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Dryden sometimes puts the weak rhymes in the first:
Laugh, all the povers that favour tyranty,
And all the standing army of the sky, Sometimes he concludes a period or paragraph with the first line of a coupict, which, though the French seem to do it without irregularity, always displeases in English poetry.
The Alexandrine, though much his favourite, is not always very diligently fabricated by him. It invariably acquires a break at the sixth syllable ; a rule which the modern French poets never violate, but which Dryden sometimes neglected :
And with paternal thunder vindicates his throne. Of Dryden's works it was said by Pope, that “ he could select from them “ better specimens of every mode of poetry than any other English writer “ could supply.” Perhaps no nation ever produced a writer tbat enriched his language with such variety of models. To him we owe the the improvement, perbaps the completion of our 'metre, the refinement of our language, and much of the correctness of our sentiments. By him we were taught pere & fari,” to think naturally and express forcibly. Though Davis has reasoned in rhyme before him, it may be perhaps maintained that he was the first who joined argument with poetry. He shewed us the true bounds of a translator's liberty. What was said of Rome, adorned by Augustus, may be applied by an easy metaphor to English poetry embellished by Dryden, “ late“ritiam invenit, marmoream reliquit.” He foundit brick, and he leftit marble,
THE invocation before the Georgicks is here inserted from Mr. Milbourne's version, that, according to his own proposal, his verses may be compared with those which he censures.
What makes the richest tilih, beneath what signs
Whose snowy heifers on her flow'ry plains
And thou, great Cæsar ! though we know not yet
Mr. DRYDEN, having received from Rymer bis Remarks on the Trage dies of the last Age, wrote observations on the blank leaves; which, having been in the possession of Mr. Garrick, are by his favour communicated to the publick, that no particle of Dryden may be lost.
“ That we may the less wonder why pity and terror are not now the only < springs on which our tragedies move, and that Shakspeare may be more ex" cused, Rapin confes: es that the French tragedies now all rụn on the tendre, “ and gives the reason, because love is the passion which most predominates in “our souls, and that therefore the passions represented become insipid, unless “ they are conformable to the thoughts of the audience. But it is to be “ concluded, that this passion works not now amongst the French so strongly “ as tlie other two did amongst the ancients. Amongst us, who have a "stronger genius for writing, the operations from the writing are much
stronger: for the raising of Shakspeare's passions is more from theexcellency .of the words and thoughts, than the justness of the occasion ; and, if he " has been able to pick single occasions, he has never founded the whole rea“ sonably:' yet, by the genius of poctry in writing, he has succeeded.
" Rapin attributes more to the dictio, that is to the words and discourse of
a tragedy, than Aristotle has done, who places them in the last rank of beaus ties; perhaps, only last in order, because they are the last product of the “ design, of the disposition or connection of its parts; of the characters, of " the manners of those characters, and of the thoughts proceeding from the « manners. Rapin's words are remarkable: 'Tis not the admirable intrigue, “the surprising events, and extraordinary incidents, that make the beauty of ^ a tragedy; 'tis the discourses, when they are natural and passionate : so fi are Shakspeare's.
“ The parts of a poem, tragick or heroick, are,
“ 2. The order or example of its contrivance, in relation of the parts to the fé'whole.
“3. The manners, or decency, of the characters, in speaking or acting
“ In the last of these, Homer excels Virgil; Virgil all other ancient pocks ; " and Shakspeare all modern poets.
“ For the second of these, the order : the meaning is, that a fable ought “ to have a beginning, middle, and an end, all just and natural; so that that
part, e.g. which is the middle, could not naturally be the beginning or end, " and so of the rest: all depend on one another, like the links of a curious, " chain. If terror and pity are only to be raised, certainly this author fol« lovs Aristotle's rules, and Sophocles and Euripides's example: but joy
"may be raised too, and that doubly; either by seeing a wicked man punished, * or a good man at last fortunate; or perhaps indignation, to see wickedness " prosperous, and goodness depressed: both these may be profitable to the end " of a tragedy, reformation of manners; but the last improperly, only as it " begets pity in the audience: though Aristotle, I confess, places tragedies of
this kind in the second form.
