Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

Clatt'ring their sticks before ten lines are spoke,
Call for the Farce, the Bear, or the Black-joke.
What dear delight to Britons Farce affords!

310
Ever the taste of Mobs, but now . of Lords:
(Taste, that eternal wanderer, which flies
From heads to ears, and now from ears to eyes.)
The Play stands still ; damn action and discourse,
Back fly the scenes, and enter foot' and horse; 315
Pageants on pageants, in long order drawn,
Peers, Heralds, Bishops, Ermin, Gold, and Lawn;
The Champion too! and, to complete the jest,
Old Edward's Armour beams on Cibber's breast.
With laughter fure Democritus had dy'd,

320 Had he beheld an Audience gape so wide. Let Bear or : Elephant be e'er fo white, The People, sure, the People are the sight!

Ah

NOTES.

VER. 319 Old Edward's Armour beams on Cibber's breast.] The Coronation of Henry VIII. and Queen Anne Boleyn, in which the Playhouses vied with each other to represent all the pomp of a Coronation. In this noble contention the Armour of one of the Kings of England was borrowed from the Tower, to dress the Champion.

Pope. Of late years, and fince this was written, these extravagancies have been carried to a greater length of folly and absurdity, which have nearly ruined the Itage, and extinguished a taste for true dramatic poetry.

Yet let this verse (“ and long may it remain !") shew there was one who held it in disdain long before our Author; Rowe thus complains, in the Epilogue to his first play:

Must Shakespear, Fletcher, and laborious Ben,
Be left for Scaramouch and Harlequin ? Warton.

[blocks in formation]

Scriptores autem narrare putaret asello
Fabellam furdo. nam quæ ' pervincere voces
Evaluere fonum, referunt quem noftra theatra?
* Garganum mugire putes nemus aut mare Tuscum.
Tantum cum ftrepitu ludi fpectantur, et artes,

Divitiæque peregrina : quibus m oblitus actor
Cum ftetit in scena, concurrit dextera lævæ.
Dixit adhuc aliquid ? nil fane. Quid placet ergo ?
* Lana Tarentino violas imitata veneno.
Ac ne forte putes me, quæ facere ipse recusem,
Cum recte tractent alii, laudare maligne;
Ille per extentum funem mihi poffe videtur

meum qui pectus inaniter angit, Irritat, mulcet, falfis terroribus implet,

Ut

Ire poeta ;

[ocr errors]

NOTES.

VER. 328. Orcas' stormy sleep,] The farthest Northern Promontory of Scotland, opposite to the Orcades.

Pope. VER. 331. At Quin's bigh plume,] More celebrated for acting inimitably well the characters of Zanga and Falstaff, than that of Cato. But still more justly celebrated for his original wit, his generosity and friendship for Thomson, whose distresses he once relieved in the most liberal and delicate manner. WARTON.

Ver. 335. But has he spoken?] Elopus, says Tully, loft his voice by straining it to speak loud enough to be hcard amidst the

oise of the theatre. We muit always recollect the vast extent of the ancient theatres, and the multitude of the audience and spectators.

WARTON. VER. 342. 'Tis he, who gives] These fix following verses are much superior to the Original, and some of the most forcible in our language. They contain the very end and effence of dramatic poetry. The scenes of most of the ancient tragedi es were laid at Thebes or Athens.

This is a perfect and juft idea of true and genuine poetry; to the exclusion of mere moral couplets and didactic lines of Horace':

Ah luckless Poet! stretch thy lungs and roar,
That Bear or Elephant shall heed thee more; 325
While all its i throats the Gallery extends,
And all the Thunder of the Pit ascends !
Loud as the Wolves, on k Orcas' stormy steep,
Howl to the roarings of the Northern deep.
Such is the fhout, the long-applauding note,

330 At Quin's high plume, or Oldfield's ' petticoat; Or when from Court a birth-day suit bestow'd, Sinks them loft Actor in the tawdry load. Booth enters,-hark! the Universal peal! " But has he spoken?” Not a fyllable. 335 “ What shook the stage, and made the people stare?" * Cato's long wig, flow'r'd gown, and lacquer'd chair.

