Изображения страниц

But don't believe him. Horace's Epis- In peace the people, and the prince in war. tles, though in verse, are genuine let

Consuls of moderate power in calms were

made ; bers, brisk, unequal in movement, al

When the Gauls came, one sole dictator ways unstudied, natural. Nothing is

sway'd. further from Dryden than this original Patriots, in peace, assert the people's right, and thorough man of the world, philo

With noble stubbornness resisting might;

No lawless mandates from the court receive sophical and lewd, * this most refined

Nor lend by force, but in a body give.” * and most nervous of epicureans, this kinsman (at eighteen centuries' dis. This serious converse shows a polititance) of Alfred de Musset and Vol- cal mind, fed on the spectacle of affairs, taire. Like Horace, an author must having in the matter of public and prac be a thinker and a man of the world to tical debates the superiority which the write agreeable morality, and Dryden French have in speculative discussions

So, amidst was no more than his contemporaries and social conversation. either a man of the world or a thinker. the dryness of polemics break forth

But other characteristics, as eminent. sudden splendors, a poetic fount, a ly English, sustain him. Suddenly, in prayer from the heart's depths ; the the midst of the yawns which these English well of concentrated passion Epistles occasioned, our eyes are ar

is on a sudden opened again with a rested. A true accent, new ideas, are

flow and a spirit which Dryden does brought out. Dryden, writing to his not elsewhere exhibit : cousin, a country gentleman, has light.“ Dim as the borrow'd beams of moon and

stars ed on an English original subject. He depicts the life of a rural squire, the

To lonely, weary, wand'ring travellers,

Is reason to the soul : and as on high referee of his neighbors, who shuns law. Those rolling fires discover but the sky, suits and town doctors, who keeps him- Not light us here ; so Reason's glimm'ring self in health by hunting and exercise.

ray sere is his portrait :

Was lent, not to assure our doubtful way,
But guide us upward to a better day.

And as those nightly tapers disappear
How bless'd is he, who leads a country life, When day's bright lord ascends our hemi
Unvex'd with anxious cares, and void of sphere,

So pale grows Reason at Religion's sight, With crowds attended of your ancient race,

So dies, and so dissolves in supernatural You seek the champaign sports, or sylvan light.” 1

chase ; With well-breathed beagles you surround the “ But, gracious God I how well dost thou pro wood,

vide Even then industrious of the common good; For erring judgments an unerring guide! And often have you brought the wily fox Thy throne is darkness in th' abyss of light To suffer for the firstlings of the flocks ; A blaze of glory that forbids the sight. Chased even amid the folds, and made to O teach me to believe Thee thus conceal'de bleed,

And search no farther than Thy self r Like felons, where they did the murderous veal'd; deed.

But her alone for my director take, Chis fiery game your active youth main- Whom Thou hast promised never to for tain'd;

sake! Not yet by years extinguish'd though re- My thoughtless youth was wing'd with vair strain'd: :

desires ;

My manhood, long misled by wandering A patriot both the king and country serves ;

fires, Prerogative and privilege preserves :

Follow'd false lights ; and when their glimpse Of cach our laws the certain limit show;

was gone, One must not ebb, nor t'other overflow; My prid:

struck out new sparkles of her own. Betwixt the prince and parliament we stand, Such was I. such by nature still I am ; The barriers of the state on either hand; Be Thine the glory and be mine the shame! May neither overflow, for then they drown Good life be now my task; my doubts are the land.

done,” When both are full, they feed our bless'd Such is the poetry of these serious

abode; Like those that water'd once the paradise of minds. After having strayed in the God.

debaucheries and pomps of the Res. Some overpoise of sway, by turns, they share ;

Epistle 15, xi. 25.

Beginning of Religio Laici, 1: 37. • What Augustus says about Horace is 1 The Hind and the Panther, Part i. 2 6 charming, but cannot be quoted, even in Latin. 75. 1. 131.

cian sungi

toration, Dryden found his way to the wishes it, a musician and a painter, grave emotions of the inner life ; he writes stirring airs, which shake ali though a Romanist, he felt like a Prot- the senses, even if they do not sink estant the wretchedness of an and deep into the heart. Such is his Alexthe presence of grace : he was capable ander's Feast, an ode in honor of St. of enthusiasm. Here and there a Cecilia's day, an admirable tru mpetmanly and soul-stirring verse discloses, blast, in which metre and sound im. in the midst of his reasonings, the press upon the nerves the emotions of power of conception and the inspira- the mind, a master-piece of rapture tion of desire. When the tragic is and of art, which Victor Hugo alone met with, he takes to it as to his own has come up to.* Alexander is on his domain; at need, he deals in the hor- throne in the palace of Persepolis ; the rible. He has described the infernal lovely Thais sate by his side; before chase, and the torture of the young him, in a vast hall, his glorious cap. girl worried by dogs, with the savage tains. And Timotheus sings: energy of Milton. *

