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Ah quanquam iratum, peftem hanc avertere numen,
Nec faltem bellis ifta licere, velit !

Nos, tua progenies, pereamus; & ecce, perimus!
In nos jus habeat: jus habet omne malum.
Tu ftabilis brevium genus immortale nepotum
Fundes; nec tibi mors ipsa superstes erit :
Semper plena manens uteri de fonte perenni
Formofas mittes ad mare mortis aquas.
Sic Venus humanâ quondam, Dea faucia dextrâ,
(Namque folent ipfis bella nocere Deis)
Imploravit opem fuperûm, queftúfque cievit,
Tinxit adorandus candida membra cruor.
Quid quereris? contemne breves fecura dolores:
Nam tibi ferre necem vulnera nulla valent..






His EDITION in Folio, 1656.

T my return lately into England *, I met by great accident (for fuch I account it to be, that any copy of it should be extant any where fo long, unless at his houfe who printed it) a book intituled, "The Iron Age," and published under my name, during the time of my abfence. I wondered very much how one who could be fo foolish to write so ill verses, fhould yet be so wife to fet them forth as another man's rather than his own; though perhaps he might have made a better choice, and not fathered the bastard upon fuch a person, whose stock of reputation is, I fear, little enough for maintenance of his own numerous legitimate offspring of that kind. It would have been much less injurious, if it had pleased the author to put forth some of my writings under his own name, rather than his own under mine: he had been in that a more

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pardonable plagiary, and had done lefs wrong by robbery, than he does by such a bounty; for nobody can be justified by the imputation even of another's merit; and our own coarse cloaths are like to become us better than those of another man, though never so rich: but thefe, to say the truth, were fo beggarly, that I myself was afhamed to wear them. It was in vain for me, that I avoided cenfure by the concealment of my own writings, if my reputation could be thus executed in effigie; and impoffible it is for any good name to be in fafety, if the malice of witches have the power to confume and destroy it in an image of their own making. This indeed was fo ill made, and fo unlike, that I hope the charm took no effect. So that I efteem myfelf lefs prejudiced by it, than by that which has been done to me fince, almost in the fame kind; which is, the publication of fome things of mine without my confent or knowledge, and those so mangled and imperfect, that I could neither with honour acknowledge, nor with honesty quite difavow them.

Of which fort, was a comedy called "The Guar"dian," printed in the year 1650; but made and acted before the Prince, in his paffage through Cambridge towards York, at the beginning of the late unhappy war; or rather neither made nor acted, but rough-drawn only, and repeated; for the hafte was fo great, that it could neither be revised or perfected by the author, nor learned without book by the actors, nor set forth in any measure tolerably by the officers of the college. After the reprefentation (which, I confefs,

fefs, was fomewhat of the latest) I began to look it over, and changed it very much, ftriking out fome whole parts, as that of the poet and the foldier; but I have loft the copy, and dare not think it deferves the pains to write it again, which makes me omit it in this publication, though there be fome things in it which I am not afliamed of, taking the excufe of my age and small experience in human conversation when I made it. But, as it is, it is only the hafty firft-fitting of a picture, and therefore like to resemble me accordingly.

From this which has happened to myself, I began to reflect on the fortune of almoft all writers, and especially poets, whofe works (commonly printed after their deaths) we find ftuffed out, either with counterfeit pieces, like falfe money put in to fill up the bag, though it add nothing to the fum; or with such, which, though of their own coin, they would have called in themselves, for the basenefs of the allay: whether this proceed from the indifcretion of their friends, who think a vast heap of ftones or rubbish a better mo-. nument than a little tomb of marble; or by the unwor thy avarice of fome stationers, who are content to di minish the value of the author, fo they may increase the price of the book; and, like vintners, with fophifticate mixtures, fpoil the whole veffel of wine, to make it yield more profit. This has been the cafe with Shakespeare, Fletcher, Jonfon, and many others; part of whofe poems I should take the boldness to prune and lop away, if the care of replanting them in print did


belong to me: neither would I make any fcruple to cut off from fome the unneceffary young fuckers, and from others the old withered branches; for a great wit is no more tied to live in a vast volume, than in a gigantic body; on the contrary, it is commonly more vigorous, the less space it animates. And, as Statius fays of little Tydeus *,

Totos infufa per artus

"Major in exiguo regnabat corpore virtus."

I am not ignorant, that, by saying this of others, I expose myself to fome raillery, for not using the fame fevere difcretion in my own cafe, where it concerns me nearer: But though I publish here more than in strict wisdom I ought to have done, yet I have fuppreft and caft away more than I publish; and, for the ease of myfelf and others, have loft, I believe too, more than both. And upon these confiderations I have been perfuaded to overcome all the juft repugnances of my own modefty, and to produce these poems to the light and view of the world; not as a thing that I approved of in itself, but as a less evil, which I chose rather than to ftay till it were done for me by fomebody elfe, either furreptitiously before, or avowedly after, my death: and this will be the more excufable, when the reader fhall know in what refpects he may look upon me as a dead, or at least a dying person, and upon my Muse in this action, as appearing, like the Emperor Charles the Fifth, and affifting at her own funeral.

Stat. Theb. lib. i. 416.


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