ADDRESSED TO MRS. CREWE, WITH THE COMEDY OF THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL1
BY R. B. SHERIDAN, ESQ.
Tell me, ye prim adepts in Scandal's school,
Who rail by precept, and detract by rule,
Lives there no character, so tried, so known,
So decked with grace, and so unlike your own,
That even you assist her fame to raise, 5 Approve by envy, and by silence praise! Attend! -- a model shall attract your view --
Daughters of calumny, I summon you!
You shall decide if this a portrait prove,
Or fond creation of the Muse and Love. 10 Attend, ye virgin critics, shrewd and sage, Ye matron censors of this childish age,
Whose peering eye and wrinkled front declare
A fixed antipathy to young and fair;
By cunning, cautious; or by nature, cold, 15 In maiden madness, virulently bold! Attend, ye skilled to coin the precious tale,
Creating proof, where innuendos fail!
Whose practised memories, cruelly exact,
Omit no circumstance, except the fact! -- 20 Attend, all ye who boast, -- or old or young, -- The living libel of a slanderous tongue!
So shall my theme as far contrasted be,
As saints by fiends or hymns by calumny.
Come, gentle Amoret (for 'neath that name225 In worthier verse is sung thy beauty's fame), Come -- for but thee who seeks the Muse? and while
Celestial blushes check thy conscious smile,
With timid grace and hesitating eye,
The perfect model which I boast supply: -- 30 Vain Muse! couldst thou the humblest sketch create Of her, or slightest charm couldst imitate --
Could thy blest strain in kindred colors trace
The faintest wonder of her form and face --
Poets would study the immortal line, 35 And Reynolds3 own his art subdued by thine;
That art, which well might added lustre give
To nature's best and heaven's superlative:
On Granby's4 cheek might bid new glories rise,
Or point a purer beam from Devon's5 eyes! 40