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THE Rev. CHARLES CHURCHILL.
The Rev. CHARLES Churchill, a poet, once of | name. Churchill was now at once raised from great repute, was the son of a curate of St. John's obscurity 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 te public school in the vicinity, whence he was sent to bestowed due labour. The delineations are drawe 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, education by an early and imprudent marriage. and many of the observations are stamped with Receiving holy orders from the indulgence of sound judgment and correct taste. Dr. 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 cyder ; 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, esHis firiances still falling short, he took various i hibited by loose and irregular manners. Throwing methods to improve them; at the same time he dis- off bis black suit, he decorated his large and clumsy played an immoderate fondness for theatrical ex- person with gold lace; and dismissing his wife, be 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's
But though bare merit might in Rome appear
What can an actor give? In ev'ry age
They can't, like candidate for other seat,
Shuter keeps open house at Southwark fair,
The town divided, each runs sev'ral ways,
From galleries loud peals of laughter roll,
Whilst to six feet the vig'rous stripling grown,
Who can — But Woodward came, - Hill slipp'd Declares that Garrick is another Coan.
away,.. When place of judgment is by whim supply'd, Melting like ghosts, before the rising day. And our opinions have their rise in pride;
+ With that low cunning, which in fools supplies, When, in discoursing on each mimic elf,
And amply too, the place of being wise, We praise and censure with an eye to self ; Which Nature, kind, indulgent parent, gave, All must meet friends, and Ackman bids as fair To qualify the blockhead for a knave; [charms, In such a court, as Garrick, for the chair.
With that smooth falsehood, whose appearance At length agreed, all squabbles to decide, And reason of each wholesome doubt disarms, By some one judge the cause was to be try'd ; Which to the lowest depths of guile descends, But this their squabbles did afresh renew,
By vilest means pursues the vilest ends, Who should be judge in such a trial : –
· Who? Wears Friendship’s mask for purposes of spite, For Johnson some, but Johnson, it was fear'd, Fawns in the day, and butchers in the night; Would be too grave; and Sterne too gay appear'd: With that malignant envy, which turns pale, Others for Francklin voted; but 't was known, And sickens, even if a friend prevail, He sicken'd at all triumphs but his own :
Which merit and success pursues with hate, For Colman many, but the peevish tongue
And damns the worth it cannot imitate ; Of prudent Age found out that he was young :
With the cold caution of a coward's spleen, For Murphy some few pilf’ring wits declar'd, Which fears not guilt, but always seeks a skreen, Whilst Folly clapp'd her hands, and Wisdom star'd. Which keeps this maxim ever in her view
To mischief train'd, e'en from his mother's womb, What's basely done, should be done safely too; Grown old in fraud, though yet in manhood’s bloom, with that dull
, rooted, callous impudence, Adopting arts, by which gay villains rise,
Which, dead to shame, and ev'ry nicer sense, And reach the heights which honest men despise ; Ne'er blush'd, unless, in spreading Vice's snares, Mute at the bar, and in the senate loud,
She blunder'd on some virtue unawares; Dull 'mongst the dullest, proudest of the proud ; With all these blessings, which we seldom find A pert, prim, prater of the northern race,
Lavish'd by Nature on one happy mind, Guilt in his heart, and famine in his face,
A motley figure, of the Fribble tribe, Stood forth: - and thrice he wav'd his lily hand Which heart can scarce conceive, or pen describe, And thrice he twirl'd his tye. thrice strok'd his Came simp’ring on; to ascertain whose sex band
(aim Twelve sage, impanell'd matrons would perplex. “ At Friendship's call,” (thus oft with trait'rous Nor male, nor female ; neither, and yet both; Men, void of faith, usurp Faith's sacred name) Of neuter gender, though of Irish growth ; " At Friendship's call I come, by Murphy sent, A six-foot suckling, mincing in its gait ; Who thus by me developes his intent.
Affected, peevish, prim, and delicate;
Lest brutal breezes should too roughly shake
Its tender form, and savage motion spread,
** Thanks to my friends. — But to vile fortunes Much did it talk, in its own pretty phrase,
Of special merit, though of little note ;
Misjudging critics, and misplac'd applause ;
Then, with a self-complacent jutting air,
Looking around, and perking on the throne,
Triumphant seem'd, when that strange savage dame, And plans of far more lib'ral note pursue.
