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fections are raised higher by you in the softer sex ; as if men were of too coarse a mould for heaven to work on, and that the image of Divinity could not be cast to likeness in so harsh a metal. Your person is so admirable, that it can scarce receive addition when it shall be glorified; and your soul, which shines through it finds it of a substance so near her own, that she will be pleased to pass an age within it, and to be confined to such a palace.
I know not how I am hurried back to my former theme. I ought and purposed to have celebrated those endowments and qualities of your mind which were sufficient, even without the graces of the person, to render you, as you are, the ornament of the court, and the object of wonder to three kingdoms. But all my praises are but as a bull-rush cast upon a stream; if they sink not, it is because they are borne up by the strength of the current, which supports their lightness ; but they are carried round again, and return on the eddy where they first began. I can proceed no farther than your beauty ; and even on that too I have said so little, considering the greatness of the subject, that, like him who would lodge a bowl upon a precipice, either my praise falls back by the weakness of the delivery, or stays not on the top, but rolls over, and is lost on the other side. I intended this a Dedication ; but how can I consider what belongs to myself, when I have been so long contemplating on you ! Be pleased
then, Madam, to receive this POEM, without intituling so much excellency as yours, to the faults and imperfections of so mean a writer ; and instead of being favourable to the piece, which merits nothing, forgive the presumption of the Author ; who is, with all possible veneration,
Your Royal Highness's
Most devoted servant,
THE AUTHOR'S APOLOGY FOR HEROICK POETRY,
AND POETICK LICENCE.
To satisfy the curiosity of those who will give themselves the trouble of reading the ensuing Poem, I think myself obliged to render them a reason why I publish an Opera which was never acted. In the first place, I shall not be ashamed to own, that my chiefest motive was the ambition which I acknowledged in the Epistle. I was desirous to lay at the feet of so beautiful and excellent a
5 THE STATE OF INNOCENCE, which our author calls an Opera, was first printed in 1674, and must have been published late in the year, or more probably early in 1674-5; for Milton, who is spoken of as dead, died on Sunday, November 8, 1674.-Though termed by Dryden an Opera, it is rather, as Dr. Johnson has remarked, “ a tragedy in heroick rhyme, but of which the personages are such as cannot be decently exhibited on the stage."
Princess, a work which, I confess, was unworthy her ; but which I hope she will have the goodness to forgive. I was also induced to it in my own defence, many hundred copies of it being dispersed abroadó without my knowledge or consent ; so that every one gathering new faults, it became at length a libel against me; and I saw, with some disdain, more nonsense than either I, or as bad a poet, could have crammed into it at a month's warning, in which time it was wholly written, and not since revised. After this I cannot, without injury to the deceased author of PARADISE Lost, but acknowledge, that this poem has received its entire foundation, part of the design, and many of
6 « This Preface,” says Dr. Johnson, “ contains an Apology for Heroick Verse and Poetick Licence ; by which is meant not any liberty taken in contracting or extending words, but the use of both fictions and ambitious figures.
“ The reason which he gives for printing what was never acted, cannot be overpassed : “I was induced to it in my own defence, many hundred copies of it being dispersed abroad without my knowledge or consent; and every one gathering new faults, it became at length a libel against me.” These copies, as they gathered faults, were apparently manuscript; and he lived in an age very unlike ours, if many hundred copies of fourteen hundred lines were likely to be transcribed. An author has a right to print his own works, and needs not seek an apology in falsehood; but he that could bear to write the Dedication, felt no pain in writing the Preface.” Life of DRYDEN.