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Plu— Plutarch, what's his name, that writes his
life? Tells us, that Cato dearly lov'd his Wife: Yet if a friend, a night or so, should need her, He'd recommend her as a special breeder. To lend a wife, few here would scruple make, 35 But, pray, which of
all would take her back? Tho' with the Stoic Chief our stage may ring, The Stoic Husband was the glorious thing. The man had courage, was a sage, 'tis true, And lov’d his country,—but what's that to you? 40 Those strange examples ne'er were made to fit yè, But the kind cuckold might instruct the City: There, many an honest man may copy Cato, Who ne'er saw naked sword, or look'd in Plato. If, after all, you think it a disgrace,
45 That Edward's Miss thus perks it in your face; To see a piece of failing flesh and blood, In all the rest so impudently good; Faith, let the modest matrons of the town Come here in crouds, and stare the strumpet down.
Ver. 44. Who ne'er saw] A sly and oblique stroke on the suicide of Cato; which was one of the reasons, as I have been informed, why this epilogue was not spoken.
Warton. Ver. 46. Edward's Miss] Sir Thomas More says,
she had one accomplishment uncommon in a woman of that time; she could read and write.
Thomson, in his Epilogue to Tancred and Sigismunda, severely censures the flippancy and gaiety of modern Epilogues, as contrary to those impressions intended to be left on the mind by a well-written Tragedy. The last new part Mrs. Oldfield took in tragedy was in Thomson's Sophonisba ; and it is recorded that she spoke the following line,
Not one base word of Carthage for thy soul, in so powerful a manner, that Wilkes, to whom it was addressed, was astonished and confounded. Mrs. Oldfield was admitted to visit in the best families. George II. and Queen Caroline, when Princess of Wales, condescended sometimes to converse with her at their levees. And one day the Princess asked her, if she was married to General Churchill ? “So it is said, may it please your Highness, but we have not owned it yet.” Her Lady Betty Modish and Lady Townly have never yet been equalled. She was universally allowed to be well-bred, sensible, witty, and generous. She gave poor Savage an annual pension of fifty pounds; and it is strange that Dr. Johnson seems rather to approve
of Savage's having never celebrated his benefactress in any of his poems.
Mrs. Oldfield must have had an uncommon degree of effrontery if she could have been prevailed on to speak the foregoing Epilogue. She probably declined it from a sense of the additional impropriety it would acquire by her delivery of it. “ Lamented Oldfield! who with grace
and ease Could join the arts to ruin and to please.”