1612 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Heywood

John Taylor the Water Poet, "To my approved good Friend M. Thomas Heywood" Heywood, An Apology for Actors (1612) sigs a3v-a4.



Of thee, and thy Apology for playes,
I will not much speake in contempt or praise:
Yet in these following lines Il'e shew my minde,
Of Playes, and such as have 'gainst Playes repin'd.
A Play's a briefe Epitome of time,
Where man may see his vertue or his crime
Layd open, either to their vices shame,
Or to their vertues memorable fame.
A Play's a true transparent Christall mirror,
To shew good minds their mirth, the bad their terror:
Where stabbing, drabbing, dicing, drinking, swearing
Are all proclaim'd unto the sight and hearing,
In ugly shapes of Heaven-abhorrid sinne,
Where men may see the mire they wallow in.
And well I know it makes the Divell rage,
To see his servants flouted on a stage.
A Whore, a Thiefe, a Pander, or a Bawd,
A Broker, or a slave that lives by fraud:
An Usurer, whose soule is in his chest,
Untill in hell it comes to restlesse rest.
A Fly-blowne gull, that faine would be a Gallant,
A Raggamuffin that hath spent his Tallant:
A selfe-wise foole, that sees his wits out-stript,
Or any vice that feeles it selfe but nipt,
Either in Tragedy, or Comedy,
In Morall, Pastorall, or History:
But straight the poyson of their envious tongues,
Breakes out in vollyes of Calumnious wronges.
And then a Tinker, or a Dray-man sweares,
I would the house were fir'd about their eares.
Thus when a play nips Sathan by the nose,
Streight all his vassals are the Actors foes.
But feare not man, let envy swell and burst,
Proceed, and bid the Divell do his worst.
For Playes are good or bad, as they are us'd,
And best inventions often are abus'd.
Yours ever,
JOHN TAYLOR.