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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 earth pro“ duced, all that I have conversed with aré 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 “ passing under another name. Priythee tell me true, was not this Huffcap " once the Indian Emperor ; and at another time did he not call himself Maxi" min? 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
therefore a strange unconscionable thief; thou art not content to steal « from others, but dost rob thy poor wretched self too.”
Now was Settle'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 everything 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,
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 :
u 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,
“ Thence, Hero-like, with torches by my side,
(Far be the omen tho') my Love I'll guide.
Just flying forward from my rowling sphere. “ I wonder, if he be so strict, how he dares make so bold with sphere himself, " and 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 Similies are the most unlike things to what they are com“ pared in the world, I'll venture to start a simile in his Annus Mirabilis : he “ gives this poetical description of the ship called the London:
“ The goodly London in her gallant trim,
Deep in her draught, and warlike in her length,
" She seems a sea-wasp flying on the waves. “What a wonderful pot her is here, to make all these poetical beautifications “ of a ship! that is, a phenix in the first stanza, and but a wasp in the last :
nay, to make his humble comparison of a wasp moreridiculous, hedoes not say “it flies upon th waves asnimbly as a wasp, or the like, but it seemed a waspa « 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 " he did not arrive to till his Indian Emperor's days. But perhaps his simi"litude 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 phenix 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.
If justice will take all and nothing give,
To die or kill you is the alternative,
“ Rather than take your life, I will not live. “ Observe, how prettily our author chops logick in heroick verse. Three s 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 a 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 Philomathematicks, would have giver him satisfaction in the point.
“ If I could kill thee now, thy fate's so low,
“ Piled on thy back, can never pull it down. “ Now where that is, Almanzor's fate is fixt, 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 scarce 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 couise. " 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 ce 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 possible 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 “ atide, which would be ridiculous, yet they do not windin volumes, but come “ foreright 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 bere, for example of, I find this fanciful thought "s in his Ann. Mirab.
« Old father Thames raised up his reverend head >
Deep in his ooze he sought his sedgy bed ;
“ And shrunk his waters back into his urn. This is stolen from Cowley's Daviduis, p. 9.
“ Swift Jordan started, and strait backward filed ,
Hiding among thick reeds his aged head.
" At once beat those without and those within. " This Almanzor speaks of himself; and sure for one man to conquer an
army within the city, and another without the city, at once, is something “ difficult ; but this flight is pardonable, to some we meet with in Granada. “ Osmin, speaking of Almanzor :
" 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 cutrides 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 scarce “ make one possibility.” Enough of Settle.
Marriage Alamode (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 by 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 censure.
Amboyna (1678) is a tissue of mingled dialogue in verse and prose, and was perhaps written in less time than The Virgin Marlyr; 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 sceneinthe third actis a master.
piece." It is introduced by a discourse on the grounds of criticism in tra“ gedy, ” to which I suspect that Rymer's book had given occasion,
The Spanish Fryar (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 publick.
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 alteration of comick and tragick 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, wbo attacked him with great violence, and were answered by him ; 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.”
This was a play written professedly for the party of the duke of York, whose succession was then opposed. A parallel is intended between the Leaguers of France and the Covenanters of England ; and this intention produced the controversy.
Albion and Aibianus (1685) is a musical drama or opera written, like the Duke of Guise, against the Republicans. With what success it was performed, I have not found *.
The State of Innocence and Fall of Man (1675) is termed by him an opera : it is rather a tragedy in heroick rhyme, but of which the personages are such as cannot decently be exhibited on the stage. Some such production was forcseen by Marvel, who writes thus to Milton :
Or if a work so infinite be spann'd,
Might hence presume the whole creation's day,
: To change in scenes, and show it in a play. Vol. I.
It * Downes says, it was performed on a very unlucky day, viz. that on which the duke of Mon. mouth landed in the west ; and he intimates that the consternaien into which the kingdom was thrown by this event, was a reason why if was performed but six times and was io general ill received. Ha