The compleat gentleman fashioning him absolute in the most necessary & commendable qualities concerning minde or bodie that may be required in a noble gentleman. By Henry Peacham, Mr. of Arts sometime of Trinity Coll: in Cambridge.
Peacham, Henry, 1576?-1643?, Delaram, Francis, 1589 or 90-1627, engraver.

CHAP. 10.

Of Poetrie.

TO sweeten your seuerer studies, by this time vouch∣safe Poetry your respect: which howsoeuer censured and seemeth fallen from the higest Stage of Honour, to the lowest staire of disgrace, let not your iudgement be infected with that pestilent ayre of the common breath, to be an infidell; in whose beleefe, and doer of their con∣trary Actions, is to be religious in the right, and to me∣rit if it were possible by good workers.

The Poet, as that Laurell Mi dreamed of, is made by miracle from his mothers wombe, and like the Dia∣mond onely polished and pointed of himselfe, disdaining the file and midwifery of sorraine helpe.

Hence Tullie was long ere he could be deliuered of a few verses, and those poore ones too: and Ovid, so backeward in prose, that he could almost speake nothing but verse. And Experience daily affordeth vs many excellent yong and growing wits, as well from Plow as the Pallace, en∣dued naturally with this Diuine and heauenly guift, yet not knowing (if you should aske the question) whether a Metaphre be flesh or fish.

If bare saying Poetrie is an heauenly gift, be too weake a proppe to vphold her credite with those buzzardly poore ones,*who hauing their feathers moulted can creepe no farther then their owne puddle, able onely to enuie this Imperill Eagle for sight and flight; let them if they can looke backe to all antiquitie, and they shall finde all lear∣ning Page  79 by diuine instinct to breathe from her bosome,* as both Plato and Tullie in his Tusculanes affirme.

Str••• saith, Poetrie was the first Philosophie that e∣uer was taught, nor were there euer any writers thereof knowne before Musaus, Hesiod and Homer: by whose authoritie Plato, Aristotle and Gale, determine their weightiest controuersies, and confirme their reasons in Philosophie. And what were the songs of Linus, Orphens, Amphi••, Olympus, and that dittie Ipa sang to his harpe at Did's banquet, but Naturall and Morall Philo∣sophie, sweetened with the pleasaunce of Numbers, that Rudenesse and Barbarisme might the better taste and di∣gest the lessons of ciuilitie? according to Lucretius (Ita∣lianized by Ariosto) and englished by Sir Iohn Harring∣ton,

Sed veluti putri〈◊〉 hia tetra medentes,
Cum dare conantur, priùs or as pocula circum
Contingunt mellis, dulci flavo{que} liqure,
Vt puerorum at as imprvida Iudificetur, &c.
As Leaches when for children they appoint,
Their bitter worme-wood potions, first the cup
About the brimme with honnie sweete they noint,
That so the childe, beguild may drinke it vp, &c.

Neither hath humane knowledge beene the onely sub∣iect of this Diuine Art, but euen the highest Mysteries of Diuinitie. What are the Psalmes of Dauid (which S. Hil∣lari* so aptly compareth to a bunch of keies, in regard of the seuerall doores, whereby they giue the soule en∣trance, either to Prayer, Reioycing, Repentance, Thanks∣giuing, &c.) but a Diuine Poeme, going sometime in one measure, sometime in another? What liuely descriptions are there of the Maiestie of God,* the estate and securi∣tie of Gods children,* the miserable condition of the wic∣ked? Page  80 What liuely similitudes & comparisons, as the righ∣teous man to a bai tree,* the Soule to a thirstie Hart,* vi∣tie to oyntment, and the dew of Hermon? What excel∣lent Allegories, as the vine planted in Aegypt; what Epi∣phonema's, prosopopoca's and whatsoeuer else may be requi∣red, to the texture of so rich and glorious a peece?

