Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Or, at some banker's desk, like many more,

Where, quiet as her strains their strains do flow, Content to tell that two and two make four,

That all the patron by the bards may know, His name had stood in city annals fair,

Secret as night, with Rolt's experienc'd aid, And prudent dullness mark'd him for a mayor. The plan of future operations laid ; What then could tempt thee, in a critic age,

Projected schemes the summer months to cheer, Such blooming hopes to forfeit on a stage?

And spin out happy folly through the year. Could it be worth thy wondrous waste of pains But think not though these dastard-chiefsare fed To publish to the world thy lack of brains?

That Covent-Garden troops shall want a head: Or might not reason ev'n to thee have shown Harlequin comes their chief!-See from afar, Thy greatest praise had been to live unknown? The hero seated in fantastic car! Yet let not vanity like thine despair:

Wedded to novelty, his only arms Fortune makes folly her peculiar care.

Are wooden swords, wands, talismans, and charms; A vacant throne high-plac'd in Smithfield view, On one side folly sits, by some call'd fun, To sacred dullness and her first born due;

And on the other, his arch patron, Lun. Thither with haste in happy hour repair,

Behind, for liberty athirst in vain, Thy birth-right claim, nor fear a rival there. Sense, helpless captive, drags the galling chaia. Shuter himself shall own thy juster claim,

Six rude misshapen beasts the chariot draw, And venal ledgers puff their Murphy's name,

Whom reason lothes, and nature never saw; Whilst Vaughan or Dapper, call him what you will, Monsters with tails of ice and heads of fire; Shall blow the trumpet and give out the bill. Gorgons, and Hydras, and Chimeras dire.

There rule secure from critics and from sense, Each was bestrode by full as monstrous vigbt, Nor once shall genius rise to give offence;

Giant, dwarf, genius, elf, hermaphrodite. Eternal peace shall bless the happy shore,

The town, as usual, met him in full cry: And little factions break thy rest no more.

The town, as usual, knew no reason why. From Covent-Garden crowds promiscuous go,

But fashion so directs, aud moderns raise Whom the Muse knows not, nor desires to know. On fashion's mould'ring base their transient prais. Vet'rans they seem’d, but knew of arms no more Next to the field a band of females drar Than if, till that time, arms they never bore; Their force; for Britain owns no salique las: Like Westminster militia train'd to fight,

Just to their worth, we female rights admit, They scarcely knew the left hand from the right. Nor bar their claim to empire or to wit. Asham'd among such troops to show the head, First, giggling, plotting chamber-maids arrive, Their chiefs were scatter'd, and their heroes fled. Hoydens and romps, led on by Gen'ral Clive. Sparks at his glass sat comfortably down

spite of outward blemishes, she shone To sep'rate frown from smile, and smile from frown; For humour fam'd, and humour all her own. Smith, the genteel, the airy, and the smart,

Easy, as if at home, the stage she trod, Smith was just gone to school to say his part; Nor sought the critic's praise, nor fear'd his rod. Ross (a misfortune which we often meet)

Original in spirit and in ease, Was fast asleep at dear Statira's feet;

She pleas'd by hiding all attempts to please. Statira, with her hero to agree,

No comic actress ever yet could raise, Stood on her feet as fast asleep as he;

On humour's base, more merit or more praise. Macklin, who largely deals in half-form'd sounds, With all the native vigour of sixteen, Who wantonly transgresses nature's bounds; Among the merry troop conspicuous seen, Whose acting's hard, affected, and constrain'd; See lively Pope advance in jig and trip, Whose features, as each other they disdain'd, Corinua, Cherry, Honeycomb, and Snip. At variance set, inflexible and coarse,

Not without art, but yet to nature true, Ne'er know the working of united force,

She charms the town with humour just, yet de. Ne'er kindly soften to each other's aid,

Cheer'd by her promise, we the less deplore Nor show the mingled pow'rs of light and shade; The fatal time when Clive shall be no more. No longer for a thankless stage concern’d,

Lo! Vincent comes with simple grace array'd, To worthier thoughts his mighty genius turn’d, She laughs at paltry arts, and scorns parade; Harangu'd, gave lectures, made each simple elf Nature through her is by reflection shown, Almost as good a speaker as himself;

