Imatges de pÓgina

Familiar Nature forms thy only rule,

From Ranger's rake to Drugger's vacant fool.
With powers so pliant, and so various blest,
That what we see the last, we like the best.
Not idly pleas'd at judgment's dear expense,
But burst outrageous with the laugh of sense.
Perfection's top, with weary toil and pain,
'Tis genius only that can hope to gain.
The play'r's profession (though I hate the phrase,
Tis so mechanic in these modern days)
Lies not in trick, or attitude, or start,
Nature's true knowledge is the only art.
The strong-felt passion bolts into his face,
The mind untouch'd, what is it but grimace!
To this one standard make your just appeal,
Here lies the golden secret; learn to feel.
Or fool, or monarch, happy, or distrest,
No actor pleases that is not possess’d.

Once on the stage, in Rome's declining days, When Christians were the subject of their plays, F'er Persecution dropp'd her iron rod,

And men still wag'd an impious war with God, An actor flourish'd of no vulgar fame, Nature's disciple, and Genest his name. A noble object for his skill he chose, A martyr dying 'midst insulting foes. Resign'd with patience to religion's laws, Yet braving monarchs in his Saviour's cause. Fill'd with th' idea of the sacred part, He felt a zeal beyond the reach of art, While look and voice, and gesture, all exprest A kindred ardour in the player's breast; Till as the flame through all his bosom ran, He lost the actor, and commenc'd the man; Profest the faith; his pagan gods denied, And what he acted then, he after died.

The player's province they but vainly try, [eye.
Who want these pow'rs, deportment, voice, and
The critic sight 't is only grace can please,
No figure charms us if it has not ease.
There are, who think the stature all in all,'
Nor like the hero, if he is not tall.
The feeling sense all other want supplies,
I rate no actor's merit from his size.
Superior height requires superior grace,
And what's a giant with a vacant face?

Theatric monarchs, in their tragic gait,
Affect to mark the solemn pace of state.
One foot put forward in position strong,
The other, like its vassal, dragg'd along.
So grave each motion, so exact and slow,
Like wooden monarchs at a puppet show.
The mien delights us that has native grace,
But affectation ill supplies its place.

Unskilful actors, like your mimic apes,
Will writhe their bodies in a thousand shapes;
However foreign from the poet's art,
No tragic hero but admires a start.
What though unfeeling of the nervous line,
Who but allows his attitude is fine?
While a whole minate equipois'd he stands,
Tilt Praise dismiss him with her echoing hands!
Resolv'd, though Nature hate the tedious pause,
By perseverance to extort applause.
When Romeo sorrowing at his Juliet's doom,
With eager madness bursts the canvas toinb,
The sudden whirl, stretch'd leg, and lifted staff,
Which please the vulgar, make the critic laugh.

To paint the passion's force, and mark it well, The proper action Nature's self will tell;

No pleasing pow'rs distortions e'er express,
And nicer judgment always loaths excess.
In sock or buskin, who o'erleaps the bounds,
Disgusts our reason, and the taste confounds.
Of all the evils which the stage molest,
hate your fool who overacts his jest;
Who murders what the poet finely writ,
And, like a bungler, haggles all his wit,
With shrug, and grin, and gesture out of place,
And writes a foolish comment with his face.
Old Jonson once, though Cibber's perter vein'
But meanly groupes him with a numerous train,
With steady face, and sober hum'rous mien,
Fill'd the strong outlines of the comic scene,
What was writ down, with decent utt'rance spoke,
Betray'd no symptom of the conscious joke;
The very man in look, in voice, in air,
And though upon the stage, appear'd no play'r.'
The word and action should conjointly suit,
But acting words is labour too minute.
Grimace will ever lead the judgment wrong;
While sober humour marks th' impression strong.
Her proper traits the fixt attention hit,
And bring me closer to the poet's wit;
With her delighted o'er each scene I go,
Well-pleas'd, and not asham'd of being so.

