A DEFENCE OF Sir Fopling Flutter, A COMEDY Written by Sir GEORGE ETHERIDGE.

In which DEFENCE is shewn, That Sir Fopling, that merry Knight, was rightly compos'd by the Knight his Father, to answer the Ends of Comedy; and that he has been barbarously and scurrilously attack'd by the Knight his Brother, in the 65th Spectator.

By which it appears, That the latter Knight knows nothing of the Nature of COMEDY.

LONDON: Printed for T. WARNER, at the Black Boy in Pater-noster Row. 1722. (Price Six-Pence.)

THE PREFACE.

THE following Defence of the Comedy of Sir Fopling Flutter, not only contains several Remarks upon Co­medy in general; Remarks that are equally necessary for the Writing it successfully, and for the Judging of it surely; but every Article of that De­fence, is a just Censure of a certain Comedy now in Rehearsal, if I can [Page] depend upon the Account which I have had of it, from several who have read it, or to whom it has been read. And that the Account which I have had of it is very just, I am apt to believe, not only from the Judgment and Sincerity of the Persons from whom I had it, but likewise from the scandalous Methods that are us'd, to give it a false and a transitory Repu­tation.

I have formerly made Mention of Poetical Mountebanks. The Author of the Comedy now in Rehearsal, has all the Marks of an Empiric of Parnassus: His Play has trotted as far as Edin­burgh Northward, and as far as Wales Westward, and has been read to more Persons than will be at the Representation of it, or vouchsafe to read it, when it is publish'd.

[Page] Another certain Sign that a Man is an Empiric, is, when he gives high Encomiums to himself, and his No­strums, and pretends at the same Time, that those Encomiums are given by others. Now, Advertisements have been sent to the News-Papers to this Effect, That the Comedy now in Re­hearsal, is, in the Opinion of excellent Judges, the very best that ever came upon the English Stage. Now, no Body could send that Advertisement but the Author, or one of his Zany's, by his own Contrivance, or, at least, Connivance. No one could send such an Advertisement, or give such a Judgment, but a Fool, or a Knave; a Knave, if he did it with a Design to impose on the World, and a Fool if he did it in the Sincerity of his Heart. For, to declare with Judgment, that a Play is the very best that ever came upon the English Stage, requires vast Consideration, profound Reflection, and a long, long Comparison. And what Mortal [Page] is qualify'd to pass such a Judgment upon a single momentary Reading? He who sent those Advertisements then, sent them with a Design to impose upon the World, or is an arrant Ass. But 'tis highly improbable, that a Fool who knows nothing of the Matter, should give himself the Trouble to send such an Advertisement; or that any one else should do it but the Author, or the Author's Zany's by his Subornation. For whose Interest could it be but theirs, to endeavour to impose upon the World? But now, if it shall appear by the follow­ing Treatise, that the Author of the Dramatick Piece in Rehearsal, knows nothing of the Nature of True Comedy, then how foolishly arrogant are those insolent and impudent Advertisements? These very Ways of Proceeding, suffici­ently declare the Author's Consciousness of his own Incapacity; for a noble Genius will scorn such infamous Me­thods, and will resolve to owe his Re­putation to his Merit, and not to tricking [Page] Artifice. These are some of the Methods which the present Managers of the Stage have us'd to ruine the Dramas, and with it all other Human Learning, which is in some Measure dependant on it. For since Cabal and Trick, and the Favour and Interest of three or four sordid Wretches, have been found necessary for the obtaining Success; every one who is duly qua­lify'd to write for the Stage, has either with a just Disdain refus'd it, or has undertaken it with extream Reluctancy. The Drama therefore is like to be lost, and all the Arts dependent on it; therefore every one who is concern'd for the Honour of his Country, ought to do his utmost Endeavour to prevent a Ca­lamity which will be so great a Dis­grace to it: And all who are concern'd for the Honour of the KING, ought to reflect with Indignation, that by the Malice, and the basest Breach of Trust of Persons whom His MAJESTY has appointed to encourage Literature, all [Page] the [...] Studies of Humanity are like to be [...] in his otherwise [...]spicious Reign

A DEFENCE OF Sir Fopling Flutter.

