To the memory of my beloued,
MR. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE :
what he hath left vs.
'Tis true, and all men's suffrage. But these wayes
Were not the paths I meant vnto 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 aduance
The truth, but gropes, and vrgeth 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
Aboue th' ill fortune of them, or the need.
I, therefore will begin. Soule 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 art aliue still, while thy Booke doth liue,
And we haue wits to read, and praise to giue.
That I not mixe thee so, my braine excuses ;
I meane with great, but disproportion'd Muses:
For, if I thought my iudgement were of yeeres,
I should commit thee surely with thy peeres,
And tell, how farre thou didstst [sic] our Lily out-shine,
Or sporting Kid, or Marlowes might 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 AEschilus,
Euripides, and Sophocles to vs,
Paccuuius, Accius, him of Cordoua dead,
To life againe, to heare thy Buskin tread,
And shake a Stage : Or, when thy Sockes were on,
Leaue thee alone, for the comparison