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pleased to abbreviate, or endure to hear their reasons reduced into one strict definition, it must be, that there are degrees in impossibilities, and that many things which are not possible, may yet be more or less impossible; and from this proceed to give rules to observe the least absurdity in things which are not at all.

I suppose I need not trouble the reader with so impertinent a delay to attempt a farther confutation of such ill-grounded reasons, than thus by opening the true state of the case; nor do I design to make any farther use of it, than from hence to draw this modest conclusion ;—that I would have all attempts of this nature be submitted to the fancy of others, and bear the name of propositions, not of confident laws, or rules made by demonstration ; and then I shall not discommend any poet that dresses his play in such a fashion as his fancy best approves; and fairly leave it for others to follow, if it appears to them most convenient, and fullest of ornament.

But writing this Epistle in so much haste, I had almost forgot one argument or observation, which that author has most good fortune in ;- it is in his Epistle Dedicatory, before his Essay OF DRAMATICK Poesy, where, speaking of rhyme in plays, he desires it may be observed, that none are violent against it, but such as have not attempted it, or who have succeeded ill in the attempt; which, as to myself and him, I easily acknowledge: for I confess none has written in that way better than

himself, nor few worse than I. Yet, I hope, he is so ingenuous, that he would not wish this argument should extend further than to him and me: for if it should be received as a good one, all divines and philosophers would find a readier way of confutation than they yet have done, of any that should oppose the least thesis or definition, by saying, they were denied by none but such as never attempted to write, or succeeded ill in the attempt. .

Thus, as I am one that am extremely well pleased with most of the propositions, which are ingeniously laid down in that Essay for regulating the stage, so I am also always concerned for the true honour of reason, and would have no spurious issue fathered upon her. Fancy may be allowed her wantonness; but reason is always pure and chaste : and as it resembles the sun in making all things clear, it also resembles it in its several positions; when it shines in full height, and directly ascendant over any subject, it leaves but little shadow ; but when descended and grown low, its oblique shining renders the shadow larger than the substance, and gives the deceived person a wrong measure of his own proportion.

Thus, begging the Reader's excuse for this seeming impertinency, I submit what I have written to the liberty of his unconfined opinion, which is all the favour I ask of others to afford to me.

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OF DRAMATICK POESY,

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SIR ROBERT HOWARD'S PREFACE OF THE GREAT

FAVOURITE, OR THE DUKE OF LERMA."

I HE former edition of The INDIAN EMPEROR being full of faults, which had escaped the printer, I have been willing to overlook this second with more care ; and though I could not allow myself so much time as was necessary, yet, by that little I have done, the press is freed from some errors

* Our author married, probably about the year 1664, Lady Elizabeth Howard, sister of Sir Robert Howard, knt. and daughter of Thomas, the first Earl of Berkshire. In 1660, he had addressed some complimentary verses to Sir Robert, which were prefixed to his Poems, published in 8vo. in that year. In 1666 they appear to have been on good terms; Dryden having then addressed to him an encomiastick Epistle in prose, which is dated from Charleton, in Wiltshire, (the seat of the Earl of Berkshire,) and which it had to answer for before. As for the more material faults of writing, which are properly mine, though I see many of them, I want leisure to amend them. It is enough for those who make one poem the business of their lives, to leave that correct : yet, excepting Virgil, I never met with any which was so in any language.

But while I was thus employed about this impression, there came to my hands a new printed play, called, The GREAT FAVOURITE, OR THE

was prefixed to his ANNUS MIRABILIS, published in 8vo. in 1667, by Sir Robert Howard, who revised the sheets at the press, for the author, who was then in the country; and in the EPIstle he describes him as one whom he knew—not to be of the number of those, qui carpere amicos suos judicium vocant. In the ESSAY ON DRAMATICK Poesy, as we have already seen, he speaks of Sir Robert Howard with great respect. That gentleman, however, having in 1668 published the foregoing reflections on the Essay, our author retorted in the following observations, which are found prefixed to the second edition of The INDIAN EMPEROR, published in the same year. In many copies, however, of that edition, they are wanting ; nor were they reprinted in any other edition of that play which appeared in the life-time of the author: so that it should seem he was induced by good nature, or the interposition of friends, to suppress this witty and severe replication. One of the lampoons of the time gives a more invidious turn to this suppression; and insinuates that he was compelled to retract. They lived afterwards probably in good correspondence together ; at least, it appears from an original letter of our author now before me, that towards the close of his life they were on friendly terms.

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