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Richard Lovelace

(1618-1657 / London / England)

A Prologue To The Scholars. A Comaedy Presented At The White Fryers


A gentleman, to give us somewhat new,
Hath brought up OXFORD with him to show you;
Pray be not frighted--Tho the scaene and gown's
The Universities, the wit's the town's;
The lines each honest Englishman may speake:
Yet not mistake his mother-tongue for Greeke,
For stil 'twas part of his vow'd liturgie:--
From learned comedies deliver me!
Wishing all those that lov'd 'em here asleepe,
Promising SCHOLARS, but no SCHOLARSHIP.

You'd smile to see, how he do's vex and shake,
Speakes naught; but, if the PROLOGUE do's but take,
Or the first act were past the pikes once, then--
Then hopes and joys, then frowns and fears agen,
Then blushes like a virgin, now to be
Rob'd of his comicall virginity
In presence of you all. In short, you'd say
More hopes of mirth are in his looks then play.

These feares are for the noble and the wise;
But if 'mongst you there are such fowle dead eyes,
As can damne unaraign'd, cal law their pow'rs,
Judging it sin enough that it is ours,
And with the house shift their decreed desires,
FAIRE still to th' BLACKE, BLACKE still to the WHITE-FRYERS;
He do's protest he wil sit down and weep
Castles and pyramids . . .
. . . . . . No, he wil on,
Proud to be rais'd by such destruction,
So far from quarr'lling with himselfe and wit,
That he wil thank them for the benefit,
Since finding nothing worthy of their hate,
They reach him that themselves must envy at:

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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