Preferred Citation: Bywaters, David. Dryden in Revolutionary England. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1991 1991.

1 "Echo's of Her Once Loyal Voice": The Hind and the Panther

"Echo's of Her Once Loyal Voice": The Hind and the Panther

In the year preceding the publication of The Hind and the Panther , James II alienated irrecoverably his natural allies, the Anglican Tories who had supported his claim to the throne during the exclusion crisis. He had spent the fall of 1686 attempting to persuade, with bribes and threats, individual members of parliament to repeal the Test Act, which prevented Roman Catholics from holding public office. After this "closetting" failed, James turned in the spring of 1687 to a different strategy: he published a Declaration of Indulgence according religious liberty to Protestant dissenters as well as to Catholics. This move infuriated the Anglicans, who joined the Whigs in insisting that James's promises could not be relied upon, that he would take the first opportunity to revoke the Declaration as Louis XIV had revoked the Edict of Nantes, and that he would turn himself eventually to converting the nation by force.

If the task of defending governmental policies was, therefore, difficult in itself, for Dryden it was further complicated by his own beliefs and circumstances. His recent conversion to Catholicism, which seemed to his enemies and many of his former allies an act of shameless self-interest and servility, lessened his authority as a public spokesman. The year before he had had a part in defending the authenticity of certain papers purporting to prove the conversion to Catholicism of James's first wife, and this first appearance before the public as a Catholic had not met with a reassuring response. Moreover, he harbored strong doubts (documented in his letter to Etherege of February 1687) about the practical ad-


visability, if not the aim, of James's policies, which must have made them nearly impossible for him to defend.

The result is an extraordinarily complex poem that has baffled and annoyed generations of readers. As most readers of the poem from the time of its first publication to the present have recognized, the concerns of The Hind and the Panther are mainly political.[1] The great controversy over Roman doctrine to which it reacts arose not from a sudden and universal resurgence of interest in questions of faith, but from widespread fear of James's radical policies, especially of his unprecedented extension of his dispensing power that culminated in April 1687 with the Declaration of Indulgence. Yet however apparent the poem's general intention, the details of its political program are far from clear. We would expect the champion of the royal party to adopt the position of the court, yet in The Hind and the Panther the very dissenters whose tender consciences James was in May 1687 busily attempting to assuage appear as bears, boars, and wolves cursed with an "innate antipathy to kings." To explain this discrepancy, a tradition has arisen that claims Dryden changed his poem, as he was once supposed to have changed his religion, to suit the policy of the court. As Macaulay puts it, "At first the Church of England is mentioned with tenderness and respect, and is exhorted to ally herself with the Roman Catholics against the Protestant Dissenters; but at the close of the poem [written after James's Declaration] the Protestant Dissenters are invited to make common cause with the Roman Catholics against the Church of England."[2] This error has been ably refuted by the most recent editor of the poem,[3] but the problem it was developed to solve remains. Not only does Dryden fail to "invite" the dissenters at the end of the poem, he fails throughout to accord any "tenderness and respect" or even tolerance to the Anglicans. The Hind and the Panther attacks every significant political party of its time, and if Dryden had been attempting in this poem to form public opinion as he had done with such success in Absalom and Achitophel , so general an attack would have been far worse than useless. In 1687 Dryden could not and did not write with any such purpose. He turns from persuasion to reproof and admonition, from arguments based on precedent to precepts and predictions embodied in fables. The rhetorical authority that Dryden had habitually drawn from his claim to represent a unified or unifiable nation is replaced by a different kind of authority


drawn from the poet's professed mastery of and participation in a venerable and transcendent literary tradition.

As advocates of Macaulay's revision theory have observed, the satiric portraits of the dissenters that dominate the beginning of the poem make little sense in light of James's Declaration and Dryden's endorsement of it in the Preface . Dryden's claim there to have aimed his satire only at those who have refused to support James's policies is belied not only by the opening portraits but even by those sections of the poem that praise the Declaration. Those of the sects, for example, who admire the Hind as she drinks her "sober draught" under the Lyon's protection do not wholly escape blame:

Some, who before her fellowship disdain'd,
Scarce, and but scarce, from in-born rage restrain'd,
Now frisk'd about her, and old kindred feign'd.
Whether for love or int'rest, ev'ry sect
Of all the salvage nation shew'd respect.

And those birds which in the Hind's fable avail themselves of the Landlord's edict are hardly flattered:

His Gracious Edict the same Franchise yields
To all the wild Encrease of Woods and Fields,
And who in Rocks aloof, and who in Steeples builds:
To Crows  the like Impartial Grace affords,
And Choughs  and Daws , and such Republick Birds.

Further, even in the Preface Dryden's invitation to the sects just misses being a satire upon them. Rather than celebrate their loyalty, he merely asks why he "may not suppose" that, as "some Diseases have abated of their Virulence," so the sects may abandon their republican principles; and in the three following paragraphs, all on the Declaration, he comes nearer threatening than praising them. The first of these flatters James: Dryden replaces the "stretched" figure of the dissenting addresses—that James had "restor'd God to his Empire over Conscience "—with a "safer" one that emphasizes the link between James's radical extension of his prerogative and the dissenters' safety: "Conscience," Dryden tells us, "is the Royalty and Prerogative of every Private man." The


next paragraph scourges the "Pride and Obstinacy" of those who refuse to be grateful for the Declaration; and Dryden's angry insistence here that such gratitude "ought in reason to be expected" is somewhat qualified by his earlier remark that more dissenters have come over to James "than I could reasonably have hop'd." He concludes his discussion of the Declaration with a scarcely veiled threat:

Of the receiving this Toleration thankfully, I shall say no more, than that they ought, and I doubt not they will consider from what hands they receiv'd it. 'Tis not from a Cyrus , a Heathen Prince, and a Foreigner, but from a Christian King, their Native Sovereign: who expects a Return in Specie from them: that the Kindness which He has Graciously shown them, may be retaliated on those of his own perswasion.
(Pp. 120–121)

Dryden's loathing of the dissenters appears to have been so strong that he could not, even to advance the ends of his king and patron, entirely give it up.