A Certain Knight, who has employ'd so much of his empty Labour in extol­ling the weak Perfor­mances of some living Authors, has scurriously and inhumanly in the 65th Spectator, attack'd one of the most entertaining Comedies of the last Age, written by a most ingenious Gentleman, who perfect­ly understood the World, the Court, [Page 2] and the Town, and whose Reputation has now for near thirty Years together, surviv'd his Person, and will, in all Pro­bability, survive it as long as Comedy shall be in vogue; by which Proceed­ing, this worthy Knight has incurr'd the double Censure, that Olivia in the pl [...]'d Dealer has cast upon a certain Coxcomb ‘Who rather, says she, then not flatter, will flatter the Poets of the Age, whom none will flatter; and rather then not rail, will rail at the Dead, at whom none besides will rail.’

If other Authors have had the Mis­fortune, to incurr the Censure of ill­nature with unthinking deluded People, for no other so much as pretended Rea­son, than because to improve a noble Art, they have expos'd the Errors of popular Writers, who ow'd their Suc­cess, to the infamous Method of secur­ing an ignorant or a corrupt Cabal; when those Writers were not only liv­ing, but in full Prosperity, and at full Liberty to answer for themselves; what Appellation must he deserve, who has basely and scurrilously attack'd the Re­putation of a Favourite of the comick Muse, and of the Darling of the Graces, after Death has for so many Years depriv'd [Page 3] him of the Means of answering for himself.

What the Knight falsely and impu­dently says of the Comedy, may be justly said of the Criticism, and of the whole 65th Spectator, that 'tis a perfect Contradiction to good Manners and good Sense. He allows this Comedy, he says, to be in Nature, but 'tis Nature in its utmost Corruption and Dege­neracy.

Suppose this were true, I would fain know where he learnt, that Nature in its utmost Corruption and Degeneracy, is not the proper Subject of Comedy? Is not this a merry Person, who, after he has been writing what he calls Comedy for twenty Years together, shews plain­ly to all the World that he knows no­thing of the Nature of true Comedy, and that he has not learnt the very first Rudiments of an Art which he pretends to teach? I must confess, the Ridicule in Sir Fopling Flutter, is an Imitation of corrupt and degenerate Nature, but not the most corrupt and the most degene­rate; for there is neither Adultery, Murder, nor Sodomy in it. But can any Thing but corrupt and degenerate [Page 4] Nature be the proper Subject of Ridi­cule? And can any Thing but Ridicule be the proper Subject of Comedy? Has not Aristotle told us in the Fifth Chapter of his Poeticks, that Comedy is an Imi­tation of the very worst of Men? Not the worst, says He, in every Sort of Vice, but the worst in the Ridicule. And has not Horace, in the Fourth Sa­tyr of his First Book, reminded us, that the old Athenian Comick Poets made it their Business to bring all Sorts of Vil­lains upon the Stage, Adulterers, Cheats, Theives, Murderers? But then they always took Care, says a modern Cri­tick, that those several Villanies should be envelop'd in the Ridicule, which a­lone, says he, could make them the proper Subjects of Comedy. If this facetious Knight had formerly liv'd at Lacedemon with the same wrong turn'd Noddle that he has now among us, would he not, do you think, have in­veighed against that People, for shewing their drunken Slaves to their Children? Would he not have represented it as a Thing of most pernicious Example? What the Lacedemonians did by Drunk­enness, the Comick Poet does by that and all other Vices. He exposes them to the View of his Fellow Subjects, for no [Page 5] other Reason, than to render them ridi­culous and contemptible.