And the song of Salomon (which is onely left vs of a thousand) is it not a continued Allegorie of the Mysticall loue betwixt Christ and his Church? Moreouer the Apo∣stles themselues haue not disdained to alledge the autho∣ritie of the heathen Poets, Aratus, Meander and Epime∣nides; as also the fathers of the Church, Nazianzen, S. Augustine, Bernard, Prdemius, with many others, beside the allowance they haue giuen of Poetrie, they teach vs the true vse and end thereof, which is to compose the Songs of Sion, and addresse the fruite of our inuention to his glorie who is the author of so goodly a gift, which we abuse to our loues, light fancies, and basest affections.

And if Mechanicall Arts hold their estimation by their effects in base subiects, how much more deserueth this to be esteemed, that holdeth so soueraigne a power ouer the minde, can turne brutishnesse into Ciuilitie, make the lewd honest (which is Scaligers opinion of Vir∣gils Poeme) turne hatred to loue, cowardise into valour, and in briese, like a Queene command ouer all affections?

Moreouer the Muse, Mirth, Graces, and perfect Health, haue euer an affinitie each with either. I remem∣ber Plutarch telleth vs of Telesilla, a noble and braue La∣die, who being dangerously sicke, and imagined past re∣couerie, was by the Oracle, aduised to apply her minde to the Muse and Poetrie; which shee diligently obseruing recouered in a short space, and withall grew so sprightly couragious, that hauing well fortified Argos with diuers companies of women onely, her selfe with her cōpanions sallying out, entertained Cleomenes K. of the Lacedamoniās with such a Camisade, that he was faine to shew his back, Page  81 leauing a good part of his people behinde, to fill ditches; and then by plaine force of Armes draue out Demaratus another king, who lay very strong in garrison within.

Alexander by the reading of Homer, was especially mooued to goe thorough with his conquests.

Leonidas also that braue King of the Spartanes, being asked how Titaus (who wrote of warre in verse) was e∣steemed among Poets, replied excellently For my souldi∣ers, quoth he, mooued onely with his verses, runne with a resolute courage to the battaile, fearing no perill at all.

What other thing gaue an edge to the valour of our ancient Britons, but their Bards (remembred by Athe∣naus, Lucan and sundry other,) recording in verse the braue exploits of their nation, and singing the same vnto their Harpea at their publike easts and meetings? a∣mongst whom Taliessi a learned Bard, and Master to Merlin, sung the life and actes of King Arthur.

Hence hath Poetry neuer wanted her Patrones, and euen the greatest Monarches and Princes, as well Chri∣stian as Heathen, haue exercised their Inuention herein as that great Glorie of Christendome Charlemaine, who among many other things, wrote his Nephew Roulands Epitaphe, after he was slaine in a battell against the Sar∣racens, among the*Pyrenaan hills: Alphonsiu King of Naples, whose onely delight was the reading of Virgil: Robert King of Sicilie; and that thrice renowned and learned French King, who finding Petrarchs Toombe without any inscription or Epitaphe, wrote one himselfe, (which yet remaineth) saying; Shame it was, that he who sung his Mistresse praise seauen yeares before her death, and twelue yeares should want an Epitaphe. Among the Heathen are eternized for their skill in Poesie, Augustus Caesar, Octanius, Adrian, Germanicus.*

Euery child knoweth how deare the workes of Homer were vnto Alexander, Euripides to Ayntas King of Ma∣cedon, Page  82 Virgil to Augustus, Theocrus to Ptolomey and ••vnic, King and Queene of Aegyp: the stately Pin∣dar to Hiere King of Sicilie, Ennius to Scipie, Ausonius to Gratian, (who made him Pro-consull:) in our owne Countrey,aChaucer to Richard the second, Gower to Henrie the fourth, with others I might alledge.

The Lady Anne of Bretaign, who was twice French Queene, passing through the Presence in the Court of France, espying Chartier the Kings Secretarie, and a fa∣mous Poet, leaning vpon his elbow at a Tables end fast asleepe, shee stooping downe, and openly kissing him, said; We must honour with our kisse, the mouth from whence so many sweete verses and golden Poems haue proceeded.

