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FRIENDSHIP IN FASHION.
This play, the first specimen of Otway's powers as a writer of Comedy, whilst it exhibits, though, perhaps, in a less obtrusive manner, the licentiousness of morals which prevailed during the reign of Charles the Second; is no advantageous display of his talents in that species of composition. It appears, however, from Langbaine, who terms it “ a very diverting play,” that those who were the first judges of it's merit, and whom it was niore immediately bis interest to please, entertained a much more favourable opinion of it's deserts, and received it with "general applause.” As morality of design and purity of dialogue were regarded as matters of little moment in those days, we may ascribe it's success to the bustle and action with which it abounds; some novelty and variety of character; and a few scenes bordering upon buffoonery, which has saved a worse piece from destruction.
The persons of the drama, deficient as they are in those qualities which ought alone to excite interest or admiration, may be dismissed with little notice : for, with the single exception of Camilla, (who appears too seldom to be known) they are either vicious, or ridiculous, or both. Some of them were supposed to bear an intended analogy to certain living characters, and this opinion raised a prejudice against the author, to which he alludes in the dedication of the play. His readiness, in the Prologue, to disavow any satire, may, perhaps, with some, strengthen the suspicion that it was intended; but to whom it was appropriated, it is impossible now to tell with certainty. This comedy was revived at Drury-lane, in 1749; but rejected on account of it's indecency. No modern audience, indeed, would endure the scene in the fourth act, where the grossest and most immoral conduct is supposed to take place, almost under the eyes of the spectators.
THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
GENTLEMAN OF HIS MAJESTY'S BED-CHAMBER.
Your lordship has so often and so highly obliged me, that I cannot but condemn myself for giving you a trouble so impertinent as this is : considering how remiss I have been in my respects to your lordship, in that I have not waited on you so frequently as the duty I owe your lordship, and my own inclinations required; but the circunstances of my condition, whose daily business must be daily bread, have not, nor will allow me that happiness. Be pleased then, my lord, to accept this humble dedication as an instance of his gratitude, who in a high measure owes his well-being to you. I canuot doubt but your lordship will protect it, for nothing ever flew to you for succour unsuccessfully: I am sure I have reason to acknowledge it. As for the unlucky censures some have past on me for this play, I hope your lordship will believe I hardly deserve them. For to my best remembrance, when I first was accused of the thing by some people of the world, who had perhaps as little reason to think I could be guilty of it, as to believe themselves deserved it, I made it my business to clear myself to your lordship, whose good opinion is dearer to me than any thing which my worst enemies can wrong me of else: I hope I convinced