Yet he might nonetheless have restrained himself from venting it with such force and thoroughness in the poem if he had not in fact been after bigger game than the Fox and Wolf. The real objects of Dryden's satire in part I and throughout The Hind and the Panther are not the dissenters, but the Anglicans, the party he had left only a year or two before and in support of which he had written all his political poetry since the Restoration. His description of the dissenting sects initiates a rhetorical strategy that structures the entire poem and is subtly calculated to suit the uncomfortable position in which his sudden and sharp reversal of allegiance had left him. Since in accusing the sects of rebellious pride, Dryden does exactly what the Anglicans had done during the exclusion crisis (and what he himself had done in Absalom and Achitophel, The Medall , and Religio Laici ), he may, when he turns the same accusations against the Anglicans, suggest that they are guilty of the crimes they affect to abhor, that they have altered their old principles of loyalty and obedience, and that he alone has preserved—despite his apostacy—any real claim to integrity and consistency. This strategy of confronting new Anglican practice with old Tory principle is varied and developed throughout The Hind and the Panther ; it never lies far beneath the surface, whether of religious history, doctrinal debate, or Aesopian fable.


Dryden's parade of sectarian beasts, then, merely sets the stage for his introduction of the Anglican Panther: the order in which he introduces these beasts, and the digressions with which he interrupts his description of them, are designed to implicate the Anglicans in the crimes of which they accused the sectaries. Dryden begins with a group of sects that the nation almost unanimously hated and feared. Presbyterians, Anglicans, and Catholics could join in condemning the religions of the men who had levelled Munster in the sixteenth century and England in the seventeenth, and even these loathed Anabaptists and Independents could join their Christian brethren against the atheists and Socinians. Yet Dryden makes the last insignificant sect the occasion of nearly a hundred lines of personal confession and doctrinal argument, no doubt recognizing that his affecting confession of faith is the more likely to carry the sympathy of the Protestant reader as it is proposed in opposition to the blasphemy of the deists. In the doctrinal digression that follows he leads us carefully from arguments for the divinity of Christ, the main subject of dispute between Socinians and orthodox Christians, to arguments for transubstantiation, a main subject of dispute between Protestants and Catholics;[5] and the parallel thus suggested between Socinians and Protestants continues through the ensuing description of the Wolf. The Presbyterians, unlike the Independents and deists, made up a numerous and respectable party; Dryden therefore undermines their authority by contaminating them with the taint of their more radical enemies. Thus the Boar and Bear may lay waste the woods of Britain, but the Wolf is more destructive even than these (I.154–160); he shares with the Fox a common ancestry, and a common predisposition to violence and rebellion (I.190 ff.).

Thus far the great majority of Anglicans would have agreed with Dryden's assessment of the sects; a few years earlier they would even have applauded his spirited description of the rebellious depredations of the Fox and Wolf. This is followed, however, by a digression no less carefully placed and constructed than that which follows the description of the Fox. The lines against Louis's persecution of the Huguenots would have won Anglican assent as readily as those against the Socinian heresy; the revocation of the Edict of Nantes was a potent weapon for Anglican controversialists, who used it to assess the value of a popish king's promises to heretics. But Dryden is no more interested in Louis than in the


Socinians: again, he introduces Anglican accusations against their proper objects only that he may later turn them against the Anglicans themselves. Dryden's account of the creation, with its suggestions of the benignity not only of prelapsarian man but of James II (I.262, 266, 271, 275), begins this transfer of blame; his account of the fall of man advances it further:

Then, first rebelling, his own stamp he coins;
The murth'rer Cain  was latent in his loins,
And bloud began its first and loudest cry
For diff'ring worship of the Deity.
Thus persecution rose, and farther space
Produc'd the mighty hunter of his race.

Rebellion and persecution, closely linked in Anglican polemic since the tyranny of the rebels during the interregnum, are here brought together to justify the anti-Anglican policies of James, who both "provides protection" for unruly Protestant beasts (I.289–290) and prevents them from persecuting in their turn (I.299–304). The connection between these sins, thus early established through myth and metaphor, recurs throughout the poem to define and condemn the recent behavior of those Anglicans who had so often used the same polemic strategy against the dissenters.

At the end of this chain of allegory stand the Anglicans themselves. Just as the blasphemy of the Fox is transferred to the Wolf, so the rebelliousness and cruelty of the Fox and Wolf are transferred in turn to the Panther.[6] The faint praise with which Dryden introduces the beast, and which has misled many readers into supposing that the abuse of the Panther in part III results from sudden changes in court policy, is part of a simple rhetorical strategy well described by Aristotle: "Another way, available for the accuser, is to praise at great length some trifling merit of the accused, and then to put a great slur upon him concisely, or to list a number of his merits, and then condemn him for one bad quality that bears heavily on the case."[7] Having alluded to the fairness and nobility of the Panther, Dryden suggests her adulterous connection with the Wolf, traces her lineage from Heresy and Sacrilege, and accuses her of Mohammedanism in her contempt for fasting and of Calvinism in her abuse of the Eucharist. Another brief passage of


praise ends, like the first, in a reference to her adultery with the Wolf; and we can hardly admire her for being "the fairest member of the fallen crew" when we have just heard Dryden's recitation of the religious and political crimes by which that crew is distinguished. The whole case against the Panther concludes with a charge that returns at intervals throughout the poem and is central to its political meaning:

For how can she constrain them to obey
Who has herself cast off the lawfull sway?
Rebellion equals all, and those who toil
In common theft, will share the common spoil.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
If she reform by Text, ev'n that's as plain
For her own Rebels to reform again.
(I.454–457, 460–461)

So hardly can Usurpers manage well
Those, whom they first instructed to rebell:
More liberty begets desire of more,
The hunger still encreases with the store.

