British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan

By George Henry Nettleton; Arthur Eillicot Case | Go to book overview

THE EPILOGUE
Conquest and freedom are at length our own,1
False fears of slavery no more are shown;
Nor dread of paying tribute to a foreign throne.
All stations now the fruits of conquest share,
Except (if small with great things may compare)
Th' opprest condition of the lab'ring player.
5

We're still in fears (as you of late from France)
Of the despotic power of song, and dance:

For while subscription like a tyrant reigns,
Nature's neglected, and the stage in chains,
And English actors slaves to swell the Frenchman's gains.
10

Like Æsop's crow, the poor outwitted stage,
That lived on wholesome plays i'th' latter age,
Deluded once to sing, ev'n justly served,

Let fall her cheese to the fox's mouth and starved: 15

Oh, that your judgment, as your courage has
Your fame extended, would assert our cause,
That nothing English might submit to foreign laws.
If we but live to see that joyful day,
Then of the English stage, revived, we may,
As of your honor now, with proper application, say.
20

So when the Gallic Fox by fraud of peace
Had lulled the British Lion into ease,

And saw that sleep composed his couchant head,
He bids him wake and see himself betrayed
In toils of treacherous politics around him laid:
25

Shows him how one close hour of Gallic thought
Retook those towns for which he years bad fought.
At this th' indignant savage2, rolls his fiery eyes,

Dauntless, though blushing at the base surprise. 30

Pauses awhile -- but finds delays are vain:
Compelled to fight, he shakes his shaggy mane,
He grinds his dreadful fangs, and stalks to Blenheim's plain.
There, with erected crest and horrid roar,
He, furious, plunges on through streams of gore,
And dyes with false Bavarian blood the purple Danube's shore.
35

In one pushed battle frees the destined slaves;
Revives old English honor, and an empire saves.

FINIS

____________________
1
The year 1704 had been a memorably successful one for the allied armies of England, Holland and the Emperor, with the
battle of Blenheim as a climax.
2
Wild beast.

-436-

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