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I must likewise do him that justice to acknowledge, that my writing received daily his amendments, and that is the reason why it is not so faulty, as the rest which I have done without the help or correction of so judicious a friend.
But, if for Shakespear we your grace implore, We for our Theatre shall want it more: Who by our dearth of Youths are forc'd t'employ One of our Women to present a Boy. None that I love more than my self: you are a Counsellour, if you can advise these Elements to silence: use your I have great comfort from this Fellow; methinks his complexion is perfect Gallows; stand fast, good fate, to his hanging; make the Rope of his destiny our Cable, for our own does little advantage us; if he be not born to be hang'd we shall be drown'd. How I have lov'd thee from thy infancy, Heav'n knows, and thou thy self canst bear me witness, Therefore accuse not me for thy restraint. But have I Enemies within this Isle, and do you Keep me from them? O they despise old age, and spare it for that reason: It is below their conquest, their fury falls Alone upon the young. And so it shall; And thou shalt have the open air at freedom. But tell me first, my spirit, How fares the Duke, my Brother, and their followers? And mine shall: Hast thou, who art but air, a touch, a feeling of their Afflictions, and shall not I (a man like them, one Who as sharply relish passions as they) be kindlier Mov'd than thou art? They have cast off your service, and revolted To the wrack'd Mariners, who have already Parcell'd your Island into Governments. They are in each others powers, but this swift Bus'ness I must uneasie make, lest too light Winning make the prize light — one word more. No, I will resist such entertainment Till my Enemy has more power. make not too rash a tryal Of him, for he's gentle and not fearful. put thy Sword up Traytor, Who mak'st a show, but dar'st not strike: thy Conscience is possest with guilt. To the most of men this is a , And they to him are Angels. You may do what you please, but, Sir, we two can never . Time will convince you, Mean while be sure you tread in honours paths, That you may merit her, and that you may not want Fit occasions to employ your virtue, in this next Cave there is a stranger lodg'd, one of your kind, Young, of a noble presence, and as he says himself, Of Princely birth, he is my Pris'ner and in deep Affliction, visit, and comfort him; it will become you. True, he has seen a woman, yet he lives, perhaps I took the moment of his birth amiss, perhaps my Art it self is false: on what strange grounds we build our hopes and fears, mans life is all a mist, and in the dark, our fortunes meet us. 'Tis like, Sir, they are many, But I know none he has, yet let me often see him And I shall find 'em all in time. He sends me only like a Sh'riffs man here To let you know the Malefactor's neer; And that he means to dye, en Cavalier. Wilt not thou take advice of two that stand For old Counsellors here, where thou art a meer stranger To the Laws of the Country. Sometimes I am all wound about with Adders, who with their cloven tongues hiss me to madness. yonder stands one of his spirits sent to torment me. This is some Monster of the Isle, were I in , As once I was, and had him painted; Not a Holy-day fool there but would give me Six-pence for the sight of him; well, if I could make Him tame, he were a present for an Emperour. By calculation of his birth Sir, I attend your pleasure. How then have you, Sir, Liv'd so long unharm'd among them? But let 'em not provoke me, for I'm sure I shall Not then forbear them. I'le struggle with my heart to follow this, But if I lose him by it, will you promise To bring him back agen? On the fourth, my Lord, and on the sixth you said our work should cease. Sea-water shalt thou drink, thy food Shall be the fresh-Brook-Muscles, wither'd Roots, And Husks, wherein the Acorn crawl'd; follow. sure thou think'st there are no more Such shapes as his? But you'l grow old and wrinckl'd, as you see me now, And then you will not care for her. But you have told me her works are various; She made you old, but she has made us young. well, since his faults are many, I am glad you love him not. Forgive me, truth, for thus disguising thee; if I can make him think I do not love the stranger much, he'll let me see him oftner. I have heard there are more Women in the World, As fair as you are too. For this poor wretch he has not much to say, But quietly brings in his part o'th' Play, And begs the favour to be damn'd to day.This excellent contrivance he was pleas'd to communicate to me, and to desire my assistance in it. Sir, had I not four or five Women once that tended me? My Brother's God, I love thee; prithee let me come to thee. that's another question: for if she be thus flipant in her Water, what will she be in her Wine? Nay, if the Frogs of this Island drink such, they are the merryest Frogs in Christendom. 