The Histrionade: Or, Theatric Tribunal; A Poem, Descriptive of the Principal Performers at Both Houses. In Two Parts. By Marmaduke Myrtle, Esq. [Thomas Dermody]. London: R. S. Kirby, 1802.

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Dedication | Part I | Part II

The Histrionade: Or, Theatric Tribunal

To His Most Puissant & Unprejudiced Lord,


This Small Specimen of Liberal Satire,

And of Candid Criticism,

Is Thus Humbly Inscribed,






Now that gaunt War, in pity to our Isle,
Sleeks his grim features to a sullen smile,
Sweet Peace, unscar'd by his terrific crest,
Clasps the dread Daemon to her turtle-breast,
Hangs his dark helmet on the myrtle-bough,
And binds with olive-wreath his blood-stain'd brow;
While barren PETER pries abroad in vain,
For heroes, worthy his PINDARIC strain,
Stoop'd from a lofty LOUSIAD, and a KING,
To RUMFORD, and Receipts for Rotten Ling;
Or, fatal to each fond, uxorious Peer,
Thunders CRIM. CON. in AUCKLAND's frighted ear;
Cloy'd with the beauties of Dramatic Art,
That poorly feed the eye, but feast the heart,
When a vain Age seems emulous to raise
The dry Moralities of former days;
When o'er Instruction chaste, and Thought sublime,
Flits the gay Sprite of airy Pantomime;
Nay, basely exil'd from their native shore,
Strong Sense, and pow'rful SHAKESPEARE please no more;
Stung by such madness into tenfold rage,
I rise to lash the mongrels of the Stage;
With scale impartial, to decide the plea
Of plaintiff Wit, and set the Suff'rer free.
Nor yet to Actors is the fault confin'd,
It clings more closely to the scribbling kind;
Dull fops! damnation-proof, whom duns compel,
To forge stale farces, ere they learn to spell;
Blockheads! with brandy and assurance warm,
Who "bide the pelting of the pitiless storm,"
Resolv'd to cram their nauseous doses down,
And bully into praise, the crop-sick Town.
Tho' Dramatists we boast, inspir'd by spleen,
Who pick the vilest gleanings of the Scene,
Or sketch the eccentric fashions as they rise:
They never vaunt the plaudit of the wife.
Who gives to Comedy's high-favor'd birth
"Right stately moral, and full honest mirth!"
Who holds such finish'd Characters to view,
As surly BEN, or sprightly BEAUMONT drew?
Since, with the GERMAN tragic-fever fir'd,
Chaste Humour from her SHERIDAN retir'd.
Mistaken bard! ungratefully, to scorn
The dimpled bride, for thy embraces born;
Unfeelingly, to slight her genuine flame,
And court the coyness of the tearful dame.
Ev'n HE, who from PANAMA's rocky height,
Brav'd the wild tempest, and the flaming fight;
Ev'n HE--PIZARRO!--shall no more surprize,
Nor ROLLA's thund'ring rant, or savage size,
When SCANDAL's SCHOOL, with fadeless conquest crown'd,
Shall eccho Joy's eternal laugh around.

Ye THESPIAN tribes! where-ever you resort,
Sunk in a Cellar, cringing at a Court;
Whether, thro' garret-roofs, your nostrils woo
The pleasurable breeze soft murm'ring thro';
Or, more delighted with a meaner state,
The smoaking Chop adorn your genial plate;
Tho' JULIET thro' the Park may, ogling, stray,
With "fond, reluctant, amorous delay;"
While fair OPHELIA, what a monstrous sin!
Soothes her sad heart with solitary Gin;
Tho' DESDEMONA's wine, the cunning punk!
Instead of CASSIO, make IAGO drunk;
Tho' PIERRE, whom prowling Creditors enclose,
"Fine, bold fac'd villain!" durst not shew his nose;
Tho' mad MACBETH the surly watchmen keep,
To answer at QUEEN's SQUARE for "murd'ring sleep;"
Tho' BRUTUS can't a pair of breeches boast;
And GERTRUDE grills a griskin for the GHOST;
Nay, tho' a Writ YOUNG AMMON may detain,
And four stout Bailiffs seize the pensive DANE;
By this well-feather'd talisman of mine,
Pluck'd from the pinion of a Goose divine;
By the dread WEEKLY CENSOR, name of fear!
Ye THESPIAN tribes! I charge you to appear!
And, as your forms in quick succession pass,
Let Fancy catch each shadow in her Glass.

First of the band, applauded KEMBLE moves,
Whom Judgment regulates, and taste approves;
While at respectful distance rivals bow,
Deep meditation marks his serious brow,
Till firm intent, and resolution high,
Anon, relume his awe-commanding eye.
On ev'ry step of his superior state,
The sober triumphs of Conception wait;
And partial Nature lends each lib'ral grace
Of manly form, and mind-illumin'd face.
Ah! had she, too, these pow'rful tones supplied,
That pierce the heart, and o'er the ear preside,                  }
Attune the plaint of Love, or swell the burst of Pride;
Nor, niggard in this mighty gift alone,
Spar'd but a hollow, hoarse, sepulchral groan;
By art unmellow'd, and by trick untam'd,
Pitied by Candour, tho' by Envy blam'd:
Well might this later Time expect to view
ROSCIUS, reviving, witch the world anew;
Nor ask a Dancer, or an Eunuch's aid,
By the sweet sorcery of Action sway'd.
Who that has seen his HAMLET's well-feign'd woe,
Disclosing "that within which passeth shew;"
Who that has caught his agonizing stare,
Of dread uncertainty, on BANQUO's chair;
Or ev'n PENRUDDOCK's undetermin'd hate,
Touch'd by his villain-friend's too piteous fate,
But owns, all puny prejudice aside,
Impartial Justice, only, is my guide?

              *     *    *

What Imp has thrust upon the tragic scene,
Prepost'rous joke! a ranting Mandarine!
Oh! for some spruce Drill-serjeant, to prepare
That ploughboy-attitude, and awkward air;
To one fix'd point, those pendulums to bring,
And ascertain each arm's perpetual swing,
Yet let not censure, too severely, treat
Talents, that might be graceful, never great.
Voice is not wanting--true!--for empty sound,
I freely own, a kettle-drum's renown'd;
But where my pulse should beat with fancied fears,
My heart with feeling flow, my eyes with tears,
Where Terror's icy chill should blanch my cheek,
Or the hot blush of rude Resentment break,
Milk-warm, and model'd on a milder plan,
By Heav'n--that BARRYMORE is not the man.

