British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan

By George Henry Nettleton; Arthur Eillicot Case | Go to book overview
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Ladies! I've had a squabble with the poet
About his characters -- and you shall know it.
'Young man,' said I, 'restrain your saucy satire!
My part's ridiculous -- false -- out of nature.

Fine draughts indeed of ladies! sure you hate 'em! 5
Why, sir! -- My part is scandalum magnatum.'2

'Lord, ma'am,' said he, 'to copy life my trade is,
And poets ever have made free with ladies!
One Simon -- the deuce take such names as these! --

A hard Greek name -- O -- ay -- Simonides3 -- 10
He showed -- our freaks, this whim and that desire,
Rose first from earth, sea, air, nay, some from fire;
Or that we owe our persons, minds, and features
To birds, forsooth, and filthy four-legg'd creatures.

'The dame, of manners various, temper fickle, 15
Now all for pleasure, now the conventicle! Who prays, then raves, now calm, now all commotion,
Rises, another Venus, from the ocean.

'Constant at every sale, the curious fair,

Who longs for Dresden, and old China ware; 20
Who dotes on pagods,4 and gives up vile man
For niddle-noddle figures from Japan;
Critic in jars and josses,5 shows her birth
Drawn, like the brittle ware itself, from earth.

'The flaunting she, so stately, rich and vain, 25
Who gains her conquests by her length of train; While all her vanity is under sail,
Sweeps, a proud peacock, with a gaudy tail.

' Husband and wife, with sweets! and dears! and loves!

What are they, but a pair of cooing doves? 30
But seized with spleen, fits, humors, and all that, Your dove and turtle turn to dog and cat.

'The gossip, prude, old maid, coquette, and trapes,6
Are parrots, foxes, magpies, wasps, and apes:

But she, with ev'ry charm of form and mind, 35
Oh! she's -- sweet soul -- the phoenix of her kind. ((The phoenix of her kind! upon my word,
He's a sly wretch -- pray -- is there such a bird?'))

This his apology! -- 'Tis rank abuse --

A fresh affront, instead of an excuse! 40
His own sex rather such description suits: Why don't he draw their characters -- the brutes!
Ay, let him paint those ugly monsters, men!
Meantime -- mend we our lives -- he'll mend his pen.

37-38] OID include; O2O3O4 omit the couplet.
Catharine ('Kitty') Clive ( 1711-1785) appeared as Lady Freelove in the first performance.
A law term for slander of high personages.
A Greek poet (circ. 660 B.C.), who satirized women by comparing them to various animals.
Chinese idols.
Sluttish woman (cf. the character of Diana Trapes in The Beggar's Opera).


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British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan
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