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As an approach to the historical truth was ne- worse, it has neither tenderness nor dignity; cessary, the action and catastrophe were not in it is neither magnificent nor pathetic. He the Poet's power; there is therefore an un- seems to look round him for images which he pleasing disproportion betwen the beginning cannot find, and what he has he distorts by enand the end. We are alarıned by a faction deavouring to enlarge them.
“ He is,” he says, formed of many sects, various in their princi- “ petrified with grief;" but the marble someples, but agreeing in their purpose of mischief ; times relents, and trickles in a joke: formidable for their numbers, and strong by
The song of art all m 'cines tried, their supports; while the King's friends are
And every noble remedy applied : few and weak. The chiets on either part are With emulation each essay'd set forth to view; but, when expectation is at His utmost skill : nay, more, they pray'd : the height, the King makes a speech, and Was never losing game with better conduct play'd. Henceforth a series of new times began.
He had been a little inclined to merriment Who can forbear to think of an enchanted before, upon the prayers of a nation for their castle, with a wide moat and lofty battlements, dying sovereign : nor was he serious enough to walls of marble and gates of brass, which van- keep heathen fables out of his religion : ishes at once into air, when the destined knight With him the innumerable crowd of armed prayers blows his horn before it?
Knock'd at the gates of heaven, and knuck'd In the second part, written by Tate, there is
aloud a long insertion, which, for its poignancy of sa- The first well-meaning rude petitioners tire, exceeds any part of the former. Personal All for bis life assail'd the throne, resentment, though no laudable motive to satire, All would have bribed the skies by offering up their can add great force to general principles. Selflove is a busy prompter.
So great a throng not Heaven itself could bar “ The Medal,” written upon the same prin- 'Twas almost borne by force as in the giants' war. ciples with “ Absalom and Achitophel,” but The prayers, at least, for his reprieve, were heard; upon a narrower plan, gives less pleasure, His death, like Hezekiah’s, was deferred. though it discovers equal abilities in the writer.
There is throughout the composition a desire The superstructure cannot extend beyond the
of splendour without wealth. In the cor.clufoundation; a single character or incident cannot furnish as many ideas as a series of events, sion he seems too much pleased with the prosor multiplicity of agents. This poem, there
pect of the new reign to have lamented his old
master with much sincerity.
He did not miscarry in this attempt for want
His abounds with touches both of humorous and se
poem on the death of Mrs. Killegrew is unrious satire. The picture of a man whose pro-doubtedly the noblest ode that our language pensions to mischief are such that his best actions are but inability of wickedness, is very a torrent of enthusiasm.
ever has produced. The first part flows with
Fervet immensusque skilfully delineated and strongly coloured :
ruit. All the stanzas indeed are not equal. Power was his aim; but, thrown from that pre- An imperial crown cannot be one continued tence,
diamond': the gems must be held together by The wretch turn'd loyal in his own defence, some less valuable matter. And malice reconcil'd him to his prince.
In his first “ Ode for Cecilia's Day,” which Him, in the anguish' of his soul, he served ;
is lost in the splendour of the second, there are Rewarded faster still than he deserved : Behold nim now exalted into trust;
passages which would have dignified any other His counsels oft convenient, seldom just;
poet. The first stanza is vigorous and elegant, E'en in the most sincere advice be gave,
though the word diapason is too technical, and He had a grudging still to be a kaave.
the rhymes are too remote from one another.
From harmony, from beavenly harmony,
This universal frame began;
When Nature underneath a heap of jarring atoma
lay; And rather would be great by wicked means.
And could not heave her head,
The tuneful voice was heard from high,
They cold and hot, and moist and dry,
In order to their stations leap,
From harmony, from heavenly ha.mony,
From harmony to harmony
Through all the compass of the notes it ran, lady whom he celebrates: the praise being The diapason closing full in man.
therefore inevitably general, fixes no impression The conclusion is likewise striking ; but it in- upon the reader, nor excites any tendency to cludes an image so awful in itself, that it can of the subject is to the poet what durable ma
love, nor much desire of imitation. Knowledge owe little to poetry: and I could wish the an
terials are to the architect. tithesis of music untuning had found some other place.
