« ForrigeFortsett »
Attract the eye; if feelings, void of art,
Rouse the quick passions, and inflame the heart;
If music, sweetly breathing from the tongue,
Captives the ear, Bride must not pass unsung.
When fear, which rank ill-nature terms conceit,
By time and custom conquer'd, shall retreat;
When judgment, tutor'd hy experience sage,
Shall shoot abroad, and gather strength from age;
When Heav'n in mercy shall the stage release
From the dull slumbers of a still-life piece;
When some stale flow'r, disgraceful to the walk,
Which long hath hung, though wither'd on the stalk,
Shall kindly drop, then Bride shall make her way,
And merit find a passage to the day;
Brought into action, she at once shall raise
Her own renown, and justify our praise.
Form'd for the tragic scene, to grace the stage, With rival excellence of love and rage, Mistress of each soft art, with matchless skill To turn and wind the passions as she will; To melt the heart with sympathetic woe, Awake the sigh, and teach the tear to flow; To put on Frenzy's wild distracted glare, And freeze the soul with horrour and despair; With just desert enroll'd in endless fame, Conscious of worth superior, Cihher came.
When poor Alicia's madd'ning hrains are rack'd, And strongly imag'd griefs her mind distract: Struck with her grief, I catch the madness too! My hrain turns round, the headless trunk I view! The roof cracks, shakes, and falls !—New horrours And Reason buried in the ruin lies. [rise,
Nobly disdainful of each slavish art,
She makes her first attack upon the heart:
Pleas'd with the summons, it receives her laws,
And all is silence, sympathy, applause.
But when, by fond amhition drawn aside,
Biddy with praise, and puffd with female pride,
She quits the tragic scene, and, in pretence
To comic merit, hreaks down Nature's fencc$
I seaj-cely can believe my ears or eyes,
Or find out Cihher through the dark disguise.
Pritchard, hy Nature for the stage design'd,
In person graceful, and in sense refin'd;
Her art as much as Nature's friend became,
Her voice as free from blemish as her fame.
Who knows so well in majesty to please,
Attemper'd with the graceful charms of ease?
When Congreve's favour'd pantomime to grace,
She comes a captive queen of Moorish race;
When Love, Hate, Jealousy, Despair, and Ilage,
With wildest tumults in her hreast engage;
Still equal to herself is Zara seen;
Her passions arc the passions of a queen.
When she to murder whets the timorous Thane, I feel amhition rush through ev'ry vein; Persuasion hangs upon her daring tongue, My heart grows flint, and ev'ry nerve's new strung.
In comedy—" Nay there," cries critie, "hold,
Pritchard's for comedy too fat and old.
Who can, with patience, bear the grey coquette,
Or force a laugh with over-grown Julett?
Her speech, look, action, humour, all are just;
But then, her age and figure give disgust."
Are foihles then, and graces of the mind,
In real life, to size or age confin'd?
Do spirits flow, and is good-hreeding plae'd
In any set circumference of waist?As we grow old, doth affectation cease,
Or give* not age new vigour to caprice?
If in originals these things appear,
Why should we har them in the copy here?
The nice punctilio-mongers of this age,
The grand minute reformers of the stage,
Slaves to propriety of ev'ry kind,
Some standard-measure for each part should find,
Which when the best of actors shall exceed,
Let it devolve to one of smaller hreed.
All actors too upon the back should bear
Certificate of hirth;—time, when;—place, nhsre.
For how can crities rightly fix their worth,
Unless they know the minute of their hirth?
An audience too, decsiv'd, may find too late
That they have clapp'd an actor out of date.
Figure, I own, at first may give offence, And harshly strike the eye's too curious 6ense i But when perfections of the mind hreak forth, Humour's chaste sallies, judgment's solid worth; When the pure genuine flame, by Nature taught, Springs into sense, and ev'ry action's thought; Before such merit all ohjections fly; Pritchard's genteel, and Garriek's six feet high.
Oft have I, Pritchard, seen thy wondrous skill, Confess'd thee great, but find thee greater still. That worth, which shone in scatter'd rays hefore, Collected now, hreaks forth with douhle pow'r. The Jealous Wife! on that thy trophies raise, Inferior only to the author's praise.