But some may aske me, How it falleth out, that Poets now adaies are of no such esteeme, as they haue beene in former times? I answere, because vertue in our decli∣ning and worser daies, generally findeth no regard: Or rather more truly with Aretin (being demaunded why Princes were not so liberall to Poesie, and other good Arts, as in former times) Because their conscience telleth them, how vnworthy they are of the praises giuen them by Poets; as for other Arts, they make no account of that they know not.

But since we are heere (hauing before ouer-runne the Champaigne and large field of Historie) let vs a while rest our selues in the garden of the Muses, and admire the bountie of heauen, in the seuerall beauties of so many diuine and fertile wits.

We must beginne with the King of Latin Poets, whom Nature hath reared beyond imitation, and who aboue all other onely, deserueth the name of a Poet; I meane Vir∣gil. In him you shall at once finde (not else-where) that Prudence,*Efficacie, Varietie, and Sweetnesse, which Scali∣ger requireth in a Poet, and maketh his prime vertues. Vnder Prudence is comprehended out of generall lear∣ning and iudgement, that discreete, apt suting and dis∣posing, Page  83 as well of Actions as Words in their due place, time and manner; which in Virgil is not obserued by one among twentie of our ordinary Grammarians, Who (to vse the words of the Prince of learning hereupon) onely in shallow and small Boates,*glide ouer the face of the Vir∣gilian Sea. How diuinely, according to the Platonickes, doth he discourse of the Soule? how properly of the Na∣ture, number of winds, seasons of the yeare, qualities of Beasts, Nature of Hearbs? What in-sight into ancient Chronologie and Historie? In briefe, what not worthy the knowledge of a diuine wit? To make his Aentas a man of extraordinary aspect, and comlinesse of personage, he makes Venus both his mother and Ladie of his Horoscope. And forasmuch as griefe and perpetuall care, are insepa∣rable companions of all great and noble atchieuements, he giues him Achates quasi〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, his faithfull compa∣nion? What immooued constancy, when no teares or en∣treaty of Eliza could cause him stay? What Piety, Pitty, Fortitude, beyond his companions. See how the Diuine Poet gaue him leaue to be wounded, lest his valour in so many skirmishes might bee questioned, and that a farre off, not at hand, that rather it might be imputed to his Fortune, then his rashnesse or weaknesse; then by one who could not be knowne, to giue the enemie occasion rather of feare, then of challenging the glorie. And whereas he bringeth in Camilla, a couragious Lady, and inuincible at the Swords point in encountring other; yet he neuer bringeth her to try her valour with Aeneas.* A∣gaine, that Tarchon and she might shew their braue deeds he makes Aeneas absent: as also when Turnus so reso∣lutely brake into his Tents. Lastly, what excellent iudg∣ment sheweth he in appropriating the accidents and Hi∣stories of his owne times, to those of the ancient, as where he bringeth in Venulus plucked by force from his Horse, and carried away with full speed? The like Caesar confesseth to haue happened to himselfe. Aene as with his Page  84 right arme naked, commaunds his Souldiers to abstaine frō slaughter. The like did Caesar at the battaile of Pharsa∣lie,* and with the same words. But thus much out of the heape and most iudicious obseruations of the most lear∣ned Scaliger.

Efficacie is a power of speech, which representeth a thing after an excellent manner, neither by bare words onely, but by presenting to our minds the liuely Idea's or formes of things so truly, as if wee saw them with our eyes; as the places in Hell, the fierie Arrow of Acesta, the description of Fame, the flame about the Temples of Ascanius: but of actions more open, and with greater Spirit,* as in that passage and passion of Dido, preparing to kill herselfe.

At trepida & coeptis immanibus effera Dido,
Sanguineam voluens acem, m••ulis{que} trementes
Interfusa genas, & pallida marte futura,
Interior a domus irrumpit limin, & altos
Conscendit furibunda rogos, ensem{que} recludie
Dardanium, &c.

Which for my English Readers sake, I haue after my manner translated, though assured all the translations in the world must come short of the sweetnesse and Maiesty of the Latine.

