Prologue To The University Of Oxford.

A poem by John Dryden

Discord and plots, which have undone our age,
With the same ruin have o'erwhelm'd the stage.
Our house has suffer'd in the common woe,
We have been troubled with Scotch rebels too.
Our brethren are from Thames to Tweed departed,
And of our sisters, all the kinder-hearted,
To Edinburgh gone, or coach'd, or carted.
With bonny bluecap there they act all night
For Scotch half-crown, in English three-pence hight.
One nymph, to whom fat Sir John Falstaff's lean,
There with her single person fills the scene.
Another, with long use and age decay'd,
Dived here old woman, and rose there a maid.
Our trusty doorkeepers of former time
There strut and swagger in heroic rhyme.
Tack but a copper-lace to drugget suit,
And there's a hero made without dispute:
And that, which was a capon's tail before,
Becomes a plume for Indian emperor.
But all his subjects, to express the care
Of imitation, go, like Indians, bare:
Laced linen there would be a dangerous thing;
It might perhaps a new rebellion bring;
The Scot, who wore it, would be chosen king.
But why should I these renegades describe,
When you yourselves have seen a lewder tribe?
Teague has been here, and, to this learned pit,
With Irish action slander'd English wit:
You have beheld such barbarous Macs appear,
As merited a second massacre:
Such as, like Cain, were branded with disgrace,
And had their country stamp'd upon their face.
When strollers durst presume to pick your purse,
We humbly thought our broken troop not worse.
How ill soe'er our action may deserve,
Oxford's a place where wit can never starve.

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