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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VIII. The Age of Dryden.

VIII. The Court Poets

§ 4. The Court Poets as Men of Action: Rochester, Buckhurst and Mulgrave

And they were men of action as well as men of letters. There was scarcely one of them that had not taken arms in the service of their country. They proved their gallantry on the field of battle as on the field of love. In later years, a charge of cowardice was brought against Rochester. The bravery of his youth is beyond dispute. He was but seventeen when he went to sea with Lord Sandwich, and, on board The Revenge, took part in the famous attack upon Bergen, where the Dutch ships had taken refuge. Of this action he left a spirited account in a letter addressed to his mother. A year later he was in the great sea fight, serving under Sir Edward Spragge, and there gave a signal proof of his courage.

  • “During the action,” says Burnet, “Sir Edward Spragge, not being satisfied with the behaviour of one of the Captains, could not easily find a Person, that would cheerfully venture through so much danger, to carry his commands to that captain. This Lord offered himself to the service, and went in a little boat through all the shot, and delivered his message, and returned back to Sir Edward: which was much commended by all that saw it.”
  • Buckhurst was not a whit behind Rochester in courage; he was present, a volunteer, on the duke of York’s ship in the battle of 3 June, 1665, when the Dutch admiral’s ship was blown up with all hands. But it was Mulgrave who saw more active service than any of them. At the age of seventeen, he was on board the ship which prince Rupert and Albemarle jointly commanded against the Dutch, and, when the war was brought to a close, he was given a troop of horse to guard Dover. At the next outbreak of war, he was again at sea with his kinsman, the earl of Ossory, on board The Victory, when he chose, as Dryden says in a passage of unconscious humour, “to abandon those delights, to which his youth and fortune did invite him, to undergo the hazards, and, which was worse, the company of common seamen.” And so bravely did he bear himself that he was given the command of The Katharine, “the best of all the second rates.” Nor was this the end of his military career. He was presently colonel of the regiment of foot which his own energy had raised, served for the sake of experience under Schomberg and Turenne, and, finally, in 1680, went to the relief of Tangier with two thousand men, and was triumphantly successful.