SPOKEN BY THE PLAIN DEALER.
I the Plain Dealer am to act today,
And my rough part begins before the play.
First, you who scribble, yet hate all that write,
And keep each other company in spite,
As rivals in your common mistress, Fame,
'Tis a good play, we know, you can't forgive,
But grudge yourselves the pleasure you receive:
|And with faint praises one another damn --||5|
Our scribbler therefore bluntly bid me say,
Next you, the fine, loud gentlemen o' th' pit,
Who damn all plays, yet, if y'ave any wit,
|He would not have the wits pleased here today. ||10|
'Tis but what here you sponge and daily get --
Poets, like friends to whom you are in debt,
Those pushing gamesters whom they live upon.
Well, you are sparks, and still will be i' th' fashion;
|You hate; and so rooks laugh, to see undone ||15|
Rail then at plays, to hide your obligation.
Now, you shrewd judges, who the boxes sway,|
Leading the ladies' hearts and sense astray,
And, for their sakes, see all, and hear no play --
Correct your cravats, foretops, lock behind;
The dress and breeding of the play ne'er mind;
Plain dealing is, you'll say, quite out of fashion;
And your fair neighbors, in a limning poet
|You'll hate it here, as in a dedication; ||25|
No more than in a painter will allow it.
Pictures too like, the ladies will not please;
They must be drawn too here like goddesses.
And look like heroes in a painted field;
|You, as at Lely's too, would truncheon wield, ||30|
But the coarse dauber of the coming scenes
To follow life and nature only means,
Displays you as you are: makes his fine woman
His men of wit and pleasure of the age
Are as dull rogues as ever cumbered stage:
|A mercenary jilt, and true to no man; ||35|
He draws a friend only to custom just,
And makes him naturally break his trust.
And yet, you'll say, it is a fool's part too:
An honest man who, like you, never winks
|I, only, act a part like none of you, ||40|
At faults, but, unlike you, speaks what he thinks:
The only fool who ne'er found patron yet,
|For truth is now a fault as well as wit. ||45|
And where else but on stages do we see|
Truth pleasing, or rewarded honesty?
Which our bold poet does this day in me.
If not to th' honest, be to th' prosp'rous kind:
|Some friends at court let the Plain Dealer find. ||50|
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan.
Contributors: George Henry Nettleton - Editor, Arthur Eillicot Case - Editor.
Publisher: Boston ; Houghton Mifflin company,..
Place of publication: Boston; New York.
Publication year: 1939.
Page number: 205.
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