The Anglicans not only share the rebelliousness of the sects but are themselves the great source and example of that rebelliousness. No argument could have better suited Dryden's purpose: to charge with betrayal that party which, only a few years before, had boasted of its position as the great prop of monarchy and scourge of rebellion. As the Panther "stands herself accused" by the sects from "that scripture which she once abus'd / To Reformation," so throughout the poem the Anglicans stand themselves accused by the strategies and arguments which, during the exclusion crisis, they had used so forcefully against the Whigs.

The charge of inconsistency that underlies Dryden's use against the Anglicans of old Tory polemic in part I is made explicit at the beginning of part II. The Panther has accused the Hind of cowardice during the Popish Plot, when, though her "priestly calves lay strugling" in the snare of the Whigs, the Hind herself escaped (II.1–17). The allegorical incoherence of this statement is obvious; but the Hind chooses to counter it on more telling grounds. Although she now changes the object of her attack from political to


doctrinal inconsistency, the political implications of doctrine are never far from Dryden's mind. The Panther was silent in "the main question" of the Eucharist until the Test Act:

The Test  it seems at last has loos'd your tongue.
And, to explain what your forefathers meant,
By real presence in the sacrament,
(After long fencing push'd, against a wall,)
Your salvo  comes, that he's not there at all:
There chang'd your faith, and what may change may fall.

Though the Hind may have fled the persecution of the Whigs, the Panther altered her very nature to escape the same danger:

Long time you fought, redoubl'd batt'ry bore,
But, after all, against your self you swore;
Your former self, for ev'ry hour your form
Is chop'd and chang'd, like winds before a storm.

Thus the Test, since 1685 the main source of controversy between James and the Anglicans, is made a sign of Anglican inconsistency. Dryden claims that it had been forced upon the Anglicans by the Whigs, and that its revocation would therefore be entirely consistent with old Tory principles. Transubstantiation had been an object of derision to English Protestants of all kinds long before the Test Act, but this hardly matters to Dryden. He is primarily interested not in the doctrine itself, but in its political consequences, and this is no less true of all the points of dogma under discussion in part II.

As in part I, the case against the Panther in part II is constructed with old Tory polemic.[9] The Hind's next speech—an invocation of the infallibility of Pope and councils—brilliantly demonstrates this technique. Not only does the government of the Catholic church bear a striking resemblance to the ideal of constitutional government to which all good Englishmen subscribed[10] but refusal to submit to it is attended with precisely the same consequences that the Tories once feared from the exclusion bill:

But mark how sandy is your own pretence,
Who setting Councils, Pope, and Church aside,


Are ev'ry man his own presuming guide
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
All who can read, Interpreters may be:
Thus though your sev'ral churches disagree,
Yet ev'ry Saint has to himself alone
The secret of this Philosophick stone.
These principles your jarring sects unite,
When diff'ring Doctours and disciples fight;
Though Luther, Zuinglius, Calvin , holy chiefs
Have made a battel Royal of beliefs;
Or like wild horses sev'ral ways have whirl'd
The tortur'd Text about the Christian World;
Each Jehu  lashing on with furious force.
(II.105–107, 110–120)

No one had been a greater master of Tory polemic than the poet laureate himself, and the anger and sharpness of Dryden's satire against the Whigs in The Medall shine throughout this passage. Just as here the Protestant sects are held together only by their rebellion against authority—"These principles your jarring sects unite"—so in The Medall "All hands unite of every jarring Sect" to overthrow the government. The anarchy—the "battel Royal of beliefs"—to which this rebellion leads in The Hind and the Panther is in The Medall the consequence of the exclusion bill:

The Cut-throat Sword and clamorous Gown shall jar,
In shareing their ill-gotten Spoiles of War:
Chiefs shall be grudg'd the part which they pretend;
Lords envy Lords, and Friends with every Friend
About their impious merit shall contend.

The Panther rejoins that "The Word in needfull points is only plain"; and in the discussion that follows, the Hind uses this principle of scriptural interpretation to strengthen the connection between the Anglicans and the levelling dissenters. If all heretics have "the same pretence / To plead the Scriptures in their own defence" (II.154–155), then all are equally rebels to authority. As Dryden had in The Medall claimed of the sects that "The Text inspires not them; but they the Text inspire," so in The Hind and the Panther the same charge, its political meaning more explicitly developed, is turned against the Anglicans:


The word is then deposed, and in this view,
You rule the Scripture, not the Scripture you.

The Tories had long argued that the deposition of political authority led to tyranny and anarchy; by applying the charge to the Panther, the Hind arraigns the Anglicans in their own court.

Such references to Tory polemic abound in part II. Like the structural parallels in part I, they are designed to taint the Anglicans with the political principles of their old enemies. Two such references hint at the specific political implications of this new Anglican whiggery. The Hind, concluding her arguments against the Panther's confused attitude towards tradition, refers again to the Anglicans' inability to curb rebellion:

Shall she command, who has herself rebell'd?
Is Antichrist  by Antichrist  expell'd?
Did we a lawfull tyranny displace,
To set aloft a bastard of the race?

