Prologue. By A Gentleman of Leicester by Henry Carter

On opening the Theatre, at Sydney, Botany Bay, to be spoken by the celebrated Mr Barrington

   From distant climes o’er wide-spread seas we come,
Though not with much eclat or beat of drum,
True patriots all; for be it understood,
We left our country for our country’s good;
No private views disgrac’d our generous zeal,
What urg’d our travels was our country’s weal;
And none will doubt but that our emigration
Has prov’d 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.
Unrival’d 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 bolster’d, 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 ow’d escape,
And Hounslow-Heath has prov’d 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 forc’d th’ unwilling tear,
And petrified the heart with real fear.
Macbeth a harvest of applause will reap,
For some of us, I fear, have murder’d sleep;
His lady too with grace will sleep and talk.
Our females have been us’d 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

From: Burke, Edmund (Ed), Annual Register, Volume 43, 1802, Longmans Green & Co: London, pp. 516-517. (http://books.google.com.au/books?id=tPkjAAAAMAAJ&q=prologue#v=snippet&q=prologue&f=false)

Date: 1801

By: Henry Carter (?-1806)

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One Comment to “Prologue. By A Gentleman of Leicester by Henry Carter”

  1. So visual, and romantic; the past resurrected. The famous Mr Barrington, an actor par excellence, to a rapt audience: those final two lmmortal lines: And, without dread of future turnkey Lockits/ Thus, in an honest way, still pick your pockets.
    . . .to thunderous applause and gales of laughter. Wonderful!

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