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HOLD! prompter, hold! a word before your non


I'd speak a word or two, to ease my conscience.
My pride forbids it ever should be said,
My heels eclips'd the honours of my head;
That I found humour in a pyebald vest,
Or ever thought that jumping was a jest.

[Takes off his mask.

Whence, and what art thou, visionary birth?
Nature disowns, and reason scorns, thy mirth;
In thy black aspect every passion sleeps,

The joy that dimples, and the woe that weeps.
How hast thou fill'd the scene with all thy brood
Of fools pursuing, and of fools pursu'd!
Whose ins and outs no ray of sense discloses;
Whose only plot it is to break our noses;
Whilst from below the trapdoor demons rise,
And from above the dangling deities:
And shall I mix in this unhallow'd crew?
May rosin❜d lightning blast me if I do!
No I will act, I'll vindicate the stage:
Shakespeare himself shall feel my tragic rage.
Off! off, vile trappings! a new passion reigns;
The maddening monarch revels in my veins.

Oh! for a Richard's voice to catch the theme: 'Give me another horse! bind up my wounds! soft 'twas but a dream.'

Ay, 'twas but a dream, for now there's no retreating:

If I cease Harlequin, I cease from eating.
'Twas thus that Æsop's stag, a creature blameless,
Yet something vain, like one that shall be nameless,
Once on the margin of a fountain stood,

And cavill'd at his image in the flood.

The deuce confound,' he cries, 'these drumstick shanks!

They never have my gratitude nor thanks; They 're perfectly disgraceful! strike me dead! But for a head, yes, yes, I have a head:

How piercing is that eye! how sleek that brow! My horns- I'm told horns are the fashion now.' Whilst thus he spoke, astonish'd, to his view, Near, and more near, the hounds and huntsmen drew.

'Hoicks! hark forward!' came thundering from behind:

He bounds aloft, outstrips the fleeting wind;
He quits the woods, and tries the beaten ways;
He starts, he pants, he takes the circling maze.
At length his silly head, so priz'd before,
Is taught his former folly to deplore;
Whilst his strong limbs conspire to set him free,
And at one bound he saves himself

like me.

[Taking a jump through the stage-door.




WHAT? five long acts-and all to make us wiser!
Our authoress sure has wanted an adviser.
Had she consulted me, she should have made
Her moral play a speaking masquerade;
Warm'd up each bustling scene, and, in her rage,
Have emptied all the green room on the stage.
My life on't, this had kept her play from sinking;
Have pleas'd our eyes, and sav'd the pain of

Well, since she thus has shown her want of skill,
What if I give a masquerade? - I will.

But how? ay, there's the rub! [pausing]-I've got my cue:

you, you.

The world's a masquerade! the masquers, you, [To Boxes, Pit, and Gallery. Lud! what a group the motley scene discloses! False wits, false wives, false virgins, and false spouses!

Statesmen with bridles on; and, close beside 'em, Patriots in party-colour'd suits that ride 'em.

1 The Sister] A comedy by Mrs. Charlotte Lennox, 1769, taken from the authoress's own novel, Henrietta.' It was performed only one night. The author of the Biographia Dramatica says that this epilogue is the best that has appeared the last thirty years.'

There Hebes, turn'd of fifty, try once more
To raise a flame in Cupids of threescore;
These in their turn, with appetites as keen,
Deserting fifty, fasten on fifteen.

Miss, not yet full fifteen, with fire uncommon, Flings down her sampler, and takes up the woman; The little urchin smiles, and spreads her lure, And tries to kill, ere she's got power to cure. Thus 'tis with all: their chief and constant care Is to seem every thing—but what they are. Yon broad, bold, angry spark, I fix my eye on, Who seems to have robb'd his vizor from the lion; Who frowns, and talks, and swears, with round parade,

Looking, as who should say, Dam'me! who's



Strip but this vizor off, and sure I am
You'll find his lionship a very lamb.
Yon politician, famous in debate,

Perhaps, to vulgar eyes, bestrides the state;
Yet, when he deigns his real shape t' assume,
He turns old woman, and bestrides a broom.
Yon patriot, too, who presses on your sight,
And seems, to every gazer, all in white,
If with a bribe his candour you attack,
He bows, turns round, and whip—the man's in
Yon critic, too, but whither do I run?

If I proceed, our bard will be undone !


Well, then, a truce, since she requests it too:

Do you spare her, and I'll for once spare you.



As puffing quacks some caitiff wretch procure
To swear the pill, or drop, has wrought a cure,
Thus, on the stage, our playwrights still depend
For Epilogues and Prologues on some friend,
Who knows each art of coaxing up the town,
And makes full many a bitter pill go down.
Conscious of this, our bard has gone about,
And teas'd each rhyming friend to help him out.
'An Epilogue, things can't go on without it;
It could not fail, would you but set about it.'
'Young man,' cries one, (a bard laid up in clover,)
'Alas, young man, my writing days are over;
Let boys play tricks, and kick the straw, not I;
Your brother Doctor there, perhaps, may try.'


What, I dear Sir,' the Doctor interposes;

'What, plant my thistle, Sir, among his roses!
No, no, I've other contests to maintain;
To-night I head our troops at Warwick-lane.2

1 The author, in expectation of an Epilogue from a friend at Oxford, deferred writing one himself till the very last hour. What is here offered owes all its success to the graceful manner of the actress who spoke it.-Goldsmith.

2 Where the College of Physicians then stood.

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