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“ 'Tis well enough these vagabonds to see,
“ But would you partner with a showman be?"
“ Showman !” said Peter, “ did not Quin and Clive, '. And Roscius-Garrick, by the science thrive? “ Showman !-'tis scandal; I'm by genius led “ To join a class who've Shakspeare at their head.”
Poor Peter thus by easy steps became
A dreaming candidate for scenic fame,
And, after years consumed, infirm and poor,
He sits and takes the tickets at the door.
Of various men these marching troops are made,-
Pen-spurning clerks, and lads contemning trade;
Waiters and servants by confinement teased,
And youths of wealth by dissipation eased;
With feeling nymphs, who, such resource at hand,
Scorn to obey the rigour of command;
Some, who from higher views by vice are won,
And some of either sex by love undone;
The greater part lamenting as their fall,
What some an honour and advancement call.
There are who names in shame or fear assume,
And hence our Bevilles and our Savilles come;
It honours him, from tailor's board kick'd down,
As Mister Dormer to amuse the town;
Falling, he rises: but a kind there are
Who dwell on former prospects, and despair;
Justly but vainly they their fate deplore,
And mourn their fall who fell to rise no more.
Our merchant Thompson, with his sons around,
Most mind and talent in his Frederick found :
He was so lively, that his mother knew,
If he were taught, that honour must ensue;
The father's views were in a different line,
But if at college he were sure to shine,
Then should he go-to prosper who could doubt?
When school-boy stigmas would be all wash'd out;
For there were marks upon his youthful face,
'Twixt vice and error-a neglected case-
These would submit to skill; a little time,
And none could trace the error or the crime;
Then let him go, and once at college, he
Might choose his station—what would Frederick be?
'Twas soon determined—He could not descend
To pedant-laws and lectures without end;
And then the chapel-night and morn to pray,
Or mulct and threaten'd if he kept away;
No! not to be a bishop-so he swore,
And at his college he was seen no more.
His debts all paid, the father with a sigh,
Placed him in office—"Do, my Frederick, try;
“ Confine thyself a few short months, and then-
He tried a fortnight, and threw down the pen.
Again demands were hush'd: “My son, you're free, “But you're unsettled; take
chance at sea :" So in few days the midshipman equipp'd, Received the mother's blessing and was shipp'd.
Hard was her fortune! soon compell’d to meet The wretched stripling staggering through the street; For, rash, impetuous, insolent and vain, The captain sent him to his friends again: About the borough roved th’unhappy boy, And ate the bread of every chance-employ; Of friends he borrow'd, and the parents yet In secret fondness authorised the debt; The younger sister, still a child, was taught To give with feign'd affright the pittance sought; For now the father cried" It is too late “ For trial more—I leave him to his fate,”Yet left him not; and with a kind of joy The mother heard of her desponding boy: At length he sicken'd, and he found, when sick, All aid was ready, all attendance quick; A fever seized him, and at once was lost The thought of trespass, error, crime and cost; Th’indulgent parents knelt beside the youth, They heard his promise and believed his truth ; And when the danger lessen'd on their view, They cast off doubt, and hope assurance grew;
Nursed by his sisters, cherish'd by his sire,
Begg’d to be glad, encouraged to aspire,
His life, they said, would now all care repay,
And he might date his prospects from that day;
A son, a brother to his home received,
They hoped for all things, and in all believed.
And now will pardon, comfort, kindness, draw
The youth from vice? will honour, duty, law?
Alas! not all: the more the trials lent,
The less he seem'd to ponder and repent;
Headstrong, determined in his own career,
He thought reproof unjust and truth severe;
The soul's disease was to its crisis come,
He first abused and then abjured his home;
And when he chose a vagabond to be,
He made his shame his glory—“I'll be free."
Friends, parents, relatives, hope, reason, love, With anxious ardour for that empire strove; In vain their strife, in vain the means applied, They had no comfort, but that all were tried; One strong vain trial made, the mind to move, Was the last effort of parental love.
Ev’n then he watch'd his father from his home, And to his mother would for pity come, Where, as he made her tender terrors rise, He talk'd of death, and threaten'd for supplies.
Against a youth so vicious and undone,
All hearts were closed, and every door but one:
The players received him, they with open heart
Gave him his portion and assign'd his part;
And ere three days were added to his life,
He found a home, a duty, and a wife.
His present friends, though they were nothing nice,
Nor ask'd how vicious he, or what his vice,
Still they expected he should now attend
To the joint duty as an useful friend;
The leader too declared, with frown severe,
That none should pawn a robe that kings might wear;
And much it moved him, when he Hamlet play'd,
To see his Father's Ghost so drunken made:
Then too the temper, the unbending pride
Of this ally would no reproof abide:
So leaving these, he march'd away and join'd
Another troop, and other goods purloin'd;
And other characters, both gay
Sober and sad, made stagger on the stage;
Then to rebuke, with arrogant disdain,
He gave abuse and sought a home again.
Thus changing scenes, but with unchanging vice,
Engaged by many, but with no one twice:
Of this, a last and poor resource, bereft,
He to himself, unhappy guide! was left-