ryd e n’s conversion to Rome has been a subject of comment since the
poet was seen going to mass in the company of his sons and Nell Gwyn
in Ja n u a ry of ₁ o ï o.

Speculation over the motive for Dryd e n’s conve r-
sion was rife from the beginning, and T he Hind and the Pa n t h e r suggests how sen-
s i t i ve to the scandal of insincerity Dryden had become in the months follow i n g
the conversion as he mounted a defense of the integrity of his new faith. The re-
lentless attacks in the satires and broadsides that answe red T he Hind and the
Pa n t h e r remind us that the poet had good reason to fear that the worst possible
gloss would be attached to his change of religion. One popular theme of con-
t e m p o r a ry response was the susceptibility of Dryd e n’s conscience to wifely wish
and female art—“his fond uxorious vice.”
A typical anonymous pamphlet
scolded Dryden for falling prey “To Midianitish Gods and Wi ve s” and associated
the “soft bewitching Art s” of T he Hi nd and the Pa n t h e r with the decadent wiles
of feminized Egypt, Ba bylon, and Ba l a a m .
The numerous editions of Aesop and other fabulists in the period suggest
the popularity of these tales “both plain and devious” among a wide range of
I am grateful to St e ven N. Zw i c k e r, who suggested an investigation of Ma ry Frampton and carefully read and
i m p roved several versions of this essay.
₁. This we l l - k n own ru m o r, re p o rted in Eve l y n’s D i a ry for ₁ , Ja n u a ry ₁ o ï o, is the first known re f e rence to
Dryd e n’s conversion. See the satiric responses, for example, printed in Poems on Affairs of St a t e : Au g u s t a n
Satirical Verse, ₁ ó ó o–₁ ; ₁ ,, vol. ¡, ₁ ó ö s–₁ ó ö ö, ed. Galbraith M. Crump (New Ha ven, Conn., ₁ , o ï), both to
Dryd e n’s re p o rted conversion and to T he Hind and the Pa n t h e r. For a description of the pamphlets attack-
ing Dryden and his poem, from ₁ o ï ¬ into the ₁ o , cs, see the “Dryd e n i a n a” in Hugh Ma c Do n a l d’s Jo h n
D ryden: A Bi b l i o g raphy of Ea rly Editions and of Dryd e n i a n a ( O x f o rd, ₁ , + ,), esp. : s +–o ,.
:. The phrase appears on p. : of T he Weesils: A Satyrical Fable, Giving an Account of Some Argumental
Passages Happening in the Lion’s Court About Weesilion’s Taking Oaths (London, ₁o,₁), attributed by
Wing to Tom Brown.
+. T he Mu rm u re r s (London, ₁ o ï ,), ₁ ¡.
“Rebekah’s Heir”:
Dryden’s Late Mystery of Genealogy
Anne Cot t e r i l l
! : c ₁
re a d e r s .
When Montagu and Prior dashed off T he Hind and the Panther Tra n s -
ve r s e d (₁ o ï ¬) in response to Dryd e n’s poem, they knew exactly what a fable should
look like:
They we re first begun and raised to the highest perfection in the
eastern countries, where they wrote in signs and spoke parables and
d e l i ve red the most useful precepts in delightful stories. . . . All their
fables carry a double meaning. . . . But this is his new way of telling
a story and confounding the moral and the fable together.
For a story to teach and delight while the characters devour each other, the moral
must be clear; but in Dryd e n’s “Medley Offerings,” who had won?
The simul-
taneous appearance in ₁ o s ₁ of Ho b b e s’s L e v i a t h a n and of the first of John Og i l by’s
five Restoration editions of Aesop re flects the nervous politics of fable in an un-
stable age when the human beast appears to re q u i re firm control and when only
the simplest words and images can be tru s t e d .
But Dryd e n’s text refuses to close
on a precept—it refuses to close at all. T he Hind and the Pa n t h e r a c k n ow l e d g e s
f a b l e’s ambiguity of pretended reticence and evasion coupled with aggre s s i o n ,
and it holds the reader suspended in that tension indefin i t e l y.
Montagu and Prior mock Dryd e n’s “long digre s s i o n s” and easy “r a p t u re s” in
“obedience to his new mother Hi n d”; and they gayly contrast his smooth pro-
fusion designed “for the ladies” with the rough, virile lines of Milton that “a man
must sweat to re a d . ”
By associating the tantalizing delays of digression with “t h e
l a d i e s” and the W h o re of Ba bylon, they turn their own bewilderment with
¡. Jayne Lewis, T he English Fable: Aesop and Li t e ra ry Cu l t u re, ₁ ó s ₁–₁ ; , o (Cambridge, ₁ , , o), s. Ma rk Kish-
lansky has noted that “f rom the ₁ s s cs not a decade passed without the publication of another En g l i s h
edition of Ae s o p. It was one of the most popular books in early modern England.” See “Turning Fro g s
into Princes: Ae s o p’s Fa b l e s and the Political Cu l t u re of Early Modern England,” in Susan D. Amussen
and Ma rk A. Kishlansky, eds., Political Cu l t u re and Cu l t u ral Politics in Ea rly Mo d e rn England: Es s a y s
Presented to David Un d e rd ow n ( Manchester and New Yo rk, ₁ , , s), + + ï–o c, + ¡ c.
s. Charles Montagu and Ma t t h ew Pr i o r, T he Hind and the Panther Tra n s versed to the St o ry of the Country
Mouse and the City Mo u s e, in Cru m p, ed., Poems on Affairs of State, ₁ ₁ ï–¡ s, ₁ ₁ ,–: c.
o. L ewis characterizes the moral of fables as “cynical and pragmatic” (Aesop and Li t e ra ry Cu l t u re, : c); the
phrase “Medley Of f e r i n g s” appears in T he Re ve n g e r. A Trage-Comedy Acted Be t ween the Hind and the
Panther and Religio Laici (London, ₁ o ï ¬), ,.
¬. See Lewis, Aesop and Li t e ra ry Cu l t u re, : ₁. She argues that fables we re concrete and moralistic in a way
that circ u m vented the “o f ficial hostility to fig u r a t i o n” characteristic of the In t e r regnum government and
later of scientific and philosophic debate within the Royal So c i e t y. The popularity of fables in the late
s e venteenth century might re flect the way that their “complex materiality” made them antidotes to a
figural crisis that was also political and cultural (p. ï). On the historical relations between politics and
fable, see also Annabel Patterson, Fables of Power: Aesopian Writing and Polit ical Hi s t o ry ( Durham, N.C.,
and London, ₁ , , ₁) .
ï. Montagu and Pr i o r, T he Hind and the Panther Tra n s ve r s e d , ₁ + ¡.
:c: } Anne Cot t e r i l l
the poem into a port rait of a weakened and wandering laureate and feminize
their pre y. But unwit tingly they describe his game. For aft er t he Re vo l u t i o n ,
Dryden will assume this cover of the subordinate gender, as well as syntactic sub-
o rdination and digression, to establish control over his own closure — w h e t h e r
of censorship or of death.
At least since Annus Mi ra b i l i s (₁ o o ¬), Dryden had been practicing the con-
t rol of narrative closure through his “loose” periods and digressions—those syn-
tactic and narrative strategies of wandering and self-display to which he draws the
re a d e r’s attention.
By the ₁ o , cs Dryden is far more self-authorizing and fla-
grantly digre s s i ve; he boasts to the earl of Mu l g r a ve in the “De d i c a t i o” to the
Ae n e i s about the difficulty of controlling his own epic plenty and observes, “I
h a ve taken up, laid down, and resumed as often as I pleased, the same subject;
. . . Yet all this while I have been sailing with some side-wind or other tow a rd the
point I proposed in the beginning.”
₁ c
After swimming re j u venated with the tide
of inspiration in the preface to “El e a n o r a” and sailing by the wind’s breath in the
dedication to the Ae n e i s, the poet comes to land in his house of Fables An c i e n t
and Mo d e rn, whose inspired disorder he celebrates at the beginning of his most
d i s c u r s i ve pre f a c e .
Susan St ew a rt describes digression as a movement that opens narrative and
personal closure “f rom the inside out.”
₁ ₁
Dryd e n’s late work appears to re flect a
,. Morris Croll, in Style, Rhetoric, and Rhythm (Princeton, N.J., ₁,oo), referred to the “loose” sentences
that are “always periodic in the proper sense” of Browne and Dryden (p. +:¬). Others have observed
how Dr yden draws attention to the wayward nature of his prose, beginning in the Preface to Annus
Mirabilis (“But to return from this digression to a further account of my poem”; see T he Poems of John
Dryden, ¡ vols., ed. James Kinsley [Oxford, ₁,sï], ₁:¡o). On the digressive nature of Dryden’s late work,
see Ann Cotterill, “The Politics and Aesthetics of Digression: Dryden’s Discourse of Satire,” Studies in
Philology ,₁ (₁,,¡): ¡o¡–,s. In the words of one recent assessment, “By the middle of his career, digres-
sion had become one of the most telling marks of Dryden’s strongly purposeful style,” behind which
the poet “constructed superbly shaped literary instruments”; Steven N. Zwicker, “Dryden and the
Dissolution of Things,” John Dryden: Tercentenary Essays, ed. Paul Hammond and David Hopkins
(Oxford, :ccc).
₁ c. “ He re, my Lord, I must contract also; for, before I was aware, I was almost running into a long digre s s i o n
&. I have detained your Lordship longer than I intended. . . . but I write in a loose, epistolary way. . . . I
h a ve taken up, laid down, and resumed as often as I pleased, the same subject; and this loose proceeding
I shall use thro’ all this pre f a t o ry Dedication. Yet all this while I have been sailing with some side-wind or
other tow a rd the point I proposed in the beginning” (“To the Most Honourable John, Lord Ma rquess of
No r m a n by, Earl of Mu l g r a ve,” pre fixed to the Ae n e i s in T he Wo rks of Vi r g i l [₁ o , ¬], in T he Wo rks of Jo h n
D ryd e n, vol. s, ed. William Frost and Vinton A. Dearing [Be rk e l e y, Los Angeles, and London, ₁ , ï ¬] ,
: ¬ ¡–¬ s). It is precisely this casual, privileged tone of literary authority and freedom that Swift attacks, ye t
mimics, as the chaotic “m o d e r n” habit of digression in A Tale of a Tu b (₁ ¬ c ¡) .
₁ ₁. Susan St ew a rt proposes that digression “stands in tension with narrative closure. It is narrative closure
opened from the inside out. It holds the reader in suspension, or annoyance, for it presents the possibility
of never getting back, of remaining fore ver within the detour” (On Longing: N a r ra t i ves of the Mi n i a t u re ,
the Gigantic, the Souve n i r, the Collection [ Ba l t i m o re and London, ₁ , ï ¡], + c).
D r yd e n’s Lat e Myst er y of Geneal o g y ! :c+
shift in the meaning of being on the “inside” — f rom the world of court and gov-
ernment now firmly closed, to the fluid home and interiors of a mind become
infinit ely expansive. Dryden becomes mast er of the mansion that opens the
Preface to Fa b l e s by replacing and re m oving the female, and this subtle but ag-
g re s s i ve move explains the curious competition between male and female, and the
living and the dead, that happens quietly in the three original verse portraits in
Fa b l e s amid the louder and more colorful voices from the past.
