Imágenes de página
PDF

THE ROSCIAD.

Roscius deceas'd, each high aspiring play'r
Push'd all his int’rest for the vacant chair.
The buskin’d heroes of the mimic stage
No longer whine in love, and rant in rage;
The monarch quits his throne, and condescends
Humbly to court the favour of his friends ;
For pity's sake tells undeserv'd mishaps,
And, their applause to gain, recounts his claps.
Thus the victorious chiefs of ancient Rome,
To win the mob, a suppliant's form assume,
In pompous strain fight o'er th' extinguish'd war,
And show where honour bied in ev'ry scar.

But though bare merit might in Rome appear
The strongest plea for favour, 'tis not here;
We form our judgment in another way;
And they will best succeed, who best can pay:
Those, who would gain the votes of British tribes,
Must add to force of merit, force of bribes.

What can an actor give? In ev'ry age Cash hath been rudely banish'd from the stage; Monarchs themselves, to grief of ev'ry play'r, Appear as often as their image there : They can't, like candidate for other seat, Pour seas of wine, and mountains raise of meat. Wine! they could bribe you with the world as soon, And of roast beef, they only know the tune : But what they have they give ; could Clive do more, Though for each million he had brought home four ?

Shuter keeps open house at Southwark fair,
And hopes the friends of humour will be there;
In Smithfield, Yates prepares the rival treat
For those who laughter love, instead of meat ;
Foote, at Old House, for even Foote will be,
In self-conceit, an actor, bribes with tea ;
Which Wilkinson at second-hand receives,
And at the New, pours water on the leaves.

The town divided, each runs sev'ral ways,
As passion, humour, int’rest, party sways.
Things of no moment, colour of the hair,
Shape of a leg, complexion brown or fair,
A dress well chosen, or a patch misplac'd,
Conciliate favour, or create distaste.

From galleries loud peals of laughter roll, And thunder Shuter's praises — he's so droll. Embor'd, the ladies must have something smart, Palmer! Oh! Palmer tops the janty part. Seated in pit, the dwarf, with aching eyes, Looks up, and vows that Barry's out of size ; Whilst to six feet the vig'rous stripling grown, Declares that Garrick is another Coan. *

When place of judgment is by whim supply'dy And our opinions have their rise in pride ; When, in discoursing on each mimic elf, We praise and censure with an eye to self; All must meet friends, and Ackman bids as fair In such a court, as Garrick, for the chair.

At length agreed, all squabbles to decide, By some one judge the cause was to be try'd;

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

But this their squabbles did afresh renew,
Who should be judge in such a trial : - Who?

For Johnson some, but Johnson, it was fear'd,
Would be too grave; and Sterne too gay appear'd:
Others for Francklin voted ; but ’t was known,
He sicken'd at all triumphs but his own :
For Colman many, but the peevish tongue
Of prudent Age found out that he was young:
For Murphy some few pilf 'ring wits declar'd,
Whilst Folly clapp'd her hands, and Wisdom

star'd. To mischief train'd, e'en from his mother's womb, Grown old in fraud, though yet in manhood's bloom, Adopting arts, by which gay villains rise, And reach the heights which honest men despise ; Mute at the bar, and in the senate loud, Dull 'mongst the dullest, proudest of the proud ; A pert, prim, prater of the northern race, Guilt in his heart, and famine in his face, Stood forth: -- and thrice he wav'd his lily handAnd thrice he twirl'd his tye - thrice strok'd his

band « At Friendship's call,” (thus oft with trait'rous

aim
Men, void of faith, usurp Faith's sacred name)
" At Friendship's call I come, by Murphy sent,
Who thus by me developes his intent.
But lest, transfus'd, the spirit should be lost,
That spirit which in storms of rhet'ric tost,
Bounces about, and fies like bottled beer,
In his own words his own intentions hear.

« Thanks to my friends. — But to vile fortunes

born, No robes of fur these shoulders must adorn. Vain your applause, no aid from thence I draw; Vain all my wit, for what is wit in law ? Twice (curs'd remembrance !) twice I strove to gain Admittance 'mongst the law-instructed train, Who, in the Temple and Gray's Inn, prepare For clients' wretched feet the legal snare; Dead to those arts, which polish and refine, Deaf to all worth, because that worth was mine, Twice did those blockheads startle at my name, And, foul rejection, gave me up to shame. To laws and lawyers then I bad adieu, And plans of far more lib'ral note pursue. Who will may be a judge — my kindling breast Burns for that chair which Roscius once possess'do Here give your votes, your int'rest here exert, And let success for once attend desert.”

With sleek appearance, and with ambling pace, And, type of vacant head, with vacant face, The Proteus Hill put in his modest plea, “ Let Favour speak for others, Worth for me." For who, like him, his various powers could call Into so many shapes, and shine in all ? Who could so nobly grace the motley list, Actor, inspector, doctor, botanist ? Knows any one so well — sure no one knows, At once to play, prescribe, compound, compose ? Who can — But Woodward came, -- Hill slipp'd

away, Melting like ghosts, before the rising day.

With that low cunning, which in fools supplies, And amply too, the place of being wise, Which Nature, kind, indulgent parent, gave To qualify the blockhead for a knave; (charms, With that smooth falsehood, whose appearance And reason of each wholesome doubt disarms, Which to the lowest depths of guile descends, By vilest means pursues the vilest ends, Wears Friendship’s mask for purposes of spite, Fawns in the day, and butchers in the night; With that malignant envy, which turns pale, And sickens, even if a friend prevail, Which merit and success pursues with hate, And damns the worth it cannot imitate; With the cold caution of a coward's spleen, Which fears not guilt, but always seeks a skreen, Which keeps this maxim ever in her view What 's basely done, should be done safely too; With that dull, rooted, callous impudence, Which, dead to shame, and ev'ry nicer sense, Ne'er blush'd, unless, in spreading Vice's snares, She blunder'd on some virtue unawares; With all these blessings, which we seldom find Lavish'd by Nature on one happy mind, A motley figure, of the Fribble tribe, Which heart can scarce conceive, or pen describe,

* This severe character was intended for Mr. Fitzpatrick, a person who had rendered himself remarkable by his activity in the playhouse riots of 1763, relative to the taking half prices. He was the hero of Garrick's Fribbleriad. E.

« AnteriorContinuar »