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Full Online Book HomePlaysThe Poetaster; Or, His Arraignment - Act 5 - Scene 1
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The Poetaster; Or, His Arraignment - Act 5 - Scene 1 Post by :Morningwing Category :Plays Author :Ben Jonson Date :May 2012 Read :1581

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The Poetaster; Or, His Arraignment - Act 5 - Scene 1


ACT V SCENE I.-An Apartment in the Palace.


We, that have conquer'd still, to save the conquer'd,
And loved to make inflictions fear'd, not felt;
Grieved to reprove, and joyful to reward;
More proud of reconcilement than revenge;
Resume into the late state of our love,
Worthy Cornelius Gallus, and Tibullus:
You both are gentlemen: and, you, Cornelius,
A soldier of renown, and the first provost
That ever let our Roman eagles fly
On swarthy AEgypt, quarried with her spoils.
Yet (not to bear cold forms, nor men's out-terms,
Without the inward fires, and lives of men)
You both have virtues shining through your shapes;
To shew, your titles are not writ on posts,
Or hollow statues which the best men are,
Without Promethean stuffings reach'd from heaven!
Sweet poesy's sacred garlands crown your gentry:
Which is, of all the faculties on earth,
The most abstract and perfect; if she be
True-born, and nursed with all the sciences.
She can so mould Rome, and her monuments,
Within the liquid marble of her lines,
That they shall stand fresh and miraculous,
Even when they mix with innovating dust;
In her sweet streams shall our brave Roman spirits
Chase, and swim after death, with their choice deeds
Shining on their white shoulders; and therein
Shall Tyber, and our famous rivers fall
With such attraction, that the ambitious line
Of the round world shall to her centre shrink,
To hear their music: and, for these high parts,
Caesar shall reverence the Pierian arts.

Your majesty's high grace to poesy,
Shall stand 'gainst all the dull detractions
Of leaden souls; who, for the vain assumings
Of some, quite worthless of her sovereign wreaths,
Contain her worthiest prophets in contempt.

Gal. Happy is Rome of all earth's other states,
To have so true and great a president,
For her inferior spirits to imitate,
As Caesar is; who addeth to the sun
Influence and lustre; in increasing thus
His inspirations, kindling fire in us.

Phoebus himself shall kneel at Caesar's shrine,
And deck it with bay garlands dew'd with wine,
To quit the worship Caesar does to him:
Where other princes, hoisted to their thrones
By Fortune's passionate and disorder'd power,
Sit in their height, like clouds before the sun,
Hindering his comforts; and, by their excess
Of cold in virtue, and cross heat in vice,
Thunder and tempest on those learned heads,
Whom Caesar with such honour doth advance.

All human business fortune doth command
Without all order; and with her blind hand,
She, blind, bestows blind gifts, that still have nurst,
They see not who, nor how, but still, the worst.

Caesar, for his rule, and for so much stuff
As Fortune puts in his hand, shall dispose it,
As if his hand had eyes and soul in it,
With worth and judgment. Hands, that part with gifts
Or will restrain their use, without desert,
Or with a misery numb'd to virtue's right,
Work, as they had no soul to govern them,
And quite reject her; severing their estates
From human order. Whosoever can,
And will not cherish virtue, is no man.

(Enter some of the Equestrian Order.)

Eques. Virgil is now at hand, imperial Caesar.

Rome's honour is at hand then. Fetch a chair,
And set it on our right hand, where 'tis fit
Rome's honour and our own should ever sit.
Now he is come out of Campania,
I doubt not he hath finish'd all his AEneids.
Which, like another soul, I long to enjoy.
What think you three of Virgil, gentlemen,
That are of his profession, though rank'd higher;
Or, Horace, what say'st thou, that art the poorest,
And likeliest to envy, or to detract

Caesar speaks after common men in this,
To make a difference of me for my poorness;
As if the filth of poverty sunk as deep
Into a knowing spirit, as the bane
Of riches doth into an ignorant soul.
No, Caesar, they be pathless, moorish minds
That being once made rotten with the dung
Of damned riches, ever after sink
Beneath the steps of any villainy.
But knowledge is the nectar that keeps sweet
A perfect soul, even in this grave of sin;
And for my soul, it is as free as Caesar's,
For what 1 know is due I'll give to all.
He that detracts or envies virtuous merit,
Is still the covetous and the ignorant spirit.

Thanks, Horace, for thy free and wholesome sharpness,
Which pleaseth Caesar more than servile fawns.
A flatter'd prince soon turns the prince of fools.
And for thy sake, we'll put no difference more
Between the great and good for being poor.
Say then, loved Horace, thy true thought of Virgil.

I judge him of a rectified spirit,
By many revolutions of discourse,
(In his bright reason's influence,) refined
From all the tartarous moods of common men;
Bearing the nature and similitude
Of a right heavenly body; most severe
In fashion and collection of himself;
And, then, as clear and confident as Jove.

And yet so chaste and tender is his ear,
In suffering any syllable to pass,
That he thinks may become the honour'd name
Of issue to his so examined self,
That all the lasting fruits of his full merit,
In his own poems, he doth still distaste;
And if his mind's piece, which he strove to paint,
Could not with fleshly pencils have her right.

But to approve his works of sovereign worth,
This observation, methinks, more than serves,
And is not vulgar. That which he hath writ
Is with such judgment labour'd, and distill'd
Through all the needful uses of our lives,
That could a man remember but his lines,
He should not touch at any serious point,
But he might breathe his spirit out of him.

You mean, he might repeat part of his works,
As fit for any conference he can use?

Tib. True, royal Caesar.

Worthily observed;
And a most worthy virtue in his works.
What thinks material Horace of his learning?

His learning savours not the school-like gloss,
That most consists in echoing words and terms,
And soonest wins a man an empty name;
Nor any long or far-fetch'd circumstance
Wrapp'd in the curious generalities of arts;
But a direct and analytic sum
Of all the worth and first effects of arts.
And for his poesy, 'tis so ramm'd with life,
That it shall gather strength of life, with being,
And live hereafter more admired than now.

This one consent in all your dooms of him,
And mutual loves of all your several merits,
Argues a truth of merit in you all.---

(Enter VIRGIL.)

See, here comes Virgil; we will rise and greet him.
Welcome to Caesar, Virgil! Caesar and Virgil
Shall differ but in sound; to Caesar, Virgil,
Of his expressed greatness, shall be made
A second sirname, and to Virgil, Caesar.
Where are thy famous AEneids? do us grace
To let us see, and surfeit on their sight.

Worthless they are of Caesar's gracious eyes,
If they were perfect; much more with their wants,
Which are yet more than my time could supply.
And, could great Caesar's expectation
Be satisfied with any other service,
I would not shew them.

Virgil is too modest;
Or seeks, in vain, to make our longings more:
Shew them, sweet Virgil.

