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« Go on! endenizon the Romane slave;
Milbourne concludes, by desiring to be supplied with such of our author's writings, as he had not already, to be sent to Yarmouth in Norfolk, where he probably had then a living.
Amphitryon” was produced in the same year with “ Don Sebastian;" and although it cannot be called altogether an original performance, yet it contains so much original writing as to shew, that our author's vein of poetry was, in his advanced age, distinguished by the same rapid fluency, as when he first began to write for the stage.
This comedy was acted and printed in 1690. It was very favourably received ; and continued long to be what is called a stockplay
SIR WILLIAM LEVESON GOWER,
There is one kind of virtue which is inborn in the nobility, and indeed in most of the ancient families of this nation; they are not apt to insult on the misfortunes of their countrymen. But you, sir, I may tell it without flattery, have grafted on this natural commiseration, and raised it to a nobler virtue. As you have been pleased to honour me, ,
for a long time, with some part of your esteem, and your good will; so, in particular, since the late Revolution, you have increased the proofs of your kindlness to me; and not suffered the difference of opinions, which produce such hatred and enmity in the brutal part of human kind, to remove you from the settled basis of your good nature, and good sense. This nobleness of yours, had it been exercised on an enemy, had certainly been a point of honour, and as such I might have justly recommended it to the world; but that of constancy to your former choice, and the pursuance of your first favours, are virtues not over-common amongst Englishmen. All things of honour have, at best, somewhat of os. tentation in them, and self-love; there is a pride of doing more than is expected from us, and more than others would have done. But to proceed in the same track of goodness, favour, and protection, is to shew that a man is acted by a thorough principle: it carries somewhat of tenderness in it, which is humanity in a heroical degree; it is a kind of unmoveable good-nature; a word which is commonly despised, because it is so seldom practised. But, after all, it is the most generous virtue, opposed to the most degenerate vice, which is that of
* This gentleman united in his person the ancient families of Gower and Leveson. He was second son of Sir Thomas Gower, bart., and succeeded to the title and estate, by the death of his nephew, Sir Edward Gower, in the year before. He was a keen whig, and distinguished himself, both by his attachment to Monmouth, and his zeal for the Revolution ; but his alliance with Lawrence Earl of Rochester, whose eldest son, Lord Hyde, had married his daughter, might smooth our poet's access to his favour; since Rochester is distinguished as his constant patron. Dryden also refers to former passages of intimacy between him and Sir William. Above all, we are to suppose, that, in admiration of our author's poetical talents, Sir William Gower was capable of drowning every unfavourable recollection of his political tenets. Sir William Leveson Gower is ancestor of the present Marquis of Stafford.
ruggedness and harshness to our fellow-creatures.
It is upon this knowledge of you, sir, that I have chosen
with your permission, to be the patron of this poem. And as, since this wonderful Revolution, I have begun with the best pattern of humanity, the Earl of Leicester, I shall continue to follow the same method, in all to whom I shall address; and endeavour to pitch on such only, as have been pleased to own me, in this ruin of small fortune; who, though they are of a contrary opinion themselves, yet blame not me for adhering to a lost cause; and judging for myself, what I cannot chuse but judge, so long as I am a patient suf
ferer, and no disturber of the government. Which, if it be a severe penance, as a great wit has told the world, it is at least enjoined me by myself: and Sancho Pança, as much fool as I, was observed to discipline his body no farther than he found he could endure the smart.
You see, sir, I am not entertaining you like Ovid, with a lamentable epistle from Pontus: I suffer no more than I can easily undergo; and so long as I enjoy my liberty, which is the birth-right of an Englishman, the rest shall never go near my heart. The merry philosopher is more to my humour than the melancholic; and I find no disposition in myself to ery, while the mad world is daily supplying me with such occasions of laughter. The more reasonable sort of my countrymen have shewn so much favour to this piece, that they give me no doubt of their protection for the future.
As you, sir, have been pleased to follow the example of their goodness, in favouring me; so give me leave to say that I follow yours, in this dedication to a person of a different persuasion. Though I must confess withal, that I have had a former encouragement from you for this address; and the warm remembrance of your noble hospitality to me, at Trentham *, when some years ago I visited my friends and relations in your country, has ever since given me a violent temptation to this boldness.
It is true, were this comedy wholly mine, I should call it a trifle, and perhaps not think it worth your patronage; but, when the names of Plautus and Moliere are joined in it, that is, the two greatest names of ancient and modern comedy, I must not presume so far on their reputation, to think their best and most unquestioned productions can be termed little. I will not give you the trouble of acquainting you what I have addéd, or altered, in either of them, so much, it may be, for the worse; but only, that the difference of our stage, from the Roman and the French, did so require it. But I am afraid, for my own interest, the world will too easily discover, that more than half of it is mine; and that the rest is rather a lame imitation of their excellencies, than a just translation. It is enough, that the reader know by you, that I neither deserve, nor desire any applause from it: if I have performed any thing, it is the genius of my authors that inspired me; and, if it pleased in representation, let the actors share the praise amongst themselves. As for Plautus and Moliere, they are dangerous people; and I am too weak a gamester to put myself into their form of play. But what has been wanting on my part, has been abundantly supplied by the excellent composition of Mr Purcell; in whose person we have at length found an Englishman, equal with the best abroad. At least, my opinion of him has been such, since his happy and judicious performances in the late opera *, and the experience I have had of him, in the setting my
* A noble seat in Staffordshire, inhabited by Sir William Gower, from the Levesons, his maternal ancestors.
* Betterton, having recovered the dislike to operas, which the failure of " Albion and Albanius” occasioned, had brought out the
Prophetess," of Beaumont and Fletcher, shortened and altered into a musical piece, which was set by the famous Purcell. Dr. Burney has sanctioned the compliment, which Dryden bestows upon it. There is something in our author's turn of expression, which
may lead us to infer, that he was but a recent convert to the English school of music. Sir John Hawkins seems to be mistaken, in placing this opera posterior to that of “ Prince Arthur." The dances were invented by the celebrated Priest.