But let the generous actor still forbear
To copy features with a mimic's care!
'Tis a poor skill which ev'ry fool can reach,
A vile stage-custom, honour'd in the breach.
Worse as more close, the disingenuous art
But shows the wanton looseness of the heart.
When I behold a wretch, of talents mean,
Drag private foibles on the public scene,
Forsaking Nature's fair and open road
To mark some whim, some strange peculiar mode,
Fir'd with disgust I loath his servile plan,
Despise the mimic, and abhor the man.
Go to the lame, to hospitals repair,
And hunt for humour in distortions there!
Fill up the measure of the motley whim
With shrug, wink, snuffle, and convulsive limb;
Then shame at once, to please a trifling age,
Good sense, good manners, virtue, and the stage!

'Tis not enough the voice be sound and clear, 'Tis modulation that must charm the ear. [moan, When desperate heroines grieve with tedious And whine their sorrows in a see-saw tone, The same soft sounds of unimpassion'd woes Can only make the yawning hearers doze.

The voice all modes of passion can express,
That marks the proper word with proper stress.
But none emphatic can that actor call,
Who lays an equal emphasis on all.

Some o'er the tongue the labour'd measures roll
Slow and delib'rate as the parting toll,
Point ev'ry stop, mark ev'ry pause so strong,
Their words, like stage processions, stalk along.
All affectation but creates disgust,

And e'en in speaking we may seem too just.

Nor proper, Thornton, can those sounds appear Which bring not numbers to thy nicer ear; In vain for them the pleasing measure flows, Whose recitation runs it all to prose; Repeating what the poet sets not down, The verb disjointing from its friendly noun, While pause, and break, and repetition join To make a discord in each tuneful line,

1 See Cibber's Apology, 8vo. 1750.

Some placid natures fill th' allotted scene With lifeless drone, insipid and serene; While others thunder ev'ry couplet o'er, And almost crack your ears with rant and roar. More nature oft and finer strokes are shown, In the low whisper than tempestuous tone. And Hamlet's hollow voice and fixt amaze More powerful terrour to the mind conveys, Than he, who, swol'n with big impetuous rage, Bullies the bulky phantom off the stage.

He, who in earnest studies o'er his part, Will find true nature cling about his heart. The modes of grief are not included all In the white handkerchief and mournful drawl; A single look more marks th' internal woe, Than all the windings of the lengthen'd Oh. Up to the face the quick sensation flies, And darts its meaning from the speaking eyes; Love, transport, madness, anger, scorn, despair, And all the passions, all the soul is there.

In vain Ophelia gives her flowrets round,
And with her straws fantastic strews the ground,
In vain now sings, now heaves the desp'rate sigh,
If phrenzy sit not in the troubled eye.
In Cibber's look commanding sorrows speak,
And call the tear fast trick'ling down my cheek.
There is a fault which stirs the critic's rage;
A want of due attention on the stage.
I have seen actors, and admir'd ones too, [cue;
Whose tongues wound up set forward from their
In their own speech who whine, or roar away,
Yet seem unmov'd at what the rest may say;
Whose eyes and thoughts on diff'rent objects

Until the prompter's voice recall them home.
Divest yourself of hearers, if you can,
And strive to speak, and be the very man.
Why should the well-bred actor wish to know
Who sits above to night, or who below?
So, 'mid th' harmonious tones of grief or rage,
Italian squallers oft disgrace the stage;
When, with a simp'ring leer, and bow profound,
The squeaking Cyrus greets the boxes round;
Or proud Mandane, of imperial race,
Familiar drops a curt'sie to her grace.

To suit the dress demands the actor's art,
Yet there are those who over-dress the part.
To some prescriptive right gives settled things,
Black wigs to murd'rers, feather'd hats to kings.
But Michael Cassio might be drunk enough,
Though all his features were not grim'd with snuff.
Why should Pol Peachum shine in satin clothes?
Why ev'ry devil dance in scarlet hose?

But in stage-customs what offends me most
Is the slip-door, and slowly-rising ghost.
Tell me, nor count the question too severe,
Why need the dismal powder'd forms appear?
When chilling horrours shake the affrighted

And Guilt torments him with her scorpion sting;
When keenest feelings at his bosom pull,
And Fancy tells him that the seat is full;
Why need the ghost usurp the monarch's place,
To frighten children with his mealy face?
The king alone should form the phantom there,
And talk and tremble at the vacant chair2.

