William Shakespeare. 1564–1616

Sonnet CXXI.

“’Tis better to be vile than vile esteem’d”

’TIS better to be vile than vile esteem’d  
When not to be receives reproach of being;  
And the just pleasure lost, which is so deem’d  
Not by our feeling, but by others’ seeing:  
For why should others’ false adulterate eyes    5
Give salutation to my sportive blood?  
Or on my frailties why are frailer spies,  
Which in their wills count bad what I think good?  
No, I am that I am, and they that level  
At my abuses reckon up their own:   10
I may be straight though they themselves be bevel;  
By their rank thoughts my deeds must not be shown;  
  Unless this general evil they maintain,  
  All men are bad and in their badness reign.