Alfred Russel Wallace : Alfred Wallace : A. R. Wallace :
Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)
Prologue (S1ac: 1845)
Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: Included in an unsigned news story entitled "Collegiate
School" that appeared on page 3 of the 20 June 1845 issue of the Leicester Journal and Midland
Counties General Advertiser. Collegiate School had had its annual "recitations" program a day
or two earlier, and Wallace had provided the Prologue reproduced below for the occasion. It
was printed in whole in the newspaper story; later Wallace included a portion of it in his
autobiography My Life in 1905. http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S001AC.htm
With Greek and Latin, French, and other stuff,
And Euclid, too, and Algebra enough;
For this half-year I'm glad to say we've done,
And the long-look'd-for hour, at last, has come,
Which brings before us this superb array
Of company, to grace our holyday,
And calls us here, with palpitating hearts,
Before you to recite our several parts.
We bid you welcome! and hope each may find
Something we've chosen, suited to his mind.
Our bill of fare contains some curious dishes,
To gratify your various tastes and wishes.
And, first to show our classic lore we'll speak,
What Sophocles compos'd in sounding Greek;
We'll say the words his olden heroes said,
And from their graves call back the mighty dead.
The eloquence, majestic and severe,
Of Rome's great orator, you next shall hear;
When Cicero th' expectant silence broke,
And guilty Verres trembled while he spoke--
In modern Rome's soft language well.
Immortal Tasso' ever-loving verse rehearse;
In French, we have the tricks of Master Scapin,
Which will, I think, amuse you more than Latin.
In German, we've a name for you all know well,
The brave! the free! the patriot! William Tell!
You, Politicians, shall behold the state
Of Britain's Senate, in a deep debate;
And then, for fear all this dry stuff they'd tire on,
To please the Ladies, we've a bit from Byron.
To those who love to hear of "Olden Time,"
When good Queen Bess rul'd England in its prime;
We'll tell how all the land uprose to meet,
With burning zeal, proud Spain's invading fleet.
Then there's the one-legg'd goose, a "rara avis,"
Whose history will be told by Master Davis.
And Mons. Tonson's griefs, we trust, will call
A little hearty laughter from you all.
I now must beg, that all who've come to hear
Us speak to-day, will not be too severe,
To criticise our want of tragic art,
Or failure to express the comic part;
But judge us leniently, and give us credit
For good intentions, if you can't for merit.
But, sure 'tis time that this long speech were ended,
As I've now told you all that I intended;
And so, assuring you we'll do our best
To please you well; I'll make room for the rest.