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Poem by Francis Beaumont
To My Friend Mr. John Fletcher, upon His Faithful Sheperdess
I know too well, that, no more than the man, That travels through the burning desarts, can, When he is beaten with the raging sun, Half-smother'd with the dust, have power to run From a cool river, which himself doth find, Ere he be slaked; no more can he, whose mind Joys in the Muses hold from that delight, When Nature and his full thoughts bid him write. Yet wish I those, whom I for friends have known, To sing their thoughts to no ears but their own. Why should the man, whose wit ne'er had a stain, Upon the public stage present his vein, And make a thousand men in judgment sit, To call in question his undoubted wit, Scarce two of which can understand the laws Which they should judge by, nor the, party's cause? Among the rout, there is not one that hath In his own censure an explicit faith; One company, knowing they judgment lack, Ground their belief onthe next man in black; Others, on him that makes signs, and is mute; Some like, as he does in the fairest suit; He, as his mistress doth; and she, by chance; Nor want there those, who, as the boy doth dance Between the acts, will censure the whole play; Some like if the wax-lights be new that day; But multitudes there are, whose judgment goes Headlong according to the actors' clothes. For this, these public things and I agree So ill, that, but to do a right to thee, I had not been persuaded to have hurl'd These few ill-spoken lines into the world; Both to be read and censured of by those Whose very reading makes verse senseless prose; Such as must spend above an hour to spell A challenge on a post, to know it well. But since it was thy hap to throw away Much wit, for which the people did not pay, Because they saw it not, I not dislike This second publication, which may strike Their conisciences, to see the thing they scorn'd, To he with so much wit and art adorn'd. Besides, one 'vantage more in this I see, Your censurers must have the quality Of reading, which I am afraid is more Than half your shrewdest judges had before.
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