The Works Of John Dryden, Vol. 7 (of 18) - The Duke of Guise; Albion and Albanius; Don Sebastian
by John Dryden
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Atticus; where, knowing himself over-matched in good sense, and truth of knowledge, he drops the gaudy train of words, and is no longer the vain-glorious orator. From whatever reason it may be, I am the first bold offender of this kind: I have broken down the fence, and ventured into the holy grove. How I may be punished for my profane attempt, I know not; but I wish it may not be of ill omen to your lordship: and that a crowd of bad writers do not rush into the quiet of your recesses after me. Every man in all changes of government, which have been, or may possibly arrive, will agree, that I could not have offered my incense, where it could be so well deserved. For you, my lord, are secure in your own merit; and all parties, as they rise uppermost, are sure to court you in their turns; it is a tribute which has ever been paid your virtue. The leading men still bring their bullion to your mint, to receive the stamp of their intrinsic value, that they may afterwards hope to pass with human kind. They rise and fall in the variety of revolutions, and are sometimes great, and therefore wise in men's opinions, who must court them for their interest. But the reputation of their parts most commonly follows their success; few of them are wise, but as they are in power; because indeed, they have no sphere of their own, but, like the moon in the Copernican system of the world, are whirled about by the motion of a greater planet. This it is to be ever busy; neither to give rest to their fellow-creatures, nor, which is more wretchedly ridiculous, to themselves; though, truly, the latter is a kind of justice, and giving mankind a due revenge, that they will not permit their own hearts to be at quiet, who disturb the repose of all beside them. Ambitious meteors! how willing they are to set themselves upon the wing, and taking every occasion of drawing upward to the sun, not considering that they have no more time allowed them for their mounting, than the short revolution of a day; and that when the light goes from them, they are of necessity to fall. How much happier is he, (and who he is I need not say, for there is but one phoenix in an age) who, centering on himself, remains immoveable, and smiles at the madness of the dance about him? he possesses the midst, which is the portion of safety and content. He will not be higher, because he needs it not; but by the prudence of that choice, he puts it out of fortune's power to throw him down. It is confest, that if he had not so been born, he might have been too high for happiness; but not endeavouring to ascend, he secures the native height of his station from envy, and cannot descend from what he is, because he depends not on another. What a glorious character was this once in Rome! I should say, in Athens; when, in the disturbances of a state as mad as ours, the wise Pomponius transported all the remaining wisdom and virtue of his country into the sanctuary of peace and learning. But I would ask the world, (for you, my lord, are too nearly concerned to judge this cause) whether there may not yet be found a character of a noble Englishman, equally shining with that illustrious Roman? Whether I need to name a second Atticus? or whether the world has not already prevented me, and fixed it there, without my naming? Not a second, with a longo sed proximus intervallo; not a young Marcellus, flattered by a poet into the resemblance of the first, with a frons laeta parum, et dejecto lumina vultu, and the rest that follows, si qua fata aspera rumpas, tu Marcellus eris; but a person of the same stamp and magnitude, who owes nothing to the former, besides the word Roman, and the superstition of reverence, devolving on him by the precedency of eighteen hundred years; one who walks by him with equal paces, and shares the eyes of beholders with him; one who had been first, had he first lived; and, in spite of doating veneration, is still his equal: both of them born of noble families, in unhappy ages of change and tumult; both of them retiring from affairs of state; yet not leaving the commonwealth, till it had left itself; but never returning to public business, when they had once quitted it, though courted by the heads of either party. But who would trust the quiet of their lives with the extravagancies of their countrymen, when they are just in the giddiness of their turning; when the ground was tottering under them at every moment; and none could guess whether the next heave of the earthquake would settle them on the first foundation, or swallow it? Both of them knew mankind exactly well, for both of them began that study in themselves, and there they found the best part of human composition; the worst they learned by long experience of the folly, ignorance, and immorality of most beside them. Their philosophy, on both sides, was not wholly speculative, for that is barren, and produces nothing but vain ideas of things which cannot possibly be known, or, if they could, yet would only terminate in the understanding; but it was a noble, vigorous and practical philosophy, which exerted itself in all the offices of pity, to those who were unfortunate, and deserved not so to be. The friend was always more considered by them than the cause; and an Octavius, or an Antony in distress, were relieved by them, as well as a Brutus or a Cassius; for the lowermost party, to a noble mind, is ever the fittest object of good-will. The eldest of them, I will suppose, for his honour, to have been of the academic sect, neither dogmatist nor stoick; if he were not, I am sure he ought, in common justice, to yield the precedency to his younger brother. For stiffness of opinion is the effect of pride, and not of philosophy; it is a miserable presumption of that knowledge which human nature is too narrow to contain; and the ruggedness of a stoick is only a silly affectation of being a god,—to wind himself up by pullies to an insensibility of suffering, and, at the same time, to give the lie to his own experience, by saying he suffers not, what he knows he feels. True philosophy is certainly of a more pliant nature, and more accommodated to human use; Homo sum, humani a me nihil alienum puto. A wise man will never attempt an impossibility; and such it is to strain himself beyond the nature of his being, either to become a deity, by being above suffering, or to debase himself into a stock or stone, by pretending not to feel it. To find in ourselves the weaknesses and imperfections of our wretched kind, is surely the most reasonable step we can make towards the compassion of our fellow-creatures. I could give examples of this kind in the second Atticus. In every turn of state, without meddling on either side, he has always been favourable and assisting to opprest merit. The praises which were given by a great poet to the late queen-mother, on her rebuilding Somerset Palace, one part of which was fronting to the mean houses on the other side of the water, are as justly his:

For the distrest and the afflicted lie Most in his thoughts, and always in his eye[2].

Neither has he so far forgotten a poor inhabitant of his suburbs, whose best prospect is on the garden of Leicester House, but that more than once he has been offering him his patronage, to reconcile him to a world, of which his misfortunes have made him weary[3]. There is another Sidney still remaining, though there can never be another Spenser to deserve the favour. But one Sidney gave his patronage to the applications of a poet; the other offered it unasked. Thus, whether as a second Atticus, or a second Sir Philip Sidney, the latter in all respects will not have the worse of the comparison; and if he will take up with the second place, the world will not so far flatter his modesty, as to seat him there, unless it be out of a deference of manners, that he may place himself where he pleases at his own table.

I may therefore safely conclude, that he, who, by the consent of all men, bears so eminent a character, will out of his inborn nobleness forgive the presumption of this address. It is an unfinished picture, I confess, but the lines and features are so like, that it cannot be mistaken for any other; and without writing any name under it, every beholder must cry out, at first sight,—this was designed for Atticus; but the bad artist has cast too much of him into shades. But I have this excuse, that even the greatest masters commonly fall short of the best faces. They may flatter an indifferent beauty; but the excellencies of nature can have no right done to them; for there both the pencil and pen are overcome by the dignity of the subject; as our admirable Waller has expressed it,

The heroe's race transcends the poet's thought.

There are few in any age who can bear the load of a dedication; for where praise is undeserved, it is satire; though satire on folly is now no longer a scandal to any one person, where a whole age is dipt together. Yet I had rather undertake a multitude one way, than a single Atticus the other; for it is easier to descend than it is to climb. I should have gone ashamed out of the world, if I had not at least attempted this address, which I have long thought owing: and if I had never attempted, I might have been vain enough to think I might have succeeded in it. Now I have made the experiment, and have failed through my unworthiness, I may rest satisfied, that either the adventure is not to be atchieved, or that it is reserved for some other hand.

Be pleased, therefore, since the family of the Attici is and ought to be above the common forms of concluding letters, that I may take my leave in the words of Cicero to the first of them: Me, O Pomponi, valde paenitet vivere: tantum te oro, ut quoniam me ipse semper amasti, ut eodem amore sis; ego nimirum idem sum. Inimici mei mea mihi non meipsum ademerunt. Cura, Attice, ut valeas.

Dabam. Cal. Jan. 1690.

Footnotes: 1. In order to escape as far as possible the odium, which after the Revolution was attached to Dryden's politics and religion, he seems occasionally to have sought for patrons amongst those Nobles of opposite principles, whom moderation, or love of literature, rendered superior to the suggestions of party rancour; or, as he himself has expressed it in the Dedication of "Amphitryon," who, though of a contrary opinion themselves, blamed him not for adhering to a lost cause, and judging for himself what he could not chuse but judge. Philip Sidney, the third earl of Leicester, had taken an active part against the king in the civil wars, had been named one of his judges, though he never look his seat among the regicides, and had been one of Cromwell's Council of State. He was brother of the famous Algernon Sidney, and although retired from party strife, during the violent contests betwixt the Whigs and Tories in 1682-3, there can be no doubt which way his inclinations leaned. He died 6th March, 1696-7, aged more than eighty years. Mr Malone has strongly censured the strain of this Dedication, because it represents Leicester as abstracted from parties and public affairs, notwithstanding his active share in the civil wars. Yet Dryden was not obliged to draw the portrait of his patron from his conduct thirty years before; and if Leicester's character was to be taken from the latter part of his life, surely the praise of moderation is due to him, who, during the factious contests of Charles II's. reign, in which his own brother made so conspicuous a figure, maintained the neutrality of Pomponius Atticus.

