The Early Poems
It is often observed that Dryden's elegy Upon the death of the Lord Hastings has minimal political significance. Unlike other poets on this occasion, most notably John Denham, Dryden does not develop the idea that Hastings's death was caused by the execution of the king. It is, however, true that Dryden elaborates the lament for Hastings in imagery that defines the state of English political institutions in 1649. The two major similes in the poem both involve the human body, always potentially an analogue for the body politic. The first simile describes the body in its healthy state as a perfect orb that contains the "Reg'lar Motions" of the soul. The soul, shining through the body, "The whole Frame render'd was Celestial" (38). The possible political significance of this comparison is revealed by Dryden's later poetry. In
To My Lord Chancellor he refers to "The Nations soul (our Monarch) . . . ," and in Absalom and Achitophel he develops the architectural suggestion of the word "Frame" to define the nature of the state. The second simile, the infamous smallpox conceit, describes the body in an advanced state of disease. As this comparison does not have traditional political associations, Dryden bluntly gives it special significance in connection with the recent rebellion.
Each little Pimple had a Tear in it,
To wail the fault its rising did commit:
Who, Rebel-like, with their own Lord at strife,
Thus made an Insurrection 'gainst his Life . (59–62)
Although the metaphors and similes in the poem are not sufficiently continuous to justify an allegorical reading of the poem, it is evident that the death of Hastings and the death of the king are at least sporadically analogous. Dryden does not suggest a causal link between the two events because he wishes to indicate instead their symbolic parallelism.
Other images in the poem, especially those consistent with the tradition of panegyric, establish the significance of the poem as a royal elegy. One couplet in particular evokes the death of Charles more effectively than the death of Hastings. "The Nations sin hath drawn that Veil, which shrouds / Our Day-spring in so sad benighting Clouds" (49–50). The conventional imagery of the couplet, especially the term "Day-spring," has evident
royalist associations, and the appearance of "benighting Clouds" reveals the pattern of the elegy to be a reversal of the restorative pattern found in panegyric.
Dryden extends the poem's latent analogy between private and public experience to the very end of the poem, where he considers the plight of Hastings's "Virgin-Widow" (93). Although the passage has a specific, factual basis in relation to Hastings, this topic also describes the condition of a nation without a king. Marriage as an emblem of the harmony between king and people, evident for example in Thomas More's Latin poem to Henry VIII, is explicitly developed by Dryden in Astraea Redux : "While Our cross Stars deny'd us Charles his Bed / Whom Our first Flames and Virgin Love did wed." In the Hastings elegy as in the later panegyric, the bride can be seen as a symbol of the nation, in this case a nation without a king. The trouble with these last lines, whether read as elegiac consolation to a particular woman or as a covert address to the nation as a whole, is that Dryden has no real consolation or policy to offer. Nevertheless, in the conclusion to this immature poem, Dryden metaphorically anticipates the rhetorical stance of his poem on the death of Cromwell: direct address to the whole English nation.
This poem, unlike the lament for Hastings, is not an elegy, but rather a funeral oration in verse. The Heroique Stanza's follows the pattern of a classical oration more closely than any other poem of Dryden's. The poem can
be readily outlined according to the seven-fold arrangement favored by the classical rhetoricians.
Exordium (stanzas 1–4)
Part 1 (11–15)
Part 1 (11–20)
Part 2 (16–20) or
Part 2 (21–31)
Part 3 (21–31)
This poem is the purest and simplest example of Dryden's oratory.
The exordium establishes with precision both the occasion and the reason for the speech. Dryden identifies himself with his audience ("our") and contrasts himself to other speakers on this occasion, including both those who have already spoken ("they whose muses have the highest flown") and those who may yet speak ("And claime a Title in him by their praise"). The first group, who are revealed as personally self-serving, have been premature and disrespectful, but provide no reason for Dryden to speak out. It is rather the second group, those who may yet praise Cromwell, who worry Dryden and
call forth his speech. Although the phrase "claime a Title in him" is not entirely clear, Dryden seems to refer to the possibility that Cromwell's career may be appropriated as fodder for various political arguments. That is, praise for Cromwell may be cast in terms that would advance or justify some political cause or another. It is to prevent this occurrence that Dryden will accept the duty of praising Cromwell in a way that will further "our interest" (13), the interest not of a faction or a cause, but of the nation as a whole. This is a very skillful opening because it not only captures the audience's attention and concern, but also consolidates their self-interest.
