Verse > John Dryden > Poems
John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
Prologues and Epilogues
Prologue and Epilogue to Cleomenes, the Spartan Heroe
Spoken by Mr. MOUNTFORD.

I THINK, 1 or hope at least, the Coast is clear;
That none but Men of Wit and Sense are here;
That our Bear-Garden Friends are all away,
Who bounce with Hands and Feet, and cry, Play, Play,
Who, to save Coach-Hire, trudge along the Street,        5
Then print our matted Seats with dirty Feet;
Who, while we speak, make Love to Orange-Wenches,
And between Acts stand strutting on the Benches:
Where got a Cock-horse, making vile Grimaces,
They to the Boxes show their Booby Faces.        10
A Merry-Andrew such a Mob will serve,
And treat ’em with such Wit as they deserve:
Let ’em go people Ireland, where there’s need
Of such new Planters, to repair the Breed;
Or to Virginia or Jamaica steer,        15
But have a Care of some French Privateer;
For, if they should become the Prize of Battle,
They’ll take ’em, black and white, for Irish Cattle.
Arise, true Judges, in your own Defence,
Controul those Foplings, and declare for Sense:        20
For, should the Fools prevail, they stop not there,
But make their next Descent upon the Fair.
Then rise, ye Fair; for it concerns you most,
That Fools no longer should your Favours boast:
’Tis time you should renounce ’em, for we find        25
They plead a senseless Claim to Woman-kind:
Such Squires are only fit for Country-Towns,
To stink of Ale and dust a Stand with Clowns;
Who, to be chosen for the Land’s Protectors,
Tope and get drunk before their wise Electors.        30
Let not Farce-Lovers your weak Choice upbraid,
But turn ’em over to the Chamber-maid.
Or, if they come to see our Tragick Scenes,
Instruct them what a Spartan Heroe means:
Teach ’em how manly Passions ought to move,        35
For such as cannot Think can never Love;
And, since they needs will judge the Poet’s Art,
Point ’em with Fescu’s to each shining part.
Our Author hopes in you; but still in Pain,
He fears your Charms will be employ’d in vain.        40
You can make Fools of Wits, we find each Hour;
But to make Wits of Fools is past your Pow’r.
Spoken by Mrs. BRACEGIRDLE.

This day, the Poet, bloodily inclin’d,
Has made me die, full sore against my Mind!
Some of you naughty Men, I fear, will cry,        45
Poor Rogue! would I might teach thee how to die!
Thanks for your Love; but I sincerely say,
I never mean to die your wicked way.
Well, since it is decreed all Flesh must go,
(And I am Flesh, at least, for aught you know,)        50
I first declare, I die with pious Mind,
In perfect Charity with all Mankind.
Next, for my Will:——I have in my Dispose
Some certain Moveables would please you Beaux;
As, first, my Youth; for, as I have been told,        55
Some of you, modish Sparks, are devilish old.
My Chastity I need not leave among ye:
For to suspect old Fops were much to wrong ye.
You swear you’re Sinners; but for all your Haste,
Your Misses shake their Heads, and find you chaste.        60
I give my Courage to those bold Commanders,
That stay with us, and dare not go for Flanders.
I leave my Truth (to make his Plot more clear)
To Mr. Fuller, when he next shall swear.
I give my Judgment, craving all your Mercies,        65
To those that leave good Plays, for damn’d dull Farces.
My small Devotion let the Gallants share,
That come to ogle us at Evening Pray’r.
I give my Person——let me well consider,
Faith e’en to him that is the fairest Bidder;        70
To some rich Hunks, if any be so bold
To say those dreadful Words, To have and hold.
But stay——to give, and be bequeathing still,
When I’m so poor, is just like Wickham’s Will:
Like that notorious Cheat, vast Sums I give,        75
Only that you may keep me while I live.
Buy a good Bargain, Gallants, while you may;
I’ll cost you but your Half-a-Crown a Day.
Note 1. 1692. The Prologue and Epilogue were not printed with the first edition of the play. [back]

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