2. When Henrietta Maria, widow of Charles I. and queen-dowager of England, visited her son after the Restoration, she chose Somerset-House for her residence, and added all the buildings fronting the river. Cowley, whom she had long patronised, composed a poem on the "Queen's repairing Somerset-House," to which our author refers. Mr Malone's accuracy has detected a slight alteration in the verses, as quoted by Dryden, and as written by Cowley:

If any prouder virtuoso's sense At that part of my prospect take offence, By which the meaner cabanes are descried Of my imperial river's humbler side; If they call that a blemish, let them know, God and my godlike mistress think not so; For the distressed and the afflicted lie Most in their care, and always in their eye.

3. Our poet's house was in Gerard-Street, looking upon the gardens of Leicester-House.



Whether it happened through a long disuse of writing, that I forgot the usual compass of a play, or that, by crowding it with characters and incidents, I put a necessity upon myself of lengthening the main action, I know not; but the first day's audience sufficiently convinced me of my error, and that the poem was insupportably too long. It is an ill ambition of us poets, to please an audience with more than they can bear; and supposing that we wrote as well as vainly we imagine ourselves to write, yet we ought to consider, that no man can bear to be long tickled. There is a nauseousness in a city-feast, when we are to sit four hours after we are cloyed. I am therefore, in the first place, to acknowledge, with all manner of gratitude, their civility, who were pleased to endure it with so much patience; to be weary with so much good-nature and silence; and not to explode an entertainment which was designed to please them, or discourage an author, whose misfortunes have once more brought him, against his will, upon the stage. While I continue in these bad circumstances, (and, truly, I see very little probability of coming out) I must be obliged to write; and if I may still hope for the same kind usage, I shall the less repent of that hard necessity. I write not this out of any expectation to be pitied, for I have enemies enow to wish me yet in a worse condition; but give me leave to say, that if I can please by writing, as I shall endeavour it, the town may be somewhat obliged to my misfortunes for a part of their diversion. Having been longer acquainted with the stage than any poet now living, and having observed how difficult it was to please; that the humours of comedy were almost spent; that love and honour (the mistaken topics of tragedy) were quite worn out; that the theatres could not support their charges; that the audience forsook them; that young men, without learning, set up for judges, and that they talked loudest, who understood the least; all these discouragements had not only weaned me from the stage, but had also given me a loathing of it. But enough of this: the difficulties continue; they increase; and I am still condemned to dig in those exhausted mines.

Whatever fault I next commit, rest assured it shall not be that of too much length: Above twelve hundred lines have been cut off from this tragedy since it was first delivered to the actors. They were indeed so judiciously lopped by Mr Betterton, to whose care and excellent action I am equally obliged, that the connection of the story was not lost; but, on the other side, it was impossible to prevent some part of the action from being precipitated, and coming on without that due preparation which is required to all great events: as, in particular, that of raising the mobile, in the beginning of the fourth act, which a man of Benducar's cool character could not naturally attempt, without taking all those precautions, which he foresaw would be necessary to render his design successful. On this consideration, I have replaced those lines through the whole poem, and thereby restored it to that clearness of conception, and (if I may dare to say it) that lustre and masculine vigour, in which it was first written. It is obvious to every understanding reader, that the most poetical parts, which are descriptions, images, similitudes, and moral sentences, are those which of necessity were to be pared away, when the body was swollen into too large a bulk for the representation of the stage. But there is a vast difference betwixt a public entertainment on the theatre, and a private reading in the closet: In the first, we are confined to time; and though we talk not by the hour-glass, yet the watch often drawn out of the pocket warns the actors that their audience is weary; in the last, every reader is judge of his own convenience; he can take up the book and lay it down at his pleasure, and find out those beauties of propriety in thought and writing, which escaped him in the tumult and hurry of representing. And I dare boldly promise for this play, that in the roughness of the numbers and cadences, (which I assure was not casual, but so designed) you will see somewhat more masterly arising to your view, than in most, if not any, of my former tragedies. There is a more noble daring in the figures, and more suitable to the loftiness of the subject; and, besides this, some newnesses of English, translated from the beauties of modern tongues, as well as from the elegancies of the Latin; and here and there some old words are sprinkled, which, for their significance and sound, deserved not to be antiquated; such as we often find in Sallust amongst the Roman authors, and in Milton's "Paradise" amongst ours; though perhaps the latter, instead of sprinkling, has dealt them with too free a hand, even sometimes to the obscuring of his sense.

As for the story, or plot, of the tragedy, it is purely fiction; for I take it up where the history has laid it down. We are assured by all writers of those times, that Sebastian, a young prince of great courage and expectation, undertook that war, partly upon a religious account, partly at the solicitation of Muley Mahomet, who had been driven out of his dominions by Abdelmelech, or, as others call him, Muley Moluch, his nigh kinsman, who descended from the same family of Xeriffs, whose fathers, Hamet and Mahomet, had conquered that empire with joint forces, and shared it betwixt them after their victory; that the body of Don Sebastian was never found in the field of battle, which gave occasion for many to believe, that he was not slain[1]; that some years after, when the Spaniards, with a pretended title, by force of arms, had usurped the crown of Portugal from the house of Braganza, a certain person, who called himself Don Sebastian, and had all the marks of his body and features of his face, appeared at Venice, where he was owned by some of his countrymen; but being seized by the Spaniards, was first imprisoned, then sent to the gallies, and at last put to death in private. It is most certain, that the Portuguese expected his return for almost an age together after that battle, which is at least a proof of their extreme love to his memory; and the usage they had from their new conquerors, might possibly make them so extravagant in their hopes and wishes for their old master[2].

This ground-work the history afforded me, and I desire no better to build a play upon; for where the event of a great action is left doubtful, there the poet is left master. He may raise what he pleases on that foundation, provided he makes it of a piece, and according to the rule of probability. From hence I was only obliged, that Sebastian should return to Portugal no more; but at the same time I had him at my own disposal, whether to bestow him in Afric, or in any other corner of the world, or to have closed the tragedy with his death; and the last of these was certainly the most easy, but for the same reason the least artful; because, as I have somewhere said, the poison and the dagger are still at hand to butcher a hero, when a poet wants the brains to save him. It being therefore only necessary, according to the laws of the drama, that Sebastian should no more be seen upon the throne, I leave it for the world to judge, whether or no I have disposed of him according to art, or have bungled up the conclusion of his adventure. In the drawing of his character, I forgot not piety, which any one may observe to be one principal ingredient of it, even so far as to be a habit in him; though I shew him once to be transported from it by the violence of a sudden passion, to endeavour a self-murder. This being presupposed, that he was religious, the horror of his incest, though innocently committed, was the best reason which the stage could give for hindering his return. It is true, I have no right to blast his memory with such a crime; but declaring it to be fiction, I desire my audience to think it no longer true, than while they are seeing it represented; for that once ended, he may be a saint, for aught I know, and we have reason to presume he is. On this supposition, it was unreasonable to have killed him; for the learned Mr Rymer has well observed, that in all punishments we are to regulate ourselves by poetical justice; and according to those measures, an involuntary sin deserves not death; from whence it follows, that to divorce himself from the beloved object, to retire into a desert, and deprive himself of a throne, was the utmost punishment which a poet could inflict, as it was also the utmost reparation which Sebastian could make. For what relates to Almeyda, her part is wholly fictitious. I know it is the surname of a noble family in Portugal, which was very instrumental in the restoration of Don John de Braganza, father to the most illustrious and most pious princess, our queen-dowager. The French author of a novel, called "Don Sebastian," has given that name to an African lady of his own invention, and makes her sister to Muley Mahomet; but I have wholly changed the accidents, and borrowed nothing but the supposition, that she was beloved by the king of Portugal. Though, if I had taken the whole story, and wrought it up into a play, I might have done it exactly according to the practice of almost all the ancients, who were never accused of being plagiaries for building their tragedies on known fables. Thus, Augustus Caesar wrote an "Ajax," which was not the less his own, because Euripides had written a play before him on that subject. Thus, of late years, Corneille writ an "OEdipus" after Sophocles; and I have designed one after him, which I wrote with Mr Lee; yet neither the French poet stole from the Greek, nor we from the Frenchman. It is the contrivance, the new turn, and new characters, which alter the property, and make it ours. The materia poetica is as common to all writers, as the materia medica to all physicians. Thus, in our Chronicles, Daniel's history is still his own, though Matthew Paris, Stow, and Hollingshed writ before him; otherwise we must have been content with their dull relations, if a better pen had not been allowed to come after them, and writ his own account after a new and better manner.

I must further declare freely, that I have not exactly kept to the three mechanic rules of unity. I knew them, and had them in my eye, but followed them only at a distance; for the genius of the English cannot bear too regular a play: we are given to variety, even to a debauchery of pleasure. My scenes are therefore sometimes broken, because my underplot required them so to be, though the general scene remains,—of the same castle; and I have taken the time of two days, because the variety of accidents, which are here represented, could not naturally be supposed to arrive in one: but to gain a greater beauty, it is lawful for a poet to supersede a less.

