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John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
 
Prologues and Epilogues
Epilogue to The Unhappy Favourite, or the Earl of Essex
 
WE act by Fits and Starts, like drowning Men,
But just peep up, and then Dop 1 down again.
Let those who call us Wicked change their Sence,
For never Men liv’d more on Providence.
Not Lott’ry Cavaliers are half so poor,        5
Nor Broken Cits, nor a Vacation Whore;
Not Courts, nor Courtiers living on the Rents
Of the three last ungiving Parliaments;
So wretched, that, if Pharaoh could Divine,
He might have spar’d his Dream of Seven lean Kine,        10
And chang’d his Vision for the Muses Nine.
The Comet which, they say, portends a Dearth
Was but a Vapour drawn from Play-house Earth,
Pent there since our last Fire, and Lilly sayes,
Foreshows our change of State and thin Third-dayes.        15
’Tis not our want of Wit that keeps us poor,
For then the Printers Press would suffer more.
Their Pamphleteers each Day their Venom 2 spit;
They thrive by Treason, and we starve by Wit.
Confess the truth, which of you has not laid        20
Four Farthings out to buy the Hatfield Maid? 3
Or, what is duller yet and more does spite us,
Democritus his Wars with Heraclitus?
These are the Authors that have run us down,
And Exercise you Critticks of the Town.        25
Yet these are Pearls to your Lampooning Rhimes,
Y’ abuse your selves more dully than the Times.
Scandal, the Glory of the English Nation,
Is worn to Raggs, and Scribled out of Fashion;
Such harmless Thrusts as if like Fencers Wise,        30
You had agreed your Play before their Prize.
Faith, you may hang your Harps upon the Willows,
’Tis just like Children when they box with Pillows.
Then put an end to Civil Wars for shame,
Let each Knight Errant who has wrong’d a Dame        35
Throw down his Pen and give her if he can,
The satisfaction of a Gentleman.
 
Note 1. Dop] Editors till Christie give pop. [back]
Note 2. each Day their Venom] their Venom daily 1685. [back]
Note 3. To the upper Gallery. [back]
 
 
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