To My Dear Friend M. Ben Jonson, On His Fox - Poem by Francis Beaumont
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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