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A CERTAIN GENTLEMAN.
Because I know it would give you less concern to find your name in an impertinent satire, than before the daintiest dedication of a modern author, I conceal it.
Let me talk never so idly to you this way, you are at least under no necessity of taking it to yourself; nor when I boast of your favours, need you blush to have bestowed them. Or I may now give you all the attributes that raise a wise and good-natured man to esteem and happiness, and not be censured as a flatterer by my own or your enemies. I place my own first, because, as they are the greater number, I am afraid of not paying the greater respect to them. Yours, if such there are, I imagine are too well-bre to declare themselves : but as there is no hazard a visible terror in an attack upon my defenceless station, my censurers have generally been persons of an intrepid sincerity. Having therefore shut the door against them, while I am thus privately addressing you, I have little to apprehend from either of them.
Under this shelter then I may safely tell you, that the greatest encouragement I have had to publish this work, has risen from the several hours of patience you have lent me at the reading it. It is true, I took the advantage of your leisure in the country, where moderate matters serve for amusement; and there
indeed how far your good nature for an old acquaintance, or your reluctance to put the vanity of an author out of countenance, may have carried you, I cannot be sure; and yet appearances give me stronger hopes : for was not the complaisance of a whole evening's attention as much as an author of more importance ought to have expected ? Why then was I desired the next day to give you a second lecture? Or why was I kept a third day with you, to tell you more of the same story? If these circumstances have made me vain, shall I say, sir, you are accountable for them? No, sir, I will rather so far flatter myself as to suppose it possible that your having been a lover of the stage (and one of those few good judges who know the use and value of it under a right regulation) might incline you to think so copious an account of it a less tedious amusement than it may naturally be to others of different good sense, who may have less concern or taste for it. But be all this as it may, the brat is now born; and rather than see it starve upon the bare parish provision, I choose thus clandestinely to drop it at your door, that it may exercise one of your many virtues, your charity, in supporting it.
If the world were to know into whose hands I have thrown it, their regard to its patron might incline them to treat it as one of his family; but in the consciousness of what I am, I choose not, sir, to say who you are.
If your equal in rank were to do public justice to your character, then indeed the concealment of your name might be an unnecessary diffidence: but am I, sir, of consequence enough, in any guise, to do honour to Mr - ? Were I to set him in the most laudable lights that truth and good sense could give him, or his own likeness would require, my officious mite would be lost in that general esteem and regard which people of the first consequence, even of different parties, have a pleasure in paying bim. Encomiums to superiors from authors of lower life, as they are naturally liable to suspicion, can add very littl. lustre to what before was visible to the public If this apology for my past life discourages yon not from holding me in your usual favour, let me quit this greater stage, the world, whenever I may, I shall think this the best acted part of any I have undertaken since you first condescended to laugh with,
LIFE OF MR COLLEY CIBBER, &c.
The introduction.-The author's birtb.-Various fortune at
school.-Not liked by those he loved there.-Why.-A digression upon raillery.-The use and abuse of it. The conforts of folly..Vanity of greatness.-Laugbing
bad philosophy. You know, sir, I have often told you, that one time or other I should give the public some memoirs of my own life ; at which you have never failed to laugh like a friend, without saying a word to dissuade me from it: concluding, I suppose, that such a wild thought could not possibly require a serious answer. But you see I was in earnest. And now you will say, the world will find me, under my own hand, a weaker man than perhap I may have passed for even among my enemies.
With all my heart! My enemies will then read me with pleasure, and you perhaps with envy, when you find that follies without the reproach of guilt upon them are not inconsistent with happiness. But why make my follies public? Why not? I have passed my time very pleasantly with them, and I do not recollect that they have ever been hurtful to any other man living. Even admitting they were injudiciously chosen, would it not