Dryden, John (DNB00)
|←Dryander, Jonas||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 16
DRYDEN, JOHN (1631–1700), poet, was born 9 Aug. 1631 at Aldwinkle All Saints, Northamptonshire (the precise day is doubtful: Malone, p. 5). His father was Erasmus, third son of Sir Erasmus Dryden, bart., of Canons Ashby, Northamptonshire; his mother was Mary, daughter of Henry Pickering, rector of Aldwinkle from 1597 to 1637, in which year he died, aged 75. Erasmus and Mary Dryden were married 21 Oct. 1630 at Pilton, near Aldwinkle (Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. xii. 207). The Drydens (or Dridens), originally settled in Cumberland, had moved into Northamptonshire about the middle of the sixteenth century. Erasmus Dryden after his marriage lived at Tichmarsh, where the Pickerings had a seat. John Dryden had 'his first learning' at Tichmarsh, where his parents were buried, and where, in 1722, a monument was erected to him and them by Elizabeth Creed, daughter of his first cousin, Sir Gilbert Pickering. He was admitted to a scholarship at Westminster; Busby was his head-master, and Locke and South among his contemporaries. He was elected to a scholarship at Trinity College, Cambridge, admitted 11 May, and matriculated 6 July, 1650. Dryden remembered Busby's floggings till the day of his death (To Montague, October 1699), but sent his two eldest sons to the school. Two letters addressed to Busby about these boys in 1682 show that Dryden respected his old master, to whom he inscribed the translation of the fifth satire of Persius in 1693. Dryden, as appears from a note to the translation of the third satire, had translated it for Busby when a schoolboy, and performed many similar exercises. Dryden also contributed an elegy in 1649 to the 'Tears of the Muses on the death of Henry, Lord Hastings;' and in 1650 prefixed a commendatory poem to the 'Epigrams' of John Hoddesdon. The only known fact about his academical career is that in July 1652 he was 'discommuned,' and had to apologise in hall for contumacy to the vice-master. Some perversion of this story probably gave rise to the scandal told by Shadwell that he had been in danger of expulsion for saucily traducing a 'nobleman' (Shadwell, Medal of John Bayes). He graduated as B.A. in January 1654, but never obtained a fellowship,
Dryden's father died in June 1654, and left a small estate at Blakesley to his son. Malone etimates this at 60l. a year, of which 20l. went to his mother until her death in 1676 (Malone, pp.440-l). Dryden, for whatever cause, did not proceed to his M.A. degree, probably, as Christie suggests, because the fee then payable by the owner of a life estate would have swallowed up seven-eighths of his yearly income. A letter, written in 1655 to his cousin Honor, daughter of his uncle Sir John Dryden, in the conventional language of contemporary gallantry, indicates a passing fit of lovemaking of no importance. The lady, who was a beauty remained unmarried, and died about 1714 at Shrewsbury Bell, Dryde, i. 19). On leaving Cambridge Dryden seems to have 'found employ- ment in London. Both Drydens and Pickerings had taken the popular side in the civil war. His grandfather, Sir Erasmus, had been imprisoned by Charles for refusing ‘loan money’ (Christie, Dryden, pp. xvii, 329). His father was a justice of the peace for Northamptonshire, and is said to have been a ‘committee-man’ under the Commonwealth. His first cousin, Sir Gilbert Pickering (son of his father's sister by Sir John Pickering, eldest brother of his maternal grandfather), was one of the judges on the king's trial, though absent on the day of sentence. He was chamberlain to Cromwell and nominated a peer by him in 1658. Shadwell says (Medal of John Bayes) that Dryden began life as clerk to this cousin. Upon Cromwell's death (3 Sept. 1658) Dryden wrote his ‘Heroic Stanzas,’ which were published, with two other poems, by Edmund Waller and Sprat (afterwards bishop of Rochester). By an unlucky collocation his next publications were the ‘Astræa Redux,’ celebrating the Restoration, and a ‘Panegyric’ upon the king's coronation. A line in the poem on Cromwell (saying that he essayed
To stanch the blood by breathing of the vein)
was afterwards interpreted to mean that the panegyrist of Charles had approved of the execution of Charles's father. The phrase clearly refers to Cromwell's energy in the war, nor can it be said that the poem shows puritan sympathies. It proves only that Dryden was quite willing to do poetical homage to the power which then seemed to be permanently established. The order which followed the Restoration was no doubt more congenial. Sir Gilbert Pickering, though he escaped punishment, except incapacitation for office, could no longer help his cousin.
Dryden now lodged with Herringman, a bookseller in the New Exchange, for whom, according to later and improbable scandal, he worked as a hack-writer. Herringman published his books until 1679. Here he became acquainted with Sir Robert Howard, a younger son of the royalist Earl of Berkshire. A poem by Dryden is prefixed to a volume published in 1660 by Howard, to whom he acknowledged many obligations in the preface to his ‘Annus Mirabilis.’ On 1 Dec. 1663 Dryden married Lady Elizabeth Howard, his friend's sister (see SHARPE'S Peerage, under ‘Howard, Earl of Suffolk,’ and BELL, p. 24). The marriage was at St. Swithin's, London, and the consent of the parents is noted on the license, though Lady Elizabeth was then about twenty-five. She was the object of some scandals, well or ill founded; it was said that Dryden had been bullied into the marriage by her brothers (Dryden's Satire to his Muse, attributed to Lord Somers, though disavowed by him and reprinted in ‘Supplement to Works of Minor Poets,’ 1750, pt. ii.); and a letter written by her to the second Earl of Chesterfield (Chesterfield, Letters, 1829, p. 95) shows questionable intimacy with a dissolute nobleman. A small estate in Wiltshire was settled upon them by her father (see Dedication to ‘Cleomenes’). The lady's intellect and temper were apparently not good; her husband was treated as an inferior by her social equals, and neither his character nor the conditions of his life afford a presumption for his strict fidelity. Scandal connected his name with that of an actress, Ann Reeve (Shadwell, Epistle to the Tories). An old gentleman, who gave his recollections to the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ for 1745 (p. 99), professed to have eaten tarts with Dryden's ‘Madam Reeve’ at the Mulberry Garden. Our knowledge, however, is very imperfect, and it is certain that both Dryden and his wife were warmly attached to their children.
Dryden was already making his way. On 26 Nov. 1662 he had been elected a member of the Royal Society. In his epistle to Walter Charleton he speaks of Bacon, Gilbert, Boyle, and Harvey. A more congenial employment was provided by the opening of the two theatres—the King's, directed by Killigrew, and the Duke's, directed by D'Avenant. Dryden had begun and laid aside a play with a royalist moral, of which the Duke of Guise was the hero. His first acted play, the ‘Wild Gallant,’ was performed at the King's Theatre in February 1663, and failed. A poem to Lady Castlemaine acknowledges the favour shown to the author by the king's mistress. His second play, the ‘Rival Ladies,’ a tragi-comedy, succeeded fairly at the same theatre later in the same year. On 3 Feb. 1664 Pepys records that he saw Dryden, ‘the poet I knew at Cambridge,’ at the coffee-house in Covent Garden with ‘all the wits of the town.’ In August Pepys saw and admired the ‘Rival Ladies.’ Dryden had helped Sir Robert Howard in the ‘Indian Queen,’ a tragedy upon Montezuma, brought out with great splendour and marked success in January 1664. He produced a sequel, the ‘Indian Emperor,’ which was brought out with the same scenes and dresses in the beginning of 1665, and repeated the success of its predecessor.
