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The cost of John Dryden's Catholicism.

THE HIND AND THE PANTHER is John Dryden's longest poem and the culmination of his poetic career--the poet laureate's final word on the religious and political issues he had addressed throughout his literary career. It also is the only major work in English literature devoted to the thesis that the Roman Catholic Church is the one holy catholic and apostolic church instituted by Christ.

Dryden paid a price for his profession of the Catholic faith. When the Catholic King James II was deposed in 1688, the year after Hind was published, Dryden (1631-1700) lost his position as poet laureate and suffered all the penalties imposed against Catholics by the new government. The new king, William of Orange, issued "an order to banish papists 10 miles from London"; Dryden's Catholic sons lost their government posts; and Dryden, like all Catholics, paid double the taxes levied on those who attended the Established Church. (1)

Dryden also paid a critical price for his poem--both during his lifetime and after. No one dared to publicly commend the apologia for the Catholic faith when it came out. Two months after the poem's publication, two wits burlesqued it in The Hind and the Panther Transvers'd to the Story of the Country-Mouse and the City-Mouse. (2) In A Tale of a Tub (1697), Anglican divine Jonathan Swift called Hind Dryden's "Master-piece" but satirized it as a rehashing of Catholic theologians: "a compleat Abstract of sixteen thousand Schoolmen from Scotus to Bellarmin," he wrote. (3) Later critics acknowledged elements of greatness in the poem but registered primarily two complaints: (1) The poem is a beast fable in which animals engage in theological controversy. The poem lacks dramatic action; its drama relies almost wholly on the movement of the theological argument. (2) In the third and final part, the Hind (the figure of the Catholic Church) and the Panther (the Protestant Church of England) themselves tell intentionally obscure animal fables that focus not on theology but on the political and religious strategies of James's government. And yet, as I will argue, some of the critics have a third, even greater problem with the poem: its very thesis, an apologia for the authority of the Catholic Church, a claim that has scandalized many over two millennia.

The Hind and the Panther really is two poems: The first (Parts I and II of the poem as well as sections of Part III) is the majestic apologia for the Catholic Church and an argument that England can find her true, full identity only by returning to the ancient faith displaced (as J.J. Scarisbrick and Eamon Duffy later demonstrated and as Dryden suggests) by a violent, top-down uprooting of Catholicism by Protestantism in the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Elizabeth in the century before. (4) Antiquam exquirite matrem (Seek out your ancient mother), taken from the Aeneid, thus is one of Dryden's epigrams for the poem. The poem's Parts I and II, combined, have nearly the same number of lines (1,294 lines) as Part III (1,298 lines).

The second poem within the poem comprises the two obscure animal fables in Part III in which Dryden argues that James II should ignore those hard-line Catholics (such as Fr. Edward Petre, vice-provincial of the English Jesuits) who were advising him to advance Catholics' worldly interests in England in a high-handed fashion. The hard-line pro-Catholic policies of James II, along with the decision of his French ally King Louis XIV to revoke the Edict of Nantes (which had provided toleration to French Protestants) in 1685, fueled Protestant fears of Catholic oppression--and provided a justification for the so-called Glorious Revolution, in which English nobles and the Anglican Bishop of London invited Mary, James's Anglican daughter, and her husband and cousin, William of Orange (grandson of Charles I), to take the throne. William finally defeated James on July 12, 1690, at the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland, celebrated by Orangemen to this day as a victory over papists. (5)

Throughout his career, Dryden sought a firm authority--a polestar--in theological, ecclesial, political, and literary affairs. Dryden argues for the apostolic succession of the Catholic Church in The Hind and the Panther as eloquently as he had argued for the legitimate royal succession in his earlier poems Astraea Redux and Absalom and Achitophel. In Astraea Redux (Justice Returned,1660), Dryden celebrates the restoration of Charles II to the throne after the end of Puritan rule in the Commonwealth, ushered in by the beheading of Charles I. During the king's "long absence church and state did groan; / Madness the pulpit, faction seiz'd the throne," Dryden writes, but now the poet celebrates the king's return and bids him, Christ-like, to "expiate our guilt." (6) The "penitence and sorrow" (l. 255) with which the kingdom greeted the restored king were fit for the poet too. Raised a Puritan, Dryden had served in Cromwell's government as a secretary of the French and Latin languages and marched alongside his fellow secretaries John Milton and Andrew Marvell in the Lord Protector's funeral. In Heroic Stanzas (1659), his first major poem, Dryden had praised Cromwell's virtuous soul.

In Absalom and Achitophel, as well as in The Medal (both published in 1682), Dryden attacks the antiroyalist Whigs who wanted to exclude the Catholic James, brother and legitimate successor of Charles II, from the royal succession in favor of the Protestant Duke of Monmouth, Charles II's illegitimate son. James had converted from the Anglican to the Catholic faith in the early 1670s. In 1672, Charles II issued a Declaration of Indulgence offering toleration for Dissenters and Catholics. The next year, Parliament forced the king to cancel the act and instead enacted the Test Act, which required all who held public office to declare that transubstantiation did not occur in the Eucharist. The anti-Catholic statute drove many Catholics from public office, including James, then Duke of York, from his position as Lord Admiral of the fleet. The Test Act favored not just Anglicans but also atheists and sectarians, excluding only Catholics from public office, Dryden pointed out in Hind (III, 738-49).

Hatred of Charles and his advisors, as well as anti-Catholic sentiment, resulted in the Popish Plot of 1678, in which Titus Oates, "a homosexual perjurer and sometime Jesuit," spread the lie that Catholics were conspiring to kill the king. The Earl of Shaftesbury, the Whigs' leader, promoted the ensuing general panic. As a result, "numerous innocent Catholic priests and laymen" were executed over the next three years. (7) These included William Howard, Viscount Stafford, cousin of Dryden's wife Elizabeth; and Oliver Plunket, archbishop of Armagh and primate of all Ireland, who was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1975. Benedictine Fr. James Corker's account of Stafford's death provided Dryden a model of perseverance in the Catholic faith. Corker, who himself narrowly escaped execution in 1680 and later was imprisoned, was the priest who later received Dryden into the Catholic Church. As a result of the anti-Catholic hysteria of this period, all Catholic peers were removed from the House of Lords; James was exiled to the continent; and, as in 1688, Catholics were forced to move 10 miles from London.

The Hind and the Panther is a culmination not only of Dryden's career but also, in some ways, of nearly two centuries of religious controversies, often in the form of tracts, between Protestants and Catholics, and between Anglicans and the precisians, or Puritans, who peopled the ranks of England's varieties of Dissenters. In Hind Dryden could respond with understanding to the Protestants' objections to the Catholic faith because he himself once had held the same objections--and espoused them in his poems and plays. After his Puritan upbringing, the poet then upheld the tenets of the Church of England, even justifying this faith as the thesis of his shorter, much more tenuous (compared with Hind) Religio Laici (Religion of a Layman) in 1682.

Five years after the apologia for the Anglican faith, Dryden proclaimed, in one of the very moving confessional passages in Hind, that he had finally found a lasting spiritual home in the Catholic Church:
Good life be now my task: my doubts are done....
Rest then, my soul, from endless anguish freed,
Nor sciences thy guide, nor sense thy creed.
Faith is the best ensurer of thy bliss....
 (I, 78, 146-48)

In the last line Dryden appropriates the byword of the Protestant theology--faith--as key to his new acceptance of the truth-claims of the Catholic Church.

