Arthur Friedman (ed.), The Plays of William Wycherley

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pg 245PROLOGUE, spoken by Mr. Hart.

  • Editor’s Note1POets like Cudgel'd Bullys, never do
  • Editor’s Note2At first, or second blow, submit to you;
  • Editor’s Note3But will provoke you still, and ne're have done,
  • Editor’s Note4Till you are weary first, with laying on:
  • 5The late so bafled Scribler of this day,1
  • 6Though he stands trembling, bids me boldly say,
  • 7What we, before most Playes are us'd to do,
  • 8For Poets out of fear, first draw on you;
  • 9In a fierce Prologue, the still Pit defie,
  • 10And e're you speak, like Castril, give the lye;2
  • 11But though our Bayses Batles oft I've fought,
  • 12And with bruis'd knuckles, their dear Conquests bought;
  • 13Nay, never yet fear'd Odds upon the Stage,3
  • 14In Prologue dare not Hector with the Age,
  • 15But wou'd take Quarter from your saving hands,
  • 16Though Bayse4 within all yielding Countermands,
  • 17Says you Confed'rate Wits no Quarter give,
  • 18Ther'fore his Play shan't ask your leave to live:
  • 19Well, let the vain rash Fop, by huffing so,
  • 20Think to obtain the better terms of you;
  • 21But we the Actors humbly will submit,
  • pg 24622Now, and at any time, to a full Pit;
  • 23Nay, often we anticipate your rage,
  • 24And murder Poets for you, on our Stage:
  • 25We set no Guards upon our Tyring-Room,
  • 26But when with flying Colours, there you come,
  • 27We patiently you see, give up to you,
  • 28Our Poets, Virgins, nay our Matrons too.

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Notes

Editor’s Note
1 The allusion is taken to be to the lack of success of Wycherley's preceding play, The Gentleman Dancing-Master (see above, pp. 123–4).
Editor’s Note
2 The reference is to the following exchange in Jonson's The Alchemist, IV. ii (Workes, [i]. 652), between Kastril, 'the angrie boy, … That faine would quarrell', and Subtle, the alchemist:
'KAS. You lie.
'SVB. How, child of wrath, and anger! the loud lie?
For what, my sodaine Boy? KAS. Nay, that looke you too,
I am afore-hand.'
Editor’s Note
3 Bayes here is John Dryden; he had been satirized under that name in The Rehearsal (1671), by George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham. Charles Hart is here said to have fought 'Bayses Batles' because he had acted the part of the hero in Dryden's serious plays. Since he bought 'dear Conquests' and 'never yet fear'd Odds upon the Stage', the particular reference would seem to be to Dryden's two-part heroic play, The Conquest of Granada (1670, 1671), and to the character of Almanzor in it. Hart had also acted Cortez in Dryden's The Indian Empereur (1665) and Porphyrius in his Tyrannic Love (1669).
Editor’s Note
4 Here the generic name for a poet (in this case Wycherley, the author).
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