Yet, lest you think I rally more than teach, Or praise malignly Arts I cannot reach, Let me for once presume t instruct the times, 340 To know the Poet from the Man of Rhymes : 'Tis he, 9 who gives my breast a thoufand pains, Can make me feel each Passion that he feigns ; Inrage, compose, with more than magic Art, With Pity, and with Terror, tear my heart ; 345

And

NOTES.

and Boileau's Satires and Epistles; the former of whom positively and dire&ly disclaims all right and title to the name of Poet, on the score of his ethic pieces alone. For,

-neque enim concludere versum Dixeris efse satisare words we hear often repeated, but whose meaning is not extended and weighed as it ought to be. If by such a decision the ranks of rhymers should be diminished, the greater is the dignity Ut magus; et modo me Thebis, modo ponit Athenis.

Verum age, et his, qui se lectori credere malunt, Quam spectatoris fastidia ferre superbi, Curam impende brevem : fi ? munus Apolline dig

num

Vis complere libris ; et vatibus addere calcar,
Ut studio majore petant Helicona virentem.

* Multa quidem nobis facimus mala sæpe poetæ, (Ut vineta egomet ca dam mea,) cum tibi librum

Solicito

NOTES.

of the few that remain in the field. We do not, it should seem, fufficiently attend to the difference there is betwixt a man of wit, a man of sense, and a true poet. Donne and Swift were undoubtedly men of wit and men of sense ; but what traces have they left of pure poetry ? It is remarkable that Dryden says of Donne, " He was the greatest wit, though not the greatest poet of this nation.” Which of these characters is the most valuable and useful is entirely out of the question ; all we plead for is, to have their several provinces kept distinct from each other.

WARTON. VER. 348. this part of the Poetic fate,] “ The excellence of our dramatic writers is by no means equal in number to the great men that we have produced in other walks. Theatric genius lay dormant after Shakespear ; waked with some bold and glorious, but irregular and often ridiculous, flights in Dryden; revived in Otway; maintained a placid pleasing kind of dignity in Rowe ; and even shone in his Jane Shore. It trod in sublime and claffic fetters in Cato, but void of nature or the power of affecting the paflions. In Southern it seemed a genuine ray of nature and Shakespear ; but, falling on an age still more Hottentot, was ftified in those gross and barbarous productions, tragi-comedies. It turned to tuneful nonsense in the Morning Bride : : grew stark mad in Lee, whose cloak, a little the worse for

wear, fell on Young ; yet in both was still a Poet's cloak. It recovered its senses in Hughes and Fenton, who were afraid it should relapfe, and accordingly kept it down with a timid, but amiable hand, and then it languished. We have not mounted again above the two last."-Walpole's Observations.

And snatch me, o'er the earth, or through the air, To Thebes, to Athens, when he will, and where.

But not this part of the Poetic state, Alone, deserves the favour of the Great : Think of those Authors, Sir, who would rely 350 More on a Reader's sense, than Gazer's eye. Or who shall wander where the Muses sing? Who climb their mountain, or who taste their spring ? How shall we fill ' a Library with Wit, When Merlin's Cave is half unfinish'd yet? 355

My Liege! why Writers little claim your thought, I guess; and, with their leave, will tell the fault : We' Poets are (upon a Poet's word) Of all mankind, the creatures most absurd :

The

NOTES.

From this account of Dramatic Poets by the late Lord Orford, Dr. Warton very properly excepts the Tragedy of Douglas. I may be here permitted to pay a fimilar tribute to the excellent Tragedies of Miss Baillie, which abound in rich description, eloquent language, and genuine pathos.

VER. 350. Think of those Authors, Sir,] Auguftus being greatly and exclutively fond of dramatic Poers alone, Horace puts in a word of recommendation for those of another species : The good Prince, to whom our Author was writing, was equally indifferent to Poets of all kinds and forts, and asked, when some body was highly praising Milton, “ Why did he not write his Paradise Lost in profe!"

WARTON. VER. 354. a Library] Munus Apolline dignum. The Palatine Library, then building by Auguftus.

Pope. Vek. 355. Merlin's Cave] A Building in the Royal Gardens of Richmond, where is a small, but choice Collection of Books.

POPE. To mention Merlin's Cave, for the Palatine Library, heightens the ridicule.

WARTON.

P 3

« ZurückWeiter »