CAP. XIIII. An answer to som pretended imperfections in the writing of our tung.
THis title tho it seme by the inscription to pretend som offence, yet is it nothing moodie at all, bycause it enten∣deth no defense, as against an enemie, but a conference, as with a frind. For those men, with whō I haue to deall therein, do wish their naturall tung, as well as I do, theie desire to se it right writen, no lesse then I do. Theie haue as good shew of iust enemitie to error, and corruption, as I haue assurance of right direction. And therefor I will rather endeuor my self to perswade them as frinds, then to confute them as foes, rather to ioyn with them in som points, then to defy them in all. *
In the hole matter of this conference with them, theie ei∣ther blame certain errors, which theie pretend to be in our writing: or else theie will seme to seke the reforming there∣of. In the blame of errors, theie rate at custom as a vile cor∣rupter, Page 84 and complain of our letters, as to miserable few. In their desire ofredresse, theie appeall to sound, as the onelie so∣uerain, and surest leader in the gouernment of writing: & fly to innouation, as the onelie mean, to reform all errors, that be in our writing. Which their particular branching, I will follow in my reply, and yet in no reply, but excuse, for the innocencie of our pen, where it is without falt, tho it be not without blame and in my plaine confession of som manifest error, where there is cause why.
In their quarell to custom theie seke first to bring it into ge∣nerall * hatred, as a common corrupter of all good things, and that naturallie, without anie exception, and therefor no mar∣uell if it abuse speche, which as it passeth thorough euerie mans mouth, and is resembled by euerie mans pen, so must it nedes gather much corruption by the waie, bycause manie and ill be all one in dede, tho deuided in term, as good and few, tho different in name, yet be the same in pith: And common corruption, which theie terme Custom, is an ill di∣rector to find out a right. Herevpon theie conclude, that as it semeth most probable, so it is most trew, that the chefe er∣rors, which ar crept into our pen, do take their beginning at the onelie infection of a naughtie custom. Which bycause it is naught, therefor ought it not so much as once to be named, in the direction to a right, in either pen or speche, being so manifest a falsarie, notwithstanding whatsoeuer anie either old or new writers can pretend to the contrarie, for either de∣fense or excuse thereof. Then theie descend two particularities, wherein theie proue that customarilie, we do somtime bur∣den our words to much, with to manie letters, somtimes we pinch them to near with to few, somtimes we misshape them with wrong sounding, somtime we misorder them, with wrong placing. And be not these maruellous great causes of mis∣contentment with Custom, which is the breder of them? Be∣sides all these which ar but points of penning onelie, to ag∣grauate the discredit wherewith theie charge custom, theie seke to make it odious, as an enemie to vertew, euen abu∣sing what is best. And will there anie that fauoreth vertew, protect Custom, being such a venim to all vertewes, and such Page 85 a poison to all vertewous effects? Or can there anie that frin∣deth his cuntrie conceiue well of that, which corrupteth hir pen, and poisoneth hir speche? Sure not I. For neither wold I haue vertew to hold mefor hir enemie, by defending of hir fo, nor yet my cuntrie to froun at me for fauoring hir cor∣rupters. Certainlie that custom is most vile, which doth but speak ill of good things: but to seke their corruption is a most villanous part. And to abuse speche in anie hir deliuerie whe∣ther by tung or pen, the good benefit whereof, doth serue most of our nedes, as vertew doth the best, is extreme beast∣lie. And therefor assuredlie, as those my good cuntrimen, haue most iust cause to be angrie with these corruptions: so might theie as iustlie turn their anger vpon me, if I should anie waie but so much as seme to excuse or but to extenuate so pernici∣ous a fact. Neither can anie writer, new or old, but hasard his own credit, if he do but seme to shew anie incling of fauor that waie.
