As the Subject of this Essay is of the highest Importance, and what I do not remember to have yet seen treated by any Author, I have sent you what occurr’d to me on it from my own Observation or Reading, and which you may either suppress or publish as you think fit.
I am, SIR, Yours, &c.
* * * * *
No. 338. Friday, March 28, 1712.
[—Nil fuit unquam
Tam dispar sibi.
I find the Tragedy of the Distrest Mother is publish’d today: The Author of the Prologue, I suppose, pleads an old Excuse I have read somewhere, of being dull with Design; and the Gentleman who writ the Epilogue  has, to my knowledge, so much of greater moment to value himself upon, that he will easily forgive me for publishing the Exceptions made against Gayety at the end of serious Entertainments, in the following Letter: I should be more unwilling to pardon him than any body, a Practice which cannot have any ill Consequence, but from the Abilities of the Person who is guilty of it.
I had the Happiness the other Night of sitting very near you, and your worthy Friend Sir ROGER, at the acting of the new Tragedy, which you have in a late Paper or two so justly recommended. I was highly pleased with the advantageous Situation Fortune had given me in placing me so near two Gentlemen, from one of which I was sure to hear such Reflections on the several Incidents of the Play, as pure Nature suggested, and from the other such as flowed from the exactest Art and Judgment: Tho I must confess that my Curiosity led me so much to observe the Knights Reflections, that I was not so well at leisure to improve my self by yours. Nature, I found, play’d her Part in the Knight pretty well, till at the last concluding Lines she entirely forsook him. You must know, Sir, that it is always my Custom, when I have been well entertained at a new Tragedy, to make my Retreat before the facetious Epilogue enters; not but that those Pieces are often very well writ, but having paid down my Half Crown, and made a fair Purchase of as much of the pleasing Melancholy as the Poets Art can afford me, or my own Nature admit of, I am willing to carry some of it home with me; and cant endure to be at once trick’d out of all, tho by the wittiest Dexterity in the