Prologue To The True Widow By John Dryden
Heaven save ye, gallants, and this hopeful age!
Y’ are welcome to the downfall of the stage.
The fools have laboured long in their vocation,
And vice, the manufacture of the nation,
O’erstocks the town so much, and thrives so well,
That fops and knaves grow drugs, and will not sell.
In vain our wares on theatres are shown,
When each has a plantation of his own.
His cruse ne’er fails; for whatsoe’er he spends,
There’s still God’s plenty for himself and friends.
Should men be rated by poetic rules,
Lord, what a poll would there be raised from fools!
Meantime poor wit prohibited must lie,
As if ’twere made some French commodity.
Fools you will have, and raised at vast expense;
And yet, as soon as seen, they give offence.
Time was, when none would cry,—That oaf was me;
But now you strive about your pedigree.
Bauble and cap no sooner are thrown down,
But there’s a muss of more than half the town.
Each one will challenge a child’s part at least;
A sign the family is well increased.
Of foreign cattle there’s no longer need,
When we’re supplied so fast with English breed.
Well! flourish, countrymen; drink, swear, and roar;
Let every free-born subject keep his whore,
And wandering in the wilderness about,
At end of forty years not wear her out.
But when you see these pictures, let none dare
To own beyond a limb, or single share;
For where the punk is common, he’s a sot,
Who needs will father what the parish got.