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the other; must he of neceffity commence Fool immediately, only because the other has prov'd a Villain? Ay, but there was Caution given to Mellefont in the first Act by his Friend Careless. Of what Nature was that Caution? Only to give the Audience fome Light into the Character of Maskwell, before his Appearance; and not to convince Mellefont of his Treachery; for that was more than Careless was then able to do: He never knew Maskwell guilty of any Villany; he was only a fort of Man which he did not like. As for his fufpecting his Familiarity with my Lady Touchwood: Let 'em examine the Anfwer that Mellefont makes him, and compare it with the Conduct of Maskwell's Character through the Play.

I would beg 'em again to look into the Character of Maskwell, before they accufe Mellefont of Weaknefs for being deceiv'd by him. For upon fumming up the Enquiry into this Objection, it may be found they have miftaken Cunning in one Character, for Folly in another.

But there is one thing, at which I am more concerned than all the falfe Criticisms that are made upon me; and that is, fome of the Ladies are offended. I am heartily forry for it, for I declare I would rather difoblige all the Criticks in the World, than one of the fair Sex. They are concerned that I have reprefented fome Women Vicious and Affected: How can I help it? It is the Business of a Comick Poet to paint the Vices and Follies of Human-kind; and there are but two Sexes, Male, and Female, Men and Wamen, which have a Title to Humanity: And if I leave one half of them out, the Work will be imperfect. I fhould be very glad of an Opportunity to make my Compliment to thofe Ladies who are offended: But they can no more expect it in a Comedy, than to be Tickled by a Surgeon, when he's letting 'em Blood. They who are Virtuous or Dif



creet, fhould not be offended; for fuch Characters as thefe diftinguifh them, and make their Beauties more fhining and obferv'd: And they who are of the other kind, may nevertheless pass for fuch, by feeming not to be difpleas'd, or touch'd with the Satire of this Comedy. Thus have they also wrongfully accus'd 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 Epiftle which ought wholly to be facred to you: But fince I intend the Play to be fo too, I hope I may take the more Liberty of Juftifying it, where it is in the Right.

I muft now, Sir, declare to the World, how kind you have been to my Endeavours; for in regard of what was well meant, you have excus'd what was ill perform'd. I beg you would continue the fame Method in your Acceptance of this Dedication. I know no other way of making a Return to that Humanity you fhew'd, in protecting an Infant, but by Enrolling it in your Service, now that it is of Age and come into the World. Therefore be pleas'd to accept of this as an Acknowledgement of the Favour you have fhewn me, and an Earneft of the real Service and Gratitude of,


Your Moft Obliged,

Humble Servant,

William Congreve.

To my Dear Friend


On his COMEDY, call'd,


WELL then; the promis'd Hour is come at laft ;
The prefent Age of Wit obfcures the past:

Strong were our Sires; 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 ftood.
Like Janus, he the stubborn Soil manur'd,

With Rules of Husbandry, the Rankness cur'd:
Tam'd us to Manners, when the Stage was rude;
And beift'rous English Wit, with Art indu'd.
Our Age was cultivated thus at length;

But what we gain'd in Skill, we loft in Strength.
Our Builders were, with Want of Genius, curft;
The Second Temple was not like the First:
'Till You, the beft Vitruvius, come at length,
Our Beauties equal; but excel our Strength.
Firm Dorique Pillars found your folid Bafe:
The fair Corinthian crowns the higher Space;
Thus all below is Strength, and all above is Grace.
In eafy Dialogue is Fletcher's Praife:

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 Eafe.
In diff'ring Talents both adorn'd their Age;
One for the Study, t'other for the Stage.



But both to Congreve juftly fall fubmit,
One match'd in Judgment, both o'er-match'd in Wit.
In Him all Beauties of this Age we fee,
Etherege his Courtship, Southern's Purity;
The Satire, Wit, and Strength of Manly Wicherly.
All this in blooming Youth you have atchiev'd's
Nor are your foil' d Contemporaries griev'd;
So much the Sweetness of your Manners move,
We cannot envy you, because we Love.
Fabius might joy in Scipio, when he saw
A Beardlefs Conful 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 bad fuftain'd,
Well had I been depos'd, if You had Reign'd!
The Father had defcended for the Son;
For only You are lineal to the Throne.

Thus when the State one Edward did depofe;
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 'em not mistake my Patron's Part;
Nor call his Charity their own Defert.
Yet this I Prophefy; Thou shalt be seen,
(Tho' with fome short Parenthesis between :)
High on the Throne of Wit; and feated there,
Not mine (that's little) but thy Laurel wear.
Thy first Attempt an early Promife made,
That early Promise this has more than paid,
So bold, yet fo judiciously you dare,

That your leaft Praife 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,
T Shakespear gave as much ;fhe cou'd not give him more.


Maintain your Poft: That's all the Fame you need ; For 'tis impoffible you fhou'd proceed.

Already I am worn with Cares and Age;
And just abandoning th' ungrateful Stage:
Unprofitably kept at Heav'n's Expence,
I live a Rent-charge on his Providence :
But You, whom ev'ry Muse and Grace adorn,
Whom I forefee to better Fortune born,
Be kind to my Remains; and ob defend,
Against your Judgment, your departed Friend!
Let not th' infulting Foe my Fame pursue ;
But fhade thofe Laurels which defcend to You:
And take for Tribute what thefe Lines exprefs;
You merit more; nor cou'd my Love do lefs.

John Dryden.


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