In the next five stanzas Dryden presents an abstract of his speech. Starting with a version of what has been called the "inexpressibility" topos ("How shall I then begin . . . "), he outlines his perspective on Cromwell's career. In this exposition, which provides the evaluative background for the proposition announced in stanza 10, the crucial terms are "Fame" (18) and "Fortune" (22). The perspective indicated by these terms is a human one; they describe Cromwell as he seemed to Dryden's audience. Although his innate greatness is a divine gift, Cromwell's public fame is determined by the fortune of war. Dryden expresses this good fortune and resultant fame by adapting the familiar sun image, an image which also forecasts the second phase of Cromwell's career. "And Warr's like mists that rise against the Sunne / Made him but greater seem, not greater grow" (25–24). Initially the "Sunne" in this couplet refers to Charles I, for the king is indeed the sun that the mists of civil war rose against. But the second line changes the identification and establishes Cromwell as the sun who seems greater
because of the "mists" of war. This substitution of Cromwell for Charles initiates the shift in Dryden's exposition to consideration of Cromwell as ruler.
No borrow'd Bay's his Temples did adorne,
But to our Crown he did fresh Jewells bring,
Nor was his Vertue poyson'd soon as born
With the too early thoughts of being King . (25–28)
Gliding smoothly and swiftly over the difficult constitutional questions of a few years earlier, Dryden suggests the transition from hero ("Bay's") to monarch ("Crown"), while simultaneously praising Cromwell for not aspiring "too early" to be king. It is not ambition but rather maturity that characterizes Cromwell as ruler.
He, private, mark'd the faults of others sway,
And set as Sea-mark's for himself to shun ;
Not like rash Monarch's who their youth betray
By Acts their Age too late would wish undone . (33–36)
In sum, Dryden views Cromwell as the favorite of fortune and yet as a man prepared for the fortune that came to him.
Dryden is now ready to give the audience his argument, beginning with a clear, succinct proposition.
And yet Dominion was not his Designe,
We owe that blessing not to him but Heaven,
Which to faire Acts unsought rewards did joyn,
Rewards that lesse to him than us were given . (36–40)
This, in effect, is what the oration will prove. Derived directly from the preceding exposition, this passage fore-shadows the major lines of argument to be developed later in the poem. First of all, Dryden discards the possibility that Cromwell was ambitious for himself; his
"faire" acts brought "unsought" rewards. Second, these rewards, like his dominion, are blessings not as much to him as to "us." The first point of the proposition is demonstrated in parts 1 (stanzas 11–15) and 2 (16–20) of the argument, where Dryden traces Cromwell's career first as warrior and then as ruler. The second point is shown in the longer third part (21–31), which is devoted to the blessings of Cromwell's rule. As these blessings are due primarily to the Protector's aggressive foreign policy, Dryden here draws on the imperialist theme of Waller's panegyric. Waller had written:
To dig for wealth we weary not our limbs;
Gold, though the heaviest metal, hither swims;
Ours is the harvest where the Indians mow;
We plough the deep, and reap what others sow .
Dryden adopts this topic in the final stanza of his argument.
By his command we boldly crost the Line
And bravely fought where Southern Starrs arise,
We trac'd the farre-fetchd Gold unto the mine
And that which brib'd our fathers made our prize . (121–124)
Having thus demonstrated his proposition, Dryden offers a brief confirmation ("Such was our Prince . . . ") and proceeds to a refutation of those who believe that Cromwell was slipping at the time of his death.
Nor dy'd he when his ebbing Fame went lesse,
But when fresh Lawrells courted him to live ;
He seem'd but to prevent some new successe;
As if above what triumphs Earth could give . (129–132)
The reason for refuting this particular anti-Cromwell argument is quite evident in Dryden's peroration. Here he carefully leaves his audience with a final implication of the whole speech: Cromwell's benign power continues after his death. Far from slipping, his influence persists.
No Civill broyles have since his death arose,
But Faction now by Habit does obey :
And Warrs have that respect for his repose,
As Winds for Halcyons when they breed at Sea . (141–144)
Dryden's oration is a memorial to Cromwell's achievement designed to help preserve the peace of the realm. This penultimate stanza explains what Dryden meant back in stanza 4:"Yet' tis our duty and our interest too / Such monuments as we can build to raise . . ." (13–14) Keeping alive Cromwell's memory as England's "Protecting Genius" (159) is in the best "interest" of domestic peace and is therefore the "duty" of a poet-orator like Dryden.
