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Chill Penury repressed their noble rage,
And froze the genial current of the soul.
The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear:
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
Some village-Hampden, that with dauntless breast.
The little tyrant of his fields withstood; Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's blood.
The applause of listening senates to command,
The threats of pain and ruin to despise, To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,
And read their history in a nation's eyes,
Their lot forbade: nor circumscribed alone
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined; Forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne,
And shut the gates of mercy on mankind :
The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,
To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame, Or heap the shrine of Luxury and Pride
With incense kindled at the Muse's flame.
Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife
Their sober wishes never learned to stray; Along the cool, sequestered vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.
Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.
Their name, their years, spelt by the unlettered muse,
The place of fame and elegy supply: And many a holy text around she strews,
That teach the rustic moralist to die.
This pleasing anxious being e'er resigned,
Some pious drops the closing eye requires ;
E'en in our ashes live their wonted fires.
Dost in these lines their artless tale relate;
xxy. Haply some hoary-headed swain may say,-
“Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn
That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high,
His listless length at noontide would he stretch,
And pore upon the brook that babbles by.
Muttering his wayward fancies he would rove;
Or crazed with care, or crossed in hopeless love.
Along the heath and near his favorite tree;
Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he.
Slow through the churchway path we saw him borne ; Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay
Graved on the stone beneath yon aged thorn.”
Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth,
A Youth, to Fortune and to Fame unknown; Fair Science frowned not on his humble birth,
And Melancholy marked him for her own.
Heaven did a recompense as largely send :
. III. No farther seek his merits to disclose,
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode, (There they alike in trembling hope repose),
The bosom of his Father and his God.
Joan Dryden was born in Northamptonshire, England, August 9th, 1631, and died May 1st, 1700. He discovered remarkable talent, while yet at school, in his translations from some of the classics. His character, as a writer, in later life, is sufficiently marked in the following parallel; as a man though amiable in temper, domestic in turn, and virtuous in life, he lacked firmness and consistency, looking rather to the fleeting interests of the woment than to the more durable rewards of solid reputation.
ALEXANDER POPE was born in London, May 21st, 1688, and died at Iwickenham, May 30th, 1744. Deformed in body, and sickly in constitution, his early education, to use his own words, was extremely loose and disconcerted." He was always, however, a diligent student, and a yet more diligent corrector of his own works; and hence his peculiar claims to excellence, as a polished composer. As Dryden gave us, in English, the great epic poem of the Latins, the Æneid of Virgil, so Pope, in smoother verse, but not in truer translation, has given us the great epic of the Greeks, the Iliad of Homer.
PARALLEL BETWEEN DRYDEN AND POPE.
SAMUEL JOHNSON.* 1. Integrity of understanding and nicety of discernment were not allotted in a less proportion to Dryden than to Pope. The rectitude of Dryden's mind was sufficiently shown by the dismission of his poetical prejudices, and the rejection of unnatural thoughts and rugged numbers. But Dryden never desired to apply all the judgment that he had. He wrote, and professed to write, merely for the people; and when he pleased others he contented himself. He spent no time in struggles to rouse latent powers; he never attempted to make that better which was already good, nor often to mend what he must have known to be faulty. He wrote, as he tells us, with very little consideration; when occasion or necessity called upon him, he poured out what the present moment happened to supply, and, when once it had passed the press, ejected it from his mind; for wben he had no pecuniary interest, he had no further solicitude.
2. Pope was not content to satisfy: he desired to excel, and, therefore, always endeavored to do his best: he did not court the candor, but dared the judgment of his reader, and, expecting no indulgence from others, he showed none to himself. He
* See Exercise CXVI.
examined lines and words with minute and punctilious observation, and retouched every part with indefatigable diligence, till he had left nothing to be forgiven.
3. Pope had, perhaps, the judgment of Dryden, but Dryden certainly wanted the diligence of Pope. In acquired knowledge, the superiority must be allowed to Dryden, whose education was more scholastic, and who, before he became an author, had been allowed more time for study, with better means of information. His mind has a larger range, and he collects his images and illustrations from a more extensive circumference of science. Dryden knew more of man, in his general nature, and Pope in his local manners. The notions of Dryden were formed by comprehensive speculation, and those of Pope by minute attention. There is more dignity in the knowledge of Dryden, and more certainty in that of Pope.
4. Poetry was not the sole praise of either; for both excelled likewise in prose; but Pope did not borrow his prose from his predecessor. The style of Dryden is capricious and varied; that of Pope is cautious and uniform. Dryden obeys the motions of his own mind; Pope constrains his mind to his own rules of composition. Dryden is sometimes vehement and rapid; Pope is always smooth, uniform, and gentle. Dryden's page is a natural field, rising into inequalities, and diversified by the varied exuberance of abundant vegetation; Pope's is a velvet lawn, shaven by the scythe, and leveled by the roller.
5. Of genius, that power which constitutes a poet, that quality without which judgment is cold and knowledge is inert, that energy which collects, combines, amplifies, and animates, the superiority must, with some hesitation, be allowed to Dryden. It is not to be inferred that of this poetical vigor Pope had only a little, because Dryden had more; for every other writer since Milton must give place to Pope; and even of Dryden it must be said, that, if he has brighter paragraphs, he has not better poems.
6. Dryden's performances were always hasty, either excited by some external occasion, or extorted by domestic necessity; he composed without consideration, and published without cor