Then, in such due fear
As fits presenters of great works to Caesar,
I humbly shew them.

Let us now behold
A human soul made visible in life;
And more refulgent in a senseless paper
Than in the sensual complement of kings.
Read, read thyself, dear Virgil; let not me
Profane one accent with an untuned tongue:
Best matter, badly shewn, shews worse than bad.
See then this chair, of purpose set for thee
To read thy poem in; refuse it not.
Virtue, without presumption, place may take
Above best kings, whom only she should make.

It will be thought a thing ridiculous
To present eyes, and to all future times
A gross untruth, that any poet, void
Of birth, or wealth, or temporal dignity,
Should, with decorum, transcend Caesar's chair.
Poor virtue raised, high birth and wealth set under,
Crosseth heaven's courses, and makes worldlings wonder.

The course of heaven, and fate itself, in this,
Will Ceasar cross; much more all worldly custom.

Custom, in course of honour, ever errs;
And they are best whom fortune least prefers.

Horace hath but more strictly spoke our thoughts.
The vast rude swing of general confluence
Is, in particular ends, exempt from sense:
And therefore reason (which in right should be
The special rector of all harmony)
Shall shew we are a man distinct by it,
From those, whom custom rapteth in her press.
Ascend then, Virgil; and where first by chance
We here have turn'd thy book, do thou first read.

Great Caesar hath his will; I will ascend.
'Twere simple injury to his free hand,
That sweeps the cobwebs from unused virtue,
And makes her shine proportion'd to her worth,
To be more nice to entertain his grace,
Than he is choice, and liberal to afford it.

Gentlemen of our chamber, guard the doors,
And let none enter; peace. Begin, good Virgil.

(Exeunt Equites.)

Meanwhile the skies 'gan thunder, and in tail
Of that, fell pouring storms of sleet and hail:
The Tyrian lords and Trojan youth, each where
With Venus' Dardane nephew, now, in fear,
Seek out for several shelter through the plain,
Whilst floods come rolling from the hills amain.
Dido a cave, the Trojan prince the same
Lighted upon. There earth and heaven's great dame,
That hath the charge of marriage, first gave sign
Unto his contract; fire and air did shine,
As guilty of the match; and from the hill
The nymphs with shriekings do the region fill.
Here first began their bane; this day was ground
Of all their ills; for now, nor rumour's sound,
Nor nice respect of state, moves Dido ought;
Her love no longer now by stealth is sought:
She calls this wedlock, and with that fair name
Covers her fault. Forthwith the bruit and fame,
Through all the greatest Lybian towns is gone;
Fame, a fleet evil, than which is swifter none,
That moving grows, and flying gathers strength,
Little at first, and fearful; but at length
She dares attempt the skies, and stalking proud
With feet on ground, her head doth pierce a cloud!
This child, our parent earth, stirr'd up with spite
Of all the gods, brought forth; and, as some write,
She was last sister of that giant race
That thought to scale Jove' s court; right swift of pace,
And swifter far of wing; a monster vast,
And dreadful. Look, how many plumes are placed
On her huge corps, so many waking eyes
Stick underneath; and, which may stranger rise
In the report, as many tongues she bears,
As many mouths, as many listening ears.
Nightly, in midst of all the heaven, she flies,
And through the earth's dark shadow shrieking cries,
Nor do her eyes once bend to taste sweet sleep;
By day on tops of houses she doth keep,
Or on high towers; and doth thence affright
Cities and towns of most conspicuous site:
As covetous she is of tales and lies,
As prodigal of truth: this monster--

Lup. (within.) Come, follow me, assist me, second me! Where'! the emperor?

1 Eques. (within.) Sir, you must pardon us.

2 Eques. (within.) Caesar is private now; you may not enter.

Tuc. (within.) Not enter! Charge them upon their allegiance, cropshin.

1 Eques. (within.) We have a charge to the contrary, sir.

Lup. (within.) I pronounce you all traitors, horrible traitors: What! do you know my affairs? I have matter of danger and state to impart to Caesar.

Caes. What noise is there? who's that names Caesar?

Lup. (within.) A friend to Caesar. One that, for Caesar's good, would speak with Caesar.

Caes. Who is it? look, Cornelius.

1 Eques. (within.) Asinius Lupus.

O, bid the turbulent informer hence;
We have no vacant ear now, to receive
The unseason'd fruits of his officious tongue.

Mec. You must avoid him there.

Lup. (within.) I conjure thee, as thou art. Caesar, or respectest thine own safety, or the safety of the state, Caesar, hear me, speak with me, Caesar; 'tis no common business I come about, but such, as being neglected, may concern the life of Caesar.

Caes. The life of Caesar! Let him enter. Virgil, keep thy seat.

(Enter Lupus, Tucca, and Lictors.)

Eques. (within.) Bear back, there: whither will you? keep back!

Tuc. By thy leave, goodman usher: mend thy peruke; so.

Lup. Lay hold on Horace there; and on Mecaenas, lictors. Romans, offer no rescue, upon your allegiance: read, royal Caesar. (Gives a paper.) I'll tickle you, Satyr.

Tuc. He will, Humours, he will; he will squeeze you, poet puck-fist.

Lup. I'll lop you off for an unprofitable branch, you satirical varlet.

Tuc. Ay, and Epaminondas your patron here, with his flagon chain; come, resign: (takes off Mecaenas' chain,) though 'twere your great grandfather's, the law has made it mine now, sir. Look to him, my party-coloured rascals; look to him.

Caes. What is this, Asinius Lupus? I understand it not.

Lup. Not understand it! A libel, Caesar; a dangerous, seditious libel; a libel in picture.

Caes. A libel!

Lup. Ay, I found it in this Horace his study, in Mecaenas his house, here; I challenge the penalty of the laws against them.

Tuc. Ay, and remember to beg their land betimes; before some of these hungry court-hounds scent it out.

Caes. Shew it to Horace: ask him if he know it.

Lup. Know it! his hand is at it, Caesar.

Caes. Then 'tis no libel.

Hor. It is the imperfect body of an emblem, Caesar, I began for Mecaenas.

Lup. An emblem! right: that's Greek for a libel. Do but mark how confident he is.

A just man cannot fear, thou foolish tribune;
Not, though the malice of traducing tongues,
The open vastness of a tyrant's ear,
The senseless rigour of the wrested laws,
Or the red eyes of strain'd authority,
Should, in a point, meet all to take his life:
His innocence is armour 'gainst all these.

Lup. Innocence! O impudence! let me see, let me see! Is not here an eagle! and is not that eagle meant by Caesar, ha? Does not Caesar give the eagle? answer me; what sayest thou?

Tuc. Hast thou any evasion, stinkard?

Lup. Now he's turn'd dumb. I'll tickle you, Satyr.

