Slike strani

Dryden, of Tichmarsh in the county of Northamp ton, Esquire, to us heretofore done and performed,

was sure he had obtained, otherwise this designation would not here have been given to him. Finding no trace of his having taken that degree at Cambridge or Oxford, I made further inquiries on this subject; and have lately discovered that he became a Master of Arts on the 17th of June, 1668, by virtue of a Dispensation from Dr. Gilbert Sheldon, Archbishop of Canterbury, granted in consequence of a letter of recommendation written to the Archbishop by King Charles the Second. Of this dispensation a memorial is preserved in the FacultyOffice, (Book C. p. 236, b.) which, by the favour of my friend Sir William Scott, Judge of the High Court of Admiralty, and Master of the Faculties, I have transcribed:

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

"GILBERTUS providentiâ divinâ Cantuariensis Archiepiscopus, &c. dilecto nobis in Christo JOANNI DRYDEN, in Artibus Baccalaureo, perantiquâ Dreydenorum familiâ in agro Northamptoniensi oriundo, salutem et gratiam. QUUM in scholis rite constitutis mos laudabilis et consuetudo invaluerit, approbatione tam ecclesiarum bene reformatarum, quam hominum doctissimorum, à multis retrò annis, ut quicunque in aliqua artium liberalium scientia cum laude desudaverint, insigni aliquo dignitatis gradu decorarentur; Quum etiam, publicâ legum auctoritate muniti, Cantuarienses Archiepiscopi gradus prædictos et honoris titulos in homines bene merentes conferendi potestate gaudeant et jamdudum gavisi sint, prout ex libro authentico de Facultatibus taxandis Parlamenti auctoritate confirmato pleniùs apparet; Nos igitur prædictâ auctoritate freti, et antecessorum nostrorum exemplum imitati, te Joannem prædictum, cujus vitæ

and taking notice of the learning and eminent abilities of him the said John Dryden, and of his

probitas, bonarum literarum scientia, morumque integritas, vel ipsius domini Regis testimonio perspectæ sunt, MAGISTRI IN ARTIBUS titulo et gradu insigniri decrevimus, et tenore presentium in Artibus Magistrum actualem creamus, pariterque in numerum Magistrorum in Artibus hujusce regni aggregamus; juramento infra scripto priùs per nos de te exacto, et a te jurato :-Ego Joannes Dryden, ad gradum et titulum Magistri in Artibus per Reverendissimum in Christo patrem ac dominum, Gilbertum divinâ providentiâ Cantuariensem Archiepiscopum, totius Anglia Primatem et Metropolitanum, admittendus, teste mihi conscientiâ testificor serenissimum nostrum regem Carolum Secundum esse unicum et supremum gubernatorem hujusce regni Angliæ, &c. sicut me Deus adjuvet, per sacra Dei evangelia.- Proviso semper quod hæ literæ tibi non proficiant, nisi registrentur et subscribantur per Clericum Regiæ Majestatis ad Facultates in Cancellaria.

"Dat. sub sigillo de Facultatibus, decimo septimo die mensis Junii, Anno Domini 1668, et nostræ translationis anno quinto."

It is to be regretted, that so honourable a testimony in our author's favour as that referred to in the preceding instrument, should not have been preserved. I enter tained some hopes of finding a copy of the King's letter on this occasion, either in the Secretary of State's Office, or the Paper Office; but they have been both examined with this view in vain. It was not very probable that it should have been recited, together with the Dispensation itself, when that instrument was registered in the Court of Chancery: yet, as that might have been the case, an inquiry has also been made in the Chapel of the Rolls: but the returns thither from the Dispensation Office in

great skill and elegant style both in verse and prose, and for diverse other good causes and considerations us thereunto especially moving, have nominated, constituted, declared, and appointed, and by these presents do nominate, constitute, declare and appoint, him the said John Dryden, our POET LAUREAT and HISTORIOGRAPHER ROYAL; giving and granting unto him the said John

Chancery are extremely irregular and imperfect; and no returns whatsoever relative to the year 1668, have been made from that office to the Rolls. In the Dispensation Office itself there are no records prior to 1690.

Sir William D'Avenant died in April, 1668, about two months before Dryden obtained this degree. It should seem, therefore, that he sought this literary decoration, honoris causâ, to add somewhat to his pretensions, while he was soliciting to be appointed Poet Laureat and Historiographer Royal; though he did not obtain those offices till two years afterwards.-The degree of Doctor has not unfrequently been conferred at Lambeth; but a dispensation for the degree of Master of Arts is much less common; insomuch, that in a cursory view of the large folio volume which contains the preceding memorial, I did not discover a single degree of this kind conferred by Archbishop Sheldon, except in the case of Dryden. As he who has taken a Bachelor's degree at Cambridge, may at the proper time, or at any subsequent period, of course obtain that of Master, on performing the ordinary exercises, it seems probable that our author had left Trinity College in ill humour; or that some circumstance now undiscoverable had occurred there, before his departure, which induced him to prefer a Lambeth Dispensation to the more regular and formal honours of the University.

Dryden all and singular the rights, privileges, benefits, and advantages, thereunto belonging, as fully and amply as Sir Geoffery Chaucer, Knight, Sir John Gower, Knight, John Leland, Esquire, William Camden, Esquire, Benjamin Johnson, Esquire, James Howell, Esquire, Sir William D'Avenant, Knight, or any other person or persons having or exercising the place or employment of Poet Laureat or Historiographer, or either of them, in the time of any of our royal progenitors, had or received, or might lawfully claim or demand, as incident or belonging unto the said places or employments, or either of them. And for the further and better encouragement of him the said John Dryden, diligently to attend the said employment, we are graciously pleased to give and grant, and by these presents, for us, our heirs and successors, do give and grant, unto the said John Dryden, one Annuity or yearly pension of two hundred pounds of lawful money of England, during our pleasure, to have and to hold, and yearly to receive the said annuity or pension of two hundred pounds of lawful money of England by the yeare, unto the said John Dryden and his assigns, from the death of the said Sir William D'Avenant lately deceased, for and during our pleasure, at the receipt of the Exchequer, of us, our heirs and successors, out of the treasure of us, our heirs and successors, from time to time there remaining, by the hands of the Treasurer or Treasurers and Chamberlains of us, our heirs and successors, there for the time being, at the four

[merged small][ocr errors]

usual terms of the year, that is to say, at the feast of the nativity of St. John the Baptist, St. Michael the Archangel, the birth of our LORD GOD, and the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, by even and equal portions to be paid, the first payment thereof to begin at the feast of the nativity of St. John the Baptist next and immediately after the death of the said Sir William D'Avenant, deceased. Wherefore our will and pleasure is, and we do by these presents, for us, our heirs and successors, require, command, and authorize the said Lords Commissioners of our Treasury, Treasurer, Chancellor, Under-treasurer, Chamberlains, and Barons, and other officers and ministers of the said Exchequer now and for the time being, not only to pay or cause to be paid unto the said John Dryden and his assigns, the said Annuity or yearly Pension of two hundred pounds of lawful money of England, according to our will and pleasure herein before expressed, but also from time to time to give full allowance of the same, according to the true meaning of these presents. And these presents, or the inrolment thereof shall be unto all men whom it shall concern a sufficient warrant and discharge for the paying and allowing of the same accordingly, without any further or other warrant procured or obtained. And further know ye, that we, of our especial grace, certain knowledge, and mere motion, have given and granted, and by these presents, for us, our heirs and successors, do give and grant, unto the said John

« PrejšnjaNaprej »