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SPANISH FRY AR:
DISTINGUISHING. ALSO THE
VARIATIONS OF THE THEATRE,
AS PERFORMED AT THE
Theatre Royal in Covent Garden.
Regulated from the Prompt-Book,
By Mr. WILD, Prompter.
Ut melius poffis fallere, fume rogam...MART.
Printed for John Bell, near Exeter-Exchange, in the Strand.
HEN I first defign'd this play, I found, or thought
I found, somewhat fo moving in the serious part of it, and to pleasant in the comic, as might deserve a more than ordinary care in both: accordingly I used the best of my endeavour, in the management of two plots, fo very different from each other, that it was not perhaps the talent of every writer, to have made thein of a piece. Neither have I attempted other plays of the same na. ture, in my opinion, with the fame judgment; though with like success. And though many poets may spect themselves for the fondness and partiality of parents to their youngest children, yet I hope I may stand exempted from this rule, because I know myself too well, to be ever satisfied with my own conceptions, which have sel, dom reached to those ideas that I had within ine: and consequently, I presume I may have liberty to judge when I write more or less pardonably, as an ordinary marksman may know certainly when he roots less wide at what he aims. Besides, the care and pains I have be. stowed on this beyond any other tragi.comedies, may reasonably make the world conclude, that either I can do nothing tolerably, or that this poem is not much amiss. Few good pictures have been finished at one fitting;
neither can a true just play, which is to bear the test of ages, be produced at a heat, or by the force of fancy, without the maturity of judgment. For my own part, I have both fo just a diffidence of myself, and so great a reverence for my audience, that I dare venture nothing without a strict examination; and am as much ashamed to put a loose indigested play upon the public, as I should be to offer brass money in a payment: for though it should be taken, (as it is too often on the ftage,) yet it will be found in the second telling : and a judicious reader will discuver in his closet that trashy stuff, whose glittering deceived him in the action. I have often heard the stationer fighing in his shop, and withing for thoft hands to take off his melancholy bargain which clapped its performance on the stage. In a play-house every thing contributes to impose upon the judgment; the lights, the scenes, the habits, and, above all, the grace of action, which is commonly the best where there is the most need of it, surprize the audience, and caft a mist upon their understandings ; not unlike the cunning of a juggler, who is always staring us in the face, and overwhelming us with gibberith, only that he may gain the opportunity of making the cleaner conveyance of his trick. But these false beauties of the stage, are no more lalling than a rainbow, when the actor ceases to fline upon them, when he gilds them no longer with his reflection, they vanish in a twinkling. I have fometimes wondered, in the reading, what was become of thofe glaring colours which amazed me in Buffy Damboys upon the theatre : but when I had taken up what I supposed a fallen star, I found I had been cozened with a jelly : nothing but a cold dull mass, which glittered no longer than it was fhooting: a dwarfish thought, dressed ap in gigantic words, repetition in abundance, looseness of expreffion, and grofs hyperboles ; the fense of one line expanded prodigiously into ten : and to sum up all, uncorre&t Englisi, and a hideous mingle of false poetry and true nonsense ; or, at best, a scantling of wit which lay gasping for life, and groaning beneath a heap of tubbish. Å famous modern poet used to facrifice every year a Statius to Virgil's manes: and I have indignation enough to burn a Damboys annually to the memory of