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So, ʼmid th’harmonious tones of grief or rage,
To suit the dress demands the actor's art, Yet there are those who over-dress the part. To some prescriptive right gives settled things, Black wigs to murd'rers, feather'd hats to kings : But Michael Cassio might be drunk enough, Tho' all his features were not grim'd with snuff. Why should Poll Peachum shine in sattin cloaths? Why ev'ry devil dance in scarlet hose ? 230
But in stage-customs what offends me most
When chilling horrors shake th' affrighted king, And guilt torments him with her scorpion sting; When keenest feelings at his bosom pull, And fancy tells him that the seat is full; Why need the ghost usurp the monarch's place, To frighten children with his mealy face? 240
The king alone shou'd form the phantom there,
If Belvidera her lov'd loss deplore,
Poet and actor thus, with blended skill, Mould all our passions to their instant will ; 'Tis thus, when feeling Garrick treads the stage, (The speaking comment of his Shakspere's page) Oft as I drink the words with greedy ears, I shake with horror, or dissolve with tears.
O! ne'er may folly seize the throne of taste, Nor dullness lay the realms of genius waste ! No bouncing crackers ape the thund'rer's fire, No tumbler float upon the bending wire !
26 More natural uses to the stage belong, Than tumblers, monsters, pantomime, or song, For other purpose was that spot design'd : To purge the passions, and reform the mind,
To give to nature all the force of art,
Thornton, to thee, I dare with truth coinmend
Shall they, who trace the passions from their rise, Shew scorn her features, her own image vice? Who teach the mind its proper force to scany. And hold the faithful mirror up to man. Shall their profession e'er provoke disdain, Who stand the foremost in the mortal train ; Who lend reflection all the grace of art, And strike the precept home upon the heart ? 280
Yet, hapless Artist! tho' thy skill can raise The bursting peal of universal praise, Tho' at thy beck applause delighted stands, And lifts, Briareus like, her hundred hands, Know, fame awards thee but a partial breath Not all thy talents brave the stroke of death. Poets to ages yet unborn appeal, And latest times th' eternal nature feel. Tho' blended here the praise of bard and play'r, While more than half becomes the actor's share,2go
Relentless death untwists the mingled fame,
Occasioned by the Author's being suspected of writing the Poem under that title.
Why with such freedom should the town accuse,
presents a conqueror here, Who to mean subjects can debase his quill, And waste his scanty stock of art so ill,