Prologue To "Don Sebastian." Spoken By A Woman.

A poem by John Dryden

The judge removed, though he's no more my lord,
May plead at bar, or at the council board:
So may cast poets write; there's no pretension
To argue loss of wit from loss of pension.
Your looks are cheerful; and in all this place
I see not one that wears a damning face.
The British nation is too brave to show
Ignoble vengeance on a vanquish'd foe.
At last be civil to the wretch imploring;
And lay your paws upon him without roaring.
Suppose our poet was your foe before,
Yet now, the business of the field is o'er;
'Tis time to let your civil wars alone,
When troops are into winter quarters gone.
Jove was alike to Latian and to Phrygian;
And you well know, a play's of no religion.
Take good advice, and please yourselves this day;
No matter from what hands you have the play.
Among good fellows every health will pass,
That serves to carry round another glass:
When with full bowls of Burgundy you dine,
Though at the mighty monarch you repine,
You grant him still Most Christian in his wine.

Thus far the poet; but his brains grow addle,
And all the rest is purely from his noddle.
You have seen young ladies at the senate door
Prefer petitions, and your grace implore;
However grave the legislators were,
Their cause went ne'er the worse for being fair.
Reasons as weak as theirs, perhaps, I bring;
But I could bribe you with as good a thing.
I heard him make advances of good nature;
That he, for once, would sheath his cutting satire.
Sign but his peace, he vows he'll ne'er again
The sacred names of fops and beaux profane.
Strike up the bargain quickly; for I swear,
As times go now, he offers very fair.
Be not too hard on him with statutes neither;
Be kind; and do not set your teeth together,
To stretch the laws, as cobblers do their leather.
Horses by Papists are not to be ridden,
But sure the Muses' horse was ne'er forbidden;
For in no rate-book it was ever found
That Pegasus was valued at five pound;
Fine him to daily drudging and inditing:
And let him pay his taxes out in writing.

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