Tag Archives: epilogue

Richard Cumberland, “Epilogue. [To The Battle of Hastings.] Spoken by Miss Younge”


“Epilogue. [To The Battle of Hastings.] Spoken by Miss Younge”


From ancient Thespis to the present age,
The world have oft been term’d a public stage;
A thread-bare metaphor, which in its time
Hath patch’d much prose, and heel-piec’d many a rhime:
Ev’n the grave pulpit sometimes deigns to use                                        5
The emphatic terms of the proscribed muse;
Calls birth our entry, death our exit calls,
And at life’s close exclaims – the curtain falls;
And so concludes upon the drama’s plan,
That fretting, strutting, short-hour actor, man;                                        10
Are we all actors then? – yes, all from Adam.
And actresses? – I apprehend so, madam:
Some fill their cast with grace, others with none;
Some are shov’d off the stage, and some shov’d on;
Some good, some bad, still we all act a part,                                             15
Whilst we disguise the language of the heart.
Nature’s plain taste provides a simple treat,
But art, the cook, steps in and mars the meat.
The comic blade makes ridicule his test,
And on his tomb proclaims that life’s a jest.                                                20
The swaggering braggart, in true tragic’s cast,
Bellows blank verse and daggers to the last.
Whilst clubs of neutral petit maitres boast
A kind of opera company at most;
Whose dress, air, action, all is imitation,                                                      25
A poor, insipid, servile, French translation;
Whose tame dull scene glides uniform along,
In comi – farci – pastoral – sing – song –
‘Till all awaken’d by the rattling die,
Club wits, and make – a modern tragedy;                                                    30
A tragedy, alas! good friends, look round,
What have we left to tread but tragic ground?
Four authors leagu’d to shake the human soul,
Unsheath the dagger, and infuse the bowl;
At length descending to the least, and last,                                                 35
We hope the terror of the time is past;
Full fated now with battle, blood, and murder,
England is conquer’d – fate can reach no futher;
Bid then the weeping Pleiads dry their eyes,
And turn to happier scenes and brighter skies.                                          40


Title The Battle of Hastings A 1778 play by Richard Cumberland portraying the October 1066 battle over the disputed succession to the British throne after the death of King Edward in January 1066; Miss Younge Elizabeth Younge (1740-1797), a popular actress of the late-century period, best known for her Shakespearean roles.

1 Thespis “The traditional father of Greek tragedy” (OED).

6 proscribed muse That is, a forbidden poet; possibly alluding to Shakespeare, given the clear verbal echoes of Macbeth (V.ii.24-28) at line 10.

11 Adam First human in biblical account of the creation of world (OCB).

21 Braggart “One who brags too much” (OED).

33 Four authors Likely a reference to Harold Godwinson, Tostig Godwinson, Harald Hardrada, and William I, who all made claims to the throne after the death of King Edward in January 1066.

38 England is conquer’d Reference to the Norman victory in the Battle of Hastings, and subsequent rule of Britain by William I (c. 1028-1087), reigned from 1066.

39 Pleiades “In Greek mythology, the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione” (OED).

SOURCE: The London Magazine (February 1778), pp. 89-90. [Google Books]

Edited by J. John Storost

Anonymous, “Epilogue”



 Hard is the task to trace the poet’s life,
Where praise and censure ever are at strife;
Where wit and weakness in succession reign
And hold, by turns, th’ enthusiast in their train.
He (to whose rapid eye the Muse hath giv’n                                                    5
“To glance from Heav’n to earth, then earth to Heav’n,”)
O’erlooks all vulgar arts and sober rules,
And leaves the world to knaves and thriving fools:
By all admir’d, rewarded, and carest,
No future cares perplex his anxious breast;                                                    10
No gloomy wants the smiling hours o’ercast,
He paints each year propitious as the last;
Whilst his warm heart, forever unconfin’d,
Expands for all the wants of all mankind.
Hence private griefs from virtuous weakness flow;                                       15
Hence social pleasures prove domestic woe.
Oft’ on this spot the Muse, with solemn mien,
And artful sadness, fills the tragic scene;
The well-feign’d sorrows your attention gain,
Whilst the prompt tear attests the pleasing pain:                                           20
But our sad story needs no poet’s art
To tutor grief, and heave the swelling heart.
To you the deep distress is not unknown,
And, Britons, you have made the cause your own.
—O may your gentle bosoms never prove                                                       25
Th’ untimely loss of those you dearly love!
Since thus your feeling hearts the aid supply
To sooth the widow’s pangs, and orphan’s sigh.


