Jonson's Eulogy to the Author
    From the First Folio, 1623

            To the memory of my beloved,
                       the AUTHOR,
              Mr. William Shakespeare :
                and what he hath left us

TO draw no envy
(Shakespeare) on thy name,
    Am I thus ample to thy Booke and Fame :
While I confesse thy writings to be such,
    As neither
Man, nor Muse, can praise too much.                    
‘Tis true, and all mens suffrage. But these wayes
    Were not the paths I meant unto thy praise :
For seeliest Ignorance on these may light,
    Which, when it sounds at best, but eccho’s right;
Or blinde Affection, which doth ne're advance
    The truth, but gropes, and urgeth all by chance ;
Or crafty Malice, might pretend this praise,
    And thinke to ruine, where it seem’d to raise.

These are, as some infamous Baud, or Whore,
    Should praise a Matron. What could hurt her more?
But thou art proofe against them, and indeed
    Above th’ill fortune of them, or the need.

I, therefore will begin. Soul of the Age !
    The applause! delight! the wonder of our Stage !
My Shakespeare, rise; I will not lodge thee by
Chaucer, or Spenser, or bid Beaumont lye
A little further, to make thee a roome :
    Thou art a Moniment, without a tombe,
And are alive still, while they Booke doth live,
    And we have wits to read, and praise to give.
That I not mixe thee so, my braine excuses ;
    I meane with great, but disproportion’d
 Muses :
For, if I thought my judgement were of yeeres,
    I should commit thee surely with thy peeres

And tell, how farre thou dist our Lily out-shine,
    Or sporting
Kid, or Marlowes mighty line.
And though thou hadst small
Latine, and lesse Greeke,
    From thence to honour thee, I would not seeke
For names; but call forth thund’ring
Euripides, and Sophocles to us,                                       
Paccuvius, Accius, him of Cordova dead,
     To life againe, to heare thy Buskin tread,                              [F2: To live]
And shake a Stage : Or, when thy Sockes were on,
    Leave thee alone, for the comparison
Of all, that insolent
Greece, or haughtie Rome
     sent forth, or since did from their ashes come.
Triumph, my Britaine, thou hast one to showe,    
    To whom all Scenes of
Europe homage owe.   
He was not of an age, but for all time !

   And all the Muses still were in their prime,  
When like Apollo he came forth to warme
    Our eares, or like a
Mercury to charme !
Nature her selfe was proud of his designes,

     And joy’d to weare the dressing of his lines !
Which were so richly spun, and woven so fit,
    As, since, she will vouchsafe no other Wit.

The merry Greeke, tart Aristophanes,
    Neat Terence, witty Plautus, now not please;
But antiquated, and deserted lye
    As they were not of Natures family.
Yet must I not give Nature all: Thy Art,
    My gentle
Shakespeare, must enjoy a part
For though the Poets matter, Nature be,
     His Art doth give the fashion. And, that he,
Who casts to write a living line, must sweat,
    (such as thine are) and strike the second heat
Upon the
Muses anvile : turne the same,
    (And himselfe with it) that he thinkes to frame;
Or for the lawrell, he may gaine a scorne,
    For a good
Poet’s made, as well as borne.
And such wert thou.  Looke how the fathers face             
    Lives in his issue, even so, the race

Of Shakespeares minde, and manners brightly shines
    In his well torned, and true filed lines :
In each of which, he seems to shake a Lance,
    As brandish't at the eyes of Ignorance.
Sweet Swan of Avon! what a sight it were
   To see thee in our waters yet appeare,
And make those flights upon the bankes of
    That so did take
Eliza, and our James !
But stay, I see thee in the Hemisphere
    Advanc’d, and made a Constellation there !
Shine forth, thou Starre of
Poets, and with rage,
    Or influence, chide, or cheere the drooping Stage;
Which, since thy flight from hence, hath mourn’d like night,       
    And despaires day, but for thy Volumes light.

                                                                                  Ben: Jonson 
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