But the Criticism of the Knight in the foresaid Spectator, is as contrary to good Manners, as it is to good Sense. What Aristotle and his Interpreters say of Tra­gedy, that 'tis infallibly good, when it pleases both the Judges and the People, is certainly as true of Comedy; for the Judges are equally qualify'd to judge of both, and the People may be sup­pos'd to be better Judges of Comedy then they are of Tragedy, because Co­medy is nothing but a Picture of com­mon Life, and a Representation of their own Humours and Manners. Now this Comedy of Sir Fopling Flutter, has not been only well receiv'd, and believ'd by the People of England to be a most agreeable Comedy for about Half a Century, but the Judges have been still more pleas'd with it then the People. They have justly believ'd (I speak of the Judges) that the Characters, and especially the principal Characters, are admirably drawn, to answer the two Ends of Comedy, Pleasure, and In­struction; and that the Dialogue is the most charming that has been writ by the Moderns: That with Purity and [Page 6] Simplicity, it has Art and Elegance; and with Force and Vivacity, the ut­most Grace and Delicacy. This I know very well, was the Opinion of the most eminent Writers, and of the best Judges contemporary with the Author; and of the whole Court of King Charles the Second, a Court the most polite that ever England saw.

Now, after this Comedy has pass'd with the whole People of England, the knowing as well as the Ignorant, for a most entertaining and most instructive Comedy, for fifty Years together, after that long Time comes a Two-Penny Author, who has given a thousand Proofs thro' the Course of his Rhapso­dies, that he understands not a Tittle of all this Matter; this Author comes and impudently declares, that this whole celebrated Piece, that has for half a Century, been admir'd by the whole People of Great Britain, is a perfect Con­tradiction to good Sense, to good Man­ners, and to common Honesty. O Tem­pora! O Mores!

The Knight certainly wrote the fore­mention'd Spectator, tho' it as been writ these ten Years, on Purpose to [Page 7] make Way for his fine Gentleman, and therefore he endeavours to prove, that Sir Fopling is not that genteel Comedy, which the World allows it to be. And then, according to his usual Custom, whenever he pretends to criticise, he does, by shuffling and cutting and con­founding Notions, impose upon his un­wary Reader; for either Sir George Ethe­ridge, did design to make this a genteel Comedy, or he did not. If he did not design it, what is it to the Purpose, whe­ther 'tis a genteel Comedy or not? Pro­vided that 'tis a good one: For I hope, a Comedy may be a good one, and yet not a genteel one. The Alchimist is an admirable Comedy, and yet it is not a genteel one. We may say the same of The Fox, and the silent Woman, and of a great many more. But if Sir George did design to make it a genteel one, he was oblig'd to adapt it to that No­tion of Gentility, which he knew very well, that the World at that Time had, and we see he succeeded accordingly. For it has pass'd for a very genteel Comedy, for fifty Years together. Could it be expected that the admirable Au­thor, should accommodate himself, to the wrong headed Notions of a would be Critick, who was to appear fifty [Page 8] Years after the first Acting of his Play: A Gritick, who writes Criticism as Men commit Treason or Murder, by the In­stigation of the Devil himself, when­ever the old Gentleman owes the Knight a Shame.

To prove that this Comedy is not a genteel one, he endeavours to prove that one of the principal Characters, is not a fine Gentleman. I appeal to every impartial Man, if when he says, that a Man or a Woman are genteel, he means any Thing more, than that they are agreeble in their Air, graceful in in their Motions, and polite in their Conversation. But when he endeavours to prove, that Dorimont is not a fine Gentleman, he says no more to the Purpose, then he said before, when he affirm'd that the Comedy is not a genteel Comedy; for either the Author design'd in Dorimont a fine Gentleman, or he did not. If he did not, the Character is ne'er the less excellent on that Account, because Dorimnot is an admirable Picture of a Courtier in the Court of King Charles the Second. But if Dorimont was design'd for a fine Gentleman by the Author, he was oblig'd to accom­modate himself to that Notion of a [Page 9] fine Gentleman, which the Court And the Town both had at the Time of the writing of this Comedy. 'Tis reasona­ble to believe, that he did so, and we see that he succeeded accordingly. For Dorimont not only pass'd for a fine Gen­tleman with the Court of King Charles the Second, but he has pass'd for such with all the World, for Fifty Years to­gether. And what indeed can any one mean, when he speaks of a fine Gentle­man, but one who is qualify'd in Con­versation, to please the best Company of either Sex.

