Page images


[merged small][ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

F the great poet whose life I am about

to delineate, the curiosity which his reputation must excite, will require a difplay 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 supplied.

JOHN DRYDEN was born August 9, 1631, at Aldwinkle near Oundle, the son of Erasmus Dryden of Tichmeríh ; who was the third son of Sir Erasmas Dryden, Baronet, of Canons Athby. All these places are in NorVOL. II.

B thamptonshire;

thamptonshire; but the original stock of the fimily was in the county of Huntingdon.

Hc is reported by his last biographer, Derrick, to have inherited from his father an eitate of two hundred a year, and to have teen bred, as was faid, an Anabaptist. For cither of these particulars 10 authority is given. Suchi 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 him ashamed of publishing his neceffities. But though he had many enemies, who undoubtedly examined his life with a scrutiny sufficiently inalicious, I do not remember that he is ever charged with waste of his patrimony. He was indeed sometimes reproached for his first religion. I ain therefore inclined to believe that Derrick's intelligence was partly true, and partly erroneous.

Fiom Weftminster School, where he was instructed as cne of the king's scholars by Dr. Bofhy, whom lie long after continued to reverence, he was in 1650 elected to


« PreviousContinue »