The Sophist boasts in vain that he can "Disprove [Nature's] general empire o'er the heart"

— Sheridan, Richard Brinsley (1751-1816); Kotzebue (1761-1819)

Work Title
Place of Publication
Printed for James Ridgway
The Sophist boasts in vain that he can "Disprove [Nature's] general empire o'er the heart"
Metaphor in Context
O ye, who listen to the plaintive strain,
With strange enjoyment, and with rapturous pain,
Who erst have felt the Stranger's lone despair,
And Haller's settled, sad, remorseful care,
Does Rolla's pure affection less excite
The inexpressive anguish of delight?
Do Cora's fears, which beat without control,
With less solicitude engross the soul?
Ah, no! your minds with kindred zeal approve
Maternal feeling, and heroic love.
You must approve; where Man exists below,
In temperate climes, or 'midst drear wastes of snow,
Or where the solar fires incessant flame,
Thy laws, all-powerful Nature, are the same:
Vainly the Sophist boasts, he can explain
The causes of thy universal reign--
More vainly would his cold presumptuous art
Disprove thy general empire o'er the heart:
A voice proclaims thee, that we must believe,
A voice, that surely speaks not to deceive;
That voice poor Cora heard, and closely prest
Her darling infant to her fearful breast;
Distracted dar'd the bloody field to tread,
And sought Alonzo through the heaps of dead,
Eager to catch the music of his breath,
Though faltering in the agonies of death,
To touch his lips, though pale and cold, once more,
And clasp his bosom, though it stream'd with gore;
That voice too Rolla heard, and, greatly brave,
His Cora's dearest treasure died to save,
Gave to the hopeless Parent's arms her child,
Beheld her transports, and expiring smil'd.
That voice ye hear--Oh! be its will obey'd!
'Tis Valour's impulse and 'tis Virtue's aid--
It prompts to all Benevolence admires,
To all that heav'nly Piety inspires,
To all that Praise repeats through lengthen'd years,
That Honour sanctifies, and Time reveres.
Searching "heart" and "empire" in HDIS (Drama)
First performed May 24, 1799. Sheridan freely adapts from Kotzebue. Extremely popular, with over 30,000 copies of book sold in first year in print. At least 40 entries in ESTC (1799, 1800)

Pizarro; A Tragedy, in Five Acts; As Performed at The Theatre Royal in Drury-Lane: Taken from the German Drama of Kotzebue; and adapted to the English stage by Richard Brinsley Sheridan (London: Printed for James Ridgway, 1799). <Link to 4th edition in Google Books>
Date of Entry

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.