Page images
PDF
EPUB

after Dryden's birth. He might, however, have been Curate of Aldwinckle All-Saints, at that period, and perhaps then rented the parsonagehouse from the Rector. Were it not inconsistent with the notices which the poet himself has left us, I should rather have supposed him to have been born at Tichmarsh, where Sir Gilbert Pickering had an ancient seat, and where Erasmus Driden resided in consequence of his connexion with a branch of that house.

The stock of the family of Driden was in the county of Cumberland, not in Huntingtonshire, as Dr. Johnson supposed; an errour into which he was led probably by Dr. Birch,’ as thať writer was by Lord Lansdowne, who, in his Reply to Burnet,' has asserted that our author “ was of a worthy family in Huntingtonshire, often serving as Representatives for that county.” But the truth is, that John Driden, of Staffhill, in the county of Cumberland,+ early in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, or before, migrated into Northamptonshire, where by his marriage with Elizabeth, the daughter and heir of Sir John Cope, Knight, he acquired the estate of Canons-Ashby ; nor had his successors any connexion whatsoever with the county of Huntington, till the marriage of Honor, the

2 GENERAL Dict. (article Dryden) and ILLUSTRIous HEADS.

3 “ Letter to the Author of Reflexions Historical and Political, &c. [Thomas Burnet, Esq.] By George Granville, Lord Lansdowne," p. 6. 410. 1732.

- MSS. Harl. 1094. 1553.

daughter and heir of Sir John Beville, of Chesterton, in that county, to our author's uncle, Sir John Driden, the second Baronet of this family, in or about 1632; froin whom the Chesterton estate descended to his second son, John Driden, the poet's cousin-german ; who did indeed frequently, between the years 1690 and 1707, represent the county of Huntington in parliament.

Erasmus Driden, who was the third son of Sir Erasmus Driden, of Canons-Ashby, in the county of Northampton, the first baronet of that ancient family,s had by his wife already named fourteen children; viz. four sons, John, Erasmus, Henry, and James, and ten daughters; one of whom, as Oldys has recorded, ' was married to Sher

s Sir Erasmus Driden was thirty-one years old on the 20th of Dec. 1584, (Esc. 27 Eliz. p. 1. n. 54,) and consequently was born Dec. 20, 1553. He took the degree of B. A. at Oxford, June 17, 1577, according to Antony Wood, who however does not seem to have known of what college he was a member; and as at that time young men usually went to the University at the age of thirteen or fourteen, it is extraordinary that our author's grandfather should not have obtained his first degree in arts till he was near four-and-twenty. I suspect he was ori, ginally bred at Cambridge. He was created a Baronet in 1619, and died aged 79, May 30, (nót 22d, as said on his tombstone, Hist. of Northamptonshire, i. 229,) 1632. Esc. 8 Car. p. 3. n. 31. He probably derived the name of Erasmus, which long continued in his family, from his maternal uncle, Erasmus Cope, to whom perhaps Erasmus, the celebrated writer, was godfather.

• Notes on Langbaine, MSS.

mardine, a bookseller in Little Britain, and Frances, the youngest, to Joseph Sandwell, a tobacconist in Newgate-street; who survived her eldest brother above thirty years, having died October 10, 1736, near ninety years old. Rose, another of the daughters, married - Laughton, D. D. of Catworth, in the county of Huntington; Agnes was the wife of Sylvester Emelyn, of Stamford, in the county of Lincoln, gentleman ; Lucy of Stephen Umwell, of London, merchant; and Martha of — Bletso, of Northampton.-Of the other four, I have not discovered any notices. Of the sons, Erasmus, who was in trade, and resided in King-street, Westminster, succeeded at a late period of life to the title of Baronet, and died at Canons-Ashby, Nov. 3, 1718, aged eighty-two, leaving one daughter, married to Shaw, and five grandsons, the eldest of whom (John) succeeded to the title ; Henry went to Jamaica, where he died, leaving a son named Richard ; and James, the youngest, died in the parish of St. Dunstan's in the East, in 1694, leaving two daughters.?

Our author received the first rudiments of learning at Tichmarsh,s and probably was indebted for part of his education to the school at Oundle, in the same county; from one or the other of which places he was removed to Westminster School, where he was admitted a King's Scholar, but at what

7 The account of our author's two younger brothers is taken from Collins's BARONETAGE, vol. i. p. 352.

8 See the Epitaph by his kinswoman, Mrs. Elizabeth Creed, in the Appendix.

age I have not been able to ascertain ;& probably, however, about the time of the Civil War's breaking out, when he was near eleven years old. After remaining some years at that excellent seminary, of which the celebrated Dr. Busby had been appointed Master in 1638,9 he was elected

8 The earliest Register of elections into the college of Westminster, now extant, commences in 1663. The age of those elected was not noticed in the Register till 1708.

9 Dr. Richard Busby, who was born in 1607, student of Christ Church in Oxford, in 1624, M. A. in 1631, was appointed provisional Master of Westminster School in 1638, in the room of Lambert Osbolston, who was ejected by Laud; in which office Dr. Busby was confirmed in 1639, as appears from the Chapter-Book. He died Master of the School, April 6, 1695, at the age of eighty-eight.

Locke and South, who were nearly of the same age with Dryden, Dr. Henry Stubbe, Dr. Walter Pope, Dr. John Mapletoft, Henry Bagshaw, and Edward Bagshaw, who quarrelled with Busby, and in 1659 published a narrative of their differences, were his contemporaries at Westminster.

There was formerly a“ faire house” at Chiswick, (the prebendal or manor-house, belonging to one of the prebendaries of St. Paul's cathedral,) which in 1593 was in pos. session of Dr. Goodman, Dean of Westminster, “ whereunto, says Norden, (SPECULUM BRITANNIÆ, p. 17,) in any time of common plague or sicknes, as also to take the aire, he withdraweth the schollers of the colledge of Westminster.” On the walls of this house, in which Busby, with some of his pupils, used occasionally to reside, the names of Dryden and others were a few years ago to be seen. Lysons's ENVIRONS OF LONDON, ii. 192.

VOL. I.

to one of the scholarships of Trinity College, in Cambridge, where he was admitted, May 11th, 1650, under the tuition of the Rev. Mr. Templer,' and was matriculated on the 6th of July following.

At this early period he commenced poet, not only by the Elegy on the death of Lord Hastings, (1649) mentioned by all his biographers, but by commendatory verses prefixed to the Poems of John Hoddesdon, in 1650 ;+ neither of which af

i From the Register of Trinity College.--Mr. Templer afterwards became a Doctor of Divinity, and published an Answer to Hobbes, under the title of IDEA THEOLOGIÆ LEVIATHANIS, &c. 8vo. 1673; "a Treatise relating to the Worship of God," 8vo. 1694; and some single sermons.

? Regr. Acad. Cant.

3 Published in a volume entitled “ Tears of the Muses on the Death of Henry, Lord Hastings,” 8vo. 1649.

4 These verses being our author's second attempt at poetry, hitherto discovered, and the book in which they are found, (“ Sion and Parnassus, or Epigrams on several Texts of the Old and New Testament," 8vo. 1650,) being uncommon, I shall subjoin them: To his Friend, the Authour, on his Divine Epigrams. “ Thou hast inspir’d me with thy soul, and I “ Who ne'er before could ken of Poetry, “ Am grown so good proficient, I can lend “ A line in commendation of my friend. Yet 'tis but of the second hand ; if ought “ There be in this, 'tis from thy fancy brought. “ Good thief, who dar'st, Prometheus-like, aspire, “ And fill thy poems with celestiall fire:

« PreviousContinue »