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I challenge you all to answer this. I tell you, you cannot. It cuts deep; but now for the rest of the letter; and next-but I want room.—So I believe I shall battle the rest out at Barton some day next week.-I don't value you all.
A PROLOGUE WRITTEN AND SPOKEN BY THE POET LABERIUS,
A ROMAN KNIGHT, WHOM CÆSAR FORCED UPON THE STAGE.
WHAT! no way left to shun th' inglorious stage,
And save from infamy my sinking age!
Scarce half alive, oppress'd with many a year,
What in the name of dotage drives me here?
A time there was, when glory was my guide,
Nor force nor fraud could turn my steps aside;
Unaw'd by power, and unappall'd by fear,
With honest thrift I held my honour dear:
But this vile hour disperses all my store,
And all my hoard of honour is no more;
For, ah! too partial to my life's decline,
Cæsar persuades, submission must be mine;
Him I obey, whom Heaven itself obeys,
Hopeless of pleasing, yet inclin'd to please.
Here then at once I welcome every shame,
And cancel at threescore a life of fame:
1 This translation was first printed in one of our author's earliest works: 'The Present State of Polite Learning in Europe,' 12mo. 1759.
No more my titles shall my children tell,
The old buffoon will fit my name as well;
This day beyond its term my fate extends,
For life is ended when our honour ends.2
2 See Macrobii Saturn. lib. ii. c. vii. p. 369, ed. Zeunii Goldsmith has translated, or rather imitated, only the first fifteen lines of the Prologus, ending,
Uno plus vixi mihi quam vivendum fuit.'
I venture to add the remainder:
Too lavish still in good or evil hour,
To show to man the empire of thy power,
If, Fortune, at thy wild impetuous sway,
The blossoms of my fame must drop away,
Then was the time the obedient plant to strain
When life was warm in every vigorous vein,
To mould young nature to thy plastic skill,
And bend my pliant boyhood to thy will.
So might I hope applauding crowds to hear,
Catch the quick smile, and HIS attentive ear.
But, ah! for what hast thou reserv'd my age?
Say, how can I expect the approving stage?
Fled is the bloom of youth the manly air-
The vigorous mind that spurn'd at toil and care;
Gone is the voice, whose clear and silver tone
The enraptur'd theatre would love to own.
As clasping ivy chokes the encumber'd tree,
So age with foul embrace has ruin'd me.
Thou, and the tomb, Laberius, art the same,
Empty within, what hast thou but a name?
SPOKEN BY MR. QUICK, IN THE CHARACTER OF A SAILOR.
IN these bold times, when learning's sons explore
The distant climates, and the savage shore;
When wise astronomers to India steer,
And quit for Venus many a brighter here;
While botanists, all cold to smiles and dimpling,
Forsake the fair, and patiently-go simpling;
When every bosom swells with wondrous scenes,
Priests, cannibals, and hoity-toity queens,
Our bard into the general spirit enters,
And fits his little frigate for adventures.
With Scythian stores, and trinkets deeply laden,
He this way steers his course, in hopes of trading;
Yet, ere he lands, he has order'd me before
To make an observation on the shore.
́Where are we driven? our reckoning sure is lost!
This seems a rocky and a dangerous coast.
Lord, what a sultry climate am I under!
Yon ill-foreboding cloud seems big with thunder.
There mangroves spread, and larger than I've
Here trees of stately size-and turtles in 'em ;
Here ill-conditioned oranges abound
And apples, bitter apples, strew the ground:
The place is uninhabited I fear;
I heard a hissing—there are serpents here!
Oh there the natives are, a dreadful race;
The men have tails, the women paint the face.
No doubt they're all barbarians.—Yes, 'tis so;
I'll try to make palaver with them though.
(Making signs.) 'Tis best, however, keeping at a distance.
"Good savages, our Captain craves assistance. Our ship's well stor❜d-in yonder creek we've laid her,
His honour is no mercenary trader.
This is his first adventure, lend him aid,
Or you may chance to spoil a thriving trade.
His goods, he hopes, are prime, and brought from
Equally fit for gallantry and war."
What, no reply to promises so ample?
I'd best step back, and order up a sample.1
1 Zobeide, a Tragedy, by Joseph Cradock, Esq., was first represented at Covent Garden, on the 10th of December, 1771, and was well received. The text here given is that of the third edition of Zobeide, 1772."-P. C.