The theatres were closed from May 1665 till the end of 1666 by the plague and the fire of London. Dryden retired for some time to Charlton in Wiltshire, a seat of his father-in-law, Lord Berkshire, where his eldest son was born. He composed two remarkable works during his retreat—the ‘Annus Mirabilis,’ which, with occasional lapses into his juvenile faults, shows a great advance in sustained vigour of style; and the ‘Essay on Dramatic Poesy,’ which appeared in 1668 and included part of a rather sharp controversy with Sir Robert Howard. Dryden had written the tragic scenes of the ‘Rival Ladies’ in rhyme, and had defended the practice in a preface to the published play in 1664. The ‘Essay’ defends the same thesis in answer to some criticisms in Howard's preface to his own plays (1665), and, like all Dryden's critical writings, is an interesting exposition of his principles. A contemptuous reply followed from Howard in the preface to his ‘Duke of Lerma,’ and a ‘Defence’ by Dryden in 1668. The friendship of the two disputants was not permanently broken off. They were on friendly terms during the last years of Howard's life. He died in 1698.
With the reopening of the theatres Dryden again became active. A comedy called ‘Secret Love, or the Maiden Queen,’ was produced at the King's Theatre in March 1667. Pepys was enraptured with the play and with the acting of Nell Gwyn, who was beginning her career on the stage. In the same year Dryden produced ‘Sir Martin Mar-all,’ one of his most successful plays, founded on a translation of Molière's ‘L'Etourdi’ by the Duke of Newcastle, and an alteration of the ‘Tempest,’ for which, however, D'Avenant seems to have been chiefly responsible. Both plays were produced at the Duke's Theatre. Their success had so raised Dryden's reputation that he now made a contract with the company of the King's Theatre. From a petition of the company to the lord chamberlain in 1678 (first printed by Malone), it appears that Dryden undertook to provide three plays a year, and received in return a share and a quarter out of the twelve shares and three quarters held by the whole company. He failed to provide the stipulated number of plays, not always producing one in a year; but he received his share of profits, amounting at first to 300l. or 400l. a year. The theatre was burnt in 1672, and debts were contracted for the rebuilding, which cost about 4,000l. Dryden's profits were consequently diminished. The company say that upon his complaint they allowed him the customary author's ‘third night’ for his ‘All for Love’ (1678), although as a shareholder he had no right to this payment, and they protest against his giving a new play, ‘Œdipus,’ to the rival Duke's company without compensating his own shareholders. The result does not appear, nor Dryden's answer, if he made one.
In 1668 the Archbishop of Canterbury, at the king's request, conferred upon Dryden the degree of M.A. In 1670 he had the more solid appointments of poet laureate and historiographer. Malone points out that among the powerful patrons who may have helped him at this season were Lord Clifford, Sir Charles Sedley, Lord Buckhurst (Earl of Dorset), Lord Mulgrave, and the Duchess of Portsmouth. He acknowledges general obligations in various dedications; but we may believe that he was appointed on his merits. D'Avenant, who died in 1668, was his predecessor in the first, and James Howell, who died in 1666, in the last appointment. The offices were now joined in one patent, with a salary of 200l. a year and a butt of canary wine. Dryden was also to have the two years' arrears since D'Avenant's death. His whole income, including his private estate and fees from dedications and profits from publication, is estimated by Malone (pp. 440–6) as reaching at the highest (1670–6) 557l. a year, afterwards falling to 420l. till the loss of his offices on the revolution. The salary, however, was so ill paid that in 1684 it was four years in arrear. An additional salary of 100l. a year was granted to him some time before 1679 (Treasury Warrants, first published by Peter Cunningham in notes to Johnson's ‘Lives,’ i. 334, and by R. Bell in edition of Dryden's ‘Poems,’ 1854). His income would have been a good one for the time if regularly received, but it was mainly precarious.
Between 1668 and 1681 Dryden produced about fourteen plays of various kinds. His comedies have found few apologists. Whatever their literary merits, they gave offence even at the time by their license. Pepys condemns his next venture, ‘An Evening's Love, or the Mock Astrologer’ (1668) (from the Feint Astrologue of the younger Corneille, and the Dépit Amoureux), partly upon this ground, and Evelyn mentions it as a symptom of the degeneracy and pollution of the stage. Another play called ‘Ladies à la Mode,’ produced in September of the same year, and apparently a complete failure, is only known from Pepys's mention. (Mr. Gosse thinks that it may perhaps be identified with a play called ‘The Mall, or the Modish Lovers,’ published in 1674 with a preface by ‘J.D.,’ Saintsbury, Dryden, p. 58.). Two were performed in 1672, the ‘Marriage à la Mode,’ which succeeded, and the ‘Assignation,’ which failed. A comedy called ‘The Kind Keeper, or Mr. Limberham,’ produced in 1678, was withdrawn after three days on account of the enmity of the vicious persons attacked by its honest satire, according to Dryden; according to others, because the satire, honest or not, was disgusting. The published version, though apparently purified from the worst passages, is certainly offensive enough.
Dryden adopted other not very creditable devices to catch the public taste. In 1673 he produced the tragedy ‘Amboyna, or the Cruelties of the Dutch to the English Merchants,’ a catchpenny production intended to take advantage of the national irritation against the Dutch, then threatened by the Anglo-French alliance. In a similar manner Dryden took advantage of the Popish plot, by a play named ‘The Spanish Friar, or the Double Discovery,’ performed in 1681. It is a bitter attack upon the hypocrisy and licentiousness attributed to the catholic priesthood. A more singular performance was the ‘State of Innocence,’ an opera, which is founded upon Milton's ‘Paradise Lost’ (published 1669). Aubrey states that Dryden asked Milton's permission to put his poem into rhyme, and that Milton replied, ‘Ah! you may tag my verses if you will.’ In the preface Dryden speaks of ‘Paradise Lost’ as ‘one of the greatest, most noble, and sublime poems which either this age or nation hath produced.’ The admiration was lasting. Richardson, in his notes to ‘Paradise Lost’ (1734, p. cxix), tells a story, which is certainly inaccurate in details (Malone, p. 113), to the effect that Dryden said to Lord Buckhurst (afterwards Earl of Dorset), ‘This man cuts us out and the ancients too.’ His famous epigram upon Milton was first printed in Tonson's folio edition of ‘Paradise Lost’ in 1688.
