Imatges de pàgina

nouncing a sentence; and this sentence is not to be pronounced till the con" demned party bleeds; that is, she must be executed first, and sentenced “after ; and the pronourcing of this sentence will be infectious; that is, others * will catch the disease of that sentence, and this infecting of others willtor"ment a man's self. The whole is thus; when she bleeds, thou needest no greater "hell or torment to thyself, than infecting of others by pronouncing a sentence "upon her. What hodge-podge does he make here ! Never was Dutcla grout "such clogging, thick, indigestible stuff. But this is but a taste to stay the

stomach; we shall have a more plentiful mess presently.
"Now to dish up the poet's broth, that I promised :

For when we're dead, and our freed souls enlarg'd
Of natures grosser burden we're discharg'd,
Then gently, as a happy lover's sigh,
Like wandring meteors through the air we'll fly,
And in our airy walk, as subtle guests,
We'll steal into our cruel fathers breasts,
There read their souls, and track each passion's sphere :
See how Revenge moves there, Ambition here.
And in their orbs view the dark characters
Of sieges, ruins, murders, blood and wars.
We'll blot out all those hideous draughts, and write
Pure and white forms; then with a radient light
Their breasts encircle, till their passions be
Gentle as nature in its infancy :
Till soften'd by our charms their furies cease,
And their Revenge resolves into a peace.
Thus by our death their quarrel ends,

Whom living we made foes, dead we'll make friends. “ If this be not a very liberal mess, I will refer myself to the stomach of any "moderate guest. And a rare mess it is, far excelling any Westminster “white-broth. It is a kind of gibblet porridge, made of the gibblets of a " couple of young geese, stodged full of meteors, orbs, spheres, track, hideous

draughts, dark characters, white forms, and radiant lights, designed not only " to please appetite, and indulge luxury; but it is also physical,, being an

approved medicine to purge choler: for it is propounded by Morena, as a receipt to cure their fathers of their choleric humours: and, were it written "in characters as barbarous as the words, might very well pass for a doctor's “ bill. To conclude, it is porridge, 'tis a receipt, 'tis a pig with a pudding “in the belly, 'tis I know not what; for, certainly, never any one that pre“tended to write sense, had the impudence before to put such stuff as this " into the mouths of those that were to speak it before an audience, whom "he did not take to be all fools ; and after that to print it too, and expose it

to the examination of the world. But let us see, what we can make of this

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stuff :

Vol. I.

For when we're dead, and our freed souls enlarg'd



" Here he tells us what it is to be dead; it is to have our freed souls set fri - Now if to have a soul set free, is to be dead, then to have a freed souls '56 free, is to have a dead man die.

Then gentle, as a happy lover's sigh“They two like one sigh, and that one sigh like two wandering météors,

-Shall fly through the air" That is, they shall mount above like falling stars, or else they shall ski « like two Jacks with lanthorns, or Willwith a wisp, and Madge with a candle.

And in their airy walk steal into their cruel fathers breasts, like 'subtle guest “ So that their fathers breasts must be in an airy walk, an airy walk of a fit " And there they will read their souls, and track the spheres of their passion “ That is, these walking fliers, Jack with a lanthorn, &c. will put on h

spectacles, and fall a reading souls, and put on his pumps and fall a tracki " of spheres: so that he will read and run, walk and Ay at the same time! Ol "Nimble Jack. Then he will see, how revenge here, how ambition there--TI - birds will hop about. And then view the dark characters of sieges, rui murders, blood, and wars, in their orbs : Track the characters to the “ forms! Oh! rare sport for Jack. Never was place so full of game as thes “ breasts! You cannot stir but flush a sphere, start a character, or unkenne

an orb !"

Settle's is said to have been the first play embellished with sculptures those ornaments seem to have given poor Dryden great disturbance. He trie however to ease his pain, by venting his malice in a parody.

