תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

And spent at last, and speechless as he lics, With looks still thrcatening, mocks their rage

and dies. This is the utmost stretch that Nature can, And all beyond is fuliome, false, and vain. Beauty's the theme ; fome nymph divinely

fair Excites the Muse : let truth be even there; As painters flatter, fo may poets too, But to resemblance must be ever true. (5) The day that she was born, the Cyprian

Queen “ Had like t' have dy'd thro' envy and thro'

“ spleen;
(5) Le jour qu'elle naquit, Venus bien qu'immortelle,

Peisa mourir de honte, en la voyant fi belle,
Les Graces a l'env: defcerdirent des cieux,
Pour avoir l'honeur d'accompagner ses yeus;
Et l'Amour, qui ne put entrer dans fon courage,

Voulut obftinément longer sur son visage. This is a lover's description of his mistress by the great Corneille ; civil, to be sure, and polite as any thing can be. Let any body turn over Waller, and he will see how much more naturally and delicately the English author treats the article of love than this celebrated Frenchian. I would not however be thought, by any derogatory quotation, to take from he merit of a writer whose reputation is fo universally and so

justly

* The Graces in a hurry left the skics " To have the honour to attend her eyes; “ And Love, despairing in her heart a place, "Would needs take up his lodging in her

face *."

jofly established in all nations; but, as I said before, I rather chute, where any failings are to be found, to correct my own countrymen by foreign examples, than to provoke them by inítances drawn from their own writings; humanum est crrare. I cannot forbear 07€ quotation more from another celebrated French author. It is an epigram upon a monument for Francis 1. King of France, by way of question and answer, which in English is verbatim thus :

Under this marble who lies buried here?
Francis the Great; a king beyond compare.
Why has so great a king to imall a llove?
Of that great king here's but the heart alone.
Then of this conqueror here lies bui part ?

Nowhere he lies all-for he was all heart. The author was a Gascon, to whom I can properly oppose 10body so well as a Welchman; for which purpose I am farther furuilhed, from the fore-mentioned collection of Oxford Verles, with an ep: gram by Martin Lluellin upon the faine subject, which I remember to have heard olien repeated to me when I was a boy. Besides, from whence can we draw better examples than from the very feat and murtery of the Muses? Corneille.

Thus

D 2

Tho wrote by great Corneille, such lines as

these,
Such civil nonsense, fure could never please.
Waller, the beat of all th' inspired train,
To melt the fair instructs the dying swain.

Thus flain, thy valiant ancestor * did lie,
When his one bark a navy did defy;
When now encompass’d round he victor stood,
And bath'd his pinnace in his conquering blood,
Till, all the purple current dry'd and spent,
He fell, and made the waves his monument.
Where shall the next fam'd GranviHe's athes ftand?

Thy grandfire's fill the sea, and thine the land. I cannot say the two last lincs, in which confist the sting or point of the epigram, are strictly conformable to the rule herein set down : the word asmes, metaphorically, can signify nothing but fame, which is mere found, and can fill no space either of land or fea: the Welchman however must be allowod ro have ouidone the Gascon. The fallacy of the French epigram appears at first light; but the English Atrikes the fancy, suspends and dazzles the judgment, and may perhaps be allowed to pass under the shelter of those daring hyperboles which, by presenting an obvious meaning, make their way, according to Seneca, through the incredible to true.

Sir Richard Granville, Vice-admiral of England, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, maintained a fight with his fingle thip again at the whole armada of Spain, consisting of fiity. three of their best men of war,

The

(6) The Roman wit *, who impiously divides His hero and his gods to different fides, I would condemn, but that, in spite of sense, Th'admiring world still stands in his defence. How oft', alas! the best of men in vain Contend for blessings which the worst obtain !

(6) Vietrix causa Deis placuit, fed vieta Catoni. The consent of so many ages having established the reputation of this line, it may perhaps be presumption to attack it; but it is not to be fupposed that Cato, who is described to have been a man of rigid morals and strict devotion, more resembling the gods than men, would have chofen any party in opposition to those gods whom he profelled to adore. The poet would give us to understand, that his hero was too righteous a person to accompany the divinities themselves in an unjust cause; but to represent a mortal man to be either wiser or jufter than the Deity, may shew the impiety of the writer, but add nothing to the merit of the hero ; reither reason nor reügion will allow it; and it is impossible for a corrupt being to be more excellent than a divine ; fuccefs implies permisiion, and not approbation ; to place the gods always on the thriving fide, is to make them partakers of all successful wickedness : to judge right, we must wait for the conclusion of the action; the catastrophe will best decide on which side is Providence; and the violent death of Cæsar acquits the gods from being companions of his usurpation.

Lucan was a determined Republican, no wonder he was a Free-thinker. * Lucan.

The

The gods, permitting traitors to fucceed,
Become not parties in an impious deed ;
And by the tyrant's murder we may find,
That Cato and the gods were of a mind.
Thus forcing truth with such preposterous

praise, Our characters we leffen when we'd raise ; Like castles built by magic art in air, That vanish at approach, such thoughts appear; But rais'd on truth by fome judicious hand, As on a rock, they shall for ages stand. (1) Our King return'd *, and banith'd Peace

restor’d, The Muse ran mad to see her exil'd lord ; (7) r. Driden in one of his prologues has these two lines:

He's bound to please, not to write wall, and knows

There is a mode in plays as well as cluihes. From whence it is plain, where he has expofed himself to the critics, he wa, forced to follow the fashion to humour a) audience, and not to plerle himleif: a hard fucritice to maie for, icter: tublitience, cruecially for luci as would have their writings live as well as themielves. Nor can the poet ube labours ve h's daily breid be delivered road this ciu:) ne. cellity, les fome more certain eneow!«ament can be vided than the bare uncertain profiis of a third day, and tie theatre be put und'r some more impart al m2.1ment thaa the jurisdiction of players. Who wite to live muit uravvide * King Charles II.

aily

« הקודםהמשך »