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The ladies safe may smile, for here's no slander, | An opera, like an oglio, nicks the age; No smut, no lewd-tongued beau, no double en- Farce is the hasty-pudding of the stage: tendre. For when you're treated with indifferent cheer, You can dispense with slender stage-coach fare. A pastoral's whipt-cream; stage-whims, mere trash;
'Tis true, he has a spark just come from France, But then, so far from beau-why, he talks sense, Like coin, oft carried out, but-seldom brought from thence.
There's yet a gang to whom our spark submits,
Your elbow-shaking fool that lives by's wits,
That's only witty though, just as he lives, by fits:
Who, lion-like, through bailiffs scours away,
Hunts, in the face of dinner, all the day,
At night with empty bowels grumbles o'er the
And now the modish prentice he implores,
Who, with his master's cash, stol'n out of doors,
Employs it on a brace of-honorable whores:
While their good bulky mother pleas'd sits by,
Bawd-regent of the bubble gallery.
Next to our mounted friends we humbly move,
Who all your side-box tricks are much above,
And never fail to pay us with your love.
Ah, friends! poor Dorset Garden-house is gone;
Our merry meetings there are all undone:
Quite lost to us, sure for some strange misdeeds,
That strong dog Samson's pull'd ito'er our heads,
Snaps rope like thread; but when his fortune's
He'll hear perhaps of rope will one day hold him:
At least, I hope that our good-natur'd town
Will find a way to pull his prices down.
Well, that's all! Now, gentlemen, for the play: On second thoughts, I've but two words to say; Such as it is, for your delight design'd, Hear it, read, try, judge, and speak as you find.
§ 16. Prologue to The Inconstan!. 1702. FARQUHAR. LIKE hungry guests a sitting audience looks: Plays are like suppers; poets are the cooks: The founders you: the table is the place: The carvers we: the prologue is the grace: Each act a course; each scene a diff'rent dish: Though we're in Lent, I doubt you're still for flesh.
Satire's the sauce, high-season'd, sharp, and rough;
Kind masks and beaux, I hope you're pepperproof.
Wit is the wine; but 'iis so scarce the true,
Poets, like vintners, balderdash and brew.
Your surly scenes, where rant and bloodshed
Are butcher's meat, a battle's a sirloin: [join,
Your scenes of love, so flowing, soft, and chaste,
Are water-gruel, without salt or taste.
Bawdy's fat venison, which, though stale, can
Your rakes love haut-gouts, like your damn'd
Your rarity, for the fair guest to gape on,
Is your nice squeaker, or Italian capon;
Or your French virgin-pullet, garnish'd round
And dress'd with sauce of some-four hundred
And tragi-comedy, half fish and flesh.
But comedy, that, that's the darling cheer;
This night, we hope, you'll an Inconstant bear;
Wild-fowl is lik'd in play-house all the year.
Yet since each mind betrays a diff'rent taste,
And ev'ry dish scarce pleases ev'ry guest,
If aught you relish, do not damn the rest.
This favor crav'd, up let the music strike:
You're welcome all-now fall to where you like.
§ 17. Prologue on the proposed Union of the Two Houses. 1703. FARQUHAR.
Now all the world's ta'en up with state affairs, Some wishing peace, some calling out for wars, "Tis likewise fit we should inform the age, What are the present politics o' th' stage: Two diff'rent states, ambitious both, and bold, All free-born souls, the New House and the Old, Have long contended, and made stout essays, Which should be monarch absolute in plays. Long has the battle held with bloody strife, Where many ranting heroes lost their life; Yet such their enmity, that e'en the slain Do conquer death, rise up, and fight again. Whilst from the gallery, box, the pit, and all, The audience look 'd, and shook its awful head, Wond'ring to see so many thousands fall,
And then look'd pale to see us look so red.
For force of numbers, and poetic spell,
We've rais'd the ancient heroes too from hell,
To lead our troops; and on this bloody field
You've seen great Cæsar fight, great Pompey
Vast sums of treasure too we did advance,
To draw some mercenary troops from France;
Light-footed rogues, who, when they got their
Took to their heels-Allons—and ran away.
