Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

afterwards made the triumphant progress to the north, which is here conmemorated. The splendour of her reception at Harwich is thus censured by the Satirist :

One thrifty ferry-boat, of mother-pearl,
Sufficed of old the Citherean girl ;
Yet navies are but fopperies, when here
A small sea mask, and built to court your dear :
Three goddesses in one, Pallas for art,
Venus for sport, but Juno in your heart.
O Duchess, if thy nuptial pomp was mean,
'Tis paid with interest in thy naval scene.
Never did Roman Mark, within the Nile,
So feast the fair Egyptian crocodile ;
Nor the Venetian Duke, with such a state,

The Adriatic marry at that rate. The poem itself is adapted to the capacity and taste of a lady; and, if we compare it with that which Dryden had two years before addressed to the Chancellor, it strengthens, I think, very strongly the supposition, that the old taste of extravagant and over-laboured conceits, with which the latter abounds, was a stile purposely adapted to gratify the great Statesman to whom it was addressed, whose taste must necessarily have been formed upon the ancient standard. The address, which follows, is throughout easy and complimentary, much in the stile of Waller, as appears from comparing it with that veteran bard's poem on the same subject. Although upon a sublime subject, Dryden treats it in the light most capable of giving pleasure to a fair lady; and the journey of the duchess to the north is proposed as a theme, nearly as important as the celebrated victory of her husband.

Accordingly Dryden himself tells us, in the introductory letter to the “ Annus Mirabilis,” that, in these lines, he only affected smoothness of measure and softness of expression ; and the verses themselves were originally introduced in that letter, to vindicate the character there given of them.

TO

HER ROYAL HIGHNESS

THE DUCHESS,

ON THE

MEMORABLE VICTORY GAINED BY THE DUKE OVER

THE HOLLANDERS, JUNE THE 3. 1665.

AND ON

HER JOURNEY AFTERWARDS INTO THE NORTH.

MADAM,
When, for our sakes, your hero you resigned

HEN
To swelling seas, and every faithless wind; ;
When you released his courage, and set free
A valour fatal to the enemy;
You lodged your country's cares within your breast,
(The mansion where soft love should only rest,)
And, ere our foes abroad were overcome,
The noblest conquest you had gained at home.
Ah, what concerns did both your souls divide !

! Your honour gave us what your love denied; And 'twas for him much easier to subdue Those foes he fought with, than to part from you.

did convey

That glorious day, which two such navies saw,
As each unmatched might to the world give law,
Neptune, yet doubtful whom he should obey,
Held to them both the trident of the sea :
The winds were hushed, the waves in ranks were

cast,
As awfully as when God's people past:
Those, yet uncertain on whose sails to blow,
These, where the wealth of nations ought to flow.
Then with the duke your Highness ruled the day:
While all the brave did his command obey,
The fair and pious under you

did

pray. How powerful are chaste vows! the wind and tide You bribed to combat on the English side. Thus to your much-loved lord

you An unknown succour, sent the nearest way. New vigour to his wearied arms you brought, (So Moses was upheld while Israel fought)* While, from afar, we heard the cannon play, Like distant thunder on a shiny day.t For absent friends we were ashamed to fear, When we considered what you ventured there. Ships, men, and arms, our country might restore, But such a leader could supply no more. With generous thoughts of conquest he did burn, Yet fought not more to vanquish than return. Fortune and victory he did pursue, To bring them, as his slaves, to wait on you: Thus beauty ravished the rewards of fame, And the fair triumphed, when the brave o'ercame. Then, as you meant to spread another way By land your conquests, far as his by sea, Leaving our southern clime, you marched along The stubborn north, ten thousand Cupids strong.

oli Note I.

Note II,

Like commons the nobility resort,
In crowding heaps, to fill your moving court :
To welcome your approach the vulgar run,
Like some new envoy from the distant sun;
And country beauties by their lovers go,
Blessing themselves, and wondering at the show.
So, when the new-born Phænix first is seen,
Her feathered subjects all adore their queen,
And, while she makes her progress through the east,
From every grove her numerous train's increased :
Each poet of the air her glory sings,
And round him the pleased audience clap their wings.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

NOTES

ON

THE PRECEDING POEM.

Note I. So Moses was upheld while Israel fought. “ And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.

“ But Moses' hands were heavy, and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon: and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side, and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.

And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.” Exodus, chap. xvii. 11, 12, 13th verses.

Note II.
While, from afar, we heard the cannon play,

Like distant thunder on a shiny day. The noise of the battle was distinctly heard at London, as appears from the Introduction to our author's “ Essay on Dramatic Poetry," where the dialogue is supposed to pass in a barge, in which the speakers had embarked to hear more distinctly, “those undulations of sound, which, though almost vanishing before they reached them, seemed yet to retain somewhat of their first horror which they had betwixt the fleets.” And, by the sound seeming to retire from them, Eugenius draws an omen of the enemy's defeat. This whole scene is imagined with so much liveliness, that we can hardly doubt Dryden was actually an ear-witness of the combat.

« PředchozíPokračovat »