BY MR. WELSTED1
SPOKEN BY MR. WILKS2
To win your hearts and to secure your praise,
The comic-writers strive by various ways;
By subtle stratagems they act their game,
And leave untried no avenue to fame.
One writes the spouse a beating from his wife, 5 And says each stroke was copied from the life. Some fix all wit and humor in grimace,
And make a livelihood of Pinkey's3 face.
Here one gay show and costly habits tries,
Confiding to the judgment of your eyes; 10 Another smuts his scene (a cunning shaver),
Sure of the rakes' and of the wenches' favor.
Oft have these arts prevailed, and, one may guess,
If practised o'er again, would find success.
But the bold sage -- the poet of to-night -- 15 By new and desp'rate rules resolved to write; Fain would he give more just applauses rise,
And please by wit that scorns the aids of vice.
The praise he seeks from worthier motives springs,
Such praise as praise to those that give it brings.20 Your aid, most humbly sought, then, Britons, lend, And lib'ral mirth like lib'ral men defend.
No more let ribaldry, with licence writ,
Usurp the name of eloquence or wit;
No more let lawless farce uncensured go, 25 The lewd dull gleanings of a Smithfield show.4
'Tis yours with breeding to refine the age,
To chasten wit, and moralize the stage.
Ye modest, wise and good, ye fair, ye brave,
To-night the champion of your virtues save;30 Redeem from long contempt the comic name, And judge politely for your country's fame.