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SPOKEN BY MR. GARRICK,
At the Opening of the Theatre Royal, DRURY LANE, 1747
WHEN Learning's triumph o'er her barb'rous foes
Then Jonson came, instructed from the school,
The wits of Charles found easier ways to fame, Nor wish'd for Jonson's art, or Shakspeare's flame. Themselves they studied, as they felt they writ; Intrigue was plot, obscenity was wit. Vice always found a sympathetic 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 faves 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 ravid, and Hamlet dy'd, On flying cars new sorcerers
ride : Perhaps (for who can guess th' effects of chance ?) Here Hunt may box, or Mahomet *
dance. Hard is his lot that, here by Fortune plac'd, Must watch the wild vicissitudes of taste; With ev'ry 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 "Tis yours,
this night, to bid the reign commence Of rescued Nature and reviving Sense; To chase the charms of Sound, the pomp of Show, For useful Mirth and falutary Woe; Bid scenic Virtue form the rising age, And Truth diffuse her radiance from the stage.