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First Day of the King's House Acting
after the Fire.
O shipwreck'd passengers escape to land,
So look they, when on the bare beach they
Dropping and cold, and their first fear scarce o'er,
Expecting famine on a desart shore.
From that hard climate we must wait for bread,
Whence e'en the natives, forc'd by hunger, fled,
Our stage does human chance present to view,
But ne'er before was seen so fadly true:
You are chang’d too, and your pretence to see
Is but a nobler name for charity.
Your own provisions furnish out our feasts,
hile you the founders make yourselves the guests. Of all mankind beside fate had some care, But for
Wit no portion did prepare, 'Tis left a rent-charge to the brave and fair. You cherish'd it, and now its fall you mourn, Which blind unmanner'd zealots make their scorn,
Who think that fire a judgment on the stage,
Which spar'd not temples in its furious rage.
But as our new-built city rises higher,
So from old theatres may new aspire,
Since fate contrives magnificence by fire.
Our great metropolis does fár surpass
Whate’er is now, and equals all that was :
Our wit as far does foreign wit excel,
And, like a king, should in a palace dwell.
But we with golden hopes are vainly fed,
Talk high, and entertain you in a fhed:
Your presence here, for which we humbly fues
old theatres, and build up new.
Opening of the New House, March 26, 1674.
Plain built house, after so long a stay,
half unsatisfy'd aways When, fall’n from your expected pomp, you find A bare convenience only is design'd.
You, who each day can theatres behold,
Like Nero's palace, shining all with gold,
Our mean ungilded stage will scorn, we fear,
And, for the homely room, disdain the chear.
Yet now cheap druggets to a mode are grown,
And a plain suit, since we can make but one,
Is better than to be by tarnish'd gawdry known.
They, who are by your favors wealthy made,
With mighty sums may carry on the trade :
We, broken bankers, half destroy'd by fire,
With our small stock to humble roofs retire;
Pity our loss, while
For fame and honor we no longer strive,
We yield in both, and only beg to live :
Unable to support their vast expence,
Who build and treat with such magnificence ;
That, like th’ambitious monarchs of the age,
They give the law to our provincial stage.
Great neighbors enviously promote excess,
While they impose their splendor on the less.
But only fools, and they of vast estate,
Th'extremity of modes will imitate,
The dangling knee-fringe, and the bib-cravat.
Yet if some pride with want may be allow'd,
We in our plainnefs may be justly proud :
Our royal master will’d it should be fo;
Whate'er he's pleas'd to own, can need no show :
That sacred name gives ornament and grace,
And, like his stamp, makes basest metals pass.
'Twere folly now a stately pile to raise,
To build a playhouse while you
throw down plays, While scenes, machines, and empty operas reign. And for the pencil you
While troops of familh'd Frenchmen hither drive,
And laugh at those upon whose alms they live :
Old English authors vanish, and give place
To these new conqu’rors of the Norman race,
More tamely than your
fathers You're now grown vaffals to them in
wit. Mark, when they play, how our fine fops advance, The mighty merits of their men of France, Keep time, cry Bon, and humor the cadence. Well, please yourselves ; but sure 'tis understood, That French machines have ne'er done England
HO what our Prologue said was sadly true,
Yet, gentlemen, our homely house is new,
A charm that seldom fails with, wicked, you.
A country lip may have the'velvet touch ;
Tho The's no lady, you may think her such :
A strong imagination may do much.
you, loud firs, who thro your curls look big,
Critics in plume and white vallancy wig,
Who lolling on our foremost benches fit,
And still charge first, the true forlorn of wit ;
Whose favors, like the sun, warm where you roll,
like him, have neither heat nor soul; So may your
your foretops never press,
Untouch'd your ribbons, sacred be your
So may you slowly to old
And have th'excuse of youth for ignorance:
So may fop-corner full of noise remain,
And drive far off the dull attentive train ;