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PROLOGUE FOR MR. D’URFY'S Play. “ Omicron and Omega from us “ Would each hope to be O in Thomas; “ And all th' ambitious vowels vie, “ No less than Pythagorick Y, “ To have a place in Tom D'Urfy.
“ Then well-belov’d and trusty letters ! “ Cons’nants, and vowels much their betters, “ We, willing to repair this breach, “ And, all that in us lies, please each, “ Et cætra to our aid must call; “ Et cætra represents ye all : “ Et cætra, therefore, we decree, “ Henceforth for ever join'd shall be “ To the great name of Tom D'Urfy.”
DESIGNED FOR MR. D’UrFY'S LAST PLAY.
GROWN old in rhyme, 'twere barbarous to discard
Your persevering, unexhausted bard :
Damnation follows death in other men,
But your damn’d poet lives, and writes again.
Th' adventurous lover is successful still,
Who strives to please the fair against her will:
Be kind, and make him in his wishes easy,
Who in your own despite has strove to please ye.
He scorn'd to borrow from the wits of yore,
But ever writ, as none e'er writ before.
You modern wits, should each man bring his claim,
Have desperate debentures on your fame ;
And little would be left you, I'm afraid,
If all your debts to Greece and Rome were paid.
406 PROLOGUE TO THE THREE HOURS, &c.
From his deep fund our author largely draws,
Nor sinks his credit lower than it was.
Tho' plays for honour in old time he made,
'Tis now for better reasons to be paid.
Believe him, he has known the world too long,
And seen the death of much immortal song.
He says, poor poets lost, while players won,
As pimps grow rich, while gallants are undone.
Tho' Tom the poet writ with ease and pleasure,
The comick Tom abounds in other treasure.
Fame is at best an unperforming cheat ;
But ’tis substantial happiness, to EAT.
Let ease, his last request, be of your giving,
Nor force him to be damn'd to get his living.
THREE HOURS AFTER MARRIAGE,
AUTHORS are judg’d by strange capricious rules;
The great ones are thought mad, the small ones fools :
Yet sure the best are most severely fated;
For fools are only laugh’d at, wits are hated.
Blockheads with reason men of sense abhor;
But fool 'gainst fool, is barbarous civil war.
Why on all authors then should criticks fall ?
Since some have writ, and shown no wit at all.
Condemn a play of theirs, and they evade it;
Cry, “Damn not us, but damn the French, who
« inade it.”
PROLOGUE TO THE THREE HOURS, &c. 407 By running goods these graceless owlers gain; Theirs are the rules of France, the plots of Spain But wit, like wine, from happier climates brought, Dash'd by these rogues, turns English common draught. They pall Moliere's and Lopez' sprightly strain, And teach dull Harlequins to grin in vain.
How shall our author hope a gentler fate,
Who dares most impudently not translate ?
It had been civil, in these ticklish times,
To fetch his fools and knaves from foreign climes.
Spaniards and French abuse to the worlI's end;
But spare old England, lest you hurt a friend.
If any fool is by our satire bit,
Let him hiss loud, to show you all he's hit.
Poets make characters, as salesmen clothes ;
We take no measure of your fops and beaus ;
But here all sizes and all shapes you meet,
And fit yourselves, like chaps in Monmouth street.
Gallants, look here ! this fool's cap * has an air,
Goodly and smart, with ears of Issachar.
Let no one fool engross it, or confine
A common blessing ! now 'tis yours, now mine.
But poets in all ages had the care
To keep this cap for such as will, to wear.
Our author has it now (for every wit
Of course resign’d it to the next that writ)
And thus upon the stage 'tis fairly thrown ti
Let him that takes it wear it as his own.
AS IT WAS INTENDED TO BE TRANSLATED BY PERSONS OP
YE lords and commons, men of wit
And pleasure about town,
Read this, ere you translate one bit
Oi books of high renown.
Beware of Latin authors all !
Nor think your verses sterling, Though with a golden pen you scrawl,
And scribble in a berlin :
For not the desk with silver nails,
Nor bureau of expense,
Nor standish well japann'd, avails
To writing of good sense.
Hear how a ghost in dead of night,
With saucer eyes of fire,
In woful wise did sore affright
A wit and courtly squire,
Rare imp of Phoebus, hopeful youth !
Like puppy tame, that uses To fetch and carry in his mouth
The works of all the Muses.
Ah! why did he write poetry,
That hereto was so civil;
And sell his soul for vanity
To rhyming and the devil ?
A desk he had of curious work,
With glittering studs about ;
Within the same did Sandys lurk,
Though Ovid lay without.
Now, as he scratch'd to fetch up thought,
Forth popp'd the sprite so thin,
And from the keyhole bolted out
All upright as a pin.
With whiskers, band, and pantaloon,
And ruff compos’d most duly,
This 'squire he dropp'd his pen full soon,
While as the light burnt bluely.
Ho! master Sam, quoth Sandys' sprite,
Write on, nor let me scare ye;
Forsooth, if rhymes fall not in right,
To Budgel seek, or Carey *.
I hear the beat of Jacob's drums,
Poor Ovid finds no quarter !
* Henry Carey was a musick-master, and taught several persons to sing. He wrote several poems and pamphlets, and nine dramatick pieces, some of which met with success. He put a period to his life. 4 Oct. 1743.