Behold how every man, drawn with delight

Behold how every man, drawn with delight
Of what he doth, flatters him in his way;
Striving to make his course seem only right
Doth his own rest and his own thoughts betray;
Imagination bringing bravely dight
Her pleasing images in best array,

With flattering glasses that must show him fair
And others foul; his skill and his wit best,
Others seduced, deceived and wrong in their;
His knowledge right, all ignorant the rest,
Not seeing how these minions in the air
Present a face of things falsely expressed,
And that the glimmering of these errors shown
Are but a light to let him see his own.

Alas poor Fame, in what a narrow room,
As an encaged parrot, art thou pent
Here amongst us, when even as good be dumb
As speak, and to be heard with no attent!
How can you promise of the time to come
Whenas the present are so negligent?

Is this the walk of all your wide renown,
This little point, this scarce-discerned isle,
Thrust from the world, with whom our speech unknown
Made never any traffic of our style?
And is this all where all this care is shown,
T'enchant your fame to last so long a while?
And for that happier tongues have won so much,
Think you to make your barbarous language such?

Poor narrow limits for so mighty pains,
That cannot promise any foreign vent:
And yet if here to all your wondrous veins
Were generally known, it might content.
But lo, how many reads not, or disdains,
The labours of the chief and excellent.

How many thousands never heard the name
Of Sidney or of Spenser, or their books!
And yet brave fellows, and presume of fame,
And seem to bear down all the world with looks.
What then shall they expect of meaner frame,
On whose endeavours few or none scarce looks?

Do you not see these pamphlets, libels, rhymes?
These strange confused tumults of the mind
Are grown to be the sickness of these times,
The great disease inflicted on mankind.
Your virtues; by your follies made your crimes,
Have issue with your indiscretion joined.

Schools, arts, professions; all in so great store,
Pass the proportion of the present state,
Where being as great a number as before
And fewer rooms them to accommodate,
It cannot be but they must throng the more,
And kick, and thrust, and shoulder with debate.

For when the greater wits cannot attain
Th'expected good, which they account their right,
And yet perceive others to reap that gain
Of far inferior virtues in their sight,
They present with the sharp of envy's strain
To wound them with reproaches and despite;
And for these cannot have as well as they,
They scorn their faith should deign to look that way.

Hence discontented sects and schisms arise,
Hence interwounding controversies spring,
That feed the simple and offend the wise,
Who know the consequence of cavilling.
Disgrace, that these to others do devise,
Contempt and scorn on all in th'end doth bring,
Like scolding wives reckoning each other's fault
Make standers-by imagine both are naught.

For when to these rare dainties time admits
All comers, all complexions, all that will,
Where none should be let in but choicest wits,
Whose mild discretion could comport with skill,
For when the place their humour neither fits
Nor they the place, who can expect but ill?

For being unapt for what they took in hand,
And for ought else whereto they shall b'addressed,
They even become th'encumbrance of the land
As out of rank disordering all the rest.
This grace of theirs to seem to understand
Mars all their grace to do, without their rest.

Men find that action is another thing
Than what they in discoursing papers read.
The world's affairs require in managing
More arts than those wherein you clerks proceed.
Whilst timorous knowledge stands considering,
Audacious ignorance hath done the deed.
For who knows most, the more he knows to doubt;
The least discourse is commonly most stout.

This sweet enchanting knowledge turns you clean
Out from the fields of natural delight,
And makes you hide, unwilling to be seen
In th'open concourse of a public sight.
This skill wherewith you have so cunning been
Unsinews all your powers, unmans you quite.

Public society and commerce of men
Require another grace, another port:
This eloquence, these rhymes, these phrases then,
Begot in shades, do serve us in no sort.
Th'unmaterial swellings of your pen
Touch not the spirit that action doth import.

A manly style fitted to manly ears
Best grees with wit, not that which goes so gay,
And commonly the gaudy livery wears
Of nice corruptions which the times do sway,
And waits on th'humour of his pulse that bears
His passions set to such a pleasing key.
Such dainties serve only for stomachs weak,
For men do foulest when they finest speak.

Yet I do not dislike that in some wise
Be sung the great heroical deserts
Of brave renowned spirits, whose exercise
Of worthy deeds may call up others' hearts,
And serve a model for posterities
To fashion them fit for like glorious parts;
But so that all our spirits may tend hereto
To make it not our grace to say, but do.


Much hast thou said, and willingly I hear,
As one that am not so possessed with love
Of what I do, but that I rather bear
An ear to learn than a tongue to disprove.
I know men must, as carried in their sphere,
According to their proper motions move.
And that course likes them best which they are on,
Yet truth hath certain bounds, but falsehood none.

I do confess our limits are but small
Compared with all the whole vast earth beside;
All which again, rated to that great All,
Is likewise as a point scarcely descried;
So that in these respects we may this call
A point but of a point where we abide.

But if we shall descend from that high stand
Of overlooking contemplation,
And cast our thoughts but to, and not beyond,
This spacious circuit which we tread upon,
We then may estimate our mighty land
A world within a world standing alone;

Where if our fame confined cannot get out,
What, shall we then imagine it is penned
That hath so great a world to walk about,
Whose bounds with her reports have both one end?
Why shall we not rather esteem her stout
That farther than her own scorn to extend?

Where being so large a room both to do well
And eke to hear th'applause of things well done,
That farther if men shall our virtues tell
We have more mouths but not more merit won.
It doth not greater make that which is laudable;
The flame is bigger blown, the fire all one.

And for the few that only lend their ear,
That few is all the world, which with a few
Doth ever live, and move, and work and stir.
This is the heart doth feel; and only know
The rest of all, that only bodies bear,
Roll up and down, and fill but up the row;

And serve as others' members, not their own,
The instruments of those that do direct.
Then what disgrace is this not to be known
To those know not to give themselves respect?
And though they swell with pomp of folly blown,
They live ungraced, and die but in neglect.

And for my part, if only one allow
The care my labouring spirits take in this,
He is to me a theatre large enow,
And his applause only sufficient is.
All my respect is bent but to his brow:
That is my all, and all I am is his.

And if some worthy spirits be pleased too,
It shall more comfort breed, but not more will.
But what if none? It cannot yet undo
The love I bear unto this holy skill.
This is the thing that I was born to do,
This is my scene, this part I must fulfil.
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