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To the Right Honourable
Earl of Dorset and Middlesex,
Lord Chamberlain of His Majesty's Houshold,
Knight of the Most Noble ORDER of the GARTER, &c.
HE Wishes and Desires of all good
Men, which have attended your Lordship from your First Appearance in the
World, are at length accomplish'd in EMERS, your obtaining those Honours and Dignities, which you have to long deserv’d. There are no Fa&tions, tho' irreconcilable to one another, that are not united in their Affection to you, and the Respect they pay you. They are equally pleas’d in your Prosperity, and wou'd be equally concern'd in your Amfiction. Titus Vefpafian was not more the Delight of Human-klud. The Universal Empire made him only more known, and A 2
more powerful, but cou'd not make him more
'Tis true, I have one Privilege which is almost
it was but just shooting out, and beginning to travel upwards to the Meridian. I made my early Addresses to your Lordship, in my Essay of Dramatick Poetry; and therein bespoke you to the World; wherein I have the Right of á First Difcoverer. When I was my self, in the Rudiments of my Poetry, without Name or Reputation in the World, having rather the Ambition of a Writer, than the Skill, when I was drawing the Out-lines of an Art, without any living Master to instruct me in it; an Art which had been better prais'd than ftudy'd here in England, wherein Shakespear, who created the Stage among us, had rather written happily, then knowingly and justly; and Johnson, who by studying Horace, had been acquainted with the Rules, yet seemed to envy to Posterity that Knowledge, and like an Inventer of some useful Art, to make a Monopoly of his Learning: When thus, as I may fay, before the Use of the Loadstone, or Knowledge of the Compass, I was failing in a vaft Ocean, without other help than the Pole-Star of the Ancients, and the Rules of the French Stage amongst the Moderns, which are extremely different from ours, by reason of their opposite Tafte; yet even then, I had the Presumption to Dedicate to your Lordship: A very unfinish'd Piece, I must confess, and which only can be excus'd by the little Experience of the Author, and the Modesty of the Title, An Esay. Yet I was stronger in Prophecy than I was in Criticism; I was inspir'd to foretel 'You to Mankind, as the Restorer of Poetry, the greatest Genius, the truest Judge, and the best Patron.
Good Sense and good Nature are never separated, tho' the ignorant World has thought otherwise. Good Nature, by which I mean Benefi
cence and Candor, is the Product of right Rea fon; which of necessity will give allowance to the Failings of others, by considering that there is nothing perfe& in Mankind; and by diftinguishing that which comes nearest to Excellency, tho' not absolutely free from Faults, will certainly produce a Candor in the Judge. 'Tis incident to an elevated Understanding, like your Lordship's, to find out the Errors of other Men: But 'tis your Prerogative to pardon them; to look with Pleasure on thofe things, which are fomewhat congenial, and of a remote Kindred to your own Conceptions: And to forgive the many Failings of those, who with their wretched Art, cannot arrive to those Heights that you possess, from a happy, abundant, and native Genius. Which are as inborn to you, as they were to Shakespear; and for ought I know, to Homer; in either of whom we find all Arts and Sciences, all Moral and Natural Philosophy, without knowing that they ever study'd them.
There is not an English Writer this Day living, who is not perfe&ly convinc'd, that your Lordship excels all others, in all the several parts of Poetry which you have undertaken to adorn. The most Vain, and the most Ambitious of our Age, have not dar'd to assume so much, as the Compe. titors of Themistocles : They have yielded the first Place without dispute ; and have been arrogantly content to be esteem'd as Second to your Lord. ihip; and even that also with a Longa, sed proximi Intervallo. If there have been, or are any, who go farther in their Self-conceit, they must be very fingular in their Opinion : They must be like the Ofħcer, in a Play, who was callid Captain, Licuteenant and Company. The World will easily conclude, whether such unattended Generals can