"In The Name Of The Prophet–figs!"
Context: Before the opening of the new Drury Lane Theater in London in 1812, the committee in charge advertised for an address suitable for the occasion. All the submitted addresses were subsequently rejected, and Lord Byron was chosen to prepare the prologue. The brothers Smith took advantage of the occasion by publishing a collection of parodies on supposed addresses by such notables as Wordsworth, Scott, Moore, Coleridge, Southey, Crabbe, Johnson, and others. "Johnson's Ghost" is one of the parodies. The ghost is mainly concerned with what will be produced on this new stage. His theme can be stated simply as the less promised, the less expected. In parody of Johnson's sententious and pedantic style, the theme is varied in sesquipedalian words:
Professions lavishly effused and parsimoniously verified are alike inconsistent with the precepts of innate rectitude and the practice of external policy. . . . He that is the most assured of success will make the fewest appeals to favour, and where nothing is claimed that is undue, nothing that is due will be withheld. A swelling opening is too often succeeded by an insignificant conclusion. Parturient mountains have ere now produced muscipular abortions ["The lab'ring mountain scarce brings forth a mouse."–Horace, Ars Poetica, line 168]; and the auditor who compares incipient grandeur with final vulgarity is reminded of the pious hawkers of Constantinople, who solemnly perambulate her streets, exclaiming, "In the name of the Prophet–figs!"