Prologue To "Limberham."

A poem by John Dryden

True wit has seen its best days long ago;
It ne'er look'd up, since we were dipp'd in show:
When sense in doggerel rhymes and clouds was lost,
And dulness flourish'd at the actors' cost.
Nor stopp'd it here; when tragedy was done,
Satire and humour the same fate have run,
And comedy is sunk to trick and pun.
Now our machining lumber will not sell,
And you no longer care for heaven or hell;
What stuff can please you next, the Lord can tell.
Let them, who the rebellion first began
To wit restore the monarch, if they can;
Our author dares not be the first bold man.
He, like the prudent citizen, takes care
To keep for better marts his staple ware;
His toys are good enough for Sturbridge fair.
Tricks were the fashion; if it now be spent,
'Tis time enough at Easter to invent;
No man will make up a new suit for Lent.
If now and then he takes a small pretence,
To forage for a little wit and sense,
Pray pardon him, he meant you no offence.
Next summer, Nostradamus tells, they say,
That all the critics shall be shipp'd away,
And not enow be left to damn a play.
To every sail beside, good heaven, be kind:
But drive away that swarm with such a wind,
That not one locust may be left behind!

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