« PreviousContinue »
1055 Suppose these characters, various as they are, As some fond maid, whom matron-frowns reThe knave, the fool, the worthy, wise, and fair, prove, For and against the author pleading at your bar. Suspends the smile her heart devotes to love; First pleads Tom Jones grateful his heart and The season's pleasures too delay their hour, warm
And winter revels with protracted pow'r: “ Brave gen'rous Britons! shield this play from Then blame not, critics, if thus late we bring harm;
A winter's drama; but reproach-the spring. My best friend wrote it; should it not succeed, What prudent cit dares get the season trust, Though with any Sophy blest--my heart will Bask in his whisky, and enjoy the dust? bleed;"
Hous'd in Cheapside, scarce yet the gayer spark Then from his face he wipes the manly tear. Achieves the Sunday triumph of the Park: “Courage, my master!” Partridge cries, “don't Scarce yet you see him, dreading to be late, fear :
Scour the New-road, and dash through GrosveShould Envy's serpents hiss, or Malice frown, nor-gate. Though I'm a coward, zounds; I'll knock 'em Anxious and fearful too his steed to show, down.”
The hack'd Bucephalus of Rotten-row : Next, sweet Sophia comes-she cannot speak- Careless he seems, yet vigilantly sly, Her wishes for the play o'erspread her cheek; Wooes the stray glance of ladies passing by; In ev'ry look her sentiments you read,
While his off-heel, insidiously aside, And more than eloquence her blushes plead. Provokes the caper which he seems to chide, Now Blihil bows with smiles his false heart Scarce rural Kensington due honor gains : gilding
The vulgar verdure of her walk remains, “ He was my foe-I'll beg you'll damn this Where white-rob'd misses amble two by two, Fielding."
Nodding to booted beaux-"How do, how do?" “ Right !" Thwackum
no mercy, With gen'ral questions, that no answer wait, sirs, I pray;
“How vastly fall? A'n't you come vastly late? Scourge the dead author, through his orphan Isn't it quite charmingWhen do you leave play."
town? “What words!” cries Parson Adams; “fie, An't you quite tir'd? Pray, can we set you fie! disown 'em!
down?" Good Lord !- de mortuis nil nisi bonum: ['em? These suburb pleasures of a London May If such are Christian teachers, who'll revere Imperfect yet, we hail the cold delay : If thus they preach, the devil alone should hear Bui if this plea's denied, in our excuse 'em."
[vagrant Another still remains you can't refuse ; Now Slipslop enters".
Though this scriv ning It is a lady writes and hark-a noble muse! Slated my virtue, which was ever flagrant, But see a critic starting from his benchYet, like black Thello, I'd bear scorns and “A noble author !" Yes, sir, but the play's Slip into poverty to th' very hips,
not French; T exult this play-may it decrease in favor, Yet if it were, po blame on us could fall; And be its fame immortaliz'd for ever!" For we, you know, must follow fashion's call : Squire Western, reeling with October mellow, And true it is, things lately were in train “ Tally-o, boys ! - Yoicks !--Critics, hunt the To woo the Gallic Muse at Drury-lane; fellow!
Not to import a troop of foreign elves, Damn 'en! these wits are varmint not worth But treat you with French actors in oure breeding :
selves. What good e'er came of writing and of read- A friend we had, who vow'd he'd make us speak Next comes, brimfull of spite and politics, Pure flippant French-by contract-in a week; His sister Western—and thus deeply speaks : Told us 'twas time to study what was good, “Wits are arm’d pow'rs; like France attack Polish, and leave off being understood the foe;
That crowded audiences we thus might bring Negociate till they sleep-then strike the blow." To Monsicur Parsons, and Chevalier King; Allworthy, last, pleads to your noblest passions: Or should the vulgar grumble now and then, “Ye gen rous leaders of the tastes and fashions, The prompter might translate-for countrygenDeparted Genius left his orphan play.
tlemen. To your kind care what the dead wills, obey: Straight all subscribd-kings, gods, mutes, O then respect the father's fond bequest,
But here I grieve to own, though 't be to you,
Sold what he never dealt in; and, th' amount $106. Prologue to the Miniature-Picture.
