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ON A GIRDLE.
THAT, which her slender waist confin'd,
It was my Heaven's extremest sphere, The pale which held that lovely deer : My joy, my grief, my hope, my love, Did all within this circle move!
A narrow compass! and yet there
FAIREST piece of well-form'd earth!
Nor all appear, among those few,
Worthy the stock from whence they grew :
'Tis art, and knowledge, which draw forth The hidden seeds of native worth:
They blow those sparks, and make them rise Into such flames as touch the skies.
To the old heroes hence was given
Where your lov'd mother slept with Jove, -
Caught with her spouse's shape and name
TO A LADY
SINGING A SONG OF HIS COMPOSING.
CHLORIS, yourself you so excel,
When you vouchsafe to breathe my thought, That, like a spirit, with this spell
Of my own teaching, I am caught.
That eagle's fate and mine are one,
Wherewith he wont to soar so high.
Had Echo with so sweet a grace
But of his voice, the boy had burn'd.
JOHN DRYDEN was born, probably in 1631, in the parish of Aldwincle- Allsaints, in Northamptonshire. His father possessed a small estate, acted as a justice of the peace during the usurpation, and seems to have been a presbyterian. John, at a proper age, was sent to Westminster school, of which Busby was then master; and was thence elected to a scholarship in Trinity college, Cambridge. He took his degrees of bachelor and master of arts in the university; but though he had written two short copies of verses about the time of his admission, his name does not occur among the academical poets of this period. By his father's death, in 1654, he succeeded to the estate, and, removing to the metropolis, he made his entrance into public life, under the auspices of his kinsman, Sir Gilbert Pickering, one of Cromwell's council and house of lords, and staunch to the principles then predominant. On the death of Cromwell, Dryden wrote some "Heroic Stanzas," strongly
marked by the loftiness of expression and variety of imagery which characterised his more mature efforts. They were, however, criticised with some severity.
At the Restoration, Dryden lost no time in obliterating former stains; and, as far as it was possible, rendered himself peculiarly distinguished for the base servility of his strains. He greeted the king's return by a poem, entitled "Astræa Redux," which was followed by "A Panegyric on the Coronation:" nor did Lord Chancellor Clarendon escape his encomiastic lines. His marriage with' Lady Elizabeth Howard, daughter of the Earl of Berkshire, is supposed to have taken place in 1665. About this time he first appears as a writer for the stage, in which quality he composed several pieces; and though he did not display himself as a prime favourite of the dramatic muse, his facility of harmonious versification, and his splendour of poetic diction, gained him admirers. In 1667 he published a singular poem, entitled "Annus Mirabilis," the subjects of which were, the naval war with the Dutch, and the fire of London. It was written in four-line stanzas, a form which has since gone into disuse in heroic subjects; but the piece abounded in images of genuine poetry, though intermixed with many extravagances.
At this period of his life Dryden became professionally a writer for the stage, having entered into a contract with the patentees of the King's Theatre, to supply them with three plays in a year, upon the condition of being allowed the profit