Abbildungen der Seite

Unlucky, as Fungoso in the Play,

These sparks with aukward vanity display

What the fine gentleman wore yesterday j 3 30^

And but so mimic antient wits at best,

As apes our grandsires, in their doublets drest.

In words, as Falhions, the fame rule will hold;

Alike fantastic, if too new, or old:

Be not the first by whom the new are try'd, 335

Nor yet the last to lay the old aside.

But most by Numbers judge a Poet's song; And smooth or rough,with them, is right or wrong:


Ver. 337. But most by Numbers judge, etc.] The last fort arc those [from jr 336 to 384.] whose ears are attached only to the Harmony of a poem. Of which they judge as ignorantly and as perversely as the other fort did of Eloquence; and for the very /ame reason. He firjl describes that false Harmony with which they are so much captivated j and shews, that it is wretchedly^// and unvaried: For

Smooth or rough with them is right or wrong. He then describes the true. 1. As it is in itself, constant; with :l happy mixture of strength and sweetness, in contradiction to the roughness and flatness of false Harmony: And 2. as it is


Veu. 328.—unlucky as Fungoso etc.] Sec Ben Johnson's Every Man in his humour. P.

Ver. 337. But most by numbers, etc.]

Qiiis populi scnr.o est? quis enim r nisi carmina molli
Nunc demum numero fluere, ut perlæve scveros
Kfrundat junctura ungues: feit tendere versum
Non sceus ac si oculo rubricam dirigat uno, Pers. Sat. i. P'

In the bright Muse tho' thousand charms conspire,
Her Voice is all these tuneful fools admire; 340
Who haunt Parnassus but to please their ear,
Not mend their minds; as some to Church repair, ]
Not for the doctrine, but the music there.
These equal syllables alone require,
Tho' oft the ear the open vowels tire; 345

While expletives their feeble aid do join;
And ten low words oft creep in one dull line:


varied in compliance to the subjetJ, where the sound becomes an echo to the fense, so far as is consistent with the preservation of numbers; in contradiction to the monotony of false Harmony: Of this he gives us, in the delivery of his precepts, four fine examples of smoothness, roughness, slowness, and rapidity. The first use of this correspondence of the found to the fense, is to aid the fancy in acquiring a perfecter and more lively image of the thing represented. A second and nobler, is to calm and subdue the turbulent and selfish passions, and to raise and warm the beneficent: Which he illustrates in the famous adventure of Timotheus and Alexander: where, in referring to Mr. Dryden's Ode on that subject, he turns it to a high compliment on that great poet.


Ver. 345. ThtP oft the ear, etc.] "Fugiemtis crebras voca"lium concurfiones, quæ vastam atquehiantem orationem red"dunt. Cic. ad Heren.lib. iv. Vide etiam §)uintil. Lb. ix. c. 4. P. Imitations.

Ver. 346. While expletives their feeble aid do join,

And ten low words oft creep in one dullline:] From Dryden. "He creeps along with ten little words in every line, "and helps out his numbers with [for] [to] and [unto] and all "the pretty expletives he can find, while the ser.fe is left half "tired behind it." Essay on Dram. Poetry.

While they ring round the same unvary'd chimes,
With sure returns of still expected rhymes $
Where-e'eryou find "the cooling western breeze,"
In the next line, it " whispers thro' the trees:"
If crystal streams "with pleasing murmurs creep,"
The reader's threaten'd (not in vain) with "sleep:"
Then, at the last and only couplet fraught
With some unmeaning thing they call a thought,
A needless Alexandrine ends the song, 356

That, like a wounded snake, drags its flow length

along. Leave such to tune their own dull rhymes, and know What's roundly smooth, or languishingly flow; And praise the easy vigour of a line, 360

Where Denharn's strength, and Waller's sweetness

join. True ease in writing comes from art, not chance, As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance. 'Tis not enough no harshness gives offence, The found must seem an Echo to the sense: 365 Soft is the strain when Zephyr gently blows, And the smooth stream in smoother numbers flows; But when loud surges lash the sounding shoar, The hoarse,rough verse should like the torrent roar. When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw, The line too labours, and the words move flow: Not so, when swift Camilla scours the plain, 372 Flies o'er th' unbending corn, and skims along the , main.


Ver. 364. 'Tis nut enough no harshness gives offence;

The foundmust seem an Echo to the jense .•] The judi • cious introduction of this precept is remarkable. The Poets, and even some of the best of them, have been so fond of the beauty arisin3 from this trivial precept, that in their prac


tice, they have violated the very End of it, which is the ear crease of harmony ; and so they could but raise an Echo, did not care whose ears they offended by its dissonance. To remedy this abuse therefore, the poet, by the introductory line, would insinuate, that Harmony is always presupposed as observed; tho' it may and ought to be perpetually varied, so as to produce the effect here recommended.

Ver. 365. The sound must seem an Echg to the sense,'] Lord Roscommon says,

The found is still a comment to the fense. They are both well expressed : only this supposes the fense to bo assisted by the sound} that, the sound assisted by the sense,


Ver. 366. Soft is the strain, etc,']

Turn si lætacanunt, etc, Vida Poet. I. iii, ^ 4.03.
Ver. 368. But when loud surges, etc.]

Turnlonge sale saxa sonant, etc. Vida ib. 388.
Ver. 370. JVhen Ajax strives, etc.]

Atque ideo si quid geritur molimine magno,ctc. Vida %b.\i 7.
Ver. 372. Not so, when swift Camilla, etc.]

At mora si fuerit damno,properare jubebo,etc. Vida ib. 430,

Hear how Timotheus' vary'd lays surprize,
And bid alternate passions fall and rife! 375

While, at each change, the son of Libyan Jove
Now burns with glory, and then melts with love;
Now his fierce eyes with sparkling fury glow,
Now sighs steal out, and tears begin to flow:
Persians and Greeks like turns of nature found,
And the world's victor stood subdu'd by Sound!
The pow'r of Music all our hearts allow,
And what Timotheus was, is Dryden now.

Avoid Extremes; and shun the fault of such, Who still are pleas'd too little or too much, 385


Ver. 384. Avoid Extremes, etc.] Our Author is now come to the la/i cause of wrong Judgment, Partiality; the parent of the immediately preceding cause, a bounded capacity: Nothing so much narrowing and contracting the mind as prejudices entertained for or against things or persons. This, therefore, as the main root of all the foregoing, he prosecutes at large from jt 383 to 473.

First, to $ 394. he previously exposes that capricious turn of mind, which, by running men into Extremes, either of praise or dispraise, lays the foundation of an habitual partiality. He cautions therefore both against one aud the other; and with reason, for excess of Praise is the mark, of a bad tajle; and excess of Censure, of a bad digejlion.


Ver. 374. Hear how Timotheus, etc.] ^Alexander's Feast, or the Power of Music; an Ode by Mr. Dryden. P.

« ZurückWeiter »