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If by low tricks they marr’d fair Nature's mien, For who, like Ackman, can with humor please ? And blurr'd the graces of the simple scene; Who can, like Packer, charm with sprightly ease : Shall we, if reason rightly is employ'd,
Higher than all the rest, see Bransby strut: Not see their faulis, or seeing not avoid ?
A mighty Gulliver in Lilliput! When Falstaff stands detected in a lie,
Ludicrous Nature! which at once could show Why, without meaning, rolls Love's glassy eye ? A man so very high, so very low. Why ?- There's no cause—at least no cause we If I forget thee, Blakes, or if I say know
Aught hurtsul, may I never see thee play. It was the fashion twenty years ago.
Let critics, with a supercilious air, Fashion, a word which knaves and fools may use, Decry thy various merit, and declare Their knavery and folly to excuse.
Frenchman is still at top ;-but scorn that rage To copy beauties, forfeits all pretence
Which, in attacking thee, attacks the age.
At once provoke our mirth, and form our taste. Some few particulars, where mode prevails)
Long, from a nation ever hardly us'd, If in these hallow'd times, when sober, sad, At random censur'd, wantonly abus'd, All gentlemen are melancholy mad,
Have Britons drawn their sport, with partial view When 'tis not deem'd so great a crime by half Form'd gen'ral notions from the rascal few; To violate a veslal, as to laugh,
Condemn'd a people, as for vices known, Rude Mirth may hope presumptuous to engage
Which, from their country banish'd, seek our own. An act of toleration for the stage,
At length, howe'er, the slavish chain is broke, And courtiers will, like reasonable creatures, And Sense, awaken'd, scorns her ancient yoke : Suspend vain fashion, and unscrew their features, Taught by thee, Moody, we now learn to raise Old Falstaff, play'd by Love, shall please once more, Mirth from their foibles; from their virtues, praise And humor set the audience in a roar.
Next came the legion, which our Summer Bayes, Actors I've seen, and of no vulgar name, From alleys, here and there, contriv'd 10 raise, Who, being from one part possess'd of fame, Flush'd with vast hopes, and certain to succeed Whether they are to laugh, cry, whine, or bawl, With wits who cannot write, and scarce cu read. Still introduce that fav’rite part in all.
Vet'rans no more support the rollen cause, Here, Love, be cautious—ne'er be thou betray'd No more from Elliot's worth they reap applausn. To call in that wag Falstaff's dangerous aid; Each on himself determines to rely, Like Goths of old, howe'er he seems a friend, Be Yates disbanded, and let Elliot fly; He'll seize that throne, you wish him to defend. Never did play’rs so well an author fit, In a peculiar mould by Humor cast,
To Nature dead, and foes declard to Wit. For Falstaff fram'd—Himself, the first and last,- So loud each tongue, so empty was each head, He stands aloof from all-maintains his state, So much they talk'd, so very little said, And scorns, like Scotchmen, to assimilate.
So wondrous dull, and yet so wondrous voin, Vain all disguise—100 plain we see the trick, At once so willing, and unfit to reign, Though the Knight wears the weeds of Dominic. That Reason swore, nor would the oath recall, And Boniface, disgrac'd, betrays the smack, Their mighty master's soul inform'd them all. In Anno Domini, of Falstaff's sack.
As one with various disappointments sad, Arms cross'd, brows bent, eyes fix'd, feet march- Whom Dullness only kept from being mad, ing slow,
Apart from all the rest great Murphy cameA band of malcontents with spleen o'erflow; Common to fools and wits, the rage of fame. Wrapt in Conceit's impenetrable fog,
What though the sons of Nonsense hail him SIRE Which Pride, like Phæbus, draws from ev'ry bog, AUDITOR, AUTHOR, MANAGER, and SQUIRE, They curse the managers, and curse the town, His restless soul's ambition stops not there, Whose partial favor keeps such merit down. To make his triumphs perfect, dub him PLAYER.