Whilst Gay once more knows Polly for his own. Whilst the whole town, mad with mistaken zeal, Talk not to me of diffidence and fearAn awkward rage for elocution feel;

I see it all, but must forgive it here. Dull cits and grave divines his praise proclaim, Defects like these which modest terrors cause, And join with Sheridan's their Macklin's name. From impudence itself extort applause. Shuter, who never car'd a single pin

Candour and reason still take virtue's part; Whether he left out nonsense, or put in;

We love ev'n foibles in so good an heart. Who aim'd at wit, though, levell'd in the dark, Let Tommy Arne, with usual pomp of style, The random arrow seldom hit the mark;

Whose chief, whose only merit's to compile, At Islington, all by the placid stream

Who meanly pilfering, here and there a bit, Where city swains in lap of dullness dream, Deals music out as Murphy deals out wit,

Publish proposals, laws for taste prescribe,

Mistress of each soft art, with matchless skill And chaunt the praise of an Italian tribe;

To turn and wind the passions as she will; Let him reverse kind nature's first decrees,

To melt the heart with sympathetic woe, And teach ev'n Brent a method not to please ; Awake the sigh, and teach the tear to flow : But never shall a truly British age

To put on frenzy's wild distracted glare, Bear a vile race of eunuchs on the stage.

And freeze the soul with horror and despair; The boasted work's call's national in vain,

With just desert enroll'd in endless fame, If one Italian voice pollutes the strain.

Conscious of worth superior, Cibber came. Where tyrants rule, and slaves with joy obey,

When poor Alicia's madd’ning brains are rack'd, Let slavish minstrels pour th’ enervate lay; And strongly-imag'd griefs her mind distract ; Co Britons far more noble pleasures spring,

Struck with her grief, I catch the madness too! in native notes whilst Beard and Vincent sing. My brain turns round, the headless trunk I view ! Might figures give a title unto fame,

The roof cracks, shakes and falls.--New horrors What rival should with Yates dispute her claim?

And reason buried in the ruin lies.

[riseBut justice may not partial trophies raise,

Nobly disdainful of each slavish art, Sor sink the actress in the woman's praise,

She makes her first attack upon the heart; sull hand in hand her words and actions go,

Pleas'd with the summons, it receives her laws, And the heart feels more than the features show:

And all is silence, sympathy, applause. for through the regions of that beauteous face

But when, by fond ambition drawn aside, We no variety of passions trace:

Giddy with praise, and puff’d with female pride, Dead to the soft emotions of the heart,

She quits the tragic scene, and, in pretence No kindred softness can those eyes impart;

To comic merit, breaks down nature's fence; The brow, still fix'd on sorrow's sullen frame, I scarcely can believe my ears or eyes, Void of distinction, marks all parts the same.

Or find out Cibber through the dark disguise. What's a fine person, or a beauteous face,

Pritchard, by nature for the stage design'd, Inless deportment gives them decent grace? In person graceful, and in sense refin’d; Bless'd with all other requisites to please,

Her art as much as nature's friend became; some want the striking elegance of ease;

Her voice as free from blemish as her fame; The curious eye thair awkward movement tires ;

Who knows so well in majesty to please, They seem like puppets led about by wires.

Attemper'd with the graceful charms of ease ? Others, like statues, in one posture still,

When, Congreve's favour'd pantomime to grace, Give great ideas of the workman's skill;

She comes a captive queen of Moorish race; Wond'ring, his art we praise the more we view,

When love, hate, jealousy, despair and rage, And only grieve he gave not motion too.

With wildest tumults in her breast engage, Weak of themselves are what we beauties call,

Still equal to herself is Zara seen; It is the manner which gives strength to all.

Her passions are the passions of a queen. This teaches ev'ry beauty to unite,

When she to murder whets the timorous Thane, And brings them forward in the noblest light.

I feel ambition rush through ev'ry vein; Happy in this, behold, amidst the throng,

Persuasion hangs upon her daring tongue, With transient gleam of grace, Hart sweeps along.

