John Dryden Quotes

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About John Dryden

John Dryden (19 August 1631 {9 August O.S.} – 12 May 1700 {1 May O.S.}) was an influential English poet, literary critic, translator, and playwright. He was Poet Laureate, 1668–1689.

Born: August 19th, 1631

Died: May 12th, 1700

Categories: English poets, Poets laureate, English authors, English playwrights, 1700s deaths, Translators

Quotes: 200 sourced quotes total (includes 8 about)

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What passion cannot Music raise and quell?
Burn daylight.
John Dryden
The Maiden Queen, Act ii, scene 1.
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Dryden" (Quotes, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919): John R. Bartlett)
Happy the man, and happy he alone, He who can call today his own; He who, secure within, can say, Tomorrow, do thy worst, for I have lived today.
As sure as a gun.
Pains of love be sweeter far Than all other pleasures are.
Pains of love be sweeter far Than all other pleasures are.
Be fair, or foul, or rain, or shine, The joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine. Not heaven itself upon the past has power; But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.
Lord of humankind.
Genius must be born, and never can be taught.
Look round the habitable world: how few Know their own good, or knowing it, pursue.
All human things are subject to decay, And, when fate summons, monarchs must obey.
I am as free as Nature first made man, Ere the base laws of servitude began, When wild in woods the noble savage ran.
Better to hunt in fields, for health unbought, Than fee the doctor for a nauseous draught. The wise, for cure, on exercise depend; God never made his work for man to mend.
And torture one poor word ten thousand ways.
The soft complaining flute, In dying notes, discovers The woes of hopeless lovers.
An hour will come, with pleasure to relate Your sorrows past, as benefits of Fate.
Death in itself is nothing; but we fear To be we know not what, we know not where.
For pity melts the mind to love.
Never was patriot yet, but was a fool.
Wit will shine Through the harsh cadence of a rugged line.
John Dryden
To the Memory of Mr. Oldham, line 15.
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Dryden" (Quotes, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919): John R. Bartlett)
There is a pleasure sure In being mad which none but madmen know.
Here lies my wife:here let her lie! Now she's at rest, and so am I.
Happy, happy, happy pair! None but the brave, None but the brave, None but the brave deserves the fair.
Can heav'nly minds such high resentment show?
The trumpet's loud clangor Excites us to arms.
I learn to pity woes so like my own.
Fate, and the dooming gods, are deaf to tears.
By viewing Nature, Nature's handmaid Art, Makes mighty things from small beginnings grow.
Plots, true or false, are necessary things, To raise up commonwealths and ruin kings.
So over violent, or over civil, That every man with him was God or Devil.
Bold knaves thrive without one grain of sense, But good men starve for want of impudence.
I have a soul that like an ample shield Can take in all, and verge enough for more.
But far more numerous was the herd of such, Who think too little, and who talk too much.
The gates of hell are open night and day; Smooth the descent, and easy is the way: But to return, and view the cheerful skies, In this the task and mighty labor lies.
Thus having said, she turn'd, and made appear Her neck refulgent, and dishevell'd hair, Which, flowing from her shoulders, reached the ground, And widely spread ambrosial scents around. In length of train descends her sweeping gown; And, by her graceful walk, the Queen of Love is known.
The wretched have no friends.
Sigh'd and look'd, and sigh'd again.
And, like another Helen, fir'd another Troy.
The fatal day, th' appointed hour, is come.
When beauty fires the blood, how love exalts the mind!
Truth is the foundation of all knowledge, and the cement of all societies.
Ill habits gather by unseen degrees — As brooks make rivers, rivers run to seas.
But Shakespeare's magic could not copied be; Within that circle none durst walk but he.
John Dryden
The Tempest, Prologue.
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Dryden" (Quotes, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919): John R. Bartlett)
Drinking is the soldier’s pleasure; Rich the treasure; Sweet the pleasure; Sweet is pleasure after pain.
O happy friends! for, if my verse can give Immortal life, your fame shall ever live, Fix'd as the Capitol's foundation lies, And spread, where'er the Roman eagle flies!
Railing and praising were his usual themes; And both, to show his judgment, in extremes; So over violent, or over civil, That every man with him was God or devil.
Ye realms, yet unreveal'd to human sight, Ye gods who rule the regions of the night, Ye gliding ghosts, permit me to relate The mystic wonders of your silent state!
