Dryden: An Essay of Dramatic Poesy (Classic Reprint)
It is interesting to note that the same cause - the great plague of 1665 - which drove Milton from London to the Buckinghamshire village of Chalfont St. Giles, and there gave him leisure to complete the Paradise Lost, obliged Dryden also - the theatres being closed - to pass eighteen months in the country, - 'probably at Charlton in Wiltshire,' says Malone, - where he turned his leisure to so good an account as, besides writing the 'Annus Mirabilis,' to compose in the following Essay the first piece of good modern English prose on which our literature can pride itself.
Charles II, having been much in Paris during his exile, had been captivated by the French drama, then in the powerful hands of Corneille and Moliere. In that drama, when prose was not employed, the use of rhyme was an essential feature.
Dryden and others were not slow to consult the taste prevailing at Court. His first play, The Wild Gallant, was in prose: it is coarse and not much enlivened by wit, and it was not well received. In his next efforts Dryden took greater pains.
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Utriusque Epistolae Divi Petri Apostoli Explicatio Analytica Documentis Suis Ubique Illustrata, Usibus Ad Singularem Pietatis Profectum Applicata: NEC Non III. Conciones in Selectiora Quaedam S. Scripturae Loca (1647)