Dryden's most important works during this period were the ‘heroic tragedies.’ Of these ‘Tyrannic Love, or the Royal Martyr,’ and the two parts of ‘Almanzor and Almahide, or the Conquest of Granada,’ appeared in 1669 and 1670. Nell Gwyn appeared in all three, and it is said that she first attracted Charles II when appearing as Valeria in ‘Tyrannic Love.’ Dryden's last (and finest) rhymed tragedy, ‘Aurengzebe, or the Great Mogul’ (which Charles II read in manuscript, giving hints for its final revision), was produced in 1675. The dedication to John Sheffield, lord Mulgrave (afterwards Duke of Buckinghamshire), states that he was now desirous of writing an epic poem, and he asks Mulgrave to use his influence with the king to obtain some means of support during the composition. He says, probably with sincerity, that he never felt himself very fit for tragedy, and that many of his contemporaries had surpassed him in comedy. The subjects which he had considered, as appears from his ‘Discourse on Satire’ (1693), were Edward the Black Prince and King Arthur. He had still some hopes of ‘making amends for ill plays by an heroic poem;’ and Christie suggests that the pension of 100l. a year was a result of this application. Dryden, however, instead of carrying out this scheme, devoted himself to writing his finest play, ‘All for Love.’ Abandoning his earlier preference for rhyme, he now ‘professed to imitate the divine Shakespeare,’ and produced a play which, if inferior to the noble ‘Antony and Cleopatra,’ may be called a not unworthy competitor. Dryden, it may be noted, had written a fine encomium upon Shakespeare in his ‘Essay of Dramatic Poesy,’ and in the prologue to the altered ‘Tempest’ appears the famous couplet:
But Shakespeare's magic could not copied be;
Within that circle none durst walk but he.
At a later period (1679) he brought out an alteration of ‘Troilus and Cressida,’ the prologue of which contains fresh homage to Shakespeare. Dryden adapted Shakespeare's plays to the taste of the time, but he did more than any contemporary to raise the reputation of their author, whom, contrary to the prevalent opinion, he preferred to Ben Jonson: ‘I admire him’ (Jonson), ‘but I love Shakespeare.’ The heroic tragedies, of which Dryden was the leading writer, and which as he admits (Dedication of Spanish Friar) led him to extravagant declamation, produced some lively controversy. The famous ‘Rehearsal,’ in which they were ridiculed with remarkable wit, was first performed in December 1671. It had long been in preparation, the Duke of Buckingham, the ostensible author, receiving help, it is said, from Butler (of ‘Hudibras’), Sprat, and others. The hero, Bayes, was first intended for D'Avenant, but after D'Avenant's death in 1668 Dryden became the main object of attack, and passages of his ‘Indian Emperor’ and ‘Conquest of Granada’ were ridiculed. ‘Bayes’ thus became the accepted nickname for Dryden in the various pamphlets of the time. The ‘Rehearsal’ was brought out at the King's Theatre, in which Dryden had a share, and the part of Amaryllis was taken by Ann Reeve, whose intrigue with him was noticed in the play. Dryden, in his ‘Discourse on Satire,’ gives his reasons for not retorting, and appears to have taken the assault good-humouredly. He had another literary controversy in 1673. Elkanah Settle had published his ‘Empress of Morocco,’ with a dedication containing a disrespectful notice of Dryden. Dryden joined with Crowne and Shadwell to attack Settle in a coarse pamphlet, and Settle replied by a sharp attack upon the ‘Conquest of Granada.’ John Dennis [q. v.] (who went to Cambridge in 1676) reports that Settle was considered as a formidable rival to Dryden at the time, and was the favourite among the younger men at Cambridge and London.
Another controversy is supposed to account for a singular incident in Dryden's career. He was beaten by some ruffians while returning from Will's coffee-house on the night of 18 Dec. 1679. The supposed instigator of this assault was John Wilmot, earl of Rochester. Dryden had dedicated a play to Rochester in 1673, and had written a letter warmly acknowledging his patronage. But Rochester had taken up some of Dryden's rivals and had a bitter feud with Mulgrave, whose ‘Essay on Satire’ (written in 1675 and circulated in manuscript in 1679) was perhaps corrected, and was supposed at the time to have been written, by Dryden. The authorship is apparently ascribed to Dryden by Rochester in a letter to Henry Savile (Rochester, Letters, 1697, p. 49), probably written in November 1679. The ‘Essay’ contained an attack upon Rochester, who says in another letter that he shall ‘leave the repartee to Black Will with a cudgel’ (ib. p. 5). The threat was probably fulfilled, but nothing could be proved at the time, although a reward of 50l. was offered for a discovery of the offenders. There is little reason to doubt Rochester's guilt, and the libels of the day frequently taunt Dryden with his suffering. The disgrace was supposed to be with the victim. The Duchess of Portsmouth (see Luttrell, i. 30), who was attacked in the ‘Essay,’ together with the Duchess of Cleveland, as one of Charles's ‘beastly brace,’ was also thought to have had some share in this dastardly offence.
