NOW FIRST COLLECTED
IN EIGHTEEN VOLUMES.
HISTORICAL, CRITICAL, AND EXPLANATORY,
A LIFE OF THE AUTHOR,
WALTER SCOTT, ESQ.
PRINTED FOR WILLIAM MILLER, ALBEMARLE STREET,
BY JAMES BALLANTYNE AND CO. EDINBURGH.
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Almanzor and Almahide, or the Conquest of Granada by the Spaniards, a Tragedy, Part First Epistle Dedicatory to the Duke of York Of Heroic Plays, an Essay Part II Defence of the Epilogue; or an Essay on the Dramatic Poetry of the last Age
Marriage-a-la-Mode, a Comedy Epistle Dedicatory to the Earl of Rochester
The Assignation, or Love in a Nunnery, a Comedy Epistle Dedicatory to Sir Charles Sedley, Bart.
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ALMANZOR AND ALMAHIDE:
CONQUEST OF GRANADA
—Major rerum mihi nascitur ordo; Majus opus moveo. VIRG. AENEID.
THE CONQUEST OF GRANADA.
This play,—for the two parts only constitute an entire drama betwixt them,—seems to have been a favourite with Dryden, as well as with the public. In the Essay upon Heroic Plays, as well as in the dedication, the character of Almanzor is dwelt upon with that degree of complacency which an author experiences in analyzing a successful effort of his genius. Unquestionably the gross improbability of a hero, by his single arm, turning the tide of battle as he lists, did not appear so shocking in the age of Dryden, as in ours. There is no doubt, that, while personal strength and prowess were of more consequence than military skill and conduct, the feats of a single man were sometimes sufficient to determine the fate of an engagement, more especially when exerted by a knight, sheathed in complete mail, against the heartless and half-armed mass, which constituted the feudal infantry. Those, who have perused Barbour's History of Robert Bruce, Geoffrey de Vinsauf's account of the wars of Richard Coeur de Lion, or even the battles detailed by Froissart and Joinville, are familiar with instances of breaches defended, and battles decided, by the prowess of a single arm. The leader of a feudal army was expected by his followers not only to point out the path to victory but to lead the way in person. It is true, that the military art had been changed in this particular long before the days of Dryden. Complete armour was generally laid aside; fire-arms had superseded the use of the lance and battle-axe; and, above all, the universal institution of standing armies had given discipline and military skill their natural and decisive superiority over untaught strength, and enthusiastic valour. But the memory of what had been, was still familiar to the popular mind, and preserved not only by numerous legends and traditions, but also by the cast of the fashionable works of fiction. It is, indeed, curious to remark, how many minute remnants of a system of ancient manners can be traced long after it has become totally obsolete. Even down to the eighteenth century, the portrait of every soldier of rank was attired in complete armour, though, perhaps, he never saw a suit of mail excepting in the Tower of London; and on the same principle of prescriptive custom, Addison was the first poet who ventured to celebrate a victorious general for skill and conduct, instead of such feats as are appropriated to Guy of Warwick, or Bevis of Hampton. The fashion of attributing mighty effects to individual valour being thus prevalent, even in circumstances when every one knew the supposition to be entirely gratuitous, the same principle, with much greater propriety, continued to be applied in works of fiction, where the scene was usually carried back to times in which the personal strength of a champion really had some efficacy. It must be owned, however, that the authors of the French romances carried the influence of individual strength and courage beyond all bounds of modesty and reason. In the Grand Cyrus, Artamenes, upon a moderate computation, exterminates with his own hand, in the course of the work, at least a hundred thousand fighting men. These monstrous fictions, however, constituted the amusement of the young and the gay, in the age of Charles II., and from one of these very books Dryden admits his having drawn, at least in part, the character of his Moorish warrior. The public was, therefore, every way familiarised with such chivalrous exploits as those of Almanzor; and if they did not altogether command the belief, at least they did not revolt the imagination, of an audience: And this must certainly be admitted as a fair apology for the extravagance of his heroic achievements.
But, it is not only the actual effects of Almanzor's valour, which appear to us unnatural, but also the extraordinary principles and motives by which those exertions are guided. Here also, we must look back to the Gothic romances, and to those of Scudery and Calprenede. In fact, the extravagance of sentiment is no less necessary than the extravagance of achievement to constitute a true knight errant; and such is Almanzor. Honour and love were the sole deities worshipped by this extraordinary race, who, though their memory and manners are preserved chiefly in works of fiction, did once exist in real life, and actually conducted armies, and governed kingdoms, upon principles as strained and hyperbolical as those of the Moorish champion. If Almanzor, at the command of his mistress, aids his hated rival to the destruction of his own hopes, he only discharges the duty of a good knight, who was bound to sacrifice himself, and all his hopes and wishes, at the slightest command of her, to whom he had vowed his service, and who, in the language of chivalry, was to him as the soul is to the body. The reader may recollect the memorable invasion of England by James IV. of Scotland, in which he hazarded and actually lost his own life, and the flower of his nobility, because the queen of France, who called him her knight, had commanded him to march three miles on English ground for her sake.
Less can be said to justify the extravagant language in which Almanzor threatens his enemies, and vaunts his own importance. This is not common in the heroes of romance, who are usually as remarkable for their modesty of language as for their prowess; and still more seldom does, in real life, a vain-glorious boaster vindicate by his actions the threats of his tongue. It is true, that men of a fervent and glowing character are apt to strain their speech beyond the modesty of ordinary conversation, and display, in their language, the fire which glows in their bosoms; but the subject of their effusions is usually connected not with their own personal qualities, or feats, but with some extraneous object of their pursuit, or admiration. Thus, the burst of Hotspur concerning the pursuit of honour paints his enthusiastic character; but it would be hard to point out a passage indicating that exuberant confidence in his own prowess, and contempt of every one else, so liberally exhibited by Almanzor. Instances of this defect are but too thickly sown through the piece; for example the following rant.
If from thy hands alone my death can be, I am immortal, and a God to thee. If I would kill thee now, thy fate's so low, That I must stoop ere I can give the blow. But mine is fixed so far above thy crown, That all thy men, Piled on thy back, can never pull it down. But, at my ease, thy destiny I send, By ceasing from this hour to be thy friend. Like heaven, I need but only to stand still; And, not concurring to thy life, I kill. Thou canst no title to my duty bring; I am not thy subject, and my soul's thy king. Farewell! When I am gone, There's not a star of thine dare stay with thee: I'll whistle thy tame fortune after me; And whirl fate with me wheresoe'er I fly, As winds drive storms before them in the sky.
This curious passage did not escape the malicious criticism of Settle, who, besides noticing the extravagant egotism of the hero, questions, with some probability, whether Abdalla would have chosen to scale Almanzor's fate, at the risque of the personal consequences of having all his men piled on his own back. In the same scene, Almanzor is so unreasonable as to tell his rival,
—Thou shalt not dare To be so impudent as to despair.
What are ten thousand subjects, such as they? If I am scorned, I'll take myself away.
Dryden's apology for these extravagancies seems to be, that Almanzor is in a passion. But, although talking nonsense is a common effect of passion, it seems hardly one of those consequences adapted to shew forth the character of a hero in theatrical representation.
It must be owned, however, that although the part of Almanzor contains these and other bombastic passages, there are many also which convey what the poet desired to represent—the aspirations of a mind so heroic as almost to surmount the bonds of society and even the very laws of the universe, leaving us often in doubt whether the vehemence of the wish does not even disguise the impossibility of its accomplishment.
Good heaven! thy book of fate before me lay, But to tear out the journal of this day. Or, if the order of the world below Will not the gap of one whole day allow, Give me that minute when she made her vow. That minute, even the happy from their bliss might give, And those, who live in grief, a shorter time would live. So small a link, if broke, the eternal chain Would, like divided waters, join again. It wonnot be; the fugitive is gone, Pressed by the crowd of following minutes on: That precious moment's out of nature fled, And in the heap of common rubbish laid, Of things that once have been, and now decayed.
In the less inflated parts, the ideas are usually as just, as ingenious and beautiful; for example.
No; there is a necessity in fate. Why still the brave bold man is fortunate; He keeps his object ever full in sight, And that assurance holds him firm and right. True, 'tis a narrow path that leads to bliss, } But right before there is no precipice; } Fear makes men look aside, and then their footing miss. }
The character of Almanzor is well known as the original of Drawcansir, in "The Rehearsal," into whose mouth parodies of some of Dryden's most extravagant flights have been put by the duke of Buckingham. Shaftesbury also, whose family had smarted under Dryden's satire, attempts to trace the applause bestowed on the "Conquest of Granada" to what he calls "the correspondence and relation between our Royal Theatre and popular Circus, or Bear-Garden. For, in the former of these assemblys, 'tis undeniable that, at least, the two upper regions, or galleries, contain such spectators as indifferently frequent each place of sport. So that 'tis no wonder we hear such applause resounded on the victories of an Almanzor, when the same parties had possibly no later than the day before bestowed their applause as freely on the victorious Butcher, the hero of another stage." Miscellaneous Reflections. Miscell. 5.
The other personages of the drama sink into Lilliputians, beside the gigantic Almanzor, although the under plot of the loves of Ozmyn and Benzayda is beautiful in itself, and ingeniously managed. The virtuous Almahide is a fit object for the adoration of Almanzor; but her husband is a poor pageant of royalty. As for Lyndaraxa, her repeated and unparalleled treachery can only be justified by the extreme imbecility of her lovers.
