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he has graciously Thewn them, may be retaliated 6 TO THE READER. they suffered not before for conscience-fake, but only out of pride and obstinacy, to separate from a church for those impositions, which they now judge may be lawfully obeyed ? After they have so long contended for their classical ordination (not to speak of rites and ceremonies) will they at length submit to an episcopal ? If they can go so far out of complaisance to their old enemies, methinks a little reason should persuade them to take another step, and see whither that would lead them.
Of the receiving this toleration thankfully I fhall say no more, than that they ought, and I doubt not they will consider from what hand they received it. It is not from a Cyrus, a heathen prince, and a foreigner, but from a christian king, their native sovereign; who expects a return in specie from them, that the kindness, which
on those of his own persuasion.
As for the poem in general, I will only thus far satisfy the reader, that it was neither imposed on me, nor so much as the subject given me by any man,
It was written during the last winter, and the beginning of this spring; tho with long
interruptions of ill health and other hindrances. About a fortnight before I had finished it, his majesty's declaration for liberty of conscience came abroad: which, if I had so soon expected, I might have spared myself the labor of writing many things which are contained in the third part of it. But I was always in some hope, that the church of England might have been persuaded to have taken off the penal laws and the test, which was one design of the poem, when I proposed to myself the writing of it.
It is evident that some part of it was only occasional, and not first intended : I mean that de. fence of myself, to which every honest man is bound, when he is injuriously attacked in print : and I refer myself to the judgment of those, who have read the Answer to the Defence of the late King's Papers, and that of the Dutchess (in which last I was concerned) how charitably I have been represented there. I am now informed both of the author and supervisors of this pamphlet, and will reply, when I think he can affront me: for I am of Socrates's opinion, that all creatures cannot. In the mean time let him consider wheth
he deserved not a more severe reprehension, than I gave him formerly, for using fo little respect to
of those, whom he pretended to anfwer; and at his leisure, look out for some original treatise of humility, written by any Proteftant in English; I believe I may say in any other tongue : for the magnified piece of Dunçomb on that subject, which either he must mean, or none, and with which another of his fellows has upbraided me, was translated from the Spanith of Rodriguez; tho with the omission of the seventeenth, the twenty-fourth, the twenty-fifth, and the last chapter, which will be found in comparing of the books,
He would have insinuated to the world, that her late highness died not a Roman Catholiek, He declares himself to be" now fatisfied to the contrary, in which he has given up the cause : for matter of fact was the principal debate betwixt us.
In the mean time, he would dispute the motives of her change ; how preposterously, let all men judge, when he seemed to deny the fubject of the controversy, the change itself. And Wecause I would not take up this ridiculous challenge, he tells the world I cannot argue : but he
may as well infer, that a Catholic cannot fast, because he will not take up the cudgels against Mrs. James, to confute the Protestant religion.
I have but one word more to say concerning the poem as such, and abstracting from the matters, either religious or civil, which are handled in it. The first part, consisting most in general characters and narration, I have endeavored to raise, and give it the majestic turn of heroic poesy. The second being matter of dispute, and chiefly concerning church authority, I was obliged to make as plain and perspicuous as possibly I could ; yet not wholly neglecting the numbers, tho I had not frequent occafions for the magnificence of verse. The third, which has more of the nature of domestic conversation, is, or ought to be, more free and familiar than the two for
There are in it two episodes, or fables, which are interwoven with the main design ; so that they are properly parts of it, tho they are also distinct stories of themselves. In both of these I have made use of the common places of satire, whether true or false, which are urged by the members of the one church against the other : at