The erroneous belief that Dryden had taken a share in satirising Charles, and his attack upon the catholics in the ‘Spanish Friar,’ suggested the hypothesis that Dryden was in sympathy with Shaftesbury's opposition to the court. A libeller even represented him as poet laureate to Shaftesbury in an imaginary kingdom (‘Modest Vindication of Shaftesbury’ in Somers Tracts, 1812, viii. 317); and another said that his pension had been taken from him, and that he had written the ‘Spanish Friar’ in revenge. He put an end to any such impression by publishing the first of his great satires. The ‘Absalom and Achitophel’ appeared in November 1681. Shaftesbury had been in the Tower since 2 July, and was to be indicted on 24 Nov. The satire, according to Tate, had been suggested to Dryden by Charles. Although the grand jury threw out the bill against Shaftesbury, the success of the poetic attack was unprecedented. Johnson's father, a bookseller at the time said that he remembered no sale of equal rapidity except that of the reports of Sacheverell's trial. The reputation has been as lasting as it was rapidly achieved. The ‘Absalom and Achitophel’ is still the first satire in the language for masculine insight and for vigour of expression. Dryden tells us that by the advice of Sir George Mackenzie he had read through the older English poets and had written a treatise (suppressed at Mulgrave's desire) on the laws of versification. He had become a consummate master of style, and had now found the precise field for which his powers of mind fully qualified him. The passage praising Shaftesbury's purity as a judge, which greatly heightens the effect of the satire, was introduced in the second edition. Benjamin Martyn (employed by the fourth Earl of Shaftesbury to write the life of the first) states that this addition was made in return for Shaftesbury's generosity in nominating Dryden's son to the Charterhouse, after the first edition of the satire. The story, highly improbable in itself, is discredited by the fact that Dryden's son Erasmus was admitted to the Charterhouse in February 1683 on the nomination of Charles II, while Shaftesbury himself nominated Samuel Weaver in October 1681, that is, just before the publication. It is now impossible to say what suggested the statement. Dryden at any rate continued his satirical career and his assaults upon Shaftesbury. A medal had been struck in honour of the ignoramus of the grand jury, and Charles (according to a story reported by Spence) suggested to Dryden the subject of his next satire, ‘The Medal,’ which appeared in March 1682. Retorts had already been attempted, and others followed. Buckingham published ‘Poetical Reflections,’ Samuel Pordage published ‘Azaria and Hushai,’ and Elkanah Settle ‘Absalom Senior or Achitophel Transposed.’ The ‘Medal’ produced the ‘Medal Reversed,’ by Pordage, ‘Dryden's Satire to his Muse’ (see above), and the ‘Medal of John Bayes,’ by Shadwell, who had been on friendly terms with Dryden, but now came forward as the champion of the whigs. Dryden turned upon Shadwell in ‘Mac Flecknoe,’ a satire of great vigour and finish, which served as the model of the ‘Dunciad.’ Dryden is said to have thought it his best work (‘Dean Lockier,’ in Spence's Anecdotes, p. 60). It was published on 4 Oct. 1682. On 10 Nov. following appeared a second part of ‘Absalom and Achitophel.’ It was mainly written by Nahum Tate; but Dryden contributed over two hundred forcible lines and probably revised the whole. Shadwell and Settle again appear as Og and Doeg. A year had thus produced the great satires which show Dryden at his highest power. Two other works, suggested by contemporary controversy, occupied him at the same time. The ‘Religio Laici’—a defence of the Anglican position, which shows his singular power of arguing in verse—was suggested by a translation of Simon's ‘Critical History of the Old Testament,’ executed by a young friend, Henry Dickinson (the name is ascertained by Duke's poem to Dickinson on the occasion). He also co-operated with Nathaniel Lee in producing the ‘Duke of Guise.’ The story, which in Dryden's early effort had been intended to suggest a parallel to the English rebellion, was now to be applied to the contest of the court against Shaftesbury and Monmouth. Dryden, however, did his best to extenuate his own responsibility in a ‘Vindication’ separately published. The Duchess of Monmouth had long been his first and best patroness (Preface to King Arthur).
Dryden was now at the height of his reputation as the leading man of letters of the day. He was much sought after as a writer of prologues and epilogues. He contributed both prologue and epilogue to Southerne's first play in February 1682, and, according to Johnson, raised his price on the occasion from two guineas to three (the sums have been stated less probably as four and six guineas and as five and ten guineas, see Malone, p. 456). He contributed prologue and epilogue in the following November for the first play represented by the King's and Duke's Companies, who had now combined at Drury Lane. He contributed a preface to a new translation of Plutarch's ‘Lives’ in 1683; translated Maimbourg's ‘History of the League’ in 1684; and published two volumes of ‘Miscellaneous Poems’ in 1684 and 1685, including contributions from other writers. A letter (undated, but probably of 1683) to Laurence Hyde, earl of Rochester, shows that Dryden was writing under the spur of poverty. He begs for a half-year's salary. He is in ill-health and almost in danger of arrest. His three sons are growing up and have been educated ‘beyond his fortune.’ ‘It is enough,’ he says, ‘for one age to have neglected Mr. Cowley and starved Mr. Butler.’ On 17 Dec. 1683 Dryden was appointed, perhaps in answer to this appeal, a collector of customs in the port of London (Johnson, Lives, ed. Cunningham, i. 335). The fixed salary was only 5l. a year, but presumably consisted in great part of fees. The dedication to (Laurence Hyde) Lord Rochester of ‘Cleomenes’ in 1692 shows that Dryden's application for arrears had been to some extent successful. Dryden wrote an opera called ‘Albion and Albanius’ to celebrate Charles's political successes. It had been rehearsed before the king, and a sequel, ‘King Arthur,’ was ready when Charles died (5 Feb. 1685). It was produced, with alterations, after James's accession (8 June 1685). The excitement produced by Monmouth's rebellion put a stop to the performance and caused great loss to the company. In an ode to the king's memory Dryden had managed skilfully to insinuate that Charles's encouragement of art had more frequently taken the form of praise than of solid reward. In 1676 Dryden had said (Dedication to Aurengzebe) that he lived wholly upon the king's bounty, though in 1693 (Discourse on Satire) he complained that the king had encouraged his design for an epic poem with nothing but fair words. He was clearly dependent upon the royal favour for a large part of his income, and the withdrawal of favour would mean ruin. The dependence was now transferred to James II. James continued Dryden's offices (omitting the laureate's butt of sack) and the pension of 100l. allowed by Charles. Some months afterwards (19 Jan. 1686) Evelyn notices a report that Dryden, with his two sons and ‘Mrs. Nelly (miss to the late king),’ were going to mass. The opinion that such converts were equally venal was certainly not unnatural. Macaulay has given his sanction to the opinion by the account in his history, written under the belief (now proved to be erroneous) that the pension of 100l. a year was an addition by James instead of a renewal of a previous grant.
The purity of Dryden's motives has been frequently discussed. He has not the presumption in his favour which arises from a sacrifice of solid interests. He was a dependent following a master with a crowd of undoubtedly venal persons. Nor is there the presumption which arises from loftiness of character. Dryden's gross adulation of his patrons was marked by satirists even in his own age (see e.g. ‘Letter to the Tories,’ prefixed to Shadwell's Medal of John Bayes), and he pandered disgracefully to the lowest tastes of his audiences. Nor was the religious change associated with any moral revulsion, or the result of any profound intellectual process. He had been indifferent to religious controversy till he was fifty, and his most marked prejudice was a dislike for priests of all religions, frequently noticed by contemporaries. He had satirised the Roman catholics in the ‘Spanish Friar,’ when the protestant feeling was excited. It is idle to compare such a conversion to those of loftier minds. But, in a sense, he may well have been sincere enough. In the preface to the ‘Religio Laici’ he says that he was ‘naturally inclined to scepticism in philosophy.’ The courtiers of Charles II varied between ‘Hobbism’ and catholicism. Dryden, first inclined to Hobbism, may well have been led to catholicism by a not unusual route. If all creeds are equally doubtful, a man may choose that which is politically most congenial, or he may accept that which offers the best practical mode of suppressing painful doubts. Dryden's language in the ‘Religio Laici,’ while retailing the ordinary arguments for the Anglican position, expresses a marked desire for an infallible guide. His critical writings show a mind curiously open to accept new opinions. It may well be that, holding his early creed on very light grounds, he thought that the argument for an infallible church, when presented to him for the first time, was as unanswerable as it appeared for a time to Chillingworth and Gibbon. Though interested motives led him to look into the question, the absence of any strong convictions would make it easy to accept the solution now presented. Once converted, he appears to have grown into a devoted member of the church in his age. He was speedily employed in defence of his new faith. He translated Varillas's ‘History of Religious Revolutions.’ Burnet asserts (Defence of his Reflections upon Varillas) that his own attack upon Varillas caused the publication to be abandoned. He was employed by James to answer Stillingfleet, who had assailed the papers upon catholicism published by James himself and attributed to his first wife and his brother. Some sharp passages followed, in which Stillingfleet had the advantage due to his superior learning and practice in controversy. Dryden's most important work, ‘The Hind and the Panther’ (said to have been composed at Rushton, a seat of the Treshams in Northamptonshire), was published in April 1687. Although the poem is written in Dryden's best manner, and has many spirited passages, especially the attack upon Burnet as ‘the Buzzard,’ it must be said that not even Dryden's skill could make versified theological controversy very readable. The most famous retort was by Charles Montagu (afterwards Lord Halifax) and Matthew Prior, called ‘The Hind and Panther transversed to the story of the Country Mouse and the City Mouse.’ This is a kind of supplement to the ‘Rehearsal,’ in which Bayes produces a new allegory intended as a parody of ‘The Hind and the Panther.’ Dean Lockier told Spence (improbably enough) that Dryden wept when speaking of this ‘cruel usage’ from ‘two young fellows to whom he had always been very civil’ (Spence, Anecdotes, p. 61).
