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  • Title: Prefatory Materials (Folio 1, 1664)

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    Author: Ben Jonson
    Not Peer Reviewed

    Prefatory Materials (Folio 1, 1664)

    To the Memory of the deceased Authour
    SHakespeare, at length thy pious Fellows give
    The World thy Works: thy Works, by which, out-live
    Thy Tomb, thy Name must: when that
    stone is rent
    And Time dissolves thy Stratford Monument,
    Here we alive shall view thee still. This Book,
    When Brass and Marble fade, shall make thee look
    Fresh to all Ages: when Posteritie
    Shall loathe what's new; think all is prodigie
    That is not Shakespear's; ev'ry Line, each Verse
    Here shall revive, redeem thee from thy Herse.
    Nor Fire, nor cankring Age, as Naso said,
    Of his, thy wit-fraught Book shall once invade.
    Nor shall I e're believe, or think thee dead
    (Though mist) until our bankrout Stage be sped
    (Impossible) with some new strain t' out-do
    Passions of Juliet, and her Romeo;
    Or till I hear a Scene more nobly take,
    Than when thy halfe-sword parlying Yeomans spake
    Till these, till any of thy Volumes rest
    Shall with more fire, more feeling be exprest,
    Be sure, our Shakespeare, thou canst never die,
    But crown'd with Lawrell, live eternally.
    L. Digges.
    Upon the Effigies of my worthy Friend, the Au-
    thour Mr. W. Shakespeare, and his Works.
    SPectator, this Lifes Shadow is; to see
    The truer Image and a livelier he
    Turn Reader. But, observe his Comick vain,
    Laugh, and proceed next to a Tragick strain,
    Then weep; So when thou find'st two contraries,
    Two different passions from thy rapt soul rise,
    Say, (who alone effect such wonders could)
    Rare Shakespeare to the life thou dost behold.
    To the Memory of Mr. W. Shakespeare.
    WE wonder (Shakespeare) that thou went'st so
    From the VVorlds-Stage, to the Graves-Tyring-
    We thought thee dead, but this thy Printed worth,
    Tells thy Spectators, that thou went'st but forth
    To enter with applause. An Actors Art,
    Can dye, and live, to act a second Part.
    That's but an Exit of Mortality;
    This, a Re-entrance to a Plaudite.
    J. M.
    To the Memory of my beloved the Authour
    And what he hath left us.
    TO draw no envy (Shakespeare) on thy Name,
    Am I thus ample to thy Book, and Fame:
    While I confesse thy writings to be such,
    As neither Man, nor Muse can praise too much.
    'Tis true, and all mens suffrage. But these wayes
    Were not the paths I meant unto thy praise:
    For seeliest Ignorance on these may light,
    Which, when it sounds at best, but ecchoes right;
    Or blind Affection, which doth ne're advance
    The truth, but gropes, and urgeth all by chance;
    Or crafty malice, might pretend this praise,
    And think to ruine, where it seem'd to raise.
    These are, as some infamous Baud, or Whore, [more?
    Should praise a Matron. What could hurt her
    But thou art proofe against them, and indeed
    Above th'ill fortune of them, or the need.
    I therefore will begin. Soul of the Age!
    The applause! delight! the wonder of our Stage.
    My Shakespeare rise; I will not lodgee the by
    Chaucer, or Spenser, or bid Beaumont lie
    A little further, to make thee a room:
    Thou art a Monument without a Tomb,
    And art alive still, while thy Book doth live,
    And we have wits to read, and praise to give.
    That I not mix thee so, my brain excuses;
    I mean with great, but disproportion'd Muses:
    For if I thought my judgement were of years,
    I should commit thee surely with thy Peers,
    And tell how far thou didst our Lily out-shine,
    Or sporting Kid, or Marlow's mighty Line.
    And though thou hadst small Latine & less Greek,
    From thence to honour thee, I would not seek
    For names; but call forth thund'ring Æschylus,
    Euripides, and Sophocles to us,
    Paccuvius, Accius, him of Cordova dead,
    To live again, to hear thy Buskin tread,
    And shake a Stage: Or, when thy Socks were on,
    Leave thee alone for the comparison
    Of all, that insolent Greece, or haughty Rome
    Sent forth, or since did from their ashes come.
    Triumph, my Britain, thou hast one to show,
    To whom all Scenes of Europe homage owe.
    He was not of an age, but for all time!
    And all the Muses, still were in their prime,
    When like Apollo he came forth to warm
    Our ears, or like a Mercury to charm!
    Nature her self was proud of his designes,
    And joy'd to wear the dressing of his Lines!
    Which were so richly spun, and woven so fit,
    As, since, she will vouch safe no other wit.
    The merry Greek, tart Aristophanes,
    Neat Terence, witty Plautus, now not please;
    But antiquated, and deserted lie
    As they were not of Natures family.
    Yet must I not give Nature all: Thy Art,