This essay proposes that Dryd e n’s experience of Roman Cat holicism as a
feminine domain of domestic patronage among his wife’s recusant relations is at
the heart of his curious occupying (and then burial) of feminine fig u res, especially
after the loss of public office. In his final career as a lean son of the Hind, aban-
doned and disinherited, the domestication—even the feminization—of the spirit
p resses on the poet’s self-re p resentation. He is able to use the spectacle of his exile
among soft Egyptian rites to turn a well-honed literary habit of excursion into the
p retense of senile distraction and into the practice of elaborate, aggre s s i ve visibility
and voyeurism, voluble authority and contestation.
I want to suggest further that the indirection of the poet’s feminine inheri-
tance generates, and operates through, a number of oddly contrasting and com-
peting fabular shapes in the late work. I am thinking, for example, of the feminine
b e a s t - c h u rches of the Hind and the Panther and of the effeminate courtier Ho r a c e ,
p a i red on the field of satire against the manly rage of exiled Ju venal (and Dryd e n )
in T he Discourse of Sa t i re.
₁ :
Fi n a l l y, the duchess of Ormonde and cousin Dr i d e n
of Chesterton appear in Fa b l e s, a duet on the poetics of gender and genealogy:
young yet ancient noble beauty ill matched to a military, Protestant age; and older,
s t u rdier judgment and “sprightly wit” with a careful, chaste eye on life’s chase.
₁ +
Rather than reminding us of a mythic or Chaucerian past as does the duchess,
Driden of Chesterton perfectly re flects the moment of poise, if also of stasis, be-
t ween centuries and bet ween an old and new England. This second son and
m o t h e r’s favorite, like the disenfranchised laureate, enjoys the gift of digre s s i ve ,
s p e c u l a t i ve freedom and the peaceful, philosophical independence of a secondary
line—its strategic distance from the Or m o n d e’s biological, political, and military
f r a y. Having foregone earthly marriage, yet linked to Ceres and called “Re b e c c a’s
h e i r,” he appears, as Judith Sloman notes, “f ree to incorporate within himself a
feminine principle”—including his ailing popish re l a t i ve .
₁ ¡
Si m i l a r l y, in “T h e
₁ :. In “Pa renthesis at the Center: The Complex Embrace of T he Hind and the Pa n t h e r,” Ei g h t e e n t h - Ce n t u ry
St u d i e s + c (₁ , , o–, ¬): ₁ + ,–s ï, I consider the use of the feminine in Dryd e n’s beast fable; on the D i s c o u r s e
of Sa t i re, see Cotterill, “Politics and Aesthetics of Di g ression.”
₁ +. The insistent repetition of “c h a s e” and “c h a s e d” in lines s c–¬ c suggests the pun and antonym.
₁ ¡. Judith Sloman, D ryden: T he Poetics of Tra n s l a t i o n (To ronto, Buffalo, and London, ₁ , ï s), : ₁ ¬.
:c¡ } Anne Cot t e r i l l
Monument of a Fair Maiden Lady,” which is the penultimate verse and the last
poem originally by Dryden in the volume, the lady with a “manly mind” achieve s
“ i n w a rd symmetry”; within her, briefly suspended beyond sex, time and thought
become fig u res for each other.
In the section that follows, I approach my reading of the poems through a
sketch of late-seve n t e e n t h - c e n t u ry English recusancy and specifically of Dryd e n’s
relations through marriage, background that importantly bears on his manipu-
lation of gender in fable and miscellany. The feminine as saint and whore, as im-
m o rtal beauty and domestic mort a l i t y, becomes a convenient mask for the poet
accused of being henpecked to Rome. Dryden appeared to have wandered too far
and missed his blessing, but one project of the decade following his conve r s i o n
was to show that he had in fact wandered on course.
Geneal ogy: Dr yden’s Digr ession Home
After the Re volution, the poet must have felt less like an eldest son with a guar-
anteed patrimony than a second son or a daughter who would have to cultiva t e
distant relations and the mysteries of transubstantiation; and never does Dryd e n
m o re insistently display command over a labyrint h of lineage to defend both
his Jacobite sentiments and his poetic achievements than in his last decade.
Hi s
p reoccupation with inheritance and home, banishment and wandering is un-
mistakable in the major translations and original prose and verse of his years as
a banished “Je b u s i t e”; such themes have been document ed by others.
₁ o
But I
would like to add the dimension of gender to our vision of Dryd e n’s Ro m a n
Catholicism and his self-presentation as an old man rejected in the public sphere
and confined t o home, disarmed and curbed. Along wit h Virgil, Ovid, and
C h a u c e r, the feminine now offers the poet important material for translation.
Be t ween ₁ o ï , and ₁ ¬ c c, Dryden writes a flu r ry of epitaphs, elegies, and elegy-
like poems to saintly ladies, three of them relations through his wife’s family. W h i l e
₁ s. See, for example, his letter of dedication to “El e a n o r a” (₁ o , :), the Discourse of Sa t i re (₁ o , +), his dedicatory
p reface to the Ae n e i s (₁ o , ¬), and the Preface to Fa b l e s (₁ ¬ c c). Zwicker discusses Dryd e n’s political use of
lineage in the Dedication of the Ae n e i s in Politics and Language in Dryd e n’s Po e t ry: T he Arts of Disguise
( Princeton, N.J., ₁ , ï ¡), ₁ o ₁–o +, ₁ ï ¡–ï s.
₁ o. On poetic families and inheritance, see Ha rold We b e r, “A ‘double Po rtion of his Fa t h e r’s Art’: Congre ve ,
Dryden, Jonson, and the Drama of Theatrical Succession,” Cr i t i c i s m + , (₁ , , ¬): + s ,–ï :. On wandering
s e l f - re flection in the late work, see Candy B. K. Schille “Self-Assessment in Dryd e n’s Am p h i t ryo n ,” St u d i e s
in English Li t e ra t u re + o (₁ , , o): s ¡ s–o c; Robin Sowe r by, “The Freedom of Dryd e n’s Ho m e r,” Tra n s l a t i o n
and Li t e ra t u re s (₁ , , o): : o–s c; Cotterill, “Politics and Aesthetics of Di g re s s i o n”; Earl Miner and Je n n i f e r
Br a d y, Li t e ra ry Transmission and Authority: Dryden and Other Wr i t e r s (Cambridge, ₁ , , +); and Da v i d
Bywaters, D ryden in Re vo l u t i o n a ry En g l a n d ( Be rkeley and Los Angeles, ₁ , , ₁), esp. chap. ¡.
D r yd e n’s Lat e Myst er y of Geneal o g y ! :cs
assuming the harmless aspect of disenfranchisement, the impotent bee is domes-
tically busy burying women—almost laying to rest the duchess of Ormonde in his
enthusiasm for the mode.
₁ ¬
These “paper monuments” include the “Epitaph on
Mrs. Ma r g a ret Paston, of Barningham, in No rf o l k” (who died in ₁ o ï ,) ,
₁ ï
t h e
Epilogue to T he Wi d d ow - Ranter; or the Hi s t o ry of Bacon in Vi r g i n i a by Catholic
c o n ve rt Aphra Behn, who had died in April ₁ o ï , (the play was first perf o r m e d
November ₁ o ï ,), “An Epitaph on the Lady W h i t m o re” (who died in ₁ o , c; the
epitaph was published in Examen Po e t i c u m in ₁ o , +), “El e o n o r a” (₁ o , :), and
“The Monument of a Fair Maiden Lady, Who Dy’d at Bath, and is T h e re In t e r r’d”
(₁ ¬ c c) .
₁ ,
While paying his respects to the fair temple vacated, and complaining
of his own illness and abandonment, Dryden swims increasingly with the tide.
This suspicious pat tern, a match of deceased lady and buoyant male sur-
v i vo r, has not been observed before now; and it is suggestive for the curious pair
of lat e verse epistles that preside at the front of Fables Ancient and Mo d e rn.
Dryd e n’s collection of translations and of original verse belongs to a tradition
of literary anthologizing as old as To t t e l’s Mi s c e l l a n y (₁ s s ¬) and fashionably cur-
rent in the last decades of the seventeenth century; indeed, Dryden and To n s o n
we re instrumental in promoting the fashion with a series of publishing ve n t u re s
that began with Miscellany Po e m s (₁ o ï ¡) and culminated in Fa b l e s.
: c
Like di-
g ression, miscellany raises the question of ordering the pieces of experience; and
Fa b l e s, even more than T he Hind and the Pa n t h e r, has challenged readers to fin d
₁ ¬. Dryden also celebrates the Catholic marriage of a How a rd family relation, “On the Marriage of the Fa i r
and Ve rtuous Lady, Mrs. Anastasia St a f f o rd, With That Truly Wo rthy and Pious Gent. George Ho l m a n ,
Esq. A Pindarique Od e”; see Earl Miner “Dryd e n’s Ode on Mrs. Anastasia St a f f o rd,” Huntington Li b ra ry
Qu a rt e rl y + c (₁ , o ¬): ₁ c +–₁ ₁.
₁ ï. The epitaph first appeared in Miscellaneous Poems and Tra n s l a t i o n s, published by Lintot in ₁ ¬ ₁ :. Jo s h u a
Scodel has examined the politics and poetics of Dryd e n’s epitaph to Ma r g a ret Paston in T he English Po e t i c
Epitaph: Commemoration and Conflict from Jonson to Wo rd s w o rt h ( Ithaca, N.Y., ₁ , , ₁), : ¡ s–¡ ï.
₁ ,. The women related to Dryden by marriage are Ma r g a ret Paston, Lady W h i t m o re, and the “Fair Ma i d e n
L a d y.” Lady W h i t m o re was the daughter of William Brooke (₁ s , ï–₁ o ¡ +), whose father, George Bro o k e ,
and great-uncle He n ry, Lord Cobham we re arrested and condemned for treason in ₁ o c +. Her gre a t - u n c l e’s
titles as Knight of the Ga rter and Cobham we re forfeited, and he finished his life in the Towe r. Her grand-
father was executed. Her grandmother was Frances, daughter of Charles How a rd, first earl of No t t i n g -
ham, in Elizabeth How a rd’s pedigree. A great-aunt, Elizabeth Brooke, had married Ro b e rt Cecil, the fir s t
earl of Sa l i s b u ry and the great-uncle of Elizabeth Cecil (Dryd e n’s mother-in-law). The son of Ro b e rt Cecil
and Elizabeth Brooke, named William, married Catherine How a rd, Elizabeth How a rd Dryd e n’s paternal
aunt; see T he Complete Pe e ra g e, s.v. “Cobham,” + ¡ ï–s c, and “Sa l i s b u ry,” ¡ c :–o.
: c. On the early modern miscellany, see, for example, Barbara M. Benedict, Making the Mo d e rn Re a d e r :
Cu l t u ral Mediation in Ea rly Mo d e rn Li t e ra ry An t h o l o g i e s ( Princeton, N.J., ₁ , , o); T. A. Bi r rell, “T h e
In fluence of Se ve n t e e n t h - C e n t u ry Publishers on the Presentation of English Literature,” in Ma ry - Jo Arn,
Hanneke Wi rtjes, and Hans Jensen, eds., Historical and Editorial Studies in Me d i e val and Ea rly Mo d e rn
English for Johan Ge r r i t s e n ( Groningen, ₁ , ï s), ₁ o +–¬ +; and Arthur E. Case, A Bi b l i o g raphy of En g l i s h
Poetical Miscellanies, ₁ s : ₁–₁ ; s o ( O x f o rd, ₁ , + s) .
:co } Anne Cot t e r i l l
a moral in its mixture .
