To the Gentlemen Students of both Uniuersities.
CVrteous and wise, whose iudgements (not entangled with enuie) enlarge the deserts of the Learned by your liberall censures; vouchsafe to welcome your scholler-like Shepheard with such V∣niuersitie entertainement, as either the nature of your bountie, or the custome of your common ciuilitie may affoord. To you he appeales that knew him ab extrema pueritia, whose placet he accounts the plaudite of his paines; thinking his daie labour was not altogether lauisht sine linea, if there be anie thing of all in it, that doth olere atticum in your estimate. I am not ignorant how eloquent our gowned age is growen of late; so that e∣uerie moechanicall mate abhorres the english he was borne too, and plucks with a solemne periphrasis, his vt vales from the inkhorne: which I impute not so much to the perfecti∣on of arts, as to the seruile imitation of vainglorious tragoe∣dians, who contend not so seriouslie to excell in action, as to embowell the clowdes in a speach of comparison; thin∣king themselues more than initiated in poets immortalitie, if they but once get Boreas by the beard, and the heauenlie bull by the deaw-lap. But herein I cannot so fully bequeath them to follie, as their idiote art-masters, that intrude thē∣selues to our eares as the alcumists of eloquence; who (moū∣ted on the stage of arrogance) think to outbraue better pens with the swelling bumbast of a bragging blanke verse. In∣deed it may be the ingrafted ouerflow of some kilcow con∣ceipt, that ouercloieth their imagination with a more than drunken resolution, beeing not extemporall in the inuen∣tion of anie other meanes to vent their manhood, commits the disgestion of their cholerick incumbrances, to the spa∣cious volubilitie of a drumming decasillabon. Mongst this kinde of men that repose eternitie in the mouth of a player, Page [unnumbered] I can but ingrosse some deepe read Grammarians, who ha∣uing no more learning in their scull, than will serue to take vp a commoditie; nor Art in their brain, than was nourish∣ed in a seruing mans idlenesse, will take vpon them to be the ironicall censors of all, when God and Poetrie doth know, they are the simplest of all. To leaue these to the mercie of their mother tongue, that feed on nought but the crummes that fal from the translators tr•…ncher, I come (sweet friend) to thy Arcadian Menaphon; whose attire though not so statelie, yet comelie, dooth entitle thee aboue all other, to that temperatum dicendi genus, which Tullie in his Orator tearmeth true eloquence. Let other men (as they please) praise the mountaine that in seauen yeares brings foorth a mouse, or the Italionate pen, that of a packet of pilfries, af∣foordeth the presse a pamphlet or two in an age, and then in disguised arraie, vaunts Ouids and Plutarchs plumes as their o•…ne; but giue me the man, whose extemporall vaine in a∣nie humor, will excell our greatest Art-masters deliberate thoughts; whose inuention quicker than his eye, will chal∣lenge the proudest Rethoritian, to the contention of like p•…rfection, with like expedition. What is he amongst Stu∣dents so simple, that cannot bring forth (tandem aliquando) some or other thing singular, sleeping betwixt euerie sen∣tence? Was it not Maros xij. yeares toyle, that so famed his xij. Aeneidos? Or Peter Ramus xvj. yeares paines, that so praised his p•…ttie Logique? Howe is it then, out drowping wits should so wonder at an exquisite line, that was his ma∣sters day labour? Indeede I must needes say, the descending yeares from the Philosophers Athens, haue not been suppli∣ed with such present Orators, as were able in anie English vaine to be eloquent of their owne, but either they must bo∣row inuention of Ariosto, and his Countreymen, take vp choyce of words by exchange in Tullies Tusculane, and the Latine Historiographers store-houses; similitudes, nay whole sheetes and tractacts verbatim, from the plentie of Page [unnumbered]Plutarch and Plinie; and to conclude, their whole methode of writing, from the libertie of Comical fictions, that haue succeeded to our Rethoritians, by a second imitation: so that, well may the Adage, Nil dictum quod non dictum pri∣us, bee the most iudiciall estimate, of our latter Writers. But the hunger of our vnsatiate humorists, beeing such as it is, readie to swallowe all draffe