To that noble and true lover of learning

Sir Walter Aston

Knight of the Bath

Sir, I must ask your patience and be true;
This play was never liked, unless by few
That brought their judgments with 'em; for, of late,
First the infection, then the common prate
Of common people, have such customs got,
Either to silence plays or like them not:
Under the last of which this interlude
Had fallen for ever, pressed down by the rude,
That like a torrent, which the moist south feeds,
Drowns both before him the ripe corn and weeds,
Had not the saving sense of better men
Redeemed it from corruption. Dear sir, then,
Among the better souls, be you the best,
In whom, as in a centre, I take rest
And proper being; from whose equal eye
And judgment nothing grows but purity.
Nor do I flatter, for, by all those dead,
Great in the Muses, by Apollo's head,
He that adds anything to you, 'tis done
Like his that lights a candle to the sun:
Then be, as you were ever, yourself still,
Moved by your judgment, not by love or will;
And when I sing again (as who can tell
My next devotion to that holy well?)
Your goodness to the Muses shall be all
Able to make a work heroical.
Given to your service,
JOHN FLETCHER.