And none will doubt, but that our emigration,
Has proved most useful to the British nation.
But, you inquire, what could our breasts inflame
With this new passion for theatric fame;
What, in the practice of our former days,
Could shape our talents to exhibit plays?
Your patience, sirs, some observations made,
You'll grant us equal to the scenic trade.
He who to midnight ladders is no stranger,
You'll own will make an admirable Ranger.
To seek Macheath we have not far to roam,
And sure in Filch I shall be quite at home.
Unrivalled there, none will dispute my claim,
To high pre-eminence and exalted fame.
As oft on Gadshill we have ta'en our stand
When 'twas so dark you could not see your hand,
Some true-bred Falstaff, we may hope to start,
"Who, when well bolstered, well will play his part.
The scene to vary, we shall try in time
To treat you with a little Pantomime.
Here light and easy Columbines are found,
And well-tried Harlequins with us abound;
From durance vile our precious selves to keep,
"We often had recourse to th' flying leap;
To a black face have sometimes owed escape,
And Hounslow Heath has proved the worth of crape.
But how, you ask, can we e'er hope to soar
Above these scenes, and rise to tragic lore?
Too oft, alas! we've forced th' unwilling tear,
And petrified the heart with real fear.
Macbeth a harvest of applause will reap,
For some of us, I fear, have murdered sleep;
His lady too, with grace will sleep and talk.
Our females have been used at night to walk.
Sometimes, indeed, so various is our art,
An actor may improve and mend his part;
"Give me a horse," bawls Richard, like a drone,
We'll find a man would help himself to one.
Grant us your favour, put us to the test.
To gain your smiles we'll do our very best;
And without dread of future Turnkey Lockits,
Thus, in an honest way, still pick your pockets.
It may be doubted whether Richard Brinsley Sheridan