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world goes now, 'tis very hard to predicate one upon the other; and 'tis yet more difficult to prove, that a nobleman can be a friend to poetry. Were it not for two or three instances in Whitehall, and in the town, the poets of this age would find so little encouragement for their labours, and so few understanders, that they might have leisure to turn pamphleteers, and augment the number of those abominable scribblers, who, in this time of licence, abuse the press, almost every day, with nonsense, and railing against the government.

. It remains, my lord, that I should give you some account of this comedy, which you have never seen, because it was written and acted in your absence, at your government of Jamaica. It was intended for an honest satire against our crying sin of keeping ; how it would have succeeded, I can but

guess, for it was permitted to be acted only thrice. The crime, for which it suffered, was that which is objected against the satires of Juvenal, and the epigrams of Catullus, that it expressed too much of the vice which it decried. Your lordship knows what answer was returned by the elder of those poets, whom I last mentioned, to his accusers :

-castum esse decet pium poetam
Ipsum. Versiculos nihil necesse est :
Qui tum denique habent salem ac leporem

Si sint molliculi et parum pudici.
But I dare not make that apology for myself; and
therefore have taken a becoming care, that those
things which offended on the stage, might be either
altered, or omitted in the press; for their authority
is, and shall be, ever sacred to me, as much absent
as present, and in all alterations of their fortune,
who for those reasons have stopped its farther ap-
pearance on the theatre. And whatsoever hindrance
it has been to me in point of profit, many

of

my

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friends can bear me witness, that I have not once murmured against that decree. The same fortune once happened to Moliere, on the occasion of his

Tartuffe;" which, notwithstanding, afterwards has seen the light, in a country more bigot than ours, and is accounted amongst the best pieces of that poet. I will be bold enough to say, that this comedy is of the first rank of those which I have written, and that posterity will be of my opinion. It has nothing of particular satire in it; for whatsoever may have been pretended by some critics in the town, I may safely and solemnly affirm, that no one character has been drawn from any single man; and that I have known so many of the same humour, in every folly which is here exposed, as may serve to warrant it from a particular reflection. It was printed in my absence from the town, this summer, much against my expectation; otherwise I had over-looked the press, and been yet more care

ful, that neither my friends should have had the least occasion of unkindness against me, nor my enemies of upbraiding me; but if it live to a second impression, I will faithfully perform what has been wanting in this. In the mean time, my lord, I recommend it to your protection, and beg I may keep still that place in your favour which I have hitherto enjoyed ; and which I shall reckon as one of the greatest blessings which can befall,

My Lord,
Your Lordship's most obedient,

Faithful servant,

JOHN DRYDEN,

PROLOGUE.

TRUÉ wit has seen its best days long ago ;
It ne'er looked up, since we were dipt in show;
When sense in doggrel rhimes and clouds was lost,
And dulness flourished at the actor's cost.
Nor stopt it here; when tragedy was done,
Satire and humour the same fate have run,
And comedy is sunk to trick and pun.
Now our machining lumber will not sell,
And you no longer care for heaven or hell;
What stuff will please you next, the Lord can tell.
Let them, who the rebellion first began
To wit, restore the monarch, if they can;
Our author dares not be the first bold man.
He, like the prudent citizen, takes care,
To keep for better marts his staple ware;
His toys are good enough for Sturbridge fair.
Tricks were the fashion ; if it now be spent,
'Tis time enough at Easter, to invent;
No man will make up a new suit for Lent.
If now and then he takes a small pretence,
'To forage for a little wit and sense,
Pray pardon him, he meant you no offence. ;
Next summer, Nostradamus tells, they say,
That all the critics shall be shipped away,
And not enow be left to damn a play.
To every sail beside, good heaven, be kind;
But drive away that swarm with such a wind,
That not one locust may be left behind !

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DRAMATIS PERSONÆ.

ALDO, an honest, good-natured, free-hearted old gen

tleman of the town. WOODALL, his son, under a false name; bred abroad,

and now returned from travel. LIMBERHAM, a tame, foolish keeper, persuaded by

what is last said to him, and changing next word. BRAINSICK, a husband, who, being well conceited of

himself, despises his wife: vehement and eloquent, as

he thinks; but indeed a talker of nonsense. GERVASE, WOODALL's man : formal, and apt to

give good counsel. Giles, WOODALL's cast servant.

Mrs Saintly, an hypocritical fanatic, landlady of the

boarding-house. MRS TRICKSY, a termagant kept mistress. MRs PLEASANCE, supposed daughter to Mrs SAINT

LY : Spiteful and satirical; but secretly in love

with WOOD ALL. MRS BRAINSICK. JUDITH, a maid of the house.

:

SCENE-A Boarding-house in Town.

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