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Not long after the accession of James II to the throne, Dryden became a Roman Catholic.
(44) Part I. 1. Hind: the Roman Catholic Church. ¶ 6. Scythian shafts: the ancient Scythians were famous as archers and shot poisoned arrows. ¶ 8. doomed sentenced. 10. hero's: the word is used as in classical mythology, referring to persons (such as Hercules and Achilles) who had one human and one divine parent. 14. Caledonian: the word is usually applied to Scotland only, but here it seems to refer to the whole of Great Britain. ¶ 15. their native walk: Britain was a Catholic country from the seventh to near the middle of the sixteenth century.
(45) 23. corps corpses, bodies. 35. The bloody Bear: the Independents, who disowned the authority of the papacy, the Church of England, and the Presbyterian church alike; "bloody" recalls the conspicuous part the Independents played in the Civil War. ¶36. Unlicked to form: an allusion to the popular notion that bear cubs are born shapeless and must be licked into form by the mother bear, and also to the uncouthness and lack of culture which characterized the Independents as a class. 37. the quaking Hare: the Quakers. 139. the buffoon Ape: the atheists. Atheists were often likened to apes as having the outward semblance of human beings but lacking the crowning attribute of man-the religious sense. ¶41. the Lion: the king of England. ¶43-52. Some of the German Baptists, in the sixteenth century, were grossly immoral and openly rebellious against the state. 53. Reynard: the Arians, followers of Arius (of the fourth century A. D.), who affirmed that Christ was not equal to God, but a subordinate though divine being. This heresy was condemned at the Council of Nice (325 A. D.), under the lead of Athanasius. In the sixteenth century it was taken up and carried farther by Socinus, who believed that Christ was miraculously conceived and divinely endowed but was not to be worshiped.
(46) 85. my reason to my faith compel: i. e., by accepting the doctrines of the Trinity and the divinity of Christ (11. 79-82), which he had believed while he was a member of the English Church. ¶86. Dryden refers to the common objection to the doctrine of transubstantiation, viz., that the bread and wine of the sacrament seem, to sight, touch, and taste, to be still mere bread and wine, not the flesh and blood of Christ. ¶95. impassible-incapable of suffering. penetrating parts: i. e., piercing into the inmost parts of matter instead of thrusting them to one side; this was considered an attribute of spirit in contrast to matter. ¶ 96-99. "And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.”— John 20:26.
(47) 103. one body: Christ's body, which, if it is present in the sacraments, must be in many different places at once, throughout the Christian world. 112. the wolfish race: the Presbyterians. 115. His ragged tail: the Genevan gown commonly worn by the Presbyterians; it hung down loosely around the figure. 117. pricks up: Presbyterians wore black skull-caps and cut their hair short, which made their ears very conspicuous. ¶ 122. The Panther: the Church of England.
(48) Part II.
(49) 40, 41. "As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction."-II Peter 3:16.
(50) 78. Hungary: Hungary had recently been a bone of contention between Germany and Turkey, a part of it being ceded to the former in 1686. 193, 94. "Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he."—John 18:4, 5.
(50) No, No, POOR SUFF'RING HEART. From Cleomenes, II. ii.
(51) TO MY DEAR FRIEND, MR. CONGREVE. William Congreve (1670-1729) was the most polished of the Restoration dramatists. 5. giant race: "There were giants in
the earth in those days."-Genesis 6:4. the Flood: the Civil War and the Puritan Commonwealth, that swept away the monarchy and the Elizabethan stage. ¶7. Like Janus: the fabulous first king of Italy, who taught his people agriculture. 14. See I Kings, chap. 6, and Ezra, chaps. 3-6. ¶15. Vitruvius: an architect in the reign of Augustus, whose book on architecture became a great authority in the Renaissance and later. ¶ 20. Fletcher's: John Fletcher (1579-1625), in collaboration with Francis Beaumont, wrote many pleasing comedies and affecting tragedies. 22. Jonson: Ben Jonson (1573?-1637), a dramatist of great learning and critical acumen. 29. Etherege: Sir George Etherege (1634-91 ?), author of several comedies delightfully light of touch. courtship-elegance of manner and speech, such as is found in king's courts. Southerne's: Thomas Southerne (1660-1746) was a minor dramatist of the day; the purity of his style is not remarkable, but Dryden liked him. 30. Wycherley: William Wycherley (1640–1715), one of the pioneers in Restoration comedy. 31. in blooming youth: Congreve (1670-1729) was only twenty-three at this time. ¶35-38. Fabius Maximus, who had tired out Hannibal by masterly avoidance of decisive battles, died in 203 B. C., the year before his successor, Scipio Africanus, overcame Hannibal; but he had lived to see Scipio defeat Hannibal's brother, Hasdrubal, and become consul before he was thirty years old, although the legal age was forty-five.