But the Knight will be satisfy'd with no Notion of a fine Gentleman but his own. A fine Gentleman, says he, is one who is honest in his Actions, and refin'd in his Language. If this be a just Description of a fine Gentleman, I will make bold to draw two Conse­quences from it. The first is, That a Pedant is often a fine Gentleman. For I have known several of them, who have been Honest in their Actions, and Refin'd in their Language. The second is, That I know a certain Knight, who, though he should be allow'd to be a Gentleman born, yet is not a fine Gen­tleman. I shall only add, that I would advise for the future, all the fine Gentlemen, [Page 10] who travel to London from Tipperary, to allow us Englishmen to know what we mean, when we speak our native Language.

To give a true Character of this charming Comedy, it must be acknow­ledg'd, that there is no great Mastership in the Design of it. Sir George had but little of the artful and just Designs of Ben Johnson: But as Tragedy instructs chiefly by its Design, Comedy instructs by its Characters; which nor only ought to be drawn truly in Nature, but to be the resembling Pictures of our Contemporaries, both in Court and Town. Tragedy answers to History­Painting, but Comedy to drawing of Portraits.

How little do they know of the Nature of true Comedy, who believe that its proper Business is to set us Patterns for lmitation: For all such Patterns are serious Things, and Laugh­ter is the Life, and the very Soul of Comedy. 'Tis its proper Business to expose Persons to our View, whose Views we may shun, and whose Fol­lies we may despise; and by shew­ing us what is done upon the Comick Stage, to shew us what ought never [Page 11] to be done upon the Stage of the World.

All the Characters in Sir Foppling Flutter, and especially the principal Characters, are admirably drawn, both to please and to instruct. First, they are drawn to please, because they are drawn in the Truth of Nature; but to be drawn in the Truth of Nature, they must be drawn with those Qualities that are proper to each respective Sea­son of Life.

This is the chief Precept given for the forming the Characters, by the two Great Masters of the Rules which Na­ture herself dictated, and which have [...] in every Age, for the Stan­dards of writing successfully, and of judging surely, unless it were with Poetasters, and their foolish Admirers. The Words of Horace, in his Art of Poetry, are these, v. 153.

Tu, quid ego & populo mecum desideret, audi.
Si sessoris eges aulaea manentis, & usque
Sessuri, donec cantor, vos plaudite, dicat;
Aetatis cujusque notandi sunt tibi mores,
Mobilibúsque decor naturis dandus, & annis.

[Page 12] And thus my Lord Roscommon has translated it:

Now hear what ev'ry AUditor expects,
If you intend that he should stay to hear
The Epilogue, and see the Curtain fall;
Mark how our Tempers alter with our Tears,
Then give the Beauty proper to each Age,
And by this Rule form all your Chara­cters.

And now see the Character that Ho­race gives of a Person who is in the Bloom of his Years.

De Arte Poetica, v. 161.
Imberbis tandem juvenis custode remoto,
Gaudet equis, canibúsque, & aprici gramine campi;
Cereus in vitium flecti, monitoribus asper,
Utilium tardus provisor, prodigus aeris,
Sublimis, cupidúsque, & amata relin­quere pernix.

And thus the 'foresaid Noble Poet translates it:

A Youth that first casts off his Tutor'S Yoke,
Loves Horses, HounDs, and Sports, and Exercise;
[Page 13] Prone to all Vice, impatient of Reproof,
Proud, careless, fond, inconstant, and profuse.

Now, Horace, to shew the Importance of this Precept, as soon as he has done with the Characters of the four Parts of Life, returns to it, repeats it, and enforces it.

