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PROLOGUE to the CHAPTER of ACCIDENTS.
Written ij George Colman, Esq.
LONG has the passive stage, howe'er absurd,
Been rul'd by names, and govern'd by a word;
Some poor cant ttrm, like magic spells, can awe,
And bind our realms like a dramatic law.
When Fielding, Humour's favourite child, appear'd.
Low was the word—a word each author fear'd!
'Till chac'd at length, by pleasantry"s bright ray,
Nature and mirth resum'd their legal sway j
And Goldsmith's genius basic'd in open day.
No beggar, howe'er poor, a cur can lack;
Poor bards, of critic curs, can keep a pack.
One yelper illcnc'd, twenty baikers rife,
And with new howls, theirsnerlitgs still disguise.
Lew banish'd, the word sentiment succeeds;
And at that shrine the modern playwright bleeds.
Hard fate! but let each would-be critic know,
'That sentiments from genolnefreling flow!
Critics! in vain declaim, and write, and rail;
Nature, eternal nature! will prevail.
Give me the bard, who makes me laugh and cry;
Diverts and moves, and all, 1 scarce know why!
Untaught by commentators, French or Dutch,
Passion still answers to th' electric touch.
Reason, like Falstass, claims, when all is done,
The honours of the field already won.
• To night, our author's is a mixt intent-
Passion and humour—lovr and sentiment ■
Smiling in tears—a serio-comic play.
Sunshine and show'r—a kind of April Diy!
A lord, whose pride is in his honour plac'd;
A governor, with av'rice not disgrae'd;
An humble priest! a lady, and a lover
So full of virtue, some of it runs ever!
No temporary touches, no allusions
To camps, reviews, and all our late confusions:
No personal reflections, no sharp satire,
But a mere Chapter—from the book of nature.
Wrote by a woman too! the Muses now
Few liberties to naughty men allow;
But like old maids on earth, resolv'd to vex,
With cruel coyness treat the other sex.
PROPROLOGUE tt the GENEROUS IMPOSTOR.
[As be enters the Stage looking upon a Paper, and addressing himself to tit
Author behind, from <wbcm be is supposed to have received if.]
THIS, Sir, the Prologue? Why this piteous whine,
Forebodes a catcall in each croaking line.
"The Author/s first offence !"—" implore !"—" beseech V
Zounds! 'tis as dismal as a dying speech—
WU1 prove, itself, the piece's sure damnation,
And give, like hawkers, by anticipation,
"Life, birth, end parentage, and education."
Do you discover in this cast of feature
The striking traits to suit the doleful metre?
Give it to Parsons—-his fad—tragic face
Such plaintive sentiments will aptly grace.
The rueful meaning Mcody may supply "j
Æ'en from the fruitful river of his eye; >
Or with mute paths, walk about and sigh. J
[To the Audierce-I
Prologues arc alter'd since that Gothic day
When only hungry playwrights wrote—for pay.
Then while the Bard—poor miserable sinner 1
Trembled behind—uncertain of his dinner—
Forth came in black—with solemn step—and slow,
The actor to unfold the tale of woe.
But in these days, when e'en the titled dame
Glows with the pr.siion of dramatic fame,
When as the fashion gains, it may indite
The card of compliments for a third night.
With stile laconic, in the measured strain,
M Lady Charade sees friends at Drury-lane.1'
Jn those bright days—this literary age,
When 'tis the taste—the very thing—the rage
To pen some lively morceau for the stage.
When belles write comedies, and beaux have wit,
The Prologue too the sprightly ton must hit j
Flippant and smart in careless easy rhymes,
Reflect the gayest colours of the times,
Camdeon like, on fashion's air must live,
And, like that too, each varying tint must give.
[Returning tt the Paper, and supposed again to address the Author.]
This will ne'er do (pausing)—Can't you contrive to swell
To thirty lines, some airy bagatelle f
Or take your subject from some modish scene;—
«« Elections"—" Camps'W Electrical machines?"
That thought's not bad—Why then suppose I try,
In metaphor—the House t' electrify.
Wind the cendutling strains that may dispense
The mild cffuvia'^ genial influence,
Or fill the charge, the powerful charge that draws,
From yon dread Gods! the thunder of applause:
Or if such potciu v;rtue can't controul
The angry critic's nen-tieHric foul,
The bdies court The lightning of whose eyes,
The apt allusion readily supplies.—
From those bright orbs th' æthereal beam that plays.
Will blast the critic thorn, but spare the bays.
Something like this may do some neat terse thing,
With a sew smirks—and smiics—and bows from King,
To tbt Audience.
Mean time the want of form for once forgive.
And for this night allow the piece to live.
EPILOGUE t* Lady Craven'/ Comedy os tlx MINIATURE
Sfckta ly the Bon. Mrs. Hobart, at Newbury, and by Mrs. Abinctok, at Drury-lane. IVritttn by Mr. Jekyll.
