First & Second
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Within a week of D'Avenant's
death (7 April 1668), the dramatist, poet and translator John Dryden
was named Poet Laureate. It was officially recorded: 'to bee
Poet Laureatt' and receive 'one butt or Pype of the
best Canary wyne.' Charles II was a slow payer and Dryden
often complained (like Jonson had to James I), requesting a 'speedy
answer to my present request of halfe a year's pention for
my necessityes.' In 1688, with the arrival of the new King,
Dryden was deprived of office. In later years, one of his finest
achievements was his Fables, Ancient and Modern (1700), a collection
of new translations of classical and medieval poetry, together with
some of his own original poems. It received great acclaim on publication.
This is the 1713 edition.
John Dryden, Fables Ancient and Modern. London: Printed for Jacob
DeB. Eb 1713 D
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On his appointment, Dryden
promptly lost no time in creating duties for himself: to support
the King against his enemies at home and abroad. In the 20 years
he wrote satires on the Roman Catholics (The Spanish Friar, 1680)
and attacked the Whigs (The Duke of Guise, 1683). His first and
best satire was Absalom and Achitopel (1681), occasioned by the
Earl of Shaftesbury's support of Monmouth's pretensions
to succeed Charles as King. It was said to be written at the King's
express command. It remains one of the best examples of official
poetry. Dryden died in April 1700 and was given a handsome funeral
and buried in Westminster Abbey on 13 May 1700.
'John Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel. London: Printed for
J.T. and are to be sold by W. Davis, 1681.
DeB. Ec 1681 D
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By the time Thomas Shadwell
(1642?-1692) became Poet Laureate, he was 47, and a successful dramatist.
He was a Whig; Dryden was a Tory. The ex-laureate did not think
much of his successor, calling him a Tun (four hogsheads or about
208 gallons) 'round as a globe and liquor'd every chink.'
Shadwell attacked Dryden in The Medal of John Bayes (1682) and was
himself lampooned in Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel and Mac
Flecknoe. Shadwell's importance lies in the fact that he established
the tradition of penning annual birthday and New Year odes as well
as verse for such events as royal births and marriages, coronations
and military victories. This is a later printing of his play The
Squire of Alsatia, first printed in 1688.
Thomas Shadwell, The Squire of Alsatia. London: Printed for T. Lownds,
DeB. Eb 1764 S