My heart grows flint, and ev'ry nerve's new strung. If all the wonders of external grace,

In comedy—“ Nay, there,” cries critic,“ hold, A person finely turn'd, a mould of face,

Pritchard's for comedy too fat and old. Where, union rare, expression's lively force Who can, with patience, bear the gray coquette, With beauty's softest magic holds discourse, Or force a laugh with overgrown Julett? Attract the eye! if feelings void of art,

Her speech, look, action, humour, all are just; Rouse the quick passions, and inflame the heart; But then, her age and figure give disgust." If music sweetly breathing from the tongue,

Are foibles then, and graces of the mind,
Captives the ear, Bride must not pass unsung.

In real life, to size or age confin’d?
When fear, which rank ill-nature terms conceit, Do spirits flow, and is good-breeding plac'd
By time and custom conquer'd, shall retreat ; In any set circumference of waist?
When judgment tutor’d by experience sage,

As we grow old, doth affectation

cease,
Shall shoot abroad and gather strength from age; Or gives not age new vigour to caprice ?
When Heav'n in mercy shall the stage release • If in originals these things appear,
From the dull slumbers of a still-life piece;

Why should we bar them in the copy here?
When some stale flow'r, disgraceful to the walk, The nice punctilio-mongers of this age,
Which long hath hung,though wither’d, on the stalk, The grand minute reformers of the stage,
Shall kindly drop, then Bride shall make her way, Slaves to propriety of ev'ry kind,
And merit find a passage to the day;

Some standard-measure for each part should find, Brought into action, she at once shall raise

Which when the best of actors shall exceed, Her own renown, and justify our praise.

Let it devolve to one of smaller breed. Form’d for the tragic scene, to grace the stage,

All acto

too upon the back should bear With rival excellence of love and rage,

Certificate of birth;-time, when ;-place, where.

SH

For how can critics rightly fix their worth, What man could give, if Barry was not here,
Unless they know the minute of their birth? Such well-applauded tenderness to Lear?
An audience too, deceiv'd, may find too late Who else can speak so very, very fine,
That they have clapp'd an actor out of date. That sense may kindly end with ev'ry line?
Figure, I own, at first may give offence,

Some dozen lines before the ghost is there,
And harshly strike the eye's too curious sense: Behold him for the solemn scene prepare.
But when perfections of the mind break forth, See how he frames his eyes, poises each limb,
Humour's chaste sallies, judgment's solid worth; Puts the whole body into proper trim.-
When the pure genuine flame by nature taught, From whence we learn, with no great stretch of art,
Springs into sense, and ev'ry action's thought; Five lines hence comes a ghost, and, ha! a start.
Before such merit all objections fly,

When he appears most perfect, still we find Pritchard's genteel, and Garrick's six feet high. Something which jars upon, and hurts the mind.

Oft have I, Pritchard, seen thy wondrous skill, Whatever lights upon a part are thrown, Confess'd thee great, but find thee greater still. We see too plainly they are not his own. That worth, which shone in scatter'd rays before, No flame from nature ever yet he caught; Collected now,

breaks forth with double pow'r. Nor knew a feeling which he was not taught; The Jealous Wife! on that thy trophies raise, He rais'd his trophies on the base of art, Inferior only to the author's praise.

And conn’d his passions, as he conn'd his part. From Dublin, fam'd in legends of romance

Quin, from afar, lur'd by the scent of fame, For mighty magic of enchanted lance,

A stage Leviathan, put in his claim, With which her heroes arm’d victorious prove, Pupil of Betterton and Booth, Alone, And like a flood rush o'er the land of love,

Sullen he walk'd, and deem'd the chair his own. Mossop and Barry came-names ne'er design'd For how should moderns, mushrooms of the day, By fate in the same sentence to be join'd.

Who ne'er those masters knew, know how to play! Rais'd by the breath of popular acclaim,

Gray-bearded vet'rans, who, with partial tongue, They mounted to the pinnacle of fame;

Extol the times when they themselves were young; There the weak brain, made giddy with the height, Who having lost all relish for the stage, Spurr'd on the rival chiefs to mortal fight.

See not their own defects, but lash the age, Thus sportive boys, around some bason's brim, Receiv'd with joyful murmurs of applause Behold the pipe-drawn bladders circling swim: ' Their darling chief, and lin'd his favourite cars. But if from lungs more potent, there arise

Far be it from the candid Muse to tread Two bubbles of a more than common size,

Insulting o'er the ashes of the dead, Eager for honour they for fight prepare,

But, just to living merit, she maintains, Bubble meets bubble, and both sink to air.

