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this History of the Lives and Works of all the Dramatick Poets of your Native Country, of which few Nations have produc'd fo great a Number under fo very little Encouragements. But to fhew them, Sir, the more Worthy your Patronage, I fhall lay down a fhort Account of what Value their Art has been, in the most Polite and Politick, as well as moft fuccessful Government in the World.
Athens, Rome, and France will furnish me with the Proofs I want. Athens gave Birth and Perfection to the art, and feems, like the true Mother, to have been moft fond of it, and therefore gave its profeffors the greatest Encouragement. The Value that Government had for both is evident from these two Instances: Sophocles, as a Reward of his Antigone, had the Government of the City and Ifland of Samos confer'd upon him: And on the Death of Expolis in a Sea-Fight, there was a Law publish'd, that no Poet for the Future fhou'd go to the Wars; fo great a Lofs they thought the Death of one Poet to the Commonwealth.
Thus we fee that Athens that was the most Populous and Trading City of Greece, and which produc'd braver, better, and more learned Men than all Greece befides, prove, by the Encouragement she gave Dramatick Poetry, that it was the Opinion of the Wisdom of that State, that Plays
C were so far from being deftructive of Induftry and good Morals, that they were equally con ducive to the Honour and Advantage of its Peo ple.
To fay nothing of the Care that was taken of the Poets, and the Efteem'they were in among the Greateft and Braveft of the Old Romans ; I shall only mention the Great Macenas, who laid the Foundation of the greatest Monarchy that ever was in the World; who form'd as e Great and Politick Designs, did as Great Services to his Prince as any Man whatever; and J and who indeed establish'd the greatest Emperor over the moft Free and Polite People in the Univerfe; Macenas I fay, thought Poetry fo worthy te his peculiar Care, that we owe the beft of the Roman Poets to him, and his Name is pass'd from a Proper to a Common Name for all Generous Patrons.
'Tis yet fresh in our Memories what that Ma fter in Politicks, the great Richelieu has done for thefe Politer Studies in France. The Theatres, the Academy remain a glorious Monument of it, and yet no Man could have fled with a better Pretence to the Multiplicity of Affairs, no Man ever difpatching more Bufinefs, or forming more Successful, and Serviceable Defigns for his ■ Mafter's Advantage, and the prefent and fucceeding Glory and Grandeur of France; for to
his Counfels the French Monarchy owes all that Terror and Power, with which we have seen all Europe fo lately ftruggle with: And yet this great and busy Polititian could find a time in fpight of the Weight of the whole Administration of France, to take Care of the Muses, and thought it an Honour to himself and Country for the lasting Advantage of learned Men and Poets. He took Care of the Reformation of the Stage, and by his Order the Abbe Hedeline, compos'd a Piece of the whole Art of the Stage.
But our Nation, alas! Furnish'd with as brave a People, and a greater Genius for Poetry than our Neighbours, has never yet been so happy, as to find in the Adminiftration, any Man with Soul enough, to think the Care of the Muses worth their Thoughts; and yet the World will never be induc'd to believe, that they are wifer or greater Politicians than Mecenas or Richelieu.
This Neglect of their Science has forc'd the Poets, who had nothing to expect from the Government, to make the moft Noble and useful School of Vertue, degenerate into a meer Diverfion; that they might Please an Audience, whence they cou'd only hope for their Support. And this has laid the Stage open to the weak Af
faults of those whom either Biggottry, Intreft, or Hypocrify have made its Enemies.
'Tis not therefore the fupine and criminal Neglect of the Great Men (I mean the Minifters) of our Nation, that we are to form the Efteem that is due to this Science by; but the Care and value the most refin'd and most successful Polititians in the World have Difcover'd for it; If the English States-Men come fhort of this, 'tis to be look'd on by all Men of true Senfe, as their Defect and Infamy, not their Wisdom.
Wherefore, tho' the Publick has not yet thought fit to take this into its Consideration and Protection, yet I had reafon to think a Man of Mr. Cafar's Qualifications, cou'd not but be pleas'd to extend his Protection to thofe, whofe Bufinefs it is to celebrate the Vertues that gain you the general Efteem. You that forfook the lower Pleafures of Fortune and Youth, for the Purfuit of Honour and Glory in the War; You, Sir, that in your Actions have shown the Hero, have a nearer Reason than other Men, to take care of the Poers, whofe task it is to cele brate the Heroes Deeds, and to transmit them in their most engaging Form to Pofterity, for their Honour and Imitation.
Carmen amat quifq; carmina digna gerit.
You, Sir, that have added to your Birth and Fortune fo ftrong and general a Love, that your Wit, Sweetness of Temper, and Honour, defeat that Envy which Merit ufually raises, will naturally take care of those, whofe Imployment it is to distinguish betwixt the Pretence, and Reality; the Man of true Senfe and Bravery, and the Flashy Opiniator, and the vain Boafter of his own Deeds.
From you therefore I hope, Sir, a favourable Reception, when I fhelter all our Dramatick Writers under the Protection of your Name; for in you we shall find a Manly, yet Modest Me
Worthy at once, and negligent of Fame.
Wit without Opiniatreture; but balanc'd with a true and penetrating Judgment; Bravery which has nobly diftinguifh'd you from the Remisness of the Inglorious Youth of the Age, witness your Voluntary Campaigns in Flanders; a Generofity that gets you the Efteem of all Men, while the fordid are the Contempt and Laughter of Men of Sense.
I need be no farther particular in the Enume ration of your Vertues, fince where ever Generofity goes justly to the making up of a Charater, there can be no Vertue wanting. On this