As puffing quacks some caitiff wretch procure
To swear the pill, or drop, has wrought a cure;
Thus on the stage, our play-wrights still depend
For Epilogues and Prologues on some friend,
Who knows each art of coaxing up the town, 5
And make full many a bitter pill go down.
Conscious of this, our bard has gone about,
And teas'd each rhyming friend to help him out.
'An Epilogue -- things can't go on without it;
It could not fail, would you but set about it.' 10
'Young man,' cries one -- a bard laid up in clover --
'Alas, young man, my writing days are over;
Let boys play tricks, and kick the straw; not I:
Your brother Doctor there, perhaps, may try.'
'What I? dear Sir,' the Doctor interposes 15
'What plant my thistle, Sir, among his roses!
No, no; I've other contests to maintain;
To-night I head our troops at Warwick Lane:
Go, ask your manager.' 'Who, me? Your pardon;
Those things are not our forte at Covent Garden.' 20
Our Author's friends, thus plac'd at happy distance,
Give him good words indeed, but no assistance.
As some unhappy wight, at some new play,
At the Pit door stands elbowing a way,
While oft, with many a smile, and many a shrug, 25
He eyes the centre, where his friends sit snug;
His simp'ring friends, with pleasure in their eyes,
Sink as he sinks, and as he rises rise;
He nods, they nod; he cringes, they grimace;
But not a soul will budge to give him place. 30
Since then, unhelp'd, our bard must now conform
'To 'bide the pelting of this pitiless storm' --
Blame where you must, be candid where you can;
And be each critic the 'Good Natur'd Man'.