Known but to few, or only known by name, Who will may be a judge — my kindling breast Plain Common-Sense appear’d, by Nature there Burns for that chair which Roscius once possess'd. Appointed, with plain Truth, to guard the chair. Here give your votes, your int’rest here exert, The pageant saw, and blasted with her frown, And let success for once attend desert.”
To its first state of nothing melted down. With sleek appearance, and with ambling pace, Nor shall the Muse (for even there the pride And, type of vacant head, with vacant face, Of this vain nothing shall be mortified) The Proteus Hill put in his modest plea,
Nor shall the Muse (should Fate ordain her rhymes
Known be the character, the thing forgot ;
+ This severe character was intended for Mr. Knows any one so well - sure no one knows, - Fitzpatrick, a person who had rendered himself reAt once to play, prescribe, compound, compose ? markable by his activity in the playhouse riots of
1763, relative to the taking half prices. He was * John Coan, a dwarf, who died in 1764. C. the hero of Garrick's Fribbleriad. E.
Let it, to disappoint each future aim,
The morning came, nor find I that the Sun, Live without sex, and die without a name !
As he on other great events hath done, Cold-blooded critics, by enervate sires
Put on a brighter robe than what he wore Scarce hammer'd out, when Nature's feeble fires To go his journey in the day before. Glimmer'd their last; whose sluggish blood, half Full in the centre of a spacious plain, froze,
On plan entirely new, where nothing rain, Creeps lab’ring through the veins; whose heart Nothing magnificent appear'd, but Art ne'er glows
With decent modesty perform'd her part, With fancy-kindled heat ;-a servile race,
Rose a tribunal: from no other court Who in mere want of fault, all merit place; It borrow'd ornament, or sought support: Who blind obedience pay to ancient schools, No juries here were pack'd to kill or clear, Bigots to Greece, and slaves to musty rules; No bribes were taken, nor oaths broken here; With solemn consequence declar'd that none No gownmen, partial to a client's cause, Could judge that cause but Sophocles alone. To their own purpose tun'd the pliant laws, Dupes to their fancied excellence, the crowd, Each judge was true and steady to his trust, Obsequious to the sacred dictate, bow'd.
As Mansfield wise, and as old Foster * just. When, from amidst the throng, a youth stood forth, In the first seat, in robe of various dyes, Unknown his person, not unknown his worth; A noble wildness flashing from his eyes, His look bespoke applause ; alone he stood, Sat Shakspeare. . In one hand a wand he bore, Alone he stemm'd the mighty critic flood.
For mighty wonders fam'd in days of yore; He talk'd of ancients, as the man became
The other held a globe, which to his will Who priz' our own, but envied not their fame; Obedient turn'd, and own'd the master's skill : With noble rev'rence spoke of Greece and Rome, Things of the noblest kind his genius drew, And scorn'd to tear the laurel from the tomb. And look'd through Nature at a single view:
“ But more than just to other countries grown, A loose he gave to his unbounded soul, Must we turn base apostates to our own?
And taught new lands to rise, new seas to roll; Where do these words of Greece and Rome excel, Call’d into being scenes unknown before, That England may not please the ear as well ? And, passing Nature's bounds, was something more What mighty magic 's in the place or air,
Next Jonson sat, in ancient learning train d, That all perfection needs must centre there? His rigid judgment Fancy's flights restrain'd, In states, let strangers blindly be preferr'd; Correctly prun'd each wild luxuriant thought, In state of letters, merit should be heard.
Mark'd out her course, nor spar'd a glorious fault. Genius is of no country, her pure ray
The book of man he read with nicest art,
And ransack'd all the secrets of the heart;
And trac'd each passion to its proper source ;
Then strongly mark’d, in liveliest colours drew, And cheer a patriot heart with patriot hope) And brought each foible forth to public view. May not some great extensive genius raise
The coxcomb felt a lash in ev'ry word, The name of Britain 'bove Athenian praise ; And fools, hung out, their brother fools deterr'd. And, whilst brave thirst of fame his bosom warms, His comic humour kept the world in awe, Make England great in letters as in arms ? And Laughter frightend Folly more than Law.
there hath — and Shakspeare's Muse But, hark !—The trumpet sounds, the crowd gives aspires
way, Beyond the reach of Greece : with natives fires And the procession comes in just array. Mounting aloft, he wings his daring flight,
Now should I, in some sweet poetic line, Whilst Sophocles below stands trembling at his Offer up incense at Apollo's shrine ; height.
