Prologue To "The King And Queen."

A poem by John Dryden


Since faction ebbs, and rogues grow out of fashion,
Their penny scribes take care to inform the nation,
How well men thrive in this or that plantation:

How Pennsylvania's air agrees with Quakers,
And Carolina's with Associators:
Both even too good for madmen and for traitors.

Truth is, our land with saints is so run o'er,
And every age produces such a store,
That now there's need of two New-Englands more.

What's this, you'll say, to us and our vocation?
Only thus much, that we have left our station,
And made this theatre our new plantation.

The factious natives never could agree;
But aiming, as they call'd it, to be free,
Those playhouse Whigs set up for property.

Some say, they no obedience paid of late;
But would new fears and jealousies create;
Till topsy-turvy they had turn'd the state.

Plain sense, without the talent of foretelling,
Might guess 'twould end in downright knocks and quelling:
For seldom comes there better of rebelling.

When men will, needlessly, their freedom barter
For lawless power, sometimes they catch a Tartar;
There's a damn'd word that rhymes to this call'd Charter.

But, since the victory with us remains,
You shall be call'd to twelve in all our gains;
If you'll not think us saucy for our pains.

Old men shall have good old plays to delight them
And you, fair ladies and gallants, that slight them,
We'll treat with good new plays; if our new wits can write them.

We'll take no blundering verse, no fustian tumour,
No dribbling love, from this or that presumer;
No dull fat fool shamm'd on the stage for humour.

For, faith, some of them such vile stuff have made,
As none but fools or fairies ever play'd;
But 'twas, as shopmen say, to force a trade.

We've given you tragedies, all sense defying,
And singing men, in woful metre dying;
This 'tis when heavy lubbers will be flying.

All these disasters we well hope to weather;
We bring you none of our old lumber hither;
Whig poets and Whig sheriffs may hang together.

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