SPOKEN BY MR. CIBBER, JUN.1
The Tragic Muse, sublime, delights to show
Princes distrest and scenes of royal woe;
In awful pomp, majestic, to relate
The fall of nations or some hero's fate:
That sceptered chiefs may by example know 5 The strange vicissitude of things below; What dangers on security attend;
How pride and cruelty in ruin end;
Hence Providence supreme to know, and own
Humanity adds glory to a throne. 10
In ev'ry former age and foreign tongue
With native grandeur thus the goddess sung.
Upon our stage, indeed, with wished success,
You've sometimes seen her in a humbler dress --
Great only in distress. When she complains 15 In Southerne's, Rowe's, or Otway's moving strains, The brillant drops that fall from each bright eye
The absent pomp with brighter gems supply.
Forgive us then, if we attempt to show,
In artless strains, a tale of private woe. 20 A London 'prentice ruined, is our theme,
Drawn from the famed old song that bears his name.
We hope your taste is not so high to scorn
A [moral] tale, esteemed ere you were born;
Which, for a century of rolling years, 25 Has filled a thousand thousand eyes with tear. If thoughtless youth to warn, and shame the age
From vice destructive, well becomes the stage;
If this example innocence insure,
Prevent our guilt, or by reflection cure; 30 If Millwood's dreadful crimes and sad despair Commend the virtue of the good and fair:
Though art be wanting, and our numbers fail,
Indulge the attempt, in justice to the tale!