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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IX. From Steele and Addison to Pope and Swift.

VI. Lesser Verse Writers

§ 2. The Country and the City Mouse

In 1686, he took his bachelor’s degree, and in the following year joined with Charles Montague in writing The Hind and the Panther Transvers’d to the Story of the Country and the City Mouse. The form of this slight piece is copied from Buckingham’s Rehearsal, which contains the originals of the poet Bayes and those “languishing gentlemen” Smith and Johnson. In The Rehearsal, Bayes takes them to the repetition of his latest rimed tragedy. Here, he makes them listen to as much as they can bear of his new poem in defence of the church of Rome. Some of the incongruities in Dryden’s fable, and one or two incidental mistakes, are effectively twitted, and Dryden’s method of argument (which abhors “knotty reasonings” as “too barbarous for my stile”) is rather happily hit off. But the point of the jest—that Dryden’s moral change will not always keep pace with his formal conversion—

  • Such was I—such, by nature still I am—
  • is but a sorry kind of personality. Prior seems to have indulged a pique against Dryden, which does not sit well on the lesser poet. While Dryden left this attack without any effective retort, Pope avenged his injured fellow Catholics on Montague in his Epistle to Arbuthnot (where Montague figures as Bufo).