I must likewise own, that I have somewhat deviated from the known history, in the death of Muley Moluch, who, by all relations, died of a fever in the battle, before his army had wholly won the field; but if I have allowed him another day of life, it was because I stood in need of so shining a character of brutality as I have given him; which is indeed the same with that of the present emperor Muley-Ishmael, as some of our English officers, who have been in his court, have credibly informed me.

I have been listening—what objections had been made against the conduct of the play; but found them all so trivial, that if I should name them, a true critic would imagine that I played booty, and only raised up phantoms for myself to conquer. Some are pleased to say—the writing is dull; but, aetatem habet, de se loquatur. Others, that the double poison is unnatural: let the common received opinion, and Ausonius his famous epigram, answer that[3]. Lastly, a more ignorant sort of creatures than either of the former maintain, that the character of Dorax is not only unnatural, but inconsistent with itself: let them read the play, and think again; and if yet they are not satisfied, cast their eyes on that chapter of the wise Montaigne, which is intitled, De l'Inconstance des Actions humaines. A longer reply is what those cavillers deserve not; but I will give them and their fellows to understand, that the earl of Dorset was pleased to read the tragedy twice over before it was acted, and did me the favour to send me word, that I had written beyond any of my former plays, and that he was displeased any thing should be cut away. If I have not reason to prefer his single judgment to a whole faction, let the world be judge; for the opposition is the same with that of Lucan's hero against an army; concurrere bellum, atque virum.

I think I may modestly conclude, that whatever errors there may be, either in the design, or writing of this play, they are not those which have been objected to it. I think also, that I am not yet arrived to the age of doting; and that I have given so much application to this poem, that I could not probably let it run into many gross absurdities; which may caution my enemies from too rash a censure, and may also encourage my friends, who are many more than I could reasonably have expected, to believe their kindness has not been very undeservedly bestowed on me. This is not a play that was huddled up in haste; and, to shew it was not, I will own, that, besides the general moral of it, which is given in the four last lines, there is also another moral, couched under every one of the principal parts and characters, which a judicious critic will observe, though I point not to it in this preface. And there may be also some secret beauties in the decorum of parts, and uniformity of design, which my puny judges will not easily find out: let them consider in the last scene of the fourth act, whether I have not preserved the rule of decency, in giving all the advantage to the royal character, and in making Dorax first submit. Perhaps too they may have thought, that it was through indigence of characters that I have given the same to Sebastian and Almeyda, and consequently made them alike in all things but their sex. But let them look a little deeper into the matter, and they will find, that this identity of character in the greatness of their souls was intended for a preparation of the final discovery, and that the likeness of their nature was a fair hint to the proximity of their blood.

To avoid the imputation of too much vanity, (for all writers, and especially poets, will have some,) I will give but one other instance, in relation to the uniformity of the design. I have observed, that the English will not bear a thorough tragedy; but are pleased, that it should be lightened with underparts of mirth. It had been easy for me to have given my audience a better course of comedy, I mean a more diverting, than that of Antonio and Morayma; but I dare appeal, even to my enemies, if I, or any man, could have invented one, which had been more of a piece, and more depending on the serious part of the design. For what could be more uniform, than to draw from out of the members of a captive court, the subject of a comical entertainment? To prepare this episode, you see Dorax giving the character of Antonio, in the beginning of the play, upon his first sight of him at the lottery; and to make the dependence, Antonio is engaged, in the fourth act, for the deliverance of Almeyda; which is also prepared, by his being first made a slave to the captain of the rabble.

I should beg pardon for these instances; but perhaps they may be of use to future poets, in the conduct of their plays; at least, if I appear too positive, I am growing old, and thereby in possession of some experience, which men in years will always assume for a right of talking. Certainly if a man can ever have reason to set a value on himself, it is when his ungenerous enemies are taking the advantage of the times upon him, to ruin him in his reputation. And therefore, for once, I will make bold to take the counsel of my old master Virgil,

Tu ne cede mails, sed contra audentior ito.

Footnotes: 1. There was a Portuguese prophecy to this purpose, which they applied to the expected return of Sebastian:

Vendra et Incubierto, Vendra cierto; Entrera en el huerto, Per el puerto, Questa mas a ca del muro; Y'lo que paresce escuro, Se vra claro e abierto.

Two false Sebastians, both hermits, laid claim to the throne of Portugal. One was hanged, and the other died in the galleys. Vide Le Quien's Histoire Generale de Portugal.—There are two tracts which appear to regard the last of these impostors, and which may have furnished our author with some slight hints; namely, "The true History of the late and lamentable Adventures of Don Sebastian, King of Portugal, after his imprisonment at Naples until this present day, being now in Spain, at San Lucar de Barrameda.—1602;" and, "A continuation of the lamentable and admirable Adventures of Don Sebastian, King of Portugal, with a Declaration of all his time employed since the Battle in Africk against the Infidels, 1578, until this present year 1603. London, 1603." Both pieces are reprinted in the Harleian Miscellany, Vols IV. and V.

2. The uncertainty of his fate is alluded to by Fletcher:

Wittypate. In what service have ye been, sir?

Ruinous. The first that fleshed me a soldier, sir, Was that great battle at Alcazar, in Barbary, Where the noble English Stukely fell, and where The royal Portugal Sebastian ended His untimely days.

Wittypate. Are you sure Sebastian died there?

Ruinous. Faith, sir, there was some other rumour hoped Amongst us, that he, wounded, escaped, and touched On his native shore again, where finding his country at home More distressed by the invasion of the Spaniard Than his loss abroad, forsook it, still supporting A miserable and unfortunate life, Which where he ended is yet uncertain. Wit at several Weapons.

I have printed this quotation as I find it in the edition of 1778; though I am unable to discover what pretensions it claims to be arranged as blank verse.

3. Toxica zelotypo dedit uxor maecha marito, Nec satis ad mortem credidit esse datum. Micuit argenti letalia pondera vivi; Cogeret ut celerem vis geminata necem. Dividat haec si quis, faciunt discreta venenum: Antidotum sumet, qui sociata bibet. Ergo inter sese dum noxia pocula certant, Cessit letalis noxa salutiferae. Protinus et vacuos alvi petiere recessus Lubrica dejectis qua via nota cibis. Quam pia cura deum! prodest crudelior uxor, Et quum fata volunt, bina venena juvant.



Bright beauties, who in awful circle sit, And you, grave synod of the dreadful pit, And you the upper-tire of pop-gun wit,

Pray ease me of my wonder, if you may; Is all this crowd barely to see the play; Or is't the poet's execution-day?

His breath is in your hands I will presume, But I advise you to defer his doom, Till you have got a better in his room;

And don't maliciously combine together, As if in spite and spleen you were come hither; For he has kept the pen, tho' lost the feather[2].

And, on my honour, ladies, I avow, This play was writ in charity to you; For such a dearth of wit who ever knew?

Sure 'tis a judgment on this sinful nation, For the abuse of so great dispensation; And, therefore, I resolve to change vocation.

For want of petticoat, I've put on buff, To try what may be got by lying rough: How think you, sirs? is it not well enough?

Of bully-critics I a troop would lead; But, one replied,—Thank you, there's no such need, I at Groom-Porter's, sir, can safer bleed.

Another, who the name of danger loaths, Vow'd he would go, and swore me forty oaths, But that his horses were in body-clothes.

A third cried,—Damn my blood, I'll be content To push my fortune, if the parliament Would but recal claret from banishment.

A fourth (and I have done) made this excuse— I'd draw my sword in Ireland, sir, to chuse; Had not their women gouty legs, and wore no shoes.

Well, I may march, thought I, and fight, and trudge, But, of these blades, the devil a man will budge; They there would fight, e'en just as here they judge.

Here they will pay for leave to find a fault; But, when their honour calls, they can't be bought; Honour in danger, blood, and wounds is sought.

Lost virtue, whither fled? or where's thy dwelling Who can reveal? at least, 'tis past my telling, Unless thou art embarked for Inniskilling.

On carrion-tits those sparks denounce their rage, In boot of wisp and Leinster frise engage; What would you do in such an equipage[3]?

The siege of Derry does you gallants threaten; Not out of errant shame of being beaten, As fear of wanting meat, or being eaten.

Were wit like honour, to be won by fighting, How few just judges would there be of writing! Then you would leave this villainous back-biting.

Your talents lie how to express your spite; But, where is he who knows to praise aright? You praise like cowards, but like critics fight.

Ladies, be wise, and wean these yearling calves, Who, in your service too, are meer faux braves; They judge, and write, and fight, and love—by halves.

Footnotes: 1. The humour of this intended prologue turns upon the unwillingness displayed to attend King William into Ireland by many of the nobility and gentry, who had taken arms at the Revolution. The truth is, that, though invited to go as volunteers, they could not but consider themselves as hostages, of whom William did not chuse to lose sight, lest, while he was conquering Ireland, he might, perchance, lose England, by means of the very men by whom he had won it. The disbanding of the royal regiment had furnished a subject for the satirical wit of Buckingham, at least, such a piece is printed in his Miscellanies; and for that of Shadwell, in his epilogue to Bury-fair. But Shadwell was now poet-laureat, and his satire was privileged, like the wit of the ancient royal jester. Our author was suspected of disaffection, and liable to misconstruction: For which reason, probably, he declined this sarcastic prologue, and substituted that which follows, the tone of which is submissive, and conciliatory towards the government. Contrary to custom, it was spoken by a woman.

