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OF

DRAMATICK POESY,

AN ESSAY:

FIRST PRINTED IN QUARTO, IN 1668.

TUNGAR VICE COTIS, ACUTUM,
REDDERE QUA FERRUM VALET, EXSORS IPSA SECANDI.

HOR.

VOL. I.

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PROLEGOMENA.

EPISTLE DEDICATORY

TO THE

RIVAL LADIES.

TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
ROGER, EARL OF ORRERY.'

MY LORD,

This worthless present was designed you, long before it was a Play, when it was only a confused mass of thoughts, tumblingover one another in the dark; when the Fancy was yet in its first work, moving the sleeping images of things towards the light, there to be distinguished, and then either

Roger Boyle, Earl of Orrery, fifth son of the great Earl of Cork, was born April 25, 1621; and died on the 16th of October, 1679. He is author of eight plays, seven of which were collected and published in two volumes, 8vo. in 1739.

The present Dedication was addressed to him in the year 1664, when the Rival LADIES, which was Dryden's second play, was first printed.

In the last paragraph of the DEFENCE or THE ESSAY ON DRAMATICK Poesy, the reader will find the reason of this, and the following piece, being placed here.

chosen or rejected by the judgment : it was yours, my Lord, before I could call it mine. And, I confess, in that first tumult of my thoughts, there appeared a disorderly kind of beauty in some of them, which gave me hope, something worthy my Lord of ORRERY might be drawn from them: but I was then in that eagerness of imagination, which by over-pleasing fanciful men, flatters them into the danger of writing ; so that when I had moulded it to that shape it now bears, I looked with such disgust upon it, that the censures of our severest criticks are charitable to what I thought, and still think, of it myself. 'Tis so far from me to believe this perfect, that I am apt to conclude our best plays are scarcely so; for the stage being the representation of the world, and the actions in it, how can it be imagined, that the picture of human life can be more exact, than life itself is? He may be allowed sometimes to err, who undertakes to move so many characters and humours as are requisite in a play, in those narrow channels which are proper to each of them : to conduct his imaginary persons through so many various intrigues and chances, as the labouring audience shall think them lost under every billow; and then at length to work them so naturally out of their distresses, that when the whole plot is laid open, the spectators may rest satisfied, that every cause was powerful enough to produce the effect it had ; and that the whole chain of them was with such due order linked together, that the first accident would naturally

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beget the second, till they all rendered the conclusion necessary.

These difficulties, my Lord, may reasonably excuse the errors of my undertaking; but for this confidence of my Dedication, I have an argument which is too advantageous for me not to publish it to the world : 'tis the kindness your Lordship has continually shown to all my writings. You have been pleased, my Lord, they should sometimes cross the Irish seas, to kiss your hands ; which passage (contrary to the experience of others) I have found the least dangerous in the world. Your fayour has shone upon me at a remote distance, without the least knowledge of my person ; and, like the influence of the heavenly bodies, you have done good, without knowing to whom you did it. 'Tis this virtue in your Lordship, which emboldens me to this attempt: for did I not consider you as my patron, I have little reason to desire you for my judge; and should appear with as much awe before you in the reading, as I had when the full theatre sat upon the action. For who could so severely judge of faults as he, who has given testimony he commits none; your excellent poems having afforded that knowledge of it to the world, that your enemies are ready to upbraid you with it, as a crime for a man of business to write so well. Neither durst I have justified your Lordship in it, if examples of it had no the world before you; if Xenophon had not written a romance, and a certain Roman, called Augustus

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