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On his excellent Tragedy, called, HEROIC Love.
A USPICIOUS poet, wert thou not my friend,
How could I envy, what I must commend!
But since 'tis nature's law in love and wit,
That youth should reign, and with’ring age submit,
With less regret, those laurels I resign,
Which, dying on my brows, revive on thine.
With better grace an ancient chief may yield
The long contended honours of the field,
Than venture all his fortune at a cast,
And fight like Hannibal, to lose at last.
Young princes obstinate to win the prize,
Tho' yearly beaten, yearly yet they rise:
Old monarchs tho' successful, still in doubt,
Catch at a peace; and wisely turn devout.
Thine be the laurel then; thy blooming age
Can best, if any can, support the stage,
Which so declines, that shortly we may see
Players and plays reduc'd to second infancy.
Sharp to the world, but thoughtless of renown,
They plot not on the stage, but on the town,
And in despair, their empty pit to fill,
Set up some foreign monster in a bill:
Thus they jog on; still tricking, never thriving;
And murd’ring plays, which they miscall reviving.
Our sense is nonsense, thro' their pipes convey’d;
Scarce can a poet know the play he made;
'Tis so disguis’d in death: nor thinks 'tis he
That suffers in the mangled tragedy.
Thus Itys first was kill'd, and after dress’d
For his own fire the chief invited guest.
f say not this of thy successful scenes;
Where thine was all the glory, theirs the gains:
With length of time, much judgment and more toil,
Not ill they acted, what they could not spoil :
* Their setting-sun still shoots a glimm’ring ray,
Like ancient Rome, majestic in decay:
And better gleanings their worn soil can boast,
$ Than the crab-vintage of the neighb'ring coast.
This difference, yet the judging world will see ;
Thou copiest Homer, and they copy thee.
* Mr. Betterton's company in Lincolns-inn fields. § Drury Lane Play-house.
By the right honourable HENRY ST. Johns, Efq;
How hard's the poet's task, in these our days,
Who such dull palates is condemn’d to please,
As damn all sense, and only fuftian praise?
Charm'd with heroic nonsense, lofty strains,
Not with the writers, but the players pains,
And by the actors lungs, judge of the poet's brains.
Let fcribling judges, who your pleasures ferve,
Live by your smiles, or by your anger starve,
vain fantastic way,
Renounce their judgment, to secure their pay :
By written laws, our author would be try'd,
And write as if Athenians should decide,
With Horace and the Stagyrite for guide.
Applause is welcome, but too dearly bought,
Should we give up one rule, those mighty masters taught.
Yet some, methinks, I here and there descry,
with ancient Rome and Athens vie ;
To whose tribunal we submit with joy :
To them, and only them ; for not to wrong ye
'Twould be a fame to please the most among ye.
Chiefly the softer sex he hopes to move,
Those tender judges of heroic love:
To that bright circle he resigns his cause,
And if they smile, he asks no more applauje.
Agamemnon, king of Argos, general of
Mr. Betterton. the allies at the siege of Troy. Achilles, general of the Myrmidons. Mr. Verbrugen. Nestor, a Grecian commander.
Mr. Bowman. Ulysses, another commander of the Greeks. Mr. Sandford. Patroclus, the friend of Achilles.
Mr. Scudamore. Chryses, high priest of Phoebus, father
Mr. Kynafton. of Chruseis. Chalcas, a Grecian foothsayer.
Mr. Freeman. Talthybius, Captains of the king's guard.
Mr. Baily. Eurybates
Officers, guards, and attendants to the king.
Mrs. Barry. Briseis,
Mrs. Bracegirdle. Artemis, a woman attendant to Chruseis. Mrs. Prince.
The SCENE is of the Grecian feet and camp