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paflions. Whoever says he cannot perform both parts, is but half a writer for the stage.
The Duke of Guise, à tragedy witten 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, who 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 Albania is a musical drama on 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 is termed by him an opera : it is rather a tragedy in heroick rhyme, but of which the perfonages are such as cannot decently be exhibited on the stage. Some such production was foreseen by Marvel, who writes thus to Milton :
Or if a work so infinite be spann'd,
It is another of his hasty productions ; for the heat of his imagination raised it in a month.
This composition is addressed to the princess of Modena, then dutchess of York, in a strain of Aattery which disgraces genius, and which it was wonderful that any man that knew the meaning of his own words, could
use without self-detestation. It is an attempt to mingle earth and heaven, by praising human excellence in the language of religion.
The preface contains an apology for heroick verse, and poetick licence ; by which is meant not any liberty taken in contracting or extending words, but the use of bold fictions and ambitious figures.
The reason which he gives for printing what was never acted, cannot be overpassed : “ I was induced to it in my own defence, many
hundred copies of it being dispersed “ abroad without my knowledge or consent, , “ and every one gathering new faults, it be
came at length a libel against me." These copies as they gathered faults were apparently manuscript ; and he lived in an age very unlike ours, if many hundred copies of fourteen hundred lines were likely to be transcribed. An author has a right to print his own works, and needs not seek an apology in falsehood; but he that could bear to write the dedication felt no pain in writing the preface.
Aureng Zebe is a tragedy founded on the actions of a great prince then reigning, but over nations not likely to employ their criticks upon
the transactions of the English stage. If he had known and liked his own character, our trade was not in those times secure from his resentment. His country is at such a distance, that the manners might be safely falsified, and the incidents feigned'; for remoteness of place is remarked by Racine, to afford the same conveniencies to a poet as length of time.
This play is written in rhyme; and has the appearance of being the most elaborate of all the dramas. The personages are imperial; but the dialogue is often domestick, and therefore susceptible of sentiments accommodated to familiar incidents. The complaint of life is celebrated, and there are many other passages that may be read with pleasure.
This play is addressed to the earl of Mulgrave, afterwards duke of Buckingham, himfelf, if not a poet, yet a writer of verses, and a critick, In this address Dryden gave
the first hints of his intention to write an epick poem.
He mentions his design in terms so obscure, that he seems afraid left his plan should be purloined, as, he says, happened to him when he told it more plainly in his preface to Juvenal.
" I he “ design,” says he, “ you know is great, the
story i nglish, and neither too near the present times, nor too distant from them.”
All for Love, or the World will lojt, a tragedy founded upon the story of Antony and Cleopatra, he tells us, is the only play which he wrote for himself; the reit were given to the people. It is by universal consent accounted the work in which he has admitted the fewest improprieties of style or character ; but it has one fault equal to many, though rather moral than critical, that by admitting the romantick omnipotence of Love, he has recommended as laudable and worthy of imitation that conduct which, through all ages, the good have censured as vitious, and the bad despised as foolish.
Of this play the prologue and the epic logue, though written upon the common