TO THE READER.
Poetry is the Child of Nature, which regulated and made beautifull by Art, presenteth the most Harmonious of all other compositions; among which (if we rightly consider) the Dramaticall is the most absolute, in regard of those transcendent Abilities, which should waite upon the_ Composer; who must have more then the instruction of Libraries which of it selfe is but a cold contemplative knowledge there being required in him a Soule miraculously knowing, and conversing with all mankind, inabling him to expresse not onely the Phlegme and folly of thick-skin'd men, but the strength and maturity of the wise, the Aire and insinuations of the Court, _the discipline and Resolution of the Soldier, the Vertues and passions of every noble condition, nay the councells and charailers of the greatest Princes.
This you will say is a vast comprehension, and hath not hapned in many Ages. Be it then remembred to the Glory of our owne, that all these are Demonstrative and met in_ BEAUMONT & FLETCHER, whom but to mention is to throw a cloude upon all former names and benight Posterity; This Book being, without flattery, the greatest Monument of the Scene that Time and Humanity have produced, and must Live, not only the Crowne and sole Reputation of our owne, but the stayne of all other Nations and Languages, for it may be boldly averred, not one indiscretion hath branded this Paper in all the Lines, this being the Authentick witt that made Blackfriers an Academy, where the three howers spectacle while Beaumont and Fletcher _were presented, were usually of more advantage to the hopefull young Heire, then a costly, dangerous, forraigne Travell, with the assistance of a governing Mounsieur, or Signior to boot; And it cannot be denied but that the young spirits of the Time, whose Birth & Quality made them impatient of the sowrer wayes of education, have from the attentive hearing these pieces, got ground in point of wit and carriage of the most severely employed Students, while these Recreations were digested into Rules, and the very Pleasure did edifie. How many passable discoursing dining witts stand yet in good credit upon the bare stock of two or three of these single Scenes.
And now Reader in this_ Tragicall Age where the Theater hath been so much out-ailed, congratulate thy owne happinesse, that in this silence of the Stage, thou hast a liberty to reade these inimitable Playes, to dwell and converse in these immortall Groves, which were only shewd our Fathers in a conjuring glasse, as suddenly removed as represented, the Landscrap is now brought home by this optick, and the Presse thought too pregnant before, shall be now look'd upon as greatest Benefactor to Englishmen, that must acknowledge all the felicity of witt and words _to this Derivation.
You may here find passions raised to that excellent pitch and by such insinuating degrees that you shall not chuse but consent, and & go along with them, finding your self at last grown insensibly the very same person you read, and then stand admiring the subtile Trackes of your engagement....