without indi•…erence, that insinuates it selfe to their senses vnder the name of delight, imployes oft times manie thred bare witts, to emptie their inuention of their Apish deuices, and talke most superfici∣allie of Pollicie, as those that neuer ware gowne in the V∣niuersitie; wherein they reuiue the olde saide Adage, Su•… Mineruam, & cause the wiser to quippe them with Asi∣nus ad Lyram. Would Gentlemen & riper iudgements ad∣mit my motion of moderation in a matter of follie, I wold perswade them to phisicke their faculties of seeing & hea∣ring, as the Sabaeans doo their dulled senses with smel∣ling; who (as Strabo reporteth) ouer-cloyed with such o∣doriferous sauours, as the naturall encrease of their Coun∣trey, (Balsamum, Amomum, with M•…rrhe and Fran∣kencense) sends foorth, refresh their nosthrills with the vnsauorie sent, of the pitchie slime, that Euphrates casts vp, and the contagious fumes of Goates beardes burnt; so woulde I haue them, beeing surfetted vnawares with the sweete sacietie of eloqu•…nce, which the lauish of our copious Language maie procure, to vse the remedie of contraries; and recreate their rebated witts, not as they did, with the senting of slyme or Goates beardes burnt, but with the ouer-seeing of that sublime dicendi genus, which walkes abroad for wast paper in each seruing mans pocket, and the otherwhile perusing of our Gothamists barbarisme; so shoulde the opposite comparison of Pu∣ritie, expell the infection of absurditie; and their o∣uer-rackte Rhethorique, bee the Ironicall recreation of the Reader. But so farre discrepant is the idle vsage Page [unnumbered] of our vnexperienst punies from this prescription, that a tale of Ihon a Brainfords will, and the vnluckie furmentie, wilbe as soon interteined into their libraries, as the best po∣eme that euer Tasso eternisht: which being the effect of an vnde•…cerning iudgement, makes drosse as valuable as gold, and losse as welcome as gaine, the Glow-worme mentio∣ned in Aesops fables, namelie the apes follie, to be mistaken for fire, when as God wot poore soules, they haue nought but their toyle for their heate, their paines for their sweate, and (to bring it to our english prouerbe) their labour for their trauaile. Wherin I can but resemble them to the Pan∣ther, who is so greedie of mens excrements; that if they be hangd vpin a vessell higher than his reach, he sooner killeth himselfe with the ouer-stretching of his windlesse bodie, than he wil cease from his intended enterprise. Oft haue I obserued what I now set downe; a secular wit that hath li∣ued all daies of his life by what doo you lacke, to bee more iudiciall in matters of conceit, than our quadrant crepun∣dios, that spit ergo in the mouth of euerie one they meete: yet those & these are so affectionate to dogged detracting, as the most poysonous Pasquil, anie durtie mouthed Mar∣tin, or Momus eu•…r composed, is gathered vp with greedi∣nesse before it fall to the ground, and bought at the deerest though they smell of the friplers lauander halfe a yeere af∣etr: •…or I know not how the minde of the meanest is fedde with this follie, that they impute singularitie, to him that slanders priuelie, and count it a great peece of arte in an ink∣horne man, in anie tapsterlie tearmes whatso•…uer, to oppose his superiours to enuie. I will not denie but in scholler-like matters of controuersie, a quicker stile may passe as com∣mendable; and that a quippe to an asse is as good as a goad to an oxe: but when an irregular idiot, that was vp to the eares in diuinitie, before euer he met with probabile in the Vniuersitie, shall leaue pro & contra before he can scarcely pronounce it, & come to correct Common weales, that ne∣uer heard of the name of Magistrate before he came to Page [unnumbered]Cambridge, it is no meruaile if euery alehouse vaunt the ta∣ble of the world turned vpside down; since the childe beats his father, & the asse whippes his master. But least I might seeme with these night crowes, Nimis curiosus in aliena re∣publica. I'le turne backe to my first text, of studies of de∣light; and talke a little in friendship with a few of our tri∣uiall translators. It is a cōmon practise now a daies amongst a sort of shifting companions, that runne through euery arte and thriue by none, to leaue the trade of Nouerint whereto they were borne, and