Verse > John Dryden > Poems
John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
Prologues and Epilogues
Prologue and Epilogues to The Loyal Brother, or the Persian Prince
POETS, 1 like Lawful Monarchs, rul’d the Stage,
Till Criticks, like Damn’d Whiggs, debauch’d our Age.
Mark how they jump; Criticks wou’d regulate
Our Theatres, and Whiggs reform our State;
Both pretend love, and both (Plague rot ’em) hate.        5
The Critick humbly seems Advice to bring,
The fawning Whigg Petitions to the King;
But ones Advice into a Satyr slides,
T’ other’s Petition a Remonstrance hides.
These will no Taxes give, and those no Pence;        10
Criticks wou’d starve the Poet, Whiggs the Prince.
The critick all our Troops of friends discards;
Just so the Whigg wou’d fain pull down the Guards.
Guards are illegal that drive foes away,
As watchful Shepherds that fright beasts of prey.        15
Kings who Disband such needless Aids as these
Are safe—as long as e’re their Subjects please;
And that would be till next Queen Besses night,
Which thus grave penny Chroniclers indite.
Sir Edmond-berry first, in woful wise        20
Leads up the show, and Milks their Maudlin Eyes.
There’s not a Butcher’s Wife but Dribs her part,
And pities the poor Pageant from her heart;
Who, to provoke Revenge, rides round the Fire,
And with a civil congee does retire:        25
But guiltless blood to ground must never fall:
There’s Antichrist behind, to pay for all.
The Punk of Babylon in Pomp appears,
A lewd Old Gentleman of seventy years;
Whose Age in vain our Mercy wou’d implore,        30
For few take Pity on an Old-cast Whore.
The Devil, who brought him to the shame, takes part;
Sits cheek by jowl in black to chear his heart,
Like Thief and Parson in a Tiburn-Cart.
The word is given, and with a loud Huzzaw        35
The Miter’d Moppet 2 from his Chair they draw:
On the slain Corps contending Nations fall:
Alas, what’s one poor Pope among ’em all!
He burns; now all true hearts your Triumphs ring,
And next (for fashion) cry, God save the King.        40
A needful Cry in midst of such Alarms,
When Forty thousand Men are up in Arms.
But after he’s once sav’d, to make amends,
In each succeeding Health they Damn his Friends:
So God begins, but still the Devil ends.        45
What if some one inspir’d with Zeal shou’d call,
Come, let’s go cry, God save him at White-hall?
His best Friends wou’d not like this overcare,
Or think him e’re the safer for that pray’r.
Five praying Saints are by an Act allow’d,        50
But not the whole Church-Militant in crowd;
Yet, should Heav’n all the true Petitions drain
Of Presbyterians who wou’d Kings maintain,
Of Forty thousand five wou’d scare remain.
A Virgin Poet was serv’d up to day,
Who till this Hour ne’re cackl’d for a Play.
He’s neither yet a Whigg nor Tory-Boy,
But, like a Girl, whom several wou’d enjoy,
Begs leave to make the best of his own natural Toy.
Were I to play my callow Author’s game,        60
The King’s House wou’d instruct me by the Name:
There’s Loyalty to one; I wish no more;
A Commonwealth sounds like a common Whore.
Let Husband or Gallant be what they will,
One part of Woman is true Tory still.        65
If any factious spirit should rebell,
Our Sex with ease can every rising quell.
Then, as you hope we shou’d your failings hide,
An honest Jury for our play provide.
Whiggs at their Poets never take offence;        70
They save dull Culpritts who have Murtherd Sense.
Though Nonsense is a nauseous heavy Mass,
The Vehicle called faction makes it pass;
Faction in Play’s the Commonwealths man’s bribe,
The leaden Farthing of the Canting Tribe:        75
Though void in payment Laws and Statutes make it,
The Neighbourhood, that knows the Man, will take it.
’Tis Faction buys the Votes of half the Pit;
Theirs is the Pension-Parliament of wit.
In City-Clubs their venom let ’em vent;        80
For there ’tis safe, in its own Element.
Here, where their Madness can have no pretence,
Let ’em forget themselves an hour in 3 sense.
In one poor Isle, why should two Factions be?
Small diff’rence in your Vices I can see:        85
In Drink and Drabs both Sides too well agree.
Wou’d there were more Preferments in the Land;
If Places fell, the Party could not stand.
Of this damn’d Grievance ev’ry Whigg complains;
They grunt like Hogs till they have got their Grains.        90
Mean time you see what Trade our Plots advance:
We send each Year good Money into France;
And they that know that Merchandise we need,
Send o’re true Protestants to mend our breed.
Note 1. 1682. The play is by Southern. [back]
Note 2. Moppet] Editors till Christie give Poppet. [back]
Note 3. in] The editors give of. [back]

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