As a contrast, he loved nature : this taste. always

The praise of Bacchus, then, the sweet musiendures in England; the sombre, re- Of Bacchus ever fair, and ever young. fective passions are unstrung in the The jolly God in triumph comes; grand peace and harmony of the fields. Sound the trumpets, beat the drums ;

Flush'd with a purle Landscapes are to be met wit amidst


He shews his honest face. theological disputation:

Now, give the hautboys breath ; he comes,

he comes. " New blossoms flourish and new flowers

Bacchus ever fair and young, arise,

Drinking joys did first ordain ; As God had been abroad, and walking there

Bacchus' blessings are a treasure, Had left his footsteps and reformed the year.

Drinking is the soldier's pleasure : The sunny V:48 from far were seen to glow

Rich the treasure, With Viw more beams, and in the meads bem

Sweet the pleasure ;

Sweet is pleasure after pain." The vanilised brooks appeared with liquid and at the stirring sounds the king is

gold to flow. As last they heard the foolish Cuckoo sing, troubled ; his cheeks are glowing; bis Whose note proclaimed the holy day of battles return to his memory; he defies spring." +

heaven and earth. Then a sad song Under his regular versification the depresses him. Timotheus mourns the artist's soul is brought to light ; # death of the betrayed Darius. Then a though contracted by habits of classi- tender song softens him ; Timotheus cal argument, though stiffened by con- lauds the dazzling beauty of Thais. troversy and polemics, though unable Suddenly he strikes the lyre again : to create souls or to depict artless and

“A louder yet, and yet a louder strain. delicate sentiments, he a genuine Break his bands of sleep asunder, poet : he is troubled, raised by beau- And rouse him, like a rattling peal of them tiful sounds and forms; he writes

der. boldly under the pressure of vehement

Hark, hark! the horrid sound

Has raised up his head; ideas; he surrounds himself willingly

As awaked from the dead, wich splendid images; he is moved by And amazed, he stares around. the buzzing of their swarms, the glitter Revenge, revengel Timotheus cries,

See the furies arise ; of their splendors; he is, when he

See the snakes, that they rear, Theodore and Honoria, xi. 435.

How they hiss in their hair!

Anthe sparkles that flash from their eyes! † The Hind and the Panther, Part iii, l. Behold a gaastly band, 383-560, X. 214.

Each a torch in his hand I " For her the weeping heavens become se- Those are Grecian ghosts, that in vattle wer rene,

slain, For her the ground is clad in cheerful

And unburied remain green,

Inglorious on the plain : For her the nightingales are taught to sing,

Give the vengeance due And nature to: her has delayed the

To the valiant crew.

Behold how they toss their torches on high, These charming verses on the Duchess of How they point to the Persian abodet, York remind one of those of La Fontaine in le Songe, addressed to the Princess of Conti. • For instance, in the Chant du Cirque.

[ocr errors]


Troy.” *

And glittering temples of their hostile | genius, liable to be misconstrued in al

The princes applaud, with a furious joy.

write ; and my judges, if they are And the king seized a flambeau with zeal to

not very equitable, already prejudiced destroy;

against me, by the lying character Thais led the way,

which has been given them of my mor. To light him to his prey, And, like another Helen, fired another

als." * Although he looked at his conduct from the most favorable point

of view, he knew that it had not always Thus formerly music softened, exalted, been worthy, and that all his writings mastered men; Dryden's verses ac- would not endure. Born between two quire again its power in describing it. epochs, he had oscillated between two

forms of life and two forms of thought X.

