DRYDEN, John (1631-1700). Autograph letter signed ("John Dryden") to his cousin Elizabeth Steward, n.p., 1 October 1698. 1 full page, small 4to, integral address leaf ("Four my Honoured Cousine Mrs. Steward, Att Cotterstock"), slightly damaged and neatly repaired along fold, partially affecting a few letters text, tipped to a larger sheet.
DRYDEN AS "AN OLD DECREPID MAN." The 66-year-old poet, who died a year and a half later, surrenders to his young relation's repeated invitations to visit her: "You have done me the honour to invite me so often, that it wou'd look like want of respect to refuse it any longer: How can you be so good to an old decrepid Man who can entertain you with no discourse which is worthy of your good sence; & who can only be a trouble to you...Yet I will obey your Commands as far as possibly I can; and give you the inconvenience you are pleased to desire: At least for the few days, which I can spare from other necessary business,, which requires me at Tichmarch. Therefore, if you please to send your Coach...I hope to wait on you before dinner." He goes on to describe his obligation to visit another cousin in Chesterton "who is only Nine Miles from hence, & only Five from you." He concludes that "if it pleases God to give me life & health, I may gice you occasion another time to repent of your kindness, by making you weary of my Company..."
During his latter years, he devoted much of his time to his translations of Virgil, and poetic narratives from classical and later sources, published as Fables: Ancient and Modern (1700). He also presided as literary director at Will's coffee house and frequently visited his relatives in the country. Letters of the poet are exceedingly uncommon. Only some 55 of his letters are known to be extant; many of these are to Mrs. Steward, to whom he defended his conversion to Catholicism. See P. Beal, Index of English Literary Manuscripts, ii, pt.i (1987), no.40.
Published in Letters of John Dryden, ed. Ward (1942), no.52.