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THE REV. CHARLES CHURCHILL
THE REV. CHARLES CHURCHILL, a poet, once of name. Churchill was now at once raised from ob great repute, was the son of a curate of St. John's, scurity to eminence; and the Rosciad, which we Westminster, in which parish he was born in 1731. have selected as his best work, is, in fact, the only He received his early education at the celebrated one of his numerous publications on which he bepublic school in the vicinity, whence he was sent to stowed due labor. The delineations are drawn Oxford; but to this university he was refused ad- with equal energy and vivacity; the language and mission on account of deficient classical knowledge. versification, though not without inequalities, are Returning to school, he soon closed his further superior to the ordinary strain of current poetry, and education by an early and imprudent marriage. many of the observations are stamped with sound Receiving holy orders from the indulgence of Dr. judgment and correct taste.
Sherlock, he went down to a curacy in Wales, | The remainder of his life, though concurring where he attempted to remedy the scantiness of his with the period of his principal fame, is little worthy income, by the sale of cider; but this expedient of notice. He became a party writer, joining with only plunged him deeper in debt. Returning to Wilkes and other oppositionists, and employed his London, he was chosen, on his father's death, to pen assiduously in their cause. With this was succeed him as curate and lecturer of St. John's. joined a lamentable defect of moral feeling, exHis finances still falling short, he took various hibited by loose and irregular manners. Throwing methods to improve them; at the same time he dis-off his black suit, he decorated his large and clumsy played an immoderate fondness for theatrical ex-person with gold lace; and dismissing his wife, he hibitions. This latter passion caused him to think debauched from her parents the daughter of a of exercising those talents which he was conscious tradesman in Westminster. His writings at length of possessing; and in March, 1761, he published, became mere rhapsodies; and taking a journey to though anonymously, a view of the excellencies and France for the purpose of visiting Mr. Wilkes, defects of the actors in both houses, which he en- then an exile in that country, he was seized with a titled "The Rosciad." It was much admired, fever, which put a period to his life on November 4, and a second edition appeared with the author's | 1764, at the age of 34.
Roscius deceas'd, each high aspiring play'r
Push'd all his int'rest for the vacant chair.
The buskin'd heroes of the mimic stage
No longer whine in love, and rant in rage;
The monarch quits his throne, and condescends
Humbly to court the favor of his friends;
For pity's sake tells undeserv'd mishaps,
And, their applause to gain, recounts his claps.
Thus the victorious chiefs of ancient Rome,
To win the mob, a suppliant's form assume,
In pompous strain fight o'er th' extinguish'd war,
And show where honor bled in ev'ry scar.
But though bare merit might in Rome appear
The strongest plea for favor, 'tis not here;
We form our judgment in another way;
And they will best succeed, who best can pay :
Those, who would gain the votes of British tribes,
Must add to force of merit, force of bribes.
What can an actor give? In ev'ry age
Cash hath been rudely banish'd from the stage;
Monarchs themselves, to grief of ev'ry play'r,
Appear as often as their image there:
They can't, like candidate for other seat,
Pour seas of wine, and mountains raise of meat.
Wine! they could bribe you with the world as soon,
And of roast beef, they only know the tune :
But what they have they give; could Clive do more.
Though for each million he had brought home four?
Shuter keeps open house at Southwark fair,
And hopes the friends of humor will be there;
In Smithfield, Yates prepares the rival treat
For those who laughter love, instead of meat;
Foote, at Old House, for even Foote will be,
In self-conceit, an actor, bribes with tea;
Which Wilkinson at second-hand receives,
And at the New, pours water on the leaves.
The town divided, each runs sev'ral ways,
As passion, humor, int'rest, party sways.
Things of no moment, color of the hair,
Shape of a leg, complexion brown or fair,
A dress well chosen, or a patch misplac'd,
Conciliate favor, or create distaste.
From galleries loud peals of laughter roll,
And thunder Shuter's praises-he's so droll.
