John Dryden--Shakespeare and Ben Jonson 汉译
Shakespeare and Ben Jonson
To begin, then, with Shakespeare. He was the man who of all Modern, and perhaps Ancient Poets, had the largest and most comprehensive soul. All the Images of Nature were still present to him, and he drew them, not laboriously, but luckily; when he describes anything you more than see it, you feel it too. Those who accuse him to have wanted learning give him the greater commendation: he was naturally learned; he needed not the spectacles of Books to read Nature; he looked in wards, and found her there. I cannot say he is everywhere alike; were he so, I should do him injury to compare him with the greatest of Mankind. He is many times flat, insipid; his Comick wit degenerating into clenches , his serious swelling into Bombast. But he is always great when some great occasion is presented to him; no man can say he ever had a fit subject for his wit and did not then raise himself as high above the rest of poets.
Quantum lenta solent inter viburna cupressi.
The consideration of this made Mr. Hales of Eaton say, that there was no subject of which any poet ever writ but he would produce it much better treated of in Shakespeare; and however others are now generally preferred before him, yet the age wherein he lived, which had contemporaries with him Fletcher and Johnson, never equalled them to him in their esteem: and in the last King’s court, when Ben’s reputation was at highest, Sir John Suckling, and with him the greater part of the Courtiers, set our Shakespeare far above him…
As for Johnson, to whose Character I am now arrived, if we look upon him while he was himself (for his last Plays were but his dotages), I think him the most learned and judicious Writer which any Theatre ever had. He was a most severe Judge of himself, as well as others. One cannot say he wanted wit, but rather that he was frugal of it. In his works you find little to retrench or alter. Wit and Language and Humour also in some measure, we had before him; but something of Art was wanting to the Drama till he came. He managed his strength to more advantage than any who preceded him. You seldom find him making Love in any of his Scenes, or endeavouring to move the Passion; his genius was too sullen and saturnine to do it gracefully, especially when he knew he came after those who had performed both to such an height. Humor was his proper Sphere; and in that he delighted most to represent Mechanick people…… If there was any fault in his Languae was that he weaved it too closely and laboriously in his serious Plays: perhaps, too, he did a little too much Romanize our Tongue, leaving the words which he translated almost as much Latin as he found them: wherein, though he learnedly followed the Idiom of their language, he did not enough comply with ours. If I would compare him with Shakespeare, I must acknowledge him the more correct poet, but Shakespeare the greater wit. Shakespeare was the Homer, or father of our Dramatick Poets; Johnson was the Virgil, the pattern of elaborate writing; I admire him, but I love Shakespeare. To conclude of him; as he has given us the most correct plays, so in the precepts which he has laid down in his Discoveries, we have as many and profitable rules for perfecting the stage, as any wherewith the French can furnish us.