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British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan

By George Henry Nettleton; Arthur Eillicot Case | Go to book overview

EPILOGUE

SPOKEN BY MR. GARRICK1

That I'm a lying rogue, you all agree:
And yet look round the world, and you will see
How many more, my betters, lie as fast as me.
Against this vice we all are ever railing,
And yet, so tempting is it, so prevailing,
You'll find but few without this useful failing.
5

Lady or Abigail,2 my lord or Will,
The lie goes round, and the ball's never still.
My lies were harmless, told to show my parts;

And not like those, when tongues belie their hearts. 10
In all professions you will find this flaw; And in the gravest too, in physic and in law.
The gouty sergeant cries, with formal pause,
'Your plea is good, my friend, don't starve the cause.'
But when my lord decrees for t'other side, 15
Your costs of suit convince you -- that he lied. A doctor comes with formal wig and face,
First feels your pulse, then thinks, and knows your case.
'Your fever's slight, not dang'rous, I assure you,
Keep warm, and repetatur haustus,3 sir, will cure you.' 20
Around the bed, next day, his friends are crying:
The patient dies, the doctor's paid for lying.
The poet, willing to secure the pit,
Gives out, his play has humor, taste and wit:
The cause comes on, and, while the judges try, 25
Each groan and catcall gives the bard the lie. Now let us ask, pray, what the ladies do:
They too will fib a little entre nous,
'Lord!' says the prude (her face behind her fan)
'How can our sex have any joy in man? 30
As for my part, the best could ne'er deceive me, And were the race extinct 'twould never grieve me:
Their sight is odious, but their touch -- O Gad!
The thought of that's enough to drive one mad.'
Thus rails at man the squeamish Lady Dainty. 35
Yet weds, at fifty-five, a rake of twenty.

In short, a beau's intrigues, a lover's sighs,
The courtier's promise, the rich widow's cries,
And patriot's zeal, are seldom more than lies.

Sometimes you'll see a man belie his nation, 40
Nor to his country show the least relation. For instance now --

A cleanly Dutchman, or a Frenchman grave,
A sober German, or a Spaniard brave,
An Englishman a coward or a slave.
45

Mine, though a fibbing, was an honest art:
I served my master, played a faithful part:
Rank me not therefore 'mong the lying crew,
For, though my tongue was false, my heart was true.

____________________
Epilogue] 01 om. entire epilogue.
7] D8 Abigal.
20] D8 repititur.
1
In the part of Sharp.
2
A generic name for a maid-servant.
3
'Let the draught be repeated,' a phrase employed in medical prescriptions; here loosely used to mean 'repeated draughts.'

-646-

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