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Page 166

CHAPTER VIII
PURITANS AND CAVALIERS II

for lines that would win applause, such as the following, which says that the English seaman

Adds his heart to every gun he fires.

Life began to move easily and pleasantly with Dryden. He was favoured by the king; his company was sought by men of rank, he was comfortable financially. His next step was to write satire. The country was full of plot and intrigue. Whoever wished to stand well with the king and his party must do his best to support them. Then it was that Dryden wrote his nbsaiom most famous satire, Absalom and Achitophel. In this there is a kind of character-reading that is quite different from Shakespeare's. Shakespeare was interested in all kinds of people and understood them because he sympathized with them. Dryden's aim in his satire was not to understand and sympathize, but to pick out the weakest points of his victims, to sting and to hurt. One man he described as

Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong,
Was everything by starts and nothing long,
But in the course of one revolving moon
Was chymist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon.

Dryden was ready to undertake any kind of literary work that was demanded by the times, and in the midstof his satires he wrote the Religio Laici, or " religion of a layman," and here he deserves honest praise. This poem is an argument in favour of the Church of England. To express difficult arguments in verse is not easy, but Dryden has succeeded. His poem is clear and natural in its wording, smooth, dignified, and easy to read.

Shall I speak plain, and in a nation free.
Assume an honest layman's liberty ?

travel books:
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