« PrejšnjaNaprej »
"Farewell, fair Armida, my joy and my grief, "In vain I have lov'd you, and hope no relief; "Undone by your virtue, too strict and severe, "Your eyes gave me love, and you gave me despair: "Now call'd by my honour, I seek with content "The fate which in pity you would not prevent: "To languish in love, were to find by delay "A death that's more welcome the speediest way.
"On seas and in battles, in bullets and fire, "The danger is less than in hopeless desire ;
My death's wound you give, though far off I bear My fall from your sight,-not to cost you a tear: "But if the kind flood on a wave should convey "And under your window my body should lay, "The wound on my breast when you happen to see, You'll say with a sigh—it was given by me.”
In conversing with the late Mr. Boswell on the merit of THE REHEARSAL, Dr. Johnson observed, with his usual pointed energy, that "it had not salt enough to keep itself sweet;-it had not vitality enough to preserve it from putrefaction." Dryden, however, (as I learn from the testimony of one who was personally acquainted with him,) allowed that "it had a great many good things in it, though so severe (he added) against myself; but I can't help saying, that Smith and Johnson are two of the coolest and most insignificant fellows I ever met with on the stage.”—He made no reply, for which he has assigned the following
Spence, from the information of Dr. Lockier, of whom some account will be given hereafter.
reasons in the Dedication of Juvenal: "I answered not THE REHEARSAL, because I knew the author sat to himself when he drew the picture, and was the very Bayes of his own farce: because also I knew that my betters were more concerned than I was in that satire: and lastly, because Mr. Smith and Mr. Johnson, the main pillars of it, were two such languishing gentlemen in their conversation, that I could liken them to nothing but to their own relations, those noble characters of men of wit and pleasure about the town."
Whatever might have been the success of THE REHEARSAL, it did not for some years banish rhyme from the stage; several heroick plays having been acted between 1672 and 1677. Gildon, indeed, asserts in one place, that by the force of its satire, with the aid of Lord Mulgrave's ESSAY ON POETRY, in less than a year's time scarce any piece of this kind was endured: but the ESSAY ON POETRY did not appear till ten years afterwards, and therefore could not have had any operation at the time here spoken of; and in another place the same writer expresses his surprise that THE REHEARSAL should be acted to full houses, for three or four days together, and immediately afterwards "those very plays, or others full of all the absurdities exploded in that pleasant criticism, not less thronged." Without doubt, heroick plays kept
7 LAWS OF POETRY, p. 55, 8vo. 1721.
8 COMPLETE ART OF POETRY, vol. i. p. 203, 12mo. 1718.
their ground for some time.
Gildon, who was
but six years old when this farce first appeared, could tell nothing of its effect from his own knowledge. At a subsequent period, on the revival of many of the pieces condemned by THE REHEARSAL, to which his testimony principally applies, he says in one of his Essays, that they were received with applause; but in another, he adds, that their success arose from their extravagance, for he had always observed, they had the effect of comedy on the audience." This observation, however, which was made in 1698, seems to refer more particularly to an exhibition in that year, when one of the players, to retaliate on our author for a prologue with which he was offended, in performing Almanzor, probably endeavoured to excite laughter by making the part ridiculous.
Dryden, however, yielded so far to the popular tide, which now seemed to set against heroick plays, as to turn his thoughts from the buskin to the sock, and in 1672 produced two comedies, MARRIAGE A-LA-MODE, and THE ASSIGNATION, OR LOVE IN A NUNNERY. MARRIAGE A-LAMODE appears to have been acted in May,' and
9 Continuation of Langbaine's Account of the English Dramatick Poets, p. 43.
The following lines of the Prologue to MARRIAGE A-LA-MODE, I believe, allude to the equipment of the fleet, which afterwards engaged the Dutch off Southwold Bay, May 28th, 1672:
THE ASSIGNATION in the following winter. They were both entered at Stationers' Hall, March 18, 1672-3,3 and printed in 1673. The former of
"Lord, how reform'd and quiet are we grown, “Since all our braves and all our wits are gone:
Fop-corner now is free from civil war,
White-wig and vizard make no longer jar;
"France and the fleet have swept the town so clear, "That we can act in peace, and you can hear.”
In the conclusion of the same Prologue, there is an allusion to Ravenscroft's CITIZEN TURN'D GENTLEMAN, which, according to Downes, (Rosc. ANGL. p. 32,) was the second new play brought out by the Duke of York's Servants at their new theatre in Dorset Gardens, and was acted with great success, probably in March or April, 1672. That theatre, on account of its situation, seems to have been much resorted to by citizens.
"Our city friends so far will hardly come,
By "cutting," or, as we should now say, dashing," Morecraft strutting in masquerade," was meant the Citizen turn'd Gentleman, who in the fifth act of that piece is created a Mamamouchi, with a great deal of fantastick Turkish pomp.
* Ravenscroft, in his Prologue to THE CARELESS LOVERS, which was performed in Lent, 1673, alludes to
these comedies was performed with success, being enumerated by Downes, the Prompter, among the taking plays of the King's Theatre; but THE AsSIGNATION by the author's own account was damned.
In the following year (1673) he produced the tragedy of AMBOYNA, which, he says, was "written in haste, but with an English heart," for the temporary purpose of inflaming the nation against the Dutch, with whom we were then at war. The greater part of this piece, which was entered in the Stationers' Register, June 26, 1673, and published soon afterwards, is written in prose; and what is not prose is blank verse. Though "contrived and written in a month," (as the author tells us,) "the subject barren, the persons low, and the writing
THE ASSIGNATION, and confirms the date assigned to that piece:
"An author did, to please you, let his wit run, "Of late much on a serving-man and cittern,
"And yet you would not like the serenade,
Nay, and you damn'd his nuns in masquerade:
"You did his Spanish singsong too abhor,
Ayeque locura con tanto rigor.
"In fine, the whole by you so much was blamed,
"To act their parts the players were ashamed.
Ah, how severe your malice was that day, "To damn at once the poet and his play!"
3 The former of these plays was entered in the Stationers' Books by a different title: AMOROUS ADVENTURES, OR MARRIAGE A-La-mode.