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Yet when the sense of sacred presence fires,
P R O L OG U E
SPOKEN by Mr. GARRICK,
At the Opening of the Theatre Royal, DRURY-LANE, 1747.
HEN Learning's triumph o'er her barbarous
foes First rear’d the stage, immortal Shakespeare rose; Each change of many-colour'd life he drew, Exhaufted worlds, and then imagin’d new: Existence saw him spurn her bounded reign, And panting time toil'd after him in vain. His powerful strokes presiding truth impress’d, And unresisted passion storm'd the breast.
Then Jonson came, instructed from the school, To please in method, and invent by rule; His studious patience and laborious art, By regular approach essay'd the heart : Cold approbation gave the lingering bays; For those who durft not censure, scarce could praise. A mortal born, he met the gen'ral doom, But left, like Egypt's kings, a lasting tomb.
The wits of Charles found easier ways to fame, Nor wish'd for Jonson's art, or Shakespeare's flame. Themselves they studied; as they felt, they writ: Intrigue was plot, obscenity was wit. Vice always found a sympathetick friend; They pleas’d their age, and did not aim to mend. Yet bards like these aspir'd to lasting praise, And proudly hop'd to pimp in future days. Their cause was gen'ral, their supports were strong; Their Naves were willing, and their reign was long:
Till shame regain'd the post that sense betray'd,
Then crush'd by rules, and weaken'd as refin’d,
But who the coming changes can presage, And mark the future periods of the stage ? Perhaps if skill could distant times explore, New Behns, new Durfeys, yet remain in store; Perhaps where Lear has rav’d, and Hamlet' dy'd, On Aying cars new sorcerers may ride; Perhaps (for who can guess th' effects of chance) Here Hunt may box, or Mahomet *
may dance. Hard is his lot that here by fortune plac'd, Must watch the wild viciffitudes of taste; With every meteor of caprice must play, And chase the new-blown bubbles of the day. Ah! let not censure term our fate our choice, The stage but echoes back the publick voice The drama's laws, the drama's patrons give, For we that live to please, must please to live.
Then prompt no more the follies you decry, As tyrants doom their tools of guilt to die;
* Hunt, a famous boxer on the stage ; Mahomet, a rope. dancer, who had exhibited at Covent-Garden theatre the winter before, said to be a Turk.
'Tis yours, this night, to bid the reign commence
PROLOGUE SPOKEN by Mr. GARRICK, APRIL 5, 1750,
Before the MASQUE of COMUS, Acted at DRURY-LANE THEATRE, for the Benefit of
MILTON'S Grand-daughter. Y E patriot crowds who burn for England's fame,
Ye nymphs whose bosoms beat at Milton's name,
At length our mighty bard's victorious lays
With ardent haste each candidate of fame,
TO THE COMEDY OF
THE GOOD-NATUR’D MAN. 1769.
Prest by the load of life, the weary mind
Surveys the general toil of human kind, With cool submission joins the lab'ring train, And social forrow loses half its pain;