Verse > John Dryden > Poems
John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
Prologues and Epilogues
Prologue and Epilogue to the King and Queen
At the Opening of Their Theatre upon the Union of the Two Companies in 1682

SINCE 1 Faction ebbs, and Rogues grow out of Fashion,
Their penny-Scribes take care t’ inform the Nation
How well men thrive in this or that Plantation:
How Pennsylvania’s Air agrees with Quakers,
And Carolina’s with Associators:        5
Both e’en too good for Madmen and for Traitors.
Truth is, our Land with Saints is so run o’er,
And every Age produces such a store,
That now there’s need of two New-Englands more.
What’s this, you’ll say, to Us and our Vocation?        10
Only thus much, that we have left our Station,
And made this Theatre our new Plantation.
The Factious Natives never cou’d agree;
But aiming, as they call’d it, to be Free,
Those Play-house Whiggs set up for Property.        15
Some say they no Obedience paid of late,
But would new Fears and Jealousies create,
’Till topsy-turvy they had turned the State.
Plain Sense, without the Talent of Fore-telling
Might guess ’twould end in down-right knocks and quelling;        20
For seldom comes there better of Rebelling.
When Men will, needlessly, their Freedom barter
For lawless Pow’r, sometimes they catch a Tartar;
(There’s a damned word that rhimes to this, call’d Charter.)
But since the Victory with Us remains,        25
You shall be call’d to Twelve in all our gains,
(If you’ll not think Us sawcy for our Pains.)
Old men shall have good old Plays to delight ’em:
And you, fair Ladies and Galants, that slight ’em,
We’ll treat with good new Plays, if our new Wits can write ’em.        30
We’ll take no blundering Verse, no fustian Tumour,
No dribling Love from this or that Presumer,
No dull fat Fooll shamm’d on the Stage for humour.
For, faith, some of ’em such vile stuff have made,
As none but Fools or Fairies ever Play’d;        35
But ’twas, as Shop-men say, to force a Trade.
We’ve giv’n you Tragedies all sense defying;
And singing men in woeful Metre dying;
This ’tis when heavy Lubbers will be flying.
All these disasters we well hope to weather;        40
We bring you none of our old Lumber hether;
Whigg Poets and Whigg Sheriffs may hang together.
New Ministers, when first they get in place,
Must have a care to please; and that’s our Case:
Some Laws for public Welfare we design,        45
If you, the Power supream, will please to join.
There are a sort of Pratlers in the Pit,
Who either have, or who pretend to Wit;
These noisy Sirs so loud their Parts rehearse,
That oft the Play is silenc’d by the Farce:        50
Let such be dumb, this penalty to shun,
Each to be thought my Lady’s eldest Son.
But stay; methinks some Vizard Mask I see
Cast out her Lure from the mid Gallery:
About her all the fluttering Sparks are rang’d;        55
The Noise continues, though the Scene is chang’d:
Now growling, sputt’ring, wauling, such a clutter,
’Tis just like Puss defendant in a Gutter;
Fine Love, no doubt; but ere two days are o’er ye,
The Surgeon will be told a woful story.        60
Let Vizard Mask her naked Face expose,
On pain of being thought to want a Nose:
Then for your laqueys, and your Train beside,
(By whate’er Name or Title dignify’d,)
They roar so loud, you’d think behind the Stairs        65
Tom Dove, and all the Brotherhood of Bears:
They’re grown a Nuisance, beyond all Disasters;
We’ve none so great but their unpaying Masters.
We beg you, Sirs, to beg your Men that they
Would please to give you leave to hear the Play.        70
Next, in the Play-house, spare your precious Lives;
Think, like good Christians, on your bearns and wives
Think on your Souls; but by your lugging forth,
It seems you know how little they are worth.
If none of these will move the warlike Mind,        75
Think on the helpless Whore you leave behind.
We beg you, last, our Scene-room to forbear
And leave our Goods and Chattels to our Care.
Alas, our Women are but washy Toys,
And wholly taken up in Stage Employs:        80
Poor willing Tits they are: but yet I doubt
This double Duty soon will wear them out.
Then you are watch’d besides with jealous Care:
What if my Lady’s Page should find you there?
My Lady knows t’ a tittle what there’s in ye;        85
No passing your gilt Shilling for a Guinea.
Thus, Gentlemen, we have summ’d up in short
Our Grievances, from Country, Town, and Court:
Which humbly we submit to your good pleasure;
But first Vote Money, then redress at leasure.        90
Note 1. 1682. Text of 1683. [back]

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