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no need of History, Geography, or Moral Philosophy, to write correctly. Judgment is indeed the masterworkman in a play; but he requires many subordinate hands, many tools to his assistance. And verse I affirm to be one of these; 'tis a rule and line by which he 5 keeps his building compact and even, which otherwise lawless imagination would raise either irregularly or loosely. At least, if the poet commits errors with this help, he would make greater and more without it: 'tis, in short, a slow and painful, but the surest kind of 10 working. Ovid, whom you accuse for luxuriancy in verse, had perhaps been farther guilty of it, had he writ in prose. And for your instance of Ben Johnson, who, you say, writ exactly without the help of rhyme; you are to remember, 'tis only an aid to a luxuriant fancy, 15 which his was not: as he did not want imagination, so none ever said he had much to spare. Neither was verse then refined so much to be an help to that age, as it is to ours. Thus then the second thoughts being usually the best, as receiving the maturest digestion from 20 judgment, and the last and most mature product of those thoughts being artful and laboured verse, it may well be inferred, that verse is a great help to a luxuriant fancy; and this is what that argument which you opposed was to evince.'

Neander was pursuing this discourse so eagerly, that Eugenius had called to him twice or thrice, ere he took notice that the barge stood still, and that they were at the foot of Somerset Stairs, where they had appointed it to land. The company were all sorry to separate so 30 soon, though a great part of the evening was already spent; and stood a-while looking back on the water, which the moon-beams played upon", and made it appear like floating quick-silver: at last they went up

upon which the moon-beams played, BC.

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through a crowd of French people, who were merrily dancing in the open air, and nothing concerned for the noise of guns which had alarmed the town that afternoon. Walking thence together to the Piazze, they 5 parted there; Eugenius and Lisideius to some pleasant appointment they had made, and Crites and Neander to their several lodgings.

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PROLOGUE

SECRET LOVE, OR, THE MAIDEN QUEEN

(1668)

1.

He who writ this, not without pains and thought,
From French and English theatres has brought
Th' exactest rules, by which a play is wrought.

II.

The Unities of Action, Place, and Time;
The scenes unbroken; and a mingled chime
Of Johnson's humour, with Corneille's rhyme.

5

III.

But while dead colours he with care did lay,
He fears his wit, or plot, he did not weigh,
Which are the living beauties of a play.

IV.

IO

Plays are like towns, which howe'er fortified
By engineers, have still some weaker side,
By the o'erseen defendant unespied.

V.

And with that art you make approaches now,
Such skilful fury in assaults you show,
That every poet without shame may bow.

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VI.

Ours, therefore, humbly would attend your doom,
If, soldier-like, he may have terms to come,
With flying colours, and with beat of drum.

A DEFENCE

OF AN

ESSAY OF DRAMATIC POESY

BEING AN ANSWER TO THE PREFACE OF 'THE GREAT

FAVOURITE, OR, THE DUKE OF LERMA’

(Prefixed to the Second Edition of the Indian

Emperor, 1668.)

The 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 5 necessary, yet by that little I have done, the press is

freed from some gross errors 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. 'Tis enough for those 10 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, 15 The Great Favourite, or the Duke of Lerma; the author

of which, a noble and most ingenious person, has done

me the favour to make some observations and animadversions upon my Dramatic Essay. I must confess he might have better consulted his reputation, than by matching himself with so weak an adversary. his honour be diminished in the choice of his antago- 5 nist, it is sufficiently recompensed in the election of his cause: which being the weaker, in all appearance, as combating the received opinions of the best ancient and modern authors, will add to his glory, if he overcome, and to the opinion of his generosity, if he be van- 10 quished, since he engages at so great odds, and, so like a cavalier, undertakes the protection of the weaker party. I have only to fear, on my own behalf, that so good a cause as mine may not suffer by my ill

management, or weak defence; yet I cannot in honour but take 15 the glove when 'tis offered me; though I am only a champion by succession, and no more able to defend the right of Aristotle and Horace, than an infant Dimock to maintain the title of a king.

For my own concernment in the controversy, it is so 20 small, that I can easily be contented to be driven from a few notions of Dramatic Poesy; especially by one, who has the reputation of understanding all things : and I might justly make that excuse for my yielding to him, which the philosopher made to the Emperor; why 25 should I offer to contend with him, who is master of more than twenty legions of arts and sciences ? But I am forced to fight, and therefore it will be no shame to be overcome.

Yet I am so much his servant, as not to meddle with 30 anything which does not concern me in his Preface: therefore I leave the good sense and other excellencies of the first twenty lines, to be considered by the critics. As for the play of The Duke of Lerma, having so much altered and beautified it as he has done, it can justly 35

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