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might have been foreshewn, and also proposed a scheme. Albertus Magnus upheld the same doctrine; but before them all, Albumasar had written much concerning the birth of Christ on astrological principles. Instead of accusing Cardan of impiety, his opponents might have much more justly charged him with a species of literary dishonesty, in concealing the names of the inventors of this scheme, and submitting to the odium of being considered the author, rather than lose the credit of the invention. No one can read this life, without perceiving that religion, and that of the Romish church too, was very deeply rooted in the mind of this singular philosopher. When in England, he refused a very advantageous appointment, rather than acknowledge the supremacy of the king. For this same reason, that neither the air, nor the religion of Denmark, was likely to agree with him, did he reject the invitation from that state. The ground which he assigns for loving solitude, is that of any one but an infidel : “ Diligo (says he) solitudinem, nunquam enim magis sum cum his, quos vehementer diligo quam solus sum: diligo autem Deum et spiritum bonum: hos dum solus sum contemplor, immensum bonum, sapientiam æternam, lucis puræ principium et autorem, gaudium verum in nobis, ubi periculum non est ne nos deserat, veritatis fundamentum, amorem voluntarium, autorem omnium, qui beatus est in seipso et beatorum omnium tutela et desiderium: Justitia profundissima seu altissima, mortuos curans, et viventium non oblitus. Spiritus autem mandato illius me defendens, misericors consultor bonus, et in adversis auxiliator et consolator.”-Cap. 53.
It is with some regret that we find, the extent of this article forbids us from enlarging on the niany other curious points, connected with the life and works of Cardan. We will conclude both our observations and quotations by the following lines of Horace, in which Cardan characterizes himself.-“ Non aliter (says he) de me ego sentio quam Horatius de suo Tigellio; quinimo Horatium dixerim tum de me sub illius persona locutum.”
“ Nil æquale homini fuit illi : sæpe velut qui
Hor. Sat. 1.3. 9.
of the the tasto any
ART. IX. The Dramatic Works of John Dryden, Esq. In
6 Vols. London, 1735. The character of Dryden's genius is better known than his works the powers of his mind are universally acknows ledged-it is a part of the national creed ; that he was a great poet, is an axiom which all are ready to grant in limine; and it is well that his fame has become a settled conviction in the public mind, for were a man casually called upon to prove the truth of the position, though secure of ultimate victory, he would find the task not unencumbered with difficulty-he could not appeal to any particular work, as being universally read, and as universally admired and approved. His translations, it is true, are spirited, and convey all, and frequently more than the writer's meaning; but then, he has taken improper liberties with his author, and fills the mind of the reader with emotions of a different character than would be produced by the original. Then his plays are bombastic, and as a proof of their worthlessness, it may be alleged they are forgotten. His fables-his odes his tales—his satires remain, all of which, it is clear, on the reading, could only be written by a man of gigantic genius, but are, as wholes, from the lapse of time and the occasional nature of many, and from the imperfections of haste and carelessness, far from being among the choice favourites of the common reader. If, however, the plays of Dryden were as well known and understood as his other works-had it even been possible to read them without some ulterior object beyond the mere pleasure of reading, we should not have presumed to meddle with the hallowed remains of John Dryden. The plays before us, with the exception of two or three, are disfigured with almost every imperfection that can blot a dramatic production. The plots are uninteresting and ill compacted, sometimes jejune and sometimes confused; the language, unnatural and inflated; the ideas, sometimes inappropriate, and most commonly forced and turgid ; the dialogue, in general flat and insipid, or farfetched and ingenious out of place. A great part of them are written in rhyme, and exhibit characters as bizarre and untrue to nature, as the amabæan strains and alternate conceits in which they dally with each other. On a statement of this sort, two very interesting questions arise. Was there some defect in the potent genius of Dryden which unfitted him to excel in the walk of Shakspear and Jonson? Was it possible for Dryden to write half a dozen volumes, purporting to be poetry, without their containing much that was excellent ? The latter question, at least, we hope to discuss to the satisfaction of our readers; for while they escape the labour of wading through the works before us, we shall cull for them what we esteem a most odorous collection of poetical flowers; which they could not have gathered for themselves, without various impatient feelings at the thorns and brushwood which would have beset their path. For our parts, we have gone, most patiently and industriously, through the plays of Dryden-heroic, comic, and tragic; and though eventually amply rewarded for our trouble, were oppressed with many a sensation of weariness and impatience the fruits we lay before our readers, flattering ourselves we have left very little, if any thing, for future gleaners.
