Clo. And to thee, All thy Masters love be free. [Exeunt.
To my Friend Master JOHN FLETCHER upon his Faithfull Shepherdess.
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 smothered in the dust, have power to run
From a cool River, which himself doth find,
E’re he be slacked; no more can he whose mind
Joyes 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’r had a stain,
Upon the publick 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 parties cause?
Among the rout there is not one that hath
In his own censure an explicite faith;
One company knowing they judgement lack,
Ground their belief on the next man in black:
Others, on him that makes signs, and is mute,
Some like as he does in the fairest sute,
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 if the Wax-lights be not new that day;
But multitudes there are whose judgement goes
Headlong according to the Actors cloathes.
For this, these publick things and I, agree
So ill, that but to do a right for thee,
I had not been perswaded to have hurl’d
These few, ill spoken lines, into the world,
Both to be read, and censur’d of, by those,
Whose very reading makes Verse senseless Prose:
Such as must spend above an hour, to spell
A Challenge on a Past, 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 consciences, to see the thing they scorn’d,
To be with so much wit and Art adorned.
Besides one vantage more in this I see,
Tour censurers now must have the qualitie
Of reading, which I am afraid is more
Than half your shrewdest Judges had before.
To the worthy Author M’r. Jo. FLETCHER.
The wise, and many headed Bench, that sits Upon the Life, and Death of Playes, and Wits, (Composed of Gamester, Captain, Knight, Knight’s man, Lady, or Pusill, that wears mask or fan, Velvet, or Taffata cap, rank’d in the dark With the shops Foreman, or some such brave spark, That may judge for his six-pence_) had, before They saw it half, damn’d thy whole Play, and more, Their motives were, since it had not to doe With vices, which they look’d for, and came to.