But if some man, more hardy than the rest, In person tall, a figure form’d to please ; Should dare attack these gnallings in their nest; If symmetry could charm, depriv'd of ease; Al once they rise with impotence of rage,
When motionless he stands, we all approve ; Whet their small stings, and buzz about the stage. What pity 'tis the thing was made to move. “ 'Tis breach of privilege -Shall any dare
His voice, in one dull, deep, imvaried sound, To arm satiric truth against a player ?
Seems to break forth from caverns under ground. Prescriptive rights we plead time out of mind; From hollow chest the low sepulchral note Actors, unlash'd themselves, may lash mankind.” Unwilling heaves, and struggles in his throat. What! shall Opinion then, of nature free
Could authors butcher'd give an actor grace, And lib'ral as the vagrant air, agree
All must to him resign the foremost place. To rust in chains like these, impos'd by things When he attempts, in some one fav'rite part, Which, less than nothing, ape the pride of kings ? To ape the feelings of a manly heart, No—though half-poets with half-players join His honest features the disguise defy, To curse the freedom of each honest line; And his face loudly gives his tongue the lie. Though rage and malice dim their faded cheek; Still in extremes, he knows no happy mean, What the Muse freely thinks, she 'll freely speak. Or raving mad, or stupidly serene. With just disdain of ev'ry paltry sneer,
In cold-wrought scenes the lifeless actor flags, Stranger alike to flattery and fear,
In passion, tears the passion into rags. In purpose fix'd, and to herself a rule,
Can none remember?-Yes—I know all mustPublic contempt shall wait the public fool. When in the Moor he ground his teeth to dust,
Austin would always glisten in French silks, When o'er the stage he Folly's standard bore, Ackman would Norris be, and Packer Wilks. Whilst Common Sense stood trembling at the door. How few are found with real talents bless'd, Who aim'd at wit, though, level'd in the dark, Fewer with Nature's gifts contented rest.
The random arrow seldom hit the mark, Man from his sphere eccentric starts astray ; At Islington, all by the placid stream All hunt for fame; but most mistake the way. Where city swains in lap of Dullness dream, Bred at St. Omer's to the shuffling trade,
Where, quiet as her strains their strains do now, The hopeful youth a Jesuit might have made, That all the patron by the bards may know, With various readings stor'd his empty skull, Secret as night, with Rolt's experienc'd aid, Learn'd without sense, and venerably dull; The plan of future operations laid, Or, at some banker's desk, like many more, Projected schemes the summer monihs to cheer, Content to tell that two and two make four, And spin out happy folly through the year. His name had stood in CITY ANNALS fair,
But think not, though these dastard chiefs are fled And prudent Dullness mark'd him for a mayor. That Covent-Garden troops shall want a head :
What then could tempt thee, in a critic age, Harlequin comes their chief-See from afar, Such blooming hopes to forfeit on a stage ? The hero seated in fantastic car! Could it be worth thy wondrous waste of pains Wedded to Novelty, his only arms To publish to the world thy lack of brains ? Are wooden swords, wands, talismans, and charms; Or might not Reason e'en to thee have shown On one side Folly sits, by some call'd Fun, Thy greatest praise had been to live unknown? And on the other, his arch-patron, Lun. Yet let not vanity, like thine, despair :
Behind, for liberty athirst in vain, Fortune makes Folly her peculiar care.
