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This same Sosibius has a singular theory concerning the mutability of human notions.
“ Man is but man; unconstant still, and various ;
There's no to-morrow in him, like to day.
Perhaps the atoms rolling in his brain,
Make him think honestly this present hour;
The next a swarm of base, ungrateful thoughts
May mount aloft: and where's our Egypt then?
Who would trust chance ? since all men have the seeds
Of good and ill, which should work upward first."
Cleomenes, in a reflecting mood, says,
- Just such is death,
With a black veil, covering a beauteous face!'
Fear'd afar off
By erring nature: a mistaken phantom ;
A harmless, lambent fire. She kisses cold,
But kind, and soft, and sweet, as my Cleora.
Oh could we know,
What joys she brings; at least, what rest from grief!
How should we press into her friendly arms,
And be pleas'd not to be, or to be happy ?”.
Act IV. Scene I.
Cleander gives up the Egyptians.
“ 'Tis all in vain; we have no further work;
The people will not be dragg’d out to freedom;
They bar their doors against it; nay, the prisoners
Even guard their chains, as their inheritance;
And man their very dungeons, for their masters;
Lest god-like liberty, the common foe, .
Should enter in ; and they be judg'd hereafter
Accomplices of freedom.”
Act IV. Of the interesting character of “ The Maiden Queen" we shall say nothing more, except that the winding up of the plot is very unsatisfactory and inartificial, but proceed to our business of pointing out the poetical beauties.
Philocles, when speaking of the unknown lover who has neglected the Queen's advances, says
“ He's blind indeed!
So the dull beasts in the first paradise
With levell’d eyes gaz'd each upon their kind;
There fix'd their love: and ne'er look'd up to view
That glorious creature Man, their Sovereign Lord.”
Act III. Scene 1.
A lover thus speaks of the happiness he should enjoy with the object of his affections ::
: “ All my ambition will in you be crown'd;
And those white arms shall all my wishes bound.
Our life shall be but one long nuptial day,
And like chaf d odours melt in sweets away;
Soft as the night our minutes shall be worn,
And cheerful as the birds that wake the morn.”
Ibid. We glean the following passages, the first of which is very lovely:
“ Then, setting free a sigh, from her fair eyes
She wip'd two pearls, the remnant of wild show'rs,
Which bung likę drops upon the bells of flow'rs :
And thank'd the heav'ns,
Which better did, what she design’d, pursue,
Without her crime, to give her pow'r to you.
Act IV. Sc. II.
Philocles enters, and thus addresses the loved Candiope :
“ Phil. How now, in tears, my fair Candiope ?
So through a wat’ry cloud
The sun at once seems both to weep and shine.
For what forefather's sin do you afflict
Those precious eyes ! For sure you have
None of your own to weep.
Cand. My crimes both great and many needs must shew,
Since heav'n will punish them with losing you.
Phil. Aflictions sent from heav'n without a cause,
Make bold mankind enquire into its laws.
But heav'n, which, moulding beauty tàkes such care,
Makes gentle fates on purpose for the fair : :
And destiny, that sees them so divine,
Spins all their fortune in a silken twine :
No mortal band so ignorant is found
To weave coarse work upon a precious ground.”
Act III. Of the “ Duke of Guise” only the first scene, the fourth act, and better part of the tifth, are by Dryden. The rest is the production of Nat. Lee.
The following speech of Guise, is marked by the powerful pen of Dryden.
« Poison on her name !
Take my hand on't, that cormorant dowager
Will never rest, till she has all our heads
In her lap. I was at Bayon with her,
When she, the king, and grisly d'Alra met ;
Methinks I see her listening now before me,
Marking the very motion of his beard,
His op'ning nostrils, and his dropping lids
I hear him croak too, to the gaping council ;
Fish for the great fish, take no care for frogs,
Cut off the poppy-heads, Sir; Madam, charın
The winds but fast, the billows will be still.”
Almost the only beautiful lines besides these in this play, are Lee's; a poet who has not had justice done him. We select the few passages that follow, which will perhaps dispose the reader to think more favorably of one, whose name is only associated with an idea of rant and fustian.
Malicorne is taunting Grillon with a false accusation of his daughter.
" Yet I have brain, and there is my revenge ;
Therefore I say again, these eyes have seen
Thy blood at court, bright as a summer's morn,
When all the heaven is streak'd with dappled fires,
And fleck'd with blushes, like a rifled maid ;
Nay, by the gleamy fires that melted from her,
Fast sighs and smiles, swol'n lips and heaving breasts, i
My soul presages.” — And in the speech of Marmoutiere, that shortly follows, there is an affecting simplicity which was out of Dryden's vein.
