Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: A Mirror for Magistrates
  • Editors: Rosemary Gaby, Andrew Griffin

  • Copyright Queen's Men Editions. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Authors: William Baldwin, John Higgins
    Editors: Rosemary Gaby, Andrew Griffin
    Not Peer Reviewed

    A Mirror for Magistrates


    1I pray thee Baldwin since thou dost intend
    To show the fall of such as climb too high,
    Remember me, whose miserable end
    May teach a man his vicious life to fly.
    5Oh Fortune, Fortune, out on her I cry,
    My body and fame she hath made lean and slender
    For I poor wretch am starved Owen Glendower.
    A Welshman born, and of a gentle blood,
    But ill brought up, whereby full well I find,
    10That neither birth nor lineage make us good
    Though it be true that cat will after kind,
    Flesh gendreth flesh, so doeth not soul or mind,
    They gender not, but foully do degender,
    When men to vice from virtue them do surrender.
    15Each thing by nature tendeth to the same
    Whereof it came, and is disposed like:
    Down sinks the mold, up mounts the fiery flame,
    With horn the hart, with hoof the horse doth strike,
    The wolf doth spoil, the subtle fox doth pike,
    20And generally no fish, flesh, fowl, or plant
    Doth any property that their dame had, want.
    But as for men, since severally they have
    A mind whose manners are by learning made,
    Good bringing up alonely doth them save
    25In virtuous deeds, which with their parents fade.
    So that true gentry standeth in the trade
    Of virtuous life, not in the fleshly line:
    For blood is brute, but gentry is divine.
    Experience doth cause me thus to say,
    30And that the rather for my countrymen,
    Which vaunt and boast their selves above the day
    If they may strain their stock for worthy men,
    Which let be true, are they the better then?
    Nay fare the worse if so they be not good,
    35For why they stain the beauty of their blood.