The “ Religio Laici,” which borrows its
title from the “ Religio Medici” of Browne, is As from the power of sacred lays
almost the only work of Dryden which can be The spheres began to move,
considered as a voluntary effusion; in this, And sung the great Creator's praise
therefore, it might be hoped, that the full effulTo all the bless'd above :
gence of his genius would be found. But un
happily the subject is rather argumentative So, when the last and dreadful hour This crumbling pageant shall devour,
than poetical ; he intended only a specimen of lhe trumpet shall be heard on high,
metrical disputation : The dead shall live, the living die, And music shall untune the sky.
And this vnpolish'd rugged verse I chose,
As fittest for discourse, and nearest prose Of his skill in elegy he has given a specimen in his Eleonora, of which the following lines
This, however, is a composition of great excel
lence in its kind, in which the familiar is very discover their Author:
properly diversified with the solemn, and the Though all these rare endowments of the mind grave with the humorous; in which metre has Were in a parrow space of life confined,
neither weakened the force, nor clouded the perThe figure was with full perfection crown'd, spicuity of argument; nor will it be easy to find Though not so large au orb, as truly round : another example equally happy of this middle As wheu in glory, through the public place,
kind of writing, which, though prosaic in some The spoils of conqner'd nations were to pass, And but one day for triumph was allow'd,
parts, rises to high poetry in others, and neiThe consul was constrain's his pomp to crowd ;
ther towers to the skies, nor creeps along the And so the swift procession hurry'd on,
ground. That all, though not distinctly, might be shown: Of the same kind, or pot far distant from it, So, in the straiten'd bounds of life confined
is “ The Hind and Panther," the longest of She gave but glimpses of her glorious mind;
all Dryden's original poems; an allegory inAnd multitudes of virtues pass'd along ;
tended to comprise and to decide the controversy Each pressing foremost in the mighty throng,
been the Romanists and Protestants. The Ambitious to be seen, and then make room For greater multitudes that were to come.
scheme of the work is injudicious and incomYet unemployed no minute slipp'd away;
modious; for what can be more absurd than Moments were precious in so short a stay.
that one beast should counsel another to rest her The haste of Heaven to have her was so great, faith upon a pope and council? He seems well That some were single acts, though each complete; enough skilled in the usual topics of argument, And every act stood ready to repeat.
endeavours to show the necessity of an infallible This piece, however, is not without its faults; judge, and reproaches the reformers with want there is so much likeness in the initial compari- of unity: but is weak enough to ask, wby,
since we see without knowing how, we may son, that there is no illustration. As a king would be lamented, Eleonora was lamented :
not have an infallible judge without knowing
where? As, when some great and gracious monarch dies,
The Hind at one time is afraid to drink at Soft whispers, first, and mournful murmurs, rise the common brook, because she may be worAmoug the sad attendants; then the sound ried; but walking home with the Panther, Soon gathers voice, and spreads the news around, talks by the way of the Nicene fathers, and at Through town and country, till the dreadful blast
last declares herself to be of the catholic church. Is blown to distant colonies at last,
This absurdity was very properly ridiculed in Who then, perhaps, were offering vows in vain
the “ City Mouse” and “ Country Mouse” of For his long life, and for his happy reign : So slowly, by degrees, unwilling Fame
Montague and Prior; and in the detection and Did matchless Eleonora's fate proclaim,
censure of the incongruity of the fiction chiefly Till public as the loss the news became.
consists the value of their performance, which,
whatever reputation it might obtain by the help This is little better than to say in praise of a of temporary passions, seems, to readers almost a shrub, that it is as green as a tree; or of a century distant, not very forcible or animated. brook, that it waters a garden, as a river waters Pope, whose judgment was perhaps a little a country.
bribed by the subject, used to mention this Dryden confesses that he did not know the poem as the most correct specimen of Dryden's
versification. It was indeed written when he For when the herd, sufficed, did late repair bad completely formed his manner, and may be
To ferney heaths and to their forest lair,
She made a mannerly excuse to stay, supposed to exhibit, negligence excepted, his de
Proffering the Hind to wait her half the way; liberate and ultimate scheme of metre.
