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On receiving from the Right Honourable the Lady
FRANCES SHIRLEY, a ftandish and two
The first publication of this Epiftle: T
HIS paper is a fort of bill of complaint, begun many years fince, and drawn up by fnatches, as the feveral occafions offered. I had no thoughts of publifhing it, till it pleafed fome perfons of Rank and Fortune [the Authors of Verfes to the Imitator of Horace, and of an Epiftle to a Doctor of Divinity from a Nobleman at Hampton Court] to attack, in a very extraordinary manner, not only my Writings (of which, being public, the Public is judge) but my Perfon, Morals, and Family, whereof, to those who know me not, a truer information may be requifite. Being divided between the neceffity to fay fomething of myfelf, and my own laziness to undertake so aukward a task, I thought it the shortest way to put the last hand to this Epiftle. If it have any thing pleafing, it will be that by which I am moft defirous to pleafe, the Truth and the Sentiment; and if any
thing offenfive, it will be only to those I am leaft forry to offend, the vicious or the ungenerous.
Many will know their own pictures in it, there being not a circumstance but what is true; but I have, for the most part, fpared their Names, and they may escape being laughed at, if they please.
I would have fome of them know, it was owing to the request of the learned and candid Friend to whom it is inscribed, that I make not as free use of theirs as they have done of mine. However, I fhall have this advantage, and honour, on my fide, that whereas, by their proceeding, any abuse may be directed at any man, no injury can poffibly be done by mine, fince a nameless Character can never be found out, but by its truth and likeness.