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Why? There 's no cause — at least no cause we

know It was the fashion twenty years ago. Fashion, a word which knaves and fools may use Their knavery and folly to excuse. To copy beauties, forfeits all pretence To fame – to copy faults, is want of sense.

Yet (though in some particulars he fails, Some few particulars, where mode prevails) If in these hallow'd times, when sober, sad, All gentlemen are melancholy mad, When 'tis not deem'd so great a crime by half To violate a vestal, as to laugh, Rude Mirth may hope presumptuous to engage An act of toleration for the stage, And courtiers will, like reasonable creatures, Suspend vain fashion, and unscrew their features, Old Falstaff, play'd by Love, shall please once more, And humour set the audience in a roar.

Actors I 've seen, and of no vulgar name, Who, being from one part possess’d of fame, Whether they are to laugh, cry, whine, or bawl, Still introduce that fav’rite part in all. Here, Love, be cautious - ne'er be thou betray'd To call in that wag Falstaff's dangerous aid ; Like Goths of old, howe'er he seems a friend, He 'll seize that throne, you wish him to defend. In a peculiar mould by Humour cast, For Falstaff fram'd — Himself, the first and last, He stands aloof from all-maintains his state, And scorns, like Scotsmen, to assimilate,

Vain all disguise — too plain we see the trick,
Though the Knight wears the weeds of Dominic.
And Boniface, disgrac'd, betrays the smack,
In Anno Domini, of Falstaff's sack. [ing slow,

Arms cross'd, brows bent, eyes fix’d, feet march-
A band of malecontents with spleen o'erflow;
Wrapt in Conceit's impenetrable fog,
Which Pride, like Phoebus, draws from ev'ry bog,
They curse the managers, and curse the town,
Whose partial favour keeps such merit down.

But if some man, more hardy than the rest, Should dare attack these gnatlings in their nest; At once they rise with impotence of rage, Whet their small stings, and buzz about the stage. “ 'Tis breach of privilege ! — Shall any dare To arm satiric truth against a player ? Prescriptive rights we plead time out of mind; Actors, unlash'd themselves, may lash' mankind.”

What! shall Opinion then, of nature free And lib'ral as the vagrant air, agree. To rust in chains like these, impos'd by things Which, less than nothing, ape the pride of kings? No— though half-poets with half-players join To curse the freedom of each honest line; Though rage and malice dim their faded cheek; What the Muse freely thinks, she 'll freely speak. With just disdain of ev'ry paltry sneer, Stranger alike to flattery and fear, In purpose fix'd, and to herself a rule, Public contempt shall wait the public fool.

Austin would always glisten in French silks, Ackman would Norris be, and Packer Wilks.

For who, like Ackman, can with humour please ?
Who can, like Packer, charm with sprightly ease?
Higher than all the rest, see Bransby strut:
A mighty Gulliver in Lilliput !
Ludicrous Nature ! which at once could show
A man so very high, so very low.

If I forget thee, Blakes, or if I say
Aught hurtful, may I never see thee play.
Let critics, with a supercilious air,
Decry thy various merit, and declare
Frenchman is still at top; – but scorn that rage
Which, in attacking thee, attacks the age.
French follies, universally embrac'd,
At once provoke our mirth, and form our taste.

Long, from a nation ever hardly us'd, At random censur'd, wantonly abus'd, Have Britons drawn their sport, with partial view Form'd gen'ral notions from the rascal few; Condemn'd a people, as for vices known, Which, from their country banish'd, seek our own. At length, howe'er, the slavish chain is broke, And Sense, awaken’d, scorns her ancient yoke : Taught by thee, Moody, we now learn to raise Mirth from their foibles; from their virtues, praise.

Next came the legion, which our Summer Bayes, From alleys, here and there, contriv'd to raise, Flush'd with vast hopes, and certain to succeed With wits who cannot write, and scarce can read. Vet'rans no more support the rotten cause, No more from Elliot's worth they reap applause ; Each on himself determines to rely, Be Yates disbanded, and let Elliot fly,

Never did play’rs so well an author fit,
To Nature dead, and foes declar'd to Wit.
So loud each tongue, so empty was each head,
So much they talk'd, so very little said,
So wondrous dull, and yet so wondrous vain,
At once so willing, and unfit to reign,
That Reason swore, nor would the oath recall,
Their mighty master's soul inform'd them all.

As one with various disappointments sad,
Whom Dullness only kept from being mad,
Apart from all the rest great Murphy came -
Common to fools and wits, the rage of fame.
What though the sons of Nonsense hail him SIRE,
His restless soul's ambition stops not there,
To make his triumphs perfect, dub him PLAYER.

In person tall, a figure form'd to please ; If symmetry could charm, depriv'd of ease; When motionless he stands, we all approve; What pity 'tis the thing was made to move.

His voice, in one dull, deep, unvaried sound, Seems to break forth from caverns under ground. From hollow chest the low sepulchral note Unwilling heaves, and struggles in his throat.

Could authors butcher'd give an actor grace,
All must to him resign the foremost place.
When he attempts, in some one fav’rite part,
To ape the feelings of a manly heart,
His honest features the disguise defy,
And his face loudly gives his tongue the lie.

Still in extremes, he knows no happy mean,
Or raving mad, or stupidly serene.

In cold-wrought scenes the lifeless actor flags,
In passion, tears the passion into rags.
Can none remember? - Yes - I know all must -
When in the Moor he ground his teeth to dust,
When o'er the stage he Folly's standard bore,
Whilst Common Sense stood trembling at the door.

How few are found with real talents bless'd,
Fewer with Nature's gifts contented rest.
Man from his sphere eccentric starts astray;
All hunt for fame; but most mistake the way.
Bred at St. Omer's to the shuffling trade,
The hopeful youth a Jesuit might have made,
With various readings stor'd his empty skull,
Learn’d without sense, and venerably dull;
Or, at some banker's desk, like many more,
Content to tell that two and two make four,
His name had stood in CITY ANNALS fair,
And prudent Dullness mark'd him for a mayor.

What then could tempt thee, in a critic age,
Such blooming hopes to forfeit on a stage ?
Could it be worth thy wondrous waste of pains
To publish to the world thy lack of brains ?
Or might not Reason e'en to thee have shown
Thy greatest praise had been to live unknown?
Yet let not vanity, like thine, despair :
Fortune makes Folly her peculiar care.

A vacant throne high plac'd in Smithfield view,
To sacred Dullness and her first-born due,
Thither with haste in happy hour repair,
Thy birthright claim, nor fear a rival there.
Shuter himself shall own thy juster claim,
And yenal Ledgers puff their Murphy's name,

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