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All For Love
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allegorical debate between two animals standing respectively for Catholicism and
The Revolution of 1688 put an end to Dryden's prosperity; and after a short
return to dramatic composition, he turned to translation as a means of supporting
himself. He had already done something in this line; and after a series of
translations from Juvenal, Persius, and Ovid, he undertook, at the age of sixty-
three, the enormous task of turning the entire works of Virgil into English verse.
How he succeeded in this, readers of the "Aeneid" in a companion volume of
these classics can judge for themselves. Dryden's production closes with the
collection of narrative poems called "Fables," published in 1700, in which year he
died and was buried in the Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey.
Dryden lived in an age of reaction against excessive religious idealism, and both
his character and his works are marked by the somewhat unheroic traits of such
a period. But he was, on the whole, an honest man, open minded, genial,
candid, and modest; the wielder of a style, both in verse and prose, unmatched
for clearness, vigor, and sanity.
Three types of comedy appeared in England in the time of Dryden-- the comedy
of humors, the comedy of intrigue, and the comedy of manners--and in all he did
work that classed him with the ablest of his contemporaries. He developed the
somewhat bombastic type of drama known as the heroic play, and brought it to
its height in his "Conquest of Granada"; then, becoming dissatisfied with this
form, he cultivated the French classic tragedy on the model of Racine. This he
modified by combining with the regularity of the French treatment of dramatic
action a richness of characterization in which he showed himself a disciple of
Shakespeare, and of this mixed type his best example is "All for Love." Here he
has the daring to challenge comparison with his master, and the greatest
testimony to his achievement is the fact that, as Professor Noyes has said, "fresh
from Shakespeare's 'Antony and Cleopatra,' we can still read with intense
pleasure Dryden's version of the story."
To the Right Honourable, Thomas, Earl of Danby, Viscount Latimer, and Baron
Osborne of Kiveton, in Yorkshire; Lord High Treasurer of England, one of His
Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, and Knight of the Most Noble Order of
The gratitude of poets is so troublesome a virtue to great men, that you are often
in danger of your own benefits: for you are threatened with some epistle, and not
suffered to do good in quiet, or to compound for their silence whom you have
obliged. Yet, I confess, I neither am or ought to be surprised at this indulgence;