From Duhlin, fam'd in legends of romance For nvghty magic of enchanted lance, With which her heroes arm'd victorious prove, And like a flood rush o'er the land of Love, Mossop and Barry came—names ne'er design'd By Fate in the same sentence to he join'd. Rais'd hy the breath of popular acclaim, They mounted to the pinnacle of Fame; There the weak hrain, made giddy with the height, Spurr'd on the rival chiefs to mortal fight. Thus sportive hoys, around some hason's hrim, Behold the pipe-drawn bladders circling swim! But if from lungs more potent, there arise Two huhhles of a more than common size, Eager for honour they for fight prepare, Bubble meets bubble, and hoth sink to air.
Mossop, attach'd to military plan, Still kept his eye fix'd on his right-hand man. Whilst the mouth measures words with seeming skill, The right hand lahours, and the left lies still; For he resolv'd on scripture-grounds to go, What the right doth, the left-hand shall not know. With studied impropriety of speech, He soars beyond the hackney critic's reach;To epithets allots emphatic state, Whilst principals, ungrac'd, like lacquies wait; In ways first trodden hy himself excels, Aud stands alone in indeclinahles; Conjunction, preposition, adverh join To stamp new vigour on the nervous line: In monosyllahles his thunders roll, He, She, It, Ann, We, Ve, Thev, fright the soul. In person taller than the common size, Behold where Barry draws admiring eyes! When lah'ring passions, in his hosom pent, Convulsive rage, and struggling heave for vent; Spectators, with imagin'd terrours warm, Anxious expect the bursting of the storm: But^ all unfit in such a pile to dwell, His voice comes forth, like Echo from her cell;To swell the tempest needful aid denies, And all a-down tjie stage in feehle murmur dies.
What man, like Barry, with such pains, can err
In elocution, action, character?
What man could give, if Barry was not here,
Such well-applauded tenderness to Lear?
Who else can speak so very, very fine,
That sense may kindly end with ev'ry line?
Some dozen lines before the ghost is there,
Behold him for the solemn scene prepare.
See how he frames his eyes, poises each limh,
Puts the whole hody into proper trim.—
From whence we learn, with no great stretch of art,
Five lines hence comes a ghost, and, ha! a start.
When he appears most perfect, still we find
Something which jars upon, and hurts the mind.
Whatever lights upon a part are thrown,
We see too plainly they are not his own.
No flame from Nature ever yet he caught l
Nor knew a feeling which he was not taught;
He rais'd his trophies on the base of ait,
And conn'd his passions, as he conn'd his part. Quin, from afar, lur'd by the scent of fame,
A stage Leviathan, put in his claim,
Pupil of Betterton and Booth. Alone,
Sullen he walk'd, and deem'd the chair his own.
For how should moderns, mushrooms of the day,
Who ne'er those masters knew, know how to play?
Grey-hearded vet'rans, who, with partial tongue,
Extol the times when they themselves were young,
Who, having lost all relish for the stage,
See not their own defects, hut lash the age,
Receiv'd with joyful murmurs of applause,
Their darling chief, and lin'd his fav'rite cause.
Far be it from the candid Muse to tread
Insulting o'er the ashes of the dead,
But, just to living merit, she maintains,
And dares the test, whilst Garrick's genius reigns;
Ancients in vain endeavour to excel,
Happily prais'd, if they could act as well.
But though prescription's force we disallow,
Nor to antiquity suhmissive how;
Though we deny imaginary grace,
Founded on accidents of time and place;
Yet real worth of ev'ry growth shall bear
Due praise, nor must we, Quin, forget thee there. His words hore sterling weight, nervous and strong,
In manly tides of sense they roll'd along,
Happy in art, he chiefly had pretence
To keep up numbers, yet not forfeit sense.
No actor ever greater heights could reach
In all the lahour'd artifice of speech.
Speech! Is that all ?—And shall an actor found
An universal fame on partial ground?
Parrots themselves speak properly by rote,
And, in six months, my dog shall howl by note.
I laugh at those, who, when the stage they tread,
Neglect the heart, to compliment the head;
With strict propriety their care's confin'd
To we gh out words, while passion halts behind.
