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tween them and the Celestial City; and when they have passed through the flood, behold two Shining Ones are beside them to help them up the hill to the City whose foundation is higher than the clouds. A heavenly host comes out to meet them and gives them ten thousand welcomes. "Call at the gate," bid the Shining Ones, and the King commands that it shall be opened unto them. They go in, and all the bells of the City ring for joy. The dreamer looked in after them and he says, "The City shone like the sun; the streets also were paved with gold, and in them walked many men with crowns on their heads, palms in their hands, and golden harps to sing praises withal. . . . And after that they shut up the gates; which, when I had seen, I wished myself among them."

The Pilgrim's Progress is a wonderful book. It is the result of a thorough knowledge of the Bible, sincere religious feeling, and a glowing imagination that made real and tangible whatever thought it touched. No other writer could safely venture to name his characters Faithful or Pliable or Ignorance; but Bunyan makes these abstractions real. Faithful has other qualities than faithfulness, and he talks with Christian not like a shadow, but like a real human being. When Christian fights with Apollyon, there is no strife of phantoms, but a veritable contest, wherein Apollyon gave him a fall and would have pressed him to death had not Christian by good fortune succeeded in catching his sword and giving him a deadly thrust. The English of the book is pure and strong; but its great power lies neither in its English nor in the perfection of the allegory, but in the fact that in picturing his own religious struggles, Bunyan pictured those of many another man. in thy heart and write," said Philip Sidney.

"Look

One hun

dred years later, the unlettered tinker in Bedford Jail obeyed unconsciously the behest of the heir of the richest culture that England could give, and sent forth a masterpiece. Bunyan wrote several other books, all of value, but none equal to The Pilgrim's Progress. After his release from prison and to the end of his life he devoted himself to the preaching that he loved.

91. John Dryden, 1631-1700. Neither Bunyan nor Milton wrote with any thought of pleasing the age in which he lived. Bunyan says explicitly,

Nor did I undertake

Thereby to please my neighbor; no, not I.

I did it mine own self to gratify.

Milton surely had no preference of his own age in mind when he spent his last years on a work which he had little reason to think would find many readers among his contemporaries. The most important writer of the closing years of the century was their opposite in this respect. His name was John Dryden. He was born in 1631, of a Puritan family. Up to 1660, he wrote nothing that attracted any attention except a eulogy of Cromwell, but in that year he produced a glowing welcome to Charles II, wherein he declared that

For his long absence Church and State did groan.

We owe much to Dryden, but his name would be even greater if he had not deliberately made up his mind to please the age in which he lived, and which, unfortunately, was an age of neither good morals nor good manners. The theatres, closed in 1642, were now flung open, and there was a call for plays. Many were written, but they were of quite different character from the plays of the sixteenth century. The Shakespearian inspiration had vanished, and the French de

The drama of the

Restoration.

sire for polish and carefulness of form now held sway. If the hero of a play was in circumstances that would naturally arouse deep feeling, the writer was expected to polish every phrase, but whether the speech sounded sincere was a matter of small moment. Indeed, it was regarded as in much better taste to repress all genuine emotion. This was enough to make a play cold and unreal; but another popular demand was still more destructive of a really great dramatic period, namely, that the plays should imitate the indecent manners of the court. A successful play, then, was required to be polished in form, gay and

[graphic]

JOHN DRYDEN
1631-1700

Dryden

witty, but cold, and often vulgar and profane. yielded to this demand, especially in his comedies, but he was otherwise honest in his work, for he wrote carefully and thoughtfully. No other dramatic poet of the age was his equal; and, indeed, about whatever he wrote there was a certain strength and power that won attention and respect.

Dryden was careful to choose popular themes. He wrote a poem on the events of the year 1667, namely, the Great Fire of London, the Plague, and the Dryden's War with the Dutch; not poetical subjects by choice of any means, but subjects in which every one was interested and which afforded good opportunity for lines

subjects.

that would win applause, such as the following, which says that the English seaman

Adds his heart to every gun he fires.

Life began to move easily and pleasantly with Dryden. He was favored by the king; his company was sought by men of rank, he was comfortable financially. His next step was to write satire. The country was full of plot and intrigue. Whoever wished to stand well with the king and his party must do his best to support them. Then it was that Dryden wrote his most famous satire, Absalom and Achitophel. In this there is a kind of character-reading that is quite different from Shakespeare's. Shakespeare was interested in all kinds of people and understood them because he sympathized with them. Dryden's aim in his satire was not to understand and sympathize, but to pick out the weakest points of his victims, to sting and to hurt. One man he described as

Absalom and Achitophel. 1681.

Religio

Laici.

1682.

Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong,

Was everything by starts and nothing long,
But in the course of one revolving moon

Was chymist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon.

Dryden was ready to undertake any kind of literary work that was demanded by the times, and in the midst of his satires he wrote the Religio Laici, or "religion of a layman," and here he deserves honest praise. This poem is an argument in favor of the Church of England. To express difficult arguments in verse is not easy, but Dryden has succeeded. His poem is clear and natural in its wording, smooth, dignified, and easy to read.

Shall I speak plain, and in a nation free
Assume an honest layman's liberty?

I think, according to my little skill,

To my own mother Church submitting still,
That many have been saved, and many may,

Who never heard this question brought in play.
The unlettered Christian, who believes in gross,
Plods on to Heaven and ne'er is at a loss;

For the strait gate would be made straiter yet,

Were none admitted there but men of wit.

The Hind

and the

Panther.

Only a few years later Dryden became a member of the Roman Catholic Church and wrote The Hind and the Panther, wherein the milk-white hind represents the Church of Rome; the panther, beautiful but spotted, the church he had aban- 1687. doned. Dryden could write witty lines, but his sense of humor was not strong enough to save him from the absurdity of setting two of the beasts of the field into theological argument. Still, here were the same excellencies as in the Religio Laici, the same grace and vigor. The poem deserved applause and won it.

of the

Aeneid,

Dryden translated the Æneid and other Translation works. He wrote two beautiful odes for St. Cecilia's Day. In the second, known as Alex- 1697; ander's Feast, are many lines of the sort that stay in the memory, such as:

None but the brave deserves the fair.

Sweet is pleasure after pain.

War, he sung, is toil and trouble;

Honour but an empty bubble.

Alexander's

Feast, 1697.

A Song for
St. Cecilia's
Day. 1687.

Dryden's prose is of great value because of its clear, bracing style and general excellence.

He Essay of

Dramatic

wrote much criticism, not only in his Essay Poesy. of Dramatic Poesy, but in the prefaces to his 1667. various plays; and criticism, aside from stray paragraphs, was something new in English literature. His sen

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