busie themselues with the indeuors of Art, that could scarcelie latinize their necke-verse if they should haue neede; yet English Seneca read by candle light yeeldes manie good sentences, as Bloud is a begger, and so foorth: and if you intreate him faire in a frostie morning, he will affoord you whole Hamlets, I should say handfulls of tragical speaches. But ô griefe! tempus edax rerum, what's that will last alwaies? The sea exhaled by droppes will in continuance be drie, and Seneca let bloud line by line and page by page, at length must needes die to our stage: which makes his famisht followers to imitate the Kidde in Ae∣sop, who enamored with the Foxes newsangles, forsooke all hopes of life to leape into a new occupation; and these men renowncing all possibilities of credit or estimation, to in∣termeddle with Italian tran•…lations: wherein how poore∣lie they haue plodded, (as those that are neither prouenz all men, nor are able to distinguish of Articles,) let all indiffe∣rent Gentlemen that haue trauailed in that tongue, discerne by their two penie pamphl•…ts: & no meruaile though their home-born mediocritie be such in this matter; for what can be hoped of those, that thrust Elisium into hell, and haue not learned so long as they haue liued in the spheares, the iust measure of the Horizon without an hexameter. Sufficeth them to •…odge vpa blanke verse with ifs and ands, & other while for recreation on after their candle stuffe, hauing starch∣ed their beardes most curiouslie, to make a peripateticall path into the inner parts of the Citie, & spend two or three Page [unnumbered] howers in turning ouer French Doudie, where they attract more infection in one min•…te, than they can do eloquence all dayes of their life, by conuersing with anie Authors of like argument. But least in this declamatorie vaine, I should condemne all and commend none, I will propound to your learned imitation, those men of import, that haue laboured with credit in this laudable kinde of Translati∣on; In the forefront of whom, I cannot but place that aged Father Erasmus, that inuested most of our Greeke Wri∣t•…rs, in the roabes of the auncient Romaines; in whose tra∣ces, Philip Melancthon, Sadolct, Plantine, and manie other reuerent Germaines insisting, haue reedified the ruines of our decayed Libraries, and merueilouslie inriched the Latine tongue with the expence of their toyle. Not long after, their emulation beeing transported into England, euerie priuate Scholl•…er, William Turner, and who not, beganne to vaunt their •…inattering of Latine, in English Impressions. But amongst others in that Age, Sir Tho∣mas Eliots elegance did seuer it selfe from all equalls, al∣though Sir Thomas Moore with his Comicall wit, at that instant was not altogether idle: yet was not Know∣ledge fullie confirmed in hir Monarchie amongst vs, till that most famous and fortunate Nurse of all learning, Saint Iohns in Cambridge, that at that time was as an Vniuersitie within it selfe; shining so farre aboue all o∣ther Houses, Halls, and Hospitalls whatsoeuer, that no Colledge in the Towne, was able to compare with the tythe of her Students; hauing (as I haue hearde graue men of credite report) more candles light in it, euerie Winter Morning before fowre of the clocke, than the fowre of clocke bell gaue stroak•…s; till Shee (I saie) as a pittying Mother, put too her helping hande, and sent from her fruitefull wombe, sufficient Schollers, both to support her owne weale, as also to supplie all other in∣feriour Page [unnumbered] foundations defects, and namelie that royall •…∣rection of Trinitie Colledge, which the Vniuersitie Ora∣tor, in an Epistle to the Duke of Somerset, aptlie tear∣med Colona diducta, from the Suburbes of Saint Iohns. In which extraordinarie conception, vno partu in rem∣publicam prodiere, the Exchequer of eloquence Sir Ihon Cheeke, a man of men, supernaturally traded in altongues, Sir Jhon Mason, Doctor Watson, Redman, Aschame, Grindall, Leuer, Pilkington: all which, haue either by their priuate readings, or publique workes, repurged the errors of Artes, expelde from their puritie, and set be∣fore our eyes, a more perfect Methode of Studie. But howe ill their preceptes haue prospered with our idle Age, that leaue the fountaines of sciences, to follow the riuers of Knowledge, their ouer-fraught