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EPISTLE TO DR. ARBUTHNOT,
BEING THE PROLOGUE TO THE SATIRES.
This paper is a sort of bill of complaint, begun many years since, and drawn up by snatches, as the several occasions offered. I had no thoughts of publishing it, till it pleased some persons1 of rank and fortune [the authors of "Verses to the Imitator of Horace," and of an "Epistle 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 person, morals, and family; whereof, to those who know me not, a truer information may be requisite. Being divided between the necessity to say something of myself, and my own laziness to undertake so awkward a task, I thought it the shortest way to put the last hand to this epistle. If it have any thing pleasing, it will be that by which I am most desirous to please, the truth and the sentiment; and if any thing offensive, it will be only to those I am least sorry 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, spared their names, and they may escape being laughed at if they please.
I would have some of them know it was owing to the request of the learned and candid friend to whom it is inscribed
1 See Memoir prefixed to these volumes, p. xcii. VOL. III.