BY THE HONORABLE RICHARD FITZPATRICK1
The sister Muses, whom these realms obey,
Who o'er the drama hold divided sway,
Sometimes, by evil counsellors, 'tis said,
Like earth-born potentates have been misled:
When Villiers criticised what Dryden writ,
|In those gay days of wickedness and wit, ||5|
The Tragic Queen, to please a tasteless crowd,
Had learned to bellow, rant, and roar so loud,
That frightened Nature, her best friend before,
Her Comic Sister, who had wit, 'tis true,
|The blust'ring beldam's company forswore. ||10|
With all her merits, had her failings too;
And would sometimes in mirthful moments use
A style too flippant for a well-bred Muse.
To seek the friendly refuge of the fan;
|Then female modesty abashed began ||15|
Awhile behind that slight entrenchment stood,
Till driv'n from thence, she left the stage for good.
In our more pious, and far chaster times,
But some complain that, former faults to shun,
|These sure no longer are the Muse's crimes! ||20|
The reformation to extremes has run.
The frantic hero's wild delirium past,
Now insipidity succeeds bombast;
So slow Melpomene's cold numbers creep,|
Here dullness seems her drowsy court to keep,
And we are scarce awake, whilst you are fast asleep.
Thalia, once so ill-behaved and rude,
Reformed, is now become an arrant prude,
The purest morals, undefiled by wit!
|Retailing nightly to the yawning pit ||30|
Our author offers, in these motley scenes,
A slight remonstrance to the drama's queens:
Nor let the goddesses be over nice;
Although not quite a novice in his trade,
|Free-spoken subjects give the best advice. ||35|
His cause to-night requires no common aid.
To this, a friendly, just, and pow'rful court,
I come ambassador to beg support.
In civil broils with brother bards engage?
|Can he undaunted brave the critic's rage? ||40|
Hold forth their errors to the public eye,
Nay more, e'en newspapers themselves defy?
Say, must his single arm encounter all?
And though no leader should success distrust,
|By numbers vanquished, e'en the brave may fall; ||45|
Whose troops are willing, and whose cause is just;
To bid such hosts of angry foes defiance,
His chief dependence must be, YOUR ALLIANCE.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan.
Contributors: George Henry Nettleton - Editor, Arthur Eillicot Case - Editor.
Publisher: Boston ; Houghton Mifflin company,..
Place of publication: Boston; New York.
Publication year: 1939.
Page number: 891.
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