To My Dear Friend M. Ben Jonson, on His Fox
If it might stand with justice to allow The swift conversion of all follies; now, Such is my mercy, that I could admit All sorts should equally approve the wit Of this thy even work, whose growing fame Shall raise thee high, and thou it, with thy name. And did not manners and my love command Me to forbear to make those understand, Whom thou, perhaps, hast in thy wiser doom Long since firmly resolved, shall never come To know more than they do; I would have shewn To all the world, the art, which thou alone Hast taught our tongue, the rules of time, of place, And other rites, delivered, with the grace Of comic style, which, only, is far more Than any English stage hath known before. But, since our subtle gallants think it good To like of nought, that may be understood, Lest they should he disproved; or have, at best, Stomachs so raw, that nothing can digest But what's obscene, or barks: let us desire They may continue, simply, to admire Fine clothes, and strange words; and may live, in age, To see themselves ill brought upon the stage, And like it: whilst thy bold and knowing muse Contemns all praise, but such as thou wouldst choose.
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