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John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
 
Prologues and Epilogues
Prologue to The Loyal General
 
IF 1 yet there be a few that take delight
In that which reasonable Men should write,
To them Alone we Dedicate this Night.
The Rest may satisfie their curious Itch
With City Gazets, or some Factious Speech,        5
Or what-ere Libel, for the Publick Good,
Stirs up the Shrove-tide Crew to Fire and Blood.
Remove your Benches, you apostate Pit,
And take Above, twelve penny-worth of Wit:
Go back to your dear Dancing on the Rope,        10
Or see what’s worse, the Devil and the Pope!
The Plays that take on our Corrupted Stage,
Methinks, resemble the distracted Age;
Noise, Madness, all unreasonable Things,
That strike at Sense, as Rebels do at Kings!        15
The stile of Forty One our Poets write,
And you are grown to judge like Forty Eight.
Such Censures our mistaking Audience make,
That ’tis almost grown scandalous to take.
They talk of Feavours that infect the Brains;        20
But Non-sence is the new Disease that reigns.
Weak Stomachs, with a long Disease opprest,
Cannot the Cordials of strong Wit digest;
Therefore thin Nourishment of Farce ye choose,
Decoctions of a Barly-water Muse:        25
A Meal of Tragedy wou’d make ye Sick,
Unless it were a very tender Chick.
Some Scenes in Sippets would be worth our time:
Those wou’d go down; some Love that’s poach’d in Rime;
If these shou’d fail——        30
We must lie down, and, after all our cost,
Keep Holy-day, like Water-men in Frost;
Whilst you turn Players on the Worlds great Stage,
And Act your selves the Farce of your own Age.
 
Note 1. 1680. The play is by Tate. [back]
 
 
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