2. In allusion to his being deprived of the office of poet laureat.

3. The Inniskilling horse, who behaved with great courage against King James, joined Schomberg and King William's forces at Dundalk, in 1689, rather resembled a foreign frey-corps, than regular troops. "They were followed by multitudes of their women; they were uncouth in their appearance; they rode on small horses, called Garrons; their pistols were not fixed in holsters, but dangled about their persons, being slung to their sword-belts; they offered, with spirit, to make always the forlorn of the army; but, upon the first order they received, they cried out, 'They could thrive no longer, since they were now put under orders.'—Memoirs, Vol. II. p. 133. The allusion in the next verse is to the dreadful siege of Londonderry, when the besieged suffered the last extremities of famine. The account of this memorable leaguer, by the author just quoted, is a most spirited piece of historical painting.



The judge removed, though he's no more my lord, May plead at bar, or at the council-board: So may cast poets write; there's no pretension To argue loss of wit, from loss of pension. Your looks are chearful; and in all this place I see not one that wears a damning face. The British nation is too brave, to show Ignoble vengeance on a vanquished foe. At last be civil to the wretch imploring; And lay your paws upon him, without roaring. Suppose our poet was your foe before, Yet now, the business of the field is o'er; 'Tis time to let your civil wars alone, When troops are into winter-quarters gone. Jove was alike to Latian and to Phrygian; And you well know, a play's of no religion. Take good advice, and please yourselves this day; No matter from what hands you have the play. Among good fellows every health will pass, That serves to carry round another glass: When with full bowls of Burgundy you dine, } Though at the mighty monarch you repine, } You grant him still Most Christian in his wine. } Thus far the poet; but his brains grow addle, And all the rest is purely from this noddle. You have seen young ladies at the senate-door, Prefer petitions, and your grace implore; However grave the legislators were, Their cause went ne'er the worse for being fair. Reasons as weak as theirs, perhaps, I bring; But I could bribe you with as good a thing. I heard him make advances of good nature; That he, for once, would sheath his cutting satire. Sign but his peace, he vows he'll ne'er again The sacred names of fops and beaus profane. Strike up the bargain quickly; for I swear, As times go now, he offers very fair. Be not too hard on him with statutes neither; } Be kind; and do not set your teeth together, } To stretch the laws, as coblers do their leather. } Horses by Papists are not to be ridden, But sure the muses' horse was ne'er forbidden; For in no rate-book it was ever found That Pegasus was valued at five pound[1]: Fine him to daily drudging and inditing: And let him pay his taxes out in writing.

Footnote: 1. Alluding to the act for disarming the Catholics, by which, inter alia, it is enacted, "that no Papist, or reputed Papist, so refusing, or making default, as aforesaid, at any time after the 15th of May, 1689, shall, or may have, and keep in his own possession, or in the possession of any other person for his use, or at his disposition, any horse or horses, which shall be above the value of L.5."—1st William and Mary, c. 15.


Don SEBASTIAN, King of Portugal. MULEY-MOLUCH, Emperor of Barbary. DORAX, a noble Portuguese, now a renegade; formerly Don ALONZO DE SYLVERA, Alcade, or Governor of Alcazar. BENDUCAR, chief Minister, and favourite to the Emperor. The Mufti ABDALLA. MULEY-ZEYDAN, brother to the Emperor. Don ANTONIO, a young, noble, amorous Portuguese; now a slave. Don ALVAREZ, an old counsellor to Don SEBASTIAN; now a slave also. MUSTAPHA, Captain of the Rabble. Two Merchants. Rabble. A Servant to BENDUCAR. A Servant to the Mufti.

ALMEYDA, a captive Queen of Barbary. MORAYMA, daughter to the Mufti. JOHAYMA, chief wife to the Mufti.

SCENE,—In the Castle of Alcazar.




The scene at Alcazar, representing a market-place under the Castle.


M. Zey. Now Africa's long wars are at an end, And our parched earth is drenched in Christian blood; My conquering brother will have slaves enow, To pay his cruel vows for victory.— What hear you of Sebastian, king of Portugal?

Bend. He fell among a heap of slaughtered Moors, Though yet his mangled carcase is not found. The rival of our threatened empire, Mahomet, Was hot pursued; and, in the general rout, Mistook a swelling current for a ford, And in Mucazar's flood was seen to rise: Thrice was he seen: At length his courser plunged, And threw him off; the waves whelmed over him, And, helpless, in his heavy arms he drowned.

M. Zey. Thus, then, a doubtful title is extinguished; Thus Moluch, still the favourite of fate, Swims in a sanguine torrent to the throne, As if our prophet only worked for him: The heavens, and all the stars, are his hired servants; As Muley-Zeydan were not worth their care, And younger brothers but the draff of nature.

Bend. Be still, and learn the soothing arts of court: Adore his fortune, mix with flattering crowds; And, when they praise him most, be you the loudest. Your brother is luxurious, close, and cruel; Generous by fits, but permanent in mischief. The shadow of a discontent would ruin us; We must be safe, before we can be great. These things observed, leave me to shape the rest.

M. Zey. You have the key; he opens inward to you.

Bend. So often tried, and ever found so true, Has given me trust; and trust has given me means Once to be false for all. I trust not him; For, now his ends are served, and he grown absolute, How am I sure to stand, who served those ends? I know your nature open, mild, and grateful: In such a prince the people may be blest, And I be safe.

M. Zey. My father! [Embracing him.

Bend. My future king, auspicious Muley-Zeydan! Shall I adore you?—No, the place is public: I worship you within; the outward act Shall be reserved till nations follow me, And heaven shall envy you the kneeling world.— You know the alcade of Alcazar, Dorax?

M. Zey. The gallant renegade you mean?

Bend. The same. That gloomy outside, like a rusty chest, Contains the shining treasure, of a soul Resolved and brave: He has the soldiers' hearts, And time shall make him ours.

M. Zey. He's just upon us.

Bend. I know him from afar, By the long stride, and by the sullen port.— Retire, my lord. Wait on your brother's triumph; yours is next: His growth is but a wild and fruitless plant; I'll cut his barren branches to the stock, And graft you on to bear.

M. Zey. My oracle! [Exit M. ZEY.

Bend. Yes, to delude your hopes.—Poor credulous fool! To think that I would give away the fruit Of so much toil, such guilt, and such damnation! If I am damned, it shall be for myself. This easy fool must be my stale, set up To catch the people's eyes: He's tame and merciful; Him I can manage, till I make him odious By some unpopular act; and then dethrone him.

Enter DORAX.

Now, Dorax.

Dor. Well, Benducar.

Bend. Bare Benducar!

Dor. Thou would'st have titles; take them then,—chief minister, First hangman of the state.

Bend. Some call me, favourite.

Dor. What's that?—his minion?— Thou art too old to be a catamite!— Now pr'ythee tell me, and abate thy pride, Is not Benducar, bare, a better name In a friend's mouth, than all those gaudy titles, Which I disdain to give the man I love?

Bend. But always out of humour,—

Dor. I have cause: Though all mankind is cause enough for satire.

Bend. Why, then, thou hast revenged thee on mankind. They say, in fight, thou hadst a thirsty sword, And well 'twas glutted there.

Dor. I spitted frogs; I crushed a heap of emmets; A hundred of them to a single soul, And that but scanty weight too. The great devil Scarce thanked me for my pains; he swallows vulgar Like whipped cream,—feels them not in going down.

Bend. Brave renegade!—Could'st thou not meet Sebastian? Thy master had been worthy of thy sword.

Dor. My master!—By what title? Because I happened to be born where he Happened to be king?—And yet I served him; Nay, I was fool enough to love him too.— You know my story, how I was rewarded For fifteen hard campaigns, still hooped in iron, And why I turned Mahometan. I'm grateful; But whosoever dares to injure me, Let that man know, I dare to be revenged.

Bend. Still you run off from bias:—Say, what moves Your present spleen?

Dor. You marked not what I told you. I killed not one that was his maker's image; I met with none but vulgar two-legged brutes: Sebastian was my aim; he was a man: Nay,—though he hated me, and I hate him, Yet I must do him right,—he was a man, Above man's height, even towering to divinity: Brave, pious, generous, great, and liberal; Just as the scales of heaven, that weigh the seasons. He loved his people; him they idolized; And thence proceeds my mortal hatred to him; That, thus unblameable to all besides, He erred to me alone: His goodness was diffused to human kind, And all his cruelty confined to me.

Bend. You could not meet him then?

Dor. No, though I sought Where ranks fell thickest.—'Twas indeed the place To seek Sebastian.—Through a track of death I followed him, by groans of dying foes; But still I came too late; for he was flown, Like lightning, swift before me to new slaughters. I mowed across, and made irregular harvest, Defaced the pomp of battle, but in vain; For he was still supplying death elsewhere. This mads me, that perhaps ignoble hands Have overlaid him,—for they could not conquer: Murdered by multitudes, whom I alone Had right to slay. I too would have been slain; That, catching hold upon his flitting ghost, I might have robbed him of his opening heaven, And dragged him down with me, spite of predestination.

