Verse > John Dryden > Poems
John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
Prologues and Epilogues
Prologue and Epilogue to Don Sebastian
Spoken by a Woman.

THE JUDGE 1 remov’d, tho he’s no more My Lord,
May plead at Bar, or at the Council-Board:
So may cast Poets write; there’s no Pretension,
To argue loss of Wit from loss of Pension.
Your looks are cheerful; and in all this place        5
I see not one that wears a damning face.
The British Nation is too brave to show
Ignoble vengeance on a vanquish’d foe.
At least be civil to the Wretch imploring;
And lay your Paws upon him without roaring:        10
Suppose our Poet was your foe before,
Yet now, the bus’ness of the Field is o’er;
’Tis Time to let your Civil Wars alone,
When Troops are into Winter-quarters gone.
Jove was alike to Latian and to Phrygian;        15
And you well know, a Play’s of no Religion.
Take good advice, and please your selves this Day
No matter from what hands you have the Play.
Among good Fellows ev’ry health will pass,
That serves to carry round another glass:        20
When with full bowls of Burgundy you dine,
Tho at the Mighty Monarch you repine,
You grant him still most Christian, in his Wine.
  Thus far the Poet; but his brains grow Addle,
And all the rest is purely from this Noddle.        25
You’ve seen young Ladies at the Senate door
Prefer Petitions, and your grace implore;
However grave the Legislators were,
Their Cause went ne’re the worse for being fair.
Reasons as weak as theirs, perhaps I bring;        30
But I cou’d bribe you with as good a thing,
I heard him make advances of good Nature,
That he for once, wou’d sheath his cutting Satyr:
Sign but his Peace, he vows he’ll ne’er again
The Sacred Names of Fops and Beaus 2 profane.        35
Strike up the Bargain quickly; for I swear,
As Times go now, he offers very fair.
Be not too hard on him with Statutes neither;
Be kind; and do not set your Teeth together,
To stretch the Laws, as Coblers do their Leather.        40
Horses by Papists are not to be ridden,
But sure the Muses Horse was ne’re forbidden;
For in no Rate-Book it was ever found
That Pegasus was valued at Five-pound:
Fine him to dayly Drudging and Inditing;        45
And let him pay his Taxes out in Writing.
Spoken betwixt Antonio and Morayma.

  Mor.  I Quak’d at heart for fear the Royal Fashion
Shou’d have seduc’d Us two to Seperation:
To be drawn in, against our own desire,
Poor I to be a Nun, poor You a Fryar.        50
  Ant.  I trembled when the Old Man’s hand was in,
He would have prov’d we were too near of kin,
Discovering old Intrigues of Love, like t’other,
Betwixt my Father and thy sinful Mother;
To make Us Sister Turk and Christian Brother.        55
  Mor.  Excuse me there; that League shou’d have been rather
Betwixt your Mother and my Multi-Father;
’Tis for my own and my Relations Credit
Your Friends shou’d bear the Bastard, mine shou’d get it.
  Ant.  Suppose us two, Almeyda and Sebastian,        60
With Incest prov’d upon us:———
  Mor.            Without Question,
Their Conscience was too queazy of digestion.
  Ant.  Thou woud’st have kept the Councell of thy Brother
And sinn’d till we repented of each other.
  Mor.  Beast as you are, on Natures Laws to trample!        65
’Twere fitter that we follow’d their Example.
And since all Marriage in Repentance ends,
’Tis good for us to part while we are Friends.
To save a Maids Remorses and Confusions,
E’en leave me now, before We try Conclusions.        70
  Ant.  To copy their Example first make certain
Of one good hour, like theirs, before our parting;
Make a debauch o’re Night of Love and Madness;
And marry, when we wake, in sober sadness.
  Mor.  I’le follow no new Sects of your inventing.        75
One Night might cost me nine long months repenting:
First wed, and, if you find that Life a Fetter,
Dye when you please, the sooner Sir the better:
My wealth wou’d get me love e’re I cou’d ask it:
Oh there’s a strange Temptation in the Casket:        80
All these Young Sharpers would my grace importune,
And make me thundring Votes 3 of Lives 4 and Fortune.
Note 1. 1690. Published in 1690. [back]
Note 2. Beaus] The editors mostly print Beaux. [back]
Note 3. Votes] The editors impertinently change this into Vows. [back]
Note 4. Lives] The editors give Life. [back]

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