Being convinc'd that nothing has gone farther in Debauching the Age than the Stage Poets, and Play-House, I thought I could not employ my time better than in writing against them. These Men sure, take Vertue and Regularity, for great Enemies, why else is their Disaffection so very Remarkable? It must be said, They have made their Attack with great Courage, and gain'd no inconsiderable Advantage. But it seems Lewdness without Atheism, is but half their Business. Conscience might possibly recover, and Revenge be thought on; and therefore like Foot-Pads, they must not only Rob, but Murther. To do them right their Measures are Politickly taken: To make sure work on't, there's nothing like Destroying of Principles; Practise must follow of Course. For to have no good Principles, is to have no Reason to be Good. Now 'tis not to be expected that people should check their Appetites, and balk their Satisfactions, they don't know why. If Virtue has no Prospect, 'tis not worth the owning. Who would be troubled with Conscience if 'tis only a Bugbear, and has nothing in't but Vision, and the Spleen?
My Collection from the English Stage, is much short of what They are able to furnish. An Inventory of their Ware-House would have been a large Work: But being afraid of over charging the Reader, I thought a Pattern might do.
In Translating the Fathers, I have endeavour'd to keep close to their Meaning: However, in some few places, I have taken the Liberty of throwing in a Word or two; To clear the Sense, to preserve the Spirit of the Original, and keep the English upon its Legs.
There's one thing more to acquaint the Reader with; 'Tis that I have Ventured to change the Terms of Mistress and Lover, for others somewhat more Plain, but much more Proper. I don't look upon This as any failure in Civility. As Good and Evil are different in Themselves, so they ought to be differently Mark'd. To confound them in Speech, is the way to confound them in Practise. Ill Qualities ought to have ill Names, to prevent their being Catching. Indeed Things are in a great measure Govern'd by Words: To Guild over a foul Character, serves only to perplex the Idea, to encourage the Bad, and mislead the Unwary. To treat Honour, and Infamy alike, is an injury to Virtue, and a sort of Levelling in Morality. I confess, I have no Ceremony for Debauchery. For to Compliment Vice, is but one Remove from worshipping the Devil.
March 5th. 169
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