The final stanza of the poem looks backward to the other Cromwell poems of the 1650's.
His Ashes in a peacefull Urne shall rest,
His Name a great example stands to show
How strangely high endeavours may be blest,
Where Piety and valour joyntly goe . (145–148)
The union of valor and piety suggests Waller's idealization of Cromwell in terms of "power and piety" and, indirectly, Marvell's celebration of the Protector as the perfect union of power and grace. In comparison with these poems, however, Dryden's eulogy is perhaps more sig-
nificant for what it does not achieve, or even attempt, than for what it does. The poem is politically neutral, as Dryden makes not the slightest effort to solve the problem of legitimacy that had challenged earlier poets of the Protectorate. This neutrality is not an accident. In the opening Dryden assures his audience that the very purpose of his oration is to further "our interest," and in the peroration he defines this interest as civil order undisturbed by faction. To take a strong position on the constitutional issues then being debated would be to identify himself with a faction, and this Dryden resolutely and wisely refuses to do. Indeed the strength of his argument, his credibility as a speaker, and therefore the success of his oration depend on his neutrality. In the Heroique Stanza's, Dryden was awaiting the outcome of events without attempting to influence them in the manner of Waller and Marvell.
By speaking for and to all the people ("we," "our," "us"), Dryden does, however, establish the characteristic voice of his later verse orations. But these later poems, from Astraea Redux to Britannia Rediviva, are far more complex than the eulogy of Cromwell, because after 1660 Dryden's audience includes the king as well as the people. The poem on Cromwell is a demonstrative oration, pure and relatively simple. The later poems, on the other hand, combine demonstrative with deliberative oratory. The twin themes of restoration and limitation, focused by the traditional terms "power" and "piety," are here balanced in ways that transcend the restricted, if orderly, design of the Heroiaue Stanza's .
The greater complexity of Astraea Redux is evident in A. E. Wallace Maurer's attempt to read the poem as an
oration. Maurer observes:"The audience directly addressed is, of course, Charles II, but the total audience includes the English nation listening in the background." Although this seems to me exactly right, the poem nevertheless resists Maurer's attempt to outline its oratorical structure because, unlike the Heroique Stanza's, Astraea Redux is not simply an oration. The first two-thirds of the poem (to line 249) is a heroic narrative reflecting Waller's transformation of panegyric, while the last third is an oration addressed to the monarch with "the English nation listening in the background." The combination of elements in the poem has been recognized by Earl Miner, who concludes that the poem lacks coherence because it is not "clearly defined as a panegyric, as a narrative of historical events, or as a picture of heroic endeavor." I suggest that the poem should be defined as a heroic panegyric and that, in spite of its vigorous diversity and range of tones, the poem is coherent. The two basic parts of the poem are closely related, for the narrative of recent events is necessary to establish the appropriate ethos for the people's spokesman. In part 1 we find revealed the guilt of the people, the suffering of the king, and the renewed felicity of both people and king at the Restoration. Through this narrative Dryden identifies himself with the penitent nation by using the characteristic pronoun "our"; then in part 2 he directly addresses the king ("you") on their behalf.
By focusing attention in the first part of the poem on
"our" fate and "our" past, Dryden reasserts the inclusive public voice of the Heroique Stanza's . Here, however, Dryden also identifies the enemy of the public interest, "they" who have presumed to destroy what is "ours."
Nor could our Nobles hope their bold Attempt
Who ruin'd Crowns would Coronets exempt:
For when by their designing Leaders taught
To strike at Pow'r which for themselves they sought,
The Vulgar gull'd into Rebellion, arm'd,
Their blood to action by the Prize was warm'd . (29–34)
This "Faction" (22) is characterized by its pursuit of unrestricted power.
Blind as the Cyclops, and as wild as he,
They own'd a lawless salvage Libertie,
Like that our painted Ancestours so priz'd
Ere Empires Arts their Breasts had Civiliz'd . (45–48)
These two narrative passages focus the argument of Dryden's concluding oration: the limitation of power by law and the restoration of the civilizing "Arts" of empire. In final preparation for the oration itself, however, Dryden discards the pronoun "they" and generously returns to a now-penitent "our." "We by our suff'rings learn to prize our bliss . . ." (210). By calling attention to the guilty faction and then confirming the repentance of the whole nation, Dryden creates the perfect voice for his address to the king, a voice that is at once forgiving and penitent. Developed in the narrative section of the poem, then, is the oratorical stance of the poem's conclusion. Dryden stands poised between the people, who must repent, and the king, who must forgive.
