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SPOKEN BY MR. GARRICK, APRIL 5, 1750,
BEFORE THE MASQUE OF COMUS,
Acted at DRURY-LANE THEATRE, for the Benefit of MILTON'S
Ye patriot crowds, who burn for England's fame,
Ye nymphs, whose bosoms beat at Milton's name,
Whose gen’rous zeal, unbought by flatt’ring rhymes,
Shames the mean pensions of Augustan times;
Immortal patrons of succeeding days,
Attend this prelude of perpetual praise ;
Let wit, condemn'd the feeble war to wage
With close malevolence, or publick rage,
Let study, worn with' virtue's fruitless lore,
Behold this theatre, and grieve no more.
This night, distinguish'd by your smiles, shall tell
That never Britain can in vain excel;
The slighted arts futurity shall trust,
And rising ages hasten to be just.
At length our mighty bard's victorious lays
Fill the loud voice of universal praise ;
And baffled spite, with hopeless anguish dumb,
Yields to renown the centuries to come;
With ardent haste each candidate of fame,
Ambitious, catches at his tow'ring name;
He sees, and pitying sees, vain wealth bestow
Those pageant honours which he scorn'd below,
While crowds aloft the laureat bust behold,
Or trace his form on circulating gold.
Unknown, unheeded, long his offspring lay,
And want hung threatning o'er her slow decay.
What though she shine with no Miltonian fire,
No fav’ring Muse her morning dreams inspire ?
Yet softer claims the melting heart engage,
Her youth laborious, and her blameless age;
Hers the mild merits of domestick life,
The patient sufferer, and the faithful wife.
Thus, grac'd with humble virtue's native charms,
Her grandsire leaves her in Britannia's arms;
Secure with peace, with competence, to dwell,
While tutelary nations guard her cell.
Yours is the charge, ye fair, ye wise, ye brave!
Tis yours to crown desert-beyond the grave.
THE GOOD-NATUR’D MAN, 1769.
Prest by the load of life, the weary mind
Surveys the gen’ral toil of human kind,
With cool submission joins the lab’ring train,
And social sorrow loses half its pain :
Our anxious bard without complaint may share
This bustling season's epidemick care;
Like Cæsar's pilot dignify'd by Fate,
Tost in one common storm with all the great;
Distrest alike the statesman and the wit,
When one a Borough courts, and one the Pit.
The busy candidates for power and fame
Have hopes, and fears, and wishes, just the same;
Disabled both to combat or to fly,
Must hear all taunts, and hear without reply.
Uncheck'd on both loud rabbles vent their rage, ,
As mongrels bay the lion in a cage,
Th' offended burgess hoards his angry tale,
For that blest year when all that vote may rail ;
Their schemes of spite the poet's foes dismiss,
Till that glad night when all that hate may hiss.
“ This day the powder'd curls and golden coat,"
Says swelling Crispin, “ begg’d a cobbler's vote.”
“ This night our wit,” the pert apprentice cries,
“ Lies at my feet; I hiss him, and he dies.”
The great, 'tis true, can charm th' electing tribe;
The bard may supplicate, but cannot bribe.
Yet, judg’d by those whose voices ne'er were sold,
He feels no want of ill-persuading gold;
But, confident of praise, if praise be due,
Trusts without fear to merit and to you.
This night presents a play which publick rage,
Or right, or wrong, once hooted from the stage.t
From zeal or malice, now no more we dread,
For English vengeance wars not with the dead.
A gen'rous foe regards with pitying eye
The man whom fate has laid where all must lie.
To wit reviving from its authour's dust
Be kind, ye judges, or at least be just.
For no renew'd hostilities invade
Th' oblivious grave's inviolable shade.
Let one great payment ev'ry claim appease,
And him, who cannot hurt, allow to please;
To please by scenes unconscious of offence,
By harmless merriment, or useful sense.
Where aught of bright or fair the piece displays,
Approve it only--'tis too late to praise.
• Performed at Covent-garden theatre in 1777, for the benefit of Mrs. Kelly, widow
of Hugh Kelly, Esq. (the authour of the play) and her children.
If want of skill or want of care appear,
Forbear to hiss--the poet cannot hear.
By all like him must praise and blame be found,
At best a fleeting gleam, or empty sound.
Yet then shall calm reflection bless the night,
When liberal pity dignify'd delight;
When Pleasure fir'd her torch at Virtue's flame,
And Mirth was Bounty with an humbler name.
Stern Winter now, by Spring repress’d,
Forbears the long-continued strife; And Nature on her naked breast
Delights to catch the gales of life. Now o'er the rural kingdom roves
Soft pleasure with the laughing train, Love warbles in the vocal groves,
And vegetation plants the plain. Unhappy! whom to beds of pain,
Arthritic* tyranny consigns; Whom smiling nature courts in vain,
Though rapture sings and beauty shines.
Yet though my limbs disease invades,
Her wings Imagination tries,
And bears me to the peaceful shades,
Where - -'s humble turrets rise.
Here stop, my soul, thy rapid flight,
Nor from thy pleasing groves depart, Where first great Nature charm'd my sight,
Where Wisdom first inform'd my heart. Here let me through the vales pursue
A guide--a father--and a friend, Once more great Nature's works renew, Once more on Wisdom's voice attend.
From false caresses, causeless strife,
Wild hope, vain fear, alike remov'd; Here let me learn the use of life,
When best enjoy'd—when most improv'd. Teach me, thou venerable bower,
Cool meditation's quiet seat,
The gen’rous scorn of venal power,
The silent grandeur of retreat.
When pride by guilt to greatness climbs,
Or raging factions rush to war,
Here let me learn to shun the crimes
I can't prevent, and will not share. But lest I fall by subtler foes,
Bright Wisdom, teach me Curio's art, The swelling passions to compose,
And quell the rebels of the heart.
O PHeBUS! down the western sky,
Far hence diffuse thy burning ray, Thy light to distant worlds supply,
And wake them to the cares of day. Come, gentle Eve, the friend of care,
Come, Cynthia, lovely queen of night!
Refresh me with a cooling air,
And cheer me with a lambent light.
Lay me, where o'er the verdant ground
Her living carpet Nature spreads;
Where the green bower with roses crown'd,
In showers its fragrant foliage sheds ;
Improve the peaceful hour with wine,
Let musick die along the grove;
Around the bowl let myrtles twine,
And ev'ry strain be tun'd to love.