To syllahi -dissectors they appeal,
Allow them accent, cadence,—fools may feel;
But, spite of all the criticising elves,
Those who would make us feel,must feel themselves
His eyes, in gloomy socket taught to roll,
Proclahn'd the sullen hahit of his soul.
Heavy and phlegmatic he trod the stage,
Too proud for tenderness, too dull for rage.
When Hector's lovely widow shines in tears,
Or Rowe's gay rake dependant virtue jeers,
With the same east of features he is seen
To chide the lihertine, aud court the queen.
CHURCHILL'S POEMS.From the tame scene, which »itltout passion flows,
With just desert his reputation rose;
Nor less he pleas'd, when, on some surly plan,
He was, at once, the actor and the man. In Brute he shone unequall'd: all agree
Garrick's not half so great a brute as he.
When Cato's lahour'd scenes are brought to view,
With equal praise the actor lahour'd too;
For still you 'll find, trace passions to their root.
Small diff'rence 'twixt the stoic and the hrute.
In fancied scenes, as in life's real plan,
He could not, for a moment, sink the man.
In whate'er cast his character was laid,
Self still, like oil, upon the surface play'd.
Nature, in spite of all his skill, crept in:
Horatio, Dorax, Falstaff,—still 'twas Quin.
Next follows Sheridan—a douhtful name,
As yet unsettled in the rank of Fame.
This, fondly lavish in his praises grown,
Gives him all merit: that allows him none.
Between them hoth we 'll steer the middle course,
Nor, loving praise, rob Judgment of her force.
Just his conceptions, natural and great:
His feelings strong, his words enfore'd with weight.
Was speech-fam'd Quin himself to hear him speak,
Envy would drive the colour from his cheek:
But step-dame Nature, niggard of her grace,
Deny'd the social pow'rs of voice and face.
Fix'd in one frame of features, glare of eye,
Passions, like chaos, in confusion lie:
In vain the wonders of his skill are try'd
To form distinctions Nature hath deny'd.
His voice no touch of harmony admits,
Irregularly deep and shrill by fits:
The two extremes appear like man and wife,
Coupled together for the sake of strife.
His action's always strong, hut sometimes such,
That candour must declare he acts too much.
Why must impatience fall three paces hack f
Why paces three return to the attack?Why is the right leg too forhid to stir,
Unless in motion semicircular?
Why must the hero with the Nailor vie,
And hurl the close-clench'd fist at nose or eye?
In royal John, with Philip angry grown,
I thought he would have knock'd poor Davies down.
Inhuman tyrant! was it not a shame,
To fright a king so harmless and so tame?But, spite of all defects, his glories rise;
And Art, by Judgment form'd, with Nature vies:
Behold him sound the depth of Huhert's soul,
Whilst in his own contending passions roll;
View the whole scene, with critic judgment scan,
And then deny him merit if you can.
Where he falls short, 'tis Nature's fault alone;Where he succeeds, the merit's all his own.
Last Garrick came.—Behind him throng a train
Of snarling crities, ignorant as vain.
One finds out,—" He's of stature somewhat low—
Your hero always should be tall, you know.—
True nat'ral greatness all consists in height."
Produce your voucher, Critic.—" Sergeant Kite." Another can't forgive the paltry arts
By which he makes his way to shallow hearts;Mere pieces of finesse, traps for applause—
"Avaunt, unnat'ral start, affected pause."
For me, by Nature form'd to judge with phlegm,
I can't acquit hy whosesale, nor condemn.
The hest things carried to excess are wrong:
The start may he too frequent, pause too long;
But, only us'd in proper time and place,
Severest judgment must allow them grace.
If bunglers, form'd on Imitation's plan,
Just in the way that monkies mimic man,
Their copied scene with mangled arts disgrace,
And pause and start with the.same vacant face;
We join the critic laugh; those tricks we scorn,
Which spoil the scenes they mean them to adorn.
But when, from Nature's pure and genuine source,
These strokes of acting flow with gen'rous force,
When in the features all the soul's portray'd,
And passions, such as Garrick's, are display'd,
To me they seem from quickest feelings caught:
Each start is Nature; and each pause is Thought.