Bend. 'Tis of as much import as Africk's worth, To know what came of him, and of Almeyda, The sister of the vanquished Mahomet, Whose fatal beauty to her brother drew The land's third part, as Lucifer did heaven's.

Dor. I hope she died in her own female calling, Choked up with man, and gorged with circumcision. As for Sebastian, we must search the field; And, where we see a mountain of the slain, Send one to climb, and, looking down below, There he shall find him at his manly length, With his face up to heaven, in the red monument, Which his true sword has digged.

Bend. Yet we may possibly hear farther news; For, while our Africans pursued the chace, The captain of the rabble issued out, With a black shirtless train, to spoil the dead, And seize the living.

Dor. Each of them an host, A million strong of vermin every villain: No part of government, but lords of anarchy, Chaos of power, and privileged destruction.

Bend. Yet I must tell you, friend, the great must use them Sometimes, as necessary tools of tumult.

Dor. I would use them Like dogs in times of plague; outlaws of nature, Fit to be shot and brained, without a process, To stop infection; that's their proper death.

Bend. No more;— Behold the emperor coming to survey The slaves, in order to perform his vow.

Enter MULEY-MOLUCH the Emperor, with Attendants; the Mufti, and MULEY-ZEYDAN.

M. Mol. Our armours now may rust; our idle scymiters Hang by our sides for ornament, not use: Children shall beat our atabals and drums, And all the noisy trades of war no more Shall wake the peaceful morn; the Xeriff's blood No longer in divided channels runs, The younger house took end in Mahomet: Nor shall Sebastian's formidable name Be longer used to lull the crying babe.

Muf. For this victorious day, our mighty prophet Expects your gratitude, the sacrifice Of Christian slaves, devoted, if you won.

M. Mol. The purple present shall be richly paid; That vow performed, fasting shall be abolished; None e'er served heaven well with a starved face: Preach abstinence no more; I tell thee, Mufti, Good feasting is devout; and thou, our head, Hast a religious, ruddy countenance. We will have learned luxury; our lean faith Gives scandal to the christians; they feed high: Then look for shoals of converts, when thou hast Reformed us into feasting.

Muf. Fasting is but the letter of the law, Yet it shews well to preach it to the vulgar; Wine is against our law; that's literal too, But not denied to kings and to their guides; Wine is a holy liquor for the great.

Dor. [Aside.] This Mufti, in my conscience, is some English renegado, he talks so savourily of toping.

M. Mol. Bring forth the unhappy relicks of the war.

Enter MUSTAPHA, Captain of the Rabble, with his followers of the Black Guard, &c. and other Moors; With them a Company of Portuguese Slaves, without any of the chief Persons.

M. Mol. These are not fit to pay an emperor's vow; Our bulls and rams had been more noble victims: These are but garbage, not a sacrifice.

Muf. The prophet must not pick and chuse his offerings; Now he has given the day, 'tis past recalling, And he must be content with such as these.

M. Mol. But are these all? Speak you, that are their masters.

Must. All, upon my honour; if you will take them as their fathers got them, so; if not, you must stay till they get a better generation. These christians are mere bunglers; they procreate nothing but out of their own wives, and these have all the looks of eldest sons.

M. Mol. Pain of your lives, let none conceal a slave.

Must. Let every man look to his own conscience; I am sure mine shall never hang me.

Bend. Thou speak'st as if thou wert privy to concealments; then thou art an accomplice.

Must. Nay, if accomplices must suffer, it may go hard with me: but here's the devil on't, there's a great man, and a holy man too, concerned with me; now, if I confess, he'll be sure to escape between his greatness and his holiness, and I shall be murdered, because of my poverty and rascality.

Muf. [Winking at him.] Then, if thy silence save the great and holy, 'Tis sure thou shalt go straight to paradise.

Must. 'Tis a fine place, they say; but, doctor, I am not worthy on't. I am contented with this homely world; 'tis good enough for such a poor, rascally Mussulman, as I am; besides, I have learnt so much good manners, doctor, as to let my betters be served before me.

M. Mol. Thou talk'st as if the Mufti were concerned.

Must. Your majesty may lay your soul on't. But, for my part, though I am a plain fellow, yet I scorn to be tricked into paradise; I would he should know it. The truth on't is, an't like you, his reverence bought of me the flower of all the market: these—these are but dogs-meat to them; and a round price he paid me, too, I'll say that for him; but not enough for me to venture my neck for. If I get paradise when my time comes, I can't help myself; but I'll venture nothing before-hand, upon a blind bargain.

M. Mol. Where are those slaves? produce them.

Muf. They are not what he says.

M. Mol. No more excuses. [One goes out to fetch them. Know, thou may'st better dally With a dead prophet, than a living king.

Muf. I but reserved them to present thy greatness An offering worthy thee.

Must. By the same token there was a dainty virgin, (virgin, said I! but I wont be too positive of that, neither) with a roguish leering eye! he paid me down for her upon the nail a thousand golden sultanins, or he had never had her, I can tell him that; now, is it very likely he would pay so dear for such a delicious morsel, and give it away out of his own mouth, when it had such a farewell with it too?

Enter SEBASTIAN, conducted in mean Habit, with ALVAREZ, ANTONIO, and ALMEYDA, her Face veiled with a Barnus.

M. Mol. Ay; these look like the workmanship of heaven; This is the porcelain clay of human kind, And therefore cast into these noble moulds.

Dor. By all my wrongs, [Aside, while the Emperor whispers Benducar. 'Tis he! damnation seize me, but 'tis he! My heart heaves up and swells; he's poison to me; My injured honour, and my ravished love, Bleed at their murderer's sight.

Ben. [Aside to Dor.] The emperor would learn these prisoners' names; You know them?

Dor. Tell him, no; And trouble me no more—I will not know them. Shall I trust heaven, that heaven which I renounced, With my revenge? Then, where's my satisfaction? No; It must be my own, I scorn a proxy. [Aside.

M. Mol. 'Tis decreed; These of a better aspect, with the rest, Shall share one common doom, and lots decide it. For every numbered captive, put a ball Into an urn; three only black be there, The rest, all white, are safe.

Muf. Hold, sir; the woman must not draw.

M. Mol O Mufti, We know your reason; let her share the danger.

Muf. Our law says plainly, women have no souls.

M, Mol. 'Tis true; their souls are mortal, set her by; Yet, were Almeyda here, though fame reports her The fairest of her sex, so much, unseen, I hate the sister of our rival-house, Ten thousand such dry notions of our Alcoran Should not protect her life, if not immortal; Die as she could, all of a piece, the better That none of her remain. [Here an Urn is brought in; the Prisoners approach with great concernment, and among the rest, SEBASTIAN, ALVAREZ, and ANTONIO, who come more chearfully.

Dor. Poor abject creatures, how they fear to die! These never knew one happy hour in life, Yet shake to lay it down. Is load so pleasant? Or has heaven hid the happiness of death, That men may dare to live?—Now for our heroes. [The Three approach. O, these come up with spirits more resolved. Old venerable Alvarez;—well I know him, The favourite once of this Sebastian's father; Now minister, (too honest for his trade) Religion bears him out; a thing taught young, In age ill practised, yet his prop in death. O, he has drawn a black; and smiles upon't, As who should say,—My faith and soul are white, Though my lot swarthy: Now, if there be hereafter, He's blest; if not, well cheated, and dies pleased.

Anton. [Holding his lot in his clenched hand.] Here I have thee; Be what thou wilt, I will not look too soon: Thou hast a colour; if thou prov'st not right, I have a minute good ere I behold thee. Now, let me roll and grubble thee: Blind men say, white feels smooth, and black feels rough; Thou hast a rugged skin, I do not like thee.

Dor. There's the amorous airy spark, Antonio, The wittiest woman's toy in Portugal: Lord, what a loss of treats and serenades! The whole she-nation will be in mourning for him.

Anton. I've a moist sweaty palm; the more's my sin: If it be black, yet only dyed, not odious Damned natural ebony, there's hope, in rubbing, To wash this Ethiop white.—[Looks.] Pox o'the proverb! As black as hell;—another lucky saying! I think the devil's in me;—good again! I cannot speak one syllable, but tends To death or to damnation. [Holds up his ball.

Dor. He looks uneasy at his future journey, [Aside. And wishes his boots off again, for fear Of a bad road, and a worse inn at night. Go to bed, fool, and take secure repose, For thou shalt wake no more. [SEBASTIAN comes up to draw.

M. Mol. [To Ben.] Mark him, who now approaches to the lottery: He looks secure of death, superior greatness, Like Jove, when he made Fate, and said, Thou art The slave of my creation.—I admire him.

Bend. He looks as man was made; with face erect, That scorns his brittle corpse, and seems ashamed He's not all spirit; his eyes, with a dumb pride, Accusing fortune that he fell not warm; Yet now disdains to live. [SEBAST. draws a black.

