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sport of criticism; and were at length, if his own confession may be trusted, the shame of the writer.
Of this play he takes care to let the reader know, that it was contrived and written in seven weeks. Want of time was often his excuse, or perhaps shortness of time was his private boast in the form of an apology.
It was written before the Conquest of Granada, but published after it. The design is to recommend piety. “ I considered that pleasure was not the only “ end of poesy, and that even the instructions of morality were not so wholly " the business of a poet, as that precepts and examples of piety were to be “ omitted; for to leave that employment altogether to the clergy, were to « forget that religion was first taught in verse, which the laziness or dullness " of succeeding priesthood țarned afterwards into prose.” Thus foolishly could Dryden write, rather than not shew his malice to the parsons.
The two parts of the Conquest of Granada (1672) are written with a seeming determination to glut the publick with dramatic wonders; to exhibit in its highest elevation a theatrical meteor of incredible love and impossible valour, and to leave no room for a wilder flight to the extravagance of posterity. All the rays of romantick heat, whether amorous or warlike, glow in Almanzor by a kind of concentration. He is above all laws ; he is exempt from all restraints ; he ranges the world at will, and governs wherever he appears. He fighis without enquiring the cause, and loves in spight of the obligations of justice, of rejection by his mistress, and of prohibition from the dead. Yet the scenes are, for the most part, delightful; they exhibit a kind of illustrious depravity, and majestick madness, such as, if it is sometimes despised, is often reverenced, and in which the ridiculous is mingled with the astonishing.
In the Epilogue to the second part of the Conquest of Granada, Dryden indulges his favourite pleasure of discrediting his predecessors; and this Epilogue he has defended by a long postscript. He had promised a second dialogue, in which he should more fully treat of the virtues and faults of the English poets, who have written in the dramatick, epick, or lyrick way. This promise was never formally performed; but, with respect to the dramatick writers, he has given us in his prefaces, and in this postscript, something equivalent: but his purpose being to exalt himself by the comparison, he shews faults distinctly, and only praises excellence in general terms.
A play thus written, in professed defiance of probability, naturally drew upon itself the vultures of the theatre. One of the criticks that attacked it was Martin Clifford, to whom Sprat addressed the Life of Cowley, with such veneration of his critical powers as might naturally excite great expectations of insșructions from his remarks. But let honest credulity beware of receiving characters from contemporary writers. Cifford's remarks, by the favour of Dr. Percy, were at last obtained; and, that no man may ever want them more, I will extract enough to satisfy all reasonable desire.
In the first Letter his observation is only general : " You do live,” says he « in as much ignorance and darkness as you did in the womb: your writings " are like a Jack-of all-trade's shop; they have a variety, but nothing of 'va“ lue; and if thou art not the dullest plant-animal that ever the earth pro“ duced, all that I have conversed with are strangely mistaken in thee."
In the second he tells him that Almanzor is not more copied from Achilles than from ancient Pistol. “ But I am,” said he, “ strangely mistaken if I have “ not seen this very Almanzor of yours in some disguise about this town, and " passing under another name. Pr’ythee tell me true, was not this Huffcap “ once the Indian Emperor ; and at another time did he not call himself Maxi
min? Was not Lyndaraxa once called Almeria ? I mean under Montezuma us the Indian Emperor. I protest and vow they are either the same, or so “ alike that I cannot from my heart, distinguish one from the other. You 5 are therefore a strange unconscionable thief; thou art not content to steal “ from others, but dosť rob thy poor wretched self too.”
Now was Settle's time to take his revenge. He wrote a vindication of his own lines; and, if he is forced to yield any thing, makes reprisals upon his enemy. To say that his answer is equal to the censure, is no high commendation. To expose Dryden's method of analysing his expressions, he tries the same experiment upon the same description ofthe ships in the Indian Emperor of which however he does not deny the excellence ; but intends to shew, that by studied misconstruction everything may be equally represented asridiculous. After so much of Dryden's elegant animadversions, justice requires that something of Settle's should be exhibited. The following observations are therefore extracted from a quarto pamphlet of ninety-five pages :
6. Face after him below with pain did move,
“ And victory could scarce keep peace above. “ These two lines, if he can shew me any sense or thought in, or any thing “ but bombast and noise, he shall make me believe every word in his “ observations on Morocco sense : “ In the Empress of Morocco were these lines :
" I'll travel then to some remoter sphere,
“ Till I find out new worlds, and crown you there. “. On which Diyden made this remark:
" I believe our learned author takes a sphere for a country; the sphere of " Morocco, as if Morocco were the globe of earth and water ; but a globe is “no sphere neither, by his leave,” &c. “ So sphere must not be sense unless “ it relate to a circular motion about a globe, in which sense the astronomers " use it. I would desire him to expound those lines in Granada :
“ I'll to the turrets of the palace go,
“ Thence, Hero-like, with torches by my side,
“ Just flying forward from my rowling sphere. “ I wonder, if he be so strict, how he dares make so bold with sphere himself, “ and be so critical in other men's writings. Fortune is fancied standing on a “ globe not on a sphere, as he told us in the first act.
