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"Nature meant me
foreseen it as soon as she came on | pering, voluptuous and a coquette, the stage. This madness of the im- with neither the leness of virtue, agination, incited by climate and des- nor the greatness of crime : potic power; these woman's, queen's, prostitute's nerves; this marvellous self- A wife; a silly, harmless household dove, adandonment to all the fire of invention Fond without art, and kind without deceit.” * and desire-these cries, tears, foam on the lips, tempest of insults, actions, Nay, Nature meant nothing of the kind, emotions; this promptitude to murder, or otherwise this turtle-dove would not announce the rage with which she would have tamed or kept an Antony; a worush against the least obstacle and be man without any prejudices alone could dashed to pieces. What does Dryden do it, by the superiority of boldness effect in this matter with his written and the fire of genius. I can see al phrases? What of the maid speaking, ready from the title of the piece why in the author's words, who bids her Dryden has softened Shakspeare: half-mad mistress "call reason to asAll for Love; or, the World well Lost. sist you?" What of such a Cleopa- What a wretchedness, to reduce such tra as his, designed after Lady Castle-events to a pastoral, to excuse Anto maine, † skilled in artifices and whim
That sucks the nurse asleep?" Shakspeare's Antony and Cleopatra, 5. 2. 1hese two last lines, referring to the asp, are sublime as the bitter joke of a courtesan and an artist.
66 Iras. Call reason to assist you. Cleopatra. I have none,
And none would have: My love's a noble madness
Which shews the cause deserved it: Modest sorrow
Fits vulgar love, and for a valgar man ; But I have loved with such transcendant passion,
I soared, at first, quite out of reason's view,
And now am lost above it."-All for Love,
ny, to praise Charles II. indirectly, to bleat as in a sheepfold! And such was the taste of his contemporaries. When Dryden wrote the Tempest after Shakspeare, and the State of Innocence after Milton, he again spoiled the
ideas of his masters: he turned Eve and Miranda into courtesans; † he extinguished everywhere, under conventionalism and indecencies, the frankness, severity, delicacy, and charm of the original invention. By his side, Settle, Shadwell, Sir Robert Howard did worse.
The Empress of Morocco, by Settle, was so admired, that the gentlemen and ladies of the court learned it by heart, to play at Whitehall before the king. And this was not a passing fancy; although modified, the taste was to endure. In vain poets rejected they had mixed their native metal; in a part of the French alloy wherewith vain they returned to the old unrhymed vain Dryden, in the parts of Antony, verses of Jonson and Shakspeare; in Ventidius, Octavia, Don Sebastian, and Dorax, recovered a portion of the old naturalness and energy; in vain Otway,
With broken murmurs, and with amourous sighs,
I'll say, you were unkind, and punish you, And mark you red with many an eage kiss."-All for Love, v. 3. 1.
*All for Love, 4. 1.
† Dryden's Miranda, says, in the Tempest (2. 2):"And if I can but escape with life, I had rather be in pain nine months, as my father threatened, than lose my longing." Miranda has a sister; they quarrel, are jealous of each other, and so on. See also in The State of In nocence, 3. 1, the description which Eve gives of her happiness, and the ideas which her comfidences suggest to Satan.