But she amazd and fierce by cruell plots,
Rouling about her bloody eye, her cheekes
All-trembling and arising, full of spots,
And pale with death at hand, perforce she breakes
Into the in-most roomes.—
Enraged then she climbes the loftie pile,
And out of sheath the Dardane sword doth draw:
Ne're for such end ordained; when a while
The Troian garments, and knowne couch she saw,
Page  85With trickling teares her selfe thereon she cast,
And hauing paus'd a little, spake her last.
Sweete spoiles, while Fates and Heauens did permit,
Receiue this soule, and rid me of my cares;
What race my Fortune gaue I finish'd it, &c.

Moreouer, that liuely combat betweene Nisus and Volscens, with many other of most excellent life.

A sweete* verse is that, which like a dish with a delicate Sauce, inuites the Reader to taste euen against his will; the contrarie is harshnesse: hereof I giue you an example in the description of young Pallas (whom imagine you see laid forth newly slaine vpon a Biere of Crabtree and Oken rods, couered with Straw, and arched ouer with greene boughes) then which no Nectar can be more de∣licious.

Qualem virgine demessum pollice florem,*
Seu mollis viola, seu languent is Hyacinthi,
Cui nec sulger adhuc, nec dum sua ferma rcessit,
Non iam mater alit tellus vires{que} ministrat, &c.
Euen as the Flower by Maidens finger mowne,
Of th'drooping Hy'cinth, or soft Violet,
Whose beautie's fading, yet not fully gone;
Now mother Earth no more doth nourish it, &c.
The like of faire Eurialus breathing his last.
Purpureus veluti cum flos succisus aratro,*
Languescit moriens, lassove papauera collo
Demisere caput, pluvia cum fortè gravantur.
Looke how the purple Flower, which the Plow
Hath shorne in sunder, languishing doth die;
Or Poppies downe their wearie neckes do bow,
And hang the head, with raine when laden lie, &c.

Page  86This kind,*Plutarch tearmeth Flowery, as hauing in it a beautie and sweete grace to delight, as a Flower.

Varistie, is various, and the rules of it so difficult, that to define or describe it, were as to draw one picture which should resemble all the faces in the world, chan∣ging it selfe like Prtens into all shapes: which our Di∣uine Poet so much, and with such excellent art affecteth, that seldome or neuer he vttereth words, or describeth actions spoken or done after the same manner, though they be in effect the same; yea, though the conclusion of all the Bookes of his Aeneides bee Tragicall, saue the first; yet are they so tempered and disposed with such varietie of accidents, that they bring admiration to the most diuine iudgements: among them all not one like another,* saue the ends of Turnus and Mezentius. What varietie in his battailes, assailing the enemies Campe, be∣sieging Cities, broyles among the common people, set battailes in fields, aides of horse and foot? &c. Neuer the same wounds, but giuen with diuers weapons, as heere one is wounded or slaine with a peece of a Rock, a Flint, Fire-brand, Club, Halberd, Long pole: there another with a drinking Boule or Pot, a Rudder, Dart, Arrow, Lance, Sword,* Bals of Wildfire, &c. In diuers places, as the throat, head, thigh, breast, hip, hand, knee, before, behind, on the side, standing, lying, running, flying, tal∣king, sleeping, crying out, entreating. Of place, as in the field, in the Tents, at Sacrifice, vpon the guard, in the day time, in the night. To proceede further, were to translate Virgil himselfe; therefore hitherto of varietie. I forbeare his most liuely descriptions of persons, times, places, and manner; his most sweete and proper Simili∣tudes, as where he resembleth Aeneas, who could not be mooued by any entreatie or teares of Dido, or her Sister Anna, to a stubborne Oake after this manner.

At veluti annosam valido cum robore quercum,
Alpini Borea nunc hinc,* nunc flatibus illinc,
Page  87Eruere inter so certant; it strider, & altè
Consternunt terram concusso stipite frendes, &c.
As when the Alpine winds with each contend,
Now this, now that way, with their furious might,
Some aged Oake vp by the rootes to rend,
Lowd whistling's heard, the earth bestrewed quite
(The body reeling) all about with leaues:
While it stands firme, and irremoued cleaues
Vnto the Rocke; for looke how high it heaues
The loftie head to heauen-ward, so low
The stubborne roote doth downe to hell-ward grow.

