A Prologue to Cato

As it was Acted, by some young Gentlemen, at the Time of the threatned Invasion from Spain in 1717.

'Twas worth Remark with how much Heat and Rage,
When first our Cato grac'd the British Stage,
Contending Parties all his Words apply'd,
And strove to lift the Patriot on their Side;
Nay, by how natural an Application
He chim'd with ev'ry Faction of the Nation.
Of Freedom he asserts the glorious Cause;
Straight rung the Theatre with Whig Applause.
Short Joy! for in ten Lines he chang'd the Story,
And ranted like a hot tantivy Tory:
Fiercely exclaim'd, from Generals for Life,
From standing Legions springs our Civil Strife.
In short — though all could find, or here, or there,
Their fav'rite Schemes to hit the Character;
Yet none could fix it all throughout their own,
And claim him to themselves, and them alone.
Could then th'unconquer'd Soul and Stoick Pride
Of Cato ever bear to change his Side?
Could He unfix'd in Principle remain?
O Addison! th'important Doubt explain,
Say, didst thou draw him a mere Mod'rate Man?
No, to impartial Eyes he will appear
True to himself throughout, and regular.
When Rome , by wild Ambition's Fury tost,
Her Laws all broke, her Constitution lost,
With War's mad Rage was urging on her Fate,
Then Cato rose to save the sinking State,
Victorious Caesar 's mighty Pow'r defy'd,
Arm'd in his Country's Cause, and bravely stem'd the Tide.
Ever to us be good old England 's Cause
The same that good old Rome 's to Cato was.
On This firm Ground let's resolutely stand,
And drive the bold Invader from our Land,
Our Laws, our Country, and our King defend;
Let us do this, and Cato is our Friend.
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