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TO MRS GREVILLE.

MADAM,—In requesting your permission to address the following pages to you, which, as they aim theniselves to be critical, require every protection and allowance that approving taste or friendly prejudice can give them, I yet ventured to mention no other motive than the gratification of private friendship and esteem. Had I suggested a hope that your implied approbation would give a sanction to their defects, your particular reserve, and dislike to the reputation of critical taste, as well as of poetical talent, would have made you refuse the protection of your name to such a purpose. However, I am not so ungrateful as now to attempt to combat this disposition in you. I shall not here presume to argue that the present state of poetry claims and expects every assistance that taste and example can afford it; nor endeavour to prove that a fastidious concealment of the most elegant productions of judgment and fancy is an ill return for the possession of those endowments. Continue to deceive yourself in the idea that you are known only to be eminently admired and regarded for the valuable qualities that attach private

friendships, and the graceful talents that adorn conversation. Enough of what you have written has stolen into full public notice to answer my purpose ; and you will, perhaps, be the only person, conversant in elegant literature, who shall read this address and not perceive that by publishing your particular approbation of the following drama, I have a more interested object than to boast the true respect and regard with which I have the honour to be, Madam, your very sincere and obedient humble servant,

R. B. SHERIDAN.

1

The Critic;

Or, A Tragedy Rehearsed.

Prologue.

BY THE HONOURABLE RICHARD FITZPATRICK.

The sister Muses, whom these realms obey,
Who o'er the drama hold divided sway,
Sometimes, by evil counsellers, 'tis said,
Like earth-born potentates have been misled.
In those gay days of wickedness and wit,
When Villiers criticised what Dryden writ,
The tragic queen, to please a tasteless crowd,
Had learned to bellow, rant, and roar so loud,
That frightened Nature, her best friend before,
The blustering beldam's company forswore ;
Her comic sister, who had wit 'tis true,
With all her merits, had her failings too ;
And would sometimes in mirthful moments use
A style too flippant for a well-bred Muse;

IO

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Then female modesty abashed began
To seek the friendly refuge of the fan,
A while behind that slight intrenchment stood,
Till driven from thence, she left the stage for good.
In our more pious, and far chaster times,
These sure no longer are the Muse's crimes !
But some complain that, former faults to shun,
The reformation to extremes has run.
The frantic hero's wild delirium past,
Now insipidity succeeds bombast;
So slow Melpomene's cold numbers creep,
Here dulness seems her drowsy court to keep,
And we are scarce awake, whilst you are fast asleep.
Thalia, once so ill-behaved and rude,
Reformed, is now become an arrant prude ;
Retailing nightly to the yawning pit

30
The purest morals, undefiled by wit!
Our author offers, in these motley scenes,
A slight remonstrance to the drama's queens :
Nor let the goddesses be over nice ;
Free-spoken subjects give the best advice.
Although not quite a novice in his trade,
His cause to-night requires no common aid.
To this, a friendly, just, and powerful court,
I come ambassador to beg support.

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Can be undaunted brave the critic's rage ?
In civil broils with brother bards engage ?
Hold forth their errors to the public eye,
Nay more, e'en newspapers themselves defy ?
Say, must his single arm encounter all ?
By numbers vanquished, e'en the brave may fall;
And though no leader should success distrust,
Whose troops are willing, and whose cause is just ;
To bid such hosts of angry foes defiance,
His chief dependence must be, your alliance.

Act First,

Scene I.

A Room in Dangle's House. Mr and Mrs Dangle discovered at breakfast, and reading

newspapers.
Dang. [Reading. ] Brutus to Lord North.--Letter

the second on the State of the Army-Psha! To
the first L dash D of the A dash 7.-Genuine
extract of a Letter from St Kitts.Coxheath
Intelligence. It is now confidently asserted that
Sir Charles Hardy-Psha! nothing but about

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