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Four young ladies of distinction, in search PASTORELLA,
URANIA, an ancient shepherdess.
FLORELLA, a young shepherdessa
DEAR MADAM, As the following poem turns chiefly on the danger of delay or error in the important article of Education, I know not to whom I can,
with more propriety, dedicate it than to you, as the subject it inculcates has been one of the principal objects of your attention in your own family.
Let not the name of Dedication aların you ; I am not going to offend you by making your eulogium. Panegyric is only necessary to suspicious characters Virtue will not accept it; Delicacy will not offer it.
The friendship with which you have honoured me from my childhood, will, I flatter myself, induce you to pardon me for venturing to lay before yor: this public testimony of my esteem, and to assure you how much I am,
Your obedient and obliged humble servant,
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 amusements. 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 drama 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 described
No lying chambermaid that rake had bribed ;
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 tones, 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 th' impassion'd strain!
If well—how bad to be the thing we feign !
To fiix the mimic scene upon the heart,
And keep the passion when we quit the part !
Such are the perils the dramatic muse,
In youthful bosoms, 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 dangerous maxim on the heart.
Oh! if, to crown her efforts, she could find,
They rooted but one error from one mind;
If in the bosom of ingenuous youth
They stamp'd one useful thought, one lasting truth,
'Twould be a fairer tribute to her name,
Than loud applauses, or an empty fame.