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time for all. Nervous and impetuous as was its swing, it could be leisurely and measured in its stroke. No one was too high, nor no one too low: though each was dealt with according to his degree, and those whom he disdained to level with a blow of his muscular arm, he could degrade with a passing and contemptuous kick. The whole world of stage players was aghast. They ran about like a flock of frightened sheep. "The Rosciad" had fallen on the playhouses like a shell; and the crowd of pasteboard kings and queens, the heroes and heroines, and the comic men and women, who had loftily given the town laws, were now coolly and deliberately sat in judgment upon, and dissected with the finest and most pitiless strokes. They little dreamed, that, for the past two months, a careful and laborious observer had been coming to the theatre, almost regularly every night. Perhaps the moneytakers, or officials, may have noticed a burly figure always finding its way to one special placethe front row of the pit, nearest to the orchestra "spikes." But they could not have dreamed what a deadly missive was being manufactured all that time. This steady tenant of the front row was the Rev. Charles Churchill, taking careful notes of every actor, from Garrick down to Packer.

The author of this wonderful piece-a big burly man-in "a black coat and a black scratch wig,"* had been seen about town; and only a few weeks before, had got rid of both his causes of complaint"the wife he was tired of, and the gown he was displeased with;" and as he said in the strange, and

* O'Keefe. Taylor saw him at Vauxhall in a blue coat, edged with gold lace, black silk small clothes, and white stockings.

little known letter, he wrote to a friend, "I feel myself in the situation of a man that has carried a d-d heavy load for a long time, and then sets it down. So much for my wife and gown. In this temper he was not likely to deal gently with anything he set himself to criticise.

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In March, '61, just before the theatre closed, the satire appeared. The players writhed under it. Their profession was described for them, in terms more degrading than Vagrant Act ever used. They were formed contemptuously into a procession, in which their theatrical accessories were only made to add to their degradation:

"Then came drum, trumpet, hautboy, fiddle, flute,
Next snuffer, sweeper, shifter, soldier, mute.
Pantomime figures then are brought to view,
Fools hand-in-hand with fools, go two by two.
Next came the treasurer of either house,
One with full purse, t'other without a sous."+

They were to choose a judge; but how were the arts of ordinary election to be carried out in so beggarly a field?

"What can an actor give? in every age,

Cash hath been rudely banished from the stage.

Wine! they would bribe you with the world as soon,
And, of roast beef they only know the tune."

Then as the actors go by, he criticises them with delightful, and most easy touch. There was "poor Billy Havard," whose obscurity might have saved him, yet


“Easy, vacant face proclaimed a heart
Which could not feel emotions, nor impart"

-with Davies, the actor-bookseller. Never was there

* This extraordinary letter is given in Peake's Colman, vol. i. p. 129. From this singular rhyme we can see he was not very skilled in French.

such contemptuous praise-nor such a criticism, compressed into four lines:

"With him came mighty Davies-on my life,

That Davies hath a very pretty wife!
Statesman all over! in plots famous grown,

He mouths a sentence as curs mouth a bone."*

Holland was a mere imitation-"I hate e'en Garrick thus at second hand:" and King was a shameless exhibition that "shines in Brass."

could be dismissed very briefly:


"Lo, Yates! without the least finesse of art,

He gets applause. I wish he'd get his part.
When hot impatience is in full career,

How vilely Hark'e,' 'Hark'e,' grates the ear."+

Woodward was put very low indeed, a mere

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'Squeaking harlequin, made up of whim,

He twists, he twines, he tortures every limb."

A humbler Jackson was happily ridiculed—

"One leg, as if suspicious of his brother,

Desirous seems to run away from t'other."


And Ackman and Packer, obscure nobodies, were ironically complimented as unrivalled in "humour" and


sprightly ease." Sparks was to be found at a glass "elaborately dividing frown from smile;" while

"Smith, the genteel, the airy, and the smart,

Smith was just gone to school to say his part.'