Againe, that elegant comparison of Ar••ns (hauing cowardly slaine the braue Ladie Camilla, and retired himselfe for feare into the body of the Armie) to a Wolfe that had done a mischiefe, and durst not shew his head.

At velut ille prius que••tela inimica sequantur,*
Continuò in montes sese anius abdidit altos
Occiso pastore Lupus, magnove iuvenco
Conscius audacis facti, caudam{que} remulcens
Subiecit pauit antem vtero, sylvas{que} petiuit, &c.
And as a Wolfe that hath the Shepheard slaine,
Or some great beast, before the Countrey rise,
Knowing him guiltie, through by-waies amaine
Hath got the Mountaines, leeing where he lies,
Or clapt his taile betwixt his legges, in feare
Tane the next Coppise, till the Coast be cleare.

After Virgil, I bring you Ouid,* as well because they li∣ued in one time, (yet Ouid confesseth he saw Virgil* but once in all his life) as that he deserueth to be second in imitation, for the sweetnesse and smooth current of his stile, euery where seasoned with profound and antique Page  88 learning: among his Workes, his Epistles are most wor∣thy your reading, being his neatest peece, euery where embellished with excellent and wise Sentences; the num∣bers smoothly falling in, and borrowing their lustre and beautie from imitation of natiue and antique Simpli∣citie: that of Acontius is somewhat too wanton; those three, of Vlysses, Demophoon, and Paris to Onone, are sus∣pected for the weaknesse of conceit, in regard of the o∣ther, to be none of Ouids.

Concerning his bookes, Amorum and de Arte amandi, the wit with the truly ingenuous and learned will beare out the wantonnesse: for with the weeds there are deli∣cate flowers in those walkes of Venus. For the Argument of his Metamorphosis, he is beholden to Parthenius, and diuers others, and those who long before wrote of the same subiect.

About the yeare 1581. when the King of Poland made warre in Moscouia,* certaine Polonian Embassadours tra∣uailing into the in-most places of Moscouia, as farre as Podolia and Kiouia:* they passed the great Riuer Borist∣henes, hauing in their company a certaine young Gen∣tleman, very well seene in the Latine, Greeke, and He∣brew tongues; withall, an excellent Poet and Historian: he perswaded the Polonians to well horse themselues, and ride with him a little further; for he would (said he) thew them Ouids Sepulcher; which they did: and when they were gone six daies iourney beyond Boristhenes, through most vaste and desolate places, at last they came into a most sweete and pleasant valley, wherein was a cleere running Fountaine, about which the grasse growing very thicke and high, with their Swords and Fauchions they cut it downe, till at last they found a Stone, Chest, or Coffin, couered ouer with stickes and shrubs, whereon, it being rubbed and cleansed from Mosse and filth, they read Ouids Epitaph, which was this:

Page  89
Hîc situs est vates, quem Diui Caesaris ira
Augusti, Latia cedere iussit hume:
Sapè miser voluit Patrijs occumbere terris,
Sed frustrà: hunc illi fata dedere locum.

This his Sepulcher (saith mine Authour) remaineth vpon the borders of Greece, neere to the Euxine Sea, and is yet to be seene.

Of Lyricke Poets, as well Greeke as Latine, hold Ho∣race* in highest account, as the most acute and artificiall of them all, hauing attained to such height, that to the dis∣creete iudgement, he hath cut off all hope of equalizing him: his Stile is elegant, pure and sinewie, with most wit∣tie and choice sentences, neither humili contentus Stylo (as Quintilian saith of him) sed grandilquo & sublimi. Yea and if we beleeue Scaliger, more accurate and sententi∣ous then Pindar. His Odes are of most sweete and plea∣sant inuention, beyond all reprehension, euery where il∣lustred with sundrie and rare figures, and veses so sluent, that the same Scaliger* protesteth he had rather be a com∣poser of the like, then be King of whole Arragon. In his Satyres he is quicke, round and pleasant,* and as nothing so bitter, so not so good as Iuvenal: his Epistles are neare; his Poetica his worst peece, for while he teacheth the Art, he goeth vnartificially to worke, euen in the verie beginning.

