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cially against Shakespeare and Fletcher, even Jonson's language is not unfrequently two of the most harmonious and musical harsh and inaccurate, the conclusion being, writers in the language. Those who know that if a writer so careful and learned is only the just and discriminating estimate found continually tripping, errors of all of Shakespeare given by Dryden in his kinds must be expected in such ignorant Essay on Dramatic Poetry, will hardly be and indifferent authors as Shakespeare and prepared for the disparaging terms in which Fletcher. Dryden, indeed, formally draws he speaks of him when defending himself this inference, and on the strength of it exand ħis brother dramatists from the attacks cuses himself from specifying any of the of contemporary criticism. On the point of errors and solecisms to be found, as he tells language, with which we are concerned, he us, in every page of Shakespeare's works. delivers himself as follows :

After specifying some of Jonson's alleged “But, malice and partiality set apart, let

mistakes, “what correctness, after this,” he

any man who understands English read diligently asks, “can be expected from Shakespeare the works of Shakespeare and Fletcher, and I or from Fletcher, who wanted that learning dare undertake that he will find in every page and care which Jonson had ? I will thereeither some solecism of speech or some notori- fore spare my own trouble of inquiring into ous flaw in sense; and yet these men are rey- their faults, who, had they lived now, had erenced when we are not forgiven. That their

doubtless written more correctly. I sup, wit is great, and many times their expressions noble, envy itself cannot deny. But the times pose it will be enough for me to affirm, as I were ignorant in which they lived. Poetry think I safely may, that these and the like was then, if not in its infancy among us, at errors, which I taxed in the most correct least not arrived to its vigour and maturity. of the last age, are such into which we do Witness the lameness of their plots, many of not ordinarily fall.” The trouble, however, which, especially those which they writ first, of specifying some of Shakespeare's errors for even that age refined itself in some mea

was by no means so superfluous, as the sure—were made up of some ridiculous, incoherent story. I suppose I need not name

examples from Jonson, on which he rests Pericles Prince of Tyre, and the historical his whole charge against the Elizabethan plays of Shakespeare, besides many of the dramatists, are all blunders. Instead of rest, as the Winter's Tale, Love's Labour Lost, convicting Jonson of error, they simply Measure for Measure, which were either convict his critic of ignorance. Seven ingrounded on impossibilities, or at least so meanly written that the comedy neither caus- each case Jonson is right and Dryden

stances of alleged crror are given, but in ed your mirth, nor the serious part your concernment.

But these absurdities wrong: With regard to words, Dryden which those poets committed may more prop

absurdly censures the use of ire as an erly be called the age's fault than theirs. For, archaism, an antiquated word; and the use besides the want of education and learning, of port in the sense of gate, as a novelty which was their particular unhappiness, they and “affected error," opposed to the Engwanted the benefit of converse. Their audi- lish idiom, and introduced by Jonson in the ences knew no better, and therefore were sat- spirit of mere pedantry. The fact is that call theirs the golden age of poetry have only ire, in place of being at all obsolete or anthis reason for it, that they were then content tiquated, was freely used by Dryden's conwith acorns."

temporaries, and even by himself, and that

port, in the sense of gate, so far from being Dryden very prudently makes no direct introduced by Jonson, is constantly used attempt to prove the charge of being rude, by Shakespeare and the Elizabethan wriobsolete, and obscure, which he brings so ters, and was a good English word for a freely against Shakespeare's language. But century at least before Jonson was born. he makes an indirect attempt to establish Of grammatical errors he specifies the use his position, which is worth notice, as show- of be in the plural for are, the double coming how incompetent he really was to discuss parative, and the use of one in the plural the question. It was the fashion amongst ones, all of which, it need hardly be said, the playwrights and critics of the Restora- are amply supported by authoritative use tion to place Ben Jonson above all his con- up to Dryden's day, and the last continutemporaries as the great master of correct ously down to our own time. The remainand laboured comedy. He is always spoken ing instance, illustrating, according to Drya of as learned, careful, and judicious, and the den, errors both of etymology and syntax, scholarly elaboration of his dramatic art is is as follows:contrasted with Shakespeare's careless fertility of nature. Dryden attempts to establish his sweeping charge against the Though heaven should speak with all his wrath Elizabethan dramatists, by showing that

