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Prologue; Spoken By Mr. Garrick, April 5, 1750, Before The Masque Of Comus
by [?]


Acted at Drury lane theatre, for the benefit of Milton’s granddaughter [A].

Ye patriot crowds, who burn for England’s fame,
Ye nymphs, whose bosoms beat at Milton’s name;
Whose gen’rous zeal, unbought by flatt’ring rhymes,
Shames the mean pensions of Augustan times;
Immortal patrons of succeeding days,
Attend this prelude of perpetual praise;
Let wit, condemn’d the feeble war to wage
With close malevolence, or publick rage;
Let study, worn with virtue’s fruitless lore,
Behold this theatre, and grieve no more.
This night, distinguish’d by your smiles, shall tell,
That never Britain can in vain excel;
The slighted arts futurity shall trust,
And rising ages hasten to be just.
At length, our mighty bard’s victorious lays
Fill the loud voice of universal praise;
And baffled spite, with hopeless anguish dumb,
Yields to renown the centuries to come;
With ardent haste each candidate of fame,
Ambitious, catches at his tow’ring name;
He sees, and pitying sees, vain wealth bestow
Those pageant honours, which he scorn’d below;
While crowds aloft the laureate bust behold,
Or trace his form on circulating gold.
Unknown, unheeded, long his offspring lay,
And want hung threat’ning o’er her slow decay,
What, though she shine with no Miltonian fire,
No fav’ring muse her morning dreams inspire;
Yet softer claims the melting heart engage,
Her youth laborious, and her blameless age;
Her’s the mild merits of domestick life,
The patient sufferer, and the faithful wife.
Thus, grac’d with humble virtue’s native charms,
Her grandsire leaves her in Britannia’s arms;
Secure with peace, with competence, to dwell,
While tutelary nations guard her cell.
Yours is the charge, ye fair, ye wise, ye brave!
‘Tis yours to crown desert–beyond the grave.

[a] See Life of Milton.