The plot of the play is, in part, taken from history. During the last years of its existence, Granada, the poor remnant of the Moorish empire in Spain, was torn to pieces with intestine discord, and assailed without by the sword of the Christians. The history of the civil wars of Granada, affirmed to be translated into Spanish from the Arabian, gives a romantic, but not altogether fabulous account of their discord. But a romance in the French taste, called Almahide, seems to have been the chief source from which our author drew his plot.
In the conduct of the story there is much brilliancy of event. The reader, or spectator, is never allowed to repose on the scene before him; and although the changes of fortune are too rapid to be either probable, or altogether pleasing, yet they arrest the attention by their splendour and importance, and interest us in spite of our more sober judgment. The introduction of the ghost of Almanzor's mother seems to have been intended to shew how the hero could support even an interview with an inhabitant of the other world. At least, the professed purpose of her coming might have been safely trusted to the virtue of Almahide, and her power over her lover. It afforded an opportunity, however, to throw in some fine poetry, of which Dryden has not failed to avail himself. Were it not a peculiar attribute of the heroic drama, it might be mentioned as a defect, that during the siege of the last possession of the Spanish Moors, by an enemy hated for his religion, and for his success, the principle of patriotism is hardly once alluded to through the whole piece. The fate, or the wishes, of Almahide, Lyndaraxa, and Benzayda, are all that interest 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 achievement, 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.
Footnote: 1. There is something ludicrous in the idea of a beauty, or a gallant, of that gay and licentious court poring over a work of five or six folio volumes by way of amusement; but such was the taste of the age, that Fynes Morison, in his precepts to travellers, can "think no book better for his pupils' discourse than Amadis of Gaule; for the knights errant and the ladies of court do therein exchange courtly speeches."
HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS
Heroic poesy has always been sacred to princes, and to heroes. Thus Virgil inscribed his AEneids to Augustus Caesar; 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.
It is from this consideration, that I have presumed 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 fortune 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 honour 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 a 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 enemies, 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.
And if, since that memorable day, you have had leisure to enjoy in peace the fruits of so glorious a reputation; it was occasion only has been wanting to your courage, for that can never be wanting to occasion. The same ardour still incites you to heroick actions, and the same concernment for all the interests of your king and brother continues to give you restless nights, and a generous emulation for your own glory. You are still meditating on new labours for yourself, and new triumphs for the nation; and when our former enemies again provoke us, you will again solicit fate to provide you another navy to overcome, and another admiral to be slain. You will then lead forth a nation eager to revenge their past injuries; and, like the Romans, inexorable to peace, till they have fully vanquished. Let our enemies make their boast of a surprise, as the Samnities did of a successful stratagem; but the Furcae Caudinae will never be forgiven till they are revenged. I have always observed in your royal highness an extreme concernment for the honour of your country; it is a passion common to you with a brother, the most excellent of kings; and in your two persons are eminent the characters which Homer has given us of heroick virtue; the commanding part in Agamemnon, and the executive in Achilles. And I doubt not from both your actions, but to have abundant matter to fill the annals of a glorious reign, and to perform the part of a just historian to my royal master, without intermixing with it any thing of the poet.
In the mean time, while your royal highness is preparing fresh employments for our pens, I have been examining my own forces, and making trial of myself, how I shall be able to transmit you to posterity. I have formed a hero, I confess, not absolutely perfect, but of an excessive and over-boiling courage; but Homer and Tasso are my precedents. Both the Greek and the Italian poet had well considered, that a tame hero, who never transgresses the bounds of moral virtue, would shine but dimly in an epic poem; the strictness of those rules might well give precepts to the reader, but would administer little of occasion to the writer. But a character of an eccentrick virtue is the more exact image of human life, because he is not wholly exempted from its frailties; such a person is Almanzor, whom I present, with all humility, to the patronage of your royal highness. I designed in him a roughness of character, impatient of injuries, and a confidence of himself, almost approaching to an arrogance. But these errors are incident only to great spirits; they are moles and dimples, which hinder not a face from being beautiful, though that beauty be not regular; they are of the number of those amiable imperfections which we see in mistresses, and which we pass over without a strict examination, when they are accompanied with greater graces. And such in Almanzor are a frank and noble openness of nature, an easiness to forgive his conquered enemies, and to protect them in distress; and, above all, an inviolable faith in his affection.
This, sir, I have briefly shadowed to your royal highness, that you may not be ashamed of that hero, whose protection you undertake. Neither would I dedicate him to so illustrious a name, if I were conscious to myself that he did or said any thing which was wholly unworthy of it. However, since it is not just that your royal highness should defend or own what possibly may be my error, I bring before you this accused Almanzor in the nature of a suspected criminal. By the suffrage of the most and best he already is acquitted; and by the sentence of some, condemned. But as I have no reason to stand to the award of my enemies, so neither dare I trust the partiality of my friends: I make my last appeal to your royal highness, as to a sovereign tribunal. Heroes should only be judged by heroes; because they only are capable of measuring great and heroick actions by the rule and standard of their own. If Almanzor has failed in any point of honour, I must therein acknowledge that he deviates from your royal highness, who are the pattern of it. But if at any time he fulfils the parts of personal valour, and of conduct, of a soldier, and of a general; or, if I could yet give him a character more advantageous than what he has, of the most unshaken friend, the greatest of subjects, and the best of masters, I should then draw to all the world a true resemblance of your worth and virtues; at least, as far as they are capable of being copied by the mean abilities of,
Your royal highness's Most humble, and Most obedient servant, JOHN DRYDEN.
Footnotes: 1. James Duke of York, afterwards James II.
2. 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, Spragge, they follow us fast."
3. 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, 1658.
4. The defeat of the Dutch off Harwich, 3d June, 1665, in which their Admiral, Obdam, was blown up, eighteen of their ships taken, and fourteen destroyed.
5. The author seems to refer to the burning of the English ships at Chatham, by the Dutch Admiral De Ruyter.
Whether heroic verse ought to be admitted into serious plays, is not now to be disputed: it is already in possession of the stage, and I dare confidently affirm, that very few tragedies, in this age, shall be received without it. All the arguments which are formed against it, can amount to no more than this, that it is not so near conversation as prose, and therefore not so natural. But it is very clear to all who understand poetry, that serious plays ought not to imitate conversation too nearly. If nothing were to be raised above that level, the foundation of poetry would be destroyed. And if you once admit of a latitude, that thoughts may be exalted, and that images and actions may be raised above the life, and described in measure without rhyme, that leads you insensibly from your own principles to mine: you are already so far onward of your way, that you have forsaken the imitation of ordinary converse. You are gone beyond it; and to continue where you are, is to lodge in the open fields, betwixt two inns. You have lost that which you call natural, and have not acquired the last perfection of art. But it was only custom which cozened us so long; we thought, because Shakespeare and Fletcher went no farther, that there the pillars of poetry were to be erected; that, because they excellently described passion without rhime, therefore rhime was not capable of describing it. But time has now convinced most men of that error. It is indeed so difficult to write verse, that the adversaries of it have a good plea against many, who undertook that task, without being formed by art or nature for it. Yet, even they who have written worst in it, would have written worse without it: They have cozened many with their sound, who never took the pains to examine their sense. In fine, they have succeeded; though, it is true, they have more dishonoured rhime by their good success, than they have done by their ill. But I am willing to let fall this argument: It is free for every man to write, or not to write, in verse, as he judges it to be, or not to be, his talent; or as he imagines the audience will receive it.
For heroic plays, in which only I have used it without the mixture of prose, the first light we had of them, on the English theatre, was from the late Sir William D'Avenant. It being forbidden him in the rebellious times to act tragedies and comedies, because they contained some matter of scandal to those good people, who could more easily dispossess their lawful sovereign, than endure a wanton jest, he was forced to turn his thoughts another way, and to introduce the examples of moral virtue, writ in verse, and performed in recitative music. The original of this music, and of the scenes which adorned his work, he had from the Italian operas; but he heightened his characters, as I may probably imagine, from the example of Corneille and some French poets. In this condition did this part of poetry remain at his majesty's return; when, growing bolder, as being now owned by a public authority, he reviewed his "Siege of Rhodes," and caused it be acted as a just drama. But as few men have the happiness to begin and finish any new project, so neither did he live to make his design perfect: There wanted the fulness of a plot, and the variety of characters to form it as it ought; and, perhaps, something might have been added to the beauty of the style. All which he would have performed with more exactness, had he pleased to have given us another work of the same nature. For myself and others, who come after him, we are bound, with all veneration to his memory, to acknowledge what advantage we received from that excellent groundwork which he laid: And, since it is an easy thing to add to what already is invented, we ought all of us, without envy to him, or partiality to ourselves, to yield him the precedence in it.
Having done him this justice, as my guide, I may do myself so much, as to give an account of what I have performed after him. I observed then, as I said, what was wanting to the perfection of his "Siege of Rhodes;" which was design, and variety of characters. And in the midst of this consideration by mere accident, I opened the next book that lay by me, which was "Ariosto," in Italian; and the very first two lines of that poem gave me light to all I could desire;
Le donne, i cavalier, l'arme, gli amori, Le cortesie, l'audaci imprese io canto, &c.
