« PreviousContinue »
Yes, 'tis the pulse of life! my fears were vain;
* After a Tragedy, performed for her benefit, at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane, April 27, 1795.
Blanching each honest cheek with deeds of night, Done here so oft by dim and doubtful light.
-To drop all metaphor, that little bell
But, Ladies, say, must I alone unmask?
Woman studies stage-effect.
First, how her little breast with triumph swells,
A school-girl next, she curls her hair in papers, And mimics father's gout, and mother's vapours; Discards her doll, bribes Betty for romances; Playful at church, and serious when she dances ; Tramples alike on customs and on toes, And whispers all she hears to all she knows; Terror of caps, and wigs, and sober notions ! A romp ! that longest of perpetual motions ! -Till tamed and tortured into foreign graces, She sports her lovely face at public places ; And with blue, laughing eyes, behind her fan, First acts her part with that great actor, MAN.
Too soon a flirt, approach her and she flies! Frowns when pursued, and, when entreated, sighs! Plays with unhappy men as cats with mice; Till fading beauty hints the late advice. Her prudence dictates what her pride disdained, And now she sues to slaves herself had chained !
Then comes that good old character, a Wife, With all the dear, distracting cares of life; A thousand cards a day at doors to leave, And, in return, a thousand cards receive; Rouge high, play deep, to lead the ton aspire, With nightly blaze set PORTLAND-PLACE on fire;
Snatch half a glimpse at Concert, Opera, Ball,
Last the grey Dowager, in ancient flounces,
Thus WOMAN makes her entrance and her exit; Not least an actress when she least suspects it. Yet Nature oft peeps out and mars the plot, Each lesson lost, each poor pretence forgot; Full oft, with energy that scorns controul, At once lights up the features of the soul; Unlocks each thought chained down by coward Art, And to full day the latent passions start! -And she, whose first, best wish is your applause, Herself exemplifies the truth she draws.
Born on the stage-thro' every shifting scene,