Dying, he slew; and, stagg'ring on the plain, With swimming eyes he sought his lover slain; Then quiet on his bleeding bosom fell, Content, in death, to be reveng'd so well.
From harmony, from heavenly harmony, This universal frame began: When nature underneath a heap Of jarring atoms lay, And could not heave her head, The tuneful voice was heard from high, 'Arise, ye more than dead!' Then cold, and hot, and moist, and dry, In order to their stations leap, And Music's power obey. From harmony, from heavenly harmony, This universal frame began: From harmony to harmony Through all the compass of the notes it ran, The diapason closing full in Man.
All delays are dangerous in war.
Jealousy, the jaundice of the soul.
Bacchus, ever fair and ever young.
Whatever is, is in its causes just.
She feared no danger, for she knew no sin.
Her wit was more than man, her innocence a child.
His hair just grizzled, As in a green old age.
I am resolved to grow fat, and look young till forty.
John Dryden
The Maiden Queen, Act iii, scene 1.
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Dryden" (Quotes, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919): John R. Bartlett)
A man is to be cheated into passion, but to be reasoned into truth.
In friendship false, implacable in hate, Resolved to ruin or to rule the state.
An horrid stillness first invades the ear, And in that silence we the tempest fear.
Than a successive title long and dark, Drawn from the mouldy rolls of Noah's ark.
Nor is the people's judgment always true: The most may err as grossly as the few.
He trudged along unknowing what he sought, And whistled as he went, for want of thought.
Whate’er he did was done with so much ease, In him alone 't was natural to please.
For present joys are more to flesh and blood Than a dull prospect of a distant good.
And that one hunting, which the Devil design'd For one fair female, lost him half the kind.
John Dryden
Theodore and Honoria, line 227.
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Dryden" (Quotes, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919): John R. Bartlett)
Timotheus, to his breathing flute, And sounding lyre, Could swell the soul to rage, or kindle soft desire.
Of seeming arms to make a short essay, Then hasten to be drunk — the business of the day.
Arms, and the man I sing, who, forced by Fate, And haughty Juno’s unrelenting hate, Expelled and exiled, left the Trojan shore.
Men are but children of a larger growth; Our appetites as apt to change as theirs, And full as craving, too, and full as vain.
Sooth'd with the sound, the king grew vain; Fought all his battles o'er again; And thrice he routed all his foes, and thrice he slew the slain.
Our souls sit close and silently within, And their own web from their own entrails spin; And when eyes meet far off, our sense is such, That, spider-like, we feel the tenderest touch.
John Dryden
Mariage à la Mode, Act ii, scene 1.
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Dryden" (Quotes, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919): John R. Bartlett)
'Twas now the month in which the world began (If March beheld the first created man): And since the vernal equinox, the Sun, In Aries, twelve degrees, or more, had run; When casting up his eyes against the light, Both month, and day, and hour, he measur'd right; And told more truly than th' Ephemeris: For '''Art may err, but Nature cannot miss. Thus numbering times and seasons in his breast, His second crowing the third hour confess'd.
Madam me no madam.
John Dryden
The Wild Gallant, act ii. scene. 2.
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Dryden" (Quotes, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919): John R. Bartlett)
Midas me no midas.
John Dryden
The Wild Gallant, act ii. scene. 1.
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Dryden" (Quotes, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919): John R. Bartlett)
Above any Greek or Roman name.
John Dryden
Upon the Death of Lord Hastings, line 76. Compare: "Above all Greek, above all Roman fame"; Alexander Pope, Epistle I'', Book 2, line 26.
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Dryden" (Quotes, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919): John R. Bartlett)
This is the porcelain clay of humankind.
Whistling to keep myself from being afraid.
Better one suffer, than a nation grieve.
War seldom enters but where wealth allures.
His courage foes, his friends his truth proclaim.
And kind as kings upon their coronation day.
Joy rul'd the day, and Love the night.
With how much ease believe we what we wish!
All empire is no more than power in trust.
Large was his wealth, but larger was his heart.
Thus all below is strength, and all above is grace.
Too black for heav'n, and yet too white for hell.
Your ignorance is the mother of your devotion to me.
John Dryden
The Maiden Queen, Act i, scene 2.
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Dryden" (Quotes, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919): John R. Bartlett)
A satirical poet is the check of the laymen on bad priests.
She hugged the offender, and forgave the offense: Sex to the last.
Behold him setting in his western skies, The shadows lengthening as the vapours rise.