And yet if good writers seme to fauor custom, then the case * is not so clear, as you take it to be, that there is nothing in custō, but an hell of most vile, and filthie corruptions: that it alone in∣fecteth all good things: that it alone corrupteth right writing. For if it were in dede and onelie so, theie wold not warrant it, as (now I remember my self) theie praise it verie often, and giue it great credit. Is there then not som error in the name, & maie not custom be misconstrewed? for sure the writers, when theie speak of custom, theie mean that rule in doing, and vertewous life, wherein good men agré and their consent is that, which these men term custom therein: as theie call that rule in speaking and writing the custom thereof, wherein the skilfull and best learned do agré. And is it likelie that either the honest in dede will mislead vertew in liuing, or the learned in dede will mis∣like right in writing? And again, those honest men, which al∣low of custom in matters of life, complain verie much of corrup∣tion in manners, and naughtie behauior: and the learned men, which allow of custom in matters of speche and pen, do com∣plain verie much of error in writing, and corruption in speche: and both the two, accuse the most peple as the leaders to er∣ror, and the common abuse, as the frute of a multitude. And Page 86 therefor it cannot otherwise be, but that the duble name is that, which deceiues. For theie, which accuse custō do mean false er∣ror, which counterfeateth custom, and is a great captain among the impudent for naughtinesse, and the ignorant for rashnesse, and yet directeth all the most. And theie that praise custom do mean plain truth, which cannot dissemble, which is companion with the honest in vertew, and with the learned in cunning, and directeth all the best. And will ye se? This mistermed cu∣stom in the pen, is that counterfeat abuse, which was the onelie cause, why sounds monarchie, whereof I spake before, was so dissolued, and was it self condemned, by those wise peple, which ioyned reason with sound: and the right custom which writers commend so, is that companion of reason, which succeded in place, when the counterfeat was cast out. Now ye se the error. So neither writers do allow of such a corruption, neither is custom your contrarie, but both writers, and custom, both you, and I will scratch out the eies of common error, for misusing of good things, and belying of custom. If good things be abu∣sed it is by ill peple, whose misnamed custom is right named error, and well blamed lewdnesse. If words be ouercharged with number of letters, that coms either by couetousnesse in such, as sell them by lines, or by ignorance in such, as besides the pestering them with to manie, do both weaken them with to few, and wrong them with the change, both of force and place, whose error as I mone, so I will'seke to amend it, and while I amend it, I will cōfute by correcting, and heall by com paring, that euerie one beholding the redresse, where he finds the falt, maie be able to iudge both of right, and wrong, by con∣ferring of contraries. Thus I take it my good cuntrimen, that you be deceiued in the name, and blame one for another. For custom certainlie in a matter of speche, is a great and a naturall gouernour, tho in other things it maie somtimes seme to be a sore vsurper. And yet good autors will hardlie graunt that, which still frè custom from all offensiue note, both in words and dedes, bycause theie ground custom not vpon error in deprauation at the last: but vpon iudgement, in direction from the first. And theie which entreat custom so hardlie, entertain it so, vnder an vnproper name, as vnworthie to be heard speak Page 87 in the right of writing, seing it semes to be the onelie occasion of all corruption therein, as theie surmise, taking custom to be grounded vpon the common confusion in practis of the most, and least iudiciall peple, which is mother to all wrong opi∣nions, concerning anie iudgement of right. Wherein theie nei∣ther mark that the ignorant multitude is not held for mis∣tresse, of that right and reasonable custom, which is the naturall custom, and which theie of the contrarie side do follow, as the best gide in right writing: neither yet consider theie, that their aduersaries, whom theie oppugn so, do confesse som errors in the ordinarie penning, proceding of that corruption, which theie wrongfullie term custom, which errors theie also seke to haue cut of, as the idle clogging of words with nedelesse letters, and such other ordinarie errors, which rise most of to much, by not knowing, what is right. Which errors I will handle there, where I amend them streight, as I will tuch custom somwhat more, when I com to that place, where theie appeal vnto sound from both reason and custom.
When theie haue delt thus with custom, and their contra∣ries * (which theie make contraries, by mistaking, being their frinds in dede) without marking their reasons, or by whose au∣toritie custom is established, which theie so impugn by sug∣gestion of a counterfeat, then theie begin to complain sore of the insufficiencie, and pouertie of our letters, which letters tho theie be as manie in number, as other tungs haue, yet theie suffise not, saie theie, for the full and right expressing of our sounds, tho theie expresse them after a sort, but enforce vs to vse a number of them like the Delphik sword, where of Ari∣stotle speaketh, to manie sounds and seruices contrarie to the natur of such an instrument, which was made at the first, this letter for that sound. Whereby it commeth to passe, that we both write vnproperlie, not answering the sound of that, which we saie, and ar neuer like our selues, in anie our writing, but still varie according vnto the writers humor, without anie certain direction. Whereupon forenners and strangers do wonder at vs, both for the vncertaintie in our writing, and the inconstancie in our letters. And is it not a great shame that so cunning a nation as the English Page 88 is, being of verie good note so manie yeares, either should espy, or wold not amend in all this time, the pouertie of their pen, and the confusion in their letter? but both to let their writing run thus still at riot, and them selues to be mokt at of foren peple?
