To him-selfe, G. W. wisheth all hapinesse.
THou (euen my selfe) whome next God, my Prince, and Country I am most enga∣ged vnto; It is not vnlike∣lie, but some will wonder, why, contrary to the worlds custome, I haue made choyse of thy Patronage for this booke, rather then the protection of such whose mightinesse might seeme better able to defend it; especially considering such a Gigantick troupe of aduersaries haue ban∣ded themselues against the Truth, that one of them Goliah-like dares raile vpon a whole hoast of Israel. It may be (I say) some will wonder, and some scoffe at mee for it; for which cause (though to answer them with sic volo had been sufficient: yet to shew I will not like our Great ones stand so much vpon Page [unnumbered] my authority as to make my VVill my Rea∣son) I heere let you know why, and for what causes I haue done it; the first is this: I could not amongst all men finde any man, in my opinion, so fitting for this purpose, but either my Worke was vnworthy, or too worthie his Patronage. Secondly, it is said; Obsequium amicos, veritas odium parit: and I doubting my free speech would hard∣ly make a Diapason, pleasing to the eare of a common Mecaenas, thought it best to hold my tong, or speake to my selfe, whose dis∣position I am better acquainted with. Thirdly, seeing I know but what men ap∣peare, and not what they are; I had rather indure the Kites tyranny, then with Aesops Doues make the Sparrow-hauke my Cham∣pion. Fourthly, if I haue spoken Truth it is a∣ble to defend it selfe; if not, who-ere be my Patron, it is I must answere for it. Fiftly, for asmuch as I know my owne minde best; I purpose, if need be, to become my own Ad∣uocate. Sixtly, for my owne sake I first made it, and therefore certaine I am I my selfe haue most right vnto it. But seauently, and lastly (which is indeed the principal Reason) I Page [unnumbered] haue made this Dedication to thee, poore world-despised Selfe; euen to put thee in minde, (seeing thou hast here boldly begun to bid defiance to the Flesh, and vpon iust causes quarrelled with the World) that thou take heed to thine owne words, and not through basenes of minde or vntowardnes of Fortune (to thy euerlasting disgrace) faintly giue ouer so noble a Combate; If euer aduersitie (as tis like enough) oppresse thee, yet remember thy owne sayings, and in des∣pight of outward Destinies haue a care to keepe an vndeiected heart still free for Ver∣tue. Or on the contrary, if euer (as tis vn∣likely) vnexpected Prosperity bee cast vpon thee, then look to thy selfe, take to thee this poore booke of thine, wherein thou shalt see the dangers of it, and be, perhaps, there∣by staid from many a perilous enterprise, which that estate might else driue thee into. Reade it, weekely, daily, yea and howerly toe: what though it bee thine owne? thou knowest mans nature to bee so vncertaine, and prone to forget∣fulnesse, euen in the best things, that thou canst not haue too many Memorandums.Page [unnumbered] The wisest fall, and therefore euery day was Philip desirous to bee remembred that hee was a Man; thou thinkest I know, still to re∣maine what thou art, I desire in some things thou maist, but vnlesse thou labour it with diligent watchfulnesse ouer affection, it is at least much to be doubted, if not altogether to bee despaired of; thou hast seene many by an alteration in their estate beene so me∣tamorphosed, as if they were not the same men, nor of that Nation.
Nay remember it, thou thy selfe, and that but vpon a bare hope, or imagination of some preferment, hast bin puffed vp and ex∣alted aboue measure: consider now then how much more thou hadst beene so and what had become of thee if God had not by dashing those hopes called thee to thy selfe againe? Alas! if hee had answered thy ambitious expectations to thy desire, thou hadst bin by this time past recouerie and not thought of this; but delighted in villa∣ny, bin ouer-mastered by passion, rusht into all vanity and presumption; yet neuer felt a∣ny danger, till it were too late to preuent it▪ Thou hast oft wisht thou hadst bin borne to Page [unnumbered] the like means that others are, which might it haue beene so, now thou seest thou shouldst hardly, or neuer, haue come to the knowledge of those things, that are now showne thee. Tis true, thou hast lamen∣ted to be crost in thy preferments, but thou seest since that it might haue been thy vn∣doing if it had not beene so, and maist per∣swade thy selfe, whether it be now or neuer, it will be to thy good. For tell me, hast thou not often felt, euen when thou wert busiest to preuent them; fond loue, ambition, re∣uenge, couetousnesse and such like Passions then to inuade thee? Hast thou perceiued it I say? How much more then would they haue beene ready to assaile thee, when quite forgetting them, thou hadst wholly addicted thy self to the things of this world? Let mee aduise my deare-selfe then, to make vse of this thine owne worke, it will be bet∣ter to thee then all the world: for this good it may do thee, and to this end I made both •t and the Dedication thereof to thee, that if euer hereafter the temptations of the world, the flesh & the diuel, or any occasion should make thee to forget this mind that thou art Page [unnumbered] now in: or so blind thy vnderstanding thou shouldst not perceiue thy owne and the Worlds follies as thou now dost; That if thou shouldst be in that miserable state as many are, to haue no feeling of thy danger: that if thou shouldst bee wofully flattered and haue no friend → that dares, or loues thee so well to put thee in mind of thy transgressions.
