Incognita (Congreve)/Preface to Katharine Leveson

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Cleophil (William Congreve)
Preface to Katharine Leveson
201180Incognita — Preface to Katharine LevesonCleophil (William Congreve)

Honoured and Worthily Esteem’d
Mrs. Katharine Leveson.


A Clear Wit, sound Judgment and a Merciful Disposition, are things so rarely united, that it is almost inexcusable to entertain them with any thing less excellent in its kind. My knowledge of you were a sufficient Caution to me, to avoid your Censure of this Trifle, had I not as intire a knowledge of your Goodness. Since I have drawn my Pen for a Rencounter, I think it better to engage where, though there be Skill enough to Disarm me, there is too much Generosity to Wound; for so shall I have the saving Reputation of an unsuccessful Courage, if I cannot make it a drawn Battle. But methinks the Comparison intimates something of a Defiance, and savours of Arrogance; wherefore since I am Conscious to my self of a Fear which I cannot put off, let me use the Policy of Cowards and lay this Novel unarm’d, naked and shivering at your Feet, so that if it should want Merit to challenge Protection, yet, as an Object of Charity, it may move Compassion. It has been some Diversion to me to Write it, I wish it may prove such to you when you have an hour to throw away in Reading of it: but this Satisfaction I have at least beforehand, that in its greatest failings it may fly for Pardon to that Indulgence which you owe to the weakness of your Friend; a Title which I am proud you have thought me worthy of, and which I think can alone be superior to that

Your most Humble and
Obliged Servant