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Themselves they studied, as they felt they writ ;
Till Shame regain'd the Poft that Senfe betray'd,
Then crush'd by Rules, and weaken'd as refin'd, For Years the Power of Tragedy declin'd: From Bard to Bard the frigid Caution crept Till Declamation foar'd, while Paffion flept. Yet ftill did Virtue deign the Stage to tread, Philofophy remain'd, though Nature fled. But forc'd at length her ancient Reign to quit, She faw great Fauftus 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 diftant Times explore, New Bhens, new Durfeys, yet remain in Store. Perhaps, where Lear has rav'd, and Hamlet dy'd, On flying Cars new Sorcerers may ride, Perhaps (for who can guess the Effects of Chance?) Here Hunt may box, or Mahomet may dance.
Hard is his Lot, that here by Fortune plac'd, Muft watch the wild Viciffitudes of Tafte, With every Meteor of Caprice muft play, And chace the new-blown Bubbles of the Day. Ah! let not Cenfure term our Fate, our Choice: The Stage but echoes back the public Voice, The Drama's Laws, the Drama's Patrons give, For we that live to pleafe, muft please to live.
Then prompt no more the Follies you decry,
Bid Scenic Virtue form the rifing Age,
I RE N
E glitt'ring Train! whom Lace and Velvet blefs, Sufpend the foft Sollicitudes of Drefs; From grov'ling Bufinefs and fuperfluous Care, Ye Sons of Avarice! a Moment spare: Vot'ries of Fame and Worfhippers of Pow'r! Difmifs the pleasing Phantoms for an Hour. Our daring Bard, with Spirit unconfin'd, Spreads wide the mighty Moral for Mankind. Learn here how Heav'n fupports the virtuous Mind, Daring, tho' calm; and vigorous, tho' refign'd. Learn here what Anguish racks the guilty Breast, In Pow'r dependent, in Succefs depreft. Learn here that Peace from Innocence muft flow; All elfe is empty Sound, and idle Show.
If Truths like these with pleafing Language join; Ennobled, yet unchang'd, if Nature shine: If no wild Draught depart from Reafon's Rules, Nor Gods his Heroes, nor his Lovers Fools: Intriguing Wits! his artlefs Plot forgive; And fpare him, Beauties! tho' his Lovers live.
Be this at least his Praise; be this his Pride; To force Applaufe no modern Arts are try'd. Shou'd partial Cat-calls all his Hopes confound; He bids no Trumpet quell the fatal Sound. Shou'd welcome Sleep relieve the weary Wit, He rolls no Thunders o'er the drowsy Pit,
No Snares to captivate the Judgment spreads;
Thursday, April 5, 1750,
At the REPRESENTATION of
For the Benefit of Mrs. ELIZABETH FOSTER,
MILTON'S Grand-daughter, and only surviving
E patriot Crouds, who burn for England's Fame,
Whofe gen'rous Zeal, unbought by flatt'ring Rhimes,
The flighted Arts Futurity fhall trust,
At length our mighty Bard's victorious Lays