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

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pg 614appendix to § 66Royal Hints to the Poet Laureate

Three other instances occur of hints by Charles adopted by Dryden; the first was Aureng-Zebe (1675) 'the most considerable event of it was modelled by his royal pleasure'; next came Limberham, or the Kind Keeper (produced in March 1677/8), concerning which Dryden wrote that the King was 'parcell poet with me in the plott; one of the designes being a story he was pleased formerly to tell me' (Letters of John Dryden, ed. C. E. Ward, Durham, N.C., 1942, pp. 11–12). The third was the History of the League, 1684, written 'According to His Majesty's Command', as Dryden stated on the title-page of the Epistle Dedicatory to the King. (See also Ward, op. cit., p. 21).

Concerning the Oxford speech, Pope had in mind not the King's speech opening the Parliament at Oxford on 20 March 1681, but His Majesties Declaration To All His Loving Subjects, Touching the Causes & Reasons That moved Him to Dissolve The Two last Parliaments, dated 8 April 1681. This prompted Dryden's tract, His Majesties Declaration Defended, issued in June 1681, which contains most of the points that Dryden versified several months later in the concluding passage to Absalom and Achitophel. Godfrey Davies has examined this subject in detail, and has demonstrated that the passage is not a flaw in the design of the poem. See his article 'The Conclusion of Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel', Huntington Library Quarterly, x (1946), 69–82, and also his introduction to His Majesties Declaration Defended (Augustan Reprint Society, 1950).

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