It is sufficient to say, according to the proverb, that here is God's plenty.
The fool of nature stood with stupid eyes And gaping mouth, that testified surprise.
Forgiveness to the injured does belong; But they ne'er pardon who have done the wrong.
He's somewhat lewd; but a well-meaning mind; Weeps much; fights little; but is wond'rous kind.
Of all the tyrannies on human kind The worst is that which persecutes the mind.
Him of the western dome, whose weighty sense Flows in fit words and heavenly eloquence.
Mankind is ever the same, and nothing lost out of nature, though everything is altered.
Old as I am, for ladies' love unfit, The power of beauty I remember yet.
And threat'ning France, plac'd like a painted Jove, Kept idle thunder in his lifted hand.
John Dryden
Annus Mirabilis, Stanza 39.
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Dryden" (Quotes, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919): John R. Bartlett)
I am reading Jonson's verses to the memory of Shakespeare; an insolent, sparing, and invidious panegyric...
A brave man scorns to quarrel once a day; Like Hectors in at every petty fray.
T' abhor the makers, and their laws approve, Is to hate traitors and the treason love.
Fool, not to know that love endures no tie, And Jove but laughs at lovers' perjury.
John Dryden
Palamon and Arcite, book ii, line 758.
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Dryden" (Quotes, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919): John R. Bartlett)
Happy who in his verse can gently steer From grave to light, from pleasant to severe.
John Dryden
The Art of Poetry, canto i, line 75.
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Dryden" (Quotes, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919): John R. Bartlett)
She, though in full-blown flower of glorious beauty, Grows cold even in the summer of her age.
Love taught him shame; and shame, with love at strife, Soon taught the sweet civilities of life.
So softly death succeeded life in her, She did but dream of heaven, and she was there.
John Dryden
Eleonora, Line 315.
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Dryden" (Quotes, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919): John R. Bartlett)
Like a led victim, to my death I'll go, And, dying, bless the hand that gave the blow.
With ravished ears The monarch hears; Assumes the god, Affects the nod, And seems to shake the spheres.
For truth has such a face and such a mien As to be loved needs only to be seen.
And heaven had wanted one immortal song. But wild Ambition loves to slide, not stand, And Fortune's ice prefers to Virtue's land.
Let old Timotheus yield the prize, Or both divide the crown; He rais’d a mortal to the skies; She drew an angel down.
As long as words a different sense will bear, And each may be his own interpreter, Our airy faith will no foundation find; The word's a weathercock for every wind.
So, when the last and dreadful Hour This crumbling Pageant shall devour, The trumpet shall be heard on high, The dead shall live, the living die, And musick shall untune the Sky.
What flocks of critics hover here to-day, As vultures wait on armies for their prey, All gaping for the carcase of a play! With croaking notes they bode some dire event, And follow dying poets by the scent.
If the faults of men in orders are only to be judged among themselves, they are all in some sort parties; for, since they say the honour of their order is concerned in every member of it, how can we be sure that they will be impartial judges?
Oh that my Pow'r to Saving were confin’d: Why am I forc’d, like Heav’n, against my mind, To make Examples of another Kind? Must I at length the Sword of Justice draw? Oh curst Effects of necessary Law! How ill my Fear they by my Mercy scan, Beware the Fury of a Patient Man.
Of no distemper, of no blast he died, But fell like autumn fruit that mellowed long — Even wondered at, because he dropped no sooner. Fate seemed to wind him up for fourscore years, Yet freshly ran he on ten winters more; Till like a clock worn out with eating time, The wheels of weary life at last stood still.
Let those find fault whose wit's so very small, They've need to show that they can think at all; Errors, like straws, upon the surface flow; He who would search for pearls, must dive below. Fops may have leave to level all they can; As pigmies would be glad to lop a man. Half-wits are fleas; so little and so light, We scarce could know they live, but that they bite.
[Music] is inarticulate poesy.
Possess your soul with patience.
Since heaven's eternal year is thine.
Second thoughts, they say, are best.
His tribe were God Almighty's gentlemen.
John Dryden
• Pt. I line 645. Compare: Julius Hare, Guesses at Truth: "A Christian is God Almighty’s gentleman"; Edward Young, Night Thoughts, Night iv, line 788, "A Christian is the highest style of man".
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Dryden" (Quotes, The Hind and the Panther (1687))
Secret guilt by silence is betrayed.
Lord of yourself, uncumbered with a wife.
