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Fatal that intestine jar,
Which produc'd our civil war !
Ever since, how sad a race!
Senseless, violent, and base!

I

ON THE DUKE OF YORK

BANISHED TO BRUSSELS.

FEEL a strange impulse, a strong desire, (For what vain thoughts will not a Muse inspire?) To sing on lofty subjects, and to raise

My own low fame, by writing James's praise.

Oft' have we heard the wonders of his youth, Observ'd those seeds of fortititude and truth, Which since have spread so wide, so wondrous high, The good distress'd beneath that shelter lie.

In arms more active than ev'n war requir'd,
And in the midst of mighty chiefs admir'd.
Of all Heaven's gifts, no temper is so rare,
As so much courage mix'd with so much care.
When martial fire makes all the spirits boil,
And forces youth to military toil;

No wonder it should fiercely then engage:
Women themselves will venture in a rage:
But in the midst of all that furious heat,
While so intent on actions brave and great,
For others' lives to feel such tender fears,
And, careless of his own, to care for theirs,
Is that composure which a hero makes,
And which illustrious York alone partakes,
With that great man', whose fame has flown so
Who taught him first the noble art of war. [far,
Oh, wondrous pair! whom equal virtues crown,
Oh worthy of each other's vast renown!
None but Turenne with York could glory share,
And none but York deserves so great a master's

care.

Scarce was he come to bless his native isle,
And reap the soft reward of glorious toil,
But, like Alcides, still new dangers call
His courage forth, and still be vanquish'd all.

At sea, that bloody scene of boundless rage,
Where floating castles in fierce flames engage,
(Where Mars himself does frowningly command,
And by lieutenants only fights at land)
For his own fame howe'er he fought before,
For England's honour yet he ventur'd more.
In those black times, when, faction raging high,
Valour and Innocence were forc'd to fly,
With York they fled; but not deprest his mind,
Still, like a diamond in the dust, it shin'd.
When from afar his drooping friends beheld
How in distress he ev'n himself excell'd;
How to his envious fate, his country's frown,
His brother's will, he sacrific'd his own;
They rais'd their hearts, and never doubted more
But that just Heaven would all our joys restore.
So when black clouds surround Heaven's glorious
face,

Tempestuous darkness covering all the place,
If we discern but the least glimmering ray
Of that bright orb of fire which rules the day,
The cheerful sight our fainting courage warins,
Fix'd upon that we fear no future harms.

♦ The mareschal de Turenne.

ON THE DEITY,

WRETCHED mankind! void of both strength and

skill!

Dextrous at nothing but at doing ill!

In merit humble, in pretensions high,

Among them none, alas! more weak than I,
And none more blind: though still I worthless
The best, I ever spoke, or ever wrote. [thought

But zealous heat exalts the humblest mind;
Within my soul such strong impulse I find
The heavenly tribute of due praise to pay:
Perhaps 'tis sacred, and I must obey.

Yet such the subjects, various, and so high,
Stupendous wonders of the Deity!
And that as boundless goodness shining more!
Miraculous effects of boundless power!
All these so numberless my thoughts attend,
Oh where shall I begin, or ever end?

But on that theme which ev'n the wise abuse, So sacred, so sublime, and so abstruse, Abruptly to break off, wants no excuse.

While others vainly strive to know thee more, Let me in silent reverence adore; Wishing that human power were higher rais'd, Only that thine might be more nobly prais'd! Thrice happy angels in their high degree, Created worthy of extolling thee!

PROLOGUE

TO THE ALTERATION OF JULIUS CAESAR.

HOPE to mend Shakespeare! or to match his stylel
'Tis such a jest would make a Stoic smile.
Too fond of fame, our poet soars too high,
Yet freely owns he wants the wings to fly :
So sensible of his presumptuous thought,
That he confesses while he does the fault;
This to the fair will no great wonder prove,
Who oft in blushes yield to what they love.

Of greatest actions, and of noblest men,
This story most deserves a poet's pen:
For who cau wish a scene more justly fam’¿,
When Rome and mighty Julius are but nam'd!
That state of heroes who the world had brav'd!
Yet loth he was to take so rough a way,
That wondrous man who such a state enslav'd!
And after govern'd with so mild a sway.
At distance now of seventeen hundred years,
Methinks a lovely ravisher appears;
Whom, though forbid by virtue to excuse,
A nymph might pardon, and could scarce refuse,

CHORUSES IN JULIUS CÆSAR.

CHORUS L.

WHITHER IS Roman honour gone?
Where is your ancient virtue now?
That valour, which so bright has shone,
And with the wings of conquest flown,

Must to a haughty master bow:
Who, with our toil, our blood, and all we have beside,
Gorges his ill-got power, his humour,and his pride.

Fearless he will his life expose;

So does a lion or a bear.
His very virtues threaten those,

Who more his bold ambition fear.
How stupid wretches we appear,

Who round the world for wealth and empire roam,
Yet never, never think what slaves we are at home!

Did men for this together join,

Quitting the free wild life of Nature?
What other beast did e'er design

The setting up his fellow-creature,
And of two mischiefs choose the greater?