: ₁
The Preface to Fa b l e s describes a seamless web of asso-
ciation among the verses and a poetic genealogy among writers ancient and mod-
ern: “Milton was the poetical son of Sp e n s e r, and Mr. Waller of Fa i rfax; for we
h a ve our lineal descents and clans as well as other families. Spenser more than
once insinuates that the soul of Chaucer was transfused into his body, and that
he was begotten by him two hundred years after his decease.”
: :
But Dryden as-
sembles the poems in another order altogether and out of their original sequence
in Ho m e r, Ovid, Chaucer, or Boccaccio. He adds headnotes to his translations
f rom Ovid and consistently returns to Ovid’s digre s s i ve links, as Earl Miner has
o b s e rved; but t he notes apply to connections within T he Me t a m o r p h o s e s, not
to the parts of Fa b l e s.
: +
The duchess and Cousin Driden appear to be linked
with the translation, which separates them, of Chaucer’s “The Knight’s Ta l e” :
Dryden specifically associates the duchess with Em i l y, while Cousin Driden, a
p e a c e m a k e r, recalls Theseus. Readers have noted that the couple seems to re t u r n
in saint ly dress near the end of t he volume as t he Good Parson and t he
“ Fair Maiden Lady,” who like the the duchess has a “f a u l t l e s s” frame that none-
theless sickens.
While Dryden encourages these associations and seems preoccupied with
connections, a sharp edge of competition between portraits and sexes continues
the combative, defensive mood of the Preface. For all of his raptures of re t i re m e n t ,
Dryd e n’s Preface is packed with contemporaries and his judgments on them—
Hobbes, Ry m e r, Milton, Wa l l e r, Cow l e y, Ro c h e s t e r, Harringt on, De n h a m ,
: ₁. Critics have noted the anti-heroic, anti-Williamite strains; for example, Michael West, “Dryd e n’s
A m b i valence as a Translator of He roic Themes,” Huntington Li b ra ry Qu a rt e rl y + o (₁ , ¬ +): + ¡ ¬–o o. See also
Cedric Re verand, D ryd e n’s Final Poetic Mo d e ( Philadelphia, ₁ , ï ï), chap. :. And readers have agreed about
Dryd e n’s use of Fa b l e s to elevate his English poetic father, Chaucer. Sloman has argued for the work’s
n a r r a t i ve coherence, while Re verand despairs of a sequential reading and concludes, “w h a t e ver Fa b l e s
g i ves, it also takes away; whatever values it offers, it also underc u t s” (p. , ¡). On the problem of the unity
of Fa b l e s, see also Earl Mi n e r, “Ovid Reformed: Issues of Ovid, Fables, Morals, and the Second Epic in
Fables Ancient and Mo d e rn,” in Miner and Br a d y, Li t e ra ry Tra n s m i s s i o n , ¬ ,–₁ : c; and James D. Ga r r i s o n ,
“The Un i verse of Dryd e n’s Fa b l e s,” Studies in English Li t e ra t u re : ₁ (₁ , ï ₁): ¡ c ,–: +. For a general discussion
of the ordering of poems in a collection, see Neil Fraistat, ed., Poems in T heir Place: T he In t e rtexuality and
Order of Poetic Collections (Chapel Hill, N.C., and London, ₁ , ï o) .
: :. Preface to Fables Ancient and Mo d e rn, in Poems of Dryd e n, ed. Kinsley, ¡:₁ ¡ ¡ s. All further quotations of
Fables f o l l ow this edition; citations are given henceforw a rd in the text.
: +. Mi n e r, “Ovid Reformed,” ï s. On the headnote to “Meleager and Atalanta,” Dryden comments, “Ovid . . .
h e re makes a digression to the story of Meleager and Atalanta, which is one of the most inart i ficial connec-
tions in all of the Metamorphoses.” Entitled “Connection to the former story,” the note physically appears
b e t ween “To My Ho n o u r’d Kinsman” and “Meleager and Atalanta,” but by “the former,” Dryden means
the former story in Ovid, not the poem to his cousin. In the note to “The Twelfth Book of Ovid’s Me t a-
m o r p h o s e s,” he again catches Ovid in the act of forging a link: “By this transition, which is one of the fin e s t
in all Ovid, the poet naturally falls into the story of the Trojan Wa r.” And when Dryden introduces “Of the
Py t h a g o rean Ph i l o s o p h y,” he emphasizes the room for learning and beauty within the impulse to digre s s .
D r yd e n’s Lat e Myst er y of Geneal o g y ! :c¬
Og i l by—and he answers and dismisses his recent critics Je remy Collier, Lu k e
Milbourne, and Sir Richard Bl a c k m o re. Mo re ove r, Fa b l e s suspends or decon-
s t ructs hierarchies and differences in time; the poet repeatedly forces the re a d e r
to feel the disjunctions between fables and around gender. For example, the Fa i r
Ma i d e n’s balance of masculine and feminine qualities in Christian tranquillity is
f o l l owed by rape and murd e r, the brutal cynicism of “Cymon and Ip h g e n i a” that
ends the volume by “undoing, unravelling, taking apart possible pro g re s s i o n s”
e ven while the tale unravels itself.
: ¡
In t he two poems t hat concern me here, “To her Grace the Duchess of
Or m o n d e” and “To My Ho n o u r’d Kinsman John Driden, of Chesterton in the
County of Huntington, Esquire,” the poet spins similar themes: illness and death,
marriage and children, the winding lifeline of genealogy that returns and re s t o re s ,
and an island paradise. But how differe n t l y. The portraits match as mirror op-
posites and complement ary points of view.
: s
The extravagance of fantasy and
emotion around the duchess, and that poem’s extremes of pitch, are balanced
by the bachelor’s poise bet ween t he high wat ers of contending extremes. T h e
verse epistles make a fanciful couple, young married female and older, cru s t y
bachelor—feminine beauty and nobility sweeping grandly in, preceding the mea-
s u red, cautious, yet not illiberal country squire. But the young woman is re ve a l e d
to be eclipsed, infirm, and compromised, while t he elderly cousin Dr i d e n
“s t a n d s” alert and composed at the turn of the century, a solitary self-suffic i e n t
Adam in an England only as close to Eden as the cursed world will allow.
Dryden’s epitaphs and elegies for women within his wife’s family remind us
that his experience of Roman Catholicism involved not only spirit and intellect
but also domestic detail and domestic patronage.
The operation of recusant
: ¡. See Re verand, D ryd e n’s Final Poetic Mo d e , ₁ ₁ ï.
: s. Sloman sees them together as heroic, “joint political saviours of British culture” and “c o m p l e m e n t a ry
masculine and feminine ideals” (T he Poetics of Tra n s l a t i o n , ₁ ₁ ¡), the poet’s alternative vision of Wi l l i a m
and Ma ry (the duchess was Ma ry Somerset). Re verand finds them both distinguished as “p e a c e m a k e r s”
and as chaste but also limited in their different ways, neither offering an image of a new order (D ryd e n’s
Final Poetic Mode, o ₁–o ¬). Both critics suggest parallels between Chaucer’s Emily and Theseus and
Dryd e n’s duchess and Cousin Dr i d e n .
: o. The family’s move at some point after the spring of ₁ o ï ¬ f rom their home of nineteen years in Longacre to
a lodging in the re l a t i vely new suburb of Soho might have re flected an anticipation of the doubled taxe s
(James Anderson Winn, John Dryden and His Wo rl d [ New Ha ven, Conn., ₁ , ï ¬], ¡ + o). Be t ween ₁ o : ¡ a n d
₁ ¬ ₁ s, there we re fort y - five peerages that we re “at one time or another held by Roman Catholics, using the
term to include those of Catholic sympathies” (Brian Magee, T he English Re c u s a n t s [London, ₁ , + ï], ₁ + ₁) .
By the end of the century, most of the Catholic nobility connecting Dryden to Ma ry Fr a m p t o n — t h e
St o u rtons, the Pastons, the Cottingtons, and the Ey re s — we re ove rwhelmed by debt and would lose at
least one prominent residence during the eighteenth century.
:cï } Anne Cot t e r i l l
families as an underground that extended overseas to seminaries and conve n t s ,
: ¬
and as a network of relatives helping to place children in the world and to pro-
vide mutual support against financial and political hard s h i p, was one t hat
Dryd e n’s own household had come increasingly to re s e m b l e .
: ï
And the cen-
trality of the domestic in the underground recusant community throws an in-
t e resting light on Dryd e n’s cultivation after ₁ o ï ï of his outcast, dependent state,
of his self-re p resentation as the abandoned laureate confined by debt, illness,
and dependents. Church historians have reminded us how Roman Catholic rit-
ual was performed at home within the self-contained isolation of rural manors;
and they have emphasized how the shadowy line of female descent operated as
a crucial underground that kept Catholic discourse alive through generations of
p e r s e c u t i o n .
: ,
At times, the domestic and feminine proved the only strategic
: ¬. See T. B. Trappes-Lomax, “Roman Catholicism in No rfolk, ₁ s s ,–₁ ¬ ï c,” No rfolk Arc h a e o l o gy + :, pt. ₁
(₁ , s ï): : ¬; John Bossy, T he English Catholic Community, ₁ s ; o–₁ ö s o ( O x f o rd, ₁ , ¬ o), ₁ , ¬–: c :; and
M. D. R. Leys, Catholics in England, ₁ s s o–₁ ö : o: A Social Hi s t o ry ( New Yo rk, ₁ , o :), ₁ s ¡–o ï. In fact,
Catholic family networks typically extended overseas. Their nobility of all ages traveled abroad in a steady
s t ream, either to visit friends and re l a t i ves residing in schools or religious houses or to enter an ord e r
t h e m s e l ves. See, for example, “Thomas Ma rw o o d’s Di a ry, ₁ o , ,–₁ ¬ c +,” Miscellanea VI, Be d i n gfeld Pa p e r s ,
& c., Catholic Re c o rd Society Publications, vol. ¬ (London, ₁ , c ,), ¡ ¡–₁ s ï, for an intriguing glimpse at the
Catholic traffic through the Netherlands and France. Another diary, that of a small English convent in
Paris of the order of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady, popularly known from the color of their
habit as the Blue Nuns, testifies to the flow through its gates of unmarried and widowed ladies of pro m i-
nent Catholic families—St a f f o rds, How a rds, Ey res, Be d i n gfelds among them; see T he Diary of the “Bl u e
Nu n s” or Order of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady, at Paris, ₁ ó s ö–₁ ö ₁ o, ed. Joseph Gi l l ow and
R i c h a rd Trappes-Lomax, Catholic Re c o rd So c i e t y, vol. ï (London, ₁ , ₁ c). The community was established
about the time of the Restoration and was patro n i zed by Ma ry of Mo d e n a .
: ï. All three sons of Dryden we re Roman Catholics and we re in Rome in the ₁ o , cs; his second son, John Jr. ,
died there in ₁ ¬ c +. Charles, the eldest, appears to have held a place in the papal guards through his mater-
nal cousin Cardinal Philip How a rd (Winn, D ryden and His Wo rl d , o : c, n. o s). Er a s m u s - He n ry, after study-
ing philosophy at Douai, entered the English College at Rome in ₁ o , c. Under the auspices of Card i n a l
How a rd, he joined the Dominican Mo n a s t e ry at Fl o rence the following year and by December ₁ o , + was
an ordained priest, Father Thomas Dryden (Winn, D ryden and His Wo rl d , ¡ ₁ s, ¡ ¬ +, ¡ , :). Er a s m u s - He n ry
resided in Rome until ₁ o , ¬, when he became subprior of the English Dominican convent of Holy Cross at
Bornhem, near Bru s s e l s .