M. Mol. He has his wish; And I have failed of mine.

Dor. Robbed of my vengeance, by a trivial chance! [Aside. Fine work above, that their anointed care Should die such little death! or did his genius Know mine the stronger daemon, feared the grapple, And looking round him, found this nook of fate, To skulk behind my sword?—Shall I discover him?— Still he would not die mine; no thanks to my Revenge; reserved but to more royal shambles. 'Twere base, too, and below those vulgar souls, That shared his danger, yet not one disclosed him, But, struck with reverence, kept an awful silence. I'll see no more of this;—dog of a prophet! [Exit DORAX.

M. Mol. One of these three is a whole hecatomb, And therefore only one of them shall die: The rest are but mute cattle; and when death Comes like a rushing lion, couch like spaniels, With lolling tongues, and tremble at the paw: Let lots again decide it. [The Three draw again; and the Lot falls on SEBASTIAN.

Sebast. Then there's no more to manage: if I fall, It shall be like myself; a setting sun Should leave a track of glory in the skies.— Behold Sebastian, king of Portugal.

M. Mol. Sebastian! ha! it must be he; no other Could represent such suffering majesty. I saw him, as he terms himself, a sun Struggling in dark eclipse, and shooting day On either side of the black orb that veiled him.

Sebast. Not less even in this despicable now, Than when my name filled Afric with affright, And froze your hearts beneath your torrid zone.

Bend. [To M. Mol.] Extravagantly brave! even to an impudence Of greatness.

Sebast. Here satiate all your fury: Let fortune empty her whole quiver on me; I have a soul, that, like an ample shield, Can take in all, and verge enough for more. I would have conquered you; and ventured only A narrow neck of land for a third world, To give my loosened subjects room to play. Fate was not mine, Nor am I fate's. Now I have pleased my longing, And trod the ground which I beheld from far, I beg no pity for this mouldering clay; For, if you give it burial, there it takes Possession of your earth; If burnt and scattered in the air, the winds, That strow my dust, diffuse my royalty, And spread me o'er your clime: for where one atom Of mine shall light, know, there Sebastian reigns.

M. Mol. What shall I do to conquer thee?

Sebast. Impossible! Souls know no conquerors.

M. Mol. I'll shew thee for a monster through my Afric.

Sebast. No, thou canst only shew me for a man: Afric is stored with monsters; man's a prodigy, Thy subjects have not seen.

M. Mol. Thou talk'st as if Still at the head of battle.

Sebast. Thou mistakest, For then I would not talk.

Bend. Sure he would sleep.

Sebast. Till doomsday, when the trumpet sounds to rise; For that's a soldier's call.

M. Mol. Thou'rt brave too late; Thou shouldst have died in battle, like a soldier.

Sebast. I fought and fell like one, but death deceived me; I wanted weight of feeble Moors upon me, To crush my soul out.

M. Mol. Still untameable! In what a ruin has thy head-strong pride, And boundless thirst of empire, plunged thy people!

Sebast. What sayst thou? ha! no more of that.

M. Mol. Behold, What carcases of thine thy crimes have strewed, And left our Afric vultures to devour.

Bend. Those souls were those thy God intrusted with thee, To cherish, not destroy.

Sebast. Witness, O heaven, how much This sight concerns me! would I had a soul For each of these; how gladly would I pay The ransom down! But since I have but one, 'Tis a king's life, and freely 'tis bestowed. Not your false prophet, but eternal justice Has destined me the lot, to die for these: 'Tis fit a sovereign so should pay such subjects; For subjects such as they are seldom seen, Who not forsook me at my greatest need; Nor for base lucre sold their loyalty, But shared my dangers to the last event, And fenced them with their own. These thanks I pay you; [Wipes his eyes. And know, that, when Sebastian weeps, his tears Come harder than his blood.

M. Mol. They plead too strongly To be withstood. My clouds are gathering too, In kindly mixture with his royal shower. Be safe; and owe thy life, not to my gift, But to the greatness of thy mind, Sebastian. Thy subjects too shall live; a due reward For their untainted faith, in thy concealment.

Muf. Remember, sir, your vow. [A general shout.

M. Mol. Do thou remember Thy function, mercy, and provoke not blood.

Mul. Zeyd. One of his generous fits, too strong to last. [Aside to BENDUCAR.

Bend. The Mufti reddens; mark that holy cheek. [To him. He frets within, froths treason at his mouth, And churns it thro' his teeth; leave me to work him.

Seb. A mercy unexpected, undesired, Surprises more: you've learnt the art to vanquish. You could not,—give me leave to tell you, sir,— Have given me life but in my subjects' safety: Kings, who are fathers, live but in their people.

M. Mol. Still great, and grateful; that's thy character.— Unveil the woman; I would view the face, That warmed our Mufti's zeal: These pious parrots peck the fairest fruit: Such tasters are for kings. [Officers go to ALMEYDA to unveil her.

Alm. Stand off, ye slaves! I will not be unveiled.

M. Mol Slave is thy title:—force her.

Sebast. On your lives, approach her not.

M. Mol. How's this!

Sebast. Sir, pardon me, And hear me speak.—

Aim. Hear me; I will be heard. I am no slave; the noblest blood of Afric Runs in my veins; a purer stream than thine: For, though derived from the same source, thy current Is puddled and defiled with tyranny.

M. Mol. What female fury have we here!

Aim. I should be one, Because of kin to thee. Wouldst thou be touched By the presuming hands of saucy grooms? The same respect, nay more, is due to me: More for my sex; the same for my descent. These hands are only fit to draw the curtain. Now, if thou dar'st, behold Almeyda's face. [Unveils herself.

Bend. Would I had never seen it! [Aside.

Alm. She whom thy Mufti taxed to have no soul; Let Afric now be judge. Perhaps thou think'st I meanly hope to 'scape, As did Sebastian, when he owned his greatness. But to remove that scruple, know, base man, My murdered father, and my brother's ghost, Still haunt this breast, and prompt it to revenge. Think not I could forgive, nor dar'st thou pardon.

M. Mol. Wouldst thou revenge thee, trait'ress, hadst thou power?

Alm. Traitor, I would; the name's more justly thine; Thy father was not, more than mine, the heir Of this large empire: but with arms united They fought their way, and seized the crown by force; And equal as their danger was their share: For where was eldership, where none had right But that which conquest gave? 'Twas thy ambition Pulled from my peaceful father what his sword Helped thine to gain; surprised him and his kingdom, No provocation given, no war declared.

M. Mol. I'll hear no more.

Alm. This is the living coal, that, burning in me, Would flame to vengeance, could it find a vent; My brother too, that lies yet scarcely cold In his deep watery bed;—my wandering mother, Who in exile died— O that I had the fruitful heads of Hydra, That one might bourgeon where another fell! Still would I give thee work; still, still, thou tyrant, And hiss thee with the last.

M. Mol. Something, I know not what, comes over me: Whether the toils of battle, unrepaired With due repose, or other sudden qualm.— Benducar, do the rest. [Goes off, the court follows him.

Bend. Strange! in full health! this pang is of the soul; The body's unconcerned: I'll think hereafter.— Conduct these royal captives to the castle; Bid Dorax use them well, till further order. [Going off, stops. The inferior captives their first owners take, To sell, or to dispose.—You Mustapha, Set ope the market for the sale of slaves. [Exit BEND. [The Masters and Slaves come forward, and Buyers of several Qualities come in, and chaffer about the several Owners, who make their slaves do Tricks[1].

Must. My chattels are come into my hands again, and my conscience will serve me to sell them twice over; any price now, before the Mufti come to claim them.

1st Mer. [To MUST.] What dost hold that old fellow at?—[Pointing to ALVAR.] He's tough, and has no service in his limbs.

Must. I confess he's somewhat tough; but I suppose you would not boil him, I ask for him a thousand crowns.

1st Mer. Thou mean'st a thousand marvedis.

Must. Pr'ythee, friend, give me leave to know my own meaning.

1st Mer. What virtues has he to deserve that price?

Must. Marry come up, sir! virtues, quotha! I took him in the king's company; he's of a great family, and rich; what other virtues wouldst thou have in a nobleman?

1st Mer. I buy him with another man's purse, that's my comfort. My lord Dorax, the governor, will have him at any rate:—There's hansel. Come, old fellow, to the castle.

Alvar. To what is miserable age reserved! [Aside. But oh the king! and oh the fatal secret! Which I have kept thus long to time it better, And now I would disclose, 'tis past my power. [Exit with his Master.

Must. Something of a secret, and of the king, I heard him mutter: a pimp, I warrant him, for I am sure he is an old courtier. Now, to put off t'other remnant of my merchandize.—Stir up, sirrah! [To ANT.

Ant. Dog, what wouldst thou have?

Must. Learn better manners, or I shall serve you a dog-trick; come down upon all-four immediately; I'll make you know your rider.

Ant. Thou wilt not make a horse of me?

Must. Horse or ass, that's as thy mother made thee: but take earnest, in the first place, for thy sauciness.—[Lashes him with his Whip.]—Be advised, friend, and buckle to thy geers: Behold my ensign of royalty displayed over thee.

Ant. I hope one day to use thee worse in Portugal.

Must. Ay, and good reason, friend; if thou catchest me a-conquering on thy side of the water, lay on me lustily; I will take it as kindly as thou dost this.— [Holds up his Whip.

Ant. [Lying down.] Hold, my dear Thrum-cap: I obey thee cheerfully.—I see the doctrine of non-resistance is never practised thoroughly, but when a man can't help himself.

