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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

To my Dear Friend, Master Benjamin Jonson, upon His ‘Fox’

By Francis Beaumont (1584–1616)

IF it might stand with justice to allow

The swift conversion of all follies, now

Such is my mercy, that I could admit

All sorts should equally approve the wit

Of this thy even work, whose growing fame

Shall raise thee high, and thou it, with thy name;

And did not manners and my love command

Me to forbear to make those understand

Whom thou, perhaps, hast in thy wiser doom

Long since firmly resolved, shall never come

To know more than they do,—I would have shown

To all the world the art which thou alone

Hast taught our tongue, the rules of time, of place,

And other rites, delivered with the grace

Of comic style, which only is far more

Than any English stage hath known before.

But since our subtle gallants think it good

To like of naught that may be understood,

Lest they should be disproved, or have, at best,

Stomachs so raw, that nothing can digest

But what’s obscene, or barks,—let us desire

They may continue, simply to admire

Fine clothes and strange words, and may live, in age

To see themselves ill brought upon the stage,

And like it; whilst thy bold and knowing Muse

Contemns all praise, but such as thou wouldst choose.