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PROLOGUE

TO A PLAY FOR MR. DENNIS'S BENEFIT, IN 1733, WHEN

HE WAS OLD, BLIND, AND IN GREAT DISTRESS,

A LITTLE BEFORE HIS DEATH.

As when that hero, who in each

campaign Had brav'd the Goth, and many a Vandal slain, Lay fortune-struck, a spectacle of woe, Wept by each friend, forgiven by every foe; Was there a generous, a reflecting mind, But pitied Belisarius old and blind ? Was there a chief but melted at the sight? A common soldier but who clubb'd his mite ? Such, such emotions should in Britons rise, When, press’d by want and weakness, Dennis lies ; Dennis ! who long had warr’d with modern Huns, Their quibbles routed, and defied their puns ; A desperate bulwark, sturdy, firm, and fierce, Against the Gothic sons of frozen verse. How chang'd from him who made the boxes groan, And shook the stage with thunders all his own ! Stood up to dash each vain pretender's hope, Maul the French tyrant, or pull down the Pope ! If there's a Briton, then, true bred and born, Who holds dragoons and wooden shoes in scorn; If there's a critic of distinguish'd rage ; If there's a senior who contemns this age; Let him to-night his just assistance lend, And be the critic's, Briton's, old man's friend.

MACER.1

A CHARACTER.

When simple Macer, now of high renown,
First sought a poet's fortune in the town,
'Twas all th' ambition his high soul could feel
To wear red stockings, and to dine with Steele.
Some ends of verse his betters might afford,
And gave the harmless fellow a good word:
Set up

with these he ventur'd on the town, And with a borrow'd play outdid poor

Crowne.? There he stopp'd short, nor since has writ a tittle, But has the wit to make the most of little ; Like stunted hide-bound trees, that just have got Sufficient sap at once to bear and rot. Now he begs verse, and what he gets commends, Not of the wits his foes, but fools his friends.

So some coarse country wench, almost decay'd, Trudges to town and first turns chambermaid ; Awkward and supple each devoir to pay, She flatters her good lady twice a day; Thought wondrous honest, though of mean degree, And strangely lik’d for her simplicity :

1 Either James Moore Smith, or, more probably, Ambrose Philips.

2 John Crowne, the author of various dramas, contemporary with Dryden.

In a translated suit then tries the town,
With borrow'd pins and patches not her own;
But just endur'd the winter she began,
And in four months a batter'd harridan :
Now nothing left, but wither'd, pale, and shrunk,
To bawd for others, and go shares with punk.

SONG, BY A PERSON OF QUALITY.

WRITTEN IN THE YEAR 1733.

FLUTTERING spread thy purple pinions,
Gentle Cupid, o'er my heart!
I a slave in thy dominions :
Nature must give way to art.

Mild Arcadians, ever blooming,
Nightly nodding o'er your flocks,
See my weary days consuming
All beneath yon flowery rocks.

Thus the Cyprian goddess weeping,
Mourn'd Adonis, darling youth :
Him the boar, in silence creeping,
Gor'd with unrelenting tooth.

Cynthia, tune harmonious numbers ;
Fair Discretion, string the lyre;
Soothe my ever-waking slumbers ;
Bright Apollo, lend thy choir.

Gloomy Pluto, king of terrors,
Arm'd in adamantine chains,
Lead me to the crystal mirrors
Watering soft Elysian plains.

Mournful cypress, verdant willow,
Gilding my Aurelia's brows,
Morpheus hovering o'er my pillow,
Hear me pay my dying vows.
Melancholy smooth Mæander
Swiftly purling in a round,
On thy margin lovers wander,
With thy flowery chaplets crown'd.

Thus when Philomela drooping
Softly seeks her silent mate,
See the bird of Juno stooping ;
Melody resigns to fate.

ON A CERTAIN LADY AT COURT.1

I KNOW the thing that's most uncommon;
(Envy, be silent, and attend !)
I know a reasonable woman,
Handsome and witty, yet a friend :

Not warp'd by passion, aw'd by rumour,
Not grave through pride, nor gay through folly,
An equal mixture of good humour,
And sensible soft melancholy.

1 Mrs. Howard, afterwards Countess of Suffolk.

“ Has she no faults then (Envy says), sir?”
Yes, she has one, I must aver :
When all the world conspires to praise her,
The woman's deaf and does not hear.

ON HIS GROTTO AT TWICKENHAM,

COMPOSED OF MARBLES, SPARS, GEMS, ORES,

AND MINERALS.

Thou who shalt stop where Thames' translucent

wave Shines a broad mirror through the shadowy cave; Where lingering drops from mineral roofs distil, And pointed crystals break the sparkling rill ; Unpolish'd gems no ray on pride bestow, And latent metals innocently glow; Approach. Great nature studiously behold ! And eye

the mine without a wish for gold. Approach ; but awful! lo! the Ægerian grot, Where, nobly pensive, St. John sate and thought ; Where British sighs from dying Wyndham stole, And the bright flame was shot through March

mont's soul. Let such, such only, tread this sacred floor, Who dare to love their country, and be poor.

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