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And those who tread the burning Libyan lands,
The faithless syrtes, and the moving sands;
Who view the western sea's extremest bounds,
Or drink of Ganges in their eastern grounds;
All these the woes of Edipus have known,
Your fates, your furies, and your haunted town.
If on the sous the parents' crimes descend,
What prince from those his lineage can defend?
Be this thy comfort, that 'tis thine to' efface,
With virtuous acts, thy ancestors' disgrace,
And be thyself the honour of thy race.
But see! the stars begin to steal away,
And shine more faintly at approaching day;
Now pour the wine; and in your tuneful lays
Once more resound the great Apollo's praise.'
O father Phoebus! whether Lycia's coast
And snowy mountains thy bright presence boast:
Whether to sweet Castalia thou repair,
And bathe in silver dews thy yellow hair;
Or pleas'd to find fair Delos float no more,
Delight in Cynthus and the shady shore;
Or choose thy seat in Ilion's proud abodes,
The shining structures rais'd by labouring gods:
By thee the bow and mortal shafts are borne;
Eternal charms thy blooming youth adorn:
Skill'd in the laws of secret fate above,
And the dark counsels of almighty Jove,
'Tis thine the seeds of future war to know,
The change of sceptres and impending woe,
When direful meteors spread through glowing air
Long trails of light, and shake their blazing hair.
Thy rage the Phrygian felt, who durst aspire
To' excel the music of thy heavenly lyre;
Thy shafts aveng'd lew'd Tityus' guilty flame,
The' immortal victim of thy mother's fame
Thy hand slew Python, and the dame who lost
Her numerous offspring for a fatal boast.
In Phlegyas' doom thy just revenge appears,
Coudemn'd to furies and eternal fears;
He views his food, but dreads, with lifted eye,
The mouldering rock that trembles from on high.
'Propitious hear our pray'r, O power divine!
And on thy hospitable Argos shine;
Whether the style of Titan please thee more,
Whose purple rays the' Achæmenes adore ;
Or great Osiris, who first taught the swain
In Pharian fields to sow the golden grain;
Or Mithra, to whose beams the Persian bows,
And pays, in hollow rocks, his awful vows ;
Mithra! whose head the blaze of light adorns,
Who grasps the struggling heifer's lunar horns.'
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?
Ev'n 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 subdued:
Your scene precariously subsists too long
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.
(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,
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 sin-
Well, if our author in his wife offends,
He has a husband that will make amends:
EPILOGUE TO MR. ROWE'S JANE SHORE. 149 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 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 trumpet down.
C. WHITTINGHAM, Printer, 103, Goswell Street.