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Most souls, 'tis true, but peep out once an age,
Dull sullen prisoners in the body's cage ;
Dim lights of life, that burn a length of years,
Useless, unseen, as lamps in sepulchres;
Like eastern kings a lazy state they keep,
And, close confined to their own palace, sleep.
From these perhaps (ere nature bade her die)
Fate snatch'd her early to the pitying sky.
As into air the purer spirits flow,
And separate from their kindred dregs below;
So flew the soul to its congenial place,
Nor left one yirtue to redeem her race.
But thou, false guardian of a charge too good,
Thou mean deserter of thy brother's blood !
See on these ruby lips the trembling breath,
These cheeks now fading at the blast of death;
Cold is that breast which warm'd the world before,
And those love-darting eyes must roll no more.
Thus, if eternal justice rules the ball,
Thus shall your wives, and thus your children fall:
On all the line a sudden vengeance waits,
And frequent hearses shall besiege your gates :
There passengers shall stand, and pointing say
(While the long funerals blacken all the way),
Lo! these were they, whose souls the furies steel'd, And cursed with hearts unknowing how to yield.' Thus unlamented pass the proud away, The gaze of fools, and pageant of a day! So perish all, whose breast ne'er learn'd to glow For others' good, or melt at others' woe.
What can atone (oh ever-injured shade!) Thy fate unpitied, and thy rites unpaid 3 No friend's complaint, no kind domestic tear Pleased thy pale ghost, or graced thy mournful bier : By foreign hands thy dying eyes were closed, By foreign hands thy decent limbs composed, By foreign hands thy humble grave adorn’d, By strangers honour'd, and by strangers mourn'd ! What though no friends in sable weeds appear, Grieve for an hour, perhaps, then mourn a year, And bear about the mockery of woe To midnight dances, and the public show ?
What though no weeping loves thy ashes grace,
Nor polish'd marble emulate thy face?
What though no sacred earth allow thee room,
Nor hallow'd dirge be matter'd o'er thy tomb ?
Yet shall thy grave with rising flowers be dress'd,
And the green turf lie lightly on thy breast:
There shall the morn her earliest tears bestow,
There the first roses of the year shall blow;
While angels with their silver wings o'ershade
The ground now sacred by thy reliques made.
So, peaceful rests, without a stone, a name,
What once had beauty, titles, wealth, and fame.
How loved, how honour'd once, avails thee not,
To whom related, or by whom begot;
A heap of dust alone remains of thee,
'Tis all thou art, and all the proud shall be !
Poets themselves must fall, like those they sung, Deaf the praised ear, and mute the tuneful tongue. E'en he, whose soul now melts in mournful lays, Shall shortly want the generous tear he pays; Then from his closing eyes thy form shall part, And the last pang shall tear thee from his heart, Life's idle business at one gasp be o'er, The muse forgot, and thou beloved no more!
PROLOGUE TO MR. ADDISON'S TRAGEDY OF 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 shew, 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,
Shew'd Rome her Cato's figure drawn in state;
As her dead father's reverend image pass’d,
The pomp was darken'd, and the day o'ercast;
The triumph ceased, tears gush'd from every eye;
The world's great victor pass'd unheeded by;
Her last good man dejected Rome adored,
And honour'd Cæsar's less than Cato's sword.
Britons, attend : be worth like this approved,
And shew, you have the virtue to be moved.
With honest scorn the first famed 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.
TO MR. RO We'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-natured 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? (ners.
Faith, gallants, board with saints, and bed with sin-
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 loved 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 loved 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.
SAY, lovely youth, that dost my heart command, Can Phaon's eyes forget his Sappho's hand ? Must then her name the wretched writer prove, To thy remembrance lost, as to thy love ? Ask not the cause that I new numbers choose, The lute neglected, and the Lyric Mase; Love taught my tears in sadder notes to flow, And tuned my heart to elegies of woe. I burn, I burn, as when through ripen'd corn By driving winds the spreading flames are borne. Phaon to Etna's scorching fields retires, While I consume with more than Etna's fires ! No more my soul a charm in music finds, Music has charms alone for peaceful minds. Suft scenes of solitude no more can please, Love enters there, and I'm my own disease. No more the Lesbian dames my passion move, Once the dear objects of my guilty love; Al other loves are lost in only thine, Ah, youth ungrateful to a flame like mine! Whom would not all those blooming charms surprise, Those heavenly looks, and dear deluding eyes? The harp and bow would you like Phoebus bear, A brighter Phoebus Phaon might appear; Would you with ivy wreathe your flowing hair, Not Bacchus' self with Phaon could compare: Yet Phoebus loved, and Bacchus felt the flame, One Daphne warm’d, and one the Cretan dame; Nymphs that in verse no more could rival me Than e'en those gods contend in charms with thee. The muses teach me all their softest lays, And the wide world resounds with Sappho's praise. Though great Alcæus more sublimely sings, And strikes with holder rage the sounding strings,