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Interdum tamen et vocem Comoedia tollit.--HOR. Ar. Po.

Huic equidem consilio palmam do: hic me magnifice
effero, qui vim tantam in me et potestatem habeam
tantae astutiae, vera dicendo ut eos ambos fallam.

MEN.

MASKWELL, a villain; pretended friend to Mellefont, gallant to Lady Touchwood, and in love with Cynthia,--Mr. Betterton

LORD TOUCHWOOD, uncle to Mellefont,--Mr. Kynaston

MELLEFONT, promised to, and in love with Cynthia,--Mr. Williams

CARELESS, his friend,--Mr. Verbruggen

LORD FROTH, a solemn coxcomb,--Mr. Bowman

BRISK, a pert coxcomb,--Mr. Powell

SIR PAUL PLYANT, an uxorious, foolish old knight; brother to Lady Touchwood, and father to Cynthia,--Mr. Dogget

WOMEN.

LADY TOUCHWOOD, in love with Mellefont,--Mrs. Barry

CYNTHIA, daughter to Sir Paul by a former wife, promised to Mellefont,--Mrs. Bracegirdle

LADY FROTH, a great coquette; pretender to poetry, wit, and learning,--Mrs. Mountfort

LADY PLYANT, insolent to her husband, and easy to any pretender,-- Mrs. Leigh

CHAPLAIN, BOY, FOOTMEN, AND ATTENDANTS.

THE SCENE: A gallery in the Lord Touchwood's house, with chambers adjoining.

I would not have anybody imagine that I think this play without its faults, for I am conscious of several. I confess I designed (whatever vanity or ambition occasioned that design) to have written a true and regular comedy, but I found it an undertaking which put me in mind of SUDET MULTUM, FRUSTRAQUE LABORET AUSUS IDEM. And now, to make amends for the vanity of such a design, I do confess both the attempt and the imperfect performance. Yet I must take the boldness to say I have not miscarried in the whole, for the mechanical part of it is regular. That I may say with as little vanity as a builder may say he has built a house according to the model laid down before him, or a gardener that he has set his flowers in a knot of such or such a figure. I designed the moral first, and to that moral I invented the fable, and do not know that I have borrowed one hint of it anywhere. I made the plot as strong as I could because it was single, and I made it single because I would avoid confusion, and was resolved to preserve the three unities of the drama. Sir, this discourse is very impertinent to you, whose judgment much better can discern the faults than I can excuse them; and whose good nature, like that of a lover, will find out those hidden beauties (if there are any such) which it would be great immodesty for me to discover. I think I don't speak improperly when I call you a LOVER of poetry; for it is very well known she has been a very kind mistress to you: she has not denied you the last favour, and she has been fruitful to you in a most beautiful issue. If I break off abruptly here, I hope everybody will understand that it is to avoid a commendation which, as it is your due, would be most easy for me to pay, and too troublesome for you to receive.

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