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“ Why not compel me then, malicious power !
The original is so superiorly beautiful, that to prevent a bathos I shall infert it after the trani. lation,
NECESSIT AS, cujus cursus tranfuerfi impetun
Ergo bis tricenis annis actis fine nota · Eques Romanus lare egresus meo
Domum revertas mimus : Nimirum hoc die
Si tibi erat libitum literarum laudibus
The play which this pathetic prologue was attached to was a comedy, in which Laberius took the character of a slave, and in the course of the plot (as usual) was beaten by his master : In this condition, having marked his habit with counterfeited stripes, he runs upon the stage, and cries out amain-Porro, Quirites! libertatem perdimus-In good faith, Countrymen, there is an end of freedom. The indígnant spectators sent up a fhout; it was in the language of our present playhouse, bills, a burst of applause ; a molt violent burst of applause from a most crowded and brilliant house, overflowing in all parts. Laberius not yet content with this atonement to the manes of his knighthood, fubjoins the following pointed allusion : Neceffe eft multos timeat, quem multi timent-The man, whom many fear, must needs fear many, All eyes were now turned upon Cæsar, and the degraded Laberius enjoyed a full revenge.
We may naturally suppose this conduct loft him the favour of Cæfar, who immediately took up Publius Syrus, a Syrian save, who had been manumitted for his ingenious talents, and was acting in the country theatres with much applause: Cæfar fetched him out of his obscurity, as we bring up an actress from Bath or York, and pitted him against Laberius. It was the triumph of youth and vigour over age and decay, and Cæfar with malicious civility said to Laberius, Favente tibi me victus es, Laberi, a SyroYou are furpassed by Syrus in spite of my support. As Laberius was going out of the theatre he was met by Syrus, who was inconfiderate enough to let an expression escape him, which was very difrespectful to his veteran competitor: Laberius felt the unbecoming insult, and, turning to Syrus, gave him this extemporary answer
« To stand the first is not the lot of all i
t; “ For public favour is a public cheat.”
Non poffunt primi efle omnes omni in tempore ;
I need not remind the learned Reader in what credit the sayings of this Publius Syrus have been justly held by all the titerati from Seneca to Scaliger, who turned them into Greek; and it is for the honour of the fraternity of the stage, that both he and Sophron, whose moral sentences were found under Plato's pillow when he died, were actors by profession.
I shall now only add that my Newspaper contains a very interesting description of two young actors, Hylas and Pylades, who became great favourites with Augustus, when he was emperor, and made their first appearance at the time this journal was written. If the Reader shall find any allusion to two very promising young performers, now living, whose initials correspond with the above, I can promise him that our contemporaries will not suffer by the comparison. I
may venture to say in the words of Doctor Young.
The Roman wou'd not bluso at Ne mistake.
R. Samuel Johnson, in his life of Rowe,
pronounces of The Fair Penitent, that it is one of the most pleasing tragedies on the stage, where it still keeps its turns of appearing, and probably will long keep them, for that there is scarcely ány work of any poet at once so interesting by the fable, and so delightful by the language. The
story, he observes, is domestic, and therefore easily received by the imagination, and assimilated to common life; the diction is exquisitely harmonious, and soft on sprightly as occasion requires. Few people, I believe, will think this character of The Fair Peni. tent too lavish on the score of commendation; the high degree of public favour in which this tragedy has long stood, has ever attracted the best audiences to it, and engaged the talents of the best performers in its display. As there is no drama more frequently exhibited, or more generaliy read, I propose to give it a fair and impartial examination, jointly with the more unknown and less popular tragedy from which it is derived.
The Fair Penitent is in fable and character so closely copied from The Fatal Dowry, that it is impossible not to take that tragedy along with it; and it is matter of fome surprize to me that Rowe