Midway through the oration, Dryden pauses to ask a
rhetorical question:"How shall I speak of that triumphant Day / When you renew'd the expiring Pomp of May" (284–285). Dryden here defines the ceremonial purpose of panegyric in terms that suggest the original function of the genre: to celebrate a festival occasion, or holiday. It is worth recalling that the word "day" (or the Latin equivalent) is a significant catchword of the genre, appearing in the first lines of panegyrics by Erasmus, More, and Daniel, and as the final word in the first stanza of Cowley's Restoration Pindaric. By posing the question in the conventional vocabulary of panegyric, Dryden implicitly acknowledges the conventional nature of his answer. Although the address to Charles does not fit the strict patterns of a classical oration, it does unite the traditional themes of panegyric. For purposes of discussion we can break the speech into three parts. The first, lines 250 to about 275, is deliberative in purpose, designed to instruct the king. The second, lines 276–291, is demonstrative in purpose, designed to ensure popular obedience to the prince. The third part, derived from the first two, is a prophecy of England's future under an ideal monarch who rules over ideal subjects. Dryden's conception of both ideals is focused by familiar topics and expressed in traditional language.
In the first part of his oration, Dryden concentrates on the obligations of the king.
But you, whose goodness your discent doth show,
Your Heav'nly Parentage and earthly too;
By that same mildness which your Fathers Crown
Before did ravish, shall secure your own.
Not ty'd to rules of Policy, you find
Revenge less sweet then a forgiving mind .
Thus when th' Almighty would to Moses give
A sight of all he could behold and live ;
A voice before his entry did proclaim
Long-Suff'ring, Goodness, Mercy in his Name . (256–265)
Royal "goodness" is defined emphatically, if somewhat redundantly, as mildness, forgiveness, and mercy. Although Dryden does not use the conventional word "piety" here, his emphasis on mercy accomplishes the traditional purpose of restraining the monarch equally well. In fact, in traditional panegyric pietas and clementia are closely associated. In Claudian's Panegyricus Dictus Manlio Theodoro Consuli, for example, Astraea, personified to address the consul, specifically links these two qualities:
nonne vides, ut nostra soror clementia tristes
obtundat gladios fratresque amplexa serenos
adsurgat Pietas . . .
Seest thou not how my sister Mercy blunts the cruel sword of war; how Piety rises to embrace the two noble brothers . . .
In Walter Haddon's neo-Latin panegyric to Elizabeth we find the same conjunction:
Sit pia, sit clemens . . ."
May she be pious, may she be merciful . . .
Moreover, as we have seen, Edmund Waller changed the wording but not the essential meaning of his panegyric
to Cromwell when he revised "power and piety" to read "power and clemency."
Dryden not only defines royal "goodness" in a traditional way, he also expressly unites this ideal with the traditional theme of limitation.
Your Pow'r to Justice doth submit your Cause,
Your Goodness only is above the Laws;
Whose rigid letter while pronounc'd by you
Is softer made . (266–269)
The balanced phrasing, "Your Pow'r . . ." in the first line, "Your Goodness . . ." in the second, gives this couplet something of the same force as Marvell's "power and grace" and Waller's "power and piety" (or "clemency"). Dryden then supplements the moral limitation on royal power by emphasizing the more tangible but equally traditional restriction provided by the "Laws." As the editors of the California Dryden have observed, "The rigid letter that Dryden was thinking of may have been the hard 'g' in the Latin leges ." This may well be true, as the literary source of these lines is probably Pliny's admonitory praise of Trajan:
Quod ego nunc primum audio, nunc primum disco, non est princeps super leges, sed leges super principem . . .
There is a new turn of phrase which I hear and understand for the first time—not the prince is above the law but the law is above the prince . . .
The king, submitting himself to the law, tempers that law with mercy toward the people.
Charles can afford to be merciful because the people have promised to forsake their former ways of rebellion.
And welcome now (Great Monarch) to your own;
Behold th' approaching cliffes of Albion;
It is no longer Motion cheats your view ,
As you meet it, the Land approacheth you .
