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SPOKEN AT THE OPENING OF DRURY-LANE THEATRE,
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 10, 1812.
In one dread night our city saw, and sigh’d,
Ye who beheld, (oh! sight admired and mourn'd, Whose radiance mock'd the ruin it adornd!) Through clouds of fire, the massy fragments riven, Like Israel's pillar, chase the night from heaven; Saw the long column of revolving flames Shake its red shadow o'er the startled Thames, While thousands, throng'd around the burning dome, Shrank back appalld, and trembled for their home, As glared the volumed blaze, and ghastly shone The skies, with lightnings awful as their own, Till blackening ashes and the lonely wall Usurp'd the Muse's realm, and mark'd her fall;
Say—shall this new, nor less aspiring pile,
Yes-it shall be—the magic of that name Defies the scythe of time, the torch of flame; On the same spot still consecrates the scene, And bids the Drama be where she hath been : This fabric's birth attests the potent spellIndulge our honest pride, and say, How well !
As soars this fane to emulate the last, Oh! might we draw our omens from the past, Some hour propitious to our prayers may boast Names such as hallow still the dome we lost. On Drury first your Siddons' thrilling art O'erwhelm'd the gentlest, storm'd the sternest heart. On Drury, Garrick's latest laurels grew; Here your
last tears retiring Roscius drew, Sigh'd his last thanks, and wept his last adieu : But still for living wit the wreaths may bloom That only waste their odours o'er the tomb. Such Drury claim'd and claims—nor you refuse One tribute to revive his slumbering muse;
With garlands deck your own Menander's head !
Dear are the days which made our annals bright,
Friends of the stage! to whom both Players and Plays Must sue alike for pardon, or for praise, Whose judging voice and eye alone direct The boundless power to cherish or reject; If e'er frivolity has led to fame, And made us blush that you forbore to blame; If e'er the sinking stage could condescend To soothe the sickly taste, it dare not mend, All past reproach may present scenes refute, And censure, wisely loud, be justly mute!
Oh! since your fiat stamps the Drama's laws,
This greeting o'er, the ancient rule obey'd, The Drama's homage by her herald paid, Receive our welcome too, whose every tone Springs from our hearts, and fain would win your own. The curtain rises—may our stage unfold Scenes not unworthy Drury's days of old ! Britons our judges, Nature for our guide, Still may we please—long, long may you preside!
TIME! on whose arbitrary wing
The varying hours must flag or fly, Whose tardy winter, fleeting spring,
But drag or drive us on to dieHail thou! who on my birth bestow'd
Those boons to all that know thee known; Yet better I sustain thy load,
For now I bear the weight alone.
The bitter moments thou hast given; And pardon thee, since thou could'st spare
All that I loved, to peace or heaven. To them be joy or rest, on me
Thy future ills shall press in vain ;
A debt already paid in pain.
It felt, but still forgot thy power:
Retards, but never counts the hour.