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The theme must govern the style; every thought, every character, every subject of a different nature, must speak a different language. An: humble lover's gentle address to his mistress would rumble strangely in the Miltonic dialect; and the soft harmony of Mr. Waller's numbers would as ill become the mouths of Lucifer and Belzebub. The terribile and the tender must be set to different notes of music.
To conclude. This dramatic attempt was the first essay of a very infant Muse, rather as a task at such hours as were free from other exercises, than any way meant for public enter. tainment: but Mr. 'Betterton, having had it casual sight of it many years after it was written, begged it for the stage, where it found to favourable a reception as to have an uninterrupted run of at leait forty days. The fep2 ration of the principal actors, which foon fol. lowed, and the introduction of the Italian opera, put a stop to its farther appearance.
Had it been composed at a riper time of life the faults might have been fewer: how. ever, upon revising it now, at so great a diftance of time, with a cooler judgement than the first conceptions of youth will allow, I cannot absolutely fay Scripfiffe pudet.
A L E T T E R !
WITH A CHARACTER OF MR. W Y CHER L E Y.
MR. WYCHERLEY being the only living author eminent for his writings, with whom it is your misfortune to have no personal acquain, tance, you desire me to give you some idea of him, in order to perfect a design you are about of celebrating such of the poets of the present age as you think have deserved any notice.
My partiality to him as a friend might render what I say of him suspected, if his merit was not so well and so publickly established as to set him above fattery. To do him barely justice, is an undertaking beyond my fkill: however, since you defire it, I will do my best, though under the disadvantage of a painter, who, in drawing a lady Sunderland, or a lady * Montheriner,
* Dutchess of Montagu.
might express a resemblance by which their pictures might be known, but never reach that perfection of beauty, which nothing but an omnipotent hand could form.
My lord Rochester, in his imitation of one of Horace’s Epistles, thus mentions this author ;
Of all our modern wits, none seems to me
of Art : But Wycherley earns hard whate'er he gains ; Ile wants no judgement, and he spares no
The noble author, however just in other particulars, I am persuaded was led into that part of the character of a laborious writer, merely for the fake of the verse. If hafty would have stood as an epithet for Wycherley, and slow for Shadwell, they would in all probability have . been fo applied; but the verse would have been
spoiled, and to that it was necessary to submit.
Those who would form their judgement only from Mr. Wycherley's writings, without any personal acquaintance with him, might indeed be apt to conclude that such a diversity of images and characters; such strict enquiries into nature; such close observations on the several humours, manners, and affections of all ranks and degrees of men, and, as it were, so true and so perfect a dissection of human kind, delivered with so much pointed wit, and force of expression ; could be no other than the work of extraordinary diligence, labour, and application : but, in truth, we owe the pleasure and advantage of having been so well entertained and instructed by him, to his facility of doing it: if it had been a trouble to him to write, I am much mistaken if he would not have fpared himself that trouble: what he has performed, would have been disficult for another ; but the club which a man of an ordinary fize could not lift, was but a walking-Itaff for Hercules.