Not only hating David, but the king.
All have not the gift of martyrdom.
The true Amphitryon is the Amphitryon where we dine.
And doomed to death, though fated not to die.
A knockdown argument: 'tis but a word and a blow.
A very merry, dancing, drinking, Laughing, quaffing, and unthinkable time.
The sword within the scabbard keep, And let mankind agree.
[T]he most noble and spirited translation I know in any language.
About John Dryden
• Alexander Pope, of Dryden's translation of Virgil, in "Preface" to The Iliad of Homer (1715).
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Dryden" (Quotes about Dryden)
Of ancient race by birth, but nobler yet In his own worth.
O gracious God! how far have we Profaned thy heavenly gift of poesy!
Reason to rule, mercy to forgive: The first is law, the last prerogative.
Chaucer followed Nature everywhere, but was never so bold to go beyond her.
Calms appear, when storms are past, Love will have its hour at last.
Be kind to my remains; and oh defend, Against your judgment, your departed friend!
He was exhaled; his great Creator drew His spirit, as the sun the morning dew.
Thus in a pageant-show a plot is made; And peace itself is war in masquerade.
Sound the trumpets; beat the drums... Now give the hautboys breath; he comes, he comes.
And new-laid eggs, which Baucis' busy care Turn'd by a gentle fire and roasted rare.
John Dryden
Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book viii. Baucis and Philemon, Line 97.
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Dryden" (Quotes, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919): John R. Bartlett)
Thespis, the first professor of our art, At country wakes sung ballads from a cart.
John Dryden
Prologue to Lee's Sophonisba.
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Dryden" (Quotes, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919): John R. Bartlett)
Their heavenly harps a lower strain began, and in soft music mourn the fall of man.
And oft with holy hymns he charm'd their ears, And music more melodious than the spheres.
Words, once my stock, are wanting to commend So great a poet and so good a friend.
Nor can his blessed soul look down from heaven, Or break the eternal sabbath of his rest.
For those whom God to ruin has design'd, He fits for fate, and first destroys their mind.
'T is not for nothing that we life pursue; It pays our hopes with something still that's new.
Fame then was cheap, and the first comer sped; And they have kept it since by being dead.
A Heroick Poem, truly such, is undoubtedly the greatest Work which the Soul of Man is capable to perform.
John Dryden
The Works of Virgil translated into English verse by Mr. Dryden, Volume II (London, 1709), "Dedication", p. 213.
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Dryden" (Quotes)
What precious drops are those Which silently each other's track pursue, Bright as young diamonds in their infant dew?
She knows her man, and when you rant and swear, Can draw you to her with a single hair.
John Dryden
Persius, Satire v, line 246.
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Dryden" (Quotes, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919): John R. Bartlett)
… not judging truth to be in nature better than falsehood, but setting a value upon both according to interest.
John Dryden
• "Plutarch's Lives," Vol 1, Barnes & Noble Inc., 2006, Lysander p. 646
• Translation from Greek originalː "τὸ ἀληθὲς οὐ φύσει τοῦ ψεύδους κρεῖττον ἡγούμενος, ἀλλ' ἑκατέρου τῇ χρείᾳ τὴν τιμὴν ὁρίζων."
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Dryden" (Quotes)
Fairest Isle, all isles excelling, Seat of pleasures, and of loves; Venus here will choose her dwelling, And forsake her Cyprian groves.
Dryden may be properly considered as the father of English criticism, as the writer who first taught us to determine upon principles the merit of composition.
About John Dryden
• Samuel Johnson, Lives of the English Poets (1781), "The Life of Dryden".
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Dryden" (Quotes about Dryden)
[T]he Famous Rules which the French call, Des Trois Unités, or, The Three Unities, which ought to be observ'd in every Regular Play; namely, of Time, Place, and Action.
Men met each other with erected look, The steps were higher that they took; Friends to congratulate their friends made haste, And long inveterate foes saluted as they passed.
Leave writing plays, and choose for thy command Some peaceful province in acrostic land. There thou mayst wings display and altars raise, And torture one poor word ten thousand ways.
Your case no tame expedients will afford, Resolve on death or conquest by the sword, Which for no less a stake than life you draw, And self-defence is Nature's eldest law.
The gods, (if gods to goodness are inclined— If acts of mercy touch their heavenly mind), And, more than all the gods, your generous heart, Conscious of worth, requite its own desert!
