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E that hath feasted you these forty years,

And fitted fables for your finer ears, Although at first he scarce could hit the bore ; Yet

you, with patience harkning more and more, At length have grown up to him and made known, The working of his pen is now your own : He prays you would vouchsafe, for your own fake, To hear him this once more, but fit awake. And though he now present you with such wool, As from miere English focks his muse can pull, He hopes when it is made up into cloth, Not the most curious head here will be loth To wear a hood of it, it being a feece, To match, or those of Sicily; or Greece. His scene is Sherwood, and his play a Tale, Of Robin Hood's inviting from the vale Of Be'voir, all the shepherds to a feast: Where, by the casual absence of one guest, The mirth is troubled much, and in one man As much of sadness shewn as passion can: The fad young shepherd, whom we here present, Like his woes figure, dark and discontent, {The sad shepherd palleth silently over the flage.


B 2

For his lost love, who in the Trent is faid
To have miscarried ; 'las! what knows the head
Of a calm river, whom the feet have drown'd?
Hear what his sorrows are; and if they wound
Your gentle breasts, so that the end crown all,
Which in the scope of one day's chance may fall :
Old Trent will send you more such tales as these,
And shall grow young again as one doth please.

[Here the Prologue thinking to end, returns

upon a new purpose, and speaks on.

But here's an herefy of late let fall,
That mirch by no means fits a pastoral :
Such say so, who can make none, he presumes:
Else there's no scene more properly assumes
The fock. For whenee can sport in kind arise,
But from the rural routs and families ?
Safe on this ground then, we not fear to-day,
To tempt your laughter by our rustick play.

Wherein if we distaste, or be cry'd down,
We think we therefore shall not leave the town;
Nor that the fore-wits that would draw the rest
Unto their liking, always like the best.
The wise and knowing critick will not say,
This worst, or better is, before he weigh

every piece be perfect in the kind : And then, though in themselves he difference find,

Whêr every

1 Whercin if we DISTATE, or be cry'd dozun.) Difate hath no meaning; we mutt restore a single letter to give it one. Difiafte is the true reading; the sense dilplease, disguji, common to the writers

of this age.


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Yet if the place require it where they food,
The equal ficting makes them equal good.
You shall have love and hate, and jealousy,
As well as mirth, and rage, and melancholy :
Or whatsoever else


either move,
Or ftir affections, and your likings prove.
But that no stile for pastoral should go
Current, but what is stamp'd with Ah and O:
Who judgeth so, may fingularly err ;
As if all poesie had one character:
In which what were not written, were not right,
Or that the man who made such one poor flight,
In his whole life, had with his winged skill
Advanc'd him upmost on the muses hill.
When he like poet yet remains, as those
Are painters who can only make a rose
From such your wits redeem you, or your chance,
Left to a greater height you do advance
Of folly, to contemn those that are known
Artificers, and trust such as are none.

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