Bad as he is, the Devil may be abus’d,
Be falsly charg’d, and causelesly accus’d,
When Men, unwilling to be blam’d alone,
Shift off these Crimes on Him which are their Own.
This Second Edition of this Work, notwithstanding a large Impression of the First, is a Certificate from the World of its general Acceptation; so we need not, according to the Custom of Editors, boast of it without Evidence, or tell a F——b in its Favour.
The Subject is singular, and it has been handled after a singular Manner: The wise World has been pleased with it, the merry World has been diverted with it, and the ignorant World has been taught by it; none but the malicious part of the World has been offended at it: Who can wonder, that when the Devil is not pleased, his Friends should be angry?
The strangest thing of it all is, to hear Satan complain that the Story is handled prophanely: But who can think it strange that his Advocates should be, what he was from the Beginning?
The Author affirms, and has good Vouchers for it (in the Opinion of such whose Judgment passes with him for an Authority) that the whole Tenor of the Work is solemn, calculated to promote serious Religion, and capable of being improv’d in a religious manner. But he does not think that we are bound never to speak of the Devil but with an Air of Terror, as if we were always afraid of him.
’Tis evident the Devil, as subtle and as frightful as he is, has acted the ridiculous and foolish Part, as much as most of God’s Creatures, and daily does so. And he cannot believe ’tis any Sin to expose him for a foolish Devil, as he is, or shew the World that he may be laugh’d at.
Those that think the Subject not handled with Gravity enough, have all the Room given them in the World to handle it better; and as the Author professes he is far from thinking his Piece perfect, they ought not to be angry that he gives them leave to mend it. He has had the Satisfaction to please some Readers, and to see good Men approve it; and for the rest, as my Lord Rochester says in another Case,
He counts their Censure Fame.
As for a certain Reverend Gentleman, who is pleased gravely to dislike the Work (he hopes, rather for the Author’s sake than the Devil’s) he only says, Let the Performance be how it will, and the Author what he will, it is apparent he has not yet preach’d away all his Hearers.
It is enough to me (says the Author) that the Devil himself is not pleased with my Work, and less with the Design of it; let the Devil and all his fellow Complainers stand on one side, and the honest, well meaning, charitable World, who approve my Work, on the other, and I’ll tell Noses with Satan, if he dares.