Give, you gods, Give to your boy, your Caesar, The rattle of a globe to play withal, This gewgaw world, and put him cheaply off; I'll not be pleased with less than Cleopatra.
Railing in other men may be a crime, But ought to pass for mere instinct in him: Instinct he follows and no further knows, For to write verse with him is to transpose.
Our vows are heard betimes! and Heaven takes care To grant, before we can conclude the prayer: Preventing angels met it half the way, And sent us back to praise, who came to pray.
All, all of a piece throughout: Thy chase had a beast in view; Thy wars brought nothing about; Thy lovers were all untrue. 'Tis well an old age is out, And time to begin a new.
Made still a blund'ring kind of melody; Spurred boldly on, and dashed through thick and thin, Through sense and nonsense, never out nor in. Free from all meaning, whether good or bad, And in one word, heroically mad.
Dryden has neither a tender heart nor a lofty sense of moral dignity: where his language is poetically impassioned it is mostly upon unpleasing subjects; such as the follies, vice, and crimes of classes of men or of individuals.
Fallen, fallen, fallen, fallen, Fallen from his high estate, And welt'ring in his blood; Deserted, at his utmost need, By those his former bounty fed, On the bare earth exposed he lies, With not a friend to close his eyes.
What is there in Dryden? Much, but above all this: he is the most masculine of our poets; his style and his rhythms lay the strongest stress of all our literature on the naked thew and sinew of the English language.
And raw in fields the rude militia swarms, Mouths without hands; maintain'd at vast expense, In peace a charge, in war a weak defence; Stout once a month they march, a blustering band, And ever but in times of need at hand.
A man so various, that he seemed to be Not one, but all mankind's epitome; Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong, Was everything by starts, and nothing long; But, in the course of one revolving moon, Was chemist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon.
A man so various, that he seem’d to be Not one, but all mankind’s epitome; Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong, Was everything by starts, and nothing long; But in the course of one revolving moon Was chymist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon.
John Dryden
• Pt. I line 545. Compare Juvenal, Satire III, line 76: "Grammaticus, rhetor, geometres, pictor, aliptes,/Augur, schœnobates, medicus, magus, omnia novit" ("Grammarian, orator, geometrician; painter, gymnastic teacher, physician; fortune-teller, rope-dancer, conjurer,—he knew everything").
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Dryden" (Quotes, The Hind and the Panther (1687))
The rest to some faint meaning make pretense, But Shadwell never deviates into sense. Some beams of wit on other souls may fall, Strike through and make a lucid interval; But Shadwell's genuine night admits no ray, His rising fogs prevail upon the day.
Three poets, in three distant ages born, Greece, Italy, and England did adorn. The first in loftiness of thought surpassed; The next, in majesty; in both the last. The force of Nature could no further go. To make a third, she joined the former two.
Dryden's performances were always hasty, either excited by some external occasion, or extorted by domestic necessity; he composed without consideration, and published without correction. What his mind could supply at call, or gather in one excursion, was all that he sought, and all that he gave.
About John Dryden
• Samuel Johnson, Lives of the English Poets (1781), "The Life of Pope".
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Dryden" (Quotes about Dryden)
Since ev’ry man who lives is born to die, And none can boast sincere felicity, With equal mind, what happens, let us bear, Nor joy nor grieve too much for things beyond our care. Like pilgrims, to th' appointed place we tend; The world's an inn, and death the journey's end.
I can enjoy her while she's kind; But when she dances in the wind, And shakes the wings and will not stay, I puff the prostitute away: The little or the much she gave is quietly resign'd: Content with poverty, my soul I arm; And virtue, though in rags, will keep me warm.
Softly sweet, in Lydian measures, Soon he soothed his soul to pleasures. War, he sung, is toil and trouble; Honor but an empty bubble; Never ending, still beginning, Fighting still, and still destroying. If all the world be worth thy winning. Think, oh think it worth enjoying: Lovely Thaïs sits beside thee, Take the good the gods provide thee.
The wrath of Peleus' son, O Muse, resound; Whose dire effects the Grecian army found, And many a hero, king, and hardy knight, Were sent, in early youth, to shades of night; Their limbs a prey to dogs and vultures made: So was the sovereign will of Jove obeyed: From that ill-omened hour when strife begun, Betwixt Atrides great and Thetis' godlike son.
