Date of Award
Languages & Literature
Rev. R. V. Kavanaugh
There are few names in English literature which have suffered more reverses than that of John Dryden. He was admired greatly by his contemporaries for his genius. He dominated the whole field of English letters, criticism, poetry, the drama, for a full century. Attacked by Addison who was jealous of Dryden's place in the rank of critical writers; championed by Pope and Congreve; praised by Dr. Johnson; belittled by Macaulay; Dryden is the enigma to the modern student.
But Dryden has at least been stabilized in his position. All have conceded that he has his place in the very front of English literature. He is to be named with the greatest, with Chaucer and Shakespeare and Milton.
Not being able to account for the sincerity of this great figure's conversion to Catholicism, many writers have painted this literary giant as turncoat, tory, and sceptic. This last epithet to characterize, or caricature, Dryden has been popularized by Louis I. Bredvold in our day. Bredbold links Dryden with Pyrrho and Montaigne. Bredvold vaguely insinuates that Dryden was heavily influence by Pyrrho and Montaigne. He is well aware that no sceptic has ever been thorough and consistent in his scepticism.
Campbell, Hugh, "The Scepticism Of John Dryden In His Apologetic Poems" (1950). Languages and Literature Undergraduate Theses. 106.