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humorous satire, with the witty exposure reign, yielding to the dominant critical of fashionable follies, and the epigrammatic tendency of their day, were fastidious in analysis of character and manners, with their choice of words, weeding their vocablively but superficial discussions on ques- ulary not only of all obsolete and provintions of literary taste and judgment. In a cial, but of all obsolescent, unusual, and word, it would be, to a great extent, the inharmonious terms and compounds. Any literature of light didactic satire, of critical words not directly sanctioned by current and colloquial essays both in prose and use, no matter how vernacular and expresverse.

sive they might be, were at once rejected. This limitation in the range of subjects This so-called improvement of the lanand appeal would necessarily affect the guage had begun in Dryden's day, and he language as well as the literature. As lit- himself took an active part in forwarding erature always employs the language of the work, as well as in vindicating against those it addresses, when restricted to the cavillers its reality and importance. Whilst town, it naturally adopted an urban vo- he protested vigorously, as we have seen, cabulary, the dialect of society, and of a against the needless introduction of foreign highly artificial and conventional society. terms, he was almost equally severe against No doubt this dialect had many special the retention of the more archaic and obsovirtues, and was admirably adapted for lescent element of his native tongue. In effective social criticism. It was perfectly the Epilogue, one of his most extravagant intelligible, clear, and transparent as crys- heroic plays, he thu's pronounces judgment tal, with an easy flow, epigramniatic sparkle, on the dramatists of the Elizabethan age : and antithetical emphasis that excited the

• They wlio have best succeeded on the stage, reader's attention, and kept up his interest

Have still conformed their genius to their age. by mere force of style, even when there

Thus Jonson did mechanic humour show, was nothing in the thought to stimulate the

When men were dull, and conversation low. intellect. But notwithstanding these vir- And as their comedy, their love was mean, tues, the fashionable dialect was wanting Except by chance in some one laboured scene, in copiousness and variety, in imaginative

Which must atone for an ill-written play, range and reflective depth, as well as in

They rose, but at their height could seldom tender and profound emotional expressive

stay.

Fame then was cheap, and the first comer ness, Ilere again in the language we have

sped, a feature which, if not directly due to And they have kept it since, by being dead. French influence, approximates the English writing of the time to the French type. If love and honour now are higher raised, As the literature of Queen Anne's time 'Tis not the poet, but the age is praised. may be fairly said to have the virtues and Wit's now arrived to a more high degree, vices of the best French literature, so the

Our native language more refined and free, language has the excellences and defects of

Cur ladies and our men now speak more wit the highly wrought French tongue. While

In conversation than those poets writ.” clear, spirited, and polished, it was at the And in an elaborate prose defence of the same time marked by the comparative Epilogue he deliberately maintains that the poverty of its poetical and reflective vo- language of the Restoration dramatists, incabulary. To what an extent this is true, cluding of course his own, is superior in even at the best period of Revolution lit- grace, refinement, and expressiveness, to that erature, may be seen by comparing the of even the best dramatists of the precedvocabulary of Addison and Pope with the ing age, such as Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, vocabulary of Shakespeare and Bacon. and Fletcher. This superiority mainly conWith all the irresistible charm of Addi- sisted, he tells us, in rejecting such old words son's style, his luminous simplicity and and phrases as were ill-sounding and imgrace, his purity, ease, and elegance of dic- proper, and admitting others more proper, tion, it is impossible not to feel that his more sounding, and more significant. He power of expression, however perfect within claims it as a special merit for the writers its range, is extremely limited both as to of his own age, that they had not merely depth and extent. The great writers of rejected words antiquated by custom, and the Elizabethan age, roused by command- without any fault of theirs, as the refineing national impulses, and appealing to an ment in that case would be accidental only, awakened and excited people, used the en- but whatever in the poetical vocabulary of tire national speech with the utmost free the previous age they deemed ill-sounding dom and confidence, counting none of its and inappropriate. Curiously enough too, elements common

or unclean. But the he brings the charge of employing a harsh, courtly poets and essayists of Queen Anne's | semi-barbarous, and obsolete dialect spe

