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Yet if fome pride with want may be allow'd,
We in our plainnefs may be juftly proud:
Our royal master will'd it should be fo;
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 pafs.
"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 famish'd Frenchmen hither drive,
And laugh at those upon whofe 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 fubmit ;
You're now grown vaffals 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 fure 'tis underftood,
That French machines have ne'er done England good.
I would not prophefy our house's fate :
But while vain fhows and fcenes you over-rate,
'Tis to be fear'd-
That as a fire the former house o'erthrew,
Machines and tempefts will deftroy the new.
2 The reflection on the taste of the town in thefe four lines, is levelled at the Duke's company, who had exhibited the fiege of Rhodes, and other expenfive operas, and were now getting up the operas of Pfyche, Circe, &c.
HO' what our Prologue faid was fadly true,
Yet, gentlemen, our homely house is new,
A charm that feldom fails with, wicked, you.
A country lip may have the velvet touch;
Tho' fhe's no lady, you may think her fuch:
A ftrong imagination may do much.
But you, 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 firft, the true forlorn of wit;
Whofe favours, like the fun, warm where you roll,
Yet you, like him, have neither heat nor foul;
So may your hats your foretops never prefs,
Untouch'd your ribbons, facred be your
So may you flowly to old age advance,
And have th' excufe of youth for ignorance:
So may fop-corner full of noife remain,
And drive far off the dull attentive train;
So may your midnight fcowrings 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 fwords 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 fome merit plead,
And urge what by themselves has oft been faid:
Our house relieves the ladies from the frights
Of ill-pav'd streets, and long dark winter nights;
The Flanders horfes from a cold bleak road,
Where bears in furs dare scarcely look abroad;
The audience from worn plays and fustian stuff,
Of rhime, more naufeous 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 referv'd they now will play,
For, like kind cuckolds, tho' w' have not the way
To pleafe, we'll find you abler men who may.
If they should fail, for laft recruits we breed
A troop of frisking Monfieurs to fucceed:
You know the French fure cards at time of need.
To the UNIVERSITY of OXFORD, 1674.
OETS, your fubjects, have their parts affign'd T'unbend, and to divert their fov'reign's mind: When tir'd with following nature, you think fit To feek repofe in the cool shades of wit, And, from the fweet retreat, with joy furvey What refts, and what is conquer'd, of the way. Here, free yourselves from envy, care, and ftrife, You view the various turns of human life: Safe in our scene, thro' dangerous court, 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 set,
As once the sphere of chrystal shew'd the great.
Bleft fure are you above all mortal kind,
If to your fortunes you can fuit your mind:
Content to fee, and shun, those ills we show,
And crimes on theatres 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 appear;
For mufes fo fevere are worshipp'd here,
That, confcious of their faults, they fhun the eye,
And, as prophane, from facred places fly,
Rather than fee th' offended God, and die.
We bring no imperfections, but our own;
Such faults as made are by the makers shown:
And you have been so kind, that we may boast,
The greatest judges ftill can pardon moft.
Poets must stoop, when they would please our pit,
Debas'd even to the level of their wit;
Difdaining that, which yet they know will take,
Hating themselves what their applause muft make,
But when to praife 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 exter1
PROLOGUE to CIRCE, a Tragic Opera.
[By Dr. DAVENANT', 1675.]
but half fo wife as you're fevere,
Our youthful poet fhould not need to fear:
To his green years your cenfures you would fuit,
Not blast the bloffom, but expect the fruit,
The fex, 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 firft young flight,
Did no Volpone, nor no Arbaces write;
But hopp'd about, and fhort excurfions made
From bough to bough, as if they were afraid,
And each was guilty of fome flighted maid.
Shakespear's own muse her Pericles first bore;
The prince of Tyre was elder than the Moore:
"Tis miracle to fee a first good play;
All hawthorns do not bloom on Christmas-day.
A flender poet must have time to grow,
And spread and burnish as his brothers do.
Who ftill looks lean, fure with fome pox is curft:
But no man can be Falstaff-fat at first.
Then damn not, but indulge his rude effays,
Encourage him, and bloat him up with praife,
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.