Ibid, v. 176.
—Ne fortè seniles
Mandentur juveni partes, pueróque vi­riles,
Semper in adjunctis, aevóque morabimur aptis.

‘That a Poet may never be guilty of such an Absurdity, says he, as to give the Character of an Old Man to a Young Man, or of a Boy to a Middle Ag'd Man, let him take Care to adhere to those Qualities, which are necessarily or probably annexed to each respective Season of Life.’

If a Dramatick Poet does not observe this Rule, he misses that which gives the Beauty, and the Decorum, which alone can make his Characters please.

As Horace is but an Epitomizer of Aristotle, in giving Rules for the Characters; [Page 14] that Philosopher gives us more at large the Character of a Person in his early Bloom, in the 14th Chapter of the Second Book of his Rheto­rick.

‘Young Men, says he, have strong Ap­petites, and are ready to undertake any thing, in order to satisfy them; and of all those Appetites which have a Relation to the Body, they are most powerfully sway'd by Venereal ones, in which they are very changeable, and are quickly cloy'd. For their Desires are rather acute than lasting; like the Hunger and Thirst of the Sick. They are prone to Anger, and easily provok'd; vehement in their Anger, and ready to obey the Dictates of it. For by Reason of the Concern which they have for their Honour, they cannot bear the being undervalu'd, but resent an Affront heinously. And as they are desi­rous of Honour, they are more ambitious of Victory: For Youth is desirous of ex­celling, and Victory is a Sort of Excel­lency.’ Thus far Aristotle.

And here it may not be amiss to shew, that this Rule is founded in Reason and in Nature: In order to which, let us see what Dacier remarks upon that Verse of Horace, which we cited above.

[Page 15] Mobilibúsque decor naturis dandus, & annis.

Behold, says he, a very fine, and very significant Verse; which tells us, if we render it Word for Word, ‘That we ought to give to moveable Natures and Years their proper Beauty. By moveable Natures, (says Dacier) Horace means Age, which still runs on like a River, and which, as it runs, gives different Inclina­tions to Men; and those different Inclina­tions make what he calls Decor, the Beau­ty proper to the Age. For every Part of Man's Life has its proper Beauties, like every Season of the Year. He that gives to Manly Age the Beauties of Youth, or to Youth the Beauties of Manly Age, does like a Painter, who should paint the Au­tumn with the Ornaments of Summer, or the Summer with the Ornaments of Au­tumn.’

A Comick Poet, who gives to a Young Man the Qualities that belong to a Mid­dle Ag'd Man, or to an Old Man, can answer neither of the Ends of his Art. He cannot please, because he writes out of Nature, of which all Poetry is an Imitation, and without which, no Poem can possibly please. And as he cannot [Page 16] please, he cannot instruct; because, by shewing such a young Man as is not to be seen in the World, he shews a Mon­ster, and not a Man, sets before us a particular Character, instead of an alle­gorical and universal one, as all his Characters, and especially his principal Characters, ought to be; and therefore can give no general Instruction, having no Moral, no Fable, and therefore no Comedy.

Now if any one is pleased to com­pare the Character of Dorimont, to which the Knight has taken so much absurd Exception with the two foremen­tioned Descriptions, he will find in his Character all the chief distinguishing Strokes of them. For such is the Force of Nature, and so admirable a Talent had she given Sir George for Comedy, that, tho' to my certain Knowledge he un­derstood neither Greek nor Latin, yet one would swear, that in drawing his Do­rimant, he copy'd the foresaid Draughts, and especially that of Aristotle. Do­rimont is a young Courtier, haughty, vain, and prone to Anger, amorous, false, and inconstant. He debauches Loveit, and betrays her; loves Belinda, and as soon as he enjoys her is false to her.

