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Those of the poet's age, however, had firmer nerves,--and they needed them: the caterers for their amusements were mighty in their profession, and cared little how highly the passions of the spectators were wound up by the tremendous exhibitions to which they accustomed them, as they had ever some powerful stroke of nature or of art at command to compose or justify them;"_and such a stroke presently falls from this rare union of masculine vigour and female tenderness.
Oh, my lords, I but deceiv'd your eyes with antic gesture, When one news straight came huddling on another, Of death! and death! and death! still I danced forward ; But it struck home, and here, and in an instant. Be such mere women, who, with shrieks and outcries, , Can vow a present end to all their sorrows, Yet live to (court] new pleasures, and outlive them : They are the silent griefs which cut the heartstrings; Let me die smiling.
A solemn dirge, “which she had fitted for her end,” fola lows this pathetic explanation, and, while it is singing, the spirit of its composer had passed away.
Bass. Her “heart is broke,” indeed.
Oh, royal maid, would thou hadst miss'd this part !
Yet, 't was a brave one. I must weep to see
Her smile in death.
Our scene is Sparta. He whose best of art
Hath drawn this piece, calls it the BROKEN HEART.
The title lends no expectation here
Of apish laughter, or of some lame jeer
At place or persons; no pretended clause
Of jests fit for a brothel, courts applause
From vulgar admiration : such low songs,
Tuned to unchaste ears, suit not modest tongues.
The virgin-sisters then deserv'd fresh bays,
When innocence and sweetness crown'd their lays;
Then vices gasp'd for breath, whose whole commérce
Was whipp'd to exile by unblushing verse.
This law we keep in our presentment now,
Not to take freedom more than we allow;
What may be here thought Fiction, when time's youth
Wanted some riper years, was known A TRUTH:
In which, if you have clothed the subject right,
You may partake a pity with delight.
This Prologue is in the apithor's best manner, and, whether considered in a moral or poetical light, entitled to considerable praise, -GIFFORD.
AMYcLAs, King of Laconia.
ITHOCLES, a favourite.
Orgilus, son to CROTOLON.
BASSANES, a jealous nobleman.
ARMOSTES, a counsellor of state.
CROTOLON, another counsellor.
PROPhilus, friend to ITHOCLES.
NEARCHUS, Prince of Argos.
TECNICUS, a philosopher.
courtiers. Amelus, friend to NEARCHUS. PHULAS, servant to BASSANES.
CALANTHA, the king's daughter.
PENTHEA, sister to ITHOCLES.
EUPHRANEA, a maid of honour.
maids of honour. Grausis, overseer of PENTHEA.
Courtiers, Officers, Attendants, &c.
A Room in CROTOLON'S House.
Enter CROTOLON and ORGILUS. Crot. DALLY not further; I will know the reason That speeds thee to this journey,
Org: “Reason ?" good sir,
I can yield many.
Croi. Give me one, a good one ;
Such I expect, and ere we part must have:
“ Athens!" pray, why to Athens ? you intend not
To kick against the world, turn cynic, stoic,
Or read the logic lecture, or become
An Areopagite, and judge in cases
Touching the commonwealth; for, as I take it,
The budding of your chin cannot prognosticate
So grave an honour.
Org. All this I acknowledge.
Crot. You do! then, son, if books and love of
Inflame you to this travel, here in Sparta
You may as freely study.
Org. 'Tis not that, sir. Crot. Not that, sir! As a father, I command thee To acquaint me with the truth.
Org. Thus, I obey you. After so many quarrels, as dissension, Fury, and rage had broach'd in blood, and some
With death to such confederates, as sided
With now dead Thrasus and yourself, my lord;
Our present king, Amyclas, reconciled
Your eager swords, and seal'd a gentle peace:
Friends you profess'd yourselves; which to con-
A resolution for a lasting league
Betwixt your families, was entertained,
By joining, in an Hymenean bond,
Me and the fair Penthea, only daughter
Crot. What of this?
Org. Much, much, dear sir.
A freedom of converse, an interchange
Of holy and chaste love, so fix'd our souls
In a firm growth of union, that no time
Can eat into the pledge:-we had enjoy'd
The sweets our vows expected, had not cruelty
Prevented all those triumphs we prepared for,
By Thrasus his untimely death.
Crot. Most certain.
Org. From this time sprouted up that poisonous
Of aconite, whose ripened fruit hath ravish'd
All health, all comfort of a happy life:
For Ithocles, her brother, proud of youth,
And prouder in his power, nourish'd closely
The memory of former discontents,
To glory in revenge. By cunning partly,
Partly by threats, he woos at once, and forces
His virtuous sister to admit a marriage
With Bassanes, a nobleman, in honour
And riches, I confess, beyond my fortunes
Crot. All this is no sound reason to importune
My leave for thy departure.
Org. Now it follows.
Beauteous Penthea, wedded to this torture
By an insulting brother, being secretly
Compell’d to yield her virgin freedom up