Dryden is the most self-aware of literary creators. He was England's first major poet to write major works of criticism, above all, his Essay of Dramatic Poesy (1668); he was, in Samuel Johnson's phrase, the father of English criticism. "Perhaps no nation ever produced a writer that enriched his language with such a variety of models," Dr. Johnson wrote in his Life of Dryden. Dryden wrote poems, essays, many plays, and distinguished translations. "He constantly engaged with other writers," writes Earl Miner. "He was the first English writer aware that he was prosecuting a critical career in which poetic practice and critical precept were counterparts." (8)

Dryden's oft-expressed need for an interpretive authority in ecclesial and spiritual affairs parallels his felt need to locate himself in an identifiable literary succession. In his Discourse Concerning the Original and Progress of Satire (1693), Dryden reflected on the beginning of his literary career, "when I was myself in the rudiments of my poetry, without name or reputation in the world, having rather the ambition of a writer, than the skill; when I was drawing the outlines of an art, without any living master to instruct me in it. ... I was sailing in a vast ocean, without other help than the polestar of the ancients." Virgil is Dryden's chief polestar among the ancients; in 1697 Dryden published what many still consider the finest translation of the Aeneid in English. Among the English, Edmund Spenser and, to a lesser degree, Geoffrey Chaucer and John Milton are his chief influences. "I must acknowledge that Virgil in Latin, and Spenser in English, have been my masters," Dryden wrote in his dedication of his translation of the Aeneid. (9)

A chief pleasure of reading The Hind and the Panther is watching the poet self-consciously draw on--and reshape the literary contributions of--the Catholic Chaucer and Protestant Spenser, as well as his great contemporary, the Puritan Milton. In the poem's opening lines Dryden figures the Catholic Church as "a milk white Hind, immortal and unchang'd ... without unspotted, innocent within ... for she knew no sin" (I, 1, 3-4). In the opening lines of The Faerie Queene, Spenser (1552?-99) likewise figures the one true Christian faith or church (which, since Spenser is a Protestant, is a spiritual reality not defined by or confined to one visible church) as Una, who is "so pure an[d] innocent as that ... milke white lambe" she leads (I, i, 4, 5). Moreover, Una "came ... by descent from Royall lynage ... of ancient Kings and Queenes, that had of yore / Their scepters stretcht from East to Westerne shore" (I, i, 5); the one true church or faith springs from a royal succession in Spenser's fiction that parallels the apostolic succession of the Christian creeds. (10) In Hind Dryden reworks Milton's scene from Paradise Lost of the heavenly council, in which Christ steps forward to save mankind from sin. In Absalom, Dryden uses the rhetoric of Milton's Satan, in which God is depicted as motivated mainly by lust for power.

Dryden mines the Protestant Spenser and Milton for material that he then enlists for his Catholic apologia in Hind. As I have argued elsewhere, Spenser likewise took signs that were originally Catholic and invested them with an inwardly Protestant, merely Christian (in C.S. Lewis's memorable phrase) signification. Many of the greatest English writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries--Donne and Shakespeare, for example--draw upon Catholic and Protestant elements, playing them off against each other, sometimes synthesizing them, as does Dryden in Eleonora (1692). Eleonora "prayed by deeds," Dryden writes; her "relics" are her "works of mercy" (Eleanora, ll.115, 373). (11)

Of all the many books of controversial literature published in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, some of the most helpful represented both the Anglican and Catholic perspectives on the disputed doctrinal issues. In 1580, publisher John Daye printed a debate over the Eucharist between Thomas Cranmer, former Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury (and a martyr for the Anglican faith under Mary Tudor), and Stephen Gardiner, Catholic Bishop of Winchester (and the celebrant at the wedding of Mary Tudor and Philip II of Spain), presented in the form of a dialogue. The book contains two tracts by Cranmer and one by Gardiner, which were originally published in 1550 and 1551, now interleaved as one: Cranmer's initial explication of eucharistic doctrine, Gardiner's point-by-point rebuttal, and, occupying the most space, Cranmer's rebuttal of and synthesizing response to Gardiner's rebuttal. (12) As we examine the career of Dryden, we have a similar opportunity to make a nearly side-by-side comparison of the Anglican and Catholic perspectives on doctrinal questions just by comparing Dryden's Anglican Religio Laici with his Catholic Hind and Panther.

One of Dryden's great strengths is the rhetorical skill with which he "could muster nearly equivalent rhetorical power when expressing opinions with which he disagreed," as Winn writes. (13) Dryden possesses the same kind of agility and flexibility of mind that enabled Thomas Aquinas in his Summa theologiae to list the major objections to his thesis before stating his own thesis and then responding to the objections, one by one. Dryden is the literary forebear of John Henry Newman, who also explored and argued the Anglican position very publicly and thoroughly before his ratiocinations about the development of doctrine in response to heresies (examined in his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine) led him into the Roman Catholic Church, where he became a chief apologist for the faith.

In Religio Laici, the Anglican Dryden registers the appeal of a church that can be trusted to speak God's word authoritatively, but he employs the hyperbole characteristic of Protestant polemic in order to dismiss the claims of the Catholic Church: "The Papists ... have kept the Scripture from us [and] ... have reserved to themselves a right of interpreting what they have delivered under the pretense of infallibility," Dryden writes in the preface. (14) In the poem he continues:
Such an omniscient Church we wish indeed:
'Twere worth both Testaments and cast in the Creed.
 (RL, ll. 282-83)

Although the Anglican Dryden dismisses papal claims of infallibility in Religio Laici, the poet invariably identifies the Dissenters, or "Fanatics," as a much greater threat to civil and ecclesiastical order than the much weaker, proscribed Catholics. "Fanatics ... have assum'd what amounts to an infallibility in the private spirit ... and have detorted those texts of Scripture which are not necessary to salvation, to the damnable uses of sedition, disturbance, and destruction of the civil government," Dryden writes in his preface. (15)

To enthrone individual, private interpretation of Scripture in the church is equivalent to mob rule in the kingdom. Rule by the "almighty crowd" is far more arbitrary than rule by king or by law, Dryden argues in The Medal (l. 91). The Earl of Shaftesbury, leader of the Whigs' attempt to exclude James from the throne in favor of Protestant Monmouth, "maintains the multitude can never err, / And sets the people in the papal chair. / The reason's obvious: 'Int'rest never lies'" (Medal, ll. 86-88). Blinded by self-interest, the mob in the kingdom, like the Dissenters in church, "rack ev'n Scripture to confess their cause" and "make it speak whatever sense they please" (Medal, ll.156, 163)--a state of affairs that parallels the current effect of relativism and (in Alasdair MacIntyre's phrase) emotivism on our public discussions of moral questions. (16) Rather than submitting to the authority of Scripture or church, the mob and Dissenters make Scripture do their bidding, Dryden continues:
Since our sects in prophecy grow higher,
The text inspires not them, but they the text inspire.
 (Medal, ll.165-66)

In many of his own poems, Dryden argues that Britain's political fortunes flow directly from its spiritual condition. At the same time, the poet is keenly aware of the many ways that high-sounding religious and political ideals can cloak low self-interest. In Absalom and Achitophel, Dryden uses the biblical tale of the rebellion against King David led by his son Absalom to attack the Whigs' plot to exclude James from the throne. Describing the plotters' conniving, Dryden writes, "Religion and redress of grievances, / Two names that always cheat and always please, / Are often urged" in the plot to kill the king (Absalom, ll. 747-49). In Astraea Redux, Dryden had identified the same appropriation of religious ideals by the Puritans who had beheaded Charles I:
Religion's name against itself was made;
The shadow serv'd the substance to invade:
Like zealous missions they did care pretend
Of souls in shew, but made the gold their end.
 (Astraea, ll.191-95)

Likewise politicians can camouflage baser motives with high-sounding oratory. Achitophel, representing Shaftesbury, "assum'd a patriot's all-atoning name. / So easy it proves in factious times / With public zeal to cancel private crimes" (Absalom, ll. 179-81).

