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The Biography prefixed to this volume is of necessity in much part a repetition of the longer Memoir at the beginning of the Globe edition.
Since the publication of the latter I have satisfied myself by additional information obtained from Trinity College, Cambridge, that the story of Dryden's continued residence at Cambridge till 1657 is a mistake, and that he ceased to reside there in 1654 or early in 1655.
W. D. C.
32 Dorset SQUARE, LONDON,
In this second edition I have been able to make an interesting addition to the note at p. xvi. as to Dryden at Trinity College.
W. D. C. October, 1873
The poetry and authorship of Dryden cover a period of more than half a century. His first poem was written in youth, within a few months after the execution of Charles the First, and his last a few days before death, within not many months of the death of William the Third and the accession of Anne to the throne. 'Glorious John Dryden,' or 'Glorious John,' as Sir Walter Scott christened him, is the great literary figure of the forty years that follow the Restoration. Dryden was born only fifteen years, and his first poem was written only thirty-three years, after the death of Shakespeare. It is strange to find Dryden deliberately writing in 1672 that the English language had been so changed since Shakespeare wrote, that any one then reading his plays, or Fletcher's, or Jonson's, and comparing them with what had been written since the Restoration, would see the change “almost in every linea.' There are frequent careless statements and hasty generalizations in Dryden's critical dissertations, which were mostly composed rapidly for particular occasions, and there may be exaggeration in this assertion, but it probably contains more truth than exaggeration. Milton, born eight years before Shakespeare's death, was Dryden's senior by twenty-three
à Defence of the Epilogue to the Second Part of “The Conquest of Granada.'
years, and 'Paradise Lost' was published in 1669, the year before that in which Dryden received the appointment of poet laureate, succeeding Davenant, the author of "Gondibert,' and Dryden's co-operator in a versified abridgment and debasement of Paradise Lost. Milton died in 1674, unhonoured by the multitude, when Dryden was at the height of his dramatic popularity, and is spoken of as 'the good and famous poet' by the cultivated Evelyn b. A quarter of a century later Dryden had a splendid public funeral. Cowley, who was Dryden's superior in the imaginative faculty, and who, like Dryden after him, had had a fame unjustly superior to Milton's during his life, had died in 1667. The poetry of Cowley had been a favourite reading of Dryden's youth. He speaks of Cowley, in several passages of his prose writings, with the respect due to a master, and says on one occasion that his authority is almost sacred' to him. Before the end of the seventeenth century, the popularity of Cowley had disappeared 4, and no traces of the influence of his metaphysical style are to be discovered in any of Dryden's poems later than the 'Annus Mirabilis' of 1666. Denham and Waller, two poets of humbler order, had, while Dryden was young, produced smooth and harmonious poems, and contributed to the improvement of verse; and it remained for Dryden to advance this work, and bring metrical harmony to perfection in his own poems, and, during forty years after the Restoration, of various writing in prose and in verse, to give precision and purity and new wealth and capability to the English language.
b Evelyn's Diary, June 27, 1674.
. Essay on Heroic Plays, prefixed to the First Part of. The Conquest of Granada.'
d In the Preface to the · Fables,' written in 1699, Dryden wrote of Cowley: “Though he must always be thought a great poet, he is no longer esteemed a good writer; and for ten impressions which his works have had in so many successive years, yet at present a hundred books are scarcely purchased once a twelvemonth; for, as my last Lord Rochester said, though somewhat profanely, “ Not being of God, he could not stand.”'