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To the Right Honourable CH H A R L E S Lord HAL I, I F A X.
F I could have the Vanity to make a Merit of Dedicating this TRAGEDY, I should here take an Opportunity of telling You, that I am, in This, endeavouring to make the best, and on
ly Return I am capable of, for all those Marks of exceeding Goodness and Humanity, which I have still had the Honour to meet with from Your Lordship. But fince the Matter is quite otherwise, since it is highly to my Advantage to shelter my self under fo great a Name; since I have done my self so much Honour by it; I am bound to own, with all the Gratitude Iam capable of, that Your Lordship's Patronage is a new, and will be a lasting Obligation upon me.
Moftkinds of Poetry, but especially TRAGEDIES, come into the World now, like Children born under ill Stars; a general Indifference, or rather Dif
A 3 inclination,
inclination, attends like a bad Influence upon 'em; and after having bustled thro’ill Usage, and a short Life, they sleep and are forgotten. "The Relish of Things of this kind is certainly very much alter'd from what it was some time since; and tho' I wont presume to censure other Peoples Pleasures, and prescribe to the various Tastes of Mankind; yet I will take the Liberty to say, that those who scorn to be entertain'd like their Fore-Fathers, will hardly substitute so reasonable a Diversion in the Room of that which they have laid aside. I could wish there were not so much Reason as there is to attribute this Change of Inclinations, to a Difesteem of Learning it felf. Too many people are apt to think, that Books are not necessary to the finithing the CharaEter of a fine Gentleman; and are therefore easily drawn to despise what they know nothing of. But, my Lord, among all these mortifying Thoughts, it is still a Pleasure to the Muses, to think there are fone Men of too delicate Understandings to give in to the Tastes of a deprav'd Age; Men that have not only the Power, but the Wii
, to prote& those Arts which they love, because they are Masters of 'em.
It would be very easie for me to distinguish one among those few, after the most advantageous Manner; but all Men of common Sense have concurr'd in doing it already, and there is no need of a Panegyrick.
I could be almost tempted to expoftulate with the rest of the World (for I am sure there Occasion to make an Apology. to Your Lordship) in Defence of Poetry. I am far from thinking of a good Poet, as the Stoicks did of their Wise-man, that he was sufficient for every thing, could be every thing, and excel in every thing, as he pleas'd; yet sure I may be allow'd to say, that, that Bright
nefs, Quickness, that Strength and Greatness of Thinking, which is requir'd in any of the nobler Kinds of Poetry, would raise a Man to an uncommon Diftinction in any Profeffion or Business, that has a Relation to good Sense and Understanding. One modern Instance can at it be given, where the same Genius that shone in Poetry, was found equal to the firkt Employments of the Scate; and where the same Man, who by his Virtue and Wifdom was highly useful to, and instrumental in the Safety and Happiness of his pative Country, bad been equally ornamental to it in his Wit.
This is what I could not help saying, for the Honour of an Art which has been formerly the Favourite of the greatest Men. Not that it wants a Recommendation to Your Lord Chip, who have always been a constant and generous Protector of it. This in. deed would be much more properly said to the World and when I have told 'ern what Men have equally adorn'd it, and been adorn'd by it, I might not unfitly apply to 'em, what Horace said to the Pifo's;
Ne fortè Pudori Sit tibi Musa Lyre folers & Cantor Apollo. For my owninconsiderable Pretensions to Verre, I shall, I confess, think better even of them, than I have ever yet done, if they shall afford me the Honour to be always thought,
and Devoted Humble Servant,
Spoken by Mr. Betterton.
S'NCE to your
fund Fore-Fathers quite contrarys