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AN OCCASIONAL PROLOGUE and EPILOGUE TO OTHELLO,

As it was acted at the Theatre-Royal in Drury-Lane, on Thursday the 7th of March 1751, by Persons of Distinction for their Diversion.

1 WHILE mercenary actors tread the stage,
2 And hireling scriblers lash or lull the age,
3 Ours be the task t'instruct, and entertain,
4 Without one thought of glory or of gain.
5 Virtue's her own from no external cause
6 She gives, and she demands the Self-applause:
7 Home to her breast she brings the heart-felt bays,
8 Heedless alike of profit, and of praise.
9 This now perhaps is wrong yet this we know,
10 'Twas sense and truth a century ago:
11 When Britain with transcendent glory crown'd,
12 For high atchievements, as for wit renown'd;
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13 Cull'd from each growing grace the purest part,
14 And cropt the flowers from every blooming art.
15 Our noblest youth would then embrace the task
16 Of comic humour, or the mystic masque.
17 'Twas theirs t'incourage worth, and give to bards
18 What now is spent in boxing and in cards:
19 Good sense their pleasure Virtue still their guide,
20 And English magnanimity their pride.
21 Methinks I see with Fancy's magic eye,
22 The shade of Shakespear, in yon azure sky.
23 On you high cloud behold the bard advance,
24 Piercing all Nature with a single glance:
25 In various attitudes around him stand
26 The passions, waiting for his dread command.
27 First kneeling Love before his feet appears,
28 And musically sighing melts in tears.
29 Near him fell Jealousy with fury burns,
30 And into storms the amorous breathings turns;
31 Then Hope with heavenward look, and Joy draws near,
32 While palsied Terror trembles in the rear.
33 Such Shakespear's train of horror and delight,
34 And such we hope to introduce to-night.
35 But if, tho' just in thought, we fail in fact,
36 And good intention ripens not to act,
37 Weigh our design, your censure still defer,
38 When truth's in view 'tis glorious e'en to err.
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EPILOGUE. Spoken by DESDEMONA.

1 TRUE woman to the last my peroration
2 I come to speak in spight of suffocation;
3 To shew the present and the age to come,
4 We may be choak'd, but never can be dumb.
5 Well now methinks I see you all run out,
6 And haste away to Lady Bragwell's rout;
7 Each modish sentiment to hear and weigh,
8 Of those who nothing think, and all things say.
9 Prudella first in parody begins,
10 (For Nonsense and Buffoonery are twins)
11 "Can beaux the court for theatres exchange?
12 " I swear by Heaven 'tis strange, 'tis passing strange;
13 "And very whimsical, and mighty dull,
14 " And pitiful, and wond'rous pitiful:
15 "I wish I had not heard it Blessed dame!
16 Whene'er she speaks her audience wish the same.
17 Next Neddy Nicely " Fye, O fye, good lack,
18 "A nasty man to make his face all black."
19 Then Lady Stiffneck shews her pious rage,
20 And wonders we shou'd act upon a stage.
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21 "Why, ma'me, says Coquetilla, a disgrace?
22 " Merit in any form may shew her face:
23 "In this dull age the male things ought to play,
24 " To teach them what to do, and what to say. "
25 In short, they all with different cavils cram us,
26 And only are unanimous to damn us.
27 But still there are a fair judicious few,
28 Who judge unbiass'd, and with candour view;
29 Who value honesty, tho' clad in buff,
30 And wit, tho' dress'd in an old English ruff.
31 Behold them here I beaming sense descry,
32 Shot from the living lustre of each eye.
33 Such meaning smiles each blooming face adorn,
34 As deck the pleasure-painted brow of morn;
35 And shew the person of each matchless fair,
36 Tho' rich to rapture, and above compare,
37 Is, even with all the skill of heaven design'd,
38 But an imperfect image of their mind;
39 While chastity unblemish'd and unbrib'd
40 Adds a majestic mien that scorns to be describ'd:
41 Such, we will vaunt, and only such as these,
42 'Tis our ambition, and our fame to please.

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Title (in Source Edition): AN OCCASIONAL PROLOGUE and EPILOGUE TO OTHELLO,
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Genres: prologue; epilogue

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Source edition

Poems on several occasions: By Christopher Smart, A. M. Fellow of Pembroke-Hall, Cambridge. London: printed for the author, by W. Strahan; and sold by J. Newbery, at the Bible and Sun, in St. Paul’s Church-Yard, MDCCLII., 1752, pp. 216-219. [16],230p.,plates; 4⁰. (ESTC T42626; OTA K041581.000)

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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the ECCO-TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 3.0.

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