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The object of the following Poem, which was written in very early youth, was an earnest wish to furnish a substitute for the very improper custom, which then prevailed, of allowing plays, and those not always of the purest kind, to be acted by young Ladies in boarding schools. And it has afforded a serious satisfaction to the Author to learn that this little Poem, and the preceding Sacred Dramas, have very frequently been adopted to supply the place of those more dangerous amusemnents. If it may be still happily instrumental in promoting a regard to Religion and Virtue in the minds of young persons, and afford them an innocent, and perhaps not altogether unuseful, amusement in the exercise of recitation, the end for which it was originally composed, and the Author's utmost wish in its republication, will be fully answered.
In these grave scenes, and unembellish'd strains,
Where neither sly intrigue nor passion reigns;
How dare we hope an audience will approve
A Dramà void of wit and free from love ?
Where no soft Juliet sighs, and weeps, and starts,
No fierce Roxana takes by storm your hearts;
No comic ridicule, no tragic swagger,
Not one elopement, not one bowl or dagger !
No husband wrong'd who trusted and believ'd,
No father cheated, and no friend deceiv'd ;
No libertine in glowing strains describ’d,
No lying chambermaid that rake had brib’d:
Nor give we, to reward the rover's life,
The ample portion and the beauteous wife:
Behold, to raise the manners of the age,
The frequent moral of the scenic page!
And shall we then transplant these noxious scenes
To private life ? to misses in their teens ?
The pompous tone, the masculine attire,
The stilts, the buskin, the dramatic fire,
Corrupt the softness of the gentler kind,
And taint the sweetness of the youthful mind.
Ungovern'd passions, jealousy, and rage,
But ill become our sex, still less our age ;
Whether we learn too well what we describe,
Or fail the Poet's meaning to imbibe ;
In either case your blame we justly raise,
In either lose, or ought to lose, your praise.
How dull, if tamely flows the impassion'd strain !
If well — how bad to be the thing we feign!
To fix the mimic scene upon the heart,
And keep the passion when we quit the part !
Such are the perils the dramatic muse,
In youthful busoms, threatens to infuse !
Our timid Author labours to impart
A less pernicious lesson to the heart;
What though no charm of melody divine
Smooth her round period, or adorn her line ;
Though her unpolish'd page in vain aspires
To emulate the graces she admires ;
Though destitute of skill, her sole pretence
But aims at simple truth and common sense :
Yet shall her honest unassuming page
Tell that its Author, in a modish age,
Preferr'd plain virtue to the boast of art,
Nor fix'd one dang’rous maxim on the heart.
O if, to crown her efforts, she could find
They rooted but one error from one mind;
If in the bosom of ingenuous youth
They stampt one useful thought, one lasting truth,
'Twould be a fairer tribute to her name
Than loud applauses, or an empty fame.
CLEORA, (Four young Ladies of distinction, in
PASTORELLA, | Search of Happiness.
URANIA, an ancient Shepherdess.
FLORELLA, a young Shepherdess.