Verse > John Dryden > Poems
John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
Prologues and Epilogues
Prologue and Epilogue to The Duke of Guise
Spoken by Mr. SMITH.

OUR 1 Play’s a Parallel: The Holy League
Begot our Cov’nant; Guisards got the Whigg:
Whate’er our hot-brain’d Sheriffs did advance
Was like our Fashions, first produc’d in France;
And, when worn out, well scourg’d, and banish’d there,        5
Sent over, like their godly Beggars, here.
Cou’d the same Trick, twice play’d, our Nation gull?
It looks as if the Devil were grown dull;
Or serv’d us up in Scorn his broken Meat,
And thought we were not worth a better Cheat.        10
The fulsome Cov’nant, one wou’d think in Reason,
Had given us all our Bellys-full of Treason;
And yet, the Name but chang’d, our nasty Nation
Chaws its own Excrement, th’ Association.
’Tis true, we have not learn’d their pois’ning way,        15
For that’s a mode but newly come in play;
Besides, Your Drug’s uncertain to prevail,
But your True Protestant can never fail
With that compendious Instrument, a Flail.
Go on, and bite, ev’n though the Hook lies bare,        20
Twice in one Age expel the lawful Heir,
Once more decide Religion by the Sword;
And purchase for us a new Tyrant Lord.
Pray for your King, but yet your Purses spare;
Make Him not Two-Pence richer by your Prayer.        25
To show you love Him much, chastise Him more,
And make Him very Great, and very Poor.
Push Him to Wars, but still no Pence advance;
Let Him lose England, to recover France.
Cry Freedom up with Popular noisie Votes,        30
And get enough to cut each other’s Throats,
Lop all the Rights that fence your Monarch’s Throne;
For fear of too much Pow’r, pray leave Him none.
A noise was made of Arbitrary Sway;
But in Revenge, you Whiggs have found a way,        35
An Arbitrary Duty now to pay.
Let His own Servants turn, to save their stake,
Glean from His Plenty, and His Wants forsake;
But let some Judas near His Person stay,
To swallow the last Sop, and then betray.        40
Make London independant of the Crown;
A Realm a part; the Kingdom of the Town.
Let Ignoramus juries find no Traytors,
And Ignoramus Poets scribble Satyrs.
And, that your meaning none may fail to scan,        45
Do what in Coffee-houses you began;
Pull down the Master, and Set up the Man.
Spoken by Mrs. COOKE.

Much Time and Trouble this poor Play has cost;
And faith, I doubted once the Cause was lost.
Yet no one Man was meant, nor Great nor Small;        50
Our Poets, like frank Gamesters, threw at All.
They took no single Aim:——
But, like bold Boys, true to their Prince and hearty,
Huzza’d, and fired Broad-sides at the whole Party.
Duels are Crimes; but, when the Cause is right,        55
In Battel every Man is bound to fight.
For what should hinder Me to sell my Skin,
Dear as I cou’d, if once my Hand were in?
Se defendendo never was a Sin.
’Tis a fine World, my Masters, right or wrong,        60
The Whiggs must talk, and Tories hold their Tongue.
They must do all they can——
But We, Forsooth, must bear a Christian mind,
And fight, like Boys, with one Hand ty’d behind;
Nay, and when one Boy’s down, ’twere wond’rous wise        65
To cry, Box fair, and give him time to rise.
When Fortune favours, none but Fools will dally;
Would any of you Sparks, if Nan or Mally
Tipp’d you th’ inviting Wink, stand, shall I, shall I?
A Trimmer cry’d (that heard me tell this Story),        70
Fie, Mistress Cooke! Faith, you’re too rank a Tory!
Wish not Whiggs hang’d, but pity their hard Cases;
You Women love to see Men make wry Faces.—
Pray, Sir, said I, don’t think me such a Jew;
I say no more, but give the Dev’l his due.—        75
Lenitives, says he, best suit with out Condition.
Jack Ketch, says I, ’s an excellent Physician.
I love no Bloud.—Nor I, Sir, as I breath;
But hanging is a fine dry kind of Death.
We Trimmers are for holding all things even.—        80
Yes—just like him that hung ’twixt Hell and Heaven.—
Have we not had Men’s Lives enow already?’—
Yes sure:—but you’re for holding all things steddy.
Now since the Weight hangs all on one side, Brother,
You Trimmers shou’d, to poize it, hang on t’ other.        85
Damn’d Neuters, in their middle way of steering,
Are neither Fish nor Flesh nor good Red-Herring:
Not Whiggs, nor Tories they: nor this, nor that;
Not Birds, nor Beasts; but just a kind of Bat:
A Twilight Animal; true to neither Cause,        90
With Tory Wings, but Whiggish Teeth and Claws.
Intended to have been spoken to the Play before it was forbidden last summer.

Two 2 Houses join’d, two Poets to a Play?
You noisy Whigs will sure be pleas’d to-day;
It looks so like two Shrieves the City Way.
But since our Discords and Divisions cease,        95
You, Bilboa-gallants, learn to keep the Peace;
Make here no Tilts; let our poor Stage alone;
Or if a decent Murder must be done,
Pray take a civil Turn to Marybone.
If not, I swear we’ll pull up all our Benches;        100
Not for your Sakes, but for our Orange-wenches:
For you thrust wide sometimes, and many a Spark,
That misses one, can hit the other Mark.
This makes our Boxes full; for men of Sense
Pay their four Shillings in their own Defence:        105
That safe behind the Ladies they may stay,
Peep o’er the Fan, and judge the bloody Fray.
But other Foes give Beauty worse Alarms;
The posse-poetarum’s up in Arms:
No Woman’s Fame their libels has escap’d;        110
Their Ink runs Venom, and their Pens are clapp’d.
When Sighs and Prayers their ladies cannot move,
They rail, write Treason, and turn Whigs to love.
Nay, and I fear they worse Designs advance,
There’s a damn’d Love-trick new brought o’er from France.        115
We charm in vain, and dress, and keep a Pother,
While those false Rogues are ogling one another.
All Sins besides admit some Expiation;
But this against our Sex is plain Damnation.
They join for Libels too, these Women-haters;        120
And as they club for Love, they club for Satyres:
The best on ’t is they hurt not: for they wear
Stings in their Tails; their only Venom’s there.
’Tis true, some shot at first the Ladies hit,
Which able Marksmen made and Men of Wit:        125
But now the Fools give Fire, whose Bounce is louder;
And yet, like mere Train-bands, they shoot but Powder.
Libels, like Plots, sweep all in their first Fury;
Then dwindle like an ignoramus Jury:
Thus Age begins with towzing and with tumbling,        130
But grunts, and groans, and ends at last in fumbling.
Note 1. 1682. Published in 1683. [back]
Note 2. Text from the original broadsheet, 1682. [back]

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