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What he says of love may contribute to the explanation of his character:

'Love various minds does variously inspire;
It stirs in gentle bosoms [natures] gentle fire,
Like that of incense on the altar [altars] laid;
But raging flames tempestuous souls invade,
A fire which every windy passion blows;

With pride it mounts, or [and] with revenge it glows'.' 324 Dryden's was not one of the' gentle bosoms': Love, as it subsists in itself, with no tendency but to the person loved and wishing only for correspondent kindness, such love as shuts out all other interest, the Love of the Golden Age, was too soft and subtle to put his faculties in motion. He hardly conceived it but in its turbulent effervescence with some other desires: when it was inflamed by rivalry or obstructed by difficulties; when it invigorated ambition or exasperated revenge.

325 He is therefore, with all his variety of excellence, not often pathetick2; and had so little sensibility of the power of effusions purely natural that he did not esteem them in others. Simplicity gave him no pleasure; and for the first part of his life he looked on Otway with contempt 3, though at last, indeed very late, he confessed that in his play 'there was Nature, which is the chief beauty +


We do not always know our own motives. I am not certain whether it was not rather the difficulty which he found in exhibiting the genuine operations of the heart than a servile submission to an injudicious audience that filled his plays with false magnificence. It was necessary to fix attention; and the mind can be

n'égale, et qu'aucun ancien n'a surpassé.' VOLTAIRE, Euvres, xviii. 273. ' From Tyrannic Love, act ii. sc. 3. Works, iii. 407.

2 Landor wrote of him :-'Tho' never tender nor sublime, He wrestles with and conquers Time.' Poems, &c. ii. 180.

'He never aimed at any high mark. His good sense prevented him from overvaluing himself, and aspiring to become eminent either as a sublime or a pathetic poet.' SOUTHEY, Cowper's Works, ii. 138.

3Dryden commonly expressed a very mean, if not contemptible opinion, of Otway.' GILDON, The

Laws of Poetry, 1721, p. 211.

Nature is there, which is the greatest beauty.' A Parallel of Poetry and Painting (1695), Works, xvii. 326; ante, OTWAY, 15.

5 In the Dedication of The Spanish Friar (1681, ante, DRYDEN, 66) he writes:-'I scorn as much to take it [reputation] from half-witted judges as I should to raise an estate by cheating of bubbles. Neither do I discommend the lofty style in tragedy, which is naturally pompous and magnificent; but nothing is truly sublime that is not just and proper.' Works, vi. 407. See ante, DRYDEN, 45; post, 334.

captivated only by recollection or by curiosity; by reviving natural sentiments or impressing new appearances of things: sentences were readier at his call than images; he could more easily fill the ear with some splendid novelty than awaken those ideas that slumber in the heart.

The favourite exercise of his mind was ratiocination; and, 327 that argument might not be too soon at an end, he delighted to talk of liberty and necessity, destiny and contingence; these he discusses in the language of the school with so much profundity that the terms which he uses are not always understood. It is indeed learning, but learning out of place.

When once he had engaged himself in disputation, thoughts 328 flowed in on either side: he was now no longer at a loss; he had always objections and solutions at command: 'verbaque provisam rem "'—give him matter for his verse, and he finds without difficulty verse for his matter 3.

In comedy, for which he professes himself not naturally quali- 329 fied, the mirth which he excites will perhaps not be found so much to arise from any original humour or peculiarity of character nicely distinguished and diligently pursued, as from incidents and circumstances, artifices and surprises; from jests of action rather than of sentiment 5. What he had of humorous or

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Ante, DRYDEN, 125; post, 356; BLACKMORE, 46.

A friend of Scott's, urging him not to neglect the law, wrote:-'The reasoning talents visible in Dryden's verses assure me that he would have ruled in Westminster Hall as easily as he did at Button's [Will's].' Lockhart's Scott, ii. 41.


'Verbaque provisam rem non invita sequentur.'