The comparison of the Anglicans to Monmouth is here inevitable; and this reference to the old Protestant successor is complemented by another, less obvious, to the new. Having condemned English exportation of criminals rather than religion, the Hind digresses on the even more sacrilegious trade of the Dutch:

Yet some improve their traffick more than we,
For they on gain, their onely God, rely:
And set a publick price on piety.
Industrious of the needle and the chart
They run full sail to their  Japponian  Mart:
Prevention fear, and prodigal of fame
Sell all of Christian to the very name;
Nor leave enough of that, to hide their naked shame.

The Dutch had long been an object of Tory disgust and derision.[12] Dryden both taunts the Anglicans with their new republican ally and predicts an ill fate for their religion under the prince of Orange.

As the beginning of part II reminds the Anglicans of their protection of James during the exclusion crisis, so the conclusion re-


minds them of James's protection of them during Monmouth's rebellion. The "streaming blaze" and "chearfull azure light" that show divine approval of the Hind's peroration are compared to the "pleasing triumphs of the sky," which, according to Dryden, were visible in London after the battle of Sedgemoor and anticipated the "news" that "three lab'ring nations did restore" (II.649–662). In the lines that follow, Monmouth's rebellion enters the action of the poem metaphorically as a threat to the Panther:

By this, the Hind  had reach'd her lonely cell;
And vapours rose, and dews unwholsome fell.
When she, by frequent observation wise,
As one who long on heav'n had fix'd her eyes,
Discern'd a change of weather in the skyes.
The Western borders were with crimson spread,
The moon descending look'd all flaming red,
She thought good manners bound her to invite
The stranger Dame to be her guest that night.

The Hind invites her to share "A grace-cup to their common Patron's health,"

For fear she might be wilder'd in her way,
Because she wanted an unerring guide
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
But most she fear'd that travelling so late
Some evil minded beasts might lye in wait;
And without witness wreak their hidden hate.
(II.682–683, 688–690)

The Panther, "wisely weighing, since she had to deal / With many foes, their numbers might prevail" (II.693–694), accepts, and the Hind offers her permanent residence. The crimson western borders are clearly those of England on which Monmouth landed and fought: the figuration of anti-Anglican violence as weather looks forward to the Panther's fable, where the Panther delights in the storms that figure her own persecution of the Catholics. The "evil minded beasts" and "many foes" represent the threat Monmouth and his followers posed to the party which was responsible for his misfortunes. Thus the Hind's invitation shows that James, though Catholic, had protected the Anglicans from their enemies, and the Panther's acceptance reminds us of the debt of gratitude they had


thus incurred. This version of James as a great Tory protector is in itself preposterous: he had at least as much to fear from Monmouth's victory as did the Church of England. But we have been carefully prepared for it by the system of allusions that, throughout parts I–II, identify the Tories of the exclusion crisis with the Catholics of the present, and the Whigs of that period with the Anglicans of the present. In part III Dryden describes this strategy and the confusion and resentment he no doubt intends to arouse in the Anglicans by employing it:

The Hind  thus briefly, and disdain'd t' inlarge
On Pow'r of Kings, and their Superiour charge,
As Heav'ns Trustees before the Peoples choice:
Tho' sure the Panther  did not much rejoyce
To hear those Echo's giv'n of her once Loyal voice.

The Hind and the Panther is, then, a consistent and thorough attack on the Anglicans; but this alone does not explain Dryden's political motivation in the poem. When a few years earlier he had launched his attack on the Whigs, he had been assured of a large body of Tories eager to applaud his work, and no doubt of a great many readers who were as yet uncommitted and might have been influenced by his arguments. When in 1687 he launched a similar attack against the Anglicans, he could rely on the support only of a small and despised group of his coreligionists; and the only uncommitted party over which he could hope to have some influence was that of the dissenters, which he begins his poem by abusing. When the poem was published, James was, like his poet laureate, attacking the Anglicans, but only as a means of wooing the party they had so long persecuted. For Dryden, an attack on the Anglicans seems to be an end in itself and so attractive an end that he is willing to sacrifice to it even those to whom James was applying for help. Some critics, remarking only Dryden's preoccupation with the Anglicans, have argued that he is attempting—at least in the first two parts of the poem—to persuade them to an alliance with the court.[13] One can, however, imagine more likely ways of going about this than mockery and derision. Two months before the poem was published even James was convinced that Anglican support for his policies was not to be had; and it would seem


reasonable to credit the most astute political poet of the age with more penetration than the monarch whose stupidity was proverbial in his own time. In fact Dryden attacks, in one way or another, every recognized political faction except his own, the moderate Catholics, a party that he well knew to be powerless. If we are to understand his purpose in so doing, we must abandon the notion that his attitude towards the consequences of his work was in 1687 substantially what it had been in 1681.

This attitude, though implicit throughout the poem, emerges most clearly at the beginning of part III. There Dryden turns again to the exclusion crisis and develops more fully his account of the Panther's repudiation of her loyalty. The Hind ascribes this change to the Panther's greed and ambition and so introduces a debate over whether the Anglicans or the Catholics stand to gain temporal profit from their religion. Dryden's description of the condition of the Catholics suggests that he had little faith in their political power, and refers, no doubt, to his own uncomfortable position:[14]

Mean-time my sons accus'd, by fames report
Pay small attendance at the Lyon 's court,
Nor rise with early crowds, nor flatter late,
(For silently they beg who daily wait.)
Preferment is bestow'd that comes unsought,
Attendance is a bribe, and then 'tis bought.
How they shou'd speed, their fortune is untry'd,
For not to ask, is not to be deny'd.
For what they have, their God  and King  they bless,
And hope they shou'd not murmur, had they less.

