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SATIRE ON THE DUTCH.
This Satire was, as the title informs us, written in 1662: probably towards the latter end of the year, when Charles, having quarrelled with De Wit, then at the head of the public affairs of Holland, was endeavouring to patch up an union with France, to which 'kingdom he was naturally partial, against the States, whom he hated, both as a republic, and an association of vulgar merchants. This impolitic alliance did not then take place, notwithstanding the sale of Dunkirk, (conquered by the arms of Cromwell,) to France, for L. 400,000. On the contrary, in 1665 France armed in defence of Holland. But this was contrary to the expectations and wishes of Charles; and accordingly Dryden, in 1662, alludes to the union of the two crowns against the States as a probable event.
The verses are adapted to the comprehension of the vulgar, whom they were intended to inflame. Bold invective, and coarse raillery, supply the place of the wit and argument, with which Dryden, when the time fitted, knew so well how to arm his satire.
The verses, such as they are, appeared to the author well qualified for the purpose intended ; for, when, in 1672, his tragedy of “ Amboyna" was brought forward, to exasperate the nation against Holland, the following verses were almost literally woven into the prologue and epilogue of that piece. See Vol. V. pp. 10. 87. Nevertheless, as forming a link in our author's poetical progress, the present Editor has imitated his predecessors, in reprinting them among his satires and political pieces.
SATIRE ON THE DUTCH.
WRITTEN IN THE YEAR 1662.
As needy gallants, in the scrivener's hands,
They share a sin; and such proportions fall, That, like a stink, 'tis nothing to them all. Think on their rapine, falsehood, cruelty, And that, what once they were they still would be. To one well-born the affront is worse and more, When he's abused and baffled by a boor. With an ill grace the Dutch their mischiefs do; They've both ill nature and ill manners too. Well may they boast themselves an ancient nation; For they were bred ere manners were in fashion : And their new commonwealth hath set them free Only from honour and civility. Venetians do not more uncouthly ride, Than did their lubber state mankind bestride; Their sway became them with as ill a main, As their own paunches swell above their chin. Yet is their empire no true growth, but humour, And only two kings' touch can cure the tumour. As Cato fruits of Afric did display, Let us before our eyes their Indies lay: All loyal English will like him conclude, — Let Cæsar live, and Carthage be subdued. †
Alluding to the hoped for union between France and England, and to the cure, by touching, for the Evil.
+ Cato is said to have laid before the Senate the fine figs of Africa, and to have reminded them, that the country which produced these choice fruits was but three days sail from Rome. He used also to conclude every speech with the famous expression, Delenda est Carthago.
The Duchess, here addressed, was Anne Hyde, daughter of the Earl of Clarendon, and first wife of James, Duke of York, afterwards James II. She appears to have been a woman of first-rate talents, as well as exemplary prudence. Of the last qualification she gave a singular proof, when her marriage with the Duke was declared. She had admitted James to her bed while abroad, under a solemn promise of marriage. Many endeavoured to dissuade him from completing this unequal alliance; and that a motive, at least an apology, might be supplied for a retreat from his engagements, Lord Falmouth, Killigrew, and other courtiers, did not hes sitate to boast of favours received from the lady. When the king's regard for his minister, and James's attachment to his betrothed wife, occasioned the confirmation of the marriage, these zealous witnesses found themselves in an unpleasing predicament, till the Duchess took an opportunity of assuring them, that she was far from harbouring the least resentment at the reports they had raised, since they believed them calculated to promote the interest of their master and her husband. t It may be presumed, that Dryden had already attached himself to the fortunes of the Duke of York, since he so early addressed the princess, whose posthumous avowal of the Catholic faith he afterwards attempted to vindicate.
The victory of the 23d June, 1665, was gained by the British fleet, commanded by the Duke of York, over the Dutch, under the
+ See Memoires de Grammont, Chapitre VIII. for the Duchess's conduct towards these temoins a bonne fortune, as Hamilton happily calls them.
famous Opdam. It was, like all naval actions between the English and the Dutch, a fierce, obstinate, and bloody conflict. The fleets met near Harwich on the 2d June; but the Dutch declined
that day, from a superstitious recollection that it was the anniversary of a dreadful defeat, received from Blake and Monk in 1663, in which they lost their famous Admiral, Von Tromp. But on the morning of the third, the fleets joined battle so near the shore, that the thunder of the combat was heard all along the English coast. York and Opdam singled each other out, and lay alongside in close action, till the Dutch vessel (a second rate) was blown up, and all on board perished. The Dutch fleet then dispersed and fled, losing nineteen ships sunk and taken, while the English lost only one. During this dreadful battle the Duke of York displayed the greatest personal courage. He was in the thickest of the fire, when one cannon-shot killed Lord Falmouth, Lord Muskerry, and Mr Boyle, by his side, and covered him with the gore of the most faithful and attached companions of his fortune. Yet this day, the brightest which ever shone on him, was not without a cloud. When the Dutch fleet were scattered, and an active pursuit was all that remained to the victors, Brounker, a gentleman of the Duke's bed-chamber, commanded Sir John Harman, in the Duke's name, to slacken sail. James was then asleep, and the flimsy pretext of not disturbing his repose was set up as a reason for this most untimely interference. The affair was never well explained. The Duke dismissed Brounker from his service, and a parliamentary investigation of his conduct took place. † But no adequate punishment was inflicted, and the nation saw, with displeasure, the fruits of a dear-bought and splendid victory lost by the unauthorised interference of an officious minion.
The Duchess, as we learn, amongst other authorities, from an old libel, came down to Harwich to see her husband embark, and
+ Even Harman did not escape suspicion on this occasion. Marvell gives the following account of his examination before Parliament:
“ Yesterday Harman was brought to the house, to give an account of slacka ening sail in the first victory. He had a very good reputation at his coming in; but when he said, that Mr Bronkard only used arguments, and justified the thing himself, saying, “That he had been a madman had he not done il;' and other witnesses clearly contradicting this, and proving, that Bronkard brought him orders in the Duke's name, he lost all credit with us ; and yet more, when, upon recollection, he confessed that Mr Bronkard did bring orders as from the Duke: so he is committed to the sergeant, and will doubsless be impeached. Both he and Mr Bronkard, who was also hezrd, will probably, on Tuesday next, taste the utmost severity of the house.” ANDREW MARVELL to the MAYOR OF Hull. See his Works, Vol. I. p. 104.