chapter  69
To the Honorable Sir FRANCIS FANE, On his Excellent Play, The Sacrifice.
Pages 2

Long have our Priests condemn’d a Wicked Age And every Little Critick’s senseless rage, Damn’d a forsaken, self-declining Stage. Great, ‘tis confess’d, and many are our Crimes; 5 And no less profligate the Vicious Times. But yet no wonder both prevail so Ill, The Poets Fury, and the Preachers Skill. While to the World it is so plainly known, They blame our Faults, and never mind their own. 10 Let their Dull Pens flow with unlearned Spight, And weakly Censure what the Skilful Write: You, Learned Sir, a Nobler Pattern show Our best of Rules, and best Example too. Precepts and grave Instructions dully move; 15 The brave Performer better does Improve. Thus in the truest Satyr you Excel, And show how ill we Write, by Writing well. This Noble Piece which well deserves your Name, I Read with Pleasure, tho I Read with Shame. 20 The tender Lawrels which my Brows had drest, Flag’d like young Flowers by too much Heat opprest: The Generous Fire I felt in every Line, Show’d me the cold, the feeble Force of mine. Henceforth I’ll you for Imitation chuse, 25 Your Nobler Flights will wing my Callow Muse. So the young Eagle is inform’d to fly, Seeing the Monarch Bird ascend the Sky, And tho with less Success, her Strength she’ll try. Spreads her soft Wings, and his vast Tract pursues, 30 Tho far above the Towring Prince she views. 227Where the whole Work is so Divinely wrought, The Rules so just, and so sublime each Thought, With such strict Art your Scenes in order plac’d, With Wit so new, and so uncommon Grac’d; 35 In vain, Alas! I shou’d attempt to tell Where, or in what, your Muse does most excel. Each Character performs its Noble Part, And stamps its Image on the Readers Heart. In Tamerlane you a true Hero drest: 40 A Generous Conflict wars within his Brest: ‘Tis there the Mightiest Passions you have show’d: By turns confess’d the Mortal and the God! When e’re his steps approach the haughty Fair, He bows indeed, but like a Conqueror; 45 Compell’d to Love, yet scorns his servile Chain, And spight of all you make the Monarch Reign. But who without resistless Tears can see? The Bright, the Innocent Irene dye. Axalla’s Life a Noble Ransom paid, 50 In vain to save the dear Lov’d Charming Maid. Naught surely could, but your own Flame inspire Your happy Muse to reach so soft a Fire. Yet with what Art you turn the powerful Stream, When Treacherous Ragalzan is the Theme! 55 You mix our different Passions with such skill, We feel ‘em All, and all with Pleasure feel: We love his Mischiefs, tho the Harms we grieve, And for his Wit, the Villain we forgive. In your Despina all those Passions meet, 60 Which Womans Frailties perfectly compleat: Pride, and Revenge, Ambition, Love, and Rage At once her wilful haughty Soul Engage: And while her Rigid Honor we Esteem, The dire Effects as justly must condemn. 65 She shows a Virtue so severely Nice, As has betray’d it to a pitch of Vice, All which confess a Godlike Power in you, Who cou’d form Woman to her self so true. Live, Mighty Sir, to reconcile the Age, 70 To the first Glories of the useful Stage: Tis you her rifled Empire may restore, And give her Power she ne’re could boast before.