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Poetry

cially against Shakespeare and Fletcher, even Jonson's language is not unfrequently two of the most harmonious and musical harsh and inaccurate, the conclusion being, writers in the language. Those who know that if a writer so careful and learned is only the just and discriminating estimate found continually tripping, errors of all of Shakespeare given by Dryden in his kinds must be expected in such ignorant Essay on Dramatic Poetry, will hardly be and indifferent authors as Shakespeare and prepared for the disparaging terms in which Fletcher. Dryden, indeed, formally draws he speaks of him when defending himself this inference, and on the strength of it exand his brother dramatists from the attacks cuses himself from specifying any of the of contemporary criticism. On the point of errors and solecisms to be found, as he tells language, with which we are concerned, he us, in every page of Shakespeare's works. delivers himself as follows:

After specifying some of Jonson's alleged “But, malice and partiality set apart, let any mistakes, “what correctness, after this," he man who understands English read diligently asks, “can be expected from Shakespeare the works of Shakespeare and Fletcher, and I or from Fletcher, who wanted that learning dare undertake that he will find in every page and care which Jonson had? I will thereeither some solecism of speech or some notori- fore spare my own trouble of inquiring into ous flaw in sense; and yet these men are reyerenced when we are not forgiven. That their doubtless written more correctly. I sup:

their faults, who, had they lived now, had wit is great, and many times their expressions noble, envy itself cannot deny. But the times pose it will be enough for me to affirm, as I were ignorant in which they lived.

think I safely may, that these and the like was then, if not in its infancy among us, at errors, which I taxed in the most correct least not arrived to its vigour and maturity of the last age, are such into which we do Witness the lameness of their plots, many of not ordinarily fall.” The trouble, however, which, especially those which they writ first-of specifying some of Shakespeare's errors for even that age refined itself in some mea

was by no means so superfluous, as the sure—were made up of some ridiculous, incoherent story. I suppose I need not name

examples from Jonson, on which he rests Pericles Prince of Tyre, and the historical his whole charge against the Elizabethan plays of Shakespeare, besides many of the dramatists, are all blunders. Instead of rest, as the Winter's Tale, Lore's Labour Lost, convicting Jonson of error, they simply Measure for Measure, which were either convict his critic of ignorance. Seven ingrounded on impossibilities, or at least so stances of alleged crror are given, but in meanly written that the comedy neither caus

each case Jonson is right and Dryden ed your mirth, nor the serious part your concernment.

But these absurdities wrong, With regard to words, Dryden which those poets committed may more prop

absurdly censures the use of ire as an erly be called the age's fault than theirs. For, archaism, an antiquated word; and the use besides the want of education and learning, of port in the sense of gate, as a novelty which was their particular unhappiness, they and" affected error," opposed to the Engwanted the benefit of converse. Their audi- lish idiom, and introduced by Jonson in the ences knew no better, and therefore were sat- spirit of mere pedantry.

The fact is that isfied with what they brought. Those who re, in place of being at all obsolete or ancall theirs the golden age of poetry have only tiquated, was freely used by Dryden's con: this reason for it, that they were then content with acorns."

temporaries, and even by himself, and that

port, in the sense of gate, so far from being Dryden very prudently makes no direct introduced by Jonson, is constantly used attempt to prove the charge of being rude, by Shakespeare and the Elizabethan wriobsolete, and obscure, which he brings so ters, and was a good English word for a freely against Shakespeare's language. But century at least before Jonson was born. he makes an indirect attempt to establish Of grammatical errors he specifies the use his position, which is worth notice, as show- of be in the plural for are, the double coming how incompetent he really was to discuss parative, and the use of one in the plural the question. It was the fashion amongst ones, all of which, it need hardly be said, the playwrights and critics of the Restora- are amply supported by authoritative use tion to place Ben Jonson above all his con- up to Dryden's day, and the last continutemporaries as the great master of correct ously down to our own time. The remainand laboured comedy. He is always spoken ing instance, illustrating, according to Dryo of as learned, careful, and judicious, and the den, errors both of etymology and syntax, scholarly elaboration of his dramatic art is is as follows:contrasted with Shakespeare's careless fertility of nature. Dryden attempts to es

