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  Vortigern Studies > Vortigern > Art & Literature > Play 3 > Prologues

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PROLOGUE 1
INTENDED FOR VORTIGERN.
WRITTEN BY JAMES HENRY PYE, ESQ. P.L.

THE cause, with learn'd investigation fraught,
Behold, at length, to this tribunal brought:
No fraud your penetrating eyes can cheat,
None here can Shakspeare's writing counterfeit.
As well the taper's base, unlustrous ray,
Might strive to emulate the orb of day,
As modern bards, whom venal hopes inspire,
Can catch one spark of his celestial fire.
If in our scenes your eyes delighted find
Marks that denote the mighty master's mind;
If at his words, the tears of pity flow,
Your breasts with horror thrill, with rapture glow;
If on your harrow'd souls impress'd you feel
The stamp of nature's uncontested seal;
Demand no other proof, nor idly pore
O'er monidy manuscripts of ancient lore,
To see if every tawny line display
The genuine ink of fam'd Eliza's day:
Nor strive with curious industry to know
How poets spelt two centuries ago.
But if these proofs should fail; if in the strain
You seek the drama's awful sire in vain,
Yet in our ancient legend should you trace
Truth's genuine features, tho' of humbler grace,
Condemn not rashly. O'er the forest glade,
Tho' the oak spread no patriarchal shade,
Yet may a shrub of no unlovely green
With vivid foliage deck the sylvan scene;
Some tuneful notes the vocal woodlands fill,
And sooth the ear, tho' Philomel be still.
Then each extraneous matter laid aside,
By its own merit be our drama tried.
Forget the prejudice of rigid art,
To read the code of nature in the heart;
Consult her laws, from partial favour free,
And give as they decide, your just decree.

PROLOGUE 2
WRITTEN BY SIR JAMES BLAND BURGESS, BART.
SPOKEN BY MR. WHITFIELD.

No common cause your verdict now demands,
Before the court immortal Shakapeare stands;
That mighty master of the human soul,
Who rules the passions, and with strong control
Thro' every turning of the changeful heart
Directs his course sublime, and leads his powerful art.
When on his birth propitious nature smil'd,
And hung transported o'er her favourite child;
While on his head her choicest gifts she shower'd,
And o'er his mind her inspiration pour'd:-
" Proceed," she cried, " the high decree fulfil!
" "Tis thine to rule, with magic sway, the will;
" On fancy's wing to stretch o'er boundless space,
" And all creation's varied works to trace;
" 'Tis thine each flitting phantom to pursue,
" Each hidden power of verse to bring to view,
" To shed o'er British taste celestial day,
" And reign o'er Genius with unrivall'd sway."
Such was the high behest-the sacred choice
Long has been sanction'd by our candid voice:
The favour'd relics of your Shakspeare's hand.
Unrivall'd, and inimitable, stand.
If hope of fame some modern bards has led
To try the path where Shakspeare wont to tread;
If, with presumptuous wing, they dar'd aspire
To catch some portion of his sacred fire,
Your critic pow'rs the vain attempt repell'd,
The flimsy vapour, by your breath dispell'd,
Expos'd the trembling culprit to your sight,
While Shakspeare's radiance shone with doubled light.
From deep oblivion snatch'd, this play appears:
It claims respect, since Shakspeare's name it bears;
That name, the source of wonder and delight,
To a fair hearing has at least a right.
We ask no more-with you the judgment lies;
No forgeries escape your piercing eyes!
Unbiass'd, then, pronounce your dread decree,
Alike from prejudice and favour free.
If, the fierce ordeal pass'd, you chance to find
Rich sterling ore, tho' rude and unrefin'd,
Stamp it your own; assert your poet's fame,
And add, fresh wreaths to Shakspeare's honour'd name.

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