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To make mankind, in conscious virtue bold,
Live o'er each scene, and be what they behold:
For this the tragic muse first trode the stage,
Commanding tears to stream through every age;
Tyrants no more their savage nature kept,
And foes to virtue wondered 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 wo.
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 confessed 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?
Even when proud Cæsar, 'midst triumphal cars,
The spoils of nations, and the pomp of wars,
Ignobly vain, and impotently great,
Showed Rome her Cato's figure drawn in state:
As her dead father's reverend image past,
The pomp was darkened and the day o'ercast;
The triumph ceased-tears gushed from every eye;
The world's great victor passed unheeded by ;
Her last good man dejected Rome adored,
And honoured Cæsar's less than Cato's sword.
Britons, attend: be worth like this approved.
And show you have the virtue to be moved.
With honest scorn the first famed Cato viewed
Rome learning arts from Greece, whom she subdued;
Our scene precariously subsists too long
On French translation and Italian song.
Dare to have sense yourselves; assert the stage,
Be justly warmed with your own native rage:
Such plays alone should please a British ear,
As Cato's self had not disdained to hear.
38.-EPILOGUE BY MR GARRICK, ON QUITTING THE STAGE; JUNE 1776.
A VETERAN see! whose last act on the stage
Entreats your smiles for sickness and for age;
Their cause I plead-plead it in heart and mind;
A fellow-feeling makes one wonderous kind;
Might we but hope your zeal would not be less,
When I am gone, to patronize distress;
That hope obtained, the wished-for end secures,
To soothe their cares, who oft have lightened yours.
Shall the great heroes of celestial line,
Who drank full bowls of Greek and Roman wine.
Cæsar and Brutus, Agamemnon, Hector,
Nay, Jove himself, who here has quaffed his nectar!
Shall they who govern Fortune, cringe and court her,
Thirst in their age, and call in vain for porter?
Like Belisarius, tax the pitying street,
With date obolum to all they meet?
Sha'n't I, who oft have drenched my hands in gore;
Stabbed many, poisoned some, beheaded more;
Who numbers slew in battle on this plain;
Sha'n't I, the slayer, try to feed the slain?
Brother to all, with equal love I view
The men who slew me, and the men I slew:
I must, I will this happy project seize,
That those, too old to die, may live with ease.
Suppose the babes I smothered in the Tower,
By chance or sickness lose their acting power,
Shall they, once princes, worse than all be served!
In childhood murdered, and, when murdered, starved?
Can I, young Hamlet once, to nature lost,
Behold, O horrible! my father's ghost,
With grisly beard, pale cheek-stalk up and down,
And he, the Royal Dane, want half-a-crown?
Forbid it, ladies; gentlemen, forbid it ;
Give joy to age, and let 'em say-You did it :
To you, ye gods!* I make my last appeal;
You have a right to judge as well as feel;
Will your high wisdoms to our scheme incline,
That kings, queens, heroes, gods, and ghosts, may dine?
Olympus shakes !—that omen all secures ;
May every joy you give be ten-fold yours!
39.-AWFUL DESCRIPTION OF THE DEITIES ENGAGED IN
BUT when the powers descending swelled the fight,
Then tumult rose; fierce rage and pale affright
Varied each face; then discord sounds alarms,
Earth echoes, and the nations rush to arms.
Now through the trembling shores Minerva calls,
And now she thunders from the Grecian walls.
Mars, hovering o'er his Troy, his terror shrouds
In gloomy tempests and a night of clouds:
Now through the Trojan heart he fury pours,
With voice divine from Ilion's topmost towers,
Now shouts to Simois, from her beauteous hill;
The mountains shook, the rapid stream stood still.
Above, the sire of gods his thunder rolls,
And peals on peals redoubled rend the poles.
Beneath, stern Neptune shakes the solid ground;
The forests wave, the mountains nod around:
Through all their summits tremble Ida's woods,
And from their sources boil her hundred floods.
Troy's turrets totter on the rocking plain,
And the tossed navies beat the heaving main.
