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Most coxcombs are not of the laughing kind;
More goes to make a fop, than fops can find.
Quack Marus, tho' he never took degrees
In either of our universities;
Yet to be shown by some kind wit he locks,
Because he play'd the fool and writ three books,
But, if he wou'd be worth a Poet's pen,
He must be more a fool, and write again :
For all the former fuftian ftuff he wrote,
Was dead-born doggrel, or is quite forgot;
His man of Uz, stript of his Hebrew robe,
Is just the proverb, and As poor as Job.
One wou'd have thought he cou'd no longer jog;
But Arthur was a level, Job's a bog.
There, tho' he crept, yet still he kept in sight;
But here, he founders in, and finks down right.
Had he prepar'd us, and been dull by rule,
Tobit had first been turn'd to ridicule :
But our bold Briton, without fear or awe,
O’er-leaps at once the whole Apocrypha;
Invades the Psalms with rhymes, and leaves no room
For any Vandal Hopkins yet to come.
But when, if after all, this godly geer
Is not fo senseless as it wou'd appear;
Our mountebank has laid a deeper train,
His cant, like Merry Andrew's noble vein,
Cat-calls the sects to draw 'em in again.
At leisure hours, in epic song he deals,
Writes to the rumbling of his coach's wheels,
Prescribes in haste, and feldom kills by rule,
But rides triumphant between stool and stool.
I Quack Maurus, &c. Sir Richard Blackmore the physician, &c. He wrote two long heroic poems of twelve books each, one entitled Prince, the other King Arthur, a paraphrase upon Job, the Song of Moses and Deborah, and a new version of the Pfalms, which are all glanced at in this prologue,
Well, let him go; 'tis yet too early day, To get himself
a place in farce or play. We know not by what name we should arraign him For no one category can contain him; A pedant, canting preacher, and a quack, Are load enough to break one ass's back: At last grown wanton, he presum'd to write, Traduc'd two kings, their kindness to requite; One made the doctor, and one dubb’d the knight.
Erhaps the parson stretch'd a point too far 1,
When with our Theatres he wag'd a war. He tells you, that this very
Receiv'd the first infection from the stage.
But sure, a banish'd court, with lewdness fraught,
The seeds of open vice, returning, brought.
Thus lodg'd (as vice by great example thrives)
It first debauch'd the daughters and the wives.
London, a fruitful foil, yet never bore
So plentiful a crop of horns before,
The Poets, who muft live by courts, or starve,
Were proud, so good a government to serve;
And, mixing with buffoons and pimps prophane,
Tainted the Stage, for some small fnip of gain.
1 Dryden in this epilogue labours to throw the fault of the licentioufnels of dramatic writers, which had been so severely censured by the Rev. Dr. Jeremy Collier, upon the example of a court returned from banishment, accompanied by all the vices and follies of foreign climates; and whom to please was the poet's bufiness, as he wrote to eat, Vol. II.
For they, like harlots, under bawds profest,
Took all the ungodly pains, and got the leaft.
Thus did the thriving malady prevail,
The court, its head, the Poets but the tail.
The fin was of our native growth, 'tis true;
The scandal of the fin was wholly new.
Misses they were, but modestly conceal'd;
White-hall the naked Venus first reveal'd.
Who standing as at Cyprus, in her shrine,
The strumpet was ador'd with rites divine.
Ere this, if saints had any secret motion,
'Twas chamber-practice all, and close devotion.
I pass the peccadillos of their time;
Nothing but open lewdness was a crime.
A monarch's blood was venial to the nation,
Compar'd with one foul act of fornication.
Now, they wou'd silence us, and shut the door,
That let in all the bare-fac'd vice before.
As for reforming us, which some pretend,
That work in England is without an end:
Well may we change, but we shall never mend.
Yet, if you can but bear the present Stage,
We hope much better of the coming age.
What wou'd you say, if we fou'd first begin
To stop the trade of love behind the scene:
Where actresses make bold with married men ?
For while abroad fo prodigal the dolt is,
Poor spouse at home as ragged as a colt is.
In short, we'll grow as moral as we can,
Save here and there a woman or a man :
But neither you, nor we, with all our pains,
Can make clean work; there will be some remains,
While you have still your Oates, and we our Haines 2.