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CYMON AND IPHIGENIA.
BEROALDUS, who translated this novel into Latin, and published it in Paris in 1499, affirms, that it is taken from the annals of the kingdom of Cyprus; and from his intimacy with Hugo IV., king of that island, may perhaps have had grounds for saying so, besides Boccaccio's own allegation to the same effect. Whether entirely fictitious, or grounded upon historical fact, it is one of those novels which have added most to the reputation of the "De cameron ; nor has the version of Dryden been the least admired among his poems. This popularity seems entirely due to the pri, mary incident, the reforming of Cymon from his barbarism and idiocy, by the influence of a passion, which almost all have felt at one period of their life, and love to read and hear of ever afterwards. Perhaps the original idea of Cymon's conversion is to be found in the Idyl of Theocritus, entitled BOYKOAIEKOS. There is not in our language a strain of more beautiful and melodious poetry, than that so often quoted, in which Dryden describes the sleeping nymph, and the effect of her beauty upon the clownish Cymon. But it is only sufficient to mention that passage, to recal it to the recollection of every general reader, and of most who have read any poetry at all. The narrative, it must be confessed, is otherwise inartificial, and bears little proportion, or even referençe, to this most striking and original incident. Cymon might have carried off Iphigene, and all the changes of fortune which afterwards take place
might have happened, though his love had commenced in an ordinary manner; nor is there any thing in his character or mode of conduct, which calls back to our recollection, his having such a miraculous instance of the power of love. In short, in the progress of the tale, we quite lose sight of its original and striking commencement; nor do we find much compensation by the introduction of the new actor Lysimachus, with whose passion and disappointment we have little sympathy; and whose expedients, as Dryden plainly confesses, are no other than an abuse of his public office by the commission of murder and rape. These are, perhaps, too critical objections to a story, which Dryden took from Boccaccio, as Boccaccio had probably taken it from some old annalist, as containing a striking instance of the power of the gentler affections, in regulating and refining the human mind, and a curious illustration of the mutability of fortune, in the subsequent inčidents attending the loves of Cymon and Iphigene.
Dryden, in the introductory verses, has hazarded a more direct attack upon Collier, than his consciousness of having merited his accusations had yet permitted him to bring forward.
CYMON AND IPHIGENIA,
Old as I am, for ladies love unfit,
If love be folly, the severe divine
And teaches more in one explaining page,
What needs he paraphrase on what we mean ?
you A tale of only dry instruction view. Nor love is always of a vicious kind, But oft to virtuous acts inflames the mind, Awakes the sleepy vigour of the soul, And, brushing o'er, adds motion to the pool. Love, studious how to please, improves our parts With polish'd manners, and adorns with arts. Love first invented verse, and form’d the rhime, The motion measured, harmonised the chime; To liberal acts enlarged the narrow soul'd, Soften'd the fierce, and made the coward bold; The world, when waste, he peopled with increase, And warring nations reconciled in peace. Ormond, the first, and all the fair may find, In this one legend, to their fame design’d, When beauty fires the blood, how love exalts the
In that sweet isle where Venus keeps her court, And every grace, and all the loves, resort; Where either sex is form’d of softer earth, And takes the bent of pleasure from their birth, There lived a Cyprian lord above the rest, Wise, wealthy, with a numerous issue blest;
Although this interpretation is invidious, it might have been wished, that Collier, against whom the insinuation is directed, had been less coarse, and somewhat veiled the indecencies which he justly censure
But, as no gift of fortune is sincere,
The ruling rod, the father's forming care,
His father, when he found his labour lost, And care employ'd, that answer'd not the cost, Chose an ungrateful object to remove, And loathed to see what nature made him love; So to his country farm the fool confined ; Rude work well suited with a rustic mind. Thus to the wilds the sturdy Cymon went, A squire among the swains, and pleased with ba
nishment. His corn and cattle were his only care, And his supreme delight a country fair.
It happend on a summer's holiday, That to the green-wood shade he took his way;
; For Cymon shunn'd the church, and used not
much to pray.