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DR Y DE N...
F the great poet whose life I am about
to delineate, the curiosity 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 casual mention and uncertain tradition have fupplied.
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 Erasınus Dryden, Baronet, of Canons Ashby. 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 Vol. II.
have been bred, as was said, an Anabaptist. For either of these particulars no authority is given. Such a fortune ought to have fecured 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 necessities. But though he had many enemies, who undoubtedly examined his life with a scrutiny fufficiently malicious, I do not remember that he is ever charged with waste 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 erroneous.
From Westminster School, where he was instructed as one of the king's scholars by Dr. Busby, 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, notwithstanding the reformation
* He went off to Trinity College, and was admi tel to a Bachelor's Degree in 1653. H.