PROLOGUES, like cards of compliment, we find,
Most as unmeaning as politely kind;
To beg a favour, or to plead excuse,
Of both appears to be the gen’ral use.
Shall my words, tipt with flattery, prepare
A kind exertion of your tend'rest care ?
Shall I present our author to your sight,
All pale and trembling for his fate this night?
Shall I solicit the most pow'rful'arms
To aid his cause, the force of beauty's charms ?
Or teil each critic, his approving taste
Must give the sterling stamp, wherever plac'd ?
This might be done-but so to seek applause
Argues à conscious weakness in the cause.
No-let the Muse in simple truth appear,
Reason and Nature are the judges here:
If by their strict and self-describing laws,
The sev'ral characters to night she draws;
If from the whole a pleasing piece is made,
On the true principles of light and shade;
Struck with the hai mony of just design,
Your eyes-your ears—your hearts, will all combine
To grant applause :—but if an erring hand
Gross disproportion marks in motley band,
If the group'd figures false connexions show,
And glaring colours without meaning glow,
Your wounded feelings, turn'd a diff'rent way,
Will justly damn-th' abortion of a play.
As Farquhar has observ’d, our English law,
Like a fair spreading oak, the Muse shall draw,
By Providence design'd, and wisdom made
For honesty to thrive beneath its shade ;
Yet from iis boughs some insects shelter find,
Dead to each nobler feeling of the mind,
Who thrive, alas ! too well, and never cease
To prey on justice, property, and peace.