Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

It hath been generally acknowledged that the Lyric is a more excellent kind of writing than the Satiric and consequently, he who excels in the most excellent species, must undoubtedly be esteemed the greatest poet. Mr. Pope has very happily succeeded in many of his occasional pieces, such as Eloisa to Abelard, his Elegy on an unfortunate young Lady, and a variety of other performances deservedly celebrated. To these may be opposed Mr. Dryden's Fables, which though written in a very advanced age, are yet the most perfect of his works. In these Fables there is, perhaps, a greater variety than in Pope's occasional pieces : many of them indeed, are translations, but such as are original show a great extent of invention, and a large compass of genius.

There are not in Pope's works such poignant dis. coveries of wit, or such a general knowledge of the humours and character of men, as in the Prologues and Epilogues of Dryden, which are the best records of the whims and capricious oddities of the times in which they are written.

When these two great geniuses are considered in the light of translators, it will, indeed, be difficult to determine into whose scale the balance should be thrown. That Mr. Pope had a more arduous province in doing justice to Homer, than Dryden with regard to Virgil, is certainly true; as Homer is a more various and diffuse poet than Virgil; and it is likewise true that Pope has even exceeded Dryden in the execution, and none will deny that Pope's Homer's Iliad is a finer poem than Dryden's Æneid of Virgil, making a proper allowance for the disproportion of the original authors. But then a candid critic should reflect, that as Dryden was prior in the great attempt of rendering Virgil into English, so did he perform the task under many disadvantages which Pope, by a happier situation in life, was enabled to zvoid ; and could not but improve upon Drydon's errors, though the authors translated were not the same: and it is much to be doubted if Dryden were to translate the Æneid now, with that attention which the correctness of the present age would force upon him, whether the preference would be due to Pope's Homer.

But supposing it to be yielded (as it certainly must) that the latter bard was the greatest translator, we are now to throw into Mr. Dryden's scale all his dramatic works; which, though not the most excellent of his writings, as yet nothing of Mr. Pope's can be opposed to them, they have an undoubted right to turn the balance greatly in favour of Mr. Dryden.-When the two poets are considered as critics, the comparison will very imperfectly hold. Dryden's Dedications and Prefaces, besides that they are more numerous, and are the best models for courtly panegyric, show, that he understood poetry as an art, beyond any man that ever lived; and he explained this art so well, that he taught his antagonist to turn the tables against himself; for he so illuminated the mind by his clear and perspicuous reasoning, that dulness itself became capable of discerning; and when at any time his performances fell short of his own ideas of excellence, his enemies tried him by rules of his own establishing; and though they owed to him the ability of judging, they seldom had candour enough to spare him.

Perhaps it may be true that Pope's works are read with more appetite, as there is a greater evenness and correctness in them; but in perusing the works of Dryden, the mind will take a wider range, and be more fraught with poetical ideas. We admire Dry. den as the greater genius, and Pope as the most pleasing versifier.-Cibber's Lives.

He corr.es, he comes ! bid every bard prepare The song of triumph, and attend his car.

THE

POETICAL WORKS

OF

ALEXANDER POPE.

PASTORALS.

SPRING.
THE FIRST PASTORAL; OR, DAMON

To Sir William Trumbal.
First in these fields I try the sylvan strains,
Nor blush to sport on Windsor's blissful plains :
Fair Thames, flow gently from thy sacred spring
While on thy banks Sicilian muses sing;
Let vernal airs through trembling osiers play,
And Albion's cliffs resound the rural lay.

You that, too wise for pride, too good for power
Enjoy the glory to be great no more,
And, carrying with you all the world can boast,
To all the world illustriously are lost;
O let my muse her slender reed inspire,
Till in your native shades you tune the lyre.
So when the nightingale to rest removes,
The thrush may chant to the forsaken groves,
But charm'd to silence, listens while she sings,
And all the aërial audience clap their wings.

Soon as the flocks shook off the nightly dews, Two swains, whom love kept wakeful, and the muso, Pour'd o'er the whitening vale their fleecy care, Fresh as the morn, and as the season fair :

39

The dawn now blushing on the mountain's side, Thus Daphnis spoke, and Strephon thus replied :

DAPHNIS.
Hear how the birds, on every bloomy spray,
With joyous music wake the dawning day!
Why sit we mute, when early linnets sing,
When warbling Philomel salutes the spring?
Why sit we sad, when Phosphor shines so clear,
And lavish Nature paints the purple year?

STREPHON.
Sing then, and Damon shall attend the strain,
While yon slow oxen turn the furrow'd plain.
Here the bright crocus and blue violet glow,
Here western winds on breathing roses blow.
I'll stake yon lamb, that near the fountain plays,
And from the brink his dancing shade surveys.

DAPHNIS.
And I this bowl, where wanton ivy twines,
And swelling clusters bend the curling vines :
Four figures rising from the work appear,
The various seasons of the rolling year;
And what is that which binds the radiant sky,
Where twelve fair signs in beauteous order lie?

DAMON.
Then sing by turns, by turns the muses sing :
Now hawthorns blossom, now the daisies spring
Now leaves the trees, and flowers adorn the ground
Begin, the vales shall every note resound.

STREPHON.
Inspire me, Phæbus, in my Delia's praise,
With Waller's strains, or Granville's moving lays'
A milk-white bull shall at your altar stand,
That threats a fight, and spurns the rising sand.

DAPHNIS.
O Love! for Sylvia let me gain the prize,
And make my tongue victorious as her eyes,
No lambs or sheep for victims I'll impart,
Thy victim, Love, shall be the shepherd s heart

STREPHON.
Me gentle Delia beckons from the plain,
Then, hid in shades, eludes her eager swain;
But feigns a laugh, to see me search around,
And by that laugh the willing fair is found.

DAPHNIS.
The sprightly Sylvia trips along the green ;
She runs, but hopes she does not ru . unseen:
While a kind glance at her pursuer flies,
How much at variance are her feet and eyes !

STREPHON.
O'er golden sands let rich Pactolus flow,
And trees weep amber on the banks of Po;
Blest Thames's shores the brightest beauties yield.
Feed here, my lambs, I'll seek no distant field

DAPHNIS.
Celestial Venus haunts Idalia's groves ;
Diana Cynthus, Ceres Hybla loves ;
If Windsor shades delight the matchless maid,
Cynthus and Hybla yield to Windsor-shade.

STREPHON.
All Nature mourns, the skies relent in showers,
Hush'd are the birds, and closed the drooping flowers;
If Delia smile, the flowers begin to spring,
The skies to brighten, and the birds to sing.

DAPHNIS.
All Nature laughs, the groves are fresh and fair
The sun's mild lustre warms the vital air;
if Sylvia smile, new glories gild the shore,
And vanquish'd Nature seems to charm no more

STREPHON.
In spring the fields, in autumn hills I love,
At morn the plains, at noon the shady grove,
But Delia always; absent from her sight,
Nor plains at morn, nor groves at noon delight.

DAPHNIS.
Sylvia's like autumn ripe, yet mild as May
More bright than noon, yet fresh as early day:

« ZurückWeiter »