« 上一頁繼續 »
The short extract we shall proceed to make, will shew very clearly that nothing could exceed Dryden's want of judgment, but the fertility of his fancy; the last line, so entirely absurd as it is, occurring after the other striking and natural images, proves a most extraordinary vivacite de pesanteur to have existed in the poet.
"Abas. Mischiefs on mischiefs, greater still, and more:
The neighb'ring plain with arms is cover'd o'er:
The vale an iron-harvest seems to yield
Of thick-sprung lances in a waving field.
The polish'd steel gleams terribly from far,
And every moment nearer shows the war.
The horse's neighing by the wind is blown,
And castled elephants o'erlook the town."
Aureng. Act I. Sc. I.
One of the most fruitful sources of the bathos in Dryden, is his constant reference, in his most serious and impassioned parts, to familiar objects; the more homely the greater favorite is a simile with Dryden, for it generally hes the advantage of being universally known, and is always especially true and appropriate. Dryden was an accurate observer, and had a mind stored with facts, truths, and observations taken from every possible subject, and collected in every possible quarter. There would be no difficulty in collecting a large quantity of these blemishes, which nothing but an absolute ignorance of their effect could have allowed to be so numerous. We will quote a few at random.
In allusion to sickness:
"Strong virtue, like strong nature, struggles still,
Exerts itself, and then throws off the ill."
To taxes, speaking to a lover:
"Impose; but use your pow'r of taxing well;
When subjects cannot pay, they soon rebel."
To a sieve:
*' If you have not enjoy'd what youth could give,
To a dyed garment:
"Our summer such a russet livery wears,
As in a garment often dy'd appears."
"When the gods moulded up the paste of man,
To a tradesman's bill:
"Nothing, a trifling sum of misery,
To a hammer:
"Your fate, once more, is laid upon the anvil;
To a hand at whist:
It would be surprising if Dryden, who was so complete a master of his own language, and had so fine an ear for the melody of versification, had not often succeeded in the course of the rhyming plays, in the modulation of his numbers. It is indeed their chief merit; and for this beauty, the " Indian Emperor" has been praised more than once, in these times of juster conceptions concerning dramatic propriety.—In our opinion, however, it is in the " State of Innocence" that the most melodious versification is to be found. The " State of Innocence," though a miserable production on the whole, and a disgusting debasement of the sterling poetry of Milton, yet has the merit of containing many pleasing passages; specimens of which we shall forthwith produce.
Raphael thus speaks of the reciprocal duties of Adam and Eve:
"Thus far to try thee; but to heav'n 'twas known,
State of Innocence, Act II.
The following passage possesses more than the charm of sweet numbers. Eve before she has seen Adam is wandering in Paradise, and is attracted by the reflection of her form in the water; she exclaims:
"Tell me, ye hills and dales, and thou fair sun,
Who shin'st above, what am I? whence begun?
Like myself, I see nothing; from each tree
The feather'd kind peep down to look on me;
And beasts with up-cast eyes forsake their shade,
What's here? another firmament below,
[Looks into a fountain.
Spread wide, and other trees that downward grow?
[Stoops down to embrace.
Beholding Adam, she adds,
"O, only like myself, (for nothing here
Yet pleas'd I hear thee."
State of Innocence, Act IF.
Were not the similar scenes of Paradise Lost so strongly impressed on the mind, we should perhaps think that the rich and luxurious beauty of the lines we are about to quote, had seldom been surpassed in their kind.
"Adam. When to my arms thou brought'st thy virgin love,
voi.. I. Part i. T
"Eve. When your kind eyes look'd languishing on mine,
"Eve. Blest in ourselves, all pleasures else abound;
State of Innocence, Act III.
The mastery which Dryden had obtained over the difficulties of rhyme, was perhaps never more manifest, than in the following narrative of the intrusion of Lucifer into Paradise.
"Gabriel, if now the watch be set, prepare,
With strictest guard, to shew thy utmost care.
This morning came a spirit, fair he seem'd,
Whom, by his face, I some young cherub deem'd;
Of man he much inquir'd, and where his place,
With shews of zeal to praise his Maker's grace;
But I, with watchful eyes, observ'd his flight,
And saw him on yon steepy mount alight;
There, as he thought unseen, he laid aside
His borrow'd mask, and re-assum'd his pride;
I mark'd his looks, averse to heav'n and good;
Dusky he grew, and long revolving stood
On some deep, dark design; then shot with haste,
And o'er the mounds of Paradise he past;
By his proud port, he seem'd the prince of hell;
And here he lurks, in shades, till night: search well
Each grove and thicket, pry in ev'ry shape,
Lest, hid in some, th' arch hypocrite escape."
State of Innocence, Act III.
There is a sweetness in the three following extracts, which would finely relieve the ruggedness of more uneven versification, but occurring as they do in a melodious rhyming play, are but beauties lost in a crowd of kindred charms. "Eve. The ground, unbid, gives more than we can ask;
But work is pleasure when we chuse our task.
Nature, not bounteous now, but lavish grows;
Our paths with flow'rs she prodigally strows;
With pain we lift up our entangled feet,
While 'cross our walks the shooting branches meet.
"Adam. Well has thy care advis'd; 'tis fit we haste;
Nature's too kind, and follows us too fast;
Leaves us no room her treasures to possess,
But mocks our industry with her excess;
And wildly wanton wears by night away,
The sign of all our labours done by day."
State of Innocence, Act IV.
"What joy, without your sight, has earth in store!
While you were absent, Eden was no more.
Winds murmur'd, through the leaves, your long delay;
And fountains, o'er the pebbles, chid your stay.
But with your presence cheer'd, they cease to mourn,
And walks wear fresher green, at your return."
"Raph. As much of grief as happiness admits
"Gab. I saw th' angelic guards from earth ascend,
State of Innocence, Act V.
The following speech of Adam, objecting to leave Paradise, is affecting, and the answer of Raphael sublime.
"Adamt Heav'n is all mercy; labour I would choose; And could sustain this Paradise to lose: