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There eternal Summer dwells,
But now my task is smoothly done,
* See end of the story of Cupid and Psyche in the Metamorphoses of Appuleius.
Mortals, that would follow me, Love Virtue; she alone is free: She can teach ye how to clime Higher than the sphery clime; Or, if Virtue feeble were, Heaven itself would stoop to her.*
* The Aminta of Tasso, Pastor Fido of Guarini, Tempest of Shakespeare, and Faithful Shepherdess of Fletcher, have all contributed to the composition of this, the finest production of the species of poetry to which they belong.
PRINCIPAL WORKS : Dramas.— The Conquest of Granada ; The State of Innocence, or the Fall of Man (an imitation of the Paradise Lost), 1676; All for Love, 1678 ; The Spanish Friar (comedy); Don Sebastian, the best of all his tragedies. They are, for the most part, little worthy of his genius. Many passages, however, as might well be expected, exhibit the master's hand; and the tragedy of Don Sebastian may be classed with the Venice Preserved and Orphan of Otway.
General Poems and Satires: the Annus Mirabilis, 1667, a celebration of the events of the year 1666.-Absalom and Achitophel, 1681, a satire on the well-known political characters of the Duke of Monmouth (Absalom), the Earl of Shaftesbury (Achitophel), and the Duke of Buckingham (Zimri), commonly considered one of the finest satires in the English language in point of force, if not of universal interest.-Mac-Flecknoe, 1682, a satire upon the poet-laureate of the day, Thomas Shadwell; also greatly admired for its satirical vigour.-The Religio Laici, 1684, a defence of the · Establishment' as against the various non-conforming bodies; but more remarkable for its ecclesiastical than religious orthodoxy.- The Hind and Panther, 1688, a defence of the Catholic Church, whose tenets he had recently embraced ; an opportune conversion, for which he was violently, though unjustly, accused by his enemies of interested motives. The Hind represents the Catholic, the Panther the English Church ; while the other Dissenters are held up to ridicule and detestation under the names and characters of various
The wit of the Hind and Panther Hallam characterises as 'sharp, ready, and pleasant; the reasoning is sometimes admirably close and strong; it is the energy of Bossuet in verse.' The opening verses are particularly fine.--The Ode to St. Cecilia or Alexander's Feast, “the loftiest and most imaginative of all his compositions.:--Translations of Juvenal and Persius, 1693, and of Virgil, 1697. The Virgil is in some respects the most able if not the most faithful version yet produced.—The Fables, in imitation of Boccaccio and Chaucer; the most considerable, as well as the most pleasing, of all his works. They comprise about 7,500 verses, being two-thirds of the amount originally contracted for by Tonson, his publisher, for which the author was to receive 2501.
To the principal merit of Dryden, his new and original style of versi. ficatior., his disciple and rival Pope has paid the just compliment of asserting that he
taught to join The varying Terse, the full-resounding line,
The long majestic march, and energy divine.' Dryden,' says Johnson, whose criticism on that poet is the most satisfactory of all his Lives, 'knew how to choose the flowing and the sonorous words; to vary the pauses, and to adjust the accents; to diversify the cadence and yet preserve the smoothness of his metre.'
Dryden and Pope,' remarks Hazlitt, are the great masters of the artificial style of poetry in our language, as Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare and Milton are of the natural; and though this artificial style is generally and very justly acknowledged to be inferior to the other, yet those who stand at the head of that class ought perhaps to rank higher than those who occupy an inferior place in a superior class. That they rank higher in some of the artificial qualities of the poetic art may be undoubted: but whether they are therefore to be preferred to a Thomson, or Cowper, or Shelley, is another question.
Dryden is one of the most versatile of English poets. Tragedies, comedies, satires, odes, descriptive and historical poetry, miscellaneous pieces, sonnets, translations—if he has not equally excelled in each one of these diverse provinces of poetry, in some, as in the ode and satire, he is almost without a rival. As a prose writer Dryden occupies a foromost position in the literature of the age, and indeed in the whole body of English prose literature. The Essay on Dramatic Puesy ranks as the most valuable specimen of English prose, as well as the finest piece of criticism, produced up to that time.
TRIUMPH OF MUSIC.
The mighty master smiled, to see
Softly sweet, in Lydian measures,
Soon he soothed his soul to pleasures.
Never ending, still beginning,
If the world be worth thy winning,
Lovely Thais sits beside thee,
Take the good the gods provide thee.
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.
A MILK-WHITE Hind, immortal and unchanged,
Not so her young; for their unequal line