Vice always found a sympathetic friend;
They pleas'd their age, and did not aim to mend.
Yet bards like these aspir'd to lasting praise,
And proudly hop'd to pimp in future days.
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', though Nature fied.
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 dy'd,
On flying cars new sorcerers may ride ;
Perhaps, for who can guess th' effects of chance?
Here Hunt may box, or Mahomet *
Hard is his lot that, here by fortune plac'd,
Must watch the wild vicissitudes of taste;
* Hunt, a famous boxer on the stage; Mahomet, a rope danwho had exhibited at Covent Garden Theatre the winter before, said to be a Turk.