1607 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ben Jonson

Francis Beaumont, "To my deare Friend, Mr. Benjamin Jonson, upon his Fox" Jonson, Volpone (1607) sig. A2.



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 thy wit,
Of this they even worke: whose growing fame
Shall raise thee high, and thou it, with thy Name.
And did not Manners, and my Love command
Mee to forbeare to make those understand,
Whome thou, perhaps, hast in thy wiser doome
Long since, firmely resolv'd, shall never come
To know more then they do; I would have showne
To all the world, the Art, which thou alone
Hast taught our tongue, the rules of Time, of Place,
And other Rites, deliver'd, with the grace
Of Comick stile, which onely, is farre more,
Then any English Stage hath knowne before.
But since our subtle Gallants thinke it good
To like of nought, that may be understood,
Least they should be disprov'd; or have, at best,
Stomacks so raw, that nothing can digest
But what's obscene, or barkes: Let us desire
They may continue, simplie, 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
Contemnes all praise, but such as thou wouldst chuse.