Being first discharg'd, submitted his account. 1780.
And what th'event? Their industry was such, Chill's by rude gales, while yet reluctant Dodd spoke good Flemish, Bannister bad Dutch: May
Then the rogue told us, with insulting ease, Withholds the beauties of the vernal day; So it was foreign, it was sure to please :
• The late Henry Fielding, Esq. author of the play.
Beaux, wits, applaud, as fashion should com- Look to the stage-to-night's example draws mand,
A female dramatist to grace the cause And misses laugh—to seem to understand. So fade the triumphs of presumptuous man! So from each clime our soil may something and would you, ladies, but complete my plan, gain;
(Spain; Here should ye sign some patriot petition Manhood from Rome, and sprightliness from. To mend our constitutional condition. Some Russian Roscius next delight the age, The men invade our rights, the mimic elves And a Dutch Heinel skate along the stage.
Lisp and nick-name God's creatures like ourExotic fopperies, hail! whose fatt'ring sinile selves, Supplants the sterner virtues of our isle ! Rouge more than we do, simper, floupce, and Thus while with Chinese firs and Indian pines fret, Qur nurs’ries swarm, the British oak declines. And they coquet, good gods, how they coquet! Yet vain our Muse's fear-no foreign laws They too are coy, and, monstrous to relate, Wedread, while native beauty pleads our cause: Their's is a coyness in a téte-à-tête. While you too judge, whose smiles are honors Yes, ladies, yes; I could a tale unfold, higher
Would harrow up your-cushions— were it Than verse should gain, but where those eyes
combined curls, and freeze-pomaBut if the men presume your pow'r to awe, At griefs, and grievances, as I could state 'em. Retort their churlish senatorial law :
But such eternal blazon must not speak; This is your house and move—the gentlemen Besides, the House adjourns some day next withdraw.
This fair committee shall detail the rest, (week. Then they may vote with envy never-ceasing, And then let monsters, if they dare, protest. Your influence has increas'd and is increasing: But there, I trust, the resolution's finish'd; Sure none will say—it ought to be diminish'd.
$ 108. Prologue to Fatal Curiosity. 1782.
COLMAN. Long since, beneath this humble roof, this
play, $ 107. Epilogue to the same. 1780. Wrought by true English genius, saw the day.
JEKYLL. Forth from this humbleroof it scarce has stray'd;
In prouder theatres 'twas never play'd. (piece The men, like tyrants of the Turkish kind, There you have gap'd and doz'd o'er many a Have long our sex's energy confin'd;
up from France, or stolen from Rome In full-dress black, and bows, and solemn stalk, or Greece, Have long monopoliz'd the Prologue's walk. Or made of shreds from Shakspeare's golden But still the flippant Epilogue was ours :
fleece. It ask'd, for gay support, the female pow'rs; There scholars, simple nature cast aside, It ask'd a Airting air, coquet and free, Have trick'd their heroes out in classic pride ; And so, to murder it, they fix on me. No scenes where genuine passion runs to waste,
Much they mistake my talents I was born But all hedg'd in by shrubs of modern taste ! To tell, in sobs and sighs, some tale forlorn; Each tragedy laid out like garden grounds, To wet my handkerchief with Juliet's woes ; One circling gravel marks its narrow bounds. Or turn to Shore's despair my tragic nose. Lillo's plantations were of forest growth
Yes, gentlemen, in education's spite, Shakspeare's the same-great nature's hand in You still shall find that we can read and write; both. Like you, can swell a debt or a debate, Give me a tale the passions to control, (soul!" Can quit the card-table to steer the state, “Whose slightest word may hartow up the And bid our Belle Assemblée's rhet'ric flow, A magic potion, of charm'd drugs commixt, To drown your dull declaimers at Soho. Where pleasure courts, and honor comes beMethinks e'en now I hear my sex's tongues,
twixt! The shrill, smart melody of female lungs ! Such are the scenes that we this night renew, The storm of Question, the division calm, Scenes that your fathers were well-pleas'd to With “ hear her, hear her! Mrs. Speaker, view.