Dryden translated a life of St. Francis Xavier, and in a dedication to the queen declared that her majesty had chosen the saint for a patron and that her prayers might be expected to bring an heir to the throne. When an heir actually appeared (10 June 1688) Dryden brought out a congratulatory poem, ‘Britannia Rediviva,’ before the end of the month.
The revolution of 1688 put an end to any hopes which Dryden might have entertained from James's patronage. He lost all his offices, Shadwell succeeding him as poet laureate. He received some considerable benefaction from his old friend Buckhurst, now earl of Dorset, which Prior probably exaggerated in a dedication to Dorset's son, where he says that Dorset made up the loss of the laureate's income. Dryden remained faithful to his creed. Recantation, it is true, was scarcely possible, and could have brought nothing but contempt. Dryden, however, behaved with marked dignity during his later years. He laboured at his calling without querulous complaint or abject submission. He returned for a time to dramatic writing. In 1690 were performed a tragedy ‘Don Sebastian’ and his successful comedy called ‘Amphitryon.’ ‘Don Sebastian’ divides with ‘All for Love’ the claim to be his best play, especially on the strength of the famous scene between Sebastian and Dorax. In 1691 he brought out ‘King Arthur,’ altered to fit it to the times by omitting the politics. Purcell composed the music, and it had a considerable success. In 1692 he produced ‘Cleomenes,’ the last act of which, in consequence of his own illness, was finished by Southerne. A tragi-comedy called ‘Love Triumphant’ was announced as his last play, and failed completely in 1694. Congreve had been introduced to Dryden by Southerne. Dryden recognised the merits of the new writer with generous warmth. He addressed some striking lines to Congreve on the appearance of the ‘Double Dealer’ (1693), in which the old dramatist bequeathed his mantle and the care of his reputation to the rising young man. Dryden with his disciple came in for a share of the assault made by Jeremy Collier upon contemporary dramatists in 1698. Dryden, with good judgment and dignity, confessed to the partial justice of the attack, though saying, truly enough, that Collier's zeal had carried him too far (Preface to Fables).
As his dramatic energy slackened, Dryden laboured the more industriously in other directions. His poem ‘Eleonora’ (1692), written in memory of the Countess of Abingdon (Chris- tie, p. lxvi), was probably written to order and paid for by the widower, as the poet had been unknown to both earl and countess. In 1693 appeared a translation of Juvenal and Persius, in which Dryden was helped by his sons. The ‘Discourse on Satire’ was prefixed. A third and fourth volume of ‘Miscellanies,’ to which Dryden contributed, appeared in 1693 and 1694. He now undertook his translation of Virgil. Tradition states (Malone, 233) that the first lines were written upon a pane of glass at Chesterton House, Huntingdonshire, the seat of his cousin, John Driden (whose name was always thus spelt). Part of the translation was written at Sir William Bowyer's seat, Denham, Buckinghamshire, and part at Lord Exeter's seat, Burleigh. Great interest was taken in the work. Addison wrote the arguments of the books and an ‘Essay upon the Georgics.’ The book was published by subscription, a system of joint-stock patronage now coming into vogue. ‘Paradise Lost’ had been thus published in 1688, and Wood's ‘Athenæ Oxonienses’ in 1691. It is impossible to decide what was the precise result to Dryden. There were 101 subscriptions of five guineas, for which engravings were to be supplied, and 252 at two guineas. It does not appear how the proceeds were divided between Dryden and his publisher Tonson. It seems that Dryden received 50l. in addition for each book of his translation. Dryden also received presents from various noble patrons—especially Lord Clifford, Lord Chesterfield, and Sheffield (at this time Marquis of Normanby), to whom the ‘Pastorals,’ the ‘Georgics,’ and the ‘Æneid’ were especially dedicated. Pope, who may have known the facts from Tonson, told Spence that the total received by Dryden was 1,200l., and the estimate is not improbable. Dryden's correspondence with Tonson showed a good many bickerings during the publication. One cause of quarrel was Tonson's desire that the book should be dedicated to William III. Dryden honourably refused; but Tonson had the engravings adapted for the purpose by giving to Æneas the hooked nose of William (Dryden, Letter to his son, 3 Sept. 1697). The translation was published in July 1697 and was favourably received. It has since been admired for its own merits of style if not for its fidelity. Bentley, as it seems from a letter to Tonson, ‘cursed it heartily’ before its publication, whether from an actual perusal does not appear. Swift speaks of it contemptuously in his dedication of the ‘Tale of a Tub,’ and elsewhere refers bitterly to Dryden. The statement is made by Johnson and Deane Swift (Essay on Swift, p. 117) that the hatred was caused by Dryden's remark upon Swift's Odes, ‘Cousin Swift, you will never be a poet.’ Swift was, however, an exception to the general rule. All the distinguished young men of letters looked up with reverence to Dryden. His ‘Virgil’ was a precedent for Pope's ‘Homer,’ which eclipsed the pecuniary results and the literary reputation of the earlier poem.
