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AN ABSTRACT OF DRYDEN'S LIFE, FROM MALONE.
The time of Dryden's birth is not exactly known. It was from 1630 to 1632.
He was born at Aldwinkle, in Northamptonshire. He went to school in that neighbourhood; and about 1642 was admitted a King's Scholar at Westminster, under Dr. Busby. He went scholar to Trinity College, Cambridge, the 11th of May, 1650; and became B.A. January, 1653-4.
In 1653, he succeeded to some landed property in Northamptonshire.
He lived seven years at Cambridge, and took a master's degree; and then went to reside in London, 1660. He wrote a play in that year, called The Duke of Guise; but it never came out. Then, or earlier, he obtained the patronage and assistance of Sir Robert Howard; whose sister, Lady Elizabeth, he married, in or before 1665.
His plays may be classed in four periods:-
From their revival to the burning of the King's Theatre, in 1671-2.
From thence to 1682, when he left off play writing for a time.
From 1690 to 1694, when he wrote his four last.
About 1667, he agreed to furnish three plays annually, for a fixed share in the Play-house, equal to £300 or £400 a year.
He wrote eighteen plays in sixteen years. Five or sis of them between 1667 and 1670.
In 1670 he was made Laureate.
Dryden is considered to have been almost the first person, who publicly expressed, in print, great admiration for Milton's Paradise Lost.
In bringing out Aurengzebe and All for Love, 1676 and 1677, he greatly praised Shakespeare, and contributed to bring his plays again into fashion.
He was converted to the Romish Church in 1685.
At the Revolution, he lost offices to the value of £300 a year, and the Laurel.
He died 1st May, 1700.
These extracts are arranged, so as to keep the plays by themselves. Every thing, however, is dated throughout so far as known.
Dryden's principal productions, besides his plays and his Virgil, are:
The Annus Mirabilis ; written in what he called the heroic stanza; but which, since the examples of Hammond and Gray, we consider as elegiac. Dryden had used it before; and Davenant had written an epic poem in it.
The political satire of Absalom and Achitophel; upon the Duke of Monmouth and Lord Shaftesbury; in which he took the opportunity of satirizing the Duke of Buckingham, under the name of Zimri; who had ridiculed his plays in the Rehearsal.
The Hind and Panther; a defence of the Roman-Catholic religion, under an ill-conceived and worse managed allegory of two beasts.
And the Fables; very free translations, or imitations, from Chaucer and Boccaccio.
SELECTIONS FROM DRYDEN.
THE RIVAL LADIES.
1663 or 1664.
Angelina. Where had I courage for this bold disguise, Which more my nature than my sex belies? Alas! I am betrayed to darkness here; Darkness which virtue hates, and maids most fear: Silence and solitude dwell everywhere: Dogs cease to bark; the waves more faintly roar, And roll themselves asleep upon the shore: No noise but what my footsteps make, and they Sound dreadfully, and louder than by day: They double too, and every step I take Sounds thick, methinks, and more than one could make. Ha! who are these? I wish'd for company, and now I fear.
Julia. Had you a friend so desperately sick,
knew it ill for his disease? When he would die without it, how could
you Deny to make his death more easy to him
Roderick. So, now I am at rest:-
[Swoons away. Gonsalvo. Down at your feet, much injur'd innocence, I lay that sword, which
Julia. Take it up again,
yet I am kill'd before in him.
See how he stands—when he is bid dispatch me!
Gon. I'm too unlucky to converse with men:
Hippolito. As from some steep and dreadful precipice, The frighted traveller casts down his eyes, And sees the ocean at so great a distance, It looks as if the skies were sunk below him; Yet if some neighb'ring shrub (how weak soe'er) Peeps up, his willing eyes stop gladly there, And seem to ease themselves, and rest upon it: