Scots Prologue, for Mrs Sutherland's Benefit Night
written in 1790
What needs this din about the town o' Lon'on? How this new Play, and that new Sang is comin? Why is outlandish stuff sae meikle courted? Does Nonsense mend, like Brandy, when imported- Is there nae Poet, burning keen for Fame, Will bauldly try to gie us Plays at hame? For Comedy abroad he need na toil, A Knave an' Fool are plants of ev'ry soil: Nor need he hunt as far as Rome or Greece, To gather matter for a serious piece; There's themes enow in Caledonian story, Would shew the Tragic Muse in a' her glory. Is there no daring Bard will rise and tell How glorious Wallace stood, how hapless fell? Where are the Muses fled, that should produce A drama worthy of the name of Bruce? How on this spot he first unsheath'd the sword 'Gainst mighty England and her guilty Lord; And after many a bloody, deathless doing, Wrench'd his dear country from the jaws of Ruin! O! for a Shakespeare, or an Otway scene, To paint the lovely, hapless Scottish Queen! Vain ev'n the omnipotence of Female charms 'Gainst headlong, ruthless, mad Rebellion's arms. She fell - but fell with spirit truly Roman, To glut that direst foe, - a vengeful woman; A woman - tho' the phrase may seem uncivil, As able - and as wicked as the devil! [One Douglas lives in Home's immortal page, But Douglases were heroes every age: And tho' your fathers, prodigal of life, A Douglas followed to the martial strife, Perhaps, if bowls row right, and Right succeeds, Ye yet may follow where a Douglas leads!] As ye have generous done, if a' the land Would take the Muses' servants by the hand; Not only hear - but patronise - defend them, And where ye justly can commend - commend them; And aiblins when they winna stand the test, Wink hard, and say 'The folks hae done their best'. Would a' the land do this, then I'll be caition, Ye'll soon hae Poets o' the Scottish nation, Will gar Fame blaw until her trumpet crack, And warsle Time, and lay him on his back. For us and for our Stage, should ony spier, 'Whase aught thae Chiels maks a' this bustle here?' My best leg foremost, I'll set up my brow, We have the honor to belong to you! We're your ain bairns, e'en guide us as ye like, But, like guid mothers, shore before ye strike; And grateful still, I trust, ye'll ever find us: For gen'rous patronage, and meikle kindness, We've got frae a' professions, sorts, an' ranks: God help us! - we're but poor - ye'se get but thanks!