having reached the perfection of neiThis was one of his last works; t ther, having kept the faults of both; brilliant and poetical, it was born having discovered in surrounding man amidst the greatest sadness. The ners no support worthy of his charac king for whom he had written was ter, and in surrounding ideas no subject deposed and in exile; the religion worthy of his talent. If he had founded which he had embraced was despised criticism and good style, this criticism and oppressed; a Roman Catholic and had only its scope in pedantic treatises a royalist, he was bound to a conquered or unconnected prefaces; this good party, which the nation resentfully and style continued out of the track in indistrustfully considered as the natural fated tragedies, dispersed over multienemy of liberty and reason. He had plied translations, scattered in occalost the two places which were his sup- sional pieces, in odes written to order, port; he lived wretchedly, burdened in party poems, meeting only here and with a family, obliged to support his there an afflatus capable of employing sons abroad ; treated as a hireling by it, and a subject capable of sustaining a coarse publisher forced to ask him it. What gigantic efforts to end in for money to pay for a watch which he such a moderate result! This is the could not get on credit, beseeching natural condition of man. The end of Lord Bolingbroke 'to protect him every thing is pain and agony. For a against Tonson's insults, rated by this long time gravel and gout left him no shopkeeper when the promised page peace; erysipelas seized one of his was not finished on the stated day. legs. In April 1700 he tried to go His enemies persecuted him with pam- out; "å slight inflammation in one of phlets; the severe Collier lashed his his toes became from neglect, a gan. comedies unfeelingly; he was damned grene;" the doctor would have tried without pity, but conscientiously. He amputation, but Dryden decided that had long been in ill health, crippled, what remained to him of health and constrained to write much, reduced to happiness was not worth the pain exaggerate flattery in order to earn He died at the age of sixty-nine, from the great the indispensable money which the publishers would not give him : 1 “What Virgil wrote in the vigor of his age, in plenty and at ease,

CHAPTER III. I have undertaken to translate in my declining years; struggling with wants, The Bebolution. oppressed with sickness, curbed in my

I. * Alexander's Feast, xi. 183-188.

WITH the constitution of 1688 a nen † Alexander's Feast was written in 1697, spirit appears in England. Slowly, soon after the publication of the Virgil. In 1699 appeared Dryden's translated tales and gradually, the moral revolution accomoriginal poems, generally known as “The Fa- panies the social: man changes with bles,” in which the portrait of the English the state, in the same sense and for the country gentleman (see pag. 65) is to be found. -TR.

same causes ; character moulds itself He was paid two hundred and fifty guineas * Postscript of Virgil's Works, as transated for ten thousand lines.

by Dryden, XV. p. 187.


to the situation; and little by little, in incapable of motion or thought, lying manners and in literature, we see spring in the kennel, whom the care of the up a serious, reflective, moral spirit, passers-by alone could prevent from capable of discipline and independence, being smothered in mud, or run over which can alone maintain and give by carriage wheels. A tax was imposed cffect to a constitution.

to stop this madness : it was in vain

the judges dared not condemn, the in. II.

formers were assassinated. The House This was not achieved without diffi-threatened with a riot, withdrew his

gave way, and Walpole, finding himself culty, and at first sight it seems as law.* All these bewigged and ermined though England had gained nothing by lawyers, these bishops in lace, these this revolution of which she is so embroidered and gold-bedizened lords, proud. The aspect of things under this fine government so cleverly bal. William, Anne, and the first

anced, was carried on the back of a Georges, is repulsive. We are tempted huge and formidable brute, which as a to agree with Swift in his judgment, to rule would tramp peacefully though say that if he has depicted

a Yahoo, it growlingly on, but which on a sudden, is because he has seen him ; naked or for a mere whim, could shake and drawn in his carriage, the Yahoo is not crush it. This was clearly seen in 1780, beautiful. We see but corruption in during the riots of Lord George Gor. nigh places, brutality in low, a band of don. Without reason or guidance at intriguers leading a mob of brutes. The the cry of No Popery the excited mob human beast, inflamed by political demolished the prisons, let loose the passions, gives vent to cries and vio- criminals, abused the Peers, and was lence, burns Admiral Byng in effigy, for three days master of London, burndemands his death, would destroy his ing, pillaging, and glutting itself

. house and park, sways in turns from Barrels of gin were staved in and made party to party, seems with its blind rivers in the streets. Children and force ready to annihilate civil society. women on their knees drank themselves When Dr. Sacheverell was tried, the to death. Some became mad, others butcher boys, crossing-sweepers, chim- fell down besotted, and the burning ney-sweepers, costermongers, drabs, the and falling houses killed them, and entire scum, conceiving the Church to buried them under their ruins. Eleven be in danger, follow him with yells of years later, at Birmingham, the people rage and enthusiasm, and in the even sacked and gutted the houses of the ing set to work to burn and pillage the Liberals and Dissenters, and were dissenter's chapels... When Lord Bute, found next day in heaps, dead drunk, in defiance of public opinion, was set in the roads and ditches. When in up in Pitt's place, he was assailed with stinct rebels in this over-strong and stones, and was obliged to surround his well-fed race it becomes perilous. John carriage with a strong, guard. At Bull dashed headlong at the first red every political crisis was heard a riot.

rag which he thought he saw. Jus growl, were seen disorder, blows, broken heads. It was worse when the estimable than the lower.

