The runaway, a comedy: as it is acted at the Theatre-Royal in Drury-Lane.
Cowley, Mrs. (Hannah), 1743-1809.
Page  [unnumbered]

PROLOGUE.

Spoken by MR. BRERETON.
O The sweet prospect! what a fine Parterre!
Soft buds, sweet flowers, bright tints, and scented air!
[Boxes.
A Vale, where critic wit spontaneous grows!
[Pit.
A Hill, which noise and folly never knows!
[Gallery.
Let Cits point out green paddocks to their spouses;
To me, no prospect like your crouded houses—
If, as just now, you wear those smiles enchanting;
But, when you frown, my heart you set a panting.
Pray then, for pity, do not frown to-night;
I'll bribe—but how—Oh, now I've hit it—right.
Secrets are pleasant to each child of Eve;
I've one in store, which for your smiles I'll give.
O list! a tale it is, not very common;
Our Poet of to-night, in faith's a—Woman,
A woman, too, untutor'd in the School,
Nor Aristotle knows, nor scarce a rule
By which fine writers fabricate their plays,
From sage Menander's, to these modern days:
How she could venture here I am astonish'd;
But 'twas in vain the Mad-cap I admonish'd;
Told her of squeaking cat-calls, hisses, groans,
Off, offs, and ruthless Critics' damning moans.
I'm undismay'd, she cry'd, critics are Men,
And smile on folly from a Woman's pen:
Then 'tis the Ladies' cause, there I'm secure;
Let him who hisses, no soft Nymph endure;
May he who frowns, be frown'd on by his Goddess,
From Pearls, and Brussels Point, to Maids in Boddice.
Now for a hint of her intended feast:
'Tis rural, playful,—harmless 'tis at least;
Not over-stock'd with repartee or wit,
Tho' here and there perchance there is a hit;
Page  [unnumbered] For she ne'er play'd with bright Apollo's fire,
No Muse invok'd, or heard th' Aönian lyre;
Her Comic Muse—a little blue-ey'd maid,
With cheeks where innocence and health's display'd;
Her 'Pol—in petticoats—a romping Boy,
Whose taste is trap-ball, and a kite his joy:
Her Nursery the study, where she thought,
Fram'd fable, incident, surprise and plot.
From the surrounding hints she caught her plan,
Length'ning the chain from infancy to man:
Tom plagues poor Fan; she sobs, but loves him still;
Kate aims her wit at both, with roguish skill:
Our Painter mark'd those lines—which Nature drew,
Her fancy glow'd, and colour'd them—for you;
A Mother's pencil gave the light and shades,
A Mother's eye thro' each soft scene pervades;
Her Children rose before her flatter'd view,
Hope stretch'd the canvas, whilst her wishes drew.
We'll now present you drapery and features,
And warmly hope, you'll like the pretty creatures;
Then Tom shall have his kite, and Fan new dollies,
Till time matures them for important follies."

The dotted lines in the Play are omitted at the Theatre.