The Scourge of Villainy
By John Marston


CANNOT quote a motto Italienate,
   Or brand my satyres with some Spanish terme;
I cannot with swolne lines magnificate
   Mine owne poore worth, or as immaculate
Task others rimes, as if no blot did staine,
No blemish soyle, my young satyrick vaine.

Nor can I make my soule a merchandize,
     Seeking conceits to sute these artlesse times;
Or daine for base reward to poetize,
     Soothing the world with oyly flatteries.
Shall mercenary thoughts provoke me write—
Shall I for lucre be a parasite?

Shall I once pen for vulgar sorts applause,
     To please each hound, each dungy scavenger;
To fit some oyster-wenches yawning jawes
     With tricksey tales of speaking Cornish dawes?
First let my braine (bright-hair'd Latonas sonne)
Be cleane distract with all confusion.

What though some John-à-Stile will basely toyle,
     Only incited with the hope of gaine:
Though roguie thoughts do force some jade-like moile;
     Yet no such filth my true-borne muse will soyle.
O Epictetus, I doe honour thee,
To thinke how rich thou wert in povertie!

The Works of John Marston, Vol. III.
J. O. Halliwell [Halliwell-Phillips], ed.
London: John Russell Smith, 1856. 268.


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