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Poem by Mary Wortley Montagu


Epilogue to the Tragedy of Cato


You see in ancient Rome what folly reign'd;
A folly British men would have disdain'd.
Here's none so weak to pity Cato's case,
Who might have liv'd, and had a handsome place;
But rashly vain, and insolently great,
He perish'd by his fault -- and not his fate.
Thank Heav'n! our patriots better ends pursue,
With something more than glory in their view.
Poets write morals -- priests for martyrs preach --
Neither such fools to practice what they teach.
Though your dear country much you wish to serve,
For bonny Britons 'tis too hard to starve;
Or what's all one, to any generous mind,
From girls, champagne, and gaming, be confin'd;
Portius might well obey his sire's command,
Returning to his small paternal land;
A low estate was ample to support
His private life, far distant from the court!
Far from the crowd of emulating beaux,
Where Martia never wanted birthday clothes.
For you, who live in these more polish'd days,
To spend your money, lo! ten thousand ways;
Dice may run ill, or duns demand their due,
And ways to get (God knows) are very few;
In times so differing, who shall harshly blame
Our modern heroes, not to act the same? 



Mary Wortley Montagu


Mary Wortley Montagu's other poems:
  1. An Elegy on Mrs. Thompson
  2. Epigram, 1734
  3. Friday, the Toilette
  4. An Epistle from Pope to Lord Bolingbroke
  5. Town Eclogues: Wednesday; the Tête à Tête


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