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CHORUS OF YOUTHS AND VIRGINS*.
H Tyrant Love! haft thou poffeft
The prudent, learn'd, and virtuous breast?
* Some of Dryden's fhort lyrical odes and fongs are wonderfully harmonious; and not fufficiently noticed; particularly in King Arthur, Act III.
"Chufe the darkest part o'th' grove,
Such as ghosts at noon-day love," &c.
"O fight! the mother of defire," &c.
The fong alfo of the Syrens in A&t IV: and the Incantations in the Third Act of Edipus, put in the mouth of Tirefias;
Nor muft his firft ode for St. Cecilia's Day be forgotten, in which are paffages almost equal to any of the fecond: especially its opening, and the second stanza that defcribes Tubal and his brethren. It is, methinks, impoffible to read, without astonishment and regret, fuch tasteless commendations and unmerited applaufes as fuch a man as Dr. Johnson has bestowed on the ode to Mrs. Killigrew, and the ftrange preference he gives it, efpecially the first stanza, to any compofition in our language; which stanza is really unintelligible, and full of abfurd bombaft, and nearly approaching the realm of nonfenfe.
Why, Virtue, doft thou blame defire,
Love's purer flames the Gods approve;
Brutus for absent Portia fighs,
Oh fource of ev'ry focial tye,
What various joys on one attend,
As fon, as father, brother, husband, friend?
While thousand grateful thoughts arise;
VER. 9. Why, Virtue, &c.] In allufion to that famous conceit of Guarini,
"Se il peccare è sì dolce," &c.
Bayle is fond of faying that Manicheifm probably arofe from a ftrong meditation on this deplorable state of man.
Or meets his spouse's fonder eye;
Or views his fmiling progeny;
What tender paffions take their turns,
What home-felt raptures move?
Hence guilty joys, diftaftes, furmises,
Fires that fcorch, yet dare not shine:
" dulces occurrunt ofcula nati
Præripere, & tacitâ pectus dulcedine tangunt."
Lib. iii. 909.
VER. 31. Or meets] Recalling to our minds that pathetic stroke in Lucretius;
VER. 42.] Not to the purpofe; long leifure.
a These two Chorus's are enough to fhew us his great talents for this fpecies of Poetry, and to make us lament he did not prosecute his purpose in executing some plans he had chalked out ; but the Character of the Managers of Playhouses at that time, was what (he faid) foon determined him to lay afide all thoughts of that nature. Nor did his morals, lefs than the just sense of his own importance, deter him from having any thing to do with the Theatre. He remembered that an ancient Author hath acquainted us with this extraordinary circumftance; that, in the conftruction of Pompey's magnificent Theatre, the feats of it were so contrived, as to ferve, at the fame time, for steps to a
temple of Venus, which he had joined to his Theatre. The moral Poet could not but be ftruck with a story where the Xóyos and the μbos of it ran as imperceptibly into one another, as the Theatre and the Temple. W.
How lamentable is it, that a writer of great talents, fhould mifemploy them in ftriving to discover new meanings, and analogies, in things not alike, and not founded on plain truth and reafon! Thus, the Vine in Lycidas is called gadding, because, though married to the Elm, like bad wives fhe goes abroad. Thus, in Shakespear, the flower called Love-in-idleness intimates that this paffion has its chief power when people are idle. Thus, in Macbeth, fcreams of death and prophefying, fhould be read, Aunts, prophefying, old women. And thus, in Midfummer Night's Dream, instead of Cupid all-arm'd, read Cupid alarm'd; that is, alarmed at the chastity of Lady Elizabeth, which leffened his power.
APPY the man, whose wish and care A few paternal acres bound, Content to breathe his native air,
In his own ground.
Whose herds with milk, whofe fields with bread,
Bleft, who can unconcern'dly find
Sound fleep by night; study and ease,
Thus let me live, unfeen, unknown,
a This was a very ly production of our Author, written at about twelve years old.