: ,. T. A. Bi r rell early re m a rked that “in pre-industrial England, the existence of the Catholic laity as a body
depended on the existence of the Catholic nobility and gentry” (Bi r rell, Catholic Allegiance and the Po p i s h
Pl o t [ Ni j m e g e n / Ut recht, ₁ , s c], o). The standard work of scholarship on En g l a n d’s post-Re f o r m a t i o n
Catholic community is still Bossy, T he English Catholic Community, ₁ s ; o–₁ ö s o; on the role of women and
the domestic in the Catholic underground, see esp. ₁ c ï–ï ₁. See also, for example, Hugh Aveling, N o rt h e rn
Catholics: T he Catholic Recusants of the N o rth Riding of Yo rk s h i re, ₁ s s ö–₁ ; o o (London, ₁ , o o); Leys, Ca t h o l i c s
in En g l a n d; Magee, T he English Re c u s a n ts; T. B. Trappes-Lomax, “Roman Catholicism in No rf o l k ,
₁ s s ,–₁ ¬ ï c”; J. Anthony Williams, Catholic Recusancy in Wi l t s h i re, ₁ ó ó o–₁ ; o ₁, Catholic Re c o rd So c i e t y,
n o. ₁ (London, ₁ , o ï), esp. chap. ₁; and idem, Bath and Rome, the Living Link: Catholicism in Bath fro m
₁ s s o to the Present Da y ( Bath, ₁ , o +) .
D r yd e n’s Lat e Myst er y of Geneal o g y ! :c,
domain and refuge for Roman Catholicism,
+ c
alt hough t he stat e had been
known to invade even the maternal sanctuary and forcibly remove a noble heir
to Protestant protection.
Considered together, the unlikely couple of the duchess of Ormonde and
cousin Driden of Chesterton suggests an internal symmetry of domestic oppo-
sitions around male and female, ruler and serve r, including their contending
lines of inheritance—through the firstborn and through the mother’s favorite.
But why are we asked to think about genealogy, inheritance, and domestic ord e r
at the opening of Fa b l es? Why does Dryden draw att ention with “Re b e c c a’s
heir” to inheritance by feminine guile that burlesques the manly as beastlike (as
do Dryden’s translated Homeric heroes)? Smooth Jacob put on animal skins to
pass for a hunter; not unlike Dryden in ₁oï¬, he became his own beast fable.
Dryd e n’s recusancy was practiced of course within a network of English Catholic
families, a feminine underground of bloodlines and marriages, and nowhere is
that network more apparent to the reader of Fables than in his brief epitaph to
Mary Frampton.
“The Monument of a Fair Maiden Lady, Who Dy’d at Bath, and is T h e re
In t e r r’d” has remained a small mystery, sealed like the tomb on which it is
e n g r a ved. We know almost nothing about the maiden lady of this epitaph—a
Roman Cat holic named Ma ry Frampton—or why Dryden should write his
longest verse epitaph for the Fr a m p t o n s .
+ :
Barbara Lewalski has noted ve r b a l
echoes of Do n n e’s An n i ve r s a r i e s, but otherwise critics have paid little attention
to Ma ry.
+ +
I want to entertain the idea that the mystery of Ma ry belongs to a
much larger story born in a distant familial connection to Dryden. Behind the
+ c. As in Elizabeth How a rd Dryd e n’s own family: Dryd e n’s wife appears to have adopted her mother’s faith
and passed it to their three sons before Dryden had declared. Because of the numerous and powe rf u l
i n fluences of Catholic How a rds and Cecils, Dryd e n’s biographers have assumed that Elizabeth was a
Catholic well before Dryd e n’s conversion; Winn (D ryden and His Wo rl d, ₁ : +) and James M. Osborn
( John Dryden: Some Bi o g raphical Facts and Pro b l e m s, re v. ed. [Gainesville, Fl., ₁ , o s], : , c) both cite the
same letter in the Bodleian from Cardinal How a rd, written in ₁ o , +. He recommends Dryd e n’s sons,
Charles and John Jr., who we re presumably staying with him, for positions in the court of exiled James II,
“theyr father being a Conve rt, and theyr mother a Cathc. Sister to ye. Lord Be rk s h i re . ”
+ ₁. For example, after his father drowned, James Bu t l e r, first duke of Ormonde and grandfather to the dedica-
tee of Fa b l e s, was placed by his mother under a Roman Catholic tutor; but through “some legal subtlety”
James I claimed him as a royal ward and conve yed him to Canterbury for Protestant instruction; Bossy,
T h e English Catholic Community, ₁ o :. See also Lady Bu r g h c l e re, T he Life of James, First D uke of Orm o n d e,
: vols. (London, ₁ , ₁ :), ₁:+ :f. Bossy emphasizes that the re m oval of children from recusant parents by
p re ro g a t i ve or legislative action was more common in the first half of the century.
+ :. Scodel, in English Poetic Ep i t a p h s , t reats several of Dryd e n’s late epitaphs on women, including the epitaph
on Ma r g a ret Paston, Ma ry Fr a m p t o n’s relation by marriage, but he does not discuss the poem to Ma ry.
+ +. Barbara Kiefer Lewalski, Do n n e’s A n n i versaries and t he Po e t ry of Praise: T he Creation of a Symbolic Mo d e
( Princeton, N.J., ₁ , ¬ +), + s ¡–s s.
:₁c } Anne Cot t e r i l l
epitaph run intricate lines of familial and Catholic patronage but, as well, lines
of associat ion between t he feminine domains of genealogy and of Mo t h e r
C h u rch and of Dryd e n’s final claim to mastery.
T h rough the intermarriage of his wife’s Catholic How a rd relations with the
Be d i n gfelds of No rfolk, Dryden would have known the Pastons of No rfolk and,
s u b s e q u e n t l y, the Framptons of Wi l t s h i re .
+ ¡
Ma ry Frampton was related by mar-
riage to the Pastons, specifically to Ma r g a ret Ey re Paston, the subject of an epi-
taph by Dryd e n .
+ s
Ma r g a ret Ey re Pa s t o n’s mother was descended from a Be d i n g -
feld father and a Paston mother (Ma r g a ret Ey re Paston had married her grand-
m o t h e r’s second cousin).
+ o
The Pastons, in turn, we re related to Dryd e n’s wife’s
family also through the Be d i n gfelds: three years before Ma r g a re t’s marriage to
Ed w a rd Paston in ₁ o ï s, her uncle and mother’s bro t h e r, Sir He n ry Be d i n gf e l d ,
second Ba ronet, had lost his first wife, Anne How a rd, the only surviving child
and heiress of Charles How a rd, Viscount Andove r, Elizabeth How a rd Dryd e n’s
recusant bro t h e r. That is, Ma r g a ret Ey re Pa s t o n’s uncle had married the niece of
Dryd e n’s wife. T h ree years after Ma r g a ret Pa s t o n’s death, her widowed husband,
Ed w a rd Paston, married Ma ry Fr a m p t o n’s eldest sister, Ja n e .
+ ¬
These lines of intermarriage and circumstance linking Ma ry Frampton
and Dryden suggest a labyrinth to which the woman holds the key: El i z a b e t h
+¡. Rosamond Meredith, “The Eyres of Hassop, and Some of Their Connections, from the Test Act to
Emancipation” Recusant History , (₁,s¬): s–s:. The connection between the Drydens and the Beding-
felds was still active in ₁¬cc when Sir Henry Bedingfeld’s son, Henry Arundell Bedingfeld, was traveling
on the Continent with his tutor, whose diary records several visits with Father Thomas Dryden at
Bornhem; see “Thomas Marwood’s Diary.” Clearly, relatives who went into orders did not disappear but
continued an active role within the family. The Dominican Clement Paston, of Barningham, for exam-
ple, is visited, along with two sisters, aunts Margaret and Anne Bedingfeld, of the English Carmelite
convent at Lierre, where grand-uncle Edmund Bedingfeld was afterward Canon. From the “Diary,”
those whom we glimpse abroad include the earl of Ailesbury with his second wife; Henry Stafford
Howard, brother of Anastasia Stafford and son of Viscount Stafford; and Thomas Eyre, either Margaret
Eyre’s father, of Hassop, or her brother.
+s. In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, lines of the Paston family in Norfolk had become
established at Appleton and at Town Barningham, while Oxnead Hall in the east remained the seat of
the senior branch; see E. B. Burstall, “The Pastons and Their Manor of Binham,” Norfolk Archaeology +c
(₁,s:): ₁c₁–:,. Margaret Paston survived only to the age of twenty-three. We do not know when the
poet wrote her epitaph, although Rosamond Meredith has suggested that Dryden might have spent time
in ₁oï, in Norfolk with his wife’s Bedingfeld connections and written the epitaph for Margaret as a
gesture of sympathy to his host (Meredith, “The Eyres of Hassop,” :s–:o). See also Meredith, “A
Derbyshire Family in the Seventeenth Century: The Eyres of Hassop and Their Forfeited Estates,”
Recusant History ï (₁,os): ₁:–¬¬.
+ o. Her grandmother, Ma r g a ret Paston, outlived Ma r g a ret Ey re Paston by over a decade.
+ ¬. Jane was the heiress of the three surviving daughters of Richard Frampton, who is described as a “p ro m i-
nent papist” of Biddestone, Wi l t s h i re, in a list of ₁ o ï c for the House of Lords (Williams, Ca t h o l i c
Recusancy in Wi l t s h i re, : + s, nn. + ï ¡, + ï ï). Richard Frampton had four daughters; the only son, Wi l l i a m ,
died before Ma ry was born. At least a decade before Ma ry’s death, one of the daughters, Elizabeth, died
D r yd e n’s Lat e Myst er y of Geneal o g y ! :₁₁
How a rd Dryden and her Roman Cat holic mother, Elizabeth Cecil; Ma r g a re t
Ey re Paston and her mother and grandmother; Anne How a rd Be d i n gfeld; Ja n e
Frampton Paston; and Ma ry’s second sister Catharine Frampton St o u rton, who
commissioned the marble commemorative tablet and Dryd e n’s inscription for
the wall of the Abbey Church of SS. Peter and Paul at Ba t h .
+ ï
In the necessity to
expand and return alternative l y, such a twisting feminine underground of lines
we a ves tightly together counties and families and faith. Behind such a domestic
map of genealogy—its fascination with patterns of connection and return, its
drama of pro p e rt y, titles, and heirs—Dryden may safely sound the depths of a
p r i vate, poetic genealogy. By the end of his life the poet has inhabited the writ-
ers he translates so long that they are his family; his wandering has been an in-
terior journey until he becomes them.
The Duchess of Or monde: Cost l y Moul d and Mil l ennium
The verse epistles of Fa b l e s contain a debate about genealogy and inheritance,
b i rthright and blessing. And the competing domestic voices are not only feminine
and masculine or wife and bachelor but also more subtly those of Esau and Ja c o b,
the firstborn and the second line—primogeniture versus its subversion. W h e n
we remember the vicious accusations of deceit and Eastern softness that Dryd e n
had been answering since his conversion to Roman Catholicism, and imagine as
well the burden of his own personal disappointment and misgivings, his re m i n d e r
in the portrait of cousin Driden that the descent of Is r a e l’s chosen was not fro m
the hunter but from the shepherd begins to look more interesting. In fact, the
duchess and the country justice sound like the last contending voices in the de-
fense of another Jacob who has wrestled a long night for his blessing.