Embox'd, the ladies must have something smart,
Palmer! Oh! Palmer tops the janty part.
Seated in pit, the dwarf, with aching eyes,
Looks up, and vows that Barry's out of size;
Whilst to six feet the vig'rous stripling grown,
Declares that Garrick is another Coan.*
When place of judgment is by whim supplied,
And our opinions have their rise in pride;
When, in discoursing on each mimic elf,
We praise and censure with an eye to self;
All must meet friends, and Ackman bids as fair
In such a court, as Garrick, for the chair.
At length agreed, all squabbles to decide,
By some one judge the cause was to be tried;
But this their squabbles did afresh renew,
Who should be judge in such a trial?-Who?
For Johnson some, but Johnson, it was fear'd,
Would be too grave; and Sterne too gay appear'd:
Others for Francklin voted; but 'twas known,
He sicken'd at all triumphs but his own:
For Colman many, but the peevish tongue
Of prudent Age found out that he was young:
For Murphy some few pilf'ring wits declar'd,
Whilst Folly clapp'd her hands, and Wisdom star'd.
To mischief train'd, e'en from his mother's womb,
Grown old in fraud, though yet in manhood's bloom,
Adopting arts, by which gay villains rise,
And reach the heights which honest men despise;
Mute at the bar, and in the senate loud,
Dull 'mongst the dullest, proudest of the proud;
A pert, prim prater of the northern race,
Guilt in his heart, and famine in his face,
Stood forth and thrice he wav'd his lily hand-
And thrice he twirl'd his tye-thrice strok'd his
"At Friendship's call," (thus oft with trait'rous aim
Men, void of faith, usurp Faith's sacred name)
"At Friendship's call I come, by Murphy sent,
Who thus by me develops his intent.
But lest, transfus'd, the spirit should be lost,
That spirit which in storms of rhet'ric tost,
Bounces about, and flies like bottled beer,
In his own words his own intentions hear.
Who can-But Woodward came,-Hill slipp'd
Melting like ghosts, before the rising day.
With that low cunning, which in fools supplies
And amply too, the place of being wise,
Which Nature, kind, indulgent parent, gave
To qualify the blockhead for a knave;
With that smooth falsehood, whose appearance
With sleek appearance, and with ambling pace,
And, type of vacant head, with vacant face,
The Proteus Hill put in his modest plea,-
"Let Favor speak for others, Worth for me."-
For who, like him, his various powers could call
Into so many shapes, and shine in all?
Who could so nobly grace the motley list,
Actor, inspector, doctor, botanist?
Knows any one so well-sure no one knows,
At once to play, prescribe, compound, compose?
"Thanks to my friends.-But to vile fortunes born, O'er its pale cheeks, the horrid manly red.
No robes of fur these shoulders must adorn.
Vain your applause, no aid from thence I draw;
Vain all my wit, for what is wit in law?
Twice (curs'd remembrance!) twice I strove to gain
Admittance 'mongst the law-instructed train,
Who, in the Temple and Gray's Inn, prepare
For clients' wretched feet the legal snare;
Dead to those arts, which polish and refine,
Deaf to all worth, because that worth was mine,
Twice did those blockheads startle at my name,
And, foul rejection, gave me up to shame.
To laws and lawyers then I bad adieu,
And plans of far more lib'ral note pursue.
Who will may be a judge-my kindling breast
Burns for that chair which Roscius once possess'd.
Here give your votes, your int'rest here exert,
And let success for once attend desert."
Much did it talk, in its own pretty phrase,
Of genius and of taste, of play'rs and plays;
Much too of writings, which itself had wrote,
Of special merit, though of little note;
For Fate, in a strange humor, had decreed
That what it wrote, none but itself should read;
Much too it chatter'd of dramatic laws,
Misjudging critics, and misplac'd applause;
Then, with a self-complacent jutting air,
It smil'd, it smirk'd, it wriggled to the chair ;
And, with an awkward briskness not its own,
Looking around, and perking on the throne,
Triumphant seem'd, when that strange savage dame
Known but to few, or only known by name,
Plain Common-Sense appear'd, by Nature there
Appointed, with plain Truth, to guard the chair.