            *     *    *

Justly a fav'rite, would he stoop to trace
The line that parts gay Humour from Grimace;
In merit various, pleasing various ways,
Droll JACK,[1] I swear, might weary all my praise,
Did he not, oft' confine his vulgar aim,
To gross buffoon'ry, and a Gall'ry-fame;
But when, in matchless FEIGNWELL, he denies
All scenic truth, and glories in disguise;
When ev'ry masque, with ease, his features wear,
Modishly pert, or formally austere;
Perfection crowns each project he designs,
Unknown he triumphs, and conceal'd he shines.

            *     *    *

Here let the Muse her deathless homage pay
To Genius, in defiance of decay.
Need KING be nam'd? need my weak voice declare,
With feeble eulogy, th' accomplish'd Play'r?
While OGLEBY attracts the critic-eye,
(Tho' BENEDICK and PUFF, already, die,)
Need Sorrow antedate th' approaching doom,
And lead THALIA to her furture tomb?
Wit's vet'ran chief! how many a smiling hour,
Has Anguish borrow'd from thy sprightly pow'r!
What sad hearts did thy laugh, resistless, raise!
What Rapture worship'd thy meridian blaze!
Thy merits still to Mem'ry's glance appear,
And grey Tradition holds the bright Idea dear.

            *     *    *

Of full sonorous voice, and lofty form,
That voice, too, sometimes, swell'd into a storm;
Yet boldly anxious Nature to redeem,
And bring old-fashion'd Sense into esteem;
RAYMOND, if scan'd by Stricture's sternest laws,
Tho' wonder be supprest, must force applause.
Not seldom have I mark'd his utmost art,
Impatient, struggling thro' a meaner part,
Where Emulation pent, would, vainly, strive
To keep some puling modern piece alive;
And the laborious load of dulness shook
The lion-nerves of KEMBLE, or of COOKE.
Hence, I affirm, his energy of mind,
By arbitrary Custom unconfin'd,
Superior might in SOUTHERNE's HERO[2] shine,
Or burst from ZANGA, with a beam divine.
Nor whining drawl, nor ranting turbulence,
He suffers to o'erleap Decorum's fence;
And spite of critic-curs, a snarling race!
Who join to want of judgement, want of grace;
Skill'd to repress, and regulate his rage,
I vouch him no small Credit to the Stage.

    Would I, presumptuous, point the fairest road,
And hint where talent might be best bestow'd;
Bidding the Lords of all Theatric fame,
"Blush thro' the veil of Night a whitely shame;"
Some, who but fill the scene, should dare to look
Beyond a tongue-tied Lord, or walking Duke;
Rise into notice, a due rank maintain,
Nor Feeling think of GARRICK and DELANE.

    Were I dispos'd, in laughter-loving plight,
To shake, convulsive, with the boastful Knight,
PALMER shall FALSTAFF's bolster'd bulk supply,
And Humour revel in his jovial eye;
For well with shambling gait, and jocund jeer,
He counterfeits the FRIAR's holy leer;
Nor, when the Coxcomb-birth of CIBBER's brain,
Vaunts of imperial beauties in his train,
Tho', often, into shade his worth be thrown,
Is less the merit of the Actor known.

    Much has boon Nature, in her merriest mood,
On SUETT, too improvident, bestow'd;
Much of spontaneous mirth, enough to raise
Ten passing Play'rs of our degen'rate days;
But such unlucky trick his taste belies,
Such vulgar daubs each finer stroke disguise,
Were Patience to decide, with critic phlegm,
Too much we scarce could flatter, or condemn.

    If figure, model'd to a lady's eye,
With not a little pride, can skill supply,
The YOUNGER KEMBLE claims undoubted praise;
And his hoarse accents soften as we gaze.
In suited characters he may succeed,
His brother's miniature, but small, indeed;
Tho' ne'er shall he the rugged height attain
Of Great and Perfect, ever scal'd with pain.

    When matchless TOM, thro' sacred love of ease,
Or warn'd by ruthless age, neglects to please;
His comic cast, so difficult to fill,
DOWTON may seize with no ungraceful skill;
The testy Cynic, he may freely claim,
And the sly jibe of shrewdest Satire aim;
With contrite grief, the wayward fashions mark,
And, sulky, at the painted shadows bark.
But tho' he toil, precise in ev'ry feature,
Ne'er to "o'erstep the modesty of Nature,"
'Tis meet, attention gently to awake,
That he, sometimes, the slumb'ring audience shake
With all those vivid touches, that impart
Conviction best, and best impress the heart.

    "Let me have music, see that it be sad!"
For now, methinks, our world is music-mad:
And lo! with warbling flutes, deaf-dinning drums,
And deep Bassoons, the King of Crotchets comes!
Ordain'd divinest Opera to restore,
And plant Italian sing-song on our shore.
How sleek his essenc'd locks! his face how fair!
APOLLO's symmetry! ADONIS' air!
And while the tremulating accents rise,
Oh! how devoutly doat his beauteous eyes!
How sweet from Box to Box, they, fondly, pass,
Before, more fondly, tutor'd at his Glass!
Yet (glad to hear a varlet that can speak,)
Er'e I'd attend to his harmonious squeak;
Or, in dull concert to his quavers nod,
I'd be "as dark as Erebus," by G--.
Pity! soft LATIUM had not kept the boy,
Doom'd, here, so many damsels to destroy;
For, certes, he would deck that dainty coast,
And SIGNIOR KELLY be the fav'rite toast.

    Another too, to Harmony devote:
And really, all his fortune's in--his throat,
For, once, ambitious to forsake the man,
A poor, tame Monster! he play'd CALIBAN.
Ah! SEDGWICK, how could'st thou have steel'd thy heart,
Transform'd to such a brutal, beastly part?
Such an amphibious Pest, of filthiest hue,
BEDLAM'S worst charcoal-painter never drew.
Wond'rous! OLD WILL did not in wrath descend,
From thy bare back the shaggy garment rend,
In muddy THAMES thy vile ambition cool,
And what before was Savage, prove--a Fool.

