Verse > John Dryden > Poems
John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
Prologues and Epilogues
Prologue and Epilogue to The Princess of Cleves
LADIES! 1 (I hope there’s none behind to hear,)
I long to whisper something in your Ear,
A Secret, which does much my Mind perplex:
There’s Treason in the Play against our Sex.
A Man that’s false to Love, that vows and cheats,        5
And kisses every living thing he meets!
A Rogue in Mode, I dare not speak too broad,
One that does something to the very Bawd.
Out on him, Traytor, for a filthy Beast!
Nay, and he’s like the pack of all the rest:        10
None of ’em stick at mark; They all deceive.
Some Jew has changed the Text, I half believe;
Their 2 Adam cozen’d our poor Grandame Eve.
To hide their Faults they rap out Oaths, and tear;
Now tho’ we lye, we’re too well-bred to swear.        15
So we compound for half the Sin we owe,
But men are dipt for Soul and Body too;
And, when found out, excuse themselves, Pox cant ’em,
With Latin stuff, perjuria ridet Amantum.
I’m not Book Learn’d, to know that word in vogue,        20
But I suspect ’tis Latin for a Rogue.
I’m sure, I never heard that Schritch-Owl hollow’d
In my poor Ears, but Separation follow’d.
How can such perjur’d Villains e’er be saved?
Achitophel’s not half so false to David.        25
With Vows and soft Expressions to allure,
They stand, like Foremen of a Shop, demure:
No sooner out of sight, but they are gadding,
And for the next new Face ride out a padding.
Yet, by their Favour, when they have bin kissing,        30
We can perceive the ready Mony missing.
Well! we may rail; but ’tis as good e’en wink;
Something we find, and something they will sink.
But, since they’re at renouncing, ’tis our Parts
To trump their Diamonds, & they trump our Hearts.        35
A Qualm of Conscience brings me back agen,
To make amends to you bespatter’d Men.
We Women love like Cats, that hide their Joys
By growling, squaling, and a hideous Noise.
I rail’d at wild young Sparks; but without lying,        40
Never was Man worse thought on for high-flying.
The Prodigal of Love gives each her Part,
And Squandring shows at least a noble Heart.
I’ve heard of Men, who, in some lewd Lampoon,
Have hir’d a Friend to make their Valour known.        45
That Accusation straight this Question brings,
What is the Man that does such naughty things?
The Spaniel Lover, like a sneaking Fop,
Lies at our Feet; he’s scarce worth taking up,
Tis true, such Heroes in a Play go far;        50
But Chamber Practice is not like the Bar.
When Men such vile, such feint Petitions make,
We fear to give, because they fear to take;
Since Modesty’s the Virtue of our Kind,
Pray let it be to our own Sex confin’d.        55
When Men usurp it from the Female Nation,
’Tis but a Work of Supererogation——
We show’d a Princess in the Play, ’tis true,
Who gave her Cæsar more than all his due;
Told her own Faults; but I shou’d much abhor        60
To choose a Husband for my Confessor.
You see what Fate follow’d the Saint-like Fool,
For telling Tales from out the Nuptial School.
Our Play a merry Comedy had prov’d,
Had she confess’d as much to him she lov’d.        65
True Presbyterian-Wives the means wou’d try:
But damn’d Confessing is flat Popery.
Note 1. 1681. Text from the Miscellanies of 1684. The play is by Lee. [back]
Note 2. Their] Editors till Christie give There. [back]

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