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OF

JOHN DRYDEN

SELECTED AND EDITED

BY

W. P. KER, M.A.

FELLOW OF ALL SOULS COLLEGE; HON. LL.D. GLASGOW PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH LITERATURE IN UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, London

VOLUME I

Oxford

AT THE CLARENDON PRESS

1900

15437.30 (1)

HARVARD
UNIVERSITY
LIBRARY
30 1974

Oxford

PRINTED AT THE CLARENDON PRESS

BY HORACE HART, M.A.
PRINTER TO THE UNIVERSITY

PREFACE

THE present work is a collection of Dryden's principal Essays on literary subjects, with a short commentary, and an introduction intended to explain his position as a critic. It is not a complete edition of Dryden's prose. The more ponderous works have been left out, and those not concerned with literature, such as the History of the League; also some of the lighter Prefaces and Dedications, chiefly complimentary in their substance. This selection is not meant to take the place of Scott or of Malone, but may serve as a convenient book for reference, to be used especially by such readers as are interested in criticism and the history of criticism, and who may be glad to have Dryden's critical opinions put before them in a form adapted for ready consultation and comparison.

The text has been throughout collated with the original editions except in one case, the Trans

lations from Ovid (1680), where the earliest edition accessible was the third, of 1683.

In the Essay of Dramatic Poesy the text is that of the first edition (1668), without the grammatical amendments introduced by Dryden in his revision (1684). The excuse for this choice of a text is that the edition of 1668 gives Dryden's own authentic mode of speech at that epoch of his life, and is therefore preferable in a collection which presents the essays in order of time as they were composed. Besides, the revised version has been often reprinted, and is easily accessible, -e. g. in Mr. Arnold's edition in this series,-while the text of 1668 has only once been re-published, in the edition of Mr. W. H. Low.

The spelling has been modernized. It would have been a pleasure to give the essays in old spelling, but the difficulties were too great. It is hardly possible to separate the old spelling from the old type and from the original shape of the page; it comes to be an alternative between facsimile reproduction and modern spelling. If the original spelling had been kept, it would have represented, not Dryden's own way of writing, but the caprices of various printers between 1664 and 1700. An appearance of quaintness and confusion would have been the result, and this was not convenient; Dryden, who was absolutely without concern in such matters, did not seem to be a

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