To the right Honorable Sir William Cecill Knight, principall Secretarie to the Queenes Maiestie, and of hir priuie counsell, Maister of the Court of Wardes and Liueries, and Chauncelor of the Vniuersitie of Cambridge: Thomas Wilson Doctor of the Ciuill lawe wisheth long and perfite health with encrease of Gods most holy spirite.
GReat is the force of Vertue (Right Honorable Counseller) to wynne loue and good will vniuersally, in whose minde soeuer it is per∣fitelye knowne, to haue once gotte a dwelling. I speake it for this ende, that being so∣litarie of late time from my other studies, and musinge on this world, in the middest of my bookes: I did then (as I haue oftentimes else done) deepelye thinke of Sir Iohn Checke Knyght, that rare learned man, and singular or∣nament of this lande. And as the remembrance of him was deare vnto me, for his manifolde great gifts and wonderfull vertues: so did I thinke of his most gentle nature and godly disposed minde, to helpe all those with his knowledge and vnderstanding, that any waye made meanes vnto him, and sought his fauour. And to say for my selfe amongest others, I founde him such a friende to me, for communicating the skill and giftes of hys minde, as I cannot but during my life speake reuerentlye of so worthie a man, and honor in my hart the heauenly remembrance of him. And thin∣king of my being with him in Italie in that famous Vniuersitie of Padua: I did cal to minde his care that he had ouer all the Englishe men there, to go to their bokes: and how gladly he did reade to me and others certaine Orations of Demosthenes in Greeke, the interpretation wherof, I and they had then frō his mouth. And so remembring the rather this world by the very argument of those actions: I did then seeke out amongest my other writings for the translation of them, and happily finding some, although Page [unnumbered] not all: I was caried streightways (I trust by Gods good motion) to make certaine of them to be acquainted so nigh as I coulde with our Englishe tongue, aswell for the aptnesse of the matter, and needefull knowledge now at this time to be had: as also for the right notable, and most excel∣lent handling of the same. And here must I saye, confessing mine owne weakenesse and imperfection, that I neuer founde in my life any thing so harde for me to doe. Yea, the more that I looke vpon this Orator to bring his sentences and wordes knowne to our common speach and language: the more doe I finde him harde and vnable to be translated, according to the excellencie of his tongue. And manye times I haue bene ashamed of my selfe, when I compared his Greeke and my English togither. And no marueyle neyther. For the Latine translatours being otherwise most ex∣cellent men, haue not alwayes satisfied themselues, much lesse aunswered to their charge and enterprise in the opinion of others that compared their doings and the Greeke togither. Hyeronymus Wolfius hath translated all Demosthenes (the like thing neuer yet done by anye other) and herein he is very carefull to keepe himselfe to the Greeke, and doth (as it shoulde seeme) better vnderstande Demosthenes than any other, and yet some∣times, either he is not well vnderstoode, or else he fayleth of Demosthe∣nes meaning. And beeing thus very curious in his translation to followe his Author as nigh as may be: his Latine is now and than somwhat harsh, and more harde than is the Greeke it selfe. Christopherus Hegendorphi∣us a notable learned man vndoubtedlye, makes himselfe ouerbolde with Demosthenes, enlarging his speach after the maner of a Paraphrasis, where as Demosthenes prayse was chiefly, his short knitting vppe of his matters togither. Philip Melanchthon, misliketh himselfe, and yet he hath done very well, but compared to the Greeke he is to seeke. Ioachimus Came∣rarius (for that which he hath taken in hande) deserueth great prayse with the best, and yet he doth not fully satisfie all men for his doings. Petrus Clobardus hath very learnedly translated the three first Orations made in fauour of the Olynthians, and varieth from others in sense, not with∣out their misliking, and perhaps not alwayes expressing the verie force and pyth of the Greeke phrase. Nicholas Carre our Countrieman one notably learned in the Greeke tongue when he liued, as it is well knowne: hath done all these Orations passing well in eloquent Latine, that I haue done in English: who varieth from all others euen in the very sense some∣times and vnderstanding of the Author, & seemes to haue reason with him. Maister Cheeke (whome I dare match with anye one before named for his knowledge in the Greeke tongue,) hauing traueyled in Demosthenes as much as any one of them all, and famous for his learning throughout Europe: yet was he neuer so passing in his translations that no exception Page [unnumbered] coulde be made against him. And then what shall I thinke of my selfe, af∣ter the naming of so manye excellent learned men, but onely submit my doings to the fauour of others, and desire men to beare with my weake∣nesse. For this must I needes confesse, that I am altogither vnable to doe so in Englishe, as the excellencie of this Orator deserueth in Greeke. And yet the cunning is no lesse, and the prayse as great in my iudgement, to translate any thing excellently into Englishe, as into any other language. And I thinke (although there be many doers) yet scant one is to be found worthie amongst vs, for translating into our Countrie speach. Such a hard thing it is to bring matter out of any one language into another. And per∣haps it may be that euen those who take themselues to bee much better learned than I am (as what is he that is not, hauing any name for learning at all?) will finde it an harder peece of woorke than they thinke, euen to make Greeke speake Englishe, if they will make proofe thereof as I haue done. Whose labor and trauayle I woulde as gladly see, as they are lyke now to see mine, that such an Orator as this is, might bee so framed to speake our tongue, as none were able to amende him, and that he might be founde to be most like himselfe. The which enterprise if any might haue bene most bolde to haue taken vpon him, Sir Iohn Cheeke was the man, of all that euer I knew, or doe yet know in Englande. Such acquain∣tance had he with this notable Orator, so gladly did he reade him, and so often: that I thinke there was neuer olde Priest more perfite in his Por∣•eise, nor supersticious Monke in our Ladies Psalter as they call it, nor yet good Preacher