The Hind and the Panther is a masterful marshalling of arguments for Catholic doctrine over and against Protestant objections, couched, as often as possible, in language the Protestants used and could understand. Dryden had read widely in the literature of religious controversies and used many of the same arguments Catholics had used against Protestant objections. (17) He starts with the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation in the Eucharist, the single doctrinal issue that (along with the authority of the pope) had fixated England the previous 150 years. Englishmen were executed by the government of Henry VIII for denying transubstantiation and excluded from government position for affirming transubstantiation in Dryden's time, under the Test Act. (18)

Protestants denied that the consecrated Host and wine were the actual body and blood of the Christ who died on the cross. Instead, the communicant received Christ spiritually in the sacrament; in the Anglican view, it was papist "hocus pocus" (the twisting of the priest's Hoc est corpus meum) to posit a change in the substance of the elements. The Anglican doctrine shows a lack of faith, Dryden argues. Limit yourself to only what your senses perceive, and you deny many Christian mysteries. The poet turns, as Protestants do, to Scripture, to the glorified body of Christ passing twice through the locked door to appear before his disciples (Jn 20:19, 26). In this instance, "one single place two bodies did contain," Dryden argues (Hind, I, 101). Likewise the consecrated elements are at once both bread and wine and the very body and blood of Christ. And likewise Christ himself is at once true God and true man; the mystery of the Holy Trinity also surpasses what the senses can perceive.

In Religio Laici the Anglican Dryden had made very modest claims for the Church of England. The Bible "in all things needful to be known is plain /. ... The things we must believe are few and plain," he wrote (RL, ll. 369, 432). The Anglican Panther in Dryden's later poem reiterates this assertion almost verbatim: "The Word in needful points is only plain" (Hind, II, 144). As a Protestant, Dryden had taken the Protestant view that Christian doctrine should consist of nothing but the elemental, core Christian truths spelled out in Scripture and the historic creeds. The Reformation was a process of subtracting the superstitious, unscriptural accretions of Catholic tradition that had enshrouded and fogged Christian truth.

If Protestantism is a religion of subtraction (throwing out the needless accretions of Catholic tradition to unveil the splendid truth), then Catholicism is a religion of addition, in which the fullness of Christ's truth is made manifest over time to a church guided by the Holy Spirit and a Lord who will not leave us as orphans. (19) Like the rejection of transubstantiation, the Protestant decision to limit matters of faith just to "things needful" shows a lack of faith, the Catholic Dryden argues. "Think but well of [Christ], and half your work is done," the Hind urges the Panther (II, 638). To think well of Christ is to believe that he has founded and sustained in every age a loving, forgiving Church that can be counted on to unveil the truths of the mysteries revealed once and for all in Christ. Using the first-person plural to include his Anglican audience, Dryden, always the master of the heroic couplet, now stretches into a triplet his comparison of Protestants to fearful sailors like those manning small merchant ships, called bilanders:
Why choose we then like bilanders to creep
Along the coast and land in view to keep,
When safely we may launch into the deep?
 (I, 128-30)

Leave the shallows of Protestant fearfulness and follow the same Savior who walked on the water, calmed the storm, and exhorted his disciples to put out into the deep, Dryden urges his readers. Here and elsewhere, the poet begins with the irenic, inclusive gesture and ends with the pointed assessment likely to offend his controversial opponents:
[Why] make a riddle what [Christ] made so plain?
To take half on trust, and half to try--
Name it not faith but bungling bigotry.
 (I, 140-42)

Here again Dryden appropriates some of the bywords Protestants used to make their case against Catholics--"plain," "faith"--to make his argument for Catholicism.

The disagreements between Protestants and Catholics over the Eucharist, or the Lord's Supper, and the role of Church tradition in doctrine (another issue Dryden addresses in Hind) spring from a more fundamental issue: the authority of the Church. Dryden's revulsion against the mob rule of enthroning private interpretation, which we have already considered, is so deep-seated that it colors even the Anglican Dryden's telling of church history in Religio Laici. The history starts with the characteristic Protestant polemic: In "those dark times" before the Reformation, the priests of the Catholic Church hoarded Scripture, claimed infallibility, and used spiritual matters for temporal gain until "at last, a knowing age began t'enquire / If they the Book, or that did them inspire" (RL, ll. 386, 388-89). As we saw in The Medal and now see in Religio Laici and Hind, the latter question is the one Dryden always asks any interpreter of Scripture: Is he humbly submissive to the Word of God, or does he arrogate it for his own purposes, which often coincide with political or other worldly ends?

Anglican Dryden's depiction of the Catholic Church in Religio Laici seems shopworn and listless compared to the fresh animus with which the poet then attacks the Dissenters, who reject Church authority and enthrone private interpretation of Scripture. After the Reformation, each man in the camp of Dissenters "consulted soberly his private good, / And sav'd himself as cheap as e'er he could," Dryden writes (RL, ll. 396-97), making the same charge later made by Dietrich Bonhoeffer against those who rely on "cheap grace." (20) Although the Reformation was good, "this good had full as bad a consequence," the Anglican Dryden writes (RL, l. 399). The poet then launches upon a truly horrifying depiction of the "rabble" of puritan prophesiers setting aside learning and humility to seize the "tender page" of Scripture "with horny fists" (RL, ll. 403, 404) and claim the authority of private revelation and a loud voice:
This was the fruit the private spirit brought,
Occasion'd by great zeal and little thought.
 (RL, ll. 415-16)

Politically Dryden sees the Dissenters as much more dangerous than the Catholics; it was the former, after all, whose religious zeal resulted in regicide, the beheading of Charles I. (21) And theologically, as Religio Laici suggests, Dryden sees the tyranny of private interpretation as ultimately more spiritually destructive than the tyranny of Catholic authority. It was the mob rule of the Puritans that in many ways persuaded Dryden of the need for an ecclesiastical authority whose doctrine and tradition are always reliable.

Dryden's modest claims for the authority of the Established Church in Religio Laici no longer hold water in The Hind and the Panther. Compared to the other doctrinal animals in the poem, the Anglican Panther is "least deform'd, because reform'd the least" (I, 409). "No church can better morals boast," for the Panther is "true to her king"; her sound principles derive from this loyalty to the earthly authority instituted by God (I, 431-32). The poem's menagerie also includes the Presbyterian Wolf; Baptist Boar; Bloody Bear (here Dryden appropriates the adjective often applied to Mary Tudor), symbol of the independent Congregational churches; Quaking Hare; Buffoon Ape, the atheist who apes the religious to mask his intrigues; and the Fox, who represents those who deny the incarnation of God in Christ, including Deists, Socinians, and other adherents of natural religion and "rationalist" opponents of revealed religion.

The Church of England, although the best of the alternatives to Catholicism, nonetheless has rebelled from the Catholic Church founded by Christ, abandoned the authority of Church tradition, and replaced Church authority with the authority of private conscience. Thus the Panther "wants innate authority," Dryden writes. He continues his analysis:
For how can she constrain them to obey
Who has herself cast off the lawful sway?
As long as words a diff'rent sense will bear
And each may be his own interpreter,
Our airy faith will no foundation find.
 (I, 442-43, 450-52)

Ultimately the poet makes the same judgment against the Panther that he had made against the Dissenters in The Medal and Religio Laici: "You rule the Scripture, not the Scripture you," the Hind tells the Panther (II, 187). This enthronement of private interpretation nullifies the authority of the Church Fathers, councils, and the rest of Church tradition, Dryden argues: "What weight of ancient witness can prevail / If private reason hold the public scale?" (I, 62-63).

