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nal intimacy was never renewed, they resumed the usual kindly intercourse of relations and friends.
The epistle itself is earlier in date than the poem called "Astrea Redux," which was probably not published till the summer of 1660 was somewhat advanced. This copy of verses, therefore, is the first avowed production of our author after the Restoration, and may rank, in place and merit, with "Astrea Redux," the "Poem on the Coronation," and the "Address to the Chancellor." There is the same anxiety to turn and point every sentence, and the same tendency to extravagant and unnatural conceit. Yet it is sometimes difficult to avoid admiring the strength of the author's mind, even when employed in wresting ideas the wrong way. It is remarkable, also, that Dryden ventures to praise the verses of his patron, on account of that absence of extravagant metaphor, and that sobriety of poetic composition, for which, to judge by his own immediate practice, he ought rather to have censured them.
Those who may be induced to peruse the works of Sir Robert Howard, by the high commendation here bestowed upon them, will have more reason to praise the gratitude of our author, than the justice of his panegyric. They are productions of a most freezing mediocrity.
As there is music uninformed by art
In those wild notes, which, with a merry heart,
The birds in unfrequented shades express,
Who, better taught at home, yet please us less;
So in your verse a native sweetness dwells,
Which shames composure, and its art excells.
Singing no more can your soft numbers grace,
Than paint adds charms unto a beauteous face. †
Yet as when mighty rivers gently creep,
Their even calmness does suppose them deep,
Such is your muse: no metaphor swelled high
With dangerous boldness lifts her to the sky:
Those mounting fancies, when they fall again,
Show sand and dirt at bottom do remain.
So firm a strength, and yet withal so sweet,
Did never but in Sampson's riddle meet.
'Tis strange each line so great a weight should bear,
And yet no sign of toil, no sweat appear.
Either your art hides art, as stoics feign
Then least to feel, when most they suffer pain;
*Used for elaborate composition.
+ Some of Sir Robert Howard's songs were set to music. One of them, beginning, "O Charon, gentle Charon," is quoted as a popular air in one of Shadwell's plays.
And we, dull souls, admire, but cannot see
What hidden springs within the engine be
Or 'tis some happiness, that still pursues
Each act and motion of your graceful muse.
Or is it fortune's work, that in
The curious net that is for fancies spread, †
Lets through its meshes every ineaner thought,
While rich ideas there are only caught?
Sure that's not all; this is a piece too fair
To be the child of chance, and not of care.
No atoms, casually together hurled,
Could e'er produce so beautiful a world;
Nor dare I such a doctrine here admit,
As would destroy the providence of wit.
'Tis your strong genius, then, which does not feel
Those weights, would make a weaker spirit reel.
To carry weight, and run so lightly too,
Is what alone your Pegasus can do.
Great Hercules himself could ne'er do more,
Than not to feel those heavens and gods he bore,
Your easier odes, which for delight were penned,
Yet our instruction make their second end;
We're both enriched and pleased, like them that woo
At once a beauty, and a fortune too.
Of moral knowledge poesy was queen,
And still she might, had wanton wits not been;
Who, like ill guardians, lived themselves at large,
And, not content with that, debauched their charge,
Like some brave captain, your successful pen
Restores the exiled to her crown again;
And gives us hope, that having seen the days
When nothing flourished but fanatic bays,
All will at length in this opinion rest,-
"A sober prince's government is best.”
This is not all; your art the way has found
To make improvement of the richest ground;
That soil which those immortal laurels bore,
That once the sacred Maro's temples wore.
Eliza's griefs are so expressed by you,
They are too eloquent to have been true.
Had she so spoke, Æneas had obeyed
What Dido, rather than what Jove, had said.
If funeral rites can give a ghost repose,
Your muse so justly has discharged those,
Eliza's shade may now its wandering cease,
And claim a title to the fields of peace.
But if Æneas be obliged, no less
Your kindness great Achilles doth confess;
Who, dressed by Statius in too bold a look,
Did ill become those virgin robes he took. †
To understand how much we owe to you,
We must your numbers, with your author's, view :
Then we shall see his work was lamely rough,
Each figure stiff, as if designed in buff;
His colours laid so thick on every place,
As only showed the paint, but hid the face.
But, as in perspective, we beauties see,
Which in the glass, not in the picture, be;
So here our sight obligingly mistakes
That wealth, which his your bounty only makes.
Thus vulgar dishes are, by cooks, disguised,
More for their dressing than their substance prized,
* Sir Robert Howard's collection contains a translation of the Fourth Book of the Æneid, under the title of "The Loves of Dido and Eneas."
† Sir Robert also translated the Achilleis of Statius, an author whom Dryden seldom mentions without censuring his turgid and bombastic style of poetry. The story of this neglected epicturns on the juvenile adventures of Achilles.
Your curious notes * so search into that age,
When all was fable but the sacred page,
That, since in that dark night we needs must stray,
We are at least misled in pleasant way.
But, what we most admire, your verse no less
The prophet than the poet doth confess.
Ere our weak eyes discerned the doubtful streak
Of light, you saw great Charles his morning break: t
So skilful seamen ken the land from far,
Which shows like mists to the dull passenger.
To Charles your muse first pays her duteous love,
As still the ancients did begin from Jove;
With Monk you end, whose name preserved shall be,
As Rome recorded Rufus' memory;
Who thought it greater honour to obey
His country's interest, than the world to sway. §
But to write worthy things of worthy men,
Is the peculiar talent of your pen;
Yet let me take your mantle up, and I
Will venture, in your right, to prophecy :-
*The annotations on the Achilleis.
+ Sir Robert Howard's poems contain a "Panegyric to the King," concerning which he says, in the preliminary address to the reader, "I should be a little dissatisfied with myself to appear public in his praise just when he was visibly restoring to power, did not the reading of the Panegyric vindicate the writing of it, and, besides my affirmation, assure the reader, it was written when the king deserved the praise as much as now, but was separated farther from the power; which was about three years since, when I was prisoner in Windsor Castle, being the best diversion I could then find for my own condition, to think how great his virtues were for whom I suffered, though in so small a measure compared to his own, that I rather blush at it, than believe it meritorious."
The volume begins with the "Poem to the King," and ends with 66 શ Panegyric to General Monk.”
§ Hic situs est Rufus qui pulso vindice quondam, Imperium asseruit non sibi sed patriæ.