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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
good subject for this sort of antiquarian curiosity. It might have been possible to frame a conventional uniform seventeenth century spelling for the whole book; but it was easier to adopt the modern convention, which will be found to have been recognized in most points somewhere or other in Dryden's works. Thus, the principal differences between the old and the new spellings are exemplified in the title An Essay of Dramatick Poesie ; but there is nothing in the spelling Dramatic Poesy which Dryden would have disapproved. The Preface to Troilus and Cressida, 1679, which is printed in italics, and in the Italian manner, with few capitals, is generally modern in spelling, and gives Dramatic Poetry, critic, not critique nor critick, choleric, phlegmatic, virtuous not vertuous. Extream is the common spelling in Dryden's time, but extreme is allowed; so is horror besides horrour. Shock'd is the spelling in the Essay of Dramatic Poesy; so that there is no need to recall to active service the experimental chocqu'd of the Indian Emperor. Then for than is common in the earlier books, but than is used as well; and so it is possible to find authority for most modern ways of spelling in Dryden. Modernization of course must stop short of organic change in the word. Dryden's word is interess'd, not interested, and he does not recognize the spelling fund for his fond.
The punctuation is generally careless and irrational in the original editions. The printer has enough to answer for in false pointings,' says the author himself in the Second Miscellany. It is not always easy to find the best correction of the points. The colon (:) is often used for the end of a sentence, the next phrase after the colon beginning with a capital letter.
The full stop is not infrequently used, especially in Tonson's books, the Virgil, for example, where a colon or semicolon would be more suitable.
One instance of difficult punctuation may be noted at the beginning of the Dramatic Essay (p. 28, 1. 6). All the three original editions are agreed about the first period; in all, the second sentence begins at While, with a capital. But this has not hitherto. been permitted to stand by any editor, except Mr. Low.
A list of Dryden's writings is given; it was not necessary to write another biography of Dryden. After Johnson, Malone, and Scott, after Mr. Saintsbury's Dryden in the English Men of Letters, after Mr. Churton Collins's essay on Dryden(Essays and Studies, 1895), and Mr. Christie's biographical notices in the Globe Edition, and in the Selected Poems for the Clarendon Press, there is little room and little need for another account of Dryden's life without fresh materials and documents. What his quality as a critic was, the Introduction makes an attempt to explain; it is superfluous to speak in praise of Dryden, but there are some things in the circumstances of his time, and in the conditions of literary taste, that require to be examined as a preliminary to the study of his discourses.
On many points I have received most welcome assistance, by which I hope this book may have profited ; and I desire especially to record my obligations to Mr. Saintsbury, Mr. Gosse, Mr. C. H. Firth, and Mr. Oliver Elton, for the interest they have taken in the problems submitted to them.
W. P. KER. September, 1899.