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OUR prefent fituation, in which, happily for the profeffors of the drama, and to the general fatisfaction of the public, you have fucceeded two of the greatest Geniuses this age has produced, renders the addreffing any thing in a dramatic form to you a fort of indifpenfable propriety; but it is not your fituation that exacts this tribute: the esteem, and real affection, I have many years had for yourself, are the only motives which induce me thus publickly to boaft the honour of your friendship;

to commit the following pages to your protection; to embrace this opportunity of informing thofe (if there are any) who do not know it, that your private virtues are as eminent as your public merits; and to fubfcribe myself,

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ARIOUS have been the attempts to copy the ftyle and manner of feveral of our most celebrated Poets; fome of them ferious, and others avowedly burlesque. The imitations of Spenfer, notwithstanding the objections that have been made to his language and stanza, are remarkably numerous (I have feen near thirty different ones, perhaps there are others I have not met with); and many of them very happily executed.

Shakspeare (unless we may except Kenrick's Falstaff's Wedding) has hitherto proved, and it is most likely will continue, inimitable.

The pomp of Milton has been as fuccefsfully as humourously affumed by Philips; and the Pipe of Tobacco, written in imitation of fix feveral authors, has been univerfally applauded and admired.

But none of thefe, whether well or indifferently performed, either added to, or diminished, the beauty of their Prototype. The various cantos and fmall

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poems written in imitation of Spenfer, from Sir Richard Fanshawe, the tranflator of 11 Paftor Fido, and the Lufiad; to Mr. Mickle, who has enriched our libraries with fo truly poetical a verfion of the fublime Camoëns; were never I believe intended to fupply the place of any part of the loft, or notwritten Books of the Faerie Queene; the tragedy of Jane Shore, and other profeffed imitations of our immortal dramatist, were never propofed to be incoporated in any collection or edition of Shakspeare's works: nor do I imagine, though money is fo general a fuccedaneum for happiness, that the Splendid Shilling was ever confidered as a fupplement to Paradife Loft. The work now fubmitted to the public stands in a very different predicament from any I have mentioned, or alluded to; for though it can neither help usto paint the lily," or "throw a perfume on "the violet;" it may, by an humble attendance on, give a confequence to, or by its meannefs degrade, the company it has had the temerity to intrude into. Yet is not this arduous attempt to continue and complete the justly-admired Paftoral of the Sad Shepherd arrogantly, but "in trembling hope" annexed to the original Fragment by Jonfon; to become, fhould it be found worthy, his by adoption; or, if "all too mean," to be rejected, and configned to its deferved oblivion.

The new part of the third act is written, it is prefumed, agreeably to the plan laid down in Jonfon's


argument; which, though he did not finish the dialogue for it, appears to contain all the intended bufinefs of that act; the remainder is intirely invented: at least there is no other clue tranfmitted to us, whereby to guefs at the Author's ultimate defign, than that Reuben, a devout hermit, in the lift of perfons, is called, The Reconciler; which I have accordingly made him. I am aware that many paffages may be thought unneceffarily long and tedious; fome even in the original, would, were it not for their great beauty, be deem'd fo: but the piece was never intended by me, whatever it might have been by Jonfon, for reprefentation; and we often read with attention and delight a length of monologue or dialogue, that would be infufferable on the stage.

The dialect likewife of fome of the characters is very uncouth; and not always in the original, as well as copy, correct: in the latter the old Scottish plural, Kie, is twice used in the fingular; but it is by the Swine-herd, Lorel, whom we may suppose no very accurate speaker, It may be no improper question to afk, why the Witch, Maudlin, and her family, who are refident near Belvoir Caftle, in Leicestershire, are made to speak a Scottish dialect? or, why fome of the characters in Jonfon's Tale of a Tub, the fcene of which was fo near London, that it is now almost absorb'd in it, should speak the Somerfetfhire dialect?

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