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John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
 
Prologues and Epilogues
Prologue to Disappointment, or the Mother in Fashion
 
Spoken by Mr. BETTERTON.

HOW 1 comes it, Gentlemen, that, now-a-days,
When all of you so shrewdly judge of Plays,
Our Poets tax you still with want of Sence?
All Prologues treat you at your own Expence.
Sharp Citizens a wiser way can go;        5
They make you Fools, but never call you so.
They, in good Manners, seldom make a slip,
But treat a Common Whore with Ladyship:
But here each sawcy Wit at Random writes,
And uses Ladies as he uses Knights.        10
Our Author, Young and Grateful in his Nature,
Vows that from him no Nymph deserves a Satyr.
Nor will he ever Draw—I mean his Rhime
Against the sweet Partaker of his Crime.
Nor is he yet so bold an Undertaker        15
To call MEN Fools, ’tis railing at their MAKER.
Besides, he fears to split upon that Shelf;
He’s young enough to be a FOP himself:
And, if his Praise can bring you all A-bed,
He swears such hopeful Youth no Nation ever bred.        20
  Your Nurses, we presume, in such a Case,
Your Father chose, because he lik’d the Face;
And often they supply’d your Mother’s place.
The Dry Nurse was your Mother’s ancient Maid,
Who knew some former Slip she ne’er betray’d.        25
Betwixt ’em both, for Milk and Sugar-Candy,
Your sucking Bottles were well stor’d with Brandy.
Your Father, to initiate your discourse,
Meant to have taught you first to swear and curse,
But was prevented by each careful Nurse.        30
For, leaving Dad and Mam, as names too common,
They taught you certain parts of Man and Woman.
I pass your Schools, for there when first you came,
You wou’d be sure to learn the Latin name.
In Colledges, you scorn’d their 2 Art of thinking,        35
But learn’d all Moods and Figures of good Drinking:
Thence come to Town, you practise Play, to know
The Vertues of the High Dice and the Low.
Each thinks himself a SHARPER most profound:
He cheats by Pence, is cheated by the Pound.        40
With these perfections, and what else he gleans,
The SPARK sets up for Love behind our Scenes,
Hot in pursuit of Princesses and Queens.
There, if they know their Man, with cunning Carriage,
Twenty to one but it concludes in Marriage.        45
He hires some homely Room, Love’s Fruits to gather,
And Garret-high rebells against his Father:
But he once dead——
Brings her in Triumph, with her Portion, down,
A Twillet, Dressing-Box, and Half a Crown.        50
Some Marry first, and then they fall to Scowring,
Which is, Refining Marriage into Whoring.
Our Women batten well on their good Nature,
All they can rap and rend for the dear Creature.
But while abroad so liberal the DOLT is,        55
Poor SPOUSE at Home as Ragged as a Colt is.
Last, some there are, who take their first Degrees
Of Lewdness in our middle Galleries;
The Doughty BULLIES enter Bloody Drunk,
Invade and grabble one another’s PUNK;        60
They Caterwoul, and make a dismal Rout,
Call SONS of WHORES, and strike, but ne’re lug out:
Thus, while for Paultry Punk they roar and stickle,
They make it Bawdier than a Conventicle.
 
Note 1. 1684. Text from the original of 1684. The play is by Southern. The Epilogue is printed in some editions as Dryden’s. It was rightly rejected by Christie on the ground of its ascription in the collected edition of Southern’s plays to the Hon. John Stafford. It has escaped the notice of editors that the same ascription is made in the original edition of the play. The statement that the Prologue was spoken by Betterton is omitted by the editors. [back]
Note 2. their] edd. give the. [back]
 
 
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