« VorigeDoorgaan »
is also false. As there is some Difficulty in the Formation of a Character of this Nature, so there is some Hazard which attends the Progress of its Success, upon the Stage: For many come to a Play, so over-charg’d with Criticism, that they very often let fly their Censure, when through their Rashness they have mistaken their Aim. This I had occasion lately to observe: For this Play had been acted two or three Days, before some of these hasty Judges cou'd find the leisure to distinguish betwixt the Character of a Witwoud and a Truewit.
I must beg Your Lordlip's Pardon for this Digression from the true Course of this Epistle; but that it may not seem altogether impertinent, I beg, that I may plead the Occasion of it, in part of that Excuse of which I stand in need, for recommending this Comedy to Your Protection. It is only by the Countenance of Your Lordship, and the Few so qualify'd, that such who write with Care and Pains can hope to be distinguish'd: For the Prostituted Name of Paet promiscuously levels all that bear it.
Terence, the most correct Writer in the World, had a Scipio and a Lelius if not to aslift him, at least to support him in his Repucation: And notwithstanding his extraordinary Merit, it may be, their Countenance was not more than necessary.
The Purity of his Stile, the Delicacy of his Turns, and the Justness of his characters, were all of them Beauties, which the
grcacer Part of his Audience were incapable of Tasting: Some of the coursest Strokes of Plautus, so severely censur'd by Horace, were more likely to affect the Multitude; such, who come with expeetation to laugh out the last Act of a Play, and are better entertain’d with two or three unseasonable Jests, than with the artful Solution of the Fable.
As Terence excell'd in his Performances, so had he great Advantages to encourage his Undertakings; for he built most on the Foundations of Menander : His Plots were generally modellid, and his Characters ready drawn to his Hand. He copied Menander; and Menander had no less Light in the Formation of his Characters, from the Observations of Theophrastus, of whom he was a Disciple; and Theophrastus it is known was not only the Disciple, but the immediate Successor of Aristotle, the first and greatest Judge of Poetry. These were great Models to design by; and the further Advantage which Terence possess’d, towards giving his Plays the due Ornaments of Purity of Stile, and Justness of Manners, was not less considerable, from the Freedom of Con. versation, which was permitted him with Lelius and Scipio, two
of the greatest and most polite Men of his Age. And indeed, the Privilege of such a Conversation, is the only certain Means of attaining to the Perfection of Dialogue. If it has happen'd in any
Part of this Comedy, that I have gain'd a Turn of Stile, or Expression more Correct, or at least more Corrigible than in those which I have formerly written, I must, with equal Pride and Gratitude, ascribe it to the Honour of Your Lordship’s admitting me into Your Conversation, and that of a Society where every body else was so well worthy of You, in Your Retirement last Summer from the Town: For it was immediately after, that this Comedy was written. If I have fail'd in my Performance, it is only to be regretted, where there were so many, not inferior either to a Scipio or a Lelius, that there shou'd be one wanting equal to the Capacity of a Terence. If I am not mistaken, Poetry is almost the only Art, which has
yet laid Claim to Your Lordship’s Patronage. Architecture, and Painting, to the great Honour of our Country, have flourish'd under Your Influence and Protection. In the mean time, Poetry, . the eldest Sister of all Arts, and Parent of most, seems to have resign'd her Birth-right, by having neglected to pay her Duty to Your Lordship, and by permitting others of a later Extraction, to prepossess that Place in Your Esteem, to which none can pretend a better Title. Poetry, in its Nature, is sacred to the Good and Great; the Relation between them is reciprocal, and they are ever propitious to it. It is the Privilege of Poetry to address to them, and it is their Prerogative alone to give it Protection.
This receiv'd Maxim, is a general Apology for all Writers who Confecrate their Labours to great Men: But I could with at this time, that this Address were exempted from the common Pretence of all Dedications; and that as I can distinguish Your Lordship even among the most Deserving, so this Offering might become remarkable by some particular Instance of Respect, which shou'd assure Your Lordship, that I am, with all due Sense of Your extream Worthiness and Humanity,
Tour Lordship's most Obedient
and most Obligd Humble Servant,
Spoken by Mr. Betterton.
Poets, fare the worst.
Poets are Bubbles, by the Town drawn in,
He oruns, with Toil, he wrought the following Scenes,
your leave to skew it)
in se namn ofter vaur erein Difcretion
Spoken by Mrs. Bracegirdle. A
Fter our Epilogue this Crowd dismisses,
I'm thinking how this Play'll be pulld to Pieces.
pray consider, e'er you doom its Fall,
And turn to Libel, what was meant a Satire.
M E N.
Fainall, In Love with Mrs. Marword.
-} Mr. Underhill.
Sir Willfull Witwoud, Half Brother to Wit
woud, and Nephew to Lady Wishfort. Waitwell, Seryant to Mirabell.
W O M E N.
Lady Wishfort, Enemy to Mirabell, for having} Mrs. Leigh.
falfly pretended Love to her. Mrs. Millamant, A fine Lady, Niece to Lady} M Bracegirdle.
Wijhfort, and loves Mirabell.
Wife to Fainall, formerly Friend to Mi-ŞMrs. Bowman.
rabell. Foible, Woman to Lady Wishfort.
Mrs. Willis. Mincing, Woman to Mrs. Millamant. Mrs. Prince.
Dancers, Footmen, and Attendants.
The Time equal to that of the Presentation.
Τ Η Ε .