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In Cibber's look commanding forrows speak,
And call the tear fast trick’ling down my cheek.
There is a fault which stirs the critick's rage ;
A want of due attention on the stage.
I have seen Actors, and admir'd ones too,
Whose tongues wound up set forward from their cue ;
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 roam,
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 Mould 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 fimp'ring leer, and bow profound,
The squeaking Cyrus greets the boxes round;
Or proud Mandane, of imperial race,
Familiar drops a curtsey 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,
Tho' all his features were not grim'd with snuff.
Why should Pol. Peachum shine in sattin cloaths ?
Why ev'ry devil dance in scarlet hose ?
But in ftage-customs what offends me most,
Is the flip-door, and slowly-rising ghoft.
Tell me, nor count the question too severe,
Why need the dismal powder'd forms appear?
When chilling horrors fhake th' affrighted king,
And Guilt torments him with her scorpion sting;
When keeneit feelings at his bosom pull,
And Fancy tells him that the feat is full;
Why need the ghoft ufurp 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 chair.
If Belvidera her lov'd loss deplore,
Why for twin fpe&tres bursts the yawning floor?
When with disorder'd starts, and horrid cries,
She paints the murder'd forms before her eyes,
And ftill pursues them with a frantick ftare,
'Tis pregnant madness brings the visions there.
More instant horror would enforce the scene,
If all her shudd'rings were at shapes unseen.
Poet and Actor thus, with blended kill,
Mould all our passions to their instant will ;
'Tis thus, 'when feeling Garrick treads the stage,
(The speaking comment of his Shakespeare's page)
Oft as I drink the words with greedy ears,
I shake with horror, or dissolve with tears.
O, ne'er may folly seize the throne of taste,
Nor dulness 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:
Tho' oft debas'd with scenes prophane and loose,
No reason weighs against it's proper use.
Tho' the lewd priest his sacred function shame,
Religion's perfect law is still the same.
Shall they, who trace the passions from their rise,
Shew Scorn her features, her own image Vice?
Who teach the mind it's 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
And strike the precept home upon the heart?
Yet, hapless artist! tho' thy kill can raise
The bursting peal of universal praise;
Tho' 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.
Tho' blended here the praise of bard and play'ı,
While more than half becomes the actor's share,
Relentless Death untwists the mingled fame,
And finks the player in the poet's name.
The pliant muscles of the various face,
The mien that gave each sentence strength and grace, ,
The tuneful voice, the eye that spoke the mind,
Are gone nor leave a single trace behind !
H! what avails the length'ning mead,
By Nature's kindeft bounty spread Along the vale of flow'rs? « Ah! what avails the darkening grove, « Or Philomel's melodious love,
« That glads the midnight hours?
For me, alas! the god of day • Ne'er glitters on the hawthorn spray,
• Nor night her comfort brings: . I have no pleasure in the rose * For me no vernal beauty blows,
Nor Philomela fings.
• See how the sturdy peafants stride • Adown yon hillock's verdant fide,
• In chearful ignorance bless'd! • Alike to them the rose or thorn, • Alike arises ev'ry morn,
By gay Contentment dress'd.
• Content, fair daughter of the skies, • Or gives spontaneous, or denies,
· Her choice divinely free; • She visits oft the hamlet cot, • When Want and Sorrow are the lot
• Of Avarice and me.
• But fee !-or is it Fancy's dream?
• Methought a bright celestial gleam
Shot sudden thro' the
• Behold, behold; in loofe array,
• Euphrosyne, more bright than day,
• More mild than Paphian doves!
• Welcome, O! welcome, Pleasure's queen! • And see, along the velvet green,
• The jocund train advance :
With scatter'd flow'rs they fill the air, • The wood-nymphs dew-bespangled hair
• Plays in the sportive dance.
• Ten thousand beauties round me throng :
• What beauties, say, ye nymphs, belong
• To the distemper'd foul?
• I see the lawn of hideous dye;
· The towering elm nods misery;
• With groans the waters roll.