“To Her Grace the Duchess of Or m o n d e” begins and ends in genealogy, and
it contemplates the failure of a male lineage. In t he background hover family
tragedies: the duke and duchess of Ormonde never had another son after their
unmarried. A genealogical chart for the Framptons of Dorset appears in John Hutchins, T he Hi s t o ry and
Ant iquities of the County of Do r s e t, +d ed., ed. W. Shipp and J. W. Hudson, vol. ₁ (Wa k e field, En g l a n d ,
₁ , ¬ +), + , ï–, ,. Jane Frampton was named for their Catholic mother, Jane Cottington, of Fo n t h i l l - Gi f f o rd ,
Wi l t s h i re, whose great-uncle had been Francis Cottington, baron, Chancellor and Under Tre a s u rer of the
Exchequer to Charles I. Francis Cottington had re c o n ve rted for the third time to Roman Catholicism
b e f o re he died at the English seminary in Valladolid. See the D N B, s.v. “Francis Cottington”; A Hi s t o ry of
Wi l t s h i re: T he Victoria Hi s t o ry of the Counties of En g l a n d, vol. + ( O x f o rd, ₁ , s o), , c; and Williams, Ca t h o l i c
Recusancy in Wi l t s h i re, ₁ ï ,. The most recent biography is Ma rtin J. Havran, Ca roline Courtier: T he Life of
L o rd Cot tington (London, ₁ , ¬ +) .
+ ï. For a discussion of Bath Ab b e y, those interred there, and the inscriptions, see John Britton, T he Hi s t o ry
and Antiquities of Bath Abbey Churc h (London, ₁ ï : s) .
:₁: } Anne Cot t e r i l l
first died in ₁ o ï o aged six months; and in July ₁ o , ï, while she was in Ire l a n d ,
Ma ry So m e r s e t’s brother Charles, heir to the Be a u f o rt title, was killed in a coach
accident in Wales, thirty-eight years old. Her father never re c ove red from the
shock and died in Ja n u a ry ₁ ¬ c c.
+ ,
Dryden is addressing his praises to a Plantagenet, of the “race divine,” the
l o n g e s t - reigning royal house in English history. Ma ry’s father, He n ry So m e r s e t ,
was created the first duke of Be a u f o rt by Charles II in ₁ o ï : in part because of “his
noble descent from King Ed w a rd III by John de Be a u f o rt, eldest son of John of
Gaunt , duke of Lancaster, by Catherine Sw i n f o rd, his third wife.”
¡ c
Raised a
Catholic, he had conformed during the In t e r regnum but with the Re s t o r a t i o n
p roved a firm supporter of the court part y. He voted against Exclusion, bore the
q u e e n’s crown at the coronat ion of James II, was appointed a gent leman of
the bedchamber, and refused to swear the oath of allegiance to William. Ha rd l y
a match for the Plantagenet origins in the twelfth century, Or m o n d e’s line ex-
tends back to his “father and his grandsire known to fame.” As the last line of the
poem insists, the hoped-for heir will wear “the garter of his mother’s race,”
¡ ₁
n o t
Or m o n d e’s (who has “a venerable name,” not a “r a c e”), but must fill “his father’s
place,” which in the poem the duke appears, in effect, to have vacated alre a d y.
It would not be true to say, howe ve r, t hat James Bu t l e r, second duke of
Ormonde, does not have kingly blood. His mother, the Dutch Emilia de Be ve r -
we e rt, claimed t he same great-grandfat her as William III. They we re both
d escended, each through at least one illegitimate child, from William I of Na s s a u
and Orange, “William the Si l e n t” (₁ s + +–ï ¡). The second duke of Or m o n d e’s fa-
t h e r, Thomas, earl of Os s o ry, had been a great favorite of William, prince of
Orange; and the duke himself had been at Wi l l i a m’s side from his arrival in ₁ o ï ï
(and in communication with those who pre p a red the way for the Re volution) and,
in contrast to the duchess’s father, was one of the first peers to take the oaths. He
c u l t i vated the king’s intimacy in court and especially on the battlefield in hopes for
p referment—his father’s vice-royalty in Ireland—which William strategically with-
held. This delicate matter was among the issues, along with Wi l l i a m’s favoring
of Dutch officers, that lay behind public gestures of cooling between Ormonde and
+ ,. T he Complete Pe e ra g e, s.v. “Be a u f o rt”; and the D N B, s.v. “So m e r s e t . ”
¡ c. The patent as quoted in C o l l i n s’s Pe e rage of En g l a n d , ed. Sir Eg e rton Brydges, , vols. (London, ₁ ï ₁ :) ,
₁:: + ¬. John de Be a u f o rt, howe ve r, was himself “born a bastard” and legitimated only by an act of Pa r l i a -
ment; he “was further sullied by being through yet another bastard (not so legitimated), viz., Sir Charles
Somerset.” See T he Complete Pe e ra g e, s.v. “Be a u f o rt,” s ₁–s :. The legitimate male issue of the Pl a n t a g e n e t
line became extinct in ₁ ¡ , ,.
¡ ₁. Joan of Kent, daughter of Edmund of Woodstock, earl of Kent, and first cousin to Ed w a rd III, married
(her third husband) Ed w a rd III’s son, Ed w a rd, the Black Prince. Their son was Richard II. She is believe d
to have named the Order of the Ga rt e r, created by Ed w a rd III.
D r yd e n’s Lat e Myst er y of Geneal o g y ! :₁+
the king in ₁ o , ,, and to which Dryden refers when he compares the duchess
and Em i l y, Ormonde and Palamon: “And conquering Theseus from his side had
sent / Your generous lord, to guide the Theban gove r n m e n t” (lines + o–+ ¬). But he
had not. Ormonde acquired the lord lieutenancy only after Wi l l i a m’s death.
¡ :
The duke of Ormonde belongs to “that house” which has helped to subdue
the “s t u rdy kerns” of Ireland, whose Roman Catholicism deepens the re s o n a n c e
of “the vanquished isle.” The Irish country bumpkins who have become “a c c u s-
t o m e d” to commands stand “in due subjection / Nor hear the reins in any fore i g n
h a n d”—not an ambiguous phrase from this old Jacobite. Ormonde, through his
grandfather and his own aspiration to the lord lieutenancy of Ireland, is implicated
in the Protestant domination of Irish Catholics. He was present at the final scat-
tering at Boyne (₁ o , c) of James II’s drive to be acknowledged king, was sent to se-
c u re Dublin for William, and afterw a rd entertained William in his own castle at
K i l k e n n y, for which services he was made a member of the Irish Privy Council.
The second duke of Ormonde participates in what Dryden refers to in “To
Sir Go d f rey Kneller” (₁ o , ¡) as “a stupid military state.” The poet’s satiric associ-
ation of dullness with a military fig u re has been noted by one critic of T he Hi n d
and the Pa n t h e r as a rather careful suggestion in its ambiguous final portrait of
James II. In the Hi n d’s fable, this Catholic lion famed as a naval hero must be de-
c l a wed and recast as the “prince of To l e r a t i o n”; and accordingly he appears in
the guise of a mild-mannered poultry farmer—but one almost immobile and
deaf under a dead weight of blunt single-mindedness.
¡ +
A more aggre s s i ve dunce,
h owe ve r, haunts the hyperbole of the letter dedicating the Fa b l e s to the duke,
who as a youth had worried his grandfather by proving a consistently mediocre
student, one whose only chance for distinction lay through “e xe rc i s e s . ”
¡ ¡
In the
dedication, under cover of the high sounds of righteous indignation (“Cu r s’d be
the Po e t”), Dryden smoot hly dive rts his celebrat ion of Or m o n d e’s scientific
k n owledge of warf a re into a startling diatribe against “Athletick Bru t e s” :
Science distinguishes a Man of Honour from one of those At h l e t i c k
Brutes whom undeservedly we call He roes. Cu r s’d be the Poet, who
¡ :. In ₁ ¬ c + f rom Anne; Historical Manuscripts Commission, Calendar of the M anuscripts of the Ma rquess of
Orm o n d e, K. P., n.s., vol. ï (London, ₁ , : c), xxxviii. Winn is mistaken when he asserts that Ormonde was
l o rd lieutenant at the time Dryden sent “an extravagantly complimentary letter to Ma ry Somerset,” in late
December ₁ o , ï (D ryden and His Wo rl d, s c :) .
¡ +. For a discussion of the implications of this portrait for Dryd e n’s work in T he Hind and the Pa n t h e r, see
St e ven N. Zw i c k e r, “The Pa r a d oxes of Tender Conscience,” E L H o + (₁ , , o): ï s ₁–o ,.
¡ ¡. Calendar of the Manuscripts of the Ma rquess of Orm o n d e, vii–xiv. At fourteen, he was established in Christ
C h u rch, Oxford, where “at the end of eighteen months’ residence . . . it was discove red that Ormonde was
in need of a plainer method of teaching than the Un i versity afforded. Probably whatever he learned there
was due less to Aldrich than to Dre l i n c o u rt, who wrote a graphic description of the efforts to teach
:₁¡ } Anne Cot t e r i l l
first honour’d with that Name a meer Ajax, a Man-killing Id e o t .
The Ulysses of Ovid upbraids his Ignorance that he understood not
the Shield for which he pleaded: T h e re was engraven on it, Plans of
Cities, and Maps of Countries, which Ajax could not compre h e n d ,
but look’d on them as stupidly as his Fe l l ow - Beast the Lion.
¡ s
One poet in conscience cannot honor as hero “a Man-killing Ideot.” The roy a l
beast with and for whom Ormonde has been fighting has provoked the frenzy of
this digression—although why not the duke as we l l ?
In the world of the poem, the duchess’s lord is always absent but “e x p e c t e d . ”
We know that “for nine years from ₁ o ï , to ₁ o , ¬ Ormond spent eve ry summer
in the fie l d . ”
¡ o
After the duchess and their three daughters sailed to Ireland in the
summer of ₁ o , ¬, he joined them briefly at Kilkenny in Oc t o b e r, and left almost
immediately for Dublin to take his seat in the House of Lords whence, as “e x-
citement was wanting,” he set out again for London in Nove m b e r.
¡ ¬
He made
another trip to Ireland in ₁ o , ï, from August to Nove m b e r, where the duchess had
g rown increasingly discontent during the spring, if the we a ry closing of her let-
ter of : s May ₁ o , ï to Or m o n d e’s secre t a ry, Benjamin Po rtlock, is an indication:
“ He re are two packets come in to-night and on Sunday last, but not one letter
f rom my Lord. Pray desire him to do me the favour but to write two words once
in our posts, and I am satisfie d . ”
¡ ï
He makes an appearance, howe ve r, in one line
(₁ : s) as a mourner over her burning feve r, “like young Ve s p a s i a n”; but Titus, the
son of the Roman Em p e ror Tit us Flavius Vespasianus, mourned the burning
of the Temple while having commanded the siege of Je rusalem. Has he com-
manded the siege of the duchess—or has Dryd e n ?
The duke is not only a shadowy fig u re; he also casts a shadow. The poem sub-
tly suggests that the duchess’s background and proper world is Chaucerian and
k i n g l y, like that of the poet. She has the richer blood in this marriage, and her
family re p resent s the oldest t radition of English monarc h y. Her marriage t o
Ormonde has brought her into t he dist asteful business of keeping the kerns
h a p p y. The duchess’s beauty does not inspire “deeds of arms” but covers the
“ Blood, rapines, massacre s” of Protestant conquest. As soon as she sets foot on
“ Hibernia,” the poet re v i ves the memory of Roman Catholic Ire l a n d’s re c e n t
past, which the duchess’s “A n g e l - Fa c e” is claimed to cover or compensate for—
Ormonde ‘the Latin tongue,’ in which he improved ‘so much as his love of it permitted,’ and arithmetic,
in which the multiplication table was a hindrance” (p. x).