As we have seen in Astraea Redux, The Medal, Absalom, and Religio, Dryden in Hind shows the effects of enthroning private conscience to rule over the authority of the Church. The Panther claims that "conscience, conscience wou'd not let [Henry VIII] rest" until "old, uncharming Catherine [of Aragon] was remov'd" (III, 207, 209). The Hind responds patiently to the Panther's claims until finally she scolds her: "O Proteus conscience, never to be ti'd!. ... For shame let conscience be your plea no more. ... But she's a bawd to gain, and holds the door" (III, 818, 857, 859). To which the Panther admits, "Conscience or int'rest be't, or both in one," summing up Dryden's analysis throughout his career of how easily men can rationalize self-interest by religiously dressed-up self-deception (III, 825).

The narrative action of The Hind and the Panther, as I have said, is slight. The movement is rhetorical; Dryden seeks to address and undo his Protestant audience's objections to his thesis and persuade them that their conceptions of the Catholic Church are misguided or bigoted. The poem's climax is the Hind's revelation of her identity to the Panther. When the Panther challenges the Hind to identify "some living guide" for the "faithful flock," the Hind, echoing Christ's admission of his divinity, replies, "She whom ye seek am I" (II, 390, 398). Throughout the poem, the Hind is gentle, loving, and kind, eager to forgive her "long-lost sons" as readily as the biblical Joseph embraced the brothers who sold him into slavery in Egypt (II, 641).

The Hind invites the Panther to lodge in her humble cell, where they drink "a grace-cup" to their "common patron's [Christ's] health" (II, 680). The Hind, often called a "dame" or "matron" as the embodiment of Holy Mother Church, "cannot die / Till rolling time is lost in round eternity" (III, 18-19). In Part III, the Hind and Panther tell their respective animal fables (about James's policies and the political fate of Catholics in England) before retiring for the night. The poem ends with a short vision of the Church's union with Christ, figured in Scripture as the wedding feast of the lamb (Rv 19:9), with the Church as the Bride of Christ: "Ten thousand angels on [the Hind's] slumbers wait / With glorious visions of her future state" (III, 1297-98)--"the wedding-day of [Christ with] His unspotted spouse" (II, 519).

The "immortal and unchang'd" Hind is unspotted and herbivorous. The carnivorous, spotted Panther is sullen, cruel, outwardly noble, inwardly savage; she pretends politeness before revealing her disdainful envy of the Hind and her "yawning ... pride" (III, 765). The Panther is the fruit of the miscegenation between a "Lion old, obscene, and furious made / By lust"--Henry VIII--who "compress'd [the Panther's] mother in a shade" (I, 351-52). She is "like a mule made up of diff'ring seed, / And that's the reason why you never breed," the Hind advises her (II, 265-66). However, the Presbyterian Wolf has "been too busy in" the lascivious Panther's bed, as the Church of England has adopted Calvinist doctrine (III, 166).

Throughout The Hind and the Panther Dryden engages and responds to the dark objections his English Protestant audience had to Catholic doctrine. Many Englishmen's views of the Catholic Church were shaped largely by John Foxe's Actes and Monuments (the Book of Martyrs; 1563), with its moving accounts of Protestant martyrs, particularly in the reign of Mary Tudor ("Bloody Mary"); pope-burnings on Queen Bess's Day, the anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth, who had been excommunicated by Pope (St.) Pius V in 1570 and who had led England to victory when a storm wrecked the invading Spanish Armada; and the Popish Plot. Even though Titus Oates, the chief witness in the plot, had been convicted of perjury and whipped through the streets of London after James II ascended to the throne, the plot revived the old suspicion that Catholics were more likely to be obedient to a foreign pope than to the English king.

This latter question was crucial for Dryden, the poet laureate and propagandist for the legitimate royal succession. He worked through this question publicly in his preface to Religio Laici. "Almost the whole body of ... Jesuited Papists ... are of opinion that their infallible master [the pope] has a right over kings, not only in spirituals but temporals," Dryden wrote then. These Jesuited Papists hold that if the pope excommunicates the sovereign, "then the bond of obedience is taken off from subjects; and they may and ought to drive him, like another Nebuchadnezzar,... from exercising dominion over Christians." (22)

Many, perhaps most, English Protestants would have stopped there, but Dryden was in the process of reexamining the ways in which Protestants characterized their Catholic controversial opponents. The Anglican Dryden had learned that many Catholics rejected this position attributed to the Jesuits. "A learned [Catholic] priest has lately written that this doctrine of the Jesuits is not de fide," Dryden wrote in the preface to Religio Laici. Indeed, it might "be true that this present Pope has condemn'd the doctrine of king-killing." But, Dryden continued, "'tis not sufficient for the more moderate and well-meaning Papists (of which I doubt not there are many) to produce the evidences of their loyalty to the late king, and to declare their innocency in this [Popish] Plot." No, they must publicly disown the Jesuitical principle "and subscribe to all doctrines which deny the Pope's authority of deposing kings." (23)

In fact, Innocent XI (who was pope from 1676 to 1689; later he was beatified) condemned not only king-killing but also the decision by the Sun King, Louis XIV, to revoke the Edict of Nantes. Louis's revocation of the decree of toleration caused thousands of Huguenots to flee France. In response, Catholic King James II organized a collection of funds to aid the Huguenots who came to England. Pope Innocent "tried to mitigate [the Huguenots'] misfortunes" and cooperated with Protestant states in "withstanding the Turkish and French threats to Europe," Miner points out. (24) The pope also advised James not to pursue policies considered by the Parliament to be high-handed; he refused to name James's chief hard-line advisor, Fr. Petre, an archbishop or cardinal and instead asked the general of the Society of Jesus to rebuke Petre. In The Hind and the Panther, Dryden praises the hand of friendship extended to Protestants by Pope Innocent XI, the "pious pastor," and King James II, the "British Lion":
... the Sheep [Christ] and harmless Hind
Were never of the persecuting kind.
Such pity now the pious pastor shows,
Such mercy from the British Lion flows,
That both provide protection for their foes.
 (I, 286-90)

Dryden caricatures Petre, who also served as James's confessor, as a "round belli'd ... dunce" (III, 464-65). He criticizes James's policy (in defiance of the Test Act) of replacing Anglican army officers with Catholics. These sections of the poem must not have pleased the king; they may be a reason for James's failure to grant Dryden's petition for the [pounds sterling]800 owed him for his labors as poet laureate.

In 1685 Parliament supported James in defeating the rebellion led by the Duke of Monmouth, the figure of Absalom in Dryden's poem. Like Absalom in Scripture (but not in Dryden's poem--he purposely omitted the biblical ending of the tale), Monmouth's rebellion ended with his death by beheading on Tower Hill. The trials of Monmouth's rebels, which resulted in the hanging of 320 people, increased Protestant suspicions that James would be another Bloody Mary; the trials and executions came to be known as the Bloody Assizes, another addition to the English gallery of anti-Catholic exhibits.

Two years later, in April 1687, James issued the Declaration for Liberty of Conscience, usually called the Declaration of Indulgence. It stipulated (1) the protection and maintenance of Anglican clergy and believers; (2) suspension of the "penal laws in matters ecclesiastical" exacted against Dissenters, Catholics, and other non-Anglicans; (3) tolerance in religious worship, (4) cancellation of the anti-Catholic Test Act, and (5) an assurance that the lands and properties taken from the Catholic Church during the Reformation would remain in the present owners' hands.

Dryden had already written The Hind and the Panther by the time the Declaration was promulgated, but he made a few revisions to his poem, particularly in Part III, to take the new political development into account. The two animal fables told by the Panther and Hind in Part III are easily the weakest part of the poem. (25)

Politically the Declaration was a disaster; the only people who liked it were the Dissenters and Catholics. Parliament disliked it. James had prorogued Parliament in November 1685 and now was nullifying laws that Parliament had refused to repeal: the Test Act and the laws penalizing those outside the Established Church. And James was enacting the same kind of Declaration of Indulgence that Parliament earlier had forced his brother to retract. When James issued a second Declaration of Indulgence in April 1688, the Archbishop of Canterbury and six other Anglican bishops refused to read it in church to their congregations.

