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The Female Gamester   By: (1715-1786)

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By Gorges Edmond Howard

Et quando uberior vitiorum copia? quando Major avaritiae patuit sinus? alea quando Hos animos? neq; enim loculis comitantibus itur, Ad casum tabulae, posita sed luditur arca. Juv. Sat. I.

Sure none in crimes could erst beyond us go! None such a lust for sordid avarice show! Was e'er the Die so worn in ages past? Purses, nay Chests, are now stak'd on a cast.

To the Countess of Charlemont, the Lady Viscountess Southwell, and Lady Lifford.

As the example of Persons of rank and quality, must ever have a powerful influence upon all others in society, and as I know none among the many eminently virtuous characters of your sex, (for which this kingdom is above all others distinguished) with whom I have the honour of being acquainted, more conspicuous than your Ladyships, for excellence of conduct in every female department in life, I, therefore, thus presume in taking the liberty of presenting the following DRAMATIC ESSAY to your patronage, and am, with the highest respect,

Your Ladyships'

Most obedient servant, &c. The Author.

To the Reader.

I have always been of the same opinion with the Author of the Preface to the translation of Brumoy's Greek Theatre; in which, speaking of Tragedy, he hath expressed himself in the following lines: "In England, the subject is frequently too much exalted, and the Scenes are too often laid too high. We deal almost solely in the fate of Kings and Princes, as if misfortunes were chiefly peculiar to the great. But our Poets might consider, that we feel not so intensely the sorrows of higher powers, as we feel the miseries of those who are nearer upon a level with ourselves. The revolution and fall of empires affect us less, than the distresses of a private family. Homer himself had wandered like Ulysses, and although by the force of imagination he so nobly described the din of battle, and the echoing contests of fiery princes, yet his heart still sensibly felt the indigence of the wandering Ithacan, and the contemptuous treatment shewn to the beggar, whose soul and genius deserved a better fate."

This having confirmed me in my opinion, I set about the following dramatic attempt upon that horrid vice of Gaming, of all others the most pernicious to society, and growing every day more and more predominant amongst all ranks of people, so that even the examples of a Prince, and Princess, pious, virtuous, and every way excellent, as ever a people were blessed with, contrary to the well known axiom,

Regis ad exemplum totus componitur orbis, have had but small effect.

I finished it, part in prose, and part in blank verse, in about six weeks, and having shewn it to several of my literary acquaintance, the far greater part were of opinion, that it should be entirely one, or the other; but, as the scene was laid in private life, and chiefly among those of middling rank, it ought to be entirely prose; and that, not much exalted; and accordingly, with no small labour, I turned it all into prose. But in some short time after, having communicated this to Dr. Samuel Johnson, his words (as well as I remember) were, "That he could hardly consider a prose Tragedy as dramatic; that it was difficult for the Performers to speak it; that let it be either in the middling or in low life, it may, though in metre and spirited, be properly familiar and colloquial; that, many in the middling rank are not without erudition; that they have the feelings and sensations of nature, and every emotion in consequence thereof, as well as the great, and that even the lowest, when impassioned, raise their language; that the writing of prose is generally the plea and excuse of poverty of Genius." And some others being of the same opinion, I have now chang'd it all into metre.

Fired is the Muse! and let the Muse be fired. Who's not inflam'd, when what he speaks he feels? Young... Continue reading book >>

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