The Land returns, and in the white it wears
The marks of penitence and sorrow bears . (250–255)
In these opening lines of the oration, Dryden recapitulates the penitence and submission of the people delineated in the preceding narrative. The unusual and often-abused metaphor of the land returning to the king perfectly complements the more traditional celebration of the king's return to the land. This meeting in mid-channel symbolizes the compromise of the Restoration settlement and thus represents Dryden's version of Claudian's alterna fides . More specifically, it represents an imagistic rendering of a sentence from Pliny:
scis tibi ubique iurari, cum ipse iuraveris omnibus.
[Y]ou can be sure that everywhere the oath is being taken for you, as you have taken it for us all.
The mutuality of the renewed contract between prince and people is expressed by the reciprocal obligations of mercy on the one hand and obedience on the other. After
stressing royal mercy, therefore, Dryden emphasizes popular obedience.
The demonstrative part of Dryden's oration takes the conventional form of the processional topos .
Methinks I see those Crowds on Dovers Strand
Who in their hast to welcome you to Land
Choak'd up the Beach with their still growing store,
And made a wilder Torrent on the shore .
While spurr'd with eager thoughts of past delight
Those who had seen you, court a second sight ;
Preventing still your steps, and making hast
To meet you often where so e're you past .(276–283)
Dryden's lines are very similar to those of Ben Jonson, whose version of this topos, as we have seen, is based on Latin and neo-Latin models. Jonson, too, had portrayed an insatiable crowd of admirers running alongside the king. The purpose of this topos is to demonstrate what Jonson had modestly called the "consent" of the people to the rule of the new king. Dryden goes further, closing his demonstration with an allusion to the king's birth star, which "Did once again its potent Fires renew / Guiding our eyes to find and worship you" (290–291). The obedience of the people to the resurrected king, when read in light of the preceding qualifications on the king's power, creates a conventional political ideal sanctioned by divine authority. Here "consent" becomes "worship." Dryden thus combines the deliberative and demonstrative themes of panegyric to assert the highest ideal of the genre: national reconciliation.
This reconciliation between the idealized prince and the idealized people makes possible the prophecy with which the speech concludes. Here too Dryden asserts generic
convention. Classical and Renaissance panegyrics frequently close with some global allusion, hyperbolically confirming the potential of a united nation. Usually this hyperbole takes the form of the so-called "two-Indies topos ." Claudian captures the essential idea of this topic in the conclusion of his Panegyricus De Tertio Consulatu Honorii Augusti :
vobis Rubra dabunt pretiosas aeauora conchas,
Indus ebur, ramos Panchaia, vellera Seres .
To you the Red Sea shall give precious shells, India her ivory, Panchia perfumes, and China silks.
Dryden's version of the topos, however, reflects the more frankly imperialist tone of Waller's Cromwell panegyric. Waller had written:
Fame, swifter than your winged navy, flies
Through every land that near the ocean lies
Sounding your name, and telling dreadful news
To all that piracy and rapine use .
Quae regio est aut quam vastus perlabitur Indus
Aut Tartessiaci litoris unda quatit
Quaeve sub ardenti squallens male culta leone
Quaeve trucis boreae flatibus, ora rigens,
Hunc quae non cupiat Dominum, cui libera colla
Festinet grato subdere sponte iugo?
In Dryden this becomes:
Their wealthy Trade from Pyrates Rapine free
Our Merchants shall no more Advent'rers be:
Nor in the farthest East those Dangers fear
Which humble Holland must dissemble here .
Spain to your Gift alone her Indies owes;
For what the Pow'rful takes not he bestowes.(304–309)
Charles's empire abroad "shall no Limits know" (298) precisely because his power at home is limited. This celebration of English sea power reflects not the power of the prince alone, but the "united Int'rest" (296) of prince and people together. The storm of faction and disunity gives way in this conclusion to national harmony and reconciliation.
And now times whiter Series is begun
Which in soft Centuries shall smoothly run;
Those Clouds that overcast your Morne shall fly
Dispell'd to farthest corners of the sky.
After the euphoria of the Restoration had subsided, most poets were content to pass over the coronation of 1661 in silence. But Dryden took the opportunity to reassert the themes and ideals of Astraea Redux in To His Sacred Majesty . This poem has not received nearly as much critical attention as Astraea Redux and generally has been seen as a rather pale reflection of the earlier poem, a briefer and less vigorous celebration of the king. The difference in length and design of the two poems does, however, deserve explanation. Astraea Redux is a heroic narrative concluded by an oration; To His Sacred Majesty is simply an oration, although it is almost twice as long as the earlier address to Charles.
