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EPILOGUE

Poets, like disputants, when reasons fail,
Have one sure refuge left-and that's to rail.
Fop, coxcomb, fool, are thundered through the pit;
And this is all their equipage of wit.
We wonder how the devil this difference grows
Betwixt our fools in verse, and yours in prose:
For, 'faith, the quarrel rightly understood,
'Tis civil war with their own flesh and blood.
The threadbare author hates the gaudy coat;
And swears at the gilt coach, but swears afoot:
For 'tis observed of every scribbling man,
He grows a fop as fast as 'e'er he can;
Prunes up, and asks his oracle, the glass,
If pink or purple best become his face.
For our poor wretch, he neither rails nor prays;
Nor likes your wit just as you like his plays;
He has not yet so much of Mr Bayes.
He does his best; and if he cannot please,
Would quietly sue out his writ of ease.
Yet, if he might his own grand jury call,
By the fair sex he begs to stand or fall.
Let Cæsar's power the men's ambition move,
But grace you him who lost the world for love!

Yet if some antiquated lady say,
The last age is not copied in his play;
Heaven help the man who for that face must drudge,
Which only has the wrinkles of a judge.
Let not the young and beauteous join with those;
For should you raise such numerous hosts of foes,
Young wits and sparks he to his aid must call;
'Tis more than one man's work to please you all.

THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL

BY

RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN

INTRODUCTORY NOTE

RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN, statesman and dramatist, was born in Dublin on Oct. 30, 1751. He belonged to a highly talented family, his grandfather, Thomas Sheridan, being a prominent Jacobite and a historian, and his father, also Thomas Sheridan, a distinguished actor, theatrical manager, and author.

Sheridan was educated for the bar, but the success of his comedy, "The Rivals," led him into close relations with the theatre. The Rivals" was followed by “St. Patrick's Day,a farce; "The Duenna," a comic opera; A Trip to Scarborough," an adaptation from Vanbrugh; "The School for Scandal(1777); and a patriotic melodrama, Pizarro.” He was manager of Drury Lane Theatre, which he twice had a chief part in rebuilding; and though he had periods of marked prosperity in his management, and exercised a powerful influence on the stage history of his time, his theatrical activities frequently involved him in grave financial difficulties.

In 1780 Sheridan entered Parliament, and for over thirty years he took a highly distinguished part in politics. He held cabinet office a number of times, and was regarded as the most brilliant and effective orator of his day. His most famous speeches dealt with the prosecution of Warren Hastings; the French Revolution, in connection with which he urged the policy of letting the French manage their own government, but of resisting their attempts to spread their principles by conquest; the war with the American colonies, by his opposition to which he earned the gratitude of Congress; and the liberty of the press, of which he was an uncompromising champion. Throughout his career he was an honest and intrepid advocate of liberal ideas.

In The School for ScandalSheridan carried the comedy of manners to the highest point it has reached in England. In the permanence of its hold on the public it is surpassed only by the plays of Shakespeare; and in characters like Joseph Surface, Sir Peter, and Lady Teazle, and in the scandal scene and the auction scene the author added to the lasting glories of the English stage.

Sheridan died in 1816, and was buried with great pomp in Westminster Abbey.

A PORTRAIT

ADDRESSED TO MRS CREWE, WITH THE COMEDY OF

THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL

BY R. B. SHERIDAN, ESQ.

Tell me, ye prim adepts in Scandal's school,
Who rail by precept, and detract by rule,
Lives there no character, so tried, so known,
So decked with grace, and so unlike your own,
That even you assist her fame to raise,
Approve by envy, and by silence praise !
Attend !-a model shall attract your view-
Daughters of calumny, I summon you!
You shall decide if this a portrait prove,
Or fond creation of the Muse and Love.
Attend, ye virgin critics, shrewd and sage,
Ye matron censors of this childish age,
Whose peering eye and wrinkled front declare
A fixed antipathy to young and fair;
By cunning, cautious; or by nature, cold,
In maiden madness, virulently bold !-
Attend, ye skilled to coin the precious tale,
Creating proof, where inuendos fail!
Whose practised memories, cruelly exact,
Omit no circumstance, except the fact !-
Attend, all ye who boast,or old or young,
The living libel of a slanderous tongue!
So shall my theme as far contrasted be,
As saints by fiends, or hymns by calumny.
Come, gentle Amoret (for 'neath that name
In worthier verse is sung thy beauty's fame);
Come- for but thee who seeks the Muse? and while
Celestial blushes check thy conscious smile,
With timid grace, and hesitating eye,

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