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.
That Fables should not be contaminated.
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.
ACT THE FIRST. SCENE I.
Simo, Sosia, and Servants with Provisions.
Simo. Carry those things in: go! (Ex. Servants.
Sosia, come here;
A word with you!
Sosia. I understand: that these
Be ta’en due care of.
Simo. Quite another thing.
Sosia. What can my art do more for you?
Simo. This business
Needs not that art; but those good qualities,
Which I have ever known abide in you,
Fidelity and secrecy.
Sosia. I wait
Simo. Since I bought you, from a boy
How just and mild a servitude you’ve pass’d
With me, you’re conscious: from a purchas’d slave
I made you free, because you serv’d me freely:
The greatest recompense I could bestow.
Sosia. I do remember.
Simo. Nor do I repent.
Sosia. If I have ever done, or now do aught
That’s pleasing to you, Simo, I am glad,
And thankful that you hold my service good
And yet this troubles me: for this detail,
Forcing your kindness on my memory,
Seems to reproach me of ingratitude.
Oh tell me then at once, what would you? Sir!
Simo. I will; and this I must advise you first;
The nuptial you suppose preparing now,
Is all unreal.
Sosia. Why pretend it then?
Simo. You shall hear all from first to last: and thus
The conduct of my son, my own intent,
And what part you’re to act, you’ll know at once.
For my son, Sosia, now to manhood grown,
Had freer scope of living: for before
How might you know, or how indeed divine
His disposition, good or ill, while youth,
Fear, and a master, all constrain’d him?
Simo. Though most, as is the bent of youth, apply
Their mind to some one object, horses, hounds,
Or to the study of philosophy;
Yet none of these, beyond the rest, did he
Pursue; and yet, in moderation, all.
I was o’erjoy’d.
Sosia. And not without good cause....