Verse > John Dryden > Poems
John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
Prologues and Epilogues
The Prologue at Oxford, 1680
Thespis, 1 the first Professor of our Art,
At Country Wakes, Sung Ballads in 2 a Cart.
To prove this true, if Latin be no Trespass,
Dicitur et Plaustris vexisse Poemata Thespis.
But Eschylus, 3 says Horace in some Page,        5
Was the first Mountebank e’er 4 trod the Stage;
Yet Athens never knew your learned Sport
Of tossing Poets in a Tennis-Court.
But ’tis the Talent of our English Nation
Still to be plotting some new Reformation;        10
And few years hence, if anarchy go 5 on,
Jack Presbyter will 6 here erect his Throne,
Knock out a Tub with Preaching once a Day.
And every Prayer be longer than a Play.
Then all you 7 Heathen Wits shall go to pot        15
For disbelieving of a Popish plot: 8
Nor should we want 9 the Sentence to depart
Ev’n in our first Original, a Cart. 10
Occham, Dun Scotus, must though learn’d go down, 11
As chief Supporters of the Triple Crown.        20
And Aristotle 12 for destruction ripe:
Some say he call’d the Soul an Organ-pipe,
Which, by some little help of Derivation,
Shall thence be call’d 13 a Pipe of Inspiration.
Your wiser Judgments further penetrate 14        25
Who late found out one Tare amongst the Wheat,
This is our Comfort: none e’er cried us down
But who disturb’d both Bishop and a Crown.
Note 1. 1680. The text as given with Nat. Lee’s tragedy of Sophonisba, for which the Prologue was written. The variants below are from the version in the Miscellany Poems. [back]
Note 2. in] from 1684. [back]
Note 3. Eschylus] Escalus 1684. [back]
Note 4. e’er] that 1684. [back]
Note 5. will] shall 1684. [back]
Note 6. go] goes 1684. [back]
Note 7. you] your 1684. [back]
Note 8. After this line in 1684 this couplet:
Your Poets shall be us’d like Infidels,
And worst the Author of the Oxford Bells.
Note 9. want] scape 1684. [back]
Note 10. After this line in 1684 these couplets:
No Zealous Brother there would want a Stone,
To maul Us Cardinals, and pelt Pope Joan.
Religion, Learning, Wit, would be supprest,
Rags of the Whore, and Trappings of the Beast.
Note 11. This line in 1684 thus:
Scot, Swarez, Tom of Aquin, must go down.
Note 12. Aristotle] Aristotle’s 1684. [back]
Note 13. thence be call’d] then be prov’d 1684. [back]
Note 14. 25–28. Omitted 1684. [back]

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