Time was, ere these degenerate days


Gift of Frederick R. Halsey, 1941 – *EC65.D8474.682m2

All humane things are subject to decay,
And, when Fate summons, Monarchs must obey.

John Dryden (1631-1700). Mac Flecknoe, or, A Satyr on the True-Blew-Protestant Poet, T. S. (London, 1682).

The preeminent satirist of his age, Dryden had quarreled with the poet-dramatist Thomas Shadwell over literary matters before publishing his mock-heroic poem Mac Flecknoe. With elegantly turned couplets such as “The rest to some faint meaning make pretence, / But Shadwell never deviates into sense,” he elevated the art of literary satire and personal invective. Ironically, it was Shadwell who succeeded Dryden, a Catholic, as England’s poet laureate after the Glorious Revolution of 1688 returned a Protestant king to the throne. “Great Dryden,” as he is called in English Bards, and Scotch Reviewers, together with Alexander Pope and John Milton, embodied the English poetic tradition Byron strived in his own writings to uphold.