(52) 39. Romano: Giulio Romano (1492-1546) was the pupil and never the teacher of Raphael, who was nine years his senior. ¶45, 46. The vicious and incapable Edward II was deposed in 1327, and was at once succeeded by the vigorous Edward III, who overcame Robert Bruce of Scotland, and won the great battles of Cressy and Poitiers against France.
48. Tom the second: Thomas Rymer, a poor critic and poet, who had succeeded Dryden as historiographer royal. Tom the first: Thomas Shadwell, who succeeded Dryden as poet laureate; he had just died; see "Mac Flecknoe" (p. 30) and the notes on it (p. 433). ¶55. Thy first attempt: The Old Bachelor, acted in January, 1693. ¶56. this: The Double Dealer, acted in November of the same year. ¶72. Be kind to my remains: Congreve complied by editing Dryden's plays after his death.
(53) ALEXANDER'S FEAST. "I am writing a song for St. Cecilia's feast. . . . . This is troublesome, and no way beneficial; but I could not deny the stewards of the feast, who came in a body to me to desire that kindness."-Dryden, in a letter to his sons, September 3, 1697. "Mr. St. John, afterwards Lord Bolingbroke, happening to pay a visit to Dryden, found him in an unusual agitation of spirits, even to a trembling. On enquiring the cause, 'I have been up all night,' replied the old bard. 'My musical friends made me promise to write them an ode for their feast of St. Cecilia; I have been so struck with the subject which occurred to me that I could not leave it till I had completed it; here it is, finished at one sitting.' This anecdote was imparted by Lord Bolingbroke to Pope, by Pope to Mr. Gilbert West, by him to the ingenious friend who communicated it to me."-Joseph Warton, An Essay on the Genius and Writings of Pope, Vol. II (1782). According to another credible report, published by Doctor Thomas Birch, Dryden wrote to a friend that he was almost a fortnight in composing and correcting it. All these statements may well be true, for revision is often a slower process than first composition. "I am glad to hear from all hands that my ode is esteemed the best of all my poetry by all the town; I thought so myself when I writ it, but, being old, I mistrusted my own judgment."-Dryden, in a letter to Tonson, December, 1697. Since 1683 St. Cecilia's Day, November 22, had been celebrated nearly every year in London by the performance of an original ode newly set to music; Dryden had already written one poem for the festival, in 1687, his "Song for St. Cecilia's Day." St. Cecilia, a Roman virgin martyred in the third century, became the patron saint of music, and was credited with the invention of the organ.
(53) 1. for Persia won: a Latinism for "the winning of Persia"; the feast may be supposed to have occurred in Persepolis, soon after the battle of Arbela, in 331 B. C., when the Persian army was beaten for the third time and all Persia lay at the feet of Alexander. 12. Philip's: Philip, king of Macedonia, was the father of Alexander. ¶9. Thais: a
famous Greek courtesan, the mistress of Alexander. ¶ 20. Timotheus: a Greek musician, a favorite of Alexander; Dryden may have meant the great Timotheus, an Athenian musician and poet, forgetting or ignoring the fact that he had died a generation before. 125. from Jove: i. e., with a legend about Jove-the one that follows. ¶ 29. Sublime-raised aloft. spires: the coils of the dragon. ¶ 30. Olympia: the mother of Alexander.
(54) 33-38. Intoxicated by his uninterrupted series of victories, Alexander began to think himself more than mortal; he consulted the oracle of Jupiter Ammon, in Libya, and the oracle greeted him as the son of Jupiter, not of Philip; the flatterers who surrounded him, learning of his weakness, were quick to gratify it in the manner indicated in the poem. ¶3941. The nod of Zeus was supposed to shake the heavens; cf. the Iliad, i. 528-30, and the Eneid, x. 115.
(55) 72. his hand: "his" refers to Timotheus. his pride: "his" refers to Alexander. 175. Darius: the Persian emperor. 97. Lydian measures: in ancient music there were three principal measures, or modes, the Dorian, the Phrygian, and the Lydian; the last was sweet and melting, perhaps receiving its name from the soft and luxurious character of the Lydians.
