Prologue to The Tender Husband


Spoken by Mr. Wilks.

I N the first rise and infancy of farce,
When fools were many, and when plays were scarce,
The raw unpractis'd authors could, with ease,
A young and unexperienc'd audience please:
No single character had e'er been shown,
But the whole herd of fops was all their own:
Rich in originals, they set to view,
In every piece, a coxcomb that was new.
But now our British theatre can boast
Drolls of all kinds, a vast unthinking host!
Fruitful of folly and of vice, it shows
Cuckolds, and cits, and bawds, and pimps, and beaus;
Rough country knights are found of ev'ry shire,
Of ev'ry fashion gentle fops appear;
And punks of diff'rent characters we meet
As frequent on the stage as in the pit.
Our modern wits are forc'd to pick and cull,
And here and there by chance glean up a fool:
Long ere they find the necessary spark,
They search the Town, and beat about the Park,
To all his most frequented haunts resort,
Oft' dog him to the ring, and oft' to court,
As love of pleasure or of place invites,
And sometimes catch him taking snuff at White's.
Howe'er, to do you right, the present age
Breeds very hopeful monsters for the stage,
That scorn the paths their dull forefathers trod,
And won't be blockheads in the common road.
Do but survey this crowded house to-night;
— Here's still encouragement for those that write.
Our author, to divert his friends to-day,
Stocks with variety of fools his play,
And that there may be something gay and new,
Two ladies-errant has expos'd to view;
The first a damsel travell'd in romance,
The other more refin'd, she comes from France;
Rescue, like courteous knights, the nymph from danger,
And kindly treat, like well-bred men, the stranger.
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