In the coronation poem Dryden assumes the ethos previously developed in the narrative section of Astraea Redux and extends the significance (as well as the length) of his earlier oration. There can be no doubt about the kind of oration this is, for Dryden subtitled the poem A Panegyrick on His Coronation . Moreover, by using such words as "pomp" (7, 34), "feasted" (36), "solemn" (7, 50), and "Nations" (35), he echoes Philemon Holland's classical definition of the term written almost sixty years earlier: "Feasts, games, faires, marts, pompes, shewes, or any such solemnities, performed or exhibited before the general assembly of a whole nation." The "solemnitie" celebrated here is, of course, the coronation of the king. Dryden develops the significance of this event so that his poem answers the interregnum challenge to
panegyric. The coronation symbolizes the reunion of ceremony and power in the figure of the monarch. In To His Sacred Majesty, then, Dryden reasserts a political tradition by adapting a traditional form of oratory. It is his most conventional panegyric.
The reunion of ceremony and power is expressed by the double strand of allusion in the poem, the one Hebraic and the other Roman. Dryden compares Charles to the Biblical patriarch Noah at the beginning of the poem and to the Roman emperor Julius Caesar at the end. Within this framework of patriarchal and imperial ideals, and near the center of the poem, Dryden compares Charles first to David and then to Augustus. The poem thus achieves a balance between ceremony and power that suggests further the reconciliation of church and state. It is the church that confers the crown on the king in a ceremony that recalls the anointment of David by Samuel.
Next to the sacred Temple you are led,
Where waites a Crown for your more sacred Head:
How justly from the Church that Crown is due,
Preserv'd from ruine and restor'd by you!
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Now while the sacred Oyl annoints your head,
And fragrant scents, begun from you, are spread
Through the large Dome, the peoples joyful sound
Sent back, is still presero'd in hallow'd ground . . .
Once the ceremony has been performed, however, the power of the king as supreme religious authority is asserted by reference not just to the established church but to the sects as well.
The jealous Sects that dare not trust their cause
So farre from their own will as to the Laws,
You for their Umpire and their Synod take,
And their appeal alone to Caesar make . (81–84)
The idea of national reconciliation is thus emphasized by the union of Biblical ceremony and political power.
The allusions also provide a clue to the overall structure of the oration. The Biblical allusions are clustered at the beginning of the poem, giving way in the end to the Roman. Although the poem is not rigidly divided, the movement is from ceremony to power, with a transition near the center where the two are harmonized by the coronation. In rhetorical terms, the first part of the poem is demonstrative, the second deliberative.
Dryden embellishes the demonstrative theme of restoration with solar and seasonal imagery, as well as with Biblical allusions. The comparison of the king to the sun is, of course, a standard topic of the genre.
Till your kind beams by their continu'd stay
Had warm'd the ground, and call'd the Damps away.
Such vapours while your pow'rfull influence dryes
Then soonest vanish when they highest rise . (13–16)
Although this is too conventional to suggest a particular source, we can point to the opening of Jonson's Panegyre, where the healthy influence of the king is equally obvious.
Againe, the glory of our Westerne world
Unfolds himself: & from his eyes are hoorl'd
(To day) a thousand radiant lights, that stream
To every nooke and angle of his realme.
His former rayes did onely cleare the skie;
But these his searching beams are cast, to prie
Into those darke and deepe concealed vaults,
Where men commit blacke incest with their faults;
And snore supinely in the stall of sin . . .
The warmth of the sun in Dryden serves the same function as the light of the sun in Jonson; Dryden's "damps" and "vapours" are a milder, metaphoric version of the sins alluded to by Jonson. In both poems the rising sun marks the occasion as a turning point in national history. For Dryden, moreover, this occasion signifies national regeneration, which he expresses in an elaborate seasonal metaphor.
Now our sad ruines are remov'd from sight,
The Season too comes fraught with new delight;
Time seems not now beneath his years to stoop
Nor do his wings with sickly feathers droop:
Soft western winds waft ore the gaudy spring
And opend Scenes of flow'rs and blossoms bring
To grace this happy day, while you appear
Not King of us alone but of the year .(25–52)
This seasonal imagery evokes a host of earlier poems, but in particular it recalls the neo-Latin verse of the sixteenth century. The third couplet of the passage, for example, is anticipated by Erasmus:
Rursus ubi zephyris tepidum spirantibus anni
Leta iuventa redit, gemmantur floribus horti . . .