And dares the test, whilst Garrick's genius reigts; Mossop, attach'd to military plan,

Ancients in vain endeavour to excel, Still kept his eye fix'd on his right-hand man. Happily prais'd, if they could act as well. Whilst the mouth measures words with seeming But though prescription's force we disallow, The right hand labours, and the left lies still; (skill, Nor to antiquity submissive bow; For he resolv'd on scripture-grounds to go, Though we deny imaginary grace, What the right doth the left-hand shall not know. Founded on accidents of time and place; With studied impropriety of speech,

Yet real worth of ev'ry growth shall bear He soars beyond the hackney critic's reach; Due praise, nor must we, Quin, forget thee there. To epithets allots emphatic state,

His words bore sterling weight, nervous and Whilst principals, ungrac'd, like lacquies wait; In manly tides of sense they rollid along. (strong In ways first trodden by himself excels,

Happy in art, he chiefly had pretence And stands alone in indeclinables;

To keep up numbers, yet not forfeit sense. Conjunction, preposition, adverb join

No actor ever greater heights could reach To stamp new vigour on the nervous line:

In all the labour'd artifice of speech. In monosyllables his thunders roll,

Speech! Is that all ?-And shall an actor fond He, she, it, and, we, ye, they, fright the soul. An universal fame on partial ground? In person taller than the common size,

Parrots themselves speak properly by rote, Behold where Barry draws admiring eyes !

And, in six months, my dog shall howl by note. When lab'ring passions, in his bosom pent,

I laugh at those, who, when the stage they tread, Convulsive rage, and struggling heave for vent; Neglect the heart, to compliment the head; Spectators, with imagin’d terrors warm,

With strict propriety their care's confin'd Anxious expect the bursting of the storm:

To weigh out words, while passion halts behind. But all unfit in such a pile to dwell,

To syllable-dissectors they appeal; His voice comes forth, like Echo from her cell; Allow them accent, cadence,-fools may feel; To swell the tempest needful aid denies,

But, spite of all the criticising elves, (selva And all a-down the stage in feeble murmurs dies. Those who would make us feel, must feel ber

What man, like Barry, with such pains, can err His eyes, in gloomy socket taught to roll, In elocution, action, character:

Proclaim'd the sullen habit of his soul.

leavy and phlegmatic he trod the stage,

Last Garrick came.-Behind him throng a train roo proud for tenderness, too dull for rage. Of snarling critics, ignorant as vain. Vhen Hector's lovely widow shines in tears,

One finds out,—“He's of stature somewhat low,Or Rowe's gay rake dependant virtue jeers, Your hero always should be tall, you know.Vith the same cast of features he is seen

True nat'ral greatness all consists in height." To chide the libertine, and court the queen. Produce your voucher, critic.-"Sergeant Kite." From the tame scene, which without passion flows, Another can't forgive the paltry arts With just desert his reputation rose;

By which he makes his way to shallow hearts; Vor less he pleas'd, when, on some surly plan, Mere pieces of finesse, traps for applauseHe was, at once, the actor and the man.

Avaunt, unnat'ral start, affected pausc.” In Brute he shone unequallid: all agree

For me, by nature form’d to judge with phlegm, Garrick's not half so great a brute as he.

I can't acquit by wholesale, nor condemn. When Cato's labour'd scenes are brought to view, The best things carried to excess are wrong: With equal praise the actor labour'd too;

The start may be too frequent, pause too long; For still you'll find, trace passions to their root, But, only us’d in proper time and place, Small diff’rence 'twixt the stoic and the brute. Severest judgment must allow them grace. In fancied scenes, as in life's real plan,

If bunglers, form’d on imitation's plan, He could not, for a moment, sink the man.

Just in the way that monkies mimic man, In whate'er cast his character was laid,

Their copied scene with mangled arts disgrace, Self still, like oil, upon the surface play'd.

And pause and start with the same vacant face; Nature, in spite of all his skill, crept in:

We join the critic laugh, those tricks we scorn, Horatio, Dorax, Falstaff,-still 'twas Quin.

