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with divers stolen, and surreptitious copies, maimed, and deformed by the frauds and stealths of injurious impostors, that exposed them ; even those, are now offered to your view cured, and perfect of their limbs, and all the rest, absolute in their numbers, as he conceived them. Who, as he was a happy imitator of Nature, was a most gentle expresser of it. His mind and hand went together; and what he thought, he uttered with that easiness, that we have scarce received from him a blot in his papers. But it is not our province, who only gather his works, and give them you, to praise him. It is yours that read him. And there we hope, to your divers capacities, you will find enough, both to draw, and hold you ; for his wit can no more lie hid, than it could be lost. Read him, therefore ; and again, and again : and if then you do not like him, surely you are in some manifest danger, not to understand him. And so we leave you to other of his friends, who, if you need, can be your guides: if you need them not, you can lead yourselves, and others. And such readers we wish him.
Upon the Effigies of my worthy Friend, the Author,
The truer image, and a livelier he,
Turn reader. But observe his comic vein,
An Epitaph on the admirable Dramatic Poet, W. Shakespeare.1
What need my Shakespeare for his honour'd bones, The labour of an age piled stones;
Or that his hallow'd reliques should be hid
Under a star-ypointing pyramid?
Dear son of memory, great heir of fame,
What need'st thou such dull witness of thy name?
Hast built thyself a lasting monument:
For whilst, to the shame of slow-endeavouring art,
1 An Epitaph on the admirable Dramatic Poet, W. Shakespeare.] These lines, like the preceding, have no name appended to them in the folio, 1632, but the authorship is ascertained by the publication of them as Milton's, in the edition of his Poems in 1645. Svo. 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 important. Instead of "weak witness" in line 6, the folio 1632 has "dull witness :" instead of "live-long monument," in line 8, the folio has "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.
Those Delphic lines with deep impression took ;
That kings for such a tomb would wish to die.
speare. Sbal -speare, at length pious fellows give The world thy works ; thy works, by which outlive Thy tomb thy name must: when that stone is rent, And time dissolves thy Stratford monument, Here we alive shall view thee still : this book, When brass and marble fade, shall make thee look Fresh to all ages ; when posterity Shall loathe what's new, think all is prodigy That is not Shakespeare's, every line, each verse, Here shall revive, redeem thee from thy hearse. Nor fire, nor cankering age, as Naso said Of his, thy wit-fraught book shall once invade : Nor shall I e'er believe or think thee dead, (Though miss'd) until our bankrupt stage be sped (Impossible) with some new strain t' out-do Passions of Juliet, and her Romeo; Or till I hear a scene more nobly take, Than when thy half-sword parleying Romans spake ::
1 Than when thy half-sword parleying Romans spake :) Leonard Digges prefixed a long copy of verses to the edition of Shakespeare's Poems in 1640, 8vo, in which he makes this passage, referring to “Julius Cæsar," more distinct; he also there speaks of the audiences Shakespeare's plays at that time drew, in comparison with Ben. Jonson's. This is the only part of his production worth,adding in a note.
“So have I seen, when Cæsar would appear,
Honest Iago, or the jealous Moor.
Till these, till any of thy volume's rest,
To the Memory of M. W. Shake-speare.
We wonder'd (Shake-speare) that thou went'st so soon
Can die, and live to act a second part:
This a re-entrance to a plaudite.
To the Memory of my beloved, the Author, Mr. William
To draw no envy (Shakespeare) on thy name,
As neither man, nor muse, can praise too much;
1 Perhaps the initials of John Marston.
2 Referring to lines by William Basse, then circulating in MS., and not printed (as far as is now known) 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 particulars.