« He who undertakes to answer this excellent critique of Mr. Rymer, in bear “ half of our English poets against the Greek, ought to do it in this manner. “Either by yielding to him the greatest part of what he contends for, which “consists in this, that the púbos, i. e. the design and conduct of it, is more
conducing in the Greeks to those ends of tragedy, which Aristotle and he “propose, namely, to cause terror and pity : yet the granting this does not “ set the Greek above the English poets.
." But the answerer ought to prove two things : first, that the fable is not " the greatest master-piece of a tragedy, though it be the foundation of it.
“ Secondly, That other ends as suitable to the nature of tragedy may be " found in the English, which were not in the Greek,
" Aristotle places the fable first; not quoad dignitatem, sed quoad fundamenf" fum : for a fable, ever so movingly contrived to those ends of his, pity and
terror, will operate nothing on our affections, except the characters, manners, thoughts, and words, are suitable. “So that it remains for Mr. Rymer to prove, that in all those, or the greatest part of them, we are inferior to Sophocles and Euripides : and this
he has offered at, in some measure ; but, I think, a little partially to the sancients.
“For the fable itself, 'tis in the English more adorned with Episodes, and “ larger than in the Greek poets; consequently more diverting. For, “if the action be but one, and that plain, without any counterturn of " design or episode, i. e. under plot, how can it be so pleasing as the English, "which have both under-plot and a turned design, which keeps the audience "inexpectation of the catastrophe? whereas in the Greek poets we see through " the whole design at first,
"For the characters, they are neither so many nor so various in Sophocles " and Euripides, as in Shakspeare and Fletcher; only they are more adapted " to those ends of tragedy with Aristotle commends to us, pity and terror.
“The manners flow from the characters, and consequently must partake fh of their advantages and disadvantages.
"The thoughts and words, which are the fourth and fifth beauties of tragedy, are certainly more noble and more poetical in the English than in the " Greek, which must be proved by comparing them, somewhat more cquita" bly than Mr Rymer has done,
"5 After all, we need not yield that the English way is not less conducing to “move pity and terror, because they often shew virtue oppressed and vice pu“ nished; where they do not both, or either, they are not to be defended.
“. And if we should grant that the Greeks performed this better, perhaps it
may admit of dispute, whether pity and terror are either the prime, or at “ least the only end of tragedy.
“ 'Tis not enough that Aristotle has said so; for Aristotle drew his models “ of tragedy from Sophocles and Euripides; and, if he had seen ours, might “ bave changed his mind. And chiefly we have to say (what I hinted on pity " and terror, in the last paragraph save one), that the punishment of vice and “reward of virtue are the inost adequate ends of tragedy, because most condu“cing to good example of life. Now, pity is not so easily raised for a criminal
(and the ancient tragedy always represents its chief person such,) as it is for
an innocent man; and the suffering of 'innocence and punishment of the of“ fender is of the nature of English tragedy, contrarily, in the Greek, inno“ cence is unhappy often, and the offender escapes. Then we ere not touched “ with the sufferings of any sort of men so much as of lovers ; and this was “almost unknown to the ancients ; so that they neither administered poetical
justice, of which Mr. Rymer boasts, so well as we : neither knew they " the best common place of pity, which is love.
“ He therefore unjustly blames us for not building on what the ancients left
us; for it seems, upon consideration of the premises, that we have wholly “ finished what they began.
My judgment on this piece is this, that it is extremely learned ; but that " the author of it is better read in the Greek than in the English poets : " that all writers ought to study this critique, as the best account I have ever “seen of the ancients; that the model of tragedy, he has here given, is excellent, “and extremely corręct: but that it is not the only model of all tragedy, because < it is too much circumscribed in plot, characters, &c.; and, lastly, that we may “ be taught here justly to admire and imitate the ancients, without giving them " the preference with this author, in prejudice to our own country.
“Want of method in this excellent treatise makes the thoughts of the author sometimes obscure.
“ His meaning, that pity and terror are to be moved, is, that they are to be “ moved as the mcans conducing to the ends of tragedy, which are pleasure and instruction.
“And these two ends may be thus distinguished. The chief end of the poet is to please ; for his immediate reputation depends on it.
“ The great end of the poem is to instruct, which is performed by making “ pleasure the vehicle of that instruction ; for poesy is an art, and all arts are “ made to profit. Rajin.