¡ s. Poems of Dryd e n , ed. Kinsley, ¡:₁ ¡ ¡ :.
¡ o. Calendar of the Manuscripts of the Ma rquess of Orm o n d e, xxii.
¡ ¬. Ibid., xxx.
¡ ï. Ibid., ¬ ,.
D r yd e n’s Lat e Myst er y of Geneal o g y ! :₁s
details of the “tears of three campaigns,” not “all forgot.” In fact, in a re ve r s a l ,
Ire l a n d’s conquered state uneasily re flects back her image. While allowing her
beaut y t o be used as palliation for past wars and present subjugation, Ma ry
Somerset serves as the “p recious mould” for breeding “all the future Or m o n d e s . ”
The veiled threat of the command to produce an heir (line ₁ o o), although re a d
by some critics as “that gentle injunction to human fert i l i t y, ”
¡ ,
is the reason why
she cannot “a f f o rd” to get sick. He a ven has invested too much in her to let her
die (“such over-cost bestowed, / As scarce it could afford to flesh and blood”), just
as English nobility like the Ormondes, who have heavily invested as landow n e r s
in Ireland, have their financial interests there to pro t e c t .
s c
Like “the Holy Is l e , ”
the duchess undergoes her own internal, civil warf a re. The poem opens on the
high note of literary beauties and literary succession and re b i rth but descends to
m o re urgent biological and medical perspectives. Under the pre s s u re of these
concerns, “Illustrious Or m o n d” becomes soft, vulnerable to the inva s i ve scru t i n y
of learned “e n q u i ry”—including the poet’s .
Dryd e n’s word “softness,” difficult in tone, had always been a euphemism
for feminine graces and the domestic.
s ₁
As late as ₁ o , ,, in his letters to amateur
poet Elizabeth Thomas, he first praises her verses for being “too good to be a
Wo m a n’s. . . .’ Tis not gallant, I must confess, to say this of the fair sex; but most
c e rtain it is, that they generally write with more Softness than St rength.” In a
l a t e r, less indulgent and hastier note, to “you, who write only for your Di ve r s i o n , ”
he recommends Theocritus over Vi r g i l’s pastorals as more appropriate “both in
Softness of Thought, and Simplicity of Ex p re s s i o n . ”
s :
Even more interesting for
our subject is the much earlier moment in the preface to Annus Mi ra b i l i s (₁ o o o)
when Dryden defends his poem to the duchess of Yo rk as requiring “softness of
e x p re s s i o n” and “smoothness of measure,” rather than “the height of thought,”
¡ ,. Winn, D ryden and His Wo rl d , s c :–+.
s c. The language of the wife as her husband’s financial gamble or investment intrudes oddly in “An Ep i t a p h
on the Lady W h i t m o re” :
Rest in this To m b, rais’d at thy Husbands cost,
He re, sadly summin what he had, & lost.
Come, Virgins, er’e in equall bands you joine
Come first, and Offer at Her sacred shry n e :
Pray but for halfe the Vi rtues of this Wi f e
Compound for all the rest with longer life
(Wo rks of John D ryd e n, vol. +, Poems ₁ ó ö s–₁ ó o :, ed. Earl Miner
[ Be rkeley and Los Angeles, ₁ , o o], : : ,, lines +–ï)
s ₁. On the poet’s use of “s o f t n e s s” to express attitudes about gender, see Laura L. Runge, “The Softness of
Ex p ression, and the Smoothness of Me a s u re”: A Model of Ge n d e red De c o rum from Dryd e n’s Cr i t i c i s m , ”
Essays in Li t e ra t u re : c (₁ , , +): ₁ , ¬–: ₁ :.
s :. T he Letters of John Dryd e n, ed. Charles E. Wa rd (Durham, N.C., ₁ , ¡ :), ₁ : s, ₁ : ¬.
:₁o } Anne Cot t e r i l l
because of its female subject.
s +
The feminine is “s o f t” and “t e n d e r” like a bre a s t
and “should only” be a sanctuary for love: “You lodged your country’s cares within
your breast ; (The mansion where soft love should only rest :) / And ere our
foes abroad we re ove rcome, / The noblest conquest you had gained at home”
(lines s–ï). The association of “soft love” with the feminine breast, with “m a n-
sion,” the home and domestic—he further encloses and thus protects “soft love”
and “m a n s i o n” in parentheses—as distinct from the “manly mind,” which serves,
and roams, “a b road,” recurs throughout the career and culminates in the duchess
of Or m o n d e’s fie ry breast. In “To Her Grace the Duchess of Ormonde,” t he
p o e t’s sanctuary of softness has darkened, for it signifies illness and withdrawal.
From being “the fair bearer of the message blessed,” the duchess audibly merges
with the rustle of a sickro o m — “so soft a messenger” — w h e re hours become de-
p ressions like the “soft re c e s s e s” in a cushion.
s ¡
Yet Dryden re g rets his own circumstances in this age as he mourns the de-
jection of female beauty. If the duchess absorbs some old, uncomfortable feelings
of disappointment, subjugation, and dependence, she is no less the re p re s e n t a-
t i ve of divine poetry with its venerable lineage from an earlier age; of ancient
Roman Catholicism; of a royal race yet to be re s t o red. Yet her nobility and beauty
h a ve become spellbound in a bad age. Genealogy is used to suggest that a wife
of kingly ancestry, like a great poet re q u i red to serve a debased court, must beau-
tify a half-Dutch Williamite and a military fool. Dryden presses on those ele-
ments of his own career as the “duct ile So u l” that have displayed consenting
softness and softening: after all, he has worked to smooth language to serve oth-
ers who are busied with destruction, performed as the grateful soil to another’s
tilling, and, once abandoned by the St u a rts, has been in danger of languishing.
s +. Poems of Dryden, ed. Kinsley, ₁:¡ ,. In this context, one recalls Dryd e n’s famous criticism of Do n n e’s
“A m o rous Verses, where Na t u re only shou’d re i g n”; he “p e r p l e xes the Minds of the Fair Sex with nice
Speculations of Ph i l o s o p h y, when he shou’d ingage their hearts, and entertain them with the softnesses
of Love.” See T he Discourse of Sa t i re , in T he Wo rks of John Dryd e n , vol. ¡, Poems ₁ ó o ,–₁ ó o ó,
ed. A. B. Chambers and William Frost (Be rkeley and Los Angeles, ₁ , ¬ ¡), p. ¬, lines ¡–¬.
s ¡. In the dedicator y epistle to the duchess of Ormonde prefacing T he Comical Hi s t o ry of Don Qu i xo t e
(London, ₁ o , ¡), Thomas D’Urf e y, like Dryden, dwells on the duke’s absence from his wife and childre n .
The duke of Or m o n d e’s zealous fighting abroad for his king and country “laves him Scarce leisure to dry
your Tears up for the last Pa rting, or pay his Paternal Blessing to his dear Children at home”; the duchess
must pass “t roublesome Ho u r s” of waiting for his return. But there are other troubles: D’Urfey speaks as
well of her need for heavenly protection against a threatening personal trial, “the expected Hour of
Trouble.” Presumably he is referring to a difficult pre g n a n c y, but the ominous language is startling: “A n d
n ow part i c u l a r l y, may the whole Hi e r a rchy of Angels protect ye in the expected Hour of Trouble; and may
the Re j oycing Wo rthy Pa rt o’t h’ World be Blest with another Noble, Loyal, and Valiant Os s o ry Great and
Ad m i r’d as his Illustrious, and never to be forgotten Gr a n d f a t h e r.” I am grateful to St e ven Zwicker for
d i recting my attention to this dedication.
D r yd e n’s Lat e Myst er y of Geneal o g y ! :₁¬
“To Her Grace the Duchess of Ormonde,” if a panegyric with all the sounds
of the poet on his best behavior, is finally also a dream-fantasy in which softness
rebels against itself. Her body becomes another embatt led isle, a civil war in
Paradise where no Adam or Ormonde but rather a malignant atom lurks. T h e
softness of a breast becomes feverish: Dryden has set aflame that holy of holies
as the beseiged Temple of Je rusalem, an immolation he admits to, if shame-faced
(he shifts responsibility t o the duke), along with his intention to eulogize the
lady (“a most detested act of gratitude”). The duchess lives, yet she suffers a de-
flation that is more than a sea-change. Whether pointing to a historical or per-
sonal moment, her curious enchantment awaits its correction. And the peculiarly
embalmed, unre s o l ved vision of unfruitful “re m a i n s” and “dimness of a shade”
will be answe red by the poised, healthy, and fruitful bachelordom of “To My
Ho n o u r’d Kinsman,” who smoothes out, not ove r, differences. “Chaste” becomes,
after all, not “w a s t e” (as lines ₁ s ï–s , suggest) but the peaceful abundance of one
unchased; manna rains its softness when victors and conquerors are “u n d o n e . ”
Cousin Driden of Chesterton is a master of the prefix “un-,” and “To My
Ho n o u r’d Kinsman” judiciously undoes the previous epistle.
Cousin Dr iden: Ol d Test ament Myst ery and Ret ur n
The whole bachelor paradise of “To My Ho n o u r’d Kinsman” is a woman’s gift.
John Driden was a “second son” who inherited the estate of Chesterton thro u g h
his mother, Honor Beville; and there is a stalwart and determined feminine help-
meet in the poem from Genesis : s–: ¬: “Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the
field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. And Isaac loved Esau, because
he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Ja c o b” (: s:: ¬–: ï). In this poem,
John Driden is the domestic Jacob; and behind the moderating justice of
the peace is not an angel of soft purity but a strong-willed mother who has
complained to God and been answe red with the knowledge of His plan for her
c h i l d ren: “the elder shall serve the yo u n g e r.” Confid e n t l y, she takes advantage of
her older husband’s blindness for the sake of her favorite and younger son, whom
she advises to lie. Her maternal voice has the quiet, unequivocal authority of the
Almighty: “Obey my voice according to t hat which I command t hee,” says
Rebekah to Jacob after telling him what she has ove r h e a rd. When Jacob pro t e s t s
that Isaac will discover him by his smooth skin and will curse instead of bless
him, she re veals nothing of her plan but sends him out for “two kids of the goats,”
closing all argument, “Upon me be thy curse, my son: only obey my voice and
go fetch me them” (: ¬:₁ +). She orders her feminine son into masculine disguise;
and Dryden obeys.
