To My Friend Mr. John Fletcher, Upon His Faithful Sheperdess - Poem by Francis Beaumont
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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