King Arthur Or The British Worthy "All Heiresses Are Beautiful"
by John Dryden

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"All Heiresses Are Beautiful"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Henry Purcell (1659–1695) provided the music for this play as he and other famous composers did for the many songs by Dryden, so popular in late seventeenth century drawing rooms. As the curtain rises on King Arthur or The British Worthy, Conon, Duke of Cornwall, Albanact, Captain of Arthur's Guards, and Aurelius, a friend of the king, discuss the coming battle that will determine whether Arthur or the invading Saxons will rule Britain. Oswald, King of Kent, the Saxon leader, had come earlier to Conon's court seeking to marry the duke's daughter, Emmeline. Because she was in love with Arthur, his suit was refused. Determined to marry her, he began the present war. The soldiers ponder Oswald's motives, since the princess is blind, but one of them remarks that her wealth is bound to make her attractive. The man who marries her will not get a "blind bargain." He knows well how advantageous it will be. Conon then describes Oswald, as he seemed to be at the court of Cornwall.

Revengeful, rugged, violently brave; and once resolved, is never to be moved.
Yes, he's a valiant dog, pox on him!
This was the character he then maintained,
When in my court he sought my daughter's love,
My fair, blind Emmeline.
I cannot blame him for courting the heiress of Cornwall;
All heiresses are beautiful; and, as blind as she is, he
Would have no blind bargain of her.