Prologue to Fortune's Fool

PERFORMED AT COVENT-GARDEN, IN 1796.

T O each new play a prologue must appear,

Like Poet Laureat's Ode to each new year;

But here at once the simile must end,

Chance is the Laureat's, not the prologue's friend;

He may anticipate the coming hour,

By the prophetic Muse's magic pow'r;

But we, like shewmen, trumpet forth our ware,

Promise you feasts, but shew no bill of fare;

Bound down to secrecy, we must not say

One word, upon the subject of the play:

Yet, for our author, this I dare impart,

He bears your former favours next his heart!

And though the course he steers to night be new,

He fears no quicksands, pilotted by you,

Whose pow'rful aid, and all-sustaining hand

Have ever brought his little bark to land,

And moor'd her, where his hope begins and ends,

Safe in the haven of his gen'rous friends.

Perhaps these crowded benches may contain

Some who've been fool'd in fortune's giddy train!

Some who, with ceaseless toil, pursuing wealth,

Have gain'd their object, but have lost their health,

And prov'd, at length, that gold can ne'er bestow

A balm for sickness, or a shield for woe:

Some, who ambitious of a fleeting name,

Have barter'd happiness, and peace, for fame!

And found, too late, in disappointment's school,

How oft ambition makes us Fortune's Fool!

Our author on Thalia's treasury draws,

An annual candidate for your applause!

Which, like the fresh'ning dews of rising morn,

Hangs, through his life, a gem on ev'ry thorn!

To night once more his fate on you depends,

His gen'rous patrons, and his pow'rful friends!

'Twas you who brighten'd up his early day,

And now to independence lead the way.

The curtain drop'd, he'll prove, if you have smil'd,

Not Fortune's Fool, but Fortune's fav'rite child.

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