Again when spring returns with west winds blowing warmly, gardens are studded with flower buds like jewels . . .
And by Walter Haddon:
Nunc Zephyrus mollis iucundas commovet auras,
Anglia vere novo nunc recreata viret .
Now the gentle westwind stirs up pleasant breezes; England now flourishes, refreshed with a new springtime.
Dryden extends the potential of this imagery by explicitly referring to the king as a vegetation deity. The combination of seasonal, solar, and Biblical metaphors suggests that the Restoration is like the resurrection. Natural regeneration of the earth symbolizes spiritual regeneration of the nation, all brought about by the Restoration of the king.
The political significance of regeneration is established by reference, once again, to the processional topos, which underscores the ceremonial theme of restoration and emphasizes the unanimity of the people in celebration of the king.
All eyes you draw, and with the eyes the heart,
Of your own pomp your self the greatest part:
Loud shouts the Nations happiness proclaim
And Heav'n this day is feasted with your name.
Your Cavalcade the fair Spectators view
From their high standings, yet look up to you . (33–38
Again Dryden may well have had in mind Ben Jonson: "Upon his face all threw their covetous eyes, / As on a wonder" (34–35). In both panegyrics all eyes are fastened on the king, and in Dryden, characteristically, all eyes are lifted up in the process. Charles, identified as the optimus princeps or "best of Kings" (54), is divine.
We add not to your glory, but employ
Our time like Angels in expressing joy.
Nor is it duty or our hopes alone
Create that joy, but full fruition . . . (67–70)
The corollary to the divinity of the king, then, is the angelic nature of the people. The comparison is normative, recalling the fallen angel status of Cromwell in Cowley's Restoration ode and, more importantly, foreshadowing the metaphoric situation of Shaftesbury in Absalom and Achitophel . In To His Sacred Majesty, Dryden presents the ideal against which the impiety of rebellion is to be measured. By quietly restoring the people to their proper place in heaven, Dryden expresses the nation's renewed obedience to the king.
In the last lines of the above citation, Dryden begins to bring us back down to earth. Moving from the ideal to the actual world, he suggests that popular obedience is contingent on the "blessings" (71) expected from the king. Here, in short, Dryden shifts to deliberative oratory and begins to advise the king.
No promise can oblige a Prince so much
Still to be good as long to have been such.
A noble Emulation heats your breast,
And your own fame now robbs you of your rest:
Good actions still must be maintain'd with good,
As bodies nourish'd with resembling food . (75–78)
Although the conditions presented here are not specified beyond the vague "Good actions," the words "promise," "oblige," and "must" establish the contractual intent of the passage. In subsequent lines, moreover, Dryden does provide a specific pattern for "Emulation" by outlining the proper royal response to the nation's former crimes. "Among our crimes oblivion may be set, / But 'tis our Kings perfection to forget" (87–88). The desired end of this advice is peace, as Dryden makes clear by repeating the instructions of Astraea Redux .
Virtues unknown to these rough Northern climes
From milder heav'ns you bring, without their crimes:
Your calmnesse does no after storms provide,
Nor seeming patience mortal anger hide . (89–92)
As in the earlier poem, the royal virtues necessary for domestic tranquillity are mildness, calmness, and patience. The admonitory significance of these lines is revealed by the qualifying phrases—"no after storms provide," no "mortal anger hide." Dryden's concern here, as in the traditional deliberative oration, is for the future. His praise functions as advice.
As he moves toward the end of his address, Dryden extends this advice to encompass the virtues of a leader in foreign affairs as well as in domestic. By reference to Charles's interest in naval affairs and by allusion to his improvements at St. James's Park, Dryden urges the king to guarantee "our defence" (110). Slyly, he even points to a model for the conduct of foreign affairs:"So safe are all things which our King protects" (116). The reconciliation of King and Protector in Charles, which functions both as royal instruction and popular propa-
ganda, succinctly completes Dryden's reunion of ceremony and power.
The poem closes with a variation on the two-Indies topos, designed to reiterate the importance of national reconciliation.
