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EPILOGUE,

SPOKEN BY THERSITES.

THESE cruel critics put me into passion;
For, in their lowering looks I read damnation :
You expect a satire, and I seldom fail ;
When I'm first beaten, 'tis my part to rail.
You British fools, of the old Trojan stock,
That stand so thick, one cannot miss the flock,
Poets have cause to dread a keeping pit,
When women's cullies come to judge of wit.
As we strew rat's-bane when we vermin fear,
'Twere worth our cost to scatter fool-bane here;
And, after all our judging fops were served,
Dull poets, too, should have a dose reserved ;
Such reprobates, as, past all sense of shaming,
Write on, and ne'er are satisfied with damning :
Next, those, to whom the stage does not belong,
Such whose vocation only is—to song;
At most to prologue, when, for want of time,
Poets take in for journey-work in rhime.
But I want curses for those mighty shoals
Of scribbling Chloris's, and Phyllis' fools:
These oafs should be restrain’d, during their lives,
From

pen and ink, as madmen are from knives.
I could rail on, but 'twere a task as vain,
As preaching truth at Rome, or wit in Spain :
Yet, to huff out our play was worth my trying ;
John Lilburn 'scaped his judges by defying:
If guilty, yet I'm sure o' the church's blessing,
By suffering for the plot, without confessing.

+ Lilburn, the most turbulent, but the boldest and most upright of men, had the merit of defying and resisting the tyranny of the king, of the parliament, and of the protector. He was convicted in the star-chamber, but liberated by the parliament; he was tried on the parliamentary statute for treasons in 1651, and before Cromwell's high court of justice in 1654; and notwithstanding an audacious defence, which to some has been more perilous than a feeble cause, he was, in both cases, triumphantly acquitted.

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THE

SPANISH FRIAR;

OR,

THE DOUBLE DISCOVERY.

Ut melius possis fallere, sume togam.-Mart.

Alterna revisens
Lusit, et in solido rursus fortuna locavit.-VIRG.

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THE SPANISH FRIAR.

The Spanish Friar, or the Double Discovery, is one of the best and most popular of our poet's dramatic efforts. The plot is, as Johnson remarks, particularly happy, for the coincidence and coalition of the tragic and comic plots. The grounds for this eminent critic's encomium will be found to lie more deep than appears at first sight. It was, indeed, a sufficiently obvious connection, to make the gay Lorenzo an officer of the

conquering army, and attached to the person of Torrismond. This expedientcould hardly have escaped the invention of the most vul. gar playwright, that ever dovetailed tragedy and comedy together. The felicity of Dryden's plot, therefore, does not consist in the ingenuity of his original conception, but in the minutely artificial strokes, by which the reader is perpetually reminded of the dependence of the one part of the play on the other. These are so frequent, and appear so very natural, that the comic plot, instead of diverting our attention from the tragic business, recals it to our mind by constant and unaffected allusion. No great event happens in the higher region of the camp or court, that has not some indirect influence upon the intrigues of Lorenzo and Elvira ; and the part which the gallant is called upon to act in the revolution that winds up the tragic interest, while it is highly in character, serves to bring the catastrophe of both parts of the play under the eye of the spectator, at one and the same time. Thus much seemed necessary to explain the felicity of combination, upon which Dryden justly valued himself, and which Johnson sanctioned by his high commendation. But, although artfully conjoined, the different departments of this tragicomedy are separate subjects of critical remark.

The comic part of the Spanish Friar, as it gives the first title to the play, seems to claim our first attention. Indeed, some precedence is due to it in another point of view ; for, though the tragic scenes may be matched in All for Love, Don Sebastian, and else where, the Spanish Friar contains by far the most happy of Dryden's comic effusions. It has, comparatively speaking, this high claim to commendation, that, although the intrigue is licentious, according to the invariable licence of the age, the language is, in general, free from the extreme and disgusting coarseness, which our author too frequently mistook for wit, or was contented to substitute in its stead. The liveliness and even

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