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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 1.djvu/440

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398
HINTS FROM HORACE.

Blank verse is now, with one consent, allied
To Tragedy, and rarely quits her side.
Though mad Almanzor[1] rhymed in Dryden's days,
No sing-song Hero rants in modern plays;120
Whilst modest Comedy her verse foregoes
For jest and pun[2] in very middling prose.
Not that our Bens or Beaumonts show the worse,
Or lose one point, because they wrote in verse.
But so Thalia pleases to appear,[3]
Poor Virgin! damned some twenty times a year!


Whate'er the scene, let this advice have weight:—

Adapt your language to your Hero's state.
  1. [Almanzor: or the Conquest of Granada by the Spaniards, a Tragedy by John Dryden. The bombastic character of the hero was severely criticized in Dryden's own time, and was defended by him thus: "'Tis said that Almanzor is no perfect pattern of heroic virtue, that he is a contemner of kings, and that he is made to perform impossibilities. I must therefore avow, in the first place, from whence I took the character. The first image I had of him was from the Achilles of Homer: the next from Tasso's Rinaldo, and the third from the Artaban of Mons. Calprenède. . . . He talks extravagantly in his passion, but if I would take the trouble to quote from Ben Jonson's Cethegus, I could easily show you that the rhodomontades of Almanzor are neither so irrational as his nor so impossible to be put in execution."—An Essay on Heroic Plays. Works of John Dryden (1821), iv. 23-25.]
  2. With all the vulgar applause and critical abhorrence of puns, they have Aristotle on their side; who permits them to orators, and gives them consequence by a grave disquisition. ["Cicero also," says Addison, "has sprinkled several of his works with them; and in his book on Oratory, quotes abundance of sayings as pieces of wit, which, upon examination, prove arrant puns."—Essay on Wit, Works (1888), ii- 354.]
  3. —— ventures to appear.—[MS. Corr. in Proof b, British Museum.]