If foren peple do maruell at vs, we maie requite them with * as much, and return their wonder home, considering theie themselues be subiect to the verie same difficulties, which theie wonder at in vs, and haue no mo letters then we haue, and yet both write still, and be vnderstood still, in the midst and in the spite of all these insufficiencies: as we also both write and be vnderstood, in this our insufficiencie, euen by their confession, which will nedes be offended, bycause of insufficiencie. But the common vse of writing among those strangers, which agre∣eth so with ours in our most vncertaintie, giues me to think, that this complaining of insufficiencie is not generall to all neither wth them nor with vs, but proper to som few, and par∣ticular among both, who misliking that theie know not, and not marking that theie cānot, therefor blame that theie should not. For if their blaming vpon cause, and marking vpon iudge∣ment did concur with their number, tho not so great, I should be afraid least theie had the better, bycause the fewer: but both the fewer and the weaker to, carie no great force, to condemn in iudgement. As other folks also, which se somwhat to, as well as theie, do not quite mislike of all their misliking, but desire som redresse, where there is cause in dede, tho theie agré not in the mean, how to perform the redresse, nor yet in the quātitie, that the error is so great, as these insufficienciaries pretend it to be. For we do confesse that this multiplicitie, & manifold vse in the force and seruice of our letters, wold haue som distinction, whereby to be known, if generall acquaintance with our own writing be not sufficient enough, to perceiue that in vse, which we put down by vse: but withall we defend and maintain the multiplicitie it self, as a thing much vsed euen in the best tungs, and therefor not vnlawfull, tho there were no distinction.
And again, we do not think, that euerie our custom is a plaine corruption, wherein generall vse, euen of those same persons, which cannot be suspected, but to write with good iudgement, Page 89 laie the ground to precept, as the leader to som art, & assurāce to the pen. And we rest content with the number of our letters. Which number, while som kinde of peple do studie to encrease, theie do but cumber our tung, both with strange characts, & with nedelesse dipthongs, enforcing vs from that, which gene∣rall rule hath won, and resteth content with, in all the world. And why not but these letters? or why not to manie vses? This * paucitie and pouertie of letters, hath contented and discharged the best, & brauest tungs, that either be, haue bene, shalbe, or cā be, & hath deliuered by thē▪ both in speche & pen, as great varie tie, and as much difficultie in all arguments, and as well percei∣ued of all posteritie thorough their means, as possiblie can, ei∣ther be deliuered, or be vnderstood, by the English tung, or yet be deuised by anie English wit. The peple that now vse thē, & theie that haue vsed them, haue naturallie the same instruments of voice, and the same deliuerie in sound, for all their speaking, that we English men haue, by cause theie be men, as we En glish folk be: and theie sent the vse of the pen to vs, and not we to them. And finding in their own vse this necessitie, which you do note, theie fled to that help which you think naught, and were bold with their letters, to make them serue diuerse turns, somtime with none, somtime with som pretie small note of euident distinction. Which kinde of distinguishing theie know to be verie trew, whosoeuer be acquainted with the fo∣ren letters, and with those writers which entreat of them, as I my self will shew, when I both mark, and amend at once, tho I deall no further in this place, to auoid repetition, both here & there. Neither is there anie difficultie, which theie ar not subiect vnto, either in the same, or in the verie like things, as wel as we: as I will proue elswhere, euen by comparing the particulars, so far and so manie, as nede shall require. And will strangers won∣der at vs? or do not our own peple that be learned perceiue these things? For in the ignorant I require no such discretion. Surelie I think that all peple hauing the same naturall instru∣ments to speak by, tho vpon priuat vse som harp more of som sounds then others, and som lean more vpon som one instrument of speche, then other do, as som the throte, som the tethe, and so furth, which varietie is popular euen to hole Page 90 nations, that yet naturallie all be made able, to sound all spe∣ches and all letters, if theie be accustomed vnto them, in that age and with those means, when and whereby theie be best to be learned: And that it is onelie education, and custom which maketh the difference, and therefor ruleth either all or most in speche, wherein if there be anie reason, it is not naturall and sim∣ple, as in things, but artificiall & compound as in speche, vpon such and such a cause in custom and consent. And tho the He∣brew grammarians onelie, do deuide their letters, according to that vocall instrument whereupon theie lean most, as som vpon the throte, som vpō the rouf of