66. Just men, tablish his sweeping charge against the Though heaven should speak with all his wrath Elizabethan dramatists, by showing that

at once,

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That with his breath the hinges of the world had been permanently impoverished by Did crack, we should stand upright and un- this process of so-called refinement, and feared.'

yielding alınost unconsciously to the conHis is ill syntax with heaven, and by un- tagion of French classical theories and feared he means unafraid, words of a quite French academic_influence, Dryden was contrary signification.”. With regard to his, anxious that the English language should it is strange that Dryden should have been be subjected to the same process and share unaware that it was the regular possessive the same fate. of the neuter pronoun, its being a compara

Addison sympathized even more fully tively modern formation, not generally used with French tastes and French classical by good writers until after the Restoration. theories of criticism. He was naturally, But it is clear that he was ignorant of this too, more refined and fastidious than Dryfact, which must have been in his own day den, and his diction accordingly is more a tolerably obtrusive one, as he raises the limited and select. He has far less acsame objection against a previous passage, quaintance, moreover, with the great Elizstigmatizing his his ire-applied to a thun- abethan writers who had displayed in such der-cloud, as a “ false construction.” It is noble forms the full resources of the lanalmost equally strange that, having studied guage. From the evidence of his writings parts of Chaucer, and read with some care it seems indeed very doubtful whether he many of Shakespeare's plays, he should not had ever read Shakespeare at all, or had have known that the English verb fear, like any knowledge of his writings beyond a the Anglo-Saxon verb from which it is de- theatre-going acquaintance with one or two rived, was constantly used in the transitive of his best-known plays. Mr. De Quincey sense of to frighten or terrify, and that un- broadly asserts that no reference to Shakefeared in the sense of unafraid is therefore speare is to be found in Addison's writings. a perfectly legitimate compound. The truth is, Dryden could not but per-claim a discovery which we made twenty years

“In particular,” he says, "we shall here proceive that there was a great difference be

ago. We, like others, from seeing frequent tween the poetic diction of his own day and references to Shakespeare in the Spectator, had that of the Elizabethan writers, and without acquiesced in the common belief that, although having any definite or critical knowledge of Addison was no doubt profoundly unlearned in the subject, he hastily concluded that the Shakespeare's language, and thoroughly unable change was altogether for the better. This to do him justice, yet that of course he had a would be rendered all the more plausible vague popular knowledge of the mighty poet's from the fact that there was a marked im- discovery of our mistake. Twice or thrico we

cardinal dramas. Accident only led us into a provement in some kinds of poetry, such had observed, that if Shakespeare were quoted, as didactic satire and translation, in which that paper turned out not to be Addison's; and he himself excelled. While even in his at length by express examination we ascertainhands the drama had fallen so low, there is ed the curious fact, that Addison has never in a vigour, a concentration and expressiveness

one instance quoted or made any reference to about Dryden's poetical satires and trans

Shakespeare." lations that such works had not previously This statement is however altogether inpossessed. With the sure instinct of a accurate, and the alleged discovery no dismasculine intellect and robust literary na-covery at all, Addison having quoted and ture, he had seized the most expressive ele- criticised Shakespeare in the Spectator, as ments of current English, and turned them well as referred to him in some of his other to admirable account in these works, and, writings. In his paper on “Stage Devices with a pardonable self-love, he tried to for Exciting Pity," he quotes a long extract maintain that the improvement extended from the ghost scene in Hamlet, and speaks to all departments of poetry. He knew of the appearance of the ghost as “a mas. that the dramatic vocabulary of his own terpiece of its kind, wrought up with all the day was greatly restricted, that it had lost circumstances that can create either attenthe copiousness, variety, and luxuriance of tion or horror.” And in a previous paper the Elizabethan drama, and he persisted in on English tragedy, as well as in his critiregarding the restriction as an improvement. cism of Milton, he repeats the commonplace Under the stimulus of foreign influences and Restoration reproach against Shakespeare, foreign example, he had moreover vague that his thoughts are often obscured " by notions of refining the language by subject the sounding phrases, hard metaphors, and ing it to the formal revision of a central forced expressions in which they are cloathauthority or academy, and at one time ac-ed." But Addison's writings contain no tually proposed a plan for carrying the evidence of his having possessed any but notion into effect. The French language the most superficial knowledge of Shake