2 This has been attempted by Mr. Kemble, but not much to the satisfaction of the audience, C.

If Belvidera her lov'd loss deplore, Why for twin spectres bursts the yawning floor? When with disorder'd starts, and horrid cries, She paints the murder'd forms before her eyes, And still pursues them with a frantic stare, 'T is pregnant madness brings the visions there. More instant horrour would enforce the scene, If all her shudd'rings were at shapes unseen. Poet and actor thus, with blended skill, Mould all our passions to their instant will; 'Tis thus, when feeling Garrick treads the stage, (The speaking comment of his Shakespear's page) Oft as I drink the words with greedy ears, I shake with horrour, or dissolve with tears.

O, ne'er may Folly seize the throne of Taste, Nor Dullness lay the realms of Genius waste! No bouncing crackers ape the thund'rer's fire, No tumbler float upon the bending wire! More natural uses to the stage belong, Than tumblers, monsters, pantomime, or song. For other purpose was that spot design'd: To purge the passions, and reform the mind, To give to Nature all the force of art, And while it charms the ear to mend the heart. Thornton, to thee, I dare with truth commend, The decent stage as Virtue's natural friend. Though oft debas'd with scenes profane and loose, No reason weighs against its proper use. Though the lewd priest his sacred function shame, Religion's perfect law is still the same.

Shall they, who trace the passions from their rise,

Show Scorn her features, her own image Vice,
Who teach the mind its proper force to scan, -
And hold the faithful mirror up to man,
Shall their profession e'er provoke disdain,
Who stand the foremost in the moral train,
Who lend reflection all the grace of art,
And strike the precept home upon the heart?

Yet, hapless artist! though thy skill can raise
The bursting peal of universal praise,
Though at thy beck Applause delighted stands,
And lifts, Briareus like, her hundred hands,
Know, Fame awards thee but a partial breath!
Not all thy talents brave the stroke of Death.
Poets to ages yet unborn appeal,

And latest times th' eternal nature feel.
Though blended here the praise of bard and play',
While more than half becomes the actors share,
Relentless Death untwists the mingled fame,
And sinks the player in the poet's name.
The pliant muscles of the various face,
The mien that gave each sentence strength and


The tuneful voice, the eye that spoke the mind, Are gone, nor leave a single trace behind.

OLD England has not lost her pray'r,

And George, (thank Heav'n!) has got an heir.
A royal babe, a prince of Wales.
-Poets! I pity all your nails-
What reams of paper will be spoil'd!
What graduses be daily soil'd
By inky fingers, greasy thumbs,
Hunting the word that never comes!
Now academics pump their wits,
And lash in vain their lazy tits;

In vain they whip, and slash, and spur,
The callous jades will never stir;
Nor can they reach Parnassus' hill,
Try every method which they will.
Nay, should the tits get on for once,
Each rider is so grave a dunce,
That, as I've heard good judges say,
'Tis ten to one they'd lose their way;
Though not one wit bestrides the back
Of useful drudge, ycleped hack,
But fine bred things of mettled blood,
Pick'd from Apollo's royal stud.
Greek, Roman, nay Arabian steeds,
Or those our mother country breeds;
Some ride ye in, and ride ye out,
And to come home go round about,
Nor on the green swerd, nor the road,
And that I think they call an Ode..
Some take the pleasant country air,
And smack their whips and drive a pair,

Each horse with bells which clink and chime,
And so they march-and that is rhyme.
Some copy with prodigious skill
The figures of a buttery-bill,
Which, with great folks of erudition,
Shall pass for Coptic or Phoenician.
While some, as patriot love prevails,
To compliment a prince of Wales,
Salute the royal babe in Welsh,
And send forth gutturals like a belch,
What pretty things imagination
Will fritter out in adulation!
The pagan gods shall visit Earth,
To triumph in a Christian's birth.
While classic poets, pure and chaste,
Of trim and academic taste,

Shall lug them in by head and shoulders,
To be or speakers, or beholders.
Mars shall present him with a lance,
To humble Spain and conquer France;
The Graces, buxom, blithe, and gay,
Shall at his cradle dance the hay;
And Venus, with her train of loves,
Shall bring a thousand pair of doves
To bill, to coo, to whine, to squeak,
Through all the dialects of Greek.
How many swains of classic breed,
Shall deftly tune their oaten reed,
And bring their Doric nymphs to town,
To sing their measures up and down,
In notes alternate clear and sweet,
Like ballad-singers in a street.
While those who grasp at reputation,
From imitating imitation,

Shall hunt each cranny, nook, and creek,
For precious fragments in the Greek,
And rob the spital, and the waste,
For sense, and sentiment, and taste.