[Page 17] But 2dly, The Characters in Sir Fop­ling are admirably contriv'd to please, and more particularly the principal ones, because we find in those Cha­racters, a true Resemblance of the Per­sons both in Court and Town, who liv'd at the Time when that Comedy was writ: For Rapin tells us with a great deal of Judgment, ‘That Comedy is as it ought to be, when an Audience is apt to imagine, that instead of being in the Pit and Boxes, they are in some Assembly of the Neighbourhood, or in some Family Meeting, and that we see nothing done in it, but what is done in the World. For it is, says he, not worth one Farthing, if we do not discover our selves in it, and do not find in it both our own Manners, and those of the Persons with whom we live and converse.’

The Reason of this Rule is manifest: For as 'tis the Business of a Comick Poet to cure his Spectators of Vice and Folly, by the Apprehension of being laugh'd at; 'tis plain that his Business must be with the reigning Follies and Vices. The violent Passions, which are the Subjects of Tragedy, are the same in every Age, and appear with the same Face; but those Vices and Follies, which [Page 18] are the Subjects of Comedy, are seen to vary continually: Some of those that belonged to our Ancestors, have no Relation to us; and can no more come under the Cognisance of our present Comick Poets, than the Sweating and Sneezing Sickness can come under the Practice of our contemporary Physicians. What Vices and Follies may infect those who are to come after us, we know not; 'tis the present, the reigning Vices, and Follies, that must be the Subjects of our present Comedy: The Comick Po­et therefore must take Characters from such Persons as are his Contemporaries, and are infected with the foresaid Fol­lies and Vices.

Agreeable to this, is the Advice which Boileau, in his Art of Poetry, gives to the Comick Poets:

Etudiez la Cour, & connoissez la ville,
L'une & l'autre est tousoers en modeles fertile,
Cest par lá que Moliere illustrant ses evrits,
Peutetre de son Art eut remporté la prix, &c.

Now I remember very well, that upon the first acting this Comedy, it [Page 19] was generally believed to be an agree­able Representation of the Persons of Condition of both Sexes, both in Court and Town; and that all the World was charm'd with Dorimont; and that it was unanimously agreed, that he had in him several of the Qualities of Wil­mot Earl of Rochester, as, his Wit, his Spirit, his amorous Temper, the Charms that he had for the fair Sex, his Fals­hood, and his Inconstancy; the agree­able Manner of his chiding his Servants, which the late Bishop of Salisbury takes Notice of in his Life; and lastly, his repeating, on every Occasion, the Ver­ses of Waller, for whom that noble Lord had a very particular Esteem; witness his lmitation of the Tenth Sa­tire of the First Book of Horace:

Waller, by Nature for the Bays design'd,
With Spirit, Force, and Fancy unconfind,
In Panegyrick is above Mankind.

Now, as several of the Qualities in Dorimont's Character were taken from that Earl of Rochester, so they who were acquainted with the late Sir Fleet­wood Shepherd, know very well, that not a little of that Gentleman's Cha­racter is to be found in Medley.

[Page 20] But the Characters in this Comedy are very well form'd to instruct as well as to please, especially those of Dorimont and of Loveit; and they instruct by the same Qualities to which the Knight has taken so much whimsical Exception; as Dori­mont instructs by his Insulting, and his Perfidiousness, and Loveit by the Vio­lence of her Resentment and her An­guish. For Loveit has Yough, Beauty, Quality, Wit, and Spirit. And it was depending upon these, that she repos'd so dangerous a Trust in Dorimont, which is a just Caution to the Fair Sex, never to be so conceited of the Power of their Charms, or their other extraor­dinaryQualities,as to believe they can en­gage a Man to be true to them, to whom they grant the best Favour, without the only sure Engagement, without which they can never be certain, that they shall not be hated and despis'd by that very Person whom they have done every Thing to oblige.

To conclude with one General Ob­servation, That Comedy may be qua­lify'd in a powerful Manner both to instruct and to please, the very Consti­tution of its Subject ought always to be Ridiculous. Comedy, says Rapin, is an Image of common Life, and its [Page 21] End is to expose upon the Stage the De­fects of particular Persons, in order to cure the Defects of the Publick, and to correct and amend the People, by the Fear of being laugh'd at. That therefore, says he, which is most essen­tial to Comedy, is certainly the Ri­dicule.