“The poet has not only been so impudent to expose all this stuff, but so ar

rogant to defend it with an epistle; like a saucy booth-keeper, that, whe " he had put a cheat upon the people, would wrangle and fight with any tha “ would not like it, or would offer to discover it ; for which arrogance ou

poet receives this correction; and to jerk him a little the sharper, I will no " transpose his verse, but by the help of his own words transnon-sense, sense that, by my stuff, people may judge the better what his is ;

" Great Boy, the tragedy and sculptures done
" From press, and plates in fleets do homeward come :
" And in ridiculous and humble pride,
“ Their course is ballad-singers baskets guide,
" Whose greasy twigs do all new beauties tak'e,
" From the gay shews thy dainty sculptures make.

Thy lines a mess of rhyming nonsense yield,
" A senseless tale, with flattering fustian filld.

No grain of sense does' in our line appear,

Thy words big balks of boisterous bombast bear.
“ With noise they move, and from players mouths rebound,
* When their tongues dance to thy words empty sound

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" By thee inspir'd the rumbling verses roll,
“ As if that rhyme and bombast lent a soul:
" And with that soul they seem taught duty too,

To huffing words does humble nonsense bow,
“ As if it would thy worthless work enchance,
" To th' lowest rank of fops thy praise advance ;
" To whom, by instinct, all thy stuff is dear;
“ Their loud claps echo to the theatre.
“ From breaths of fools thy commendation spreads,
" Fame sings thy praise with mouths of logger-heads.
“ With noise and laughing each thy fustian greets,
Tis clapt by quires of empty-headed cits,
" Who have their tribute sent, and homage given,

" As men in whispers send loud noise to heaven. « Thus I have daubed him with his own puddle: and now we are come ** from aboard his dancing, masking, rebounding, breathing fleet; and as if ** We had landed at Gotham, we meet nothing but fools and nonsense.”

Such was the criticism to which the genius of Dryden could be reduced, betreen rage and terrour ; rage with little provocation, and terrour with little danger. To see the highest minds thus levelled with the meanest, may produce some solace to the consciousness of weakness, and some mortification to the pride of wisdom. But let it be remembered, that minds are not levelled in their powers but when they are first levelled in their desires. Dryden and Settle had both placed their happiness in the claps of multitudes.

An Evening's Love or the Mock Astrologer, a comedy (1671), is dedicated to the illustrious duke of Newcastle, whom he courts by adding to his praises those of his lady, not only as a lover but a partner of his studies. It is unpleasing to think how many names, once celebrated, are since forgotten. Of Newcastle's works nothing is now known but his treatise on horesemanship.

The Preface seems very elaborately written, and contains many just remarks ca the Fathers of the English drama. Shakspeare's plots, he says, are in the hundred novels of Cinthio; those of Beauinont and Fletcher in Spanish Siories; Tonson only made them for himself. His criticisms upon tragedy, comedy, and farce, are judicious and profound. He endeavours to defend the immorality of some of his comedies by the example of former writers; which is only to say, that he was not the first nor perhaps the greatest offender. Against those that accused him of plagiarism he alleges a favourable expression of the king: " He only desired that they, who accuse me of thefts,'would steal him

plays like mine;" and then relates how much labour he spends in firting for the English stage what he borrows from others.

Tyrannick Love, or the Virgin Martyr, (1672), was another tragedy in rhyme, conspicuous for many passages of strength and elegance, and many of empty noise and ridiculous turbulence. The rants of Maximin have been always the


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sport of criticism; and were at length, if his own confession may be trusted, the shame of the writer.

Of this play he takes care to let the reader know, that it was contrived and written in seven weeks. Want of time was often his excuse, or perhaps shortness of time was his private boast in the form of an apology.

It was written before the Conquest of Granada, but published after it. The design is to recommend piety. "I considered that pleasure was not the only " end of poesy, and that even the instructions of morality were not so wholly " the business of a poet, as that precepts and examples of piety were to be " omitted; for to leave that employment altogether to the clergy, were to forget that religion was first taught in verse, which the laziness or dullness " of succeeding priesthood torned afterwards into prose.” Thus foolishly could Dryden write, rather than not shew his malice to the parsons.

