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him with unbiassed honour, and with unshaken resolution; making his greatness, and the true interest of your country, the standard and measure of your actions. Fortune may desert the wise and brave, but true virtue never will forsake itself. It is the interest of the world that virtuous men should attain to greatness, because it gives them the power of doing good ; but when, by the iniquity of the times, they are brought to that extremity that they must either quit their virtue or their fortune, they owe themselves so much as to retire to the private exercise of their honour ; to be great within, and by the constancy of their resolutions to teach the inferiour world how they ought to judge of such principles, which are asserted with so generous and so unconstrained a trial.
But this voluntary neglect of honours has been of rare example in the world. Few men have frowned first upon Fortune, and precipitated themselves from the top of her wheel, before they felt at least the declination of it. We read not of many emperors like Diocletian and Charles the Fifth, who have preferred a garden and a cloister before a crowd of followers, and the troublesome glory of an active life, (which robs the possessor of his rest and quiet,) to secure the safety and happiness of others. Seneca, with the help of his philosophy, could never attain to that pitch of virtue : he only endeavoured to prevent his fall, by descending first; and offered to resign that wealth which he knew he could no longer hold. He would only have made a present to his master of what he foresaw would become his prey. He strove to avoid the jealousy of a tyrant ; you dismissed yourself from the attendance and privacy of a gracious King. Our age has afforded us many examples of a contrary nature ; but your Lordship is the only one of this. It is easy to discover in all governments those who wait so close on Fortune, that they are never to be shaken off at any turn ; such who seem to have taken up a resolution of being great, to continue their stations on the theatre of business,--to change with the scene, and shift the vizard for another part. These men condemn, in their discourses, that virtue which they dare not practise ; but the sober part of this present age, and impartial posterity, will do right both to your Lordship and to them; and when they read on what accounts, and with how much magnanimity you quitted those honours, to which the highest ambition of an English subject could aspire, will apply to you with much more reason, what the historian said of a Roman Emperor,—Multi diutius imperium tenuerunt ; nemo fortius reliquit.
To this retirement of your Lordship, I wish I could bring a better entertainment than this play; which, though it succeeded on the stage, will scarcely bear a serious perusal, it being contrived and written in a month ; * the subject barren, the
* It was a temporary production, written in the time of the second Dutch war, to inflame the nation against their
persons low, and the writing not heightened with many laboured scenes. The consideration of these defects ought to have prescribed more modesty to the authour, than to have presented it to that person in the world for whom he has the greatest honour, and of whose patronage the best of his endeavours had been unworthy; but I had not satisfied myself in staying longer, and could never have paid the debt with a much better play. As it is, the meanness of it will shew, at least, that I pretend not by it to make any manner of return for your favours; and that I only give you a new occasion of exercising your goodness to me, in pardoning the failings and imperfections of,
most obedient servant,
enemies, by calling to their memories the inhuman cruelties practised by the Dutch on the English factory at Amboyna, in 1624,—This passage escaped Dr. Johnson, for he has said erroneously that “the author thought not fit either ostentatiously or mournfully to tell how little labour it cost him, or at how short a warning he produced it."-But such trifling mistakes are but specks in the finest body of Criticism extant in any language.
THE STATE OF INNOCENCE,
AND FALL OF MAN.
ROYAL HIGHNESS, THE DUCHESS. :
Ambition is so far from being a vice in poets, that it is almost impossible for them to succeed without it. Imagination must be raised by a desire of fame, to a desire of pleasing; and they whom in all ages poets have endeavoured most to please, have been the beautiful and the great. Beauty is their deity to which they sacri
3 Anne, the first Duchess of York, daughter of Lord Clarendon, died at St. James's, March 31, 1671. On the 21st of November, 1673, the Duke married Mary of Este, (daughter of the Duke of Modena,) to whom this epistle dedicatory is addressed. She was at the time of her marriage little more than fourteen, and, according to Macpherson, of exquisite beauty. “ Her complexion was very fair, her hair black, her eyes full of sweetness and fire. She was tall in her person, and admirably YOL. I.
fice, and greatness is their guardian angel which protects them. Both these are so eminently joined in the person of your Royal Highness, that it were not easy for any but a poet to determine which of them outshines the other. But I confess, Madam, I am already biassed in my choice. I can easily resign to others the praise of your illustrious family, and that glory which you derive from a long-continued race of Princes, famous for their actions both in peace and war; I can give
shaped; dignified in her maññer, and graceful in her depoitment. During the twelve years she was Duchess of York, she seemed to have given herself up wholly to innocent cheerfulness and amusements. The prejudices of the people were greatly removed by her behaviour; the uneasiness conceived on account of her religion was sợon forgotten; and she was universally esteemed, and by many beloved. Her beauty rendered her the favourite of the populace, when the bigotry of her husband was most feared," "History Of GREAT BRITAIN, vol. i. p. 178.
Of all our author's dedications, the present, while it furnishes abundant proofs of the variety and luxuriance of his fancy, exhibits the most perfect specimen of the CELESTIAL style. See p. 323.
4. This compostion,” says Dr. Johnson, “ is addressed to the Princess of Modena, then Duchess of York, in a strain of flattery which disgraces genius, and which it is wonderful that any man that knew the meaning of his own words could use without self-detestation. It is an attempt to 'mingle earth and heaven,'by praising human excellence in the language of religion." Life of DRYDEN.