In Whitman's Hand

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Title: Dryden 1631 to 1701

Creators: Walt Whitman, Charles Knight

Date: Undated

Editorial note: Grier speculates that the date of composition is "probably 1856 or 1857" (Walt Whitman: Notebooks and Unpublished Manuscripts, [New York: New York University Press, 1984], 5:1782).

Source: Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. Transcribed from digital images of the original item.

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00170

Contributors to digital file: Nicole Gray, Ty Alyea, Matt Cohen, and Lauren Grewe



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Dryden 1631 to 1701

Dryden seems to have been of vigorous make, sharp‑tempered—used his poetical talent to make money, show up his enemies,—those of the opposite party, noblemen, politicians, &c.—He sings a good deal in the inflated, distressingly classical style of those times


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JEREMY TAYLOR.

[JEREMY TAYLOR, Bishop of Down, Connor, and Dromore,—one of the greatest of the great Divines of the Church of England,—was the son of a barber at Cambridge. He was born in 1613. He says himself that he was solely grounded in grammar and mathematics by his father." In his thirteenth year he was admitted a sizar of Caius College, Cambridge. By a sizar was then understood a poor student, who performed humble offices in the college. Out of this rank have come some of the most eminent of our scholars. Very early he obtained the patronage of Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury; who placed him at All Souls' College, Oxford, and nominated him, by a stretch of authority, Fellow of that College. In 1637 he was appointed to the Rectory of Uppingham; but his living was sequestrated in the Civil Wars. For some years he suffered poverty and imprisonment; he kept a school; he was a dependent upon private bounty. But he labored unremittingly; he preached and he published. Upon the Restoration, in 1660, he was nominated by the king to his Irish Bishopric. Here he resided for seven years, discharging his duties with the most exemplary industry, and endeavoring to win all men to his fold by unremitting love. His period of prosperity was not of long duration. He died of a fever in 1667, in his fifty-fifth year. The character of Taylor's writings which was given by his successor, Dr. Rust, in his funeral sermon, is not an exaggeration:—They "will be famous to all succeeding generations for their greatness of wit, and profoundness of judgment, and richness of fancy, and clearness of expression, and copiousness of invention, and general usefulness to all the purposes of a Christian." Reginald Heber, the admirable Bishop of Calcutta, has prefixed an excellent biography of Jeremy Taylor to the valuable edition of his works in 15 vols. There is also a complete edition, sold at a moderate price, in three large volumes, printed by Mr. Childs, of Bungay.]


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SMOLLETT.

[TOBIAS SMOLLETT, whose novels will continue to be read in spite of their defects as works of art and their habitual coarseness, was the descendant of an old Scottish family, and was born at Cardross, in 1721. He was apprenticed to a surgeon at Glasgow, and served as a surgeon's mate in a ship of the line. Many of his early adventures are supposed to be told in his "Roderick Random." He came to London in 1746, and entered upon a career of authorship, which he pursued till his death in 1771. Inferior to Fielding in knowledge of character, he is equal to him in describing scenes of real life; but the poetical power, without which no work of fiction can be perfect, is wholly wanting in his writings. He had amongst his literary brethren a turmoil of controversy; and his position, as the Editor of the "Critical Review," gave him the opportunity, which some anonymous critics know how to exercise, of gratifying his vanity and love of power, with slight regard to truth and justice. He is, however, represented as a generous man, and exhibited much kindness to the needy writers by whom he was surrounded. The state of letters at that period is admirably described in a paper on Johnson, by the Right Hon. T. B. Macaulay, from which we shall take the liberty of quoting in this volume. Smollett has painted a literary scene at his own hosue, in his "Humphrey Clinker," which is, perhaps, not a greatly exaggerated picture of the class of men who lived by the pen, when "the age of patronage had passed away, and the age of general curiosity and intelligence had not arrived."]


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PASCAL.

[BLAISE PASCAL was characterized by Bayle as "one of the sublimest spirits in the world." He was born in 1623; he died in 1662. His genius led him to the strictest inquiries of human reason; his piety compelled him to the most complete submission of his reasoning faculty to the truths of revelation. Up to his twenty-fifth year he devoted himself to the pursuits of science; thenceforward, to the time of his early death, his mind was dedicated to religious contemplation. His "Pensées" furnish a monument of the elevation and purity of his devotional feeling; his "Lettres Provençales," in which he assailed the morality of the Jesuits, with a power of logic and of wit which have never been surpassed, show how completely his religion could be separated from the enthusiasm of his temperament, and the ascetic practices of his life. It has been said of him that he knew exactly how to distinguish between the rights of faith and of reason. The passage which we select from his "Pensées" is thus noticed by Dr. Arnold:—"The necessity of faith, arising from the absurdity of scepticism on the one band, and of dogmatism on the other, is shown with great power and eloquence in the first article of the second part of Pascal's 'Pensées,' a book of which there is an English translation by no means difficult to meet with."]


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DR. FRANKLIN.

[We give a paper by the celebrated Dr. Franklin, which has been perhaps as much read as anything ever written, but which may be new to many of our younger readers. It has been often printed under the name of "The Way to Wealth;" but we scarcely know at the present time where to find it, except in the large collection of the author's works. "Poor Richard" was the title of an Almanac which Franklin published for twenty-five years, when he was a printer in America, and the sayings in the following paper are extracted from those Almanacs. His subsequent career as a man of science and a statesman exhibits what a man may accomplish by unwearied industry and a vigilant exercise of his reasoning powers. The great characteristics of Franklin were perseverance, temperance, and common sense. There have been many higher minds, but few more formed for practical utility. Benjamin Franklin was born at Boston, in 1706; he died in 1790.]


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