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the Women only . . . . . . · · · 413.
Prologue to '“Disappointment, or the
1655 ............. ib.
This volume of Dryden's Poems does not contain his Plays or Translations from Roman and Greek poets. It comprises all his Prologues and Epilogues to his own Plays, with his other Prologues and Epilogues, and also his free versions from Chaucer and Boccaccio, best known as his Fables. Three translations of Latin hymns are also included in the volume.
The Translation of Boileau's "Art of Poetry,” which is printed in Scott's edition of Dryden's works, is not included in this volume : for, though revised and altered by Dryden, the translation is in the main Sir William Soame's work. The “Essay on Satire” is also excluded from this collection, as being unquestionably the work of Sheffield, Earl of Mulgrave, afterwards successively Marquis of Normanby and Duke of Buckinghamshire. Some smaller pieces which preceding editors have printed among Dryden's poems have been excluded : viz. the "Satire on the Dutch," said to have been written by Dryden in 1662, but in fact a bookseller's concoction from his Prologue and Epilogue to “Amboyna" of 1673; the Prologue and Epilogue to “ The Indian Queen,” assigned without any authority to Dryden, and doubtless Sir Robert Howard's, who wrote the play with some assistance from Dryden ; and a second Epilogue to Lee's “Mithridates," when acted in 1681, and the Epilogue to Southerne's “Disappointment," which have both been mistakenly printed by Scott as Dryden's.
It has been a principal object in this edition to correct and purify the text of Dryden's poetry, which in the course of time has suffered from very many misprints and small changes by successive editors. Most, but not all, of the corrections made of preceding editors' texts are mentioned in the notes. The whole number of these small corrections is very considerable. The importance of corrections of this sort will not be judged by the smallness of the change for the worse introduced by carelessness or design. The word epocha, which appears in all modern editions in a line of " Astræa Redux” (108),
“In story chasms, in epocha mistakes,"
and which has been cited by Archbishop Trench as a Dryden peculiarity," was not Dryden's word. He wrote epoches, the plural of epoche, the Greek word, and as:
"English, Past and Present," p. 60.
There is an instance of epoche (speit epochee) in Cleaveland's
proper as epitome. poetry :
“ Howe'er, since we're delivered, let there be
From this flood too another epochee."
The change of one letter deprives us of an old appropriate poetical word sheer, and substitutes the commonplace word steer, in a line of “Annus Mirabilis" (stanza 78):
“So thick, our navy scarce could sheer their way.”
All Dryden's modern editors have turned the following line (436) of “ Absalom and Achitophel” into a question :
" 'Tis after God's own heart to cheat his heir ;"
substituting Is’t for Dryden's 'Tis, placing a note of interrogation at the end, and making the passage incoherent. It is Achitophel speaking wickedly, not the poet propounding truth.
The meaning of a line in “The Hind and the Panther" (part i, line 391), where herd's means cattle-keepers and not cattle, is altered to nonsense by editors who have turned the small word the at the beginning into their :
“The diligence of careful herds below.”
Distinction and meaning are completely lost by the editors' change of laughed into lashed in a line on the ancient Satirists, in an Address to Mr. Higden, translator of Juvenal :
"They durst not rail perhaps, they laughed at least.”
When Dryden apostrophizes the Marquis of Winchester in an epitaph as
" Ark of thy age's faith and loyalty,” the change of one letter in ark has turned the line into nonsense in every modern edition, in which is read
“Ask of thy age's faith and loyalty.” In another epitaph, that of Mrs. Margaret Paston of Norfolk, the word fir has been changed to mix, to the spoiling of the following line, in all modern editions :
""Twas gold too fine to fix without allay.” In Dryden's Prologue to Shadwell's play “The True Widow," a line
“His cruse ne'er fails, for whatsoe'er he spends," is spoilt by changing cruse into cause.
An old word dop, used by Dryden in his Epilogue to Banks's play “ The Unhappy Favourite,” is not to be found in any of the editions, but pop has taken its place :
"We act by fits and starts, like drowning men,
But just peep up, and then dop down again,"
A classical phrase of Dryden, following Latin authors, in his Dedication of “ Palamon and Arcite” to the Duchess of Ormond, where he speaks of the devotion of the Irish to her husband's family (lines 58, 59),
“The sturdy kerns in due subjection stand,
Nor hear the reins in any foreign hand,"
is completely lost in all modern editions by the substitution of bear for hear. And yet Sir Walter Scott at least must have known that Horace placed the horse's ear in his mouth, and that Virgil made a chariot hear the reins.
These are a few instances of corruptions of Dryden's text rectified in this edition. Sir Walter Scott's is the last important edition of Dryden, as it is indeed still the only general collection of his works : and it is to be regretted that that distinguished man did not give as much pains to the purification of Dryden's text as he did to his excellent biography and to the notes which enrich the edition.
The text has been revised for this edition by a careful examination of the original and early editions of all the poems. These are generally very correctly printed : but misprints of course must sometimes occur ; and in one or two cases I may have been misled by an original misprint. There may be a difference af opinion as to the word courtier which I have printed in line 325 of "Eleonora,” following the original edition. It has been suggested to me by Mr. W. A. Wright, since p. 432 of this volume was printed, that the word stewed, for which editors have substituted rude, was an original misprint for starved ; and, as Dryden would probably have written sterved, as he has done elsewhere, it is probable that sterved is the correct reading.
The spelling adopted in this edition is generally modern spelling : but there are instances in which the spelling of Dryden's time is preserved, not only where it is needed for rhyme or metre, but also where the old spelling is recommended by etymological considerations, and where it is not altogether strange and repulsive : shipwrack, interessed, thrid, justle, just for joust, are a few such instances. Just reminds me of another striking instance of corruption of text by change of a single letter. The universal joy of Athens, when filled for the great combat between Palamon and Arcite, is described by Dryden in glowing language :
"'Twas justing all the day and love at night:”,
every editor turns justing into jesting (book 3, line 431).