Spoken by Mrs. Ellen Gwyn, in a broad-brimmed hat, and waist-belt.1
This jest was first of t'other house's making,
And, five times tried, has never failed of taking.
For 'twere a shame a poet should be killed
Under the shelter of so broad a shield.
This is that hat whose very sight did win ye 5 To laugh and clap as though the devil were in ye. As then, for Nokes, so now, I hope, you'll be
So dull, to laugh, once more, for love of me.
'I'll write a play,' says one, 'for I have got
A broad-brimmed hat, and waist-belt, towards a plot.' 10 Says t'other, 'I have one more large than that.'
Thus they out-write each other with a hat.
The brims still grew with every play they writ;
And grew so large, they covered all the wit.
Hat was the play: 'twas language, wit, and tale: 15 Like them that find meat, drink, and cloth, in ale. What dulness do these mongrel wits confess,
When all their hope is acting of a dress!
Thus, two the best comedians of the age
Must be worn out, with being blocks o' th' stage; 20 Like a young girl, who better things has known, Beneath their poet's impotence they groan.
See now, what charity it was to save!
They thought you liked, what only you forgave:
And brought you more dull sense, dull sense much worse 25 Than brisk gay nonsense, and the heavier curse. They bring old ir'n and glass upon the stage,
To barter with the Indians of our age.
Still they write on, and like great authors show: 30 But 'tis as rollers in wet gardens grow Heavy with dirt, and gath'ring as they go.
May none who have so little understood
To like2 such trash, presume to praise what's good!
And may those drudges of the stage, whose fate
Is damned dull farce more dully to translate, 35 Fall under that excise the state thinks fit To set on all French wares, whose worst is wit.
French farce, worn out at home, is sent abroad;
And, patched up here, is made our English mode.
Henceforth, let poets, ere allowed to write, 40 Be searched, like duellists, before they fight, For wheel-broad hats, dull humor, all that chaff,
Which makes you mourn, and makes the vulgar laugh:
For these, in plays, are as unlawful arms,
As, in a combat, coats of mail, and charms. 45