From your lov'd Thames a blessing yet is due,
Second alone to that it brought in you ;
A Queen, from whose chast womb, ordain'd by Fate,
The souls of Kings unborn for bodies wait .
It was your Love before made discord cease :
Your love is destin'd to your Countries peace .
Both Indies (Rivalls in your bed) provide
With Gold or Jewels to adorn your Bride . (117–124)
Here Dryden combines the East-West hyperbole with the image of marriage to symbolize the harmony between prince and people. In this he adheres to the tradition as exemplified by Claudian and Thomas More. Claudian had concluded his panegyric on the fourth consulship of Honorius with a similar, if more extravagant, expression of the idea.
quae tali devota toro, quae murice fulgens
ibit in amplexus tanti regina mariti?quaenam tot divis veniet nurus, omnibus arvis
et toto donanda mari? quantusque feretur
idem per Zephyri metas Hymenaeus et Euri!
Who shall be consecrated to such a couch; who, glorious in purple, shall pass, a queen, to the embraces of such a husband? What bride shall come to be the daughter of so many gods, dowered with every land and the whole sea? How gloriously shall the nuptial song be borne at once to farthest East and West.
The tone of Dryden's version, however, is closer to the conclusion of More's panegyric to Henry.
Illa tibi felix populos hinc inde potentes
Non dissoluenda iunxit amicitia.
Regibus orta quidem magnis, nihiloque minorum est
Regum, quam quibus est orta, futura parens.
Hactenus una tui navem tenet ancora regni,
Una, sat illa quidem firma, sed una tamen.
At regina tibi sexu foecunda virili
Undiaue firmatam perpetuamaue dabit .
This blessed lady has joined to you in lasting alliance nations which are, in various places, powerful. She is descended from great kings, to be sure; and she will be the mother of kings as great as her ancestors. To this time one anchor has protected your ship of state—a strong one, yet only one. But your fruitful queen will present you with a male heir, a protection in unbroken line, who shall be supported on every side.
Dryden, more laconic than either of his predecessors, is also more emphatically admonitory.
Your Subjects, while you weigh the Nations fate,
Suspend to both their doubtfull love or hate:
Choose only, (Sir,) that so they may possesse
With their own peace their Childrens happinesse . (133–136)
In the last lines of the poem Dryden calls for the extension of the traditional ideals to the next generation. Like Claudian and More, Dryden would persuade prince and people to maintain their present harmony in the future.
Only one year into this future, however, Dryden himself had begun to shift the emphasis of his political oratory. In Astraea Redux and To His Sacred Majesty, he adopts panegyrical conventions to idealize and to re-
strict the king. In Astraea Redux he summarizes his position in one neat couplet, discussed above but worth repeating. "Your Pow'r to Justice doth submit your Cause, / Your Goodness only is above the Laws" (266–267). In To His Sacred Majesty he expresses the same idea in a couplet which brings together the patriarchal and imperial threads of the poem. "But you that are a Soveraign Prince, allay / Imperial pow'r with your paternal sway" (95–96). The limitation on the king's power, suggested here by allusion to the ideals of law and fatherhood, is further defined in both poems by a virtue variously expressed as "mercy," "mildness," or "goodness." In Dryden's next poem, To My Lord Chancellor of 1662, he takes a fresh look at this royal ideal.
Heav'n would your Royal Master should exceed
Most in that Vertue which we most did need,
And his mild Father (who too late did find
All mercy vain but what with pow'r was joyn'd,)
His fatal goodnesse left to fitter times,
Not to increase but to absolve our Crimes . . .
Here Dryden repeats his warning against power without mercy, but in the process he takes a longer look at the other side of the problem: mercy without power. The parenthesis indicates that mercy, or piety, or mildness, or goodness, can qualify power only where power exists. This passage, while urging mildness, parenthetically warns that mildness by itself is politically meaningless.
In these early panegyrics Dryden does not shy away from the fact of power. The question is rather how and by whom power should be exercised. In To My Lord Chancellor this question is succinctly answered.
By you he fits those Subjects to obey,
As Heavens Eternal Monarch does convey
His pow'r unseen, and man to his designs,
By his bright Ministers the Stars, inclines . (83–86)
Power qualified by mercy belongs to Charles and is administered by the Lord Chancellor, thereby securing the obedience of the people. Clearly, however, this obedience can be guaranteed only if royal power is retained and asserted. To My Lord Chancellor thus points toward Dryden's later political poetry.