who had real dramatic talent, Lee and Southern, attained a true or touching accent, so that once, in Venice Preserved it was thought that the drama would be regenerated. The drama was dead, and tragedy could not replace it; or rather each one died by the other; and their union which obbed them of
But let us pause a moment longer tu inquire whether, amid so many abor tive and distorted branches, the old theatrical stock, abandoned by chance to itself, will not produce at some point a sound and living shoot. When a man like Dryden, so gifted, so well in strength in Dryden's time, enervated formed and experienced, works with a them also in the time of his successors. will, there is hope that he will some Literary style blunted dramatic truth; time succeed; and once, in part at ramatic truth marred literary style; least, Dryden did succeed. It would the work was neither sufficiently vivid be treating him unjustly to be always norufficiently well written; the author comparing him with Shakspeare; but was too little of a poet or of an orator; even on Shakspeare's ground, with the he had neither Shakspeare's fire of im- same materials, it is possible to create agination nor Racine's polish and art.* a fine work; only the reader must for He strayed on the boundaries of two get for a while the great inventor, the dramas, and suited neither the half-inexhaustible creator of vehement and barbarous men of art nor the well-pol- original souls, and to consider the im ished men of the court. Such indeed tator on his own merits, without forc was the audience, hesitating between ing an overwhelming comparison. two forms of thought, fed by two opposite civilizations. They had no longer the freshness of feelings, the depth of impression, the bold originality and poetic folly of the cavaliers and adventures of the Renaissance; nor will they ever acquire the aptness of speech, gentleness of manners, courtly habits, and cultivation of sentiment and thought which adorned the court of Louis XIV. They are quitting the age of solitary imagination and invention, which suits their race, for the age of reasoning and worldly conversation, which does not suit their race; they lose their own merits, and do not acquire the merits of others. They were meagre pets and ill-bred courtiers, having lost the art of imagination and having not yet acquired good manners, at times dull or brutal, at times emphatic or stiff. For the production of fine poetry, race and age must concur. This race, diverging from 's own age, and fettered it the outset by foreign imitation, formed its classical literature but slowly; it will only attain it after transformng its religious and political condition: the age will be that of English reason. Dryden inaugurates it by his other works, and the writers who appear in the reign of Queen Anne will give it its completion, its authority, and its splen
There is vigor and art in this tragedy of Dryden, All for Love. "He has informed us, that this was the only play written to please himself."* And he had really composed it learnedly, according to history and logic. what is better still, he wrote it in a manly style. In the preface he says: "The fabric of the play is regular enough, as to the inferior parts of it; and the unities of time, place, and ac tion, more exactly observed, than per haps the English theatre requires. Particularly, the action is so much one, that it is the only of the kind without episode, or underplot; every scene in the tragedy conducing to the main design, and every act concluding with a turn of it." He did more; he aban doned the French ornaments, and re turned to national tradition: "In my style I have professed to imitate the divine Shakspeare; which that I might perform more freely, I have disincum bered myself from rhyme. Yet, ] hope, I may affirm, and without vanity, that by imitating him, I have excelled myself throughout the play; and par ticularly, that I prefer the scene betwixt Antony and Ventidius in the firs act, to anything which I have written in this kind." Dryden was right; Cleopatra is weak, if this feebleness * See the introductory notice, by Sir Walter Scott, of All for Love, v. 290. ↑ Ibid. v. 307. ↑ Ibid. v. 310
*This impotence reminds one of Casimir Delavigne.
of conception takes away the interest and mars the general effect, if the new rhetoric and the old emphasis at times suspend the emotion and destroy the likelihood, yet on the whole the drama stands erect, and what is more, moves on. The poet is skilful; he has planned, he knows how to construct a scene, to represent the internal struggle by which two passions contend for a human heart. We perceive the tragical vicissitude of the strife, the progress of a sentiment, the overthrow of obstacles, the slow growth of desire or wrath, to the very instant when the resolution, rising up of itself or seduced from without, rushes suddenly in one groove. There are natural words; the poet thinks and writes too genuinely not to discover them at need. There are manly characters: he himself is a man; and beneath his courtier's pliability, his affectations as a fashionable poet, he has retained his stern and energetic character. Except for one scene of recrimination, his Octavia is a Roman matron; and when, even in Alexandria, in Cleopatra's palace, she comes to look for Antony, she does it with a simplicity and nobility, not to be surpassed. "Cæsar's sister," cries out Antony, accosting her. Octavia an
My hard fortune
Subjects me still to your unkind mistakes.
Because 'tis mine; it never shall be said
For, though my brother bargains for your
Makes me the price and cement of your
I have a soul like yours; I cannot take
To rule the East: I may be dropt at Athens;
This is lofty; this woman has a proud heart, and also a wife's heart: she knows how to give and how to bear; and better, she knows how to sacrifice herself without self-assertion, and calmly; no vulgar mind conceived such a soul as this. And Ventidius, the old general, who with her and previous to her, comes to rescue Antony from his illusion and servitude, is worthy to speak in behalf of honor, as she had spoken for duty. Doubtless he was a plebeian, a rude and plain-speaking soldier, with the frankness and jests of his profession, sometimes clumsy, such as a clever eunuch can dupe, "a thickskulled hero," who, out of simplicity of soul, from the coarseness of his training, unsuspectingly brings Antony back to the meshes, which he seemed to be breaking through. Falling into a trap, he tells Antony that he has 'Tis true, I have a heart disdains your cold-seen Cleopatra unfaithful with Dola.