Enter a second Merchant.

2d Mer. You, friend, I would see that fellow do his postures.

Must. [Bridling ANT.] Now, sirrah, follow, for you have rope enough: To your paces, villain, amble trot, and gallop:—Quick about, there.—Yeap! the more money's bidden for you, the more your credit. [ANTONIO follows, at the end of the Bridle, on his Hands and Feet, and does all his Postures.

2d Mer. He is well chined, and has a tolerable good back; that is half in half.—[To MUST.]—I would see him strip; has he no diseases about him?

Must. He is the best piece of man's flesh in the market, not an eye-sore in his whole body. Feel his legs, master; neither splint, spavin, nor wind-gall. [Claps him on the Shoulder.

Mer. [Feeling about him, and then putting his Hand on his Side.] Out upon him, how his flank heaves! The whore-son is broken-winded.

Must. Thick-breathed a little; nothing but a sorry cold with lying out a-nights in trenches; but sound, wind and limb, I warrant him.—Try him at a loose trot a little. [Puts the Bridle into his Hand, he strokes him.

Ant. For heaven's sake, owner, spare me: you know I am but new broken.

2d Mer. 'Tis but a washy jade, I see: what do you ask for this bauble?

Must. Bauble, do you call him? he is a substantial true-bred beast; bravely forehanded. Mark but the cleanness of his shapes too: his dam may be a Spanish gennet, but a true barb by the sire, or I have no skill in horseflesh:—Marry, I ask six hundred xeriffs for him.

Enter MUFTI.

Mufti. What is that you are asking, sirrah?

Must. Marry, I ask your reverence six hundred pardons; I was doing you a small piece of service here, putting off your cattle for you.

Mufti. And putting the money into your own pocket.

Must. Upon vulgar reputation, no, my lord; it was for your profit and emolument. What! wrong the head of my religion? I was sensible you would have damned me, or any man, that should have injured you in a single farthing; for I knew that was sacrifice.

Mufti. Sacrilege, you mean, sirrah,—and damning shall be the least part of your punishment: I have taken you in the manner, and will have the law upon you.

Must. Good my lord, take pity upon a poor man in this world, and damn me in the next.

Mufti. No, sirrah, so you may repent and escape punishment: Did not you sell this very slave amongst the rest to me, and take money for him?

Must. Right, my lord.

Mufti. And selling him again? take money twice for the same commodity? Oh, villain! but did you not know him to be my slave, sirrah?

Must. Why should I lie to your honour? I did know him; and thereupon, seeing him wander about, took him up for a stray, and impounded him, with intention to restore him to the right owner.

Mufti. And yet at the same time was selling him to another: How rarely the story hangs together!

Must. Patience, my lord. I took him up, as your herriot, with intention to have made the best of him, and then have brought the whole product of him in a purse to you; for I know you would have spent half of it upon your pious pleasures, have hoarded up the other half, and given the remainder in charities to the poor.

Mufti. And what's become of my other slave? Thou hast sold him too, I have a villainous suspicion.

Must. I know you have, my lord; but while I was managing this young robustious fellow, that old spark, who was nothing but skin and bone, and by consequence very nimble, slipt through my fingers like an eel, for there was no hold-fast of him, and ran away to buy himself a new master.

Muft. [To ANT.] Follow me home, sirrah:—[To MUST.] I shall remember you some other time. [Exit MUFTI with ANT.

Must. I never doubted your lordship's memory for an ill turn: And I shall remember him too in the next rising of the mobile for this act of resumption; and more especially for the ghostly counsel he gave me before the emperor, to have hanged myself in silence to have saved his reverence. The best on't is, I am beforehand with him for selling one of his slaves twice over; and if he had not come just in the nick, I might have pocketed up the other; for what should a poor man do that gets his living by hard labour, but pray for bad times when he may get it easily? O for some incomparable tumult! Then should I naturally wish that the beaten party might prevail; because we have plundered the other side already, and there is nothing more to get of them. Both rich and poor for their own interest pray, 'Tis ours to make our fortune while we may; For kingdoms are not conquered every day. [Exit.


SCENE I.—Supposed to be a Terrace Walk, on the side of the Castle of Alcazar.


Emp. And thinkst thou not, it was discovered?

Bend. No: The thoughts of kings are like religious groves, The walks of muffled gods: Sacred retreat, Where none, but whom they please to admit, approach.

Emp. Did not my conscious eye flash out a flame, To lighten those brown horrors, and disclose The secret path I trod?

Bend. I could not find it, till you lent a clue To that close labyrinth; how then should they?

Emp. I would be loth they should: it breeds contempt For herds to listen, or presume to pry, When the hurt lion groans within his den: But is't not strange?

Bend. To love? not more than 'tis to live; a tax Imposed on all by nature, paid in kind, Familiar as our being.

Emp. Still 'tis strange To me: I know my soul as wild as winds, That sweep the desarts of our moving plains; Love might as well be sowed upon our sands, As in a breast so barren. To love an enemy, the only one Remaining too, whom yester sun beheld Mustering her charms, and rolling, as she past By every squadron, her alluring eyes, To edge her champions' swords, and urge my ruin. The shouts of soldiers, and the burst of cannon, Maintain even still a deaf and murmuring noise; Nor is heaven yet recovered of the sound, Her battle roused: Yet, spite of me, I love.

Bend. What then controuls you? Her person is as prostrate as her party.

Emp. A thousand things controul this conqueror: My native pride to own the unworthy passion, Hazard of interest, and my people's love. To what a storm of fate am I exposed!— What if I had her murdered!—'tis but what My subjects all expect, and she deserves,— Would not the impossibility Of ever, ever seeing, or possessing, Calm all this rage, this hurricane of soul?

Bend. That ever, ever,— I marked the double,—shows extreme reluctance To part with her for ever.

Emp. Right, thou hast me. I would, but cannot kill: I must enjoy her: I must, and what I must, be sure I will. What's royalty, but power to please myself? And if I dare not, then am I the slave, And my own slaves the sovereigns:—'tis resolved. Weak princes flatter, when they want the power To curb their people; tender plants must bend: But when a government is grown to strength, Like some old oak, rough with its armed bark, It yields not to the tug, but only nods, And turns to sullen state.

Bend. Then you resolve To implore her pity, and to beg relief?

Emp. Death! must I beg the pity of my slave? Must a king beg?—Yes; love's a greater king; A tyrant, nay, a devil, that possesses me: He tunes the organs of my voice, and speaks, Unknown to me, within me; pushes me, And drives me on by force.— Say I should wed her, would not my wise subjects Take check, and think it strange? perhaps revolt?

Bend. I hope they would not.

Emp. Then thou doubtst they would?

Bend. To whom?

Emp. To her Perhaps,—or to my brother,—or to thee.

Bend. [in disorder.] To me! me, did you mention? how I tremble! The name of treason shakes my honest soul. If I am doubted, sir, Secure yourself this moment, take my life.

Emp. No more: If I suspected thee—I would.

Bend. I thank your kindness.—Guilt had almost lost me. [Aside.

Emp. But clear my doubts:—thinkst thou they may rebel?

Bend. This goes as I would wish.— [Aside. 'Tis possible: A secret party still remains, that lurks Like embers raked in ashes,—wanting but A breath to blow aside the involving dust, And then they blaze abroad.

Emp. They must be trampled out.

Bend. But first be known.

Emp. Torture shall force it from them.

Bend. You would not put a nation to the rack?

Emp. Yes, the whole world; so I be safe, I care not.

Bend. Our limbs and lives Are yours; but mixing friends with foes is hard.

Emp. All may be foes; or how to be distinguished, If some be friends?

Bend. They may with ease be winnowed. Suppose some one, who has deserved your trust, Some one, who knows mankind, should be employed To mix among them, seem a malcontent, And dive into their breasts, to try how far They dare oppose your love?

Emp. I like this well; 'tis wholesome wickedness.

Bend. Whomever he suspects, he fastens there, And leaves no cranny of his soul unsearched; Then like a bee bag'd with his honeyed venom, He brings it to your hive;—if such a man, So able and so honest, may be found; If not, my project dies.

Emp. By all my hopes, thou hast described thyself: Thou, thou alone, art fit to play that engine, Thou only couldst contrive.

Bend. Sure I could serve you: I think I could:—but here's the difficulty; I am so entirely yours, That I should scurvily dissemble hate; The cheat would be too gross.

Emp. Art thou a statesman, And canst not be a hypocrite? Impossible! Do not distrust thy virtues.

Bend. If I must personate this seeming villain, Remember 'tis to serve you.

Emp. No more words: Love goads me to Almeyda, all affairs Are troublesome but that; and yet that most. [Going. Bid Dorax treat Sebastian like a king; I had forgot him;—but this love mars all, And takes up my whole breast. [Exit EMPEROR.

Bend. [To the EMP.] Be sure I'll tell him— With all the aggravating circumstances [Alone. I can, to make him swell at that command. The tyrant first suspected me; Then with a sudden gust he whirled about, And trusted me too far:—Madness of power! Now, by his own consent, I ruin him. For, should some feeble soul, for fear or gain. Bolt out to accuse me, even the king is cozened, And thinks he's in the secret. How sweet is treason, when the traitor's safe!