    Methinks I know his strut:--upon my soul,
That CAULFIELD'S an inimitable Droll!

    Blest with a gracious form, tho' not, I fear,
The faultless rival of THE BELVIDERE;[3]
(Fine managerial flatt'ry! meant to force
From modest lips, a compliment of course,)
HOLLAND, I swear, shall not in silence part,
Who can condemn the language of his heart?
His timid tongue, his manly sense belies,
But Candour traces Worth thro' all disguise.

    Must I to WROUGHTON Merit's palm deny?
Older and abler far have past him by.
Nor hasty I, to censure or condemn,
Intrinsic lustre best betrays the Gem.
And such my kindness, tho' I'm cruel thought,
For one bright virtue, I'd forgive a fault;
Nay, such my Charity's sublime excess,
That mere Desert, in it's most homely dress,
Sincerer rev'rence from my pen may call,
Than pealing claps that threat old DRURY'S fall.

    Hence, I confess, my antiquated taste,
Affects the natural, correct, and chaste;
Hence, I am charm'd with POWEL's decent ease,
Whose simple strokes of Humour gently please;
To no gigantic heights they, rashly, strain;
Nor do his lab'ring pow'rs delight, to pain;
But, unseduced by Mimicry's mad wiles,
The conscious dignity of Reason smiles.

    Of staid demeanour, and commanding port,
As form'd to grace the circle of a Court;
Of form right studious, and austere by rule,
AICKIN, tho' bred in Acting's elder School,
With charm refin'd, the classic bosom sways,
Nor ever from his text, luxuriant, strays.
No wanton sallies mar his strict design,
Nor dares he deviate in one sacred line;
Ev'n in this point alone true taste appears,
And Satire shall not press his weight of years.

    WALDRON and PACKER, next, approach my shrine;
Full zealous both, but not allow'd to shine.
Gravely reflecting on youth's brighter day,
They "keep the noiseless tenor of their way;"
Too humble, to extort the gen'ral cry,
Yet all attention to escape, too high,
Fix'd to one Post by necessary fate,
The good, old, useful Members of the State.

    Now aid me, SHADE OF STENTOR! with thy lungs,
Thy lungs bell-metal, and ten iron tongues;
To wedge, in couplets close, the num'rous crew,
Phalanx profound! who rush upon my view!
For B----n's self, unwearied bard! would fail
MADDOX and DANBY, and some twenty more;
Like waves, thick-crowding on the sandy shore.
Safe let them sleep, reliev'd from doubt or dread,
Nor fear the tempest howling o'er their head.

    Well-pleas'd, to female Candidates I turn,
With purer flame whose tender bosoms burn;
Those tender bosoms I shall never vex,
Devoted to the service of the Sex.
What! steal a humid pearl from Beauty's eye?
Start from Love's rosy lip th' ambrosial sigh?
Or, with barbarian insolence, profane
Those snowy orbs, incapable of stain?
First, let young Israelites with pork be fed;
The Bellman wear the laurel on his head;
The National Arrears be paid by pence;
DIBDIN write tragedy, or DUTTON sense!
Yet tell me, fair ones! with indignant pride,
Why, sometimes, do you jerk the cheek aside,
When a rough Hero wooes, of humbler race,
As if he'd squirt tobacco in your face?
Say, up the stage, why, oft, do you retire,
To bid the Pitt your radiant backs admire?
Quite careless of your Suitor's sad distress,
While he, poor fellow! sighs to the P.S.
Yes, it has griev'd my soul, indeed, to view
Your curst ill-usage of young MOUNTAGUE;
When you no more remark'd his moans so deep,
Than if exhal'd from drunken Chimney-sweep.
I own, to mind, MISS JULIET's manners brought
The sage, old Saw of "Better fed than taught."
Further rebuke your fav'rite must not add,
Yet this, I say, is, certainly, too bad;
And ev'n sore-stung with twitches of the Gout,
POLITENESS bid you hear his story out.

    See SIDDONS, foremost of the train advance!
Kindling all breasts with keen, electric glance.
Consummate Actress! She, an host alone,
For each attraction eminently known!
While proud t' assert her sov'reignty of soul,
The Passions own her absolute control.
Spurn'd from Ingratitude's detested door,
What fancy can depict her fainting SHORE
When the sad MOTHER sees no Pow'r to save
From Death's cold clasp, "her Beautiful, her Brave;"
When ISABELLA pours her helpless moan,
And, frantic, finds "Two husbands, yet not one;"
Or, plung'd into the darkness of Despair,
On the "damn'd Spot" her leaden eye-balls glare;
What heart, so harden'd into flint, forbears
From shudd'ring sympathy? what eye from tears?
That sympathy, these tears, confirm her skill,
The Mind's wide Empire wielded by her will.

    Grey-bearded Gravity, and Stoic Pride,
With all your musty maxims, stand aside!
When sunny gleams of Transport gild the stage,
And JORDAN animates a stupid Age.
Oh! born in ev'ry station to excell,
And charm, alike, in VIOLA or NELL!
Wild Grace attends each leer or airy trip,
And Nonsense 'self comes sweeten'd from her lip.
Witness the fluent folly, long in vogue,
Of smooth Address, and grinning Epilogue;
Which, ever guiltles of Wit's deadly Sin,
Poetic Spiders delicately spin,
When Critic-midwives aid a brother's pains,
Or hold a Green-room Inquest on his Brains,
But fix no verdict, 'till by coxcombs round,
Felo de se th' unlucky CONGREVE's found;
Their angry venom reptile-censors spit,
Like snakes, dire-hissing from the dismal Pitt;
And bolts, hurl'd headlong from a clouded sky
Of canvas, give their tow'ring thoughts the lie.

    Here let me ask why this redoubted Twain,
So long in Winter-quarters, snug, remain,                  }
Nor stoop to drudge thro' the entire campaign?
Why, check'd by Av'rice in their brave career,
Commence their triumphs with the closing Year?
Nor, kindly, one victorious hour supply,
To lift the fortunes of a poor Ally?
Laden with spoils, and fame, they march away,
Reckless of those whose numbers won the day;
For the best Captains say, and they say right,
Confederate force will make the surest fight.

