1638 ca. ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Fletcher

Rev. William Cartwright, "Upon the Dramatick Poems of Mr. John Fletcher" 1638 ca.; Cartwright, Comedies, Tragi-Comedies, with other Poems (1651) 269-71.



Though when all Fletcher writ, and the entire
Man was indulg'd unto that Sacred fire,
His thoughts, and his thoughts dress, appear'd both such,
That 'twas his happy fault to do too much;
Who therefore wisely did submit each birth
To knowing Beaumont e'r it did come forth,
Working again, untill he said 'twas fit,
And made him the sobriety of his wit;
Though thus he call'd his Judge into his fame,
And for that aid allow'd him half the name,
'Tis known, that sometimes he did stand alone,
That both the Spunge and Pencill were his own;
That himself judg'd himself, could singly do,
And was at last Beaumont and Fletcher too;

Else we had lost his Shepheardess, a peece
Even and smooth, spun from a finer fleece,
Where softness reigns, where Passions Passions greet,
Gentle and high, as Flouds of Balsam meet.
Where dress'd in white expressions, sit bright Loves,
Drawn, like their fairest Queen, by milky Doves;
A Piece, which Johnson in a rapture bid
Come up a glorifi'd Work, and so it did.

Else had his Muse set with his Friend; the Stage
Had miss'd those Poems, which yet take the Age;
The world had lost those rich exemplars, where
Art, Learning, Wit, sit ruling in one Sphere;
Where the fresh matters soar above old Themes,
As Prophets Raptures do above our Dreams;
Where in a Worthy scorn he dares refuse
All other Gods, and makes the thing his Muse;
Where he calls Passions forth, and layes them so,
As Spirits aw'd by him to come and go;
Where the free Author did what e'r he would,
And nothing will'd, but what a Poet should.

No vast uncivill Bulk swels any Scene,
The strength's ingenuous, and the vigour clean;
None can prevent the Fancy, and see through
At the first opening; all stand wondring how
The thing will be, untill it is, which thence
With fresh delights still cheats, still takes the sense;
The whole design, the shaddows, the lights such
That none can say he shews or hides too much:
Business grows up, ripened by just encrease,
And by as just degrees again doth cease.
The heats and minutes of Affairs are watcht,
And the nice points of Time are met, and snatcht;
Nought later than it should, nought comes before,
Chymists, and Calculators do err more;
Sex, Age, Degree, Affections, Country, Place,
The inward Substance, and the outward Face,
All kept precisely, all exactly fit,
What he would write, he was before he writ.
'Twixt Johnson's grave, and Shakespeare's lighter sound,
His Muse so steer'd that something still was found,
Nor this, nor that, nor both, but so his own,
That 'twas his mark, and he was by it known.
Hence did he take true judgments, hence did strike
All Palates some way, though not all alike:
The God of numbers might his numbers crown,
And listning to them wish they were his own.
Thus welcome forth, what Ease, or Wine, or Wit
Durst yet produce, that is, what Fletcher writ.