The pageant saw, and, blasted with her frown,
To its first state of nothing melted down.
* John Coan, a dwarf, who died in 1764. C.
And reason of each wholesome doubt disarms,
Which to the lowest depths of guile descends,
By vilest means pursues the vilest ends,
Wears Friendship's mask for purposes of spite,
Fawns in the day, and butchers in the night;
With that malignant envy, which turns pale,
And sickens, even if a friend prevail,
Which merit and success pursues with hate,
And damns the worth it cannot imitate;
With the cold caution of a coward's spleen,
Which fears not guilt, but always seeks a skreen,
Which keeps this maxim ever in her view-
What's basely done, should be done safely too;
With that dull, rooted, callous impudence,
Which, dead to shame, and ev'ry nicer sense,
Ne'er blush'd, unless, in spreading Vice's snares,
She blunder'd on some virtue unawares;
With all these blessings, which we seldom find
Lavish'd by Nature on one happy mind,
A motley figure, of the Fribble tribe,
Which heart can scarce conceive, or pen describe,
Came simp'ring on; to ascertain whose sex
Twelve sage, impannel'd matrons would perplex.
Nor male, nor female; neither, and yet both;
Of neuter gender, though of Irish growth;
A six-foot suckling, mincing in its gait;
Affected, peevish, prim, and delicate;
Fearful it seem'd, though of athletic make,
Lest brutal breezes should too roughly shake
Its tender form, and savage motion spread,
Nor shall the Muse (for even there the pride
Of this vain nothing shall be mortified)
Nor shall the Muse (should Fate ordain her rhymes
Fond, pleasing thought! to live in after-times)
With such a trifler's name her pages blot;
Known by the character, the thing forgot;
†This severe character was intended for Mr. Fitzpatrick, a person who had rendered himself remarkable by his activity in the playhouse riots of 1763, relative to the taking half prices. He was the hero of Garrick's Fribbleriad. E.
Let it, to disappoint each future aim,
Live without sex, and die without a name!
Cold-blooded critics, by enervate sires
Scarce hammer'd out, when Nature's feeble fires
Glimmer'd their last; whose sluggish blood, half
The morning came, nor find I that the Sun,
As he on other great events hath done,
Put on a brighter robe than what he wore
go his journey in the way before.
Full in the centre of a spacious plain,
On plan entirely new, where nothing vain,
Creeps lab'ring through the veins; whose heart Nothing magnificent appear'd, but Art
With decent modesty perform'd her part,
Rose a tribunal: from no other court
With fancy-kindled heat;-a servile race,
Who in mere want of fault, all merit place;
Who blind obedience pay to ancient schools,
Bigots to Greece, and slaves to musty rules;
With solemn consequence declar'd that none
Could judge that cause but Sophocles alone.
Dupes to their fancied excellence, the crowd,
Obsequious to the sacred dictate, bow'd.
When, from amidst the throng, a youth stood forth,
Unknown his person, not unknown his worth;
His look bespoke applause; alone he stood,
Alone he stemm'd the mighty critic flood.
He talk'd of ancients, as the man became
Who priz'd our own, but envied not their fame;
With noble rev'rence spoke of Greece and Rome,
And scorn'd to tear the laurel from the tomb.
