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TO HIS GRACE,
DUKE OF NEWCASTLE*,
ONE OF HIS MAJESTY's
MOST HONOURABLE PRIVY COUNCIL, AND OF THE
MOST NOBLE ORDER OF THE GARTER, &c.
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR GRACE, Amongst those few persons of wit and honour, whose favourable opinion I have desired, your own virtue, and my great obligations to your grace, have justly given you the precedence. For what could be more glorious to me, than to have acquired some part of your esteem, who are admired and honoured
* William Cavendish, duke of Newcastle, distinguished himself in the civil wars of Charles I. He might have possessed himself of Hull, had the king more early resolved on an open rupture with the parliament. When the war broke out, he levied an army of 8000 men, secured the northern counties for the king, and raised the siege of York. The invasion of the Scots prevented his farther success; but he defeated the parliamentary forces in several actions, and shewed all the talents of a great soldier. After the loss of the battle of Marston Moor, which Prince Rupert hazarded in opposition to his advice, he lett England in disgust, and did not return till the Restoration. He was much respected when abroad, and acquired the favour of many princes, and, amongst others, of Don
by all good men; who have been, for so many years together, the pattern and standard of honour to the nation; and whose whole life has been so great an example of heroic virtue, that we might wonder how it happened into an age so corrupt as ours, if it had not likewise been a part of the former. As you came into the world with all the advantages of a noble birth and education, so you have rendered
John of Austria. His skill in the equestrian art was, perhaps, as great a recommendation, as his noble birth and unstained loyalty. During the wars, he had been raised from the rank of earl to that of marquis; and after the Restoration he was created duke of Newcastle. He wrote several plays, of which we know only the names; “The Country Captain," " Variety," " The Humourous Lovers,” and “ The Triumphant Widow.” He also translated Moliere's “ L'Etourdi,” which our author converted into “ Sir Martin Mar-all.” But his most noted work is a splendid folio on Horsemanship, with engravings; in which, after his grace has been represented in every possible attitude and dress, he is at length depicted mounted on Pegasus, and in the act of ascending from a circle of Houyhnhnms, kneeling around him in the act of adoration.
His once celebrated duchess was Margaret, daughter of Sir Charles Lucas. She was his grace's second wife, and married to him during his exile. A most voluminous author; she wrote nineteen plays, besides philosophical essays, letters, and orations. For the former she has condescended to leave the following apology:
The Latin phrases I could never tell,
Her grace's assiduity was equal to her originality. She kept a bevy of maidens of honour, who were obliged, at all hours of the night, to attend the summons of her bell, with a light, and materials “ to register her grace's conceptions," which, we beg the reader to understand, were all of a literary or philosophical nature.
both yet more conspicuous by your virtue. Fortune, indeed, has perpetually crowned your undertakings with success, but she has only waited on your valour, not conducted it. She has ministered to your glory like a slave, and has been led in triumph by it; or, at most, while honour led you by the hand to greatness, fortune only followed to keep you from sliding back in the ascent. That, which Plutarch accounted her favour to Cymon and Lucullus, was but her justice to your grace; and, never to have been overcome where you led in person, as it was more than Hannibal could boast, so it was all that Providence could do for that party, which it had resolved to ruin. Thus, my lord, the last smiles of victory were on your arms; and, everywhere else declaring for the rebels, she seemed to suspend herself, and to doubt, before she took her flight, whether she were able wholly to abandon that cause, for which you fought*.
The good duchess's conceptions are now forgotten; but it should not be forgotten, that her kind solicitude soothed and supported her husband through a weary exile of eighteen years, when their fortunes were reduced to the lowest ebb. In gratitude, he appears to have encouraged her pursuits, and admired the productions of her muse. In the “ Sessions of Poets” he is introduced as founding upon her literary pretensions, rather than his own.
Newcastle and's horse for entrance next strives,
Well-stuffed was his cloak-bag, and so was his breeches,
Pulled out his wife's poems, plays, essays, and speechesa
Put up thy wife's trumpery, good noble marquis,
To provide her fresh straw, and a chamber that dark is. Such were the noble personages whom Dryden deemed worthy of the fine strains of eulogy conveyed in this dedication.
* This compliment is overstrained. But though Charles gained many advantages after the earl of Newcastle had left England, the north was irrecoverably lost to his cause.