John Dryden

1631-1700. Essayist, playwright, and poet. Born in Northamptonshire and educated at Cambridge, he dominated the English literary scene throughout the latter part of the seventeenth century. Johnson considered him “the father of English criticism,” and of his influence on English prose said that “he found it brick and left it marble.” His satire vigorously supported Charles II's cause against the Whigs. This typifies the chief strain in his thinking, namely, his profound regard for authority, perhaps a legacy from growing up amid the upheaval and uncertainty of the Civil Wars. This search for authority also governed his poems on religion. Religio Laici (1682) is a defense of rational Anglicanism as a via media between extremes, but it is no surprise in Dryden's progress that he eventually became a Roman Catholic and that The Hind and the Panther (1686) is a satiric allegory in which the milk- white hind of Romanism triumphs over the spotted, Anglican panther. Dryden's is an intellectual rather than a spiritual faith.

See his Poems (ed. J. Kinsley, 1962); and C.E. Ward, John Dryden (1962).