Hor. Pish: ha, ha!

Lup. Dost thou pish me? Give me my long sword.

With reverence to great Caesar, worthy Romans,
Observe but this ridiculous commenter;
The soul 'to my device was in this distich:
Thus oft, the base and ravenous multitude
Survive, to share the spoils of fortitude.
Which in this body I have figured here,
A vulture--

Lup. A vulture! Ay, now, 'tis a vulture. O abominable! monstrous! monstrous! has not your vulture a beak? has it not legs, and talons, and wings, and feathers?

Tuc. Touch him, old buskins.

Hor. And therefore must it be an eagle?

Mec. Respect him not, good Horace: say your device.

Hor. A vulture and a wolf

Lup. A wolf! good: that's I; I am the wolf: my name's Lupus; I am meant by the wolf. On, on; a vulture and a wolf

Hor. Preying upon the carcass of an ass--

Lup. An ass! good still: that's I too; I am the ass. You mean me by the ass.

Mec. Prithee, leave braying then.

Hor. If you will needs take it, I cannot with modesty give it from you.

But, by that beast, the old Egyptians
Were wont to figure, in their hieroglyphics,
Patience, frugality, and fortitude;
For none of which we can suspect you, tribune.

Caes. Who was it, Lupus, that inform'd you first, This should be meant by us? Or was't your comment?

Lup. No, Caesar; a player gave me the first light of it indeed.

Tuc. Ay, an honest sycophant-like slave, and a politician besides

Caes. Where is that player?

Tuc. He is without here.

Caes. Call him in.

Tuc. Call in the player there: master AEsop, call him.

Equites. (within.) Player! where is the player? bear back: none but the player enter.

(Enter AESOP, followed by CRISPINUS and DEMETRIUS.)

Tuc. Yes, this gentleman and his Achates must.

Cris. Pray you, master usher:--we'll stand close, here.

Tuc. 'Tis a gentleman of quality, this; though he be somewhat out of clothes, I tell ye.--Come, AEsop, hast a bay-leaf in thy mouth? Well said; be not out, stinkard. Thou shalt have a monopoly of playing confirm'd to thee, and thy covey, under the emperor's broad seal, for this service.

Caes. Is this he?

Lup. Ay, Caesar, this is he.

Let him be whipped. Lictors, go take him hence.
And, Lupus, for your fierce credulity,
One fit him with a pair of larger ears:
'Tis Caesar's doom, and must not be revoked.
We hate to have our court and peace disturb'd
With these quotidian clamours. See it done.

Lup. Caesar!

(Exeunt some of the Lictors, with Lupus and AEsop)

Caes. Gag him, (that) we may have his silence.

Caesar hath done like Caesar. Fair and just
Is his award, against these brainless creatures.
'Tis not the wholesome sharp morality,
Or modest anger of a satiric spirit,
That hurts or wounds the body of the state;
But the sinister application
Of the malicious, ignorant, and base
Interpreter; who will distort, and strain
The general scope and purpose of an author
To his particular and private spleen.

We know it, our dear Virgil, and esteem it
A most dishonest practice in that man,
Will seem too witty in another's work.
What would Cornelius Gallus, and Tibullus?

(They whisper Caesar.)

Tuc. (to Mecaenas.) Nay, but as thou art a man, dost hear! a man of worship and honourable: hold, here, take thy chain again. Resume, mad Mecoenas. What! dost thou think I meant to have kept it, old boy? no: I did it but to fright thee, I, to try how thou would'st take it. What! will I turn shark upon my friends, or my friends' friends? I scorn it with my three souls. Come, I love bully Horace as well as thou dost, I: 'tis an honest hieroglyphic. Give me thy wrist, Helicon. Dost thou think I'll second e'er a rhinoceros of them all, against thee, ha? or thy noble Hippocrene, here? I'll turn stager first, and be whipt too: dost thou see, bully?

You have your will of Caesar: use it, Romans.
Virgil shall be your praetor: and ourself
Will here sit by, spectator of your sports;
And think it no impeach of royalty.
Our ear is now too much profaned, grave Maro,
With these distastes, to take thy sacred lines;
Put up thy book, till both the time and we
Be fitted with more hallow'd circumstance
For the receiving of so divine a work.
Proceed with your design.

Mec. Gal. Tib. Thanks to great Caesar.

Gal. Tibullus, draw you the indictment then, whilst Horace arrests them on the statute of Calumny. Mecaenas and I will take our places here. Lictors, assist him.

Hor. I am the worst accuser under heaven.

Gal. Tut, you must do it; 'twill be noble mirth.

Hor. I take no knowledge that they do malign me.

Tib. Ay, but the world takes knowledge.

Would the world knew
How heartily I wish a fool should hate me!

Tuc. Body of Jupiter! what! will they arraign my brisk Poetaster and his poor journeyman, ha? Would I were abroad skeldering for, a drachm, so I were out of this labyrinth again! I do feel myself turn stinkard already: but I must set the best face I have upon't now. (Aside.)--Well said, my divine, deft Horace, bring the whoreson detracting slaves to the bar, do; make them hold up their spread golls: I'll give in evidence for thee, if thou wilt. Take courage, Crlspinus; would thy man had a clean band!

Cris. What must we do, captain?

Tuc. Thou shalt see anon: do not make division with thy legs so.

Caes. What's he. Horace?

Hor. I only know him for a motion, Caesar.

Tuc. I am one of thy commanders, Caesar; a man of service and action: my name is Pantilius Tucca; I have served in thy wars against Mark Antony, I.

Caes. Do you know him, Cornelius?

Gal. He's one that hath had the mustering, or convoy of a company now and then: I never noted him by any other employment.

Caes. We will observe him better.

Tib. Lictor, proclaim silence in the court.

Lict. In the name of Caesar, silence!

Tib. Let the parties, the accuser and the accused, present themselves.

Lict. The accuser and the accused, present yourselves in court.

Cris. Dem. Here.

Virg. Read the indictment.

Tib. Rufus Laberius Crispinus, and Demetrius Fannius, hold up your hands. You are, before this time, jointly and severally indicted, and here presently to be arraigned upon the statute of calumny, or Lex Remmia, the one by the name of Rufus Laberius Crispinus, alias Cri-spinus, poetaster and plagiary, the other by the name of Demetrius Fannius, play-dresser and plagiary. That you (not having the fear of Phoebus, or his shafts, before your eyes) contrary to the peace of our liege lord, Augustus Caesar, his crown and dignity, and against the form of a statute, in that case made and provided, have moat ignorantly, foolishly, and, more like yourselves, maliciously, gone about to deprave, and calumniate the person and writings of Quintus Horatius Flaccus, here present, poet, and priest to the Muses, and to that end have mutually conspired and plotted, at sundry times, as by several means, and in sundry places, for the better accomplishing your base and envious purpose, taxing him falsely, of self-love, arrogancy, impudence, railing, filching by translation, etc. Of all which calumnies, and every of them, in manner and form aforesaid, what answer you! Are you guilty, or not guilty?

