In the Matter of a Prologue

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'
When Lytton ruled the roost, 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.
Yea, 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,

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