Then I haue ordained this to shew thee what once thou wert, to touch thee againe with the feeling of thy miseries, and to bee vnto thee that true ← Friend, which, free from all faigned inuention, shal plainely tell thee, what perhaps should else haue neuer beene brought againe to thy remembrance. Looke then that for thy owne sake thou respect this, how e∣uer to others it may seeme a trifle. Bee carefull of thy actions, for seeing thou knowest the dangerous Passions where∣vnto Man is subiect, hast showne his vani∣ties, layed open his Weakenesse, and sharpe∣ly taxed his Presumptions: If now thou shouldest wilfully runne thy selfe into the same euilles, the vvorld would vpraid•Page [unnumbered] thee, this Booke, yea thy Conscience accuse thee, God and good-men hate thee, thy fault be more odious and in-excusable, thy iudgement more seuere, and which is worst, thy punishment most intollerable; I say seeke therefore (if for no other cause) so to carry thy selfe, that at least thou maist haue a good conscience before God, for Si Deus tecum quis contrate, but if now ha∣uing made the World thine enemie, expo∣sed thy selfe to the malice thereof, and ha∣uing so many Legions of foes without thee, thou shouldest also, by thy negligence, suffer the inuincible fortresse of a sound Conscience to be crazed within thee, the Di∣•ell, that is alway watching such aduanta∣ges, would quickly possesse it with an vn∣mercifull troupe of Horrors, Feares, and Desperations, that without Gods miraculous assistance thou wouldest grow wholly past either comfort or recouery.
For all the World cannot defend thee a∣gainst thy Conscience, but that beeing with hee, thou maist preuaile against all the World. Beware then, doe not like the Zibe∣•hum yeeld a perfume to sweeten others Page [unnumbered] and be thy selfe a stinking vermine, but let this thy owne worke bee first confirmed by thy life and conuersation, yea let it be a President to thy selfe, for, Tan•i erit aliis quanti tibi fuerit, but if not, I say if the World mis-esteeme either it or thee, yet doe not thou therefore esteeme the lesse either of thy booke or of thy selfe, but rather let them know
But now, though for these and diuers o∣other Reasons, I haue to thee my Owne-selfe committed the protection, and made the Dedication of this booke, yet my meaning is not that thou shouldst keepe it wholly to thine owne vse; But rather seeing it is ho∣nourable to giue, (though none will giue thee any thing) I haue bestowne this o• thee, that if thou canst in this corrupted age, finde any, whom desert, and thy loue may make so deare vnto thee, or whom• thou art perswaded will gratifie, or but thinke well of thy honest endeauours, thou maist bee liberall to them both of these thy labours and expences. But this I con∣iure Page [unnumbered] thee to; be they neuer so great yet flat∣ter not, or if he be a man whom thou know∣est the World speakes any way iustly ill of; either tell him his fault, or leaue him whol∣ly out of thy Catalogue: But because I begin to grow tedious to my owne-selfe, and since I shall haue Opportunity enough to consi∣der with thee what is further needfull with∣out an Epistle, with my prayers for my Prince, my Country, my friends, and my •wne prosperitie, without any leaue taking, or Commendations of my Selfe; I heartily wish my owne Soule to fare-well.
Thy Princes, thy Countries, thy friends, and thine i. thine owne whilst Reason masters Affection. GEO. WITHER.