The autobiographical reference is even clearer in Dryden's famous and moving description of the Hind's manner of disciplining her wayward sons:

If joyes hereafter must be purchas'd here
With loss of all that mortals hold so dear,
Then welcome infamy and publick shame,
And, last, a long farwell to worldly fame.
'Tis said with ease, but oh, how hardly try'd
By haughty souls to humane honour ty'd!
O sharp convulsive pangs of agonizing pride!


Down then thou rebell, never more to rise,
And what thou didst, and do'st so dearly prize,
That fame, that darling fame, make that thy sacrifice.

Such confessional passages, though they are to become frequent in his prose after the Revolution, are new in Dryden's poetry and indicate an important change in his view of his work. His conversion had deprived him of the authority he had enjoyed during the last years of Charles's reign as a spokesman for the Tories and Anglicans: as a Catholic, Dryden would no longer be able to persuade a Protestant nation. Rather than ignore this rhetorical handicap, Dryden attempts to make it work in his favor: we are to believe him because, he claims, he has chosen personal principle over political effectiveness, while the Anglicans have abandoned their loyal principles in order to advance their political agenda. Dryden attacks every prominent party of his time not so that he may persuade anyone to do anything, but so that he may record in verse the relation of his principles to the faithlessness and hypocrisy with which he felt himself surrounded and of which he knew himself accused.[15] He is primarily concerned with the Anglicans because, if he is to display the truth of his new party, he must demonstrate the falsity of his old one and the moral rectitude of his change. Further, to repair the loss of the rhetorical authority he had once derived from his allegiance to this party, he creates for himself another and rather different rhetorical position, grounded in classic and native poetic traditions, from which he may encounter the claims of his opponents.

The beast fable was popular during the Restoration—new editions of Aesop were published regularly throughout the period—and enjoyed a privileged generic status.[16] On the one hand, such fables were held sufficiently simple and obvious to form the characters of children; on the other, they were considered an ancient vehicle of wisdom, especially such wisdom as penetrated and opposed political deceit and hypocrisy. The preface of Aesop Improved (1673) assures us that a "due compliance" with the lessons of its fables "had preserved divers individual persons, and not only persons but families, and not only families but kingdoms, from those causes which have proved their ruin." The preface of Aesop Explained (1682)—though this work, which includes "the plain


meaning of the Grammar Rules unfolded to the Youth's capacity by way of Question and Answer," seems primarily directed towards children—nonetheless presents its fables as an antidote to Whig machination:

considering that it might prove of great Advantage, especially in these tumultuous Times, wherein men use Fraud and Equivocation, to carry on their devilish Designs, I have prepared this Book, as a Looking-Glass, wherein are lively represented the Insinuations, Frauds, Deceits, and Equivocations that are now on foot. . . . As touching the Fables in general, I need say but little: Solomon himself sends us to the Ant for wisdom . . . and a better than Solomon bids us to be as Wise as Serpents , and as innocent as Doves . You may by well choosing, the Precepts and Instructions which are here laid down in these Morals, escape many Devices, Dangers, and Troubles, which others less wary have run themselves into.

Roger L'Estrange, Dryden's ally who like him suffered for his support of James, prefaces his 1692 translation of Aesop with large claims for the authority of the genre: "What can be said more to the Honour of this Symbolical Way of Moralizing upon Tales and Fables , than that the Wisdom of the Ancients has been still wrapt up in Veils and Figures ." The dedication of another translation, written in the same year as The Hind and the Panther , emphasizes the genre's ability to express moral truths in difficult political circumstances:

This Book ascrib'd to Aesop , in a Plain and Simple Form, contains the Substance of Moral Philosophy, and perhaps as much Truth in order to the Conduct of life, as History itself commonly affords us, since 'tis the Misfortune of Mankind, that the Present Times as little dare to relate Truths, as the Future can know them.[17]

Aesopian fable has, then, a number of uses for Dryden. Its generic character suggests simplicity, moral wisdom, and innocence, qualities well suited to set forth the virtues of a policy that the majority of his audience thought tortuous, dubious, unprecedented, and immoderate, and its ability to discover and censure the frauds and deceits of contemporary politics is no less appropriate to Dryden's beleaguered political position. Most important, it allows Dryden to write not as the hireling scribbler of a tyrannous court but as a classic poet in a great tradition, looking down on public affairs


from the privileged point of view supplied him by a venerable genre.

The fable allows Dryden to claim allegiance also to a more specific and no less honorable tradition. Throughout the Restoration, English literature was generally believed to have had only two canonical nondramatic poets. Whenever Englishmen had occasion to celebrate the literary accomplishments of their nation, they inevitably thought of the Elizabethan dramatists and of Chaucer and Spenser.[18] The presence of these two poets throughout The Hind and the Panther is, then, no accident. Dryden's occasional use of archaic diction and syntax, his modelling the Hind's fable after Chaucer's Nun's Priest's Tale , his reference to Spenser's Mother Hubbard's Tale (the Protestant associations of which Dryden neutralizes by emphasizing its attack on the Whig heroine Elizabeth), all serve to place his poem in the great English tradition. The last of these occurs in a passage of self-defense, emphatically placed at the beginning of part III, which summarizes all the generic claims of the poem:

Much malice mingl'd with a little wit
Perhaps may censure this mysterious writ,
Because the Muse has people'd  Caledon
With Panthers, Bears , and  Wolves , and Beasts unknown,
As if we were not stock'd with monsters of our own.
Let AEsop  answer, who has set to view,
Such kinds as Greece  and  Phrygia  never knew;
And mother Hubbard  in her homely dress
Has sharply blam'd a  British Lioness ,
That Queen , whose feast the factious rabble keep,
Expos'd obscenely naked and a-sleep.
Let by those great examples, may not I
The wanted organs of their words supply?

