Page images

occasion of much disquiet to her husband, perhaps may be in some degrec attributed to that distemper of mind, which at length ended in the total derangement of her understanding. . In consequence of her conduct both before and after her marriage, she was so little respected by his relations, that many of them lived in no kind of inti

" For man and woman, though in one they grew, ' " Yet, first or last, return again to two :' ." He to God's image, she to his was made,' .. < " So farther from the fount, the stream at random stray'd. : “How could he stand, when, put to double pain, < " He must a weaker than himself sustain ?

" Each might have stood perhaps ; but cach alone; .“ Two wrestlers help to pull cach other down. ...

“ Not that my verse would blemish all the fair; .: “Buy yet if some be bad, 'tis wisdom to beware; ." And better shun the bait, than struggle in the snare.d :,"Thus have you shunn'd, and shun, the married state, .“ Trusting as little as you can to fate.” Such is our author's representation of that condition of life, in which his kinsman happened to be placed ; the colouring of which, as well as of the other passages rc. ferred to, may in some degree have taken a tint from his own domestick unhappiness. But one who had surveyed life with a still more penetrating eye than Dryden, speak. ing of that state on which he is so lavish of encomiums, has observed, that “ in general, even ill-assorted marriages are preferable to cheerless celibacy." " To live, (adds the same writer, in another place,) without feeling or ex. citing sympathy, to be fortunate without adding to the felicity of others, or afflicted without tasting the balm of pity, is a state more gloomy than solitude: it is not retreat, but exclusion, from mankind. Marriage has many pains, but celibacy has no pleasures."

macy with her, confining their intercourse to mere risits of ceremony;' nor does she appear to have ever accompanied our author in his excursions to Northamptonshire and other counties. In the latter part of his life he frequently visited his friends and relations near Oundle, and his kinsman at Chesterton in Huntingdonshire; but Lady Elzabeth, for so she was always called, remained in London.

Of her person no authentick account has been transmitted to us, nor has any portrait of her been hitherto discovered; but, if we may believe a lam. poon of the last age, her ill conditions were in no degree coinpensated by any personal attraction.

Soon after Dryden's death, she became insane,'

Esq., which lady of her grandfathed above eighi

s Communicated by Lady Dryden, from the information of her aunt-in-law, the late Lady Dryden, who died at Canons-Ashby, May 7, 1791, aged above eighty; and from the widow of her grandfather, Edward Dryden, Esq., which lady died in London in 1961, aged eightyfour, and had been personally acquainted with our author and his wife.

o The Tory Poets, 410. 2682.

The following Epitaplı, intended for his wife, is ascribed to Dryden, in MS. Harl. 7316, p. 189:

• Here lics my wife; here let her lie:

“ She's now at rest, and so am 1." Though there is no evidence that these lines were written by him, they yet shew that the received opinion of the last age was, that little harmony subsisted between them. Whoever was the writer, thc thought is not original, being evidently suggested by a well-known old French epitaph:

“C'y gist ma femme: O, qu'elle est bien
“ Pour son repos, -et pour le mica !"


and was confined under the care of a female attendant,”: to whom her dower out of his paternal estate at Blakesley was regularly paid for her use : a very scanty provision, to which perhaps some

brased to orders, the Lord about the ye

; According to Mrs. Thomas, who is entitled to little credit, she became insane about the year 1703. To as, certain this fact, the Lord Chancellor, at my request, was pleased to order the proper officer to examine whether any commission of lunacy wasissued against her; but none was found. The following authentick extract, however, proves that she was a lunatick, though it does not fix the time wlien her mind became deranged. In 1713 a sum of money becoming due by Tonson to Dryden's estate, on his printing a second cdition of Tue Fables, and all Dryden's sons being then dead, Anne, Lady Sylvius, (the youngest daughter of Lady Elizabeth Dryden's brother, the Ho. nourable William Howard, and widow of Sir Gabriel Sylvius, Knt. who was Privy Purse to James II., and Envoy Extraordinary to the Court of Denmark at the time of the Revolution,) doubtless for the purpose of receiving this money for the benefit of her aunt, obtained letters of adıninistration to the effects of the poct, unadministered by his son Charles ; of which the following minute is pre. served in the Prerogativc-Office:

