1813
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Drury and Comedy. By L'Allegro.

A Sequel to Rejected Addresses; or, the Theatrum Poetarum Minorum. By another Author.

Anonymous


A burlesque of Milton's L'Allegro, written to celebrate the reopening of Drury Lane Theatre. The genealogy of Comedy is perhaps predictable: "The lovely giggling goddess, Mirth, | One charming May-day gave thee birth, | Whom thy father, lively Wit, | Met one night in Drury's Pit, | And picked her from a group of wenches, | As she tripped along the benches" p. 44. This anonymous "sequel" is one of several volumes published in imitation of the original Rejected Addresses, by James and Horace Smith. That volume was itself an imitation of the Probationary Odes for the Laureatship (1785).

Note to line nine ("To kill the House"): "There is some doubt, whether in the original MS. this word was not 'fill.' Though Mr. Kemble has a notorious passion for daggers, poison, &c. I never before heard so shocking an imputation thrown upon him, as that he wished to use them in falling foul upon his audience. His haughtiness would do well to chastise L'Allegro for this piece of impudence" pp. 43-44n.

Analectic Magazine [Philadelphia]: "'Drury and Comedy,' by L'Allegro, is below contempt. 'A Spirited Address on Theatrical Reform,' by Sir Francis Burdett, has no similarity to the manner, and even caricatures the sentiments, of the baronet. "Orchestraic Melody,' alotted to Mr. Horace Twiss, might have been written by that gentleman, or any other gentleman, had it been more correct in language and versification" 2 (August 1813) 121.



Hence, friends of Covent-garden!
Of Jack Kemble and Mother Siddons, full
Enemies of John Bull,
'Midst Macbeth's shapes and shrieks, and tragic jargon,
Find out some rugged cell,
Where ghosts, fiends, furies, giants, roaring flock,
And talk blarney to a rock!
There, with daggers, poison, and such like stuff,
To kill the House just enough,
Let Tragedy and Kemble ever dwell.

But come, thou Goddess fair and free,
In Drury-Lane called Comedy!
Though sometimes by the Tragic race,
Distortion, Mimic, and Grimace.
The lovely giggling goddess, Mirth,
One charming May-day gave thee birth,
Whom thy father, lively Wit,
Met one night in Drury's Pit,
And picked her from a group of wenches,
As she tripped along the benches.
And, sweet Goddess, bring with thee
Matthews, Knight, and Emery!
Come, Miss Duncan and Miss Kelly,
And little Sally Booth, the silly!
And be sure you bring a dimple,
Sticking a patch on every pimple:
But if thy nature has been stingy,
If thy peepers are but dingy;
If no rose bedecks thy cheek,
Blooming o'er no dimple sleek
O'er thy smooth skin — But stop, perchance
Thy skin has felt the mattery lance
Spreading the pitty devastation
Of the small-pox inoculation—
Then take some glazier's putty, and
Stop the breaches with your hand!
This done — the surface smooth and chaste,
Spread lightly o'er with Grindle's paste—
One wash of Bowman's patent fluid
Will make it white as robe of Druid;
And then well-shaded daubs of lake,
With the soft'ning paint-brush make.
Take care this artificial face
You spoil not with too much grimace—
Never ope your mouth but half,
And make a little mincing laugh;
And lest your lover should imprint
Too warm a kiss, give him a hint,
That true-bred artificial faces
Are shock'd by man's too rude embraces.

Comedy, sweet Goddess, come!
Hit or Miss, and Tommy Thumb,
School for Scandal, Honey Moon—
Lawyer, Parson, Fool and Clown—
Dance around in sportive ring,
Singing-Drury's Opening!
Straight mine eye hath caught new pleasures,
While the ample dome it measures;
Giddy Damsels, stiff Papas,
Pretty Misses and Mammas—
Housemaids, Butlers, Scullions, Cooks;
Pedantic Critics from their books;
Shop-boys leave their lace and ribbon,
Widows put the circling bib on—
Shrill-whistling hostlers from the stable—
Drunk bon-vivans from the table—
Raggamuffins, Thieves, Pickpockets—
Ladies wearing lover's lockets—
All by turns my wandering sight
Catches, as they each invite.
All young and old come to the Play,
For this is Drury's holyday!

See in yonder Gallery's height,
Where thick crowds obstruct the sight,
Sit squeez'd together Jack and Jill,
Dick and Tom, and Bob and Bill,
Honest labourers of the trowel,
Journeymen of bricklayer Howel—
For ev'ry man who laid a brick,
Sawed a plank, or planed a stick,
Or help'd in various other ways
This venerable pile to raise,
By Mr. Whitbread's kind permission,
Has to-night a Free Admission!

In the Pit you often see
A Housemaid full of witchery,
Sitting 'tween two glowing boys,
Anticipating future joys!
Teazing her with amorous bother—
A Butcher one, a Cobler t' other!
Now they view the glowing scenes,
Where raving Misses in their teens
Dance and flirt with lovers gay,
Finishing with a run-away!
While circling round her tender waist
Each feels increase his passion chaste.

Away, proud Learning's pedant fools,
Dunces of the Grecian Schools!
Go and flog your truant scholars,
With noddles hard as Spanish dollars.
Hence, vile grov'ller after pelf,
Go to the Devil and shake yourself!
Adieu, fond Drury, for to-night
Homeward I must wing my flight;
Banishing corroding cares,
Thou fann'st my soul with fav'rite airs.
To-morrow night I'll come again
To the sweet scenes of Drury-Lane!
Comedy's gay pleasures give—
Drury, long with thee I'll live!
For here we dance in jovial ring,
Singing Drury's Opening!

[pp. 43-48]