The Poetry of the Second Dutch War

  • Nicholas Jose


The atmosphere of 1660–61 had been fertile for panegyric, but once its initial outburst in those years was over public poetry of praise dwindled. Poets had to find less obvious objects for their rhetoric of restoration: so Dryden addressed the New Year 1662, while Waller wrote about urban improvements and Cowley about the Royal Society. After its narrow political service in 1660–61, the idea of restoration was beginning to establish an independent status as a general literary theme. Then after the middle of the decade the second Dutch War once more caused the restoration theme to be applied to explicitly Stuart issues. The war marked a new phase of political unrest as well as providing a fresh topic of controversy and launching a new wave of public poetry. The central arguments of the mid-century, about the nature of power, authority and government in England, were revived, transmuted now into debate about the management of the war. Parliament was able to call the king’s ministers to account for their conduct, thus achieving a temporary supremacy over the monarch and severely curtailing the royal prerogative.1 Clarendon was dismissed and exiled and this meant, effectively, the defeat of the Chancellor’s out-moded vision of a balanced government mediated by privy council.


English Literature Balance Government Contemporary History Privy Council Moral Anger 
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© Nicholas Jose 1984

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  • Nicholas Jose

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