For the very next reflection which I made was this, that an heroic play ought to be an imitation, in little, of an heroic poem; and, consequently, that love and valour ought to be the subject of it. Both these Sir William D'Avenant had begun to shadow; but it was so, as first discoverers draw their maps, with headlands, and promontories, and some few outlines of somewhat taken at a distance, and which the designer saw not clearly. The common drama obliged him to a plot well formed and pleasant, or, as the ancients call it, one entire and great action. But this he afforded not himself in a story, which he neither filled with persons, nor beautified with characters, nor varied with accidents. The laws of an heroic poem did not dispense with those of the other, but raised them to a greater height, and indulged him a farther liberty of fancy, and of drawing all things as far above the ordinary proportion of the stage, as that is beyond the common words and actions of human life; and, therefore, in the scanting of his images and design, he complied not enough with the greatness and majesty of an heroic poem.
I am sorry I cannot discover my opinion of this kind of writing, without dissenting much from his, whose memory I love and honour. But I will do it with the same respect to him, as if he were now alive, and overlooking my paper while I write. His judgment of an heroic poem was this: "That it ought to be dressed in a more familiar and easy shape; more fitted to the common actions and passions of human life; and, in short, more like a glass of nature, shewing us ourselves in our ordinary habits and figuring a more practicable virtue to us, than was done by the ancients or moderns." Thus he takes the image of an heroic poem from the drama, or stage poetry; and accordingly intended to divide it into five books, representing the same number of acts; and every book into several cantos, imitating the scenes which compose our acts.
But this, I think, is rather a play in narration, as I may call it, than an heroic poem. If at least you will not prefer the opinion of a single man to the practice of the most excellent authors, both of ancient and latter ages. I am no admirer of quotations; but you shall hear, if you please, one of the ancients delivering his judgment on this question; it is Petronius Arbiter, the most elegant, and one of the most judicious authors of the Latin tongue; who, after he had given many admirable rules for the structure and beauties of an epic poem, concludes all in these following words:—
"Non enim res gestae versibus comprehendendae sunt, quod longe melius historici faciunt: sed, per ambages deorumque ministeria, praecipitanaus est liber spiritus, ut potius furentis animi vaticinatio appareat, quam religiosae orationis, sub testibus, fides."
In which sentence, and his own essay of a poem, which immediately he gives you, it is thought he taxes Lucan, who followed too much the truth of history, crowded sentences together, was too full of points, and too often offered at somewhat which had more of the sting of an epigram, than of the dignity and state of an heroic poem. Lucan used not much the help of his heathen deities: There was neither the ministry of the gods, nor the precipitation of the soul, nor the fury of a prophet (of which my author speaks), in his Pharsalia; he treats you more like a philosopher than a poet, and instructs you in verse, with what he had been taught by his uncle Seneca in prose. In one word, he walks soberly afoot, when he might fly. Yet Lucan is not always this religious historian. The oracle of Appius and the witchcraft of Erictho, will somewhat atone for him, who was, indeed, bound up by an ill-chosen and known argument, to follow truth with great exactness. For my part, I am of opinion, that neither Homer, Virgil, Statius, Ariosto, Tasso, nor our English Spencer, could have formed their poems half so beautiful, without those gods and spirits, and those enthusiastic parts of poetry, which compose the most noble parts of all their writings. And I will ask any man who loves heroic poetry (for I will not dispute their tastes who do not), if the ghost of Polydorus in Virgil, the Enchanted Wood in Tasso, and the Bower of Bliss in Spencer (which he borrows from that admirable Italian) could have been omitted, without taking from their works some of the greatest beauties in them. And if any man object the improbabilities of a spirit appearing, or of a palace raised by magic; I boldly answer him, that an heroic poet is not tied to a bare representation of what is true, or exceeding probable; but that he may let himself loose to visionary objects and to the representation of such things, as, depending not on sense, and therefore not to be comprehended by knowledge, may give him a freer scope for imagination. It is enough that, in all ages and religions, the greatest part of mankind have believed the power of magic, and that there are spirits or spectres which have appeared. This, I say, is foundation enough for poetry; and I dare farther affirm, that the whole doctrine of separated beings, whether those spirits are incorporeal substances, (which Mr Hobbes, with some reason, thinks to imply a contradiction) or that they are a thinner and more aerial sort of bodies, (as some of the fathers have conjectured) may better be explicated by poets than by philosophers or divines. For their speculations on this subject are wholly poetical; they have only their fancy for their guide; and that, being sharper in an excellent poet, than it is likely it should in a phlegmatic, heavy gownman, will see farther in its own empire, and produce more satisfactory notions on those dark and doubtful problems.
Some men think they have raised a great argument against the use of spectres and magic in heroic poetry, by saying they are unnatural; but whether they or I believe there are such things, is not material; it is enough that, for aught we know, they may be in nature; and whatever is, or may be, is not properly unnatural. Neither am I much concerned at Mr Cowley's verses before "Gondibert," though his authority is almost sacred to me: It is true, he has resembled the old epic poetry to a fantastic fairy-land; but he has contradicted himself by his own example: For he has himself made use of angels and visions in his "Davideis," as well as Tasso in his "Godfrey."
What I have written on this subject will not be thought a digression by the reader, if he please to remember what I said in the beginning of this essay, that I have modelled my heroic plays by the rules of an heroic poem. And if that be the most noble, the most pleasant, and the most instructive way of writing in verse, and withal the highest pattern of human life, as all poets have agreed, I shall need no other argument to justify my choice in this imitation. One advantage the drama has above the other, namely, that it represents to view what the poem only does relate; and, Segnius irritant animum demissa per aures, quam quae sunt oculis subjecta fidelibus, as Horace tells us.
To those who object my frequent use of drums and trumpets, and my representations of battles, I answer, I introduced them not on the English stage: Shakespeare used them frequently; and though Jonson shews no battle in his "Catiline," yet you hear from behind the scenes the sounding of trumpets, and the shouts of fighting armies. But, I add farther, that these warlike instruments, and even their presentations of fighting on the stage, are no more than necessary to produce the effects of an heroic play; that is, to raise the imagination of the audience and to persuade them, for the time, that what they behold on the theatre is really performed. The poet is then to endeavour an absolute dominion over the minds of the spectators; for, though our fancy will contribute to its own deceit, yet a writer ought to help its operation: And that the Red Bull has formerly done the same, is no more an argument against our practice, than it would be for a physician to forbear an approved medicine, because a mountebank has used it with success.
Thus I have given a short account of heroic plays. I might now, with the usual eagerness of an author, make a particular defence of this. But the common opinion (how unjust soever) has been so much to my advantage, that I have reason to be satisfied, and to suffer with patience all that can be urged against it.
For, otherwise, what can be more easy for me, than to defend the character of Almanzor, which is one great exception that is made against the play? 'Tis said, that Almanzor is no perfect pattern of heroic virtue, that he is a contemner of kings, and that he is made to perform impossibilities.
I must therefore avow, in the first place, from whence I took the character. The first image I had of him, was from the Achilles of Homer; the next from Tasso's Rinaldo, (who was a copy of the former) and the third from the Artaban of Monsieur Calpranede, who has imitated both. The original of these, Achilles, is taken by Homer for his hero; and is described by him as one, who in strength and courage surpassed the rest of the Grecian army; but, withal, of so fiery a temper, so impatient of an injury, even from his king and general, that when his mistress was to be forced from him by the command of Agamemnon, he not only disobeyed it, but returned him an answer full of contumely, and in the most opprobrious terms he could imagine; they are Homer's words which follow, and I have cited but some few amongst a multitude.
[Greek: Oinobares, kynos ommat' echon, kradien d' elaphoio.] —Il. a. v. 225.
[Greek: Demoboros basileus,] &c. —Il. a. v. 231.
Nay, he proceeded so far in his insolence, as to draw out his sword, with intention to kill him;
[Greek: Elketo d' ek koleoio mega xiphos.] —Il. a. v. 194.
and, if Minerva had not appeared, and held his hand, he had executed his design; and it was all she could do to dissuade him from it. The event was, that he left the army, and would fight no more. Agamemnon gives his character thus to Nestor;
[Greek: All' hod' aner ethelei peri panton emmenai allon, Panton men krateein ethelei, pantessi d' anassein.] —Il. a. v. 287, 288
and Horace gives the same description of him in his Art of Poetry.
—Honoratum si forte reponis Achillem, Inpiger, iracundus, inexorabilis, acer, Jura neget sibi nata, nihil non arroget armis.
Tasso's chief character, Rinaldo, was a man of the same temper; for, when he had slain Gernando in his heat of passion, he not only refused to be judged by Godfrey, his general, but threatened that if he came to seize him, he would right himself by arms upon him; witness these following lines of Tasso:
Venga egli, o mundi, io terro fermo il piede: Giudici fian tra noi la sorte, e l'arme; Fera tragedia vuol che s'appresenti, Per lor diporto, alle nemiche genti.
