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*HIS illustrious poet was fon of
Erasmus Dryden, of Tickermih, in Northamptonshire; and born at Aldwincle, near Oundle, in 1631*. He had
hiseducation in grammar-learning at Weftminster-school, under the famous Dr. Busby; and was from thence elected, in 1650, a scholar of Trinity-college in Cambridge.
* Athen. Oxon, VOL, VIII. B
We have no account of any extraordinary indications of genius given by this great poet while in his earlier days; and he is one instance how little regard is to be paid to the figure a boy makes at school. Mr. Dryden was turned of thirty before he introduced any play upon the stage; and his first, called The Wild Gallants, met with a very indifferent reception; so that, if he had not been impelled, by the force of genius and propension, he had never again attempted the stage.-A circumstance which the lovers of dramatic poetry must ever have regretted, as they would, in this case, have been deprived of one of the greatest ornanients that ever adorned the
profeffion. The year
before he left the university, he wrote a poem on the death of lord Hastings : “ A performance,” say some of his critics, “ very unworthy of himself, and of the aftonishing genius he afterwards discovered.”
That Mr. Dryden had, at this time, no fixed principles, either in religion or politics, is abundantly evident Rom his heroic stanzas on Oliver Cromwell, written after his funeral in 1658; and immediately upon the restoration he published Aftræa Redux, a poem on the happy restoration of Charles the Second ; and the same year, his Panegyric to the king on his coronation. In the former of these pieces, à remarkable distich has exposed our poet to the ridicule of the wits.
An horrid stillness first invades the ear,
Which, it mut be owned, is downright nonsense, and a contradiction in terms. Amongst others, captain Radcliff has ridiculed this blunder in the following lines of his News from Hell.
Laureat, who was both learn'd and florid,
In 1662, he addrelled a poem to the lordchancellor Hyde, presented on New Year's Day; and, the same year, published a satire on the Dutch. His next piece was his Annus Mirabilis, or, The Year of Wonders, 16636 an historical poem, which celebrated the duke of York's victory over the Dutch. In the same year, Mr. Dryden succeeded Sir William Davenant as poet-laureat, and was also made historiographer to his majesty; and that year published his Efiay on Dramatic Poetry, ad. dressed to Charles earl of Dorset and Middlesex.
Mr. Dryden tells his patron, that the writing this essay served as an amusement to him in the country, when he was driven from town by