Verse > John Dryden > Poems
John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
Prologues and Epilogues
Prologue and Epilogue to The Maiden Queen, or Secret Love, When acted by the Women only
Spoken by MRS. BOUTELL, in man’s clothes.

WOMEN 1 like us (passing for Men) you’l cry,
Presume too much upon your Secresie.
There’s not a Fop in Town but will pretend,
To know the Cheat himself, or by his Friend.
Then make no words on’t, Gallants, ’tis e’en true,        5
We are condemn’d to look, and strut, like you.
Since we thus freely our hard Fate confess,
Accept us, these bad Times, in any Dress.
You’ll find the sweet on’t, now old Pantaloons
Will go as far, as formerly new Gowns;        10
And from your own cast Wigs expect no Frowns.
The Ladies we shall not so easily please.
They’l say what impudent bold things are these,
That dare provoke, yet cannot do us right,
Like Men, with huffing Looks, that dare not fight.        15
But this reproach our Courage must not daunt,
The Bravest Souldier may a Weapon want,
Let Her that doubts us, still send Her Gallant.
Ladies, in us you’l Youth and Beauty find,
All Things, but one, according to your Mind.        20
And when your Eyes and Ears are feasted here,
Rise up, and make out the short Meal elsewhere.
Spoken by MRS. REEVE, in man’s clothes.

What think you, Sirs, was’t not all well enough?
Will you not grant that we can strut, and huff?
Men may be proud; but faith, for ought I see,        25
They neither walk, nor cock, so well as we;
And for the fighting part, we may in time
Grow up to swagger in heroick Rhime;
For though we cannot boast of equal Force,
Yet at some Weapons Men have still the worse.        30
Why should not then we Women act alone,
Or whence are Men so necessary grown?
Our’s are so old, they are as good as none.
Some who have tri’d ’em, if you’l take their Oaths,
Swear they’re as arrant Tinsell as their Cloaths.        35
Imagine us but what we represent,
And we could e’en give you as good Content.
Our Faces, Shapes,—all’s better than you see,
And for the rest, they want as much as we.
Oh, would the higher Pow’rs be kind to us,        40
And grant us to set up a female House.
Wee’l make ourselves to please both Sexes then,
To the Men Women, to the Women Men.
Here we presume, our Legs are no ill Sight,
And they will give you no ill Dreams at Night.        45
In Dreams both Sexes must their Passions ease,
You make us then as civil as you please.
This would prevent the Houses joyning too,
At which we are as much displeas’d as you;
For all our Women most devoutly swear,        50
Each would be rather a poor Actress here
Than to be made a Mamamouchi there.
Note 1. 1672. Text from Covent Garden Drollery, 1672, where many of the stops are wrong, but as the text had not Dryden’s authority the errors are not here noted. [back]

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