- O Heav'ns! Did ever virgin yet attempt
An enterprize like mine? I that resolvid
Never to leave those dear delightful shades,
But act the little part that nature gave me,
On the green carpets of some guiltless grove,
And baving finish'd it, forsake the world!
Unless sometimes my heart might entertain
Some small remembrance of the taking Guise :
But that far, far from any dark’ning thought,
To cloud my bonour, or eclipse my virtue.”
The king says,
“ O Marmoutiere ! now will I baste to meet thee ;
The face of beauty, on this rising horror,
Looks like the midnight-moon upon a murther."
The following is a beautiful, though fanciful reason, for attributing an awful importance to the last words of a dying man:
“For souls just quitting earth, peep into heaven, Make swift acquaintance with their kindred forms, And partners of immortal secrets grow.”
Many fine passages also occur in the “ Edipus,” by Lee, which, as well as the “ Duke of Guise,” was written in conjunction with Dryden. We question whether extracts of greater beauty than those we shall now quote from that play are to be found in Dryden-certainly not of tenderer cast.
Tiresias, feeling the inspiration of the god, thus addresses his daughter Manto, who is leading him :
"I feel him now,
Like a strong spirit charm'd into a tree,
That leaps, and moves the wood without a wind ?
The roused God, as all this while he lay
Intomb'd alive, starts and dilates himself ;
He struggles, and he tears my aged trunk
With holy fury; my old arteries burst,
My rivell’d skin,
Like parchment, crackles at the hallow'd fire ;
I shall be young again : Manto, my daughter,
Thou hast a voice that might have sav'd the bard
Of Thrace, and forc'd the raging bacchanals,
With lifted prongs, to listen to thy airs ;
O charm this god, this fury in my bosom,
Lull him with tuneful notes, and artful strings,
With pow’rful strains; Manto, my lovely child,
Sooth the unruly god-head to be mild.”
Edipus, talking in his sleep, thus addresses his wife :
“ Edip. O, my Jocasta ! 'tis for this the wet
Starv'd soldier lies on the cold ground;
For this he bears the storms
To be thus circled, to be thus embrac'd :
That I could hold thee ever.”
Jocasta finding him in this situation, says,
" Then my fears were true.
Methought I heard your voice, and yet I doubted-
Now roaring like the ocean, when the winds
Fight with the waves ; now, in a still small tone
Your dying accents fell, as racking ships
After the dreadful yell, sink murmuring down,
And bubble up a noise."
Jocasta finding the internal misery of Edipus, thus refusés consolation :
“In vain you sooth me with your soft endearments,
And set the fairest countenance to view;
Your gloomy eyes, my lord, betray a deadness
And inward languishing : that oracle
Eats like a subtle worm its venom'd way,
Preys on your heart, and rots the noble core,
Howe'er the beauteous outside shews so lovely."
When Edipus hears his name called out by the Ghost, he falls into this soliloquy, which reminds us more nearly of Shakespear than any thing we have had the good fortune to discover in the plays of Dryden.
“ Ha! again that scream of woe !
Thrice have I heard, thrice since the morning dawn'd
It hollow'd loud, as if my guardian spirit
Callid from some vaulted mansion, (Edipus !
Or is it but the work of melancholy
When the sun sets, shadow, that shew'd at noon
But small, appear most long and terrible ;
So when we think fate hovers o'er our heads,
Our apprehensions shoot beyond all bounds,
Owls, ravens, crickets seem the watch of death,
Nature's worst vermin scare her god-like sons.
Echoes, the very leavings of a voice,
Grow babbling ghosts, and call us to our graves :
Each mole-hill thought swells to a huge Olympus,
While we fantastic dreamers heave and puff,
And sweat with an imagination's weight;
As if, like Atlas, with these mortal shoulders
We could sustain the burden of the world.”
What can be more beautiful than the “ dying fall” of these lines :
“ Of no distemper, of no blast he dy'd,
But fell like autumn-fruit that inellow'd long :
Ev'n wonder'd at, because he dropt no sooner.
Fate seem'd to wind him up for fourscore years ;
Yet freshly ran he on ten winters more :
Till, like a clock worn out with eating time,
The wheels of weary life at last stood still.”
Or than the easy and natural picture thus drawn.
- Oft-times before I thither did resort, Charm'd with the conversation of a man VOL. I. PART I.