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appoint the said Thomas Russell, esq. and Francis Collins, gent. to be overseers hereof. And do revoke all former wills, and publish this to be my last will and testament. In witness whereof I have hereunto put my hand, the day and year first above written.
By me @Milliam Shakspeare.
Witness to the publishing hereof,
Probatum fuit testamentum suprascriptum apud London,
coram Magistro William Byrde, Legum Doctore, &c. vicesimo secundo die mensis Junii, Anno Domini 1616; juramento Johannis Hall unius ex. cui, sc. de bene, &c. jurat. reservata potestate, &c. Susanne Hall, alt. ex. &c. eam cum venerit, &c. petitur, &c.
OF MY BELOVED
MR. WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE,
AND WHAT HE HATH LEFT US.
To draw no envy, Shakspeare, on thy name,
Am I thus ample to thy book and fame:
While I confess thy writings to be such,
As neither man nor Muse can praise too much.
'Tis true, and all men's suffrage. But these ways
Were not the paths I meant unto thy praise,
For silliest ignorance on these may light,
Which, when it sounds at best, but echoes right;
Or blind affection, which doth ne'er advance
The truth, but gropes, and urgeth all by chance;
Or crafty malice might pretend this praise,
And think to ruin, where it seem'd to raise.
These are, as some infamous bawd or whore
Should praise a matron. What could hurt her more ?
But thou art proof against them, and indeed
Above th’ill fortune of them, or the need.
I therefore will begin. Soul of the age !
Th' applause! delight! the wonder of our stage!
My Shakspeare, rise! I will not lodge thee by
Chaucer, or Spenser, or bid Beaumont lie
A little further, to make thee a room:
Thou art a monument without a tomb,
And art alive still, while thy book doth live,
And we have wits to read, and praise to give.
That I not mix thee so, my brain excuses,
I mean with great, but disproportion’d muses:
For if I thought my judgment were of years, I should commit thee surely with thy peers, And tell how far thou didst our Lily outshine, Or sporting Kid, or Marlow's mighty line. And though thou hadst small Latin and less Greek, From thence to honour thee, I will not seek For names; but call forth thund'ring Eschylus, Euripides, and Sophocles to us, Pacuvius, Accius, him of Cordova dead, To live again, to hear thy buskin tread, And shake a stage: or when thy socks were on, Leave thee alone for the comparison Of all, that insolent Greece, or baughty Rome Sent forth, or since did from their ashes come. Triumph, my Britain, thou hast one to show, 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 warm Our ears, or like a Mercury to charm! Nature herself was proud of his designs, And joy'd to wear the dressing of his lines ! Which were so richly spun, and woven so fit, As since, she will vouchsafe no other wit. The merry Greek, tart Aristophanes, Neat Terence, witty Plautus, now not please; But antiquated and deserted lie, As they were not of Nature's family. Yet must I not give Nature all: thy art, My gentle Shakspeare, must enjoy a part. For though the poet's 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 seeond heat Upon the Muse's anvil; turn the same, And himself with it, that he thinks to frame; Or for the laurel, he may gain a scorn, For a good poet's inade, as well as born. And such wert thou. Look how the father's face Lives in bis issue : even so the race
Of Shakspeare's mind and manners brightly shines
In his well-turned, and true filed lines :
In each of which he seems to shake a lance,
As brandish'd at the eyes of ignorance.
Sweet swan of Avon! what a sight it were,
To see thee in our water yet appear,
And make those slights upon the banks of Thames,
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 star of poets, and with rage,
Or influence, chide, or cheer the drooping stage,
Which, since thy flight from hence, bath mourn'd like
And despairs day, but for thy volumes' light.
WORTHY MASTER SHAKSPEARE,
AND HIS POEMS.
A mind reflecting ages past, whose clear
And equal surface can make things appear,
Distant a thousand years, and represent
Them in their lively colours, just extent:
To outrun hasty time, retrieve the fates,
Rowl back the heavens, blow ope the iron gates
Of death and Lethe, where confused lye
Great heaps of ruinous mortality:
In that deep dusky dungeon, to discern
A royal ghost from churls; by art to learn
The physiognomy of shades, and give
Them sudden birth, wond'ring how oft they live;
What story coldly tells, what poets feign
At second hand, and picture without brain,
Senseless and soul-less shews: To give a stage,--
Ample, and true with life,—voice, action, age,
As Plato's year, and new scene of the world,
Them unto us, or us to them had hurld:
To raise our ancient sovereigns from their herse,
Make kings his subjects; by exchanging verse
Enlive their pale trunks, that the present age
Joys in their joy and trembles at their rage:
Yet so to temper passion, that our ears
Take pleasure in their pain, and eyes in tears
Both weep and smile; fearful at plots so sad,
Then laughing at our fear; abus’d, and glad
To be abus'd; affected with that truth
Which we perceive is false, pleas'd in that ruth
At which we start, and, by elaborate play,
Tortur'd and tickld; by a crab-like way
Time past made pastime, and in ugly sort
Disgorging up bis ravin for our sport:-
- While the plebeian imp, from lofty throne,
Creates and rules a world, and works upon
Mankind by secret engines; now to move
A chilling pity, then a rigorous love;
To strike up and stroak down, both joy and ire;
To steer the affections; and by heavenly fire
Mold us anew, stoln from ourselves:-
This,—and much more, which cannot be exprest
But by himself, his tongue, and his own breast,-
Was Shakspeare's freehold; which his cunning brain
Improv'd, by favour of the nine-fold train ;-
The buskin'd muse, the comick queen, the grand
And louder tone of Clio, nimble hand
And nimbler foot of the melodious pair,
The silver-voic'd lady, the most fair
Calliope, she whose speaking silence daunts,
And she whose praise the heavenly body chants.
These jointly woo'd him, envying one another; Obey'd by all as spouse, but lov'd as brother;And wrought a curious robe, of sable grave, Fresh green, and pleasant yellow, red most brave,