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    COURTEOUS READER: THE title page will show, if thou wilt look, Who are the proper subjects of this book.

    They’re boys and girls, of all sorts and degrees, From those of age, to children on the knees.

    Thus comprehensive am I in my notions, They tempt me to it by their childish motions.

    We now have boys with beards, and girls that be Huge as old women, wanting gravity.

    Then do not blame me, since I thus describe ‘em, Flatter I may not, lest thereby I bribe them To have a better judgment of themselves, Than wise men have of babies on the shelves.

    Their antic tricks, fantastic modes, and way, Show they like very boys and girls do play With all the frantic fooleries of the age, And that in open view, as on a stage; Our bearded men do act like beardless boys, Our women please themselves with childish toys.

    Our ministers long time by word and pen Dealt with them, counting them not boys, but men They shot their thunders at them, and their toys, But hit them not, ‘cause they were girls and boys.

    The better charg’d, the wider still they shot, Or else so high, these dwarfs they touched not.

    Instead of men they found them girls and boys, To naught addicted but to childish toys.

    Wherefore, dear reader, that I save them may, I now with them the very Dottrel play.

    And since at gravity they make a tush, My very beard I cast behind a bush, And like a fool stand fingering of their toys, And all to show they are but girls and boys!

    Nor do I blush, although I think some may Call me a child, because I with them play:

    I aim to show them how each fingle-fangle On which they dote, does but their souls entangle As with a web, a trap, a gin, a snare; And will destroy them, have they not a care.

    Paul seemed to play the fool, that he might gain Those that were fools indeed, if not in grain He did it, by such things to let them see Their emptiness, their sin and vanity:

    A noble act, and full of honesty!

    Nor he, nor I would like them be in vice, But by their play things, I would them intice, That they might raise their thoughts from childish toys, To heaven-for that’s prepared for girls and boys.

    Nor would I so confine myself to these, As to shun graver things, but seek to please Those more compos’d with better things than toys; Though I would thus be catching girls and boys.

    Wherfore if men should be inclincd to look, Perhaps their graver fancies may be took With what is here, though but in homely rhymes:

    But he who pleases all, must rise betimes!

    Some, I persuade me, will be finding fault, Concluding, here I trip, and there I halt:

    Yet though no doubt some could those notions raise By fine spun terms, that challenge might the bays Should all be forced their brains to lay aside That cannot regulate the flowing tide, By this or that man’s fancy, we should have The wise, unto the fool, become a slave.

    What though my text seems mean, my morals be Grave, as if fetched from a sublimer tree.

    And if some better handle can a fly, Than some a text, wherefore should we deny Their making proof, or good experiment, Of smallest things, great mischiefs to prevent!

    Wise Solomon did fools to pismires send, To learn true wisdom, and their lives to mend.

    Yea, God by swallows, cuckoos, and the ass, Shows they are fools who let that season pass, Which he put in their hand, that to obtain, Which is both present and eternal gain.

    I think the wiser sort my rhymes may slight, While to peruse them, fools will take delight.

    Then what care I? The foolish, God has chose; And doth by foolish things their minds compose And settle upon that which is divine; — Great things by little ones are made to shine.

    I could, were I so pleas’d, use higher strains; And for applause on tenters stretch my brains, But what needs that? The arrow out of sight, Does not the sleeper, nor the watchman fright; To shoot too high doth make but children gaze, ‘Tis that which hits the man doth him amaze.

    As for the inconsiderableness Of things, by which I do my mind express:

    May I by them bring some good thing to pass, As Samson, with the jaw-bone of an ass; Or as brave Shamgar, with his ox’s goad, (Both things unmanly, not for war in mode) I have my end, though I myself expose:

    For God will have the glory at the close.

    J. B.


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