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    Prologue to `Zobeide'

    by Oliver Goldsmith
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    IN these bold times, when Learning's sons explore
    The distant climate and the savage shore;
    When wise Astronomers to India steer,
    And quit for Venus, many a brighter here;
    While Botanists, all cold to smiles and dimpling, 5
    Forsake the fair, and patiently -- go simpling;
    When every bosom swells with wond'rous scenes,
    Priests, cannibals, and hoity-toity queens:
    Our bard into the general spirit enters,
    And fits his little frigate for adventures: 10
    With Scythian stores, and trinkets deeply laden,
    He this way steers his course, in hopes of trading --
    Yet ere he lands he 'as ordered me before,
    To make an observation on the shore.
    Where are we driven? our reck'ning sure is lost! 15
    This seems a barren and a dangerous coast.
    ____ what a sultry climate am I under!
    Yon ill foreboding cloud seems big with thunder.
    ('Upper Gallery'.)
    There Mangroves spread, and larger than I've seen 'em --
    Here trees of stately size -- and turtles in 'em --
    ('Balconies'.) 20
    Here ill-condition'd oranges abound --
    And apples ('takes up one and tastes it'),
    bitter apples strew the ground.
    The place is uninhabited, I fear!
    I heard a hissing -- there are serpents here!
    O there the natives are -- a dreadful race! 25
    The men have tails, the women paint the face!
    No doubt they're all barbarians. -- Yes, 'tis so,
    I'll try to make palaver with them though;
    ('Making signs'.)
    'Tis best, however, keeping at a distance.
    Good Savages, our Captain craves assistance; 30
    Our ship's well stor'd; -- in yonder creek we've laid her;
    His honour is no mercenary trader;
    This is his first adventure; lend him aid,
    Or you may chance to spoil a thriving trade.
    His goods, he hopes are prime, and brought from far, 35
    Equally fit for gallantry and war.
    What! no reply to promises so ample?
    I'd best step back -- and order up a sample.

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