That, since the sky was clear, an hour of talk We may therefore reasonably infer, that he Might help her to beguile the tedious walk. did not approve the perpetual uniformity which With much good will the motion was embraced, confines the sense to couplets, since he has To chat awhile on their adventures past: broken his lines in the init paragraph.
Nor had the grateful Hind so soon forgot
Her friend and fellow-sufferer in the plot. A milk-white Hind, immortal and unchanged Yet, wondering how of late she grew estranged, Fed on the lawns, and in the forest ranged :
Her forehead cloudy and her countnance changed, Without unspotted, innocent within
She thought this lour th' occasion would present She feared no danger, for she knew no sin.
To learn her secret cause of discontent, Yet bad she oft been chased with horns and hounds, which well she hoped might be with ease re. And Scythian shafts, and many-winged wounds
dress'd, Aim'd at her heart; was often forced to fly,
Considering her a well-bred civil beast, And doom'd to death, though fated not to die. And more a gentlewoman than the rest.
After some common talk what rumours ran, These lines are lofty, elegant, and musical, The lady of the spotted muff began. notwithstanding the interruption of the pause, of which the effect is rather increase of pleasure
The second and third parts he professes to by variety, than offence by ruggedness.
have reduced to diction more familiar and more To the first part it was his intention, he says, suitable to dispute and conversation ; the dif“ to give the majestic turn of heroic poesy:" ference is not, however, very easily perceived: and perhaps he might have executed his design the first has familiar, and the two others have not unsuccessfully, had not an opportunity of sonorous, lines. The original incongruity runs satire, which he cannot forbear, fallen some
through the whole; the King is now Cæsar, times in his way. The character of a presby- and now the Lion; and the name Pan is given terian, whose emblem is the Wolf, is not very
to the Supreme Being. heroically majestic:
But when this constitutional absurdity is for.
given, the poem must be confessed to be written More haughty than the rest, the wolfish race with smoothness of metre, a wide extent of Appear with belly gaunt and famish'd face ; knowledge, and an abundant multiplicity of Never was so deform'd a beast of grace.
images; the controversy is embellished with His ragged tail betwixt his legs he wears, Close clapp'd for shame ; but his rough crest he and enlivened by sallies of invective. Some of
pointed sentences, diversified by illustrations, rears,
the facts to which allusions are made are now And pricks up his predestinating ears.
become obscure, and perhaps there may be many His general character of the other sorts of satirical passages little understood. beasts that never go to church, though sprightly As it was by its nature a work of defiance, a and keen, has, however, not much of heroic composition which would naturally be examined poesy :
with the utmost acrimony of criticism, it was These are the chief; to number o'er the rest,
probably laboured with uncommon attention, And stand like Adam naming every beast,
and there are, indeed, few negligences in the Were weary-work ; nor will the Muse describe
subordinate parts. The original impropriety, A slimy.born, and sun-begotten tribe,
and the subsequent unpopularity of the subject, Who, far from steeples and their sacred sound, added to the ridiculousness of its first elements, In fields their sullen conventicles found.
has sunk it into neglect; but it may be usefully These gross, half-animated lumps I leave;
studied, as an example of poetical ratiocination, Nor can I think what thoughts they can conceive;
in which the argument suffers little from the But, if they think at all, 'tis sure no bigher
« On the Birth of the Prince of So drossy, so divisible are they,
Wales,” nothing is very remarkable but the exAs would but serve pure bodies for allay;
orbitant adulation and that insensibility of the Such souls as shards produce, such beetle things precipice on which the King was then standing, As only buz to Heaven with evening wings ;
which the Laureate apparently shared with the Strike in the dark, offending but by chance :
rest of the courtiers. A few months cured him Such are the blindfold blows of ignorance. They kocw po being, and but hate a name;
of controversy, dismissed him from court, and To them the Hind and Panther are the same.
made him again a play-wright and translator.
