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it revis and entertaisen tue?
interesting and then
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Alento 824; ? p.
WIT AND MERRIMENT,
MONOLOGUES, PROLOGUES, EPILOGUES,
Tales, Comic Songs,
RARE AND GENUIXX
THEATRICAL ANECDOTES AND JESTS.
OF THE THEATRE ROYAL, DRURY LANE.
“I bave here only made a Nosegay of culled Flowers, and bave
PUBLISHED BY W. SIMPKIN AND R. MARSHALL,
STATIONERS' HALL COURT, LUDGATE STREET.
Every practised reader can give a shrewd guess at the contents of a book from its external appearance. No lady of common experience in such matters would look for a novel in the rolled bands and Russian skin of a splay-footed folio: nor on the other hand, would any grave antiquarian expect to find an essay on Henry the Seventh's chapel, lurking in blue boards and puny dimensions of a duodecimo. Every work has its peculiar costume, from the beau poetry, who comes tricked out in all sorts of finery, to the book of common prayer, who is for the most part clad in sober black as the emblem of his profession; sometimes, indeed, he appears in a red morocco coat with a gold band about his neck, but this is a strange violation of decorum, and is well worthy of reprehension. Upon this principle, therefore, I hope the purchasers of my present work will clothe it in calf-skin, a sort of modest habit that may best pourtray its pretensions. Much also is to be learnt from the title of a work, though now and then a hungry wight of an author, whose appetite
WILS 16 AN 34
is greater than his honesty, contrives to outwit the most cautious reader: this he effects by setting up a false bill of fare, promising, like the sign of a country inn, entertaintainment for man and beast, but neither man nor beast is cunning enough to find it. Indeed I have known a young lady seduced into reading a sermon when she expected to find a farce, and many a grave divine cheated into the perusal of a farce, when he thought to pore over a sermon. The most experienced reader is liable to be cheated, which by the bye accounts for so many young ladies very innocently singing “ Fly not yet,” when they only intended to chaunt a sober hymn for general edification.
Now although there is no law at Bow-street for the punishment of those who hold out such false pretences to the great prejudice of the unwary, yet there is a bench of self-elected judges, who have taken on themselves to inquire out and punish all such offenders. Mr. Gifford and Mr. Jefferies form together a sort of Chief Justices, the Magazine Editors, &c. do very well as the twelve judges, and the works under their superintendence are so many poetical Tyburn Chronicles, in which the names of the unhappy culprits are duly registered. It must indeed be owned, that their critical worships sometimes descend from the Aristotelian tribunal, and instead of judging, actually execute, exchanging the high office of Judge, for the ignominious one of Mr. Ketch;
but this is no doubt to be attributed to their exceeding love of justice.
Having then the fear of these gentlemen before my eyes, I have chosen for this work a very humble title, videlicet, The Actor's Budget; a name that conveys no promise, and therefore can cause no disappointment. If, however, any Reader should look for any thing more than an hour's entertainment, be it at his own peril; I fairly warn him, that all he gains beyond a hearty laugh, he must consider as so much thrown in, over and above his bargain; and yet he may chance to find a few choice morsels, for to speak it fairly, and like a true thief, I have poached upon many a rich manor, cramming every thing I could lay my hand upon into the Budget ;—that is, every thing of lightness enough for me to carry away; a diatribe by Porson, or an essay upon the Mammoth by Cuvier, would have been game of too large a sort for my weak shoulders ; puns and tales, “ and such small deer,” were all I could think of attacking. My sport has been that of a holyday school-boy, who wages war with Tom Tits and Sparrows, and when he has shot an unsuspecting blackbird, congratulates himself, as much as Wellington ever did on gaining the field of Waterloo. And yet, not to speak too modestly, I hope the scraps in my Budget, some of which will please the lounger, some the actor, and others the student in Elocution. I have