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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
Si sint molliculi et parum pudici.
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 careful, 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,
TRUÉ wit has seen its best days long ago ;
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 WOODALL. MRS BRAINSICK. JUDITH, a maid of the house.
SCENE-A Boarding-house in Town.