Having finished Virgil, Dryden set about the work generally called his ‘Fables.’ It included versions of the first ‘Iliad,’ of some of Ovid's ‘Metamorphoses,’ and tales from Chaucer and Boccaccio. By an agreement of 20 March 1699 he was to receive two hundred and fifty guineas from Tonson for ten thousand verses, of which seven thousand five hundred were already in Tonson's hands. The whole sum was to be made up to 300l. on the appearance of a second edition, which was not reached till 1713. The volume as published contains some twelve thousand verses. From letters between Dryden and Samuel Pepys it appears that Pepys suggested the ‘Good Parson.’ Other poems added were an address to his cousin John Driden, and a dedication of ‘Palamon and Arcite’ to the Duchess of Ormonde. Dryden thought himself successful in these poems and sent them to Charles Montagu, his old antagonist, who was now chancellor of the exchequer. The letter and references in letters to his cousin, Mrs. Steward (daughter of Mrs. Creed), show that he was expecting some favour from government. He says, however, that he cannot buy favour by forsaking his religion. He had refused, though pressed by his friends, to write a complimentary poem upon Queen Mary's death in 1694. His cousin made him what he calls (to Mrs. Steward, 11 April 1700) ‘a noble present,’ and the Duke of Ormonde is said to have been equally liberal. An improbable tradition (given by Derrick) states the amount of each gift as 500l. The ‘Fables’ again show Dryden's energy of thought and language undiminished by age. Some minor poems had appeared during the same period. The most famous was the ‘Alexander's Feast.’ A musical society had been formed in London, which held an annual celebration of St. Cecilia's day (22 Nov.) The first recorded performance was in 1683. Dryden composed an ode for the occasion in 1687. (A list of all the odes, with authors and composers, is given in Malone, 276–80.). He was again invited to write the ode for 1697, and a letter to his son written in September says that he is then writing it. Birch mentions a letter (not now discoverable) in which Dryden speaks of spending a fortnight upon the task. On the other hand, Warton in his ‘Essay on Pope’ preserves a story that St. John (afterwards the famous Lord Bolingbroke) found Dryden one morning in great agitation, for which he accounted by saying that he had sat up all night writing the ode. The subject had so impressed him that he had finished it at a sitting. It would be easy to suggest modes of harmonising these statements, but the facts must remain uncertain. It is equally uncertain whether the society did or did not pay him 40l., as Derrick reports on the authority of Walter Moyle, while Dryden tells his son the task was ‘in no way beneficial.’ The ode was published separately in 1697. Malone (p. 477) preserves the tradition that Dryden confirmed the compliment of a young man (afterwards Chief-justice Marlay) by saying ‘A nobler ode never was produced nor ever will be.’ Dryden was now breaking in health. A few traditions remain as to his later years. Friends and admirers had gathered round him. He was to be seen at Will's coffee-house, where (the only fact recovered by ‘old Swiney’ for Johnson's use) he had a chair by the fire in winter and by the window in summer. Ward tells us (London Spy, pt. 10) how the young wits coveted the honour of a pinch from Dryden's snuff-box. Dryden spent his evenings at the coffee-house. A few scraps of his talk carefully collected by Malone (pp. 498–510) are, it is to be hoped, unfair specimens of his powers. Fletcher's ‘Pilgrim’ was performed for the benefit of his son Charles in the beginning of 1700. It was revised by Vanbrugh for the occasion, and Dryden contributed an additional scene, together with a prologue and epilogue (vigorously attacking Blackmore, who had provoked his wrath by an assault in the ‘Satire against Wit’), and a ‘Secular Masque.’ George Granville (afterwards Lord Lansdowne) prepared an adaptation of the ‘Merchant of Venice,’ to be performed for his benefit. His death caused the profits to be transferred to his son Charles. He had a correspondence with enthusiastic young ladies, especially Mrs. Thomas, to whom he gave the name Corinna; he was courted by John Dennis, then a critic of reputation, as well as by some of higher and in some cases more permanent fame, such as Congreve, Addison, Southerne, Vanbrugh, Granville, and Moyle. Pope, then a boy in his twelfth year, managed to get a sight of him, and he held the post of literary dictator, previously assigned to Ben Jonson, and afterwards to Addison, Pope, and Samuel Johnson. He often visited his relations in the country, and anecdotes show that he played bowls and was fond of fishing. During March and April 1700 he was confined to the house by gout. A toe mortified, and he declined to submit to amputation, which was advised by a famous surgeon, Hobbs. He died with great composure, 1 May 1700, at his house in Gerrard Street. He had lived from 1673 to 1682 in Fetter Lane, Fleet Street, where the house, pulled down in 1887, had a tablet in commemoration, and from 1682 to 1686 in Long Acre (Johnson, Lives (Cunningham), i. 320). A tablet affixed to 43 Gerrard Street, Soho, states that he also resided there. He left no will, and his widow having renounced, his son Charles administered to his effects on 10 June. A private funeral was proposed, and Montagu offered to pay the expenses, which explains Pope's famous allusion in the character of Bufo—
He helped to bury whom he helped to starve.
Some of Dryden's friends, including Lord Jeffreys, son of the chancellor, objected. The body was embalmed, and upon Garth's application was allowed to be deposited in the College of Physicians until the funeral on 13 May. On that day Garth pronounced a Latin oration, Horace's ‘Exegi monumentum’ was sung to music, and the body was buried by the side of Chaucer and Cowley in the ‘Poets' Corner’ of Westminster Abbey. Dryden's friends filled fifty carriages, and fifty more followed. Farquhar speaks of the ceremony as incongruous and burlesque, ‘fitter for Hudibras than him.’ The grave remained unmarked until 1720, when a simple monument was erected by the Duke of Buckinghamshire (stirred, it is said, by Pope's inscription upon Rowe, where allusion was made to the ‘rude and nameless stone’ which covered Dryden). The Duchess of Buckinghamshire substituted the bust by Scheemakers in 1731 for an inferior bust placed upon the first monument.
Mrs. Thomas (Corinna) fell into distress and became one of Curll's authors. She supplied him with a fictitious account of Dryden's funeral addressed to the author of Congreve's life, in which it was published. It was founded, according to Malone, on Farquhar's letter and a poem of Tom Brown's called ‘A Description of Mr. D—n's Funeral.’ Corinna's misstatements are sufficiently confuted by Malone (pp. 355–82), though they long passed current as genuine.
Lady Elizabeth Dryden, who (according to doubtful traditions recorded by Malone, p. 395) was on distant terms with her husband and his relations in later years, became insane soon after his death, and survived till the summer of 1714. They had three sons.Charles, born at Charlton in 1666, was educated at Westminster, elected to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1683, and wrote some poems, one of which, in Latin, appeared in the second ‘Miscellany.’ He executed the seventh satire for his father's translation of Juvenal in 1692. About that time he went to Italy and was appointed chamberlain to Pope Innocent XII. Here he wrote an English poem which appeared in the fourth ‘Miscellany.’ He returned to England about 1697 or 1698; administered to his father's effects; was drowned in the Thames near Datchet, and buried at Windsor 20 Aug. 1704. Dryden, who was a believer in astrology, calculated his son's horoscope, and on the strength of it prophesies in 1697 that he will soon recover his health, injured by a fall at Rome. Corinna constructed an elaborate fiction upon this basis, showing that Dryden had foretold three periods of danger to his son; at one of which Charles fell from a (non-existent) tower of the Vatican five stories high and was ‘mashed to a mummy’ for the time (Wilson, Life of Congreve). Malone reprints this narrative (pp. 404–20), which is only worth notice from the use made of it in Scott's ‘Guy Mannering.’
