The Beggar's Opera
BEGGAR. If Poverty be a Title to Poetry, I am sure no-body can
dispute mine. I own myself of the Company of Beggars; and I make one
at their Weekly Festivals at St. Giles's. I have a small Yearly
Salary for my Catches, and am welcome to a Dinner there whenever I
please, which is more than most Poets can say.
PLAYER. As we live by the Muses, it is but Gratitude in us to
encourage Poetical Merit wherever we find it. The Muses, contrary to
all other Ladies, pay no Distinction to Dress, and never partially
mistake the Pertness of Embroidery for Wit, nor the Modesty of Want
for Dulness. Be the Author who he will, we push his Play as far as
it will go. So (though you are in Want) I wish you success heartily.
BEGGAR. This piece I own was originally writ for the celebrating the
Marriage of James Chaunter and Moll Lay, two most excellent Ballad-
Singers. I have introduced the Similes that are in all your
celebrated Operas: The Swallow, the Moth, the Bee, the Ship, the
Flower, &c. Besides, I have a Prison-Scene, which the Ladies always
reckon charmingly pathetic. As to the Parts, I have observed such a
nice Impartiality to our two Ladies, that it is impossible for either
of them to take Offence. I hope I may be forgiven, that I have not
made my Opera throughout unnatural, like those in vogue; for I have
no Recitative; excepting this, as I have consented to have neither
Prologue nor Epilogue, it must be allowed an Opera in all its Forms.
The Piece indeed hath been heretofore frequently represented by
ourselves in our Great Room at St. Giles's, so that I cannot too
often acknowledge your Charity in bringing it now on the Stage.
PLAYER. But I see it is time for us to withdraw; the Actors are
preparing to begin. Play away the Overture.