Sense, helpless captive, drags the galling chain. A vacant throne high-plac'd in Smithfield view, Six rude misshapen beasts the chariot draw, To sacred Dullness and her first-born due,
Whom Reason lothes, and Nature never saw; Thither with haste in happy hour repair,
Monsters, with tails of ice, and heads of fire ; Thy birthright claim, nor fear a rival there. Gorgons, and Hydras, and Chimeras dire. Shuter himself shall own thy juster claim, Each was bestrode by full as monstrous wight, And venal Ledgers puff their Murphy's name, Giant, Dwarf, Genius, Elf, Hermaphrodite. Whilst Vaughan* or Dapper, call him which you The town, as usual, met him in full cry ; will,
The town, as usual, knew no reason why. Shall blow the trumpet, and give out the bill. But Fashion so directs, and moderns raise
There rule secure, from critics and from sense, On Fashion's mouldering base their transient praise Nor once shall Genius rise to give offence;
Next, to the field a band of females draw Eternal peace shall bless the happy shore, Their force ; for Britain owns no Salique law: And little factions break ihy rest no more. Just to their worth, we female rights admit, From Covent-Garden crowds promiscuous go, Nor bar their claim to empire or to wit. Whom the Muse knows not, nor desires to know. First, giggling, plotting chamber-maids arrive, Vet'rans they seem'd, but knew of arms no more Hoydens and romps, led on by gen'ral Clive. Than if, till that time, arms they never bore: In spite of outward blemishes, she shone Like Westminster militia train'd to fight,
For humor fam'd, and humor all her own. They scarcely knew the left hand from the right. Easy, as if at home, the stage she trod, Asham'd among such troops to show the head, Nor sought the critic's praise, nor fear'd his rod Their chiefs were scatter'd, and their heroes fled. Original in spirit and in ease,
Sparks at his glass sat comfortably down She pleas'd by hiding all attempts to please. To sep’rate frown from smile, and smile from frown; No comic actress ever yet could raise, Smith, the genteel, the airy, and the smart, On Humor's base, more merit or more praise. Smith was just gone to school to say his part; With all the native vigor of sixteen, Ross (a misfortune which we often meet)
Among the merry troop conspicuous seen, Was fast asleep at dear Statira's feet;
See lively Pope advance in jig and trip, Statira, with her hero to agree,
Corinna, Cherry, Honeycomb, and Snip. Slood on her feet as fast asleep as he ;
Not without art, but yet to Nature true, Macklin, who largely deals in half-form'd sounds, She charms the town with humor just, yet new. Who wantonly transgresses Nature's bounds, Cheer'd by her promise, we the less deplore Whose acting's hard, affected, and constrain'd, The fatal time when Clive shall be no more. Whose features, as each other they disdain'd, Lo! Vincent comes—with simple grace array d, At variance set, inflexible and coarse,
She laughs at paltry arts, and scorns parade. Ne'er know the workings of united force,
Nature through her is by reflection shown, Ne'er kindly soften to each other's aid,
Whilst Gay once more knows Polly for his own.
Candor and Reason still take Virtue's part;
Let Tommy Arne, with usual pomp of style,
Deals music out as Murphy deals out wit, Whether he left out nonsense, or put in,
Publish proposals, laws for taste prescribe,
And chant the praise of an Italian tribe; A gentleman who published, at this juncture, a poem Let him reverse kind Nature's first decrees, entiiled The Retort.
And teach e'en Brent a method not to please ;
But never shall a truly British age
Suuck with her grief, I catch the madness 100! Bear a vile race of eunuchs on the stage.
My brain turns round, the headless trunk I view! The boasted work 's call'd national in vain, The roof cracks, shakes, and falls !-New horrors If one Italian voice pollutes the strain.
rise, Where tyrants rule, and slaves with joy obey, And Reason buried in the ruin lies. Let slavish minstrels pour th' enervate lay;
Nobly disdainful of each slavish art, To Britons far more noble pleasures spring, She makes her first attack upon the heart : In native notes whilst Beard and Vincent sing. Pleas'd with the summons, it receives her laws, Might figure give a title unto fame,
And all is silence, sympathy, applause. What rival should with Yates dispute her claim ? But when, by fond ambition drawn aside, But justice may not partial trophies raise, Giddy with praise, and puff'd with female pride, Nor sink the actress in the woman's praise. She quits the tragic scene, and, in pretence Still hand in hand her words and actions go, To comic merit, breaks down Nature's sence; And the heart feels more than the features show: I scarcely can believe my ears or eyes, For, through the regions of that beauteous face, Or find out Cibber through the dark disguise. We no variety of passions trace ;
Pritchard, by Nature for the stage design’d, Dead to the soft emotions of the heart,
In person graceful, and in sense refin'd;
What's a fine person, or a beauteous face, Attemper'd with the graceful charms of ease ? Unless deportment gives them decent grace ? When Congreve's favor'd pantomime to grace, Bless'd with all other requisites to please,
She comes a captive queen of Moorish race; Some want the striking elegance of ease ; When Love, Hate, Jealousy, Despair, and Rage, The curious eye their awkward movement tires ;
With wildest tumulis in her breast engage;
Her passions are the passions of a queen.
