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SPOKEN BY THE POET LABERIUS, A ROMAN KNIGHT.
From the Latin, preserved by Macrobius. 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 guideNor 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; 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.
i J. Decimus Laberius was a Roman knight famous for his talents in writing pantomimes. Julius Cæsar compelled him to act one of his characters on the stage; the poet, with great reluctance, consented, but showed his resentment during the acting of the piece, by throwing severe aspersions on Cæsar, and warning the audience against his tyranny. Laberius was sixty years old when this occurrence took place. He seems to have had no alternative left, and acted in obedience to the commands of the dictator, who wished to make the Romans forget their civil dissensions amidst the amusements of scenic exhibitions. The office of comedian was regarded at Rome as disgraceful for a freeman, above all for a knight. Laberius, in thus assuming a revolting character, addressed to the audience a justification of his conduct in this prologue, which may be regarded as one of the finest monuments of Roman literature, and makes us deeply regret the loss of his mimes. But a few fragments of his poetry remain.
? This translation was first printed in one of Goldsmith's earliest works, “ The present State of Learning in Europe," 12mo, 1759.
PROLOGUE TO ZOBEIDE.
A TRAGEDY, BY JOSEPH CRADOCK.
In these bold times, when learning's sons explore
[Upper gallery. There mangroves spread, and larger than I've seen them
[Pit. Here trees of stately size and turtles in them
[Balconies. Here ill-condition'd oranges abound
[Stage. And apples, bitter apples, strew the ground. The inhabitants are cannibals I fear: I heard a hissing-there are serpents here: O, there the people are--best keep my distance; Our captain (gentle natives) 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, And we may chance to drive a thriving trade. His goods, he hopes, are prime, and brought from farEqually fit for gallantry and war. What, no reply to promises so ample ? I'd best step back, and order up a sample.
WRITTEN FOR MR. CHARLES LEE LEWES, TO BE SPOKEN IN
THE CHARACTER OF HARLEQUIN, AT HIS BENEFIT.
HOLD! prompter, hold ! a word before your nonsense;
(Takes off his mask.
'twas but a dream." Ay, 'twas but a dream-for now there's no retreating, If I cease Harlequin, I cease from eating.
'Twas thus that Æsop's stag—a creature blameless, Yet something vain, like one that shall be nameless Once on the margin of a fountain stood, And cavill'd at his image in the flood. “The deuce confound,” he cries,“ these drumstic shanks They neither have my gratitude nor thanks; They're perfectly disgraceful! strike me dead! But for a head-yes, yes, I have a head.
How piercing is that eye ! how sleek that brow!
[Taking a jump through the stage door.
THE SISTER,” A COMEDY, BY MRS. CHARLOTTE LENNOX.
WHAT! five long acts—and all to make us wiser !
[To Boxes, Pit, and Gallery.
Miss, not yet full fifteen, with fire uncommon,
SPOKEN BY MRS. BULKLEY AND MISS CATLEY.
Enter Mrs. Bulkley, who curtsies very low as beginning to
speak. Then enter Miss Catley, who stands fuli before her, and curtsies to the audience.
HOLD, Ma'am, your pardon. What's your business here?