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AS in the Warttonnefs of your petulant Fancy, you have fallen upon a Sett of Gentlemen, who cannot poffibly have given you any perfonal Provocation •, I have thought proper to prefix your Name to this their Defence, and call upon you thus publickly to juftify your Behaviour, if it be poffible. But furely, Sir, it muft have been a fecret Admiration of their Elegant and Refined Manners, that called forth your Spleen, to turn into Ridicule thofe foft Accomplifhments you defpaired to equal; and, as a Comic Writer did by the Divine Socrates, mimic and burlefque upon the Stage what you had not the Face to, imitate in real Life. But your Wit Was as impotent as your Malice was ftrong. Your Farce was no fooner feen, than it was laughed at; you know, Sir, it was laughed at •, moft prodigioufly laughed at: A plain Proof, that it was judged to be very ridiculous.
O a Believe
Believe me, Sir, you have fallen moft miferably fhort in your Attempt. And how mould it be otherwife? Tou pretend to exhibit a Reprefentation of "The Pretty Gentleman, who are by no means an Adept in the Character! Tou! that are an entire Stranger to thofe fine Senfations, which are requifite to give a thorough Notion, and true Relifh of the Enjoyments it affords! How mould you paint what Nature has not given you Faculties, to feel? As far as She leads you by the Hand, you may, perhaps, fucceed: But to leave her behind, and tread thofe fecret Paths to which her Guidance never points; This, Mr. Garrick, This is far beyond the Power of your limited Genius.
So wifhing you more fortunate in your next Efiay, and wife enough never to expofe yourfelf again to Derifion, by endeavouring to laugh out of Countenance a Character, which all fenfible Men look upon with Admiration and Aftonijhment, I take leave to fubfcribe myfelf, as much as I ought to be,
Tour Humble Servant,
TH E Theatre is faid to be the proper School for correcting the little Irregularities and Foibles of Mankind; and no Method is held more likely to check the Growth of Folly, than to bring it to full View in Scenes of humorous Reprefentation. But then the Comic Writer fhould be certain, that what he endeavours to expofe, be really an Object of Ridicule; otherwife he not only offends againft the Rules of the Drama, but the Precepts of Virtue.
I am led into thefe Reflexions, by a late Performance exhibited on our Stage, wherein the Author attempts to laugh out of Countenance that mollifying Elegance which manifefts itfelf with fuch a bewitching Grace, in the refined Youths of this cultivated. Age. It is in Defence of thefe injured Gentlemen that I have taken up my Pen; and how well qualified I am to execute fuch an Undertaking, the Reader will be convinced, if he has but Patience to perufe carefully the following Sheets.
O 4 Atnidft
Amidft all my Refearches into the Hiftory of this Country, I do not find one Pretty Gentleman, till the glorious Reign of King James I. This Prince had an odd Mixture of contrary Qualities. In fome refpects he retained the Rufticity of Gotbick Manners; in others, he was very refined.
Lord Clarendon allures us, " That His Mojt Sacred <c Majejly was fo highly delighted with a Beautiful "Perfon and Fine Cloaths, that thefe were the chief "Recommendations to the Great Offices of State." A convincing Proof (begging the noble Hiftorian's Pardon) of that Monarch's fuperior Talents for Government.
In the Reign of Charles I. this Refinement fnnk in Reputation: For how indeed was it poffible, that a genuine Tafte could be cultivated, when Falkland was beheld with general Admiration, and Waller read with general Delight?
Harder ftill was her Fate, under the Rebukes of an auftere Republic, and a four Prgtector. The very Loyalijls themfelves were treated with lefs Rigor, and not a Man of any Elegance durft even fhow his Head.
But when Monarchy was reftored, Tajte emerged from her Obfcurity, and fhone with fome Degree of Luftre. For though the Prince was fome what inelegant in himfelf, yet that downy Eafe, which was cherifhed under his aufpicious Influence, was highly
favourable favourable to the Cultivation of-fift Mantters; notwithftanding the malicious Efforts of Milton, Dtnbatn Dorfet, Buckingham, and Dryden.
From this Period, to the Beginning of the prefent Century, her Progrefs was now and then checked by the Blaffo of Envy; yet, upon the whole, fhe made fome tolerable Shoots; when at laft, a Sett of malevolent Spirits arofe, who [a] with a cruel and bloody-minded Zeal, entered into a Combination to deftroy this lovely Plant, both Rpot and Branch. The better to effect their barbarous Refolution, they fet up an Idol of their own Fancy, afcribed to it all the Attributes of the Graces, and with the Artifice of deceiving Blandifhments, allured the Majority of the Nation to fall down and worfhip the Image which they had fet up.
Hence it was that Elegance became a neglected Character, and the Pretty Gentleman an Object of general Contempt, and barbarous Raillery.
But no fooner were thefe Enemies removed, than the Sons of Delicacy made an Attempt io rife again: And how fuccefsful they have been, every Place of polite Refort does fully witnefs; and notwithftanding all Oppofition, they are determined to pufh on their Defigns, and polifh the Brltijh Manners. Now the better to carry on this glorious Scheme of Reformation, thefe Gentlemen have erected themfelves into
[«] Under the Forms of fathn, Sftftatsn, and Gaardiant.