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PROLOGUE TO MR. ADDISON'S CATO.
To wake the soul by tender strokes of art,
Britons, attend: be worth like this approv'd,
EPILOGUE TO MR. ROWE’S JANE SHORE.
DESIGNED FOR MRS. OLDFIELD.
PRODIGIOUS this! the frail one of our play
"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,
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,
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.