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Their cause was gen’ral, their supports were strong, Their slaves were willing, and their reign was long : Till Shame regain'd the post that Sense betray'd, And Virtue call’d Oblivion to her aid.
Then, crush'd by rules, and weaken'd as refin’d, For years the pow'r of Tragedy declin'd; From bard to bard the frigid caution crept, Till Declamation roar'd whilst Passion slept; Yet still did Virtue deign the stage to tread, Philosophy remain'd, though Nature fled. But forc'd, at length, her ancient reign to quit, She saw great Faustus lay the ghost of Wit; Exulting Folly hail'd the joyful day, And Pantomime and Song confirm’d her sway.
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 died, On flying cars new sorcerers may ride ; Perhaps (for who can guess th' effects of chance?) Here Hunt may box, or Mahomet * may
* Hunt, a famous boxer on the stage; Mahomet, a ropedancer, who had exhibited at Covent Garden Theatre the winter before, said to be a Turk.
Then prompt no more the follies you decry, As tyrants doom their tools of guilt to die; 'Tis yours, this night, to bid the reign commence Of rescued Nature and reviving Sense; To chase the charms of Sound, the
of Show, For useful Mirth and salutary Woe; Bid scenick Virtue form the rising age, And Truth diffuse her radiance from the stage.
YE glittring train, whom lace and velvet bless,
If truths like these with pleasing language join;