You see how little these great authors did esteem the point of honour, so much magnified by the French, and so ridiculously aped by us. They made their heroes men of honour; but so, as not to divest them quite of human passions and frailties: they content themselves to shew you, what men of great spirits would certainly do when they were provoked, not what they were obliged to do by the strict rules of moral virtue. For my own part, I declare myself for Homer and Tasso, and am more in love with Achilles and Rinaldo, than with Cyrus and Oroondates. I shall never subject my characters to the French standard, where love and honour are to be weighed by drams and scruples: Yet, where I have designed the patterns of exact virtues, such as in this play are the parts of Almahide, of Ozmyn, and Benzayda, I may safely challenge the best of theirs.
But Almanzor is taxed with changing sides: and what tie has he on him to the contrary? He is not born their subject whom he serves, and he is injured by them to a very high degree. He threatens them, and speaks insolently of sovereign power; but so do Achilles and Rinaldo, who were subjects and soldiers to Agamemnon and Godfrey of Bulloigne. He talks extravagantly in his passion; but, if I would take the pains to quote an hundred passages of Ben Jonson's Cethegus, I could easily shew you, that the rhodomontades of Almanzor are neither so irrational as his, nor so impossible to be put in execution; for Cethegus threatens to destroy nature, and to raise a new one out of it; to kill all the senate for his part of the action; to look Cato dead; and a thousand other things as extravagant he says, but performs not one action in the play.
But none of the former calumnies will stick; and, therefore, it is at last charged upon me, that Almanzor does all things; or if you will have an absurd accusation, in their nonsense who make it, that he performs impossibilities: they say, that being a stranger, he appeases two fighting factions, when the authority of their lawful sovereign could not. This is indeed the most improbable of all his actions, but it is far from being impossible. Their king had made himself contemptible to his people, as the history of Granada tells us; and Almanzor, though a stranger, yet was already known to them by his gallantry in the Juego de torros, his engagement on the weaker side, and more especially by the character of his person and brave actions, given by Abdalla just before; and, after all, the greatness of the enterprise consisted only in the daring, for he had the king's guards to second him: But we have read both of Caesar, and many other generals, who have not only calmed a mutiny with a word, but have presented themselves single before an army of their enemies; which upon sight of them has revolted from their own leaders, and come over to their trenches. In the rest of Almanzor's actions you see him for the most part victorious; but the same fortune has constantly attended many heroes, who were not imaginary. Yet, you see it no inheritance to him; for, in the first place, he is made a prisoner; and, in the last, defeated, and not able to preserve the city from being taken. If the history of the late Duke of Guise be true, he hazarded more, and performed not less in Naples, than Almanzor is feigned to have done in Granada.
I have been too tedious in this apology; but to make some satisfaction, I will leave the rest of my play exposed to the criticks, without defence.
The concernment of it is wholly passed from me, and ought to be in them who have been favourable to it, and are somewhat obliged to defend their opinions That there are errors in it, I deny not;
Ast opere in tanto fas est obrepere somnum.
But I have already swept the stakes: and, with the common good fortune of prosperous gamesters, can be content to sit quietly; to hear my fortune cursed by some, and my faults arraigned by others; and to suffer both without reply.
MR DRYDEN'S PLAY,
THE CONQUEST OF GRANADA.
The applause I gave among the foolish crowd Was not distinguished, though I clapped aloud: Or, if it had, my judgment had been hid: I clapped for company, as others did. Thence may be told the fortune of your play; Its goodness must be tried another way. Let's judge it then, and, if we've any skill, Commend what's good, though we commend it ill. There will be praise enough; yet not so much, As if the world had never any such: Ben Johnson, Beaumont, Fletcher, Shakespeare, are, As well as you, to have a poet's share. You, who write after, have, besides, this curse, You must write better, or you else write worse. To equal only what was writ before, Seems stolen, or borrowed from the former store. Though blind as Homer all the ancients be, 'Tis on their shoulders, like the lame, we see. Then not to flatter th' age, nor flatter you, (Praises, though less, are greater when they're true,) You're equal to the best, out-done by you; Who had out-done themselves, had they lived now.
Footnote: 1. John, Lord Vaughan, eldest surviving son of Richard, Earl of Carbery.
TO THE FIRST PART,
MRS ELLEN GWYN,
IN A BROAD-BRIMMED HAT, AND WAIST-BELT.
This jest was first of the other house's making, And, five times tried, has never failed of taking; For 'twere a shame a poet should be killed Under the shelter of so broad a shield. This is that hat, whose very sight did win ye To laugh and clap as though the devil were in ye. As then, for Nokes, so now I hope you'll be So dull, to laugh once more for love of me. I'll write a play, says one, for I have got A broad-brimmed hat, and waist-belt, towards a plot. Says the other, I have one more large than that. Thus they out-write each other—with a hat! The brims still grew with every play they writ; And grew so large, they covered all the wit. Hat was the play; 'twas language, wit, and tale: Like them that find meat, drink, and cloth in ale. What dulness do these mongrel wits confess, When all their hope is acting of a dress! Thus, two the best comedians of the age Must be worn out, with being blocks o' the stage; Like a young girl, who better things has known, Beneath their poet's impotence they groan. See now what charity it was to save! They thought you liked, what only you forgave; And brought you more dull sense, dull sense much worse Than brisk gay nonsense, and the heavier curse. They bring old iron, and glass upon the stage, To barter with the Indians of our age. Still they write on, and like great authors show; } But 'tis as rollers in wet gardens grow } Heavy with dirt, and gathering as they go. } May none, who have so little understood, To like such trash, presume to praise what's good! And may those drudges of the stage, whose fate Is damned dull farce more dully to translate, Fall under that excise the state thinks fit To set on all French wares, whose worst is wit. French farce, worn out at home, is sent abroad; And, patched up here, is made our English mode. Henceforth, let poets, ere allowed to write, Be searched, like duelists before they fight, For wheel-broad hats, dull honour, all that chaff, Which makes you mourn, and makes the vulgar laugh: For these, in plays, are as unlawful arms, As, in a combat, coats of mail, and charms.
Footnote: 1. There is a vague tradition, that, in this grotesque dress, (for the brims of the hat were as broad as a cart-wheel,) Nell Gwyn had the good fortune first to attract the attention of her royal lover. Where the jest lay, is difficult to discover: it seems to have originated with the duke of York's players.
MAHOMET BOABDELIN, the last king of Granada. Prince ABDALLA, his brother. ABDELMELECH, chief of the Abencerrages. ZULEMA, chief of the Zegrys. ABENAMAR, an old Abencerrago. SELIN, an old Zegry. OZMYN, a brave young Abencerrago, son to Abenamar. HAMET, brother to Zulema, a Zegry. GOMEL, a Zegry. ALMANZOR. FERDINAND, king of Spain. Duke of ARCOS, his General. Don ALONZO D'AGUILAR, a Spanish Captain.
ALMAHIDE, Queen of Granada. LYNDARAXA, Sister of ZULEMA, a Zegry Lady. BENZAYDA, Daughter to SELIN. ESPERANZA, Slave to the Queen. HALYMA, Slave to LYNDARAXA. ISABELLA, Queen of Spain.
Messengers, Guards, Attendants, Men, and Women.
SCENE.—Granada, and the Christian Camp besieging it.
ALMANZOR AND ALMAHIDE,
CONQUEST OF GRANADA.
THE FIRST PART.
ACT I. SCENE I.
Enter BOABDELIN, ABENAMAR, ABDELMELECH, and Guards.
Boab. Thus, in the triumphs of soft peace, I reign; And, from my walls, defy the powers of Spain; With pomp and sports my love I celebrate, While they keep distance, and attend my state.— Parent to her, whose eyes my soul enthral, [To ABEN. Whom I, in hope, already father call, Abenamar, thy youth these sports has known, Of which thy age is now spectator grown; Judge-like thou sit'st, to praise, or to arraign The flying skirmish of the darted cane: But, when fierce bulls run loose upon the place, And our bold Moors their loves with danger grace, Then heat new-bends thy slacken'd nerves again, And a short youth runs warm through every vein.
Aben. I must confess the encounters of this day Warmed me indeed, but quite another way,— Not with the fire of youth; but generous rage, To see the glories of my youthful age So far out-done.
Abdelm. Castile could never boast, in all its pride; A pomp so splendid, when the lists, set wide, Gave room to the fierce bulls, which wildly ran In Sierra Ronda, ere the war began; Who, with high nostrils snuffing up the wind, Now stood the champion of the savage kind. Just opposite, within the circled place, Ten of our bold Abencerrages race (Each brandishing his bull-spear in his hand,) Did their proud jennets gracefully command. On their steel'd heads their demi-lances wore Small pennons, which their ladies' colours bore. Before this troop did warlike Ozmyn go; Each lady, as he rode, saluting low; At the chief stands, with reverence more profound, His well-taught courser, kneeling, touched the ground; Thence raised, he sidelong bore his rider on, Still facing, till he out of sight was gone.
Boab. You praise him like a friend; and I confess, His brave deportment merited no less.
Abdelm. Nine bulls were launched by his victorious arm, Whose wary jennet, shunning still the harm, Seemed to attend the shock, and then leaped wide: Mean while, his dext'rous rider, when he spied The beast just stooping, 'twixt the neck and head His lance, with never-erring fury, sped.
Aben. My son did well, and so did Hamet too; Yet did no more than we were wont to do; But what the stranger did was more than man.