Auspicious Prince! at whose nativity Some royal planet rul'd the southern sky; Thy longing country's darling and desire; Their cloudy pillar, and their guardian fire: Their second Moses, whose extended wand Divides the seas, and shows the promis'd land: Whose dawning day, in very distant age, Has exercis'd the sacred prophet's rage: The people's pray'r, the glad diviner's theme, The young men's vision, and the old men's dream!
With all this bulk there's nothing lost in Og, For every inch that is not fool is rogue : A monstrous mass of fuul corrupted matter, As all the devils had spew'd to make the baiter. When wine has given him courage to blaspheme, He curses God, but God before curst him ; And, if man could have reason, none has more. That made his paunch so rich, and him so poor.
More Safe, and much more modest 'tis, to say God wou'd not leave Mankind without a way: And that the Scriptures, though not every where Free from Corruption, or intire, or clear, Are uncorrupt, sufficient, clear, intire, In all things which our needfull Faith require. If others in the same Glass better see 'Tis for Themselves they look, but not for me: For my Salvation must its Doom receive Not from what others, but what I believe.
Milton's Paradise Lost is admirable; but am I therefore bound to maintain, that there are no flats amongst his elevations, when it is evident he creeps along sometimes for above an hundred lines together? Cannot I admire the height of his invention, and the strength of his expression, without defending his antiquated words, and the perpetual harshness of their sound? It is as much commendation as a man can bear, to own him excellent; all beyond it is idolatry.
John Dryden
• Preface to Translations from Theocritus, Lucretius, and Horace, in Sylvæ: or, The second part of Poetical Miscellanies, published by Mr. Dryden, third edition (London, 1702).
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Dryden" (Quotes)
Dim as the borrowed beams of moon and stars To lonely, weary, wandering travellers Is reason to the soul; and as on high Those rolling fires discover but the sky Not light us here, so reason's glimmering ray Was lent, not to assure our doubtful way, But guide us upward to a better day: And as those nightly tapers disappear When day's bright lord ascends our hemisphere, So pale grows reason at religion's sight, So dies, and so dissolves in supernatural light.
When I consider life, 't is all a cheat. Yet fool'd with hope, men favour the deceit; Trust on, and think to-morrow will repay. To-morrow 's falser than the former day; Lies worse, and while it says we shall be blest With some new joys, cuts off what we possest. Strange cozenage! none would live past years again, Yet all hope pleasure in what yet remain; And from the dregs of life think to receive What the first sprightly running could not give.
Nay, tho' our Atoms shou'd revolve by chance, And matter leape into the former dance; Tho' time our Life and motion cou'd restore, And make our Bodies what they were before, What gain to us wou'd all this bustle bring, The new made man wou'd be another thing; When once an interrupting pause is made, That individual Being is decay'd. We, who are dead and gone, shall bear no part In all the pleasures, nor shall feel the smart, Which to that other Mortal shall accrew, Whom of our Matter Time shall mould anew.
John Dryden
Sylvae (London, 1685), Translation of the Latter Part of the Third Book of Lucretius, "Against the Fear of Death", pp. 61–62.
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Dryden" (Quotes)
It is almost impossible to translate verbally and well at the same time; for the Latin (a most severe and compendious language) often expresses that in one word which either the barbarity or the narrowness of modern tongues cannot supply in more. ...But since every language is so full of its own proprieties that what is beautiful in one is often barbarous, nay, sometimes nonsense, in another, it would be unreasonable to limit a translator to the narrow compass of his author's words; it is enough if he choose out some expression which does not vitiate the sense.
John Dryden
Works of John Dryden (1803) as quoted by P. Fleury Mottelay in William Gilbert of Colchester (1893)
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Dryden" (Quotes)
Of Dryden's works it was said by Pope, that he "could select from them better specimens of every mode of poetry than any other English writer could supply." Perhaps no nation ever produced a writer that enriched his language with such variety of models. To him we owe the improvement, perhaps the completion, of our metre, the refinement of our language, and much of the correctness of our sentiments. By him we are taught "sapere et fari," to think naturally and express forcibly. [...] it may be, perhaps, maintained that he was the first who joined argument with poetry. He showed us the true bounds of a translator's liberty. What was said of Rome, adorned by Augustus, may be applied by an easy metaphor to English poetry, embellished by Dryden, "lateritiam invenit, marmoream reliquit." He found it brick, and he left it marble.
About John Dryden
• Samuel Johnson, Lives of the English Poets (1781), "The Life of Dryden".
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Dryden" (Quotes about Dryden)
He's a sure card.