Here you have seen great Philip's conqu'ring son,
Who in twelve years did the whole world o'errun;
Here has he fought, and found a harder job
To beat one play-house, than subdue the globe;
All this from emulation for the bays:
You lik'd the contest, and bestow'd your praise,
But now (as busy heads love something new)
They would propose an union-O mort dieu!
If it be so, let Caesar hide his head,
And fight no more for glory, but for bread.
Let Alexander mourn, as once before,
Because no worlds are left to conquer more.
But if we may judge small from greater things,
The present times may show what union brings,
You feel the danger of united kings.
If we grow one, then slav'ry must ensue
To poets, players, and, my friends, to you.
For, to one house confin'd, you then must praise
Both cursed actors, and confounded plays.
Then leave us as we are, and next advance
Bravely to break the tie 'twixt Spain and France.
§ 18. Prologue to Love's Contrivance. 1703.
POETS like mushrooms rise and fall of late,
Or as the uncertain favorites of state;
Invention's rack'd to please both eye and ear,
But no scene takes without the moving play'r:
Daily we see plays, pamphlets, libels, rhymes,
Become the falling-sickness of the times;
So fev'rish is the humor of the town,
It surfeits of a play ere three days' run.
At Locket's, Browne's, and at Pontack's, inquire
What modish kick-shaws the nice beaux desire,
What fam'd ragouts, what new-invented salad,
Has best pretensions to regale the palate.
If we present you with a medley here,
A hodge-podge dish serv'd up in china ware,
We hope 'twill please, 'cause, like your bill of
To please you all we should attempt in vain :
In diff'rent persons diff'rent humors reign.
The soldier's for the rattling scenes of war,
The peaceful beau hates shedding blood so near.
Courtiers in comedy place their chief delight,
'Cause love's the proper business of the night.
The clown for past ral his half-crown bestows,
But t'other house by sad experience knows,
This polish'd town produces few of those.
The merchant is for traffic ev'ry where,
And values not the best, but cheapest ware.
Since various humors are pleas'd various ways,
A critic's but a fool to judge of plays.
Fool, did I say? 'Tis difficult to know
Who 'tis that's so indeed, or is not so:
If that be then a point so hard to gain,
Wit's sure a most profound unfathoni'd
He that sits judge, the trident ought to sway,
To know who's greatest fool or wit to-day,
The audience, or the author of the play.
§ 19. Epilogue to the Beau's Duel. 1703. CENTLIVRE.
You see, gallants, 't has been our poet's care, To show what beaux in their perfection are; By nature cowards, foolish; useless tools, Made men by tailors, and by women, fools: A fickle, false, a singing, dancing crew; Nay, now we hear they've smiling-master o. Just now a Frenchman, in the dressing-room, From teaching of a beau to smile, was come. He show'd five guineas-Wasn't he rarely paid? Thus all the world by smiles are once betray'd. The statesman smiles on them he would undo, The courtier's smiles are very seldom true, The lover's smiles too many do believe, And women smile on them they would deceive. When tradesmen smile, they safely cheat with
And smiling lawyers never fail of fees.
The doctor's look the patient's pains beguiles,
The sick man lives if the physician smiles.
Thus smiles with interest hand in hand do go,
He surest strikes, that smiling gives the blow.
Poets, with us, this proverb do defy:
We live by smiles, for if you frown we die.
To please you then shall be our chief endeavour
And all we ask is but your smiles for ever.
Hold-I forgot the author bid me say,
She humbly begs protection for her play:
"Tis yours-she dedicates it to you all,
And you're too gen'rous, sure, to let it fall ;
She hopes the ladies will her cause maintain,
Since virtue here has been her only aim.
The beaux, she thinks, won't fail to do her right,
Since here they're taught with safety how to
She's sure of favor from the men of war,
A soldier is her darling character:
To fear their murmurs then would be absurd,
They only mutiny when not preferr'd.
But yet, I see, she does your fury dread,
And, like a pris'ner, stands with fear half-dead,
While you, her judges, do her sentence give;
If you're not pleas'd, she says, she cannot live.
Let my petition then for once prevail,
And let your gen'rous hands her pardon seal.
Now, you that never knowwhat spleen or hate is,
Who for an act or two are welcome gratis,
That tip the wink, and so sneak out with nun-
For your smart tastes we've toss'd you up a fop,
We hope the newest that's of late come up;
The fool, beau, wit, and rake, so mix'd he carries,
He seems a ragout piping-hot from Paris.
