Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 648 pages of information about Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama.
mastery of narrative as compensation—­and of his failure to do justice to such scenes when forced upon him.[261] If the atmosphere of certain scenes is purer than is the case with his models, it is in large measure due to his failure to master the style; if his conception of virtue is more wholesome, his picture of it is at times marred by exaggeration, while his sentiment for innocence is of a watery kind, and occasionally a little tawdry.  His pathos, as is the case with all weak writers, constantly trembles on the verge of bathos, while his lack of humour betrays him into penning passages of elaborate fatuity.  His style is formal and often stilted, his verse often monotonous and at times heavy.[262] On the other hand Daniel possesses qualities of no vulgar kind, though some, it is true, may be said to be rather the qualites de ses defauts.  The verse is at least smooth; it is courtly and scholarly, and sometimes graceful; the language is pure and refined, and habitually simple.  The sentiment, if at times finicking, is always that of a gentleman and a courtier.  Moreover, in reckoning his qualifications as a dramatist, we must not forget to credit him with the plot of Hymen’s Triumph, which is on the whole original, and is happily conceived, firmly constructed, and executed with considerable ability.

With Daniel begins and ends in English literature the dominant influence of the Italian pastoral drama.  No doubt the imitation of Tasso and Guarini is an important element in the subsequent history of pastoralism in this country, and to trace and define that influence will be not the least important task of the ensuing chapters.  No doubt it supplied the incentive that induced a man like Fletcher to bid for a hopeless success in such a play as the Faithful Shepherdess, and placed a heavy debt to the account of Thomas Randolph when he composed his Amyntas.  But in these cases, as in others, wherever the author availed himself of the tradition imported from the Ferrarese court, he approached it as it were from without, seeking to rival, to acclimatize, rather than to reproduce.  Nowhere else do we find the tone and atmosphere, the structure, situations, and characters imitated with that fidelity, or attempt at fidelity, which makes Daniel’s plays almost indistinguishable, except for language, from much of the work of the later Italians.[263] To minimize with many critics Daniel’s dependence on his models, or to emphasize with some that of Fletcher, is, it seems to me, wholly to misapprehend the positions they occupy in the history of literature, and to obscure the actual development of the pastoral ideal in this country.

Chapter V.

The Three Masterpieces


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Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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