Iuvenal of Satyrists is the best,* for his Satyres are far better then those of Horace, and though he be sententi∣ously tart, yet is his phrase cleare and open.

Persius,* I know not why we should so much affect him, since with his obscuritie hee laboureth not to affect vs; yet in our learned age he is now discouered to euery Schoole-boie: his stile is broken, froward, vnpleasing and hash.

In Martial* you shall see a diuine wit, with a flowing puritie of the Latine tongue, a true Epigrammatist: his Page  90 verse is cleare, full, and absolute good, some few too wan∣ton and licentious, being winked at.

Lucane* breathes with a great spirit, wherefore some of our shallow Grammarians, haue attempted to equall him with Virgil: but his errour is, while hee doth ampullare with bigge sounding words, and a conceipt vnbounded, furious and ranging, and cannot with Virgil containe himselfe within that sweete, humble and vnaffected mo∣deration; he incurreth a secret enuie and ridiculous con∣tempt, which a moderate and well tempered style auoi∣deth.

Seneca,* for Maiestie and state yeeldeth not to any of the Grecians whosoeuer, Cultu & niore, to vse Scaligers words, farre excelling Euripides: and albeit he borrowed the Argument of his Tragaedies from the Graecians, yet the Spirit, loftinesse of sound, and Maiestie of stile is meerely his owne.

Claudian,* is an excellent and sweete Poet, onely ouer∣borne by the meannesse of his subiect, but what wanted to his matter he supplied by his wit and happie inuen∣tion.

Statius is a smooth and a sweete Poet, comming nee∣rest of any other to the state and Maiestie of Virgils verse, and Virgil onely excepted, is the Prince of Poets aswell Greekes as Latine; for he is more slowery in fi∣gures, and writeth better lines then Homer. Of his works his Sylue are the best.

Propertius* is an easie cleare and true Elegiacke, fol∣lowing the tract of none saue his owne inuention.

Among Comicke Poets, how much antiquitie attributed to Plautus* for his pleasant veine (to whom Volcatius gi∣ueth the place next to Cacilius, and Varro would make the mouth of Muses) so much doe our times yeeld to Te∣rence,* for the puritie of his stile: wherefore Scaliger wil∣leth vs to admire Plautus as a Comoedian, but Terence as a pure and elegant speaker.

Page  91Thus haue I in briefe, comprised for your behoofe, the large censure of the best of Latine Poets, as it is co∣piously deliuered by the Prince of all learning and Iudge of iudgements, the diuine Iul. Cas. Scaliger. But while we looke backe to antiquitie, let vs not forget our later and moderne times (as imagining nature hath hereto∣fore extracted her quintessence, and lest vs the dregges) which produce as fertile wits, as perhaps the other, yea and in our Brittaine.

Of Latine Poets of our times in the iudgement of Be∣za and the best learned, Buchanan* is esteemed the cheife: who albeit in his person, behauiour, and fashion, he was rough hewen, slouenly and rude, seldome caring for a better out side then a Rugge-gowne girt close about him, yet his inside and conceipt in Poesie was most rich, and his sweetnesse, and facilitie in a verse, vnimitably excel∣lent, as appeareth by that Master peece his Psalmes; as farre beyond those of B. Rhenanus, as the Stanza's of Pe∣trarch the times of Skelton:* but deseruing more applause (in my opinion) if hee had fallen vpon another subiect; for I say with one, Mihi spiritus diuinus eiusmod places quo scipsum ingessit a Patre, & illorū piget qui Dauid Psalmos suis calamistris inustos sperarant efficere plausibiliores. And certaine in that boundlesse field of Poeticall inuention, it cannot be auoided, but something must be distorted beside the intent of the Diuine enditer.

His Tragedies are loftie, the stile pure, his Epigrams not to be mended, saue heere and there (according to his Genius) too broad and bitter.

