To Mr. GARRICK.
1 ON old PARNASSUS, t' other day,
2 The Muses met to sing and play;
3 Apart from all the rest were seen
4 The tragick and the comick queen,
5 Engag'd, perhaps, in deep debate,
6 On RICH'S, or on FLEETWOOD'S fate.
7 When, on a sudden, news was brought
8 That GARRICK had the patent got,
9 And both their ladyships again
10 Might now return to Drury-lane.
11 They bow'd, they simper'd, and agreed
12 They wish'd the project might succeed,
13 'Twas very possible, the case
14 Was likely too, and had a face —
15 A face! Thalia titt'ring cry'd,
16 And cou'd her joy no longer hide;[Page 254]
17 Why, sister, all the world must see
18 How much this makes for you and me;
19 No longer now shall we expose
20 Our unbought goods to empty rows,
21 Or meanly be oblig'd to court
22 From foreign aid a weak support;
23 No more the poor polluted scene
24 Shall teem with births of Harlequin;
25 Or vindicated stage shall feel
26 The insults of the dancer's heel.
27 Such idle trash we'll kindly spare
28 To operas now — they'll want them there;
29 For Sadler's-Wells, they say, this year
30 Has quite undone their engineer.
31 Pugh, you're a wag, the buskin'd prude
32 Reply'd, and smil'd; besides 'tis rude
33 To laugh at foreigners, you know,
34 And triumph o'er a vanquish'd foe:
35 For my part, I shall be content
36 If things succeed as they are meant;
37 And should not be displeas'd to find
38 Some changes of the tragick kind.
39 And say, THALIA, mayn't we hope
40 The stage will take a larger scope?
41 Shall he whose all-expressive powers
42 Can reach the heights that SHAKESPEAR soars,
43 Descend to touch an humbler key,
44 And tickle ears with poetry;[Page 255]
45 Where every tear is taught to flow
46 Thro' many a line's melodious woe,
47 And heart-felt pangs of deep distress
48 Are fritter'd into similes?
49 — O thou, whom nature taught the art
50 To pierce, to cleave, to tear the heart,
51 Whatever name delight thine ear,
52 OTHELLO, RICHARD, HAMLET, LEAR,
53 O undertake my just defence,
54 And banish all but nature hence!
55 See, to thy aid with streaming eyes
56 The fair afflicted*
* Mrs. Cibber. CONSTANCE flies;
57 Now wild as winds in madness tears
58 Her heaving breasts and scatter'd hairs;
59 Or low on earth disdains relief
60 With all the conscious pride of grief.
61 My PRITCHARD too in HAMLET'S queen —
62 The goddess of the sportive vein
63 Here stop'd her short, and with a sneer,
64 My PRITCHARD, if you please, my dear!
65 Her tragick merit I confess,
66 But surely mine's her proper dress;
67 Behold her there with native ease,
68 And native spirit, born to please;
69 With all MARIA'S charms engage,
70 Or MILWOOD'S arts, or TOUCHWOOD'S rage,
71 Thro' every foible trace the fair,
72 Or leave the town, and toilet's care[Page 256]
73 To chaunt in forests unconfin'd
74 The wilder notes of ROSALIND.
75 O thou, where-e'er thou fix thy praise,
76 BRUTE, DRUGGER, FRIBBLE, RANGER, BAYS!
77 O join with her in my behalf,
78 And teach an audience when to laugh.
79 So shall buffoons with shame repair
80 To draw in fools at Smithfield fair,
81 And real humour charm the age,
† Mr. Quin, inimitable in that character, who was then leaving the stage. FALSTAFF should forsake the stage.
83 She spoke. MELPOMENE reply'd,
84 And much was said on either side;
85 And many a chief, and many a fair,
86 Were mention'd to their credit there.
87 But I'll not venture to display
88 What goddesses think fit to say.
89 However, GARRICK, this at least
90 Appears, by both a truth confess'd,
91 That their whole fate for many a year
92 But hangs on your paternal care.
93 A nation's taste depends on you
94 — Perhaps a nation's virtue too.
95 O think how glorious 'twere to raise
96 A theatre to virtue's praise.
97 Where no indignant blush might rise,
98 Nor wit be taught to plead for vice:
99 But every young attentive ear
100 Imbibe the precepts, living there.[Page 257]
101 And every unexperienc'd breast
102 There feel its own rude hints express'd,
103 And, waken'd by the glowing scene,
104 Unfold the worth that lurks within.
105 If possible, be perfect quite;
106 A few short rules will guide you right.
107 Consult your own good sense in all,
108 Be deaf to fashion's fickle call,
109 Nor e'er descend from reason's laws
110 To court what you command, applause.