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“ That is, they shall mount above like falling | Who have their tribute sent, and homage given, stars, or else they shall skip like two Jacks with As men in whispers send loud noise to heaven. lanthorns, or Will with a wisp, and Madge with a candle.”
“ Thus I have daubed him with his own pud“ And in the airy walk steal into their cruel fa- dle: and now we are come from aboard his thers' breasts, like subtle guests. So, that their fa- dancing, masking, rebounding, breathing fleet : thers' breasts must be in an airy walk, an airy and, as if we had landed' at Gotham, we meet walk of a flier. And there they will read their nothing but fools and nonsense. souls, and track the spheres of their passions. That
Such was the criticism to which the genius of is
, these walking diers, Jack with a lanthorn, Dryden could be reduced, between rage and ter&c. will put on his spectacles, and fall a reading ror; rage with little provocation, and terror souls ; and put on his pumps, and fall a track with little danger. To see the highest mind ing of spheres : so that he will read and run,
thus levelled with the meanest, may produce walk and fly, at the same time! Oh! nimble some solace to the consciousness of weakness, Jack! Then he will see, how revenge here, how and some mortification to the pride of wisdom. ambition there–The birds will hop about. And But let it be remembered that minds are not then view the dark characters of sieges, ruins, mur- levelled in their powers but when they are first ders, blood, and wars, in their orbs: track the cha- levelled in their desires. Dryden and Settle racters to their forms! Oh! rare sport for Jack! had both placed their happiness in the claps of Never was place so full of game as these breasts ! multitudes. You cannot stir, but flush a sphere, start a cha- “ An Evening's Love, or the Mock astroloracter, or unkennel an orb!”
ger,” a comedy (1671,) is dedicated to the illus Settle's is said to have been the first play em
trious Duke of Newcastle, whom he courts by bellished with sculptures; those ornaments seem adding to his praises those of his lady, not only to have given poor Dryden great disturbance. as a lover but a partner of his studies. It is He tries however to ease his pain by venting unpleasing to think how many names, once cehis malice in a parody,
lebrated, are since forgotten. Of Newcastle's“ The poet has not only been so imprudent works nothing is now known but his Treatise to expose all this stuff, but so arrogant to defend
on Horsemanship. it with an epistle; like a saucy booth-keeper,
The preface seems very elaborately written, that, when he had put a cheat upon the peo- and contains many just remarks on the fathers ple, would wrangle and fight with any that of the English drama. Shakspeare's plots, he would not like it, or would offer to discover it; says, are in the hundred novels of Cinthio; for which arrogance our poet receives this cor
those of Beaumont and Fletcher in Spanish rection; and, to jerk him a little the sharper, I stories ; Jonson only made them for himself. will not transpose his verse, but by the help of His criticisms upon tragedy, comedy, and farce, his own words transnonsense sense, that by my are judicious and profound. He endeavours to stuff, people may judge the better what his is : defend the immorality of some of his comedies
by the example of former writers; which is Great Boy, thy tragedy and sculptures done, only to say that he was not the first, nor perhaps From
press and plates, in fleets do homeward run; the greatest offender. Against those that acAnd, in ridiculous and humble pride,
cused him of plagiarism he alleges a favourable Their course in ballad-singers' baskets guide,
expression of the King : “ He only desired that Whose greasy twigs do all new beauties take, From the gay shows thy dainty sculptures make.
they, who accuse me of thefts, would steal him Thy lines a mess of rhyming nonsense yield,
plays like mine;" and then relates how much A senseless tale, with flattering fustian fill’d.
labour he spends in fitting for the English stage No grain of sense does in one line appear,
what he borrows from others. Thy words big bulks of boisterous bombast bear. “ Tyrannic Love, or the Virgin Martyr" With noise they move, and from players' mouths (1672) was another tragedy in rhyme, conspirebound,
cuous for many passages of strength and eleWhen their tongues dance to thy words' empty sound,
gance, and many of empty noise and ridiculous By thee inspir'd the rumbling verses roll,
turbulence. The rants of Maximin have been As if that rhyme and bombast lent a soul ;
always the sport of criticism; and were at And with that soul they seem taught duty too;
length, if his own confession may be trusted, To huffing words does humble nonsense bow,
the shame of the writer. As if it would thy worthless worth enhance,
Of this play he has taken care to let the readTo th' lowest rank of fops thy praise advance, er know, that it was contrived and written in To whom, by instinct, all thy stuff is dear:
seven weeks. Want of time was often his exTheir loud claps echo to the theatre.. From breaths of fools thy commendation spreads,
cuse, or perhaps shortness of time was his priFame sings thy praise with mouths of logger-heads. vate boast in the form of an apology. With noise and laughing each thy fustian greets,
It was written before “ The Conquest of Gra'Tis clapt by choirs of empty-headed cits,
nada," but published after it. The design is to
recommend piety. " I considered that pleasure your writings are like a Jack-of-all-trades’ shop; was not the only end of poesy; and that even they have a variety, but nothing of value; and the instructions of morality were not so wholly if thou art not the dullest plant-animal that ever the business of a poet, as that the precepts and the earth produced, all that I have conversed examples of piety were to be omitted; for to with are strangely mistaken in thee.” leave that employment altogether to the clergy, In the second he tells him that Almanzor is were to forget that religion was first taught in not more copied from Achilles than from anverse, which the laziness or dulness of succeed- cient Pistol. “ But I am," says he, “ strangeing priesthood turned afterwards into prose.” ly mistaken if I have not seen this very AlmanThus foolishly could Dryden write, rather than zor of yours in some disguise about this town, not show his malice to the parsons.
