The Prose Works of Sir Walter Scott, Bart: Life of Dryden

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Page 257 - What recks it them? What need they? They are sped; And, when they list, their lean and flashy songs Grate on their scrannel pipes of wretched straw; The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed, But, swoln with wind and the rank mist they draw, Rot inwardly, and foul contagion spread : Besides what the grim wolf with privy paw Daily devours apace, and nothing said: But that two-handed engine at the door Stands ready to smite once, and smite no more.
Page 201 - He sought the storms; but for a calm unfit, Would steer too nigh the sands to boast his wit. Great wits are sure to madness near allied. And thin partitions do their bounds divide; Else why should he, with wealth and honor blest.
Page 387 - Of genius, that power which constitutes a poet; that quality without which judgment is cold and knowledge is inert; that energy which collects, combines, amplifies, and animates, the superiority must with some hesitation be allowed to Dryden.
Page 195 - A man so various, that he seemed to be Not one, but all mankind's epitome : Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong, Was everything by starts, and nothing long; But, in the course of one revolving moon, Was chemist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon ; Then all for women, painting, rhyming, drinking, Besides ten thousand freaks that died in thinking.
Page 387 - Pope had only a little, because Dryden had more; for every other writer since Milton must give place to Pope ; and even of Dryden it must be said, that if he has brighter paragraphs, he has not better poems. Dryden's performances were always hasty, either excited by some external occasion, or extorted by domestic necessity ; he composed without consideration, and published without correction. What his mind could supply at call, or gather in one excursion, was all that he sought and all that he gave.
Page 194 - With public zeal to cancel private crimes. How safe is treason and how sacred ill, Where none can sin against the people's will...
Page 386 - The style of Dryden is capricious and varied ; that of Pope is cautious and uniform. Dryden obeys the motions of his own mind ; Pope constrains his mind to his own rules of composition. Dryden is sometimes vehement and rapid; Pope is always smooth, uniform, and gentle. Dryden's page is a natural field, rising into inequalities, and diversified by the varied exuberance of abundant vegetation ; Pope's is a velvet lawn, shaven by the scythe, and levelled by the roller.
Page 217 - In fire-works give him leave to vent his spite, Those are the only serpents he can write; The height of his ambition is, we know, But to be master of a puppet-show; On that one stage his works may yet appear, And a month's harvest keeps him all the year.
Page 388 - Here lies our good Edmund, whose genius was such, We scarcely can praise it, or blame it too much; Who, born for the universe, narrow'd his mind, And to party gave up what was meant for mankind.
Page 252 - Thy rate and price, and mark thee for a treasure, Hearken unto a Verser, who may chance Rhyme thee to good, and make a bait of pleasure : A verse may find him, who a Sermon flies, And turn delight into a Sacrifice.

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