The Old Bachelor
Quem tulit ad scenam ventoso Gloria curru,
Exanimat lentus spectator; sedulus inflat:
Sic leve, sic parvum est, animum quod laudis avarum
Subruit, and reficit.
HORAT. Epist. I. lib. ii.
To the Right Honourable Charles, Lord Clifford of Lanesborough, etc.
My Lord,--It is with a great deal of pleasure that I lay hold on this first occasion which
the accidents of my life have given me of writing to your lordship: for since at the same
time I write to all the world, it will be a means of publishing (what I would have
everybody know) the respect and duty which I owe and pay to you. I have so much
inclination to be yours that I need no other engagement. But the particular ties by which I
am bound to your lordship and family have put it out of my power to make you any
compliment, since all offers of myself will amount to no more than an honest
acknowledgment, and only shew a willingness in me to be grateful.
I am very near wishing that it were not so much my interest to be your lordship's servant,
that it might be more my merit; not that I would avoid being obliged to you, but I would
have my own choice to run me into the debt: that I might have it to boast, I had
distinguished a man to whom I would be glad to be obliged, even without the hopes of
having it in my power ever to make him a return.
It is impossible for me to come near your lordship in any kind and not to receive some
favour; and while in appearance I am only making an acknowledgment (with the usual
underhand dealing of the world) I am at the same time insinuating my own interest. I
cannot give your lordship your due, without tacking a bill of my own privileges. 'Tis true,
if a man never committed a folly, he would never stand in need of a protection. But then
power would have nothing to do, and good nature no occasion to show itself; and where
those qualities are, 'tis pity they should want objects to shine upon. I must confess this is
no reason why a man should do an idle thing, nor indeed any good excuse for it when
done; yet it reconciles the uses of such authority and goodness to the necessities of our
follies, and is a sort of poetical logic, which at this time I would make use of, to argue
your lordship into a protection of this play. It is the first offence I have committed in this
kind, or indeed, in any kind of poetry, though not the first made public, and therefore I
hope will the more easily be pardoned. But had it been acted, when it was first written,
more might have been said in its behalf: ignorance of the town and stage would then have
been excuses in a young writer, which now almost four years' experience will scarce
allow of. Yet I must declare myself sensible of the good nature of the town, in receiving
this play so kindly, with all its faults, which I must own were, for the most part, very