1757 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Randolph

Henry Dell, Advertisement to The Mirrour. A Comedy (1757) i-ii.



MR. THOMAS RANDOLPH (from whose Muses Looking-glass the following Scenes are taken) was born at Houghton in Northamptonshire in 1605, received the first Part of his Education at Westminster-School, and finished it at the University of Cambridge, being a Fellow of Trinity-College. His Genius to Poetry appeared even when a Child, and he soon grew into such Reputation for Wit, that Ben Johnson adopted him one of his Sons. His rising Genius promised great Things; but being an excellent Companion, and indulging himself too much with those who sought and delighted in his Company, he was too early cut off, dying in 1634, in the 29th Year of his Age.

An Edition of his Works, which was the Fifth and the last that was published, was printed in 1664, containing, besides the Muses Looking-glass, several excellent Poems, with Amyntas, or the Impossible Dowry, a Pastoral; Aristippus, or the Jovial Philosopher, to which is added, a small Piece called The conceited Pedlar, from which Mr. Dodsley took the Hint of his Toy-shop; the last is the Jealous Lovers, a Comedy of great Merit, and worthy (as indeed are all his Writings) the Notice of the present Age.

The above is what I have collected concerning the Author's Life; what remains is, to give the Reader an Account of the following Alteration.

When I first read the Muses Looking-glass, the Wit and fine Sense it contained, gave me great Delight; I imagined such excellent Scenes would shew to great Advantage on the Stage, but observing the Difficulty that would attend it in its present Situation, I resolved to throw aside, to the best of my Power, every Incumbrance in order to render it as pleasing and entertaining as possible. This I have done, but in regard to the Execution, that I leave to the discerning Eyes of our modern Critics.

But perhaps it may be asked, why I did not endeavour to get it on the Stage? to this I can only answer, that being a Person little acquainted with the Way, nor caring for the Trouble of dancing Attendance required in such Cases, I thought, if it was worthy, the Manager would, when it was printed, be the best Judges. To them therefore I resign the Mirrour, which if they think has so much Merit as to deserve being represented, they have my free Consent to act it in what Manner and whenever they please.