"But more than just to other countries grown, Must we turn base apostates to our own? Where do these words of Greece and Rome excel, That England may not please the ear as well? What mighty magic's in the place or air, That all perfection needs must centre there? In states, let strangers blindly be preferr'd; In state of letters, merit should be heard. Genius is of no country, her pure ray Spreads all abroad, as gen'ral as the day; Foe to restraint, from place to place she flies, And may hereafter e'en in Holland rise. May not (to give a pleasing fancy scope, And cheer a patriot heart with patriot hope) May not some great extensive genius raise The name of Britain 'bove Athenian praise; And, whilst brave thirst of fame his bosom warms, Make England great in letters as in arms? There may-there hath-and Shakspeare's Muse aspires
Beyond the reach of Greece: with native fires
Mounting aloft, he wings his daring flight,
Whilst Sophocles below stands trembling at his
"Why should we then abroad for judges roam,
When abler judges we may find at home?
Happy in tragic and in comic pow'rs,
Have we not Shakspeare ?-Is not Jonson ours?
For them, your nat'ral judges, Britons, vote;
They'll judge like Britons, who like Britons wrote."
He said, and conquer'd-Sense resum'd her sway,
And disappointed pedants stalk'd away.
Shakspeare and Jonson, with deserv'd applause,
Joint-judges were ordain'd to try the cause.
Meantime the stranger ev'ry voice employ'd,
To ask or tell his name-Who is it?-Lloyd.
Thus, when the aged friends of Job stood mute, And, tamely prudent, gave up the dispute, Elihu, with the decent warmth of youth, Boldly stood forth the advocate of Truth; Confuted Falsehood, and disabled Pride, Whilst baffled Age stood snarling at his side.
The day of trial's fix'd, nor any fear Lest day of trial should be put off here. Causes but seldom for delay can call
In courts where forms are few, fees none at all.
It borrow'd ornament, or sought support:
No juries here were pack'd to kill or clear,
No bribes were taken, nor oaths broken here;
No gownmen, partial to a client's cause,
To their own purpose tun'd the pliant laws,
Each judge was true and steady to his trust,
As Mansfield wise, and as old Foster* just.
In the first seat, in robe of various dyes,
A noble wildness flashing from his eyes,
Sat Shakspeare.—In one hand a wand he bore,
For mighty wonders fam'd in days of yore;
The other held a globe, which to his will
Obedient turn'd, and own'd the master's skill:
Things of the noblest kind his genius drew,
And look'd through Nature at a single view:
A loose he gave to his unbounded soul,
And taught new lands to rise, new seas to roll;
Call'd into being scenes unknown before,
And, passing Nature's bounds, was something more.
Next Jonson sat, in ancient learning train'd,
His rigid judgment Fancy's flights restrain'd,
Correctly prun'd each wild luxuriant thought,
Mark'd out her course, nor spar'd a glorious fault
The book of man he read with nicest art,
And ransack'd all the secrets of the heart;
Exerted penetration's utmost force,
And trac'd each passion to its proper source;
Then strongly mark'd, in liveliest colors drew,
And brought each foible forth to public view.
The coxcomb felt a lash in ev'ry word,
And fools, hung out, their brother fools deterr'd.
His comic humor kept the world in awe,
And Laughter frighten'd Folly more than Law.
But, hark!-The trumpet sounds, the crowd gives
And the procession comes in just array.
Now should I, in some sweet poetic line,
Offer up incense at Apollo's shrine;
Invoke the Muse to quit her calm abode,
And waken mem'ry with a sleeping ode.
For how should mortal man, in mortal verse,
Their titles, merits, or their names rehearse?
But give, kind Dullness, memory and rhyme,
We'll put off Genius till another time.
First, Order came-with solemn step, and slow,
In measur'd time his feet were taught to go.
Behind, from time to time, he cast his eye,
Lest this should quit his place, that step awry.
Appearances to save his only care;
So things seem right, no matter what they are.
In him his parents saw themselves renew'd,
Begotten by sir Critic on saint Prude.
Then came drum, trumpet, hautboy, fiddle, flute:
Next snuffer, sweeper, shifter, soldier, mute:
Legions of angels all in white advance;
Furies, all fire, come forward in dance;
Pantomime figures then are brought to view,
Fools hand in hand with fools go two by two.
