« PreviousContinue »
BY MRS. CENTLIVRE.
AS PERFORMED AT THE
REGULATED FROM THE PROMPT-BOOKS,
"The Lines distinguished by inverted Commas, are omitted in the Representation.'
Printed for the Proprietors, under the Direction of
DUKE AND MARQUIS OF WHARTON, &c.
IT has ever been the custom of poets, to shelter productions of this nature under the patronage of the brightest men of their time; and 'tis observed, that the muses always met the kindest reception from persons of the greatest merit. The world will do me justice as to the choice of my patron; but will, I fear, blame my rash attempt, in daring to address your Grace, and offer at a work too difficult for our ablest pens, viz. an encomium on your Grace. I have no plea against such reflections, but the disadvantage of education, and the privilege of my sex.
If your Grace discovers a genius so surprising in this dawn of life, what must your riper years produce! Your Grace has already been distinguished in a most peculiar manner, being the first young nobleman that ever was admitted into a house of peers before he reached the age of one and twenty: but your Grace's judgment and eloquence soon convinced that august assembly, that the excellent gifis of na
ture ought not to be confined to time. We hope the example that Ireland has set, will shortly be followed by an English house of lords, and your Grace made a member of that body, to which you will be so conspicuous an ornament.
Your good sense, and real love for your country, taught your Grace to persevere in the principles of your glorious ancestors, by adhering to the defender of our religion and laws; and the penetrating wisdom of your royal master saw you merited your honours ere he conferred them. It is one of the greatest glories of a monarch to distinguish where to bestow his favours; and the world must do ours justice, by owning your Grace's titles most deservedly worn.
It is with the greatest pleasure imaginable, the friends of liberty see you pursuing the steps of your noble father: your courteous affable temper, free from pride and ostentation, makes your name adored in the country, and enables your Grace to carry what point you please. The late Lord Wharton will be still remembered by every lover of his country, which never felt a greater shock than what his death occasioned: their gri had been inconsolable, if Heaven, out of its wonted beneficence to this favourite isle, had not transmitted all his shining qualities to you, and phoenix-like, raised up one patriot out of the ashes of another.
That your Grace has a high esteem for learning, particularly appears by the large progress you made therein: and your love for the muses shews a sweetness of temper, and generous humanity, peculiar to the greatness of your soul; for such virtues reign not in the breast of every man of quality.
Defer no longer then, my lord, to charm the world with the beauty of your numbers, and shew the poet, as you have done the orator; convince our unthinking Britons, by what vile arts France lost her liberty; and teach them to avoid their own misfortunes, as well as to weep over Henry IV. who (if it were possible for him to know) would forgive the bold assassin's hand, for the honour of having his fall celebrated by your Grace's pen.
To be distinguished by persons of your Grace's character is not only the highest ambition, but the greatest reputation to an author; and it is not the least of my vanities, to have it known to the public, I had your Grace's leave to prefix your name to this comedy.
I wish I were capable to clothe the following scenes in such a dress as might be worthy to appear before your Grace, and draw your attention as much as your Grace's admirable qualifications do that of all man