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Friends of the stage! to whom both Players and
Must sue alike for pardon, or for praise,
Whose judging voice and eye alone direct
The boundless power to cherish or reject;
And made us blush that you forbore to blame;
So pride shall doubly nerve the actor's powers,
This greeting o'er, the ancient rule obeyeḍ, The Drama's homage by her herald paid, Receive our welcome too, whose every tone Springs from our hearts, and fain would win The curtain rises-may our stage unfold Scenes not unworthy Drury's days of old! Britons our judges, Nature for our guide,
Still may we please-long, long may you preside!
The varying hours must flag or fly,
Whose tardy winter, fleeting spring,
But drag or drive us on to die
Hail thou! who on my birth bestowed
Those boons to all that know thee known;
Yet better I sustain thy load,
For now I bear the weight alone.
I would not one fond heart should share
The bitter moments thou hast given;
And pardon thee, since thou could'st spare
To them be joy or rest, on me
Thy future ills shall press in vain;
I nothing owe but years to thee,
A debt already paid in pain.
Yet even that pain was some relief;
The active agony of grief
Retards, but never counts the hour.
In joy I've sighed to think thy flight
Would soon subside from swift to slow;
Thy cloud could overcast the light,
But could not add a night to woe;
For then, however drear and dark,
My soul was suited to thy sky;
One star alone shot forth a spark
prove thee-not Eternity.
That beam hath sunk, and now thou art
A blank; a thing to count and curse
Through each dull tedious trifling part,
One scene even thou canst not deform;
When future wanderers bear the storm
Which we shall sleep too sound to heed:
And I can smile to think how weak
Thine efforts shortly shall be shown,
When all the vengeance thou canst wreak Must fall upon—a nameless stone!