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them, as Dares did the whirlbats of Eryx, when they were thrown before him by Entellus. Yet from thac preface he plainly took his hint: for he began immediately upon the story; tho' he had the baseness not to acknowledge his benefactor ; but instead of it, to traduce me in a libel.
I shall say the less of Mr. Collier, because in many things he has taxed me juftly; and I have pleaded guilty to all thoughts and expressions of mine, which can be truly argued of obscenity, profaneness, or immorality; and retract them. If he be my enemy, let him triumph; if he be my friend, as I have given him no personal occasion to be otherwise, he will be glad of my repentance. It becomes me not to draw my pen in the defence of a bad cause, when I have so often drawn it for a good one.
Yet it were not difficult to prove, that in many places he has perverted my meaning by his glosses; and interpreted my words into blasphemy and baudry, of which they were not guilty ; besides that he is too much given to horse-play in his raillery; and comes to battle like a dičtator from the plough. I will not say, The zeal of God's house has eaten him up; but I am sure it has devoured fome part of his good-manners and civility. It might also be doubted whether it were altogether zeal, which prompted him to this rough manner of proceeding; perhaps it became not one of his function to rake into the rubbish of ancient and modern plays; a divine might have employed his pains to better purpose, than in the nastiness of Plautus and Aristophanes ; whose examples, as they excuse not me, so it might be possibly supposed, that he read them not without some pleasure. They who have written commentaries on those poets, or on Horace, Juvenal, and Martial, have explained some
rices, which without their interpretation had been unknown to modern times. Neither has he judged impartially betwixt the former age and us.
There is more baudry in one Play of Fletcher's call'd The Custom of the Country, than in all ours together. Yet this has been often acted on the stage in my remembrance. Are the times so much more reformed now, than they were five and twenty years ago? If they are, I congratulate the amendment of our morals. But I am not to prejudice the cause of my fellow-poets, tho' I abandon my own defence : they have some of them answered for themselves, and neither they nor I can think Mr. Collier so formidable an enemy, that we should fun him. He has loft ground at the latter end of the day, by pursuing his point too far, like the prince of Conde at the battle of Senneph: from immoral plays, to no plays; ab abusu ad ufum, non valet consequentia. But being a party, I am not to erect myself into a judge. As for the rest of those who have written against me, they are such scoundrels, that they deserve not the least notice to be taken of them. Blackmore and Milbourn are only diftinguished from the crowd, by being remembered to their infamy.
Demetri, Teque Tigelli