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TO MY GENEROUS AND OBLIGING
COUNTY OF KENT.
THIS Play was both designed and finished in your county, and therefore comes for protection to the place of its nativity. It drags not a sluggish and unwilling pace, as timorous of its reception, and the hardness of its fate; but pants for its native air, where it was brought forth with pleasure, and flies to the good treatment of your experienced hospitality.
To fix upon any particular patron from among you, would be a general offence, because so many of you have a special claim to my gratitude for your peculiar favours; and to incorporate you, by name, into one common body, would require a college of heralds to order the precedence, and a more diffi cult exactness to marshal my obligations. I rather choose to confess them by a general acknowledg and as each of you know what title you have to my thanks, 1 pay them in due proportion,
with the utmost cheerfulness, and with the profoundest respect.
There is a nicety, it seems, in love, and, some will have it, in friendships, which will not endure numbers in such a strictness of union. Did I presume to claim friendships as unbounded as my dédication, I would adventure to oppose that ungenerous notion; but as I only take to myself the less envied name of a client, and declare my good fortune in having met with so many singular patrons, gratitude, I hope, without cavil, may be as unlimited as favours, and favours will be as diffusive as good-nature and ability can make them.
The wonder will be, that under the happy influ ence of such a general kind treatment, 1 have not been able to produce a more strenuous and lively play. It may be, your indulgence to the parent has spoiled his offspring; for writers, they say, as well as breeders, must be under diet and prescription: mine, if it is a muse, has been under no such restraint; but has fed high, and lived well among you, and must plead her bounty in excuse of her irregularities.
Accept this Play, then, as an offering, gentlemen, and screen it as a composure. It should, indeed, have been more perfect, considering to whom, and
for what reasons, it is addressed; but it is my first effort, and therefore the first public opportunity I could take of declaring how much I am,
Your most obliged,
Most thankful, and
THIS Play was written about three years since, and put into the hands of a famous comedian belonging to the Haymarket Play-house, who took care to beat down the value of it so much, as to offer the author to alter it fit to appear on the stage, on condition he might have half the profits of the third day, and the dedication entire ; that is as much as to say, that it may pass for one of his, according to custom. The author not agreeing to this reasonable proposal, it lay in his hands till the beginning of this winter, when Mr. Booth read it, and liked it, and persuaded the author, that, with a little alteration, it would please the town. Indeed the success of it has been wonderful; notwithstanding the trial in Westminster-Hall, and the rehearsal of the new opera, it has answered the ends of the poet, and, he hopes, that of the town too.
I cannot omit mentioning the extraordinary performances of Mrs. Bradshaw, Mrs. Santlow, Mr. Pack, and Mr. Leigh, who are the only people on the English stage that could have acted those parts so much to the life.
It may be expected I should give some reasons for my scribbling, and make excuses for the irregularities of the play; find fault with those things the town are good-natured enough to overlook; most arrogantly stand up for time and place; brag of the newness of the characters, &c. But I beg pardon for not shewing the conceited part of me. I am called in haste to my duty in Portugal; but, at my return, it is probable I may be as insolent as the rest of the scribblers of the town.
FAIR QUAKER OF DEAL.
THIS Comedy is by no means remarkable for smartness of dialogue, or keenness of observation-yet I believe the Humours of the Navy are here better reflected than in any other nautical mirror.-Though, perhaps, the pleasure such characters afford, when broadly sketched, is to be felt by few beyond themselves-The characters of Commodore FLIP and MIZEN are certainly fine contrasts, and in expression seem to warrant the remark, that they were drawn from individual nature.
Much of the roughness of the naval manner is, however, wearing off-All that remains to be wished is, that the high spirit of valour, exulting in peril unequalled through the various stations of life, may not, by the change, be lowered, and the British Navy in consequence cease to be deemed invincible.