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Fir'd with difguft, I loath his servile plany
Despise the mimic, and abhor the man.
Go to the lame, to hospitals repair,
And hunt for humour in diftortions there!
Fill up the meafure of the motley whim
With frug, wink, fnuffte, and convulfive limb;
Then shame at once, to please a trifting age,
Good sense, good manners, virtue and the ftage!
'Tis not enough the voice be found and clear,
'Tis modulation that must charm the ear.
When desperate heroines grieve with tedious moany,
And whine their sorrows in a see-saw tone,
The same soft sounds of unimpaffion's woes
Can only make the yawning hearers doze.
The voice all modes of passion can express
That marks the proper words with proper frefs.
But none emphatic can that actor call,
Who lays an equal emphasis on all.
Some o'er the tongue the labour'd measures roll
Slow and delib'rate as the parting toll,
Point ev'ry stop, mark ev'ry pause fo Atrong,
Their words, like ftage-proceffions, ftalk along.
All affectation but creates dirgift,
And e'enin speaking we may seem too juft.
Nor proper, Thornton, can those founds appear
'Which bring not numbers to thy nicer ear :
In vain for them the pleasing measure flows,
Whore recitation runs it all to profe ;
Repeating what the poe: fet not down,
The verb disjointing from its friendly noun,
While pause, and break, and repetition join
To make a difcord in each tuneful line.
Some placid natures fill th'allotted scene.
While lifeless drone, infipid and ferene;
With others thunder ev'ry couplet o'er.
And almost crack your ears with rant and roar.
More nature oft and finer strokes are shown,
In the low whisper than tempestuous tone.
And Hamlet's hollow voice and fixt amaze,
More powerful terror to the mind conveys,
Than he, who swol'n with big impetuous rage,
Bullies the bulky phantom off the ftage.
He, who in earneft studies o'er his part,
Will find true nature cling about his heart..
The modes of grief are not included all
In the white handkerchief and mournful draw!
A fingle look more marks th' internal woe,
Than all the windings of the tengthen'doh.
Up to the face the quick fenfation flies,
And darts its meaning from the fpeaking eyes!
Love, transport, madnefe, anger, fcorn, despair,
And all the paffions, all the soul is there.
In vain Ophelia gives her flowrets round,
And with her straws fantastic ftrews the ground,
In vain now fings, now heaves the desperate figh,
If phrenzy fit not in the troubled eye.
In Cibber's look commanding forrows speak,
And call the tear faft trickling down my cheek.
There is a fault which stirs the critic's rage ;
A want of due attention on the fage.
I have seen actors, and admir'd ones too,
Whose tongues wound up set forward from their cue;
In their own speech who whine or roar away,
Yer seem unmov'd at what the reft may fay ;
Whose eyes and thoughts on diff'rent objects roam,
Until the prompter's voice recal them home.
Divest yourself of hearers, if you can,
And Atrive to speak, and be the very man.
Why should the well bred actor wish to know
Why fits above to-night, or who below!
so'mid th'harmonious tones of grief or rage,
Italian squallers oft disgrace the stage ;
Wheo, with a fim.p'ring leer, and bow profound,
The squeaking Cyrus greets the boxes round;
Or proud Mandane, of imperial race,
Familiar drops a curt'lie to her grace.
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 Caffio might be drunk enough,
Tho' all his features were not grimm'd with snuff.
Why should Poll Peachum Mine in fattiu clothes ?
Why av'ry devil dance in fcarlet hore?
But in ftage-cuftoms what offends me mot
Is the Nip-door, and Nowly-rising ghof..
Tell me, nor count the question too severe,
Why need the dismal pou der'd forms appear?
When chilling horrors Thake th' affrighted king,
And guilt torments him with her scorpion Ating ;
When keenest feelings at his bofom pull,
And fancy tells him that the feat is full;
Why need the ghoft ufurp the monarch's place,
Tu frighten children with his mealy face?
The king alone should form the phantom there,
And talk and trerable at the vacant chair..
If Belvidera her lor'd loss deplore,
Why for twin spectres bursts the yawning floor?
When with disorder'd starts, and horrid cries,
She paints the murder'd forms before her eyes,
And fill pursues them with a frantic ftare,
Tis pregnant madness brings the visions there.
More infant horror would enforce the scene,
If all her shudd'rings were at shapes unseen,
Poet and actor thus with blended skill,
Mould all our paffions to their instant will;
'Tis thus, when feeling Garrick treads the ftage,
(The speaking comment of his Shakespear's page),
oft as I drink the words with greedy ears,
I Make with horror, or diffolve with tears.
