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Moft 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 fhown by fome kind wit he looks,
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, ftript 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 ftill he kept in fight;
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 Pfalms with rhymes, and leaves no room
For any Vandal Hopkins yet to come.
But when, if after all, this godly geer
Is not fo fenfeless as it wou'd appear;
Our mountebank has laid a deeper train,
His cant, like Merry Andrew's noble vein,
Cat-calls the fects to draw 'em in again.
At leisure hours, in epic fong he deals,
Writes to the rumbling of his coach's wheels,
Prescribes in hafte, and feldom kills by rule,
But rides triumphant between ftool and ftool.
1 Quack Maurus, &c. Sir Richard Blackmore the phyfician, &c. He wrote two long heroic poems of twelve books each, one entitled Prince, the other King Arthur, a paraphrafe upon Job, the Song of Mofes and Deborah, and a new verfion 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 afs's back:
At laft grown wanton, he prefum'd to write,
Traduc'd two kings, their kindness to requite;
One made the doctor, and one dubb'd the knight.
Erhaps the parfon ftretch'd a point too far 1,
When with our Theatres he wag'd a war.
He tells you, that this very moral age
Receiv'd the first infection from the flage.
But fure, a banifh'd court, with lewdnefs fraught,
The feeds 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 ftarve,
Were proud, fo good a government to ferve;
And, mixing with buffoons and pimps prophane,
Tainted the Stage, for fome small snip of gain.
I Dryden in this epilogue labours to throw the fault of the licentioufnefs of dramatic writers, which had been fo feverely cenfured 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 business, as he wrote to eat. VOL. II.
For they, like harlots, under bawds profeft,
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.
Miffes they were, but modeftly conceal'd;
White-hall the naked Venus first reveal'd.
Who flanding as at Cyprus, in her shrine,
The ftrumpet was ador'd with rites divine.
Ere this, if faints had any fecret motion,
'Twas chamber-practice all, and clofe devotion.
I pass the peccadillos of their time;
Nothing but open lewdnefs was a crime.
A monarch's blood was venial to the nation,
Compar'd with one foul act of fornication.
Now, they wou'd filence us, and shut the door,
That let in all the bare-fac'd vice before.
As for reforming us, which fome pretend,
That work in England is without an end:
Well may we change, but we fhall never mend.
Yet, if you can but bear the prefent Stage,
We hope much better of the coming age.
What wou'd you fay, if we fhou'd first begin
To ftop the trade of love behind the fcene:
Where actreffes 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 fome remains,
While you have ftill your Oates, and we our Haines 2.
2 Jo. Haines is well known to all lovers of the ftage, as a good actor; but by this infinuation we are to fuppofe he was not fo good a chriftian. Cibber calls him a wicked wit.