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mountain; now through this wall my soul did greatly desire to pass, concluding that if I could I would go even into the very midst of them, and there also comfort myself with the heat of their sun.
About this wall I thought myself to go again and again, still prying, as I went, to see if I could find some way or passage, by which I might enter therein; but none could I find for some time. At the last, I saw, as it were, a narrow gap, like a doorway, in the wall, through which I attempted to pass; but the passage being very strait and narrow, I made many efforts to get in, but all in vain, even until I was well nigh quite beat out, by striving to get in; at last, with strong striving, methought I at first did get in my head, and after that, by a sidling striving, my shoulders, and my whole body; then I was exceeding glad, and went and sat down in the midst of them, and so was comforted with the light and heat of their sun.'
We see now how this man could write the Pilgrim's Progress; how he should be so solicitous to win souls ; what would be his pulpit themes,- death, judgment, eternity, the mission and sufferings of Christ; why, though with trembling, he should preach with power. There could be nothing of modern. languor in his exhortations. His heart was in them; he was possessed by them. Hell yawned before him; and the burden of his thought was to snatch from destruction the perishing sinners that slumbered, as he had slept, on its brink. Wrath and salvation are thus the essential facts,- all else is but shadowy and dim. This conviction levels inequalities, renders the inflamed brain eloquent and effective. Charles II is said to have asked Dr. Owen how a man of his erudition could 'sit to hear a tinker prate.' May it please your Majesty,' was the reply, 'could I possess that tinker's abili.
I ties, I would gladly give in exchange all my learning.'
Influence.--He was universally esteemed for the beauty of his character and the liberality of his views, while the fame of his sufferings and the power of his discourse drew multitudes to hear him preach. In London, let but a day's notice be given, and the house would not contain the half. Says an eye-witness:
'I have seen, hy my computation, about twelve hundred persons to hear him at a morning lecture, on a working day in dark working time. I also computed about three thousand that came to hear him at a town's end meeting house; so that half were fain to go back again for want of room; and there himself was fain at a back door to be pulled almost over people to get up stairs to the pulpit.'
But he has a larger audience now. It is by the Pilgrim that he affects the minds and hearts of survivors, more and more widely as generations pass away. The historian will value it as an effect,-a record, in part, of contemporary institutions and ideas, and an expression of the new imaginative force that had been given to common English life by the study of the Bible.
The people will treasure it for its artless story of Christian experience,- for its perpetual narrative of their personal recollections. More than a hundred thousand copies circulated in England and America during his life. Since his death, it has been rendered into every language of Europe, and into more other languages than any book save the Scriptures. The Religious Tract Society alone printed it in thirty different tongues. Seven times, at least, it has been turned into verse. A hundred and fifty years ago, by some alterations and omissions, it was adapted to the creed of the Roman Church. Did never monarch sit
upon a throne so royal; was never political empire so vast and so enduring. Wherever thought finds expression or there are hearts to be impressed, this tinker of Bedford will shape character and destiny when the chiselled lines of the granite have crumbled, and the headstone shall claim kindred with the dust it commemorates. "He, being dead, yet speaketh.'
The only qualities I can find in Dryden, that are essentially poetical, are a certain ardour and impetuosity of mind with an excellent ear. ... There is not a single image from nature in the whole of his works.– Wordsworth.
Biography.-Born in the county of Northampton, in 1631, of good family; studied in Westminster School, and afterwards spent seven years at Cambridge; became secretary to a near relative, a member of the Upper House; turned Royalist, married an earl's daughter, and enjoyed the king's patronage; succeeded Davenant as Poet Laureate, and Howell as Historiographer, with a yearly salary of two hundred pounds; declared himself a Catholic, lost his appointment at the Revolution, and for twelve years, burdened with a family, earned his bread by his pen; long afflicted with gout, then with erysipelas, insulted by publishers whose hireling he was, and persecuted by enemies; died in 1700, of a neglected inflammation in the foot, and was interred in Westminster Abbey, between the tombs of Chaucer and of Cowley.
Writings.-Dryden began in fustian and enormity. The subject was Lord Hastings, who died of small-pox at the age of nineteen:
His body was an orb, his sublime son]
Did move on virtue's and on learning's pole.' The pustules are compared to 'rose-buds thick in the lily skin about’; and,
Each little pimple had a tear in it
To wail the fanlt its rising did commit.' But he has not yet done his worst:
*No comet need foretell his change drew on
Whose corpse might seem a constellation.' Such excesses announce a literary revolution. Greedy of glory and pressed for money, he pandered to the tastes of a debauched and frivolous audience — the world of courtiers and the idle, who wanted startling scenes, infamous events, forced sentiments, splendid decorations. 'I confess,' he says, “my chief endeavors are to delight the age in which I live. If the humour of this be for low comedy, small accidents, and raillery, I will force my genius to obey it.'. Accordingly, as he writes by calculation, he is only capable of discussions. Of the appropriate excellence of the drama — the power of exhibiting real human beings, he is utterly destitute. His comedies are as false to nature as they are offensive to morality. His tragedies, without depth of feeling or consistency of plot, strive towards superhuman ideals, and attain to bombast.
The Conquest of Grenada (1672) owes its celebrity to its extravagance. The Spanish Friar (1682) is less exaggerated, but rarely impresses sympathy, and never commands tears. Sebastian (1690), though rejecting more of the French alloy, is yet grandiose — more noisy than significant. Lacking the art of dramatic truth, he sought a substitute for illusion sometimes in wit, more frequently in disguises, intrigues, surprising disclosures, smooth versification, and declamatory magnificence. Courtly nerves could best be stirred by shocks, profanity, obscenities, and barbarities — by heroines who were courtesans, indecent, violent, reckless; and by heroes who were drunken savages, or monstrous chimeras, resembling nothing in heaven above or in the earth beneath.
But though bad as wholes, his plays - nearly thirty in number - contain passages which only the great masters have surpassed,
and which no subsequent writer for the stage has equalled. Even in rhyme, which so often forced him to a platitude, and which he so reluctantly abandoned, he is not seldom the genuine poet, a musician and a painter. For example:
No; like his better Fortune I'll appear,
And this happy comparison, which is surely an image from nature':
'As callow birds,
Gape for the food which they must never find."?
*Her rage was love, and its tempestuous flame,
And these verses, which read like maxims, expressed in the finest manner of the new school. They show a reasoner, accustomed to discriminate his ideas:
When I consider life, 'tis all a cheat;
It pays our hopes with something still that's new.' 4
Grew weary of his long-loved mistress Rhyme;
No experiment could be more decisive; for, though he was the best writer of the heroic couplet in our language, yet the plays which, from their first appearance, have been considered finest,
1 Conquest of Granada.
? Indian Emperor. Wordsworth himself never wrote anything more tenderly pathetic.
3 Maiden Queen. 4 Aurungzebe.
are in blank. Here his diction gets wings. The following alone would vindicate his claim as a poet:
Beyond my ken of soul.'1
'I feel death rising higher still and higher,
And less each pulse, till it be lost in air.''
• A change so swift what heart did ever feel!
They melted as they fell.' 3
Creeps coldly on me, like a fear to die;
But who can hear the approach of certain fate ?
And wish to stay, though they resolve to go.
First views the torrent he would venture o'er,
Yet am ashamed to be a stranger there.'4 Perhaps the best of his dramatic pieces is the tragedy of All For Love — the only one, he informs us, written to please himself. It is in this that he recovers most of the old naturalness and energy. In the preface he says:
2 Riral Ladies.
3 Spanish Friar.
* Royal Martyr.