But, for the softer sex, whom most we'd move,
We've what the fair and chaste were form'd
An artless passion, fraught with hopes and fears,
And nearest happy when it most despairs.
For masks, we've scandal, and for beaux,
To please all tastes, we'll do the best we can ;
For the galleries, we've Dicky and Will Pin-
Now, sirs, you're welcome, and you know your
But pray, in charity, the founder spare,
Lest you destroy at once the poet and the play'r.
§ 21. Prologue to the Twin Rivals. 1706. FARQUHAR.
[An alarm sounded.] WITH drums andtrumpets, in thiswarring age, A martial prologue should alarm the stage.
New plays-ere acted, a full audience here,
Seem towns invested, when a siege they fear.
Prologues are like a forlorn hope, sent out
Before the play, to skirmish and to scout:
Our dreadful foes, the critics, when they spy,
They cock, they charge, they fire-then back
The siege is laid-there gallant chiefs abound, Here-foes intrench'd, there-glitt'ring troops around,
And the loud batt'ries roar-from yonder rising ground.
In the first act, brisk sallies (miss or hit),
With volleys of small shot, or snip-snap wit,
Attack, and gall the trenches of the pit.
The next the fire continues, but at length
Grows less, and slackens like a bridegroom's
The third-feints, mines, and countermines, abound;
Your critic engineers, safe under ground, Blow up our works, and all our art confound. The fourth-brings on most action, and 'tis
Fresh foes crowd on, at your remissness carp, And desp'rate, though unskill'd, insult our counterscarp.
Then comes the last; the gen'ral storm is near,
The poet-governor now quakes for fear;
Runs wildly up and down, forgets to huff,
And would give all he's plunder'd—to get off.
So-Don, and Monsieur-Bluff, before the
Were quickly tam'd-at Venlo, and at Liege:
'Twas Viva Spagnia! Viva France! before;
Now, Quartier, Monsieur! Quartier! Ah,
But what your resolution can withstand?
You master all, and awe the sea and land.
In war your valor makes the strong submit;
Your judgement humbles all attempts in wit.
What play, what fort, what beauty, can endure
All fierce assaults, and always be secure?
Then grant 'em gen'rous terms who dare to write,
Since now-that seems as desp'rate as to fight.
If we must yield-yet, ere the day be fix'd,
Let us hold out the third, and, if we may, the
§ 22. Prologue to the Basset-Table. 1706.
Spoken by Mr.Pinkethman. CENTLIVRE.
IN all the faces that to plays resort,
Whether of country, city, mob, or court,
I've always found, that none such hopes inspire
As you, dear brethren of the upper tier.
Poets in prologues may both preach and rail,
Yet all their wisdom nothing will avail; [fail.
Who writes not up to you, 'tis ten to one will
Your thund'ring plaudit 'tis that deals out fame;
You make plays run, though of themselves but
How often have we known your noise com-
Impose on your inferior masters' understanding!
Therefore, dear brethren, since I'm one of you,
Whether adorn'd in grey, green, brown, or blue,
This day stand all by me, as I will fall by you.
$23. Prologue to the Busybody. 1708. CENTLIVRE.
THOUGH modern prophets were expos'd of late,
The author could not prophesy his fate :
If with such scenes an audience had been fir'd,
The poet must have really been inspir'd.
But these, alas! are melancholy days
For modern prophets, and for modern plays.
Yet since prophetic lies please fools of fashion,
And women are so fond of agitation;
To men of sense I'll prophesy anew,
And tell you wondrous things that will prove
Undaunted colonels will to camps repair, [true.
Assur'd there'll be no skirmishes this year;
On our own terms will flow the wish'd-for peace,
All wars, except 'twixt man and wife, shall cease.
TheGrand Monarque may wish his son a throne,
But hardly will advance to lose his own.
This season most things bear a smiling face;
But play'rs in summer have a dismal case,
Since your appearance only is our act of grace.
Court-ladies will to country seats be gone,
My lord can't all the year live great in town:
Where wanting operas, basset, and a play,
They'll sigh, and stitch a gown to pass the time
Gay city-wives at Tunbridge will appear,
Whose husbands long have wished for an heir;
Where many a courtier may their wants relieve,
But by the waters only they conceive.