This was the political context into which Dryden launched his apologia for the Roman Catholic Church. He knew that his Protestant audience would find good reasons (in their view) to will-fully misread him; Dryden had once been among them. As always, Dryden gets straight to the point in the opening two sentences of his preface "To the Reader" of The Hind and the Panther:
 The nation is in too high a ferment for me to expect either fair
 war or even so much as fair quarter from a reader of the opposite
 party. All men are engag'd either on this side or that, and tho'
 conscience is the common word which is given by both, yet if a
 writer fall among enemies and cannot give marks of their
 conscience, he is knock'd down before the reasons of his own are
 heard. (26)

Later in the preface Dryden alludes to James II's Declaration for Liberty of Conscience and states "that conscience is the royalty and prerogative of every private man." For that reason, James is right to promulgate his Declaration, and, Dryden implies, Louis XIV wrong to revoke the Edict of Nantes, for "those who are driven into the fold are, generally speaking, rather made hypocrites than converts." (27)

Throughout Hind, Dryden attempts to deflect the anti-Catholic representation of the Church as naturally a persecuting tyrant. In the preface Dryden argues for his moral credibility--his ethos--by asserting that the poem "was neither impos'd on me, nor so much as the subject given me by any man." (28) Earlier the poet laureate had written poems and made translations at the behest of the king; Charles II paid him for writing The Medal in protest of Shaftesbury's legal acquittal in 1681 after he had led the movement to exclude James from the throne and replace him with Monmouth. But Hind proceeds of the poet's own initiative, Dryden claims, out of his own inwardly felt desire to communicate the truth about the Catholic Church--and, concomitantly but secondarily, to argue for the wisdom of some, but not all, of James's policies in Britain. Thus Dryden responds to the perennial charge that Catholics are automatons who have turned over their free will and freedom of conscience to the tyrannizing pope--and, in this case, the Catholic king.

Dryden's "decision to write The Hind and the Panther, which made him vulnerable on all sides, is astonishing," Winn rightly points out. (29) The poem's lengthy apologia for the Catholic Church, appearing five years after his much shorter and much more tentative apologia for the Church of England, and the timing of his conversion--during the reign of England's first openly Catholic ruler since Mary Tudor--left Dryden wide open to charges of opportunistic hypocrisy, of having a conscience that was at the service of whoever was in charge, be it Puritan Cromwell, Anglican Charles II, or Catholic James II. Indeed, shortly after his defense of the legitimate royal succession in Absalom and Achitophel, one of Dryden's many political enemies had reprinted a copy of the Heroic Stanzas in which Dryden had praised Cromwell twenty-three years earlier.

Over the centuries, Dryden has taken a lot of heat for The Hind and the Panther from critics, who, as Annabel Patterson reminds us, "are not themselves unbiased." (30) For many critics, the poem's chief failing is the issue I have already mentioned, and one that Dryden suggests in the first sentences of his preface: Many readers are scandalized by Dryden's chief thesis--the claim of the Roman Catholic Church to be the one holy catholic and apostolic Church founded by Christ. Some question the sincerity of Dryden's conversion. The low point was the "appalling portrait" of Dryden by the Victorian historian, Thomas Macaulay, who characterizes the poet as a "turn-coat and timeserver" and falsely claims that James II paid Dryden to convert, Winn writes. Much more recently, Steven N. Zwicker, editor of The Cambridge Companion to John Dryden (2004), gives us, with no evidence, a subtler version of Macaulay's canard: "Prizes were rumored for Dryden, and pressure exerted, so that the laureate might see his way to a spiritual awakening." Hind, he writes, is Dryden's "remarkable, nearly impenetrable, script of Roman Catholic conversion"--the telling word script expressing the old suspicion that Catholics just do what they're told. Keith Walker even omitted the poem from his Oxford edition of Dryden's Major Works (reissued in paperback, 2003), "as if Dryden's longest and most complex original poem could be arbitrarily excluded from his corpus," Winn writes. (31) As for Dryden's motives for conversion, more important than any worldly considerations was the poet's "hard-earned personal conviction that Catholicism was the truth, reached at the end of a process of soul-searching," Winn writes. The view that Dryden was motivated by opportunism is "incomplete and bigoted." (32)

To be sure, it is not surprising that Anglicans such as Jonathan Swift and C.S. Lewis don't endorse a poem in which their church is presented as a lascivious, half-savage Panther. Dryden is one of those writers who, "having past their lives in Vices, Faction and Falshood, have the Impudence to talk of Merit and Innocence and Sufferings," Swift complained. (33) Anglican T.S. Eliot wrote the famous essays resurrecting the literary reputations of Dryden, Alexander Pope, and John Donne, but Eliot, after all, usually refers to himself simply as a Catholic (not an Anglo-Catholic); he says nothing about Hind in his essay on Dryden. C.S. Lewis was sufficiently exercised by Eliot's rating of Dryden above Shelley to respond rather intemperately:
 The Hind and the Panther ... is full of "good things," but ... what
 are we to say if not that the very design of conducting in verse a
 theological controversy allegorized as a beast fable suggests in
 the author a state of mind bordering on aesthetic insanity? ... The
 Hind and the Panther does not exist. ... It is not a poem: it is
 simply a name [for] ... a number of pieces of good description,
 vigorous satire, and "popular" controversy, which have all been
 yoked together by external violence. (34)

In his biography of Dryden (1808), Sir Walter Scott states that "Dryden's conversion was not of that sordid kind which is the consequence of a strong temporal interest" but finds it most unfortunate that Dryden chose the Roman church, which is "foully corrupted from the primitive simplicity of the Christian church." However, Scott, at least in his own mind, takes the sting out of Dryden's rejection of the "pure Protestant creed" by arguing that Dryden was not fully a Trinitarian Christian when he wrote Religio Laici. Dryden was drawn to natural religion and Pyrrhonism (skepticism) then, Scott argues. It is true that Dryden addresses the arguments for natural religion and "rationalism" in both Religio and Hind, but he clearly rebuts them; only a few critics over the centuries agree with Scott's claim that the Anglican Dryden actually holds the skeptical view. (35)

The Hind and the Panther also has evoked critical expressions of anger and even outrage--"outraged Protestantism" (Miner's phrase) and outraged secularism. (36) D.W. Jefferson and Zwicker take issue with Dryden's depictions of the persecutions of British Catholics--the "martyr'd offspring" and "slaughtered army" of More, Fisher, Campion, Plunket, and many more whose "vocal blood ... cri'd for pardon" for their persecutors (I, 22, 13, 15-16). Dryden's verse "suggests a frequency and vigour in the persecution of Catholics that goes far beyond what the facts of history warrant," Jefferson asserts; the persecution of Protestants under Mary Tudor was just as bad, he states. Zwicker conflates the spiritual and temporal realms and posits primarily political motives for Dryden's apologia for the Catholic Church. Dryden's abusive "regime of insults prepared for the history of Protestant reform and the character of the present Anglican Church is hard to rationalize," he writes, particularly when Dryden's favored Roman Church is "known rather for bigotry and inquisition than humility and toleration." (37)

Mark van Doren, whose biography of Dryden Eliot was responding to, is up front about his valuation of any doctrines of the faith, Protestant or Catholic. Religio Laici and Hind "dealt with the most transitory of topics, creeds and ecclesiastical expedients," he writes. Van Doren sees Hind as primarily political in content. Thus "within a year [of its publication] it was nullified in most respects by the Revolution" of 1688--an astonishing dismissal of the truth-claims in eternity of the Catholic Church that Dryden is advancing. (38)