and passing under another name. Pr’ythee tell The two parts of “ The Conquest of Grana- me true, was not this huffcap once the Inda" (1672) are written with a seeming determi- dian Emperor ? and at another time did he not nation to glut the public with dramatic wonders, call himself Maximin? Was not Lyndaraxa to exhibit in its highest elevation a theatrical once called Almeria ? I mean, under Montezumeteor of incredible love and impossible valour, ma, the Indian Emperor. I protest and vow and to leave no room for a wilder flight to the they are either the same, or so alike, that I canextravagance of posterity. All the rays of ro- not, for my heart, distinguish one from the mantic heat, whether amorous or warlike, glow other. You are therefore a strange unconsciin Almanzor by a kind of concentration. He is onable thief; thou art not content to steal from above all laws; he is exempt from all restraints; others, but dost rob thy poor wretched self he ranges the world at will, and governs wher- too." cver he appears. He fights without inquiring
Now was Settle's time to take his revenge. the cause, and loves in spite of the obligations of He wrote a vindication of his own lines ; and, justice, of rejection by his mistress, and of pro- if he is forced to yield any thing, makes his rehibition from the dead. Yet the scenes are, for prisals upon his enemy. To say that his answer the most part, delightful; they exhibit a kind of is equal to the censure, is no high commendaillustrious depravity, and majestic madness, such tion. To expose Dryden's method of analyzing as, if it is sometimes despised, is often reverenced, his expressions, he tries the same experiment and in which the ridiculous is mingled with the upon the same description of the ships in “ The astonishing.
Indian Emperor,” of which however he does In the epilogue to the second part of “ The not deny the excellence; but intends to show, Conquest of Granada,” Dryden indulges his fa- that by studied misconstruction every thing may vourite pleasure of discrediting his predecessors; be equally represented as ridiculous.
After so and this epilogue he has defended by a long post- much of Dryden’s elegant animadversions, justice script. He had promised a second dialogue, in requires that something of Settle’s should be exwhich he should more fully treat of the virtues hibited. The following observations are thereand faults of the English poets, who have writ- fore extracted from a quarto pamphlet of ninetyten in the dramatic, epic, or lyric way.
This five pages : promise was never formally performed; but, with respect to the dramatic writers, he has
“ Fate after him below with pain did move, given us in his prefaces, and in this postscript,
And victory could scarce keep pace above. some ing equivalent; but his purpose being to exalt himself by the comparison, he shows faults “ These two lines, if he can show me any sense: distinctly, and only praises excellence in general or thought in, or any thing but bombast and! termg.
noise, he shall make me believe every word in A play thus written, in professed defiance of his observations on · Morocco' sense.' probability, naturally drew upon itself the vul- “ In the · Empress of Morocco' were these tures of the theatre. One of the critics that at- lines : tacked it was Martin Clifford, to whom Sprat addressed the Life of Cowley, with such vene- I'll travel then to some remoter sphere, ration of his critical powers as might naturally Till I find out new worlds, and crown you there." excite great expectations of instruction from his remarks. But let honest credulity beware of On which Dryden made this remark: receiving characters from contemporary writers. “ I believe our learned author takes a sphere Clifford's remarks, by the favour of Dr. Percy, for country; the sphere of Morocco; as if Mowere at last obtained ; and, that no man may rocco were the globe of earth and water; but a ever want them more, I will extract enough to globe is no sphere neither, by his leave," &c. satisfy all reasonable desire.