(57) 138. Grecian: in the great contest between the East and the West, the Macedonians regarded themselves as a part of the larger Greek world. ¶147. Suidas (probably of the second half of the tenth century A. D.), a Byzantine lexicographer, says that the music of Timotheus made on Alexander "so powerful an impression that once, in the midst of a performance by Timotheus, he started from his seat and seized his arms." ¶ 148-50. There is an old tradition that, at a great festival in Persepolis, Thais induced Alexander to set fire to the Persian palace. 162. the vocal frame: the organ. 170. Cf. "A Song for St. Cecilia's Day," ll. 51-54, in which the legend is given more fully:
But bright Cecilia raised the wonder higher:
(58) PALAMON AND ARCITE. Book II. 171-254. The poem is a free rendering into modern English of Chaucer's "Knightes Tale." In the days of Theseus, king of Athens, two cousins, Palamon and Arcite, whom Theseus had taken captive when he conquered Thebes, lay in prison near the king's palace. From the prison windows they saw and loved Emily, sister to Hippolyta the queen, and became furious rivals. After some time Arcite was released from prison by the intercession of a friend, but was banished from Athens on pain of death; trusting to the change in his appearance wrought by unrequited love, he finally returned, and took service in Theseus' court, to be near Emily. One morning, while riding in a wood near Athens, he comes upon Palamon, who has just broken prison, and they agree to fight to the death for Emily. At this point the selection begins.
¶65. laund-an open
(60) TRANSLATIONS FROM HOMER. Iliad, i. 667-88. Agamemnon has deprived Achilles of his prize, the fair Briseis, and Thetis, the sea-goddess, mother of Achilles, prays to Jove on behalf of her son. 1, 2. The gods have been feasting for twelve days with the blameless Ethiopians; they now return to Olympus.
(61) HUNTING SONG. From the Secular Masque. The masque was written as part of a benefit performance for Dryden at the Theatre Royal. five weeks before his death; it was Dryden's last poem.
space in a wood.
(59) 26. join thrust. pass-lunge.
Hail, prince of wits! thy fumbling age is past;
Shadwell should wear them? We'll applaud the change;
-Luke Milbourne, in 1690, on Dryden's Amphitryon.
"This is not that Virgil so much admired in the Augustaean age, an author whom Mr. Dryden once thought untranslatable, but a Virgil of another stamp, of a coarser alloy, a silly, impertinent, nonsensical writer, of a various and uncertain style, a mere Alexander Ross, or somebody inferior to him."-Luke Milbourne, Notes on Dryden's Virgil (1697).
How long, great poet, shall thy sacred lays
L-gh aimed to rise above great Dr-n's height,
"Wheresoever his incomparable writings have been scattered by the hands of travellers into foreign nations, the loss of so great a man must needs be lamented amongst their bards and rabbis. . . . . Those who were his enemies while he was living (for no man lives without) his death has now made such friends to his memory that they acknowledge they cannot but in justice give him this character, that he was one of the greatest scholars, the most correct
dramatic poet, and the best writer of heroic verse, that any age has produced in England.”— The London Spy, 1700.
Our great forefathers, in poetic song,
Were rude in diction though their sense was strong;
ANNE, COUNTESS OF WINCHILSEA
-Jabez Hughes, 1707.
(61) THE TREE.
(63) 23. division: "A course of notes so running into each other as to form one series or chain, to be sung in one breath to one syllable."-The International Dictionary.
(63) A NOCTURNAL REVERIE. 19. Salisb'ry: Lady Salisbury; probably Anne Tufton (wife of the third Earl of Salisbury), whose mother had been an intimate friend o Lady Winchilsea.
(64) AN ACCOUNT of the Greatest English POETS. Lines 9-35, 48–71, 78–85. (66) 59. Sacharissa's: "Sacharissa" was the name invented by Waller for Lady Dorothy Sidney, to whom he paid court for some time.
(66) THE CAMPAIGN. Lines 259-92. The poem celebrates the victory of the Eng. lish over the French in the battle of Blenheim, August 2, 1704, under the leadership of the Duke of Marlborough
(74) VERSES ON THE DEATH OF DR. SWIFT. Lines 151-64, 207-44, 301-72. ¶ 18. Arbuthnot: Doctor John Arbuthnot, physician and man of letters, a friend of Swift, Pope, and their set; cf. Pope's "Epistle to Doctor Arbuthnot" (p. 121). ¶19. St. John: Henry