    My gentle Shakespeare must enjoy a part.
    For though the Poet's matter Nature be,
    His Art doth give the Fashion. And, that he,
    Who casts to write a living line, must sweat,
    (Such as thine are) and strike the second heat
    Upon the Muses Anvile: turn the same,
    (And himself with it) that he thinks to frame;
    Or for the Lawrel, he may gain a scorn,
    For a good Poet's made, as well as born.
    And such wert thou. Look how the Fathers face
    Lives in his Issue, even so the race
    Of Shakespear's mind, and manners brightly shines
    In his well torned, and true filed lines:
    In each of which, he seems to shake a Lance,
    As brandish't at the eyes of Ignorance.
    Sweet Swan of Avon! what a sight it were
    To see thee in our water yet appear,
    And make those flights upon the Banks of Thames,
    That so did take Eliza, and our Iames!
    But stay, I see thee in the Hemisphere
    Advanc'd, and made a Constellation there !
    Shine forth, thou Starre of Poets, and with rage,
    Or influence, chide, or chear the drooping Stage,
    Which, since thy flight from hence, hath mourn'd like
    And despairs day, but for thy Volumes light. [night,
    On worthy Mr. SHAKESPEARE,
    and his Poems.
    AMind reflecting ages past, whose clear
    And equal surface can make things appear
    Distant a Thousand years, and represent
    Them in their lively colours just extent.
    To out-run hasty Time, retrive the Fates,
    Rowle back the Heavens, blow ope the Iron Gates
    Of Death and Lethe, where (confused) lie
    Great heaps of ruinous Mortality.
    In that deep duskie dungeon of discern
    A Royal Ghost from Churles; By art to learn
    The Physiognomie of shades, and give
    Them suddain birth, wondring how oft they live.
    What story coldly tells, what Poets fain
    At second hand, and picture without brain
    Senselesse and soulelesse shows. To give a Stage
    (Ample and true with life) voice, action, age,
    As Plato's year, and new Scene of the world
    Them unto us, or us to them had hurl'd.
    To raise our ancient Soveraignes from their Herse
    Make Kings his Subjects, by exchanging verse
    Enlive their pale trunks, that the present age
    Joyes in their joy, and trembles at their rage:
    Yet so to temper passion, that our ears
    Take pleasure in their pain; And eyes in tears
    Both weep and smile, fearful at plots so sad,
    Then laughing at our fear; abus'd and glad
    To be abus'd, affected with that truth
    VVhich we perceive is false; pleas'd in that ruth
    At which we start; and by elaborate play
    Tortur'd and tickled; by a crab-like way
    Time past made pastime, and in ugly sort
    Disgorging up his ravaine for our sport------
    -----VVhile the Plebeian Imp from lofty throne,
    Creates and rules a world, and works upon
    Mankind by secret engines; Now to move
    A chilling pity, then a rigorous love:
    To strike up and stroak down, both joy and ire;
    To steer th' affections; and by heavenly fire
    Mould us anew. Stoln from our selves------
    This and much more which cannot be exprest,
    But by himself, his tongue and his own brest, [brain
    Was Shakespeares freehold, which his cunning
    Improv'd by favour of the nine-fold train.
    The Buskin'd Muse, the Comick Queen, the grand
    And lowder tone of Clio; nimble hand,
    And nimbler foot of the melodious pair,
    The Silver voiced Lady; the most fair
    Calliope, whose speaking silence daunts.
    And she whose praise the heavenly body chaunts.
    These jointly woo'd him, envying one another
    (Obey'd by all as Spouse, but lov'd as brother)
    And wrought a curious robe of sable grave,
    Fresh green, and pleasant yellow, red most brave,
    And constant blew, rich purple, guiltless white,
    The lowly Russet, and the Scarlet bright;
    Branch't and embroydered like the painted Spring
    Each leafe match'd with a Flower, and each string
    Of golden wire, each line of silk; there run
    Italian works whose thred the Sisters spun;
    And there did sing, or seem to sing, the choice
    Birds of a foreign note and various voice.
    Here hangs a mossy Rock; there playes a faire
    But chiding Fountain purled: Not the aire,
    Nor Clouds, nor Thunder, but were living drawn
    Not out of common Tiffany or Lawn.
    But fine materials, which the Muses know
    And onely know the countries where they grow.
    Now when they could no longer him enjoy
    In mortal garments pent; Death may destroy
    They say his body, but his Verse shall live
    And more then Nature takes, our hands shall give.
    In a lesse Volume, but more strongly bound
    Shakespeare shall breathe and speak, with Laurel
    Which never fades. Fed with Ambrosian meat
    In a well-lined vesture rich and neat
    So with this Robe they cloathe him, bid him wear
    For time shall never stain, nor envy tear it.
    The friendly admirer of his
    J. M. S.