144F John Dryden 1631-1700
The Medall. a Satyre Against Sedition. By the Author of Absalom and Achitophel
London: for Jacob Tonson, 1682 $990 Quarto 8.3 x 6 inches A4, a2, B-D4. First edition, second issue. This is a very nice copy, it is bound in full modern vellum. The opposition party (the nascent Whigs) had a medal struck in Poland to commemorate the release of one of their leaders, the Earl of Shaftesbury, from the Tower in 1681. The poem was supposedly suggested by King Charles II.
When a London grand jury refused to indict Shaftesbury for treason, his fellow Whigs voted him a medal. In response Dryden published early in 1682 The Medall, a work full of unsparing invective against the Whigs, prefaced by a vigorous and plainspoken prose “Epistle to the Whigs.” Wise, Dryden catalogue 39; Wither to Prior 313; Pforzheimer 33; Grolier Club Dryden catalogue 13; Macdonald 13a ii.
A Collection of the newest and most ingenious poems, songs, catches, &c. against popery, relating to the times, several of which never before printed. london.
Printed in the year, MDCLXXXIX (1689) $1,800 Quarto 6.25 X 8 inches a2, A-C4 First Edition This copy is disbound. But in very good shape.
A Whiggish collection of “Poems on Affairs of State” issued in the aftermath of the Glorious revolution. Includes a table of contents, and one brief prose piece: “To the King’s Most Excellent Majesty, The Humble Address of the Atheists, or the Sect of the Epicureans.” (a2v) Wing C5205; Case 189(1)(a) ;ESTC R25347
854G John Oldham 1653-1683
The Works of Mr John Oldham, Together with his Remains.
London: Printed by M.C. for Jo Hindmarsh 1684 $2,200
Three Octavo volumes 7.4 x 4.25 inches [π2], A2, B-K8, L2; A1, a3, A2 8, B-H8, I4; [A]4, B-O8, P4 ([A1] blank); A-I8. First edition. This is a lovely copy, in three matching quater calf 18th century binding ,gilt spines. “John Oldham, the son of a Nonconformist minister who was ‘silenced’ in 1662, was educated at Tetbury Grammar School and St. Edmund Hall, Oxford, graduating B.A. in 1674.
He kept himself by teaching, first by obtaining the post of usher in Whitgift’s free school at Croydon, and later as tutor to the sons of gentlemen. His Satire against Virtue (1679) and his Satires upon the Jesuits . . . and Some Other Pieces by the same Hand (1681) made him well known to the literary men of the day, including Dryden, before his early death from smallpox. After his death his Works went through many editions in quick succession.” (Sutherland) “Oldham’s contemporary reputation was built mainly upon the four Satires upon the Jesuits (1679-1681), and these are concerned with issues which are hardly likely to arouse much interest today. This young Juvenal, writing in the heat of the Popish Plot, drowns the Jesuits in a flood of vituperation. In his first satire the ghost of Henry Garnett (executed for being concerned in the Gunpowder Plot) addresses a cabal of Jesuits immediately after the murder of Sir Edmundberry Godfrey, and urges them on to greater deeds. In the second Oldham employs the method of direct vituperation. In the third Loyola is seen propped up on his deathbed (‘And from his mouth long strakes of drivel flow’), giving his last instructions to his disciples on how to carry on the nefarious work; and in the fourth he is made, like Chaucer’s pardoner, to give a cynical account of various holy relics. The four satires are an exercise in sustained, and therefore monotonous invective. The abuse is continuous and unqualified, the voice is loud, emphatic, and brazenly confident; when we come to the last line of each satire we are conscious of a sudden cessation of noise. Nothing very subtle has been said; and the awkwardness of the verse and the uncouthness of the rhymes, which Oldham’s critics have so often pointed out, are everywhere apparent. Since Oldham can write with colloquial ease in his imitations of Horace, it may well be that the harshness and rough-hewn strength of the Satires upon the Jesuits are a result of a deliberate attempt to reproduce the powerful invective of Juvenal. He packs his lines with nouns and verbs (‘Pox, Ague, Dropsie, Palsie, Stone, and Gout’), and he never allows the pace to slacken; it is perhaps just as well, for if the reader were given a chance to pause he might start to think.” (English Literature of the Late Seventeenth Century, Sutherland, page 165) Wing O-224