DRYDEN has himself told us that he was of a grave cast and did not much excel in sallies of humour. One of his bons mots, however, has been preserved. He does not seem to have lived on very amicable terms with his wife, Lady Elizabeth, whom, if we may believe the lampoons of the time, he was compelled by one of her brothers to marry. Thinking herself neglected by the bard, and that he spent too much time in his study, she one day exclaimed,
'Lord, Mr. Dryden, how can you always be poring over those musty books? I wish I were a book, and then I should have more of your company.'
'Pray, my dear,' replied old John, 'if you do become a book let it be an almanac, for then I shall change you every year. '
— Prior, Malone, pp. 436-7.
EVEN Dryden was very suspicious of rivals. He would compliment Crowne when a play of his failed, but was cold to him if he met with success. He sometimes used to own that Crowne had some genius, but then he always added that his father and Crowne's mother were very well acquainted.
— Spence, Anecdotes, i. 319.
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