Limited Edition #695 of 1000, and signed by the illustrator Steven Spurrier. A comedy play. Some wear and substantial exterior damage from water, less noticeable to the inside pages, though a little mould remains throughout.
"Preface - It would be interesting to know just what the play-going public of Wycherley's day said and thought about "The Country Wife." The satirist is seldom popular in his own generation, for the scalpel has a keen edge, and its victim inevitably winces, however brave a face he may seek to put upon his discomfiture. We may suppose a chorus, "We are not so bad as all that." And indeed it is obvious that Wycherley is discharging the satirist's special function, not of caricature, but of drawing a little larger than life. Of the essential truth of the picture there cannot be any doubt: no portrait so incisive was yet painted that lacked direct relationship to truth. In the hand of a master the scalpel does not mutilate, but dissects.
Prologue - Spoken by Mr. Hart -
Poets, cudgelled bullies, never do
At first or second blow submit to you;
But will provoke you still, and ne'er have done,
Till you are weary first with laying on.
The late so baffled scribbler of this day,
Though he stands trembling, bids me boldly say,
What we before most plays are used to do,
For poets out of fear first draw on you;
In a fierce prologue the still pit defy,
And, ere you speak, like Castril give the lie.
But though our Bayes's battles oft I've fought,
And with bruised knuckles their dear conquests bought;
Nay, never yet feared odds upon the stage,
In prologue dare not hector with the age;
But would take quarter from your saving hands,
Though Bayes within all yielding countermands,
Says, you confederate wits no quarter give,
Therefore his play shan't ask your leave to live.
Well, let the vain rash fop, by huffing so,
Think to obtain the better terms of you;
But we, the actors, humbly will submit,
Now, and at any time, to a full pit;
Nay, often we anticipate your rage,
And murder poets for you on our stage:
We set no guards upon our tiring-room,
But when with flying colours there you come,
We patiently, you see, give up to you
Our poets, virgins, nay, our matrons too."