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It is the common practice of our poets to end the second line with a weak or grave fyllable: Together o'er the Alps methinks we fly, Fili'd with ideas of fair Italy.
Dryden sometimes puts the weak rhyme in the first: Laugh all the powers that favour tyranny, And all the standing army of the sky.
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 fyllable; 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 seleEt 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 meta
phor to 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 unfown 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 |
wear: Whether thou'lt all the boundless ocea And fea-men only to thyself shall pray, Thule, the fartheft inand kneel to thee, And, that thou may'st her son by marriage be, Tethys will for the happy purchase yield To make a dowry of her watry field; Whether thou'lt add to heaven a brighter sign, And o'er the summer months serenely shine; Where between Cancer and Erigone, There yet remains a spacious room for thee. Where the hot Scorpion too his arms declines, And more to thee than half his arch resigns; Whate'er thou'lt be; for sure the realms below No just pretence to thy command can show: No such ambition sways thy vast defires, Tho'Greece her own Elysian Fields admires. And now, at last, contented Proserpine Can all her mother's earnest prayers decline. Whate'er thou'lt be, O guide our gentle course, And with thy smiles our bold attempts enforce; With me th’unknowing ruftics wants relieve, And, tho' on earth, our sacred vows receive!
Mr. Dryden, having received from Rymer his Remarks on the Tragedies of the last 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 “ terror are not now the only springs on “ which our tragedies move, and that Shake“ speare may be more excused, Rapin confes“ fes that the French tragedies now all run “ on the tendre ; and gives the reason, because “ love is the passion which most predominates “ in our souls, 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.
is 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; perhaps, only last “ in order, because they are the lalt product of
“ the design, of the disposition or connectioni “ of its parts; of the characters, of the man“ ners of those characters, and of the thoughts “ proceeding from those manners. Rapin's “ words are remarkable: 'Tis not the admi“ rable intrigue, the surprising events, and “ extraordinary incidents, that make the “ beauty of a tragedy; 'tis the discourses, “ when they are natural and passionate : fo " 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.
" 3. The manners, or decency of the cha“ racters in speaking or acting what is proper “ for them, and proper to be shewn by the " poet.
is 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 ; and Shakes" peare all modern poets.
i 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 begin“ ning 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 Arif“ totle's rules, and Sophocles' and Euripides's “ example: but joy may be raised too, and that “ doubly; either by seeing a wicked man