Once we half-paus'd-and, while cold fears O order! order !" Kates and Susans rise, Strive with faint strokes to soften down the tale; And Marg’ret moves, and Tabitha replies. But soon, attir'd in all its native woes, Look to the camp-Coxheath and Warley The shade of Lillo to our fancy rose: Common
“ Check thy weak hand, it said, or seem'd to Supplied, at least, for ev'ry tent a woman; Nor of its manly vigor rob my play! (saya The cartridge-paper wrapp'd the billet-doux, From British annals I the story drew, The rear and piquet form'd the rendezvous ; And British hearts shall feel, and tear it too. The drum’s stern rauile shook the nuptial bed, Pity shall move their souls, in spite of rules; The knapsack pillow'd Lady Sturgeon's head: And terror take no lesson from the schools. Love was the watch-word, till the morning fife Speak to their bosoms, to their feelings trust, Rous'd the tame Major and his warlike wife. You'll find their sentence generous and just."
§ 109. Prologue to The Birth-Day, Aug. 12, \ To every sin a sinner's name he tack’d, 1783.
COLMAN. And through the parish all the vices track’d: When Fate on some tremendous act seems And thus, the comment and the text enlarging, bent,
Crowds all his friends and neighbours in the And Nature labors with the dread event,
margin. Portents and prodigies convulse the earth, Pride was my lord, and drunkenness the squire; That heaves and struggles with the fatal birih. My lady, vanity and loose desire; In happier hours are lavish blessings given, Hardness of heart no misery regarding, And pour'd in foods to mark the hand of Hea- Was overseer-luxury, church warden. In a long series of bright glories drest, (ven. All, all he damn'd; and, carrying the farce on, Brilons must hail this day supremely blest. Made fraud the lawyer, gluttony the parson. First on this day, in liberty's great cause, 'Tis said, when winds ihe troubled deep deA Brunswick came tognard our rights and laws: form, On this great day our glorious annals tell, Pour copious streams of oil, 'twill lay the storm: By British arms the pride of Cuba fell; Thus here, let mirth and frank good-humor's For then, the Moro's gallant chief o'erthrown,
balm Th' Havannah saw his fate, and felt her own: Make censure mild, scorn kind, and anger calm! The self-same day, the same auspicious morn,
Some wholesome bitter if the bard produces, Our elder hope, our Prince, our George was 'Tis only wormwood to correct the juices. born:
In this day's contest, where, in colors new, Upon his natal hour what triumphs wait! Three play-house candidates are brought to view, What captive treasures crowd the palace-gate! Our little Bayes encounters solne disgrace: What double joys the royal parents claim, Should you reject him too, I
caseOf homie-felt happiness and public fame! He can be chosen for no other place. Long, very long, great GEORGE! protect the
To point what lengths credulity has run, Indulgent Heaven prolongs th' illustrious line,
What counsels shaken, and whatstatcs undone; Branching like thi' olive, clust'ring like the vine. What hellish fury wings th' enthusiast's rage,
Long, very long, thy course of glory run, And makes the troubled earth one tragic stage; A bright example to thy royal son!
What blasphemies imposture dares advance, Forming that son to grace, like thee, the throne,
And build what terrors on weak ignorance; And make his father's virtues all his own!
How fraud alone rage to religion biuds,
First to this crusade led the tragic muse; $ 110. Prologue to The Election of Managers. Her pow'r through France his charming num1784. COLMAN. bers bore,
But France was deaf--for all her priests were “Curst be the verse, how well soe'er it flow, On English ground she makes a firmer stand, That tends to make one worthy man my foe; And hopes to suffer by no hostile band. Gives virtue scandal, innocence a fear, No clergy here usurp ibe frec-born mind, Or from the soft-eyed virgin steals a tear!” Ordain'd to teach, and not enslave mankind; Thus sung sweet Pope, the vigorous child of Religion here bids persecution cease, satire ;
[nature. Without, all order, and within, all peace; Our Bayes less genius boasts, not less good- Truth guards her happy pale with watchful care, No poison'd shalt he darts with partial aiin, And frauds, though pious, hnd no entrance Folly and vice are fair and general game; Religion, to be sacred, must be free ; [there. No tale he echoes, on no scandal dwells, Men will suspect--where bignts keep the key. Nor plants on one fool's head the cap and bells; Hooded and train'd like hawksth'enthusiasts fly, He paints the living manners of the time, And the priests' victims in their pounces die. But lays at no man's door reproach or crime. Like whelps born blind, by mother-church
Yet some, with critic nose, and eye too keen, they 're bred, Scent double meaning out, and blast each scene: Nor wake to sight, to know themselves misled : While squint Suspicion holds her treacherous Murder 's the game and to the sport unprest, lamp,
Proud of the sin, and in the duty blest, Fear moulds base coin, and Malice gives the The layman's but the blood-hound of the priest. stamp:
Whoe'er thou art, that dar’st such themes adFalsehood's vile gloss converts the very Bible
vance, To scandalum magnatum, and a libel. To priest-rid Spain repair, or slavish France : Thas once, when sick, Sir Gripus, as we're For Judas' hire there 'do the devil's task, told,
And trick up slavery in religion's mask.. In grievous usury grown rich and old, England, still free, no surer means requires Bought a good book that, on a Christian plan, To sink their sottish souls, and damp their Inculcates the Whole Duty of a Man.
