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rected against the tenderest parts of human reputation, good-nature, good-manners, and piety itself.
The first clamour, which some malicious persons raised, and made a great noise with, was, that it was a piece intended for abuse and satire against the King's party. Good God! against the King's party? After having served it twenty years, during all the time of their misfortunes and afflictions; I must be a very rash and imprudent person, if I chose out that of their restitution to begin a quarrel with them. I must be too much a madman to be trusted with such an edged tool as comedy. But first, why should either the whole party (as it was once distinguished by that name, which I hope is abolished now by universal loyalty), or any man of virtue or honour in it, believe themselves injured, or at all concerned, by the representation of the faults and follies of a few, who in the general division of the nation had crowded in among them! In all mixed numbers (which is the case of parties), nay, in the most entire and continued bodies, there are often some degenerated and corrupted parts, which may be cast away from that, and even cut off from this unity, without any infection of scandal to the remaining body. The church of Rome, with all her arrogance, and her wide pretences of certainty in all truths, and exemption from all errors, does not clap on this enchanted armour of infallibility upon all her particular subjects, nor is offended at the reproof of her greatest doctors. We are not, I hope, become such Puritans ourselves, as to assume the name of the congregation of the spotless. It is hard for any party to be so ill as that no good, impossible to be so good as that no ill, should be found among them. And it has been the perpetual privilege of satire and comedy, to pluck their vices and follies, though not their persons, out of the sanctuary of any title. A cowardly ranting soldier, an ignorant charlatanical doctor, a foolish cheating lawyer, a silly pedantical scholar, have always been, and still are, the principal subjects of all comedies, without any scandal given to those honourable professions, or even taken by their severest professors. And, if any good physician or divine should be offended with me here, for inveighing against a quack, or for finding Deacon Soaker too often in the butteries, my respect and reverence to their callings would make me troubled at their displeasure, but I could not abstain from taking them for very choleric and quarrelsome persons. What does this, therefore, amount to, if it were true which is objected? But it is far from being so; for the representation of two sharks about the town (felloivs merry and ingenious enough, and therefore admitted into better companies than they deserve, yet withal two very scoundrels, which is no unfrequent character at London), the representation, I say, of these as pretended officers of the Royal army, was made for no other purpose but to show the world, that the vices and extravagances .imputed vulgarly to the cavaliers, were really committed by aliens, who only usurped that name, and endeavoured to cover the reproach of their indigency, or infamy of their actions, with so honourable a title. So that the business was not here to correct or cut off any natural branches, though never so corrupted or luxuriant, but to separate and cast away that vermin, which, by sticking so close to them, had done great and considerable prejudice both to the beauty and fertility of the tree: and this is plainly said, and as often inculcated, as if one should write round about a sign, This is a dog, This is a dog, out of over-much caution lest some might happen to mistake it for a lion.
Therefore, when this calumny could not hold (for the case is clear, and will take no colour), some others sought out a subtler hint, to traduce me upon the same score; and were angry, that the person whom I made a true gentleman, and one both of considerable quality and sufferings in the royal party, should not have a fair and noble character throughout, but should submit, in his great extremities, to wrong his niece for his own relief. This is a refined exception, such as I little foresaw, nor should, with the dulness of my usual charity, have found out against another man in twenty years. The truth is, I did not intend the character of a hero, one of exemplary virtue, and, as Homer often terms such men, unblameable, but an ordinary jovial gentleman, commonly called a good fellow, one not so conscientious as to starve rather than do the least injury, and yet endowed with so much sense of honour, as to refuse, when that necessity was removed, the gain of five thousand pounds, which he might have taken from his niece by the rigour of a forfeiture: and let the frankness of this latter generosity so expiate for the former frailty, as may make us not ashamed of his company; for, if his true metal is but equal to his allay, it will not indeed render him one of the finest sort of men, but it will make him current, for aught I know, in any party that ever yet was in the world. If you be to chuse parts for a comedy out of any noble or elevated rank of persons, the most proper for that work are the worst of that kind. Comedy is humble of her nature, and has always been bred low, so that she knows not how to behave herself with the great and accomplished. She does not pretend to the brisk and bold qualities of wine, but to the stomachal acidity of vinegar; and, therefore, is best placed among that sort of people which the Romans call The lees of Romulus. If I had designed here the celebration of the virtues of our friends, I would have made the scene nobler where I intended to erect their statues. They should have stood iu odes, and tragedies, and epic poems (neither have 1 totally omitted those great testimonies of my esteem of them.)—" Sed nunc non erat his lorus," &c.
And so much for this little spiny objection, which a man cannot see without a magnifying-glass. The next is enough to knock a man down, and accuses me of no less than prophaneness. Prophane, to deride the hypocrisy of those men whose skulls are not yet bare upon the gates since the public and just puniahment of it? But there is some imitation of scripture.phrases: God forbid; there is no representation of the true face of scripture, but only of that vizard which these hypocrites (that is, by interpretation, actors with a vizard) draw upon it. Is it prophane to speak of Harrison's return to life again, when some of his friends really professed their belief of it; and he himself had been said to promise it? A man may be so imprudently scrupulous as to find prophancness in any thing, either said or written, by applying it under some similitude or other to some expressions in scripture. This nicety is both vain and endless. But I call God to witness, that, rather than one tittle should remain among all my writings, which, according to my severest judgment, should be found guilty of the crime objected, I would myself burn and extinguish them all together. Nothing is so detestably lewd and wretchless as the derision of things sacred; and would be in me more unpardonable than any man else, who have endeavoured lo root out the ordinary weeds of poetry, and to plant it almost wholly with divinity. I am so far from allowing any loose or irreverent expressions, in matters of that religion which I believe, that I am very tender in this point, even for the grossest errors of conscientious persons; they are the properest object (methinks) both of our pity and charity too; they are the innocent and white sectaries, in comparison of another kind, who engraft pride upon ignorance, tyranny upon liberty, and upon all their heresies, treason, and re