What Latin bodge-podge, Grecian hash,
With Hebrew roots, and English trash,
Shall academic cooks produce
For present show and future use!

Fellows! who've soak'd away their knowledge,
In sleepy residence at college;
Whose lives are like a stagnant pool,
Muddy and placid, dull and cool;

Mere drinking, eating; eating, drinking;
With no impertinence of thinking;
Who lack no farther erudition,
Than just to set an imposition

To cramp, demolish, and dispirit,
Each true begotten child of merit;
Censors, who, in the day's broad light,
Punish the vice they act at night;
Whose charity with self begins,
Nor covers others' venial sins;
But that their feet may safely tread,
Take up hypocrisy instead,
As knowing that must always hide
A multitude of sins beside;
Whose rusty wit is at a stand,
Without a freshman at their hand;
(Whose service must of course create
The just return of sev'n-fold hate)
Lord! that such good and useful men
Should ever turn to books agen.

Yet matter must be gravely plann'd,
And syllables on fingers scann'd,
And racking pangs rend lab'ring head,
Till lady Muse is brought to-bed:
What hunting, changing, toiling, sweating,
To bring the usual epithet in!

Where the crampt measure kindly shows
It will be verse, but should be prose.
So, when it's neither light nor dark,
To 'prentice spruce, or lawyer's clerk,
The nymph, who takes her nightly stand,
At some sly corner in the Strand,
Plump in the chest, tight in the boddice,
Seems to the eye a perfect goddess;
But canvass'd more minutely o'er,
Turns out an old, stale, batter'd whore

Yet must these sons of gowned ease,
Proud of the plumage of degrees,
Forsake their apathy a while,
To figure in the Roman stile,
And offer incense at the shrine
Of Latin poetry divine.

Upon a throne the goddess sits,
Surrounded by her bulky wits;
Fabricius, Cooper, Calepine,
Ainsworthius, Faber, Constantine;
And he, who like Dodona spoke,
De Sacra Quercu, Holyoake;
These are her counsellors of state,
Men of much words, and wits of weight;
Here Gradus, full of phrases clever,
Lord of her treasury for ever,
With liberal hand his bounty deals;
Sir Cento keeper of the seals.
Next to the person of the queen,
Old madam Prosody is seen;
Talking incessant, although dumb,
Upon her fingers to her thumb.

And all around her portraits hung
Of heroes in the Latin tongue;
Italian, English, German, French,
Who most laboriously entrench
In deep parade of language dead,
What would not in their own be read,
Without impeachment of that taste,
Which Latin idiom turns to chaste.
Santolius here, whose flippant joke,
Sought refuge in a Roman cloak:
With dull Commirius at his side,
In all the pomp of jesuit pride.
Menage, the pedant, figur'd there,
A trifler with a solemn air:
And there in loose, unseemly view,
The graceless, easy Loveling too.

"T is here grave poets urge their claim,
For some thin blast of tiny fame;
Here bind their temples drunk with praise,
With half a sprig of wither'd bays.

O poet, if that honour'd name
Befits such idle childish aim;
If Virgil ask thy sacred care,

If Horace charm thee, oh forbear
To spoil with sacrilegious hand,
The glories of the classic land:
Nor sow thy dowlas on the satin,
Of their pui uncorrupted Latin.
Better be native in thy verse,-
What is Fingal but genuine Erse?
Which all sublime sonorous flows,
Like Hervey's thoughts in drunken prose.
Hail Scotland, hail, to thee belong
All pow'rs, but most the pow'rs of song;
Whether the rude unpolish'd Erse
Stalk in the buckram prose or verse,
Or bonny Ramsay please thee mo',
Who sang sae sweetly aw his woe.
If aught (and say who knows so well)
The second-sighted Muse can tell,
The happy lairds shall laugh and sing,
When England's Genius droops his wing.
So shall thy soil new wealth disclose,
So thy own thistle choke the rose.

