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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 1.djvu/457

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Yet Chesterfield,[1] whose polished pen inveighs
'Gainst laughter, fought for freedom to our Plays;
Unchecked by Megrims of patrician brains,
And damning Dulness of Lord Chamberlains.
Repeal that act! again let Humour roam
Wild o'er the stage—we've time for tears at home;360
Let Archer[2] plant the horns on Sullen's brows,
And Estifania gull her "Copper"[3] spouse;
The moral's scant—but that may be excused,
Men go not to be lectured, but amused.

He whom our plays dispose to Good or Ill
  1. His speech on the Licensing Act [in which he opposed the Bill], is reckoned one of his most eloquent efforts.

    [The following sentences have been extracted from the speech which was delivered:—

    "The bill is not only an encroachment upon liberty, it is likewise an encroachment on property. Wit, my lords, is a sort of property; it is the property of those who have it, and too often the only property they have to depend on. . . .

    "Those gentlemen who have any such property are all, I hope, our friends; do not let us subject them to any unnecessary or arbitrary restraint. . . .

    "The stage and the press, my lord, are two of our outsentries; if we remove them, if we hoodwink them, if we throw them into fetters, the enemy may surprise us. Therefore I must now look upon the bill before us as a step for introducing arbitrary power into this kingdom."

    Lord Chesterfield's sentiments with regard to laughter are contained in an apophthegm, repeated more than once in his correspondence: "The vulgar laugh aloud, but never smile; on the contrary, people of fashion often smile, but seldom or never laugh aloud."—Chesterfield's Letters to his Godson, Oxford, 1890, p. 27.]

  2. [Archer and Squire Sullen are characters in Farquhar's play (1678-1707), The Beaux' Stratagem, March 8, 1707.]
  3. Michael Perez, the "Copper Captain," in [Fletcher's] Rule a Wife and Have a Wife [licensed October 19, 1624].