“ So sphere must not be sense, unless it relates to In the first letter his observation is only a circular motion about a globe, in which sense general : “ You do live,” says he, “in as much the astronomers use it. I would desire him to ignorance and darkness as you did in the womb; expound those lines in Granada :
iu to the turrets of the palace go:
6'Twould have done well too if he could hav And add new fire to those that fight below.
met with a rant or two, worth the observation : Thence, hero-like, with torches by my side, (Far be the omen though) my love I'll guide. No, like his better fortune l'll appear,
Move swiftly, Sun, and fly a lover's pace; With open arms, loose veil, and flowing hair, Leave months and weeks behind thee in thy race. Just flying forward from my rolling sphere. I wonder if he be so strict, how he dares make
“ But surely the sun, whether he flies a lover' so bold with the sphere himself, and to be so cri- or not a lover's pace, leaves weeks and months tical in other men's writings.
Fortune is nay years too behind him in his race. fancied standing on a globe, not on a sphere, as he
“ Poor Robin, or any other of the philo-matold us in the first act.
thematics, would have given him satisfaction in “ Because • Elkanah's Similes are the most
the point. unlike things to what they are compared in the
If I could kill thee now, thy fate's so low, world,” I'll venture to start a simile in his
That I must stoop, ere I can give the blow. • Annus Mirabilis :' he gives this poetical des- But mine is fixed so far above thy crown, cription of the ship called The London :
That all thy men,
Piled on thy back,can never pull it down.
“ Now where that is, Almanzor's fate is fixe Like a rich bride does on the ocean swim,
ed, I cannot guess : but, wherever it is, I beAnd on her shadow rides in floating gold.
lieve Almanzor, and think that all Abdalla's Her flag aloft spread ruffiing in the wind, And sanguine streamers seem'd the flood to fire : subjects, piled upon one another, might not pull The weaver, charm'd with what his loom design’d, down his fate so well as without piling; besides, Goes on to sea, and knows not to retire.
I think Abdalla so wise a man, that if AlmanWith roomy decks her guns of mighty strength, zor had told him that piling his men upon his Whose low-laid moutbs each mounting billow laves, back might do the feat, he would scarcely bear Deep in her draught, and warlike in ber length,
such a weight, for the pleasure of the exploit ; She seems a sea-wasp flying in the waves.
but it is a huff, and let Abdalla do it if he dares What a wonderful pother is here, to make all these poetical beautifications of a ship ; that is, a phe- The people like a headlong torrent go, nir in the first stanza, and but a wasp in the last; And every dam they break or overflow. nay, to make his humble comparison of a wasp But, unopposed, they either lose their force,
Or wind in volumes to their former course. more ridiculous, he does not say it flies upon the waves as nimbly as a wasp, or the like, but it A very pretty allusion, contrary to all sense or seemed a wasp. But our author at the writing
Torrents, I take it, let them wind of this was not in his altitudes, to compare
never so much, can never return to their former ships to .floating palaces : a comparison to the purpose was a perfection he did not arrive to till course, unless he can suppose that fountains can the Indian Emperor's days. But perhaps his si- go upwards, which is impossible ; nay more, in
the foregoing page he tells us so too ; a trick of militude has more in it than we imagine ; this
a very unfaithful memory. ship had a great many guns in her, and they, put all together, made the sting in the wasp's Butcan no more than fountains upward flow. tail ; for this is all the reason I can guess, why Which of a torrent, which signifies a rapid stream, it seemed a wasp.
But because we will allow him all we can to help out, let it be a phoenix sea
is much more impossible. Besides, if he goes to wasp, and the rarity of such an animal may do quibble, and say, that it is possible by art water
may be made return, and the same water run much towards heightening the fancy. “ It had been much more to his
twice in one and the same channel ; then he bad designed to render the senseless play little, quite confutes what he says : for it is by being to have searched for some such pedantry as this opposed, that it runs into its former course ; for
all engines that make water so return, do it by Two ifs scarce make one possibility.
compulsion and opposition. Or, if he means a If justice will take all, and nothing give,
headlong torrent for a tide, which would be riJustice, methinks, is not distributive.
diculous, yet they do not wind in volumes but To die or kill you is the alternative.
come fore-right back (if their upright lies Rather than take your life, I will not live.
straight to their former course), and that by opObserve how prettily our author chops logic position of the sea-water, that drives them back in heroic verse. Three such fustian canting again. words as distributive, alternative, and two ifs, no “ And for fancy, when he lights of any thing man but himself would have come within the like it, 'tis a wonder if it be not borrowed. As noise of. But he's a man of general learning here, for example of, I find this fanciful thought and all comes into his play.
in his · Ann. Mirab,'
purpose, if he
Gld father Thames rais'd up his reverend head: | the third act is a masterpiece." It is introduced But fear'd the fate of Simoeis would return; by a discourse on “ the Grounds of Criticism in Deep in his ooze he sought his sedgy bed;
Tragedy,” to which I suspect that Rymer's And shrunk his waters back into his urn.
book had given occasion. This is stolen from Cowley's. Davideis,' p. 9.
