SPOKEN BY MR. WILKS1
Tonight, if you have brought your good old taste,
We'll treat you with a downright English feast --
A tale which, told long since in homely wise,
Hath never failed of melting gentle eyes.
Let no nice sir despise our hapless dame 5 Because recording ballads chaunt her name; Those venerable ancient song-enditers
Soared many a pitch above our modern writers:
They caterwauled in no romantic ditty,
Sighing for Phyllis's, or Chloe's pity. 10 Justly they drew the fair, and spoke her plain, And sung her by her Christ'an name -- 'twas Jane.
Our numbers may be more refined than those,
But what we've gained in verse, we've lost in prose.
Their words no shuffling, double-meaning knew, 15 Their speech was homely, but their hearts were true. In such an age, immortal Shakespeare wrote,
By no quaint rules nor hampering critics taught;
With rough, majestic force he moved the heart,
And strength and nature made amends for art. 20 Our humble author does his steps pursue; He owns he had the mighty bard in view,
And in these scenes has made it more his care
To rouse the passions than to charm the ear.
Yet for those gentle beaux who love the chime, 25 The ends of acts still jingle into rhime. ,
The ladies, too, he hopes, will not complain;
Here are some subjects for a softer strain --
A nymph forsaken, and a perjured swain.
What most he fears is, lest the dames should frown,
The dames of wit and pleasure about town,
To see our picture drawn unlike their own.
But lest that error should provoke to fury
The hospitable hundreds of Old Drury,
He bid me say, in our Jane Shore's defence,
She doled about the charitable pence,
Built hospitals, turned saint, and died long since.
For her example, whatsoe'er we make it,
They have their choice to let alone or take it:
Though few, as I conceive, will think it meet 40 To weep so sorely for a sin so sweet; Or mourn and mortify the pleasant sense,
To rise in tragedy two ages hence.