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Till these, till any of thy volume's rest,
Shall with more fire, more feeling, be express'd,
Be sure, our Shake-speare, thou canst never die,
But, crown'd with laurel, live eternally.
To the Memory of M. W. Shake-speare.
We wonder'd, Shake-speare, that thou went'st so soon
From the world's stage to the grave's tiring-room :
We thought thee dead; but this thy printed worth
Tells thy spectators, that thou went’st but forth
To enter with applause. An actor's art
Can die, and live to act a second part:
That's but an exit of mortality,
This a re-entrance to a plaudite.
To the Memory of my beloved, the Author, Mr. William Shake
speare, 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 confess thy writings to be such,
As neither man, nor muse, can praise too much ;
'Tis true, and all men's suffrage ; but these ways
Were not the paths I meant unto thy praise :
For seeliest ignorance on these may light,
Which, when it sounds at best, but echoes right;
Or blind affection, which doth ne'er advance
The truth, but gropes, and urgeth all by chance;
Sejanus too, was irksome: they priz'd more
• Honest'Iago, or the jealous Moor.
And though the Fox and subtil Alchymist,
Long intermitted, could not quite be mist,
Though these have sham'd all th' ancients, and might raise
Their author's merit with a crown of bays,
Yet these sometimes, even at a friend's desire,
Acted, have scarce defray'd the sea-coal fire,
And door-keepers : when, let but Falstaff come,
Hal, Poins, the rest, -- you scarce shall have a room,
All is so pester'd : let but Beatrice
And Benedick be seen, lo! in a trice
The cock-pit, galleries, boxes, all are full,
To hear Malvolio, that cross-garter'd gull.
Brief, there is nothing in his wit-fraught book,
Whose sound we would not hear, on whose worth look," &c. ? Perhaps the initials of John Marston, from whom see an original letter to Lord Kimbolton on p. 179.
Or crafty malice might pretend this praise,
And think to ruin, where it seem'd to raise :
These are, as some infamous bawd, or whore,
Should praise a matron; what could hurt her more ?
But thou art proof 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 Shakspeare, rise! I will not lodge thee 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 judgment were of years,
I should commit thee surely with thy peers ;
And tell how far thou didst our Lyly outshine,
Or sporting Kyd, or Marlowe's mighty line :
And though thou hadst small Latin, and less Greek,
From thence to honour thee, I would not seek
For names; but call forth thundering Æschylus,
Euripides, and Sophocles, to us,
Pacuvius, Accius, him of Cordova, dead,
To life again, to hear thy buskin tread
Referring to lines by William Basse, then circulating in MS., and not printed until 1633, when they were falsely imputed to Dr. Donne in the edition of his poems in that year. All the MSS. of the lines, now extant, differ in minute par. ticulars : we subjoin them as they appear in “Donne's Collected Poems,” edit. 1633, p. 149, under the following heading :
“ An EPITAPH UPON SHAKESPEARE.
“ Renowned Chaucer, lie a thought more nigh
To rare Beaumond; and learned Beaumond lie
A little nearer Spencer, to make roome
For Shakespeare in your threefold fourefold tombe.
To lie all foure in one bed make a shift,
For untill doomesday bardly will a fift
Betwixt this day and that be slaine,
For whom your curtaines need be drawne againe ;
But if precedency of death doth barre
A fourth place in your sacred sepulchre,
Under this curled marble of thine owne
Sleepe, rare Tragedian Shakespeare, sleepe alone,
That unto us and others it may bee
Honor hereafter to be laid by thee."
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 herself was proud of his designs,
And joy'd to wear the dressing of his lines ;
Which were so richly spun, and woven so fit,
As since she will vouchsafe 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 Nature's family.
Yet must I not give Nature all; thy art,
My gentle Shakspeare, 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' anvil; turn the same,
(And himself with it) that he thinks to frame;
Òr for the laurel he may gain a scorn,
For a good poet's made, as well as born:
And such wert thou. Look, how the father's face
Lives in his issue; even so the race
Of Shakespeare'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'd at the eyes of ignorance.
Sweet Swan of Avon, what a sight it were,
To see thee in our waters yet appear ;
And make those flights upon the banks of Thames,
That so did take Eliza, and our James !