the mouth, som vpon the tung, som vpon the lips, som vpon the tethe: yet the Hebrewes alone haue not that distinction in natur, but euerie peple also which haue throte, tethe, rouf, tung, lips, and with those instruments vse the vtterance of sounds. Which is an argument to me, both that vse is the mistresse herein, and that he, which soundeth vpō anie one by cuntrie vse, maie be smoothed to som other by the contrarie vse, and that therefor the same letters will serue all peple, if theie list to frame themselues accordinglie. For other∣wise why do we persuade our peple to sound Latin thus, Greke thus, Hebrew thus, Italian thus, if it be not a thing to be made of acquaintance, by customarie vse? And being so, and in all nations so, what nede we mo letters to vtter our minde? se∣ing the vttering instruments be all one, and nothing can be vttered either for varietie more diuerse, or for difficultie more hard, then theie haue vttered, from whom we haue those let∣ters which we haue? neither is it anie discredit to our peple to rest content with those letters, and with that number, which antiquitie hath allowed, and held for sufficient. Is natur therefor baren in vs, which was frutefull in them, bycause we maie not inuent, and put somwhat to theirs? No forsoth. But all mankinde is but one, without anie respect of either this age, or that age, both to natur hir self, and to the God & Lord of natur, and therefor what is giuen to one man, or deliuered in one age of common seruice, that is ment to all men, & to all ages of mē, without further regard to whom, or for whom, but still to their benefit: neither is either God himself or natur his minister tyed to anie time, for deliuerie of their gifts, but when∣soeuer Page 91 mans necessitie compells him to seke, then theie help him to find. Whereupon we vnderstād, that as no one age brin∣geth furth euerie thing, so no one age can but confesse, that it hath som one or other particular inuention, tho not the self same, bycause it is enough to haue receiued it once to vse euer after. As in this case of letters, which perfited once, is neuer to be shaken, onelesse a better mean be found to vtter our speche, which I shall not se, neither can I forese by anie secret prophe∣cie. In these inuentions, tho the first receiuer haue the preroga∣tiue in taking, yet the hole posteritie hath the benefit in vsing, and generallie with greater perfection, bycause time and con∣tinewance do encrease and proin, which when it is full, it is a falt to seke further, as I take it to be in the course of penning. Neither is the restraint, for either innouating, altering, or ad∣ding to things allredie perfited, anie discourtisie in reason, or a∣nie discountenance in natur, but a bare deliuerie of a perfit thing to our elder brethern, to be conueied vnto vs: as we in like case, as the transporters to our posteritie, of such things as it pleaseth God to continew by our means, whether receiued of our elders, or deuised by our selues.
But why maie we not vse all our four and twentie letters, e∣uen * to four and twentie vses euerie of them, if occasion serue, seing the characts being known be more familiar, and easier to be discerned, then anie new deuise, yea tho the old resemble mo, and the new do note but one? It hath bene sufficientlie declared allreadie, that those men, which first deuised letters, reserued the authoritie ouer them and their vse to them selues for life, and their successors, for euer, so to qualify and to vse them, as it should please them best vpon consent among them∣selues, and cause to content nede. And why not so, where both the inuention is their own, and the right vse thereof, as theie shall vse it, which made it for their vse? This generall reser∣uation is enrold allredie in all reason and antiquitie, and the particular consent for this writing of ours is proined al∣lredie, by our generall vse, and wilbe regestred also in ve∣rie good record, I hope, and that shortelie. And will you make that souerain, which is but subaltern? or will you take that, as not remoueable, like a steddie rok, which is roming by Page 92 natur, and to serue the finder? There is no such assurance in sound for the stablishing of a right, as you do conceiue, nei∣ther such necessitie in letters, to be constant in one vse, as you seke to enforce.
The philosopher saith, that natur makes one thing to one vse, * and that euerie vse hath his particular instrument naturallie, but that our own inuentions, naie that euen the most naturall means in our application do, and maie serue to sundrie ends & vses. And will letters stand so vpon their reputation, as not to seme to stand to our applying of thē, for our own purposes, be∣ing both our creaturs, & by creation our bondmē? both to soūd and serue, as we shall think it good, and so manie waies, as we shall will them to serue? No surelie, theie do not think so, but theie ar most redie to serue at our appointment, both by crea∣tion, & by couenāt. The letters yeild redilie, but som letters seke to hinder that their dewtifull obediēce, threaping still vpon thē, that their substance is diamantish, and not born to yeild so.