Sees the MUFTI and DORAX entering, and seeming to confer.

The Mufti, and with him my sullen Dorax. That first is mine already: 'Twas easy work to gain a covetous mind, Whom rage to lose his prisoners had prepared: Now caught himself, He would seduce another. I must help him: For churchmen, though they itch to govern all, Are silly, woeful, aukward politicians: They make lame mischief, though they mean it well: Their interest is not finely drawn, and hid, But seams are coarsely bungled up, and seen.

Muf. He'll tell you more.

Dor. I have heard enough already, To make me loath thy morals.

Bend. [To DOR.] You seem warm; The good man's zeal perhaps has gone too far.

Dor. Not very far; not farther than zeal goes; Of course a small day's journey short of treason.

Muf. By all that's holy, treason was not named: I spared the emperor's broken vows, to save The slaves from death, though it was cheating heaven; But I forgave him that.

Dor. And slighted o'er The wrongs himself sustained in property; When his bought slaves were seized by force, no loss Of his considered, and no cost repaid. [Scornfully.

Muf. Not wholly slighted o'er, not absolutely.— Some modest hints of private wrongs I urged.

Dor. Two-thirds of all he said: there he began To shew the fulness of his heart; there ended. Some short excursions of a broken vow He made indeed, but flat insipid stuff; But, when he made his loss the theme, he flourished, Relieved his fainting rhetoric with new figures, And thundered at oppressing tyranny.

Muf. Why not, when sacrilegious power would seize My property? 'tis an affront to heaven, Whose person, though unworthy, I sustain.

Dor. You've made such strong alliances above, That 'twere profaneness in us laity To offer earthly aid. I tell thee, Mufti, if the world were wise, They would not wag one finger in your quarrels. Your heaven you promise, but our earth you covet; The Phaetons of mankind, who fire that world, Which you were sent by preaching but to warm.

Bend. This goes beyond the mark.

Muf. No, let him rail; His prophet works within him; He's a rare convert.

Dor. Now his zeal yearns To see me burned; he damns me from his church, Because I would restrain him to his duty.— Is not the care of souls a load sufficient? Are not your holy stipends paid for this? Were you not bred apart from worldly noise, To study souls, their cures and their diseases? If this be so, we ask you but our own: Give us your whole employment, all your care. The province of the soul is large enough To fill up every cranny of your time, And leave you much to answer, if one wretch Be damned by your neglect.

Bend. [To the MUFTI.] He speaks but reason.

Dor. Why, then, these foreign thoughts of state-employments, Abhorrent to your function and your breedings? Poor droning truants of unpractised cells, Bred in the fellowship of bearded boys, What wonder is it if you know not men? Yet there you live demure, with down-cast eyes, And humble as your discipline requires; But, when let loose from thence to live at large, Your little tincture of devotion dies: Then luxury succeeds, and, set agog With a new scene of yet untasted joys, You fall with greedy hunger to the feast. Of all your college virtues, nothing now But your original ignorance remains; Bloated with pride, ambition, avarice, You swell to counsel kings, and govern kingdoms.

Muf. He prates as if kings had not consciences, And none required directors but the crowd.

Dor. As private men they want you, not as kings; Nor would you care to inspect their public conscience, But that it draws dependencies of power And earthly interest, which you long to sway; Content you with monopolizing heaven, And let this little hanging ball alone: For, give you but a foot of conscience there, And you, like Archimedes, toss the globe. We know your thoughts of us that laymen are, Lag souls, and rubbish of remaining clay, Which heaven, grown weary of more perfect work, Set upright with a little puff of breath, And bid us pass for men.

Muf. I will not answer, Base foul-mouthed renegade; but I'll pray for thee, To shew my charity. [Exit MUFTI.

Dor. Do; but forget not him who needs it most: Allow thyself some share.—He's gone too soon; I had to tell him of his holy jugglings; Things that would startle faith, and make us deem Not this, or that, but all religions false.

Bend. Our holy orator has lost the cause. [Aside. But I shall yet redeem it.—[To DORAX.] Let him go; For I have secret orders from the emperor, Which none but you must hear: I must confess, I could have wished some other hand had brought them. When did you see your prisoner, great Sebastian?

Dor. You might as well have asked me, when I saw A crested dragon, or a basilisk; Both are less poison to my eyes and nature, He knows not I am I; nor shall he see me, Till time has perfected a labouring thought, That rolls within my breast.

Bend. 'Twas my mistake. I guessed indeed that time, and his misfortunes, And your returning duty, had effaced The memory of past wrongs; they would in me, And I judged you as tame, and as forgiving.

Dor. Forgive him! no: I left my foolish faith, Because it would oblige me to forgiveness.

Bend. I can't but grieve to find you obstinate, For you must see him; 'tis our emperor's will, And strict command.

Dor. I laugh at that command.

Bend. You must do more than see; serve, and respect him.

Dor. See, serve him, and respect! and after all My yet uncancelled wrongs, I must do this!— But I forget myself.

Bend. Indeed you do.

Dor. The emperor is a stranger to my wrongs; I need but tell my story, to revoke This hard commission.

Bend. Can you call me friend, And think I could neglect to speak, at full, The affronts you had from your ungrateful master?

Dor. And yet enjoined my service and attendance!

Bend. And yet enjoined them both: would that were all! He screwed his face into a hardened smile, And said, Sebastian knew to govern slaves.

Dor. Slaves are the growth of Africk, not of Europe.— By heaven! I will not lay down my commission; Not at his foot, I will not stoop so low: But if there be a part in all his face More sacred than the rest, I'll throw it there.

Bend. You may; but then you lose all future means Of vengeance on Sebastian, when no more Alcayde of this fort.

Dor. That thought escaped me.

Bend. Keep your command, and be revenged on both: Nor sooth yourself; you have no power to affront him; The emperor's love protects him from insults; And he, who spoke that proud, ill-natured word, Following the bent of his impetuous temper, May force your reconcilement to Sebastian; Nay, bid you kneel, and kiss the offending foot, That kicked you from his presence.— But think not to divide their punishment; You cannot touch a hair of loathed Sebastian, While Muley-Moluch lives.

Dor. What means this riddle?

Bend. 'Tis out;—there needs no OEdipus to solve it. Our emperor is a tyrant, feared and hated; I scarce remember, in his reign, one day Pass guiltless o'er his execrable head. He thinks the sun is lost, that sees not blood: When none is shed, we count it holiday. We, who are most in favour, cannot call This hour our own.—You know the younger brother, Mild Muley-Zeydan?

Dor. Hold, and let me think.

Bend. The soldiers idolize you; He trusts you with the castle, The key of all his kingdom.

Dor. Well; and he trusts you too.

Bend. Else I were mad, To hazard such a daring enterprize.

Dor. He trusts us both; mark that!—Shall we betray him; A master, who reposes life and empire On our fidelity:—I grant he is a tyrant, That hated name my nature most abhors: More,—as you say,—has loaded me with scorn, Even with the last contempt, to serve Sebastian; Yet more, I know he vacates my revenge, Which, but by this revolt, I cannot compass: But, while he trusts me, 'twere so base a part, To fawn, and yet betray,—I should be hissed, And whooped in hell for that ingratitude.

Bend. Consider well what I have done for you.

Dor. Consider thou, what thou wouldst have me do.

Bend. You've too much honour for a renegade.

Dor. And thou too little faith to be a favourite. Is not the bread thou eat'st, the robe thou wear'st, Thy wealth, and honours, all the pure indulgence Of him thou would'st destroy? And would his creature, nay, his friend, betray him? Why then no bond is left on human kind! Distrusts, debates, immortal strifes ensue; Children may murder parents, wives their husbands; All must be rapine, wars, and desolation, When trust and gratitude no longer bind.

Bend. Well have you argued in your own defence; You, who have burst asunder all those bonds, And turned a rebel to your native prince.

Dor. True, I rebelled: But when did I betray?— Indignities, which man could not support, Provoked my vengeance to this noble crime; But he had stripped me first of my command, Dismissed my service, and absolved my faith; And, with disdainful language, dared my worst: I but accepted war, which he denounced. Else had you seen, not Dorax, but Alonzo, With his couched lance, against your foremost Moors; Perhaps, too, turned the fortune of the day, Made Africk mourn and Portugal triumph.

Bend. Let me embrace thee!

Dor. Stand off, sycophant, And keep infection distant.

Bend. Brave and honest!

Dor. In spite of thy temptations.

Bend. Call them, trials; They were no more. Thy faith was held in balance, And nicely weighed by jealousy of power. Vast was the trust of such a royal charge: And our wise emperor might justly fear, Sebastian might be freed and reconciled, By new obligements, to thy former love.

Dor. I doubt thee still: Thy reasons were too strong, And driven too near the head, to be but artifice: And, after all, I know thou art a statesman, Where truth is rarely found.

Bend. Behold the emperor:—

Enter Emperor, SEBASTIAN, and ALMEYDA.

Ask him, I beg thee,—to be justified,— If he employed me not to ford thy soul, And try the footing, whether false or firm.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8     Next Part
Home - Random Browse