    If port majestic, soft-seducing air,
And features--Heaven's! how femininely fair!
To first-rate honors may assure pretence,
POWELL, indeed, may vaunt of Excellence.
In orient beauty bath'd, her shining head
When VENUS lifted from the billowey bed;
When her smooth neck the am'rous surges prest,
Their foam less white than her delicious breast,
Panting with rich desires, and fond alarms,
Scarce did she shew a softer pomp of charms;
But charms alone, too oft, but feebly bind,
And rigid judgment mourns the absent Mind.

    From what refulgent realms of op'ning day,
Fleets yon pure Semblance? faery vision stay!
Still, with seraphic sentiment, improve
My grosser sense, and light it into love.
Enchanting visitant! the surest guide,
Still let Simplicity attend thy side;
Still be her secret whisper heard with awe,
Thy rule her impulse, her impression law;
And, when few years thy ripen'd worth refine,
I shall not blush, DE CAMP, this verse was mine.

    I never to thy praises, POPE, aspir'd,
Whom ev'n the surly Satirist admir'd,
When, warm in mirthful youth, he saw thee 'trip
Corinna, Cherry, Honeycomb, and Snip;'
But, as lorn Fancy eyes thy faded flow'r,
I mourn the loss of many a raptur'd hour,
And (Death, remorseless, hurrying on his way)
Ere the shaft flies, a hasty homage pay.

    Hoydens and Romps, with HARLOWE, now, appear:
Nor must I on slight foibles be severe;
Her laugh would bid the sides of Dulness shake,
Or stern DIOGENES his tub forsake.

    That little Syran, BLAND, I must approve,
Breathing the soul of Harmony and Love;
Tho' CROUCH, no more, can claim the melting lay,
Ah! dire effects of B****y and Decay!
Another ARIADNE, let her rest,
With unregarded charms, on BACCHUS' breast.

    Much of MENAGE and MELLON could I say,
Both very pretty creatures, in their way!
I might affirm that BIGGS, in time, will rise,
(Tho' paltry Imitation I despise,)
Sure to afford some symptoms of delight,
Could she play WIDOW BRADY ev'ry night.
I might (tho' they must hardly rival POPE)
To SPARKS and WALCOTT lend a little hope;
To SONTLEY's fairer fame enlarge the line;
And bid ev'n YATES herself affect to shine;
Delightful elves, would blame my blindness too;
Perhaps with CORNISH hug this form embrace,
And crack my fiddle, like the BARD OF THRACE.

    While led by Fashion's wond'rous force along,
Both Houses boast the Sov'reignty of Song;
Club to support the Fav'rite, and combine
In social league, to aid One grand Design;
To Angels, sure, in voice and form allied,
BEAUTY and BILLINGTON must still preside;
Contending States each magic trill obey,
And foes be soften'd by her tuneful sway.

    Music, of old, beyond the slightest doubt,
Could gently wheedle the BAD SPIRIT out;
But, now, the ready Instrument of sin,
I find, it ushers the BAD SPIRIT in.
If a hard Winter no sore throats supply;
Or of raw Drams no warbling Cherubs die;
If glitt'ring guineas happen not to fail;
Old homespun REASON will be jigg'd to jail;
SHAKESPEARE, the tedious Bore! must shut up Shop;
And ROSCIUS learn to dance--from the NEW-DROP.

    Shame! that a tinsel, tawdry, trifling race,
Should caper, and curvet, in Merit's place:
Shame! that all sense should sink before a Song,
Nor ev'n th' insulted State relieve the wrong;
Shame! that a noble Isle, whose offspring aim
At Spartan fortitude, and Roman fame;
Should idly doat upon each foreign toy,
Emasculate and dead to manly joy!
Now, when sequester'd from the courtly clan,
Proud in the Minister to prove the Man;
Unshaken amid Party's furious tides,
Safe at the helm, an ATTICUS presides.
At length, by his superior wisdom won,
Has bright-ey'd Peace her radiant march begun;
At length undaunted by the cannon's roar,
Her dove-like pinion wraps our favour'd Shore;
Celestial forms! the children of delight!
In rosey fetters hold the FIEND OF FIGHT;
While clouds, contagious, fly at her command,
And gleams of Glory lighten o'er the land.
Tho' Mem'ry still, will glance a mournful eye
To where the gallant SONS OF BRITAIN lie;
Yet, let no lip repining murmurs breath
O'er blessings, bought by honorable death;
Or meaner Sorrow, impotent to save,
Profanely blight the laurels of the Brave;
Since from their ashes, shall, refulgent, rise
The Phoenix, Happiness, to glad our eyes.
Accomplish'd Statesman! to whose soul are known
All excellence, and merit, but its own;
Again, each nerve new-strung to active toil,
Shall Industry enrich the blooming soil;
Laborious Learning catch his glitt'ring prize;
And star-crown'd Science tread her native Skies.
Nor, by his partial favor taught to sing,
Shall Silence slumber on the tuneful string,
But the fair Muse, whose charming spell, bestows
To ev'ry bosom, save her own, repose,
Fix in th' eternal adamant of Fame,
Her firmest friend's imperishable-Name.

    "Thus far into the breach:"--nor do I dread
The Daily scandals, buzzing round my head;
At pert Critique, or flaming Paragraph,
Mere paper-squib, and rocket, lo! I laugh!
Unable, now, to cavil or confute,
Alas! the mighty ORACLE is mute;
The TIMES are into dull oblivion cast,
And the vain glory of THE WORLD is past!
Yet, more convincing Stricture may betide,
By rhyming Bully's baneful fist apply'd,
No learned Bruiser by, to cool the fray,
Adjourning vengeance to a fairer day,
And woes unnumber'd, in grim silence wait,
The brave Assertor of the Scenic State.

    Pink'd by some Play'r, whose virtues I rehearse,
Or, murder'd by vile bullet, and blank verse;
While Tragic vixens, with opprobrious sneer,
And killing scoff, assault my closing ear;
I hope, I may not cry, in penal smart,
"A plague on Both your Houses!" ere we part.