By contrast, the eighteenth-century English historian Edward Gibbon quotes from The Hind and the Panther in explaining his conversion to Rome, whereby "the ten-horned monster [was] transformed ... into the milk-white Hind." Graham Greene, another convert to the Catholic faith, used lines from Hind describing the persecution of English Catholics as the epigram for The Power and the Glory, his tale of the persecuted Church in Mexico. "The cosmic vision in which the allegory [in Hind] participates is ... Roman Catholic, so that an unwary reader who invests himself in the play of figures and ideas is likely to espouse the Catholic cause without fully realizing it," writes J.M. Armistead. (39)

The problem, of course, is that readers must set aside their preconceptions about the Catholic Church in order to invest themselves fully in the poem's argument. Dryden himself was always alert to the way the predispositions of the reader and the values of the age shaped readings of his work. "If you like not my poem, the fault may possibly be in my writing ... but more probably 'tis in your morals, which cannot bear the truth of it," he challenged the reader in his preface to Absalom and Achitophel. (40) In his two fine elegies, the poet "dares to sing [the] praises" of the virtuous Eleonora in "this bad age ... Where vice triumphs and virtue is a crime"--"this lubric and adult'rate age" (Eleonora, ll. 363, 368, 364; To Mrs. Anne Killegrew, 1685, l. 63).

"Religious matters ... are of more importance than the political situation to the character of The Hind and the Panther," Miner wisely states. "In its own day [the poem] ... was regarded ... as a contribution to the theological controversy of the time." (41) If Dryden had been trying to write a primarily political poem, he would have glossed over the theological differences between the Roman and English churches and simply extended the olive branch to the Anglicans; but, of course, that is not what he set out to do. Still, it's easy to see why some critics have seen the poem as primarily political. To begin with, as Phillip Harth notes, politics and religion were more closely intertwined in the seventeenth--and I would add the sixteenth--century than in most other periods of English history. (42) The shared assumption in all European countries then was that social cohesion depended on religious uniformity; this was the notion decisively rejected by the American Founding Fathers in the eighteenth century.

As we trace the history of religious controversy in sixteenth-and seventeenth-century England, it's fascinating to see how some of Dryden's critiques of the Protestant Reformation echo similar analyses by the Protestant Spenser nearly one hundred years earlier. Dryden cites the "great example" of Spenser to defend not only his use of animal fables but also his analysis of the Church of England in The Hind and the Panther (III, 12); he also cites Aesop, Chaucer, and Boccaccio to justify the animal fable. (43) Spenser's Prosopopoia (the attribution of human qualities to the poem's animals), or Mother Hubberds Tale (1591), which Dryden invokes by name (III, 8), is a remarkably bold attack on Anglican priests who use the freedoms of the Reformation as an excuse for laziness; it also attacks lying at the royal court. Indeed, Spenser's poem--his most Chaucerian work--was so bold that it kindled "sparks of displeasure" among the powerful and was omitted from the 1611 printing of Complaints, the collection of poems in which it originally appeared. (44) The criticism of the lukewarm Church of England by the Protestant Spenser parallels puritan attacks on the Established Church; conversely Spenser tweaks clergymen who outwardly "fashion ... a godly zeale" in order to win a fat benefice from a nobleman with a "zealous disposition" (MHT, ll. 493, 491). Dryden uses some of the same criticisms but casts them into a Catholic mold.

In Spenser's rather lengthy poem (1,388 lines), the Fox and the Ape (two animals Dryden uses in his poem) resolve to seek their fortune in the wide world in the easiest way possible. At first they pretend to be clerks, but then they meet a Protestant priest who tells them how much easier it is to be a priest since the Reformation. Now he needs no "deep learning," since a knowledge of Latin and Greek does nothing but "breede [d]oubts among Divines" and religious controversy; it's easier simply to avoid the foreign languages and "follow the plaine word" (in English) (MHT, ll. 385-87, 390). Yes, the priest counsels the Fox and Ape, life is much easier for priests since the "needlesse works" of all the complicated Catholic Masses were "laid away" (MHT, l. 455). Now we need to "doo our small devotion" but once a week, on Sundays, "and then ... follow any merrie motion" (MHT, ll. 457-58). Not only that, but mandatory fasting and chastity are out, too, the Anglican priest continues:
Beside we may have lying by our sides
Our lovely Lasses, or bright shining Brides:
We be not tyde to wilfull chastitie,
But have the Gospell of free libertie.
 (MHT, ll. 475-78)

These advertisements for the easy life of priests persuade the Fox, who is ordained an Anglican priest.

Dryden appropriates Spenser's analysis in his own depiction of the carnal benefits of the Reformation:
Confessions, fasts, and penance set aside;
O with what ease we follow such a guide,
Where souls are starv'd and senses gratify'd!
 (Hind, I, 364-66)

How easy it is for the sects to "call rebellion gospel liberty," the Hind later tells the Panther (II, 415), using, like Spenser, the Protestant catch-phrase.

As the plot proceeds in Mother Hubberds Tale, the Fox and Ape now come upon a sleeping Lion and steal his crown and mace. With the Ape posing as king, the two beasts despoil the kingdom until finally the Lion awakens and resumes his rightful rule.

Spenser dedicated The Faerie Queene to Queen Elizabeth, "renowned for pietie, vertue, and all gratious government," as the poet wrote in the dedication. Dryden, by contrast, conflates his image of Henry VIII as an old, obscene, lustful lion with Spenser's image of the sleeping lion king to present Elizabeth quite differently:
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 asleep.
 (Hind, III, 8-11)

In the final canto of Spenser's monumental Faerie Queene, the horrifying Blatant Beast, a "hellish," hundred-tongued beast, breaks free from all the knights who try to subdue him and ranges freely throughout the world, inflicting calumny, spite, and falsehood upon all the world (FQ, VI, xii, 32, 33). In Dryden's view, the Blatant Beast has ranged throughout England and defamed Catholics, the Catholic Church, James II, Dryden himself, and many others. "Black detraction ... [and] homicide of names ... thrive" in Britain (III, 258-59), says the Hind, who earlier replies thus to a low accusation by the Panther: "You learn'd this language from the blatant beast" (II, 230). To call the pope and Catholic Church the Whore of Babylon and the blaspheming, seven-headed, ten-horned beast of Revelation 13:1 was commonplace in the controversial literature. Dryden's task in Hind is to guide the Protestant reader predisposed to such visions of devilry to see the Catholic Church differently. In vain do the other animals seek "to find / The ten-horn'd monster in the harmless Hind" (I, 536-37). The English are so enthralled by the Blatant Beast's calumnious prophesyings of the tyrannical Whore of Babylon that they miss the true danger, Dryden argues in one of his particularly strong aphoristic couplets:
Of all the tyrannies on human kind
The worst is that which persecutes the mind.
 (I, 239-40)

We already have seen Dryden's relentless satirizing of those who cloak self-interest in political or religious ideals. We have noted that Dryden also argues that Britain's political fortunes flow directly from its spiritual condition. "I have heard ... of some virtuous persons who have ended unfortunately, but never of any virtuous nation," he writes in his dedication of Annus Mirabilis to "the metropolis of Great Britain" and the city of London. "Providence is engag'd too deeply when the cause becomes so general." (45) He depicts the king as in persona Christi in Astraea Redux and Hind, as well as in Threnodia Augustalis (1685), his elegy on the death of Charles II, and Britannia Rediviva (1688), his celebration of the birth of James II's son. In Threnodia, Charles is "that all-forgiving king, / The type of Him above / That inexhausted spring / Of clemency and love" who "almost [is] invoked below" the way a Catholic saint is; Dryden was less than a year away from first publicly attending Mass when he wrote the poem. (46)

