Verse > John Dryden > Poems
John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
Prologues and Epilogues
Prologue and Epilogue to Love Triumphant, or Nature will Prevail
Spoken by Mr. BETTERTON.

AS, 1 when some Treasurer lays down the Stick,
Warrants are Sign’d for ready Mony thick,
And many desperate Debentures paid,
Which never had been, had his Lordship staid:
So now, this Poet, who forsakes the Stage,        5
Intends to gratifie the present Age.
One Warrant shall be Sign’d for every Man;
All shall be Wits that will; and Beaux that can:
Provided still, this Warrant be not shown,
And you be Wits but to your selves alone;        10
Provided too; you rail at one another:
For there’s no one Wit, will allow a Brother;
Provided also; that you spare this Story,
Damn all the Plays that e’re shall come before ye.
If one by chance prove good in half a score,        15
Let that one pay for all, and Damn it more.
For if a good one scape among the Crew,
And you continue Judging as you do,
Every bad Play will hope for Damning too.
You might Damn this, if it were worth your pains,        20
Here’s nothing you will like; no fustian Scenes,
And nothing too of—you know what he means.
No double Entendrès, which you Sparks allow,
To make the Ladies look—they know not how;
Simply as ’twere, and knowing both together,        25
Seeming to fan their Faces in cold Weather.
But here’s a Story, which no Books relate,
Coin’d from our own Old Poet’s Addle-Pate.
The Fable has a Moral too, if sought:
But let that go; for, upon second Thought,        30
He fears but few come hither to be Taught.
Yet if you will be profited, you may;
And he would Bribe you too, to like his Play.
He Dies, at least to us, and to the Stage,
And what he has he leaves this Noble Age.        35
He leaves you, first, all Plays of his Inditing,
The whole Estate which he has got by Writing.
The Beaux may think this nothing but vain Praise;
They’l find it something, the Testator says:
For half their Love is made from scraps of Plays.        40
To his worst Foes, he leaves his Honesty;
That they may thrive upon’t as much as he.
He leaves his Manners to the Roaring Boys,
Who come in Drunk and fill the House with noise.
He leaves to the dire Critiques of his Wit        45
His Silence and Contempt of all they Writ.
To Shakespear’s Critique he bequeaths the Curse,
To find his faults; and yet himself make worse;
A precious Reader in Poetique Schools,
Who by his own Examples damns his Rules.        50
Last, for the Fair, he wishes you may be
From your dull Critiques, the Lampooners free.
Tho’ he pretends no Legacy to leave you,
An Old Man may at least good wishes give you.
Your Beauty names the Play; and may it prove,        55
To each, an Omen of Triumphant Love.
Now, in good Manners, nothing shou’d 2 be sed
Against this Play, because the Poet’s dead.
The Prologue told us of a Moral here:
Wou’d I cou’d find it, but the Devil knows where.        60
If in my Part it lyes, I fear he means
To warn us of the Sparks behind our Scenes.
For, if you’ll take it on Dalinda’s Word,
’Tis a hard Chapter to refuse a Lord.
The Poet might pretend this Moral too,        65
That when a Wit and Fool together woo, 3
The Damsel (not to break an Ancient Rule)
Shou’d leave the Wit, and take the Wealthy Fool.
This he might mean; but there’s a Truth behind,
And, since it touches none of all our Kind        70
But Masks and Misses, faith, I’le speak my Mind.
What if he Taught our Sex more cautious Carriage,
And not to be too Coming before Marriage;
For fear of my Misfortune in the Play,
A Kid brought home upon the Wedding day!        75
I fear there are few Sancho’s in the Pit,
So good as to forgive and to forget,
That will, like him, restore us into Favour,
And take us after on our good Behaviour.
Few, when they find the Mony Bag is rent,        80
Will take it for good Payment on content.
But in the Telling, there the difference is,
Sometimes they find it more than they cou’d wish.
Therefore be warn’d, you Misses and you Masks,
Look to your hits, nor give the first that asks.        85
Tears, Sighs, and Oaths, no truth of Passion prove;
True Settlement alone, declares true Love.
For him that Weds a Puss, who kept her first,
I say but little, but I doubt the worst:
The Wife, that was a Cat, may mind her house,        90
And prove an Honest and a Careful Spouse;
But, faith, I wou’d not trust her with a Mouse.
Note 1. 1694. [back]
Note 2. shou’d] Christie and other editors absurdly give shall. [back]
Note 3. woo,] woo; 1694. [back]

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