* Sir Michael Foster, one of the judges of the King's Bench.
Next came the treasurer of either house;
One with full purse, t'other with not a sous.
Behind, a group of figures awe create,
Set off with all th' impertinence of state;
By lace and feather consecrate to fame,
Expletive kings, and queens without a name.
Here Havard, all serene, in the same strains,
Loves, hates, and rages, triumphs, and complains;
His easy vacant face proclaim'd a heart
Which could not feel emotions, nor impart.
With him came mighty Davies. On my life,
That Davies hath a very pretty wife:-
Statesman all over!-In plots famous grown!-
He mouths a sentence, as curs mouth a bone.
Next Holland came.-With truly tragic stalk, He creeps, he flies.-A hero should not walk. As if with Heav'n he warr'd, his eager eyes Planted their batteries against the skies; Attitude, action, air, pause, start, sigh, groan, He borrow'd, and made use of as his own. By fortune thrown on any other stage, He might, perhaps, have pleas'd an easy age; But now appears a copy, and no more, Of something better we have seen before. The actor who would build a solid fame, Must Imitation's servile arts disclaim; Act from himself, on his own bottom stand; I hate e'en Garrick thus at second-hand.
Behind came King.-Bred up in modest lore, Bashful and young he sought Hibernia's shore; Hibernia, fam'd, 'bove ev'ry other grace, For matchless intrepidity of face. From her his features caught the gen'rous flame, And bid defiance to all sense of shame. Tutor'd by her all rivals to surpass, 'Mongst Drury's sons he comes, and shines in Brass. Lo Yates-Without the least finesse of art He gets applause-I wish he'd get his part. When hot Impatience is in full career, How vilely "Hark'e! Hark'e!" grates the ear. When active Fancy from the brain is sent, And stands on tip-toe for some wish'd event, I hate those careless blunders which recall Suspended sense, and prove it fiction all.
In characters of low and vulgar mould, Where Nature's coarsest features we behold, Where, destitute of ev'ry decent grace, Unmanner'd jests are blurted in your face, There Yates with justice strict attention draws, Acts truly from himself, and gains applause. But when to please himself, or charm his wife, He aims at something in politer life, When, blindly thwarting Nature's stubborn plan, He treads the stage, by way of gentleman, The clown, who no one touch of breeding knows, Looks like Tom Errand dress'd in Clincher's clothes. Fond of his dress, fond of his person grown, Laugh'd at by all, and to himself unknown, From side to side he struts, he smiles, he prates, And seems to wonder what's become of Yates. Woodward, endow'd with various tricks of face, Great master in the science of grimace, From Ireland ventures, fav'rite of the town, Lur'd by the pleasing prospect of renown; A speaking Harlequin, made up of whim, He twists, he twines, he tortures ev'ry limb, Plays to the eye with a mere monkey's art, And leaves to sense the conquest of the heart. We laugh indeed, but on reflection's birth, We wonder at ourselves, and curse our mirth.
His walk of parts he fatally misplac'd,
And inclination fondly took for taste;.
Hence hath the town so often seen display'd
Beau in burlesque, high life in masquerade.
But when bold wits, not such as patch up plays,
Cold and correct, in these insipid days,
Some comic character, strong featur'd, urge
To probability's extremest verge,
Where modest Judgment her decree suspends
And for a time, nor censures, nor commends,
Where critics can't determine on the spot
Whether it is in Nature found or not,
There Woodward safely shall his pow'rs exert,
Nor fail of favor where he shows desert.
Hence he in Bobadil such praises bore,
Such worthy praises, Kitely scarce had more.
By turns transform'd into all kind of shapes, Constant to none, Foote laughs, cries, struts, and
Now in the centre, now in van or rear,
The Proteus shifts, bawd, parson, auctioneer.
His strokes of humor, and his bursts of sport,
Are all contain'd in this one word, Distort.
