The Rover, Part II, by Aphra Behn

Prologue

Spoken by Mr. Smith.

IN vain we labour to reform the Stage,

Poets have caught too the Disease o’ th’ Age,

That Pest, of not being quiet when they’re well,

That restless Fever, in the Brethren, Zeal;

In publick Spirits call’d, Good o’th’ Commonweal.

Some for this Faction cry, others for that,

The pious Mobile for they know not what:

So tho by different ways the Fever seize,

In all ’tis one and the same mad Disease.

Our Author tool as all new Zealots do,

Full of Conceit and Contradiction too,

’Cause the first Project took, is now so vain,

T’ attempt to play the old Game o’er again:

The Scene is only chang’d; for who wou’d lay

A Plot, so hopeful, just the same dull way?

Poets, like Statesmen, with a little change,

Pass off old Politicks for new and strange;

Tho the few Men of Sense decry’t aloud,

The Cheat will pass with the unthinking Croud:

The Rabble ’tis we court, those powerful things,

Whose Voices can impose even Laws on Kings.

A Pox of Sense and Reason, or dull Rules,

Give us an Audience that declares for Fools;

Our Play will stand fair: we’ve Monsters too,

Which far exceed your City Pope for Show.

Almighty Rabble, ’tis to you this Day

Our humble Author dedicates the Play,

From those who in our lofty Tire sit,

Down to the dull Stage–Cullies of the Pit,

Who have much Money, and but little Wit:

Whose useful Purses, and whose empty Skulls

To private Int’rest make ye Publick Tools;

To work on Projects which the wiser frame,

And of fine Men of Business get the Name.

You who have left caballing here of late,

Imploy’d in matters of a mightier weight;

To you we make our humble Application,

You’d spare some time from your dear new Vocation,

Of drinking deep, then settling the Nation,

To countenance us, whom Commonwealths of old

Did the most politick Diversion hold.

Plays were so useful thought to Government,

That Laws were made for their Establishment;

Howe’er in Schools differing Opinions jar,

Yet all agree i’ th’ crouded Theatre,

Which none forsook in any Change or War.

That, like their Gods, unviolated stood,

Equally needful to the publick Good.

Throw then, Great Sirs, some vacant hours away,

And your Petitioners shall humbly pray, &c.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/behn/aphra/b42r2/prologue.html

Last updated Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 11:59