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JOHN DRYDEN was born, probably in 1631, in post of poet-laureate, to which was added the sine. the parish of Aldwincle-Allsaints, in Northampton-cure place of historiographer royal; the joint sala shire. His father possessed a small estate, acted ries of which amounted to 2001.

as a justice of the peace during the usurpation, and The tragedies composed by Dryden were written seems to have been a Presbyterian. John, at a in his earlier periods, in rhyme, which circumstance proper age, was sent to Westminster school, of which probably contributed to the poetical rant by which Busby was then master; and was thence elected they were too much characterized. For the corto a scholarship in Trinity college, Cambridge. rection of this fault, Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, He took his degrees of Bachelor and Master of Arts in conjunction with other wits, wrote the celebrated in the university; but though he had written two burlesque drama, entitled "The Rehearsal," of short copies of verses about the time of his admis- which Dryden, under the name of Bayes, was made sion, his name does not occur among the academi- the hero; and, in order to point the ridicule, his cal poets of this period. By his father's death, in dress, phraseology, and mode of recitation, were 1654, he succeeded to the estate, and, removing to exactly imitated by the actor. It does not, however, the metropolis, he made his entrance into public appear that his solid reputation as a poet was injured life, under the auspices of his kinsman, Sir Gilbert by this attack. He had the candor to acknowledge Pickering, one of Cromwell's council and house that several of the strokes were just, and he wisely of lords, and staunch to the principles then predom- refrained from making any direct reply. inant. On the death of Cromwell, Dryden wrote some "Heroic Stanzas," strongly marked by the loftiness of expression and variety of imagery which characterized his more mature efforts. They were, however, criticised with some severity.

In 1681, and, as it is asserted, at the king's express desire, he wrote his famous political poem, entitled "Absalom and Achitophel;" in which the incidents in the life of David were adapted to those of Charles II. in relation to the Duke of At the Restoration, Dryden lost no time in oblit- Monmouth and the Earl of Shaftesbury. Its poetry erating former stains; and, as far as it was possible, and its severity caused it to be read with great rendered himself peculiarly distinguished for the eagerness; and as it raised the author to high favor bas servility of his strains. He greeted the king's with the court party, so it involved him in irreconreturn by a poem, entitled "Astræa Redux," which cilable enmity with its opponents. These feelings was followed by "A Panegyric on the Corona- were rendered more acute by his "Medal, a Satire tion:" nor did Lord Chancellor Clarendon escape on Sedition," written in the same year, on occasion his encomiastic lines. His marriage with Lady of a medal struck by the whigs, when a grand Elizabeth Howard, daughter of the Earl of Berk- jury returned Ignoramus to an indictment preferred shire, is supposed to have taken place in 1665. against Lord Shaftesbury, for high treason. The About this time he first appears as a writer for the rancor of this piece is not easily to be paralleled stage, in which quality he composed several pieces; among party poems. In 1682 he published "Macand though he did not display himself as a prime Flecknoe," a short piece, throwing ridicule upon favorite of the dramatic muse, his facility of har- his very unequal rival, Shadwell. In the same monious versification, and his splendor of poetic year, one of his most serious poems, the “Religio diction, gained him admirers. In 1667 he publish- Laici," made its appearance. Its purpose was ed a singular poem, entitled "Annus Mirabilis," to give a compendious view of the arguments for the subjects of which were, the naval war with revealed religion, and to ascertain in what the authe Dutch, and the fire of London. It was written thority of revelation essentially consists. in four-line stanzas, a form which has since gone Soon after this time, he ceased to write for the into disuse in heroic subjects; but the piece stage. His dramatic vein was probably exhausted, abounded in images of genuine poetry, though intermixed with many extravagances.

and his circumstances were distressed. To this pe riod Mr. Malone refers a letter written by him to At this period of his life, Dryden became pro- Hyde, Earl of Rochester, in which, with modest fessionally a writer for the stage, having entered dignity, he pleads merit enough not to deserve to into a contract with the patentees of the King's starve, and requests some small employment in the Theatre, to supply them with three plays in a year, customs or excise, or, at least, the payment of half upon the condition of being allowed the profit of a year's pension for the supply of his present necesone share and a quarter out of twelve shares and sities. He never obtained any of the requested three quarters, into which the theatrical stock was places, and was doomed to find the booksellers his divided. Of the plays written upon the above con- best patrons.