Every Poem is qualify'd to instruct, and to please most powerfully by that very Quality which makes the Fort and the Characteristick of it, and which di­stinguishes it from all other Kinds of Poems. As Tragedy is qualify'd to in­struct and to please, by Terror and Compassion, which two Passions ought always to be predominant in it, and to distinguish it from all other Poems. E­pick Poetry pleases and instructs chiefly by Admiration, which reigns through­out it, and distinguishes it from Poems of every other Kind. Thus Comedy in­structs and pleases most powerfully by the Ridicule, because that is the Qua­lity which distinguishes it from every other Poem. The Subject therefore of every Comedy ought to be ridiculous by its Constitution; the Ridicule ought to be of the very Nature and Essence of it. Where there is none of that, there can be no Comedy. It ought to [Page 22] reign both in the Incidents and in the Characters, and especially in the prin­cipal Characters, which ought to be ri­diculous in themselves, or so contriv'd, as to shew and expose the Ridicule of others. In all the Masterpieces of Ben Johnson, the principal Character has the Ridicule in himself, as Morose in The Silent Woman, Volpone in The Fox, and Subtle and Face in The Alchimist: And the very Ground and Foundation of all these Comedies is ridiculous. 'Tis the very same Thing in the Master-pieces of Moliere. The Mis- Antrope, the Impostor, the Avare, and the Femmes Secuanter. Nay, the Reader will find, that in most of his other Pieces, the principal Characters are ridiculous; as, L'Etoardy, Les precieuses Ridicules, Le Cocu Imaginaire, Le Fascheux, and Monsieur de pousceaugnac, Le Bour­geois Gentilhomme, L'Ecole de Maris, L'Ecole des Femmes, L'Amour Medicis, Le Medicin Malgré luy, La Mariage Forcé, George Dandin, Les Fourberies de Scapin, Le Malade Imaginaire. The Reader will not only find, upon Re­flection, that in all these Pieces the principal Characters are ridiculous, but that in most of them there is the Ridi­cule of Comedy in the very Titles.

[Page 23] 'Tis by the Ridicule that there is in the Character of Sir Fopling, which is one of the principal ones of this Co­medy, and from which it takes its Name, that he is so very well qualify'd to please and to instruct. What true Eng­glishman is there, but must be pleas'd to see this ridiculous Knight made the Jest and the Scorn of all the other Cha­racters, for shewing, by his foolish aping foreign Customs and Manners, that he prefers another Country to his own? And of what important Instruction must it be to all our Youth who travel, to shew them, that if they so far forget the Love of their Country, as to de­clare by their espousing foreign Cu­stoms and Manners, that they prefer France or Italy to Great Britain, at their Return, they must justly expect to be the Jest and the Scorn of their own Countrymen.

Thus, I hope, I have convinc'd the Reader, that this Comical Knight, Sir Fopling, has been justly form'd by the Knight his Father, to instruct and please, whatever may be the Opinion to the contrary of the Knight his Brother.

Whenever The Fine Gentleman of the latter comes upon the Stage, I shall be [Page 24] glad to see that it has all the shining Qua­lities which recommend Sir Fopling, that his Characters are always drawn in Na­ture, and that he never gives to a young Man the Qualities of a Middle-aged Man, or an old one; that they are the just Images of our Contemporaries, and of what we every Day see in the World; that instead of setting us Patterns for our Imitation, which is not the proper Business of Comedy, he makes those Fol­lies and Vices ridiculous, which we ought to shun and despise; that the Sub­ject of his Comedy is comical by its Con­stitution; and that the Ridicule is par­ticularly in the Grand Incidents, and in the principal Characters. For a true Comick Poet is a Philosopher, who, like old Democritus, always instructs us laughing.

FINIS.

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