Britons, these numbers to yourselves you owe; | Wonders were wrought by Nature in her prime, Voltaire hath strength to shoot in Shakspeare's Nor was the ancient world a wilderness of time. bow:
Yet lost to fame is virtue's orient reign; Fame led him at his Hippocrene to drink, The patriot liv’d, the hero died, in vain. And taught to write with nature, as to think : Dark night descended o'er the human day, With English freedom, English wit he knew, And wip'd the glory of the world away : And from the unexhansted stream profusely Whirl'cl round the gulf, the acts of time were drew :
tost, Cherish the noble bard yourselves have made, Then in the vast abyss for ever lost. Nor let the frauds of France steal all our trade: Virtue from Fame disjoin'd began to 'plain Now of each prize the winner has the wearing, Her votaries few, and unfrequented fane. E'en send our English stage a-privateering: Her voice ascended to almighty Jove; With your commission we'll our sails unfold, He sent the Muses from the throne above. And from their loads of dross import some gold. The bard arose; and full of heavenly fire,
With hand immortal touch'd th’immortal lyre;
Heroic deeds in strains heroic sung, $ 112. Prologue to the Jealous Wife. All earth resounded, all heaven's arches rung:
Lloyd. The world applaud what they approv'd before, The Jealous Wife a comedy, poor man!
Virtue and Fame took sep'rate paths no more. A charming subject, but a wretched plan.
Hence to the bard, interpreter of heaven, His skittish wit, o’erleaping the due bound,
The chronicle of fame by Jove is given; Commits Aat trespass upon tragic ground.
His eye the volume of the past explores, Quarrels, upbraidings, jealousies, and spleen,
His hand unfolds the everlasting doors; Grow too familiar in the comic scene.
In Minos' majesty he lifts the head, Tinge but the language with heroic chime, Judge of the world, and sov'reign of the dead; 'Tis passion, pathos, character, sublimé !
On nations and on kings in senterice sits, What round big words had swelld the pom- Dooms to perdition, or to heaven admits;
Dethrones the tyrant though in triumph hurld, pous scene, A king the husband, and the wife a queen!
Calls up the hero from th' eternal world, Then might Distraction rend her graceful hair, Surrounds his head with wreaths that ever See sightless forms, and scream, and
And vows the verse that triumphs o'er the tomb. Drawcansir Death had rag'd without control,
While here the Muses warble from the shrine, Here the drawn dagger, there the poison'd bowl. Oli have you listen'd to the roice divine. What eyes had streain'd at all the whining woe! A nameless youth beheld, with noble rage, What hands had thunder'd ateach Ah! and Oh! One subject still a stranger to the stage;
But peace! the gentle prologue custom sends, A name that's music to the British ear, Like drum and serjeant, to beat up for friends. A name that's worshipp'd in the British sphere: At vice and folly, each a lawful game,
Fair Liberty! the goddess of the isle, Our author flies, but with no partial aim.
Who blesses England with a guardian smile. He read the manners, open as they lie
Britons ! a scene of glory draws to-night!
At storied Runnamede's immortal field,
And found the base of liberty on law.
