BLTC Press Titles


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The Secret Doctrine, Volume II Anthropogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky


Through the Looking Glass

Lewis Carroll


Darby O'Gill and the Little People

Hermenie Templeton Kavanagh


The Diplomatic Background of the War

Charles Seymour


Annus mirabilis

by John Dryden

Excerpt:

CLARENDON PRESS EDITIONS OF DRYDEN

SELECTIONS. Prose and Verse. Edited by G. E.

Hauow. as. 6d.

ESSAY ON DRAMATIC POESY. Edited by

T. Arnold. Third edition, revised by W. T. Arnold. 3s. 6d.

SELECTIONS. Including Oliver Cromwell, Astraea

Redux, Annus Mirabilis, Absalom and Achitophel, Religio
Laici, and The Hind and the Panther. Edited by W. D. Christie.
Fifth edition, revised by C. H. Firth. 3s. 6d.

ABSALOM AND ACHITOPHEL. Edited by W. D.

Christie, Fifth edition, revised by C. H. Firth, as.

SELECT ESSAYS. Edited by W. P. Ker. Two

vols. 8s. net.

ANNUS MIRABILIS. Edited by W. D. Christie,

revised by C. H. Firth, with an introduction by F. Page. Is.

THE POEMS OF JOHN DRYDEN. Edited, with

an introduction and textual notes, by John Sargeaunt. From is. 6d. net, and on Oxford India Paper from 4s. 6d. net.

OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS

LONDON EDINBURGH GLASGOW NEW YORK
TORONTO MELBOURNE BOMBAY

HUMPHREY MILFORD M.A.

PUBLISHER TO THE UNIVERSITY

INTRODUCTION.

LIFE OF JOHN DRYDEN (1631-1700).

John Dryden was born August 9, 1631, at the vicarage of Aldwinkle All Saints, between Thrapston and Oundle in Northamptonshire. He was the eldest child of Erasmus Dryden and Mary Pickering, and the grandson of Sir Erasmus Dryden. During the Civil War his family had been Parliamentarians and Puritans.

He was educated as a King's Scholar at Westminster School under Dr. Busby, and proceeded to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1650, remaining at Cambridge till 1655. Little is known of his life there except that in 1652 he was discommonsed and confined to college for a fortnight, as a punishment for disobedience and contumacy.

In the third of his prologues to the University of Oxford he says that—

Oxford to him a dearer name shall be Than his own mother-University; Thebes did his green unknowing youth engage, He chooses Athens in his riper age; but it is not certain that this was anything else than a piece of flattery.

Dryden's first poem, an elegy on Lord Hastings, was published when he was barely eighteen, and still at Westminster School. It was disfigured with conceits. 'Lord Hastings died of the small-pox, and his poet has made of the pustules first rosebuds and then gems; and at last exalts them into stars' (Johnson).

In the next year he contributed a commendatory poem to the sacred epigrams (Sion and Parnassus, 1650) of his friend, John Hoddesdon.

In June, 1654, Dryden's father died, and Dryden inherited two-thirds of his estates, which brought him £40 a year in rents, equal in value to about £130 now, and on his mother's death in 1670 the remaining third became his.

On leaving Cambridge Dryden is said to have attached himself (perhaps as secretary) to his cousin, Sir Gilbert Pickering, at that time Cromwell's chamberlain and a member of his Privy Council. Cromwell died on September 3, 1658, and in 1659 Dryden published his 'Heroic Stanzas' in memory of Cromwell. Dryden's changes of political opinion and of religion were so opportune that the question of his sincerity has always been a vexed one: no attempt will be made to settle it here, but in fairness to him it should be noted that his poem on Cromwell does not pledge the writer to any anti-royalist opinions. Before long he gave up his position in Sir Gilbert Pickering's household.

In 1660 appeared his Astraea Redux, a congratulatory poem on the restoration of Charles II: this was followed in 1661 by a 'Panegyrick' on the coronation of the same monarch. On New Year's Day, 1662, he presented ' A Poem to my Lord Chancellor', Lord Clarendon, and in 1663, says Lowell,' the authentic and unmistakable Dryden first manifests himself in some verses addressed to his friend Dr. Charleton '.


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