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Such were the tools; but a whole Hydra1 more
Blest madman, who could every hour employ
That every man with him was God or Devil. In squandering wealth was his peculiar art; Nothing went unrewarded but desert. 560 Beggared by fools whom still he found too late,
He had his jest, and they had his estate.
By sovereign power, her company disdained,
The bloody Bear, an Independent beast 35
And Scythian shafts, and many winged With broken tusks and with a borrowed name,
By forming parties, but could ne'er be chief:
FROM THE HIND AND THE PANTHER 5
A milk-white Hind, immortal and unchanged,
Their earthly mould obnoxious was to fate,
A numerous exile, and enjoyed her pains. 20
Aimed at her heart; was often forced to fly,
1 a fabulous monster with a hundred heads, killed by Hercules 2 the Duke of Buckingham, whom Dryden hated personally alchemist 'found out 5 For the churches symbolized by the beasts see the Notes. a general term for barbarians
Her martyred offspring and their race renewed;
Their corps to perish, but their kind to last, So much the deathless plant the dying fruit surpassed.
Panting and pensive now she ranged alone, And wandered in the kingdoms once her own. The common hunt, though from their rage restrained
He shunned the vengeance and concealed the shame,
So lurked in sects unseen. With greater guile
1 Scottish 2 Bear cubs are said to be shapeless lumps until licked into shape by the mother bear. 3 are accustomed at Münster
Timotheus,1 placed on high Amid the tuneful quire, With flying fingers touched the lyre: The trembling notes ascend the sky, And heavenly joys inspire. The song began from Jove,2 Who left his blissful seats above, (Such is the power of mighty love) A dragon's fiery form belied 3 the god: Sublime on radiant spires he rode, When he to fair Olympia pressed; And while he sought her snowy breast, Then round her slender waist he curled, And stamped an image of himself, a sovereign of the world.
The listening crowd admire the lofty sound, A present deity, they shout around; 35 A present deity, the vaulted roofs rebound: With ravished ears
The monarch hears,
Assumes the god,
And seems to shake the spheres.
With ravished ears
And seems to shake the spheres.
Bacchus, ever fair and young,
Drinking joys did first ordain; Bacchus' blessings are a treasure, Drinking is the soldier's pleasure; Rich the treasure,
Sweet the pleasure,
The praise of Bacchus then the sweet musician
Of Bacchus ever fair, and ever young.
The jolly god in triumph comes;
Sound the trumpets, beat the drums ;50
Now give the hautboys breath; he comes, he
1 a celebrated Athenian musician (d. 357 B.C.), said to have improved the cithara by adding one string to it 2 fabled to have been Alexander's father 3 disguised uplifted in shining spirals 5 Olympias, mother of Alexander
The mighty master smiled to see That love was in the next degree; 'Twas but a kindred-sound to move For pity melts the mind to love.
Softly sweet, in Lydian measures, Soon he soothed his soul to pleasures. War, he sung, is toil and trouble; Honour but an empty bubble;
Never ending, still beginning, Fighting still, and still destroying:
If the world be worth thy winning, Think, O think it worth enjoying:
Lovely Thais sits beside thee,
1 whom Alexander had conquered
The many rend the skies with loud applause: So Love was crowned, but Music won the
The prince, unable to conceal his pain, Gazed on the fair
Who caused his care,
And sighed and looked, sighed and looked, Sighed and looked, and sighed again; I 20 At length, with love and wine at once oppressed,
The vanquished victor sunk upon her breast.
Now strike the golden lyre again;
A louder yet, and yet a louder strain.
Hark, hark, the horrid sound
Has raised up his head;
And, amazed, he stares around. 130
See the snakes that they rear,
And the sparkles that flash from their
Behold a ghastly band,
Each a torch in his hand!
The next in majesty, in both the last.
FROM AN ESSAY OF DRAMATIC POESY
This moderation of Crites, as it was pleasing to all the company, so it put an end to that dispute; which Eugenius, who seemed to have the better of the argument, would urge no farther. But Lisideius, after he had acknowledged himself of Eugenius his opinion concerning the ancients, yet told him, he had forborne, till his discourse were ended, to ask him, why he preferred the English plays above those of other nations? and whether we ought not to submit our stage to the exactness of our next neighbours?
Though, said Eugenius, I am at all times ready to defend the honour of my country against the French, and to maintain, we are as well able to vanquish them with our pens, as our ancestors have been with their swords; yet, if you please, added he, looking upon Neander, I will commit this cause to my friend's management; his opinion of our plays is the same with mine: and besides, there is no reason, that Crites and I, who have now left the stage,1 should reënter so suddenly upon it; which is against the laws of comedy.