With the same pen we make letters, and with the same we mar them: with the same we direct, and with the same we dash: * which be contrarie vses, tho to compas one right, and will let∣ters seme to serue but for one vse, being pewnies to the pen, naie being but elues and brats of the pens breding? Theie will not so, but proue their own dewtifulnesse, to the pen their pa∣rent, by following his direction in verie manie points, as theie yeild to reason and reasonable custom in manie of their forces, whereby theie seme to praie som bodie not to contend, where themselues be content.
The number of things, whereof we write and speak is infi∣nite, * the words wherewith we write and speak, be definite and within number. Whereupon we ar driuen to vse one, and the same word in verie manie, naie somtime in verie contrarie sen∣ses, and that in all the verie best lāguages, as well as in English, where a number of our words be of verie sundrie powers, as, letters, wherewith we write, & letters which hinder: A bird fli∣eth light, wheresoeuer she doth light: and to manie to stand on here. And will letters kepe a countenance and stand so alouf, as to sound still but one, and to serue still but one, where their great grandfathers euen the words themselues, ar forced to be Page 93 manifold? naie ar verie well content so to be, bycause of their founders statute? which is to be pliable, and at voluntarie com∣mandement, of wisdom and learning? letters stand not alouf, but allow of the seruice, whereunto you allot thē, be it neuer so manifold, seing without either cōfusiō or darknesse, customarie acquaintāce will work the distinctiō in them, & their manifold∣nesse: as a beaten disputer will sift out the difference of mani∣fold words, that the varietie of their sense, make no quarell in the question.
If we write not allwaie one, thorough want of skill, & mere ignorance, then knowledge is the helper, and he that will vse right, must haue desire to learn right.
If there want distinction, then accent must be mean to auoid confusion, or som such deuise, which maie distinguish with praise, and not pester the writing, with anie to od strangenesse. For it is most certain, that we maie vse our letters so, as we maie all other things else, whose end is in vse, and man is the mea∣sur. Neither is it anie abuse, when theie which vse, can giue a reason why, sufficient to the wise, and not contrarie to good custom. And tho som reply, as not so perswaded, yet when the act is past by diuision of the house, it is law by parlement. Then the repliers must relent, and follow, tho theie fauor not. Then must theie make the best of that, which theie thought worst, when as lawfull autoritie hath restrained their will. A thing fré before order being once limited by order hath cast of that fré∣dom, and must then kepe that currant, wherevnto it is limited, by orderlie mean, it self being such, as is subiect vnto man, and to be his at vse.
Our letters be limited, their vsage is certain in their most vn∣certaintie, and therefor I take it, that we maie rest content both with their number and their vse. Thus much concerning that complaint of our pouertie in letters, and confusion in their powers, which I wōder not at, bycause I se it so in all tungs, & euer: & I se no cause why, but it maie be so in our own inuenti∣ōs & deuises, where we are to take knowledge of nothing else, but of our own consent, both by best iudgemets of the wisest men, and the right resemblance of least corrupt natur. *
When theie haue thus vttered their stomak against poor Page 94 niknamed custom, which is sore abused, both by them for bla∣ming it vndeseruedlie, and by corruption to, for counterfaiting it shamefullie: when theie haue moned our writing for much insufficiencie and bewailed our speaking for pouertie of let∣ters, then like good physicians, and tender harted cuntriemen, theie seke both to satisfie iustice in dewtie, and Art in help. As theie find a wrong, so theie seke to right it, as theie mark a sore, so theie mean to salue it. But who shall be the iusticiarie like som one Rhadamanthus, to pronounce sentence in this right? or who the physician like som graue Hippocrates, to o∣uersé this cure? forsooth sound, for whose vse letters were de∣uised first, when there were yet none, and by whose ear theie ar now to be reclamed, being corrupt and naught. And why not? Or if these that we haue will not serue sounds turn, why maie we not inuent or deuise mo, considering our want is no wonder? For we came but latelie to vse letters, in comparison of the old peple in other nations of the main continent, & felt not our want at the first wearing: but now that we fele it, why maie we not help our selues, with the deuise of som new let∣ters, as other peple did in the like cases by som Esdras, som Pa∣lamedes, som Cadmus, som Euander, som Carmenta, and such other? Custom is condemned allredie, as a false corrupter, and sound semes to be the surest, and the best gide euen by naturall direction, and the primitiue letter. And not so much as but e∣uen Quintilian that great writing, and speaking master wisheth sound to be obserued, as the surest teacher to write right, and not custom. And what a monstruous iniurie were it, to renounce the naturall Lord, and to becom subiect to a vile vsurper? To leaue sound the right master, and to cleaue to custom the right marrer? Sure the verie name of a naturall Lord is honorable, and the bare sound of vsurpation is extreme odious to anie ho∣nest ear: And right sound, as a right souerain were to be obeied, and corrupt custom, as an vniust intruder were to be expelled.
