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Yet if some pride with want may be allow'd,
We in our plaininess may be juftly proud :
Our royal matter will'd it should be so;
Whate'er he's pleas’d to own, can need no show :
That facred name gives ornament and grace,
And, like his ftamp, makes baseft metals pass.
Twere folly now a stately 2 pile to raise,
To build a playhouse while you throw down plays,
While scenes, machines, and empty operas reign.
And for the pencil you the pen
disdain : While troops
of familh'd Frenchmen hither drive, And laugh at those upon whose alms they live : Old English authors vanish, and give place To these new conqu’rors of the Norman race, More tamely than your fathers you submit; You're now grown vassals to them in your wit, Mark, when they play, how our fine fops advance, The mighty merits of their men of France, Keep time, cry Bon, and humour the cadence. Well, please yourselves; but sure 'tis understood, That French machines have ne'er done England good. I would not prophesy our house's fate ; But while yain ihows and scenes you over-rate, 'Tis to be fear'dThat as a fire the former house o'erthrew, Machines and tempefts will deftroy the new.
HO' what our Prologue said was sadly true,
Yet, gentlemen, our homely house is new,
A charm that seldom fails with, wicked, you.
A country lip may have the velvet touch;
Tho' fhe's no lady, you may think her such:
A strong imagination may do much.
loud Sirs, who thro’ your curls look big,
Critics in plume and white vallancy wig,
Who lolling on our foremost benches fit,
And still charge first, the true forlorn of wit ;
Whose favours, like the san, warm where you roll,
Yet you, like him, have neither heat nor soul;
So may your hats your foretops never press,
Untouch'd your ribbons, sacred be your dress;
So may you slowly to old age advance,
And have th' excuse of youth for ignorance:
So may fop-corner full of noise remain,
And drive far off the dull aitentive train ;
So may your midnight scowrings happy prove,
And morning batt'ries force your way to love;
So may not France your warlike hands recal,
But leave you by each other's swords to fall:
As you come here to ruffle vizard punk,
When fober, rail, and roar when you are drunk.
But to the wits we can some merit plead,
And urge what by themselves has oft been said:
Our house relieves the ladies from the frights
Of ill-pav'd ftreets, and long dark winter nights ;
The Flanders horses from a cold bleak road,
Where bears in furs dare scarcely look abroad;
The audience from worn plays and fuftian ftuff,
Of rhime, more nauseous than three boys in buff.
Tho’in their house the poets, heads appear,
We hope we may presume their wits are here.
The best which they reserv’d they now will play,
For, like kind cuckolds, tho'w' have not the way
To please, we'll find
abler men who may.
If they should fail, for last recruits we breed
A troop of frisking Monsieurs to succeed :
You know the French sạre cards at time of need,
OETS, your subjects, have their parts aflign'd
T' unbend, and to divert their sov'reign's mind:
When tir’d with following nature, you think fit
To seek repose in the cool shades of wit,
And, from the sweet retreat, with joy survey
What refts, and what is conquer'd, of the way.
Here, free yourselves from envy, care, and strife,
You view the various turns of human life :
Safe in our scene, thro' dangerous courts you go,
And, undebauch'd, the vice of cities know.
Your theories are here to practice brought,
As in mechanic operations wrought;
And man, the little world, before you
As once the sphere of chryftal shew'd the great.
Blest sure are you above all mortal kind,
If to your fortunes you can suit your mind :
Content to see, and thun, those ills we show
And crimes on cheatres alone to know.
With joy we bring what our dead authors writ,
And beg from you the value of their wit:
That Shakespear's, Fletcher's, and great Johnson's claim,
May be renew'd from those who gave them fame.
None of our living poets dare
For muses fo fevere are worshipp'd here,
That, conscious of their faults, they fhun the eye,
And, as prophane, from facred places fly,
Rather than see th' offended God, and die.
We bring no imperfections, but our own;
Such faults as made are by the makers shown:
have been so kind, that we may boast,
The greatest judges still can pardon most.
Poets must stoop, when they would please our pit,
Debas'd even to the level of their wit;
Disdaining that, which yet they know will take,
Hating themselves what their applaufe must make,
But when to praise from you they would aspire,
Tho' they like eagles mount, your Jove is higher,
So far your knowledge all their power transcends,
As what should be beyond what Is extends.
PROLOGUE to CIRCE, a Tragic Opera.
[By Dr. DAVEN ANT', 1675.]
ERE you but half so wise as you're fevere,
To his green years your censures you would suit,
Not blaft the blossom, but expect the fruit,
The sex, that beft does pleasure understand,
Will always choose to err on t' other hand.
They check not him that's aukward in delight,
But clap the young rogue's cheek, and fet him right.
Thus hearten'd well, and flesh'd upon his prey,
The youth may prove a man another day,
Your Ben and Fletcher, in their first young flight,
Did no Volpone, nor no Arbaces write;
But hopp'd about, and short excursions made
From bough to bough, as if they were afraid,
And each was guilty of some slighted maid.
Shakespear's own muse her Pericles first bore ;
The prince of Tyre was elder than the Moore :
'Tis miracle to see a first good play ;
All hawthorns do not bloom on Christmas-day.
A sender poet must have time to grow,
And spread and burnish as his brothers do.
Who still looks lean, sure with some pox is curs:
But no man can be Falstaff-fat at first.
Then damn not, but indulge his rude effays,
Encourage him, and bloat him up with praise,
That he may get more bulk before he dies :
He's not yet fed enough for facrifice.
Perhaps, if now your grace you will not grudge,
He may grow up to write, and you to judge.
i Son of Sir William Davenant, and author of several political pieces much esteemed.