Page images
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]


This is the only dramatic piece among all the writings of this excellent author. It is founded on the celebrated story of the Sultan Mahomet, who being reproved by his Grandees for giving too indulgent a loosa to his passion for a beautiful Greek named Irene, who was his favourite mistress, to the neglect of his state affairs, and the prejudice of his empire, took off her head with his own hand in their presence, as an atonement for his fault. Dr. Johnson, however, has taken some trifling liberties with the history--Irone being here made to be strangled by order of the emperor, instead of dying by his own hand. The unities of time, place, and action, are most rigidly kept up, the whole coming within the time of performance, and the scene which is a garden of the Seraglio, remaining unmoved through the whole play. The language of it is, like all the rest of Dr. Johnson's writings, nervous, sentimental, and poetical. Yet, notwithstanding these perfections, though assisted by the united powers of Mr. Garrick, Mr. Barry, Mrs. Pritchard, and Mrs. Cibber, all together in one play, it did not meet with the success it merited, and might therefore justly have expected.

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors][merged small]

Y E glitt'ring train ! awhom lace and velvet bless,
Suspend the soft solicitudes of dress;
From grov’ling business and superfluous care,
Ye sons of Avarice! a moment spare :
Votries of fame, and worshippers of power !
Dismiss the pleasing phantoms for an hour.
Our daring Bard, with spirit unconfin’d,
Spreads wide the mighty moral for mankind.
Learn here how Heaven supports the virtuous mind,
Daring, though calm ; and vigorous, though resign'd.
Learn here, what anguish racks the guilty breast,
In power dependent, in success deprest.
Learn here that peace from innocence must flow;
All else is empty sound, and idle show.

If truths like these with pleasing language join;
Ennobled, yet unchang'd, if Nature shine :
If no wild draught depart from reason's rules,
Nor gods his beroes, nor his lovers fools :
Intriguing wits! bis artless plot forgive;
And sparephim, beauties! though his lovers live,

Be this at least his praise; be this bis pride;
To force applause no modern arts are try'd.
Should partial Cat-calls all bis hopes confound,
He bids no trumpet quell the fatal sound,

Should welcome sleep relieve the weary wit,
He rolls no thunder; o'er the drowsy Pit.
No snares to captivate the judgment spreads;
Nor bribes your eyes to prejudice


beads, Unmov'd though witlings sneer and rivals rail; Studious to please, yet not asham’d to fail. He scorns the meek address, the suppliant strain, With merit needless, and without it vain. In reason, nature, truth be dares to trust; Ye fops be silent! and ye wits be just !

Dramatis Personas,

MEN, MAHOMET, Emperor of the Turks. CALI BASSA, First Visier. MUSTAPHA, a Turkish Aga. ABDALLA, an Officer. Hasan and CARAZA, Turkish Captains, DEMETRIUS and LEONTIUS, Greek Noblemen, MURZA, an Eunuch.

WOMEN. Aspasia and IRENE, Greek Ladies. Attendants on Irene.

« PreviousContinue »