But doth Quintilian plead for sound against custom I praie * you? Sure either you be merie men, or my memorie faills me much. For Quintilian defineth custom verie solemnlie, and v∣pon great deliberation, as I remember, to be in writing and speaking, the consent of the skilfull, as in vertuous life, the con∣sent Page 95 of the honest. Of the which two kindes of peple, as nei∣ther be corrupters in dede: so either wold be angrie to be ac∣counted so in speche. Theie do both condemn all error and corruption. And Quintilian speaking of sound, saieth expres∣slie, and in plaine terms, that euerie thing is to be writen, not as the sound giues, but as custom hath won (which custom di∣recteth not sound, but the expressing of sounds) and he brin∣geth in for example, Caius Caesar, Cneius Pompeius, in whose forenames the eie beholdeth C, but the ear heareth G. which the Grekes vsing those names translate still by G. and the same he proueth also by manie mo the like. As why not so? To win Quintilian, naie to wring Quintilian to stand for sound a∣gainst custom, by falsifying of euidence & corruption of print, where both his examples trewlie printed, and his hole mea∣ning planelie printed, and his generall circumstances neuer but right printed bewraie his right opinion, argeweth som infirmi∣tie in the alledger, who will not sé what is ment euerie where about him, or cannot sé at all how to chek a false print, either by councell of cunning, if he haue it him self, or by comparing of prints, where the trewer maie be had. Naie saithnot Quinti∣lian* thus of ortografie in generall, that it is seruant to custom, and therefor is so oft changed?
As for the autoritie, which sound alone had in the prouince of writing, and the vse of the letter, the date thereof is out long ago. Reason and right custom be ioyned vnto him in the same commission. Besides that, Art hath limited and bounded his regiment sence that time. Much he can do still, but not so much, as all, neither anie thing so much, as he could once haue done. But this argument, concerning the dissolution of sounds go∣uernment, hath bene allredie handled in the 12. title of this book.
Quintilians custom is no corrupter, neither yet is sound but a naturall Lord, tho nothing so absolut, ne yet so imperiall, as you conceiue of him, and tho the letters were first deui∣sed for him, yet both the letters, and euen sound himself, must be ruled by them, which both sound letters, and vtter sounds.
If nede be, the encrease of our number is not denied vs as Page 96 not to other peple, but the nede is denyed, bycause we entred vpon other peples most perfit inuentions, and tho later in time, yet so much the surer, bycause all things necessarie were deui∣sed to our hands: and bycause our nede can be no new nede. Whatsoeuer we nede to write, we are able to write it, & when we haue writ it, we ar able to read it. If there be anie falt, the remedie must be, not to seke that, which we haue not, but to mark that, which we haue, seing we haue all sufficient.
The credit of sound being well established in their opinion, * as the naturall lord, and the leader to all our letters, and custom being condemned, as a cankard traitor, intruding against all right, vpon the territorie of sound, then theie turn to the cure of this diseased corruption, & praie Hipoorates to be iudge. To amēd that which is amisse in the writing of our tūg, their groūd work being laid in the shaken monarchie of the deposed sound, theie procede on in a full course of generall innouation, tho som more, som lesse. First theie encrease the number of our letters and diphthongs, as if it were not possible either hereto∣fore to haue writen, or at this daie to write anie word right, for want of som encrease in the number of our letters. For as the ouercharging of our words with to manie letters cum∣meth by vsing those to much, which we haue allredie: so the difficultie thereof by vsing them so diuerslie procedeth of mere want, not hauing wherewith to answer ech particular.
