Address


ADDRESS,

SPOKEN

AT THE THEATRE, SHEFFIELD,

ON OCCASION OF THE PERFORMANCE OF THE TRAGEDY OF MAHOMET,

BY A COMPANY OF PRIVATE PERSONS,

FOR THE BENEFIT OF POOR WIDOWS,

On Friday, May 20, 1796.


The first of blessings — is the power to bless;

The first of pleasures — to relieve distress:

That soul-expanding bliss, that dear delight,

You all experience who are met this night.

While we, with trembling diffidence, appear,

Hear us with candour — with indulgence hear:

For, though unwont to burn with tragic rage,

And wield the ponderous passions of the stage,

Our bosoms glow with no ignoble fires;

The subject warms us, but the cause inspires! —

In this, at least — secure of your applause —

We plead the widow’s — plead the orphan’s cause;

We plead for her, who, stretched in mournful

plight,

Consumes, in lingering agonies, the night;

We plead for her, who sees her hopes decay —

Her sorrows swell, with each renewing day:

For her, who spends her ebbing soul in sighs,

And weeps, to dew, the fountains of her eyes;

For her, whose famished babes besiege her bed,

And cry, importunately cry — for bread!

Cling round the pale desponding mother’s neck,

And wring her bosom, till her heart-strings

break!

 

Friends of humanity! — admit our claim;

Friends of humanity! — deserve that name.

Husbands! — to you we earnestly appeal;

Look at your wives, and guess what widows feel.

Ye mothers! — strain your infants to your breast,

And think, O think! How orphans are distressed.

Soft, blooming maids! — whose lucid eyes appear

Bathed in the sweet suffusion of a tear,

What would ye feel, if on your lips, in death,

Your favourite youth resigned his last, faint

breath?

But what, ye generous youths! whose bosoms

glow

With all the throbs of sympathetic woe,

What would the dear distracted mourner prove,

If torn, untimely, from her bridal love,

You left her friendless, desolate, and poor,

To combat sorrows death alone can cure;

To press her orphans to her heart and tell,

How, blasted in his prime, their father fell!

“O, had he lived!” she cries; “why lived he

not?”

“Happy, too happy then, had been our lot.”

 

Thus think, my generous friends! who fill the

pit;

Thus think, ye honest souls! on high that sit;

Thus think, ye fair! who shine in radiant rows,

Whose charms of face your charms of heart dis-

close,

Whose eyes in pity’s weeping language speak,

While blushes glow compassion on each cheek:

Thus think! — and may your bosoms only know,

By tender sympathy, the widow’s woe!

And may your children never mourn their sires,

Ere their own hearts can feel parental fires!

Meanwhile accept, for bounty shewn this night,

The widow’s blessing — ‘tis the widow’s mite!