صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

PROLOGUE TO MR. ADDISON'S CATO.

To wake the soul by tender strokes of art,
To raise the genius, and to mend the heart;
To make mankind, in conscious virtue bold,
Live o'er each scene, and be what they behold-
For this the tragic Muse first trod the stage,
Commanding tears to stream through every age;
Tyrants no more their savage nature kept,
And foes to virtue wonder'd how they wept.
Our author shuns by vulgar springs to move
The hero's glory, or the virgin's love;
In pitying love, we but our weakness show,
And wild ambition well deserves its woe.
Here tears shall flow from a more generous cause,
Such tears as patriots shed for dying laws.
He bids your breasts with ancient ardour rise,
And calls forth Roman drops from British eyes:
Virtue confess'd in human shape he draws,
What Plato thought, and godlike Cato was :
No common object to your sight displays,
But what with pleasure Heaven itself surveys,
A brave man struggling in the storms of fate,
And greatly falling with a falling state.
While Cato gives his little senate laws,
What bosom beats not in his country's cause?
Who sees him act, but envies every deed ?
Who hears him groan, and does not wish to bleed ?
E'en when proud Cæsar, midst triumphal cars,
The spoils of nations, and the pomp of wars,
Ignobly vain, and impotently great,
Show'd Rome her Cato’s figure drawn in state;
As her dead father's reverend image past,
The pomp was darken'd, and the day o'ercast;
The triumph ceas’d, tears gush'd from every eye,
The world's great victor pass’d unheeded by;
Her last good man dejected Rome ador'd,
And honour'd Cæsar's less than Cato's sword.

Britons, attend: be worth like this approv'd,
And show you have the virtue to be mov'd.
With honest scorn the first fam'd Cato view'd
Rome learning arts from Greece, whom she sub-
Your scene precariously subsists too long [dued :
On French translation and Italian song.
Dare to have sense yourselves; assert the stage;
Be justly warm’d with your own native rage:
Such plays alone should win a British ear,
As Cato's self had not disdain'd to hear.

EPILOGUE TO MR. ROWE’S JANE SHORE.

DESIGNED FOR MRS. OLDFIELD.

PRODIGIOUS this! the frail one of our play
From her own sex should mercy find to-day!
You might have held the pretty head aside,
Peep'd in your fans, been serious, thus, and cried,

"The play may pass—but that strange creature,

Shore, I can't-indeed now-I so hate a whore !” Just as a blockhead rubs his thoughtless skull, And thanks his stars he was not born a fool; So from a sister sinner you shall hear, “How strangely you expose yourself, my dear!" But let me die, all raillery apart, Our sex are still forgiving at their heart; And, did not wicked custom so contrive, We'd be the best good-natur'd things alive.

There are, 'tis true, who tell another tale, That virtuous ladies envy while they rail ; Such rage without betrays the fire within ; In some close corner of the soul they sin; Still hoarding up, most scandalously nice, Amidst their virtues a reserve of vice. The godly dame, who fleshly failings damns, Scolds with her maid, or with her chaplain crams. Would you enjoy soft nights and solid dinners ? Faith, gallants, board with saints, and bed with

sinners. Well, if our author in the wife offends, He has a husband that will make amends : He draws him gentle, tender, and forgiving ; And sure such kind good creatures may be living. In days of old, they pardon'd breach of vows; Stern Cato's self was no relentless spouse. Plu—Plutarch, what's his name that writes his life? Tells us, that Cato dearly lov'd his wife:

Yet if a friend, a night or so, should need her,
He'd recommend her as a special breeder.
To lend a wife, few here would scruple make;
But, pray, which of

you

all would take her back? Though with the stoic chief our stage may ring, The stoic husband was the glorious thing. The man had courage, was a sage, 'tis true, And lov'd his country—but what's that to you ? Those strange examples ne'er were made to fit ye, But the kind cuckold might instruct the city : There, many an honest man may copy Cato Who ne'er saw naked sword, or look’d in Plato.

If, after all, you think it a disgrace, That Edward's Miss thus perks it in your face, To see a piece of failing flesh and blood, In all the rest so impudently good, Faith, let the modest matrons of the town Come here in crowds, and stare the strumpet down.

PROLOGUE TO THOMSON'S SOPHONISBA.1

When Learning, after the long Gothic night,
Fair, o'er the western world, renew'd its light,
With arts arising, Sophonisba rose ;
The tragic Muse, returning, wept her woes.

1 The first part of this Prologue was written by Pope, the conclusion by Mallet.

With her th’ Italian scene first learn'd to glow, And the first tears for her were taught to flow : Her charms the Gallic muses next inspir’d; Corneille himself saw, wonder'd, and was fir'd.

What foreign theatres with pride have shownl, Britain, by juster title, makes her own. When freedom is the cause, 'tis hers to fight, And hers, when freedom is the theme to write. For this a British Author bids again The Heroine rise, to grace the British scene : Here, as in life, she breathes her genuine flame; She asks, what bosom has not felt the same? Asks of the British Youth- -is silence there? She dares to ask it of the British Fair. To-night our homespun Author would be true, At once to Nature, History, and you. Well pleas'd to give our neighbours due applause, He owns their learning, but disdains their laws. Not to his patient touch, or happy flame, 'Tis to his British heart he trusts for fame. If France excel him in one freeborn thought, The Man, as well as Poet, is in fault. Nature! informer of the poet's art, Whose force alone can raise or melt the heart, Thou art his guide: each passion, every line, Whate’er he draws to please, must all be thine. Be thou his judge: in every candid breast Thy silent whisper is the sacred test.

« السابقةمتابعة »