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For this the Tragic Muse 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;
10 In pitying love, we but our weakness show, And wild Ambition well deserves its woe. Here tears shall flow from a more gen'rous cause, Such tears as Patriots shed for dying Laws: He bids your breasts with ancient ardour rise, 15 And calls forth Roman drops from British eyes. Virtue confess'd in human shape he draws, What Plato thought, and godlike Cato was: No common object to your sight displays, But what with
pleasure Heav'n itself surveys, 20 A brave man struggling in the storms of fate, And greatly falling with a falling state.
Ver. 7. Tyrants no more] Louis XIV. wished to have pardoned the Cardinal de Rohan, after hearing the Cinna of Corneille.
Warton. Ver. 11. In pitying lode,] 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.
Warton. Ver. 20. But what with pleasure] This alludes to a famous passage of Seneca, which Mr. Addison afterwards used as a motto to his play, when it was printed.
Warburton. Ver. 21. A brave man, &c.] The noble passage of Seneca, which Addison adopted as a Motto, and to which Pope in this passage finely alludes, is this,
“Ecce spectaculum dignum ad quod respiciat, intentus operi suo, Deus! Ecce par Deo dignum, vir fortis cum mala fortuna com
While Cato gives his little Senate laws,
positus! Non video, inquam, quid habeat in terris Jupiter pulchrius, si convertere animum velit, quàm ut spectet CATONEM, jam partibus non semel fractis, nihilominus inter ruinas publicas erectum.”
Pope has very much heightened the idea of Seneca, in one passage, “ Fortis vir, malâ fortuna compositus ;" which is far less animated than
A brave man struggling in the storms of fate ! Let me take this opportunity of remarking, that Pope has very seldom laid the stress, as it is in the line,
A braze mạnh The stress, however, laid upon the epithet in this manner, has often a pleasing effect, and, when it is judiciously introduced, is particularly grateful to the ear. Milton and Shakespear often accent a line in this manner, and who but feels its occasional propriety and beauty? " Thro' the high wood, echoing shrill.”
Allegro. “ What time the gray fly winds her sullen horn.” Lycidas.
“ On which the swart star sparely looks." Bowles. Ver. 27. Ev'n when] The twenty-seventh, thirtieth, thirtyfourth, thirty-ninth, and forty-fifth lines, are artful allusions to the character and history of Cato himself,
Britons, attend: be worth like this approv'd, And show, you have the virtue to be mov d. With honest scorn the first fam'd Cato view'd Rome learning arts from Greece whom she subdu d; Your scene precariously subsists too long On French translation, and Italian song. Dare to have sense yourselves; assert the stage; Be justly warmd with your own native rage : Such Plays alone should win a British ear, 45 As Cato's self had not disdain'd to hear.
NOTES. Ver. 37. Britons, attend :] Spence told me, that Pope had written it—" Britons, arise”; but that Addison, frightened at so strong an expression, as promoting insurrection, lowered and weakened it, by the word, “attend.”
Warton. Ver. 42. On French translation,] He glances obliquely at the Distrest Mother of his old antagonist, Philips, taken, evidently, from Racine. Cato's last soliloquy is translated with great purity and elegance by Bland.
It is a little remarkable that the last line of Cato is Pope's; and the last of Eloisa is Addison's.
Warton. Ver. 45. Such Plays alone] Addison, having finished and laid by, for several years, the first four acts of Cato, applied to Hughes for a fifth, and Dr. Johnson, from entertaining too mean an opinion of Hughes, does not think the application serious. When Hughes brought his supplement, he found the author himself had finished his play. Hughes was very capable of writing this fifth act. The Siege of Damascus is a better tragedy than Cato ; though Pope affected to speak slightingly of its author. An audience was packed by Steele on the first night of Cato ; and Addison suffered inexpressible uneasiness and solicitude during the representation. Bolingbroke called Booth to his box, and gave him fifty guineas for defending the cause of liberty so well, against a perpetual dictator.
Warton. Ver. 46. As Cato's self, &c.] This alludes to that famous story of his coming into the Theatre, and going out again, related by Martial.
BY POPE AND MALLET.*
When Learning, after the long Gothic night,
What foreign theatres with pride have shewn, Britain, by juster title, makes her own.
10 When freedom is the cause, 'tis her's to fight, And hers, when freedom is the theme, to write. For this a British Author bids again The Heroine rise, to grace the British scene: Here, as in life, she breathes her genuine flame, 15 She asks, what bosom has not felt the same?
• I have been told by Savage, that of the Prologue to Sophonisba, the first part was written by Pope, who could not be persuaded to finish it, and that the concluding lines were written by Mallet.
Asks of the British Youth is silence there?