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John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
 
Prologues and Epilogues
Prologue and Epilogue to The Assignation, or Love in a Nunnery
 
PROLOGUE.
PROLOGUES, 1 like Bells to Churches, toul you in
With Chimeing Verse, till the dull Playes begin;
With this sad difference though, of Pit and Pue;
You damn the Poet, but the Priest damns you.
But Priests can treat you at your own expence,        5
And, gravely, call you Fools, without Offence
Poets, poor Devils, have ne’er your Folly shown,
But, to their Cost, you prov’d it was their own:
For, when a Fop’s presented on the Stage,
Straight all the Coxcombs in the Town ingage;        10
For his deliverance and revenge they joyn,
And grunt, like Hogs, about their Captive Swine.
Your Poets daily split upon this shelf:
You must have Fools, yet none will have himself.
Or, if in kindness, you that leave would give,        15
No man could write you at that rate you live:
For some of you grow Fops with so much haste,
Riot in nonsence, and commit such waste,
’Twould Ruine Poets should they spend so fast.
He who made this observed what Farces hit,        20
And durst not disoblige you now with wit.
But, Gentlemen, you overdo the Mode;
You must have Fools out of the common Rode.
Th’ unnatural strain’d Buffoon is only taking;
No Fop can please you now of Gods own making.        25
Pardon our Poet, if he speaks his Mind;
You come to Plays with your own Follies lin’d:
Small Fools fall on you, like small showers, in vain;
Your own oyl’d Coats keep out all common rain.
You must have Mamamouchi, such a Fop        30
As would appear a Monster in a Shop;
He’ll fill your Pit and Boxes to the brim,
Where, Ram’d in Crowds, you see your selves in him.
Sure there’s some spell our Poet never knew,
In hullibabilah de, and Chu, chu, chu;        35
But Marabarah sahem most did touch you;
That is, Oh how we love the Mamamouchi!
Grimace and habit sent you pleas’d away;
You damn’d the poet, and cried up the Play.
This Thought had made our Author more uneasie,        40
But that he hopes I’m Fool enough to please ye.
But here’s my grief,—though Nature, joined with Art,
Have cut me out to act a Fooling Part,
Yet, to your Praise, the few wits here will say,
’Twas imitating you taught Haynes to Play.        45
 
EPILOGUE
Some have expected, from our Bills to-day,
To find a Satyre in our Poet’s Play.
The Zealous Rout from Coleman-street did run,
To see the Story of the Fryer and Nun,
Or Tales, yet more Ridiculous to hear,        50
Vouch’d by their Vicar of Ten pounds a year;
Of Nuns who did against Temptation Pray,
And Discipline laid on the pleasant Way:
Or that, to please the Malice of the Town,
Our Poet should in some close Cell have shown        55
Some Sister, Playing at Content alone.
This they did hope; the other Side did fear;
And both, you see, alike are Couzen’d here.
Some thought the Title of our Play to blame;
They liked the thing, but yet abhorr’d the Name:        60
Like modest Puncks, who all you ask afford,
But, for the World, they would not name that word.
Yet, if you’ll credit what I heard him say,
Our Poet meant no Scandal in his Play;
His Nuns are good which on the Stage are shown,        65
And, sure, behind our Scenes you’ll look for none.
 
Note 1. 1672. Published in 1673. [back]
 
 
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