Abdelm. He finished all those triumphs we began. One bull, with curled black head, beyond the rest, And dew-laps hanging from his brawny chest, With nodding front a while did daring stand, And with his jetty hoof spurned back the sand; Then, leaping forth, he bellowed out aloud: The amazed assistants back each other crowd, While monarch-like he ranged the listed field; Some tossed, some gored, some trampling down he killed. The ignobler Moors from far his rage provoke With woods of darts, which from his sides he shook. Mean time your valiant son, who had before Gained fame, rode round to every Mirador; Beneath each lady's stand a stop he made, And, bowing, took the applauses which they paid. Just in that point of time, the brave unknown Approached the lists.
Boab. I marked him, when alone (Observed by all, himself observing none) He entered first, and with a graceful pride His fiery Arab dextrously did guide, Who, while his rider every stand surveyed, Sprung loose, and flew into an escapade; Not moving forward, yet, with every bound, Pressing, and seeming still to quit his ground. What after passed Was far from the Ventanna where I sate, But you were near, and can the truth relate. [To ABDELM.
_Abdelm._ Thus while he stood, the bull, who saw his foe, His easier conquests proudly did forego; And, making at him with a furious bound, From his bent forehead aimed a double wound. A rising murmur ran through all the field, And every lady's blood with fear was chilled: Some shrieked, while others, with more helpful care, Cried out aloud,—Beware, brave youth, beware! At this he turned, and, as the bull drew near, Shunned, and received him on his pointed spear: The lance broke short, the beast then bellowed loud, And his strong neck to a new onset bowed. The undaunted youth Then drew; and, from his saddle bending low, Just where the neck did to the shoulders grow, With his full force discharged a deadly blow. Not heads of poppies (when they reap the grain) Fall with more ease before the labouring swain, Than fell this head: It fell so quick, it did even death prevent, And made imperfect bellowings as it went. Then all the trumpets victory did sound, And yet their clangors in our shouts were drown'd. [_A confused noise within.
Boab._ The alarm-bell rings from our Alhambra walls, And from the streets sound drums and ataballes. [_Within, a bell, drums, and trumpets._
Enter a Messenger.
How now? from whence proceed these new alarms?
Mess. The two fierce factions are again in arms; And, changing into blood the day's delight, The Zegrys with the Abencerrages fight; On each side their allies and friends appear; The Macas here, the Alabezes there: The Gazuls with the Bencerrages join, And, with the Zegrys, all great Gomel's line.
Boab. Draw up behind the Vivarambla place; Double my guards,—these factions I will face; And try if all the fury they can bring, Be proof against the presence of their king. [Exit BOAB.
The Factions appear: At the head of the Abencerrages, OZMYN; at the head of the Zegrys, ZULEMA, HAMET, GOMEL, and SELIN: ABENAMAR and ABDELMELECH, joined with the Abencerrages.
Zul. The faint Abencerrages quit their ground: Press them; put home your thrusts to every wound.
Abdelm. Zegry, on manly force our line relies; Thine poorly takes the advantage of surprise: Unarmed and much out-numbered we retreat; You gain no fame, when basely you defeat. If thou art brave, seek nobler victory; Save Moorish blood; and, while our bands stand by, Let two and two an equal combat try.
Ham. 'Tis not for fear the combat we refuse, But we our gained advantage will not lose.
Zul. In combating, but two of you will fall; And we resolve we will dispatch you all.
Ozm. We'll double yet the exchange before we die, And each of ours two lives of yours shall buy.
ALMANZOR enters betwixt them, as they stand ready to engage.
Alm. I cannot stay to ask which cause is best; But this is so to me, because opprest. [Goes to the Aben.
To them BOABDELIN and his guards, going betwixt them.
Boab. On your allegiance, I command you stay; Who passes here, through me must make his way; My life's the Isthmus; through this narrow line You first must cut, before those seas can join. What fury, Zegrys, has possessed your minds? What rage the brave Abencerrages blinds? If of your courage you new proofs would show, Without much travel you may find a foe. Those foes are neither so remote nor few, That you should need each other to pursue. Lean times and foreign wars should minds unite; When poor, men mutter, but they seldom fight. O holy Alha! that I live to see Thy Granadines assist their enemy! You fight the christians' battles; every life You lavish thus, in this intestine strife, Does from our weak foundations take one prop, Which helped to hold our sinking country up.
Ozm. 'Tis fit our private enmity should cease; Though injured first, yet I will first seek peace.
Zul. No, murderer, no; I never will be won To peace with him, whose hand has slain my son.
Ozm. Our prophet's curse On me, and all the Abencerrages light, If, unprovoked, I with your son did fight.
Abdelm. A band of Zegrys ran within the place, Matched with a troop of thirty of our race. Your son and Ozmyn the first squadrons led, Which, ten by ten, like Parthians, charged and fled. The ground was strowed with canes where we did meet, Which crackled underneath our coursers' feet: When Tarifa (I saw him ride a part) Changed his blunt cane for a steel-pointed dart, And, meeting Ozmyn next,— Who wanted time for treason to provide,— He basely threw it at him, undefied.
Ozm. [Shewing his arms.] Witness this blood—which when by treason sought, That followed, sir, which to myself I ought.
Zul. His hate to thee was grounded on a grudge, Which all our generous Zegrys just did judge: Thy villain-blood thou openly didst place Above the purple of our kingly race.
Boab. From equal stems their blood both houses draw, They from Morocco, you from Cordova.
Ham. Their mongrel race is mixed with Christian breed; Hence 'tis that they those dogs in prisons feed.
Abdelm. Our holy prophet wills, that charity Should even to birds and beasts extended be: None knows what fate is for himself designed; The thought of human chance should make us kind.
Gom. We waste that time we to revenge should give: Fall on: let no Abencerrago live. [Advancing before the rest of his party. ALMANZOR advancing on the other side, and describing a line with his sword.
Almanz. Upon thy life pass not this middle space; Sure death stands guarding the forbidden place.
Gom. To dare that death, I will approach yet nigher; Thus,—wert thou compassed in with circling fire. [They fight.
Boab. Disarm them both; if they resist you, kill. [ALMANZOR, in the midst of the guards, kills GOMEL, and then is disarmed.
Almanz. Now you have but the leavings of my will.
Boab. Kill him! this insolent unknown shall fall, And be the victim to atone you all.
Ozm. If he must die, not one of us will live: That life he gave for us, for him we give.
Boab. It was a traitor's voice that spoke those words; So are you all, who do not sheath your swords.
Zul. Outrage unpunished, when a prince is by, Forfeits to scorn the rights of majesty: No subject his protection can expect, Who what he owes himself does first neglect.
Aben. This stranger, sir, is he, Who lately in the Vivarambla place Did, with so loud applause, your triumphs grace.
Boab. The word which I have given, I'll not revoke; If he be brave, he's ready for the stroke.
Almanz. No man has more contempt than I of breath, But whence hast thou the right to give me death? Obeyed as sovereign by thy subjects be, But know, that I alone am king of me. I am as free as nature first made man, Ere the base laws of servitude began, When wild in woods the noble savage ran.
Boab. Since, then, no power above your own you know, Mankind should use you like a common foe; You should be hunted like a beast of prey: By your own law I take your life away.
Almanz. My laws are made but only for my sake; No king against himself a law can make. If thou pretend'st to be a prince like me, Blame not an act, which should thy pattern be. I saw the oppressed, and thought it did belong To a king's office to redress the wrong: I brought that succour, which thou ought'st to bring, And so, in nature, am thy subjects' king.
Boab. I do not want your counsel to direct Or aid to help me punish or protect.
Almanz. Thou want'st them both, or better thou would'st know, Than to let factions in thy kingdom grow. Divided interests, while thou think'st to sway, Draw, like two brooks, thy middle stream away: For though they band and jar, yet both combine To make their greatness by the fall of thine. Thus, like a buckler, thou art held in sight, While they behind thee with each other fight.
Boab. Away, and execute him instantly! [To his Guards.
Almanz. Stand off; I have not leisure yet to die.
To them, enter ABDALLA hastily.
Abdal. Hold, sir! for heaven's sake hold! Defer this noble stranger's punishment, Or your rash orders you will soon repent.
Boab. Brother, you know not yet his insolence.
Abdal. Upon yourself you punish his offence: If we treat gallant strangers in this sort, Mankind will shun the inhospitable court; And who, henceforth, to our defence will come, If death must be the brave Almanzor's doom? From Africa I drew him to your aid, And for his succour have his life betrayed.
Boab. Is this the Almanzor whom at Fez you knew, When first their swords the Xeriff brothers drew?
Abdal. This, sir, is he, who for the elder fought, And to the juster cause the conquest brought; Till the proud Santo, seated on the throne, Disdained the service he had done to own: Then to the vanquished part his fate he led; The vanquished triumphed, and the victor fled. Vast is his courage, boundless is his mind, Rough as a storm, and humorous as wind: Honour's the only idol of his eyes; The charms of beauty like a pest he flies; And, raised by valour from a birth unknown, Acknowledges no power above his own. [BOABDELIN coming to ALMANZOR.
Boab. Impute your danger to our ignorance; The bravest men are subject most to chance: Granada much does to your kindness owe; But towns, expecting sieges, cannot show More honour, than to invite you to a foe.
Almanz. I do not doubt but I have been to blame: But, to pursue the end for which I came, Unite your subjects first; then let us go, And pour their common rage upon the foe.
