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What should I say, more? then turne stone with
NAS. I neuer saw this play bred all this tumult.
What was there in it could so deeply offend?
And stirre so many hornets? Avt. Shall I tell you?
NAS. Yes, and ingenuously. Avt. Then, by the
Which I preferre vnto all other obiects,
I can profeffe, I neuer writ that peece
More innocent, or empty of offence.
Some falt it had, but neyther tooth, nor gall,
Nor was there in it any circumstance,
Which, in the setting downe, I could suspect
Might be peruerted by an enemies tongue.
Onely, it had the fault to be call'd mine.
That was the crime. Pol. No? why they, say you
The Law, and Lawyers; Captaines; and the Players
By their particular names. Avt. It is not fo.
I ví'd no name. My Bookes haue still beene taught
To spare the persons, and to speake the vices.
These are meere slanders, and enforc'd by such
As haue no safer wayes to mens disgraces,
But their owne lyes, and losse of honesty.
Fellowes of practis'd, and most laxatiue tongues,
Whose empty and eager bellies, i' the yeere,
Compell their braynes to many desp'rate shifts,
(I spare to name 'hem: for, their wretchednesle,
Fury it felfe would pardon.) These, or such
Whether of malice, or of ignorance,
Or itch, t'haue me their aduersary (I know not)
Or all these mixt; but sure I am, three yeeres,
They did prouoke me with their petulant stiles
On euery stage: And I at last, vnwilling,
But weary, I confesse, of so much trouble,
Thought, I would try, if shame could winne vpon 'hem.
55 more, than 1692+ 56 saw] say N breed 1716
And therefore chose AvgvsTVS CAESARS times,
When wit, and artes 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 practisers against them:
And by this line (although no paralel)
I hop'd at last they would sit downe, and blush.
But nothing could I finde more contrary.
And though the impudence of flyes be great,
Yet this hath so prouok'd the angry waspes,
(351) Or as you sayd, of the next nest, the hornets;
That they fly buzzing, mad, about my noftrills:
And like so many screaming grasse-hoppers,
Held by the wings, fill euery eare with noyse.
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 lawes, for poetry:
And I am warranted by his owne wordes :
Sape pater dixit, ftudium quid inutile tentas?
Meonides nullas ipfe reliquit opes.
Trist. lib. 4. Eleg. 10.
And in farre harsher termes elsewhere, as these:
Non me verbofas leges edifcere, non me
Ingrato voces prostituisi e foro.
Amo. lib. 1. Eleg. 15.
But how this should relate, vnto our lawes,
Or their iuft ministers, with least abuse,
I reuerence both too much, to vnderstand!
Then, for the Captaine; I will onely speake
An Epigramme I here haue made: It is
Vnto true Souldiers. That's the lemma. Marke it.
Strength of my Countrey, whilft I bring to view
Such as are misse-call's Captaines, and wrong you,
And your high names; I doe defire, that thence,
Be nor put on you, nor you take offence:
I sweare by your true friend, my Muse, I loue
Your great profession, which I once did proue; And did not Mame it with my actions, then,
No more then I dare, now, doe with my pen.
He that not trusts me, hauing vow'd thus much,
But's angry for the Captaine, still: is such.
Now for the Players, it is true, I tax'd 'hem,
And yet, but some; and those fo sparingly,
As all the rest might haue sate still, vnquestion'd,
Had they but had the wit, or conscience,
To thinke well of themselues. But, impotent they
Thought each mans vice belong'd to their whole tribe :
And much good doo't 'hem. What th'haue done
I am not mou'd with. If it gaue 'hem meat,
Or got 'hem clothes. 'Tis well. That was their end.
Onely amongst them, I am sorry for
Some better natures, by the rest so drawne,
To run in that vile line. Pol. And is this all ?
Will you not answere then the libells ? Avt. No.
POL. Nor the yntrussers ? Avt. Neither. Pol.
