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FIRST.

SECOND.

Fearless he will his life expose;

SECOND. Su does a lion or a bear.

To kill a man, llis very virtues threaten those,

The greatest since mankind began? Who more his bold ambition fear.

Learned, eloquent, and wise,
How stupid wretches we appear,

Generous, merciful, and brave!
Who round the world for wealth and empire roam,
Yet never, never think what slaves we are at home! Yet not too great a sacrifice,
Did inen for this together join,

The libeity of Rome to save
Quitting the free wild life of Nature ?
What other beast did e'er design

But will not goodness claim regard,
The setting up his fellow-creature,

And does not worth Jeserve reward?
And of two mischiefs choose the greater?

FIRST.
Oh! rather than be slaves to bold imperious men, Does not their country lie at stake?
Give us our wildness, and our woods, our huts and Can they do too much for ber sake?

caves again.
There, secure from lawless sway,
Out of Pride or Envy's way ;

Though dreadful be this doom of fate, Living up to Nature's rules,

Just is that power which governs all :

Better this wondrous man should fall,
Not deprav'd by knares and fools:

Than a most glorius, virtuous state.
Happily we all should live, and harmless as our sheep,
And at last as calınly die as infants fall asleep.

BOTH SPIRITS TOGETHER.

CHORUS IV.

DOW.

CHORUS 11.

How great a curse has Providence Lo! to prevent this mighty empire's doom,

Thought fit to cast on human kind ! From bright unknown abodes of bliss I come,

Leaming, courage, cloquence, The awful genius of majestic Rome.

The gentlest nature, noblest mind,

Were intermixt in one alone;
Great is her danger : but I will engage

Yet in one moinent overthrowh.
Some few, the master-souls of all this age,
To do an act of just heroic rage.

Could chance, or senseless atoms, join

To form a soul so great as his? 'Tis bard, a man so great should fall so low; Or would those powers we hold divine More hard to let so brave a people bow

Destroy their own chiet master-piece ? To one themselves have rais'd, who scorns them Where so much difficulty lies,

The doubtful are the only wise.
Yet, oh! I grieve that Brutus should be stain's, And, what must more perplex our thoughts,
Whose life, excepting this one act, remain'd Great Jove the best of Romans sends,
So pure, that future times will think it feign'd. To do the very worst of faults,

And kill the kindest of his friends.
But only he can make the rest combine;
The very life and soul of their design,

All this is far absve our reach,
The centre, where those mighty spirits join.

Whatever priests presume to preach.
l'nthinking men no sort of scruples make ;
Others do ill, only for mischiet's sake;
Eat er'n the best are guilty hy mistake.

PROLOGUE
Thus some for envy, or revenge, intend

TO MARCUS BRUTUS.
To bring the bold usurper to his end :
But for his country Brutus stabs bis friend.

Our scene is Athens. And great Athens nam'd,
What soul so dull as not to be intiau'd ?
Methioks, at mentioning that sacred place,
A reverend awe appears in every face,

For men so fam'd, of such prodigious parts,
BY TWO AERIAL SPIRITS.

As taught the world all sciences and arts.

Amidst all these ye shall behold a man

The most applauded since mankind began, Tell, ob ! tell me, whence arise

Out-shining ev'n those Greeks 'ho most excel, These disorders in our skies?

Whose life was one fix'd course of doing well. Rome's great genius wildly gaz'd,

Oh! who can therefore without tears attend And the gods seemn all amaz'd.

On such a life, and such a fatal end ?

But here our author, besides other faults Know, in sight of this day's Sun,

Of ill expressions, and of vulgar thoughts, Sach a deed is to be done,

Commits one crime that needs an act of grace, Black enough to shroud the light

And breaks the law of unity of place: Of all this world in dismal night,

Yet to si ch noble patriots, ofercome

By factious violence, and banish'd Rome,
FIRST.

Athens alone a fit retreat could yield;
What is this deed ?

And where can Brutus fall, but in Philippi beldi

CHORUS 111.

FIRST.

SECOND.

CHORUS IV.

Some critics judge ev'n love itself too mean That free-born spirits should obey
A care to mix in such a lofty scene,

Wretches, who know not how to sway!
And with those ancient bards of Greece believe
Friendship has stronger charms to please or grieve :

Late we repent our hasty choice,
But our more amorous poet, finding love

In vain bemoan so quick a turn. Amidst all other cares, still shines above,

Hark all to Rome's united voice! Lets not the best of Romans end their lives

Better that we a while had borne Without just softness for the kindest wives.