State and church are closely identified in the poems of the Anglican Dryden. The identification of the fortunes of the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Church of England climaxes in Threnodia, in which Dryden conjoins English soil with an everlasting kingdom: "Our British Heav'n was all serene" until Charles II died, he writes (Threnodia, l. 9). But Dryden's conversion to Catholicism initiates a major change in his view of the relation between church and state. For the Catholic, as John Courtney Murray later wrote, "the principles of Catholic faith and morality stand superior to, and in control of, the whole order of civil life." For the American Catholic, the question isn't "whether Catholicism is compatible with American democracy" but "whether American democracy is compatible with Catholicism." (47)

The Hind and the Panther and Britannia Rediviva (Britain Renewed, Renovated) are the two major public poems Dryden wrote as a Catholic during the reign of James II--and the last two major public poems of his career. In both poems he adjures Britain to return to the Catholic faith at home and to spread the gospel of Christ abroad more than it has done in the past. In the Anglican poems the poet had confessed national sins and envisioned God purging the land through tribulation. In Hind Dryden sorrows and blushes over the arrogance of his land, his "too boastful Britain," in which the sectarian animals "destroy thy blissful bow'r," unlike in "happy ... Italy and Spain, / Which never did those monsters entertain" (I, 154, 158, 291-92):
Here let my sorrow give my satire place
To raise new blushes on my British race
For, with my country's pardon be it said,
Religion is the least of all our trade.
 (II, 556-57, 566-67) (48)

Dryden intensifies his charges in Britannia, in which he accuses Britain of actively corrupting other lands: "Our manners, as religion were a dream, / Are such as teach the nations to blaspheme" (Britannia, ll. 280-81).

Considered in the light of British history, Britannia Rediviva is arguably the most poignantly, or wretchedly, pitiable poem ever written. It seemed a miracle when James II, at age fifty-four, finally got a son and heir to the throne, born on Trinity Sunday, June 10, 1688. Dryden rushed his celebratory poem into print two weeks later. The poem combines all the yearnings and hopes for his native land that Dryden had ever expressed in his previous poetry, but with everything pitched up a notch or two; the poem's uncharacteristically transported state verges at times on hysteria. Dryden fervently hopes that Englishmen will finally reclaim their ancient heritage, the Catholic faith, and be the light of the nations God calls them to be. But for this to happen, James must remain on the throne and be succeeded by the new prince:
To mend our crimes whole ages wou'd require,
To change th' inveterate habit of our sins
Kind Heav'n, to make us Englishmen again,
No less can give us than a patriarch's reign.
 (Britannia, ll. 38-39, 41-42)

But all such hopes came crashing down when, on June 30, 1688, Admiral Arthur Herbert set out from England with a letter from the six nobles and Anglican bishop inviting James II's daughter and son-in-law, William of Orange (figured as the Buzzard in the Hind's animal fable in Part III of the poem), to accede to the throne. (49) When William landed in November 1688 and James fled to France the next month, Dryden refused to take the oath of allegiance to the new king or to give up his Catholic faith. For that he lost the poet laureateship to Thomas Shadwell, the "true blew Protestant poet" whom he had satirized in MacFlecknoe. In November 1699, in a letter written six months before his death, Dryden expressed the steadfastness of his faith and continuing refusal to swear the oath to King William III; he urged his Protestant relative, Mrs. Steward, not to judge the truth-claims of the Catholic Church hastily:
I can neither take the Oaths, nor forsake my Religion, because
I know not what Church to go to, if I leave the Catholique....
May God be pleasd to open your Eyes, as he has opend mine:
Truth is but one; & they who have once heard of it, can plead
no Excuse, if they do not embrace it. (50)

Or, as he had written in The Hind and the Panther: "Truth has such a face and such a mien / As to be lov'd needs only to be seen" (I, 33-34).

"Dryden's career ended as it began, in a triumph of the will," Van Doren wrote. "An old man divorced from the Court and vilely lampooned by Whigs each year that he lived, he might have raged or snarled or complained or degenerated. [Instead] he settled down to the telling of stories"--the brilliant translations of Virgil's Aeneid (1697) and of tales from Homer, Virgil, Boccaccio, and Chaucer in Fables Ancient and Modern (1700). (51)

"I [am] lyable to be mi[s]construed in all I write," Dryden wrote in his introduction to the Aeneid. (52) "More libels have been written against me, than almost any man now living," he wrote in the preface to his Discourse on Satire (1693). "I speak not of my poetry [but of] my morals, which have been sufficiently aspers'd. ... We have no moral right on the reputation of other men. ... In Christian charity, all offenses are to be forgiven, as we expect the like pardon for those which we daily commit against Almighty God." (53)

But the poet had already counted the cost of his Catholicism. "Let Heaven judge betwixt your sons and mine," the Hind had told the Panther before continuing:
If joys hereafter must be purchas'd here
With loss of all that mortals hold so dear,
Then welcome infamy and public shame
And, last, a long farewell to worldly fame.
 (III, 280-83) (54)


(1.) James Anderson Winn, John Dryden and His World (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1987), 436. Dryden's third and youngest son, Erasmus-Henry, later was ordained a Catholic priest after finishing his studies at Douai, France. It may be that Dryden's wife and sons preceded Dryden into the Catholic Church (ibid., 415).

(2.) Earl Miner, ed., The Works of John Dryden, vol. 3 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969), 327. Many of the historical details in this article come from Winn and Miner. Charles Montagu, one of the two writers of Hind Transvers'd, later thought well enough of Dryden to help pay for his funeral expenses. Winn, John Dryden and His World, 512.

(3.) Robert Greenberg and William Piper, ed., The Writings of Jonathan Swift (New York: W.W. Norton, 1973), 300. In Swift's The Battel of the Books (1697), Virgil agrees to exchange his golden armor for Dryden's rusty iron armor after Dryden "called [Virgil] Father, and by a large deduction of Genealogies, made it plainly appear, that they were nearly related" (ibid., 390).

(4.) J.J. Scarisbrick, The Reformation of the English People (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1984). Eamon Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400-1580 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992).

(5.) James II lives on as a Catholic villain in such songs as The Protestant Boys in The Ulster Orange/Unionist Loyalist Songbook (; accessed January 31, 2009):
When James half a bigot, and more of a knave
With masses and Frenchmen the land would enslave
The Protestant Boys for liberty drew
And showed with the Orange the banner of Blue...
And Protestant Boys still carried the day.

(6.) Earl Miner, ed., Selected Poetry and Prose of John Dryden (New York: Modern Library, 1985), ll. 21-22, 275. All quotations from Dryden's poetry are from this edition; all quotations from Dryden's prefaces to Annus Mirabilis, Absalom and Achitophel, and The Hind and the Panther are also from this edition.

(7.) Winn, John Dryden and His World, 314, 315.

(8.) Earl Miner, "The Poetics of the Critical Act: Dryden's Dealings with Rivals and Predecessors." In James A. Winn, ed., Critical Essays on John Dryden (New York: G.K. Hall, 1997), 33.

(9.) George R. Noyes, ed., The Poetical Works of John Dryden (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1909), 282, 512. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations from Dryden's prefaces to his Religio Laici, Discourse on Satire, translation of the Aeneid, and Fables are from this edition.

(10.) Edmund Spenser, The Fairie Queen. Ed. Thomas P. Roche, Jr. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1978).

