In Truants And Rebels from "Preface To Poetry"

Dryden gives a reasoned statement of his objections to writers like Settle in Notes and Observations on the Empress of Morocco (1674).

'Some who are pleased with the bare sound of verse, or the rumbling of robustious nonsense, will be apt to think Mr. Settle too severely handled in this pamphlet.... I am not ignorant that his admirers, who most commonly are women, will resent this very ill; and some little friends of his, who are smatterers in poetry, will be ready for most of his .gross errors to use that mistaken plea of poetica licentia, which words fools are apt to use for the palliating the most absurd nonsense in any poem. I cannot find when poets had liberty, from any authority, to write nonsense, more than any other men. Nor is that plea of poetica licentia used as a subterfuge by any but weak professors of that art, who are commonly given over to a mist of fancy, a buzzing of invention, and a sound of something like sense, and have no use of judgment. They never think thoroughly, but the best of their thoughts are like those we have in dreams, imperfect; which though perhaps we are often pleased with sleeping, we blush at waking.... Men that are given over to fancy only, are little better than madmen. . . . Their heads are continually hot, and they have the same elevation of fancy sober, which men of sense have when they drink' (Works, ed. Sir Walter Scott, xv. 409 f.).

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