But stay; I see thee in the hemisphere
Advanc'd, and made a constellation there:
Shine forth, thou star of poets; and with rage,
Or influence, chide, or cheer, the drooping stage ;
Which, since thy flight from hence, hath mourn'd like night,
And despairs day, but for thy volume's light !
Upon the Lines, and Life, of the famous Scenic Poet, Master
Those hands which you so clapp’d, go now and wring,
You Britons brave; for done are Shakespeare's days :
His days are done that made the dainty plays,
Which made the Globe of heaven and earth to ring.
Dried is that vein, dried is the Thespian spring,
Turn'd all to tears, and Phæbus clouds his rays;
corpse, that coffin, now bestick those bays,
Which crown'd him poet first, then poet's king.
If tragedies might any prologue have,
All those he made would scarce make one to this ;
Where fame, now that he gone is to the grave,
(Dea i's public tiring-house) the Nuntius is :
For, though his line of life went soon about,
The life yet of his lines shall never out.
PREFIXED TO THE FOLIO OF 1632 4.
Upon the Effigies of my worthy Friend, the Author, Master
William Shakespeare, and his Works.
Spectator, this life's shadow is :-to see
This truer image, and a livelier he,
Turn reader. But observe his comick vein,
Laugh ; and proceed next to a tragick strain,
Then weep: 80,—when thou find'st two contraries,
Two different passions from thy rapt soul rise,-
Say, (who alone effect such wonders could)
Rare Shake-speare to the life thou dost behold.
An Epitaph on the admirable Dramatic Poet, W. Shakespeare 5.
What needs my Shakespeare for his honour'd bones,
The labour of an age in piled stones;
Or that his hallow'd reliques should be bid
Under a star-ypointing pyramid ?
Dear son of memory, great heir of fame,
What need’st thou such weak witness of thy name ?
Thou, in our wonder and astonishment,
Hast built thyself a live-long monument:
For whilst, to the shame of slow-endeavouring art,
Thy easy numbers flow; and that each heart
Hath, from the leaves of thy unvalued book,
Those Delphic lines with deep impression took ;
Then thou, our fancy of itself bereaving,
Dost make us marble with too much conceiving;
And, so sepulcher'd, in such pomp dost lie,
That kings for such a tomb would wish to die.
On worthy Master Shakespeare, and his Poems 6.
A mind reflecting ages past, whose clear
And equal surface can make things appear,
Distant a thousand
Them in their lively colours, just extent:
To outrun hasty time, retrieve the fates,
Roll back the heavens, blow ope the iron gates
Of death and Lethe, where confused lie
Great heaps of ruinous mortality :
authorship is ascertained by the publication of them as Milton's, in the edition of his Poems in 1645, 8vo. We give them as they stand there, because it is evident that they were then printed from a copy corrected by the author : the variations are interesting, and Malone pointed out only one, and that certainly the least im. portant. Instead of “weak witness” in line 6, the folio, 1632, has “ dull wit. ness :" instead of “live-long monument,” in line 8, the folio bas “lasting monument:" instead of “ heart” in line 10, the folio has part, an evident misprint: and instead of “itself bereaving," in line 13, the folio has “herself bereaving.” The last is the difference mentioned by Malone, who also places “ John Milton” at the end, as if the name were found in the folio of 1632.
6 On worthy Master Shakespeare, and his Poems.] These lines are subscribed I. M. S. in the folio, 1632, “probably Jasper Mayne,” says Malone. Most probably not, because Mayne has left nothing behind him to lead us to suppose that he could have produced this surpassing tribute. I. M. S. may possibly be Iohn Milton, Student, and no name may have been appended to the other copy of verses by him, prefixed to the folio of 1632, in order that his initials should stand at the end of the present. We know of no other poet of the time capable of writing the ensuing lines : we feel morally certain that they are by Milton, and such was Coleridge's opinion, often expressed; but especially in his “ Lectures upon Shakespeare and Milton," delivered in 1811-12, when he said : The internal evidence seems to me decisive, for there was, I think, no other man of that particular day, capable of writing any thing so characteristic of Shakespeare, so justly thought, and so happily expressed.” Lecture ix. p. 107, edit. 1856.