'Tis thou hast chang'd the Wine then, and drunk it up, Like a debauch'd Fish as thou art. Will not thy mightiness revenge our wrongs, on this great Sorcerer? I confess that from the very first moment it so pleas'd me, that I never writ any thing with more delight. Subject Monster, I charge thee keep the Peace between us. She does not know the virtue of this liquor: I prithee let me drink for her. But Fletcher was not the only Poet who made use of Shakespear's Plot: Sir John Suckling, a profess'd admirer of our Author, has follow'd his footsteps in his Goblins; his Regmella being an open imitation of Shakespear's Miranda; and his Spirits, though counterfeit, yet are copied from Ariel. Star-board, star-board, a little steady; now steady, keep her thus, no neerer you cannot come. For my self I care not, but your loss brings a thousand Deaths to me. The hour's now come; Obey, and be attentive, Canst thou remember a time before we came into this Cell? To have no screen between the part he plaid, and whom he plaid it for; he needs would be Absolute 's Port: bore us some Leagues to Sea, where they prepar'd a rotten Carkass of a Boat, not rigg'd, no Tackle, Sail, nor Mast; the very Rats instinctively had quit it: they hoisted us, to cry to Seas which roar'd to us; to sigh to Winds, whose pity sighing back again, did seem to do us loving wrong. But by my skill I find that my mid-Heaven doth depend on a most happy Star, whose influence if I now court not, but omit, my Fortunes will ever after droop: here cease more question, thou art inclin'd to sleep: 'tis a good dulness, and give it way; I know thou canst not chuse. Not a soul But felt a Feaver of the mind, and play'd some tricks of desperation; all, but Mariners, plung'd in the foaming brine, and quit the Vessel: the Duke's Son, , with hair upstairing (more like Reeds than Hair) was the first man that leap'd; cry'd, Hell is empty, and all the Devils are here. When thou art my Widow, thou shalt have the Devil and all. My Lord, she would be loving to thee, and thou wilt not let her. There's nothing but malice in these Devils, I never lov'd 'em from my Childhood. A title shall break no squares betwixt us: Vice-Roys, give him his stile of Duke, and treat with him, Whilst I walk by in state.
But Sir William Davenant, as he was a man of quick and piercing imagination, soon sound that somewhat might be added to the Design of Shakespear, of which neither Fletcher nor Suckling had ever thought: and therefore to put the last hand to it, he design'd the Counterpart to Shakespear's Plot, namely that of a Man who had never seen a Woman; that by this means those two Characters of Innocence and Love might the more illustrate and commend each other. O name not me, I am grown old, my Son; I now am tedious to the world, and that, by use, is so to me: but, What must our mouths be cold then? I do not think thou canst, for then thou wert not full three years old. Tell me the image then of any thing which thou dost keep in thy remembrance still. Thy Mother was all virtue, and she said, thou wast my Daughter, and thy Sister too. what foul play had we, that we hither came, or was't a blessing that we did? How my heart bleeds to think what you have suffer'd. My Brother, and thy Uncle, call'd , to whom I trusted then the manage of my State, while I was wrap'd with secret Studies: That false Uncle (do'st thou attend me Child? Having attain'd the craft of granting suits, and of denying them; whom to advance, or lop, for over-toping, soon was grown the Ivy which did hide my Princely Trunck, and suckt my verdure out: thou attend'st not. I thus neglecting worldly ends, and bent to closeness, and the bettering of my mind, wak'd in my false Brother an evil Nature: He did believe He was indeed the Duke, because he then did execute the outward face of Soveraignty. Ev'ry thing in its season, Brother Monster; but you must counsel her; fair Maids must not be too forward. The Devil take 'em, I would it had bin holy-water for their sakes. the first, and having homage done me, By this hectoring Spark her Brother, from these two I claim a lawful Title to this Island.
What e're she was before the Play began, All you shall see of her is perfect man.
Or if your fancy will be farther led, To find her Woman, it must be abed.
He borrowed not of any other; and his imaginations were such as could not easily enter into any other man. As when a Tree's cut down the secret root Lives under ground, and thence new Branches shoot So, from old Shakespear's honour'd dust, this day Springs up and buds a new reviving Play.
His corrections were sober and judicious: and he corrected his own writings much more severely than those of another man, bestowing twice the time and labour in polishing which he us'd in invention. Shakespear, who (taught by none) did first impart To Fletcher Wit, to labouring Johnson Art.
We may satisfie our selves with surmounting them in the Scene, and safely leave them those trappings of writing, and flourishes of the Pen, with which they adorn the borders of their Plays, and which are indeed no more than good Landskips to a very indifferent Picture. Curs'd be I, that I did so: All the Charms of Island. There all had perisht Had not my Father's magick Art reliev'd them. I know no more than you: but I have heard My Father say we Women were made for him. No sure, you see my Father is a man, and yet He does us good. Methinks indeed it would be finer, if we two Had two young Fathers. Kings who did Crowns unjustly get, Here on burning Thrones are set. Do you hear, Sir, how they lay our Crimes before us? Her footsteps tread, On Orphans tender breasts, and Brothers dead. O for a heavenly Vision of Boyl'd, Bak'd, and Roasted! No, no: it is a Masque of fatten'd Devils, the Burgo-Masters of the lower Region. First and foremost, as to your claim that you have answer'd. I'le try if it will answer when I sing My sorrows to the murmurs of this Brook. It goes on as my Soul prompts it: Spirit, fine Spirit. She's sure the Mistress, on whom these airs attend.