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Friends of the stage! to whom both Players and
Must sue alike for pardon, or for praise,
Whose judging voice and eye alone direct
If e'er frivolity has led to fame,
And made us blush that you forbore to blame;
If e'er the sinking stage could condescend
To soothe the sickly taste, it dare not mend,
All past reproach may present scenes refute,
And censure, wisely loud, be justly mute!
Oh! since your fiat stamps the Drama's laws,
Forbear to mock us with misplaced applause;
So pride shall doubly nerve the actor's powers,
And reason's voice be echoed back by ours !
This greeting o'er, the ancient rule obeyed,
The Drama's homage by her herald paid,
Receive our welcome too, whose every tone
Springs from our hearts,and fainwould win yourown.
The curtain rises--may our stage unfold
Scenes not unworthy Drury's days of old !
Britons our judges, Nature for our guide,
Still may we please-long, long may you preside!
To them be joy or rest, on me
Thy future ills shall press in vain;
I nothing owe but years to thee,
A debt already paid in pain.
Yet even that pain was some relief ;
It felt, but still forgot thy power:
The active agony of grief
Retards, but never counts the hour.
In joy I've sighed to think thy flight
Would soon subside from swift to slow;
Thy cloud could overcast the light,
But could not add a night to woe;
For then, however drear and dark,
My soul was suited to thy sky; One star alone shot forth a spark
To prove thee-not Eternity.
That beam hath sunk, and now thou art
A blank; a thing to count and curse
Through each dull tedious trifling part,
Which all regret, yet all rehearse.
One scene even thou canst not deform;
The limit of thy sloth or speed,
When future wanderers bear the storm
Which we shall sleep too sound to heed :
And I can smile to think how weak
Thine efforts shortly shall be shown,
When all the vengeance thou canst wreak
Must fall upon-a nameless stone!