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Sunning Wells Sunday morn
   My vanity has been exceedingly flatter'd, by hearing, that a small performance of mine in the Critical way has met with your approbation. whatever [\share/] of that approbation I must attribute to partiality, tho' the Author dare not be vain [\WORD DELETED\] the Daughter feels a still higher pleasure from it. The only abatement of my pleasure on this occasion is, least you should imagine my not having communicated this affair [\WORDS INTO has some air or\] appearance of disrepect; & as you both encouraged & cultivated those little talents Nature bestowed on me, I should appear ungratefull as well as undutiful if you look'd upon my reserve in that light. I will therefore take the liberty to explain some of my reasons for the secresy with which I acted on this occasion.
In the first place, there is [\in/] general, a prejudice against female Authors [\especialy/] if they invade those regions of litterature which the Men are desirous to reserve to themselves. While I was young, I should not have liked to have been class'd among Authors, but at my age it is less unbecoming. If an old Woman does not bewitch her Neighbors Cows, nor make any girl in the Parish spit crooked pins, the World has no reason to take offence at her amusing herself with [\reading/] books or [\even/] writing them. However some circumstances in this particular case advise secresy. M=r= Pope our great Poet, the Bishop of Gloucester our Great Critick, & D=r= Johnson our great Scholar, having already given their criticism upon Shakespear, there was a degree of presumption in pretending to [\WORDS INTO meddle with a\] [\subject/] they had already
[\WORD INTO treated\] Sure to incur their envy if I [\WORDS INTO succeded\]
[\tolerably well,/] their contempt if I did not. Then for a weak & unknown Champion to throw down the gauntlett of defiance in the very teeth
of Voltaire appear'd too daring. The french & Italians are fond of books of Criticism, but they are not too much to the taste of the English. At present too the desire of most Readers is to be amused with something perfectly gay & superficial. I was obliged to enter seriously into the nature of the Dramatick purposes, & the character of the best dramatick writings, & by sometimes differing from the Code of the great Legislator in Poeticks, Aristotle, I was afraid the Learned would reject my opinions, the unlearned yawn over my pages, so that I was very doubtfull of the general success of my work. The booksellers who hate an Author should print for himself, would hardly advertise my book. The Adventures of M: Macflurtey & the life of Miss Eliza Musgrove were advertised long before they appear'd in every paper. It [is CORRECTED INTO was] with great difficulty I got my Essay advertised the day before it was publishd, & in spite of all my pains it hardly appeard in the papers till ye week after y=e= Kings
birthday when the Town was empty, so that all these disadvantages considerd, I could not flatter myself this little work w=d= succeed so well as it has done: if it remain'd in obscurity as appear_d to me too probable, it w=d= only have been a mortification to my Friends & tho not being absurd it could not disgrace, being neglected, it could not do me honour, therefore I communicated the affair only to three or four Persons conversant in Critical learning, who I thought it necessary to consult before I ventured to publish, as it is unsafe to trust ones own judgment as to the merit of ones own composition. The Critical Reviewers & other Monthly Writers have done [\much/] more than justice to my little work, & it is now printing at Dublin, to y=e= increase of its fame but to y=e= prejudice of my profit as an Author. I must tell you, my confidantes in this affair kept y=e= secret very faithfully, & diverse Persons were named as y=e= Author of the Essay, & all such as did honour to it, but some persons who were
acquainted with my manner of expression or style, if so careless a Writer may be said to have a style, guess'd at me; great enquiries were made of y=e= Booksellers, who said they knew not the Author: all they knew was, great pains had been taken to conceal [\him/] . The Printer at last unluckily own=d= that M=r= Stillingfleet corrected the Press, & as he is an intimate friend of mine this circumstance has in some degree betray_d ye secret. I shall not own the work, nor would have any of my friends own it is mine, but leave people to think as they please: I am content to be a demirep in litterature, but cannot have the effronterie to go further. Voltaire is very malicious as well as very witty, I care little for his censure of the Work, but w=d= not have him abuse y=e= Author. If he provokes me, I will take my revenge upon his Dramatical works. I have thought myself very fortunate that the pert News writers have not sneered at the Lady Critick. If this work lives to a second edition, I hope to present it to you improved
for it is very ill printed, & with many blunders. I do not affect to apologize for any faults in the writing by saying it was done carelessly or in haste, for indeed I took a great deal of pains about it, especialy to make it short, as people are apt to complain of ye dullness & dryness of Criticism. My Vacant hours were agreably fill'd by this occupation, & whenever I have health & leisure I shall employ it in composition of some sort or another. If I had lived in the same age with Pope, Addison, & Swift, & some others of that time, I should never have brandish_d my grey goose quill, but in our times a middling writer may expect a share of fame, which is now rather divided in small parcels amongst many, than engrossed by any superlative genius's. I ask pardon for saying so much of my little self, & my little book, but wish'd much to have an opportunity of explaining to you the reasons why I was so reserved on the subject. M=r= Montagu came here & stay'd a week, he left me on Friday. I had
a slight return of ye disorder I complaind of in the Spring, but had not any fainting fit or fever. I was ill for about an hour, & turn'd yellow as before, tho in a less degree, but my appetite & spirits are better, & the waters agree well with me. I was very glad to hear from my Brother Morris that you are got well again. M=rs= Carter desires her best respects.
   I am Dear Sir
   Your most affect=te= and
   most Dutiful Daughter
   E Montagu
   As the jubilee has awakend y=e= love of y=e= publick to Shakespear I have written a note to Dodsley from the Author of y=e= Essay to desire it may be advertized again. I shall be much obliged to M=rs= Hawking if she will put [\it/] into ye penny post. y=e= farther from Hillstreet it is put in y=e= better, for I w=d= not have Master Dodsley smell out ye Author. I did not care to trust my porter with y=e= note to Dodsley. Since I wrote this postscript I have hit on a surer way to have my work advertized than by sending to Dodsley who perhaps might neglect