Albion and Albanius - Prologue

Full twenty years and more our labouring stage
Has lost on this incorrigible age:
Our poets, the John Ketches of the nation,
Have seemed to lash ye, ev'n to excoriation;
But still no sign remains, which plainly notes
You bore like heroes, or you bribed like Oates.
What can we do, when mimicking a fop,
Like beating nut trees, makes a larger crop?
Faith, we'll e'en spare our pains, and to content you
Will fairly leave you what your maker meant you.
Satire was once your physic, wit your food,
One nourished not, and t' other drew no blood.
We now prescribe, like doctors in despair,
The diet your weak appetites can bear.
Since hearty beef and mutton will not do,
Here's julep dance, ptisan of song and show:
Give you strong sense, the liquor is too heady;
You're come to farce, that's ass's milk, already.
Some hopeful youths there are, of callow wit,
Who one day may be men, if heaven think fit;
Sound may serve such ere they to sense are grown,
Like leading strings till they can walk alone:
But yet to keep our friends in count'nance, know
The wise Italians first invented show;
Thence into France the noble pageant passed,
'Tis England's credit to be cozened last.
Freedom and Zeal have choused you o'er and o'er;
Pray give us leave to bubble you once more;
You never were so cheaply fooled before.
We bring you change to humour your disease,
Change for the worse has ever used to please:
Then 'tis the mode of France, without whose rules
None must presume to set up here for fools:
In France the oldest man is always young,
Sees operas daily, learns the tunes so long
Till foot, hand, head keep time with every song.
Each sings his part, echoing from pit and box,
With his hoarse voice, half harmony, half pox.
" Le plus grand Roi du monde " is always ringing,
They show themselves good subjects by their singing.
On that condition, set up every throat,
You Whigs may sing, for you have changed your note.
Cits and citesses raise a joyful strain,
'Tis a good omen to begin a reign:
Voices may help your charter to restoring,
And get by singing what you lost by roaring.
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