Studies, with trifling Compendiaries maie testifie: for I knowe not howe it comes to passe, by the doating practise of our Diuinitie dunces, that striue to make their Pupills pul∣pet men, before they are reconciled to Priscian: but those yeares, which shoulde bee employed in Aristotle, are expired in Epitomes; and well too, they maye haue so much Catechisme vacation, to rake vp a little refuse Philosophie. And heere could I enter into a large fielde of inuectiue, against our abiect abbr•…uiations of Artes, were it not growen to a newe fashion amongst our Na∣tion, to vaunt the pride of contraction in euerie manua∣rie action: in so much, that the Pater noster, which was woont to fill a sheete of paper, is written in the compasse of a p•…nnie: whereupon one merelie affirmed, that prouerb to be deriued, No ponnie, no pater noster; which their nice curtalling, puts me in mind of the custome of the Scythians, who if they be at any time distressed with famin, take in their girdles 〈◊〉, & swaddle themselues streigh∣ter, to the intent no 〈◊〉 beeing left in their in•…ayles, Page [unnumbered] hunger should not so much tirannnize ouer their stomacks; euen so these men opprest with a greater penurie of Art, do •…ound their capacitie in barren Compendiums, and bound their base humors, in the beggerly straites of a hungry Ana∣lysis, least longing after that infinitum which the pouertie of their conceit cannot compasse, they sooner yeeld vp their youth to destinie, than their h•…art to vnderstanding. How is it then, such bungling practitioners in principles, •…uld euer profite the Common wealth by their negligent paines, who haue no more cunning in Logique or Dialogue Latine, than appertains to the literall construction of either; neuerthe∣lesse it is daily apparant to our domesticall eyes, that there is none so forward to publ•… their imperfections, either in the 〈◊〉 of glose or translations, as those that are more vn∣learned than ignorance, and lesse conceiuing than infants. Yet dare I not impute absurditie to all of that societie, though some of them haue set their names to their simpli∣citie. Who euer my priuate opinion condemneth as faultie, Master Gascoigne is not to bee abridged of his deserued e∣steeme, who first beate the path to that perfection which our best Poets haue aspired too since his departure; where∣to he did ascend by comparing the Italian with the English, as Tullie did Graecacum Latinis. Neither was Master Tur∣benile the worst of his time, although in translating he attri∣buted too much to the necessitie of rime. And in this page of praise, I cannot omit aged Arthur Golding, for his in∣dustrious toile in Engli•…ing Ouids Metamorphosis, besides manie other exquisite editions of Diuinitie, turned by him out of the French tongue into our own. Master Phaer like∣wise is not to be forgot in regard of his famous Uirgil, whose heauēly verse had it not bin blemisht by his hautie thoghts England might haue long insulted in his wit, and corrigat qui potest haue been subscribed to his workes. But fortune the Mistres of change with a pitying compassion, respect∣ing Master Stanihursts praise, would that Phaer shoulde fall that hee might rise, whose heroicall Poetrie infired, I Page [unnumbered] should say inspired, with an hexameter furie, recalled to life, what euer hi•…d barbarisme, hath bin buried this hun∣dred yeare; and reuiued by his ragged quill, such carterlie varietie, as no hodge plowman in a countrie, but would haue held as the extremitie of clownerie; a patterne where∣of, I will propounde to your iudgements, as neere as I can, being parte of one of his de•…criptions of a tempest, which is thus
Which strange language of the firmament neuer subiect before to our common phrase, makes vs that are not vsed to terminate heauens 〈◊〉, in the accents o•… any voice, est•…eme of their triobuiare 〈◊〉 preter, as of •…me Thra∣sonical huffe snu•…e, for so terrible was his stile, to all milde eares, as would haue affrighted our peaceable Poets, from intermedling 〈◊〉, with that quarrelling kinde of verse; had not sweete Master France by his excellent trans∣lation of Master Thomas Watsons sugred Amintas, anima∣ted their dulled spirits, to such high witted endeuors But I knowe not how, their ouer timerous cowardise, hath stoode in awe of •…nuie, that no man since him, durst