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то MRS. A L L E N
PRIOR-P A R K
NEAR BAT H.
DDRESSES of this Nature have been long the customary Tribute of Letters to superior
Merit: And tho' Flattery may have thrown them into Disrepute, yet this concludes no more against the Continuance of honest Praise, than HyVol. I.
pocrisy does against the Practice of Religion. But Adulation no sooner began to belye its Subject, than it perverted the
very Purpose of its Application; while, amongst its many artful traverses, it would now beg Protection for the Book; and, now again, constitute the Patron the sovereign Judge of its Merit.
In this Light, Madam, you might reasonably wonder to see a Collection of Plays dedicated to one who reads few. Books besides those of Piety and Moral; and will think, the Address might have been made with somewhat less Impropriety even to a Bishop. This is true: but, as I said, this literary Connexion is not, of right, between the Patron and the Work ; but between him and the Author. Who, to carry on his Commerce with a good Conscience, must therefore search narrowly for a Subject which will not dishonour
Letters, while he is giving that to Me rit, which only Letters can bestow. But I need not be asham’d to say, that the Knowledge of you, has, at the same time, abridged my Labour, and rewarded the Integrity of my Purpose. For if Friendship, Generosity, and the Benevolence of Charity, added to every female Virtue that most adorns your Sex, demand this Acknowledgment, it would be hard to find where it should be earlier paid, or to whom, in fuller Measure, returned.
If any now should affect to ask, What Stranger this is, of whom so much is said ? Let him know, that this his Ignorance is your supreme Praise; whose Matron-modesty of Virtue declines all Notice, but where the Influence of your domestic Character extends. If, haply, you have any further Ambition, it is only this, the being known to constitute the domestic Happiness of a Man
who does Honour to human Nature. The mention of whose Relation to you, reminds me of my own Happiness; who enjoy so equal and so perfect a Share in both your Friendships. This too is my Fame and Reputation, as well as Happiness ; for Ambition would lose its Aim, were I to wish that any thing of me, or mine, should last longer than the Memory of that Friendship. I am,
Your most obliged
and most faithful Servant,