Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

thor; and when they would toss him against their enemies,

Genua labant, gelidus concrevit frigore sanguis.
Tum lapis ipse, viri vacuum per inane volutus,

Nec spatium evasit totum, nec pertulit ictum.* For my part, I would wish noother revenge, either for myself, or the rest of the poets, from this rhyming judge of the twelve-penny gallery, this legiti. mate son of Sternhold, than that he would subscribe his name to his censure, or (not to tax him beyond his learning) set his mark: For, should he own himself publicly, and come from behind the lion's skin, they, whom he condemns, would be thankful to him, they, whom he praises, would chuse to be condemned; and the magistrates, whom he has elected, would modestly withdraw from their employment, to avoid the scandal of his nomination. The sharpness of

** This passage alludes to an imitation of Horace, quaintly entitled an

6. Allusion to the Tenth Satire of his First Book," which was the production of Rochester. As however it appeared with. out a name, it may have been for a time imputed to some of the inferior wits, whom his Lordship patronized. It contains a warm attack on Dryden, part of which has been already quoted. Dryden probably knew the real author of this satire, although he chose to impute it to one of the “ Zanies” of the great. At least it seems unlikely that he should take Crown for the author, as has been supposed by Mr Malone ; for in the imitation we have these lines:

For by that rule I might as well admit

Crown's heavy scenes for poetry and wit. Crown could hardly be charged as author of a poem, in which this sarcasm occurred.

† Alluding probably to the concluding lines of the Satire.

I loath the rabble ; 'tis enough for me
If Sedley, Shadwell, Shepherd, Wycherley,
Godolphin, Butler, Buckhurst, Buckingham,
And some few more whom I omit to name,
Approve my sense ; I count thcir censure fame.

$

his satire, next to himself, falls most heavily on his friends, and they ought never to forgive him for commending them perpetually the wrong way, and sometimes by contraries. If he have a friend, whose hastiness in writing is his greatest fault, Horace would have taught him to have minced the matter, and to have called it readiness of thought, and a flowing fancy; for friendship will allow a man to christen an imperfection by the name of some neighbour virtue;

Vellem in amicitiâ sic erraremus ; et isti

Errori nomen virtus posuisset honestum. But he would never have allowed him to have called a slow man hasty, or a hasty writer a slow drudge, * as Juvenal explains it:

-Canibus pigris, scabieque vetusta
Lævibus, et sicca lambentibus ora lucerna,
Nomen erit, Pardus, Tygris, Leo; si quid adhuc est
Quod

fremit in terris violentius.t

* Dryden alludes to the censure past on himself, where it is said,

Five hundred verses in a morning writ,
Prove him no more a poet than a wit.

+ This refers to the characters of Shadwell and Wycherley, which, according to Dryden, the satirist seems to have misunderstood.

Of all our modern wits, none seems to me
Once to have touch'd upon true comedy,
But hasty Shadwell and slow Wycherley ;
Shadwell's unfinish'd works do yet impart
Great proofs of force of nature, none of art.
With just bold strokes he dashes here and there,
Shewing great mastery with little care ;
But Wycherley earns hard whate'er he gains,
He wants no judgment, and he spares no pains ;:
Ile frequently excels, and, at the least,
Makes fewer faults than any of the rest.

Yet Lucretius laughs at a foolish lover, even for excusing the imperfections of his mistress :

Nigra peróxgous est, immunda et fætida éxoruos. Balba loqui non quit, Travniku; mula pudens est, &c. But to drive it ad Æthiopem cygnum is not to be endured. I leave him to interpret this by the benefit of his French version on the other side, and without farther considering him, than I have the rest of my illiterate censors, whom I have disdained to answer, because they are not qualified for judges. It remains that I acquaint the reader, that I have endeavoured in this play to follow the practice of the ancients, who, as Mr Rymer has judiciously observed, are and ought to be our masters.* Horace likewise gives it for a rule in his Art of Poetry.

-Vos exemplaria Græca Nocturna versate manu, versate diurna. Yet, though their models are regular, they are too little for English tragedy; which requires to be built in a larger compass. I could give an instance in the Edipus Tyrannus,” which was the masterpiece of Sophocles; but I reserve it for a

66

*“I have chiefly considered the fable, or plot, which all conclude to be the soul of a tragedy, which, with the ancients, is all ways to be found a reasonable soul, but with us, for the most part, a brutish, and often worse than brutish.

And certainly there is not required much learning, or that a man must be some Aristotle and doctor of subtilties, to form a right judgment in this particular ; common sense suffices ; and rarely have I known women-judges mistaken in these points,where they have patience to think; and left to their own heads, they decide with their own sense. But if people are prepossessed, if they will judge of Rollo by Othello, and one crooked line by another, we can never have a certainty.”

The tragedies of the last age considered, in a letter to Fleetwood Shepherd, by Thomas Rymer, Edit. 1678, p. 4.

more fit occasion, which I hope to have hereafter. In my style, I have professed to imitate the divine Shakespeare; which that I might perform more freely, I have disincumbered myself from rhyme. Not that I condemn my former way, but that this is more proper to my present purpose. I hope I need not to explain myself, that I have not copied my author servilely: Words and phrases must of necessity receive a change in succeeding ages; but it is almost a miracle that much of his language remains so pure; and that he who began dramatic poetry amongst us, untaught by any, and, as Ben Jonson tells us, without learning, should by the force of his own genius perform so much, that in a manner he has left no praise for any who come after him. The occasion is fair, and the subject would be pleasant to handle the difference of styles betwixt him and Fletcher, and wherein, and how far they are both to be imitated. But since I must not be over-confident of my own performance after him, it will be prudence in me to be silent. Yet, I hope, I may affirm, and without vanity, that, by imitating him, I have excelled myself throughout the play ; and particularly, that I prefer the scene betwixt Antony and Ventidius in the first act, to any thing which I have written in this kind.

« AnteriorContinuar »