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Let all the boxes, Phœbus, find thy grace,
And, ah, preserve the eighteen-penny place! †
But for the pit confounders, let them go,
And find as little mercy as they show!
The actors thus, and thus thy poets pray;
For every critic saved, thou damn'st a play.
back unto the years 1682 and 1683, where Jupiter was three times in conjunction with Saturn, in a sign of his own triplicity, and consider, was not he then stronger than Saturn, and hast not thou been victorious ever since, throughout all those great changes and alterations? And when thou hast thus considered, perhaps thou wilt believe, that that which begins well will end well; and indeed perhaps it may so happen; but be not too proud of this, a word is enough to the wise."- Astrological Observations and Predictions for the year of our Lord 1691, by John Silvester. London, 1690, 4to.
+ The Gallery.
This play was written by John Dryden, Junior, son to our poet. See the preface among our author's prose works. It was dedicated to Sir Robert Howard, and acted in 1696.
LIKE some raw sophister that mounts the pulpit,
So trembles a young poet at a full pit.
Unused to crowds, the parson quakes for fear,
And wonders how the devil he durst come there
Wanting three talents needful for the place,
Some beard, some learning, and some little grace.
Nor is the puny poet void of care;
For authors, such as our new authors are,
Have not much learning, nor much wit to spare ;
And as for grace, to tell the truth, there's scarce one,
But has as little as the very parson:
Both say, they preach and write for your instruction;
But 'tis for a third day, and for induction.
The difference is, that though you like the play,
The poet's gain is ne'er beyond his day;
But with the parson 'tis another case,
He, without holiness, may rise to grace;
The poet has one disadvantage more,
That if his play be dull, he's damn'd all o'er,
Not only a damn'd blockhead, but damn'd poor.
But dulness well becomes the sable garment;
I warrant that ne'er spoiled a priest's preferment;
Wit's not his business, and as wit now goes,
Sirs, 'tis not so much yours as you suppose,
For you like nothing now but nauseous beaux.
You laugh not, gallants, as by proof appears,
At what his beauship says, but what he wears;
So 'tis your eyes are tickled, not your ears,
The tailor and the furrier find the stuff,
The wit lies in the dress, and monstrous muff.
The truth on't is, the payment of the pit
Is like for like, clipt money for clipt wit.
You cannot from our absent author* hope,
He should equip the stage with such a fop.
Fools change in England, and new fools arise;
For, though the immortal species never dies,
Yet every year new maggots make new flies.
But where he lives abroad, he scarce can find
One fool, for million that he left behind.
Young Dryden was then in Rome with his brother Charles, who was gentleman-usher to the Pope.