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Seventeenth Century

of the

Vol. III

1685-1700

Edited by

J. E. Spingarn

Professor of Comparative Literature
Columbia University, New York

Oxford

At the Clarendon Press

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ROBERT WOLSELEY

PREFACE TO VALENTINIAN, A TRAGEDY, AS 'TIS ALTER'D BY THE LATE EARL OF ROCHESTER

1685

I

AM desir'd to let the World know that my late Lord Rochester intended to have alter'd and corrected this Play much more than it is, before it had come abroad, and to have mended not only those Scenes of Fletcher which 5 remain, but his own too, and the Model of the Plot it self. If, therefore, the Reader do not find it every where to answer the great Reputation of the Author, if he think the Plot too thin, or any of the Scenes too long, 'tis hop'd he will be so just to remember that he looks upon an unfinish'd 10 Piece; and what faults soever of this or any other kind some may pretend to see, who cannot yet forgive my Lord the having had more Wit than themselves, we have all the reason imaginable to conclude from the correctness of his other Poetry, that, had he liv'd to put the last Hand to 15 this, he wou'd have left true Criticks and impartial Judges no business but to admire, especially if we consider how much he has mended the old Play by that little he has done to it; for he had but just drawn it into a regular Form, and laid the Plane of what he further design'd, 20 when his Countrey and his Friends had the irreparable misfortune to loose him. But as the loosest Negligence of a great Genius is infinitely preferable to that obscura diligentia of which Terence speaks, the obscure diligence and labour'd Ornaments of little Pretenders, and as the 25 rudest Drawings of famous Hands have been always more esteem'd (especially among the knowing) than the most

SPINGARN III

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