« AnteriorContinuar »
" A very pretty allusion, contrary to all sense " or reason. Torrents, I take it, let them
wind never so much, can never return to “ their former course, unless he can suppose “ that fountains can go upwards, which is “ impoffible: nay more, in the foregoing “ page he tells us so too. A trick of a very
« flow. “ Which of a torrent, which signifies a rapid “ stream, is much more impostible. Besides, “ if he goes to quibble, and say that it is “ possible by art water may be made return, " and the same water run twice in one and the " same channel : then h e confutes what " he says; for, it is by being opposed, that • it runs into its former course; for all en“ gines that make water so return, do it by “ compulsion and opposition. Or, if he means “ a headlong torrent for a tide, which would “ be ridiculous, yet they do not wind in vo“ lumes, but come fore-right back (if their “ upright lies straight to their former course), " and that by opposition of the sea-water, that “ drives them back again.
“ And for fancy, when he lights of any “ thing like it, 'tis a wonder if it be not bor“ rowed. As here, for example of, I find " this fanciful thought in his Ann. Mirah. Old father Thames rais'd up his reverend bead;
But fear'd the fate of Simoeis would return; Deep in his ooze be fought bis sedgy bed;
And forunk his waters back into bis urn. This is stolen from Cowley's Davideis, p. 9:
Swift "Jordan started, and strait backward fled,
At once beat those without and those within. " This Almanzor speaks of himself; and sure “ for one man to conquer an army within the “ city, and another without the city, at once, “ is something difficult; but this flight is par“ donable, to some we meet with in Granada. “ Osmin, speaking of Almanzor: Who, like a tempest that outrides the wind, Made a just battle, ére tbe bodies join'd. “ Pray what does this honourable person " mean by a tempest that outrides the wind ! “ A tempest that outrides itself. To suppose “ a tempeft without wind, is as bad as fup" posing a man to walk without feet: for if " he supposes the tempest to be something “ distinct from the wind, yet as being the ef« fect of wind only, to come before the cause " is a little preposterous : so that, if he takes “ it one way, or if he takes it the other, those “ two ifs will scarce make one possibility.” “ Enough of Settle.”
Marriage Alamode is a comedy, dedicated to the Earl of Rochester: whom he acknowledges not only as the defender of his poetry, but the promoter of his fortune. Langbaine places this play in 1673. The earl of Rochester therefore was the famous Wilmot, whom yet tradition always represents as an enemy to Dryden, and who is mentioned by him with some disrespect in the preface to Juvenal.
The Asignation, or Love in a Nunnery, a comedy, was driven off the stage, against the
opinion, as the author says, of the best judges.
dedicated, in a very elegant address, to Sir Charles Sedley ; in which he finds an opportunity for his usual complaint of hard treatment, and unreasonable censure.
Amboyna is a tissue of mingled dialogue in verse and prose, and was perhaps written in less time than the Virgin Martyr; though the author thought not fit either ostentatiously or mournfully to tell how little labour it cost him, or at how short a warning he produced it. It was a temporary performance, written in the time of the Dutch war, to inflame the nation against their enemies; to whom he hopes, as he declares in his Epilogue, to make his poetry not less destructive than that by which Tyrtæus of old animated the Spartans. This play was written in the second Dutch war in 1673.
Troilus and Cressida, is a play altered from Shakespeare; but so altered that even in Langbaine's opinion, the last scene in the third a£t is a masterpiece. It is introduced by a discourse on the grounds of criticism in tragedy ; to which I suspect that Kymer's book had given occasion.
The Spanish Fryar is a tragi-comedy, emi. nent for the happy coincidence and coalition of the two plots. As it was written against the Papists, it would naturally at that time have friends and enemies ; and partly by the popularity which it obtained at first, and partly by the real power both of the serious and risible part, it continued long a favourite of the publick.
It was Dryden's opinion, at least for some time, and he maintains it in the dedication of this play, that the drama required an alternation of comick and tragick scenes, and that it is necessary to mitigate by alleviations of merriment the pressure of ponderous events, and the fatigue of toilsome passions. Whoever says he cannot perform both parts is but half a writer for the stage.
The Duke of Guise, a tragedy written in conjunction with Lee, as Oedipus had been before, feems to deserve notice only for the offence which it gave to the remnant of the Covenanters, and in general to the enemies of the court, who attacked him with great violence, and were answered by him ; though at last he seems to withdraw from the conflict, by transferring the greater part of the blame or merit to his partner. It happened that a contract had been made between them, by which they were to join in writing a play ; and be happened, says Dryden, to claim the promise just upon the finishing of a poem, when I would have been glad of a little respite.-Two thirds of it belonged to him; and to me only the first scene of the play, the whole fourib act, and the first half or somewhat more of the fifth.
This was a play written professedly for the party of the duke of York, whose succession was then opposed. A parallel is intended between the Leaguers of France and the Covenanters of England; and this intention produced the controversy.
Albion and Albania is a musical drama, or opera, written, like the Duke of Guise, against the Republicans. With what success it was performed, I have not found.
The State of Innocence and Fall of Man is termed by him an opera : it is rather a tragedy in heroick rhyme, but of which the personages are such as cannot decently be exhibited on the stage. Some such production was foreseen by Marvel, who writes thus to Milton :
Or if a work so infinite be spann'd,
To change in scenes, and show it in a play.
It is another of his hasty productions; for the heat of his imagination raised it in a month.
This composition is addressed to the princess of Modena, then duchess of York, in a strain of flattery which disgraces genius, and which it is wonderful that any man that knew the meaning of his own words could use without self-detestation. It is an attempt to mingle earth and heaven, by praising human excellence in the language of religion.
The preface contains an apology for heroick verse, and poetick licence; by which is meant not any liberty taken in contracting or extending words, but the use of bold fictions and ambitious figures.
The reason which he gives for printing what was never acted, cannot be overpassed : “ I was induced to it in my own defence, ma“ ny hundred copies of it being dispersed " abroad without my knowledge or consent, “ and every one gathering new faults, it be“ came at length a libel against me.” These