Love in a Wood; The Gentleman Dancing-Master; The Country Wife; The Plain Dealer

By William Wycherley; Peter Dixon | Go to book overview

[DEDICATORY EPISTLE]
To her Grace the Duchess of Cleveland.∘

Madam,

All authors whatever in their dedications are poets. But I am now to write to a lady who stands as little in need of flattery as her beauty of art--otherwise I should prove as ill a poet to her in my dedication,

as to my reader in my play. I can do your Grace no honour, nor make 5
you more admirers than you have already; yet I can do myself the honour to let the world know I am the greatest you have. You will pardon me, madam, for you know 'tis very hard for a new author (and poet too) to govern his ambition. For poets, let them pass in the world
never so much for modest, honest men, but begin praise to others 10
which concludes in themselves,∘ and are like rooks, who lend people money but to win it back again, and so leave them in debt to 'em for nothing. They offer laurel and incense to their heroes, but wear it themselves, and perfume themselves. This is true, madam, upon the
honest word of an author who never yet writ dedication. Yet though 15
I cannot lie like them, I am as vain as they, and cannot but publicly give your Grace my humble acknowledgements for the favours I have received from you. This, I say, is the poet's gratitude, which in plain English is only pride and ambition, and that the world might know
your Grace did me the honour to see my play twice together∘--yet 20
perhaps my enviers of your favour will suggest 'twas in Lent,∘ and therefore for your mortification. Then, as a jealous author, I am concerned not to have your Grace's favours lessened, or rather my reputation, and to let them know you were pleased, after that, to
command a copy from me of this play--the way, without beauty and 25
wit, to win a poor poet's heart. 'Tis a sign your Grace understands nothing better than obliging all the world after the best and most proper manner. But, madam, to be obliging to that excess as you are (pardon me, if I tell you out of my extreme concern, and service for
your Grace) is a dangerous quality, and may be very incommode to 30
you. For civility makes poets as troublesome as charity makes beggars, and your Grace will be hereafter as much pestered with such scurvy offerings as this--poems, panegyrics, and the like--as you are now with petitions.∘ And, madam, take it from me, no man with papers
in's hand is more dreadful than a poet--no, not a lawyer with his 35

-2-

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Love in a Wood; The Gentleman Dancing-Master; The Country Wife; The Plain Dealer
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Country Wife and Other Plays i
  • Oxford English Drama ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements vi
  • Introduction vii
  • Note on Staging xxii
  • Note on the Texts xxv
  • Select Bibliography xxix
  • A Chronology of William Wycherley xxxiii
  • Love in a Wood,∘ - Or, St James's Park 1
  • [dedicatory Epistle] to Her Grace the Duchess of Cleveland.∘ 2
  • Prologue∘ 5
  • Epilogue 95
  • The Gentleman Dancing-Master 97
  • Prologue 99
  • Epilogue Spoken by Flirt 189
  • The Country Wife 191
  • Prologue Spoken by Mr Hart 193
  • Epilogue Spoken by Mrs Knepp∘ 282
  • The Plain Dealer∘ 283
  • [dedicatory Epistle] to My Lady B-----∘ 289
  • Prologue Spoken by the Plain Dealer 290
  • Epilogue 399
  • Explanatory Notes 400
  • Glossary 467
  • Selection of Oxford World's Classics 487
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