Epilogue To Henry Ii. By John Dryden

Epilogue To Henry Ii.

Thus you the sad catastrophe have seen,
Occasioned by a mistress and a queen.
Queen Eleanor the proud was French, they say;
But English manufacture got the day.
Jane Clifford was her name, as books aver;
Fair Rosamond was but her nom de guerre.
Now tell me, gallants, would you lead your life
With such a mistress, or with such a wife?
If one must be your choice, which d’ ye approve,
The curtain lecture, or the curtain love?
Would ye be godly with perpetual strife,
Still drudging on with homely Joan, your wife,
Or take your pleasure in a wicked way,
Like honest whoring Harry in the play?
I guess your minds; the mistress would be taking,
And nauseous matrimony sent a packing.
The devil’s in you all; mankind’s a rogue;
You love the bride, but you detest the clog.
After a year, poor spouse is left i’ the lurch,
And you, like Haynes, return to mother-church.
Or, if the name of church comes cross your mind,
Chapels-of-ease behind our scenes you find.
The playhouse is a kind of market-place;
One chaffers for a voice, another for a face;
Nay, some of you,—I dare not say how many,—
Would buy of me a pen’worth for your penny.
E’en this poor face, which with my fan I hide,
Would make a shift my portion to provide,
With some small perquisites I have beside.
Though for your love, perhaps, I should not care,
I could not hate a man that bids me fair.
What might ensue, ’tis hard for me to tell;
But I was drenched to-day for loving well,
And fear the poison that would make me swell.

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