Oce'er may folly seize the throne of tafte,
Nor dulness lay the realms of genius wafte !
No bouncing crackers ape the thund'rer's fire,
No tumbler float upon the bending wire !
More natural uses to the ftage belong,
Than tumblers, monsters, pantomime, or song,
For other purpose was that fpot defign'd:
To purge the passions, and reform the mind,
To give to nature all the force of art,
And while it charms the ear to mend the heart.
Thornton, to thee, I dare with truth commend,
The decent stage as virtue's natural friend.
Tho' oft debas'd with scenes profane and loose,
No reason weighs againft its proper use.
Tho' the lewd priest his facred function shame,
Religion's perfe&t law is fill the fame,
Shall thoy, who trace the paffions from their rife.
Shew scorn her features, her own image vice?
who teach the mind its proper force to scan,
And hold the faithful mirror up to mang!
Shall their profeffion e'er provoke djfrlain,
Who fand the foremost in the mortal train,,
Who lend reflection all the grace of art,
And Atrike the precept home upon the heart?
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, he hundred hands,
Know, fame awards thee but a partial breath!
Not all thy talents brave the ftroke of death.
Poets to ages yet unborn appeal,
And latest times th' eternal nature feel.
Tho'blended here the praise of bard and play'i,
While more than half becomes the actor's share,
Relentless death untwifts the mingled fame,
And finks the player in the poet's name.
The pliant muscles of the various face,
The mien that gave each sentence strength & grace,
The tuneful voice, the eye that fpoke the mind,
Are gone, por leave a fiogle trace behind.
POETICAL GENEALOGY and DESCRIPTION of MERIT."
RUE Merit was the son of Virtue and Honour ; there was likewise a ipurious child, who usur
ped the name, and whose parents were Vanity and Impudence. At a diftance there was a great resemblance between them, and they were often mistaken for each other. The bastard issue had a loud thrill voice, which was perpetually employed in cravings and complaints; while the other never spoke louder than a whisper, and was often fo balhful, that he could not speak at allo In all great assemblies the falle Merit would step before the true, and fand just in his way ; was cono ftantly at Court, or great men's levees, or whispering in some minister's ear. The more you fed him, the more hungry and importunate he grew. He often passed for the true son of Virtue and Honour and the genuine for an impoftor. He was born diftorted and a dwarf, but by force of art appeared of a handsome shape, and taller than the usual fize; and done but those who were wife and good, as well as vigilant, could discover his littleness or deformity. True Merit had been often forced to the indigo nity of applying to the false, for his credit with those in power, and to keep himself from farving. False Merit filled the anti-chambers with a crew of his dependants and creatures, such as projectors, schematifs, occafional converts to a party, prostitute Mattcrcro, At arveling writers, buf foons, Mallow politicians, empty orators, and the like; who all owned him for their patron, and grew discontented, if they were not immediately fed.
HIS word is often made the sanction of an oath; it is reckoned to be a great commendation to
be a ftri&t man of honour ; and it is commonly underftood, that a man of honour can never be guilty of a base action. This is usually the Ayle of military men, of persons with titles, and of others who pretend to birth and quality. 'Tis true indeed, that in antient times it was universally understood, that honour was the reward of virtue; but if such honour, as is now a days going, will not permit a man to do a base action, it muft be allowed there are very few such things as base actions in nature. No man of honour, as that word is usually underftood, did ever pretend that his honour obliged him to be chade or temperate, to pay his creditors, to be useful to his country, to do good to mankind, to endeavour to be wise or learned, to regard his word, his promise, or his oath : or, if he had any of these virtues, they were never learned in the catechism of honour, which contains but two precepts, the punctual payments of debts contracted at play, and the right understanding the several degrees of an affront, in order to revenge it by the death of an adversary.
But fuppofe the principle of honour, which fome men so much boat of, did really produce more virtues than it ever pretended to ; yet since the very being of that honour depended upon the breath, the opinion, or the fancy of the people. the virtues derived from it could be of no long or cer• tain duration.
For example: suppose a man, from a principle of honour, should resolve to be juft, or chafte, or temperate, and yet the censuring world should take a humour of refusing him those characters, he would then think the obligation at an end. Or, on the other side, if he thought he could gain honour by the falfcit and vileft a&tion (which is a case that very often bappens) he would then make no scruple to perform it. And God knows, it would be an unhappy ftate, to have the religion, the liberty, or the property of a people lodged infuch hands; which however has beco too often the case.