If the question had been stated, replied Lisideius, who had writ best, the French or English, forty years ago, I should have been of your opinion, and adjudged the honour to our own nation; but since that time, (said he, turning towards Neander,) we have been so long together bad Englishmen, that we had not leisure to be good poets. Beaumont, Fletcher, and Jonson, (who were only capable of bringing us to that degree of perfection which we have,) were just then leaving the world; as if in an age of so much horror, wit, and those milder studies of humanity, had no farther business among us. But the muses, who ever follow peace, went to plant in another country: it was then that the great Cardinal of Richelieu began to take them into his protection; and that, by his encouragement, Corneille, and some other Frenchmen, reformed their theatre, which before was as
1i.e., ceased from discussion
what of the original civility1 of the Red Bull: 2
much below ours, as it now surpasses it and the rest of Europe. But because Crites, in his discourse for the ancients, has prevented me, by observing many rules of the stage, which the moderns have borrowed from them, I shall only, in short, demand of you, whether you are not convinced that of all nations the French have observed them? In the unity of time you find them so scrupulous, that it yet remains a dispute among their poets, whether the artificial day of twelve hours, more or less, be not meant by Aristotle, rather than the natural one of twenty-four; and consequently, whether all plays ought not to be reduced into that compass. This I can testify, that in all their dramas writ within these last twenty years and upwards, I have not observed any that have extended the time to thirty hours. In the unity of place they are full as scrupulous; for many of their critics limit it to that very spot of ground where the play is supposed to begin; none of them exceed the compass of the same town or city.
The unity of action in all their plays is yet more conspicuous; for they do not burden them with under-plots, as the English do: which is the reason why many scenes of our tragi-comedies carry on a design that is nothing of kin to the main plot; and that we see two distinct webs in a play, like those in ill-wrought stuffs; and two actions, that is, two plays, carried on together, to the confounding of the audience; who, before they are warm in their concernments for one part, are diverted to another; and by that means espouse the interest of neither. From hence likewise it arises, that the one half of our actors are not known to the other. They keep their distances, as if they were Montagues and Capulets, and seldom begin an acquaintance till the last scene of the fifth act, when they are all to meet upon the stage. There is no theatre in the world has anything so absurd as the English tragi-comedy; it is a drama of our own invention, and the fashion of it is enough to proclaim it so; here a course of mirth, there another of sadness and passion, and a third of honour and a duel: thus, in two hours and a half we run through all the fits of Bedlam. The French affords you as much variety on the same day, but they do it not so unseasonably, or mal à propos, as we: our poets present you the play and the farce together; and our stages still retain some
Atque ursum et pugiles media inter carmina poscunt.3
The end of tragedies or serious plays, says Aristotle, is to beget admiration, compassion, or concernment; but are not mirth and compassion things incompatible? and is it not evident, that the poet must of necessity destroy the former by intermingling of the latter? that is, he must ruin the sole end and object of his tragedy, to introduce somewhat that is forced into it, and is not of the body of it. Would you not think that physician mad, who, having prescribed a purge, should immediately. order you to take restringents?
But to leave our plays, and return to theirs, I have noted one great advantage they have had in the plotting of their tragedies; that is, they are always grounded upon some known history: according to that of Horace, Ex noto fictum carmen sequar; and in that they have so imitated the ancients, that they have surpassed them. For the ancients, as was observed before, took for the foundation of their plays some poetical fiction, such as under that consideration could move but little concernment in the audience, because they already knew the event of it. But the French goes farther:
Atque ita mentitur, sic veris falsa remiscet, Primo ne medium, medio ne discrepet imum.
He so interweaves truth with probable fiction, that he puts a pleasing fallacy upon us, mends the intrigues of fate, and dispenses with the severity of history, to reward that virtue which has been rendered to us there unfortunate. Sometimes the story has left the success so doubtful, that the writer is free, by the privilege of a poet, to take that which of two or more relations will best suit with his design: as for example, in the death of Cyrus, whom Justin and some others report to have perished in the Scythian war, but Xenophon
1 Spoken ironically. 2 one of the older theatres of London And in the midst of the poems they call for the bears and the boxers. On a known fact I base a feigned song. 5 He so mixes false with true that the middle may not disagree with the beginning nor the end with the middle. a Roman historian