DRYDEN AN ESSAY OF DRAMATIC POESY ARNOLD OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS LONDON EDINBURGH GLASGOW NEW YORK TORONTO MELBOURNE CAPE TOWN BOMBAY HUMPHREY MILFORD PUBLISHER TO THE UNIVERSITY 9 DRYDEN AN ESSAY OF DRAMATIC POESY EDITED WITH NOTES BY THOMAS ARNOLD, M. In that drama, when prose was not employed, the use of rhyme was an essential feature.
COLL., OXFORD AND FELLOW OF THE ROYAL UNIVERSITY OF IRELAND THIRD EDITION, REVISED BY WILLIAM T. Charles II, having been much in Paris during his exile, had been captivated by the French drama, then in the powerful hands of Corneille and Moliere.
Lisideius argues that French drama is superior to English drama, basing this opinion of the French writer's close adherence to the classical separation of comedy and tragedy.
For Lisideius "no theater in the world has anything so absurd as the English tragicomedy; in two hours and a half, we run through all the fits of Bedlam." Neander favors the moderns, but does not disparage the ancients.
In the enforced leisure which his residence at Charlton during the plague brought him, he thought over the whole sub ject, and this Essay of Dramatic Poesy was the result.
In the course of time Dryden modified more or less the judgment in favour of rhyme which he had given in the Essay.
" Neander respond to the objections against rhyme by admitting that "verse so tedious" is inappropriate to drama (and to anything else).
"Natural" rhymed verse is, however, just as appropriate to dramatic as to non-dramatic poetry: the test of the "naturalness" of rhyme is how well-chosen the rhymes are.
In the prologue to the tragedy of Aurung- zebe, or the Great Mogul (*i^, he says that he finds it more difficult to please himself than his audience, and is inclined to damn his own play : Not that it's worse than what before he writ, But he has now another taste of wit ; And, to confess a truth, though out of time, Grows weary of his long-loved mistress, Rhyme. Whether the existing French school of drama is superior or inferior to the English. Whether the Elizabethan dramatists were in all points superior to those of Dry den's own time. Whether plays arc more perfect in proportion as they conform to the dramatic rules laid down by the ancients. Whether the substitution of rhyme for blank verse in serious plays is an improvement.
Passion, he proceeds, is too fierce to be bound in fetters; and the sense of Shakespeare's unapproachable superiority, Shakespeare, whose masterpieces dispense with rhyme, inclines him to quit the stage altogether. The first point is considered in the remarks ofj Crites (Sir Robert Howard), with which the discussion opens.