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Their treat is what your palates relish most,
Charm! song! and show! a murder and a ghost!
We know not what you can desire or hope,
To please you more, but burning of a Pope.
WE act by fits and starts, like drowning men,
But just peep up, and then pop down again.
Let those who call us wicked change their sense;
For never men lived more on Providence.
Not lottery cavaliers are half so poor,
Nor broken cits, nor a vacation whore.
Not courts, nor courtiers living on the rents
Of the three last ungiving parliaments:
So wretched, that, if Pharaoh could divine,
He might have spared his dream of seven lean kine,
And changed his vision for the Muses nine.
The comet, that, they say, portends a dearth,
Was but a vapour drawn from play-house earth :
Pent there since our last fire, and, Lilly says,
Foreshows our change of state, and thin third-days.
'Tis not our want of wit that keeps us poor;
For then the printer's press would suffer more.
Their pamphleteers each day their venom spit;
They thrive by treason, and we starve by wit.
Confess the truth, which of you has not laid
Four farthings out to buy the Hatfield maid?
Or, which is duller yet, and more would spite us,
Democritus his wars with Heraclitus?
Such are the authors, who have run us down,
And exercised you critics of the town.
Yet these are pearls to your lampooning rhymes,
Y'abuse yourselves more dully than the times.
Scandal, the glory of the English nation,
Is worn to rags, and scribbled out of fashion.
Such harmless thrusts, as if, like fencers wise,
They had agreed their play before their prize.
Faith, they may hang their harps upon the willows;
"Tis just like children when they box with pillows.
Then put an end to civil wars for shame;
Let each knight-errant, who has wrong'd a dame,
Throw down his pen, and give her, as he can,
The satisfaction of a gentleman.
SPOKEN AT THE ACTING OF "THE SILENT
No poor Dutch peasant, wing'd with all his fear,
Flies with more haste, when the French arms draw near,
Than we with our poetic train come down,
For refuge hither, from the infected town:
Heaven for our sins this summer has thought fit
To visit us with all the plagues of wit.
A French troop first swept all things in its way;
But those hot Monsieurs were too quick to stay:
Yet, to our cost, in that short time, we find
They left their itch of novelty behind.
The Italian merry-andrews took their place,
And quite debauch'd the stage with lewd grimace:
Instead of wit, and humours, your delight
Was there to see two hobby-horses fight;
Stout Scaramoucha with rush lance rode in,
And ran a tilt at centaur Arlequin.
For love you heard how amorous asses bray'd,
And cats in gutters gave their serenade.
Nature was out of countenance, and each day
Some new-born monster shown you for a play.
But when all fail'd, to strike the stage quite dumb,
Those wicked engines call'd machines are come.
Thunder and lightning now for wit are play'd,
And shortly scenes in Lapland will be laid:
Art magic is for poetry profess'd;
And cats and dogs, and each obscener beast,
To which Egyptian dotards once did bow,
Upon our English stage are worshipp'd now.
Witchcraft reigns there, and raises to renown
Macbeth and Simon Magus of the town;
Fletcher's despised, your Jonson's out of fashion,
And wit the only drug in all the nation.
In this low ebb our wares to you are shown;
By you those staple authors' worth is known;
For wit's a manufacture of your own.
When you, who only can, their scenes have praised,
We'll boldly back, and say, their price is raised.
SPOKEN AT OXFORD, BY MRS. MARSHALL.
OFT has our poet wish'd, this happy seat
Might prove his fading Muse's last retreat:
I wonder❜d at his wish, but now I find
He sought for quiet, and content of mind;
Which noiseful towns, and courts can never know,
And only in the shades like laurels grow.
Youth, ere it sees the world, here studies rest,
And age returning thence concludes it best.
What wonder if we court that happiness
Yearly to share, which hourly you possess.
Teaching e'en you, while the vex'd world we show
Your peace to value more, and better know?
'Tis all we can return for favours past,
Whose holy memory shall ever last,
For patronage from him whose care presides
O'er every noble art, and every science guides:
Bathurst, a name the learn'd with reverence know,
And scarcely more to his own Virgil owe;
Whose age enjoys but what his youth deserved,
To rule those Muses whom before he served.
His learning, and untainted manners too,
We find, Athenians, are derived to you:
Such ancient hospitality there rests
In yours, as dwelt in the first Grecian breasts,
Whose kindness was religion to their guests.
Such modesty did to our sex appear,
As, had there been no laws, we need not fear,
Since each of you was our protector here.
Converse so chaste, and so strict virtue shown,
As might Apollo with the Muses own.
Till our return, we must despair to find
Judges so just, so knowing, and so kind.
TO "ALBION AND ALBANIUS."
AFTER our Æsop's fable shown to-day,
I come to give the moral of the play.
Feign'd Zeal, you saw, set out the speedier pace;
But the last heat, Plain Dealing won the race:
Plain Dealing for a jewel has been known;
But ne'er till now the jewel of a crown.
When Heaven made man, to show the work divine,
Truth was his image, stamp'd upon the coin:
And when a king is to a god refined,
On all he says and does he stamps his mind :
This proves a soul without alloy, and pure;
Kings, like their gold, should every touch endure.
To dare in fields is valour; but how few
Dare be so throughly valiant,-to be true!
The name of great, let other kings affect:
He's great indeed, the prince that is direct.
His subjects know him now, and trust him more
Than all their kings, and all their laws before.
What safety could their public acts afford?
Those he can break; but cannot break his word.
So great a trust to him alone was due;
Well have they trusted whom so well they knew.
The saint, who walk'd on waves, securely trod,
While he believed the beck'ning of his God;
But when his faith no longer bore him out,
Began to sink, as he began to doubt.
Let us our native character maintain ;
'Tis of our growth, to be sincerely plain.
To excel in truth we loyally may strive,
Set privilege against prerogative:
He plights his faith, and we believe him just;
His honour is to promise, ours to trust.
Thus Britain's basis on a word is laid,
As by a word the world itself was made.
[BY MR. MOUNTFORT, 1693.] SPOKEN BY MRS. BRACEGIRDLE.
THUS you the sad catastrophe have seen,
Occasion'd by a mistress and a queen.
Queen Eleanor the proud was French, they say;
But English manufacture got the day.
Jane Clifford was her name, as books aver:
Fair Rosamond was but her nom de guerre.
Now tell me, gallants, would you lead your life
With such a mistress, or with such a wife?
If one must be your choice, which d' ye approve,
The curtain lecture, or the curtain love?
Would ye be godly with perpetual strife,
Still drudging on with homely Joan your wife;
Or take your pleasure in a wicked way,
Like honest whoring Harry in the play?
I guess your minds: the mistress would be taken,
And nauseous matrimony sent a packing.
The devil's in you all; mankind's a rogue;
You love the bride, but you detest the clog.
After a year, poor spouse is left i' the lurch,
And you, like Haynes, return to mother-Church.
Or, if the name of Church comes cross your mind,
Chapels of ease behind our scenes you find.
The playhouse is a kind of market-place;
One chaffers for a voice, another for a face:
Nay, some of you, I dare not say how many,
Would buy of me a pen'orth for your penny.
E'en this poor face, which with my fan I hide,
Would make a shift my portion to provide,
With some small perquisites I have beside.
Though for your love, perhaps, I should not care,
I could not hate a man that bids me fair.
What might ensue, 'tis hard for me to tell;
But I was drench'd to-day for loving well,
And fear the poison that would make me swell.