When Reason yields to Passion's wild alarms, And the whole state of man is up in arms; What but a critic could condemn the play'r, For pausing here, when Cool-Sense pauses there? Whilst, working from the heart, the fire I trace, And mark it strongly flaming to the face; Whilst, in each sound, I hear the very man; I can't catch words, and pity those who can. Let wits, like spiders, from the tortur'd hrain Fine-*lraw the critie-weh with curious pain; The gods,—a kindness I with thanks must pay,— Have form'd me of a coarser kind of clay; Not stung with envy, nor with pain diseas'd, A poor dull creature, still with Nature pleas'd; Hence to thy praises, Garrick, I agree, And, pleas'd with Nature, must he pleas'd with thee.
Now might I tell, how silence reign'd throughout, And deep attention hush'd the rahhle rout: How ev'ry claimant, tortur'd with desire, Was pale as ashes, or as red as fire: But, loose to fame, the Muse more simply acts, Rejects all flourish, and relates mere facts.
The judges, as the several parties came. With temper heard, with judgment weigh'd each And, in their sentence happily agreed, [claim, In name of hoth, great Shakspeare thus decreed.
"If manly sense; if Nature link'd with Art; If thorough knowledge of the human heart; If pow'rs of acting vast and unconfin'd; If fewest faults with greatest beauties join'd; If strong expression, and strange pow'rs which lie Within the magic circle of the eye; If feelings which few hearts, like his, can know, And which no face so well as his can show; Deserve the pref'rence;—Garrick, take the chair; Nor quit it—till thou place an equal there."
ADDRESSED TO THE CRITtCAt HEVIEWEES.
Lauchs not the heart, when giants, hig with pride,
Assume the pompous port, the martial stride;
O'er arm Herculean heave th' enormous shield,
Vast as a weaver's heam the javelin wield;
With the loud voice of thund'ring Jove defy,
And dare to single combat—What?—A fly.
And laugh we less, when giant names, which shine
Estahlish'd, as it were, by right divine;
Crities, whom ev'ry captive art adores,
To whom glad Science pours forth all her stores;
Who high in letter'd reputation sit,
Anil hold, Astram-like, the scales of wit;
With partial rage rush forth,—Oh I shame to tell!
To crush a bard just hursting from the shell?
Great are his perils in this stormy time
Who rashly ventures on a sea of rhyme.
Around vast surges roll, winds envious hlow,
And jealous rocks and quicksands lurk below:
Greatly his foes he dreads, but more his friends;
He hurts me most who lavishly commends.
Look through the world—in ev'ry other trade
The same employment's cause of kindness made,
At least appearance of good-will creates,
And ev'ry fool puffs off the fool he hates.
Coolers with cohlers smoke away the night.
Aml in the common cause e'en play'rs unite.
Authors alone, with more than savage rage,
Unnat'ral war with hrother-authors wage.
The pride of Nature would as soon admit
Competitors in empire as in wit:
Onward they rush at Fame's imperious call,
And, less than greatest, would not be at all.
Smit with the love of honour—or the pence,
O'er-run with wit, and destitute of sense,
Should any novice in the rhyming trade
With lawless pen the realms of verse invade;
Forth from the court, where sceptred sages sit,
Ahus'd with praise, and flatter'd into wit;
Where in lethargic majesty they reign,
And what they won by dullness, still maintain;
Legions of factious authors throng at once;
Fool beckons fool, and dunce awakens dunce.
To Hamilton's ' the ready lies repair;—
Ne'er was lie made which was not weleome there—.
Thence, on maturer judgment's anvil wrought,
The polish'd falsehood's into puhlic hrought.
Quick-circulating slanders mirth afford,
And reputation bleeds in ev'ry word.
A critic was of old a glorious name,
Whose sanction handed Merit up to Fame;
Beauties as well as faults he hrought to view:
His judgment great, and great his candour too.
No servile rules drew sickly Taste aside;
Secure he walk'd, for Nature was his guide.
But now, oh strange reverse! our crities hawl
In praise of candour with a heart of gall.
Conscious of guilt, and fearful of the light,
They lurk enshrouded in the vale of night;
Safe from detection, seize th' unwary prey,
And stah, like hravoes, all who come that way.
When first my Muse, perhaps more hold than wise.
