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AS PERFORMED AT THE
FIRST PRINTED IN 1767.
WHEN I undertook to write a comedy, I confess I was strongly prepossessed in favour of the poets of the last age, and strove to imitate them. The term, genteel co
medy, was then unknown amongst us, and little more was desired by an audience than nature and humour, in whatever walks of life they were most conspicuous. The author of the following scenes never imagined that more would be expected of him; and therefore to delineate character has been his principal aim. Those who know any thing of composition, are sensible, that, in pursuing humour, it will sometimes lead us into the recesses of the mean; I was even tempted to look for it in the master of a spunging-house: but in deference to the public taste, grown of late, perhaps, too delicate, the scene of the bailiffs was retrenched in the representation. In deference also to the judgment of a few friends, who think in a particular way, the scene is here restored. The author submits it to the reader in his closet; and hopes that too much refinement will not banish humour and character from ours, as it has already done from the French Theatre. Indeed, the French comedy is now become so very elevated and sentimental, that it has not only banished humour and Moliere from the stage, but it has banished all spectators too.
Upon the whole, the author returns his thanks to the public for the favourable reception which The Good-Natured Man has met with: and to Mr. Colman in particular, for his kindness to it: It may not also be improper to assure any who shall hereafter write for the theatre, that merit, or supposed merit, will ever be a sufficient passport to his protection.
WRITTEN BY SAMUEL JOHNSON, L.L.D.
PRESSED by the load of life, the weary mind
Our anxious bard, without complaint, may share
Like Cæsar's pilot, dignified by fate,
Tost in one common storm with all the great;
Must hear all taunts, and hear without reply.
Th' offended burgess hoards his angry tale,
The great, 'tis true, can charm th' electing tribe;
Scene, an Apartment in Young HONEYWOOD's House.
Enter Sir WILLIAM HONEYWOOD, JARVIS.
Sir Wil. Good Jarvis, make no apologies for this honest bluntness. Fidelity, like yours, is the best excuse for every freedom.
Jar. I can't help being blunt, and being very angry too, when I hear you talk of disinheriting so good, so worthy a young gentleman as your nephew, my master. All the world loves him.
Sir Wil. Say, rather, that he loves all the world; that is his fault.
Jar. I am sure there is no part of it more dear to him than you are, though he has not seen you since he was a child.
Sir Wil. What signifies his affection to me; or how can I be proud of a place in a heart, where every sharper and coxcomb find an easy entrance?
Jar. I grant you that he is rather too good-natured; that he's too much every man's man; that he laughs this minute with one, and cries the next with another: but whose instructions may he thank for all this?