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quotable lyrics. The first two stanzas may however be given :
Beneath a myrtle's shade,
Phyllis, the object of my waking thought.
From the bright vision's head
Like cloudy sunshine, not too brown por fair.
But most her eyes, which languished with desire. “While, however, the king and his court are listening and looking, mischief is brewing. Almanzor, Abdalla, and the Zegrys are in arms. The king is driven in; Almahide is captured. Then a scene takes places between Almanzor and Almahide in the full spirit of the style. Almanzor sues for Almahide as a prisoner that he may set her at liberty ; but a rival appears in the powerful Zulema. Almanzor is disobliged by Abdalla, and at once makes his way to the citadel, whither Boabdelin has fled, and offers him his services. At the beginning of the fourth act they are of course accepted with joy, and equally of course effectual. Almanzor renews his suit, but Almahide refers him to her father. The fifth act is still fuller of extravagances. Lyndaraxa holds a fort which has been committed to her against both parties, and they discourse with her from without the walls. The unlucky Almanzor prefers his suit to the king and to Almahide's father; has recourse to violence on being refused, and is overpowered—for a wonder-and bound. His life is however spared, and after a parting scene with Almahide he withdraws from the city.
“ The second part opens in the Spanish camp but soon shifts to Granada, where the unhappy Boabdelin has to face the mutinies provoked by the expulsion of Almanzor. The king has to stoop to entreat Almaħide, now his queen, to use her influence with her lover to come back. An act of fine confused fighting follows, in which Lyndaraxa's castle is stormed, the stormers in their turn driven out by the Duke of Arcos and Abdalla, who has joined the Spaniards, and a general imbroglio created. But Almanzor obeys Almahide's summons with the result of more sighs and flames. The conduct of
Almahide is unexceptionable, but Boabdelin's jealousy is inevitably aroused, and this in its turn mortally offends the queen, which again offends Almanzor. More inexplicable embroilment follows, and Lyndaraxa tries her charms vainly on the champion. The war once more centres round the Albayzin, Lyndaraxa's sometime fortress, and it is not flippant to say that every one fights with every one else; after which the hero sees the ghost of his mother, and addresses it more
Yet another love-scene follows, and then Zulema, who has not forgotten his passion for Almahide, brings a false accusation against her, the assumed partner of her guilt being however not Almanzor but Abdelmelech. This leaves the hero free to undertake the wager of battle for his mistress, though he is distracted with jealous fear that Zulema's tale
The result of the ordeal is a foregone conclusion; but Almahide, though her innocence is proved, is too angry with her husband for doubting her to forgive him, and solemnly forswears his society. She and Almanzor meet once more, and by this time even the conventionalities of the heroic play allow him to kiss her hand. The king is on the watch and breaks in with fresh accusations; but the Spaniards at the gates cut short the discussion and (at last) the embroilment and suffering of true love. The catastrophe is arrived at in the most approved manner. Boabdelin dies fighting ; Lyndaraxa, who has given traitorous help with her Zegrys, is proclaimed queen by Ferdinand but almost immediately stabbed by Abdelmelech. Almanzor turns out to be the longlost son of the Duke of Arcos ; and Almahide, encouraged by Queen Isabella, owns that when her year of widowhood is up she may possibly be induced to crown his flames.
“Such is the barest outline of this famous play, and I fear that as it is it is too long, though much has been omitted, including the whole of a pleasing underplot of love between two very creditable lovers, Osmyn and Benzayda. Its preposterous “revolutions and discoveries,' the wild bombast of Almanzor and others, the apparently purposeless embroilment of the action in ever-new turns and twists, are absurd enough. But there is a kind of generous and noble spirit animating it which could not fail to catch an audience blinded by fashion to its absurdities. There is a skilful sequence even in the most preposterous events, which must have kept up the interest unfalteringly; and all over the dialogue are squandered and lavished flowers of splendid verse. Many of its separate lines are, as has been said, constantly quoted without the least idea on the quoter's part of their origin, and many more are
quotable. Everybody, for instance, knows the vigorous couplet :
Forgiveness to the injured does belong,
But they ne'er pardon who have done the wrong; but everybody does not know the preceding couplet, which is perhaps better still :
A blush remains in a forgiven face,
It wears the silent tokens of disgrace. “ Almanzor's tribute to Lyndaraxa's beauty, at the same time that he rejects her advances, is in little, perhaps, as good an instance as could be given of the merits of the poetry and of the stamp of its spirit, and with this I must be content:
Fair though you are
'Tis that unchanged and deathless part of me.
It only remains to add that the frequently mentioned Albayzin is a suburb of Granada, and that “Vermilion Towers," or, less poetically, “red house,” is the literal meaning of “Alhambra" itself. Scott, following Malone, is probably wrong in supposing that the First Part may have been acted in 1669. See note to Prologue.-Ed.]
HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS
SIR, Heroic poesy has always been sacred to princes, and to heroes. Thus Virgil inscribed his Æneids to Augustus Cæsar; and of latter ages, Tasso and Ariosto dedicated their poems to the house of Este. It is indeed but justice, that the most excellent and most profitable kind of writing should be addressed by poets to such persons, whose characters have, for the most part, been the guides and patterns of their imitation; and poets, while they imitate, instruct. The feigned hero inflames the true; and the dead virtue animates the living. Since, therefore, the world is governed by precept and example, and both these can only have influence from those persons who are above us; that kind of poesy, which excites to virtue the greatest men, is of the greatest use to humankind.
It is from this consideration, that I have pre
* James Duke of York, afterwards James II.
sumed to dedicate to your royal highness these faint representations of your own worth and valour in heroic poetry: Or, to speak more properly, not to dedicate, but to restore to you those ideas, which in the more perfect part of my characters I have taken from you. Heroes may lawfully be delighted with their own praises, both as they are further incitements to their virtue, and as they are the highest returns which mankind can make them for it.
And certainly, if ever nation were obliged, either by the conduct, the personal* valour or the good fortune of a leader, the English are acknowledging, in allof them, to your royal highness. Your whole life has been a continued series of heroic actions; which you began so early, that you were no sooner named in the world, but it was with praise and admiration. Even the first blossoms of your youth paid us all that could be expected from a ripening manhood. While you practised but the rudiments of war, you out-went all other captains; and have since found none to surpass, but yourself alone. The opening of your glory was like that of light : You shone to us from afar; and disclosed your first beams on distant nations : Yet so, that the lustre of them was spread abroad, and reflected brightly on your native country. You were then an honour to it,
* Although the valour of the unfortunate James 11. seems to have sunk with his good fortune, there is no reason to question his having merited the compliment in the text. The Duke of Buckingham, in his memoirs, has borne witness to the intrepidity with which he encountered the dangers of his desperate naval actions with the Dutch. Captain Carleton, who was also an eye-witness of his deportment on that occasion, says, that while the balls were flying thickly around, the Duke of York was wont to rub his hands, and exclaim, cheerfully to his captain, “Spragge, Spragge, they follow us fast.