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that Mr. Collier was furnished with an advantageous pretence of laying his unmerciful are to the root of the stage. Gaming is a vice that has undone more innocent principles than any one folly that is in soshion, therefore I chose to expose it to the sair ser in its most hideous sorn, by reducing a woman of honour to stand the presumptuous addresses of a man, whom neither her virtue or inclination would let her have the least taste to. Now ’t is not impossible but some man offortune, who has a handsome lady, and a great deal of money to throw away, may, from this startling hint, think it worth his while to find his wise some less hazardous diversion. If that should ever happen, my end of writing this play is answered; and if it may boast of any favours from the town, I now must own they are entirely owing to your Lord. ship's proteåion of the theatre: sor, without a union of the best ačors, it must have been impossible sor it to have received a tolerable justice in the perJormance. The stage has sor many years, till late, groaned under the greatest discouragements, which have been very much,is not wholly, owing to the mismanagement or a varice of those who have aukward/y governed it. Great sums have been ventured upon empty projects, and hopes of immoderate gains; and when those Hopes have sailed, the loss has been tyrannically deducted out of the actor's salary. And if your Lordship had not redeemed them, they were very near
being wholly laid aside, or, at least, the use of their labour was to be swallowed up, in the pretended merit of singing and dancing. I do n't offer this as a reflection upon music, (for I allow and feel its charms) but it has been the misfortune of that, as well as poetry, to have been too long in the hands of those whose taste and fancy are utterly insensible of their use and power. And though your Lordship foresaw, and experience tells us, that both diversions would be better encouraged under their separate endeavours, yet this was a scheme, that could never be beat into the impenetrable heads of those that might have honestly paid the labourers their hire, and put the profits of both into their own pockets. Way, even the opera, though the town has neithergrudged it pay nor equipage, from either the wilfulness or ignorance of the same general, we see, was not able to take the field till December. My Lord, there is nothing difficult to a body of English people, when they are unanimous, and well commanded. And though your Lordship's tenderness of oppressing is so very just, that you have rather stayed to convince a man of your good intentions to him, than to do him even a service against his will ; yet since your Lordship has so happily begun the establishment of the separate diversions, we live in hope, that the same justice and resolution will still persuade you to go as successfully through with it. But while any man is suffered to confound the industry and use of them, by acting publicly, in op B
position to your Lordship's equal intentions, under a false and intricate pretence of not being able to conply with then, the town is likely to be more entertained with the private dissentions, than the public performance of either, and the actors in a perpetual fear and necessity of petitioning your Lordship every season for new relief.
To succour the distressed is theftriot mark of greatmess, and your Lordship is eminently distinguished jor a virtue that certainly claims the next place to it. The disinterested choice and manner of your Lordship's disposing places in your gift, are proofs that you always have the claims of merit under your first and tenderest consideration. And /rom the assurance of this thought, my Lord, the stage, the poets, and the players, lay their cause, their hopes, and utmost expectations at your Lordship's seet sor support and protection.
COLLEY CH3 BER.
PRO LO GUE.
SINCE plays are but the mirrors of our lives,
Not to be cheated with his civil face,