Boab. [to the Factions.] Lay down your arms, and let me beg you cease Your enmities.
Zul. We will not hear of peace, Till we by force have first revenged our slain.
Abdelm. The action we have done we will maintain.
Selin. Then let the king depart, and we will try Our cause by arms.
Zul. For us and victory.
Boab. A king entreats you.
Almanz. What subjects will precarious kings regard? A beggar speaks too softly to be heard: Lay down your arms! 'tis I command you now. Do it—or, by our prophet's soul I vow, My hands shall right your king on him I seize. Now let me see whose look but disobeys.
All. Long live king Mahomet Boabdelin!
Almanz. No more; but hushed as midnight silence go: He will not have your acclamations now. Hence, you unthinking crowd!— [The Common People go off on both parties. Empire, thou poor and despicable thing, When such as these make or unmake a king!
Abdal. How much of virtue lies in one great soul, [Embracing him. Whose single force can multitudes controul! [A trumpet within.
Enter a Messenger.
Messen. The Duke of Arcos, sir, Does with a trumpet from the foe appear.
Boab. Attend him; he shall have his audience here.
Enter the Duke of ARCOS.
D. Arcos. The monarchs of Castile and Arragon Have sent me to you, to demand this town. To which their just and rightful claim is known.
Boab. Tell Ferdinand, my right to it appears By long possession of eight hundred years: When first my ancestors from Afric sailed, In Rodrique's death your Gothic title failed.
D. Arcos. The successors of Rodrique still remain, And ever since have held some part of Spain: Even in the midst of your victorious powers, The Asturias, and all Portugal, were ours. You have no right, except you force allow; And if yours then was just, so ours is now.
Boab. 'Tis true from force the noblest title springs; I therefore hold from that, which first made kings.
D. Arcos. Since then by force you prove your title true, Ours must be just, because we claim from you. When with your father you did jointly reign, Invading with your Moors the south of Spain, I, who that day the Christians did command, Then took, and brought you bound to Ferdinand.
Boab. I'll hear no more; defer what you would say; In private we'll discourse some other day.
D. Arcos. Sir, you shall hear, however you are loth, That, like a perjured prince, you broke your oath: To gain your freedom you a contract signed, By which your crown you to my king resigned, From thenceforth as his vassal holding it, And paying tribute such as he thought fit; Contracting, when your father came to die, To lay aside all marks of royalty, And at Purchena privately to live, Which, in exchange, king Ferdinand did give.
Boab. The force used on me made that contract void.
D. Arcos. Why have you then its benefits enjoyed? By it you had not only freedom then, But, since, had aid of money and of men; And, when Granada for your uncle held, You were by us restored, and he expelled. Since that, in peace we let you reap your grain, Recalled our troops, that used to beat your plain; And more—
Almanz. Yes, yes, you did, with wonderous care, Against his rebels prosecute the war, While he secure in your protection slept; For him you took, but for yourself you kept. Thus, as some fawning usurer does feed, With present sums, the unwary spendthrift's need, You sold your kindness at a boundless rate, And then o'erpaid the debt from his estate; Which, mouldering piecemeal, in your hands did fall, Till now at last you come to swoop it all.
D. Arcos. The wrong you do my king, I cannot bear; Whose kindness you would odiously compare.— The estate was his; which yet, since you deny, He's now content, in his own wrong, to buy.
Almanz. And he shall buy it dear! What his he calls, We will not give one stone from out these walls.
Boab. Take this for answer, then,— Whate'er your arms have conquered of my land, I will, for peace, resign to Ferdinand.— To harder terms my mind I cannot bring; But, as I still have lived, will die a king.
D. Arcos. Since thus you have resolved, henceforth prepare For all the last extremities of war: My king his hope from heaven's assistance draws.
Almanz. The Moors have heaven, and me, to assist their cause. [Exit ARCOS.
Esper. Fair Almahide, (Who did with weeping eyes these discords see, And fears the omen may unlucky be,) Prepares a zambra to be danced this night. In hope soft pleasures may your minds unite.
Boab. My mistress gently chides the fault I made: But tedious business has my love delayed,— Business which dares the joys of kings invade.
Almanz. First let us sally out, and meet the foe.
Abdal. Led on by you, we on to triumph go.
Boab. Then with the day let war and tumult cease; The night be sacred to our love and peace: 'Tis just some joys on weary kings should wait; 'Tis all we gain by being slaves to state. [Exeunt.
ACT II. SCENE I.
Enter ABDALLA, ABDELMELECH, OZMYN, ZULEMA, and HAMET, as returning from the sally.
Abdal. This happy day does to Granada bring A lasting peace, and triumphs to the king!— The two fierce factions will no longer jar, Since they have now been brothers in the war. Those who, apart, in emulation fought, The common danger to one body brought; And, to his cost, the proud Castilian finds Our Moorish courage in united minds.
Abdelm. Since to each others aid our lives we owe, Lose we the name of faction, and of foe; Which I to Zulema can bear no more, Since Lyndaraxa's beauty I adore.
Zul. I am obliged to Lyndaraxa's charms, Which gain the conquest I should lose by arms; And wish my sister may continue fair, That I may keep a good, Of whose possession I should else despair.
Ozm. While we indulge our common happiness, He is forgot, by whom we all possess; The brave Almanzor, to whose arms we owe All that we did, and all that we shall do; Who, like a tempest, that out-rides the wind, Made a just battle ere the bodies joined.
Abdelm. His victories we scarce could keep in view, Or polish them so fast as he rough-drew.
Abdal. Fate, after him, below with pain did move, And victory could scarce keep pace above: Death did at length so many slain forget, And lost the tale, and took them by the great.
Enter ALMANZOR, with the Duke of ARCOS, prisoner.
Hamet. See, here he comes, And leads in triumph him, who did command The vanquished army of king Ferdinand.
Almanz. [To the Duke.] Thus far your master's arms a fortune find Below the swelled ambition of his mind; And Alha shuts a misbeliever's reign From out the best and goodliest part of Spain. Let Ferdinand Calabrian conquests make, And from the French contested Milan take; Let him new worlds discover to the old, And break up shining mountains, big with gold; Yet he shall find this small domestic foe, Still sharp and pointed, to his bosom grow.
D. Arcos. Of small advantages too much you boast; You beat the out-guards of my master's host: This little loss, in our vast body, shows So small, that half have never heard the news. Fame's out of breath, ere she can fly so far, To tell them all, that you have e'er made war.
Almanz. It pleases me your army is so great; For now I know there's more to conquer yet. By heaven! I'll see what troops you have behind: I'll face this storm, that thickens in the wind; And, with bent forehead, full against it go, 'Till I have found the last and utmost foe.
D. Arcos. Believe, you shall not long attend in vain: To-morrow's dawn shall cover all the plain; Bright arms shall flash upon you from afar, A wood of lances, and a moving war. But I, unhappy, in my bonds, must yet Be only pleased to hear of your defeat, And with a slave's inglorious ease remain, 'Till conquering Ferdinand has broke my chain.
Almanz. Vain man, thy hopes of Ferdinand are weak! I hold thy chain too fast for him to break. But, since thou threaten'st us, I'll set thee free, That I again may fight, and conquer thee.
D. Arcos. Old as I am, I take thee at thy word, And will to-morrow thank thee with my sword.
Almanz. I'll go, and instantly acquaint the king, And sudden orders for thy freedom bring. Thou canst not be so pleased at liberty, As I shall be to find thou darest be free. [Exeunt ALMANZOR, ARCOS, and the rest, excepting only ABDALLA and ZULEMA.
Abdal. Of all those Christians who infest this town, This duke of Arcos is of most renown.
Zul. Oft have I heard, that, in your father's reign, His bold adventurers beat the neighbouring plain; Then under Ponce Leon's name he fought, And from our triumphs many prizes brought; Till in disgrace from Spain at length he went, And since continued long in banishment.
Abdal. But, see, your beauteous sister does appear.
Zul. By my desire she came to find me here. [ZULEMA and LYNDARAXA whisper; then ZUL. goes out, and LYNDAR. is going after.
Abdal. Why, fairest Lyndaraxa, do you fly [Staying her. A prince, who at your feet is proud to die?
Lyndar. Sir, I should blush to own so rude a thing, [Staying. As 'tis to shun the brother of my king.
Abdal. In my hard fortune, I some ease should find, Did your disdain extend to all mankind. But give me leave to grieve, and to complain, That you give others what I beg in vain.
Lyndar. Take my esteem, if you on that can live; For, frankly, sir, 'tis all I have to give: If from my heart you ask or hope for more, I grieve the place is taken up before.
Abdal. My rival merits you.— To Abdelmelech I will justice do; For he wants worth, who dares not praise a foe.
Lyndar. That for his virtue, sir, you make defence, Shows in your own a noble confidence. But him defending, and excusing me, I know not what can your advantage be.
Abdal. I fain would ask, ere I proceed in this, If, as by choice, you are by promise his?
Lyndar. The engagement only in my love does lie, But that's a knot which you can ne'er untie.
Abdal. When cities are besieged, and treat to yield, If there appear relievers from the field, The flag of parley may be taken down, Till the success of those without is known;
Lyndar. Though Abdelmelech has not yet possest, Yet I have sealed the treaty in my breast.
