Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE TENDER HUSBAND: PROLOGUE, by JOSEPH ADDISON

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THE TENDER HUSBAND: PROLOGUE, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: In the first rise and infancy of farce
Last Line: And kindly treat, like well-bred men, the stranger.
Subject(s): Steele, Richard, Sir (1672-1729); Theater - England - 18th Century

IN the first rise and infancy of farce,
When fools were many, and when plays were scarce,
The raw, unpractised authors could, with ease,
A young and unexperienced 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 beaux;
Rough-country knights are found of every shire,
Of every fashion gentle fops appear;
And punks of different characters we meet,
As frequent on the stage as in the pit.
Our modern wits are forced 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.

However, 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 exposed to view;
The first a damsel, travelled in romance,
The t'other more refined—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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