In the matter of
a Prologue

'The best actors in the world either for tragedy, comedy, history,
pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical,
tragical-comical-historical pastoral, scene individual,
or poem unlimited.'
Vide Hamlet, and next column.

For past performances, methinks 'twere fit
To let the patient Public give the chit;
Albeit, scarce their memory can score
Your triumphs since the season 'seventy-four'
\Vhen Lytton ruled the roast, and—so 'tis sung—
The Empire and the Amateurs were young.
You, then as now, were Irvings, Barretts, Keans,
For you the local Stansfield painted scenes.
The lenient eyes of Marquises and Earls
Watched, then as now, your not too girlish girls,
And deftly praised, with diplomatic guile,
The high-strung pathos that provoked a smile.
Survivors of a score of Simla years—
Hot for fresh praise and panting for fresh cheers—
Why tell us this? Full oft have we confessed
Your renderings are better than the best.
But Smith today is gone, and gone is Jones—
He of the nut-brown curls and dulcet tones.
'Macready' Boffkins left in 'seventy-eight',
And Burbles is a Minister of State.
Yca, these are gone, and Time, the grim destroyer,
Already blurs their photoes in your foyer,
Though Boffkins' sneer throughout the Hills was known,
And Burbles' Faust was mentioned in Ceylon*.
Sweet must it be to you, remembering these,
To gild afresh half-faded memories,
Belaud the past and, in the praise you paste,
Praise most yourselves—the Perfect and the Chaste!
Why 'chaste' amusement? Do our morals fail
Amid the deodars' of Annandale?''
Into what vicious vortex do they plunge
Who dine on Jakko or in Boileaugunge?
Of course it's 'chaste'! Despite the artless paint,
And P—mm's best wig, who dares to say it ain't?
Great Grundy! Does a sober matron sink
To infamy though rouge and Indian Ink?
Avaunt the thought! As tribute to your taste,
Mellowed by Age, and cooled by tempering Time,
We find it venerable and sublime.

But newer generations take their seats
Unversed in Boffkins' or in Burbles' feats;
And these, perhaps, exacting babes, may say:—
'The audience, not the actors, judge the play'
Nor think that lady-critic over bold,
Who said not 'Time will tell' but 'Time hath told.

*Whose fame beyond their own abode,
extends for miles along the Haarlem Road.