HORACE, Ars Poet. 1. 311. 3 'Whatever he does, whether he reasons, relates or describes, he is never, to use his own phrase, "cursedly confined" [Absalom and Achitophel, 1. 4]; never loiters about a single thought or image, or seems to labour about the turn of a phrase.... His thoughts, his language, his versification, have all a certain animation and elasticity which no one else has ever equally possessed.' HALLAM, Edin. Review, vol. xiii. p. 132.

4 Ante, DRYDEN, 12, 91, 264.

'I never thought myself very fit for an employment, where many of my predecessors have excelled me in all kinds [of plays]; and some of my contemporaries, even in my own partial judgment, have out-done me in comedy. Works, v. 195.

'If Shadwell was preferred to Dryden, it was not for his rhymes but his comedies; and perhaps the public were not wrong.' HALLAM, Edin. Review, vol. xiii. p. 135.

'I am not at all happy when I peruse some of Dryden's comedies: they are very stupid as well as indelicate; sometimes, however, there is a considerable vein of liveliness and humour, and all of them present extraordinary pictures of the age in which he lived.' SCOTT, Lockhart's Scott, ii. 283.

5 PARTHENOPE. Give you good ev'n, Sir. Exit. VOLSCIUS. O inauspicious stars! that I was born


passionate, he seems to have had not from nature, but from other poets; if not always as a plagiary, at least as an imitator'.

Next to argument, his delight was in wild and daring sallies of sentiment, in the irregular and excentrick violence of wit 2. He delighted to tread upon the brink of meaning, where light and darkness begin to mingle; to approach the precipice of absurdity, and hover over the abyss of unideal vacancy3. This inclination sometimes produced nonsense, which he knew, as

'Move swiftly, sun, and fly a lover's pace,

Leave weeks and months behind thee in thy race''

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To guard thee from the demons of the air;

My flaming sword above them to display,

All keen, and ground upon the edge of day".

And sometimes it issued in absurdities, of which perhaps he was not conscious:

'Then we upon our orb's last verge shall go,

And see the ocean leaning on the sky;

From thence our rolling neighbours we shall know,
And on the lunar world securely pry "'

To sudden love, and to more sud-
den scorn!
Volscius in love! Ha ha! ha!
Exeunt, laughing.
SMITH. Sure, Mr. Bayes, we have
lost some jest here that they laugh at


BAYES. Why did you not observe? He first resolves to go out of town; and then, as he is pulling on his boots, falls in love. Ha! ha! ha!

SMITH. O, I did not observe; that, indeed, is a very good jest.'

The Rehearsal, p. 85.

1 Ante, DRYDEN, 103, 229.
2 'Indeed wit is so much the Diana
of this age that he who goes about to
set any bounds to it must expect an
uproar, Acts, 19. 28. The Govern-
ment of the Tongue, 1674, p. 115.

3 Dryden writes in the Prologue to
Tyrannic Love:—

'Poets, like lovers, should be bold
and dare,

They spoil their business with an


And he who servilely creeps after


Is safe, but ne'er will reach an excellence.'

In the Preface he explains this as meaning:-' He who creeps after plain, dull, common sense is safe from committing absurdities; but can never reach any height or excellence of wit; and sure I could not mean that any excellence were to be found in nonsense.' Works, iii. 381, 383.

'Very near that precipitous border line [of the sublime and the ridiculous] there is a charmed region, where, if the statelier growths of philosophy die out and disappear, the flowers of poetry next the very edge of the chasm have a peculiar and mysterious beauty.' O. W. HOLMES, Life of Emerson, 1885, p. 398.

Ante, DRYDEN, 58.

5 Tyrannic Love, iv. 1, Works, iii. 425.

Annus Mirabilis, stanza 164, Works, ix. 151. Ante, DRYDEN, 257 n.

These lines have no meaning; but may we not say, in imitation of Cowley on another book,

"Tis so like sense 'twill serve the turn as well ''?

