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the excellence; but intends to shew, that by studied misconstruction every thing may be equally represented as 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:
“Fate after him below with pain did move,
And victory could scarce keep pace above. " These two lines, if he can shew me any sense or thought in, or any thing but bombast and noise, he shall make 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 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 relates 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,
I wonder, if he be so strict, how he dares make so bold with the sphere himself, and to be so critical in other men's writings. Fortune is fancied standing on a globe, not on a sphere, as he told us in the first act.
"Because Elkanah's Similes are the most unlike things to what they are compared in the world,' I'll venture to start a simile in his ‘Annus Mirabilis:' he gives this poetical descrip. tion of the ship called The London:
Her flag aloft spread ruffling in the wind,
She seems a sea-wasp flying in the waves. What a wonderful pother is here, to make all these poetical beautifications of a ship; that is, a phoenix in the first stanza, and but a wasp in the last; nay, to make his humble comparison of a wasp more ridiculous, he does not say it flies upon the waves as nimbly as a wasp, or the like, but it seemed a wasp. But our author at the writing of this was not in his altitudes, to compare ships to floating palaces: a comparison to the purpose was a perfection he did not arrive to till the Indian Emperor's days. But perhaps his similitude has more in it than we imagine; this ship had a great many guns in her, and they, put all together, made the sting in the wasp's tail; for this is all the reason I can guess, why it seemed a wasp. But because we will allow him all we can to help out, let it be a phænix sea-wasp, and the rarity of such an animal may do much towards heightening the fancy.
"It had been much more to his purpose, if he had designed to render the senseless play little, to have searched for some such pedantry as this:
Two ifs scarce make one possibility.
Rather than take your life, I will not live. “Observe how prettily our author chops logic in heroic verse. Three such fustian canting words as distributive, alternative, and two ifs, no man but himself would have come within the noise of. But he's a man of general learning, and all comes into his play.
“ 'Twould have done well too if he could have met with the rant or two, worth the observation: such as,
Move swiftly, Sun, and fly a lover's pace
Leave months and weeks behind thee in thy race. “But surely the sun, whether he flies a lover's or not a lover's pace, leaves weeks and months, nay years too, behind him in his race.
“Poor Robin, or any other of the philo-mathematics, would have given him satisfaction in the point.
If I could kill thee now, thy fate's so low,
Piled on thy baek, can never pull it down. "Now where that is, Almanzor's fate is fixed, I cannot guess: but, wherever it is, I believe Almanzor, and think that all Abdalla's subjects, piled upon one another, might not pull down his fate so well as without piling; besides, I think Abdalla so wise a man, that if Almanzor had told him piling his men upon his back might do the feat, he would scarcely bear such a weight, for the pleasure of the exploit; but it is a huff, and let Abdalla do it if he dare.
The people like a headlong torrent go,
Or wind in volumes to their former course. 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 impossible; nay more, in the foregoing page he tells us so too; a trick of a very unfaithful memory.
But can no more than fountains upward flow. Which of a torrent, which signifies a rapid stream, is much more impossible. Besides, if he goes to quibble, and say, that it is impossible by art water may be made return, and the same water run twice in one and the same channel; then he quite confutes what he says: for it is by being opposed, that it runs into its former course; for all engines 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 volumes, 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 borrowed. As here, for example of, I find this fanciful thought in his · Ann. Mirab.
223 AFCE ,
old father Thames rais'd up his reverend head:
And shrunk his waters back into his urn.
Swift Jordan started, and straight backward fled,
At once beat those without and those within.
Who, like a tempest that outrides the wind,
Made a just battle, ere the 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 tempest without wind, is as bad as supposing a man to walk without feet; for if he supposes the tempest to be something distinct from the wind, yet, as being the effect 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 scarcely make one possibility.” Enough of Settle.
Marriage a-la-mode” (1673) 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 hy him with some disrespect in the preface to ‘Juvenal.'
“The Assignation, or Love in a Nunnery," a comedy (1673) was driven off the stage, against the opinion, as the Author says, of the best judges. It is 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
Amboyna" (1673) 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”.(1679) is a play altered from Shakspeare; but so altered, that, even in Langbaine's
opinion, "the last scene in the third act is a masterpiece." It is introduced by a discourse on “the Grounds of Criticism in Tragedy,” to which I suspect that Rymer's book had given occasion.
“The Spanish Friar" (1681) is a tragi-comedy, eminent 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 public.
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 comic and tragic 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 (1683), written in conjunction with Lee, as “Oedipus" had been before, seems 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 bim; 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 "he 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 fourth act, and the first half, or somewhat more, of the fifth.”