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When I undertook to write a Comedy, I confess I was strangely prepossessed in favor of the poets of the last age, and strove to imitate them. The term, genteel comedy, was then unknown amongst us, and little more was desired by an audience, than nature and humor, in whatever walks of life they were most conspicuous. The author of the following scenes never imagined that more would be expected of him, and therefore to delineate character has been his principal aim. Those who know any thing of composition, are sensible, that, in pursuing humor, it will sometimes lead us into the recesses of the mean; I was even tempted to look for it in the master of a spunging house: but in deference to the public taste, grown of late, perhaps, too delicate, the scene of the bailiffs was retrenched in the representation. In deference also to the judgment of a few friends, whe think in a particular way, the scene is here restored. The author submits it to the reader in his closet; and hopes that too much refinement will not banish humor and character from ours, as it has already done from the French theatre. Indeed the French comedy is now become so very elevated and sentimental, that it has not only banished humor and Moliere from the stage, but it has banished all spectators too.
Upon the whole, the author returns his thanks to the public, for the favorable reception which The GoodNatur'd Man has met with: and to Mr. Colman in particular, for his kindness to it. It may not also be improper to assure any, who shall hereafter write for the theatre, that merit, or supposed merit, will ever lie a sufficient passport to his protection.
Prest by the load of life, the weary mind
Surveys the general toil of human kind;
With cool submission joins the lab'ring train,
And social sorrow, loses half its pain:
Our anxious bard, without complaint, may share
This bustling season's epidemic care;
Like Caesar's pilot, dignified by fate,
Tost in one common storm with all the great;
Distrest alike, the statesman and the wit,
When one a borough courts, and one the pit.
The busy candidates for power and fame,
Have hopes, and fears, and wishes, just the same
Disabled both to combat or to fly,
Must hear all taunts, and hear without reply.
Uncheck'd on both loud rabbles vent their rage,
And mongrels bay the lion in a cage.
Th' offended burgess hoards his angry tale,
For that blest year when all that vote may rail;
Their schemes of spite, the poet's foes dismiss,
Till that glad night, when all that hate may hiss.
"This day the powder'd curls and golden coat,"
Says swelling Crispin, "begg'd a cobler's vote."
"This night, our wit," the pert apprentice cries,
« Lies at my feet, I hiss him, and he dies."
The great, 'tis true, can charm the electing tribe;
The bard may supplicate, but cannot bribe.
Yet judg'd by those, whose voices ne'er were sold,
He feels no want of all-persuading gold;
But confident of praise, if praise be due,
Trusts without fear, to merit, and to you.