James M. Osborn (ed.), Joseph Spence: Observations, Anecdotes, and Characters of Books and Men: Collected from Conversation, Vol. 2

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pg 613appendix to § 61Dryden's Virgil

Dryden spent four years in the translation of Virgil (C. E. Ward, Life of John Dryden, Durham, N.C., 1961, pp. 271–87). He began late in 1693 (see his letter to Walsh, written 13 December) but the formal agreement with Tonson was not signed until 15 June 1694. The volume was in the press in February 1696/7, and reached the hands of subscribers early in August 1697. In the agreement Dryden pledged himself 'to do nothing in ye meantime except the Translation of Fresnoy, or any Poem, or Book in Prose, not above 1 s price, when printed', except to assist in the production and printing of his son John's comedy The Husband his own Cuckold (1696). His translation of Du Fresnoy's De Arte Graphica appeared at the end of June 1695, with Dryden's statement in the preface (p. iv) that he 'borrow'd only two months' for it from the Virgil. His 'Ode on the Death of Mr. Henry Purcell' though dated 1696, was probably written soon after that untimely event which occurred 21 November 1695.

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