"Love's The Noblest Frailty Of The Mind"
Context: Having successfully collaborated with Sir Robert Howard (1628–1698) on The Indian Queen, in 1663–1664, Dryden by himself wrote a sequel, The Indian Emperor or The Conquest of Mexico. It was well received and held the boards for forty years. It is a gory piece, showing Montezuma and an Indian priest tortured, and two Spaniards and three Indians killing one another. There is abundant romance. Almeria has one wooer, Cydaria two, and Alibach three. Among the other characters are spirits and the ghost of the earlier Indian Queen. Though the action is set only twenty years after the coronation of Montezuma, the dramatist, in his foreword, admits that he does not follow history closely. In Act II, Cydaria, daughter of Montezuma, tries to get Cortez to prevent a battle and further bloodshed between the Spaniards and the Aztecs, but Cortez, though he loves her, declares that he must obey the orders of his king. When, at last, she wins him over, and he is telling his general, Pizarro, that love is more important than honor and fame, and that he will therefore disobey royal orders and end the fighting, Pizarro informs him that it is too late. The order to attack has already been given. (This general is not the Francisco Pizarro who conquered Atahualpa and the Incas.)
CORTEZNo more, your kindness wounds me to the death,Honour, be gone, what art thou but a breath?I'le live, proud of my infamy and shame,Grac'd by no Triumph but a Lover's name;Men can but say Love did his reason blind,And Love's the noblest frailty of the mind.Draw off my Men, the War's already done.PIZARROYour Orders come too late, the Fight's begun, . . .