When she to murder whets the umorous Thane Wond'ring, his art we praise the more we view, I feel ambition rush through ev'ry vein; And only grieve he gave not motion too.
Persuasion hangs upon her daring tongue, Weak of themselves are what we beauties call, My heart grows flint, and ev'ry nerve's new-strung It is the manner which gives strength to all.
In comedy—“Nay there,” cries Critic, "hcld, This teaches every beauty to unite,
Pritchard's for comedy too fat and old. And brings them forward in the noblest light. Who can, with patience, bear the grey coquette, Happy in this, behold, amidst the throng,
Or force a laugh with overgrown Juleti? With transient gleam of grace, Hart sweeps along. Her speech, look, action, humor, all are just; If all the wonders of external grace,
But then, her age and figure give disgust."
Are foibles then, and graces of the mind,
In any set circumference of waist?
If in originals these things appear, When fear, which rank ill-nature terms conceit, Why should we bar them in the copy here? By time and custom conquer'd, shall retreat; The nice punctilio-mongers of this age, When judgment, tutor'd by experience sage, The grand minute reformers of the stage, Shall shoot abroad, and gather strength from age; Slaves lo propriety of ev'ry kind, When Heav'n in mercy shall the stage release Some standard-measure for each part should find, From the dull slumbers of a still-life piece; Which when the best of actors shall exeeed, When some stale flow'r, disgraceful to the walk, Let it devolve to one of smaller breed. Which long hath hung, though wither'd on the All actors 100 upon the back should bear stalk,
Certificate of birth ;-time, when ;-place, where. Shall kindly drop, then Bride shall make her way, For how can critics righily fix their worth, And meril find a passage to the day;
Unless they know the minute of their birth? Brought into action, she at once shall raise
An audience too, deceiv'd, may find too late Her own renown, and justify our praise.
That they have clapp'd an actor out of date. Form'd for the tragic scene, to grace the stage, Figure, I own, at first may give offence, With rival excellence of love and rage,
And harshly strike the eye's too curious sense ; Mistress of each soft art, with matchless skill But when perfections of the mind break forih, To turn and wind the passions as she will ; Humor's chaste sallies, judgment's solid worth ; To melt the heart with sympathetic woe, When the pure genuine flame, by Nature taught, Awake the sigh, and teach the tear to Now ; Springs into sense, and ev'ry action's thought; To put on Frenzy's wild distracted glare,
Before such merit all objections fly; And freeze the soul with horror and despair ; Pritchard 's genteel, and Garrick 's six feet high. With just desert enroll'd in endless fame,
Oft have I, Pritchard, seen thy wondrous skill, Conscious of worth superior, Cibber came Confess'd thee great, but find thee greater still.
When poor Alicia's madd’ning brains are rack'd, That worth, which shone in scatter'd rays before And strongly-imag'd griefs her mind distract: Collected now, breaks forth with double pow'r.
The Jealous Wife! on that thy trophies raise, For how should moderns, mushrooms of the day, Inferior only to the author's praise.
