In 1681 he turned to politics, and wrote Absalom and Achitophel against Shaftesbury and the Duke of Monmouth. This poem was very popular, and universally read. Several replies appeared. The Medal also attacked Shaftesbury, and produced The Medal Reversed from Elkanah Settle.

On the accession of James II. Dryden embraced popery and wrote The Hind and Panther, which was ridiculed by Montague and Prior in The City Mouse and Country Mouse.

Britannia Rediviva celebrated the birth of a prince (1688).

The Revolution transferred the Laureateship from Dryden to Shadwell, whom the former attacked in MacFlecknoe.

For the rest of his life, Dryden wrote for a living. His last five plays now appeared.

In 1693 he translated Juvenal and Persius, followed by Virgil (1694-7). His last work was his Fables (1699). Two Odes on St. Cecilia's Day appeared--one in 1687, one in 1697.

Dryden died in 1701.

“A wild story” is told of a practical joke of Lord Jefferies at his funeral (pp. 41-3).

2. Johnson gives a character of Dryden by Congreve, (pp. 44-5). The chief features described are:

Placability and friendliness; modesty ; magisterial bearing to the young; slowness in conversation ; fondness of the society of the great.

His writings are licentious, and adulatory--but this may be artificiality only, and not an index of his mind.

He praises others, but laments for himself.
His answers to critics are effusions of genius.


His writings often show a malignity to the priesthood, which suggests irreverence for religion.

He frequently suffered from want, the cause of which is doubtful. Tonson paid 250 guineas for his Fables, and treated Dryden with rudeness ; the Ormond family were liberal to him ; his salary as Laureate was very

. irregularly paid.

He was the literary monarch at Will's coffee-house. He frequently shows his belief in astrology.

3. Dryden as a critic, pp. 55-64. He first taught the principles of composition.

Dialogue on the Drama : excellent portraits of English dramatists, the account of Shakspeare is a model of criticism. His criticism is that of a poet. Dryden leads the reader in quest of graceful Truth through fragrance and flowers : Rymer leads through thorns and brambles to ungraceful and repulsive truth. Dryden's criticism is majestic: Rymer's is ferocious.

Dryden wrote with a full mind, and did not elaborate his work; hence he is not constant. Thus he both defends and deserts dramatic rhyme.

His remarks on writers are not always trustworthy. (Johnson gives various examples, pp. 59, 60.)

His literature (literary knowledge) was limited to few books, and is either obvious, or superficial, or erroneous.

His general knowledge was extensive, resulting from an active, inquiring mind, a quick apprehension, a judicious selection, a happy memory, a keen appetite for knowledge, and a "powerful digestion.”

Nearly all his prose consists of criticism.

His style is equable and varied, has no prominent characteristics, and is not easily imitated.



He continued the work of Waller and Denham, and established the new versification.

4. His Translations, pp. 64-5.
Jonson copied the Latin author word by word.
Feltham translated line by line.
Sandys struggled to produce an equal number of lines.

Holiday devoted more attention to meaning than to words.

Cowley asserted his liberty, and too boldly left his authors.

Dryden fixed limits of poetical liberty, and gave rules and examples of translation.

Languages vary in style and idiom. The translator must express the author's thoughts as the author would have done had he been English. A translator should be like his author, and not try to excel him.

5. Effect of want on Dryden's works, pp. 65-7.

Poverty lessened the excellence and increased the number of Dryden's works. Had he written less he might not have written better.

His poems were mostly “occasional”; he could not choose his matter, nor delay the publication; he was circumscribed by the narrowness of his subject. Birth, marriage, funerals, wars, provide no new ideas.

Such compositions merit praise on account of these drawbacks.

6. Dryden's versification, pp. 67-77.

He learnt the alternately-rhymed stanza from Davenant.

He is fond of forced conceits. (Johnson gives examples.)

His Aureng Zebe marks the establishment of his principles of versification,

7. Absalom and Achitophel, pp. 77-8. Political and controversial, containing all possible excellences of such a subject. Some lines are improper, many are irreligious : its allegories are strained too far; it wearies the reader; historical truth hampered the poet's powers, and prevented a fitting climax,

8. The Medal, pp. 78-9. On a narrow plan, though showing the writer's skill. The portrait of Shaftesbury is well delineated and strongly coloured.

9. Threnodia Augustalis, pp. 79-80. Defective because the metre is irregular; is neither tender nor dignified, neither magnificent nor pathetic. Shows too much pleasure at the prospect of the new reign to be a sincere lament over the late King.

10. Lyric Poems, pp. 80-2. The poem on Mrs. Killigrew is the noblest ode in our language.

The first Ode on St. Cecilia's Day is splendid, vigorous, and striking, but inferior to the second.

Eleonora shows Dryden's skill in elegy, but lacks illustration. The praise is too general because the poet did not know the object of his praises.

11. Religio Laici, pp. 82-3. The only voluntary effusion; rather argumentative than poetical; a happy example of a “middle kind of writing,” neither towering to the skies, nor creeping along the ground.

12. The Hind and Panther, pp. 83-6. Dryden's longest poem. Similar in style to Religio Laici. The scheme is injudicious and incommodious. It is absurd for one beast to counsel another to believe in the infallibility of the Pope, to discuss the Nicene Fathers, and to declare herself to be the Catholic Church. Montague and Prior detected these incongruities and properly ridiculed them. Pope, a Catholic, names this poem as the most correct of Dryden's works. The first part was intended to be a specimen of majestic poesy. Some lines are lofty, elegant, and musical: others fail to carry out the author's intention.

The diction of the second and third parts is familiar and conversational, but they contain some sonorous lines. The whole shows smoothness of metre, extensive knowledge, and abundance of images. Its natural unsuitability and unpopularity have caused it to be neglected, but it is useful as an example of “poetical ratiocination.”

13. Britannia Rediviva, p. 86. Remarkable for extravagant flattery and lack of political foresight.

14. Translation of Juvenal, p. 87. Preserves the wit but lacks the dignity of the original.

15. Translation of Virgil, pp. 87-9. "The most noble and spirited translation that I know in any language" (Pope). Attacked by Milbourne. Imitated by many, but not often with success. It will bear the test of being judged by its general effects and ultimate result, for in spite of small defects it “ keeps the mind in pleasing captivity.”

16. Fables, p. 89. These are renovations of some of Chaucer's Tales.

17. Alexander's Feast, p. 90. Exhibits the highest flight of fancy and the most exact nicety of art. Stands without a rival. Was produced in a fortnight.

18. General survey of Dryden's labours, pp. 91-100.

i. His Mind: comprehensive by nature, enriched with knowledge; a strong reason, a vigorous genius, but not a quick sensibility; unacquainted with simple, ingenuous passions.

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