I deny not, but there are some who resolve to like nothing, and such, perhaps, are not unwise; since, by that general resolution, they may be certainly in the right sometimes: which, perhaps, they would seldom be, if they should venture their understandings in different censures; and, being forced to a general liking or disliking (lest they should discover too much their own weakness), ’tis to be expected they would rather choose to pretend to Judgement than Good Nature, though I wish they could find better ways to shew either.
But I forget myself; not considering that while I entertain the Reader, in the entrance, with what a good play should be: when he is come beyond the entrance, he must be treated with what ill plays are. But in this, I resemble the greatest part of the World, that better know how to talk of many things, than to perform them; and live short of their own discourses.
And now, I seem like an eager hunter, that has long pursued a chase after an inconsiderable quarry; and gives over, weary; as I do.
 p. 537
OF DRAMATIC POESY, AN ESSAY.
By JOHN DRYDEN Esq.;
Fungar vice cotis, acutum
Reddere quae ferrum valet, exors ipsa secandi.
Horat. De Arte Poet.
To the Right Honourable CHARLES LORD BUCKHURST.
As I was lately reviewing my loose papers, amongst the rest I found this Essay, the writing of which, in this rude and indigested manner wherein your Lordship now sees it, served as an amusement to me in the country [in 1665], when the violence of the last Plague had driven me from the town. Seeing, then, our theatres shut up; I was engaged in these kind[s] of thoughts with the same delight with which men think upon their absent mistresses.
I confess I find many things in this Discourse, which I do not now approve; my judgement being a little altered since the writing of it: but whether for the better or worse, I know not. Neither indeed is it much material in an_ Essay, where all I have said is problematical.
For the way of writing Plays in Verse, which I have seemed to favour [p. 561]; I have, since that time, laid the practice of it aside till I have more leisure, because I find it troublesome and slow. But I am no way altered from my opinion of it, at least, with any reasons which have opposed it. For your Lordship may easily observe that none are very violent against it; but those who either have not attempted it, or who have succeeded ill in their attempt. ’Tis enough for me, to have your Lordship’s example for my excuse in that little which I have done in it: and I am sure my adversaries can bring no such arguments against Verse, as the Fourth Act of_ POMPEY will furnish me with in its defence.