Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen, Mrs. Clive

A lovely reader, Kate, found this epilogue of the glorious Kitty Clive, the feisty Irish actress. Kitty closed her play at the Exeter Mercury Theatre with this little piece in 1763, six years before she officially retired. I think you will find the personalized epilogue witty and representative of the times and their values.

LADIES! methinks I hear you all complain,
Lord! Here's the talking creature come again.
The men seem frighted -- for ‘tis on record,
A prattling female will have the last word.
But you're all out; for sure as you’re alive,
Not Mrs. Friendly now, but Mrs. Clive.
No character from fiction will I borrow;
But, if you please, I'll talk again tomorrow.
Then you conclude, from custom long in vogue,
That I come here to speak an epilogue,
With satire, humour, spirit, quite refined,
Double entendre, too, with wit combined;
Not for the ladies, but to please the men:
All this you guess -- and now you're out again.
For to be brief -- our author had me say,
She try’d -- but cou’dn't get one to her play.
No epilogue! Why ma'am you'll spoil your treat;
An Epilogue is the Cordial after Meat;
For when the feast is done, without all Question,
They’ll want liqueors [sic], to help them to Digestion:
And Critics, when they find the banquet light,
Will come next time with better appetite;
So, make your friends to write, for faith ‘tis hard,
If, ‘mongst them all, you cannot find one bard,
She took the hint -- Will you, good sir? Or you, sir?
A sister Scribbler – sure you can’t refuse her!
Some Lawyers try’d – not one cou’d make an end on’t,
They’d now such Work with Plaintiff & Defendant.
A Poet try’d; but he alledg’d for Reason,
The Muses were so busy at this Season
In penning Libels, Politics, and Satires,
They had’nt [sic] Leisure for such trifling Matters.
What’s to be done, she cry’d? Can’t you endeavour
To say some pretty Thing? – I know you’re clever,
I promis’d, - but, unable to succeed,
Beg you’ll accept the Purpose for the Deed.
Tho’ after three long hours in playhouse coop’d,
I fear you’ll say – you’ve all been finely dup’d.


  1. Oh that is simply delightful! And a joy to read out loud at breakneck speed.

  2. "An Epilogue is the Cordial after Meat" Very quotable heh.