    When two dire Chiefs determin'd battle wage,
Firm to assert the Empire of the Stage,
'Mid the conflicting havoc of the Scene,
How bold the critic-wight who steps between!
From either party, he has cause to dread
Theatric thunders vollied at his head;
For while DIURNAL SWISS are kept in pay,
A war of words prolongs th' immortal fray.
But I, who, haply, from no danger shrink,
Where nothing more is shed than harmless Ink;
Who, blest in secret vanity can smile
At the smooth scandal of the Grubean style;
Nor should some wretched imp my verse defame,
Run, in a pet, to hang myself for shame;
I, to both sides, can patiently attend,
With all the candid coolness of a Friend,
The friend of Truth, whom, obstinately right,
No favors soften, and no threats affright;
Who with my Master's maxim still agree,
That "Those who're Slaves to All, are Slaves to Me."
Hence, no licentious torrent of abuse,
Shall mark for Billingsgate my maiden Muse;
O'er the pure mirror of whose modest cheek,
The vestal blushes of the Morning break;
Hence, I, to humblest Merit homage pay;
Or censure in the honest eye of Day;
Proud, to the Worthies of my native shore,
To add one manly Son of Satire more.

    By Nature form'd in happiest hour, to raise
The fainting energy of former days;
To lend strong sense each amiable charm,
Sublimely wild, or masculinely warm,
Whose fine conceptions ev'ry heart engage,
Thee, COOKE, I hail, the Wonder of the Age!
A Meteor, whose abrupt, but bright carreer,
Mocks the dim lustre of each lower sphere.

    Oh! could great SHAKESPEARE, by some magic pow'r,
Awhile forsake his amaranthine bow'r,
Lap'd in Elysian slumber, where he lies,
And view thy RICHARD with paternal eyes;
How would his ghostly visage learn to glow,
And his glad hand th' eternal wreath bestow?
Nor, less, would thy IAGO, please the Sire,
Whom, villain as he is, we must admire;
Whose sly suggestion, and insidious lure,
At once, deceive the Audience, and--the Moor.
Well might old MASSINGER thy worth repay,
With the best branch of his immortal bay;
Neglected bard! whose spirit lives anew,
When thou pourtray'st the fiend his fancy drew.
Who can presume, successfully, to find
The secret sources of thy copious mind?

    When, transmigrating to each Poet's thought;
Thou'rt, now, the murd'rous JEW, anon, the wily SCOT!

    For some bold flights, the vulgar tribe decry,
Barren of heart, who comment with the eye,
I quarrel not with thy stupendous soul,
Nor for a petty blemish blame the whole;
Such glorious faults have lighten'd, not obscur'd,
And Genius would but languish, were they cur'd.
Yet, much as I thy mental strength applaud,
And, dreadless, blow thy public praise abroad;
By puffing sycophants beleagur'd round,
Who swell plethoric Pride beyond all bound,
Who, madly, mingle thine with GARRICK's name;
Mistake not their vile stuff for solid fame:--
Dare to despise encomium, when unjust,
Nor Managers themselves, too surely, trust;
For tho' they rule the roast, we, now and then,
Clearly discern that Managers are Men.
Two errors gross I wish thee to amend,
And, freely, note them, for that wholesome end.
In ev'ry character, thy features wear,
Unchang'd, and stiff, one harsh, sarcastic sneer;
Keen Penetration, vainly strives to trace
One wond'rous shift of the cameleon face;
When, for the diff'rent lineaments, we look,
Of diff'rent men,--we find tis 'only COOKE;
And thy deportment, could plain Truth persuade,
Should call the absent Graces to it's aid.

    Of JOHNSTON much:--upon his bosom-throne
Sits Judgement, and Expression is his own;
All forms, tho' widely varied, fit him well,
A vent'rous youth! impatient to excell;
Who no supply from Imitation draws,
But rests on his own passions for applause.
Thus, ev'ry movement, forcibly, betrays
He is the very DOUGLAS that he plays,
Self-taught, self-modell'd, by no slavish awe
Deprest, nor shackled by pedantic law.
The roughest task, with vigor, he assails,
And is Original where ev'n he fails.

    With pow'rful tones, whose silver sound can call
Heroic heat, or musically fall,
Supremely gifted, CORY stands the chief:
And where the wither'd Captive pours his grief,
Or tott'ring Age recounts his former woes,
An equal interest his spirit shews.
Why, then, to any one, scant walk, confin'd,
That clear perception and impassion'd mind?
Why? but to give those tow'ring Lords the road,
Whose buskin'd feet should still the Barn have trod.

    What sprightly feature, and elastic limb,
LEWIS, evince the very soul of Whim,
When, spite of Gout, and ruinous decay,
The frolic Graces waft thee on thy way?
Florid in youth, methinks, I see thee rise,
Shew thy white teeth, and roll thy leering eyes,
As tho' MEDEA's cauldron had renew'd
Thy waning bloom, and fir'd thy frozen blood;
Or HERMES, banish'd for some heav'nly scrape,
Had sought the GARDEN, and assum'd thy shape!
How many a gasping Scene, not dead outright,
Rais'd by thy spell, has liv'd it's little night;
'Till stun'd by Opposition's final blow,
It sunk, sad martyr! to the realms below,
In peaceful lethargy where farces rot,
And literary follies are forgot.
Surprising Actor! o'er thy future bier,
Witlings unborn shall stream the filial tear;
Fop-hunting Playwrights persecute no more,
But R---- give "his occupation o'er."

    On droll NED SHUTER greybeards may debate;
Others on EDWIN, tho' of later date;
Yet much I doubt, could that facetious Pair,
With MUNDEN, now, co-equal honors share;
So scrupulous of Character, you guess,
Before he speaks, his manners by his dress,
Prim Prudence may forgive the merry sin,
When happy thousands join in his broad grin,
For, seldom, does he, by distortion strive
To keep one, long, fatiguing laugh alive!
But, certain his unerring shafts will hit,
Luxuriant revels thro' a wild of wit.