They say everything in the world is good for something.
 .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  Dryden taught to join The varying verse, the full resounding line, The long majestic march, and energy divine.
About John Dryden
• Alexander Pope, The First Epistle of the First Book of Horace Imitated (1737), p. 16.
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Dryden" (Quotes about Dryden)
Of these the false Achitophel was first, A name to all succeeding ages cursed. For close designs and crooked counsels fit, Sagacious, bold, and turbulent of wit, Restless, unfixed in principles and place, In power unpleased, impatient of disgrace; A fiery soul, which working out its way, Fretted the pygmy-body to decay: And o'er-informed the tenement of clay. A daring pilot in extremity; Pleased with the danger, when the waves went high He sought the storms; but for a calm unfit, Would steer too nigh the sands to boast his wit. Great wits are sure to madness near allied, And thin partitions do their bounds divide.
John Dryden
• Pt. I line 150-164. Compare Aristotle, Problem, sect. 30: "No excellent soul is exempt from a mixture of madness"; Seneca, De Tranquillitate Animi, 15: "Nullum magnum ingenium sine mixtura dementiæ" ("There is no great genius without a tincture of madness"); Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man, epistle i. line 226: "What thin partitions sense from thought divide!".
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Dryden" (Quotes, Absalom and Achitophel (1681))
A daring pilot in extremity; Pleas'd with the danger, when the waves went high He sought the storms; but for a calm unfit, Would steer too nigh the sands, to boast his wit. Great wits are sure to madness near alli'd; And thin partitions do their bounds divide: Else, why should he, with wealth and honour blest, Refuse his age the needful hours of rest? Punish a body which he could not please; Bankrupt of life, yet prodigal of ease? And all to leave, what with his toil he won To that unfeather'd, two-legg'd thing, a son: Got, while his soul did huddled notions try; And born a shapeless lump, like anarchy.
The rectitude of Dryden's mind was sufficiently shown by the dismission of his poetical prejudices, and the rejection of unnatural thoughts and rugged numbers. But Dryden never desired to apply all the judgment that he had. He wrote, and professed to write, merely for the people; and when he pleased others, he contented himself. He spent no time in struggles to rouse latent powers; he never attempted to make that better which was already good, nor often to mend what he must have known to be faulty. He wrote, as he tells us, with very little consideration; when occasion or necessity called upon him, he poured out what the present moment happened to supply, and, when once it had passed the press, ejected it from his mind; for, when he had no pecuniary interest, he had no further solicitude.
About John Dryden
• Samuel Johnson, Lives of the English Poets (1781), "The Life of Pope".
• Source: Wikiquote: "John Dryden" (Quotes about Dryden)
To begin then with Shakespeare; he was the man who of all Modern, and perhaps Ancient Poets, had the largest and most comprehensive soul. All the Images of Nature were still present to him, and he drew them not laboriously, but luckily: when he describes any thing, you more than see it, you feel it too. Those who accuse him to have wanted learning, give him the greater commendation: he was naturally learn'd; he needed not the spectacles of Books to read Nature; he look'd inwards, and found her there. I cannot say he is every where alike; were he so, I should do him injury to compare him with the greatest of Mankind. He is many times flat, insipid; his Comick wit degenerating into clenches; his serious swelling into Bombast. But he is alwayes great, when some great occasion is presented to him: no man can say he ever had a fit subject for his wit, and did not then raise himself as high above the rest of the Poets,
How easie is it to call Rogue and Villain, and that wittily! But how hard to make a Man appear a Fool, a Blockhead, or a Knave, without using any of those opprobrious terms! To spare the grossness of the Names, and to do the thing yet more severely, is to draw a full Face, and to make the Nose and Cheeks stand out, and yet not to employ any depth of Shadowing. This is the Mystery of that Noble Trade, which yet no Master can teach to his Apprentice: He may give the Rules, but the Scholar is never the nearer in his practice. Neither is it true, that this fineness of Raillery is offensive. A witty Man is tickl'd while he is hurt in this manner, and a Fool feels it not. The occasion of an Offence may possibly be given, but he cannot take it. If it be granted that in effect this way does more Mischief; that a Man is secretly wounded, and though he be not sensible himself, yet the malicious World will find it for him: yet there is still a vast difference betwixt the slovenly Butchering of a Man, and the fineness of a stroke that separates the Head from the Body, and leaves it standing in its place.

End John Dryden Quotes