:₁ï } Anne Cot t e r i l l
In a letter to Mrs. St ew a rd, Dryden considers the verse epistles a pair of com-
peting poems. And his own pre f e rence is clear: “I always thought my Verses to
my Cousin Driden we re the best of the whole; and to my comfort the Tow n
thinks t hem so. ”
s s
He showed them for inspect ion to the earl of Dorset and
Charles Montagu and wrote to Mrs. St ew a rd that these patro n s
a re of opinion that I never writt better. My other friends, are di-
vided in their Judgments which to prefer: but the greater part are
for those to my dear kinsman; which I have corrected with so much
c a re, that they will now be worthy of his Sight: & do neither of us
any dishonour after our death.
s o
He admitted to Montagu that he had taken pains with the epistle to his cousin
and had used it as a forum and even a monument , “a memorial of my ow n
Principles to all Po s t e r i t y. ”
s ¬
As the smooth-skinned Jacob who cooks and plants, the solitary peacemaker
John Driden (or John Dryden) is a contrast to the disru p t i ve masculine fig u re s
of the poem. Ambitious and warring, Alexander, Hannibal, and of course
William III wander too far. Like Esau who sought his game at a distance fro m
home, William and his military men may miss their blessing. Ja c o b, who first ob-
tained Esau’s birthright by preparing food, similarly stole his father’s blessing by
staying close to domestic plenitude, the source of his mother’s powe r. And our
poet, though a firstborn son himself and accused of wandering malcontent with
his “rambling conscience” all t he way to Mohamet, is concerned to show the
ways in which he did not stray but has always been close to home with its culti-
vation of abundance. “He’l Me c c a’s Plenty change for Roman Want,” one satirist
had taunted in ₁ o ï ¬.
s ï
And Dryden has indeed turned the feminine “Wa n t” of
Roman Egypt, the mansion that was a dangerous breast, into just the Eastern
“ Pl e n t y” he was accused of seeking. Only it is not the East of Mecca but the East
of Canaan; and rather than a pilgrim to “the Shrines of Crowns and Dollers,” he
is the one who never left home. He claims his rightful blessing as he blesses his
cousin. Together they reap the fruit of “our blessed abode”; but in this verse epis-
tle the blessed isle is not an apocalyptic Ireland but contemporary England, and
C e res is not “u n e m p l oye d” but has sown “w h e re e’er her Chariot flew.” The high-
pitched, ethereal strain of the New Testament surrounding the duchess’s “s e c o n d
C o m i n g” and its imaginary paradise becomes domesticated here. Millenium takes
s s. Letters of Dryd e n, ed. Wa rd, ₁ + s.
s o. Ibid., ₁ : +–: ¡.
s ¬. Ibid., ₁ : c.
s ï. T he Re vo l t e r. A Trage-Comedy Acted Be t ween the Hind and the Pa n t h e r, and Religio Laici, &c. (London, ₁ o ï ¬) .
D r yd e n’s Lat e Myst er y of Geneal o g y ! :₁,
on an Old Testament plenitude as John Driden promises blessings and food for
all (lines ¡ ¡–¡ ,) .
The contrasts between t he two epistles are quite clear. From t he bright
heights and stately measures of a cosmic pavane that endlessly returns beauty
and poets to their rightful place, the epistle to the duchess descends into a dark
fable of failed pro p h e c y. The complicated tone and the lady’s unspecified fever ex-
p ress the strain of covering yet re vealing an imperfect world of civil wars and
m o rt a l i t y, of eclipsed virtue, and a marriage where one of the partners is absent.
The poem to John Driden begins by assuming vexation, physical illness, and
“anxious cares,” “s t r i f e” and “civil rage.” But the speaker soon shifts from civil to
domestic strife, and he re g rets and dismisses marriage as the impossible fiction of
a union that defies physical laws. The couple eventually separate into themselve s ;
the poem notes physical evidence, believes physical laws. The bachelor patriot and
p e a c e m a k e r, Adam, stands alone; but also the peacemaking duchess curiously
stands alone, while she stands in for her ambitious and “e x p e n s i ve”
s ,
s h a d ow y
l o rd, for whom she must be messenger, harbinger, pledge, and widow. The poem
to the duchess begs the question of where Ormonde (or the duchess herself, for
that matter) exactly is: in England or Ireland? on the Continent? But even the
title alone of the poem to Cousin Driden plants him firmly in the English soil
of Chesterton in the county of Huntington; he is neither sailing to Ireland nor
dashing off to the Continent. He is clearly poised in place, even as he moves be-
t ween country and court. His oscillation produces balance and stasis through its
constant, careful calibration of the point where one can stand between, and bal-
ance, extremes of baits, snares, costs, suits, doctors, and wars in order to compose
civic and personal harmony.
Dryden addresses not a patron of peerless pedigree, not even one of his wife’s
extended family, but his own re l a t i o n .
o c
John Driden, who shares t he poet’s
s ,. “ Swift, describing the French ambassador to Stella, says that ‘he is a fine gentleman, something like the
Duke of Ormonde, and just such an expensive man’”; D N B, s.v. “James Bu t l e r,” s ₁ ¬.
o c. Other instances of his writing to or for his own re l a t i ves include the early “Lines in a Letter to his Lady
Cousin, Honor Dr i d e n” (₁ o s s), the sister of John Driden of Chesterton, which we re written when the
poet was at Cambridge; the ephemeral “Im p romptu Lines Ad d ressed to his Cousin, Mrs. Creed, in a
C o n versation After Dinner on the Origin of Na m e s”; and an undated epitaph to Erasmus Lawton, the
son of his sister, Rose, which is inscribed on a mural tablet in the church of Great Catworth, Hu n t i n g d o n -
s h i re. The epitaph’s last line muses on another occasion when, as with Isaac and Rebekah, the yo u n g e s t
son is the mother’s favorite—in this poignant case, her “only So n” (Rose Dryden was John Lawton’s
second wife):
Stay Stranger Stay and drop one Te a r
She allways weeps that layd him He re
And will do, will her race is Ru n
His Fa t h e r’s fifth, her only So n .
(Po e m s , ed. Kinsley, ¡:₁ ï c +)
::c } Anne Cot t e r i l l
name, shares as well his interest in politics. He, howe ve r, is a Protestant and a
Whig; and he will produce no heir. Instead, as justice of the peace and M.P. for
Huntington, and as a relation who re p resents the poet’s own network of past and
p resent family, he acknowledges and balances demands and re s o l ves family
d i f f e rences. In a letter to Mrs. St ew a rd of ¡ Ma rch ₁ o , ,, Dryden notes with his
usual complex protest ations of humility t he receipt of a “t u rkey hen with
Eggs, & a good young Go o s e” from this noble “Be n e f a c t o u r” who remembers “a
p o o r, & so undeserving a Kinsman, & one of another persuasion, in matters of
Re l i g i o n . ”
o ₁
John Driden as “p a t r i o t” quietly ties the poet back to his Pu r i t a n
kin, despite and even because of Dryd e n’s conversion to Roman Catholicism.
o :
The poet refers to their common “patriot line” of male relations who we re pe-
n a l i zed in the ₁ o : cs for opposition to the government, as Catholics of Dryd e n’s
ext ended family would be in t he ₁ o , cs. When Dryden, recalling “Patriots in
p e a c e” says, “Such was your generous grandsire,” he is saying, in effect, “our gen-
e rous grandsire,” for Sir Erasmus of Canons Asby was t heir common grand-
p a rent. Dryden may be recalling as well, indire c t l y, Erasmus Dryd e n’s son-in-law,
Sir John Pi c k e r i n g , Dryd e n’s “m a rt y re d” uncle by marriage (and after whom the
poet possibly was named).
o +
These two family patriots refused to pay a forced loan
levied by Charles I and passed months in the Gatehouse, Sir John dying short l y
after his release from the ordeal. The phrase “in a loathsome dungeon doomed
to die” could refer to Sir John; it also recalls the contemporary fate of numero u s
English Catholics, including such relations of Dryd e n’s wife as Be r n a rd How a rd
and James Cecil, fourth earl of Sa l i s b u ry, and the in-laws of Ma ry Fr a m p t o n ,
Ed w a rd St o u rton and William and Ro b e rt Pa s t o n .
o ¡
By uniting his Puritan
o ₁. Letters of Dryd e n, ed. Wa rd, ₁ ₁ :.
o :. While a supporter of William, John Driden had always maintained friendly relations with his Ro m a n
Catholic kin, in contrast to Sir Ro b e rt Dryden, his eldest brother and heir to the Dryden family seat at
Canons Asby. At the end of the century, William III culminated an escalating series of laws and pro c l a m a-
tions against papists with a statute forbidding them to own pro p e rt y. In his will Sir Ro b e rt, who was
childless like all his brothers, made an effort to ensure that the poet’s Catholic sons would not inherit the
family seat; see Winn, D ryden and His Wo rl d , s c o, o : o n. o ¬.
o +. Ibid., ï.
o ¡. Members of these related families we re suspected of Jacobite conspiracy and shared political imprisonment:
Ed w a rd St o u rton, brother-in-law of Catharine Frampton, had spent time in the Tower in ₁ o , : w i t h
William Paston, second earl of Yarmouth (cousin to Jane Fr a m p t o n’s husband); with James Cecil, fourt h
earl of Sa l i s b u ry (Elizabeth Dryd e n’s re l a t i ve, earlier incarcerated in ₁ o ï , and ₁ o , c, and to whom Dryd e n
dedicated his final play); and with Be r n a rd How a rd, El i z a b e t h’s second cousin. Si m u l t a n e o u s l y, Ro b e rt
Paston, Wi l l i a m’s bro t h e r, was confined in the Gatehouse on suspicion of treason; see T he Complete
Pe e ra g e, s.v. “St o u rton,” + ₁ :; and also Sa t u rd a y, : ₁ May ₁ o , :, in Na rcissus Lu t t rell, A Brief Hi s t o r i c a l
Relation of State Affairs, from September ₁ ó ; ö to April ₁ ; ₁ , ( O x f o rd, ₁ ï s ¬), ::¡ s ï–s ,. William and Ro b e rt
Paston had been arrested a few days earlier and released (p. ¡ s +). The imprisoned William Paston had
s e rved as Tre a s u rer of the Household for James II and been one of the four peers deputed to invite James to
D r yd e n’s Lat e Myst er y of Geneal o g y ! ::₁
a n c e s t ry with his present Catholic and Jacobite experiences, Dryden re veals with
p e rfectly controlled irony that his conversion is consistent with his family’s tra-
dition of courageous patriotism and loyal opposition. Within his cousin’s em-
brace, this kinsman of “another persuasion” composes opposites and balances
the poles of his life.
In his character of Ja c o b, cousin Driden performs an even more delicate re s-
olution. Domestic softness assumes a triumphant solidity within this masculine
disguise. The description of the female as a stream that wanders “at random” far
f rom t he source of Go d’s image recalls anot her wanderer led ast ray by
“ Midianitish wives,” with whom this essay began; but Dryden now shifts such
accusations back onto his conquerors, who leave home for foreign shores and are
undone by their conquests. Hannibal returned “too late to keep his own,” and
the ironic bell of “w o n” and “u n d o n e” tolls twice in this poem, and not for the
poet. The duchess’s failure to produce an heir becomes subtly conjoined with
Or m o n d e’s absence in farflung conquest from the native source she re p re s e n t s .
Meanwhile, the feminine Jacob increases and shares his “f ruitful fie l d s” and abun-
dant stores. The poem steadily distinguishes between “wandering in the dark” as
physicians do—wandering at random as apothecaries do through t heir re c i p e
files and as warring men do (doctors and warriors killing “whole parishes” ) —
and the cool “s y l van chase” in which this Jacob participates. The chase was once
a “fie ry game” in youth hunting down wily “felons,” as it was for Dryden when
he wrote Ma c Fl e c k n o e and Ab s a l o m a n d Ac h i t o p h e l. In later years that chase has
turned into a circ u l a r, coolly chaste yet fruitful activity, the healthy round of life
committed to rich produce. It becomes a pleasurable, purifying exe rcise, an ac-
k n owledgment and embrace of extremes. The sylvan chase—if somet imes a
“d ru d g e i n g” round as the poet described his work on Fa b l e s, “A Book of Mi s-
c e l l a n yes,” to Mrs. St ew a rd—becomes t he poet’s final argument for his ow n
morality and steadiness of faith.