(11.) Bryan Berry, "Spenser's Rhetorical and Semiotic Strategies amid Sixteenth-Century Religious Controversies" (PhD diss., University of Michigan, 1992). See also Stephen Greenblatt, Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare (New York: W.W. Norton, 2004). Greenblatt envisions a meeting between Shakespeare and the Jesuit martyr Edmund Campion (106-17). In his tongue-in-cheek poem "The Will," John Donne bequeaths to Catholics and Protestants (and university scholars) what their opponents in controversy accused them of lacking:
My faith I give to Roman Catholics;
All my good works unto the Schismatics
Of Amsterdam; my best civility
And courtship to an University

(12.) Similarly in 1582 the Anglican divine George Gifford published A Dialogue between a Papist and a Protestant Applied to the Capacitie of the Unlearned (London) in which Gifford authored both sides of the argument.

(13.) Winn, John Dryden and His World, 66.

(14.) Miner, Selected Poetry, 159.

(15.) Ibid.

(16.) Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1981). Emotivism, MacIntyre writes, is "the doctrine that all evaluative judgments and, more specifically, all moral judgments are nothing but expressions of preference, expressions of attitude or feeling" (11-12). Like relativism, its close kin, emotivism posits no absolute moral standards.

(17.) Phillip Harth, Contexts of Dryden's Thought (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968), 264.

(18.) Although Henry VIII is well known for supplanting the pope as head of the English Church, less well known are two other facts: (1) It was the pope, Leo X, who bestowed on the Tudor monarch the title of Defender of the Faith (an honorific still used by the British monarch today) in 1521, as a reward for a tract Henry wrote against Martin Luther's heresies on the seven sacraments. (2) Although he separated the Church of England from Rome, Henry nonetheless enforced such Catholic doctrine as transubstantiation in the Six Articles Act (1539). See A.G. Dickens, The English Reformation (New York: Schocken, 1964), 177.

(19.) I owe this distinction between the Protestant and Catholic approaches to my discussions with Prof. Thomas Tentler, author of Sin and Confession on the Eve of the Reformation (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977).

(20.) "Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church," Dietrich Bonhoeffer begins The Cost of Discipleship (New York: Macmillan, 1975), 45. "We are fighting today for costly grace."

(21.) Compared to the Dissenters, "the Papists ... [are] less dangerous, at least in appearance, to our present State," Dryden wrote in his preface to Religio Laici, "for not only the penal laws are in force against them, and their number is contemptible; but also their peerage and commons are excluded from parliaments, and consequently those laws in no probability of being repeal'd." Noyes, Poetical Works, 159.

(22.) Miner, Selected Poetry, 159, 160.

(23.) Ibid., 160.

(24.) Miner, Works, 368.

(25.) In his preface to the Fables, Dryden explains how he cut certain sections of Chaucer's original tale and added to it "where I thought my author was deficient. ... Another poet, in another age, may take the same liberty with my writings; if at least they live long enough to deserve correction." Noyes, Political Works, 746-47. Given Dryden's permission, an edited version of Hind without the two obscure animal fables in Part III might find a wider audience.

(26.) Miner, Selected Poetry, 336.

(27.) Ibid., 337, 338.

(28.) Ibid., 338.

(29.) Winn, John Dryden and His World, 421.

(30.) Annabel Patterson, "Dryden and Political Allegiance." In Stephen N. Zwicker, ed., The Cambridge Companion to John Dryden (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 221.

(31.) James Winn, "Introduction." In Winn, Critical Essays, 6, 12. Steven N. Zwicker, "Composing a Literary Life: Introduction." In Zwicker, Cambridge Companion, 10, 9. See also, Keith Walker, ed. John Dryden: The Major Works (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003). Interestingly enough, the two reviews of Walker's Oxford edition of Dryden posted on (accessed on July 24, 2007) both complained about the omission of The Hind and the Panther.

(32.) Winn, John Dryden and His World, 414.

(33.) "Tub," Greenberg and Piper, Writings of Swift, 300.

(34.) T.S. Eliot, Selected Essays: 1917-1932 (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1932), 264-74. C.S. Lewis, Selected Literary Essays (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969), 191. Some might wonder why the author of The Chronicles of Narnia has a problem with talking animals, but, of course, Lewis's speaking beasts don't debate the merits of the Catholic and Anglican churches.

(35.) Sir Walter Scott, The Life of John Dryden (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1963), 267-70.

(36.) Miner, Works, 321.

(37.) D.W. Jefferson, "The Poetry of 'The Hind and the Panther,'" Modern Language Review 79, no. 1 (1984): 33. Stephen N. Zwicker, "The Paradoxes of Tender Conscience." In Winn, Critical Essays, 182, 191.

(38.) Mark van Doren, John Dryden: A Study of His Poetry (New York: Henry Holt, 1946), 169-70.

(39.) Quoted in Scott, Life, 271-72. J.M. Armistead, "The Mythic Dimension of Dryden's The Hind and the Panther," Studies in English Literature 16 (1976): 380. Greene quotes the Panther's description of the persecution and execution of Catholics in the Popish Plot: "Th'inclosure narrow'd; the sagacious power / Of hounds and death drew nearer every hour" (II, 5-6).

(40.) Miner, Selected Poetry, 203.

(41.) Miner, Works, 328.

(42.) Harth, Contexts, 228.

(43.) Miner, Selected Poetry, 340.

(44.) William Oram et al., ed., The Yale Edition of the Shorter Poems of Edmund Spenser (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989), 327. All quotations from Spenser's Mother Hubberds Tale are from this edition.

(45.) Miner, Selected Poetry, 107-8.

(46.) Ibid., 257-60, 385; my italics.

(47.) John Courtney Murray, SJ, We Hold These Truths: Catholic Reflections on the American Proposition (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 1960), ix-x.

(48.) The Blissful Bower also is from Spenser's Faerie Queene. In addition, in Hind Dryden alludes to and reworks Spenser's Monster Error, Duessa, and Archimago. See Miner, Works, 433.

(49.) The Buzzard also may refer to Gilbert Burnet, one of the Anglican divines who vigorously supported Parliament's refusal to repeal the Test Act and penal laws (Miner, Works, 328, 440).

(50.) Winn, John Dryden and His World, 508; John Spurr, "The Piety of John Dryden," in Zwicker, Cambridge Companion, 253.

(51.) Van Doren, Dryden, 214.

(52.) Winn, John Dryden and His World, 491.

(53.) Noyes, Poetical Works, 308.

(54.) Early in 1686 James II published brief statements by his brother, Charles II, and by James's first wife, Anne Hyde, the Duchess of York (who died in 1671), documenting their conversion to Catholicism before their deaths. When the Anglican controversialist Edward Stillingfleet attacked the authenticity of the Royal Papers, James II engaged Dryden to rebut Stillingfleet's arguments. In the Royal Papers Anne Hyde wrote, "I only in short, say this for the changing of my Religion, which I take God to Witness I would never have done, if I had thought it possible to Save my Soul otherwise. I think, I need not say, it is any Interest in this World [that] leads me to it. ... I must lose all the Friends, and Credit I have here, by it" (Miner, Works, 415).

Dryden registered his response to Hyde's testimony in his Defence of the Papers Written by the Late King of Blessed Memory, and Duchess of York:
 Truth has a Language to it self, which 'tis impossible for
 Hypocrisie to imitate: Dissimulation could never write so warmly,
 nor with so much life. What less than the Spirit of Primitive
 Christianity could have dictated her Words? The loss of Friends,
 of worldly Honours, and Esteem, the Defamation of ill Tongues, and
 the Reproach of the Cross, all these, though not without the
 struglings of Flesh and Blood, were surmounted by her; as if the
 Saying of our Saviour were always sounding in her Ears, What will
 it profit a man to gain the whole world, and lose his Soul! (Winn,
 John Dryden and His World, 420)
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Author:Berry, Bryan
Publication:Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture
Date:Mar 22, 2009
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