But let vs looke behinde vs, and wee shall finde one English-bred (whose glorie and worth, although Cineri suppôsta doloso) is inferiour neither to Buchanan,* or any of the ancients, and so much the more to be valued, by how much the brighter he appeared out of the fogges of Barbarisme and ignorance in his time; that is, Ioseph of Exeter, who liued vnder Henrie the 2. and RichardPage  92 the first, who wrote that singular and stately Poeme of the Troian warre, after the Historie of Dares Phrygius, which the Germanes haue printed vnder the name of Cornelius Nepos. He died at Bourdeaux in France, where he was Archbishop, where his monument is yet to bee seene.

After him (all that long tract of ignorance, vntill the daies of Henrie the 8. (which time Erasmus calleth, the Golden Age of learning, in regard of so many famously learned men, it produced more then euer heretofore) flourished Sir Thomas More,* sometime Lord Chancellor of England: a man of most rich and pleasant inuention: his verse fluent, nothing harsh, constrained or obscure; wholly composed of conceipt, and inoffensiue mirth, that he seemeth ad lepôres fuisse natum. How wittily doth hee play vpon the Arch-cuckold Sabinus, scoffe at Frenchified Lalus, and Herney a French cowardly Captaine, beaten at the Sea by our English, and his shippe burned, yet his victorie and valour to the English disgrace, proclaimed by Brixius a Germane Pot-aster? What can be more loftie then his gratulatorie verse to King Henrie vpon his Co∣ronation day? more wittie then that Epigramme vpon the name of Nicolaus an ignorant Phisitian, that had beene the death of thousands, and Abyngdons Epitaph? more sweete then that nectar Epistle of his, to his daugh∣ters Margaret, Elizabeth, and Cicelie? But as these inge∣nious exercises bewraied in him an extraordinary quick∣nesse of wit and learning, so his Vtopia his depth of iudg∣ment in State-affaires, then which, in the opinion of the most learned Budaus in a preface, before it our age hath not seene a thing more deepe & accurate. In his yonger yeeres, there was euer a friendly and vertuous emulati∣on, for the palme of inuention and poesie, betweene William Lillie* the author of our Grammer, and him, as appeareth by their seuerall translations of many Greeke Epigrammes, and their inuention tried vpon one subiect; Page  93 notwithstanding they lou'd and liu'd together as deerest friends. Lillie also was beside, an excellent Latine Poet, a singular Graecian; who after he trauelled all Greece o∣uer, and many parts of Europe beside, and liued some foure or fiue yeeres, in the Ile of the Rhodes: he retur∣ned home, and by Iohn Collet Deane of Paules, was ele∣cted Master of Pauls Schoole, which he had newly foun∣ded.

Shortly after, began to grow eminent, aswell for Poe∣sie as all other generall learning, Sir Thomas Challoner* Knight (father to the truly honest, and sometime louer of all excellent parts, Sir Thomas Challoner, who attended vpon the late Prince) borne in London, brought vp in Cambridge; who hauing left the Vniuer sitie, and followed the Court a good while, went ouer with Sir Henry Knyuet, Embassadour to Charles the fift, as his friend and companion: what time the Emperour being preparing a mightie fleete against the Turkes in Argier, the English Embassadour, Sir Thomas Challoner, Henry Knowles, M. Henry Isam, and others, went in that seruice as volunta∣ries with the Emperour. But the Galley wherein Sir Thomas Challoner was, being cast away by foulenesse of weather, after he had laboured by swimming for his life as long as he was able, and the strength of his armes fal∣ling him, he caught hold vpon a cable throwne out from another galley, to the losse and breaking of many of his teeth, and by that meanes saued his life. After the death of King Henry the 8. he was in the battaile of Musklebo∣rough, and knighted by the Duke of Smmerset. And in the beginning of the raigne of Queene Elizabeth, hee went ouer Embassadour into Spaine, where at his houres of leisure, he compiled ten elegant bookes in Latine vers. de Ropub. Anglorum instauranda; superuised after his death by Malim, and dedicated to the old Lord Burgh∣ley, Lord Treasurer. Being sent for home, by her Maie∣stie, he shortly after died in London, and was buried in Page  94Paules neere to the steppes of the Quire, toward the South-doore, vnder a faire marble; but the brasse and epitaphe written by Doctor Haddon, by sacrilegious hands is since torne away. But the Muse and Eternall Fame haue reared him a monument more lasting and worthy the merit of so excellent a man.