Dryden is led by these examples throughout his poem: his conversion, though it deprived him of the support of the great majority of his contemporaries, did not deprive him of his claim to a place in English poetic tradition. By asserting that claim, he is able to attack contemporary politics from the only tenable position that James's policies and his own new principles had left him.

The Hind and the Panther , then, confronts political affairs on its own peculiar terms. It attempts not to change their course but


to translate them into the authoritative language of Aesopian fable and English verse. Parts I and II expose what Dryden would have us see as the true nature of the Anglicans by entangling their new policies with their old principles; and the language of fable, with its powers of penetrating deceit and hypocrisy, supports this strategy. In part III this language comes to dominate the poem. The lines that precede the Panther's fable argue the innocence and patience of the English Catholics, and the base motives of the Anglican attack upon them: disdain, envy, spite, malice, interest, pride, jealousy, and revenge (III.70–74). In so doing they serve as an excellent introduction to the Panther's fable, which, as a rhetorical expression of the Panther's malice, corroborates these claims,[20] while as a fabular translation of Anglican polemic it exposes the weakness and inconsistency of the Panther's ideas and behavior.

The attack on popery in the Panther's fable bears almost no similarity to the Anglican antipapist polemic of its time. In Gilbert Burnet's Reasons Against Repealing . . . the Test , an Anglican tract that appeared several weeks before the poem and to which the poem alludes,[21] we are reminded of "the Councils of the Lateran , that decreed the extirpation of all Hereticks , with severe sanctions on those Princes that failed in their Duty, of being the Hangmen of the Inquisitors ," of "the Council of Constance , that decreed, that Princes were not bound to keep their faith to Hereticks ," of "the Gunpowder Plot ," of "the Massacre of Ireland ," and especially of what, since the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, the Catholics

have done, and are still doing in France ; and what feeble things Edicts, Coronation Oaths, Laws and Promises , repeated over and over again, prove to be, where that Religion prevails; and Leuis le Grand makes not so contemptible a Figure in that Church , or in our Court , as to make us think, that his example may not be proposed as a Pattern , as well as his aid may be offered for an encouragement, to act the same things in England , that he is now doing with so much applause in France .
(P. 4)

In a later tract, which may allude in turn to The Hind and the Panther , Burnet thus cautions us against James's campaign for tolerance:


If papists were not fools, they must give good words and fair promises, till by these they have so far deluded the poor credulous hereticks, that they may put themselves in a posture to execute the decrees of their church against them; and though we accuse that religion as guilty both of cruelty and treachery, yet we do not think them fools.[22]

But it is as comic fools, rather than violent knaves, that Dryden has the Panther portray the Catholics:

The Swallow , privileg'd above the rest
Of all the birds, as man's familiar Guest,
Pursues the Sun in summer brisk and bold,
But wisely shuns the persecuting cold:
Is well to chancels and to chimneys known,
Though 'tis not thought she feeds on smoak alone.
From hence she has been held of heav'nly line,
Endu'd with particles of soul divine.
This merry Chorister had long possess'd
Her summer seat, and feather'd well her nest.

In fact Dryden gives the Panther not the Anglican anti-Catholic language of James's reign, but the Tory anti-Catholic polemic of the exclusion crisis,[23] a language in which he had himself been very proficient. In Absalom and Achitophel , the Jebusites are both silly and harmless; and the Whig version of the Catholics as incendiaries watching their opportunity to assassinate the king and burn the kingdom is dismissed with derision. Similarly, Father Petre, to whom Burnet ascribes "much more Force and Passion " than the French scourge of Huguenots Pére La Chaise,[24] is in the Panther's fable little more than a harmless buffoon, another version of Dominic in The Spanish Fryar : "He says he's but a friar, but he's big enough to be a pope; his gills are as rosy as a turkey cock; his great belly walks in state before him, like an harbinger; and his gouty legs come limping after it: Never was such a tun of devotion seen."[25]

A church-begot, and church-believing bird;
Of little body, but of lofty mind,
Round belly'd, for a dignity design'd,
And much a dunce, as Martyns  are by kind.


This depiction of the Catholics had the same purpose in 1687 as in 1681—to defuse fear of popery by revealing the harmlessness of its object. By giving it to the Panther, Dryden again opposes old Tory with new Anglican attitudes.

This consistency is realized, however, not by our unassisted comparison of these attitudes—Dryden could not here depend on his audience's willingness to recall such small matters—but by the juxtaposition in the fable of this old Tory polemic with new Anglican policy. The harmlessness of the victims of Anglican persecution emphasizes the cruelty of that persecution:

The latter brood, who just began to fly
Sick-feather'd, and unpractis'd in the sky,
For succour to their helpless mother call,
She spread her wings; some few beneath 'em craul,
She spread 'em wider yet, but cou'd not cover all.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The joyless morning late arose, and found
A dreadful desolation reign a-round,
Some buried in the Snow, some frozen to the ground:
The rest were strugling still with death, and lay
The Crows  and Ravens  rights, an undefended prey.
(III.613–617, 622–626)

The Panther's own fable thus arraigns Anglican policy no less effectually than the Hind's; yet Dryden, if accused of manufacturing the evidence, could have found sources for all the elements of the fable either in Anglican polemic of the exclusion crisis or in present Anglican behavior.

