To my dear Friend Mr. CONGREVE, on his Comedy,


ELL then ; the promis'd hour is come at last;

The present age of wit obscures the past:
Strong were our fires, 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 foil 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 gaind in skill we lost in strength.
Our builders were, with want of genius, curst;
The second temple was not like the first :

the best Vitruvius come at length,
Our beauties equal, but excel our strength.
Firm Doric pillars found your folid base;
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 pow'r 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 subinit,
One match'd in judgment, both o'er-match'd 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 foild 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.

Oh, that your brows 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 cursid,
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 prophesy ; thou Malt be seen
(Tho' with some short parenthefis berween)
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 leaft 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 ;
Heav'n, that but once was prodigal before,
To Shakespeare gave as much; Me could not give him

Maintain your post; that's all the fame you
For 'tis 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 mufe 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 my fame pursue ;
But shade those laurels which descend to you:
And take for tribute what these lines express :
You merit more; por could my love do less.



need ;




MOORS have this way (as fory tells) to know

Whether their brats are truly got, or no ; Into the sea the new-born babe is thrown,

There, as inflingt directs, to swim or drown.
: Abarbarous device, to try if spouse
Has kept religiously ber nuptial vows.

Such are the trials poets make of plays ;
Only they trust to more inconstant feas;
So does our author, this his 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,
feed, like fbarks, upon an infant

Be ev'ry monster of the deep away;
Let's have fair trial, and a clear fea.

Let Nature work, and do not damn too soon,
For life will Aruggle long, ere it fink down :
And will at least rise thrice before it drozon.
Let us confider, had it been our fate,
Thus bardly to be prov'd legitimate!
I will not

say we'd all in danger been,
Were each to suffer for his mother's fin:
But by my troth I cannot avoid thinking,
Hau nearly some good men might have scap'd

finking. But, Heaven be prais'd, this cufom is confin'd

Alone to th' offspring of the muses kind:
Our Christian cuckolds are more bent to pity ;
I know not one Moor-husband in the city.
I'th' good man's arms the chopping bastard thrives,
For he thinks all his own that is his wives.

Whatever fate is for this play design'd,
The poet's
fure be fall fome comfort

For if his muse has play'd him false, the worst
That can befal him, is, to be divorced ;
You busbands

judge, if that be to be curs'd.




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M E N.

Covent Garden, Maskwell, a villain ; pretended friend

to Mellefont, gallant to Lady Touch

wood, and in love with Cynthia Mr. Sheridan. Lord Touchwood, uncle to Mellefont Mr. Clarke. Mellefont, promised to, and in love with Cynthia

Mr. Wroughton. Careless, his friend

Mr. Lewis. Lord Froth, a folemn coxcomb Mr. Booth, Brisk

Mr. Woodward.
Sir Paul Plyant, an uxorious, foolish,

old Knight; brother to Lady Touch-
wood, and father to Cynthia Mr. Mackline

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W O M E N.

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Lady Touchwood, in love with Mellefont Mrs. Jackson,
Cynibia, daughter to Sir Paul by a for-
mer wife, promised to Mellefont

Miss Dayes.
Lady Froth, a great coquet ; preten-

der to poetry, wit, and learning Mrs. Mattocks, Lady Plyant, infolent to her husband, and eafy to any pretender

Miss Macklin.

Chaplain, Boy, Footmen, and Attendants.

The SCENE, a Gallery in Lord Touchwood's House,

with Chambers adjoining.

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ACT SCENE. A Gallery in Lord Touchwood's House,

with Chambers adjoining. Enter Careless, crossing the flage, with his hat, gloves, and fword in his bands, as just rifen from table; Mellefont following him.

TED, Ned, whither fo fast! What, turn'd fin.

cher! Why, you wo'not leave us ? Care. Where are the women? I'm weary of guzzling, and begin to think them the better company..

Mel. Then thy reason staggers, and thou'rt almost drunk.

Care. No, faith, but your fools grow noisy; and if a man must endure the noise of words without sense, I think the women have more musical voices, and become nonsense better.

Mel. Why, they are at the end of the gallery, retired to their tea and scandal, according to their ancient custom after dinner. -But I made a pretence to follow you, because I had fomething to say to you in private, and I am not like to have many opportunities this evening.

Care. And here's this coxcomb most critically come to interrupt you.


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