Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. II. Ben Jonson to Dryden
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. II. The Seventeenth Century: Ben Jonson to Dryden
 
Extracts from Miscellanies: An Apology for Plagiaries
By Samuel Butler (1612–1680)
 
AS none but kings have power to raise
A levy which the subject pays,
And though they call that tax a loan
Yet when ’tis gathered ’tis their own;
So he that ’s able to impose        5
A wit-excise on verse or prose,
And still the abler authors are,
Can make them pay the greater share,
Is prince of poets of his time
And they his vassals that supply him;        10
Can judge more justly of what he takes
Than any of the best he makes,
And more impartially conceive
What ’s fit to choose and what to leave.
For men reflect more strictly on        15
The wit of others than their own;
And wit that ’s made of wit and sleight
Is richer than the plain downright:
As salt that ’s made of salt ’s more fine
Than when it first came from the brine,        20
And spirit ’s of a nobler nature
Drawn from the dull ingredient matter.
 
 
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