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THE

SOLDIER'S FORTUNE.

A COMEDY.

Quem recitas, meus est, O Fidentine, libellus;

Sed male cum recitas, incipit esse tuus.

MARTIAL. LIB. 1. EP. 39.

VOL. II,

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THE SOLDIER'S FORTUNE.

This play, though very successful when first exhibited, is marked with the same iinmoral character which pervades all Otway's comedies, and has justly condemned them to obscurity. Another, and, as far as the author's literary reputation is concerned, a more fatal objection, is it's defect of originality: the plot, aud many of the incidents, having been borrowed from different sources, without acknowledgment. These instances of plagiarism have been minutely exposed by Langbaine, the vigilant detector of dramatic fraud. Lady Dunce's scheme of employing her husband to convey the ring and letter to Beaugard, her gallant (perhaps the most agreeable feature in the play), had already been adopted in the “ Parasitaster,” a comedy by John Marston, 1606; and “Flora's Vagaries," anon. 1670. The original story is in Boccacio, Dec. 3. Nov. 3. The source from whence Otway probably derived the bint (and wbich escaped the notice of Langa baine), is Moliere's “ l'Ecole des Maris;" where the behaviour of Sganarelle, Isabelle, and Valere, differs but little from that of Sir Davy, Lady Dunce, and Beaugard. Sir Davy's sudden appearance from the closet, and surprising his wife and Beaugard embracing, and the lady's conduct thereupon, are borrowed from a story in Scarron's “ Roman Comiqne;” or rather from “ Les Amours des Dames illustres de notre siecle.” Bloody-bones' character resembles the Bravo in the

Antiquary,” a comedy by Shakerly Marmion, 1641. The analogy between Courtine's deportment at Sylvia's balcony, and that of Thomas to his mistress Mary, in Fletcher's comedy called “Monsieur Thomas," is too weak to convict Otway of fraud in this instance, unless the ballad which he has borrowed from the same play, be regarded as additional evidence. The rest of the piece requires little comment. It's chief recommendations were, probably, the variety and quick succession of the incidents, and that looseness of dialogue which passed for wit at the time it was composed, The character of Sir Jolly Jumble is a ridiculous, not to say disgusting, compound of folly and depravity : whether it be natural or not, it is useless to enquire ; as, in either case, it is unfit to be pourtrayed in public.

This play was acted and printed 4to. 1681. It is dedicated to his publisher; not, I suppose, acquittance for the money received for the copy,” but as “a preface to the work,” in which he might canvass, with more freedom, the objections it seems to have excited. The edition of 1757, and all the subsequent copies of the play, have excluded the whole of the paragraph which refers to the share some lady took in opposing it's success. This is now restored from the quarto copy. In 1748, a farce taken from this comedy was represented at Covent-garden, under the same title. It was not printed.

as an

THE DEDICATION.

MR. BENTLEY,

I HAVE often (during this play's being in the press) been importuned for a preface; which you, I suppose, would have speak something in vindication of the comedy: now, to please you, Mr. Bentley, I will, as briefly as I can, speak my mind upon that occasion, which you may be pleased to accept of, both as a dedication to yourself, and next as a preface to the book.

And I am not a little proud, that it has happened into my thoughts, to be the first who in these latter years has made an epistle dedicatory to his stationer: it is a compliment as reasonable as it is just. For, Mr. Bentley, you pay honestly for the copy; and an epistle to you is a sort of an acquittance, and may be probably welcome; when to a person of higher rank and order, it looks like an obligation for praises, which he knows he does not deserve, and therefore is very unwilling to part with ready money for.

As to the vindication of this comedy, between friends and acquaintance, I believe it is possible, that as much may be said in it's behalf, as heretofore has been for a great many others. But of all the apish qualities about mé, I have not that of being fond of my own issue ; nay, I must confess myself a very unnatural parent, for when it is once brought into the world, e'en let the brat shift for itself, I say. The objections made against the merit of this

poor play, I must confess, are very grievous

First, says a lady, that shall be nameless, because the world may think civilly of her: "Fogh! Oh sherreu, ’tis so filthy, so bawdy, no modest woman ought to be seen

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