Which spoil the scenes they mean them to adorn. Next follows Sheridan--a doubtful name,

But when, from nature's pure and genuine source, As yet unsettled in the rank of fame.

These strokes of acting flow with gen'rous force, This, fondly lavish in his praises grown,

When in the features all the soul's pourtray'd, Gives him all merit: that allows him none.

And passions, such as Garrick's, are display'd, Between them both we'll steer the middle course, To me they seem from quickest feelings caught: Nor, loving praise, rob judgment of her force. Each start is nature ; and each pause is thought. Just his conceptions, natural and great:

When reason yields to passion's wild alarms, His feelings strong, his words enforc'd with weight. And the whole state of man is up in arms; Was speech-fam'd Quin himself to hear him speak, What but a critic could condemn the play'r, Envy would drive the colour from his cheek: For pausing here, when cool sense pauses there? But step-dame nature, niggard of her grace, Whilst, working from the heart, the fire I trace, Deny'd the social pow'rs of voice and face.

And mark it strongly flaming to the face; Fix'd in one frame of features, glare of eye,

Whilst, in each sound, I hear the very man; Passions, like chaos, in confusion lie:

I can't catch words, and pity those who can. In vain the wonders of his skill are try'd

Let wits, like spiders, from the tortur'd brain To form distinctions nature hath deny’d.

Fine-draw the critic-web with curious pain; His voice no touch of harmony admits,

The gods,-a kindness I with thanks must pay, Irregularly deep and shrill by fits:

Have form’d me of a coarser kind of clay; The two extremes appear like man and wife, Nor stung with envy, nor with spleen diseas’d, Coupled together for the sake of strife.

A poor dull creature, still with nature pleas'd; His action's always strong, but sometimes such, Hence to thy praises, Garrick, I agree, That candour must declare he acts too much. And, pleas'd with nature, must be pleas'd with thee. Why must impatience fall three paces back?

Now might I tell, how silence reign'd throughout, Why paces three return to the attack :

And deep attention hush'd the rabble rout! Why is the right-leg too forbid to stir,

How ev'ry claimant, tortur'd with desire, Unless in motion semicircular:

Was pale as ashes, or as red as fire : Why must the hero with the nailor vie,

But, loose to fame, the Muse more simply acts, And hurl the close clench’d fist at nose or eye ? Rejects all flourish, and relates mere facts. In royal John, with Philip angry grown,

The judges, as the several parties came, I thought he would have knock'd poor Davies down. With temper heard, with judgment weigh'd cach Inhuman tyrant! was it not a shame,

claim, To fright a king so harmless and so tame?

And, in their sentence happily agreed, But, spite of all defects, his glories rise;

In name of both, great Shakspeare thus decreed. And art, by judgment form’d, with nature vies: “ If manly sense ; if nature link'd with art; Behold him sound the depth of Hubert's soul, If thorough knowledge of the human heart; Whilst in his own contending passions roll.

If pow'rs of acting vast and unconfin’d; View the whole scene, with critic judgment scan,

If fewest faults with greatest beauties join'd; And then deny him merit if you can.

If strong expression, and strange pow'rs which lie Where he falls short, 'tis nature's fault alone; Within the magic circle of the eye; Where he succeeds, the merit's all his own. If feelings which few hearts, like his, can know,

And which no face so well as his can show; Flow'rs, which once flourish'd fair in Greece si
Deserve the pref'rence ;-Garrick, take the chair; Rome,
Nor quit it—till thou place an equal there.” More fair revive in England's meads to bloom;

Skies without cloud exotic suns adorn;
And roses blush, but blush without a thorn;

Landscapes unknown to dowdy nature rise,
THE PROPHECY OF FAMINE.

And new creations strike our wond'ring eyes. A SCOTS PASTORAL.

For bards like these, who neither sing oor say, INSCRIBED TO JOIN WILKES, ESQUIRE.

