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John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
 
Prologues and Epilogues
Prologue and Epilogue to The Kind Keeper, or Mr. Limberham
 
PROLOGUE.
TRUE 1 Wit has seen its best Days long ago;
It ne’er look’d up since we were dipt in Show,
When sense in dogrel Rhymes and Clouds was lost,
And Dulness flourish’d at the Actors’ Cost.
Nor stopt it here; when Tragedy was done,        5
Satire and Humour the same Fate have run,
And Comedy is sunk to Trick and Pun.
Now our machining Lumber will not sell,
And you no longer care for Heav’n or Hell;
What Stuff will please you next, the Lord can tell.        10
Let them, who the Rebellion first began
To Wit, restore the Monarch if they can;
Our Author dares not be the first bold Man.
He, like the prudent Citizen, takes care
To keep for better Marts his staple Ware;        15
His Toys are good enough for Sturbridge Fair.
Tricks were the Fashion; if it now be spent,
’Tis time enough at Easter to invent;
No man will make up a new Suit for Lent.
If now and then he takes a small Pretence,        20
To forage for a little Wit and Sense,
Pray pardon him, he meant you no Offence,
Next summer, Nostradamus tells, they say,
That all the Criticks shall be shipp’d away.
And not enow be left to damn a Play.        25
To every Sail beside, good Heav’n, be kind;
But drive away that Swarm with such a Wind
That not one Locust may be left behind!
 
EPILOGUE
Spoken by LIMBERHAM.

I beg a Boon, that, e’re you all disband,
Some one would take my Bargain off my hand;        30
To keep a Punk is but a common evil;
To find her false, and Marry,—that’s the Devil.
Well, I ne’re acted Part in all my life,
But still I was fobb’d off with some such Wife
I find the Trick; these Poets take no pity        35
Of one that is a Member of the City.
We Cheat you lawfully, and in our Trades;
You Cheat us basely with your Common Jades.
Now I am Married, I must sit down by it;
But let me keep my Dear-bought Spouse in quiet:        40
Let none of you Damn’d Woodalls of the Pit
Put in for Shares to mend our breed in Wit;
We know your Bastards from our Flesh and Blood,
Not one in ten of yours e’re comes to good.
In all the Boys their Fathers Vertues shine,        45
But all the Female Fry turn Pugs, like mine.
When these grow up, Lord, with what Rampant Gadders
Our Counters will be throng’d, and Roads with Padders.
This Town two Bargains has, not worth one farthing,
A Smithfield Horse, and Wife of Covent-Garden.        50
 
Note 1. 1678. [back]
 
 
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