tract, a small proportion have kept their place Charles II. died in 1685, and was succeeded by on the stage, or in the closet. On the death of his brother James II., who openly declared his atSir W. Davenant, in 1668, Dryden obtained the tachment to the religion of Rome. It was not long

before Dryden conformed to the same religion. to be told, that the ten concluding years of his life, This step has been the cause of much obloquy on in which he wrote for bread, and composed at a cerone side, and has found much excuse on the other; tain rate per line, were those of many of the pieces but if it be considered, from a view of his past life, which have most contributed to immortalize his that, in changing his religious profession, he could name. They were those of his translation of Juvehave had little difficulty to encounter, it will appear nal and Persius; of that of Virgil entire, a work no breach of candor to suppose that his immediate which enriches the English language, and has motive was nothing more than personal interest. greatly promoted the author's fame; of his celeThe reward he obtained for his compliance was an brated Alexander's Feast; and of his Fables, conaddition to his pension of 100%. per annum. Some taining some of the richest and most truly poetical time after he was engaged in a work which was the pieces which he ever composed. Of these, several longest single piece he ever composed. This was will appear in the subsequent collection of his works. his elaborate controversial poem of "The Hind Nor ought his prose writings to be neglected, and Panther." When completed, notwithstanding which, chiefly consisting of the critical essays preits unpromising subject, and signal absurdity of fixed to his poems, are performances of extraordiplan, such was the power of Dryden's verse, that it nary vigor and comprehension of mind, and afford, was read with avidity, and bore every mark of oc- perhaps, the best specimens of genuine English. cupying the public attention. The birth of a Dryden died of a spreading inflammation in one prince called forth a congratulatory poem from Dry-of his toes, on the first of May, 1700, and was den, entitled "Britannia Rediviva," in which he buried in Westminster Abbey, next to the tomb of ventured to use a poet's privilege of prophecy, fore- Chaucer. No monument marked his grave, till a telling a commencing era of prosperity to the nation plain one, with his bust, was erected, at the expense and the church from this auspicious event; but in of Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham. He left behind vain! for the revolution took place within a few him three sons, all brought up to letters. His months, and the hopes of the party were blasted for own character was cold and reserved, backward in personal advances to the great, and rather heavy in Dryden was a severe sufferer from the change: conversation. In fact, he was too much engaged his posts and pensions were taken away, and the in literature to devote much of his time to society. poetical laurel was conferred upon his insignificant Few writers of his time delighted so much to aprival, Shadwell. He was now, in advanced life, to proach the verge of profaneness; whence it may depend upon his own exertions for a security from be inferred, that though religion was an interesting absolute indigence. His faculties were equal to topic of discussion to him, he had very little of its the emergency; and it will surprise some theorists spirit in his heart.


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The loss and gain each fatally were great;
And still his subjects call'd aloud for war:
But peaceful kings, o'er martial people set,
Each other's poise and counterbalance are.

He first survey'd the charge with careful eyes,
Which none but mighty monarchs could maintain;
Yet judg'd, like vapors that from limbecs rise,
It would in richer showers descend again.

At length resolv'd t' assert the watery ball,
He in himself did whole armadoes bring:
Him aged seamen might their master call,
And choose for general, were he not their king.

It seems as every ship their sovereign knows,
His awful summons they so soon obey;
So hear the scaly herd when Proteus blows,
And so to pasture follow through the sea.

To see this fleet upon the ocean move,

Angels drew wide the curtains of the skies; And Heaven, as if there wanted lights above, For tapers made two glaring comets rise.

Whether they unctuous exhalations are,

Fir'd by the Sun, or seeming so alone;
Or each some more remote and slippery star,
Which loses footing when to mortals shown:

Or one, that bright companion of the Sun,
Whose glorious aspect seal'd our new-born king;
And now, a round of greater years begun,

New influence from his walks of light did bring.

Victorious York did first with fam'd success,

To his known valor make the Dutch give place: Thus Heaven our monarch's fortune did confess, Beginning conquest from his royal race.

But since it was decreed, auspicious king,

In Britain's right that thou shouldst wed the main, Heaven, as a gage, would cast some precious thing, And therefore doom'd that Lawson should be slain.

Lawson amongst the foremost met his fate,

Whom sea-green Sirens from the rocks lament: Thus as an offering for the Grecian state,

He first was kill'd who first to battle went.

Their chief blown up in air, not waves, expir'd,
To which his pride presum'd to give the law:
The Dutch confess'd Heaven present, and retir'd,
And all was Britain's the wide ocean saw.

To nearest ports their shatter'd ships repair,
Where by our dreadful cannon they lay aw'd:
So reverently men quit the open air,

When thunder speaks the angry gods abroad.

By the rich scent we found our perfum'd prey.
Which, flank'd with rocks, did close in covert lie-
And round about their murdering cannon lay,
At once to threaten and invite the eye.

Fiercer than cannon, and than rocks more hard
The English undertake th' unequal war:
Seven ships alone, by which the port is barr'd,
Besiege the Indies, and all Denmark dare.