Ross, a handsome man, of good breeding, would grow

* Mr. Isaac Taylor saw Davies play, long after "The Rosciad " had appeared, and noticed the "hollow rumbling" of his voice. He had also seen the very pretty wife sitting in the shop, neat, modest, and with an air of meek dejection, and a look as of better days. Friends, this gentleman heard, had to pay the expense of Davies's interment, and the "pretty wife" died in a workhouse. + Yates's memory improved in afterlife; but he was in the habit of repeating sentences several times, like this, "Harkee, Polly Honeycomb," to give himself time to think. He was very indignant at his wife being dragged into "The Rosciad," and summoned Churchill to meet him at a tavern. George Garrick hurried after them, and succeeded in reconciling satirist and actor over a bottle of wine.

indifferent and languid as he acted. He was roused

with a couplet :

"Ross (a misfortune which we often meet)

Was fast asleep at his Statira's feet.”*

Moody, and Moody's country, received a fine compliment; and the vulgar stage Irishman, who has had not a little to do in forming the English judgment of that country, was thus branded :-

"Long from a nation, ever hardly used,

At random censured, wantonly abused,

Have Britons drawn their sport with partial view,
Form'd general notions from the rascal few;
Condemn'd a people, as for vices known,

Which, from their country banish'd, seek our own.
Taught by thee, MOODY, we now learn to raise

Mirth from their foibles-from their virtues praise."

Austin glistened in French silks. Foote was not spared. He was dismissed as a mere mimic, and not even a good one :—

"His strokes of humour and his bursts of sport
Are all contained in this one word distort."

Macklin was coldly, but not cruelly, disapproved of; but the whole venom of the satire may be said to be concentrated in the portrait of Murphy. Colman and Lloyd, Churchill's friends and companions, had written down the luckless Murphy, and now Churchill came to niche him into his "Rosciad." This dreadful carving, and the portrait of Fitzpatrick added later, are certainly the finest bits in the whole. Murphy came:


“What though the sons of nonsense hail him SIRE,
His restless soul's ambition stopped not there,

To make his triumphs perfect dub him PLAYER.”

He was asked who the Statira was, and said it was Miss Bellamy. Taylor

recollects his being also quickened by an angry audience.

He will admit he had a good figure

"When motionless he stands we all approve,
What pity 'tis the THING was made to move.
When he attempts in some one favourite part
To ape the feelings of a manly heart,
His honest features the disguise defy,
And his face loudly gives his tongue the lie.
Can none remember, yes, I know all must,
When in the MOOR he ground his teeth to dust.
With various reading stored his empty skull,
Learned without sense and venerably dull."

Why did he not take to city pursuits and trade? He might have done well. Perhaps,

"PRUDENT DULNESS marked him for a MAYOR."

Better than all was the hint at the beginning of the satire. When there was a debate about choosing a judge:

"For Murphy some few pilfering wits declar'd,
While Folly clapp'd her hands and Wisdom star'd.

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Could it be worth thy wond'rous waste of pains
To publish to the world thy lack of brains?
Or might not reason, e'en to thee, have shown
Thy greatest praise had been to live UNKNOWN?
Yet let not vanity like thine despair ;
Fortune makes Folly her peculiar care.”

In those days, when every gentleman carried a sword, it argues little for Murphy's courage, that he could have put up with this outrageous affront, and not have attempted to call to account, or chastise the man, who had described him in such scandalous terms. When we think how he could bluster, and hector the tolerant Garrick, with the most intemperate language, this suspicion is scarcely without warrant.*

* The only notice he took was a poor retort, called "The Fleet Ditch," which, as compared to Churchill's poem, was as that dull and stagnant nuisance itself, to a fine and flowing river. In it he talks of the " foul-mouth'd" Rosciad, and of Churchill bowing his "brutal form." Colman, with equally refined satire, he called "the low-born Colman."

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