    Of true MILESIAN make, a sturdy rogue!
Rich in spontaneous impudence and brogue;
With not a little native humour blest,
A brawny back, but an untainted breast;
JOHNSTONE, the scowling front of Care defies,
But is, by far, too merry to be wise.
In the low TEAGUE, unrival'd he must stand,
Neat as imported from that famous land,
The land of Bulls! whence studiously, he draws
Such genuine mirth, as must extort applause,          }
While Reason laughs, and wond'ring asks the cause?
Whate'er cold-blooded Sages may aver,
Who, gravely, on the side of Wisdom err,
Ev'n Wisdom's self might speak in HIS behalf,
Who wreathes on Sorrow's lip the guiltless laugh.

    Should liberty of conscience be allow'd,
To differ from th'Inquisitorial crow'd,
So much do I despise that rabble-throng,
Who, always, are most clam'rous in the wrong,
That I must freely own, among my crimes,
I do not relish FAWCETT, at all times.
Monotonous mimicry; and pert grimace,
I hold, most suited to the monkey-race;
And, often, I must deem that waggish clan,
Superior to their clumsy copyist, Man,
When, awkwardly, he apes their nimble pranks,
And to his blushing brethren, looks--for thanks!
Yet to his PANGLOSS be my tribute paid,
Where all the formal Pedant is pourtray'd;
Where archest Humour wears the solemn smile;
And triumphs in it's old Cervantic style.

    More genuine strokes of exquisite delight,
Enrich thy pure performance, modest KNIGHT!
Skill'd a sincerer transport to impart,
And seeming artless, prove the height of art.
Yes! I prefer thy unassuming ease,
Without laborious struggle, sure to please,
To all that toilsome drudgery for fame,
Which, often in our time, extorts a name.

    If dignified deportment, decent grace,
And just delivery deserv'd a place,
MURRAY should, surely, not remain unsung:--
For strong Conviction dwelt upon his tongue;
Each period with energic vigour flow'd;
And Action the last, brightest charm bestow'd.
This once was MURRAY--MURRAY has thought fit
To take a higher aim, but fail'd to hit;
Not satisfied with Nature, the proud elf
Would be more natural than Nature's self.
Who that has seen his GHOST, if not a post,
Has not enjoy'd so laughable a Ghost?
Now, drawling the sad sentence, dismal deep,
Now, cutting short the cadence, with a clip.
Nor Ghosts alone, in this strange language prate,
His poor, old CLYTUS shar'd no better fate,
When LACY (what a hero, sev'n feet high!)
In ALEXANDER made me almost cry.
So great the falling-off, to MURRAY's shame,
I must enrol with BETTERTON his name.

    In early youth, ere Sorrow could remove
The soft congenial sympathies of Love,
Oh! POPE! thy sighing ROMEO would impart
Divine sensations to my tender heart;
But now, alas! too gross to feed on air,
No more the lank Disciple of Despair!
When for thin shape, and woe-worn look I seek,
I view a FALSTAFF's paunch, and Friar's cheek,
Tho' still thy mellow accents melt the soul,
And thy sweet periods musically roll.
She, too, who, erst, as CAMPION charm'd my ear,
Nor did less lovely to my eye appear,
Has felt th' impairing hand of cruel Time;
Yet waste of beauty is a venial crime,
And could, for ever, HELEN's form remain,
Lo! needless would be HOMER's matchless strain!

    A Stripling-hero, next, attracts my view,
Nor shall he miss the meed to Merit due;
For tho' perhaps, too much confin'd by rule,
He has not studied in a vulgar School.
'Tis SIDDONS' SON! that magic name alone,
Might for more glaring blemishes atone,
Did his ingenuous diffidence, demand
A partial eulogy, at second-hand.
Not such the case; instinct with native fire,
His talents need no borrow'd aid require;
And the pleas'd Muse is happy to assign
A wreath to him, who worship'd at her shrine.

    Let Harmony forsake her silver sphere,
And mute Attention be, awhile, All ear!
For, sweetly led by INCLEDON, along,
Each unobstructed labyrinth of Song,
My rapt Imagination heav'nward strays,
Delighted, wand'ring thro' a tuneful maze;
And list'ning Angels fold their filmy wings,
In silence, while a kindred Spirit sings.
Yes! tho' I scorn ITALIA's screaming crew,
And scorn this Island's screaming blockheads, too;
For ever I could listen to thy strain,
Distinctly clear, melodious without pain;
Nor, fearful when the tortur'd voice should crack,
Picture a victim--shrieking on the rack.

    Uncaponiz'd as yet, tho' oft appear
Sufficient symptoms to excite our fear,
When to each foreign foppery devote,
Squeaking, he twists the long-tormented note,
I own of BRAHAM the superior skill;
But, likewise own, I'm better pleas'd with HILL.

    With vocal charm, unlabour'd yet refin'd,
Whose exquisite controlment sways the mind,
And holds in willing bondage well-pleas'd Sense,
TOWNSHEND to Humour lays a fair pretence.
Tho' his choice parts are neither mean or few,
FLEUELLIN, only, makes th' assertion true.

    SIMMONS, tho' young in life, and to the stage,
Familiar, takes the feeble form of Age;
Matthew or Mordecai, to nature true,
He is the very Simpleton or Jew.

    BLANCHARD and GIBBON (tho' the last great name,
Can, scarcely, yet a final verdict claim,)
Had they a little spice of prudent wit,
Might make th' old cloaths of QUICK and MUNDEN fit.
Nay, EMERY in his allotted cast
Reminds us of superior merit past.
WADDY is decent, would his teeth unclose;
And FARLEY shines in fops; but all his beaux,          }
A nasty habit! snuffle thro' the nose.
Tho' I must not, too far, pursue the theme,
Ev'n BRUNTON gives sometimes a transient gleam;
But to poor CLERMONT's credit, speak who can?
That vain, affected monkey of a man.

    THOMSON and BEVERLEY, lo! follow quick,
And droning DAVENPORT, a stupid Stick!
Little alas! have they to gain or lose;
Such fellows boast no favors from the Muse.

