« AnteriorContinua »
SHEFFIELD, DUKE OF BUCKINGHAMSHIRE, 279
DR Y DE N.
Of the great poet whose life I am about to de lineate, the curiofity which his reputation must excite will require a display more ample than can now be given. His contemporaries, however they reverenced his genius, left his life unwritten ; and nothing therefore can be known beyond what can sual mention and uncertain tradition have supplied.
JOHN DRYDEN was born August 9, 1631, at Aldwinkle near Oundle, the son of Erasmus Dryden of Tichmersh; who was the third son of Sir Erasmus Dryden, baronet, of Canons Athby. All these places are in Northamptonshire ; but the original stock of the family was in the county of Huntingdon.
He is reported, by his last biographer, Derrick, to have inherited from his father an estate of two hundred a year, and to have been bred, as was said, an Anabaptist
. For either of these particulars no authority is given. Such a fortune ought to have secured him from that poverty which seems always to have oppressed him ; or, if he had wasted it, to have made hiin ashamed of publishing his neceffities. But though he had niany enemies, Vol. II,
who undoubtedly examined his life with a scrutiny sufficiently malicious, I do not remember that he is ever charged with wafie of his patrimony. He was indeed sometimes reproached for his first religion. I am therefore inclined to believe that Derrick’s intelligence was partly true, and partly erro11COUS..
From Westminfier School, where he was instructed as one of the king's scholars by Dr. Buíby, whom he long after continued to reverence, he was in 1650 elected to one of the Westminster scholarships at Cambridge *.
Of his school performances has appeared only a poem on the death of Lord Hastings, composed with great ambition of such conceits as, notivithstanding the reformation begun by Waller and Denham, the example of Cowley still kept in reputation. Lord Hastings died of the small-pox; and his poet has inade of the pustules first rosebuds, and then gems; at last exalts them into stars; and says,
No comet need foretell his change drew on,
At the university he does not appear to have been eager of poetical distinction, or to have lavished his early wit either on fictitious subjects or public occasions. He probably considered, that he, who proposed to be an author, ought first to be a student. He obtained, whatever was the reafon, no fellowship in the College. Why he was excluded cannot now be known, and it is vain to guess; had he thought himself injured, he knew
* He went off to Trinity College, and was admitted to a Bache. Jor's Degree in 3653. H.