Invoke the Muse to quit her calm abode, “ Why should we then abroad for judges roam, And waken mem'ry with a sleeping ode. When abler judges we may find at home?
For how should mortal man, in mortal verse, Happy in tragic and in comic pow'rs,
Their titles, merits, or their names rehearse ? Have we not Shakspeare ? — Is not Jonson ours? But give, kind Dullness, memory and rhyme, For them, your nat'ral judges, Britons, vote; We 'll put off Genius till another time. They 'll judge like Britons, who like Britons wrote.' First, Order came,—with solemn step, and slow,
He said, and conquer'd— Sense resum'd her sway, In measur'd time his feet were taught to go. And disappointed pedants stalk'd away.
Behind, from time to time, he cast his eye, Shakspeare and Jonson, with deserv'd applause, Lest this should quit his place, that step awry. Joint-judges were ordain'd to try the cause. Appearances to save his only care ; Meantime the stranger ev'ry voice employ'd, So things seem right, no matter what they are. To ask or tell his name - Who is it?—Lloyd. In him his parents saw themselves repew'd,
Thus, when the aged friends of Job stood mute, Begotten by sir Critic on saint Prude. And, tamely prudent, gave up the dispute,
Then came drum, trumpet, hautboy, fiddle, fute : Elihu, with the decent warmth of youth,
Next snuffer, sweeper, shifler, soldier, mute : Boldly stood forth the advocate of Truth;
Legions of angels all in white advance; Confuted Falsehood, and disabled Pride,
Furies, all fire, come forward in a dance ; Whilst baffled Age stood snarling at his side, Pantomime figures then are brought to view, The day of trial 's fix'd, nor any fear
Fools hand in hand with fools go two by twa Lest day of trial should be put off here. Causes but seldom for delay can call
Sir Michael Foster, one of the judges of the In courts where forms are few, fees none at all. King's Bench
Next came the treasurer of either house;
His walk of parts he fatally misplac'd, One with full purse, t other with not a sous. And inclination fondly took for taste ; Behind, a group of figures awe create,
Hence hath the town so often seen display'd Set off with all th' impertinence of state ;
Beau in burlesque, high life in masquerade. By lace and feather consecrate to fame,
But when bold wits, not such as patch up plays, Erpletive kings, and queens without a name. Cold and correct, in these insipid days,
Here Havard, all serene, in the same strains, Some comic character, strong featur'd, urge
Where modest Judgment her decree suspends, Which could not feel emotions, nor impart.
And for a time, nor censures, nor commends, With him came mighty Davies. On my life, Where critics can't determine on the spot That Davies hath a very pretty wife :
Whether it is in Nature found or not, Statesman all over! - In plots famous grown!
There Woodward safely shall bis pow'rs exert, He mouths a sentence, as curs mouth a bone. Nor fail of favour where he shows desert,
Next Holland came.- With truly tragic stalk, Hence he in Bobadil such praises bore,
By turns transform'd into all kind of shapes, Planted their batteries against the skies;
Constant to none, Foote laughs, cries, struts, and Attitude, action, air, pause, start, sigh, groan,
scrapes : He borrow'd, and made use of as his own.
Now in the centre, now in van or rear, By fortune thrown on any other stage,
The Proteus shifts
, bawd, parson, auctioneer. He might, perhaps, have pleas'd an easy age; His strokes of humour, and his bursts of sport, But now appears a copy, and no more,
Are all contain'd in this one word, Distort. Of something better we have seen before.
Doth a man stutter, look a-squint, or halt ? The actor who would build a solid fame,
Mimics draw humour out of Nature's fault, Must Imitation's servile arts disclaim;
With personal defects their mirth adorn, Act from himself, on his own bottom stand, And hang misfortunes out to public scorn. I hate e'en Garrick thus at second-hand.
