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It is the common practice of our poets to end the second line with a weak or grave syllable:
Together o'er the Alps methinks we fly,
Dryden sometimes puts the weak rhyme in the first:
Laugh all the powers that favour tyranny,
Sometimes he concludes a period or paragraph with the first line of a couplet, which, though the French seem to do it without irregularity, always displeases in English poetry.
The Alexandrine, though much his favourite, is not always very diligently fabricated by him. It invariably requires a break at the sixth syllable; a rule which the modern French poets never violate, but which Dryden sometimes neglected:
And with paternal thunder vindicates his throne.
Of Dryden's works it was said by Pope, that he could select from them better specimens of every mode of poetry than any other English writer could supply. Perhaps no nation ever produced a writer that enriched his language with such variety of models. To him we owe the improvement, perhaps the completion of our metre, the refinement of our language, and much of the correctness of our sentiments. By him we were taught fapere &fari, to think naturally and express forcibly. He taught us that it was possible to reason in rhyme. He shewed us the true bounds of a translator's liberty. What was said of Rome, adorned by Augustus, may be applied by an easy metaphor
phorto English poetry embellished by Dryden, lateritiam invenit, marmoream reliquit, he found it brick, and he left it marble.
THE invocation before the Georgicks is here inserted from Mr. Milbourne's version, that, according to his own proposal, his verses may be compared with those which he censures,
What makes the richest tilth, beneath what signs
You, who new plants from unsown lands supply;
And thou, great Cæsar! tho'we know not yet
shall bear, The fruits and seasons of the turning year, And thy bright brows thy mother's myrtles
Whether thou'lt all the boundless ocean sway,
Mr. Dryden, having received from Rymer his Remarks on the Tragedies of the laji Age, wrote observations on the blank leaves; which, being now in the possession of Mr. Garrick, are by his favour communicated to the publick, that no particle of Dryden may be lost.
"That we may the less wonder why pity and c* terror are not now the only springs on c' which our tragedies move, and that Shake"speare may be more excused, Rapin confes"ses that the French tragedies now all run "on the tendre ; and gives the reason, because "love is the passion which most predominates "in our fouls, and that therefore the passions "represented become insipid, unless they are "conformable to the thoughts of the audience. "But it is to be concluded that this passion "works not now amongst the French so strong"ly as the other two did amongst the ancients. "Amongst us, who have a stronger genius "for writing, the operations from the writing "are much stronger: for the raising of Shake"speare's passions is more from the excellency "of the words and thoughts than the justness "of the occasion; and if he has been able to "pick single occasions, he has never founded "the whole reasonably: yet, by the genius of "poetry in writing, he has succeeded.
"Rapin attributes more to the dictio, that "is, to the words and discourse of a tragedy, "than Aristotle has done, who places them in "the last rank of beauties j perhaps, only last "in order, because they are the last product of
"the the design, of the disposition or connection of its parts; of the characters, of the manners of those characters, and of the thoughts proceeding from those manners. Rapin's words are remarkable: 'Tis not the admirable intrigue, the surprising events, and extraordinary incidents, that make the beauty of a tragedy; 'tis the discourses, when they are natural and passionate: so are Shakespeare's.
"The parts of a poem, tragic or heroick, are, "1. The fable itself.
"2. The order or manner of its contrivance, in relation of the parts to the whole. "j. The manners, or decency of the characters in speaking or acting what is proper for them, and proper to be shewn by the poet.
"4. The thoughts which express the manners.
! 5. The words which express those thoughts. "In the last of these, Homer excels Virgil; Virgil all other ancient poets j and Shakespeare all modern poets. "For the second of these, the order: the meaning is, that a fable ought to have a beginning, middle, and an end, all just and natural: so that that part, e. g. which is the middle, could not naturally be the beginning or end, and so of the rest: all depend on one another, like the links of a curious chain. If terror and pity are only to be raised, certainly this author follows Aristotle's rules, and Sophocles' and Euripides's example: but joy may be raised too, and that doubly j either by seeing a wicked man