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Muses, he without doubt at this period wrote many verses which have perished ; and his fancy was naturally inspired and animated by those charms, to which, even on the confines of his seventieth year, he was not insensible. But of these compositions, however numerous, a few lines only remain, ad. dressed to his cousin-german, Honor Driden, in 1655 ;' to whom at that time he seems to have paid his addresses in vain. Perhaps the name of Honoria, in one of his earliest plays, (The Rival Ladies,) was adopted in consequence of his at. tachment to this inexorable beauty. Having received from this lady a present of a silver inkstand and other materials for writing, he returned her his thanks in a very gallant letter, (for so undoubtedly it was considered,) which “ craved ad. mittance to her fair hands," and which will be found at length in its proper place. As this epistle is the earliest prose composition of our author's
9 Honor Driden was one of the daughters of our au. thor's uncle, Sir John Driden, the second Baronet in this family. The date of this letter, the original of which is yet extant, has been partly obliterated; but enough remains to show that it was written in 1655, while Dryden was yet at college. The lady, who according to tra. dition was a celebrated beauty, was then probably about eighteen. Her father, who died in 1658, (not in 1664, as asserted in Collins's BARONETAGE,) by his Will, which is in the Prerogative-Office, (Wotton, qu. 595,) and is dated Jan. 13, 1656-7, (proved Nov. 11, 1658,) left her a very large portion for that time, iwo thousand five hu. died pounds. Slic all her life remained single.
now extant, and is intermingled with versc, the conclusion of it may not improperly be introduced here, and will at oncc furnish a specimen of his powers in either kind, at this early period of his life: : :
“ You, Madam, (says the youthful poet,) are such a deity, that commands worship by providing the sacrifice. You are pleased, Madam, to force mc to write, by sending me materials, and compel me to my greatest happiness. Yet though I highly value your magnificent present, pardon me if I must tell the world they are but imperfcct emblems of your beauty; for the white and red of wax and paper are but shadows of that vermilion and snow in your lips and forehead ; and the silver of the inkhorn, if it presume to vie whiteness with your purer skin, inust confess itself blacker than the liquor it contains. What then do I more than retrieve' your own gifts, and present you that paper adulterated with blots, which you gave spotless ?
“ For since 'twas mine, the whitchathi lose its hue,
"To retrieve was sometimes formerly used in the sense of-lo retribute, or pay back. Coles, in his Latin Diccionary, 1679, 4to. renders it by-recupero, instauro, de integro restituere.
It is but just to add, that for this cluster of forced conceits, and the indelicacy of one of the images, the age, rather chan the writer, is answerable. Such conceits were at that time not merely pardoned, but admired ; and with the allusion no reader of either sex, however fastidious, was likely to be offended.
After residing seven years at Cambridge, about the middle of the year 1657 he removed to London.' One of the bitterest of his adversaries has asserted, that having traduced a nobleman's son in a libel, he was obliged to quit the University from an apprehension of being expelled. But having excited
3 " Such," says one of our author's adversaries, " is the reasoning of a man of seven years' standing in Cam. bridge, and twice as many in Covent-Garden Coffechouse."-" Notes and Observations on THE EMPRESS OT Morocco, revised, tto. 1674.—This passage affords a confirmation of what has been already stated in p. 17; for clicre is probably no instance of any gownsman re. :siding seven years in the University of Cambridge or Oxford, without taking a Master's degree.
" At Cambridge first your-scurrilous vein began,
THE MEDAL OF JOHN BAYES, 410. 1682. The author, who is supposed to have been Thomas Shadwell, observes in a note, that at the Universities, noblemen's sons are called noblemen.
Granting for a moment that this improbable story was true, it is not very easy to discover on what ground our
great animosity by his admirable poem of ABSALOM AND Achitophel, he was soon afterwards assailed by an host of enemies, and among others by the writer who produced this charge against him ; and we are not, on the bare assertion of an enraged antagonist, not corroborated by any con. temporary cvidence, to give credit to an invective in which the writer was probably not so studious of truth, as eager by any means to blacken the character of the triumphant poet, by the wit and acrimony of whose mclodious verses Shaftesbury and his partisans, yet writhing with smart and vexation, were held up to publick scorn. In our own time we have seen the most flagitious calumnies published by the basest of mankind against the purest characters : judging, therefore, of the last age by the present, we should without hesitation at once reject all vague and unsupported charges of this kind, as unworthy of the slightest attention. In the instance before us, the lampooner probably did not know how long Dryden had remained at Cambridge. There is little occasion to inquire why he quits a University, who has resided there three years beyond the usual period.
When he settled in London, he was not without
author should have been expelled for the alleged libel. According to the account given, he had already been punished in a manner which ought rather to have produced some animadversion from the University on his noble opponent than himself.
the rather to hala
nent than torsion from
a reasonable prospect of success and advancement, his kinsman, Sir Gilbert Pickering, being a person of considerable wcight at that time. This gentleman was doubly related to our author; for his father, Sir John Pickering, who died in 1628, having in 1608 married Susan, the sister of Erasmus Driden, Sir Gilbert was thus his cousin-german; and the poet's mother being the niece of Sir John Pickering, she was also cousin-german to Sir Gilbert. He was born in the year 1612,' and on the death of his father, January 29, 1627-8, succeeded to a good estate at Tichmarsh in Northamptonshire. In 1638, by the favour of that monarch whom he afterwards contributed to deprive of his life, he was created a Scottish Baronet, or, as with a superfluous precision it is frequently called, a Baronet of Nova Scotia. In both the parlianients
* Esc. 4 Car. p. 4. n. 84.
- When the order of Baronets was first established in 1612, King James engaged that they should not exceed two hundred. However, towards the close of his reign, that number being completed, and the creation of Ba. ronets being found a useful engine of Government, the courtier by whose influence the title was obtained receive ing usually a thousand pounds for the grant, it was not lightly to be parted withi. A scheine, thercforc, of crc. ating Baronets of Scotland was devised, which, it was conceived, would be no infraction of the original com. pace tv confine the grants to a limited number; and as the English Baronets were created under the great seal of England, for the reduction of Ulster in Ireland, so the Scottish Baronets were created under the great scal of