Who ne'er those masters knew, know how to play? From Dublin, fam'd in legends of romance Grey-bearded vet’rans, who, with partial tongue, For mighty magic of enchanted lance,
Extol the times when they themselves were young, With which her heroes arm'd victorious prove, Who, having lost all relish for the stage, And like a flood rush o'er the land of Love, See not their own defects, but lash the age, Mossop and Barry came-names ne'er design'd Receiv'd with joyful murmurs of applause, By Fate in the same sentence to be join'd. Their darling chief, and lin'd his fav’rite cause. Rais'd by the breath of popular acclaim,
Far be it from the candid Muse to tread They mounted to the pinnacle of Fame;
Insulting o'er the ashes of the dead,
But though prescription's force we disallow,
Though we deny imaginary grace,
Yet real worth of ev'ry growth shall bear
No actor ever greater heights could reach
Speech! Is that all ?-And shall an actor found
Parrots themselves speak properly by rote, And stands alone in indeclinables ;
And, in six months, my dog shall howl by note. Conjunction, preposition, adverb join
I laugh at those, who, when the stage they tread, To stamp new vigor on the nervous line :
Neglect the heart, to compliment the head ; In monosyllables his thunders roll,
With strict propriety their cares confin'd HE, SHE, IT, AND, WE, YE, THEY, fright the soul. To weigh ont words, while passion halts behind. In person taller than the common size,
To syllable-dissectors they appeal, Behold where Barry draws admiring eyes ! Allow them accent, cadence,- fools may feel ; When lab'ring passions, in his bosom pent, But, spite of all the criticising elves, Convulsive rage, and struggling heave for vent; Those who would make us feel, must feel themselves Spectators, with imagin'd terrors warm,
His eyes, in gloomy socket taught to roll, Anxious expect the bursting of the storm :
Proclaim'd the sullen habit of his soul. But, all unfit in such a pile to dwell,
Heavy and phlegmatic he trod the slage, His voice comes forth, like Echo from her cell; Too proud for tenderness, too dull for rage. To swell the tempest needful aid denies,
When Hector's lovely widow shines in lears, And all adown the stage in feeble murmur dies. Or Rowe's gay rake dependent virtue jeers,
What man, like Barry, with such pains can err With the same cast of feature he is seen In elocution, action, character ?
To chide the libertine, and court the queen. What man could give, if Barry was not here, From the tame scene, which without passion flows, Such well-applauded tenderness to Lear? With just desert his reputation rose ; Who else can speak so very, very fine,
Nor less he pleas'd, when, on some surly plan, That sense may kindly end with ev'ry line ? He was, at once, the actor and the man.
Some dozen lines before the ghost is there, In Brute he shone unequall'd: all agree Behold him for the solemn scene prepare.
Garrick's not half so great a brute as he. See how he frames his eyes, poises each limb, When Cato's labor'd scenes are brought to view, Puts the whole body into proper
With equal praise the actor labor'd too; From whence we learn, with no great stretch of art, For still you 'll find, trace passions to their root, Five lines hence comes a ghost, and ha! a start. Small diff'rence 'twixt the stoic and the brute.
When he appears most perfect, still we find In fancied scenes, as in life's real plan, Something which jars upon, and hurts the mind. He could not, for a moment, sink the man. Whatever lights upon a part are thrown,
In whate'er cast his character was laid, We see too plainly they are not his own.
Self still, like oil, upon the surface play'd. No flame from Nature ever yet he caught; Nature, in spite of all his skill, crept in: Nor knew a feeling which he was not laught; Horatio, Dorax, Falstaff,-still 'twas Quin. He rais'd his trophies on the base of art,
Next follows Sheridan-a doubtful name, And conn'd his passions, as he conn'd his part. As yet unsettled in the rank of Fame.
Quin, from afar, lured by the scent of fame, This, fondly lavish in his praises grown, A stage Leviathan, put in his claim,
Gives him all merit; that allows him none. Pupil of Betterton and Booth. Alone,
Between them both, we'll sleer the middle course, Sullen he walk'd, and deem'd the chair his own. Nor, loving praise, rob Judgment of her force.