This endeavour after the grand and the new produced many 331 sentiments either great or bulky, and many images either just or splendid:

'I am as free as Nature first made man,
Ere the base laws of servitude began,
When wild in woods the noble savage ran"."
"Tis but because the Living death ne'er knew,
They fear to prove it as a thing that's new:
Let me th' experiment before you try,
I'll show you first how easy 'tis to die3.'
'There with a forest of their darts he strove,
And stood like Capaneus defying Jove;
With his broad sword the boldest beating down,
While Fate grew pale lest he should win the town,
And turn'd the iron leaves of his [its] dark book
To make new dooms, or mend what it mistook".'

'I beg no pity for this mouldering clay;
For if you give it burial, there it takes
Possession of your earth;

If burnt, and scatter'd in the air, the winds

That strew my dust diffuse my royalty,

And spread me o'er your clime; for where one atom

Of mine shall light, know there Sebastian reigns ".'

Of these quotations the two first may be allowed to be great, the two latter only tumid.

Of such selection there is no end. I will add only a few more 332 passages; of which the first, though it may perhaps not be

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5 Don Sebastian, i. 1, Wks. vii. 336. • Scott says of the third quotation-Such passages, pronounced with due emphasis on the stage, will always meet with popular applause. They are like the fanciful shapes into which a mist is often wreathed; it requires a near approach, and an attentive consideration, to discover their emptiness and vanity.' Works, iii. 372.

'Dryden knew that on the stage bombast might pass for poetry as tinsel served for gold.' SOUTHEY, Cowper's Works, ii. 139.


quite clear in prose, is not too obscure for poetry, as the meaning that it has is noble:

'No, there is a necessity in Fate,

Why still the brave bold man is fortunate;

He keeps his object ever full in sight,

And that assurance holds him firm and right;

True, 'tis a narrow way that leads to bliss,

But right before there is no precipice;

Fear makes men look aside, and so [then] their footing miss '.'

Of the images which the two following citations afford the first is elegant, the second magnificent; whether either be just, let the reader judge:

'What precious drops are these [those],

Which silently each other's track pursue,

Bright as young diamonds in their infant dew *?'

'Resign your castle.'

'Enter, brave Sir; for when you speak the word,
The [These] gates shall [will] open of their own accord;
The genius of the place its Lord shall [will] meet,
And bow its towery forehead at [to] your feet 3.'

334 These bursts of extravagance Dryden calls the 'Dalilahs of the Theatre,' and owns that many noisy lines of Maximin and Almanzor call out for vengeance upon him; but 'I knew,' says he, that they were bad enough to please, even when I wrote them. There is surely reason to suspect that he pleased himself as well as his audience; and that these, like the harlots of other men, had his love, though not his approbation.

335 He had sometimes faults of a less generous and splendid kind, He makes, like almost all other poets, very frequent use of mythology, and sometimes connects religion and fable too closely without distinction".

336 He descends to display his knowledge with pedantick ostentation; as when, in translating Virgil, he says, 'tack to the larboard' and 'veer starboard "';

Conquest of Granada, Pt. I. iv. 2;
Works, iv. 97.

2 Ib. Pt. II. iii. 1; Works, iv. 157.
3 Ib. Pt. II. iii. 3; Works, iv. 171.
• He continues:-'But I repent of
them amongst my sins, and if any
of their fellows intrude by chance
into my present writings I draw a
stroke over all those Delilahs of the
theatre, and am resolved I will settle

and talks, in another work, of myself no reputation by the applause of fools.' Ib. vi. 406; ante, DRYDEN, 45, 48, 52, 326. Scott says, 'This celebrated apology was certainly invented to justify the fact after it was committed." Lockhart's Scott, iii. 389. Ante, DRYDEN, 238, 276, 295. Ante, MILTON, 234 n.; Aeneis iii. 525.



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