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manners of Mahometans are shockingly violated. Who ever heard of human sacrifices, or of any sacrifices, being offered up to Mahomet *; and when were his followers able to use the classical and learned allusions which'occur throughout the dialogue! On this last topic Addison makes the following observations, in the "Guardian," No. 110.
"I have now Mr Dryden's "Don Sebastian" before me, in which I find frequent allusions to ancient poetry, and the old mythology of the heathens. It is not very natural to suppose a king of Portugal would be borrowing thoughts out of Ovid's " Metamorphoses," when he talked even to those of his own court; but to allude to these Roman fables, when he talks to an emperor of Barbary, seems very extraordinary. But observe how he defies him out of the classics in the following lines:
Why didst not thou engage me man to man,
"Almeyda, at the same time, is more book-learned than Don Sebastian. She plays an Hydra upon the Emperor, that is full as good as the Gorgon:
O that I had the fruitful heads of Hydra,
"She afterwards, in allusion to Hercules, bids him 'lay down the lion's skin, and take the distaff;' and, in the following speech, utters her passion still more learnedly:
No; were we joined, even though it were in death.
"The emperor of Barbary shews himself acquainted with the Roman poets as well as either of his prisoners, and answers the foregoing speech in the same classic strain:
Serpent, I will engender poison with thee:
• In a Zambra dance, introduced in the " Conquest of Granada," our author had previously introduced the Moors bowing to the image of Jupiter; a gross solecism, hardly more pardonable, as Langbaine remarks, than the introduction of a pistol in the hand of Demetrius, a successor of Alexander the Great, which Dryden has justly censured.
"Ovid seems to have been Muley-Moloch's favourite author; witness the lines that follow:
She, still inexorable, still imperious, And loud, as if, like Bacchus, born in thunder.
"I shall conclude my remarks on his part with that poetical complaint of his being in love; and leave my reader to consider, how prettily it would sound in the mouth of an emperor of Morocco:
The god of love once more has shot his fires
"Muley Zeydan is as ingenious a man as his brother Muley Moloch; as where he hints at the story of Castor and Pollux:
May we ne'er meet;
For, like the twins of Leda, when I mount,
"As for the Mufti, we will suppose that he was bred up a scholar, and not only versed in the law of Mahomet, but acquainted with all kinds of polite learning. For this reason he is not at all surprised when Dorax calls him a Phaeton in one place, and in another tells him he is like Archimedes.
"The Mufti afterwards mentions Ximenes, Albornoz, and cardinal VVolsey, by name. The poet seems to think, he may make every person, in his play, know as much as himself, and talk as well as he could have done on the same occasion. At least, I believe, every reader will agree with me, that the above-mentioned sentiments, to which I might have added several others, would have been better suited to the court of Augustus than that of Muley Moloch. I grant they are beautiful in themselves, and much more so in that noble language, which was peculiar to this great poet. I only observe, that they are improper for the persons who make use of them."
The catastrophe of the tragedy may be also censured, not only on the grounds objected to that of " (Etlipus," but because it does not naturally flow from the preceding events, and opens, in the fifth act, a new set of persons, and a train of circumstances, unconnected with the preceding action. In the concluding scene, it was remarked, by the critics, that there is a want of pure taste in the lovers dwelling more upon the pleasures than the horrors of their incestuous connection.