John, the second son, born in 1667–8, was also at Westminster, and was elected to Christ Church in 1685. His father preferred to place him under the care of Obadiah Walker, the Roman catholic master of University College. He went to Rome with his brother. He translated the fourteenth satire of Juvenal for his father's version, and wrote the ‘Husband his own Cuckold,’ performed in 1696, with a prologue by his father, and an epilogue by Congreve. An account of a tour in Italy and Malta, made by him in 1700 in company with a Mr. Cecil, was published in 1776. He died at Rome 28 Jan. 1701.
Erasmus Henry, the third son, born 2 May 1669, was a scholar at the Charterhouse, and ‘elected to the university’ November 1685. He studied at Douay, entered the novitiate of the Dominicans 1692, was ordained priest in 1694, was at Rome in 1697, residing in the convent of the English Dominicans, and in that year was sent to the convent of Holy Cross, Bornheim, of which he was sub-prior till 1700. He then returned to England to labour on the mission in Northamptonshire (Gillow, English Catholics). From 1708 he resided at Canons Ashby, which in that year had passed by will to his cousin Edward, eldest son of the poet's younger brother, Erasmus. In 1710 he became baronet upon the death of another cousin, Sir John Dryden, grandson of the first baronet. He was apparently imbecile at this time and died soon after. He was buried at Canons Ashby, 4 Dec. 1710.
Dryden was short, stout, and florid. A contemporary epigram, praising him as a poet, says ‘A sleepy eye he had and no sweet feature,’ and a note explains that ‘feature’ here means ‘countenance.’ His nickname, ‘Poet Squab,’ suggests his appearance. A large mole on his right cheek appears in all his portraits. The earliest portrait is said to be that in the picture gallery at Oxford, dated on the back 1655, which is probably an error for 1665. A portrait was painted by Riley in 1683, and engraved by Van Gunst for the Virgil of 1709. Closterman painted a portrait about 1690, from which there is a mezzotint by W. Faithorne, jun. Kneller painted several portraits, one of which was presented by the poet to his cousin, John Driden. It is not now discoverable. From another (about 1698) by Kneller, painted for Jacob Tonson as one of a series of the Kit-Cat Club, there is an engraving by Edelwick in 1700, said to be the best likeness. The original is at Bayfordbury Hall, Hertfordshire. Another portrait by Kneller belonged to Charles Beville Dryden in 1854. A portrait of Dryden was at Addison's house at Bilton; and there was a crayon drawing at Tichmarsh, which afterwards belonged to Sir Henry Dryden of Canons Ashby. A portrait in pencil by T. Forster, taken in 1697, was (1854) in the possession of the Rev. J. Dryden Pigott. Horace Walpole had a small full-length portrait by Maubert. (Further details are given by Malone, pp. 432–7, and Bell, p. 978.).
The affection of his contemporaries and literary disciples proves, as well as their direct testimony, that in his private relations Dryden showed a large and generous nature. Congreve dwells especially upon his modesty, and says that he was the ‘most easily discountenanced’ of all men he ever knew. The absence of arrogance was certainly combined with an absence of the loftier qualities of character. Dryden is the least unworldly of all great poets. He therefore reflects most completely the characteristics of the society dominated by the court of Charles II, which in the next generation grew into the town of Addison and Pope. His drama, composed when the drama was most dependent upon the court, was written, rather in spite of his nature, to win bread and to please his patrons. His comedies are a lamentable condescension to the worst tendencies of the time. His tragedies, while influenced by the French precedents, and falling into the mock heroics congenial to the hollow sentiment of the court, in which sensuality is covered by a thin veil of sham romance, gave not infrequent opportunity for a vigorous utterance of a rather cynical view of life. The declamatory passages are often in his best style. Whatever their faults, no tragedies comparable to his best work have since been written for the stage. The masculine sense and power of sustained arguments gave a force unrivalled in English literature to his satires, and the same qualities appear in the vigorous versification of the ‘Fables,’ which are deformed, however, by the absence of delicate or lofty sentiment. His lyrical poetry, in spite of the vigorous ‘Alexander's Feast,’ has hardly held its own, though still admired by some critics. His prose is among the first models of a pure English style. Dryden professed to have learned prose from his contemporary Tillotson. Other examples from theologians, poets, and essayists might easily be adduced to show that Dryden had plenty of rivals in the art. The conditions of the time made the old pedantry and conceits unsuitable. Dryden, like his contemporaries, had to write for men of the world, not for scholars trained in the schools, and wrote accordingly. But he stood almost alone as a critic, and if his views were curiously flexible and inconsistent, they are always enforced by sound arguments and straightforward logic. His invariable power of understanding and command of sonorous verse gave him a reputation which grew rather than declined during the next century. The correct opinion was to balance him against Pope, somewhat as Shakespeare had been balanced against Jonson, as showing more vigour if less art. Churchill was his most conspicuous imitator; Gray, like Pope, professed to have learned his whole skill in versification from Dryden. Warton places him just below Pope, and distinctly below Shakespeare, Milton, and Spenser. Scott still places him next to Shakespeare and Milton, and expresses the conservative literary creed of his time. Perhaps the best modern criticism will be found in Lowell's ‘Among my Books.’
Dryden's dramatic works (with dates of first performance and publication) are: 1. ‘The Wild Gallant,’ February 1662–3, 1669. 2. ‘The Rival Ladies,’ 1663(?), 1664. 3. ‘The Indian Emperor,’ 1665, 1667; defence of ‘Essay on Dramatic Poesy’ added to second edition, 1668. 4. ‘Secret Love, or the Maiden Queen,’ 1667, 1668. 5. ‘Sir Martin Mar-all,’ 1667, 1668. 6. ‘The Tempest’ (with D'Avenant), 1667, 1670. 7. ‘An Evening's Love, or the Mock Astrologer,’ 1668, 1671. 8. ‘Tyrannic Love, or the Royal Martyr,’ 1669, 1670. 9, 10. ‘Conquest of Granada’ (two parts), 1670, 1672; ‘Essay on Heroic Plays’ prefixed, and ‘Essay on Dramatic Poetry of the Last Age’ appended. 11. ‘Marriage à la Mode,’ 1672, 1673. 12. ‘The Assignation, or Love in a Nunnery,’ 1672, 1673. 13. ‘Amboyna,’ 1673, 1673. 14. ‘The State of Innocence’ (not acted), 1674, with apology for heroic poetry and poetic license. 15. ‘Aurengzebe,’ 1675, 1676. 16. ‘All for Love,’ 1677–8, 1678. 17. ‘The Kind Keeper, or Mr. Limberham,’ 1678, 1678. 18. ‘Œdipus’ (with N. Lee; the first and third acts are Dryden's), 1679, 1679. 19. ‘Troilus and Cressida,’ 1679, 1679. 20. ‘The Spanish Friar,’ 1681, 1681. 21. ‘The Duke of Guise’ (with N. Lee; the first scene, the fourth and half the fifth act are Dryden's), 1682, 1683; a ‘Vindication’ separately published. 22. ‘Albion and Albanius,’ 1685, 1685. 23. ‘Don Sebastian,’ 1690, 1690. 24. ‘Amphitryon,’ 1690, 1690. 25. ‘King Arthur,’ 1691, 1691. 26. ‘Cleomenes,’ 1692, 1692. 27. ‘Love Triumphant,’ 1693–4, 1694. The ‘Essay on Dramatic Poesy’ appeared in 1668, and the notes and observations on the ‘Empress of Morocco,’ in which Dryden had some share, in 1674.
