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TO HIS BOOKE.
Goe, little Booke! thy selfe present,
? Forthy, therefore.
TO THE MOST EXCELLENT AND LEARNED,
BOTH ORATOR AND POET,
MAISTER GABRIEL HARVEY,
HIS VERIE SPECIALL AND SINGULAR GOOD FRIEND E. K. COMMENDETH THE GOOD LYKING OF THIS HIS GOOD LABOUR, AND THE
PATRONAGE OF THE NEW POET.
UNCOUTH, unkist, said the old famous poet Chaucer: whom for his excellencie and wonderfull skill in making, * his scholler Lidgate, a worthie scholler of so excellent a master, calleth the loadstarre of our language: and whom our Colin Clout in his Eglogue, calleth Tityrus the god of shepheards, comparing him to the worthinesse of the Roman Tityrus, Virgil. Which proverb, mine owne good friend M. Harvey, as in that good old poet it served well Pandares purpose for the bolstering of his bawdie brocage, so very well taketh place in this our new Poet, who for that hee is uncouth (as sayde Chaucer) is unkist, and unknowne to most men, is regarded but of a fewe. But I doubt not, so soone as his name shall come into the knowledge of men, and his woorthinesse bee sounded in the trumpe of Fame, but that hee shall bee not onely kist,
1 Brocage, pimping.
* In making.] That is, in writing poetry. The word poet comes from a Greek word signifying to make.
but also beloved of all, imbraced of the most, and wondred at of the best. No lesse, I thinke, deserveth his wittinesse
, in devising, his pithinesse in uttering, his complaints of love so lovely, his discourses of pleasure so pleasantly, his pastoral rudenes, his morall wisenesse, his due observing of Decorum everie where, in personages, in seasons, in matter, in speech; and generallie, in all seemely simpiicitie of handling his matters, and framing his wordes: the which of many things which in him be straunge, I know w ) seeme the strangest, and wordes themselves being so auncient, the knitting of them so short and intricate, and the whole period and compasse of speech so delightsom for the roundnesse, and so grave for the strangenesse. And first of the wordes to speake, I graunt they bee something hard, and of most men unused, yet both English, and also used of most excellent authours, and most famous poets. In whom, when as this our Poet hath bin much travailed and throughly read, how could it be, (as that worthie Oratour sayde) but that walking in the Sunne, althouth for other cause he walked, yet needes he mought be sunburnt; and, having the sound of those auncient poets still ringing in his eares, he mought needes, in singing, hit out some of their tunes. But whether he useth them by such casualtie and custome, or of set purpose and choise, as thinking them fittest for such rustical rudenesse of shepheards, either for that their rough sound would make his rimes more ragged and rusticall; or else because such old and obsolete wordes are most used of Country folke, sure I thinke, and thinke 1 think not amisse, that they bring great grace, and, as one would say, authoritie to the verse. For albe, amongst many other faults, it specially be obiected of Valla against Livie, and of other against Salust, that with over much studie they affect antiquitie, as covering thereby credence and honour of elder yeares; yet I am of opinion, and eke the best learned are of the like, that those auncient solemne words, are a great ornament, both in the one, and in the other : the one labouring to set forth in his worke an eternall image of antiquitie, and the other carefully discoursing matters of gravity and importance. For, if my memorie faile not, Tully in that booke, wherein he endevoureth to set forth the patterne of a perfect Orator, saith that ofttimes an ancient worde maketh the stile seeme grave, and as it were reverend, no otherwise then we honor and reverence gray haires for a certaine religious regard, which we have of old age. Yet neither every where must old wordes be stuffed in, nor the common Dialect and manner of speaking so corrupted thereby, that, as in olde buildings, it seeme disorderly and ruynous. But all as in most exquisite pictures they use to blaze and portraict not only the daintie lineaments of beautie, but also round about it to shadowe the rude thickets and craggy clifts, that, by the basenes of such parts, more excellencie may accrew to the principall: for oftentimes we find our selves, I know not how, singularly delighted with the shew of such naturall rudenesse, and take great pleasure in that disorderly order. Even so doo those rough and harsh tearmes enlumine, and make more clearly to appeare, the brightnesse of brave and glorious wordes. So oftentimes a discorde in musike maketh a comely concordance: so great delight tooke the worthie poet Alceus to behold a blemish in the ioynt of a well shaped bodie. But, if any will rashly blame such his purpose in choise of olde and unwonted wordes, him may I more iustly blame and condemne, or of witlesse headinesse in iudging, or of heedles hardinesse in condemning: for, not marking the compasse of his bent, he will iudge of the length of his cast: for in my opinion it is one especiall praise of many, which are due to this Poet, that he hath labored to restore, as to their rightfull heritage, such good and naturall English wordes, as have beene long time out of use, and almost cleane disherited. Which is the only cause, that our mother tongue, which truly of itself is both full inough for prose, and stately inough for verse, hath long time been counted most bare and barren of both. Which default when as some endevoured to salve and recure, they patched up the holes with peeces and rags of other languages, borrowing here of the French, there of the Italian, every where of the Latin; not weighing how ill those tongues accord with themselves, but much worse with ours: So now they have made our English tong a gallimaufrey, or hodgepodge of all other speeches. Other some not so well seene in the English tongue, as perhaps in other languages, if they happen to heare an olde word, albeit very naturall and significant, cry out straightway, that we speake no English, but gibberish, or rather such as in olde time Evanders mother spake: whose first shame is, that they are not ashamed, in their own mother tongue, to bee counted strangers and aliens. The second shame no lesse then the first, that what so they understand not, they streightway deeme to be senselesse, and not at all to be understoode. Much like to the Mole in Aesops fable, that, being blind herself, would in no wise be perswaded, that any beast could see.
The last, more shamefull then both, that of their owne country and natural speach, which togither with their nurses milke they sucked, they have so base regard & bastard iudgement, that they wil not only themselves not labor to garnish and beautifie it, but also repine, that of other it should be embellished. Like to the dogge in the maunger, that himselfe can eate no hay, and yet barketh at the hungrie bullock, that so faine would feed: whose cur