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The two parts of the Conquest of Granada (1672), are written with a seeming determination to glut the publick with dramatick 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 pofterity. 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 fights without enquiring the cause, and loves in spight of the obligations of justice, of rejection by his mistress, and of prohibi. tion from the dead. Yet the scenes are, for the most part, delightful; they exhibit a kind of illus, trious 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, some. thing equivalent; but his purpose being to exalt himself by the comparison, he shews faults distinctly, and only praises excellence in general terms.
A play 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 instructions fronı his remarks. But let honest credulity beware of receiving characters from contemporary writers. Clifford'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 va6 riety, but nothing of value; 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 niore copied from Achilles than from Ancient Pistol. “ But I am,” says he, 66 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 Huff“ cap once the Indian Emperor? and at another time “ did he not call himself Maxi:sain? Was not Lyiz“ daraxa once called Almeira? I mean under Monte“ zuma the Indian Emperor. I protest and vow they “ are either the same, or so alike, that I cannot, for “ my heart, distinguish one from the other. You are " therefore a strange unconscionable thiet; thou art
“ not content to steal from others, but doft 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 his reprisals upon his enemy. To say that his answer is equal to the censure, is no high commendation. To expose Dryden's method of analyfing his expressions, he tries the same experiment upon the same description of the ships in the Indian Emperor, of which however he does not deny the excellence; but intends to Thew, that by studied misconstruction every thing may be equally represented as ridiculous. 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:
• Fate after him below with pain did move,
“ And victory could scarce keep pace 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 obfer“vations on Morocco sense. “ In the Emprefs of Morocco were these lines :
“ I'll travel then to some remoter sphere,
On which Dryden made this remark:
" I believe our learned author takes a sphere for a s country; the sphere of Morocco! as if Morocco « were the globe of earth and water ; but a globe is 66 no sphere neither, by his leave,” &c. “ So sphere
o must " must not be sense, unless it relate to a circular mo. « tion about a globe, in which sense the astronomers o use it. I would defire him to expound those “ lines in Granada:
“ I'll to the turrets of the palace go,
" I wonder, if he be so strict, how he dares make 6 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 Elkanab's Similes are the most unlike things of to what they are compared in the world, I'll venture " to start a fimile in his Annus Mirabilis : he gives “ this poetical description of the ship called the • London:
" The goodly London in her gallant trim,
What “ What a wonderful pother is here, to make all these “ poetical beautifications of a fhip; that is, a phenix in 6 the first stanza, and but a wasp.in the last : nay, to " make his humble comparison of a wasp more ridi. - culous, he does not say it flies upon the waves as 6 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 per« fection he did not arrive to till the Indian Em“ peror's days. But perhaps his fimilitude 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 wafp's tail : for this is all the reason - I can guess, why it seem'd a wasp. But, because 66 we will allow him all we can to help out, let " it be a phenix sea-wafp, and the rarity of such an “ animal may do much towards heightening the
" It had been much more to his purpose, if * he had designed to render the senseless play or little, to have searched for some such pedantry 6 as this :
" Two ifs scarce niakes one possibility.
“ Observe how prettily our author chops logick ss in heroick verse. Three such fuftian canting words
as distributive, alternative, and two ifs, no man 66 but himself would have come within the noise of.