Abdal. Your treaty has not tied you to a day; Some chance might break it, would you but delay. If I can judge the secrets of your heart, Ambition in it has the greatest part; And wisdom, then, will shew some difference, Betwixt a private person, and a prince.
Lyndar. Princes are subjects still.— Subject and subject can small difference bring: The difference is 'twixt subjects and a king. And since, sir, you are none, your hopes remove; For less than empire I'll not change my love.
Abdal. Had I a crown, all I should prize in it, Should be the power to lay it at your feet.
Lyndar. Had you that crown, which you but wish, not hope, Then I, perhaps, might stoop, and take it up. But till your wishes and your hopes agree, You shall be still a private man with me.
Abdal. If I am king, and if my brother die,—
Lyndar. Two if's scarce make one possibility.
Abdal. The rule of happiness by reason scan; You may be happy with a private man.
Lyndar. That happiness I may enjoy, 'tis true; But then that private man must not be you. Where'er I love, I'm happy in my choice; If I make you so, you shall pay my price.
Abdal. Why would you be so great?
Lyndar. Because I've seen, This day, what 'tis to hope to be a queen.— Heaven, how you all watched each motion of her eye! None could be seen while Almahide was by, Because she is to be—her majesty!— Why would I be a queen? Because my face Would wear the title with a better grace. If I became it not, yet it would be Part of your duty, then, to flatter me. These are but half the charms of being great; I would be somewhat, that I know not yet:— Yes! I avow the ambition of my soul, To be that one to live without controul! And that's another happiness to me, To be so happy as but one can be.
Abdal. Madam,—because I would all doubts remove,— Would you, were I a king, accept my love?
Lyndar. I would accept it; and, to shew 'tis true, From any other man as soon as you.
Abdal. Your sharp replies make me not love you less; But make me seek new paths to happiness.— What I design, by time will best be seen: You may be mine, and yet may be a queen. When you are so, your word your love assures.
Lyndar. Perhaps not love you,—but I will be yours.— [He offers to take her hand, and kiss it. Stay, sir, that grace I cannot yet allow; Before you set the crown upon my brow.— That favour which you seek, Or Abdelmelech, or a king, must have; When you are so, then you may be my slave. [Exit; but looks smiling back on him.
Abdal. Howe'er imperious in her words she were, Her parting looks had nothing of severe; A glancing smile allured me to command, And her soft fingers gently pressed my hand: I felt the pleasure glide through every part; Her hand went through me to my very heart. For such another pleasure, did he live, I could my father of a crown deprive.— What did I say?— Father!—That impious thought has shocked my mind: How bold our passions are, and yet how blind!— She's gone; and now, Methinks, there is less glory in a crown: My boiling passions settle, and go down. Like amber chafed, when she is near, she acts; When farther oft, inclines, but not attracts.
Assist me, Zulema, if thou wouldst be That friend thou seem'st, assist me against me. Betwixt my love and virtue I am tossed; This must be forfeited, or that be lost. I could do much to merit thy applause,— Help me to fortify the better cause; My honour is not wholly put to flight, But would, if seconded, renew the fight.
Zul. I met my sister, but I do not see What difficulty in your choice can be: She told me all; and 'tis so plain a case, You need not ask what counsel to embrace.
Abdal. I stand reproved, that I did doubt at all; My waiting virtue staid but for thy call: 'Tis plain that she, who, for a kingdom, now Would sacrifice her love, and break her vow, Not out of love, but interest, acts alone, And would, even in my arms, lie thinking of a throne.
Zul. Add to the rest, this one reflection more: When she is married, and you still adore, Think then,—and think what comfort it will bring,— She had been mine, Had I but only dared to be a king!
Abdal. I hope you only would my honour try; I'm loth to think you virtue's enemy.
Zul. If, when a crown and mistress are in place, Virtue intrudes, with her lean holy face, Virtue's then mine, and not I virtue's foe. Why does she come where she has nought to do? Let her with anchorites, not with lovers, lie; Statesmen and they keep better company.
Abdal. Reason was given to curb our head-strong will.
Zul. Reason but shews a weak physician's skill; Gives nothing, while the raging fit does last, But stays to cure it, when the worst is past. Reason's a staff for age, when nature's gone; But youth is strong enough to walk alone,
Abdal. In cursed ambition I no rest should find, But must for ever lose my peace of mind.
Zul. Methinks that peace of mind were bravely lost; A crown, whate'er we give, is worth the cost.
Abdal. Justice distributes to each man his right; But what she gives not, should I take by might?
Zul. If justice will take all, and nothing give, Justice, methinks, is not distributive.
Abdal. Had fate so pleased, I had been eldest born, And then, without a crime, the crown had worn!—
Zul. Would you so please, fate yet a way would find; Man makes his fate according to his mind. The weak low spirit, fortune makes her slave; But she's a drudge, when hectored by the brave: If fate weaves common thread, he'll change the doom, And with new purple spread a nobler loom.
Abdal. No more!—I will usurp the royal seat; Thou, who hast made me wicked, make me great.
Zul. Your way is plain: the death of Tarifa Does on the king our Zegrys' hatred draw; Though with our enemies in show we close, 'Tis but while we to purpose can be foes. Selin, who heads us, would revenge his son; But favour hinders justice to be done. Proud Ozmyn with the king his power maintains, And, in him, each Abencerrago reigns.
Abdal. What face of any title can I bring?
Zul. The right an eldest son has to be king. Your father was at first a private man, And got your brother ere his reign began; When, by his valour, he the crown had won, Then you were born a monarch's eldest son.
Abdal. To sharp-eyed reason this would seem untrue; But reason I through love's false optics view.
Zul. Love's mighty power has led me captive too; I am in it unfortunate as you.
Abdal. Our loves and fortunes shall together go; Thou shalt be happy, when I first am so.
Zul. The Zegrys at old Selin's house are met, Where, in close council, for revenge they sit: There we our common interest will unite; You their revenge shall own, and they your right. One thing I had forgot, which may import: I met Almanzor coming back from court, But with a discomposed and speedy pace, A fiery colour kindling all his face: The king his prisoner's freedom has denied, And that refusal has provoked his pride.
Abdal. 'Would he were ours!— I'll try to gild the injustice of his cause, And court his valour with a vast applause.
Zul. The bold are but the instruments o'the wise; They undertake the dangers we advise: And, while our fabric with their pains we raise, We take the profit, and pay them with praise. [Exeunt.
ACT III. SCENE I.
Enter ALMANZOR and ABDALLA.
Almanz. That he should dare to do me this disgrace!— Is fool, or coward, writ upon my face? Refuse my prisoner!—I such means will use, He shall not have a prisoner to refuse.
Abdal. He said, you were not by your promise tied; That he absolved your word, when he denied.
Almanz. He break my promise, and absolve my vow! 'Tis more than Mahomet himself can do!— The word, which I have given, shall stand like fate; Not like the king's, that weather-cock of state. He stands so high, with so unfixed a mind, Two factions turn him with each blast of wind: But now, he shall not veer! my word is past; I'll take his heart by the roots, and hold it fast.
Abdal. You have your vengeance in your hand this hour; Make me the humble creature of your power: The Granadines will gladly me obey; (Tired with so base and impotent a sway) And, when I shew my title, you shall see, I have a better right to reign than he.
Almanz. It is sufficient that you make the claim; You wrong our friendship when your right you name. When for myself I fight, I weigh the cause; But friendship will admit of no such laws: That weighs by the lump; and, when the cause is light, Puts kindness in to set the balance right. True, I would wish my friend the juster side; But, in the unjust, my kindness more is tried: And all the opposition I can bring, Is, that I fear to make you such a king.
Abdal. The majesty of kings we should not blame, When royal minds adorn the royal name; The vulgar, greatness too much idolize, But haughty subjects it too much despise.
Almanz. I only speak of him, Whom pomp and greatness sit so loose about, That he wants majesty to fill them out.
Abdal. Haste, then, and lose no time!— The business must be enterprised this night: We must surprise the court in its delight.
Almanz. For you to will, for me 'tis to obey: But I would give a crown in open day; And, when the Spaniards their assault begin, At once beat those without, and these within. [Exit ALMANZ.
Abdelm. Abdalla, hold!—There's somewhat I intend To speak, not as your rival, but your friend.
Abdal. If as a friend, I am obliged to hear; And what a rival says I cannot fear.
Abdelm. Think, brave Abdalla, what it is you do: Your quiet, honour, and our friendship too, All for a fickle beauty you forego. Think, and turn back, before it be too late. Behold in me the example of your fate: I am your sea-mark; and, though wrecked and lost, My ruins stand to warn you from the coast.
Abdal. Your counsels, noble Abdelmelech, move My reason to accept them, not my love. Ah, why did heaven leave man so weak defence, To trust frail reason with the rule of sense! 'Tis over-poised and kicked up in the air, While sense weighs down the scale, and keeps it there; Or, like a captive king, 'tis borne away, And forced to countenance its own rebels' sway.
Abdelm. No, no; our reason was not vainly lent; Nor is a slave, but by its own consent: If reason on his subject's triumph wait, An easy king deserves no better fate.
Abdal. You speak too late; my empire's lost too far: I cannot fight.
Abdelm. Then make a flying war; Dislodge betimes, before you are beset.