Tuc. Not guilty, say.

Cris. Dem. Not guilty.

Tib. How will you be tried?

(Aside to Crispinus.)

Tuc. By the Roman Gods, and the noblest Romans.

Cris. Dem. By the Roman gods, and the noblest Romans.

Virg. Here sits Mecaenas, and Cornelius Gallus, are you contented to be tried by these?


Tuc. Ay, so the noble captain may be joined with them in commission, say.

Cris. Dem. Ay, so the noble captain may be joined with them in commission.

Virg. What says the plaintiff?

Hor. I am content.

Virg. Captain, then take your place.

Tuc. alas, my worshipful praetor! 'tis more of thy gentleness than of my deserving, I wusse. But since it hath pleased the court to make choice of my wisdom and gravity, come, my calumnious varlets; let's hear you talk for yourselves, now, an hour or two. What can you say? Make a noise. Act, act!

Stay, turn, and take an oath first. You shall swear,
By thunder-darting Jove, the king of gods,
And by the genius of Augustus Caesar;
By your own white and uncorrupted souls,
And the deep reverence of our Roman justice;
To judge this case, with truth and equity:
As bound by your religion, and your laws.
Now read the evidence: but first demand
Of either prisoner, if that writ be theirs.

(Gives him two papers.)

Tib. Shew this unto Crispinus. Is it yours?

Tuc. Say, ay. (Aside.)--What! dost thou stand upon it, pimp! Do not deny thine own Minerva, thy Pallas, the issue of thy brain.

Oris. Yes it is mine.

Tib. Shew that unto Demetrius. Is it yours?

Dem. It is.

Tuc. There's a father will not deny his own bastard now, I warrant thee.

Virg. Read them aloud.

Ramp up my genius, be not retrograde;
But boldly nominate a spade a spade
What, shall thy lubrical and glibbery muse
Live, as she were defunct, like punk in stews!

Tuc. Excellent!

Alas! that were no modern consequence,
To have cothurnal buskins frighted hence.
No, teach thy Incubus to poetise;
And throw abroad thy spurious snotteries,
Upon that puft-up lump of balmy froth.

Tuc. Ah, Ah!

Or clumsy chilblain'd judgment; that with oath
Magnificates his merit; and beapawls
The conscious time, with humorous foam and brawls,
As if his organons of sense would crack
The sinews of my patience. Break his back,
O poets all and some! for now we list
Of strenuous vengeance to clutch the fist.

Tuc. Ay, marry, this was written like a Hercules in poetry, now.

Caes. Excellently well threaten'd!

Virg. And as strangely worded, Caesar.

Caes. We observe it.

Virg. The other now.

Tuc. This is a fellow of a good prodigal tongue too, this will do well.

Our Muse is in mind for th' untrussing a poet,
I slip by his name, for most men do know it:
A critic, that all the world bescumbers
With satirical humours and lyrical numbers:

Tuc. Art thou there, boy?

And for the most part, himself doth advance
With much self-love, and more arrogance.

Tuc. Good again!

And, but that I would not be thought a prater,
I could tell you he were a translator.
I know the authors from whence he has stole,
And could trace him too, but that
I understand them not full and whole.

Tuc. That line is broke loose from all his fellows:
chain him up shorter, do.

The best note I can give you to know him by,
Is, that he keeps gallants' company;
Whom I could wish, in time should him fear,
Lest after they buy repentance too dear.

Tuc. Well said! This carries palm with it.

And why, thou motley gull, why should they fear!
When hast thou known us wrong or tax a friend?
I dare thy malice to betray it. Speak.
Now thou curl'st up, thou poor and nasty snake,
And shrink'st thy poisonous head into thy bosom:
Out, viper! thou that eat'st thy parents, hence!
Rather, such speckled creatures, as thyself,
Should be eschew'd, and shunn'd; such as will bite
And gnaw their absent friends, not cure their fame;
Catch at the loosest laughters, and affect
To be thought jesters; such as can devise
Things never seen, or head, t'impair men's names,
And gratify their credulous adversaries;
Will carry tales, do basest offices,
Cherish divided fires, and still encrease
New flames, out of old embers; will reveal
Each secret that's committed to their trust:
These be black slaves; Romans, take heed of these.

Tuc. Thou twang'st right, little Horace: they be indeed a couple of chap-fall'n curs. Come, we of the bench, let's rise to the urn, and condemn them quickly.

Before you go together, worthy Romans,
We are to tender our opinion;
And give you those instructions, that may add
Unto your even judgment in the cause:
Which thus we do commence. First, you must know,
That where there is a true and perfect merit,
There can be no dejection; and the scorn
Of humble baseness, oftentimes so works
In a high soul, upon the grosser spirit,
That to his bleared and offended sense,
There seems a hideous fault blazed in the object;
When only the disease is in his eyes.
Here-hence it comes our Horace now stands tax'd
Of impudence, self-love, and arrogance,
By those who share no merit in themselves;
And therefore think his portion is as small.
For they, from their own guilt, assure their souls,
If they should confidently praise their works,
In them it would appear inflation:
Which, in a full and well digested man,
Cannot receive that foul abusive name,
But the fair title of erection.
And, for his true use of translating men,
It still hath been a work of as much palm,
In clearest judgments, as to invent or make,
His sharpness,---that is most excusable;
As being forced out of a suffering virtue,
Oppressed with the license of the time:---
And howsoever fools or jerking pedants,
Players, or suchlike buffoon barking wits,
May with their beggarly and barren trash
Tickle base vulgar ears, in their despite;
This, like Jove's thunder, shall their pride control,
"The honest satire hath the happiest soul."

Now, Romans, you have heard our thoughts;
withdraw when you please.

Tib. Remove the accused from the bar.

Tuc. Who holds the urn to us, ha? Fear nothing, I'll quit you, mine honest pitiful stinkards; I'll do't.

Cris. Captain, you shall eternally girt me to you, as I am generous.

Tuc. Go to.

Caes. Tibullus, let there be a case of vizards privately provided; we have found a subject to bestow them on.

Tib. It shall be done, Caesar.

Caes. Here be words, Horace, able to bastinado a man's ears.

Hor. Ay.
Please it, great Caesar, I have pills about me,
Mixt with the whitest kind of hellebore,
Would give him a light vomit, that should purge
His brain and stomach of those tumorous heats:
Might I have leave to minister unto him.

O, be his AEsculapius, gentle Horace!
You shall have leave, and he shall be your patient. Virgil,
Use your authority, command him forth.

Caesar is careful of your health, Crispinus;
And hath himself chose a physician
To minister unto you: take his pills.

