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do it out of their own fond; but let them first be assured that their ears are nice; for there is neither writing nor judgment on this subject without that good quality. 'Tis no easy matter, in our language, to make words so smooth, and numbers so harmonious, that they shall : almost set themselves. And yet there are rules for this in Nature, and as great a certainty of quantity in our syllables, as either in the Greek or Latin : but let poets and judges understand those first, and then let them begin to study English. When they have chawed 10 a while upon these preliminaries, it may be they will scarce adventure to tax me with want of thought and elevation of fancy in this work; for they will soon be satisfied, that those are not of the nature of this sort of writing. The necessity of double rhymes, and order- 15 ing of the words and numbers for the sweetness of the voice, are the main hinges on which an opera must move; and both of these are without the compass of any art to teach another to perform, unless Nature, in the first place, has done her part, by enduing the poet 20 with that nicety of hearing, that the discord of sounds in words shall as much offend him as a seventh in music would a good composer. I have therefore no need to make excuses for meanness of thought in many places: the Italians, with all the advantages of their 25 language, are continually forced upon it, or, rather, affect it. The chief secret is the choice of words; and, by this choice, I do not here mean elegancy of expression, but propriety of sound, to be varied according to the nature of the subject. Perhaps a time may come 30 when I may treat of this more largely, out of some observations which I have made from Homer and Virgil, who, amongst all the poets, only understood the art of numbers, and of that which was properly called rhythmus by the ancients.


The same reasons which depress thought in an opera have a stronger effect upon the words, especially in our language ; for there is no maintaining the purity

of English in short measures, where the rhyme returns 5 so quick, and is so often female, or double rhyme, which

is not natural to our tongue, because it consists too much of monosyllables, and those, too, most commonly clogged with consonants; for which reason I am often

forced to coin new words, revive some that are anti10 quated, and botch others; as if I had not served out

my time in poetry, but was bound apprentice to some doggrel rhymer, who makes songs to tunes, and sings them for a livelihood. It is true, I have not been often

put to this drudgery; but where I have, the words will 15 sufficiently show that I was then a slave to the com

position, which I will never be again : it is my part to invent, and the musician's to humour that invention. I may be counselled, and will always follow my friend's

advice where I find it reasonable, but will never part 20 with the power of the militia.

I am now to acquaint my reader with somewhat more particular concerning this opera, after having begged his pardon for so long a preface to so short a work. It

was originally intended only for a prologue to a play of 25 the nature of the Tempest; which is a tragedy mixed

with opera, or a drama, written in blank verse, adorned with scenes, machines, songs, and dances, so that the fable of it is all spoken and acted by the best of the

comedians; the other part of the entertainment to be 30 performed by the same singers and dancers who were

introduced in this present opera. It cannot properly be called a play, because the action of it is supposed to be conducted sometimes by supernatural means, or

magic; nor an opera, because the story of it is not 35 sung. But more of this at its proper time. But some

intervening accidents having hitherto deferred the performance of the main design, I proposed to the actors to turn the intended prologue into an entertainment by itself, as you now see it, by adding two acts more to what I had already written. The subject of it is wholly 5 allegorical; and the allegory itself so very obvious, that it will no sooner be read than understood. It is divided, according to the plain and natural method of every action, into three parts. For even Aristotle himself is contented to say simply, that in all actions there is no a beginning, a middle, and an end; after which model all the Spanish plays are built.

The descriptions of the scenes and other decorations of the stage I had from Mr. Betterton, who has spared neither for industry, nor cost, to make this entertain- 15 ment perfect, nor for invention of the ornaments to beautify it.

To conclude, though the enemies of the composer are not few, and that there is a party formed against him of his own profession, I hope, and am persuaded, that 20 this prejudice will turn in the end to his advantage. For the greatest part of an audience is always uninteressed, though seldom knowing; and if the music be well composed, and well performed, they who find themselves pleased will be so wise as not to be imposed 25 upon, and fooled out of their satisfaction. The newness of the undertaking is all the hazard. When operas were first set up in France they were not followed over eagerly; but they gained daily upon their hearers, till they grew to that height of reputation which they now 30 enjoy. The English, I confess, are not altogether so musical as the French; and yet they have been pleased already with the Tempest, and some pieces that followed, which were neither much better written nor so well composed as this. If it finds encouragement, I dare 35

promise myself to mend my hand, by making a more pleasing fable. In the meantime, every loyal Englishman cannot but be satisfied with the moral of this, which so plainly represents the double restoration of 5 his Sacred Majesty.

POSTSCRIPT. This Preface being wholly written before the death of my late Royal Master (quem semper acerbum, semper

honoratum, sic di voluistis habebo) I have now lately 10 reviewed it, as supposing I should find many notions

in it that would require correction on cooler thoughts. After four months lying by me, I looked on it as no longer mine, because I had wholly forgotten it; but

I confess with some satisfaction, and perhaps a little 15 vanity, that I found myself entertained by it; my own

judgment was new to me, and pleased me when I looked on it as another man's. I see no opinion that I would retract or alter, unless it be, that possibly the Italians

went not so far as Spain for the invention of their 20 operas. They might have it in their own country; and

that by gathering up the shipwrecks of the Athenian and Roman theatres, which we know were adorned with scenes, music, dances, and machines, especially the

Grecian. But of this the learned Monsieur Vossius, 25 who has made our nation his second country, is the

best, and perhaps the only judge now living. As for the opera itself, it was all composed, and was just ready to have been performed, when he, in honour of whom it was principally made, was taken from us.

He had been pleased twice or thrice to command that it should be practised before him, especially the first and third acts of it; and publicly declared, more than once, that the composition and choruses were more just and more beautiful than any he had heard


in England.

How nice an ear he had in music is sufficiently known; his praise therefore has established the reputation of it above censure, and made it in manner sacred. 'Tis therefore humbly and religiously dedicated to his memory.

5 It might reasonably have been expected that his death must have changed the whole fabric of the opera, or at least a great part of it. But the design of it originally was so happy, that it needed no alteration, properly so called; for the addition of twenty or thirty lines in the 10 apotheosis of Albion has made it entirely of a piece. This was the only way which could have been invented to save it from botched ending; and it fell luckily into my imagination; as if there were a kind of fatality even in the most trivial things concerning the succes- 15 sion : a change was made, and not for the worse, without the least confusion or disturbance; and those very causes, which seemed to threaten us with troubles, conspired to produce our lasting happiness.

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