Of Juvenal there had been a translation by One more instance, and that taken from the Stapylton, and another by Holiday; neither of narrative part, where style was more in his them is very poetical. Stapylton is more smooth; choice, will show how steadily he kept his reso- and Holiday's is more esteemed for the learnlution of heroic dignitv.
ing of his notes. A new version was permond
to the poets of that time, and undertaken by parts. The arguments of the several books them in conjunction. The main design was were given him by Addison. conducted by Dryden, whose reputation was The hopes of the public were not disappointsuch that no man was unwilling to serve the ed. He produced, says Pope, “ the most noMuses under him.
ble and spirited translation that I know in any The general character of this translation will language.” It certainly excelled whatever had be given, when it is said to preserve the wit, but appeared in English, and appears to have satisto want the dignity of the original. The pecu- fied his friends, and for the most part to have liarity of Juvenal is a mixture of gayety and silenced his enemies. Milbourne, indeed, a stateliness, of pointed sentences, and declama- clergyman, attacked it; but his outrages seem tory grandeur. His points have not been ne- to be the ebullitions of a mind agitated by a glected; but his grandeur none of the band stronger reser tment than bad poetry can excite, seemed to consider as necessary to be imitated, and previously resolved not to be pleased. except Creech, who undertook the thirteenth His criticism extends only to the Preface, satire. It is therefore, perhaps, possible to give Pastorals, and Georgics; and, as he professes to a better representation of that great satirist, give his antagonist an opportunity of reprisal, even in those parts which Dryden himself has he has added his own version of the first and translated, some passages excepted, which will fourth Pastorals, and the first Georgic. The never be excelled.
world has forgotten his book; but since bis atWith Juvenal was published Persius, tran- ' tempt has given him a place in literary history, slated wholly by Dryden. This work, though,, I will preserve a specimen of his criticism, by like all other productions of Dryden, it may inserting his reinarks on the invocation before have shining parts, seems to have been written the first Georgic; and of his poetry, by annexmerely for wages, in a uniform mediocrity, ing his own version. without any eager endeavour after excellence, or laborious effort of the mind.
Ver. 1. There wanders an opinion among the readers
“ What makes a plepteous harvest, when to turn
The fruitful soil, and when to sow the corn. of poetry, that one of these satires is an exercise of the school. Dryden says, that he once tran- It's unlucky, they say, to stumble at the threshold; slated it at school; but not that he preserved or
but what has a plenteous harvest to do here? published the juvenile performance.
Virgil would not pretend to prescribe rules for Not long afterwards he undertook perhaps that which depends not on the husbandman's the most arduous work of its kind, a translation care, but the disposition of Heaven altogether. of Virgil, for which he had shown how well he Indeed, the plenteous crop depends somewhat on was qualified by his version of the Pollio, and the good method of tillage ; and where the land's two episodes, one of Nisus and Euryalus, the ill-manured, the corn, without a miracle, can be other of Mezentius and Lausus.
but indifferent : but the harvest may be good, In the comparison of Homer and Virgil, the which is its properest epithet, though the husdiscriminative excellence of Homer is elevation bandman's skill were never so indifferent. The and comprehension of thought, and that of Vir- next sentence is too literal, and when to plough had gil is grace and splendour of diction. The been Virgil's meaning, and intelligible to every beauties of Homer are therefore difficult to be body; and when to sow the corn is a needless lost, and those of Virgil difficult to be retained. addition." The massy trunk of sentiment is safe by its
Ver. 3. solidity, but the blossoms of elocution easily drop away. The author, having the choice of “ The care of sheep, of oxen, and of kine, his own images, selects those which he can best And when to geld the lambs, and shear the swine, adorn; the translator must, at all hazards, fol- would as well have fallen under the cura boum low his original, and express thoughts which qui cultus habendo sit pecori, as Mr. D.'s deducperhaps he would not have chosen. When to tion of particulars. this primary difficulty is added the inconvenience of a language so much inferior in harmony to
Ver. 5. the Latin, it cannot be expected that they who “ The birth and genius of the frugal bee
I sing, Mæcenas and I sing to thee. read the “ Georgics” and the “ Æneid” should be much delighted with any version.