They are somewhat bitter, sir, but very wholesome.
Take yet another; so: stand by, they'll work anon.

Tib. Romans, return to your several seats: lictors, bring forward the urn; and set the accused to the bar.

Tuc. Quickly, you whoreson egregious varlets; come forward. What! shall we sit all day upon you? You make no more haste now, than a beggar upon pattens; or a physician to a patient that has no money, you pilchers.

Tib. Rufus Laberius Crispinus, and Demetrius Fannius, hold up your hands. You have, according to the Roman custom, put yourselves upon trial to the urn, for divers and sundry calumnies, whereof you have, before this time, been indicted, and are now presently arraigned: prepare yourselves to hearken to the verdict of your tryers. Caius Cilnius Mecaenas pronounceth you, by this hand-writing, guilty. Cornelius Gallus, guilty. Pantilius Tucca--

Tuc. Parcel-guilty, I.

He means himself; for it was he indeed
Suborn'd us to the calumny.

Tuc. I, you whoreson cantharides! was it I?

Dem. I appeal to your conscience, captain.

Tib. Then you confess it now?

Dem. I do, and crave the mercy of the court.

Tib. What saith Crispinus?

Cris. O, the captain, the captain---

Bor. My physic begins to work with my patient, I see.

Virg. Captain, stand forth and answer.

Tuc. Hold thy peace, poet praetor: I appeal from thee to Caesar, I. Do me right, royal Caesar.

Marry, and I will, sir.---Lictors, gag him; do.
And put a case of vizards o'er his head,
That he may look bifronted, as he speaks.

Tuc. Gods and fiends! Caesar! thou wilt not, Caesar, wilt thou? Away, you whoreson vultures; away. You think I am a dead corps now, because Caesar is disposed to jest with a man of mark, or so. Hold your hook'd talons out of my flesh, you inhuman harpies. Go to, do't. What! will the royal Augustus cast away a gentleman of worship, a captain and a commander, for a couple of condemn'd caitiff calumnious cargos?

Caes. Dispatch, lictors.

Tuc. Caesar! (The vizards are put upon him.)

Caes. Forward, Tibullus.

Virg. Demand what cause they had to malign Horace.

Dem. In troth, no great cause, not I, I must confess; but that he kept better company, for the most part, than I; and that better men loved him than loved me; and that his writings thrived better than mine, and were better liked and graced: nothing else.

Virg. Thus envious souls repine at others' good.

If this be all, faith, I forgive thee freely.
Envy me still, so long as Virgil loves me,
Gallus, Tibullus, and the best-best Caesar,
My dear Mecaenas; while these, with many more,
Whose names I wisely slip, shall think me worthy
Their honour'd and adored society,
And read and love, prove and applaud my poems;
I would not wish but such as you should spite them.

Cris. O--!

Tib. How now, Crispinus? C

Cris. O, I am sick--!

Hor. A bason, a bason, quickly; our physic works. Faint not, man.

Cris. O------retrograde------reciprocal------incubus.

Caes. What's that, Horace?

Hor. Retrograde, reciprocal, and incubus, are come up.

Gal. Thanks be to Jupiter!

Cris. O------glibbery------lubrical------defunct------O------!

Hor. Well said; here's some store.

Virg. What are they?

Hor. Glibbery, lubrical, and defunct.

Gal. O, they came up easy.

Cris. O------O------!

Tib. What's that?

Hor. Nothing yet.

Cris. Magnificate------

Mec. Magnificate! That came up somewhat hard.

Hor. Ay. What cheer, Crispinus?

Cris. O! I shall cast up my------spurious------snotteries------

Hor. Good. Again.

Oris. Chilblain'd------O------O------clumsie------

Hor. That clumsie stuck terribly.

Mec. What's all that, Horace?

Hor. Spurious, snotteries, chilblain'd, clumsie.

Tib. O Jupiter!

Gal. Who would have thought there should have been such a deal of filth in a poet?

Cris. O------balmy froth------

Caes. What's that?


Hor. Balmy, froth, puffie, inflate, turgidous, and ventosity are come up.

Tib. O terrible windy words.

Gal. A sign of a windy brain.

Cris. O------oblatrant------furibund------fatuate------strenuous---

Hor. Here's a deal; oblatrant, furibund, fatuate, strenuous.

Caes. Now all's come up, I trow. What a tumult he had in his belly?

Hor. No, there's the often conscious damp behind still.

Cris. O------conscious------damp.

Hor. It is come up, thanks to Apollo and AEsculapius: another; you were best take a pill more.

Cris. O, no; O------O------O------O------O!

Hor. Force yourself then a little with your finger.

Cris. O------O------prorumped.

Tib. Prorumped I What a noise it made! as if his spirit would have prorumpt with it.

Cris. O------O------O!

Virg. Help him, it sticks strangely, whatever it is.

Cris. O------clutcht

Hor. Now it is come; clutcht.

Caes. Clutcht! it is well that's come up; it had but a narrow passage.

Cris. O------!

Virg. Again! hold him, hold his head there.

Cris. Snarling gusts------quaking custard.

Hor. How now, Crispinus?

Cris. O------obstupefact.

Tib. Nay, that are all we, I assure you.

Hor. How do you feel yourself?

Cris. Pretty and well, I thank you.

These pills can but restore him for a time,
Not cure him quite of such a malady,
Caught by so many surfeits, which have fill'd
His blood and brain thus full of crudities:
'Tis necessary therefore he observe
A strict and wholesome diet. Look you take
Each morning of old Cato's principles
A good draught next your heart; that walk upon,
Till it be well digested: then come home,
And taste a piece of Terence, suck his phrase
Instead of liquorice; and, at any hand,
Shun Plautus and old Ennius: they are meats
Too harsh for a weak stomach.
Use to read (But not without a tutor) the best Greeks,
As Orpheus, Musaeus, Pindarus,
Hesiod, Callimachus, and Theocrite,
High Homer; but beware of Lycophron,
He is too dark and dangerous a dish.
You must not hunt for wild outlandish terms,
To stuff out a peculiar dialect;
But let your matter run before your words.
And if at any time you chance to meet
Some Gallo-Belgic phrase; you shall not straight.
Rack your poor verse to give it entertainment,
But let it pass; and do not think yourself
Much damnified, if you do leave it out,
When nor your understanding, nor the sense
Could well receive it. This fair abstinence,
In time, will render you more sound and clear:
And this have I prescribed to you, in place
Of a strict sentence; which till he perform,
Attire him in that robe. And henceforth learn
To bear yourself more humbly; not to swell,
Or breathe your insolent and idle spite
On him whose laughter can your worst affright.

Tib. Take him away.

Cris. Jupiter guard Caesar!

