« ZurückWeiter »
MY LORD DUKE,
O a patron of the Muses this would indeed be an intrusive and contemptible offering, as I cannot claim even the most distant relationihip with the Sister Årts; and if I were to assume only a familiar and easy acquaintance, 1 thould be inftantly detected as a filly, though not an artful impostor: I must therefore slide imperceptibly into your Grace's presence, -under the fallacious and specious pretext of being a dangling twigcousin of the alluring theatres, to which your Grace is a well-known avowed friend, amateur, and protector; as they evidently are honoured with your Grace's never-failing tribute and support:Therefore, under the guardian shades of Melpomene and Thalia, I am emboldened (by Hope) to cast my defenceless work at your Grace's feet, imploring mercy and pity for my lack of skill
and non-acquaintance with the Muses. The work, indeed, is a true picture of its master, heing as deftitute of wit as wealth :- The concurring evils of
poverty, and want of natural brilliant endow. ments, preclude, I fear, every possible chance of good fortune for preserving its life with the world's approbation, unless when they behold with wonder your Grace's condescension in raising the fupplicating mendicant from the ground, and crowning its insignificance with your good wishes, which must be ever regarded as an honoured and gracious foftering. And who knows, by being thus adorned with the Duke of Norfolk's name in its front, but it may make so brilliant an appearance as to obtain a passport into the presence of the most noble and worthy, and by such unmerited good fortune, its fickly life may not only be preserved from instant perishing, but prolonged even after its insignificant parent shall inevitably be obliterated from the smallest traces of memory; as your Grace's goodness, wit, and understanding, will live for ages, and perhaps occasionally be the means of restoring a faint glimmering (in theatrical dark passages) of him who, during his life, has ever been with true gratitude and respectful homage,
Your Grace's much honoured,
humble servant, YORK, OCTOBER 23. 1790.
P R E F A CE.
GOOD READER, BE
E kind, courteous, merciful, and forgiving; for how would you be, if HE, who is the top of judginent, should but judge you as you are? Oh! think on that, and mercy then will breathe within your lips like man new inade.
This confused, motley, incoherent medleythis something, or this nothing of a work, was undertaken without any premeditation or note whatever, and finished heedlessly, during a severe, painful, and tedious illness, occasioned by a dreadful fractured leg—the time greatly interfered upon with the constant and unavoidable vexations, difappointments, and accidents, that will ever be the natural attendants on the conductor of a theatre; 28 the difficulty of pleasing before and behind the curtain requires, at least, no common share of wit : but as I was unable to move, and was ever ad. dicted to the witching time of night, it helped to alleviate many distressed hours. .
As to wit I profess it not, yet here and there it will start unexpectedly, as thequotations are so variously sprinkled, and either witness for or against me ; but
I may surely be permitted to quote, as the ableft and most ingenious men do the same (no matter how elevated in rank and station) and are frequently heard by the Lords and Commons, and even at the learned bar on the most serious occasions ; neis ther is the holy pulpit entirely exempt from this practice. The esteemed Samuel Whyte, Esq; of Dublin, remarks, that “every class of life has its pedants; those of a theatrical turn shew their predilection in their use of theatrical allusions and citations from plays on every occasion, happily exemplified in the character of the Apprentice; here the writer takes leave, once for all, to acknowledge, that he has studiously imitated the turn of expression, and adopted a favourite phrase from any passage alluded to in other writers, without particularizing it by any mark or intimation, deeming it superfluous to the learned reader, who needs no monitor to recognise an old acquaintance, and may be pleased to meet it in a novel and unexpected situation : To the less learned it would be empty parade, and disfigure the page to no end. Our most eminent poets have freely indulged themselves in this practice ;-Pope espe. cially ;--but as he resorted to the ancients, and works not commonly known, it has not been generally noticed ; and by most who have observed it, esteemed a beauty.” As a stage chronologer, !