The Panther's fable becomes even more damning when read in conjunction with the Hind's. The fable of the pigeons presents a rival version of affairs and a rival prophecy. The Panther's absurd Swallows become the Hind's mild and maligned poultry; and whereas the Panther predicts a massacre of Catholics, the Hind predicts a massacre of Anglicans. But the parallels between the two fables run far deeper than this. Both fables are based on the same plot: in each, a nation of birds, too eager to advance its interests, follows a false leader, and by misusing a period of grace, provokes an unexpected doom. Thus the two fables correspond to one another both in plot-structure (Swallows equal Pigeons) and in historical reference (Swallows equal poultry); and from the counterpoint between these two systems Dryden forms a complex political


lesson. Thus combined, the two fables bring together, in one final and authoritative statement, the oppositions between Catholic/Tory principles and Dissenting/Anglican practices that structure the political meaning of the entire poem.

The most obvious of the plot-correspondences between the two fables is that between the Swallows and the Pigeons: both follow false leaders to their doom. The acts and motives, however, that lead them to do so are strikingly contrasted. Though the Swallows respond to forces the real reference of which is political, these forces—the penal laws—are represented in their fable as weather. They are wild fowl, and, like the Hind's sons who "pay small attendance at the Lyon's court," cannot themselves act to much purpose. They are vulnerable to forces they can neither control nor clearly anticipate, and their only choice is whether or not to flee these forces.[26] Further, they are misled into the act that sets their plot in motion by nothing more wicked than their desire that their young should escape inevitable misfortune:

The sickly young sat shivring on the shoar,
Abhorr'd salt-water never seen before,
And pray'd their tender mothers to delay
The passage, and expect a fairer day.

The Pigeons, by contrast, are domestic fowl. They have far more control over their destiny than the Swallows; and they must answer to a just and indulgent landlord. The motive that ultimately brings on their ruin, unlike that of the Swallows, is indefensible—envy rather than parental care:

Our pamper'd Pigeons  with malignant Eyes,
Beheld these Inmates, and their Nurseries:
Tho' hard their fare, at Ev'ning, and at Morn
A Cruise of Water and an Ear of Corn;
Yet still they grudg'd that Modicum, and thought
A sheaf in ev'ry single Grain was brought.

Thus the Catholics can be accused of profiting by James's (to the Panther) dubious policies only because they mistakenly believe that they and their families will escape destruction, whereas the Anglicans wrongfully oppose those policies because they begrudge the


Catholics the smallest shred of protection or patronage—a political luxury that Dryden carefully figures as a biological necessity.

The Martyn appears earlier in the Panther's fable than does his counterpart the Buzzard in the Hind's, no doubt because the evil which must hurry each group to its ruin, though it might easily be ascribed to the malicious Pigeons, could not conveniently be laid to the charge of the Swallows. But the superstition by which the Martyn advances himself does have a corresponding term in the Hind's fable. Though he may have some selfish interest in misleading his followers, the Martyn is himself "In Superstition silly to excess" (III.471), and seems to believe in his false prophecies:

                                     his advice
Was present safety, bought at any price:
(A seeming pious care, that cover'd cowardise)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
For he concluded, once upon a time,
He found a leaf inscrib'd with sacred rime,
Whose antique characters did well denote
The Sibyl 's hand of the  Cumaean  Grott:
The mad Divineress had plainly writ,
A time shou'd come (but many ages yet,)
In which, sinister destinies ordain,
Dame  shou'd drown with all her feather'd train,
And seas from thence be call'd the  Chelidonian  main.
At this, some shook for fear, the more devout
Arose, and bless'd themselves from head to foot.
(III.477–479, 486–496)

Catholic superstition is, then, harmless and rather absurd. The Martyn's use of it will injure only his followers and, indeed, himself. Protestant superstition, by contrast, is based rather on hatred than on fear; the Pigeons consciously exploit it to incite mob violence against the devout poultry. Fearing that the "Holy Deeds" of the poultry may "o're all their Arts prevail,"

An hideous Figure of their Foes they drew,
Nor Line, nor Looks, nor Shades, nor Colours true;
And this Grotesque design, expos'd to Publick view.
One would have thought it some Ægyptian Piece,
With Garden-Gods, and barking Deities,
More thick than Ptolomey  has stuck the Skies.
All so perverse a Draught, so far unlike,


It was no Libell where it meant to strike:
Yet still the daubing pleas'd, and Great and Small
To view the Monster crowded Pigeon -hall.

Thus even if the Catholics are, as the Anglicans charge, superstitious, they are at least free of that "ribbald Art" that has, Dryden suggests, stigmatized the Protestants since Luther, and of which the Panther's fable is itself a notable example.

The Swallows hold an election on, and foolishly vote to follow, the Martyn's counsel:

The question crudely put, to shun delay,
'Twas carry'd by the major  part to stay

The Pigeons hold a corresponding election which, though no less foolish, is far more pernicious: they choose the means rather of inflicting than of avoiding harm. Further, in contrasting the issues on which the Swallows and Pigeons vote, Dryden again arraigns the Anglicans with their own polemic. Whereas the Swallows, in voting on questions of policy, adhere to the principles of the English constitution, the Pigeons, like exclusionist Whigs, extend the electoral process to questions of succession: on the advice of "One more mature in Folly than the rest" (III.1107), "all agreed/Old Enmity's forgot, the Buzzard should succeed" (III.1134–1135). Both groups, however, are equally guilty of fatally confusing religious with political leaders:

His point thus gain'd, Sir Martyn  dated thence
His pow'r, and from a Priest became a Prince.
He order'd all things with a busie care,
And cells, and refectories did prepare,
And large provisions lay'd of winter fare.