imitat•… any of the worste, of those Romane wonders in english, which makes me thinke, that either the louers of m•…diocritie, are verie many, or that the number of good Poets, are very small: and in trueth, (Master Wa•…son except, whom I men∣tioned before) I knowe not almost any of late dayes that hath shewed himselfe singular in any speciall Latine Poëm, whose Amintas, and translated Antigone may march in equipage of honour, with any of our ancient Poets. I will not say but wee had a Haddon whose pen would haue chal∣lenged the Lawrell from Homer, together with Carre, that came as nere him, as Virgil to Theocritus. But Tho. Newton with his 〈◊〉, and 〈◊〉 Haruey, with two or three o∣ther, is 〈◊◊〉 the store, that is left vs at this hower. Epi∣taph•…, and position Poets haue wee more than a good ma∣ny, Page [unnumbered] that swarme like Crowes to a dead carcas, but flie like Swallows in the VVinter, from any continuate subiect of witte. The essicient whereof, I imagine to issue, from the vpstart discipline, of our refor•…atorie 〈◊〉, who account wit 〈◊〉, and poetrie 〈◊〉; whose error, al∣though the necessitie of 〈◊〉 might consute, which lies couched most closely vnder darke fables profunditie, yet I had rather referre it, as a 〈◊〉 plea to diuines, than set it downe as a 〈◊〉 p•…sition, in my vnexperi∣enst opinion. But how eu•…r 〈◊◊〉 iudgements, should decree in their 〈◊〉 sessions of an sit, the priuat trueth, of my discouered Creede in this controuersie is this, that as that beast, was thought scarce worthie to bee sacri∣fised, to the Aegiptian 〈◊〉, who had not some or other blacke spotte on his skinne: so I de•…me him sarre vnwor∣thie of the name of a 〈◊〉, & so consequentlie, to sacri∣fice his endeuors to art, that is not a Poet, either in whole or in a parte and here peraduenture, some desperate quipper, will canuaze my proposed comparison plus vltra, reconci∣ling the allusion of the blacke spot, to the blacke pot; which makes our Poets vndermeale Muses so mutinous, as euerie stanzo they pen after dinner, is full poynted with a stabbe. Which their dagger drunkennesse, although it might be ex∣cused, with T am Marti quam Mercurio, yet will I couer it as well as I may, with that prouerbiall foecundi calices, that might wel haue been doore keeper, to the kanne of Silenus, when nodding on his Asse trapt with iuie, he•… made his moist nosecloth, the pausing intermedium, twixt •…uerie nappe. Let frugale scholares, and fine fingerd nouices, take their drinke by the ownce, and their wine by the halpe∣worthes, but it is for a Poet, to examine the pottle pottes, and gage the bottome of whole gallons; qui bene vult 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, debet ante 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. A pot of blew burning ale, with a fierie fla∣ming tost, is as good as Pallas with the nine Muses on Per∣nassus top: without the which, in vaine may they crie; ô thou my muse inspire mee withsome pen, when they want cer∣taine Page [unnumbered] liquid sacrifice, to rouze her foorth her denne. Pardon me Gentlemen, though somewhat merely I glaunce, at their imoderate follie, who affirme that no man can write with conceit, except he take counsell of the cup: nor would I haue you thinke, that Theonino dente, I •…rme my stile a∣gainst all, since I doo knowe the moderation of many Gen∣tlemen of that studie, to be so farre from infamie, as their verse from equalitie: whose sufficiencie, were it as well seene into, by those of higher place, as it wanders abroade vnrewarded, in the mouthes of vngratefull monsters, no doubte but the remembrance, of Moecenas liberalitie, ex∣tended to Maro, and men of like qualitie, would haue lefte no memorie to that prouerb of pouertie, Si nihil at tuleris, i∣bis Homere foras. Tut saies our English Italians, the finest witts our Climate sends foorth, are but drie braind doltes, in comparison of other countries: whome if you interrupt with redde rationem, they will tell you of Petrache, Tasso, Celiano. with an infinite number of others; to whome if I should oppose Chaucer, Lidgate, Gower, with such like, that liued vnder the tirranie of ignorance, I do think their best louers, would bee much discontented, with the collation of contraries, if I should write ouer al their heads, Haile fellow well met. One thing I am sure of, that