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the other; muft 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 mistaken 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 should 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 shew'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,
To my Dear Friend
Mr. CON GREVE,
On his COMEDY, call'd,
WELL then; the promis'd Hour is come at last ; The prefent Age
But what we gain'd in Skill, we loft in Strength.
He mov'd the Mind, but had no Pow'r to raise.
But both to Congreve juft ly fhall fubmit,
Oh that your Brows my Laurel bad fuftain'd,
Thus when the State one Edward did depose;
But now, not I, but Poetry is "curs'd;
That your leaft Praife is to be Regular.
Time, Place, and Action, may with Pains be wrought,
Maintain your Poft: That's all the Fame you need ; For 'tis impoffible you shou'd proceed.
Already I am worn with Cares and Age;