Fiction > Harvard Classics > Richard Brinsley Sheridan > The School for Scandal
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Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751–1816).  The School for Scandal.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
Prologue
 
Written by Mr. Garrick
 
 
A School for Scandal! tell me, I beseech you,
Needs there a school this modish art to teach you?
No need of lessons now, the knowing think;
We might as well be taught to eat and drink.
Caused by a dearth of scandal, should the vapours        5
Distress our fair ones—let them read the papers;
Their powerful mixtures such disorders hit;
Crave what you will—there’s quantum sufficit.
“Lord!” cries my Lady Wormwood (who loves tattle,
And puts much salt and pepper in her prattle),        10
Just risen at noon, all night at cards when threshing
Strong tea and scandal—“Bless me, how refreshing!
Give me the papers, Lisp—how bold and free!  [Sips.
Last night Lord L.  [Sips] was caught with Lady D.
For aching heads what charming sal volatile!  [Sips.        15
If Mrs. B. will still continue flirting,
We hope she’ll DRAW, or we’ll UNDRAW the curtain.
Fine satire, poz—in public all abuse it,
But by ourselves  [Sips], our praise we can’t refuse it.
Now, Lisp, read you—there, at that dash and star:”        20
“Yes, ma’am—A certain lord had best beware,
Who lives not twenty miles from Grosvenor Square;
For, should he Lady W. find willing,
Wormwood is bitter”—“Oh! that’s me! the villain!
Throw it behind the fire, and never more        25
Let that vile paper come within my door.”
Thus at our friends we laugh, who feel the dart;
To reach our feelings, we ourselves must smart.
Is our young bard so young, to think that he
Can stop the full spring-tide of calumny?        30
Knows he the world so little, and its trade?
Alas! the devil’s sooner raised than laid.
So strong, so swift, the monster there’s no gagging:
Cut Scandal’s head off, still the tongue is wagging.
Proud of your smiles once lavishly bestowed,        35
Again our young Don Quixote takes the road:
To show his gratitude he draws his pen,
And seeks this hydra, Scandal, in his den.
For your applause all perils fie would through—
He’ll fight—that’s write—a cavalliero true,        40
Till every drop of blood—that’s ink—is spilt for you.
 

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