THE men, like tyrants of the Turkish kind,
Have long our sex's energy confin'd;
In full dress black, and bow, and solemn stalk,
Have long monopoliz'd the Prologue's walk.
But still the flippant Epilogue was our's;
It alk'd for gay support—the female pow'rs;
It alk'd a flircing air, coquet and free;
And so, to murder it, they fix'd on me.
Much they uijitake my talents—I was bom
To tell, in sobs and sighs, some tale forlorn;
To wet ray handkerchief with Juliet's woes,
Or tune to Shore's despair my tragic nose.
Yes, gentlemen, in education's spite,
You still shall find that we can read and write;
Like you, can swell a debt or a debate,
Can quit the card-table to steer the state;
Or bid our Belle Ajsemblie's rhet'ric flow,
To drown your dull d. claimers at Soho.
Methinks e'en now I hear my sex's tongues,
The shrill, smart melody of female lungs!
The storm of question, the division calm,
With "Hear her! Hear her! Mrs, speaker! Ma'am,
"Oh, order! Order!" Kates and Susans rise, <
And Margaret moves, and Tabitha replies.
Look to the camp—Coxheaih and Warley Common,
Supply'd at least for ev'ry tent a woman.
The cartridge-paper wrapt the billet-doux.
The rear and picquet form'd the rendezvous.
The drum's stern rattle (hook the nuptial bed;
The knapsack pillow'd lady Sturgeon's head.
Love was the watch-word, 'till the morning fife
Kous'd the tame major and his warlike wife.
Look to the stage. To night's example draws
A female dramatist to grace the cause.
So fade the triumphs of presumptuous man"!
And would you, ladies, but complete my plan,
Here should you sign some Patriot Petition
To mend our constitutional condition.
The men invade our rights—the mimic elves
Lisp and nickname God's creatures, like ourselves;
Rouge more than we do, simper, flounce, and fret;
And they coquet, good gods! how they coquet!
They too arc coy; and, monstrous to relate!
Their's is the coyness in a rett-a-tete.
Yes, ladies, yes, I could a tale unfold.
Would harrow up your cushions .' were it told;
Part your combined curls, and freeze—— pomatum.
At griefs and grievances, as I could state 'em.
Eut such eternal blazon must not speak—
Besides, the House adjourns some day next week—
This fair committee mall detail the rest,
Then let the monsters (if they dare) protest I
ZxtraB from the Oie to John Howakd, Esq. Author of the State cs
English and Foreign Prisons; fy W. Ha Let.
HAIL! generous Howard! tho' thou bear
A name which Glory's hand sublime
Has blazon'd oft, with guardian care,
In characters that fear not Time;
For thee (he fondly spreads her wings;
For thee from Paradise (he brings,
More verdant than her laurel bough,
Such wreaths of sacred Palm, as ne'er till now
The smiling Seraph twin'd around a mortal brow.
T see the hallow'd shade of Hales •,]
Who felt, like thee, for human woe,
And taught the health-diffusing gales
Thro' Horror's murky cells to blow.
As thy protecting angel wait j
To save thee from the snares of Fate,
Commissions from the Eternal Throne:
I hear him praise, in wonder's warmest tone,
The virtues of thy heart, more active than his own.
Thy foul supplies new funds of health
That fail not in the trying hour.
Above Arabia's spicy wealth
And Pharmacy's reviving power.
The transports of the generous mind,
Feeling its bounty to mankind,
Inspirit every mortal part;
And, far more potent than precarious art,
Give radiance to the eye, and vigor to the heart.
Nature! on rby maternal breast
For ever be his worth engrav'd S
Thy bosom only can attest
Mow many a life his toil has sav'd:
Nor in thy rescu'd Sons alone,
Great Parent! this thy guardian own!
His arm defends a dearer slave j
Woman, thy darling! 'tis his pride to save f
From evils, that surpass the horrors of the grave.
• Stephen Hales, minister of Teddington: he died at the age osg^, 176s f and has been justly called "An ornament to his profession, as a clergyman, •* and to his country, as a philosopher." I had the happiness of knowing this excellent man, when I was very young; and well remember the warm glow of benevolence which used to animate his countenance, in relating the success of his various projects for the benefit of mankind. I have frequently heard him dwell with great pleasure on the fortunate incident which led him to the discovery of his Ventilator, tp which I havealluded.—He had ordered a new floor for one of his rooms; his carpenter not having prepared the work so soon as he expected, he thought the season improprr for laying down new boards, when they were brought to his house, and gave orders for their being deposited in his barn;—from their accidental position in that place, he caught his first idea of ihis useful invention.
f Mr. Howard has been the happy instrument of preserving female prisoners from an infamous and indecent outrage.—It was formerly a cultom in our gaols to load their legs and thighs with irons, for the detestable purpose of extorting money from these injured sufferers,—This circumstance, unknown to me when the Ode was written, has tempted me to introduce the few additional stanzas, as it is my ardent wish to render this tribute to an exalted character as little unworthy as I can of the very extensive and sublime merit which it aspires to celebrate.