Vinton A. Dearing and Alan Roper (eds), The Works of John Dryden, Vol. 14: Plays; The Kind Keeper; The Spanish Fryar; The Duke of Guise; and The Vindication of the Duke of Guise
pg 207To the Right Honourable LAWRENCE, EARL of ROCHESTER, &c.
Editor’s Note1My Lord,
2The Authors of this Poem, present it humbly to your Lord-3ships Patronage, if you shall think it worthy of that hon-4our. It has already been a Confessor, and was almost made 5a Martyr for the Royal Cause. But having stood two Tryals from 6its Enemies, one before it was Acted, another in the Representa-7tion, and having been in both acquitted, 'tis now to stand the 8Publick Censure in the reading: Where since, of necessity, it 9must have the same Enemies, we hope it may also find the same 10Friends; and therein we are secure not only of the greater Num-11ber, but of the more Honest and Loyal Party. We only expected 12bare Justice in the Permission to have it Acted; and that we 13had, after a severe and long Examination, from an Upright and Editor’s Note14knowing Judge, who having heard both sides, and examin'd the 15Merits of the Cause in a strict perusal of the Play, gave Sentence 16for us, that it was neither a Libel, nor a Parallel of particular 17Persons. In the Representation it self, it was persecuted with so 18notorious Malice by one side, that it procur'd us the Partiality 19of the other; so that the Favour more than recompenc'd the 20Prejudice: And 'tis happier to have been sav'd (if so we were) 21by the Indulgence of our good and faithful Fellow-Subjects, 22than by our own Deserts; because thereby the weakness of the 23Faction is discover'd, which in us, at that time, attack'd the Gov-24ernment; and stood combin'd, like the Members of the Rebel-25lious League, against the Lawful Soveraign Authority. To what 26Topique will they have recourse, when they are manifestly Editor’s Note27beaten from their chief Post, which has always been Popularity, 28and Majority of Voices? They will tell us, That the Voices of a 29People are not to be gather'd in a Play-House; and yet even there, 30the Enemies as well as Friends have free Admission; but while Editor’s Note31our Argument was serviceable to their Interests, they cou'd boast Editor’s Note32that the Theaters were True Protestant, and came insulting to pg 2081the Plays, where their own Triumphs were represented. But let 2them now assure themselves, that they can make the major part Editor’s Note3of no Assembly, except it be a Meeting-House. Their Tyde of 4Popularity is spent, and the natural Current of Obedience is in Critical Apparatus5spight of them, at last prevalent: In which, my Lord, after the 6merciful Providence of God, the unshaken Resolution, and pru-7dent Carriage of the King, and the inviolable Duty, and manifest 8Innocence of his Royal Highness, the prudent Management of 9the Ministers is also most conspicuous. I am not particular in 10this Commendation, because I am unwilling to raise Envy to 11your Lordship, who are too just not to desire that Praise shou'd 12be communicated to others, which was the common Endeavor 13and Co-operation of all. 'Tis enough, my Lord, that your own 14Part was neither obscure in it, nor unhazardous. And if ever this 15excellent Government so well establish'd by the Wisdom of our 16Forefathers, and so much shaken by the Folly of this Age, shall 17recover its ancient Splendor, Posterity cannot be so ungrateful, 18as to forget those, who in the worst of Times, have stood un-19daunted by their King and Countrey, and for the Safeguard of 20both, have expos'd themselves to the malice of false Patriots, 21and the madness of an headstrong Rabble. But since this glorious 22Work is yet unfinish'd, and though we have reason to hope well 23of the success, yet the Event depends on the unsearchable Provi-Editor’s Note24dence of Almighty God, 'tis no time to raise Trophees, while the 25Victory is in dispute: but every man by your example, to con-26tribute what is in his power, to maintain so just a Cause, on 27which depends the future Settlement and Prosperity of Three Editor’s Note28Nations. The Pilot's Prayer to Neptune was not amiss, in the Critical Apparatus29middle of the Storm: Thou may'st do with me, O Neptune, what 30thou pleasest, but I will be sure to hold fast the Rudder. We are 31to trust firmly in the Deity, but so as not to forget, that he com-Editor’s Note32monly works by second Causes, and admits of our Endeavors 33with his concurrence. For our own parts, we are sensible as we 34ought, how little we can contribute with our weak assistance. 35The most we can boast of, is, that we are not so inconsiderable as 36to want Enemies, whom we have rais'd to our selves on no other pg 2091account, than that we are not of their number: and since that's 2their Quarrel, they shall have daily occasion to hate us more. Editor’s Note3'Tis not, my Lord, that any man delights to see himself pasquin'd 4and affronted by their inveterate Scriblers, but on the other side 5it ought to be our glory, that themselves believe not of us what 6they write. Reasonable men are well satisfi'd for whose sakes the 7venom of their Party is shed on us, because they see that at the 8same time, our Adversaries spare not those to whom they owe 9Allegiance and Veneration. Their Despair has push'd them to 10break those Bonds; and 'tis observable, that the lower they are 11driven, the more violently they write: As Lucifer and his Com-12panions were only proud when Angels, but grew malicious when 13Devils. Let them rail, since 'tis the only solace of their miseries, 14and the only revenge, which we hope they now can take. The 15greatest and the best of men are above their reach, and for our Editor’s Note16meanness, though they assault us like Foot-padders in the dark, 17their Blows have done us little harm; we yet live, to justifie our 18selves in open day, to vindicate our Loyalty to the Government, 19and to assure your Lordship, with all Submission and Sincerity, 20that we are
- 21Your lordships
- 22Most Obedient, Faithful Servants,
- 23John Dryden, Nat. Lee.
I heard that great opposition was design'd against the Play (a month before it was acted) by a Party, who … pretended that I had written a Satyr upon the Church of England, and several profest Papists railed at it violently, before they had seen it. … And … they came with the greatest malice in the World to hiss it, and many that call'd themselves Protestants, joyn'd with them in that noble enterprise. … But to my great satisfaction they came off as meanly as I could wish. I had so numerous an assembly of the best sort of men, who stood so generously in my defence, for the first three days, that they quash'd all the vain attempts of my Enemies, the inconsiderable Party of Hissers yielded, and the Play lived in spight of them.