Actus Secundus. Scæna 4: Chorus from “The Tragedie of Mariam” by Elizabeth Tanfield Cary

To heare a tale with eares prejudicate,
It spoiles the judgement, and corrupts the sence:
That humane error given to every state,
Is greater enemie to innocence.
It makes us foolish, heddy, rash, unjust,
It makes us never try before we trust.

It will confound the meaning, change the words,
For it our sence of hearing much deceives:
Besides no time to Judgement it affords,
To way the circumstance our eare receives.
The ground of accidents it never tries,
But makes us take for truth ten thousand lies.

Our eares and hearts are apt to hold for good,
That we our selves doe most desire to bee:
And then we drowne objections in the flood
Of partialitie, tis that we see
That makes false rumours long with credit past,
Though they like rumours must conclude at last.

The greatest part of us prejudicate,
With wishing Herods death do hold it true:
The being once deluded doth not bate,
The credit to a better likelihood due.
Those few that wish it not the multitude,
Doe carrie headlong, so they doubts conclude.

They not object the weake uncertaine ground,
Whereon they built this tale of Herods end:
Whereof the Author scarcely can be found,
And all because their wishes that way bend.
They thinke not of the perill that ensu’th,
If this should prove the contrary to truth.

On this same doubt, on this so light a breath,
They pawne their lives, and fortunes. For they all
Behave them as the newes of Herods death,
They did of most undoubted credit call:
But if their actions now doe rightly hit,
Let them commend their fortune, not their wit.

From: Cary, Elizabeth, The Tragedie of Mariam 1613, 1914, The Malone Society Reprints: Oxford, pp. 51-52.

Date: 1613

By: Elizabeth Tanfield Cary (1585-1639)

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