Royall Tyler

Occasional Prologue To The Mistake of a Night...

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On the dark margin of this dusky wood,
Where lately Horror nursed her savage brood;
Where the fell Mohawk bade his flames arise,
And fiercely wantoned in the captive's cries:
This night the rapt THALIA, pleased surveys
Her callow actors' aim at comic praise.
Proud Europe and still prouder Britain long
Have boasted, their's the power of laugh and song:
And thought the liberal arts too fine to gain
A boisterous passage o'er the atlantick main.
But vain their boast to hide bright freedom's light,
Or check fair Science in her western flight!
Fired by the pattern, our brave fathers gave,
The finer arts have stemmed the atlantick wave;
Beneath the foliage of your native trees,
The painter, poet, actor, join to please.
Then, while our pictured canvas strikes your eyes,
Or our young actors bid your smiles arise,
Or, when our musick wakes its sprightly powers,
And leads, with harmless mirth, the laughing hours,
Let candor then, imprint this thought alone,
The painting, acting, musick, are our own.
But, should your patronage our efforts bless,
And flattering plaudits mark our wish'd success,
Cheer'd by this thought our bards their theme shall raise,
And native actors speak our native lays.
Where our green mountains tower with verdant pride,
Some future Avon shall meandering glide--
Some future Shakespeare paint the poet's dreams,
Some future Garrick act the glowing scenes;
Till humbled Britain, aw'd by our success,
In arts and arms, our triumph shall confess.
O, as our much lov'd country's fame, you prize,
View our performance, with propitious eyes!
And when our comic curtain we shall raise,
Forbear to censure, though you cannot praise;
For, when you smile, you emulation crown,
But nip the bud of genius when you frown.

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Royall Tyler