Friends and Enemies

  • Posted on: 17 September 2009
  • By: David Thrale

Mr Skeffington1 has written a Play call’d Friends & Enemies--he beg’d a Prologue & I gave him this.

To appease his Enemies and cheer his Friends,
Your Bard the Customary Prologue sends;
True to old usages--but one we lack,
Your ancient Prologues all came cloth'd in Black.

Rough were the critics then, & coarse the Times,
Want dictated, and Fear pronounc'd the Rhymes:
More elegant the Authors of our Day,
Ten write for Pleasure now--to one for Pay.

Amus'd--protected thus by Volunteers,
Britannia and her Friends can feel no Fears:
Upon her Enemies let shame and Sorrow
Fall;--but we leave such Topics till tomorrow.

Pleasure's the Order of this Hour at least,
And let it be Your Pleasure--to be pleas'd.
These cheerful Months all springing Thoughts excite
In those that sing, why not in those that write?

The Birds to feather each His Nest--prepare
And form their fragile Castles in the Air.
Borne on the Wings of Hope we see them rise,
The Lark half viewless carols to the Skies,

And humbler Swallows skim the Pool for Flies.
Appropriate Labour gives appropriate Joy,
And Who could wish such Labour to destroy?
Babies that know no better, break their Legs

Climbing high trees to blow poor Raven's Eggs;
But Scholars will be wiser, and remember
It is not always safe to trust such Timber.
They know that Palates dead to all Delight

Prove no fine Taste but Loss of Appetite;
They say that in the Chemists Fire which glows
Great Works to analyse and decompose;
Each baser Metal quarrels with his Brother

But Gold amalgamates with every other.
Besides: those Critics who no Faults will spare,
Cramp future Poets by their Over-Care:
And nail their Trees so tight--They'll nothing bear.

Watch not for Faults then on this night's Occasion,
Good Humour's better far than Penetration;
When met on purpose to be happy--He
Who groans for ’Spite is his own Enemy;

Give us but Candid Hearing to the End
Then let each Enemy go hence a Friend.

Written by [Hester Lynch Thrale][5]. [Thraliana][6] entry dated 17 June 1804.

  • 1. [Sir Lumley St. George Skeffington]1, the Macaroni playwright. His play never appeared under this name.