The verse epistles are separated by the poet’s translation of Chaucer’s “T h e
K n i g h t’s Ta l e,” in Fa b l e s entitled “Palamon and Arc i t e”—a work much concerned
with the sexual chase, with the natural round of birth, re p roduction, and death,
and with fame after death. In his epistle to the duchess of Ormonde, Dryden linked
her specifically with Chaucer’s Emily (lines + :–+ ¬); and throughout the transla-
tion he added lines of his own to Chaucer’s original, notably in part + when Em i l y
prays to Diana and expresses her desire to remain a maid “al my lyf, / Ne neve re
return from Sheerness to Whitehall (along with Ailesbury, Fe versham, and Middleton). See T he Complete
Pe e ra g e, s.v. “Yarmouth,” ï , ₁; and Memoirs of T homas, Ea rl of Ailesbury (London, ₁ ï , ï), : c :. The father of
William and Ro b e rt had been Sir Ro b e rt Paston (₁ o + ₁–ï +), M.P. for Castle Rising, No rfolk, and a faithful
s u p p o rter and friend of Charles II.
::: } Anne Cot t e r i l l
wol I be no love ne wyf ” (pt. +, lines : + c s–o), or “be with childe” (line : + ₁ c) .
Dryden increases that reluctance to loathing and adds the language of tyranny:
Like death, thou knowest, I loathe the nuptial state,
And Man, the tyrant of our sex, I h a t e ,
A lowly servant, but a lofty mate;
w h e re love is duty on the female side,
On theirs mere sensual gust, and sought with surly pride
( Pa rt +, lines : : ¬–+ ₁)
W h e re in Chaucer’s text Emily asks that, if she must take one, let it be the one
who loves her best, Dryden adds, “But Oh! e’en that ave rt! I choose it not, / Bu t
take it as the least unhappy lot” (lines : ¡ :–¡ +). This female viewpoint on marriage
and the sexual hunt pre p a res for and balances the narrator’s misogynistic outburst
against sex and marriage in “To my Ho n o u r’d Kinsman.” “Palamon and Arc i t e”
“ends with the poem’s chief re p re s e n t a t i ve of patriarchal values, Theseus, insisting
on the necessity of marriage and re p roduction—a nod to the biological world of
the Ormondes—and also eulogizing the importance of fame for the honorable but
childless life, which “To my Ho n o u r’d Kinsman” professes to do. An equally deep
contest and resolution between the worlds of these epistles and the worlds of the
s e xes have their roots, I suggest, not in Chaucer but in the Genesis narrative of
Jacob and Esau, an episode full of antithetical parallels and oracular re versals. T h e
feminine Jacob serves as a useful compromise between the masculine hunter of
Esau (William III, his officer Ormonde, but also all of the hunters who found
Dryden fair game) and the soft feminine state of domestic withdrawal with its
company of illness and age, its long wait for the conqueror to return home—or
for a Re s t o r a t i o n .
In the final decade, in exile within a home that anecdote suggests may not
h a ve been a particularly happy one, the poet lays to rest a complex of feelings that
must have included nostalgia, threat, and disappointment behind “softness.” He
seeks asylum with his cousin of his own name who, as a second son, is re m ove d
f rom the pre s s u res of the duchess’s biological world. After all, according to one
re p o rt it was to cousin Driden of Chesterton, and not the firstborn Sir Ro b e rt ,
the country justice’s brother and heir to the Dryden baronetcy and family seat at
Canons Asby, that Dryden sometimes escaped for relief from marital discord. A
letter written to Malone in ₁ ¬ , , by a distant cousin, Honor Pigott, makes clear
the poet’s habit of association with Chesterton and not with “the family,” who
had never favo red his popish connections: “I have often heard my Aunt Lyster say
her Cousin John Dryden & his Wife we re ve ry Un h a p p y, for she was of a most
sad temper & He was often Obliged (I suppose for Peace) to seperate from her,
D r yd e n’s Lat e Myst er y of Geneal o g y ! ::+
& my Aunt said spent often those days at Chesterton, for the family never Liked
his Connection.”
o s
In “The Monument of a Fair Maiden Lady,” Dryden looks
t h rough the soft and fair and ill, now cry s t a l l i zed as that transparent symbol of
the round of mort a l i t y, a timepiece.
Mar y Fr ampt on: The Mast er y of Feminine Ghost s
The “Mo n u m e n t” to Ma ry Frampton briefly anneals and masters the poet’s fem-
inine, Catholic identity. Conscience appears to be no longer tender but trans-
p a rently clear:
Be l ow this Marble Monument, is laid
All that He a v’n wants of this Celestial Ma i d .
Pre s e rve, O sacred To m b, thy Trust consign’d :
The Mold was made on purpose for the Mi n d :
And she wou’d lose, if at the latter Da y
One Atom cou’d be mix’d, of other Clay.
Such we re the Fe a t u res of her heav’nly Fa c e ,
Her Limbs we re form’d with such harmonious Gr a c e ,
So faultless was the Frame, as if the W h o l e
Had been an Emanation of the So u l ;
Which her own inward Sy m m e t ry re ve a l’d ;
And like a Pi c t u re shone, in Glass Anneal’d .
Or like the Sun eclips’d, with shaded Light:
Too piercing, else, to be sustain’d by Si g h t .
Each Thought was visible that row l’d within:
As through a Crystal Case, the fig u r’d Hours are seen.
And He a v’n did this transparent Veil prov i d e ,
Because she had no guilty Thought to hide.
All white, a virgin-saint, she sought the skies,
For marriage, though it sullies not, it dye s .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
A Soul so calm, it knew not Ebbs or Fl ow s ,
o s. James M. Osborn, John Dryd e n : S o m e Bi o g raphical Facts and Pro b l e m s ( New Yo rk, ₁ , ¡ ,), : s c. See also
P. D. Mu n d y, “Dryd e n’s Dominican So n — Sir Erasmus He n ry Dryden, sth Ba rt.,” Notes and Qu e r i e s ₁ , o
(₁ , s ₁): ¡ ¬ :–¬ +. Mundy quotes from a letter of ₁ ¬ , , to Malone from Elizabeth Lady Dryden, the eve n t u a l
h e i ress of Canons Asby (the letter appears in Osborn, Bi o g raphical Facts and Problems, : ¡ s–¡ o). She writes
of Dryd e n’s wife and “the family”: “having, to bad conduct before marriage, united bad conduct after-
w a rds, & having used Mr. Dryden ve ry indiffere n t l y, the family confined their attentions to formal tea
visits, as I have heard . ”
::¡ } Anne Cot t e r i l l
Which Passion cou’d but curl; not discompose.
A Female Softness, with a manly Mi n d :
A Daughter duteous, and a Sister kind:
In Sickness patient; and in Death re s i g n’d .
(Lines ₁–: c, + :–+ o)
This otherwise unre m a rkable poem is curious in its voyeurism: we are suddenly
and familiarly “w i t h i n” Ma ry Frampton. Only there is nothing to spy, nothing
to hide. We watch Ma ry’s thoughts roll around—but they have become clock-
w o rk. In such a slight epitaph, the poet has traveled quickly to reach this per-
s p e c t i ve of echoing interiority. His passage to “w i t h i n” recalls and exceeds the
m o re sinister invasion of the duchess in her epistle. In both instances the poet
does not peer at a body but t ransports himself inside it. He imaginatively in-
vades the duchess’s anatomy when he wonders “How those malignant At o m s
f o rc’d their Wa y,” hinting that an interior weakness acquiesced to the possession,
and he travels with the atoms all the way to her fie ry breast. But here, where the
female subject has actually died of disease, he makes no mention of illness, con-
flict, or affect but admires close-up the crystal perspective of “inward Sy m m e t ry. ”
The fire of disease, the Temple burning, becomes “Glass Anneal’d.” And t hat
t r a n s p a rency of symmetry becomes his own mastery, like death’s, over the accu-
sations of feminine softness of his soft-headed conversion to Ro m e .
Ma ry Frampton is praised for “A Female Softness, with a manly Mind,” but
the poem contains litt le that is soft beyond one curl. “Mi n d” fig u res pro m i-
n e n t l y, rhyming within the second couplet and within each of two triple rhymes,
h a rdly softened by “kind” and “resigned.” If the “Mold was made on purpose for
the Mind,” softness as vulnerability has disappeared by composing itself into a
“t r a n s p a rent Ve i l”; even that curled lip of her soul under the pre s s u re of passion
speaks contempt of discomposure. The mold has become fired glass, a cry s t a l
case. And her soul’s symmetry, visible within, takes the form of the circular sym-
m e t ry of a clock t hrough whose crystal case of her body we wat ch “f i g u r’d
Hours.” So l i t a ry cousin Driden in his chase and the emblematic hare who “ru n s
the Round,” as well as the Boethian cycles “ro l l’d” around like stars in the poem
to the duchess, pass before our eyes, “row l’d” with the fair maiden’s dazzling, if
s p a re, interior movement. The epitaph’s confident gaze into her clockworks re-
flects the clear air of dismissal.
Behind the prominence given to genealogy in both poems, Dryden joins his
p resent Catholic world and its experience of persecution to his own biological
family with its tradition of Protestant martyrs. And he claims his pedigree of
“ K i n d red Muses.” For while the law of inheritance may insist on the import a n c e
D r yd e n’s Lat e Myst er y of Geneal o g y ! ::s
of descent through the father’s eldest son, the verse epistles introducing Dryd e n’s
final expression of literary ease and independence use biology to muse on the
poetic psyche—on the circular vagaries of associative thought and descent. A
c o m f o rtably roomy home of personal fit, Fa b l e s offers a tour through the poet’s
own country house of relations bound by “resemblance of genius.” And in “To
My Ho n o u r’d Kinsman,” Dryden acknowledges his “wandering ways” by show-
ing that they we re, in the words of “The Secular Masque,” like the age “all of a
piece thro u g h o u t”—that like the age he had come full circle. He had wandere d
but not strayed. The old hope of another St u a rt restoration has dimmed; exactly
h ow that cycle of re b i rth would work, that second coming, now looks unclear.
If the English Catholic world of the ₁ o , cs presented some difficult re a l i t i e s ,
its political and spiritual underground also offered an imaginatively useful
met aphor ready to hand. Embedded in the domestic with its ill health, age,
and dependents, Dryden turned domesticity into a poetics of genealogy, inheri-
tance, and homecoming. Adopting and then dismissing fabular feminine vo i c e s
dead and alive, in elegy and through contesting couples, he eulogized the ghost of
softness and buried threats of weakness. T h rough translation as the rather wifely
activity of reimagining for great poets their minds and writings, he succeeded in
reimagining himself as well. And he built his own house according to personal
taste and whim—he declared his own lineage in Ho m e r’s line of masculine “ve-
h e m e n c e” and originality. Lord of that estate, he reigns supreme, like his Pro t e s t a n t
and bachelor cousin at Chesterton, whose house we never enter nor even seri-
ously imagine. The emblem of that late poem is not the great country house but
an indirect movement home, the hare wandering its circle of life. Dryden appears
to pre p a re for death by assembling a miscellany of family in his house of fables,
and the lines of inheritance we follow, like the order of the poems, are not linear
but digre s s i ve and circ u l a r, an internalized round, like the circle wandered and
filled by the emblematic hare in “To My Ho n o u r’d Kinsman.” The deceased fem-
inine body of the Fair Maiden allows us to peer into an eerily transparent ve r s i o n
of Dryd e n’s more complex mental round, his opaque epic. Under the cover of dis-
enfranchised domesticity passed in re c o rding family lineage and observing rites of
passage, and occupied in the pre s e rvation of family fruits while awaiting the hero’s
return, this exile has returned and has secured his own blessing.
Rutgers Un i ve r s i t y
::o } Anne Cot t e r i l l