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by seeming not to be displeased, or touched with the sarire of this Comedy. Thus have they also wrongo fully accused me of doing them a prejudice, when I have in reality done them a service.
You will pardon me, sir, for the freedom I take of making answers to other people, in an epistle which ought wholly to be sacred to you: but since I intend the play to be so too, I hope I may take the more liberty of justifying it where it is in the right.
I must now, sir, declare to the world how kind you have been to my endeavours ; for in regard of what was well meant, you have excused what was ill. performed. I beg you would continue the same me. thod in your acceptance of this dedication. I know no other way of making a return to that humanity you shewed, in protecting an infant, but by enrolling it in your service, now that it is of age, and come into the world. Therefore, be pleased to accept of this as an acknowledgment of the favour you have
and an earnest of the real service and gratitude of,
Your most obliged,
To my dear Friend Mr. CONGREVE, on bis Comedy,
called, The DOUBLE DEALER.
Well then ; the promis’d hour is come at last ;
The present age of wit obscures the past :
Strong were our es, and as they fought they writ,
Conqu’ring with force of arms, and dint of wit;
Theirs was the giant race, before the flood;
And thus, when Charles return'd, our empire stood,
Like Janus, he the stubborn soil manur'd,
With rules of husbandry the rankness curd :
Tam'd us to manners, when the stage was rude,
And boist'rous English wit with art indu'd.
Our age was cultivated thus at length;
But what we gain'd in skill we lost in strength.
Our builders were, with want of genius, curst;
The second temple was not like the first,
'Till you, the best Vitruvius, come at length,
Our beauties equal, but excel our strength.
Firm Duric pillars found your
The fair Corinthian crowns the higher space;
Thus all below is strength, and all above is grace,
In easy dialogue is Fletcher's praise :
He mov'd the mind, but had no power to raise.
Great Johnson did by strength of judgment please:
Yet doubling Fletcher's force, he wants his ease,
In diff'rent talents both adorn'd their age ;
One for the study, t'other for the stage.
But both to Congreve justly shall submit,
One match'd in judgment, both o'ermatched in wit,
In him all beauties of this age we see,
Etherege's courtship, Southerne's purity;
The satire, wit, and strength of manly Wycherley,
All this in blooming youth you have achiev'd;
Nor are your foil'd cotemporaries griev'd;
So much the sweetness of your manners move,
We cannot envy you, because we love.
Fabius might joy with Scipio; when he saw
A beardless Consul made against the law,
And join his suffrage to the votes of Rome;
Though he with Hannibal was overcome.
Thus old Romano bow'd to Raphael's fame,
And scholar to the youth he taught, became.
my laurel had sustain'd,
Well had I been depos’d, if you had reign'd !
The father had descended for the son ;
For only you are lineal to the throne.
Thus when the state one Edward did depose,
A greater Edward in his room arose.
But now, not I, but poetry is curs’d,
For Tom the second reigns, like Tom the first,
But let them not mistake my patron's part,
Nor call his charity their own desert.
Yet this I prophecy : thou shalt be seen
(Tho' with some short parenthesis between)
High on the throne of Wit; and seated there,
Not mine (that's little) but thy laurel wear.
Thy first attempt an early promise made,
That early promise this has more than paid,
So bold, yet so judiciously you dare,
That your least praise, is to be regular.
Time, place, and action, may with pains be wrought,
But genius must be born, and never can be taught.
This is your portion; this your native store;
Heaven, that but once was prodigal before,
To Shakspeare gave as much; she could not give him
Maintain your post; that 's all the fame
need: For 't is impossible you should proceed. Already I am worn with cares and age, And just abandoning th'ungrateful stage; Unprofitably kept at Heaven's expence, I live a rent-charge on his providence: But you, whom ev'ry muse and grace adorn,. Whom I foresee to better fortune born, Be kind to my remains; and oh, defend, Against your judgment, your departed friend! Let not th’insulting foe pursue ; But shade those laurels which descend to you: And take for tribute what these lines express : You merit more; nor could my love do less.
Moors have this way (as story tells) to knozu
Whether their brats are truly got, or no;
Into the sea the new..born babe, is thrown,
There, as instine directs, to swim or drown.
A barbarous device, to try if spouse
Has kept religiously her nuptial vows,
Such are the trials poets make of plays;
Only they trust to more inconstant seas;
So does our author, this bis child commit
To the tempestuous mercy of the pit,
To know if it be truly born of Wit.
Critics, avaunt; for you are fish of prey,
And feed, like sharks, upon an infant play.
Be ev'ry monster of the deep away;
Let's have fair trial, and a clear sea.
Let Nature work, and do not damn too soon, For life will struggle long, ere it sink down : And will at least rise thrice before it drown. Let us consider, had it been our fate, Thus hardly to be prov'd legitimate ! I will not say we'd all in danger been, Were each to suffer for his mother's sin : But by my troth I cannot avoid thinking, How nev.rly some good men mighi bave 'scap'd sinking.