James Shirley



THE CARDINAL !  'Cause we express no scene,
We do believe most of you, gentlemen,
Are at this hour in France, and busy there,
Though you vouchsafe to lend your bodies here ;
But keep your fancy active, till you know,
By th' progress of our play, 't is nothing so.
A poet's art is to lead on your thought
Through subtle paths and workings of a plot ;
And where your expectation does not thrive,
If things fall better, yet you may forgive.
I will say nothing positive ; you may
Think what you please ; we call it but a Play :
Whether the comic Muse, or ladies' love,
Romance, or direful tragedy it prove,
The bill determines not ; and would you be
Persuaded, I would have 't a Comedy,
For all the purple in the name and state
Of him that owns it ; but 't is left to fate.
Yet I will tell you, ere you see it play'd,
What the author, and he blusht too, when he said,
Comparing with his own, (for 't had been pride,
He thought, to build his with a pyramid
Upon another's wounded fame,) this play
Might rival with his best, and dar'd to say—
Troth, I am out ; he said no more. You, then,
When 't 's done, may say your pleasures, gentlemen.

The Chief Elizabethan Dramatists.
William Allan Neilson, Ed.
Cambridge, Mass: The Riverside Press, 1939. 830.


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