    Now must the ladies, tremblingly, advance!
Sweet creatures! they had rather have a dance!
Tho', if I right remember, once before,
A huge, indeed, a shocking oath I swore,
They had not ev'n the slightest thing to dread:
I will not hurt a hair upon their head!
If o'er their beauties hastily I pass,
I'm not to blame, the fault is in my GLASS;
And when no mention's made,--it is my fate,
I may immortalize, but can't create.

    Gifted with simplest grace, in scorn of art,
And finely fram'd to captivate the heart,
Whether her modest looks, that love the ground,
Effuse a soft, luxurious languor round;
Or from her lip, where rosy Pleasures play,
Arch humour issues innocently gay;
JOHNSTON appears--tho' not a faultless fair,
Yet such her meaning eye, her tender air,
Such the harmonious symmetry, that guides
Each step, and o'er her model'd shape presides,
Beauty, for such meek charms, might well forgo,
The lustrous glance, the polish'd front of snow,          }
Or the ambrosial mouth, where balmy kisses blow.
And in each motion of that chasten'd mien
The pure irradiant Intellect is seen,
Without whose bright intelligence, the form
Of S----y's beauteous self, would faintly warm.

    With more than common attributes endow'd,
And far exalted from the female crowd,
LITCHFIELD demands the tributary song:
Of quick idea, her conception strong,
Lends to each line that animated glow,
Which breasts unfeeling never can bestow.
Ev'n COOKE no undivided palm must claim,
While she improves his plenitude of fame,
And from Discernment's serious sentence, draws
An equal portion of unfeign'd applause.

    A Sylph-like Semblance, pensive MURRAY moves,
Ever attended by the sighing Loves,
Soft Pity's pupil! I enraptur'd, hear
Her lulling accents languish on my ear!
And hope, few years elaps'd, I may behold
A finish'd Actress, in perfection bold.

    When MATTOCKS wears the wildly-witching leer,
What formal Stoic dares to be severe?
Delighted Wisdom joins the laughing rogue,
And Wit approves her poignant Epilogue.

    Unparagon'd in one peculiar cast,
Long, MARTYR, may thy pow'rs of pleasing last!
Endow'd with simple sweetness, all thy own,
Ev'n in thy MADGE what excellence is shewn.

    So smart her shape, so delicate her air,
ATKINS is passing pretty, I declare;
And, oft, she leads my willing soul along,
When Sympathy attunes ROSINA's song.

    Tho' Music's most prevailing charm is hung,
STORACE! on thy sweet, seducing tongue;
Tho' ev'ry wild note vibrates to the heart,
And Envy owns th' enchantment of thy art;
Yet WATERS no inferior joy can raise,
Unspoil'd by foreign trick, tho' sure of praise.

    Thy gay rusticity, and playful whims,
Bewitch my throbbing breast, delightful SIMS!
Son of Simplicity, I ne'er appeal
Beyond her test, but glory that I feel.

    Would GLOVER, still obeying Nature's bent,
Be with the Comic walk, alone, content;
(Fine strokes, tho' few, in Beatrice I find,
And louder still, applaud her Rosalind,)
She might, without one bashful doubt proceed:
But oh! her tragedy is sad, indeed!

    ST. LEGER's talents thrown into the shade
So long, methinks, deserve to be display'd;
Tho' masculine her voice, untun'd to woe,
It suits the haughty Heroine of ROWE;[4]
And to her features tho' small force belong,
Those features are attracting if not strong.

    Thee, GIBBS, I must not, too severely slight,
Thou little, rose-lip'd minion of delight!
Such dear emotion can thy wiles impart,
They call soft blushes from the conscious heart;
Such blushes, as my MARY'S cheek array,
Deep-glowing with the fervid flush of May,             }
When from each love-glance purer light'nings play;
And rapt'rous Hope, and unrestrain'd Desire
Bathe in her brilliant eye-beam's fluid fire.

    Lo! HOWELLS, with Ausonian myrtle crown'd,
And DIXON, daughter of celestial Sound!
Nor slight sensation thro' my bosom thrills,
Tho' near my last review, I mention MILLS.

    Something of CHAPMAN, too, I must commend,
Else such ungracious Silence may offend;
Yet ladies, sure, with that should be content,
'Tis their own maxim,--Silence gives consent.

    POWELL and DAVENPORT full well sustain
The Nurse's part, nor give the audience pain;
And I allow, tho' deem'd of manners rough;
That DIBDIN's Chambermaids are pert enough;
But, as for Mesdames WATTS, LESERVE, and COX,
Furious, who rush upon my sight in flocks,
As tho' their legions never should be ended;
I only add--"Least said is soonest mended."

    So much of Players:--they, no more, may fear
That blood-hound, Satire, foaming in their rear;
All bills of Creditor and Debtor paid,
No wrath shall wake another HISTRIONADE,
Yet ere I, tranquil, sheathe the satiate sword,
May not MYSELF be granted a LAST WORD?
And doom'd, for evermore, to dread repose,
The long Accompt, 'twixt me and Authors, close.
Full many a weary day, have I supprest
The honest vengeance, slumb'ring in my breast;
Full many a sleepless night, that vengeance plan'd
Fell schemes, to sweep the vermin from the land;
T' exterminate, with one decisive blow,
The Dunces who remorseless wrought me woe;
At length, so fast the worthless reptiles breed,
Alas! I find it useless to proceed,
At length, to Folly's powerful reign resign'd,
Too wise or weak, to combat with the blind,          }
And wage vain war with all the Scribbling Kind,
Gainst MODERN GOTHS my quill is drawn no more,
So often drench'd in their unhallow'd gore;
From this blest moment, Poetry and Sense,
Shall yield to Opera and pert Pretence;
Exulting Dulness fling her poppies round,
And Blockheads, only, with the bays be crown'd.

    Now, may each vapid Print my verse defame,
And find, or feign, my country, and my name;
Blest in their blunders, let the ideots doze,
And make my rhimes as stupid as their prose;
For to the fire, in pity, I consign
"Quills" darted from the "fretful PORCUPINE!"--
Now, B--, may thy [5]cloud-cap'd Muse essay

    The kindred raptures of a RAINY DAY;
Her front may, now, be wreath'd with frowzy fogs,
And her song charm prognosticating hogs;
Tho' sure some Tragic Dev'l bewitch'd thy brain,
To bring forth embryo Plays, in idle pain,
Whose sober comprehension ne'er should climb
Beyond the Compter, or a Pantomime.

