Prologue to Phaedra and Hippolitus


Spoken by Mr. Wilks.

Long has a race of heroes fill'd the stage,
That rant by note, and thro' the gamut rage;
In songs and airs express their martial fire,
Combat in trills, and in a feuge expire;
While lull'd by sound, and undisturb'd by wit,
Calm and serene you indolently sit,
And from the dull fatigue of thinking free,
Hear the facetious fiddles repartee:
Our home-spun authors must forsake the field,
And Shakespeare to the soft Scarletti yield.
To your new taste the poet of this day
Was by a friend advis'd to form his play.
Had Valentini, musically coy,
Shunn'd Phaedra's arms, and scorn'd the proffer'd joy,
It had not mov'd your wonder to have seen
An eunuch fly from an enamour'd queen:
How would it please should she in English speak,
And could Hippolitus reply in Greek?
But he, a stranger to your modish way,
By your old rules must stand or fall to-day,
And hopes you will your foreign taste command
To bear, for once, with what you understand.
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