Doth a man stutter, look a-squint, or halt? Mimics draw humor out of Nature's fault, With personal defects their mirth adorn, And hang misfortunes out to public scorn. E'en I, whom Nature cast in hideous mould, Whom, having made, she trembled to behold, Beneath the load of mimicry may groan, And find that Nature's errors are my own.
Shadows behind of Foote and Woodward came; Wilkinson this, Obrien was that name. Strange to relate, but wonderfully true, That even shadows have their shadows too! With not a single comic pow'r endu'd, The first a mere mere mimic's mimic stood; The last by Nature form'd to please, who shows, In Jonson's Stephen, which way Genius grows; Self quite put off, affects, with too much art, To put on Woodward in each mangled part; Adopts his shrug, his wink, his stare; nay, more, His voice, and croaks; for Woodward croak'd be.
When a dull copier simple grace neglects,
And rests his imitation in defects,
We readily forgive; but such vile arts
Are double guilt in men of real parts.
By Nature form'd in her perversest mood,
With no one requisite of art endu'd,
Next Jackson came.-Observe that settled glare,
Which better speaks a puppet than a player:
List to that voice-did ever Discord hear
Sounds so well fitted to her untun'd ear?
When, to enforce some very tender part,
The right-hand sleeps by instinct on the heart;
His soul, of every other thought bereft,
Is anxious only where to place the left;
He sobs and pants to soothe his weeping spouse,
To soothe his weeping mother, turns and bows.
Awkward, embarrass'd, stiff, without the skill
Of moving gracefully, or standing still,
One leg, as if suspicious of his brother,
Desirous seems to run away from t'other.
Some errors, handed down from age to age, Plead custom's force, and still possess the stage. That's vile-Should we a parent's faults adore, And err, because our fathers err'd before: If, inattentive to the author's mind, Some actors made the jest they could not find;
If by low tricks they marr'd fair Nature's mien,
And blurr'd the graces of the simple scene;
Shall we, if reason rightly is employ'd,
Not see their faults, or seeing not avoid?
When Falstaff stands detected in a lie,
Why, without meaning, rolls Love's glassy eye?
Why? There's no cause at least no cause we
It was the fashion twenty years ago.
Fashion, a word which knaves and fools may use,
Their knavery and folly to excuse.
To copy beauties, forfeits all pretence
To fame-to copy faults, is want of sense.
Yet (though in some particulars he fails,
Some few particulars, where mode prevails)
If in these hallow'd times, when sober, sad,
All gentlemen are melancholy mad,
When 'tis not deem'd so great a crime by half
To violate a vestal, as to laugh,
At once provoke our mirth, and form our taste.
Long, from a nation ever hardly us'd,
At random censur'd, wantonly abus'd,
Have Britons drawn their sport, with partial view
Form'd gen'ral notions from the rascal few;
Condemn'd a people, as for vices known,
Which, from their country banish'd, seek our own.
At length, howe'er, the slavish chain is broke,
And Sense, awaken'd, scorns her ancient yoke:
Taught by thee, Moody, we now learn to raise
Mirth from their foibles; from their virtues, praise
Next came the legion, which our Summer Bayes,
From alleys, here and there, contriv'd to raise,
Flush'd with vast hopes, and certain to succeed
With wits who cannot write, and scarce can read.
Vet'rans no more support the rotten cause,
No more from Elliot's worth they reap applause
Each on himself determines to rely,
Be Yates disbanded, and let Elliot fly;
Never did play'rs so well an author fit,
To Nature dead, and foes declar'd to Wit.
So loud each tongue, so empty was each head,
So much they talk'd, so very little said,
So wondrous dull, and yet so wondrous vein,
At once so willing, and unfit to reign,
That Reason swore, nor would the oath recall,
Their mighty master's soul inform'd them all.
As one with various disappointments sad,
A band of malcontents with spleen o'erflow;
Wrapt in Conceit's impenetrable fog,
Which Pride, like Phoebus, draws from ev'ry bog,
They curse the managers, and curse the town,
Whose partial favor keeps such merit down.
