"Like Douglas Conquer, Or Like Douglas Die"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: The Scottish dramatic poet John Home was educated at Edinburgh University and licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Edinburgh in 1745. The ballad Gil Mor-rice (or Child Maurice) supplied him with the outline of the simple and striking plot of Douglas, on which he spent five years. Rejected by David Garrick (1717-1779), the play was produced in Edinburgh on December 14, 1756, with overwhelming success, in spite of the opposition of the presbytery. Home wisely resigned his charge in 1757, after a visit to London, where Douglas was produced at Covent Garden on March 14. The drama was moderately successful on the London stage and remained in the repertory for some time. Actually the work, the only drama for which Home is remembered, stands apart from the tragedy of his day. The persons of the tragedy are of high rank, the atmosphere is romantic, and the medium is blank verse, which is rather declamatory in many places. In the final act Old Norval reveals that he is in reality Lord Douglas and to his son indicates that he is heir to that noble name and honor. He is heir also, however, to the enmity of Lord Randolph and Glenalvon. Yet, the young Douglas avers his determination to stand his ground and defend his new-found heritage.

Dead or alive, let me but be renowned!
May heav'n inspire some fierce gigantic Dane,
To give a bold defiance to our host!
Before he speaks it out I will accept;
Like Douglas conquer, or like Douglas die.