Just his conceptions, natural and great: But, only us'd in proper time and place, His feelings strong, his words enforc'd with weight. Severest judgment must allow them grace. Was speech-fam'd Quin himself to hear him speak, If bunglers, form'd on Imitation's plan, Envy would drive the color from his cheek: Just in the way that monkeys mimic man, But stepdame Nature, niggard of her grace, Their copied scene with mangled arts disgrace, Denied the social pow'rs of voice and face. And pause and start with the same vacant face ; Fix'd in one frame of features, glare of eye We join the critic laugh; whose tricks we scorn, Passions, like chaos, in confusion lie :
Which spoil the scenes they mean them to adorn. In vain the wonders of his skill are tried
But when, from Nature's pure and genuine source To form distinctions Nature hath denied.
These strokes of acting flow with gen'rous force, His voice :10 touch of harmony admits,
When in the features all the soul's portray'd, Irregularly deep and shrill by fits :
And passions, such as Garrick's, are display'd, The two extremes appear like man and wife, To me they seem from quickest feelings caught: Coupled together for the sake of strife.
Each start is Nature, and each pause is Thought. His action's always strong, but sometimes such, When Reason yields to Passion's wild alarms, That candor must declare he acts too much. And the whole siate of man is up in arms; Why must impatience fall three paces back? What but a critic could condemn the play's, Why paces three return to the attack?
For pausing here, when Cool-Sense pauses there? Why is the right leg too forbid to stir,
Whilst, working from the heart, the fire I trace, Unless in motion semicircular ?
And mark it strongly flaming to the face; Why must the hero with the Nailor vie,
Whilst, in each sound, I hear the very man; And hurl the close-clench'd fist at nose or eye ? I can't catch words, and pily those who can. In royal John, with Philip angry grown,
Let wits, like spiders, from the tortur'd brain, I thought he would have knock'd poor Davies Fine-draw the critic-web with curious pain: down.
The gods,—a kindness I with thanks must pay,Inhuman tyrant! was it not a shame,
Have formd me of a coarser kind of clay ; To fright a king so harmless and so tame?
Not stung with envy, nor with pain diseas'd, But, spite of all defects, his glories rise ;
A poor dull creature, still with Nature pleas'd ; And Art, by Judgment form'd, with Nature vies : Hence to thy praises, Garrick, I agree, Behold him sound the depth of Hubert's soul, And, pleas'd with Nature, must be pleas'd with thee Whilst in his own contending passions roll;
Now I might tell, how silence reign'd throughou View the whole scene, with critic judgment scan, And deep attention hush'd the rabble rout: And then deny him merit if you can.
How ev'ry claimant, lortur'd with desire, Where he falls short, 'tis Nature's fault alone; Was pale as ashes, or as red as fire : Where he succeeds, the merit's all his own. But, loose to fame, the Muse more simply acts
Last Garrick came.-- Behind him throng a train Rejects all flourish, and relates mere facts. Of snarling crities, ignorant as vain.
The judges, as the several parties came, (ciaim, One finds out,—“ He's of stature somewhat With temper heard, with judgment weigh'd each low
And, in their sentence happily agreed, Your hero always should be tall, you know.- In name of both, great Shakspeare thus decreed. True nat'ral greatness all consists in height.” “ If manly sense ; if Nature link'd with Art; Produce your voucher, Critic.—“ Sergeant Kite." If thorough knowledge of the human heart; Another can't forgive the paltry arts
If pow'rs of acting vast and unconfin'd ; By which he makes his way to shallow hearts ; If fewest faults with greatest beauties join'd; Mere pieces of finesse, traps for applause-- If strong expression, and strange pow'rs which lie “ Avaunt, unnat'ral start, affected pause.".
Within the magic circle of the eye; For me, by Nature form'd to judge with phlegm, If feelings which few hearts, like his, can know, I can't acquit by wholesale, nor condemn. And which no face so well as his can show, The best things carried to excess are wrong: Deserve the pref'rence—Garrick, take the chair; The start may be too frequent, pause too long; Nor quit it-till thou place an equal there."