John Dryden (1631-1700) was educated at Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge. Dryden is a powerfully original critic of Spenser (as he is in general), and, with Digby, the profoundest of all the early critics. See also No. 155.
(a) From Of Heroique Players. An Essay, prefatory to The Conquest of Granada by the Spaniards (1672), sig. A4; repr. In Works, ed. Walter Scott (1808) rev. George Saintsbury (Edinburgh, 1882-93), IV. 23:
For my part, I am of opinion, that neither Homer, Virgil, Statius, Ariosto, Tasso, nor our English Spencer, could have form'd their Poems half so beautiful, without those Gods and Spirits, and those Enthusiastick parts of Poetry, which compose the most noble parts of all their writings and I will ask any man who loves Heroick Poetry, (for I will not dispute their tastes who do not) if the Ghost of Polydorus in Virgil, the Enchanted wood in Tasso, and the Bower of bliss, in Spencer (which he borrows from that admirable Italian) could have been omitted without taking from their works some of the greatest beauties in them.
(b) From the epistle To the Right Honourable John Lord Haughton prefatory to The Spanish Fryar…(1681), sig. A3; repr. ScottSaintsbury, VI. 407:
Thus an injudicious Poet who aims at Loftiness runs easily into the swelling puffie style, because it looks like Greatness. I remember, when I was a Boy, I thought inimitable Spencer a mean Poet, in comparison of Sylvester's Dubartas.
(c) From the Dedication To the Right Honourable Charles Earl of Dorset and Middlesex in The Satires of Decimus Junius Juvenalis. Translated into English Verse (1693), pp. viii-ix; repr. Scott-Saintsbury, XIII. 17-19: