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(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-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?
Faith, gallants! board with saints, and bed with
Well, if our author in his 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.
BY POPE AND MALLET1.
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. With her the' Italian scene first learn'd to glow; And the first tears for her were taught to flow. Her charms the Gallic Muses next inspired: Corneille himself saw, wonder'd, and was fired.
What foreign theatres with pride have shown, 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 pleased 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.
1 I have been told by Savage, that of the Prologue to Sophonisba, the first part was written by Pope, who could not be persuaded to finish it; and that the concluding lines were written by Mallet.-Dr. Johnson.
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.
The Memory of an unfortunate Lady.
WHAT beckoning ghost along the moonlight shade
Invites my steps, and points to yonder glade?
"Tis she!- but why that bleeding bosom gored?
Why dimly gleams the visionary sword?
Oh ever beauteous, ever friendly! tell,
Is it, in Heaven, a crime to love too well?
To bear too tender, or to firm a heart,
To act a lover's or a Roman's part?
Is there no bright reversion in the sky
For those who greatly think, or bravely die?
Who bade ye else, ye powers! her soul aspire
Above the vulgar flight of low desire?
Ambition first sprung from your bless'd abodes,
The glorious fault of angels and of gods:
Thence to their images on earth it flows,
And in the breasts of kings and heroes glows.
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 this congenial place,
Nor left one virtue to redeem her race.
But thou, false guardian of a charge too good,
Thou, mean deserter of thy brother's blood!
See on those 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 their 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 other's good, or melt at other's woe.
What can atone (oh, ever-injured shade!)
Thy fate unpitied, and thy rites unpaid?
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!