Had I been nothing more than Cæsar's sis
Know, I had still remain'd in Cæsar's camp:
In spite of Cæsar's sister, still is yours.
And prompts me not to seek what you should
But a wife's virtue still surmounts that pride.
"Antony. My Cleopatra ?
Ventidius. I do not lie, my lord.
Is this so strange? Should mistresses be left,
It was just the way to make Antony
been heard on the battlefield ! He loves his general like a good and honest dog, and asks no better than to die, so it be at his master's fee. He growls stealthily on seeing hirr cast down, crouches round him, and suddenly weeps:
Ventilius. Look, emperor, this is no common dew. [Weeping. i have not wept this forty years; but now My mother comes afresh into my eyes, i ca inot help her softness.
And any. By heaven, he weeps! poor, good old man, he weeps!
Ine big round drops course one another down The furrows of his cheeks.-Stop them, Ventidius,
Or I shall blush to death: they set my shame, That caused them full before me.
Ventidius. I'll do my best. Antony. Sure there's contagion in the tears of friends:
See, I have caught it too.
For, I have seen him in such various shapes
We threw it from us with a better grace;
The hunters that inclose us.'
Antony begs him to go, but he refuses; and then he entreats Ventidius to kill him:
"Antony. Do not deny me twice. Ventidius. By Heaven I will not. Let it not be to outlive you.
Antony. Kill me first,
And then die thou; for 'tis but just thou serve Thy friend, before thyself.
Ventidius. Give me your hand. We soon shall meet again. Now, farewell, emperor ! [Embrace.
I will not make a business of a trifle : And yet I cannot look on you, and kill you. Pray, turn your face.
Antony. I do: strike home, be sure. Ventidius. Home, as my sword will reach." And with one blow he kills himself. These are the tragic, stoical manners of a military monarchy, the great profusion of murders and sacrifices wherewith the men of this overturned and shattered society killed and died. This Antony, for whom so much has been done, is not undeserving of their love : he has been one of Cæsar's heroes, the first soldier of the van; kindness and generosity breathe from him to the last; if he is weak against a woman, muscles and heart, the wrath and pashe is strong against men; he has the sions of a soldier; it is this fever heat of blood, this too quick sentiment of honor, which has caused his ruin; he cannot forgive his own crime; he possesses not that lofty genius which, dwelling in a region superior to ordinary rules, emancipates a man from hesitation, from discouragement and not forget that he has not executed the remorse; he is only a soldier, he can. orders given to him:
Antony. Emperor? Why, that's the style o victory;
The conquering soldier, red with unfelt wounds,
Antony. Here, here it lies; a lump of lead | touched the ancie at drama, and brought
And in my short, distracted, nightly slumbers,
its emotion away with him.
By his side and ther also has felt it, a young man, a poc r adventurer, by turns a student, actor officer, always wild and always poor, who lived madly and sadly in excess and misery, like the their fire, and who died at the age of old dramatists, with their inspiration, thirty-four, according to some of a fever caused by fatigue, according to others of a prolonged fast, at the end of which he swallowed too quickly a morsel of bread bestowed on him in charity. Through the pompous cloak of the new rhetoric, Thomas Otway now and then reached the passions of the other age. It is plain that the times he lived in marred him, that he blunt.
He fancies himself on the battlefield, and already his impetuosity carries him away. Such a man is not fit to govern men; we cannot master fortune until we have mastered ourselves; this man is only made to belie and destroy himself, and to be veered round alternately by every passion. As soon as he believes Cleopatra faithful, honor, reputation, empire, every thing van-ed himself the harshness and truth of ishes:
"Ventidius. And what's this toy,
In balance with your fortune, honour, fame? Antony. What is't, Ventidius? it outweighs them all.
Why, we have more than conquer'd Cæsar
Give, you gods, Give to your boy, your Cæsar, This rattle of a globe to play withal, This gewgaw world; and put him cheaply off I'll not be pleased with less than Cleopatra." ↑ Dejection follows excess; these souls are only tempered against fear; their courage is but that of the bull and the lion; to be fully themselves, they need bodily action, visible danger; their tempérament sustains them; before great moral sufferings they give way. When Antony thinks himself deceived, he despairs, and has nothing left but
to die :
the emotion he felt, that he no longer
Monimia says in the Orphan (5, end when dying, "How my head swims! "Ti very dark; good night."