Our author, trembling for his virgin muse, He brings more forward in dramatic view;
Hopes in the fav'rite theme a fond excuse. To your decision he submits his cause,
If, while the tale the theatre commands, Secure of candour, anxious for applause.
Your hearts applaud him, he 'll acquit your But if, all rude, his artless scenes deface
hands; The simple beautics which he meant to grace; And add the patriot's to the poet's fame.
Proud on his country's cause to build his name, If, an invader upon others' land, He spoil and plunder with a robber's hand; Do justice on him—as on fools before And give to blockheads pastone blockhead more.
§ 114. Prologue to the Heiress.
FITZPATRICK. $ 113. Prologue to Runnamede.
As sprightly sun-beams gild the face of day, Before the records of renown were kept, When low'ring tempests calmly glide away, Or theatres for dying heroes wept,
So, when the poet's dark horizon clears, The race of fame by rival chiefs was run, Array'd in smiles the Epilogoe appears. The world by former Alexanders won; She of that house the lively emblem still, Ages of glory in long order roll'd,
Whose brilliant speakers start what themes they New empires rising on the wreck of old :
1059 Still varying topics for her sportive rhymes, O! could this age's writers hope to find From all the follies of these fruitful times; An audience to compassion thus inclin'd, Uncheck'd by forms, with Hippant hand may The stage would need no farce, nor song, nor cull :
[France; Prologues, like peers, by privilege are dull- Nor cap'ring Monsieur brought froin active In solemn strain address th' assembled pit, Clinch, and his organ-pipe, his dogs and bear, The legal judges of dramatic wit,
To native Barnet might again repair, Confining still, with dignified decorum, Or breathe, with Captain Otter, Bankside air: Their observations to the play before 'em. Majestic Tragedy should once again
Now when each bachelor a helpmate lacks, In purple pompadorn the swelling scene; (That sweet exemption from a double tax) Her search should ransack all the ancient store, When laws are fram'd with a benignant plan The fortunes of their loves and arins explore, Of light'ning burdens on the married man, Such as might grieve you, but should please the And Hymen adds one solid comfort more To all those comforts he conferr'd before ; What Shakspeare durst not, this bold age should To smooth the rough laborious road to fame,
do, Our bard has chosen—an alluring name. And famous Greek and Latin beauties show : As wealth in wedlock oft is known to hide Shakspeare, whose genius, to itself a law, The imperfections of a homely bride,
Could men in ev'ry height of nature draw, This tempting title he, perhaps, expects, And copied all bui woman that he saw. May heighten beauties and conceal defects : Those ancient heroines your concern should Thus Sixty's wrinkles, view'd through For- move, tune's glass,
Their grief and anger much, but most their The rosy dimples of Sixteen surpass.
love: The modern suitor grasps his fair-one's hand, For in th' account of ev'ry age we find O'erlooks her person, and adores-her land; The best and fairest of that sex were kind, Leers on her houses with an ogling eye, To pity always, and to love, inclin'd. O'er her rich acres heaves an am'rous sigh, Assert, ye fair ones, who in judgment sit, His heart-felt pangs through groves of_timber Your ancient empire over love and wit; vents,
Reform your sense, and teach the men t'obey: And runs distracted for-her three per cents. They 'll leave their tumbliny, if you lead the Will thus the poet's mimic Heiress find
way. The bridegroom critic to her failings blind, Be but what those before to Otway were: Who claims, alas! his nicer taste to hit, O were you but as kind! we know you are as The lady's portion paid in sterling wit?
fair. On your decrees, to fix her future fate, Depends our Heiress for her whole estate : Rich in your smiles, she charins th' admiring $ 116. Epilogue to the same. Rowe. town;
The spleen and vapours, and this dolefulplay,
I mean to leave to one alone my heart :
To one who can with one alone be blest, $115. Prologue to The Ambitious Step-mother. The peaceful monarch of a single breast :
Rowe. To one-But, oh! how hard 'will be to find If dying lovers yet deserve a tear; That phenix in your fickle, changing kind! If a sad story of a maid's despair
New lores, new interests, and religions new,
Your sickly fancies loathe what you possess,
And ev'ry restless fool would change his place.
Be left for Scaramouch and Harlequin?