Verse > John Dryden > Poems
John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
Prologues and Epilogues
Prologue to Mistakes, or the False Report
Enter Mr. BRIGHT.
  Gentlemen, 1 we must beg your pardon; here’s no Prologue to be had to day; our New Play is like to come on, without a Frontispiece; as bald as one of you young Beaux without your Perriwig. I left our young Poet sniveling and sobbing behind the Scenes, and cursing somebody that has deceiv’d him.

Enter Mr. BOWEN.
  Hold your prating to the Audience: Here’s honest Mr. Williams just come in, half mellow, from the Rose-Tavern. He swears he is inspir’d with Claret, and will come on, and that Extempore too, either with a Prologue of his own, or something like one: O here he comes to his Tryal, at all Adventures; for my part, I wish him a good Deliverance.
[Exeunt Mr. BRIGHT and Mr. BOWEN.

SAVE ye, sirs, save ye! I am in a hopefull way.
I shou’d speak something, in Rhyme, now, for the Play:
But the duce take me, if I know what to say!
I’le stick to my Friend the Authour, that I can tell ye,
To the last drop of Claret in my belly.        5
So far I’me sure ’tis Rhyme—that needs no granting:
And, if my verses feet stumble—you see my own are wanting.
Our young Poet has brought a piece of work,
In which though much of Art there does not lurk,
It may hold out three days—And that’s as long as Cork.        10
But, for this Play—(which, till I have done, we show not.)
What may be its fortune—By the Lord—I know not.
This I dare swear, no malice here is writ;
’Tis Innocent of all things—ev’n of Wit.
He’s no high Flyer—he makes no sky Rockets,        15
His Squibbs are only levell’d at your Pockets;
And if his Crackers light among your pelf,
You are blown-up; if not, then he’s blown-up himself.
By this time, I’m something recover’d of my fluster’d madness:
And, now, a word or two in sober sadness.        20
Ours is a Common Play: and you pay down
A common Harlots price—just half a Crown.
You’l say, I play the Pimp on my Friends score;
But since ’tis for a Friend, your gibes give o’re,
For many a Mother has done that before.        25
How’s this? you cry: 2 an Actor write?—we know it;
But Shakespear was an Actor, and a Poet
Has not great Johnson’s learning often fail’d,
But Shakespear’s greater Genius still prevail’d?
Have not some writing Actors, in this Age        30
Deserv’d and found Success upon the Stage?
To tell the truth, when our old Wits are tir’d.
Not one of us but means to be inspir’d.
Let your kind presence grace our homely cheer;
Peace and the Butt is all our bus’ness here;        35
So much for that;—and the Devil take small beer.
Note 1. 1690. The play is by Joseph Harris. [back]
Note 2. this? you cry:] this, you cry? 1690. [back]

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