Abdal. Her tears, her smiles, her every look's a net. Her voice is like a Syren's of the land; And bloody hearts lie panting in her hand.
Abdelm. This do you know, and tempt the danger still?
Abdal. Love, like a lethargy, has seized my will. I'm not myself, since from her sight I went; I lean my trunk that way, and there stand bent. As one, who, in some frightful dream, would shun His pressing foe, labours in vain to run; And his own slowness, in his sleep, bemoans, With thick short sighs, weak cries, and tender groans, So I—
Abdelm. Some friend, in charity, should shake, And rouse, and call you loudly till you wake. Too well I know her blandishments to gain, Usurper-like, till settled in her reign; Then proudly she insults, and gives you cares, And jealousies, short hopes, and long despairs. To this hard yoke you must hereafter bow, Howe'er she shines all golden to you now.
Abdul. Like him, who on the ice Slides swiftly on, and sees the water near, Yet cannot stop himself in his career, So am I carried. This enchanted place, Like Circe's isle, is peopled with a race Of dogs and swine; yet, though their fate I know, I look with pleasure, and am turning too. [LYNDARAXA passes over the Stage.
Abdelm. Fly, fly, before the allurements of her face, Ere she return with some resistless grace, And with new magic cover all the place.
Abdal. I cannot, will not,—nay, I would not fly: I'll love, be blind, be cozened till I die; And you, who bid me wiser counsel take, I'll hate, and, if I can, I'll kill you for her sake.
Abdelm. Even I, that counselled you, that choice approve: I'll hate you blindly, and her blindly love. Prudence, that stemmed the stream, is out of breath: And to go down it is the easier death.
LYNDARAXA re-enters, and smiles on ABDALLA. [Exit ABDALLA.
Abdelm. That smile on Prince Abdalla seems to say, You are not in your killing mood to day: Men brand, indeed, your sex with cruelty, But you are too good to see poor lovers die. This god-like pity in you I extol; And more, because, like heaven's, 'tis general.
Lyndar. My smile implies not that I grant his suit: 'Twas but a bare return of his salute.
Abdelm. It said, you were engaged, and I in place; But, to please both, you would divide the grace.
Lyndar. You've cause to be contented with your part, When he has but the look, and you the heart.
Abdelm. In giving but that look, you give what's mine: I'll not one corner of a glance resign. All's mine; and I am covetous of my store: I have not love enough, I'll tax you more.
Lyndar. I gave not love; 'twas but civility: He is a prince; that's due to his degree.
Abdelm. That prince you smiled on is my rival still, And should, if me you loved, be treated ill.
Lyndar. I know not how to show so rude a spite.
Abdelm. That is, you know not how to love aright; Or, if you did, you would more difference see Betwixt our souls, than 'twixt our quality. Mark, if his birth makes any difference, If to his words it adds one grain of sense. That duty, which his birth can make his due, I'll pay, but it shall not be paid by you: For, if a prince courts her whom I adore, He is my rival, and a prince no more.
Lyndar. And when did I my power so far resign. That you should regulate each look of mine?
Abdelm. Then, when you gave your love, you gave that power.
Lyndar. 'Twas during pleasure, 'tis revoked this hour. Now, call me false, and rail on womankind,— 'Tis all the remedy you're like to find.
Abdelm. Yes, there's one more; I'll hate you, and this visit is my last.
Lyndar. Do't, if you can; you know I hold you fast: Yet, for your quiet, would you could resign Your love, as easily as I do mine.
Abdelm. Furies and hell, how unconcerned she speaks! With what indifference all her vows she breaks! Curse on me, but she smiles!
Lyndar. That smile's a part of love, and all's your due: I take it from the prince, and give it you.
Abdelm. Just heaven, must my poor heart your May-game prove, To bandy, and make children's play in love? [Half crying. Ah! how have I this cruelty deserved? I, who so truly and so long have served! And left so easily! oh cruel maid! So easily! it was too unkindly said. That heart, which could so easily remove, Was never fixed, nor rooted deep in love.
Lyndar. You lodged it so uneasy in your breast, I thought you had been weary of the guest. First, I was treated like a stranger there; But, when a household friend I did appear, You thought, it seems, I could not live elsewhere. Then, by degrees, your feigned respect withdrew; You marked my actions, and my guardian grew. But I am not concerned your acts to blame: My heart to yours but upon liking came; And, like a bird, whom prying boys molest, Stays not to breed, where she had built her nest.
Abdelm. I have done ill, And dare not ask you to be less displeased; Be but more angry, and my pain is eased.
Lyndar. If I should be so kind a fool, to take This little satisfaction which you make, I know you would presume some other time Upon my goodness, and repeat your crime.
Abdelm. Oh never, never, upon no pretence; My life's too short to expiate this offence.
Lyndar. No, now I think on't, 'tis in vain to try; 'Tis in your nature, and past remedy. You'll still disquiet my too loving heart: Now we are friends 'tis best for both to part. [He takes her hand.
Abdelm. By this—Will you not give me leave to swear?
Lyndar. You would be perjured if you should, I fear: And, when I talk with Prince Abdalla next, I with your fond suspicions shall be vext.
Abdelm. I cannot say I'll conquer jealousy, But, if you'll freely pardon me, I'll try.
Lyndar. And, till you that submissive servant prove, I never can conclude you truly love.
To them, the KING, ALMAHIDE, ABENAMAR, ESPERANZA, Guards, Attendants.
Boab. Approach, my Almahide, my charming fair, Blessing of peace, and recompence of war. This night is yours; and may your life still be The same in joy, though not solemnity.
THE ZAMBRA DANCE.
Beneath a myrtle shade, Which love for none, but happy lovers made, I slept; and straight my love before me brought Phyllis, the object of my waking thought. Undressed she came my flames to meet, While love strewed flowers beneath her feet; Flowers which, so pressed by her, became more sweet.
From the bright vision's head A careless veil of lawn was loosely spread: From her white temples fell her shaded hair Like cloudy sunshine, not too brown nor fair; Her hands, her lips, did love inspire; Her every grace my heart did fire: But most her eyes, which languished with desire.
Ah, charming fair, said I, How long can you my bliss and yours deny? By nature and by love, this lonely shade Was for revenge of suffering lovers made. Silence and shades with love agree; Both shelter you and favour me: You cannot blush, because I cannot see.
No, let me die, she said, Rather than lose the spotless name of maid!— Faintly, methought, she spoke; for all the while She bid me not believe her, with a smile. Then die, said I: She still denied; And is it thus, thus, thus, she cried, You use a harmless maid?—and so she died!
I waked, and straight I knew, I loved so well, it made my dream prove true: Fancy, the kinder mistress of the two, Fancy had done what Phyllis would not do! Ah, cruel nymph, cease your disdain, While, I can dream you scorn in vain,— Asleep or waking you must ease my pain. [After the dance, a tumultuous noise of drums and trumpets.
To them OZMYN; his sword drawn.
Ozm. Arm, quickly arm; yet all, I fear, too late; The enemy's already at the gate.
Boab. The Christians are dislodged; what foe is near?
Ozm. The Zegrys are in arms, and almost here: The streets with torches shine, with shoutings ring, And Prince Abdalla is proclaimed the king. What man could do, I have already done, But bold Almanzor fiercely leads them on.
Aben. The Alhambra yet is safe in my command; [To the King. Retreat you thither, while their shock we stand.
Boab. I cannot meanly for my life provide; I'll either perish in't, or stem this tide. To guard the palace, Ozmyn, be your care: If they o'ercome, no sword will hurt the fair.
Ozm. I'll either die; or I'll make good the place.
Abdelm. And I with these will bold Almanzor face. [Exeunt all but the Ladies. An alarum within.
Almah. What dismal planet did my triumphs light! Discord the day, and death does rule the night: The noise my soul does through my senses wound.
Lyndar. Methinks it is a noble, sprightly sound, The trumpet's clangor, and the clash of arms! This noise may chill your blood, but mine it warms. [Shouting and clashing of swords within. We have already passed the Rubicon; The dice are mine; now, fortune, for a throne! [A shout within, and clashing of swords afar off. The sound goes farther off, and faintly dies; Curse of this going back, these ebbing cries! Ye winds, waft hither sounds more strong and quick; Beat faster, drums, and mingle deaths more thick. I'll to the turrets of the palace go, And add new fire to those that fight below: Thence, hero-like, with torches by my side, (Far be the omen, though) my love will guide. No; like his better fortune I'll appear, With open arms, loose veil, and flowing hair, Just flying forward from my rolling sphere: My smiles shall make Abdalla more than man; Let him look up, and perish if he can. [Exit.
An alarum nearer: Then Enter ALMANZOR and SELIN, at the head of the Zegrys; OZMYN Prisoner.
Almanz. We have not fought enough; they fly too soon; And I am grieved the noble sport is done. This only man, of all whom chance did bring [Pointing to OZMYN. To meet my arms, was worth the conquering. His brave resistance did my fortune grace; So slow, so threatning forward he gave place. His chains be easy, and his usage fair.
Selin. I beg you would commit him to my care.
Almanz. Next, the brave Spaniard free without delay; And with a convoy send him safe away. [Exit a Guard.
To them HAMET and others.
Hamet. The king by me salutes you; and, to show That to your valour he his crown does owe, Would from your mouth I should the word receive, And that to these you would your orders give.