Deep in the dismal regions of the dead,
The infernal monarch reared his horrid head,
Leapt from his throne, lest Neptune's arm should lay
His dark dominions open to the day,
And pour in light on Pluto's drear abodes,
Abhorred by men, and dreadful even to gods.
40. THE ART OF CRITICISM.
'Tis hard' to say, if greater' want of skill
Appear in writing, or in judging' ill;
But, of the two, less' dangerous is the offence
To tire` our patience', than mislead' our sense':
Some few' in that', but numbers' err in this';
Ten' censure' wrong, for one' who writes' amiss.
A fool' might once himself' alone expose;
Now one' in verse' makes many more' in prose'.
'Tis with our judgments' as our watches', none
Go just alike', yet each believes his own'.
In Poets', as true Genius' is but rare,
True Taste' as seldom is the Critic's' share :
Both must alike from Heaven' derive their light ;
These' born to judge', as well as those' to write'.
Let such teach others' who themselves' excel,
And censure' freely who have written' well.
Authors' are partial to their wit', 'tis true;
But are not Critics' to their judgment' too?
Yet, if we look more closely', we shall find
Most have the seeds' of judgment in their mind:
Nature affords at least a glimmering light;
The lines, though touched' but faintly, are drawn' right.
But as the slightest sketch, if justly traced,
Is by ill-colouring' but the more disgraced',
So by false learning is good sense' defaced:
Some are bewildered in the maze of schools',
And some made coxcombs' Nature meant for fools'.
In search of wit' these lose their common sense',
And then turn Critics' in their own defence'.
All fools have still an itching to deride',
And fain would be upon the laughing' side.
If Mævius scribble' in Apollo's spite,
There are who judge' still worse than he can write.
Some have, at first, for Wits', then Poets', past,
Turned Critics' next, and proved plain fools' at last.
Some neither can for Wits' nor Critics' pass,
As heavy mules' are neither horse' nor ass`.
41.-HARMONY OF EXPRESSION.
BUT most by numbers judge a poet's song;
And smooth or rough, with them is right or wrong:
In the bright Muse though thousand charms conspire,
Her voice is all these tuneful fools admire ;
Who haunt Parnassus but to please the ear,
Not mend their minds; as some to church repair,
Not for the doctrine, but the music there:
These equal syllables alone require,
Though oft the ear the open vowels tire ;
While expletives their feeble aid do join,
And ten low words oft creep in one dull line;
While they ring round the same unvaried chimes,
With sure returns of still expected rhymes:
Where'er you find " the cooling western breeze,"
In the next line it "whispers through the trees;"
If crystal streams "with pleasing murmurs creep,"
The reader's threatened (not in vain) with "sleep :"
Then, at the last and only couplet, fraught
With some unmeaning thing they call a thought,
A needless Alexandrine ends the song,
That, like a wounded snake, drags its slow length along.
Leave such to tune their own dull rhymes, and know
What's roundly smooth, or languishingly slow:
And praise the easy vigour of a line,
Where Denham's strength and Waller's sweetness join.
True ease in writing comes from art, not chance;
As those move easiest who have learned to dance.
'Tis not enough no harshness give offence,
The sound must seem an echo to the sense:
Soft is the strain when zephyr gently blows,
And the smooth stream in smoother numbers flows;
But when loud surges lash the sounding shore,
The hoarse rough verse should like the torrent roar.
When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw,
The line too labours, and the words move slow;
Not so when swift Camilla scours the plain,
Flies o'er the unbending corn, and skims along the main.
LET us (since life can little more supply
Than just to look about us, and to die)
Expatiate free o'er all this scene of Man:
A mighty maze! but not without a plan ;
A wild, where weeds and flowers promiscuous shoot ;
Or garden, tempting with forbidden fruit.
Together let us beat this ample field,
Try what the open, what the covert yield!
The latent tracts, the giddy heights explore,
Of all who blindly creep, or sightless soar;
Eye Nature's walks, shoot folly as it flies,
And catch the manners living as they rise;
Laugh where we must, be candid where we can ;
But vindicate the ways of God to Man.
Say first, of God above, or Man below,
What can we reason, but from what we know?
Of Man, what see we but his station here,
From which to reason, or to which refer?