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speare--the kind of knowledge naturally only in its secondary sense, in its more derived from seeing on the stage two or trivial and ludicrous associations,—the sense three of his more popular tragedies, “ cur- in which he himself uses it in the Spectator, tailed, adapted, and improved," by such as applying to mere fashionable vanities, to dealers in turgid sentiment and tawdry empty and worthless display. But in its ornamentation as Tate and Lee. It is a primary meaning as an English word, as noteworthy fact that many of the most well as in its authoritative use for a century accomplished and popular writers of the before Milton wrote, it had a deeper, more time, such as Addison and Shaftesbury, serious, and special signification. While it author of the Characteristics, hardly ever always carried with it the notion of parade refer to Shakespeare except to point out and display, in its early use the parade and his defects, or openly sneer at his “rude, display were always made for the special unpolished style, and antiquated phrase and purpose of craft and deception. It thus inwit.” The truth is, all the dominant liter- volved the idea of hollowness and impossary influences of the time were classical ; ture, and it was specially applied to the either directly classical, flowing from the various expedients, sleights, and devices, study of Greek and Roman writers, or in the vestments, genuflections, and ritualistio directly classical, filtered through contem- machinery of religious imposture. This porary French literature.

And these in central notion of fabrication and imposture fluences, while favourable to critical nicety, is still retained in the verb to trump up, as as well as to a certain finish and complete when we say of some plausible but baseless ness in the imitative and secondary forms narrative palmed off for purposes of decepof literature, were unfavourable not only tion, “it is a trumped-up story." Like the to the development of original genius, but French word from which it is derived, and to its appreciation in forms so unlike the its German cognates, the leading idea of approved types of classical excellence as the term is that of deception by means of the passionate dramas and romantic epics hollow, worthless display, either to the of the Elizabethan age. Addison repre- senses or the inind. Thus, in Hackluyt's sents these influences to the full

, working voyages, the writer, describing a Mahomeunder the most favourable conditions, and tan prophet or impostor, says, “ He carried his choice vocabulary, his limited selection in his hand 'a flagge or streamer set on 8 of words, must be regarded as an indirect short spear painted,' and at his back a mat, criticism of the license of the older writers. bottels, and other trumpery.?Again, in

His direct references to language indicate a popular theological work published durthe same verbal fastidiousness in the direc-ing Milton's youth, we have, * The proudest tion both of the old and the new. In his Pharisee that ever shoued to the Lord all celebrated criticism of Paradise Lost, for the pedlar's pack of the trumpery of his own example, he censures Milton for employing justitiarie workes, we have him in the temwords and phrases too mean, familiar, and ple as busy as a bee praying, or prating at poor for poetic use. Of this alleged defect the least." And Bishop Hall, referring exthe following is the chief instance, the italics pressly to the Romish ceremonial, exclaims, being Addison's own :

What a world of fopperies these are, of

crosses, of candles, of holy water, and salt “Embryos and idiots, eremites and friars, White, black, and grey, with all their trum- ries." A good example of its early use in

and censings! Away with these trumpepery, Here pilgrims roain."—Bk. iii. 474.

the sense of craft or treachery

the preface to Raleigh's History of the Here the words in italics are objected to as World. After commemorating the various mean and familiar. But the real question unlawful means, the schemes of policy and for criticism is not whether they are famil- violence, of fraud and force, by which amiar, but whether they are appropriate and bitious English princes had seized the crown, expressive; and this is soon answered. and dwelling in detail on the stratagems and Nothing, surely, could be more appropriate treacheries of Richard 111., the diabolical cunthan for the poet to follow the universal ning of his policy, and his ruthless murders

, custom in designating the different orders the author begins his summing up with the of friars by the different colours of their sentence, “ Now as we have told the successo dress. In no other way could he at once of the trumperies and cruelties of our own so briefly and vividly bring the motley kings and our great personages, so we find groups

before the reader's mind. The main that God is everywhere the true God.” And force of Addison's objection to the passage again in the sixth chapter, referring to the is however most likely to be found in the corruptions of the Biblical story of creation word trumpery, which he knew probably to be found amongst Pagan traditions, he

occurs in

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