The following list may prove useful to those who wish to know more of the poets represented in this volume than can be learned from the short sketches of their lives which it includes:
J. R. Green: Short History of the English People; Stopford Brooke: English Literature; Frederick Ryland: Chronological Outlines of English Literature; Edmund Gosse: A History of Eighteenth-Century Literature; Dictionary of National Biography (British); G. Saintsbury: Dryden (English Men of Letters Series); James Russell Lowell: essay on Dryden in Among my Books, vol. i; W. L. Phelps: Gray (Athenaeum Press Series); Matthew Arnold: essay on Gray in Essays in Criticism, second series; James Russell Lowell: essay on Gray in Latest Literary Essays; Austin Dobson: Life of Goldsmith (Great Writers Series), William Black: Goldsmith (E. M. L. Series); J. C. Shairp: Burns (E. M. L. Series); Thomas Carlyle: essay on Burns in Critical and Miscellaneous Essays, and [Burns] “The Hero as Man of Letters” in Heroes and Hero Worship; H. D. Traill: Coleridge (E. M. L. Series); T. Hall Caine: Life of Coleridge (Great Writers Series); J. C. Shairp: “Coleridge as Poet and Philosopher” in Studies in Poetry and Philosophy; James Russell Lowell: “Address in Westminster Abbey, 7th May, 1885” [Coleridge], in Democracy and Other Essays; A. C. Swinburne; Essays and Studies; Walter Pater: “Coleridge,” in Appreciations.
FIVE ENGLISH POETS
Although Dryden is but little read in these days, he fills an important place in the history of English literature. As the foremost writer of the last third of the seventeenth century, he is the connecting link between Milton, “the last of the Elizabethans,” and Pope, the chief poet of the age of Queen Anne. He was born in Northamptonshire, and had the good fortune to live in the country until his thirteenth year, when he was sent to the famous Westminster School, in what is now the heart of London. A few years after finishing his course at Cambridge University he went back to London, and lived there chiefly during the rest of his long and busy life. At the age of thirty-nine he was made poet-laureate and historiographer-royal, although his best work was not done until after he was fifty years old. From Milton’s death, 1674, until his own in 1700, “Glorious John,” as he was called, reigned without a rival in English letters; and one can picture him as a short, stout, somewhat ruddy-faced gentleman, sitting in Will’s Coffee House surrounded by younger authors who vie with one another for the honor of a pinch out of his snuffbox. He died at the age of sixty-nine, and was buried in the Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey, near Chaucer and Cowley.