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Whose ins and outs no ray of sense discloses,
Whose only plot it is to break our noses;
Whilst from below the trap-door 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:
Shakspeare himself shall feel my tragic rage.
Off! off! vile trappings! a new passion reigns!
The madd’ning monarch revels in my veins.
Oh! for a Richard's voice to catch the theme:
“Give me another horse! bind up my wounds! – soft – 't was
but a dream.”
Ay, 't was but a dream, for now there's no retreating,
If I cease Harlequin, I cease from eating.
’T was 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 thund'ring 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.
THEATRE-ROYAL, COVENT GARDEN.
WHEN I undertook to write a comedy, I confess I was strongly prepossessed in favour of the poets of the last age, and strove to imitate them. The term, genteel comedy, was then unknown amongst us, and little more was desired by an audience, than nature and humour, in whatever walks of life they were most conspicuous. The author of the following scenes never imagined that more would be expected of him, and therefore to delineate character has been his principal aim. Those who know any thing of composition, are sensible that, in pursuing humour, it will sometimes lead us into the recesses of the mean: I was even tempted to look for it in the master of a spunging-house; but in deference to the public taste, grown of late, perhaps , too delicate, the scene of the bailiffs was retrenched in the representation. In deference also to the judgment of a few friends, who think in a particular way, the scene is here restored. The author submits it to the reader in his closet; and hopes that too much refinement will not banish humour and character from ours, as it has already done from the French theatre. Indeed, the French comedy is now become so very elevated and sentimental, that it has not only banished humour and Molière from the stage, but it has banished all spectators, too.
Upon the whole, the author returns his thanks to the Public for the favourable reception which the Good-Natured Man has met with; and to Mr. Colman iu particular, for his kindness to it. It may not also be improper to assure any who shall hereafter write for the theatre, that merit, or supposed merit, will ever be a sufficient passport to his protection.
WRITTEN BY DR. JOHNSON;
Spoken by Mr. Bensley.
Press'n by the load of life, the weary mind
Surveys the general toil of human kivd;
With cool submission joins the lab’ring train,
Aud social sorrow loses half its pain :
Our anxious bard, without complaiut, may share
This bustling season's epidemnic care,
Like Cæsar's pilot, dignified by fate,
Tost in one common storin with all the great;
Distrest alike, the statesman and the wit,
When one a borough courts, and one the pit,
The busy candidates for power and fame,
Have hopes, and fears, and wishes, just the same;
Disabled both to combat, or to fly,
Must hear all taunts, and hear without reply.
Uncheck’d, on both loud rabbles vent their rage,
As mongrels buy the livu in a cage.
Th' offended burgess hoards his angry tale,
For that blest year when all that vote may rail;
Their schemes of spite the poet's foes dismiss,
Till that glad night, when all that hate inay biss.
“This day the powder'd curls and golden coat,
Says swelling Crispin, “begg'd a cobbler's vote.”