Of English Poets of our owne Nation, esteeme Sir Geoffrey Chaucer* the father; although the stile for the an∣tiquitie, may distast you, yet as vnder a bitter and rough rinde, there lyeth a delicate kernell of conceit and sweete inuention. What Examples, Similitudes, Times, Places, and aboue all, Persons, with their speeches, and attri∣butes, doe as in his Canterburie-tales (like these threds of gold, the rich Arras) beautifie his worke quite tho∣rough? And albeit diuers of his workes, are but meerely translations out of Latine and French, yet he hath hand∣led them so artificially, that thereby he hath made them his owne, as his Troilus and Cresseid. The Romant of the Rose, was the Inuention of Ithan de Mehunes, a French Poet, whereof he translated but onely the one halfe: his Canterburie-tales without question were his owne inuen∣tion, all circumstances being wholly English. Hee was a good Diuine, and saw in those times, without his spe∣ctacles, as may appeare by the Plough-man, and the Par∣sons tale: withall an excellent Mathematician, as plainly appeareth by his discourse of the Astrolabe to his little sonne Lewes. In briefe, account him among the best of your English bookes in your librarie.

Gower* being very gracious with King Henrie the 4. in his time carried the name of the onely Poet, but his verses to say truth, were poore and plaine, yet full of good and graue Moralitie: but while he affected altoge∣ther the French phrase and words, made himself too ob∣scure to his Reader; beside his inuention commeth farre short of the promise of his Titles. He published onely (that I know of) three bookes, which at S. Marie OueriesPage  95 in Southwarke vpon his monument lately repaired by some good Benefactor, lie vnder his head; which are, Vox clamantie, Speculum Meditantis, and Confessio Amantis. He was a Knight, as also was Chaucer.

After him succeeded Lydgate,* a Monke of Burie, who wrote that bitter Satyre of Peirs Plow-man. He spent most part of his time in translating the workes of others, hauing no great inuention of his owne. He wrote for those times a tollerable and smooth verse.

Then followed Harding,* and after him Skelton, a Poet Laureate, for what desert I could neuer heare; if you de∣sire to see his veine and learning, an Epitaph vpon King Henry the seauenth, at West-minster will discouer it.

In the latter end of King Henrie* the 8. for their ex∣cellent facultie in Poesie were famous, the right noble Henrie Earle of Surrey (whose Songs and Sonnets yet extant, are of sweete conceipt:) and the learned, but vn∣fortunate, Sir Thomas Wyat.*

In the time of Edward the sixth liued Sternhold, whom King Henry his father, a little before had made groome of his Chamber, for turning certaine of Dauids Psalmes into verse: and merrie Iohn Heywood,* who wrote his Epigrammes, as also Sir Thomas More his Vtopia, in the parish wherein I was borne; where either of them dwelt, and had faire possessions.

About Queene Maries time, flourished Doctor Phaer who in part translated Virgils Aeneids, after finished by Arthur Golding.

In the time of our late Queene Elizabeth, which was truly a golden Age (for such a world of refined wits, and excellent spirits it produced, whose like are hardly to be hoped for, in any succeeding Age) aboue others, who ho∣noured Poesie with their pennes and practise (to omit her Maiestie, who had a singular gift herein) were Ed∣ward Earle of Oxford, the Lord Buckhurst, Henry Lord Paget; our Phoenix, the noble Sir Philip Sidney, M. Edward Page  96 Dyer, M. Edmund Spencer, M. Samuel Daniel, with sun∣dry others; whom (together with those admirable wits, yet liuing, and so well knowne) not out of Enuie, but to auoide tediousnesse I ouerpasse. Thus much of Poetrie.