Bad the rude trifle into light arise,
Little she thought such tempests would ensue;
Less, that those tempests would be rais'd by you.
The thunder's fury r, nds the tow'ring oak;
Rosciads, like shruhs, might 'scape the fatal stroke
Vain thought! a critic's fury knows no hound;
Draweansir-like, he deals destruction round;
Nor can we hope he will a stranger spare,
Who gives no quarter to his friend Voltaire. Unhappy genins! plae'd hy partial Fate
With a free spirit in a slavish state;
Where the reluctant Muse, oppress'd hy kings.
Or droops in silence, or in fetters sings;
In vain thy dauntless fortitude hath horne
The higot's furious zeal, and tyrant's scorn.
Why didst thou safe from home-bred dangers steei\
Reserv'd to perish more ignohly here \
Thus, when the Julian tyrant's pride to swell
Rome with her Pompey at Pharsalia fell,
The vanquish'd chief escap'd from Caesar's hand]
To die hy ruihans in a foreign land.
'Printer of the Critical Review,
How could these self-elected monarchs raise So large an empire on so small a base? In what retreat, inglorious and unknown, Did Genius sleep, when Dullnessseiz'd the throne? Whence, absolute now grown, and free from awe, She to the subject world dispenses law. Without her licence not a letter stirs, And all the captive criss-cross-row is her's. The Stagyrite, who rules from Nature drew, Opinions gave, but gave his reasons too. Our great dictators take a shorter way— Who shall dispute what the reviewers say? Their word's sufficient; and to ask a reason, In such a state as theirs, is downright treason. True judgment now with them alone can dwell; Like church of Rome, they're grown infallible. Dull superstitious readers they deceive, Who pin their easy faith on critic's sleeve, And, knowing nothing, ev'ry thing believe! But why repine we, that these puny elves Shoot into giants?—We may thank ourselves; Fools that we are, like Israel's fools of yore, The calf ourselves have fashion'd we adore. But let true Reason once resume her reign, This god shall dwindle to a calf again.
Founded on arts which shun the face of day, By the same arts they still maintain their sway. Wrapp'd in mysterious secresy they rise, And, as they are unknown, are safe and wise. At whomsoever aim'd, howe'er severe Th' envenom'd slander flies, no names appear, Prudence forbids that step.—Then all might know And on more equal terms engage the foe. But now, what Quixote of the age would care To wage a war with dirt, and fight with air?
By int'rest join'd, th' expert confederates stand, And play the game into each other's hand. The vile abuse, in turn by all deny'd, Is bandy'd up and down from side to side: It flies—hey !—presto!—like a juggler's ball. Till it belongs to nobody at all. [known, All men and things they know, themselves unAnd publish ev'ry name—except their own. Nor think this strange—secure from vulgar eyes The nameless author passes in disguise. Hut vet'ran critics are not so deceiv'd, If vet'rau critics are to be believ'd. Once seen, they know an author evermore, Nay swear to hands they never saw before. Thus in the Rosciad, beyond chance or doubt, They, by the writing, found the writers out "That's Lloyd's—his manner there you plainly trace, And all the actor stares you in the face. By Colman that was written.—On my life, The strongest symptoms of the Jealous Wife. That little disingenuous piece of spite, Churchill, a wretch unknown, perhaps might write." How doth it make judicious readers smile, When authors are detected by their style: Though ev'ry one who knows this author, knows He shifts his style much oft'ner than his clothes?
Whence could arise this mighty critic spleen, The Muse a trifler, and her theme so mean? What had I done, that angry Heav'n should send The bitt'rest foe where most I wish'd a friend? Oft hath my tongue been wanton at thy name, And hail'd the honours of thy matchless fame. For me let hoary Fielding bite the ground, So nobler Pickle stands superbly bound.
From Livy's temples tear th' historic crown,
Which with more justice blooms upon thine ova.
Compar'd with thee, be all life-writers dumb,
But he who wrote the Life of Tommy Thumb.
Who ever read the Regicide, but swore
The author wrote as man ne'er wrote before?Others for plots and u'nder-plots may call,
Here's the right method—have no plot at all.