But what comes here? Methinks I see
A walking university.

See how they press to cross the Tweed,
And strain their limbs with eager speed!
While Scotland, from her fertile shore,
Cries, " On my sons, return no more."
Hither they haste with willing mind,
Nor cast one longing look behind;
On ten-toe carriage to salute
The king, and queen, and earl of Bute.

No more the gallant northern sons
Spout forth their strings of Latin puns;
Nor course all languages to frame
The quibble suited to their name;
As when their ancestors be-vers'd
That glorious Stuart, James the First.
But with that elocution's grace,
That oratorial flashy lace,
Which the fam'd Irish Tommy Puff,
Would sow on sentimental stuff;
Twang with a sweet pronunciation,
The flow'rs of bold imagination.
Macpherson leads the flaming van,
Laird of the new Fingalian clan;
While Jacky Home brings up the rear,
With new-got pension neat and clear
Three hundred English pounds a year.
While sister Peg, our ancient friend,
Sends Macs and Donalds without end;
To George awhile they tune their lays,
Then all their choral voices raise,
To heap their panegyric wit on

Th' illustrious chief, and our North Briton.
Hail to the thane, whose patriot skill
Can break all nations to his will;
Master of sciences and arts,
Mæcenas to all men of parts;
Whose fost'ring hand, and ready wit,
Shall find us all in places fit;
So shall thy friends no longer roam,
But change to meet a settled home.

Hail mighty thane, for Scotland born,
To fill her almost empty horn:
Hail to thy ancient glorious stem,
Not they from kings, but kings from them.


Vos sapere & solos aio bene vivere, quorum,
Conspicitur nitidis fundata pecunia villis. Hor.
THE wealthy Cit, grown old in trade,
Now wishes for the rural shade,
And buckles to his one horse chair,
Old Dobbin, or the founder'd mare;
While wedg'd in closely by his side,
Sits madam, his unwieldy bride,
With Jacky on a stool before 'em,
And out they jog in due decorum.
Scarce past the turnpike half a mile,
How all the country seems to smile!
And as they slowly jog together,
The cit commends the road and weather;
While madam doats upon the trees,
And longs for every house she sees,
Admires its views, its situation,
And thus she opens her oration:

"What signify the loads of wealth,
Without that richest jewel, health?
Excuse the fondness of a wife,
Who doats upon your precious life!
Such ceaseless toil, such constant care,
Is more than human strength can bear.
One may observe it in your face-
Indeed, my dear, you break apace:
And nothing can your health repair,
But exercise and country air.
Sir Traffic has a house, you know,
About a mile from Cheney-Row;
He's a good man, indeed 't is true,
But not so warm, my dear, as you:
And folks are always apt to sneer-
One would not be out-done, my dear!"

Sir Traffic's name, so well apply'd,
Awak'd his brother merchant's pride;
And Thrifty, who had all his life
Paid utmost deference to his wife,
Confess'd her arguments had reason,
And by th' approaching summer season,
Draws a few hundreds from the stocks,
And purchases his country box.

Some three or four miles out of town,
(An hour's ride will bring you down,)
He fixes on his choice abode,
Not half a furlong from the road:
And so convenient does it lay,
The stages pass it ev'ry day:
And then so snug, so mighty pretty,
To have an house so near the city!
Take but your places at the Boar
You're set down at the very door.

Well then, suppose them fix'd at last,
White-washing, painting, scrubbing past,
Hugging themselves in ease and clover,
With all the fuss of moving over;
Lo, a new heap of whims are bred!
And wanton in my lady's head.

"Well to be sure, it must be own'd, It is a charming spot of ground;

So sweet a distance for a ride,
And all about so countrified!