in the Bible or testament, thā this mā was in Demosthenes. And great cause moued him so to be, for that he sawe him to be the per∣fitest Orator that euer wrate for these two thousand yeares almost by past (for so long it is since he was) and also for that he perceyued him to haue before his eyes in all his Orations the aduauncement of vertue as a thing chiefly to be sought for, togither with the honor and welfare of his coun∣trie. Besides this, maister Cheekes iudgement was great in translating out of one tongue into an other, and better skill he had in our English speach to iudge of the Phrases and properties of wordes, and to diuide sentences: than any else had that I haue knowne. And often he woulde englyshe his matters out of the Latine or Greeke vpon the sodeyne, by looking of the booke onely without reading or construing any thing at all: An vsage right worthie and verie profitable for all men, aswell for the vnderstan∣ding of the booke, as also for the aptnesse of framing the Authors mea∣ning, and bettering thereby their iudgement, and therewithall perfiting their tongue and vtterance of speach. Moreouer he was moued greatly to like Demosthenes aboue all others, for that he sawe him so familiarly ap∣plying himselfe to the sense and vnderstanding of the common people, that Page [unnumbered] he sticked not to say, that none euer was more fitte to make an English man tell his tale praise worthily in any open hearing, either in Parlament or in Pulpit, or otherwise, than this onely Orator was. But seeing maister Cheeke is gone from vs to God, after whom we must all seeke to follow, and that this thing is not done by him, the which I woulde with all my hart had bene done, for that he was best able: it can not be counted now I trust, any fault in me, if I endeuour to doe that, the which I neuer sawe done before me. And in dede my labor can be no hurt to any body, except it be to my selfe. For the Greeke is as it was, and those that weare Grecians may read the Greke stil notwithstanding my English. And such as haue no Greeke, may goe to the Latine for all my doings, or any other translation else in any other strange tongue or language. For as I do heare say, certaine peeces of Demosthenes are translated also into diuers other tongues. But such as are grieued with translated bokes, are lyke to them that eating fine Manchet, are angry with others that feede on Cheate breade. And yet God knoweth men would as gladly eate Manchet as they, if they had it. But all can not weare Veluet, or feede with the best, and therefore such are con∣tented for necessities sake to weare our Countrie cloth, and to take them∣selues to harde fare, that can haue no better. But what reason haue they I pray you that will not suffer men to write reason as well as to speake rea∣son? for this I dare say, that euen those men, if they haue any reason with them at all, will vse in their proofes vpon weightie matters, the arguments of Demosthenes or reasons of like value. And may not I or any other sette downe those reasons by penne, in our English language, the which are vttered daily in our common speach, by men of vnderstanding? Now wic∣ked is that minde the which doth enuie welfare or wisedome to an other bodie, bicause the same man can not be so welthie, or as wise as the best. And therefore in my simple reason, there is no harme done I say to anye body by this my English translation, except perhaps it be to my selfe. For whereas I might haue liued peraduenture vnder the colour of silence and stilnesse in some opinion of learning: I may now perchaunce with myne ouermuch boldenesse in seeking to fashion so famous an Orator out of Greeke into English: happen to bewraye mine owne vnskilfull dealing. But howsoeuer it is, I had rather hazarde rebuke, if by this meanes I could towle out some other to do this perfitely, the which I haue only assaide to do plainly and homely: than to suffer so noble an Orator and so necessarie a writer for all those that loue their Countries libertie, and welfare, to lye hid and vnknowne: especially in such a daungerous worlde as this is. And although your honour hath no neede of these my doinges, for that the Greeke is so familiar vnto you, and that you also, as well as I, haue hearde Sir Iohn Cheeke read the same Orations at other times: yet I thinke for di∣uers Page [unnumbered] causes I shoulde in right present vnto your honour this my traueyle the rather to haue it through your good liking and allowance, to be made common to many. First the sayd Sir Iohn Cheeke (whome I doe often name, for the honour and reuerence due to so worthie a man) was your brother in lawe, your deare friende, your good admonisher, and teacher in your yonger yeares, to take that way of vertue, the fruite whereof you do feele and taste to your great ioy at this day, and shall for euer be remem∣bred therefore. Againe, by him you haue hearde these Orations redde and translated, as I after you (although out of Englande) haue hearde the same likewise of him, to my great comfort and profite in learning. Thirdly the Orator himselfe hauing bene a Counsellor in his Countrie as you now are in this Realme, he is your glasse I am wel assured wherevpon you do often loke, and compare his time, with this time: Countrie with Countrie: neigh∣bours with neighbours: and King with King. Lastly your great goodnesse vsed to me from time to time, togither with that your good conceyued o∣pinion to enhable me to deale in things much aboue my power: (for so it pleased you to like and allowe of me) all these respectes I say, doe mooue me at this time, to offer most humbly to your honor this mine enterprised traueyle of so noble an Orator of those his seauen seuerall famous Orations wherof three are made in fauour of the distressed Olynthians sometimes a warlike people in Thracia, now called Romania: and the other fowre en∣tituled against king Philip of Macedonie by name. The arguments wher∣of and Orations also shall hereafter appeare translated in order. And after this done his lyfe and dealings shall be truly set forth, and his faultes tolde aswell as his vertues rehearsed. That it may appeare hee was a man subiect to imperfections & lacks as others are: and though he was in some things for his rare vertues and singular giftes most excellent and passed all others: yet had he his wants, as what is he that hath not? according to that saying in Titus Liuius of Maharball to Anniball, after that great victorie gotte at Cannas in Italie against the Romanes.