Then theie change the form of our letters, and bring vs in new faces, of verie strange lineaments, how well fauored to be∣hold, I am sure I know: how vnredie for a penmā, wherewith to run, methink I forese. Which redinesse in the charact, that it follow the hand roundlie, is a speciall seruice belonging to the pen. Neither do I my self in these obseruations, so much re∣gard, what the print will stamp well, which will expresse anie thing well, whose form is reseblable, as what the pen will write well, and that with good dispatch, bycause printing is but a pe∣culiar, and a benefit impropriate: writing is our generall, and in euerie mans finger. A form that is fair to the eie in print, & cum∣bersom to the hand in penning, is not to passe in writing. For what but that causeth our English pen to vse z. so seldom, which we hear fo often? Bussing, hussie, dissie, go roundlie to the Page 97 pen with the duble ss, but verie vnredilie with the duble z, Buz∣zing, huzzie, dizzie. Vse hath won ss. & the pens redinesse, is the prouf to perswade it. To cōclude, this saie theie is the onelie help to amend all misses: for defect, to enlarge: for old & corrupt, to bring in new & correct: nede enforceth redresse, & dewtie thē.
Sure a good care, and a cuntriemanlike affection, but me∣think Hippocrates, which was ouerséer, allowes not the re∣ceit. * For what? must we then alter all our writings a new? or from what daie is this act of reformation to take full place? It is a strange point of physik, when the remedie it self is more dangerous then the disease. Besides that: I take this alteration in this sort, to be neither necessarie, where no such insufficien∣cie is, neither yet commodious, where such inconueniences fol∣low. For speche being an instrument, and a mean to vtter that, which the minde cōceiueth, if by the deliuerie of the mouth, the minde be vnderstood, the speche is sufficiēt, which so fullie an∣swereth so nedefull a purpos. If writing, where vnder I cōpre∣hend both the print & pen, do so fullie expresse the pith of the voice, as the reader maie, & doth vnderstād the writers meaning at full thereby, I maie not perswade him, that the letters which he readeth be not sufficient to expresse the writers meaning, which he is redie to confute by present triall, that both he vn∣derstandeth them, and withall most sufficientlie.
But these insufficienciaries will saie, that this vnderstanding cums not by the right of the writing, but by the intelligent rea∣der, which vnderstāds that right, by the so vsuall, tho so corrupt writing, which is vnperfitlie, and vnproperlie writen: and that the proprietie in penning is ill refused, which maie be had easilie with verie small straning.
I like the reason well, as I consesse som imperfection. But neither is the imperfection so great, as theie conceiue of it, nei∣ther is their reason so nere to redresse, as theie think it is. As for the imperfection, how it cummeth, and which waie to help it, my hole labor will proue that in euent. For their reason I can∣not sé that, which theie call a small straning bycause theie alter quite, or at the least, theie change the surface quite, which in this case, where the proprietie in writing is the possession of cu∣stom being so grounded as I haue allredie declared, is to great a Page 98 straning, chefelie, where custom being so sure and sound, will not be cōtent to be ouerruled in his own: or that anie reforma∣tiō shall ēter clame, where he is proprietarie, howsoeuer priuat mens conceits, vpon neuer so probable apparences, framed in their own opinion, shall offer assistence to the contrarie side.
The vse & custom of our cuntrie, hath allredie chosen a kinde of penning, wherein she hath set down hir relligion, hir lawes, hir priuat and publik dealings: Euerie priuat man according to the allowance of his cuntrie in generall, hath so drawn his priuat writings, his euidence, his letters, as the thing sémeth vnpossible to be remoued by anie so strange an alteration, tho it be most willing to receiue som reasonable proining, so that the substance maie remain, and the change take place in such points onelie, as maie please without noueltie, and profit with∣out forcing For were it not in good sooth, to violent a force, to offer to ouerthrow a custom, so generallie receiued, so particu∣larlie setled, naie grounded so soundlie, and sure, as it shall ap∣pear shortlie, with altering either all, or most of our letters? Were it not an argument of a verie simple orator, to think that he could perswade custom, by so strange an innouation, to di∣uorse himself from so long, and so lawfull a match? Naie were it not a wonderfull wish, euen but to wish that all our English scriptur & diuinitie, all our lawes and pollicie, all our euidence & writings, were pēd anew, bycause we haue not that set down in writing, which our elders did wish vs, but either more, which theie ment not, or lesse, which we wold not, or not so as both theie mēt, & we wold? all this cūming of the insufficiēcie of our writing, which is not able, to set that faithfullie & fullie down, which the minde cōceiueth, but either wt the more, or the lesse, or disagréing in the maner? But theie willsaie that