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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 toros, 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 enterprize consisted only in the daring ; for he had the king's guards to second him ; but we have read both of Cæsar, 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 part, 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."
7 “ The two parts of The CONQUEST OF GRANADA," says Dr. Johnson, “ are written with a seeming determination to glut the publick with dramatick wonders ; to exhibit, in its highest elevation, a theatrical meteor of incredible love and impossible valour, and to leave no room for a wilder flight to the extravagance of posterity. All the rays of romantick heat, whether amorous or warlike, glow in ALMANZOR by a kind of concentration. He is above all laws; he is exempt from all restraints ; he ranges the world at will, and governs wherever he appears. He fights without enquiring the cause, and loves in spite of the obligations of justice, of rejection by his mistress, and of prohibition from the dead. Yet the scenes are for the most part delightful; they exhibit a kind of illus. trious depravity and majestick madness : such as if it is sometimes despised, is often reverenced, and in which the ridiculous is often mingled with the astonishing."
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 own opinions. That there are errours 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.
Horace's line is,
DEFENCE OF THE EPILOGUE
TO THE SECOND PART OF THE
CONQUEST OF GRANADA:
FIRST PRINTED IN QUARTO, IN 1672.
TO THE SECOND PART OF THE CONQUEST OF GRANADA. They who have best succeeded on the stage, Have still conform'd their genius to their age. Thus Jonson did mechanick humour show, When men were dull, and conversation low. Then comedy was faultless, but 'twas coarse : Cobb's tankard was a jest, and Otter's horse. And, as their comedy, their love was mean ; Except by chance, in some one labour'd scene, Which must atone for an ill-written play, They rose ;-but at their height could seldom stay. Fame then was cheap, and the first comer sped; And they have kept it since, by being dead : But, were they now to write, when criticks weigh Each line, and every word, throughout a play, None of them, no not Jonson in his height, Could pass, without allowing grains for weight. Think it not envy, that these truths are told; Our Poet's not malicious, though he's bold. 'Tis not to brand them, that their faults are shown, But, by their errours, to excuse his own. If love and honour now are higher rais'd, 'Tis not the poet, but the age is prais’d. Wit's now arriv'd to a more high degree ; Our native language more refin'd and free: Our ladies and our men now speak more wit In conversation, than those poets writ. Then, one of these is, consequently, true; That what this poet writes, comes short of you, And imitates you ill, (which most he fears,) Or else his writing is not worse than theirs. Yet, though you judge (as sure the criticks will) That some before him writ with greater skill, In this one praise he has their fame surpass'd, To please an age more gallant than the last.