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This opera, the comic scenes of which, at least, are pleasant and entertaining, was first brought on the stage in 1707, and after three representations withdrawn. It was written by Addison in consequence of the then prevailing taste for Italian operas, to try the effect of a musical drama in our own language. The opinion of the world seems to have followed or coincided with that expressed by the public at its representation: Cato is still read and admired, while Rosamond is neglected and forgotten."
It was one of the first of our author's compositions.
-Ne forte pudori
Sit tibi musa lyræ solers, et cantor Apollo.
BY MR. TICKELL.
THE opera first Italian masters taught,
Enrich'd with songs, but innocent of thought.
Britannia's learned theatre disdains
Melodious trifles, and enervate strains;
And blushes on her injur'd stage to see
Nonsense well tun'd, and sweet stupidity.
No charms are wanting to thy artful song,
Soft as Corelli, but as Virgil strong.
From words so sweet new grace the notes receive,
And music borrows helps she us❜d to give.
Thy style hath match'd what ancient Romans knew,
Thy flowing numbers far excel the new;
Their cadence in such easy sound convey'd,
That height of thought may seem superfluous aid;
Yet in such charms the noble thoughts abound,
That needless seem the sweets of easy sound.
Landscapes how gay the bow'ry grotto yields,
Which thought creates, and lavish fancy builds!
What art can trace the visionary scenes,
The flow'ry groves, and everlasting greens,
The babbling sounds that mimic echo plays,
The fairy shade, and its eternal maze,
Nature and art in all their charms combin'd,
And all Elysium to one view confin'd!
No farther could imagination roam,
Till Vanbrugh fram'd, and Marlbro' rais'd the dome.
Ten thousand pangs my anxious bosom tear,
When drown'd in tears I see th' imploring fair:
When bards less soft the moving words supply,
A seeming justice dooms the nymph to die :
But here she begs, nor can she beg in vain,
(In dirges thus expiring swans complain)
Each verse so swells, expressive of her woes,
And ev'ry tear in lines so mournful flows;
We, spite of fame, her fate revers'd believe,
O'erlook her crimes, and think she ought to live.
Let joy transport fair Rosamonda's shade,
And wreaths of myrtle crown the lovely maid.
While now perhaps with Dido's ghost she roves,
And hears and tells the story of their loves;
Alike they mourn, alike they bless their fate,
Since love, which made them wretched, makes them great;
Nor longer that relentless doom bemoan,
Which gain'd a Virgil and an Addison.
Accept, great monarch of the British lays,
The tribute song an humble subject pays.
So tries the artless lark her early flight,
And soars, to hail the god of verse and light.
Unrival'd as thy merit be thy fame,
And thy own laurels shade thy envied name:
Thy name, the boast of all the tuneful choir,
Shall tremble on the strings of ev'ry lyre;
While the charm'd reader with thy thought complies;
Feels corresponding joys or sorrows rise,
And views thy Rosamond with Henry's eyes.
WHOEVER WISHES TO ATTAIN AN ENGLISH STYLE, FAMILIAR
BUT NOT COARSE, AND ELEGANT BUT NOT OSTENTATIOUS, MUST GIVE HIS DAYS AND NIGHTS TO THE VOLUMES OF ADDISON.-DR. JOHNSON.