“ The Spanish Friar" (1681) is a tragi-comedy,
eminent for the happy coincidence and coalition Swift Jordan started, and straight backward fled,
of the two plots. As it was written against the Hiding amongst thick reeds his aged head.
papists, it would naturally at that time have And when the Spaniards their assault begin,
friends and enemies; and partly by the populaAt once beat those without and those within.
rity which it obtained at first, and partly by the “ This Almanzor speaks of himself; and sure real power both of the serious and risible part, for one man to conquer an army within the city, it continued long a favourite of the public. and another without the city, at once, is some- It was Dryden's opinion, at least for some thing difficult : but this flight is pardonable to time, and he maintains it in the dedication of some we meet with in • Granada ;' Osmin, this play, that the drama required an alternaspeaking of 'Almanzor,
tion of comic and tragic scenes; and that it is Who, like a tempest that outrides the wind, necessary to mitigate by alleviations of merriMade a just battle, ere the bodies join'd.
ment the pressure of ponderous events, and the Pray, what does this honourable perso
fatigue of toilsome passions. “ Whoever,” says by a tempest that outrides the wind ! a tempest writer for the stage.
he, cannot perform both parts is but half a that outrides itself? To suppose a tempest without wind, is as bad as supposing a man to walk
“ The Duke of Guise," a tragedy (1683) without feet; for if he supposes the tempest to had been before, seems to deserve notice only
written in conjunction with Lee, as “ Oedipus” be something distinct from the wind, yet, as being the effect of wind only, to come before the for the offence which it gave to the remnant of cause is a little preposterous ; so that if he takes the covenanters, and in general to the enemies
of the court who attacked him with great vioit one way, or if he takes it the other, those two ifs will scarcely make one possibility.' Enough
lence, and were answered by him; though at of Settle.
last he seems to withdraw from the conflict, by “ Marriage a-la-mode” (1678) is a comedy transferring the greater part of the blame or dedicated to the Earl of Rochester ; whom he merit to his partner. It happened that a conacknowledges not only as the defender of his tract had been made between them, by which poetry, but the promoter of his fortune. Lang- they were to join in writing a play: and “he baine places this play in 1673. The Earl of happened,” says Dryden, “ to claim the promise Rochester, therefore, was the famous Wilmot, just upon the finishing of a poem, when I would whom yet tradition always represents as an
have been glad of a little respite.—Two-thirds enemy to Dryden, and who is mentioned by him of it belonged to him; and to me only the first with some disrespect in the preface to Juvenal.'
scene of the play, the whole fourth act, and the « The Assignation, or Love in a Nunnery,'
first half, or somewhat more, of the fifth.” a comedy (1673) was driven off the stage, against
This was a play written professedly for the the opinion, as the Author says, of the best judges. party of the Duke of York, whose succession It is dedicated in a very elegant address to Sir
was then opposed. A parallel is intended beCharles Sedley ; in which he finds an oppor- of England : and this intention produced the
tween the leaguers of France and the covenanters tunity for his usual complaint of hard treatment and unreasonable censure.
controversy. “ Amboyna” (1673) is a tissue of mingled đia- drama or opera, written, like “ The Duke of
“ Albion and Albanius" (1685) is a musical logue in verse and prose, and was perhaps written in less time than “ 'The Virgin Martyr;" Guise,”. against the republicans. With what though the Author thought not fit, either osten
success it was performed, I have not found. *
“ The State of Innocence and Fall of Man” tatiously or mournfully, to tell how little labour it cost him, or at how short a warning he pro- (1675) is termed by him an opera : it is rather duced it. It was a temporary performance,
a tragedy in heroic rhyme, but of which the written in the time of the Dutch war, to in- personages are such as cannot decently be exflame the nation against their enemies; to whom
hibited on the stage. Some such production he hopes, as he declares in his epilogue, to make
was foreseen by Marvel, who writes thus to
Milton : his poetry not less destructive than that by which Tyrtæus of old animated the Spartans. This play was written in the second Dutch
* Downes says, it was performed on a very unwar, in 1673.
lucky day; viz. that on which the Duke of. Monmouth • Troilus and Cressida" (1679) is a play sternation into which the kingdom was thrown by
landed in the west: and he intimates, that the conaltered from Shakspeare; but so altered, that, this event was a reason why it was performed but sir even in Langbaine's opinion, “the last scene in times and was in general ill received.-H.
