Open main menu

Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 1.djvu/442

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

At double meanings folks seem wondrous sly,
And Sentiment prescribes a pensive eye;150
For Nature formed at first the inward man,
And actors copy Nature—when they can.
She bids the beating heart with rapture bound,
Raised to the Stars, or levelled with the ground
And for Expression's aid, 'tis said, or sung,[1]
She gave our mind's interpreter—the tongue,
Who, worn with use, of late would fain dispense
(At least in theatres) with common sense;
O'erwhelm with sound the Boxes, Gallery, Pit,
And raise a laugh with anything—but Wit.160

To skilful writers it will much import,
Whence spring their scenes, from common life or Court;
Whether they seek applause by smile or tear,

To draw a Lying Valet,[2] or a Lear,[3]
  1. And for Emotion's aid 'tis said and sung.—[MS. L. (a).]
  2. [Garrick's Lying Valet was played for the first time at Goodman's Fields, November 30, 1741.]

    ["Peregrine" is a character in George Colman's John Bull, or An Englishman's Fire-Side, Covent Garden, March 5, 1803.]

  3. I have Johnson's authority for making Lear a monosyllable—

    "Perhaps where Lear rav'd or Hamlet died
    On flying cars new sorcerers may ride."

    ["Perhaps where Lear has rav'd, and Hamlet dy'd." Prologue to Irene. Johnson's Works (1806), i. 168.]

    —and (if it need be mentioned) the authority of the epigram on Barry and Garrick.—[Note erased, Proof b, British Museum.]