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Incognita; or, Love and Duty Reconcil'd by William Congreve
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by 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