The Fleet-street sempstress, toast of Temple
That runs spruce neckcloths for attorneys'
At Cuper's gardens will her hours regale,
Sing Fair Dorinda, and drink bottled ale.
At all assemblies rakes are up and down,
And gamesters, when they think they are not
Should I denounce our author's fate to-day, To cry down prophecies, you'd damn the play;
Yet whims like these have sometimes made you laugh,
'Tis tattling all like Isaac Bickerstaff.
Since war and places claim the bards that write,
Be kind, and bear a woman's treat to-night;
Let your indulgence all her fears allay,
And none but woman-haters damn this play.
$24. Prologue to The Man's Bewitch'd. 1710. CENTLIVRE. OUR female author trembling stands within,
Her fear arises from another's sin :
One of her sex has so abus'd the town,
That on her score she dreads your angry frown;
Though I dare say, poor soul, she never writ
Lampoon, or satire, on the box or pit;
A harmless hum'rous play is her extent of wit.
Though Bickerstaff's vast genius may engage,
And lash the vice and follies of the age;
Why should the tender Delia tax the nation,
Stickle and make a noise for reformation,
Who always gave a loose herself to inclination?
Scandal and satire's thrown aside to-day,
And humor's the sole business of our play.
Beaux may dress on, to catch the ladies' hearts,
And good assurance pass for mighty parts:
The cits may bring their spouses without fear;
We show no wife that's poaching for an heir,
Nor teach the use of fine gauze handkerchier.
Cowards may huff, and talk of mighty wonders,
And jilts set up for twenty-thousand-pounders.
Our author, even though she knows full well,
Is so good-natur'd, she forbears to tell,
What colonels, lately, have found out the knack
To muster madam, still, by Ned or Jack;
To keep their pleasures up, a frugal way,
They give her-subaltern's subsistence for her
In pity of my pains and doubt, And try if you can't find me out. Poor soul! he seems indeed in dismal plight; Let's see! it can't be, sure, from th' upper flight, No, no-that's plain-for-none of them can Nor can I think it from the middle fell, [write: For I'm afraid as few of them can spell; Beside, their haggling passions never gain Beyond the passage-walking nymphs of Drury[rovers, And then the pit's more stock'd with rakes and Than any of these senseless, whining lovers. The backs o' th' boxes too seem mostly lin'd With souls whose passion's to themselves con
Then powder'd for th' ensuing day's delights, Bows through his crowd of duns, and drives to White's.
Nor could I like the wretch that all night plays, And only takes his rest on winning days; Then sets up, from a lucky hit, his rattler; Then's trac'd from his original-in the Tatler. To tell you all that are my fix'd aversion, Would tire the tongue of malice or aspersion: But if I find 'mongst all one gen'rous heart, That, deaf to stories, takes the stage's part; That thinks that purse deserves to keep the plays, Whose fortune's bound for the support of operas; That thinks our constitution here is justly fix'd, And now no more with lawyers' brawls perplex'd;
He, I declare, shall my whole heart receive; And (what's more strange) I'll love him while I live.
§ 26. Prologue to Cato. 1713. POPE. To wake the soul by tender strokes of art, To raise the genius, and to mend the heart; To make mankind, in conscious virtue bold, Live o'er each scene, and be what they behold: For this the tragic musé first trod the stage, Commanding tears to stream through ev'ry age; Tyrants no more their savage nature kept, And foes to virtue wonder'd how they wept.
Our author shuns by vulgar springs to move The hero's glory, or the virgin's love; In pitying love, we but our weakness show, And wild ambition well deserves its woe.
Here tears shall flow from a more gen'rous cause,
Such tears as patriots shed for dying laws:
He bids your breasts with ancient ardor rise,
And calls forth Roman drops from British eyes.
Virtue confess'd in human shape he draws,
What Plato thought, and godlike Cato was :
No common object to your sight displays,
But what with pleasure Heaven itself surveys,
A brave man struggling in the storms of fate,
And greatly falling with a falling state.
While Cato gives his little senate laws,
What bosom beats not in his country's cause?
Who sees him act, but envies ev'ry deed ?
