The Bard, when first he gave his mind to write,
Thought it his only business, that his Plays
Should please the people: but it now falls out,
He finds, much otherwise, and wastes, perforce,
His time in writing Prologues; not to tell
The argument, but to refute the slanders
Broach’d by the malice of an older Bard.
And mark what vices he is charg’d withal!
Menander wrote the Andrian and Perinthian:
Know one, and you know both; in argument
Less diff’rent than in sentiment and style.
What suited with the Andrian he confesses
From the Perinthian he transferr’d, and us’d
For his: and this it is these sland’rers blame,
Proving by deep and learned disputation,
That Fables should not be confounded thus.
Troth! all the knowledge is they nothing know:
Who, blaming; him, blame Nævius, Plautus, Ennius,
Whose great example is his precedent;
Whose negligence he’d wish to emulate
Rather than their dark diligence. Henceforth,
Let them, I give them warning, be at peace,
And cease to rail, lest they be made to know
Their own misdeeds. Be favorable! sit
With equal mind, and hear our play; that hence
Ye may conclude, what hope to entertain,
The comedies he may hereafter write
Shall merit approbation or contempt.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:01