Roget's Int'l Thesaurus
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Shelf of Fiction
The Age of Dryden
and other Panegyrics
INDEX OF ALL CHAPTERS
The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes
Volume VIII. The Age of Dryden.
and other Panegyrics.
As there had not been any signs of ardour or strong personal conviction in the
so, when the restoration of the Stewart monarchy had been accomplished, as the only feasible termination of the crisis, and when Dryden, once more, went with the times, he went with them in his own temperate and reasoning way. This may certainly be averred with regard to the substance of the paean sounded by him on the occasion of the return of Charles II. For, although, in
(1660), he did not shrink from any extravagance in picturing the popular joy, and the hopes in which, now Times whiter series is begun, the subjects of Charles II indulged, yet, the royal qualities on which he enlarged as warranting these emotions were those which the king actually possessed, or, at least, was anxious to displayprudence in adversity, and clemency in the day of success. At the same time, he abstained from personal abuse, either of Cromwell (for the comparison to the bold Typhoeus cannot be set down as abuse) or of any other leader of the rebellion. There is, of course, much audacious misuse of the classical and Scriptural illustrations in which this poem abounds; but that was part of the noble style which is essential to courtly panegyric. The spirit of the poem is merely that of frank time-service; though the shameless apostrophising of the rechristened Naseby, which had earned some of the naval laurels celebrated in the
as now no longer Englands shame, must be allowed to call for severe censure. The genius of the poet shows itself not only in magnificent aberrations, like the comparison to the star of Bethlehem of the star that had [char] at Charles IIs birth and now shone again,
Guiding our eyes to find and worship you;
but, also, in exquisitely graceful turns of expression, to which the metre suits its music with inimitable ease, such as the tribute to May, the month in which the king was born:
You and the flowers are its peculiar care.
Nor are characteristic strokes of wit wanting, like that on the affliction caused by Charles IIs departure to the Dutch (against whom Dryden was beginning to cultivate an irrepressible dislike
True sorrowHolland to regret a King!
On the occasion of Charles IIs coronation (1661), Dryden was ready with another panegyric, again in heroic couplets,
To His Sacred Majesty,
congratulating him on his pacific intentions in convoking the Savoy conference (not yet a declared failure), and on his improvements in St. Jamess park, where
the mistrustful fowl no harm suspects,
So safe are all things which our King protects,
as well as on his approaching marriage. With this piece of pure adulation
may be mentioned the lines
To My Lord Chancellor,
offered to Clarendon on New Years day, 1662, in which the conceptions of derived greatness and original merit are skilfully mixed, but, as is perhaps explicable, without any great expenditure of personal sympathy.
Verses to Her Royal Highness the Duchess
(Clarendons daughter) belong to a later date (1665) and, apparently, were not known till printed with the preface to
in which poem are sung the praises of victorious York. As might be expected, they show a marked advance in concentrated vigour of phrase, though not rising anywhere to the beauty of the passage, justly singled out for praise by Saintsbury, which then seemed to summarise the fortunes of Clarendon.
. The emphasised use of the pronoun
became one of the notes of Drydens verse.
Satire on the Dutch written in the year
1662, which, ten years later, Dryden frugally utilised for the prologue and epilogue to
. Clarendons early courtship of the Muses is mentioned at the outset of these lines; but there is no reason for suspecting a reference to poetical compositions, of which we have no knowledge.
. Our setting sun from his declining seat, etc.
INDEX OF ALL CHAPTERS
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