Who can so often in his cause engage
The tiny pathos of the Grecian stage,
Whilst horrours rise, and tears spontaneous flow,
At tragic Ha! and no less tragic Oh!To praise his nervous weakness all agree;
And then for sweetness, who so sweet as he!Too big for utterance when sorrows swell,
The too big sorrows flowing tears must tell:
But when those flowing tears shall cease to flow,
Why—then the voice must speak again, you know.
Rude and unskilful in the poet's trade,
I kept no Naiads by me ready-made;
Ne'er did I colours high in air advance,
Torn from the bleeding fopperies of France;
No flimsy linsey-woolsey scenes I wrote,
With patches here and there like Joseph's coat.
Me humbler themes befit: secure, for me,
Let playwrights smuggle nonsense, duty free:
Secure, for me, ye lambs, ye lambkins bound,
And frisk, and frolic o'er the fairy ground:
Secure, for me, thou pretty little fawn,
Lick Sylvia's hand, and crop the flow'ry lawn:
Uucensur'd let the gentle breezes rove
Through the green umbrage of th' enchanted grove:
Secure, for me, let foppish Nature smile,
And play the coxcomb in the Desert Isle. The stage I chose—a subject fair and free—
'Tis yours—'tis mine—'tis public property.
All common exhibitions open lie
For praise or censure to the common eye.
Hence are a thousand hackney writers fed;
Hence monthly critics earn their daily bread.
This is a gen'ral tax which all must pay,
From those who scribble, down to those who play.
Actors, a venal crew, receive support
From public bounty, for the public sport.
To clap or hiss, all have an equal claim,
The cobler's and his lordship's right the same.
All join for their subsistence; all expect
Free leave to praise their worth, their faults correct.
When active Pickle Smithlield stage ascends,
The three days' wonder of his laughing friends;
Each, or as judgment, or as fancy guides,
The lively witling praises or derides.
And where's the mighty difference, tell me where,
Betwixt a merry-andrew and a player?
The strolling tribe, a despicable race,
Like wand'ring Arabs, shift from place to place.
Vagrants by law, to justice open laid,
They tremble, of the beadle's lash afraid,
And fawning cringe, for wretched means of life,
To Madam Mayoress, or his Worship's wife. The mighty monarch, iu theatric sack,
Carries his whole regalia at his back;His royal consort heads the female band.
And leads the heir-apparent in her hand;The pannier'd ass creeps on with conscious pride,
Bearing a future prince on either side.
No choice musicians in this troop are found
To varnish nonsense with the charms of sound;
No swords, no daggers, not one poison'd bowl;
No lightning flashes here, no thunders roll;
No guards to swell the monarch's train are shown;
The monarch here must be a host alone.
No solemn pomp, no slow processions here;
No Amnion's entry, and no Juliet's bier.
By need compell'd to prostitute his art,
The varied actor flic* from part to part;
And, strange disgrace to all theatric pride!
His character is shifted with his side.
Quest on and Answer he by turns must be,
Like that small wit1 in Modern Tragedy;
Who, to patch up his fame,—-or fill his purse,—
Still pilfers wretched plans, and makes them worse;
Like gipsies, lest the stolen brat be known,
Defacing first, then claiming for his own.
In shabby state they strut, and tatter'd robe;
The scene a blanket, and a bam the globe.
No high conceits their mn<t*rate wishes raise,
Content with humble profit, humble praise.
Let dowdies simper, and let bumpkins stare,
The strolling pageant hero treads in air:
Pleas'd for his hour, he to mankind gives law,
And snores the next out on a truss of straw.
But if kind Fortune, who we sometimes know
Can take a hero from a puppet-show,
In mood propitious should her fav'rite call
On royal stage in royal pomp to bawl,
Forgetful of himself he rears the head,
And scorns the dunghill where he first was bred.
Conversing now with well-dre^s'd kings and queens,
With gods and goddesses behind the scenes,
He sweats beneath the terrour-nodding plume,
Taught by mock honours real pride t' assume.
On this great stage the world, no monarch e'er
Was half so haughty as a monarch play'r.
IVrth it more move our anger or our mirth,
To see these things, the lowest sons of Earth,
Presume, with self-sufficient knowledge grae'd,
To rule in letters, and preside in taste?