each of these three, haue vaunted their meeters, with as much admiration in English, as euer the proudest Ariosto,〈◊〉 his verse in Itali∣an. What should I come to our court, where the otherwhile vacations of our grauer Nobilitie, are prodigall of more pompous wit, and choyce of words, than euer tragick Tasso could attaine too: but as for pastorall Poëmes, I will not make the comparison, least our countrimens cred•…t should bee discountenanst by the contention, who although they cannot fare, with such inferior facilitie, yet I knowe woul•…d carrie the bucklers full easilie, from all forreine brauers, if 〈◊〉subiectum circa quod, should sauor of any thing haugh∣t•…e: and should the challenge of deepe conceit, be intruded by any forreiner, to bring our english 〈◊〉 the tutcsthone Page [unnumbered] of Arte, I would preferre, diuine Master Spencer, the mira∣cle of wit to bandi•… line sor line for my life, in the honor of England, gainst Spaine, France, Italie, and all the worlde. Neither 〈◊〉, the only swallow of our summer, (although Apollo, if his Tripos were vpagain would pronounce him his Socrates) but he being forborne, there are extant about Lon∣don, many most able men, to reuiue Poetrie, though it were executed ten thousand times, as in Platos, so in Puritanes common wealth; as for example Mathew Roydon, Thomas Atchelow and George Peele, the first of whome, as hee hath shewed himselfe singular, in the immortall Epitaph of his beloued Astroph•…l, besides many other most abso∣lute 〈◊〉 inuentions (made more publique by euerie mans praise, than they can bee by my speache) so the se∣cond, •…ath more than once or twise manifested, his deepe w•…tted 〈◊〉 in places of credit; & for the last, thogh not the least of them all, I dare commend him to all that know him, as the chi•…fe supporter of pleasance nowe liuing, the Atlas of Poetrie, & primus verborum Artifex: whose first encrease, the Arraignement of Paris, might plead to your opinions, his pregnant dexteritie of wit, and manifold varietie of 〈◊〉; wherein (me iudice) hee goeth a step beyond all that write. Sundrie other sweete Gentlemen I know, that haue vaunted their pens in priuate deuices, and triekt vp a companie of taffata fool 〈◊〉 their feathers, whose beautie if our Poets had not peecte with the supply of their periwigs, they might haue anti•…kt it vntill this time vp and down•… the countrey with the King of Fairies, and di•…de •…uerie daie at the pease porredge ordina•…ie with Del∣phrigus. But Tolossa hath forgot that it was sometime sackt, and beggers that euer they 〈◊〉 their fardles on footback: and in tru•…h no meruaile, when as the deserued' reputation of 〈◊〉〈◊〉, is of force to inrich a rabble of counterfets; yet let subiects for all their insolence, dedicate a De profun∣di•…〈◊〉 morning to the preseruation of their Caesar, least their 〈◊◊〉 returne them ere long to their Page [unnumbered] mediocritie, and they bewaile in weeping blankes, the wane of their Monarchie.
As Poetrie hath beene honoured in those her fore-named professors, so it hath not beene any whit dispa•…aged by William Warners absolute Albions. And heere Auhtoritie hath made a full point: in whose reuerence insisting, I cease to expose to your sport the picture of those Pamphleters, and Po•…ts, that make a patrimonie of In speech, and more then a younger brothers inheritance of their Abcie. Reade fa∣uourably, to incourage me in the firstlings of my folly, and perswade your selues, I will persecute those Idiots and their heires vnto the third generation, that haue made Art 〈◊〉 of her ornaments, and sent Poetry a begging vp and downe the Countrey. It may be, my Anatomie of Absur∣dities may acquaint you ere long with my skill in Surgerie, wherein the diseases of Arte more merrily discouered, may make our maimed Poets put together their blankes vnto the building of an Hospitall.
If you chance to meet it in Paules, shaped in a new sute of similitudes, as if like the eloquent Apprentice of Plutarch, it w•…re propped at seuen yeeres end in double apparell, thinke his Master hath fulfilled couenants, and onely cancelled the Indentures of dutie. If I please, I will thinke my ignorance indebted vnto you that applaud it: if not, what rests, but that I be excluded from your courtesie, like Apocrypha from your Bibles?
How euer, yours euer: Thomas Nash.