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the cause of the downfall of the“ Wary Widow," that the author, being a man of a convivial temper, had introduced too great a display of good eating and drinking into his piece ; and that the actors, although Mr Higden complains of their general negligence, entered into these convivial scenes with great zeal, and became finally incapable of proceeding in their parts.* The prologue was written by Sir Charles Sedley, in which the following lines seem to be levelled at Dryden's critical prefaces :
But against old, as well as new, to rage
If the admirers of Dryden were active in the condemnation of Higden's play, the offence probably lay in these verses.
From this hot-bed with foplings we're opprest,
Verses prefixed to “Sir Noisy Parrot,” 4to. 1693.
Friend Harry, some squeamish pretenders to thinking,
As to damn at a play, what they like at the Devil ? Begging pardon of this apologist, who subscribes himself Tho. Palmer, there is some difference between the satisfaction of eating a good dinner at a tavern, and seeing one presented on the stage.
It seems likely that Higden's translation of the Tenth Satire of Juvenal, which I have never seen, was printed before Dryden published his own version, in 1693; consequently, before the damnation of the “ Wary Widow," acted in the same year, which seems to have been attended with a quarrel between Dryden and the author. It is therefore very probable, that this Epistle should have stood earlier in the arrangement; but, having no positive evidence, the Editor has not disturbed the former order.
EPISTLE THE ELEVENTH.
The Grecian wits, who satire first began,
* A truncheon, with a fool's head and cap upon one end. It was carried by the ancient jester, and is often alluded to in old plays.
Oh! were your author's principle received, Half of the labouring world would be relieved ; For not to wish is not to be deceived. Revenge would into charity be changed, Because it costs too dear to be revenged ; It costs our quiet and content of mind, And when 'tis compass'd leaves a sting behind. Suppose I had the better end o’the staff, Why should I help the ill-natured world to laugh? Tis all alike to them, who get the day; They love the spite and mischief of the fray. No; I have cured myself of that disease; Nor will I be provoked, but when I please. But let me half that cure to you restore; You give the salve, I laid it to the sore.
. Our kind relief against a rainy day, Beyond a tavern, or a tedious play, We take your book, and laugh our spleen away. If all your tribe, too studious of debate, Would cease false hopes and titles to create, Led by the rare example you begun, Clients would fail, and lawyers be undone.
EPISTLE THE TWELFTH.
TO MY DEAR FRIEND
ON HIS COMEDY
THE DOUBLE DEALER.
This admirable Epistle is addressed to Congreve, whose rising genius had early attracted our author's attention and patronage. When Congreve was about to bring out “ The Old Bachelor,” the manuscript was put by Southerne into Dryden's hands, who declared, that he had never seen such a first play, and bestowed considerable pains in adapting it to the stage. It was received with the most unbounded approbation. “ The Double Dealer" was acted in November, 1693, but without that universal applause which attended “The Old Rachelor.” The plot was perhaps too serious, and the villainy of Maskwell too black and hateful for comedy. It was the opinion too of Dryden, that the fashionable world felt the satire too keenly.* The play, how
Mr_Malone quotes part of a letter from Dryden on the subject of “ The Double Dealer," and his own tragi-comedy of “ Love Triumphant." It is addressed to Mr Walsh, and runs thus :
“ Congreve's · Double Dealer' is much censured by the greater part of the town, and is defended only by the best judges, who, you know, are commonly the fewest. Yet it gains ground daily, and has already been acted eight times. The women think he has exposed ... ...; and the gentlemen are offended