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adva. age of my reputation to have it refused me.
In the mean time, my Lord, I take the confidence to present you with a tragedy, the characters of which are the nearest to an heroick was dedicated to you in my heart, before it was presented on the stage. Some ihings in it have passed your approbation, and many your amendă ment; you were likewise pleased to recommend it to the King's perusal before the last hand was added to it, when I received the favour from him to have the most considerable event of it modelled by his royal pleasure. It may be some vånity in me to add his testimony then, and which he graciously confirmed afterwards, that it was the best of all my tragedies, in which he has made authentick my private opinion of it ; at least, he has given it a value by his commendation, which it had not by 'my writing.
That which was not pleasing to some of the fair ladies in the 'last act of it, as I dare not vindicate, so neither can I wholly condemn, till I find more reason for their censures. The procedure of Indamora and Melesinda seems yet, in my
6 “ AURENGZEBE has the appearance of being the most elaborate of all the dramas. The personages are imperial, but the dialogue is often domestick, and therefore susceptible of sentiments accommodated to familiar incidents. The complaint of life is celebrated, and there are many passages that may be read with pleasure." Johnson's Life of DRYDEN.
judgment, natural, and not unbecoming of their characters. If they who arraign them fail not more, the world will never blame their conduct; and I shall be glad, for the honour of my country, to find better images of virtue drawn to the life in their behaviour, than any I could feign to adorn the theatre. I confess I have only represented a practicable virtue, mixed with the frailties and imperfections of human life. I have made my heroine fearful of death, which neither Cassandra nor Cleopatra would have been ; and they themselves, I doubt it not, would have outdone romance in that particular. Yet their Mandana (and the Cyrus was written by a lady) was not altogether so hard-hearted; for she sat down on the cold ground by the King of Assyria, and not only pitied him who died in her defence, but allowed him some favours, such perhaps as they would think should only be permitted to her Cyrus. I have made my Melesinda, in opposition to Nourmahal, a woman passionately loving of her husband, patient of injuries and contempt, and constant in her kindness to the last; and in that, perhaps, I may have erred, because it is not a virtue much in use. Those Indian wives are loving fools, and may do well to keep themselves in their own country, or at least to keep company with the Arrias and Portias of old Rome; some of our ladies know better things. But it may be, I am partial to my own writings; yet I have laboured as much as any man to divest myself of
the self-opinion of an author, and am too well satisfied of myown weakness to be pleased with any thing I have written. But on the other side my reason tells me, that, in probability, what I have seriously and long considered may be as likely to be just and natural, as what an ordinary judge (if there be any such amongst those ladies) will think fit, in a transient présentation, to be placed in the room of that which they condemn. The most judicious writer is sometimes mistaken, after all his care ; but the hasty critick, who judges on a view, is full as liable to be deceived. Let him first consider all the arguments which the author had to write this, or to design the other, before he arraigns him of a fault; and then perhaps, on second thoughts, he will find his reason oblige him to revoke his
Yet after all, I will not be too positive.
humani à me nihil alienum puto : as I am a man, I must be changeable; and sometimes the gravest of us all are so, even upon ridiculous accidents. Our minds are perpetually wrought on by the temperament of our bodies, which makes me suspect they are nearer allied than either our philosophers or school-divines will allow them to be. I have observed, says Montagne, that when the body is out of order, its companion is seldom at his ease,
An ill dream, or a cloudy day, has power to change this wretched creature, who is so proud of a reasonable soul, and make him think what he thought not yesterday ; and Homer was
of this opinion, as Cicero is pleased to translato him for us :
Tales sunt hominum mentes quali pater ipse
Jupiter auctiferâ lustravit lampade terras. Or as the same author in his Tusculan Questions speaks, with more modesty than usual, of himself : Nos in diem vivimus ; quodcunque animos nostros probabilitate percussit, id dicimus. It is not therefore impossible but that I may alter the conclusion of my play, to restore myself into the good graces of
my fair criticks; and your Lordship, who is so well with them, may do me the office of a friend and patron, to intercede with them on my promise of amendment. The impotent lover in Petronius, though his was a very unpardonable crime, yet was received to mercy on the terms I offer. Summa excusationis meæ hæc est : placebo tibi, si culpam emendare permiseris.
But I am conscious to myself of offering at a greater boldness in presenting to your view what my meanness can produce, than in any other errour of my play ; and therefore make haste to break off this tedious address, which has, I know not how, already run itself into so much of pedantry, with an excuse of Tully's, which he sent with his books De Finibus, to his friend Brutus : De ipsis rebus autem, sæpenumerò, Brute, vereor ne reprehendar, cum hæc ad te scribam, qui tum in poesi; (I change it from philosophia,) tum in optimo genere poeseos tantum processeris. Quod si facerem
quasi te erudiens, jure reprehenderer. Sed ab eo plurimùm absum: nec, ut ea cognoscas quæ tibi notissima sunt, ad te mitto ; sed quià facilimè in nomine tuo acquiesco, et quia te habeo aquissimum eorum studiorum quæ mihi communia tecum sunt, æstimatorem et judicem ; which you may please, my Lord, to apply to yourself, from him, who is
7 This is the only instance I have found of our author's subscribing his surname, in the French mode, without the Christian name. His friend, Sir William D'Avenant sometimes adopted the same mode.
In the Prologue to this tragedy, which was acted by the King's Servants at the Theatre Royal, Dryden acknowledged, that he was grown“ weary of his long-lov'd mistress, rhyme." He accordingly never afterwards produced an heroick play.—The reign of rhyming tragedies, which were introduced by the bad taste of Charles the Second, who had learned to admire them during his residence in France, lasted about fifteen years; from 1662 to 1676. A few heroick plays afterwards appeared, but they were not long-lived.
THE END OF THE FIRST VOLUME.