« ПретходнаНастави »
Yet shall thy grave with rising flow'rs be drest,
So peaceful rests, without a stone, a name,
Poets themselves must fall like those they sung, Deaf the prais'd ear, and mute the tuneful tongue. Ev'n he, whose foul now melts in mournful lays, Shall shortly want the gen'rous tear he pays; Then from his closing eyes thy form shall part, And the last pang shall tear thee from his heart, 80 Life's idle business at one gasp be o'er, The Muse forgot, and thou belov'd no more!
PROLOGUE TO MR. ADDISON'S
TRAGEDY OF CATO.
THE Tragedy of Cato itself, is a glaring instance of the force of party; so sententious and declamatory a drama would never have met with such rapid and amazing success, if every line and sentence had not been particularly tortured, and applied to recent events, and the reigning disputes of the times. The purity and energy of the diction, and the loftiness of the sentiments, copied, in a great measure, from Lucan, Tacitus, and Seneca the philosopher, merit approbation. But I have always thought, that those pompous Roman sentiments are not so difficult to be produced, as is vulgarly imagined; and which, indeed, dazzle only the vulgar. A stroke of nature is, in my opinion, worth a hundred such thoughts, as
“ When vice prevails, and impious men bear sway,
The post of honour is a private station." Cato is a fine dialogue on liberty, and the love of one's country ; but considered as a dramatic performance, nay, as a model of a just tragedy, as some have affectedly represented it, it must be owned to want action and pathos ; the two hinges, I presume, on which a just tragedy ought neceffarily to turn, and without which it cannot fubfift. It wants also character, although that be not so essentially necessary to a tragedy as action. Syphax, indeed, in his interview with Juba, bears some marks of a rough African ; the speeches of the rest may be transferred to any of the personages concerned. The fimile drawn from Mount Atlas, and the description of the Numidian travellers fmothered in the desart, are indeed in character, but sufficiently obvious. How Addison could fall into the false and unnatural custom of ending his three first acts with similies, is amazing in so chaste and correct
a writer. The loves of Juba and Marcia, of Portius and Lucia, are vicious and infipid episodes, debase the dignity, and destroy the unity of the fable. Cato was translated into Italian by Salvini ; into Latin, and acted by the Jesuits at St. Omers; imitated in French by De Champis, and great part of it translated by the Abbé Du Bos.
The Prologue to Addison's Tragedy of Cato, is superior to any prologue of Dryden ; who, notwithstanding, is fo juftly celebrated for this species of writing. The prologues of Dryden are fatyrical and facetious; this of Pope is solemn and sublime, as the subject required. Those of Dryden contain general topics of criticism and wit, and may precede any play whatsoever, even tragedy or comedy. This of Pope is particular, and appropriated to the tragedy alone, which it was designed to introduce.
PROLOGUE TO MR, ADDISON'S
TRAGEDY OF CATO*.
o wake the foul by tender strokes of art,
To raise the genius, and to mend the heart, To make mankind, in conscious virtue bold, Live o'er each scene, and be what they behold: For this the Tragic Mufe first trod the stage, 5 Commanding tears to stream through ev'ry age ; Tyrants no more their savage nature kept, And foes to virtue wonder'd how they wept. Our author shuns by vulgar springs to move The hero's glory, or the virgin's love; In pitying love, we but our weakness show, And wild ambition well deserves its woe.
Here NOTES. * This Prologue, and the Epilogue which follows, are the most perfect models of this species of writing, both in the serious and the ludicrous way.
W. The former is much the better of the two; for some of Dryden's, of the latter kind, are unequalled.
VER. 7. Tyrants no more] Louis XIV. wished to have pardoned the Cardinal de Rohan, after hearing the Cinna of Corneille.
Ver. 11. In pitying love,] Why then did Addison introduce the loves of Juba and Marcia? which Pope said to Mr. Spence, were not in the original plan of the play, but were introduced in compliance with the popular practice of the stage.