And for a week or two see him lock'd up
In some dark place, removed from company;
He will talk idly else after his physic.
Now to you, sir. (to Demetrius.) The extremity of law
Awards you to be branded in the front,
For this your calumny: but since it pleaseth
Horace, the party wrong'd, t' intreat of Caesar
A mitigation of that juster doom,
With Caesar's tongue thus we pronounce your sentence.
Demetrius Fannius, thou shalt here put on
That coat and cap, and henceforth think thyself
No other than they make thee; vow to wear them
In every fair and generous assembly,
Till the best sort of minds shall take to knowledge
As well thy satisfaction, as thy wrongs.

Only, grave praetor, here, in open court,
I crave the oath for good behaviour
May be administer'd unto them both.

Virg. Horace, it shall: Tibullus, give it them.

Tib. Rufus Laberius Crispinus, and Demetrius Fannius, lay your hands on your hearts. You shall here solemnly attest and swear, that never, after this instant, either at booksellers' stalls, in taverns, two-penny rooms, tyring-houses, noblemen's butteries, puisents chambers, (the best and farthest places where you are admitted to come,) you shall once offer or dare (thereby to endear yourself the more to any player, enghle, or guilty gull in your company) to malign, traduce, or detract the person or writings of Quintus Horatius Flaccus, or any other eminent men, transcending you in merit, whom your envy shall find cause to work upon, either for that, or for keeping himself in better acquaintance, or enjoying better friends, or if, transported by any sudden and desperate resolution, you do, that then you shall not under the batoon, or in the next presence, being an honourable assembly of his favourers, be brought as voluntary gentlemen to undertake the for-swearing of it. Neither shall you, at any time, ambitiously affecting the title of the Untrussers or Whippers of the age, suffer the itch of writing to over-run your performance in libel, upon pain of being taken up for lepers in wit, and, losing both your time and your papers, be irrecoverably forfeited to the hospital of fools. So help you our Roman gods and the Genius of great Caesar.

Virg. So! now dissolve the court.

Bor. Tib. Gal. Mec. And thanks to Caesar, That thus hath exercised his patience.

We have, indeed, you worthiest friends of Caesar.
It is the bane and torment of our ears,
To hear the discords of those jangling rhymers,
That with their bad and scandalous practices
Bring all true arts and learning in contempt.
But let not your high thoughts descend so low
As these despised objects; let them fall,
With their flat grovelling souls: be you yourselves;
And as with our best favours you stand crown'd,
So let your mutual loves be still renown'd.
Envy will dwell where there is want of merit,
Though the deserving man should crack his spirit.

Blush, folly, blush; here's none that fears
The wagging of an ass's ears,
Although a wolfish case he wears.
Detraction is but baseness' varlet;
And apes are apes, though clothed in scarlet.


Rumpatur, quisquis rumpitur invidi!

"Here, reader, in place of the epilogue, was meant to thee an apology from the author, with his reasons for the publishing of this book: but, since he is no less restrained than thou deprived of it by authority, he prays thee to think charitably of what thou hast read. till thou mayest hear him speak what he hath written."


There are to whom I seem excessive sour,
And past a satire's law t' extend my power:
Others, that think whatever I have writ
Wants pith and matter to eternise it;
And that they could, in one day's light, disclose
A thousand verses, such as I compose.
What shall I do, Trebatius? say.

Treb. Surcease.

Hor. And shall my muse admit no more increase?

Treb. So I advise.

An ill death let me die,
If 'twere not best; but sleep avoids mine eye,
And I use these, lest nights should tedious seem.

Rather, contend to sleep, and live like them,
That, holding golden sleep in special price,
Rubb'd with sweet oils, swim silver Tyber thrice,
And every even with neat wine steeped be:
Or, if such love of writing ravish thee,
Then dare to sing unconquer'd Caesar's deeds;
Who cheers such actions with abundant meeds.

That, father, I desire; but, when I try,
I feel defects in every faculty:
Nor is't a labour fit for every pen,
To paint the horrid troops of armed men,
The lances burst, in Gallia's slaughter'd forces;
Or wounded Parthians, tumbled from their horses:
Great Caesar's wars cannot be fought with words.

Yet, what his virtue in his peace affords,
His fortitude and justice thou canst shew
As wise Lucilius honour'd Scipio.

Of that, my powers shall suffer no neglect,
When such slight labours may aspire respect:
But, if I watch not a most chosen time,
The humble words of Flaccus cannot climb
Th' attentive ear of Caesar; nor must I
With less observance shun gross flattery:
For he, reposed safe in his own merit,
Spurns back the gloses of a fawning spirit.

But how much better would such accents sound
Than with a sad and serious verse to wound
Pantolabus, railing in his saucy jests,
Or Nomentanus spent in riotous feasts?
In satires, each man, though untouch'd, complains
As he were hurt; and hates such biting strains.

What shall I do? Milonius shakes his heels
In ceaseless dances, when his brain once feels
The stirring fervour of the wine ascend;
And that his eyes false numbers apprehend.
Castor his horse, Pollux loves handy-fights;
A thousand heads, a thousand choice delights.
My pleasure is in feet my words to close,
As, both our better, old Lucilius does:
He, as his trusty friends, his books did trust
With all his secrets; nor, in things unjust,
Or actions lawful, ran to other men:
So that the old man's life described, was seen
As in a votive table in his lines:
And to his steps my genius inclines;
Lucanian, or Apulian, I know not whether,
For the Venusian colony ploughs either;
Sent thither, when the Sabines were forced thence,
As old Fame sings, to give the place defence
'Gainst such as, seeing it empty, might make road
Upon the empire; or there fix abode:
Whether the Apulian borderer it were,
Or the Lucanian violence they fear.---
But this my style no living man shall touch,
If first I be not forced by base reproach;
But like a sheathed sword it shall defend
My innocent life; for why should I contend
To draw it out, when no malicious thief
Robs my good name, the treasure of my life?
O Jupiter, let it with rust be eaten,
Before it touch, or insolently threaten
The life of any with the least disease;
So much I love, and woo a general peace.
But, he that wrongs me, better, I proclaim,
He never had assay'd to touch my fame.
For he shall weep, and walk with every tongue
Throughout the city, infamously sung.
Servius the praetor threats the laws, and urn,
If any at his deeds repine or spurn;
The witch Canidia, that Albutius got,
Denounceth witchcraft, where she loveth not;
Thurius the judge, doth thunder worlds of ill,
To such as strive with his judicial will.
All men affright their foes in what they may,
Nature commands it, and men must obey.
Observe with me: The wolf his tooth doth use,
The bull his horn; and who doth this infuse,
But nature? There's luxurious Scaeva; trust
His long-lived mother with him; his so just
And scrupulous right-hand no mischief will;
No more than with his heel a wolf will kill,
Or ox with jaw: marry, let him alone
With temper'd poison to remove the croan.
But briefly, if to age I destined be,
Or that quick death's black wings environ me;
If rich, or poor; at Rome; or fate command
I shall be banished to some other land;
What hue soever my whole state shall bear,
I will write satires still, in spite of fear.