The town's decisions they no more admit,
Themselves alone the arbiters of wit;
And scorn the jurisdiction of that court,
To which they owe their being and support.
Actors, like monks of old, now sacred grown,
Must be attack'd by ro fools but their own. Let the vain tyrant sit amidst his guards,
His puny green-room wits and venal bards,
Who meanly tremble at the puppet's frown,
And for a playhouse freedom lose their own;
In spite of new-made laws, and new-made kings,
The free-born Muse with lib'ral spirit sings.
Row down, ye slaves; before these idols fall;
Let Genius stoop to them who 've none at all;
Ne'er will I flatter, cringe, or bend the knee
To those who, slaves to all, are slaves to me. Actors, as actors, are a lawful game;
The poet's right, and who shall bar his claim?
And if, oVr-wcening of their little skill,
When they have left the stage, they're actors still;
If to the subject world they still give laws,
»ith paper crowns, and sceptres made of straws;
If they in cellar or in garret roar,
And kings one night, are kings for evermore;
Shall not bold Truth, e'en there, pursue her theme,
And wake the coxcomb from his golden dream?
Or if, well worthy of a better fate,
They rise superior to their present state;
If, with each social virtue grae'd, they blend
The jay companion and the faithful friend;
■ Mr. Foo(e.
THE APOLOGY. 283If they, like Pritchard, join in private life
The tender parent and the virtuous wife;
Shall not our verse their praise with pleasure
Though mimics bark, and Envy splits her cheek r
No honest worth's beneath the Muse's praise;
No greatness can above her censure raise;
Station and wealth to her are trifling things;
S lie stoops to actors, and she soars to kings.
Is there a man, in vice and folly bred,
To sense of honour as to virtue dead;
Whom ties nor human, nor divine, can bind;
Alien to God, and foe to all mankind;
Who spares no character; whose ev'ry word,
Bitter as gall, and sharper than the sword,
Cuts to the quick; whose thoughts with rancour
Whose tongue, on Earth,performs the work of Hell;
If there be such a monster, the Reviews
Shall find him holding forth against abuse.
"Attack profession!—'tis a deadly breach I-—
The,Christian laws another lesson teach:—
Unto the end shall charity endure,
And Candour hide those faults it cannot cure."
Thus Candour's maxims flow from Rancour's throat,
As devils, to serve their purpose, scripture quote.
The Muse's office was by Heav'n design'd
To please, improve, instruct, reform mankind;
To make dejected Virtue nobly rise
Above the tow'ring pitch of splendid Vice;
To make pale Vice, abash'd, her head hang down,
Anil trembling crouch at Virtue's awful frown.
Now arm'd with wrath, she bids eternal shame,
With strictest justice, brand the villain's name:
Now in the milder garb of ridicule
She sports, and pleases while she wounds the fool.
Her shape is often varied; but her aim,
To prop the cause of Virtue, still the same.
In praise of mercy let the guilty bawl,
When Vice and Folly for correction call,
Silence the mark of weakness justly bears,
And is partaker of the crimes it spares.
But if the Muse, too cruel in her mirth,
If wantonly she deviates from her plan,
And quits the actor to expose the man;
Asham'd, she marks that passage with a blot,
And hates the line where Candour was forgot.
But what is Candour, what is Humour's vein,
Though Judgment join to consecrate the strain.
If curious numbers will not aid afford,
Nor choicest music play in ev'ry word?
Verses must run, to charm a modern ear,
From all harsh, rugged interruptions clear.
Soft let them breathe, as Zephyr's balmy breeze:
Smooth let their current flow, as summer seas;
Perfect then only deem'd when they dispense
A happy tuneful vacancy of sense.
Italian fathers thus, with barb'rous rage,
Fit helpless infants for the squeaking stage;
Deaf to the calls of Pity, Nature wound,
And mangle vigour for the sake of sound.
Henceforth farewell then fev'rish thirst of fame;
Farewell the longings for a poet's name;
Perish my Muse;—a wish 'bove all severe
To him who ever held the Muses dear—
If e'er her labours weaken to refine
The gen'rous roughness of a nervous line.
Others affect the stiff and swelling phrase;
Their Muse must walk in stilts, and strut in stays;