Of the lighter scenes, which were intended for comic, Dr Johnson has said, " they are such as that age did not probably commend, and as the present would not endure." Dryden has remarked, with self-complacency, the art with which they are made to depend upon the serious business. This has not, however, the merit of novelty; being not unlike the connection between the tragic and comic scenes of the " Spanish Friar." The persons introduced have also some resemblance; though the gaiety of Antonio is far more gross than that of Lorenzo, and Morayma is a very poor copy of Elvira. It is rather surprising, that when a gay libertine was to be introduced, Dryden did not avail himself of a real character, the English Stukely; a wild gallant, who, after spending a noble fortune, became the leader of a band of Italian Condottieri, engaged in the service of Sebastian, and actually fell in the battle of Alcazar. Collier complains, and with very good reason, that, in the character of the Mufti, Dryden has seized an opportunity to deride and calumniate the priesthood of every religion; an opportunity which, I am sorry to say, he seldom fails to use with unjustifiable inveteracy. The rabble scenes were probably given, as our author himself says of that in Cleomenes, "to gratify the more barbarous part, of the audience." Indeed, to judge from the practice of the drama at this time, the representation of a riot upon the stage seems to have had the same charms for the popular part of the English audience, which its reality always possesses in the streets.
Notwithstanding the excellence of this tragedy, it appears to have been endured, rather than applauded, at its first representation; although, being judiciously curtailed, it soon became a great favourite with the public t; and, omitting the comic scenes, may be again brought forward with advantage, when the public shall be tired of children and of show. The tragedy of " Don Sebastian" was acted and printed in l6y0.
t Langbaine says, it was acted "with great applause;" but this must refer to its reception after the first night; for the author's own expressions, that "the audience endured it with much patience, and were weary with muck food nature and silence," exclude the idea of a brilliant reception on the (irst representation, See the beginning of the Preface.
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
EARL OF LEICESTER, &c*
Far be it from me, my most noble lord, to think, that any thing which my meanness can produce, should be worthy to be offered to your patronage; or that aught which I can say of you should recommend you farther to the esteem of good men in this present age, or to the veneration which will
* In order to escape as far as possible the odium, which after the Revolution was attached to Dryden's politics and religion, he seems occasionally to have sought for patrons amongst those Nobles of opposite principles, whom moderation, or love of literature, rendered superior to the suggestions of party rancour; or, as he himself has expressed it in the Dedication of " Amphitryon," who, though of a contrary opinion themselves, blamed him not for adhering to a lost cause, and judging for himself what he could not chuse but judge. Philip Sidney, the third earl of Leicester, had taken an active part against the kingin the civil wars, had been named one of his judges, though he never took his seat among the regicides, and had been one of Cromwell's Council of State. He was brother of the famous Algernon Sidney, and although retired from party strife, during the violent contests betwixt the Whigs and Tories in 1682-3, there can be no doubt which way his inclinations leaned. He died 6th March, 1696-7, aged more than eighty years. certainly be paid you by posterity. On the other side, I must acknowledge it a great presumption in me, to make you this address; and so much the greater, because by the common suffrage even of contrary parties, you have been always regarded as one of the first persons of the age, and yet not one writer has dared to tell you so; whether we have been all conscious to ourselves that it was a needless labour to give this notice to mankind, as all men are ashamed to tell stale news; or that we were justly diffident of our own performances, as even Cicero is observed to be in awe when he writes toAtticus; where, knowing himself over-matched in good sense, and truth of knowledge, he drops the gaudy train of words, and is no longer the vainglorious orator. From whatever reason it may be, I am the first bold offender of this kind: I have broken down the fence, and ventured into the holy grove. How I may be punished for my profane attempt, I know not; but I wish it may not be of ill omen to your lordship: and that a crowd of bad writers do not rush into the quiet of your recesses after me. Every man in all changes of government, which have been, or may possibly arrive, will agree, that I could not have offered my incense, where it could be so well deserved. For you, my lord, are secure in your own merit; and all parties, as they rise uppermost, are sure to court you in
Mr Malone has strongly censured the strain of this Dedication, because it represents Leicester as abstracted from parties and public affairs, notwithstanding his active share in the civil wars. Yet Dryden was not obliged to draw the portrait of his patron from his conduct thirty years before; and if Leicester's character was to be taken from the latter part of his life, surely the praise of moderation is due to him, who, during the factious contests of Charles H's. reign, in which his own brother made so conspicuous a figure, maintained the neutrality of Pomponius Atticus.