Who hears him groan, and does not wish to
Even when proud Cæsar, 'midst triumphal
The spoils of nations, and the pomp of wars,
Ignobly vain, and impotently great,
Show'd Rome her Cato's figure drawn in state:
As her dead father's rev'rend image pass'd,
The pomp was darken'd, and the day o'ercast;
The triumph ceas'd, tears gush'd from ev'ry eye;
The world's great victor pass'd unheeded by;
Her last good man dejected Rome ador'd,
And honor'd Cæsar's less than Cato's sword.
Britons, attend; be worth like this approv'd,
And show you have the virtue to be mov'd.
With honest scorn the first fam'd Cato view'd
Rome learning arts from Greece, whom she
Our scene precariously subsists too long
On French translation, and Italian song.
Dare to have sense yourselves; assert the stage,
Be justly warm'd with your own native rage:
Such plays alone should please a British ear,
As Cato's self had not disdain'd to hear.
§ 27. Prologue to Lady Jane Grey. 1715. ROWE.
TO-NIGHT the noblest subject swells our
A heroine, a martyr, and a queen;
And though the poet dares not boast his art,
The very theme shall something great impart,
To warm the gen rous soul, and touch the ten-
To you, fair judges, we the cause submit;
Your eyes shall tell us how the tale is writ.
If your soft pity waits upon our woe,
If silent tears for suff'ring virtue flow;
Your grief the muses' labor shall confess,
The lively passions, and the just distress.
O! could our author's pencil justly paint,
Such as she was in life, the beauteous saint;
Boldly your strict attention might we claim,
And bid you mark and copy out the dame.
No wand'ring glance one wanton thought con-
No guilty wish inflam'd her spotless breast:
The only love that warm'd her blooming youth,
Was husband, England, liberty, and truth.
For these she fell; while, with too weak a hand,
She strove to save a blind ungrateful land.
But thus the secret laws of fate ordain,
William's great hand was doom'd to break that
And end the hopes of Rome's tyrannje reigu.
For ever as the circling years return,
Ye grateful Britons! crown the hero's urn;
To his just care you ev'ry blessing owe,
Which or his own, or following reigns bestow;
Though his hard fate a father's name denied,
To you a father, he that loss supplied.
Then while you view the royal line's increase,
And count the pledges of your future peace,
From this great stock while still new glories
Conquest abroad, and liberty at home; [come,
While you behold the beautiful and brave,
Bright princesses to grace you, kings to save,
Enjoy the gift, but bless the hand that gave.
Epilogue to the Cruel Gift. Spoken by
Mrs. Oldfield. 1717. RowE.
WELL, 'twas a narrow'scape my lover made-
That cup and message-I was sore afraid!
Was that a present for a new-made widow,
All in her dismal dumps, like doleful Dido?
When one peep'd in-and hop'd for something
There was-O gad! a nasty heart and blood*.
If the old man had show'd himself a father,
His bowl should have inclos'd a cordial rather;
Something to cheer me up amidst my trance,
L'eau de Barbude—or comfortable Nantz↑.
He thought he paid it off with being smart,
And, to be witty, cried, he'd send the heart.
I could have told his gravity, moreover,
Were I our sex's secrets to discover,
'Tis what we never look for in a lover.
Let but the bridegroom prudently provide
All other matters fitting for a bride,
So he make good the jewels and the jointure,
To miss the heart does seldom disappoint her.
'Faith, for the fashion hearts of late are made in,
They are the vilest bauble we can trade in.
Where are the tough brave Britons to be found,
With hearts of oak, so much of old renown'd?
How many worthy gentlemen of late
Swore to be true to mother-church and state;
When their false hearts were secretly main-
Yon trim king Pepin, at Avignon reigning? Shame on the canting crew of soul-insurers, That Tyburn tribe of speech-making nonjurors, Who, in new-fangled terms old truths explaining, meaning!
Teach honest Englishmen damn'd double-
O! would you lost integrity restore,
And boast that faith your plain forefathers bore;
What surer pattern can you hope to find
Than that dear pledge your monarch left be-
This tragedy was founded upon the story of Sigismunda and Guiscardo, out of Boccace's novels; wherein the heart of the lover is sent by the father to his daughter, as a present. ↑ i. e. Citron-water and good brandy. The Prince of Wales, then present.