Y’are vndone then.
Avr. With whom? Pol. The world. Avt. The
baud! Pol. It wil be taken
To be stupidity, or tamenesse in you.
 Avt. But, they that haue inceni'd me, can in
Acquit me of that guilt. They know, I dare
To spurne, or baffull 'hem; or squirt their eyes
With inke, or vrine: or I could doe worse,
Arm'd with ARCHILOCHVS fury, write Iambicks,
Should make the desperate lashers hang themselues.
Rime 'hem to death, as they doe Iris rats
In drumming tunes. Or, liuing, I could stampe
Their foreheads with those deepe, and publike brands
That the whole company of Barber-Surgeons
Should not take off, with all their art, and playsters.
And there my prints should last, still to be read
In their pale fronts: when, what they write 'gainst me,
Shall like a figure, drawne in water, fleete,
And the poore wretched papers be employed
To cloth tabacco, or fome cheaper drug.
This I could doe, and make them infamous.
160 But, to what end? when their owne deedes haue mark'd
And, that I know, within his guilty brest
Each flanderer beares a whip, that shall torment him,
Worse, then a million of these temporall plagues :
Which to pursue, were but a feminine humour,
165 And, farre beneath the dignitie of a man.
NAS. 'Tis true: for to reuenge their iniuries,
Were to confesse you felt 'hem. Let 'hem goe,
And vse the treasure of the foole, their tongues,
Who makes his gayne, by speaking worst, of best. 170
Pol. O, but they lay particular imputations-
Avr. As what? Po. That all your writing, is
Avt. Ha! If all the salt in the old comædy
Should be so censur'd, or the sharper wit
Of the bold fatyre, termed scolding rage,
What age could then compare with those, for buffons ?
VVhat should be fayd of ARISTOPHANES?
PERSIVS? or IUVENAL? whose names we now
So glorifie in schooles, at least pretend
Ha' they no other? Pol. Yes: they say you are slow, 180
And scarse bring forth a play a yeere. Avt. 'Tis true.
I would, they could not say that I did that,
There's all the ioy that I take i'their trade,
Vnlesse such Scribes as they might be proscrib'd
Th’abused theaters. They would thinke it strange, now, 185
A man should take but colts-foote, for one day,
166 a) om. 1640+ 185 abused] absurd N
And, betweene whiles, spit out a better poeme
Then e're the master of art, or giuer of wit,
Their belly made. Yet, this is possible,
(353] If a free minde had but the patience,
To thinke so much, together, and so vile.
But, that these base, and beggerly conceipts
Should carry it, by the multitude of voices,
Against the most abstracted worke, oppos'd
To the stuff'd nostrills of the drunken rout!
195 O, this would make a learn'd, and liberall soule, To riue his stayned quill, vp to the back, And damne his long-watch'd labours to the fire; Things, that were borne, when none but the still night, And his dumbe candle saw his pinching throes :
200 Were not his owne free merit a more crowne Vnto his trauailes, then their reeling claps. This ’tis, that strikes me silent, seales my lips, And apts me, rather to sleepe out my time, Then I would waste it in contemned strifes,
205 With these vile Ibides, thefe vncleane birds, That make their mouthes their clyfters, and still purge From their hot entrailes. But, I leaue the monsters To their owne fate. And, since the Comick Mvse Hath prou'd fo ominous to me, I will trie
210 If Tragedie haue a more kind aspect. Her fauours in my next I will pursue, Where, if I proue the pleasure but of one, So he iudicious be; He shall b'alone A Theatre vnto me: Once, I'le say,
215 To strike the eare of time, in those fresh straines,
As shall, beside the cunning of their ground, Giue cause to fome of wonder, fome despight,
And vnto more, despaire, to imitate their sound. I, that spend halfe my nights, and all my dayes,
Here in a cell, to get a darke, pale face,
202 Travels 1692, 1716 days W