Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. III. Addison to Blake
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. III. The Eighteenth Century: Addison to Blake
Characters of Actors (from The Rosciad)
By Charles Churchill (1731–1764)
Havard and Davies.
HERE Havard, all serene, in the same strains,
Loves, hates, and rages, triumphs and complains:
His easy vacant face proclaim’d a heart
Which could not feel emotions, nor impart.
With him came mighty Davies. (On my life,        5
That Davies hath a very pretty wife!)
Statesman all over! In plots famous grown!
He mouths a sentence as curs mouth a bone.
In characters of low and vulgar mould,
Where nature’s coarsest features we behold,        10
Where, destitute of every decent grace,
Unmannered jests are blurted in your face,
There Yates with justice strict attention draws,
Acts truly from himself, and gains applause.
But when, to please himself or charm his wife,        15
He aims at something in politer life,
When, blindly thwarting nature’s stubborn plan,
He treads the stage by way of gentleman,
The clown, who no one touch of breeding knows,
Looks like Tom Errand dressed in Clincher’s clothes.        20
Fond of his dress, fond of his person grown,
Laugh’d at by all, and to himself unknown,
From side to side he struts, he smiles, he prates,
And seems to wonder what ’s become of Yates.
By turns transformed into all kind of shapes,
Constant to none, Foote laughs, cries, struts, and scrapes:
Now in the centre, now in van or rear,
The Proteus shifts, bawd, parson, auctioneer.
His strokes of humour, and his burst of sport,
Are all contained in this one word—distort.        30
Doth a man stutter, look asquint, or halt?
Mimics draw humour out of nature’s fault:
With personal defects their mirth adorn,
And hang misfortunes out to public scorn.
Ev’n I, whom nature cast in hideous mould,        35
Whom having made, she trembled to behold,
Beneath the load of mimicry may groan,
And find that nature’s errors are my own.
His eyes, in gloomy socket taught to roll,
Proclaimed the sullen habit of his soul.        40
Heavy and phlegmatic he trod the stage,
Too proud for tenderness, too dull for rage.
*        *        *        *        *
In fancied scenes, as in life’s real plan,
He could not, for a moment, sink the man.
In whate’er cast his character was laid,        45
Self still, like oil, upon the surface played:
Nature, in spite of all his skill, crept in,
Horatio, Dorax, Falstaff—still ’t was Quin.

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