E’en I, whom Nature cast in hideous mould, Behind came King.-Bred up in modest lore, Whom, having made, she trembled to behold, Bashful and young he sought Hibernia's shore;
Beneath the load of mimicry may groan, Hibernia, fam’d, 'bove ev'ry other grace,
And find that Nature's errours are my own. For matchless intrepidity of face.
Shadows behind of Foote and Woodward came; From her his features caught the gen'rous flame, Wilkinson this, Obrien was that name. And bid defiance to all sense of shame.
Strange to relate, but wonderfully true, Tutor'd by her all rivals to surpass,
That even shadows have their shadows too! 'Mongst Drury's sons he comes, and shines in Brass. With not a single comic pow'r endu'd,
Lo Yates ! — Without the least finesse of art The first a mere mere mimic's mimic stood; He gets applause-I wish he'd get his part. The last by Nature form'd to please, who shows, When hot Impatience is in full career,
In Jonson's Stephen, which way Genius grows; How vilely “ Hark'e! Hark'e !” grates the ear. Self quite put off, affects, with too much art, When active Fancy from the brain is sent,
To put on Woodward in each mangled part ; And stands on tip-toe for some wish'd event, Adopts his shrug, his wink, his stare ; nay, more, I hate those careless blunders which recall
His voice, and croaks; for Woodward croak'd be Suspended sense, and prove it fiction all.
fore. In characters of low and vulgar mould,
When a dull copier simple grace neglects,
We readily forgive; but such vile arts
Are double guilt in men of real parts. There Yates with justice strict attention draws, By Nature form'd in her perversest mood, Acts truly from himself, and gains applause. With no one requisite of art endu’d, But when to please himself, or charm his wife, Next Jackson came.--Observe that settled glare, He aims at something in politer life,
Which better speaks a puppet than a player : When, blindly thwarting Nature's stubborn plan, List to that voice did ever Discord hear He treads the stage, by way of gentleman,
Sounds so well fitted to her untun'd ear? The clown, who no one touch of breeding knows, When, to enforce some very tender part, Looks like Tom Errand dress'd in Clincher's clothes. The right-hand sleeps by instinct on the heart; Fond of his dress, fond of his person grown, His soul, of every other thought bereft, Laugh'd at by all, and to himself unknown, Is anxious only where to place the left ; From side to side he struts, he smiles, he prates, He sobs and pants to soothe his weeping spouse, And seems to wonder what's become of Yates. To soothe his weeping mother, turns and bows.
Woodward, endow'd with various tricks of face, Awkward, embarrass'd, stiff, without the skill Great master in the science of grimace,
Of moving gracefully, or standing still, From Ireland ventures, fav'rite of the town, One leg, as if suspicious of his brother, Lur'd by the pleasing prospect of renown;
Desirous seems to run away from t'other. A speaking Harlequin, made up of whim,
Some errours, handed down from age to age, He twists, he twines, he tortures ev'ry limb, Plead custom's force, and still possess the stage. Plays to the eye with a mere monkey's art, That 's vile - Should we a parent's faults adore, And leaves to sense the conquest of the heart. And err, because our fathers err'd before : We laugh indeed, but on reflection's birth,
If, inattentive to the author's mind, We wonder at ourselves, and curse our mirth. Some actors made the jest they could not find;
If by low tricks they marr'd fair Nature's mien, For who, like Ackman, can with humour please? And blurr'd the graces of the simple scene; Who can, like Packer, charm with sprightly ease ? Shall we, if reason rightly is employ'd,
Higher than all the rest, see Bransby strut: Not see their faults, or seeing not avoid ?
A mighty Gulliver in Lilliput! When Falstaff stands detected in a lie,
Ludicrous Nature! which at once could show Why, without meaning, rolls Love's glassy eye? A man so very high, so very low. Why ? - There's no cause - at least no cause we If I forget thee, Blakes, or if I say know
Aught hurtful, may I never see thee play. It was the fashion twenty years ago.
Let critics, with a supercilious air, Fashion, a word which knaves and fools may use Decry thy various merit, and declare Their knavery and folly to excuse.
