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THREE POLITICAL PROLOGUES.
When first the Ark was landed on the shore,
* The exact date of this visit of the King and Queen to the King's Theatre in Drury Lane is not known, but it was in the beginn f 1682. The play acted on the occasion was “The Unhappy Favourite, or the Earl of Essex," by John Banks. The royal visit was on the fifth night of its representation. Another prologue, which was published with the play together with this one and with a third by the author, had been recited, it is stated, on the four previous nights by the actor Mohun, and was superseded on the fifth night by this one, “written on purpose by Mr. Dryden." This prologue indeed has no connexion with the play, and refers only to the royal visit. The epilogue for this play was written by Dryden, and will be found among the Prologues and Epilogues printed in this volume. This play was doubtless chosen for the royal visit on account of much resemblance in the story to the attitude at that time of the King's favourite and disobedient son, Monmouth, to whom the fate of Essex might be a warning. A sew corrections have been made in the text of the prologue, as given by Broughton, Derrick, and the subsequent editors, from the first edition of the tragedy, 4to, 1685. + This line was altered, without any need for change, and altered for the worse, by Broughto.i, into
“Still innocent as harbinger of love," and has been printed after Broughton by Derrick, Bell, and others.
Or what can wars to after-times assure,
TO HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS UPON HIS FIRST APPEARANCE AT THE DUKE'S THEATRE SINCE HIS
RETURN FROM SCOTLAND, APRIL 21, 1682. *
In those cold regions which no summers cheer,
* The Duke of York had been sent by the King out of England to Brussels in the beginning of 1679, during the first great excitement of the Popish Plot. At the close of that year he went to reside in Edinburgh, still in obedience to the desire of the King and his advisers that he should be out of the way. In a few months he returned to London, but he was again sent away to Scotland in the autumn of 1680; he remained there from that time till March 1682. Against the opinion of Halifax, who was now the leading Minister, and through an intrigue of the Duchess of Portsmouth, who wished to conciliate the Duke of York, Charles now sent for his brother. He came in the first instance alone, and, obtaining a promise from the King that he should be permitted to reside permanently in England, he went back to Edinburgh in May to fetch the Duchess and his family, and immediately returned with them. The occasion of this prologue was on the Duke of York's visiting the theatre in Dorset Gardens, called his House, on April 21, 1682, before the return of the Duchess. Otway's "Venice Preserved, or a Plot Discovered," was acted on the occasion. The play was new in that year, and was levelled at the Whig party and Shaftesbury, who is represented in the character of Antonio. Otway wrote a new epilogue expressly for this occasion of the Duke's visit, and Dryden was selected to write the prologue for the day.
+ When was changed into where by Broughton, who has been followed by the subsequent editors; the change spoils the sense.
Once, when true zeal the sons of God did call
TO THE DUCHESS ON HER RETURN FROM SCOTLAND.
Whex factious rage to cruel exile drove
* The word rack of this line was changed by Broughton into tack: a ve of the text. The corresponding substantive, rack, for the light clouds, occurs in Dryden : “ The doubtful rack of heaven" (Translation of Æneid, x. 498, and again xii. 544). In the “Duke of Guise," act. 4, Sc. 2:
"The rack of clouds is driving on the winds
And shows a break of sunshine." + This is addressed to the second Duchess of York, Mary of Este, Princess of Modena. Anne, the first duchess, whom Dryden had complimented with a poem in 1665, had died in 1671. The Duke married his second wife in 1673. Dryden celebrated her beauty and virtues in the Dedication of his “ State of Innocence," adapted from " Paradise Lost," and published in 1674. The exact date of the Duchess's appearance at the theatre to receive the compliment of this prologue is not known: but it would have been soon after her return from Scotland, which was in the end of May 1682. The Duke, in his passage from London to Edinburgh to fetch her, had been shipwrecked and had narrowly escaped death. This prologue was reprinted by Dryden in 1693 in the Third Part of the “ Miscellany Poems.'
Love could no longer after Beauty stay,
Who best shall love the Duke and serve the King. * Forslowed, or foreslowed (old spelling), retarded. An obsolete word which occurs again in Dryden:
“Enough already has the year forslowed
Britannia Rediviva, 169, In the passage of " Britannia Rediviva,” Broughton printed foreshowed, which has been followed by Derrick and Bell. In this present passage Bell has printed foreflowed. Scott has preserved foreslowed in both passages.
"If we forslow the siege, I well foresec
Fairfax's Translation of Tasso, i. 28.
Henry 11. part 3, act 2, sc. 3.