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When judgment, tutor'd by experience sage,
Shall shoot abroad, and gather strength from age;
When Heav'n in mercy shall the stage release
From the dull slumbers of a still-life piece;
When some stale flow'r, disgraceful to the walk,
Which long hath hung, though wither'd on the
Shall kindly drop, then Bride shall make her way,
And merit find a passage to the day;
Brought into action, she at once shall raise
Her own renown, and justify our praise.
Form'd for the tragic scene, to grace the stage, With rival excellence of love and rage, Mistress of each soft art, with matchless skill To turn and wind the passions as she will; To melt the heart with sympathetic woe, Awake the sigh, and teach the tear to flow; To put on Frenzy's wild distracted glare, And freeze the soul with horrour and despair ; With just desert enroll'd in endless fame, Conscious of worth superior, Cibber came.
When poor Alicia's madd’ning brains are rack'd, And strongly imag'd griefs her mind distract : Struck with her grief, I catch the madness too! My brain turns round, the headless trunk I view! The roof cracks, shakes, and falls ! - New horrours
And Reason buried in the ruin lies.
Nobly disdainful of each slavish art,
She makes her first attack upon the heart:
Pleas'd with the summons, it receives her laws,
And all is silence, sympathy, applause.
But when, by fond ambition drawn aside,
Giddy with praise, and puff’d with female pride,
She quits the tragic scene, and, in pretence
To comic merit, breaks down Nature's fence;
I scarcely can believe my ears or eyes,
Or find out Cibber through the dark disguise.
Pritchard, by Nature for the stage design'd,
In person graceful, and in sense refin'd;
Her art as much as Nature's friend became,
Her voice as free from blemish as her fame,
Who knows so well in majesty to please,
Attemper'd with the graceful charms of ease ?
When Congreve's favour'd pantomime to grace,
She comes a captive queen of Moorish race;
When Love, Hate, Jealousy, Despair, and Rage,
With wildest tumults in her breast engage;
Still equal to herself is Zara seen;
Her passions are the passions of a queen.
When she to murder whets the timorous Thane, I feel ambition rush through ev'ry vein; Persuasion hangs upon her daring tongue, My heart grows flint, and ev'ry nerve 's new-strung.
In comedy -“ Nay there,” cries Critic,“ hold,
Pritchard 's for comedy too fat and old.
Who can, with patience, bear the grey coquette,
Or force a laugh with over-grown Julett ?
Her speech, look, action, humour, all are just;
But then, her age and figure give disgust.”
Are foibles then, and graces of the mind,
In real life, to size, or age confin'd ?
Do spirits flow, and is good-breeding plac'd
In any set circumference of waist ?
As we grow old, doth affectation cease,
Or gives not age new vigour to caprice ?
If in originals these things appear,
Why should we bar them in the copy here?
The nice punctilio-mongers of this age,
The grand minute reformers of the stage,
Slaves to propriety of ev'ry kind,
Some standard-measure for each part should find,
Which when the best of actors shall exceed,
Let it devolve to one of smaller breed.
All actors too upon the back should bear
Certificate of birth,-time, when ;—place, where,
For how can critics rightly fix their worth,
Unless they know the minute of their birth ? -
An audience too, deceiv'd, may find too late
That they have clapp'd an actor out of date.
Figure, I own, at first may give offence,
And harshly strike the eye's too curious sense;
But when perfections of the mind break forth,
Humour's chaste sallies, judgment's solid worth;
When the pure genuine flame, by Nature taught,
Springs into sense, and ev'ry action's thought;
Before such merit all objections fly;
Pritchard's genteel, and Garrick's six feet high.
Oft have I, Pritchard, seen thy wondrous skill, Confess'd thee great, but find thee greater still. That worth, which shone in scatter'd rays before, Collected now, breaks forth with double pow'r. The Jealous Wife! on that thy trophies raise, Inferior only to the author's praise.
From Dublin, fam'd in legends of romance For mighty magic of enchanted lance,
With which her heroes arm'd victorious prove,
And like a flood rush o'er the land of Love,
Mossop and Barry came — names ne'er design'd
By Fate in the same sentence to be join'd.
Rais'd by the breath of popular acclaim,
They mounted to the pinnacle of Fame;
There the weak brain, made giddy with the height,
Spurr'd on the rival chiefs to mortal fight.
Thus sportive boys, around some bason's brim,
Behold the pipe-drawn bladders circling swim :
But if from lungs more potent, there arise
Two bubbles of a more than common size.
Eager for honour they for fight prepare,
Bubble meets bubble, and both sink to air.
Mossop, attach'd to military plan,
Still kept his eye fix'd on his right-hand man.
Whilst the mouth measures words with seeming
.. skill, The right-hand labours, and the left lies still ; For he resolv'd on scripture-grounds to go, What the right doth, the left-hand shall not know. With studied impropriety of speech, He soars beyond the hackney critic's reach ; To epithets allots emphatic state, Whilst principals, ungrac'd, like lacquies wait; In ways first trodden by himself excels, And stands alone in indeclinables; Conjunction, preposition, adverb join To stamp new vigour on the nervous line: In monosyllables his thunders roll, HE, SHE, IT, AND, WE, ye, THEY, fright the soul.
In person taller than the common size, Behold where Barry draws admiring eyes!
When lab'ring passions, in his bosom pent,
Convulsive rage, and struggling heave for vent;
Spectators, with imagin'd terrours warm,
Anxious expect the bursting of the storm :
But, all unfit in such a pile to dwell,
His voice comes forth, like Echo from her cell;
To swell the tempest needful aid denies,
And all a-down the stage in feeble murmur dies.
What man, like Barry, with such pains can err
In elocution, action, character ?
What man could give, if Barry was not here,
Such well-applauded tenderness to Lear?
Who else can speak so very, very fine,
That sense may kindly end with ev'ry line ?
Some dozen lines before the ghost is there,
Behold him for the solemn scene prepare.
See how he frames his eyes, poises each limb,
Puts the whole body into proper trim. -
From whence we learn, with no great stretch of art,
Five lines hence comes a ghost, and ha! a start.
When he appears most perfect, still we find
Something which jars upon, and hurts the mind.
Whatever lights upon a part are thrown,
We see too plainly they are not his own.
No flame from Nature ever yet he caught;
Nor knew a feeling which he was not taught;
He rais'd his trophies on the base of art,
And conn'd his passions, as he conn'd his part.
Quin, from afar, lur’d by the scent of fame,
A stage Leviathan, put in his claim,
Pupil of Betterton and Booth. Alone,
Sullen he walk'd, and deem'd the chair his own.