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PROLOGUE. The time has been when plays were not so plenty, And a less number now would well content ye; New plays did then like almanacs appear, And one was thought sufficient for a year: Though they are more like almanacs of late; For in one year, I think, they're out of date. Nor were they without reason join'd together; For, just as one prognosticates the weather, How plentiful the crops, or scarce the grain, What peals of thunder, and what show'rs of rain; So t'other can foretel, by certain rules, What crowds of coxcombs, or what floods of fools. In such like prophecies were poets skilld, Which now ihey find in their own tribe fulfill'd: The dearth of wit they did so long presage, Is fall’n on us, and almost starves the stage. Were you not griev'd as often as you saw Poor actors thrash such empty sheaves of straw? Toiling and lab'ring, at their lungs' expense, To start a jest, or force a little sense. Hard fate for us! still harder in th' event; Our authors sin, but we alone repent. Still they proceed, and, at our charge, write worse, "Twere some amends if they could reimburse : Bat there's the devil, though their canse is lost, There's no recov'ring damages or cost.
Good wits, forgive this liberty we take, Since custom gives the losers leave to speak. But if, provok'd, your dreadful wrath remains, Take your revenge upon the coming scenes : For that damo'd poet's spar'd who damos a brother, As one thief 'scapes that executes another. Thus far alone does to the wits relate; But from the rest we hope a better fate. To please and move has been our poet's theme, Art may direct, but nature is his ainn; And nature miss’d, in vain he boasts his art, For only nature can affect the heart.
Then freely judge the scenes that shall ensue,
DRAMATIS PERSONÆ. As originally acted at Lincoln's-inn Fields, 1697. Manuel
Mr. Verbruggen. Gonsalem.
Mr. Sanford. Garcia .
Mr. Scudamour. Perez
Mr. Freeman. Alonzo
Mr. Arnold. Osmyn
Mr. Betterton. Heli
Mr. Bowman. Selim
Mr. Baily. Almeria
Mrs. Bracegirdle. Zara .
Mrs. Barry Leonora
Miss Tidswell. Miss Platt.
SCENE I. A Room of State. The Curtain rising slowly to soft Music, discovers Al
MERIA in Mourning, Leonora waiting. ALMERIA rises and comes forward.
Alm. Music has charms to sooth a savage breast,
Leon. Dear madam, cease,
Alm. No cause! Peace, peace! there is eternal cause
And misery eterual will succeed.
Leon. Believe me, madam, I lament Anselmo,
Alm. Indeed thou hast a soft and gentle nature,
Leon. Love of my royal mistress gave me cause,
Alm. Why was I carried to Anselmo's court?