AN OCCASIONAL PROLOGUE DELIVERED BY THE AUTHOR, PREVIOUS TO THE PERFORMANCE OF THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE, AT A PRIVATE THEATRE, IN SOUTHWELL.
NOTE: This version is from Byron's Fugitive Pieces published in 1806. Some of the words are different from later editions, but I chose to list the one he originally wrote.
Since the refinement of this polish'd age,
Has swept immoral raillery from the stage;
Since taste has now expung'd licentious wit,
Which stamp'd disgrace on all an author writ;
Since now to please with purer scenes we seek,
Nor dare to call the blush from beauty's cheek;
Oh ! let the modest muse some pity claim,
And meet indulgence --- though she find not fame.
But not for her alone, we wish respect,
Others appear, more conscious of defect;
To night, no Veteran Roscii you behold,
In all the arts of scenic action old;
No Cooke, no Kemble, can salute you here,
No Siddons draw the sympathetic tear,
To night, you thong to witness the debut,
Of embryo actors, to the drama new;
Here then, our almost unfledg'd wings we try;
Clip not our pinions, ere the birds can fly;
Failing in this our first attempt to soar,
Drooping, alas, we fall to rise no more.
Not one poor trembler, only fear betrays,
Who hopes, yet almost dreads, to meet your praise;
But all our Dramatis Personæ wait,
In fond suspense, this crisis of their fate;
No venal views our progress can retard,
Your generous plaudits are our sole reward;
For them, each Hero all his power displays,
Each timid Heroine shrinks before your gaze:
Surely, the last will some protection find,
None to the softer sex can prove unkind;
Whilst youth and beauty form the female shield,
The sternest critic to the fair must yield.
But should our feeble efforts nought avail,
Should, after all, our best endeavours fail;
Still let some mercy in your bosoms live,
And if you can't applaud, at least forgive.