Arms cross'd, brows bent, eyes fix'd, feet march- Whom Dullness only kept from being mad,
Apart from all the rest great Murphy came-
Common to fools and wits, the rage of fame.
What though the sons of Nonsense hail him SIRE
AUDITOR, AUTHOR, MANAGER, and SQUIRE,
His restless soul's ambition stops not there,
To make his triumphs perfect, dub him PLAYER.
In person tall, a figure form'd to please;
If symmetry could charm, depriv'd of ease;
When motionless he stands, we all approve;
What pity 'tis the thing was made to move.
But if some man, more hardy than the rest,
Should dare attack these gnatlings in their nest;
At once they rise with impotence of rage,
Whet their small stings, and buzz about the stage.
""Tis breach of privilege!-Shall any dare
To arm satiric truth against a player?
Prescriptive rights we plead time out of mind;
Actors, unlash'd themselves, may lash mankind."
His voice, in one dull, deep, unvaried sound,
Seems to break forth from caverns under ground
From hollow chest the low sepulchral note
Unwilling heaves, and struggles in his throat.
Could authors butcher'd give an actor grace,
All must to him resign the foremost place.
When he attempts, in some one fav'rite part,
To ape the feelings of a manly heart,
His honest features the disguise defy,
And his face loudly gives his tongue the lie.
What! shall Opinion then, of nature free
And lib'ral as the vagrant air, agree
To rust in chains like these, impos'd by things
Which, less than nothing, ape the pride of kings?
No-though half-poets with half-players join
To curse the freedom of each honest line;
Though rage and malice dim their faded cheek;
What the Muse freely thinks, she 'll freely speak.
With just disdain of ev'ry paltry sneer,
Stranger alike to flattery and fear,
In purpose fix'd, and to herself a rule,
Public contempt shall wait the public fool.
Still in extremes, he knows no happy mean,
Or raving mad, or stupidly serene.
In cold-wrought scenes the lifeless actor flags,
In passion, tears the passion into rags.
Can none remember?-Yes-I know all must-
When in the Moor he ground his teeth to dust,
When o'er the stage he Folly's standard bore,
Whilst Common-Sense stood trembling at the door.
Austin would always glisten in French silks,
Ackman would Norris be, and Packer Wilks.
Rude Mirth may hope presumptuous to engage
An act of toleration for the stage,
And courtiers will, like reasonable creatures,
Suspend vain fashion, and unscrew their features,
Old Falstaff, play'd by Love, shall please once more,
And humor set the audience in a roar.
For who, like Ackman, can with humor please?
Who can, like Packer, charm with sprightly ease!
Higher than all the rest, see Bransby strut:
A mighty Gulliver in Lilliput!
Ludicrous Nature! which at once could show
A man so very high, so very low.
If I forget thee, Blakes, or if I say
Aught hurtful, may I never see thee play.
Let critics, with a supercilious air,
Decry thy various merit, and declare
Frenchman is still at top;-but scorn that rage
Which, in attacking thee, attacks the age.
French follies, universally embrac'd,
Actors I've seen, and of no vulgar name,
Who, being from one part possess'd of fame,
Whether they are to laugh, cry, whine, or bawl,
Still introduce that fav'rite part in all.
Here, Love, be cautious-ne'er be thou betray'd
To call in that wag Falstaff's dangerous aid;
Like Goths of old, howe'er he seems a friend,
He'll seize that throne, you wish him to defend.
In a peculiar mould by Humor cast,
For Falstaff fram'd-Himself, the first and last,
He stands aloof from all-maintains his state,
And scorns, like Scotchmen, to assimilate.
Vain all disguise-too plain we see the trick,
Though the Knight wears the weeds of Dominic.
And Boniface, disgrac'd, betrays the smack,
In Anno Domini, of Falstaff's sack.