These fight like husbands, but like lovers those:
These fain would keep, and those more fain enjoy
And to such height their frantic passion grows,
That what both love, both hazard to destroy.

Amidst whole heaps of spices lights a ball,

And now their odors arm'd against them fly: Some preciously by shatter'd porcelain fall, And some by aromatic splinters die.

And though by tempests of the prize bereft,
In Heaven's inclemency some ease we find:
Our foes we vanquish'd by our valor left,

And only yielded to the seas and wind.

Nor wholly lost we so deserv'd a prey;

For storms, repenting, part of it restor❜d: Which, as a tribute from the Baltic sea,

The British ocean sent her mighty lord.

Go, mortals, now, and vex yourselves in vain

For wealth, which so uncertainly must come :
When what was brought so far, and with such pain,
Was only kept to lose it nearer home.

The son, who twice three months on th' ocean tost,
Prepar'd to tell what he had pass'd before,
Now sees in English ships the Holland coast,
And parents' arms, in vain, stretch'd from the shore.
This careful husband had been long away,
Whom his chaste wife and little children mourn.
Who on their fingers learn'd to tell the day
On which their father promis'd to return.

Such are the proud designs of human-kind,

And so we suffer shipwreck everywhere!
Alas, what port can such a pilot find,
Who in the night of Fate must blindly steer!

The undistinguish'd seeds of good and ill,

Heaven in his bosom from our knowledge hides And draws them in contempt of human skill, Which oft for friends mistaken foes provides

Let Munster's prelate ever be accurst,

In whom we seek the German faith in vain: Alas, that he should teach the English first, That fraud and avarice in the church could reig

And now approach'd their fleet from India, fraught Happy, who never trust a stranger's will,
With all the riches of the rising Sun:
And precious sand from southern climates brought,
The fatal regions where the war begun.

Like hunted castors, conscious of their store, [bring:
Their waylaid wealth to Norway's coasts they
There first the North's cold bosom spices bore,
And Winter brooded on the eastern Spring.

Whose friendship's in his interest understood! Since money given but tempts him to be ill. When power is too remote to make him good.

Till now, alone the mighty nations strove;

The rest, at gaze, without the lists did stand: And threatening France, plac'd like a painted Jove.. Kept idle thunder in his lifted hand.

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Meantime the Belgians tack upon our rear, [send:

And raking chase-guns through our sterns they Close by, their fire-ships, like jackals, appear, Who on their lions for the prey attend.

Silent, in smoke of cannon they come on:
Such vapors once did fiery Cacus hide:
In these the height of pleas'd revenge is shown,
Who burn contented by another's side.

Sometimes from fighting squadrons of each fleet,
Deceiv'd themselves, or to preserve some friend,
Two grappling Etnas on the ocean meet,
And English fires with Belgian flames contend.

Now at each tack our little fleet grows less;

And, like maim'd fowl, swim lagging on the main: Their greater loss their numbers scarce confess, While they lose cheaper than the English gain.

Have you not seen, when, whistled from the fist, Some falcon stoops at what her eye design'd, And with her eagerness the quarry miss'd, Straight flies at check, and clips it down the wind!

The dastard crow, that to the wood made wing, And sees the groves no shelter can afford, With her loud kaws her craven kind does bring, Who safe in numbers cuff the noble bird.

Among the Dutch thus Albemarle did fare:
He could not conquer, and disdain'd to fly;
Past hope of safety, 'twas his latest care,
Like falling Cæsar, decently to die.

Yet pity did his manly spirit move,

To see those perish who so well had fought: And generously with his despair he strove, Resolv'd to live till he their safety wrought.

Let other Muses write his prosperous fate,

Of conquer'd nations tell, and kings restor❜d: But mine shall sing of his eclips'd estate, Which, like the Sun's, more wonders does afford.

He drew his mighty frigates all before,
On which the foe his fruitless force employs:
His weak ones deep into his rear he bore
Remote from guns, as sick men from the noise.

His fiery cannon did their passage guide,
And following smoke obscur'd them from the foe;
Thus Israel, safe from the Egyptian's pride,
By flaming pillars and by clouds did go.
Elsewhere the Belgian force we did defeat,
But here our courages did theirs subdue :
So Xenophon once led that fam'd retreat,

Which first the Asian empire overthrew.

The foe approach'd; and one for his bold sin Was sunk; as he that touch'd the ark was slain; The wild waves master'd him and suck'd him in. And smiling eddies dimpled on the main.

This seen, the rest at awful distance stood:

As if they had been there as servants set, To stay, or to go on, as he thought good, And not pursue, but wait on his retreat.

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