Frenchman is still at top; - but scorn that rage To copy beauties, forfeits all pretence
Which, in attacking thee, attacks the age. To fame – to copy faults, is want of sense. French follies, universally embrac'd,
Yet (though in some particulars he fails, At once provoke our mirth, and form our taste. Some few particulars, where mode prevails)
Long, from a nation ever hardly us'd, If in these hallow'd times, when sober, sad, At random censur’d, wantonly abus'd, All gentlemen are melancholy mad,
Have Britons drawn their sport, with partial view When 'tis not deem'd so great a crime by half Form'd gen'ral notions from the rascal few; To violate a vestal, as to laugh,
Condemn'd a people, as for vices known, Rude Mirth may hope presumptuous to engage Which, from their country banish'd, seek our own. An act of toleration for the stage,
At length, howe'er, the slavish chain is broke, And courtiers will, like reasonable creatures, And Sense, awaken'd, scorns her ancient yoke: Suspend vain fashion, and unscrew their features, Taught by thee, Moody, we now learn to raise Old Falstaff, play'd by Love, shall please once more, Mirth from their foibles; from their virtues, praise. And humour set the audience in a roar.
Next came the legion, which our Summer Bayes, Actors I 've seen, and of no vulgar name, From alleys, here and there, contriv'd to raise, Who, being from one part possess'd of fame, Flush'd with vast hopes, and certain to succeed Whether they are to laugh, cry, whine, or bawl, With wits who cannot write, and scarce can read. Still introduce that fav’rite part in all.
Vet'rans no more support the rotten cause, Here, Love, be cautious — ne'er' be thou betray'd No more from Elliot's worth they reap applause; To call in that wag Falstaff's dangerous aid; Each on himself determines to rely, Like Goths of old, howe'er he seems a friend, Be Yates disbanded, and let Elliot fly, He 'll seize that throne, you wish him to defend. Never did play'rs so well an author fit, In a peculiar mould by Humour cast,
To Nature dead, and foes declar'd to Wit For Falstaff fram’d — Himself, the first and last - So loud each tongue, so empty was each head, He stands aloof from all — maintains his state, So much they talk'd, so very little said, And scorns, like Scotsmen, to assimilate.
So wondrous dull, and yet so wondrous vain, Vain all disguise — too plain we see the trick, At once so willing, and unfit to reign, Though the Knight wears the weeds of Dominic. That Reason swore, nor would the oath recall, And Boniface, disgrac'd, betrays the smack, Their mighty master's soul inform’d them all. In Anno Domini, of Falstaff's sack.
As one with various disappointments sad, Arms cross'd, brows bent, eyes fix'd, feet march- Whom Dullness only kept from being mad, ing slow,
Apart from all the rest great Murphy came A band of malecontents with spleen o'erflow; Common to fools and wits, the rage of fame. Wrapt in Conceit's impenetrable fog,
What though the sons of Nonsense hail him sire, Which Pride, like Phæbus, draws from ev'ry bog, AUDITOR, AUTHOR, MANAGER, and SQUIRE, They curse the managers, and curse the town, His restless soul's ambition stops not there, Whose partial favour keeps such merit down. To make his triumphs perfect, dub him PLAYER.
But if some man, more hardy than the rest, In person tall, a figure form’d to please; Should dare attack these gnatlings in their nest; If symmetry could charm, depriv'd of ease; At once they rise with impotence of rage,
When motionless he stands, we all approve; Whet their small stings, and buzz about the stage. What pity 'tis the thing was made to move. “ 'Tis breach of privilege ! - Shall any dare
His voice, in one dull, deep, unvaried sound, To arm satiric truth against a player ?
Seems to break forth from caverns under ground. Prescriptive rights we plead time out of mind; From hollow chest the low sepulchral note Actors, unlash'd themselves, may lash mankind." Unwilling heaves, and struggles in his throat. What! shall Opinion then, of nature free
Could authors butcher'd give an actor grace, And libéral as the vagrant air, agree
All must to him resign the foremost place.
And his face loudly gives his tongue the lie.
In cold-wrought scenes the lifeless actor flags, Stranger alike to flattery and fear,
In passion, tears the passion into rags. In purpose fix’d, and to herself a rule,
Can none remember? - Yes - I know all must Dublic contempt shall wait the public fool. When in the Moor he ground his teeth to dust,
Austin would always glisten in French silks, When o'er the stage he Folly's standard bore, Ackman would Norris be, and Packer Wilks. Whilst Common-Sense stood trembling at the door.