Grave without thought, and without feeling gay;

Whose numbers in one even tenor flow, When Cupid first instructs his darts to fly

Attun'd to pleasure, and attun'd to woe; From the sly corner of some cook-maid's eye, Who, if plain common sense her visit pays, The stripling raw, just enter'd in his teens,

And mars one couplet in their happy lays, Receives the wound, and wonders what it means; As at some ghost affrighted, start and stare, His heart, like dripping, melts, and new desire And ask the meaning of her coming there; Within him stirs, each time she stirs the fire;

For bards like these a wreath shall Mason bring, Trembling and blushing he the fair-one views, Lin’d with the softest down of folly's wing; And fain would speak, but can't-without a Muse. In love's pagoda shall they ever doze, So to the sacred mount he takes his way,

And Gisbal kindly rock them to repose; Prunes his young wings, and tunes his infant lay, My lord—to letters as to faith most trueHis oaten reed to rural ditties frames,

At once their patron and example too To flocks and rocks, to bills and rills proclaims,

Shall quaintly fashion his love-labour'd dreams, In simplest notes, and all unpolish'd strains, Sigh with sad winds, and weep with weeping The loves of nymphs, and eke the loves of swains.

streams;
Clad, as your nymphs were always clad of yore, Curious in grief (for real grief, we know,
In rustic weeds-a cook-maid now no more- Is curious to dress up the tale of woe),
Beneath an aged oak Lardella lies,

From the green umbrage of some Druid's seat, Green moss her couch; her canopy the skies. Shall his own works in his own way repeat. From aromatic shrubs the roguish gale (vale: Me, whom no Muse of heav'nly birth inspires, Steals young perfumes, and wafts them through the

No judgment tempers when rash genius fires; The youth, turn'd swain, and skill'd in rustic lays, Who boast no merit but mere knack of rbyme, Fast by her side his am'rous descant plays.

Short gleams of sense, and satire out of time; Herds low, flocks bleat, pies chatter, ravens scream, Who cannot follow where trim fancy leads And the full chorus dies a-down the stream. By prattling streams o'er flow'r-empurpled reads; The streams, with music freighted, as they pass, Who often, but without success, have pray'd Present the fair Lardella with a glass ;

For apt alliteration's artful aid; And Zephyr, to complete the love-sick plan, Who would, but cannot, with a master's skill, Waves his light wings, and serves her for a fan. Coin fine new epithets, which mean no ill;

But, when maturer judgment takes the lead, Me, thus uncouth, thus ev'ry way unfit These childish toys on reason's altar bleed; [awe, For pacing poesy, and ambling wit, Form'd after some great man, whose name breeds Taste with contempt beholds, nor deigns to place Whose ev'ry sentence fashion makes a law,

Amongst the lowest of her favour'd race. Who on mere credit his vain trophies rears,

Thou, nature, art my goddess to thy law And founds bis merit on our servile fears;

Myself I dedicate. Hence, slavish awe, Then we discard the workings of the heart, Which bends to fashion, and obeys the rules, And nature's banishi’d by mechanic art; Then, deeply read, our reading must be shown ;

Impos'd at first, and since observ'd by fools.

Hence those vile tricks which mar fair nature's hue, Vain is that knowledge which remains unknown. And bring the sober matron forth to view Then ostentation marches to our aid,

With all that artificial tawdry glare, And letter'd pride stalks forth in full parade; Which virtue scorns, and none but strumpets wear. Beneath their care behold the work refine,

Sick of those pomps, those vanities, that waste Pointed each sentence, polish'd ev'ry line:

Of toil, which critics now mistake for taste, Trifles are dignified, and taught to wear

Of false refinements sick, and labour'd ease, The robes of ancients with a modern air,

Which art, too thinly veil’d, forbids to please, Nonsense with classic ornaments is grac'd,

By nature's charms (inglorious truth!) subdu'd, And passes current with the stamp of taste.

However plain her dress, and 'haviour rude, Then the rude Theocrite is ransack'd o'er, To northern climes my happier course I steer, And courtly Maro call'd from Mincio's shore; Climes where the goddess reigns throughout the Sicilian Muses on our mountains roam,

Where, undisturb’d by art's rebellious plan, (year, Easy and free as if they were at home :

She rules the loyal laird, and faithful clan. Nymphs, naiads, nereids, dryads, satyrs, fauns, To that rare soil, where virtues elust'ring grow, Sport in our foods, and trip it o'er our lawns; What mighty blessings doth not England owe?

« AnteriorContinuar »