“ Because Elkanah's Similies are the most unlike things to what they are come “ pared in the world, I'll venture to start a simile in his Annus Mirabilis : he “ gives this poetical description of the ship called the London:
“ The goodly London in her gallant trim,
" She seems a sea-wasp flying on the waves. “ What a wonderful pot her is here, to make all these poetical beautifications “ of a ship! that is, a phenix in the first stanza, and but a wasp in the last :“ nay, to make his humble comparison of awasp moreridiculous, hedoes not say “ it flies upon the waves as nimbly as a wasp, or the like, but it seemed a wasp. “ But our author at the writing of this was not in his altitudes,'to compare “ ships to floating palaces; a comparison to the purpose, was a perfection be “he did not arrive to till his Indian Emperor's days. But perhaps his simi“ litude has more in it than we imagine ; this ship had a great many guns in “ her, and they, put all together, made the sting in the wasp's tail: for this “ is all the reason I can guess, why it seemed a wasp. But, because we will “ allow him all we can to help out, let it be a phenix sea-wasp, and the rarity “ of such an animal may do much towards heightening the fancy.
“ It had been much more to his purpose, if he had designed to render the " senseless play little, to have searched for some such pedantry as this:
“ Two ifs scarce make one possibility.
“ Rather than take your life, I will not live. a Observe, how prettily our author chops logick in heroick verse. Three 6c such fastian canting words as distributive, alternative, and two ifs, no man
« but himself would have come within the noise of. But he's a man of general “ learning, and all comes into his play.
“ 'Twould have done well too, if he could have met with a rant or two, “ worth the observation: such as,
“ Move, swiftly, sun, and fly a lover's pace,
“ Leave months and weeks behind thee in thy race. “ But surely the Sun, whether he flies a lover's or not a lover's pace, leaves “ weeks and months, nay years too, behind him in his race.
“ Poor Robin, or any other of the Philomathematicks, would have given « him satisfaction in the point.
“ If I could kill thee now, thy fate's so low,
“ Piled on thy back, can never pull it down. « Now where that is, Almanzor's fạte is fixt, I cannot guess : but wherever “ it is, I believe Almanzor, and think that all Abdalla's subjects, piled upon « one another, might not pull down his fate sowell as without piling: besides, “ I think Abdalla so wise a man, that if Almanzor had told him piling his men " upon his back might do the feat, he would scarce bear such a weight, for the :.“ pleasure of the exploit ; but it is a huff, and let Abdalla do it if he dare.
“ The people like a headlong torrent go,
“ Or wind in volumes to their former course. " A very pretty allusion, contrary to all sense or reason. Torrents, I take it; let
them wind never so much, can never return to their former course, unless he can suppose that fountains can go upwards, which is impossible: nay more, in the foregoing page he tells us so too. A trick of a very unfaithful memory, .
" But can no more than fountains upward flow. " which of a torrent, which signifies a rapid stream, is much more impossible. “ Besides, if he goes to quibble, and say that it is possible by art water may “ be made return, and the same water run twice in one and the same channel ; " then he quite confutes what he says ; for, it is by being opposed, that it “ runs into its former course ; for all engines that make water so return, do “ it by compulsion and opposition. Or, if he means a headlong torrent for “ a tide, which would be ridiculous, yet they do not windin volumes, but come « foreright back (if their upright lies straight to their former course), and " that by opposition of the sea-water, that drives them back again.
" And for fancy, when he lights of any thing like it, 'tis a wonder, if it .66 be not borrowed. As here, for example of, I find this fanciful thought “ in his Ann. Mirab.
« Old father Thames raised up his révérend head ;
“ And shrunk his waters back into his urn. This is stolen from Cowley's Davideis, p. 9.
“ Swift Jordan started, and strait backward filed,
“ At once beat those without and those within. " This Almanzor speaks of himself; and sure for one man to conquer an “ army within the city, and another without the city, at once, is something “ difficult ; but this flight is pardonable, to some we meet with in Granada. “ Osmin, speaking of Almanzor :
“ Who, like a tempest that outrides the wind,
“ Made a just battle, ere the bodies join'd. ec Pray what does this honourable person mean by a tempest that outrides the “ wind! A tempest that outrides itself. To suppose a tempest without “ wind, is as bad as supposing a man to walk without feet ; for if he supposes “ the tempest to be something distinct from the wind, yet as being the effect " of wind only, to come before the cause is a little preposterous : so that if “ he takes it one way, or if he takes it the other, those two ifs will scarce “ make one possibility.” Enough of Settle.
- Marriage Alamode (1673) is a comedy dedicated to the Earl of Rochester ; whom he acknowledges not only as the defender of his poetry, but the promoter of his fortune. Langbaine places this play in 1673. The eart of Rochester therefore was the famous Wilmot, whom yet tradition always represents as an enemy to Dryden, and who is mentioned by him with some disrespect in the preface to Juvenal.
The Assignation, or Love in a Nunnery, a comedy (1673), was driven off the stage, against the cpinion, as the author says, of the best judges. It is dedicated, in a very elegant address, to Sir Charles Sedley , in which he finds an opporfunity for his usual complaint of hard treatment and unreasonable censure.
Amboyna (1673) is a tissue of mingled dialogue in verse and prose, and was perhaps written in less time than The Virgin Martyr; though the author thought not fit either ostentatiously or mournfully to tell how little labour it cost him, or at how short a warning he produced it. It was a temporary performance, written in the time of the Dutch war, to inflame the nation against their enemies ; to whom he hopes, as he declares in his Epilogue, to make ' his poetry not less destructive than that by which Tyrtæus of old animated the Spartans. This play was written in the second Dutch war in 1673.
Troilus and Cressida (1679) is a play altered from Shakspeare ; but so altered, that even in Langbaine's opinion, “ the last scene in the third act is a master