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THE AUTHOR's EPISTLE
A FRIEND IN THE COUNTRY.
THE Opinion which you say has prevailed with some,
HE that this piece is not my own, but from a better lland, gives me too much pleasure to be angry, and would do me too much honour to contradict, did it not shew. their want of judgment who entertain it. I should be very glad, if I could persuade myself there were any just Grounds in the Merit of the Thing to countenance such an Opinion ; but since it has been so favourably re... ceived, that I am now to print an Eighth* Edition of it, I find' I have Pride enough to vindicate to myself any Credit I may receive from it.
You may remember, long before I had the Honour of being known to Mr. Pope, the Regard I had for him; and it was a great Mortification to me, that I used to think myself too inconsiderable ever to merit his Notice or Esteem. However, some Time after I had wrote the Toy-Shop, hoping there was something in it which might recommend me to bim in a Moral Capacity, at least, tho' not in a Poetical one, I sent it to him, and desired his Opinion of it; expressing some Doubt that, tho' I designed it for the Stage, yet, unless its Novelty would recommend it, I was afraid it would not bear a publick Representation, and therefore had not offered it to the Actors.
* The edition of The Toy-Shop prioted in the second edition of Dodsley's Trifles in 1777 is called the eleventh.
In answer to this, I received the following Instance of Mr. Pope's Good-nature and Humanity.
Feb. 5, 1732-3. Sir, 7 was very willing to read your Piect, and do freely tell you, I like it, as far as my particular Judgment goes. Whether it has Action enough to please on the Stage, I doubt : But the Morality and Satire ought to be relished by the Reader. I will do more than you ask I will recommend it to Mr. Rich. If he can join it to any play, with suitable Representations, to make it an Entertainment, I believe he will give you a Benefit Night; and I sincerely wish it may be turned any Way to your Advantage, or that I could shew you my Friendship in any Instance.
He was as good as his Word; he recommended it to Mr. Rich; by his Interest it was brought upon the Stage; and by the Indulgence of the Town, it was very favourably received
This is the History of the Toy-shop; and I shall always think myself happy in having wrote it, since it first procured me the Favour and Acquaintance of Mr. POPE.
I am, &c.
MASTER OF THE TOY-SHOP.
Time-That of the representation.
TO Y - S H O P.
SCENE I. A Parlour.
Enter a GENTLEMAN and two LADIES. Gent. And you have never been at this extraordinary Toy-shop, you say, Madam?
i Ladu. No, Sir: I have heard of the Man, indeed : but most people say, he's a very impertinent, silly Fellow.
Gent. That is because he sometimes tells them of their Faults.
1 Lady. And that is sufficient. I should think any Man impertinent that should pretend to tell me of my Faults, if they did not concern him.
Gent. Yes, Madam. But People that know him take no Exceptions. And really, tho' some may think him impertinent, in my Opinion, he is very entertaining.
2 Lady. Pray, who is the Man you are talking of? I never heard of him.
Gent. He is one who has lately set up a Toy-Shop, Madam, and is, perhaps, the most extraordinary person in his Way that ever was heard of. He is a general Sa. tirist, yet not rude nor ill-natur'd. He has got a custom of moralizing upon every trifle he sells, and will strike a Lesson or Instruction out of a Snuff-box, a Thimble, or a Cockle-shell.
1 Lady. Isn't he craz'd ?
Gent. Madam, he may be called a Humorist; but does not want sense, I do assure you.
2 Lady. Methinks I should be glad to see him.