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terest the Moorish warriors around them, as if the Christian was not thundering at their gates, to exterminate at. once their nation and religion. Indeed, so essentially necessary are the encouragements of beauty to military áchievement, that we find queen Isabella ordering to the field of battle a corps de reserve of her maids of honour, to animate the fighting warriors with their smiles, and counteract the powerful charms of the Moorish damsels. Nor is it an inferior fault, that, although the characters are called Moors, there is scarce any expression, or allusion, which can fix the reader's attention upon their locality, except an occasional interjection to Alha, or Mahomet.
If, however, the reader can abstract his mind from the qualities now deemed essential to a play, and consider the Conquest of Granada as a piece of romantic poetry, there are few compositions in the English language, which convey a more lively and favourable display of the magnificence of fable, of language, and of action, proper to that style of composition. Amid the splendid ornaments of the structure we lose sight of occasional disproportion and incongruity; and, at an early age particularly, there are few poems which make a more deep impression upon the imagination, than the Conquest of Granada.
The two parts of this drama were brought out in the same season, probably in winter, 1669, or spring, 1670. They were received with such applause, that Langbaine conceives their success to have been the occasion of Dryden's undervaluing his predecessors in dramatic writing. The Conquest of Granada was not printed till 1672.
HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS
Heroic poesy has always been sacred to princes, and to heroes. Thus Virgil inscribed his Æneids to Augustus Cæsar ; and of latter ages, Tasso and Ariosto dedicated their poems to the house of Este. It is indeed but justice, that the most excellent and most profitable kind of writing should be addressed by poets to such persons, whose characters have, for the most part, been the guides and patterns of their imitation; and poets, while they imitate, instruct. The feigned hero inflames the true; and the dead virtue animates the living. Since, therefore, the world is governed by precept and example, and both these can only have influence from those persons who are above us ; that kind of poesy, which excites to virtue the greatest men, is of the greatest use to human kind.
* James Duke of York, afterwards James II.
It is from this consideration, that I have presuined to dedicate to your royal highness these faint representations of your own worth and valour in heroick poetry : Or, to speak more properly, not to dedicate, but to restore to you those ideas, which in the more perfect part of my characters I have taken from you. Heroes may lawfully be delighted with their own praises, both as they are farther incitements to their virtue, and as they are the highest returns which mankind can make them for it.
And certainly, if ever nation were obliged, either by the conduct, the personal * valour, or the good förtune of a leader, the English are acknowledging, in all of them, to your royal highness. Your whole life has been a continued series of heroick actions ; which you began so early, that you were no sooner named in the world, but it was with praise and admiration. Even the first blossoms of your youth paid us all that could be expected from a ripening manhood. While you practised but the rudiments of war, you out-went all other captains; and have since found none to surpass, but yourself alone. The opening of your glory was like that of light: You shone to us from afar; and disclosed your first beams on distant nations : Yet so, that the lustre of them was spread abroad, and reflected brightly on your native country. You were then an ho
Although the valour of the unfortunate James II. seems to have sunk with his good fortune, there is no reason to question his having merited the compliment in the text. The Duke of Buckingham, in his memoirs, has borne witness to the intrepidity with which he encountered the dangers of his desperate naval actions with the Dutch. Captain Carlton, who was also an eye-witness of his deportment on that occasion, says, that while the balls were flying thickly around, the Duke of York was wont to rub his. hands, and exclaim chearfully to his captain,“ Spragge, Spragse, they follow us fast.”
nour to it, when it was a reproach to itself. When the fortunate usurper sent his arms to Flanders, many
of the adverse party were vanquished by your fame, ere they tried your valour. † The report of it drew over to your ensigns whole troops and companies of converted rebels, and made them forsake successful wickedness, to follow an oppressed and exiled virtue. Your reputation waged war with the enemies of your royal family, even within their trenches; and the more obstinate, or more guilty of them, were forced to be spies over those whom they commanded, lest the name of York should disband that army, in whose fate it was to defeat the Spaniards, and force Dunkirk to surrender. Yet, those victorious forces of the rebels were not able to sustain your arms.
Where you charged in person, you were 2 conqueror. It is true, they afterwards recovered courage ; and wrested that victory from others which they had lost to you; and it was a greater action for them to rally, than it was to overcome. Thus, by the presence of your royal highness, the English on both sides remained victorious, and that army, which was broken by your valour, became a terror to those for whom they conquered. Then it was, that at the cost of other nations you informed and cultivated that valour, which was to defend your native country, and to vindicate its honour from the insolence of our encroaching neighbours. When the Hollanders, not contented to withdraw themselves from the obedience which they owed their lawful sovereign, affronted those by whose charity they were first protected; and, being swelled up to a pre-eminence of trade, by a supine negligence on our side, and a sordid parsimony on their own, dared to dispute the sovereignty of the seas, the eyes of three nations were then cast upon you; and by the joint suffrage of king and people, you were chosen to revenge their common injuries; to which, though you had an undoubted title by your birth, you had a greater by your courage. Neither did the success deceive our hopes and expectations : The most glorious victory which was gained by our navy in that war, was in the first engagement; wherein, even by the confession of our enenies, who ever palliate their own losses, and diminish our advantages, your absolute triumph was acknowledged: You conquered at the Hague, as entirely as at London; and the return of a shattered fleet, without an admiral, left not the most impudent among them the least pretence for a false bonfire, or a dissembled day of public thanksgiving. All our achievements against them afterwards, though we sometimes conquered, and were never overcome, were but a copy of that victory, and they still fell short of their original : somewhat of fortune was ever wanting, to fill up the title of so absolute a defeat; or perhaps the guardian angel of our nation was not enough concerned when you were absent, and would not employ his utmost vigour for a less important stake, than the life and honour of a royal admiral.
* When General Lockhart commanded the troops of the Protector in Flanders, the Duke of York was a volunteer in the Spanish army, and was present at the defeat, which the latter received before Dunkirk, 17th of June, 1058.