“ Vicesimo octavo die Maii, 1713, emanavit commissio dominæ Annæ Sylvius, vidux, nepti ex fratre, et proxi. mæ consanguincæ prænobilis et honoranda færninæ do. mina Elizabethæ Dryden, viduæ relicta Johannis Drya den, nuper parochiæ Sie Annæ Westm' in com. Mid. arm. dcfuncti, habentis, &c. ad administranda bona jura ci crc. dita dicti defuncti, (per Carolum Dryden, filium dicti de. functi, modo etiain demortuum, inadministrata,) in usum ct beneficium, et durante lunacia, dictæ prænobilis et honorandæ fæminæ dominæ Elizabethæ Dryden, relictx dicti Johannis Dryden dcfuncti, de benc, &c. jurat."

addition was madc, from his property in Wiltshire. In this lamentable condition she continued for several years; for she did not die till June or July, 1714,' probably in the seventy-ninth year of her

• After the estate of Canons-Ashby was devised by Sir Robert Dryden, in 1708, 10 his kinsinan, Edward Dryden, Esq., cldest son of Erasinus, our author's brother, Eras. mus' appears to have resided at Canons-Ashby, and to have received his son's rents. He appears to have also received the rents of the small estate in that neighbour. hood which had belonged to our author, and to have transmitted his widow's dower for her use. The follow. ing entries in his books of account, which nearly ascer. tain the time of her death, were obligingly communicated by Lady Dryden:

“ March 26, 1713. Payd to my son, Mr. Edw. Dryden, the summe of tenn pounds, upon accompt of my Laday Dryden's rents, being for half a year, from Michaelmas, o 1712, to Laday [day] 1713—en pounds."

" To my son Dryden for Mrs. Stooker, for the use of my Laday Dryden, which will be duc 29th present Scp. tember, St. Michael the Archangel, [1713] ton pounds. £.10. 0. 0."

“ March 25, 1714. Paid to niy son Dryden, to Mrs. Stooker, for my Lady Dryden, ten pounds, in full to this day. 10. d. o.”

“ August 28th, 1714. Payd to my son Dryden five pounds, rests, due to my Lad. Eli. Dryden accompi, to Mrs. Stoker, in full of all demands to Midsummer, being “ deceased."

Mrs. Stooker, or Stoker, was probably the nurse, or kceper, under whose care Lady Elizabeth Dryden was placed. VOL. I.


age. I have not been able to discover where she was buried.

* Though in p. 290, to give full force to the notion thcre controvereed, I have allowed that Lady Elizabeth Dryden might have been only fifty-three in 1698, the truth, I believe, is, that she was born in 1635, or not long afterwards, and conscqucntiy was then sixty-three. If Collins were correct in his account of her family in the PEERAGE, she must have been still older; for she is stated by him to have been the cldest of the four daugh. ecrs of Thomas Howard, Earl of Berkshirc; and her sister, Frances, was born in 1623: but Elizabeth was in fact the youngest daughter, as appears from the Visitation of Lincolnshire made in 1634, and now in the College of Heralds, marked C. 23. Her maternal grandfather, Wil. liam, Earl of Exeter, subscribes the pedigree there en. tcred ; in which not only his children, but his grandchildren, are enumerated. We there find eight sons of the Earl of Berkshire; Charles (then seventeen ycars old,) Thomas, Henry, William, Edward, (“incomparable author of The British Princes," who was born in 2624,) Robert, Philip, and Algernon; and three daugh. ters, Frances, Mary; and Diana; but not Elizabeth. It is extremely probable that she was born in the following year, or soon afterwards ; for her eldest brother being born in 1617, her parents at this time must have been cighteen years married ; and the children above cnume. rated were born in a regular succession between 1617 and 1633.

Her family in general were long-lived; for her father died in 1669, at nincty years of age; and her mother in. 1671, when she probably was seventy-five. Her brother, Sir Robert Howard, whose age none of the writers of EngLisha biography have ascertaincd, was baptized Jan. 19,

« PreviousContinue »