Dryden's original poems appeared as follows: 1. ‘Heroic Stanzas, consecrated to the Memory of his Highness Oliver, late Lord Protector,’ &c., two editions in 1659, the first probably being that in which it appears as one of ‘Three Poems upon the Death of his late Highness,’ &c. 2. ‘Astræa Redux,’ 1660. 3. ‘Panegyric on the Coronation,’ 1661. 4. ‘Annus Mirabilis,’ 1667. 5. ‘Absalom and Achitophel,’ part i. 1681. 6. ‘The Medal,’ March 1682. 7. ‘Mac Flecknoe,’ October 1682. 8. ‘Absalom and Achitophel,’ part ii. (with Nahum Tate), November 1682. 9. ‘Religio Laici,’ November 1682. 10. ‘Threnodia Augustalis,’ 1685. 11. ‘The Hind and the Panther,’ 1687. 12. ‘Britannia Rediviva,’ 1688. 13. ‘Eleonora,’ 1692. 14. ‘Alexander's Feast,’ 1697.
Dryden contributed many small pieces to various collections, some of them subsequently reprinted in his ‘Miscellany Poems’ (see below). Among them are the poem on the death of Lord Hastings, published in ‘Lachrymæ Musarum,’ 1649; a poem prefixed to John Hoddesdon's ‘Sion and Parnassus,’ 1650; and to Sir R. Howard's poems, 1660; to Walter Charleton's ‘Chorea Gigantum,‘ 1663; to Lee's ‘Alexander,’ 1677; to Roscommon's ‘Essay on Translated Verse,’ 1680; and to Congreve's ‘Double Dealer,’ 1694. The ode to ‘The Pious Memory of the Accomplished Young Lady Mrs. Anne Killigrew’ first appeared in her collected poems, 1686. Songs attributed to Dryden are in the ‘Covent Garden Drollery,’ 1672, and (see Notes and Queries, 1st ser. ix. 95) in ‘New Court Songs and Poems,’ 1672. The ‘Te Deum’ and ‘Hymn on St. John's Eve’ were first published by Sir W. Scott. Dryden wrote between ninety and a hundred prologues and epilogues. A ‘Satire against the Dutch,’ attributed to him in the ‘State Poems’ (1704) and dated 1662, is really com- posed of the prologue and epilogue to ‘Amboyna’ (1673). Other spurious poems are in the same collection.
Dryden's poetical translations are: 1. ‘Juvenal and Persius,’ 1693 (the 1st, 3rd, 6th, 10th, and 16th Satire of Juvenal, all Persius, and the ‘Essay on Satire’ prefixed, are by Dryden; the 7th Satire of Juvenal by his son Charles, and the 14th by his son John). 2. ‘Virgil,’ 1697 (Knightly Chetwood wrote the life of Virgil, Walsh the preface to the ‘Pastorals,’ and Addison the preface to the ‘Georgics’). 3. ‘Fables, Ancient and Modern, translated into Verse from Homer (the first Iliad), Ovid, Boccaccio, and Chaucer, with Original Poems,’ 1700.
Dryden also contributed the preface and two epistles to the translation of Ovid's Epistles (1680), and other translations are in the ‘Miscellany Poems.’ The first volume of these appeared in 1684, containing reprints of his Satires, with translations from Ovid, Theocritus, and Virgil, and some prologues and epilogues. The second volume, with the additional title ‘Sylvæ,’ appeared in 1685, containing translations from the ‘Æneid,’ Theocritus, and Horace. The third, with the additional title ‘Examen Poeticum,’ appeared in 1693, containing translations from Ovid's ‘Metamorphoses,’ the ‘Veni, Creator Spiritus,’ epitaphs, and ‘Hector and Andromache’ from the 6th Iliad. The fourth, called also the ‘Annual Miscellany,’ appeared in 1694, and contained a translation of the ‘Georgics,’ bk. iii. Dryden was the author of nearly all the poems in the first two volumes, but only contributed a few poems to the others. A fifth volume, by other writers, appeared in 1704, and a sixth in 1706.
Dryden's prose works, besides the prefaces to plays, &c., mentioned above, included a life of Plutarch, prefixed to translation by various hands, 1683; a translation from Maimbourg's ‘History of the League,’ 1684; ‘Defence of Papers written by the late King …,’ 1686; translation of Bohours's ‘Life of Xavier,’ 1688; preface to Walsh's ‘Dialogue concerning Women,’ 1691; a character of St. Evremont, prefixed to St. Evremont's ‘Miscellaneous Essays,’ 1692; a character of Polybius, prefixed to a translation by Sir Henry Sheere, 1693; and a prose translation of Dufresnoy's ‘Art of Painting,’ 1695.
In 1701 Tonson published his dramatic works in 1 vol. folio; an edition in 6 vols. 12mo, edited by Congreve, appeared in 1717. In 1701 Tonson also published his ‘Poems on Various Occasions’ in 1 vol. folio; an edition in 2 vols. 12mo appeared in 1742; and an edition in 4 vols. (edited by S. Derrick) in 1760. Malone published the ‘Critical and Miscellaneous Prose Works’ in 4 vols. 8vo in 1800. An edition of the whole works, edited by Scott, in 18 vols. 8vo, appeared in 1808; it was reprinted in 1821, and was reissued, edited by Mr. G. Saintsbury, in 1884, &c.[Perfunctory lives of Dryden are in Cibber's Lives of the Poets (1753) and in Derrick's Collective Edition of Dryden's Poems (1760). The first important life was Johnson's admirable performance in the Lives of the Poets (1779–81). The editions by Peter Cunningham (1854) and by Birkbeck Hill (1905) contain some new facts. Malone's badly written but full life (1800) forms vol. i. of the Miscellaneous Prose Works. Scott prefixed an excellent life to the edition of Dryden's Complete Works (1808). The lives by Robert Bell prefixed to the Aldine edition (1854), and especially that by W. D. Christie prefixed to the Globe edition of Dryden's Poems (1870), are worth consulting. See also Dryden by G. Saintsbury in the English Men of Letters Series, and a valuable study of Dryden and his contemporaries in Le Public et les Hommes de Lettres en Angleterre (1660–1744), by Alexandre Beljame (1881).]