Shakespeare Eulogy by Leonard Digges (1640)

Digges begins with a personalized expression of his relationship to the poet: "the glad rememberance I must love / Of never dying Shakespeare." Though he is obviously wrong in the subsequent claim that Shakespeare neither borrowed nor translated, he personalizes yet again when he observes that "by him the Kings men live / His Players." Indeed, without him, "How could the Globe have prospered" either before, or since? Digges is unusually informative in his references to competing theaters, including "the Bull or Cockpit," the new Fortune (a reference to the rebuilding of the Fortune Theater in or about 1620), or "Blacke-Friers."

Next Digges refers to productions of specific plays including Julius Caesar and Othello, comparing them favorably with Ben Jonson's Roman tragedies:

	So have I seene, when Cesar would appeare,
	And on the Stage at halfe-sword parley were,
	Brutus and Cassius: oh how the Audience
	Were ravish'd, with what wonder they went thence;
	When some new day they would not brooke a line,
	Of tedious (though well laboured) Catiline; Original: Catilines
	Sejanus too was irkesome: they priz'de more
	Honest Iago, or the jealous Moore.

Digges similarly compares Shakespeare's and Jonson's comedies and comic histories:

	And though the Fox and subtill Alchimist,
	Long intermitted could not quite be mist,
	Though these have sham'd all the Ancients, and might raise
	Their Authours merit with a crowne of Bayes.
	Yet these sometimes, even at a friends desire
	Acted, have scarce defrai'd the Seacoale fire
	And doore-keepers: when let but Falstaffe come,
	Hal, Poines, the rest you scarce shall have a roome  Original: Hall
	All is so pester'd: let but Beatrice   [pester'd = overloaded]
	And Benedicke be seene, loe in a trice
	The Cockpit Galleries, Boxes, all are full
	To heare Maluoglio that crosse garter'd Gull.
	Briefe, there is nothing in his wit fraught Booke
	Whose sound we would not heare, on whose worth looke
	Like old coynd gold, whose lines, in every page,
	Shall passe true currant to succeeding age.

Digges concludes with an expression of humility which the reader may welcome with a sigh of relief after so much useful information expressed in such mediocre verse:

	But why doe I dead Shakespeares praise recite,
	Some second Shakespeare must of Shakespeare write;
	For me tis needlesse, since an host of men
	Will pay to clap his praise, to free my Pen.