theie mean not anie so main a chāge. But theie must nedes mean it, bycause it must either presentlie follow vpon the admitting of this new alteration, which is to main in sense, or within som years, which is to main in thought. For a new writing cūming in vnder hād, & the old charact growing outof knowledge, all that euidence in whatsoeuer English kind, must nedes either com ouer to the new fashion, or be subiect to the frūp, & remain wormeatē like an old relik, & so to be red, as the Romain religion, writē vnder Numa Pōpilius was by thē of Tullies time, whē euerie word was Page 99 so vncouth & strāge, as if it had cum frō som other world, then where it was pēned. But am I not in hād with a nédlesse trauell, not allowing that, which I nede not fear, bycause there is no dāger in it, the verie vse of our cūtrie refusing it allredie? I grant I am. But yet I must saie somwhat, not to seme to contemn: as if I saie nothing, the contrarie then maie seme to haue said som thing. But sure I take the thing to be to to combersom, and in∣conuenient, tho it were like to be profitable, but where no like liehood of anie profit at all doth appear in sight, & the change it self semeth, neither necessarie as to the better, neither volun∣tarie, as to the readier, which be two principall respects in wri∣ting, I allow not the mean, tho I mislike not the men, which deserue great thanks for their great good will, tho their works take no place. For their labor is verie profitable to help som re∣dresse forward, tho themselues hit it not. For while diuerse men attempt to laie the thing in certain, som one or other will hit it at the last, whereas to the contrarie, the case were desperat, if it were neuer delt in. But this amendment of theirs is to far fet, and without the help thereof we vnderstand our print and pen, our euidence and other writing, in what kinde soeuer. And tho we grant som imperfection, as in a tung not yet rakt from hir trubled lées, yet we do not confesse, that it is to be perfited either by altering the form, or by ēcreasing the nūber of our ac∣quainted letters, but onelie by obseruing, where the tūg of her self, & hir ordinarie custom doth yeild to the fining, as the old, & therefor the best method doth lead vs. For it is no argument, whē falts be found, to saie this is the help & onelie this, bycause none other is in sight. But whēsoeuer the right is foūd by order∣lie séking, thē the argumēt is trew, that it was not thoroughlie sought, whē it was denied to be. And to speak indifferētlie be twen the letter & the soūd, of the one side, & custō & the letter, of the other side: letters cā expresse soūds withall their ioynts & properties, no fuller then the pēcill cā the form & lineamēts of the face, whose praise is not life but likenesse: as the letters yeld not alwaie the same, which soūd exactlie requireth, but allwaie the nearest, wherwith custom is cōtent. And therefor if a letter soūd not iūp as ye wish, yet hold it as the next, least if you chāge you cum not so near. And tho one letter be vsed in diuerse Page 100 naie, in cōtrarie sounds: or soundish effects, ye cānot auoid it by anie change that wilbe liked, séing no one else hath bene liked hitherto, but this which we vse, which custom doth allow in ours by continuance, and consent in other tungs confirmeth by allowance. Certainlie by so much as I haue obserued, I think we ar as well appointed for our necessities that waie, and as much bound to our generall custom, for the artificiall notes of our naturall tung, as anie other peple is, to anie other lāguage, whether ancient in books, or modern in speche. And whatsoe∣uer insufficiencie sémeth to be in the writing thereof, it will ex∣cuse it self, and laie the hole falt vpon the insufficient obseruer, for not séking the right in it, by a right waie, which will ap∣pear to be trew, when it shalbe sene, that by sufficient obser∣uation it maie be set clear, and pure, without anie foren help, of either altering the form, or encreasing the number of our ordinarie letters, but onelie by bare notes of hir own bréding, which being allredie in vse desire nothing else, but som di∣rection by Art, which I am in good hope to perform, accor∣ding to the plat of the best refiners, in the most refined tungs, with such consideration, as either brédeth anie generall rules, or else must bear with particular exceptions. I will mark what our customarie writing will yield vnto vs by waie of note, without dreaming of change, which change is a thing not pos∣sible to passe against so violent a fall, as custom runs with, tho that violence it self offer no kinde of wrong to anie other thing, being altogether full of hir own stream. I will there∣for do my best to confirm our custom in his own right, which will be easilie obtained, where men be acquainted with the matter allredie, and wold be verie glad to se wherein the right of their writing standeth, and a great deall more glad to find it so near, when theie sought it, and thought it to be further of. Thus haue I run thorough these pretended infirmities in our tung, whose physiking I like not this waie, and therefor I will ioyn close with mine own obseruation, to sé if that will help.