Horace, I fear thou draw'st no lasting breath;
And that some great man's friend will be thy death.

What! when the man that first did satirise
Durst pull the skin over the ears of vice,
And make who stood in outward fashion clear,
Give place, as foul within; shall I forbear?
Did Laelius, or the man so great with fame,
That from sack'd Carthage fetch'd his worthy name,
Storm that Lucilius did Metellus pierce,
Or bury Lupus quick in famous verse?
Rulers and subjects, by whole tribes he checkt,
But virtue and her friends did still protect:
And when from sight, or from the judgment-seat,
The virtuous Scipio and wise Laelius met,
Unbraced, with him in all light sports they shared,
Till their most frugal suppers were prepared.
Whate'er I am, though both for wealth and wit
Beneath Lucilius I am pleased to sit;
Yet Envy, spite of her empoison'd breast,
Shall say, I lived in grace here with the best;
And seeking in weak trash to make her wound,
Shall find me solid, and her teeth unsound:
'Less learn'd Trebatius' censure disagree.

No, Horace, I of force must yield to thee;
Only take heed, as being advised by me,
Lest thou incur some danger: better pause,
Than rue thy ignorance of the sacred laws;
There's justice, and great action may be sued
'Gainst such as wrong men's fames with verses lewd.

Ay, with lewd verses, such as libels be,
And aim'd at persons of good quality:
I reverence and adore that just decree.
But if they shall be sharp, yet modest rhymes,
That spare men's persons, and but tax their crimes,
Such shall in open court find current pass,
Were Caesar judge, and with the maker's grace.

Nay, I'll add more; if thou thyself, being clear,
Shall tax in person a man fit to bear
Shame and reproach, his suit shall quickly be
Dissolved in laughter, and thou thence set free.



If, by looking on what is past, thou hast deserved that name, I am willing thou should'st yet know more, by that which follows, an APOLOGETICAL DIALOGUE; which was only once spoken upon the stage and all the answer I ever gave to sundry impotent libels then cast out (and some yet remaining) against me, and this play. Wherein I take no pleasure to revive the times; but that posterity may make a difference between their manners that provoked me then, and mine that neglected them ever, For, in these strifes, and on such persons, were as wretched to affect a victory, as it is unhappy to be committed with them.

Non annorum canities est laudanda, sed morum.

SCENE, The Author's Lodgings.


Nas. I pray You let' s go see him, how he looks After these libels.

Pol. O vex'd, vex'd, I warrant you.

Nas. Do you think so? I should be sorry for him, If I found that.

Pol. O, they are such bitter things, He cannot choose.

Nas. But, is he guilty of them?

Pol. Fuh! that's no matter.

Nas. No!

Pol. No. Here's his lodging.
We'll steal upon him: or let's listen; stay.
He has a humour oft to talk t' himself.

Nas. They are your manners lead me, not mine own.

(They come forward; the scene opens, and discovers the
Author in his study.)

The fates have not spun him the coarsest thread,
That (free from knots of perturbation)
Doth yet so live, although but to himself,
As he can safely scorn the tongues of slaves,
And neglect fortune, more than she can him.
It is the happiest thing this, not to be
Within the reach of malice; it provides
A man so well, to laugh off injuries;
And never sends him farther for his vengeance,
Than the vex'd bosom of his enemy.
I, now, but think how poor their spite sets off,
Who, after all their waste of sulphurous terms,
And burst-out thunder of their charged mouths,
Have nothing left but the unsavoury smoke
Of their black vomit, to upbraid themselves:
Whilst I, at whom they shot, sit here shot-free,
And as unhurt of envy, as unhit.

(Pol. and Nas. discover themselves.)

Ay, but the multitude they think not so, sir,
They think you hit, and hurt: and dare give out,
Your silence argues it in not rejoining
To this or that late libel.

'Las, good rout!
I can afford them leave to err so still;
And like the barking students of Bears-college,
To swallow up the garbage of the time
With greedy gullets, whilst myself sit by,
Pleased, and yet tortured, with their beastly feeding.
'Tis a sweet madness runs along with them,
To think, all that are aim'd at still are struck:
Then, where the shaft still lights, make that the mark:
And so each fear or fever-shaken fool
May challenge Teucer's hand in archery.
Good troth, if I knew any man so vile,
To act the crimes these Whippers reprehend,
Or what their servile apes gesticulate,
I should not then much muse their shreds were liked;
Since ill men have a lust t' hear others' sins,
All good men have a zeal to hear sin shamed.
But when it is all excrement they vent,
Base filth and offal; or thefts, notable
As ocean-piracies, or highway-stands;
And not a crime there tax'd, but is their own,
Or what their own foul thoughts suggested to them;
And that, in all their heat of taxing others,
Not one of them but lives himself, if known,
Improbior satiram scribente cinaedo
What should I say more, than turn stone with wonder!

I never saw this play bred all this tumult:
What was there in it could so deeply offend
And stir so many hornets?

Aut. Shall I tell you?

Nas. Yea, and ingeniously.

Then, by the hope
Which I prefer unto all other objects,
I can profess, I never writ that piece
More innocent or empty of offence.
Some salt it had, but neither tooth nor gall,
Nor was there in it any circumstance
Which. in the setting down, I could suspect
Might be perverted by an enemy's tongue;
Only it had the fault to be call'd mine;
That was the crime.

No! why, they say you tax'd
The law and lawyers, captains and the players,
By their particular names.

Aut. It is not so.
I used no name. My books have still been taught
To spare the persons, and to speak the vices.
These are mere slanders, and enforced by such
As have no safer ways to men's disgraces.
But their own lies and loss of honesty:
Fellows of practised and most laxative tongues,
Whose empty and eager bellies, in the year,
Compel their brains to many desperate shifts,
(I spare to name them, for their wretchedness
Fury itself would pardon). These, or such,
Whether of malice, or of ignorance,
Or itch t' have me their adversary, I know not,
Or all these mixt; but sure I am, three years
They did provoke me with their petulant styles
On every stage: and I at last unwilling,
But weary, I confess, of so much trouble,
Thought I would try if shame could win upon 'em,'
And therefore chose Augustus Caesar's times,
When wit and area were at their height in Rome,
To shew that Virgil, Horace, and the rest
Of those great master-spirits, did not want
Detractors then, or practicers against them:
And by this line, although no parallel,
I hoped at last they would sit down and blush;
But nothing I could find more contrary.
And though the impudence of flies be great,
Yet this hath so provok'd the angry wasps,
Or, as you said, of the next nest, the hornets,
That they fly buzzing, mad, about my nostrils,
And, like so many screaming grasshoppers
Held by the wings, fill every ear with noise.
And what? those former calumnies you mention'd.
First, of the law: indeed I brought in Ovid
Chid by his angry father for neglecting
The study of their laws for poetry:
And I am warranted by his own words:

Saepe pater dixit, studium quid inutile tentas!
Maeonides nullas ipse reliquit opes.