Oh! rather than be slaves to bold imperious men, Give us our wildness, and our woods, our huts and caves again.

There, secure from lawless sway,
Out of Pride or Envy's way;
Living up to Nature's rules,

Not deprav'd by knaves and fools:

Happily we all should live,and harmless as our sheep, And at last as calmly die as infants fall asleep.

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2

CHORUS II.

Lo! to prevent this mighty empire's doom,
From bright unknown abodes of bliss I come,
The awful genius of majestic Rome.

Great is her danger: but I will engage
Some few, the master-souls of all this age,
To do an act of just heroic rage.

'Tis hard, a man so great should fall so low; More hard to let so brave a people bow

CHORUS IV.

How great a curse has Providence Thought fit to cast on human kind! Learning, courage, eloquence,

The gentlest nature, noblest mind, Were intermixt in one alone; Yet in one moinent overthrown. Could chance, or senseless atoms, join To form a soul so great as his? Or would those powers we hold divine Destroy their own chief master-piece?

To one themselves have rais'd, who scorns them Where so much difficulty lies,

now.

Yet, oh! I grieve that Brutus should be stain'd,
Whose life, excepting this one act, remain'd
So pure, that future times will think it feign'd.

But only he can make the rest combine;
The very life and soul of their design,
The centre, where those mighty spirits join.
Unthinking men no sort of scruples make;
Others do ill, only for mischief's sake;
But ev'n the best are guilty by mistake.
Thus some for envy, or revenge, intend
To bring the bold usurper to his end:
But for his country Brutus stabs his friend.

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The doubtful are the only wise.

And, what must more perplex our thoughts,
Great Jove the best of Romans sends,
To do the very worst of faults,

And kill the kindest of his friends.
All this is far above our reach,
Whatever priests presume to preach.

PROLOGUE

TO MARCUS BRUTUS.

OUR scene is Athens. And great Athens nam'd,

What soul so dull as not to be inflam'd?
Methinks, at mentioning that sacred place,
A reverend awe appears in every face,
For men so fam'd, of such prodigious parts,
As taught the world all sciences and arts.

Amidst all these ye shall behold a man
The most applauded since mankind began,
Out-shining ev'n those Greeks who most excel,
Whose life was one fix'd course of doing well.
Oh! who can therefore without tears attend
On such a life, and such a fatal end?

But here our author, besides other faults
Of ill expressions, and of vulgar thoughts,
Commits one crime that needs an act of grace,
And breaks the law of unity of place:
Yet to such noble patriots, overcome
By factious violence, and banish'd Rome,
Athens alone a fit retreat could yield;
And where can Brutus fall, but in Philippi field?

Some critics judge ev'n love itself too mean
A care to mix in such a lofty scene,

And with those ancient bards of Greece believe
Friendship has stronger charms to please or grieve:
But our more amorous poet, finding love
Amidst all other cares, still shines above,
Lets not the best of Romans end their lives
Without just softness for the kindest wives.
Yet, if ye think his gentle nature such
As to have soften'd this great tale too much,
Soon will your eyes grow dry, and passion fall,
When ye reflect 'tis all but conjugal.

This to the few and knowing was addrest;
And now 'tis fit I should salute the rest.

Most reverend dull judges ofthe pit, By Nature curs'd with the wrong side of wit! You need not care, whate'er you see to-night, How ill some players act, or poets write; Should our mistakes be never so notorious, You'll have the joy of being more censorious: Show your small talent then, let that suffice ye; But grow not vain upon it, I advise ye: Each petty critic can objections raise, The greatest skill is knowing when to praise.

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That free-born spirits should obey
Wretches, who know not how to sway!
Late we repent our hasty choice,

In vain bemoan so quick a turn.
Hark all to Rome's united voice!

Better that we a while had borne Ev'n all those ills which most displease, Than sought a cure far worse than the disease.

CHORUS IV.

OUR Vows thus cheerfully we sing,
While martial music fires our blood;
Let all the neighbouring echoes ring

With clamours for our country's good:
Ani, for reward, of the just gods we claim
A life with freedom, or a death with fame.

May Rome be freed from wars alarms,
And taxes heavy to be borne;
May she beware of foreign arms,

And send them back with noble scorn:
And, for reward, &c.

May she no more confide in friends,

Who nothing farther understood,

Than only, for their private ends,

To waste her wealth, and spill her blood: And for reward, &c.

Our senators, great Jove, restrain

From private piques, they prudence call; From the low thoughts of little gain,

And hazarding the losing all:

And, for reward, &c.

The shining arms with haste prepare,
Then to the glorious combat fly;
Our minds unclogg'd with farther care,
Except to overcome or die :

And, for reward, &c.

They fight, oppression to increase,
We for our liberties and laws;

It were a sin to doubt success,
When freedom is the noble cause:

5 See the first and second choruses, in the Poems And, for reward, of the just gods we claim of Mr. Pope.

A life with freedom, or a death with fame.

THE

POEMS

OF

MATTHEW PRIOR.

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