1773 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Colman

Anonymous, "Parody" Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser (9 December 1773).



When Managers become not only tyrants, but wags, and sneerers likewise, it may be presumed the spirit of English audiences is quite subdued, and that Sir John Fielding and Mr. Colman have proved themselves two of the greatest generals that ever wielded a constable's staff, or a tragedy truncheon: take then, dear liberty-loving Woodfall, the last dying speech of the journeymen Taylors, Barbers, Bookbinders, and all the Poor Wretches that contribute to fill the pocket of these lordly great little beings.

To hiss — or not to hiss — that is the question?
Whether 'tis nobler in the Pit to bear
The starts and starings of outrageous ranters,
Or to take arms against assail of insults,
And by opposing, end them. — To hiss — to laugh
No more — and by a laugh, to say, we end
Burlettas, mimics, and all th' unnat'ral stuff
The stage is heir to: 'tis a reformation
Devoutly to be wish'd! — to hiss, to laugh—
To laugh! — perchance to pelt, — ay, there's the rub;
For in that pelting vein, what blows may come,
When we have driv'n off the direct spouters,
Must give us pause: — there's the respect;
That makes our passiveness of so long life;
For who wou'd bear the sneer and scorn of fools,
The puffer's paragraphs, the pilf'rer's trash,
The pangs of despis'd taste, the stroller's cant,
The insolence of orders, and the spurns
Which patient judgment of th' unlearned takes,
When he himself might his quietus make,
With a bare pippin? — who wou'd nonsense clap
And yawn and puke at a damn'd heavy scene,
But that the dread of something after pelting,
Some undiscover'd bruiser, from whose arm,
No bones unbroke return, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those play'rs we scorn,
Than call for better, that we must not have?

Thus patentees make cowards of us all,
And thus the healthy face of resolution,
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of fear,
And enterprizes of great pith and moment;
With this regard their current's turn'd away,
And lose the name of Action.
Dec. 7, 1773.