. The two parts of the Conquest of Granada (1672) are written with a seem-ing determination to glut the publick with dramatic wonders; to exhibit in its highest elevation a theatrical meteor of incredible love and impossible valour, and to leave no room for a wilder flight to the extravagance of posterity. All

of romantick heat, whether amorous or warlike, glow in Almanzor by a kind of concentration. He is above all laws; he is exempt from all restraints ; he ranges the world at will, and governs wherever he appears. He fights without enquiring the cause, and loves in spight of the obligations of justice, of rejection by his mistress, and of prohibition from the dead. Yet the scenes are, for the most part, delightful; they exhibit a kind of illustrious depravity, and majestick madness, such as, if it is sometimes despised, is often reverenced, and in which the ridiculous is mingled with the astonishing.

In the Epilogue to the second part of the Conquest of Granada, Dryden indulges his favourite pleasure of discrediting his predecessors; and this Epilogue he has defended by a long postscript. He had promised a second dialogue, in which he should more fully treat of the virtues and faults of the English poets, who have written in the dramatick, epick, or lyrick way. This promise was never formally performed; but, with respect to the dramatick writers, he has given us in his prefaces, and in this postscript, something equivalent: but his purpose being to exalt himself by the comparison, he shews faults distinctly, and only praises excellence in general terms.

A play thus written, in professed defiance of probability, naturally drew upon itself the vultures of the theatre. One of the criticks that attacked it was Martin Clifford, to whom Sprat addressed the Life of Cowley, with such veneration of his critical powers as might naturally excite great expectations of instructions from his remarks. But let bonest credulity beware of receiving characters from contemporary writers. Cifford's remarks, by the favour of Dr. Percy, were at last obtained; and, that no man may ever want them more, I will extract enough to satisfy all reasonable desise.



In the first Letter his observation is only general : “ You do live," says he “ in as much ignorance and darkness as you did in the womb : your writings “ are like a Jack-of all-trade's shop; they have a variety, but nothing of va“ lue; and if thou 'art not the dullest plant-animal that ever the carth pro“ duced, all that I have conversed with are strangely mistaken in thee.”

In the second he tells him that Almanzor is not more copied from Achilles than from ancient Pistol. “But I am," said he,“ strangely mistaken if I have “ not seen this very Almanzor of yours in some disguise about this town, and a passing under another name. Pr'ythee tell me true, was not this Huffcap

once the Indian Emperor ; and at another time did he not call himself Maximin? Was not Lyndaraxa once called Almeria ? I mean under Montezuma " the Indian Emperor. I protest and vow they are either the same, or so « alike that I cannot from my heart, distinguish one from the other. You " are therefore a strange unconscionable thief ; thou art not content to steal “ from others, but dost rob thy poor wretched self too.”

Now was Seule's time to take his revenge. He wrote a vindication of his own lines; and, if he is forced to yield any thing, makes reprisals upon his enemy. To say that his answer is equal to the censure, is no high commendation. To expose Dryden's method of analysing his expressions, he tries the same experiment upon the same description of the ships in the Indian Emperor of which however he does not deny the excellence ; but intends to shew, that by studied misconstruction every thing may be equally representedas ridiculous. After so much of Dryden's elegant animadversions, justice requires that something of Settle's should be exhibited. The following observations are therefore extracted from a quarto pamphlet of ninety-five pages :

6. Fate after him below with pain did move,
". And victory could scarce keep peace

above. " These two lines, if he can shew me any sense or thought in, or any thing “ but bombast and noise, he shall inake me believe every word in his * observations on Morocco sense : “ In the Empress of Morocco were these lines :

“ I'll travel then to some remoter sphere,

" Till I find out new worlds, and crown you there. « On which Dryden made this remark:

" I believe our learned author takes a sphere for a country; the sphere of Morocco, as if Morocco were the globe of earth and water; but a globe is

no sphere neither, by his leave,” &c. “ So sphere must not be sense unless " it relate to a circular motion about a globe, in which sense the astronomers use it. I would desire him to expound those lines in Granada :

“ I'll to the turrets of the palace go,
“ And add new fire to those that fight below.

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