convers- ing, another person entering the house. This,' said Dryden, ' is Tonson : you will take care not to depart before he goes away: for I have not completed the sheet which I promised him ; and, if you leave me unprotected, I shall suffer all the rudeness to which his resentment can prompt his tongue.' On another occasion, Tonson hav- ing refused to advance him a sum of money for a work on which he was employed, be sent a second messenger to the bookseller, with a yoy satirical triplet ; adding, ' Tell the dog, tliat be who wrote these lines, can write more.' These descriptive verses, which had the desired effect, by some means got abroad in manuscript ; and, not long after Dryden's death, were inserted in Faction Displayed, a satirical poem, supposed to have been written by William Shippen, which, from its virulent abuse of the opposite party, was extremely popular among the Tones." Of Drvden's prose compositions, which have been published separately in four volumes, the most remarkable are his Discourse on Dramatic Poetry, and the Prefaces and Dedications to his various poetical works. These are the first easy and graceful essays upon the lighter departments of literature which appeared in England. Dr. Johnson describes them as airy, animated, and vigorous. In the Discourse, he has drawn cha- racters of his dramatic predecessors, which are allowed to be unsurpassed, in spirit and preci- sion, by any later or more laborious criticisms.

Sir George Mackenzie, lord advocate of Scot- land under Charles II. and James II. seems to have been the only learned man of his time that maintained an acquaintance with the lighter de- partments of cotemporary English literature. He was the friend of Dryden, by whom he is men- tioned with great respect. Sir George Mackenrie was bom in 1636, and died at Edinburgh, May 2, 1691. The compositions bearing a resem- blance to English, which appeared in ScoUand during this century, were controversial pamphlets in pohtius and divinity, now generally forgotten.

1700. Pue's Occurrences. This was the second newspaper published at Dublin; it was called after the proprietor, and maintained itsdf f«  more than half a century.

1700, Nov. 29. The Merry Mercury ; or, a Farce of Fools. No. 1.

We shall lake leave of the seventeenth century with the following lines upon a picture of Tune':

" Yean are the teeth of time, which softlr eat. And wear oat carious booki in manoscript Fire is the scythe, wherein he down doth mow Ten thousand ptedoos volomes at a blow : Blest printing, best of all his rage withstands. And often clulns his feet, and ties Ills liaiids i Rescued from whom here various aathon nieet^ And, all united, form a splendid treat. So numerous flowers in one iteh nosegajr Join, And still more fragrant smell and blighter ahlac."