If yet there be a few that take delight
In that which reasonable men should write;
To them alone we dedicate this night.
The rest may satisfy their curious itch
With city-gazettes, or some factious speech,
Or whate'er libel, for the public good,
Stirs up the shrove-tide crew to fire and blood.
Remove your benches, you apostate pit,
And take, above, twelve pennyworth of wit;
Go back to your dear dancing on the rope,
Or see, what's worse, the Devil and the Pope.
The plays that take on our corrupted stage,
Methinks, resemble the distracted age;
Noise, madness, all unreasonable things,
That strike at sense, as rebels do at kings.
The style of forty-one our poets write,
And you are grown to judge like forty-eight,
Such censures our mistaking audience make,
That 'tis almost grown scandalous to take.
They talk of fevers that infect the brains;
But nonsense is the new disease that reigns.
Weak stomachs, with a long disease oppress'd,
Cannot the cordials of strong wit digest.
Therefore thin nourishment of farce ye choose,
Decoctions of a barley-water Muse:
A meal of tragedy would make ye sick,
Unless it were a very tender chick.
Some scenes in sippets would be worth our time;
Those would go down; some love that's poach'd in rhyme:
If these should fail--
We must lie down, and, after all our cost,
Keep holiday, like watermen in frost;
While you turn players on the world's great stage,
And act yourselves the farce of your own age.