« AnteriorContinuar »
“But, unoppos'd, they either lose their force,
“a very pretty allusion, contrary to all sense or rea“ son. Torrents, I take it, let them wind never so “much, can never return to their former course, “unless he can suppose that fountains can go up“wards, which is impossible; may more, in the fore“going page he tells us so too; a trick of a very un“faithful memory.
“But can no more than fountains upward flow;
“which of a torrent, which signifies a rapid stream, “is much more impossible. Besides, if he goes to “quibble, and say that it is impossible by art water “may be made return, and the same water run twice “in one and the same channel; then he quite con“futes what he says: for it is by being opposed, “ that it runs into its former course; for all engines “ that make water so return, do it by compulsion “ and opposition. Or, if he means a headlong tor“rent for a tide, which would be ridiculous, yet “they do not wind in volumes, but come fore-right “back (if their upright lies straight to their former “course), and that by opposition of the sea-water, “ that drives them back again.
“And for fancy, when he lights of any thing “like it, 'tis a wonder if it be not borrowed. As “here, for example of, I find this fanciful thought
“ in his Ann. Mirab.
“Old father Thames rais’d up his reverend head: “But fera'd the fate of Simoeis would return; - o Deep
“ Deep in his ooze he sought his sedgy bed; “And shrunk his waters back into his urn.
“This is stolen from Cowley's Davideis, p. 9.
“This Almanzor speaks of himself; and sure for “one man to conquer an army within the city, and “ another without the city, at once, is something “ difficult: but this flight is pardonable to some we “meet with in Granada: Osmin, speaking of Al“manzor,
“Who, like a tempest that outrides the wind,
“Pray, what does this honourable person mean by a “tempest that outrides the wind?a tempest that out“rides itself. To suppose a tempest without wind, “is as bad as supposing a man to walk without feet; “for if he supposes the tempest to be something “ distinct from the wind, yet, as being the effect “ of wind only, to come before the cause is a little & 4 preposterous; so that, if he takes it one way, or “if he takes it the other, those two ifs will scarcely
“make one possibility.” Enough of Settle. Marriage à-la-mode (1673) is a comedy dedicated to the Earl of Rochester; whom he acknowledges not only as the defender of his poetry, but the promoter of his fortune. Langbaine places this play in 1673. The Earl of Rochester, therefore, was the famous Wilmot, whom yet tradition always Z 2 represents represents as an enemy to Dryden, and who is mentioned by him with some disrespect in the preface to Juvenal. The Assignation, or Love in a Yunnery, a comedy (1673), was driven off the stage, against the opinion, as the author says, of the best judges. It is dedicated, in a very elegant address, to Sir Charles Sedley; in which he finds an opportunity for his usual complaint of hard treatment and unreasonable censure. * Amboyna (1673) is a tissue of mingled dialogue in verse and prose, and was perhaps written in less time than The Pirgin Martyr; though the author thought not fit either ostentatiously or mournfully to tell how little labour it cost him, or at how short a warning he produced it. It was a temporary performance, written in the time of the Dutch war, to inflame the nation against their enemies; to whom he hopes, as he declares in his Epilogue, to make his poetry not less destructive than that by which Tyrtaeus of old animated the Spartans. This play was written in the second Dutch war, in 1673. Troilus and Cressida (1679) is a play altered from Shakspeare; but so altered, that, even in Langbaine's opinion, “the last scene in the third act is a mas“ter-piece.” It is introduced by a discourse on “the Grounds of Criticism in Tragedy,” to which I suspect that Rymer's book had given occasion. The Spanish Fryar (1681) is a tragi-comedy, eminent for the happy coincidence and coalition of the two plots. As it was written against the Papists, it would naturally at that time have friends and enemies; and partly by the popularity which it obtained at first, and partly by the real power both of the serious and risible part, it continued long a favourite of the publick. It was Dryden's opinion, at least for some time, and he maintains it in the dedication of this play, that the drama required an alternation of comick and tragick scenes; and that it is necessary to mitigate by alleviations of merriment the pressure of ponderous events, and the fatigue of toilsome passions. “Whoever,” says he, “ cannot perform “both parts, is but half a writer for the stage.” “The Duke of Guise, a tragedy (1683), written in conjunction with Lee, as Oedipus had been before, seems to deserve notice only for the offence which is 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 finish“ing 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 of France and the Covenanters of England: and this intention produced the controversy.
Albion and Albanius (1685) is a musical drama or 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 (1675) is termed by him an opera: it is rather a tragedy in heroick rhyme, but of which the personages 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 flattery 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.
* Downes says, it was performed on a very unlucky day, viz. that on which the Duke of Monmouth landed in the West; and he intimates, that the consternation into which the kingdom was thrown by this event was a reason why it was performed
but six times, and was in general ill received. H. Th e