« EdellinenJatka »
220 verse. Having been, as might naturally be expected from his fuperior understanding, disgusted with the reasoning part of the poem, the gentler touches of fancy and tenderness were loft, if I may say so, on him. He would turn with disdain from such images as
“ There shall the morn her earliest tears bestow ;” or perhaps exclaim, as upon another occasion, “ Incredu'us odi.” Notwithstanding, however, his severity, and the absurd criticismis of Lord Kaims, which Warburton speaks of, the animated passages of this poem,
“ But thou, falfe guardian,” &c. and the lines of tenderness and poetic fancy interspersed, cannot be read without sympathy. The verses, “ Yet shall thy grave," &c. are possibly too common place, but they are surely beautiful. If any expression might be objected to, perhaps it would be “filver" for " white" wings of an angel.
PROLOGUE TO MR. ADDISON's
TRAGEDY OF CATO.
THE Tragedy of Cato itself, is a glaring instance of the force of party; fo fententious and declamatory a drama would never have met with such rapid and amazing success, if every line and sentence had not been particularly tortured, and applied to recent events, and the reigning disputes of the times. The purity and energy of the diction, and the loftiness of the sentiments, copied, in a great measure, from Lucan, Tacitus, and Seneca the philofopher, merit approbation. But I have always thought, that those pompous Roman sentiments are not so difficult to be produced, as is vulgarly imagined; and which, indeed, dazzle only the vulgar. A stroke of nature is, in my opinion, worth a hundred such thoughts as
“ When vice prevails, and impious men bear sway,
The post of honour is a private station.” Cato is a fine dialogue on liberty, and the love of one's country; but confidered as a dramatic performance, nay, as a model of a just tragedy, as some have affectedly represented it, it must be owned to want action and pathos; the two hinges, I presume, on which a just tragedy ought necessarily to turn, and without which it cannot sublist. It wants also character, although that bę not so effentially necessary to a tragedy as action. Syphax, indeed, in his interview with Juba, bears fome marks of a rough African; the speeches of the rest may be transferred to any of the
personages concerned. The fimile drawn from Mount Atlas, and the description of the Numidian travellers (mothered in the desart, are indeed in character, but sufficiently obvious. How Addison could fall into the false and unnatural custom of ending his three first acts with fimilies, is amazing in fo chaste and correct a writer, The loves of Juba and Marcia, of Portius and Lucia, are vicious and infipid episodes, debase the dignity, and destroy the unity of the fable. Cato was translated into Italian by Salvini; into Latin, and acted by the Jesuits at St. Omers; imitated in French by De Champs, and great part of it translated by the Abbé Du Bos.
The Prologue to Addison's Tragedy of Cato, is fuperior to any Prologue of Dryden ; who, notwithstanding, is so juftly celebrated for this species of writing. The Prologues of Dryden are satirical and facetious; this of Pope is folemn and sublime, as the subject required. Those of Dryden contain general topics of criticism and wit, and may precede any play whatsoever, even tragedy or comedy. This of Pope is particular, and appropriated to the tragedy alone, which it was designed to introduce.
PROLOGUE TO MR. ADDISON's
TRAGEDY OF CATO*.
wake the soul by tender strokes of art,
To raise the genius, and to mend the heart, To make mankind, in conscious virtue bold, Live o'er each scene, and be what they behold; For this the Tragic Muse first trod the stage, 5 Commanding tears to stream through ev'ry age; Tyrants no more their savage nature kept, And foes to virtue wonder'd how they wept. Our author shuns by vulgar springs to move The hero's glory, or the virgin's love; In pitying love, we but our weakness show, And wild Ambition well deserves its woe.
NOTES. * This Prologue, and the Epilogue which follows, are the most perfect models of this species of writing, both in the serious and the ludicrous way.
WAREURTON. The former is much the better of the two ; for some of Dry. den's, of the latter kind, are unequalled.
2.7. Tyrants no more] Louis XIV. wished to have pardoned the Cardinal de Rohan, after hearing the Cinna of Corneille.
WARTON. VER. 11. In pitying love,] Why then did Addison introduce the loves of Juba and Marcia ? which Pope faid to Mr. Spence, were not in the original plan of the play, but were introduced in compliance with the popular practice of the stage. WARTON,
Here tears shall flow from a more gen'rous cause,
breasts with ancient ardour rise, 15
WAPBURTON: VER. 21. A brave man, &c.] The noble passage of Seneca, which Addison adopted as a Motto, and to which Pope in this passage finely alludes, is this,
“ Ecce spectaculum dignum ad quod re piciat, intentus operi fuo, Deus! Ecce par Deo dignum, vir fortis cum malâ fortunâ compofitus! non video, inquam, quid habeat in terris Jupiter pulcrius, fi convertere animum velit, quàm ut spectet CATONEM, jam parti. bus non semel fractis, nihilhominùs inter ruinas publicas erectum.”
Pope has very much heightened the idea of Seneca, in one passage, “ Fortis vir, mali fortunâ compofitus;" which is far lefs animated than
A brave man fruggling in the storms of fate ! Let me take this opportunity of remarking, that Pope has very feldom laid the fires, as it is in the line,
A brace mắn
“ Thro' the High wood, echoing fhrill.” ALLEGRO.