A Prologue - To A Play For Mr Dennis's Benefit, In 1733, When He Was Old, Blind, And In Great Distress, A Little Before His Death.
By As when that hero, who, in each campaign,
Had braved the Goth, and many a Vandal slain,
Lay fortune-struck, a spectacle of woe!
Wept by each friend, forgiven by every foe:
Was there a generous, a reflecting mind,
But pitied Belisarius, old and blind?
Was there a chief but melted at the sight?
A common soldier, but who clubb'd his mite?
Such, such emotions should in Britons rise,
When press'd by want and weakness Dennis lies;
Dennis, who long had warr'd with modern Huns,
Their quibbles routed, and defied their puns;
A desperate bulwark, sturdy, firm, and fierce,
Against the Gothic sons of frozen verse:
How changed from him who made the boxes groan,
And shook the stage with thunders all his own!
Stood up to dash each vain pretender's hope,
Maul the French tyrant, or pull down the Pope!
If there's a Briton then, true bred and born,
Who holds dragoons and wooden shoes in scorn;
If there's a critic of distinguished rage;
If there's a senior who contemns this age:
Let him to night his just assistance lend,
And be the critic's, Briton's, old man's friend.