Evin all those ills which most displease, Yet, if ye think his gentle nature such

Than sought a cure far worse than the disease. 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,

OUR vows thus cheerfully we sing, By Nature curs'd with the wrong side of wit !

While martial inusic fires our blood ; You need not care, whate'er you see to-night, Let all the neighbouring echoes ring How ill some players act, or poets write ;

With clamours for our country's good: Should our mistakes be never so notorious,

An•l, for reward, of the just gods we claim You'll have the joy of being irore censorious :

A life with freedom, or a d ath with fame. Show your small talent then, let that suffice ye; But grow not vain upon it, I advise ye:

May Rome be freed from wars alarms, Each petty critic can objections raise,

And taxes heary to be borne; The greatest skill is knowing when to praise.

May she beware of foreign arms,

And send them back with noble scorn :

And, for reward, &c. CHORUSES IN MARCUS BRUTUS.

May she no more confide in friends,

Who nothing farther understood,
CHORUS II.

Than only, for their private ends,
Dark is the maze poor mortals tread ;

To waste her wealth, and spill her blood: Wisdom itself a guide will need :

And for reward, &c. We little thought, when Cæsar bled,

Our senators, great Jove, restrain That a worse Cesar would succeed..

From private piques, they prudence call; And are we under such a curse,

From the low thoughts of little gain, We cannot change but for the worse ?

And hazarding the losing all :
With fair pretence of foreign force,

And, for reward, &c.
By which Rome must herself enthral;
These, without blushes or remorse,

The shining arms with haste prepare,
Proscribe the best, impoverish all.

Then to the glorious combat tly ; The Gauls themselves, our greatest foes,

Our minds unclogg'd with farther care, Could act no mischiefs worse than those.

Except to overcome or die :

And, for reward, &c.
That Julius, with ambitious thoughts,
Had virtues too, his foes could find;

They fight, oppression to increase,
These equal him in all his faults,

We for our liberties and laws; But never in his noble mind.

It were a sin to doubt success,

When freedoin 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 frecdom, or a death with fame.

1

THE

POEMS

OP

MATTHEW PRIOR.

1

THE

LIFE OF

OF PRIOR.

BY DR. JOHNSON.

MATTHEW Prior is one of those that have burst out from an obscure original to -great eminence. He was born July 21, 1664, according to some, at Winburn in Dorsetshire, of I know not what parents; others say, that he was the son of a joiner of London: he was perhaps willing enough to leave his birth unsettled ', in hope, like Don Quixote, that the historian of his actions might find him some illustrious alliance.

He is supposed to have fallen, by his father's death, into the hands of his uncle, a vintner near Charing Cross, who sent him for some time to Dr. Busby, at Westminster; but, not intending to give him any education beyond that of the school, took him, when he was well advanced in literature, to his own house, where the earl of Dorset, celebrated for patronage of genius, found him by chance, as Burnet relates, reading Horace, and was so well pleased with his proficiency, that be undertook the care and cost of his academical education.

He entered his name in St. John's College at Cambridge in 1682, in his eighteenth year; and it may be reasonably supposed, that he was distinguished among his conternporaries. He became a bachelor, as is usual, in four years ?; and two years afterwards wrote the poem on the Deity, which stands first in his volume.

1

The difficulty of settling Prior's birth-place is great. In the register of his college he is called, at bis admission by the president, Matthew Prior, of Winbum in Middlesex; by himself, next day, Matthew Prior of Dorsetshire, in which county, not in Middlesex, Winborn, or Winborne as it stands in the Villare, is found. When he stood candidate for his fellowship, five years afterwards, he was registered again by himself as of Middlesex. The last record ought to be preferred, because it was made upon oath. It is observable, that, as a native of Winborne, he is stiled filius Georgii Prior, generosi; not consistently with the common account of the meanness of his birth. Dr. J.

* Samuel Prior kept the Rummer Tavern, near Charing Cross, in 1685. The annual feast of the nobility and gentry living in the parish of St. Martin in the Fields was held at his house, October 14, that

year. N.

He was admitted to his bachelor's degree in 1686; and to his master's, by mandate, in 1700. N.

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