The higher ranks were even less

If there people's own interests were at stake has been no more beneficial revolution Gin

had been discovered in 1684, and than that of 1688, there has been none about half a century later England con- that was launched or supported by sun ved seven millions of gallons.* The dirtier means. Treachery was every; tavernkeepers on their signboards in- where, not simple, but double and vited people to come and get drunk for triple. Under William and Anne, ad. a penny; for twopence they might get mirals, ministers, members of the dead drunk ; no charge for straw; the Privy Council, favorites of the ante,

landlord dragged those who succumbed chamber, corresponded and conspired into a cellar, where they slept off their carouse. A man could not walk Lon

* In die present inflamed temper of the peo don streets without meeting wretches, ple, the Act could not be carried into axecu

tian without an ved force.Sporch of Si 1742, Report of Lord Lonsdale. Robert W'alpola



with the same Stuarts whom they had your vote, and here is a bank-bill of two sold, cnly to sell them again, with a thousand pounds, which he put into complication of bargains, each destroy- his hands. The member made him this ing the last, and a complication of per- answer : ‘Sir Robert, you have lately juries, each surpassing the last, until in served some of my particular friends; the end no one knew who had bought and when my wife was last at court, the im, or to what party he belonged. King was very gracious to her, which The greatest general of the age, the must have happened at your instance, Duke of Marlborough, is one of the I should therefore think myself very basest rogues in history, supported by ungrateful (putting the bank-bill into his mistresses, a niggard user of the his pocket) if I were to refuse the pay which he received from them, favor you are now pleased to ask systematically plundering his soldiers, me. This is how a man of the trafficking on political secrets, a traitor world did business. Corruption was to James II., to William, to England, so firmly established in public man betraying to James the intended plan ners and in politics, that after the of attacking Brest, and even, when old fall of Walpole, Lord Bute, who and infirm, walking from the public had denounced him, was obliged rooms in Bath to his lodgings, on a cold to practise and increase it. His coi. and dark night, to save sixpence in league Henry Fox, the first Lord chair-hire. Next to him we may place Holland, changed the pay-office into a Bolingbroke, a skeptic and cynic, market, haggled about their price with minister in turn to Queen and Pretend hundreds of members, distributed in er, disloyal alike to both, a trafficker one morning twenty-five thousand in consciences,marriages, and promises, pounds. Votes were only to be had who had squandered his talents in de- for cash down, and yet at an important bauch and intrigue, to end in disgrace, crisis these mercenaries threatened to impotence, and scorn.* Walpole, who go over to the enemy, struck for wages, used to boast that “every man had his and demanded more. Nor did the price,” † was compelled to resign, after leaders miss their own share. They having been prime minister for twenty sold themselves for, or paid themselves years. Montesquieu wrote in 1729 : with, titles, dignities, sinecures. In **There are Scotch members who have order to get a place vacant, they gave only two hundred pounds for their the holder a pension of two, three, five, vote, and sell it at this price. English- and even seven thousand a year. Pitt, men are no longer worthy of their the most upright of politicians, the liberty.. They sell it to the king; and leader of those who were called if the king should sell it back to them, patriots, gave and broke his word, they would sell it him again.” We attacked or defended Walpole, proread in Bubb. Doddington's Diary posed war or peace, all to become or to the candid fashion and pretty contriv- continue a minister. Fox, his rival, ances of this great traffic. So Dr. was a sort of shameless sink. The King states: “ He (Walpole) wanted Duke of Newcastle, “whose name to carry a question in the House of was perfidy,” a living, moving, talkCommons, to which he knew there ing caricature," the most clumsy, ig. would be great opposition. ... As he norant, ridiculed and despised of the was passing through the Court of Re- aristocracy, was in the Cabinct for quests, he met a member of the con- thirty years and premier for ten years, cary px:% whose avarice, he imagined, by virtue of his connections, his wealth, would noi reject a large bribe. He of the elections which he managed, and took him aside, and said, “Such a the places in his gift. The fall of the question comes on this day; give me Stuarts put the government into the

* See Walpole's terrible speech gainst him, hands of a few great families which, by 1734.

of rotten boroughs, bought * See, for the truth of this statement, Me- members and high-sounding speeches, moirs of Horace Walpole, 2 vols., ed. E. oppressed the king, moulded the pas Warburton, 1851, i. 381, note.-Tr.


Notes during a journey in England made * Dr. W. King, Political and Literary Ar in 1929 with Lord Chesterfield,

acdotes of his own Times, 1818, 37.


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »