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arrival in the newly-created universe, would possess great merit, did they not unfortunately remind us of the majestic simplicity of Milton. But there is often a sort of Ovidian point in the diction, which seems misplaced. Thus, Asmodeus tells us, that the devils, ascending from the lake of fire,
Shake off their slumber first, and next their fear.
And, with Dryden's usual hate to the poor Dutchmen, the council of Pandemonium are termed,
Most High and Mighty Lords, who better fell
There is one inconvenience, which, as this poem was intended for perusal only, the author, one would have thought, might have easily avoided. This arises from the stage directions, which supply the place of the terrific and beautiful descriptions of Milton. What idea, except burlesque, can we form of the expulsion of the fallen angels from heaven, literally represented by their tumbling down upon the stage? or what feelings of terror can be excited by the idea of an opera hell, composed of pasteboard and flaming rosin? If these follies were not actually to be produced before our eyes, it could serve no good purpose to excite the image of them in our imaginations. They are circumstances by which we feel that scenic deception must be rendered ridiculous, and ought to be avoided, even in a drama intended for perusal only, since they cannot be mentioned without exciting ludicrous combinations.-Even in describing the primitive state of our first parents, Dryden has displayed some of the false and corrupted taste of the court of Charles. Eve does not consent to her union with Adam without coquettish apprehensions of his infidelity, which circumstances rendered rather improbable; and even in the state of innocence, she avows the love of sway and of self, which, in a loose age, is thought the principal attribute of her daughters. It may be remembered, that the Adam of Milton, when first experiencing the powers of slumber, thought,
I then was passing to my former state
The Eve of Dryden expresses the same apprehensions of annihilation upon a very different occasion. These passages form a contrast highly favourable to the simplicity and chastity of Milton's taste. The school logic, employed by Adam and the angels in the first scene of the fourth act, however misplaced, may be paralleled, if not justified, by similar instances in the "Paradise Lost."
On the other hand, the "State of Innocence" contains many passages of varied and happy expression peculiar to our great poet; and the speech of Lucifer in Paradise (Act third, scene first,) approaches in sublimity to his prototype in Milton. Indeed, altered as this poem was from the original, in order to accommodate it to the taste of a frivolous age, it still retained too much
fancy to escape the raillery of the men of wit and fashion, more disposed to "laugh at extravagance than to sympathise with feelings of grandeur." The "Companion to the Theatre" mentions an objection, started by the more nice and delicate critics, against the anachronism and absurdity of Lucifer conversing about the world, its form and vicissitudes, at a time previous to its creation, or, at least, to the possibility of his knowing any thing of it. But to this objection, which applies to the " Paradise Lost" also, it is sufficient to reply, that the measure of intelligence, competent to supernatural beings, being altogether unknown to us, leaves the poet at liberty to accommodate its extent to the purposes in which he employs them, without which poetic licence it would be in vain to introduce them. Dryden, moved by this, and similar objections, has prefixed to the drama, “An Apology for Heroic Poetry," and the use of what is technically called "the machinery" employed in it.
Upon the whole, it may be justly questioned, whether Dryden shewed his judgment in the choice of a subject which compelled an immediate parallel betwixt Milton and himself, upon a subject so exclusively favourable to the powers of the former. Indeed, according to Dennis, notwithstanding Dryden's admiration of Milton, he evinced sufficiently by this undertaking, what he himself confessed twenty years afterwards, that he was not sensible of half the extent of his excellence. In the "Town and Country Mouse," Mr Bayes is made to term Milton. " a rough unhewn fellow ;" and Dryden himself, even in the dedication to the Translation from Juvenal, a work of his advanced life, alleges, that, though he found in that poet a true sublimity and lofty thoughts, clothed with admirable Grecisms, he did not find the elegant turn of words and expression proper to the Italian poets and to Spenser. In the same treatise, he undertakes to excuse, but not to justify Milton, for his choice of blank verse, affirming that he possessed neither grace nor facility in rhyming. A consciousness of the harmony of his own numbers, and a predilection for that kind of verse, in which he excelled, seemed to have encouraged him to think he could improve the "Paradise Lost." Baker observes but too truly, that the "State of Innocence” recals the idea reprobated by Marvell in his Address to Milton:
Or if a work so infinite be spann'd,
Might hence presume the whole Creation's day
The "State of Innocence" seems to have been undertaken by Dryden during a cessation of his theatrical labours, and was first published in 1674, shortly after the death of Milton, which took place on the 8th of November in the same year.
HER ROYAL HIGHNESS,
AMBITION is so far from being a vice in poets, that it is almost impossible for them to succeed without it. Imagination must be raised, by a desire of
Mary of Este, daughter of the Duke of Modena, and second wife to James Duke of York, afterwards James II. She was married to him by proxy in 1673, and came over in the year following. Notwithstanding her husband's unpopularity, and her own attachment to the Roman Catholic religion, her youth, beauty, and innocence, secured her from insult and slander during all the stormy period which preceded her accession to the crown. Even Burnet, reluctantly, admits the force of her charms, and the inoffensiveness of her conduct. But her beauty produced a more lasting effect on the young and gallant, than on that austere and stubborn partizan; and its force must be allowed, since it was extolled even when Mary was dethroned and exiled. Granville, Lord Lansdowne, has praised her in "The Progress of Beauty;" and I cannot forbear transscribing some of the verses, on account of the gallant spirit of the
fame, to a desire of pleasing; and they whom, in all ages, poets have endeavoured most to please, have
author, who scorned to change with fortune, and continued to admire and celebrate, in adversity, the charms which he had worshipped in the meridian of prosperity.
And now, my muse, a nobler flight prepare,
Of heavenly light illuminates the day;
As when our eye some prospect would pursue,
Queen of our hearts, and charmer of our sight!
* He had written verses to the Earl of Peterborough, on the Duke of York's marriage with the Princess of Modena, before he was twelve years old.
been the beautiful and the great. Beauty is their deity, to which they sacrifice, and greatness is their guardian angel, which protects them. Both these are so eminently joined in the person of your Royal Highness, that it were not easy for any but a poet to determine which of them outshines the other. But I confess, madam, I am already biassed in my choice. I can easily resign to others the praise of your illustrious family, and that glory which you derive from a long continued race of princes, famous for their actions both in peace and war: I can give up, to the historians of your country, the names of so many generals and heroes which crowd their annals, and to our own the hopes of those which you are to produce for the British chro
But ah! what strange vicissitudes of fate,
But cease, my muse, thy colours are too faint;
Progress of Beauty.
The beauty which inspired the romantic and unchanging admiration of Granville, may be allowed to justify some of the flights of Dryden's panegyric. I fear enough will still remain to justify the stricture of Johnson, who observes, that Dryden's dedication is an "attempt to mingle earth and heaven, by praising human excellence in the language of religion."
At the date of this address, the Duchess of York was only in her sixteenth year.