6 “To glance… Heav’n” Quotation from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (V.i.1842). The original reads: “The poets eye, in fine frenzy rolling,/ Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to Heaven.”

9 carest Caressed.

24 Britons British people.

SOURCE: The Gentleman’s Magazine (June 1777), pp. 286-87.

Edited by Cydnei Jordan

William Whitehead, “A Second Epilogue. Spoken by Mrs. Pritchard”



 Stay, Ladies– Tho’ I’am almost tir’d to Death
With this long Part– and am so out of Breath-
Yet such a lucky Thought kind Heaven has sent,
That if I die for’t, I must give it Vent.
The Men you know are gone. And now, suppose,                                      5
Before our Lords and Masters are rechose,
We take th’ Advantage of an empty Town,
And chuse a House of Commons of our own.
What think ye, cannot we make Laws?– and then,
Cannot we too unmake them, like the Men?                                                   10
O place us once in good St. Stephen’s Pews,
We’ll shew them Women have their public Use.
Imprimis, they shall marry; not a Man
Past twenty-five, but what shall wear the Chain
Next, we’ll in earnest set about Reclaiming,                                                    15
For, by my Life and Soul, we’ll put down Gaming.
We’ll spoil their deep destructive Midnight Play;
The Laws we make, we’ll force them to obey;
Unless we let them, when their Spirits flag,
Piddle with us, ye know, at Quinze and Brag.                                                20
“I hope, my Dearest” says some well-bred Spouse,
“When such a Bill shall come before your House,
“That you’ll consider Men are Men- at least
“That you’ll not Speak, my Dear”– Not speak?– The Beast!
What, would you wound my Honour?– Wrongs like these-                           25
For this, Sir, I shall bring you on your Knees.
–Or, if we’re quite good-natur’d, tell the Man
We’ll do him all the Service that we can.
Then for ourselves, what Projects, what Designs?
We’ll tax, and double tax their nasty Wines;                                                   30
But Duty-free import our Blonds and Laces,
French Hoops, French Silks, French Cambricks, and- French Faces.
In short, my Scheme is not compleated quite,
But I may tell ye more another Night.
So come again, come all, and let us raise                                                       35
Such glorious Trophies to our Country’s Praise,
That all true Britons shall with one Consent,
Cry out, “Long live the Female Parliament!”
                                                THE END.


Title Mrs. Pritchard The actress Hannah Pritchard (1711-1768), who played the lead role in Creusa.

11  St. Stephen’s Pews The House of Commons sat in the pews of the royal Chapel of St. Stephen’s until 1834, when it was destroyed by fire.

12  Imprimis  First; “in the first place” (OED).

17  Midnight Play  Gambling.

20 Piddle “Depreciative. To work or act in an ineffectual or wasteful way; to mess about or around” (OED).

20  Quinze “A card game resembling pontoon” (OED).

20 Brag “A game at cards, essentially identical with the modern game of ‘poker'” (OED).

31 Blonds and Laces “A silk lace of two threads, twisted and formed in hexagonal meshes; orig. of the colour of raw silk, but now white or black. Now usually written blonde, as always in French” (OED).

32 French Hoops Hoop skirts, a rigid undergarment worn by women to hold their skirts or gowns in a fashionable shape away from the body.

32  French Silks  At this time, France produced some of the finest dress silks in Europe.

32  French Cambricks  “A kind of fine white linen” (OED); by the 1750s, the importation of French cambric cloth had become something of a political issue because of high tariffs.

32 French Faces Garment trimmings; with the available double entendre of French men.


Source: CREUSA, Queen of ATHENS. A TRAGEDY. As it is Acted at the Theatre Royal in Drury-lane By His MAJESTY’s Servants. Written By Mr. William Whitehead. (London: Printed for R. and J. Dodsley in Pall-mall; And Sold by M. Cooper in Pater-noster-Row. 1754). [Google Books]

 Edited by Casey Ticsay