Their welcom Suit was granted soon as heard,
His Lodgings furnish'd, and a Train prepar'd,
With B 's upon their Breast, appointed for his Guard.
He came, and Crown'd with great Solemnity,
God save King Buzzard , was the gen'rall cry.


Even here, however, the Pigeons lose by the contrast: only the Pigeons' vote is unanimous; the "stagers of the wiser sort" who argue against the Martyn's proposal have no counterparts in the Hind's fable. Further, the Swallows' leader is rather a fool than a knave, whereas the Pigeons' is a tyrant indeed. During the exclusion crisis, the Whigs had accused the Catholics of concealing a thirst for arbitrary power beneath religious zeal, and the Anglicans had accused the sectaries of the same imposture: thus in suggesting that the Anglicans promote tyranny under cover of religion, Dryden is turning against them the charge that they had so frequently brought against the Whigs, while in showing that the Catholic leader is merely a fool vainly seeking a means of escape, he refutes the Whig charges against the Catholics.

A period of grace follows the rise to power of both the Martyn and the Buzzard; and here, as in the events that set both plots in motion, are figured again the opposing reactions of Catholics and Anglicans to James's attempts to revoke the Test and penal laws. The Swallows mistake a temporary for a permanent respite as the more extreme Catholics misjudged the efficacy of James's edicts. The Pigeons, on the other hand, foolishly abuse the "Grace the Landlord had allowed" to "form their Friends, and to seduce the crowd" (III.1199–1201) as the Anglicans availed themselves of James's parliamentary attempts to revoke the Test to consolidate their opposition. And again, the Swallows are guilty only of a desire to escape injury and an absurdly hopeful weather forecast, the Pigeons of ingratitude, cruelty, and rebellion. The occupations of the two groups in their prosperity are strikingly opposed. Both flourish and increase, but in very different ways:

Who but the Swallow  now triumphs alone?
The Canopy of heaven is all her own,
Her youthful offspring to their haunts repair;
And glide along in glades, and skim in air,
And dip for insects in the purling springs,
And stoop on rivers to refresh their wings.

The House of Pray'r is stock'd with large encrease;
Nor Doors, nor Windows can contain the Press:
For Birds of ev'ry feather fill th' abode;
Ev'n Atheists out of envy own a God:


And reeking from the Stews, Adult'rers come,
Like Goths  and Vandals  to demolish Rome .

Though the Swallows use their false security for domestic pursuits, the Pigeons theirs for the practice of vice and cruelty, both groups are equally mistaken, and both pay for their folly with their lives. The parallel between the forces to which the two groups succumb is carefully constructed from two distinct sets of correspondences. First, the Swallows fall victim to storms representing Anglican persecution, while the Pigeons fall victim to a "Gracious Edict"—the Declaration of Indulgence—which is the result of Catholic tolerance. The Swallows are killed with cruelty, the Pigeons with kindness:

But when th' Imperial owner did espy
That thus they turn'd his Grace to villany,
Not suff'ring wrath to discompose his mind,
He strove a temper for th' extreams to find,
So to be just, as he might still be kind.
Then, all Maturely weigh'd, pronounc'd a Doom
Of Sacred Strength for ev'ry Age to come.
By this the Doves  their Wealth and State possess
No Rights infring'd, but licence to oppress.

Nor did their Owner hasten their ill hour:
But, sunk in Credit, they decreas'd in Pow'r:
Like Snows in warmth that mildly pass away,
Dissolving in the Silence of Decay.

Second, the Swallows fall victim to the inevitable coming of winter, which represents the death of James and cessation of his protection, while the Pigeons fall victim to the depredations of the Buzzard following the death of the Landlord, which last refers also to the death of James:

Nor can th' Usurper long abstain from Food,
Already he has tasted Pigeons  Blood:
And may be tempted to his former fare,
When this Indulgent Lord shall late to Heav'n repair.
Bare benting times, and moulting Months may come,
When lagging late, they cannot reach their home:


Or Rent in Schism, (for so their Fate decrees,)
Like the Tumultuous Colledge of the Bees;
They fight their Quarrel, by themselves opprest,
The Tyrant smiles below, and waits the falling feast.

Dryden is careful to make those who have in his view so patently turned against themselves in principle fall by turning against themselves in fact.

In The Hind and the Panther , several features of Dryden's late rhetoric emerge fully formed. He had lost by his conversion the political centrality that derived from his alliance with a strong political party and that allowed him to represent his political views as the ideals of a whole people. So he speaks not for the political nation, but against it. He authorizes such speech by claiming on the one hand consistent adherence to political principles that had carried the now ungrateful Tories through the exclusion crisis, and on the other hand participation in a timeless literary tradition that carries with it privileged insight into political affairs and an assurance of posterity's favor and attention. Long after the Anglicans have brought on their own destruction, Dryden implies, posterity will see them through his eyes, as they now see Elizabeth through Spenser's. The Hind and the Panther is the last of Dryden's direct analyses of English politics; in Britannia Rediviva he is merely a powerless observer of providential forces, hoping for the best but fearing the worst.[27] In Don Sebastian , his first major work after the Revolution, he is concerned with much the same set of political issues as in The Hind and the Panther , and he engages them by many of the same rhetorical strategies; but his loss of government protection forces him to replace statement with implication, allegorical fable with a complex form of political parallel.


1 "Echo's of Her Once Loyal Voice": The Hind and the Panther

Preferred Citation: Bywaters, David. Dryden in Revolutionary England. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1991 1991.