    While spectred Scenes thy mimic pomp maintain,
Wild Mushrooms! springing from a dearth of brain!
In dull delirium, thou may'st boldly cry,
"By G--, I give OLD BILLY the go-by!"
And, to confirm each marvellous design,
Print that extravagant, queer head of thine!
Safe rest thy writings, soft repose thy head,
Thank Heav'n! at least, "I war not with the Dead."--

    Of kicks, and cuffs, and c--ps, sublimely vain,
(For Pleasure still conducts that ruffian, Pain,)
Now may gaunt H--R's pimp-like pen display
The martial glories of each midnight fray,
To new-fledg'd rakes, conveniently impart
The unresisted wonders of his Art,
While the [6] GREAT MOTHER drops a lib'ral smile,
And BOND-STREET SAPPHOs praise his luscious style:--
Let BAVIUS, now, in mock-satyric rage,
Of JUVENAL profane the sacred page,
To some fraternal TRYPHON's shop repair,
Where booted loungers at the Bard may stare,
"Shrin'd in his cloudy tabernacle," sit
Mid Lords, and PALL-MALL Wits, himself a Wit,
And con, and quote, and comment, at a heat,
And rise a SCALIGER in self-conceit:--
Let D----, still, from his harmonious store,
Supply the vagrant minstrel's mellow roar,
Thrice lucky, sure, that celebrated SQUARE,
Ordain'd the Poet, and his Song, to share,
For, certes, seldom doth the lofty lay
Beyond it's native flags, excursive, stray,
There, haply, may it soothe, in penthouse-shade,
The am'rous anguish of some pining maid,
Ease the fierce throb, the secret torture tame,
Or feed, in lieu of Gin, the gen'rous flame:--
Let T----, now, translate with all his might,
Blund'ring from true to false, thro' wrong or right,     }
For who from darkness can elicit light?
Yet, sometimes, lend, with much laborious sweat,
To the rude lump, a faint and feeble heat.
So red-nos'd urchins mould their balls of snow,
'Till ev'n the frozen fluid learns to glow;
So vilest substance, stricken in the dark,
Flint-stone, or rotten-wood, emits a spark.--
Let P----, a jackdaw on eagle-wings,
Bask in the blaze of Emperors and Kings,
Blest Emperors! to whom the growl of Bears
Was sweeter than the silver-sounding spheres;
Yes by the force of paper and of print,
Let him outshine old GRUB-STREET or the MINT!
Fam'd for his hate of farce, and love of fight,
Let dauntless D----, that heroic knight,
Fresh from the dangers of th' immortal day,
His prowess in triumphant puffs display,
Bomb-proof to bullet, and congenial lead,
Sublimer lift th' impenetrable head;
Th' impenetrable head, for strength renown'd,
Well-cas'd with brass, with creeping ivy bound,
And, in Censorial Chaos shrouded still,
Securely murder with his venal quill:--
Let lisping fops, best arbiters of verse!
Torment their tender tongues with rumbling ERSE,
Call barb'rous HIGHLAND dialect divine,
And all, they understand not, set down fine;
Ev'n BURNS, whose breast th' apparent Muse inspir'd;
Is for his diction, not his sense admir'd,
In Edenbro', anew, auld PINDUS springs,
And lo! a SHAKESPEARE in each SAWNEY sings!

    "Critics! to you I make my last appeal,
Who hide my beauties, but my faults reveal,
If, lost in Error's maze, my fancy ran,
Approv'd your censures, or appeas'd your clan,
Think not I shrunk to meet your dread decree,
My hand was guilty; but my heart was free,"[7]
For, from that heart, sincerely, I detest
Each monthly catalogue of flippant jest;
Nor more detest, than scorn:--in vain, you strive,
Sore-stung, to plunder the PARNASSIAN Hive,
Merit's indignant Sons you wish, in vain,
Madly, to level with your dirty train;
Thus, lately, when eloping from their shop,
Smit with the love of a ST. GILES's Hop,
Millers and Mealmen, drest in white so gay,
And powder'd without Licence, danc'd the Hay,
The envious Sweeps rush'd, dismal, thro' the crowd,
And shook their sooty stumps; and yell'd aloud,
"If we in whiteness cannot match those elves,
"By G--, we'll make them dingy as Ourselves!"

    Proceed, sage Sirs! with unregarded hate,
To pluck each prop from the Poetic State,
To quench of Wit the ineffectual fire,
While, sick to death of dulness, I retire.
For who would be a W----? still to bear
The cruel burthen of your praise severe?
Still gape to catch your magisterial rules,
And gulp the nauseous eulogy of fools?
Who would not rather, with a bow, receive
The grossest censure brainless spite can give?
Yet let not those illustrious Few, who toll
To cultivate, and clear a stubborn soil,
The saucy weed, unsparingly, consume,
But cherish and support the bashful bloom,
This harsh invective to their talk apply:
Nor idly proud, nor obstinate am I,
Glad, I embrace Severity, when just,
Nor rashly to my own opinion trust;
For much alas! is requisite, to frame
The song that would survive it's author's name,          }
And fly to distant days upon the wings of Fame.
Not tinsel phrase, nor turgid swell of thought;
Nor metaphor in foreign regions sought;
Nor lulling languish of luxurious rhyme;
Nor vaultings of extravagant Sublime;
Nor fever-fits of fancy, e'er may hope
To lend succeeding Time a DRYDEN or a POPE.


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Dermody's Notes:

1. Mr. BANNISTER Jun.[back to text]

2. ORONOOKO.[back to text]

3. The celebrated Statue of APOLLO. [back to text]

4. CALISTA. [back to text]

5. Some Commentators perhaps more correctly read ["]clout-cap." [back to text]

6. MAGNA MATER.--MOTHER W----, or any other Professor of the Cyprian Mysteries, and Priestess to "dark-veil'd COTYTOO," in our virtuous, and superabundantly-modest Metropolis. Q. QUIBUS. [back to text]

7. A Parody on some well-known Lines in the Play of OEDIPUS. [back to text]