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Performance. Yet I must take the Boldness to fay, I have not miscarry'd in the whole; for the Me chanical part of it is regular. That I may say with as little Vanity, as a Builder may say he has built a House according to the Model laid down before him; or a Gardner that he has set his Flowers in a Kuot of such or such a Figure. I design'd the Moral first, and to that Moral I invented the Fable, and do not know that I have borrow'd one Hint of it any where. I made the Plot as strong as I could, because it was single, and I made it single, because I would avoid Confufion, and was re1olved to preserve the three Unities of the Drama. Sir, this Discourse is very impertinent to you, whore Judgment much better can discern the Faults, than I can excuse them; and whose Goodnature, like that of a Lover, will find out those hidden Beauties (if there are any such) which it wou'd be great Immodesty for me to discover. I think I don't speak improperly when I call you a Lover of Poetry; for it is very well known the has been a very kind Mistress to you;, she has not deny'd you the last Favour; and he has been fruits ful to you in a most beautiful Iflue -----If I break off abruptly here, I hope every Body will understand that it is to avoid a Commendation, which, as it is your Due, would be most easy for me to pay, and too troublesome for you to receive.
I have, since the A&ting of this Play, harken'd after the Objections which have been made to it; for I was Conscious where a true Critick might: have put me upon my Defence, I was prepared for the Attack; and am pretty confident I could have vindicated fome Parts, and excused others; and where there were any plain Miscarriages, i would most ingenuously have confess'd 'em. But I have not heard any thing faid fufficient to pro
voke an Answer. That which looks most like an Objection, does not relate in particular to this Play, but to all or most that ever have been written; and that is Soliloquy. Therefore I will answer it, not only for my own sake, but to save others the Trouble, to whom it may hereafter be Objected.
I grant, that for a Man to Talk to himself, appears absurd and unnatural; and indeed it is to in most Cases; but the Circumstances which may attend the Occasion, make great Alteration. It oftentimes happens to a Man, to have Designs which require hiin to himself, and in their Nature cannot admit of a Confident. Such, for certain, is all Villany; and other less mischievous Intentions may be very improper to be Communicated to a second Person. In such a Case therefore the Audience muft obferve, whether the Person upon the Stage takes any notice of them at all, or no. For if he fupposes any one to be by, when he talks to himfelf, it is monstrous and ridiculous to the last degrec. Nay, not only in this Cafe, but in any Part of a Play, if there is expressed any Knowledge of an Audience, it
But otherwise, when a Man in Soliloquy reasons with himself,
as insufferable. and Pro's and Con's, and weighs all his Designs: We ought not to imagine that this Man either talks to us, or to himself; he is only thinking, and thinking such Matter as were inexcusable Folly in him to speak. But because we are conceal'd Spectators of the Plot in Agitation, and the Poet finds it necessary to let us know the whole Myttery of his Contrivance, he is willing to inform us of this Person's Thoughts; and to that end is forcd to make use of the Expedient of Speech, no other better way being yet invented for the Communication of Thought.
Another very wrong Obje&tion has been made by fome who have not taken Leisure to distinguish the Characters. The Hero of the Play, as they are pleas'd to call him, (meaning Mellefont) is a Gull, and made a Fool, and cheated. Is every Man a Gull and a Fool that is deceiv'd? At that rate I'm afraid the two Classes of Men will be reduc'd to one, and the Knaves themselves be at a loss to justify their Title: But if an Open-hearted honest Man, who has an entire Confidence in one whom he takes to be his Friend, and whom he has oblig'd to be fo; and who (to confirm him in his Opinion) in all Appearance, and upon several Trials has been fo: If this Man be deceiv'd by the Treachery of 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 A&t 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 fufpe&ting his Familiarity with my Lady Touchwood: Let tem examine the AnIwer 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 Chara&ter of Maskwell before they accuse Mellefunt of Weakness for being deceiv'd by him. For upon sumıning up the Enquiry into this Obje&ion, 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 con: cerned than all the falle Criticisms that are made upon me; and that is, some of the Ladies are offended. I am heartily forry for it, for I declare I would rather disoblige all the Criticks in the World," than one of the fair Sex. They are concerned that I have represented fome Women Vicious and Affected: How can I help it? It is the Business of a Comick Poet to paint the Vices arid Follies of Human-kind; and there are but two Sexes, Male, and Female, Men, and Women, 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 inake my Compliment to those 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 Discreet, should not be offended; for such Characters as thele distinguish them, and make their Beauties more . shining and observ'd : And they who are of the other kind, may nevertheless pass for such,. by: seeming not to be displeas'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 Epistle which ought wholly to be sacred to you: But since I intend the Play to be fo 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 i 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 same 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 Acknowledgment of the Favour you have Thewn me, and an Earnest of the real Service and Gratitude of,
Your Moft Obliged