But where did experientia ever signify birth and All these obstacles Dryden saw, and all these genius ? or what ground was there for such a he determined to encounter. The expectation figure in this place? How much more manly of his work was undoubtedly great; the nation is Mr. Ogylby's version!" considered its honour as interested in the event. One gave him the different editions of his au- “ What makes rich grounds, in what celestial rigos thor, another helped him in the subordinate 'Tis good to plough, and marry elms with viner ;
What best fits cattle, what with sheep agrees,
Ver. 47, 48. " Where in the void of heaven a place is free, Ah, happy D n, were that place for thee.
way so fast."
Which four lines, though faulty enough, are But where is that void? Or, what does our yet much more to the purpose than Mr. D.'s transator mean by it? He knows what Ovid
says God did to prevent such a void in heaven;
perhaps this was then forgotten; but Virgil Ver. 22. “ From fields and mountain to my song repair,
talks more sensibly.”
Ver. 49. For patrium linquens nenus, saltusque Lycoin
• The scorpion ready to receive thy law? Very well explained !” Ver. 23, 24.
No, he would not then have gotten out of his “ Inventor Pallas, of the fattening oil, Thou founder of the plough, and ploughman's toil!
What made her then so angry with Ascalaphus,
for preventing her return? She was now mus'd -The shroud-like cypress
to Patience under the determinations of Fate,
rather than fond of her residence." Why shroud-like ? Is a cypress, pulled up by the roots, which the sculpture in the last Eclogue
Ver. 61, 62, 63. fills Silvanus's hand with, so very like a shroud? Pity the poet's and the ploughman's cares, Or did not Mr. D. think of that kind of cypress
Interest thy greatness in our mean affairs, us'd often for scarves and hatbands at funerals
And use thyself botinues to hear our prayers. formerly, or for widows' veils, &c. ? if so, 'twas a deep, good thought.”
Which is such a wretched perversion of Virgil's
noble thought as Vicars would have blush'd at: Ver. 26.
but Mr. Ogylby makes us some amends by his -That wear
better lines: The royal honours and increase the year.
O wheresoe'er thou art, from thence incline, What's meant by increasing the year? Did the And grant assistance to my bold design; gods or goddesses add more months, or days, or
Pity, with me, poor husbandmen's affairs, hours, to it? Or how can arva tueri signify to
And now, as if translated, hear our prayers. wear rural honours ? Is this to translate, or abuse, an author ? The next couplet is borrowed from This is sense, and to the purpose: the other, poor Ogylby, I suppose, because less to the purpose
mistaken stuff.” than ordinary."
Such were the strictures of Milbourne, who Ver. 33.
found few abettors, and of whom it may be rea* 72 patron of the world, and Rome's peculiar sonably imagined, that many who favoured his guard.
design were ashamed of his insolence.
When admiration had subsided, the translaIdle, and none of Virgil's, no more than the sense tion was more coolly examined, and found, like of the precedent couplet ; so again, he interpolates all others, to be sometimes erroneous, and someVirgil with that and the round circle of the year times licentious. Those who could find faults, to guide powerful of blessings, which thou strew'st thought they could avoid them; and Dr. Brady around; a ridiculous Latinism, and an imperti- atteinpted in blank verse a translation of the nent addition ; indeed the whole period is but
“ Æneid,” which, when dragged into the world, one piece of absurdity and nonsense, as those who did not live long enough to cry. I have never lay it with the original must find.”
seen it; but that such a version there is, er
has been, perhaps some old catalogue informed Ver. 42, 43. “ And Neptune shall resign the fasces of the sea.
With not much better success, Trapp, when
his Tragedy and his Prelections had given him Was he consul or dictator there?
reputation, attempted another blank version of
the “ Æneid ;" to which, notwithstanding the And watery virgins for thy bed shall strive.
slight regard with which it was treated, he had Both absurd interpolations.”
afterwards perseverance enough to add the