And in far harsher terms elsewhere, as these:

Non me verbosas leges ediscere, non me
Ingrato voces prostituisse foro.

But how this should relate unto our laws,
Or the just ministers, with least abuse,
I reverence both too much to understand!
Then, for the captain, I will only speak
An epigram I here have made: it is

That's the lemma: mark it.
Strength of my country, whilst I bring to view
Such: as are miss-call'd captains, and wrong you,
And your high names; I do desire, that thence,
Be nor put on you, nor you take offence:
I swear by your true friend, my muse, I love
Your great profession which I once did prove;
And did not shame it with my actions then,
No more than I dare now do with my pen.
He that not trusts me, having vowed thus much,
But's angry for the captain, still: is such.
Now for the players, it is true, I tax'd them,
And yet but some; and those so sparingly,
As all the rest might have sat still unquestion'd,
Had they but had the wit or conscience
To think well of themselves. But impotent, they
Thought each man's vice belong'd to their whole tribe;
And much good do't them! What they have done 'gainst me,
I am not moved with: if it gave them meat,
Or got them clothes, 'tis well; that was their end.
Only amongst them, I am sorry for
Some better natures, by the rest so drawn,
To run in that vile line.

Pol. And is this all!
Will you not answer then the libels?

Aut. No.

Pol. Nor the Untrussers?

Aut. Neither.

Pol. Y'are undone then.

Aut. With whom?

Pol. The world.

Aut. The bawd!

Pol. It will be taken
To be stupidity or tameness in you.

But they that have incensed me, can in soul
Acquit me of that guilt. They know I dare
To spurn or baffle them, or squirt their eyes
With ink or urine; or I could do worse,
Arm'd with Archilochus' fury, write Iambics,
Should make the desperate lashers hang themselves;
Rhime them to death, as they do Irish rats
In drumming tunes. Or, living, I could stamp
Their foreheads with those deep and public brands,
That the whole company of barber-surgeon a
Should not take off with all their art and plasters.
And these my prints should last, still to be read
In their pale fronts; when, what they write 'gainst me
Shall, like a figure drawn in water, fleet,
And the poor wretched papers be employed
To clothe tobacco, or some cheaper drug:
This I could do, and make them infamous.
But, to what end? when their own deeds have mark'd 'em;
And that I know, within his guilty breast
Each slanderer bears a whip that shall torment him
Worse than a million of these temporal plagues:
Which to pursue, were but a feminine humour,
And far beneath the dignity of man.

'Tis true; for to revenge their injuries,
Were to confess you felt them. Let them go,
And use the treasure of the fool, their tongues,
Who makes his gain, by speaking worst of beat.

Pol. O, but they lay particular imputations--

Aut. As what?

Pol. That all your writing is mere railing.

Aut. Ha?
If all the salt in the old comedy
Should be so censured, or the sharper wit
Of the bold satire termed scolding rage,
What age could then compare with those for buffoons?
What should be said of Aristophanes,
Persius, or Juvenal, whose names we now
So glorify in schools, at least pretend it?---
Have they no other?

Yes; they say you are slow,
And scarce bring forth a play a year.

Aut. 'Tis true.
I would they could not say that I did that!
There' s all the joy that I take in their trade,
Unless such scribes as these might be proscribed
Th' abused theatres. They would think it strange, now,
A man should take but colts-foot for one day,
And, between whiles, spit out a better poem
Than e'er the master of art, or giver of wit,
Their belly, made. Yet, this is possible,
If a free mind had but the patience,
To think so much together and so vile.
But that these base and beggarly conceits
Should carry it, by the multitude of voices,
Against the most abstracted work, opposed
To the stuff'd nostrils of the drunken rout!
O, this would make a learn'd and liberal soul
To rive his stained quill up to the back,
And damn his long-watch'd labours to the fire,
Things that were born when none but the still night
And his dumb candle, saw his pinching throes,
Were not his own free merit a more crown
Unto his travails than their reeling claps.
This 'tis that strikes me silent, seals my lips,
And apts me rather to sleep out my time,
Than I would waste it in contemned strifes
With these vile Ibides, these unclean birds,
That make their mouths their clysters, and still purge
From their hot entrails. But I leave the monsters
To their own fate. And, since the Comic Muse
Hath proved so ominous to me, I will try
If TRAGEDY have a more kind aspect;
Her favours in my next I will pursue,
Where, if I prove the pleasure but of one,
So he judicious be, he shall be alone
A theatre unto me; Once I'll say
To strike the ear of time in those fresh strains,
As shall, beside the cunning of their ground,
Give cause to some of wonder, some despite,
And more despair, to imitate their sound.
I, that spend half my nights, and all my days,
Here in a cell, to get a dark paleface,
To come forth worth the ivy or the bays,
And in this age can hope no other grace---
Leave me! There's something come into my thought,
That must and shall be sung high and aloof,
Safe from the wolfs black jaw, and the dun ass's hoof

Nas. I reverence these raptures, and obey them.

(The scene closes)

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The Poetaster; Or, His Arraignment - Glossary The Poetaster; Or, His Arraignment - Glossary

The Poetaster; Or, His Arraignment - Glossary
ABATE, cast down, subdue. ABHORRING, repugnant (to), at variance. ABJECT, base, degraded thing, outcast. ABRASE, smooth, blank. ABSOLUTE(LY), faultless(ly). ABSTRACTED, abstract, abstruse. ABUSE, deceive, insult, dishonour, make ill use of. ACATER, caterer. ACATES, cates. ACCEPTIVE, willing, ready to accept, receive. ACCOMMODATE, fit, befitting. (The word was a fashionable one and used on all occasions. See "Henry IV.," pt. 2, iii. 4). ACCOST, draw near, approach. ACKNOWN, confessedly acquainted with. ACME, full maturity. ADALANTADO, lord deputy or governor of a Spanish province. ADJECTION, addition. ADMIRATION, astonishment. ADMIRE, wonder, wonder at. ADROP, philosopher's stone, or substance from which obtained. ADSCRIVE, subscribe.

The Poetaster; Or, His Arraignment - Act 4 - Scene 7 The Poetaster; Or, His Arraignment - Act 4 - Scene 7

The Poetaster; Or, His Arraignment - Act 4 - Scene 7
ACT IV - SCENE VIISCENE VII.-An open Space before the Palace. (Enter OVID.) Banish'd the court! Let me be banish'd life, Since the chief end of life is there concluded: Within the court is all the kingdom bounded, And as her sacred sphere doth comprehend Ten thousand times so much, as so