As when a tree's cut down, the secret root
Lives under ground, and thence new branches shoot;
So from old Shakspeare's honour'd dust, this day
Springs up and buds a new reviving play:
Shakspeare, who (taught by none) did first impart
To Fletcher wit, to labouring Jonson art.
He, monarch like, gave those, his subjects, law;
And is that nature which they paint and draw.
Fletcher reach'd that which on his heights did grow,
While Jonson crept, and gather'd all below.
This did his love, and this his mirth digest:
One imitates him most, the other best.
If they have since outwrit all other men,
'Tis with the drops which fell from Shakspeare's pen.
The storm, which vanish'd on the neighbouring shore,
Was taught by Shakspeare's Tempest first to roar.
That innocence and beauty, which did smile
In Fletcher, grew on this enchanted isle.
But Shakspeare's magic could not copied be;
Within that circle none durst walk but he.
I must confess 'twas bold, nor would you now
That liberty to vulgar wits allow,
Which works by magic supernatural things:
But Shakspeare's power is sacred as a king's.
Those legends from old priesthood were received,
And he then writ, as people then believed.
But if for Shakspeare we your grace implore,
We for our theatre shall want it more:
Who, by our dearth of youths, are forced to employ
One of our women to present a boy;
And that's a transformation, you will say,
Exceeding all the magic in the play.
Let none expect in the last act to find,
Her sex transform'd from man to womankind.
Whate'er she was before the play began,
All you shall see of her is perfect man.
Or, if your fancy will be further led
To find her woman--it must be a-bed.