“ Or if a work so infinite be spaun'd,
as, he says, happened to him when he told it Jealous I was lest some less skilful hand
more plainly in his preface to 6 Juvenal." (Such as disquiet always what is well,
“ The design,” says he, “ you know is great, And by ill-imitating would excel,)
the story English, and neither too near the preMight hence presume the whole creation's day
sent times, nor too distant from them.” To change in scenes, and show it in a play."
“ All for Love, or the World well Lost,” It is another of his hasty productions : for the (1678) a tragedy founded upon the story of Anheat of his imagination raised it in a month.
tony and Cleopatra, he tells us, “ is the only This composition is addressed to the Princess play which he wrote for himself:” the rest of Modena, then Dutchess of York, in a strain were given to the people. It is by universal of flattery which disgraces genius, and which it consent accounted the work in which he has adwas wonderful that any man that knew the mitted the fewest improprieties of style or chameaning of his own words could use without racter; but it has one fault equal to many, self-detestation. It is an attempt to mingle though rather moral than critical, that, by adearth and heaven, by praising human excellence mitting the romantic omnipotence of Love, he in the language of religion.
has recommended, as laudable and worthy of The preface contains an apology for heroic imitation, that conduct wbich, through all ages, verse and poetic license; by which is meant not the good have censured as vicious, and the bad any liberty taken in contracting or extending despised as foolish. words, but the use of bold fictions and ambitious
Of this play the prologue and the epilogue, figures.
though written upon the common topics of maThe reason which he gives for printing what licious and ignorant criticisms, and without any was never acted cannot be overpassed : “ I was particular relation to the characters or incidents induced to it in my own defence, many hundred of the drama, are deservedly celebrated for their .copies of it being dispersed abroad without my elegance and sprightliness. knowledge or consent; and every one gathering “ Limberham, or the kind Keeper,” (1680) is new faults, it became at length a libel against a comedy, which, after the third night, was pro
These copies, as they gathered faults, hibited as too indecent for the stage. What were apparently manuscript, and he lived in an gave offence was in the printing, as the Author age very unlike ours, if many hundred copies says, altered or omitted. Dryden confesses that of fourteen hundred lines were likely to be its indecency was objected to; but Langbaine, transcribed. An author has a right to print who yet seldom favours him, imputes its expulhis own works, and need not seek an apology sion to resentment, because it “ so much exposed in falsehood; but he that could bear to write the keeping part of the town, the dedication felt no pain in writing the pre- “ Oedipus” (1679) is a tragedy formed by face.
Dryden and Lee, in conjunction, from the works “ Aureng Zebe” (1676) is a tragedy founded of Sophocles, Seneca, and Corneille. Dryden on the actions of a great prince then reigning, planned the scenes, and composed the first and but over nations not likely to employ their cri- third acts. tics upon the transactions of the English stage. “ Don Sebastian” (1690) is commonly esteemed If he had known and disliked his own character, either the first or second of his dramatic perour trade was not in those times secure from his formances. It is too long to be all acted, and has resentment. His country is at such a distance, many characters and many incidents : and that the manners might be safely falsified, and though it is not without sallies of frantic digthe incidents feigned : for the remoteness of nity, and more noise than meaning, yet, as it place is remarked, by Racine, to afford the same makes approaches to the possibilities of real life, conyeniences to a poet as length of time. and has some sentiments which leave a strong
This play is written in rhyme, and has the impression, it continued long to attract attenappearance of being the most elaborate of all the tion. Amidst the distresses of princes, and the dramas. The personages are imperial ; but the vicissitudes of empire, are inserted several scenes dialogue is often domestic, and therefore suscep- which the writer intended for comic; but which, tibie of sentiments accommodated to familiar in- I suppose, that age did not much commend, and cidents. The complaint of life is celebrated; this would not endure. There are, however, and there are many other passages that may be passages of excellence universally acknowledged; read with pleasure.
the dispute and the reconciliation of Dorax and This play is addressed to the Earl of Mul- Sebastian has always been admired. grave, afterwards Duke of Buckingham, him- This play was first acted in 1690, after Dryself, if not a poet, yet a writer of verses, and a den had for some years discontinued dramatio critic. In this address Dryden gave the first poetry. hints of his intention to write an epic poem. He “ Amphytrion” is a comedy derived from mentions his design in terms so obscure, that he Plautus and Moliere. The dedication is dated seems afraid lest his plan should be purloined, Oct. 1690. This play seems to have succeeded