'Twould come but to a trifling price
To make it quite a Paradise;
I cannot bear those nasty rails,
Those ugly broken mouldy pales:
Suppose, my dear, instead of these,
We build a railing, all Chinese.
Although one hates to be expos'd;
'Tis dismal to be thus enclos'd;
One hardly any object sees-

I wish you'd fell those odious trees.
Objects continual passing by
Were something to amuse the eye,
But to be pent within the walls
One might as well be at St. Paul's.
Our house, beholders would adore,
Was there a level lawn before,
Nothing its views to incommode,
But quite laid open to the road;
While ev'ry trav'ler in amaze,
Should on our little mansion gaze,
And pointing to the choice retreat,
Cry, that's sir Thrifty's country seat.”
No doubt her arguments prevail,
For madam's taste can never fail.

Blest age! when all men may procure
The title of a connoisseur;
When noble and ignoble herd
Are govern'd by a single word;
Though, like the royal German dames,
It bears an hundred Christian names,
As genius, fancy, judgment, goût,
Whim, caprice, je-ne-scai-quoi, virtù,
Which appellations all describe
Taste, and the modern tasteful tribe.

Now bricklay'rs, carpenters, and joiners,
With Chinese artists, and designers,
Produce their schemes of alteration,
To work this wond'rous reformation.
The useful dome, which secret stood,
Embosom'd in the yew-tree's wood,
The trav'ler with amazement sees
A temple, Gothic, or Chinese,
With many a bell, and tawdry rag on,
And crested with a sprawling dragon;
A wooden arch is bent astride
A ditch of water, four foot wide,
With angles, curves, and zigzag lines,
From Halfpenny's exact designs.
In front, a level lawn is seen,
Without a shrub npon the green,

Where taste would want its first great law,
But for the skulking, sly ha-ha,
By whose miraculous assistance,
You gain a prospect two fields distance.
And now from Hyde-Park Corner come
The gods of Athens, and of Rome.
Here squabby Cupids take their places,
With Venus, and the clumsy Graces:
Apollo there, with aim so clever,
Stretches his leaden bow for ever;
And there without the pow'r to fly,
Stands, fix'd a tip-toe, Mercury.

The villa thus completely grac'd,
All own that Thrifty has a taste;

And madam's female friends, and cousins,
With common-council-men, by dozens,
Flock every Sunday to the seat,
To stare about them, and to eat.




In all professionary skill,

There never was, nor ever will
Be excellence, or exhibition,
But fools are up in opposition;

Each letter'd, grave, pedantic dunce
Wakes from his lethargy at once,

Shrugs, shakes his head, and rubs his eyes,

And, being dull, looks wond'rous wise,
With solemu phiz, and critic scowl,
The wisdom of his brother owl.

Moderns! He hates the very name;
Your ancients have prescriptive claim:-
But let a century be past,

And we have taste and wit at last;
For at that period moderns too
Just turn the corner of virtù.
But merit now has little claim
To any meed of present fame,

For 'tis not worth that gets you friends,
'Tis excellence that most offends.

If, Proteus-like, a Garrick's art,
Shows taste and skill in every part;
If, ever just to Nature's plan,
He is in all the very man,

write, and

E'en here shall Envy take her aim,
- blame.
The Jealous Wife, tho' chastely writ,
With no parade of frippery wit,
Shall set a scribbling, all at once,
Both giant wit, and pigmy dunce;
While Critical Reviewers write,

Who show their teeth before they bite,
And sacrifice each reputation,
From wanton false imagination.
These observations, rather stale,
May borrow spirit from a tale.

Genius, a bustling lad of parts,
Who all things did by fits and starts,
Nothing above him or below him,
Who'd make a riot, or a poem,
From eccentricity of thought,
Not always do the thing he ought;
But was it once his own election,
Would bring all matters to perfection;
Would act, design, engrave, write, paint,
But neither, from the least constraint;
Who hated all pedantic schools,
And scorn'd the gloss of knowing fools,
That hold perfection all in all,
Yet treat it as mechanical,

And give the same sufficient rule
To make a poem, as a stool-

From the first spring-time of his youth,
Was downright worshipper of Truth;
And with a free and liberal spirit,
His courtship paid to lady Merit.

Envy, a squint-ey'd, mere old maid,
Well known among the scribbling trade;
A hag, so very, very thin,

Her bones peep'd through her bladder-skin;

Who could not for her soul abide

That folks should praise, where she must chide, Follow'd the youth where'er he went,

To mar each good and brave intent;

Would lies, and plots, and mischief hatch,
To ruin him and spoil the match.


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