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DYCE, ALEXANDER, a British literary critic, born at Edinburgh, June 30, 1798; died at London, May 15, 1869. He was educated at Edinburgh and Oxford Universities, and after serving for some years as curate in the counties of Cornwall and Suffolk, went to reside in London, and devoted himself to literary history and criticism., He edited the works of Greene, Webster, Marlowe, Shirley, Middleton, Beaumont and Fletcher, John Skelton, and other English writers; published two editions of Shakespeare, the first A Complete Edition of the Works of Shakespeare; the Text Revised; with Account of the Life, Plays, and Editions of Shakespeare (1850–58); the second edition (1864-67); A Few Notes on Shakespeare (1853); Remarks on Collier's and Knight's Editions of Shakespeare (1844), and numerous other valuable works. In 1840, in conjunction with Collier, Halliwell, and others, he founded the Percy Society for the publication of old English ballads and plays. His reputation is based on his contributions to English literary biography and on the great learning displayed in his editions of the old English poets. His wide reading in Elizabethan literature enabled him to explain much that had been obscure in Shakespeare, and his judgment was a check to extravagant emendation. To him we are indebted for the best text of Shakespeare extant.
In several publications are to be found essays on the old English theatre, the writers of which seem desirous of conveying to their readers the idea that Shakespeare had dramatic contemporaries nearly equal to himself; and for criticism of such a tendency two distinguished men are perhaps answerable—Lamband Hazlitt--who have, on the whole, exaggerated the general merits of the dramatists of Elizabeth and James's days. “Shakespeare," says Hazlitt, "towered above his fellows, 'in shape and gesture proudly eminent,' but he was one of a race of giants, the tallest, the strongest, the most graceful and beautiful of them ; but it was a common and a noble brood.” A falser remark, I conceive, has seldom been made by critic. Shakespeare is not only immeasurably superior to the dramatists of his time in creative power, in insight into the human heart, and in profound thought; but he is, moreover, utterly unlike them in almost every respect-unlike them in his method of developing character, in his direction, in his versification ; nor should it be forgotten that some of those scenes which have been most admired in the works of his contemporaries were intended to affect the audience at the expense of nature and probability, and these stand in marked contrast to all that we possess as unquestionably from the pen of Shakespeare.--A Complete Edition of the Works of Shakespeare.
DYER, SIR EDWARD, an English poet, born about 1540; died about 1607. He was educated at Oxford, and was employed on various embassies by Queen Elizabeth. He was a friend of Raleigh and Sydney, and wrote a number of pastoral odes and madrigals. Several editions of his poems have been printed, the latest in 1872. His best poem, "My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is," has been claimed for Thomas Bird (1543–1623), and for Joshua Sylvester (1563–1618); but Dyer's claim is best authenticated. It has been set to music and published in William Byrd's Psalmes, Sonets, and Songs (1588).
My mind to me a kingdom is !
Such present joys therein I find,
That earth affords or grows by kind :
No princely pomp, no wealthy store,
No force to win the victory;
No shape to feed a loving eye ;
I see how plenty surfeits oft,
And hasty climbers soon do fall; I see that those which are aloft,
Mishap doth threaten most of all; These get with toil, they keep with fear, Such cares my mind could never bear. Content I live, this is my stay;
I seek no more than may suffice;
Look, what I lack my mind supplies ;
I little have and seek no more.
And I am rich with little store :
I grudge not at another's gain ;
My state at one doth still remain :
Their wisdom by their rage of will ;
A cloaked craft their store of skill;
My conscience clear my chief defence; I neither seek by bribes to please,
Nor by deceit to breed offence: Thus do I live ; thus will I die ; Would all did so as well as I !
DYER, JOHN, an English poet, born at Aberglasney, Carmarthenshire, Wales, in 1700; died at Kirkby-on-Bane, July 24, 1758. He was educated at Westminster School, practised painting with indifferent success, and at the age of forty entered the Church, and received several valuable livings. He wrote poetry both before and after he took Orders. His longest poem, The Fleece, a successful imitation of Virgil's Georgics, was published just before his death. This poem treats of the very prosy subject of the rearing of sheep and the manufacture of woollen goods, and this, coupled with the stately measure of the lines, made the work the subject of ridicule. It consists of four books, the first of which discourses on the tending of sheep, the second on the shearing and preparation of the wool, the third on weaving, and the fourth on trade in the manufactured goods. His best-known poem, Grongar Hill, was written in his twenty-sixth year. It describes a mountain not far from the place of his birth.
Silent nymph, with curious eye,