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Peeping the curtain's eyelet through,
Behold the house in dreadful view!
Observe how close the critics sit,
And not one bonnet in the pit.
With horror hear the galleries ring,
Nosy! Black Joke! God save the King!
Sticks clatter, catcalls scream, Encore !
Cocks crow, pit hisses, galleries roar :
E'en cha' some oranges is found
This night to have a dreadful sound :
'Till, decent sables on his back
(Your prologuizers all wear black)
The prologue comes; and, if it's mine,
It's very good and very fine.
If not, I take a pinch of snuff,
And wonder where you got such stuff.
That done, a-gape the critics sit, Expectant of the comic wit. The fiddlers play again pell-mell, -But hist!-the prompter rings his bell. -Down there! hats off !- the curtain draws ! What follows is—the just applause.
Words are, so Wollaston defines,
Of our ideas merely signs,
Which have a pow'r at will to vary,
As being vague and arbitrary.
Now damn'd for instance-all agree,
Damn'd's the superlative degree;
Means that alone, and nothing more,
However taken heretofore;
Damn'd is a word can't stand alone,
Which has no meaning of it's own,
But signifies or bad or good,
Just as it's neighbour's understood.
Examples we may find enough,
Damn'd high, damn'd low, damn'd fine, damn'd stuff.
So fares it too with it's relation,
I mean it's substantive, damnation.
The wit with metaphors makes bold,
And tells you he's damnation cold;
Perhaps, that metaphor forgot,
The self-same wit's damnation hot.
And here a fable I remember-
Once in the middle of December,
When ev'ry mead in snow is lost,
And ev'ry river bound with frost;
When families get all together,
And feelingly talk o'er the weather ;
When-pox on the descriptive rhyme--
In short it was the winter time.
It was a Pedlar's happy lot,
To fall into a Satyr's cot:
Shiv'ring with cold, and almost froze,
With pearly drop upon his nose,
His fingers' ends all pinch'd to death,
them with his breath.
“ Friend, quoth the Satyr, what intends
“ That blowing on thy fingers' ends ?”
“ It is to warm them thus I blow,
“ For they are froze as cold as spow.
“ And so inclement has it been
“ I'm like a cake of ice within."
Come, quoth the Satyr, comfort, man!
I'll chear thy inside, if I can;
You're welcome in my homely cottage
To a warm fire, and mess of pottage.
This said, the Satyr, nothing loth,
A bowl prepar'd of sav'ry broth,
Which with delight the Pedlar view'd,
As smoking on the board it stood.
But, though the very steam arose
With grateful odour to his nose,
One single sip'he ventur'd not,
The gruel was so wond'rous hot.
What can be done?—with gentle puff
He blows it, 'till it's cool enough.
Why how now, Pedlar, what's the matter? Still at thy blowing ! quoth the Satyr. I blow to cool it, cries the Clown, That I may get the liquor down: For though I grant, you've made it well, You've boild it, sir, as hot as hell.
Then raising high his cloven stump, The Satyr smote him on the rump.
“ Begone, thou double knave, or fool, « With the same breath to warm and cool :
Friendship with such I never hold “ Who're so damn'd hot, and so damn'd cold.”