The most obvious qualifications of a dramatic writer are the power of inventing characters, of imagining situations for them, and of inspiring them with appropriate ideas, a dexterity in the management of his incidents, and a facility of combining them into a harmonious and regular plot. In the heroic plays of Dryden, after having once adopted the idea of a heroic play, Dryden was no longer at liberty to consult his genius: the characters were already made for him, and were, of necessity, to be fashioned after a given pattern-to wit, the romantic heroes of the heroic novel. And in the nature of the scenes, and the strain of the dialogue, he was equally tied down to a given model-the sentiments and ideas must be taken from a certain code—not a feeling must be expressed, nor an idea interchanged, unless after the law of that strange mixture of classical and chivalrous romance, which is the staple of the Grand Cyrus, and the other novels of that class. So that allowing the choice of this description of play to have been a mere error of opinion, that Dryden has not succeeded in making them interesting and powerful exhibitions of passion, is no proof of a want of dramatic genius. It is in the tragedies and tragi-comedies of this celebrated author that we must look for a criterion of his merit in this most important department of poetry. Dryden himself observes, that his “ All for Love" is the only play he ever wrote for himself; and the “ Maiden Queen," he says, in his preface to the play, is in his estimation “superior to all his other follies of this kind;" alluding, of course, only to those already written. The “ All for Love,” which was written after Ďryden had begun to appreciate more fully the beauties of Shakespear, is one of the finest and most beautiful tragedies in the language. On this play, the “Spanish Friar,” and “ Don Sebastian," the dramatic fame of Dryden rests; and of these, as being much better known, and well worthy of being read over and over, we shall say as little as we possibly can in this place.
The play, which is next in merit to these is the “ Secret Love;" and as a very favourable specimen of the natural genius for the drama in Dryden, which sometimes, indeed, breaks out even in his worst plays, when he bursts through the encrustations of bad judgment and false taste, we might mention the sweet and beautiful character of the Maiden Queen, in the “ Secret Love," and the interesting situations and the able developement of them in this impassioned play. Let any one read the following scene from this play, and doubt, if he will, the dramatic power of Dryden. The Maiden Queen secretly bears, in the recesses of her heart, a deep and ardent passion for one of her courtiers, which he, being attached to another, is ignorant of, and blind to the indications of it in his royal mistress-indications which a less engaged man might have discovered. Philocles, the object of her affection, has been prevailerl upon to plead in behalf of the suit of a prince attached to the queen, who is her equal, and desired by the people to be her consort: he is leaving her presence with the unsuccessful petitioner, when she thus addresses him.
" Queen. Philocles, you may stay.
Queen. I have no commandsor, what's all one,
Phil. How! no obedience, Madam ?
Phil. Madam, your breath, which rais'd me from the dust,
Queen. You are above them now, grown popular :
Phil. You yourself clear me, Madam. Had I sought
Queen. Let me be judge of my own safety;
Queen. I cannot love -
Leave me, good Philocles, to my own thoughts;
" Asteria. Dear Madam, what's the matter !
Queen. Thou hast a greater,
Ast. It ill becomes me, Madam, to say that.
Queen. I know I am: Prythee forgive me for it.
Queen. I feel my strength each day and hour consume,
Ast. 0, dearest Madam!
Queen. Thy love has mov'd me, I for once will have