Fiction > Harvard Classics > Oliver Goldsmith > She Stoops to Conquer
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Oliver Goldsmith (1730?–1774).  She Stoops to Conquer.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
Prologue
 
 
By David Garrick, Esq.

Enter MR. WOODWARD, dressed in black, and holding a handkerchief to his eyes


EXCUSE me, sirs, I pray—I can’t yet speak—
I’m crying now—and have been all the week.
“’Tis not alone this mourning suit,” good masters:
“I’ve that within—for which there are no plasters!
Pray, would you know the reason why I’m crying?        5
The Comic Muse, long sick, is now a-dying!
And if she goes, my tears will never stop;
For as a player, I can’t squeeze out one drop:
I am undone, that’s all—shall lose my bread—
I’d rather, but that’s nothing—lose my head.        10
When the sweet maid is laid upon the bier,
Shuter and I shall be chief mourners here.
To her a mawkish drab of spurious breed,
Who deals in sentimentals, will succeed!
Poor Ned and I are dead to all intents;        15
We can as soon speak Greek as sentiments!
Both nervous grown, to keep our spirits up,
We now and then take down a hearty cup.
What shall we do? If Comedy forsake us,
They’ll turn us out, and no one else will take us.        20
But why can’t I be moral?—Let me try—
My heart thus pressing—fixed my face and eye—
With a sententious look, that nothing means,
(Faces are blocks in sentimental scenes)
Thus I begin: “All is not gold that glitters,        25
Pleasure seems sweet, but proves a glass of bitters.
When Ignorance enters, Folly is at hand:
Learning is better far than house and land.
Let not your virtue trip; who trips may stumble,
And virtue is not virtue, if she tumble.”        30
I give it up—morals won’t do for me;
To make you laugh, I must play tragedy.
One hope remains—hearing the maid was ill,
A Doctor comes this night to show his skill.
To cheer her heart, and give your muscles motion,        35
He, in Five Draughts prepar’d presents a potion:
A kind of magic charm—for be assur’d,
If you will swallow it, the maid is cur’d:
But desperate the Doctor, and her case is,
If you reject the dose, and make wry faces!        40
This truth he boasts, will boast it while he lives,
No poisonous drugs are mixed in what he gives.
Should he succeed, you’ll give him his degree;
If not, within he will receive no fee!
The College you, must his pretensions back,        45
Pronounce him Regular, or dub him Quack.
 

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