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George Puttenham (ca. 1529-1591)

The Arte of Poesie (1589)

{{Page i}}

THE ARTE
OF ENGLISH
POESIE.

Contriued into three Bookes : The first of Poets
and Poesie , the second of Proportion,
the third of Ornament.

[[ornament]]

AT LONDON
Printed by Richard Field, dwelling in the
black-Friers, neere Ludgate.

1589.

{{Page ii}}

A colei

[[portrait of Queen Elizabeth]]

Che se stessa rassomiglia
|&| non altrui.

{{Page iii}}

[[ornament]]

TO THE RIGHT HONORABLE SIR {W}ILLIAM CECILL
KNIGHT, LORD OF BVRGHLEY, LORD HIGH TREASVRER OF ENGLAND, R.
F. Printer wisheth health and prosperitie, with the
commandement and vse of his continuall seruice.

THis Booke (right Honorable) comming to my
handes, with his bare title without any Authours name or any
other ordinarie addresse, I doubted how well it might become
me to make you a present thereof, seeming by many expresse
passages in the same at large, that it was by the Authour
intended to our Soueraigne Lady the Queene, and for her
recreation and seruice chiefly deuised, in which case to
make any other person her highnes partener in the honour of
his guift it could not st|an|d with my dutie, nor be without
some preiudice to her Maiesties interest and his merrite.
Perceyuing besides the title to purport so slender a
subiect, as nothing almost could be more discrepant from the
grauitie of your yeeres and Honorable function, whose
contemplations are euery houre more seriously employed vpon
the publicke administration and seruices: I thought it no
condigne gratification, nor scarce any good satisfaction for
such a person as you. Yet when I considered, that bestowyng
vpon your Lordship the first vewe of this mine impression (a
feat of mine owne simple facultie) it could not scypher her
Maiesties honour or prerogatiue in the guift, nor yet the
Authour of his thanks: and seeing the thing it selfe to be a
deuice of some noueltie (which commonly

{{Page iv}}

giueth euery good thing a speciall grace) and a
noueltie so highly tending to the most worthy prayses of her
Maiesties most excellent name (deerer to you I dare conceiue
them any worldly thing besides) mee thought I could not
deuise to haue presented your Lordship any gift more
agreeable to your appetite, or fitter for my vocation and
abilitie to bestow, your Lordship beyng learned and a louer
of learning, my present a Booke and my selfe a printer
alwaies ready and desirous to be at your Honourable
commaundement. And thus I humbly take my leaue from the
Black-friers, this xxviij. of May.
1589.

Your Honours most humble at
commaundement,

R. F.

[[ornament]]

{{Page 1}}

[[ornament]]



THE FIRST BOOKE,
Of Poets and Poesie.



CHAP. I.


What a Poet and Poesie is, and who may be worthily sayd
the most
excellent Poet of our time.


¶1.1.1 A Poet is as much to say as a maker. And our
English name well conformes with the
Greeke word: for of poiyin to make, they
call a maker Poeta. Such as (by way of re-
semblance and reuerently) we may say of
God: who without any trauell to his di-
uine imagination, made all the world of
nought, nor also by any paterne or mould
as the Platonicks with their Idees do phantastically suppose. Eu|en|
so the very Poet makes and contriues out of his owne braine both
the verse and matter of his poeme, and not by any foreine copie or
example, as doth the translator, who therefore may well be sayd a
versifier, but not a Poet. The premises considered, it giueth to the
name and profession no smal dignitie and preheminence, aboue all
other artificers, Scientificke or Mechanicall. And neuerthelesse
without any repugnancie at all, a Poet may in some sort be said a
follower or imitator, because he can expresse the true and liuely of
euery thing is set before him, and which he taketh in hand to de-
scribe: and so in that respect is both a maker and a counterfaitor:
and Poesie an art not only of making, but also of imitation. And
this science in his perfection, can not grow, but by some diuine in-
stinct, the Platonicks call it furor: or by excellencie of nature and
complexion: or by great subtiltie of the spirits |&| wit or by much
experience and obseruation of the world, and course of kinde, or
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peraduenture by all or most part of them. Otherwise how was
it possible that Homer being but a poore priuate
man, and as some say, in his later age blind, should so
exactly set foorth and describe, as if he had bene a most
excellent Captaine or Generall, the order and array of
battels, the conduct of whole armies, the sieges and
assaults of cities and townes? or as some great Princes
maiordome and perfect Surueyour in Court, the order,
sumptuousnesse and magnificence of royal bankets, feasts,
weddings, and enteruewes? or as a Polititian very prudent,
and much inured with the priuat and publique affaires, so
grauely examine the lawes and ordinances Ciuill, or so
profoundly discourse in matters of estate, and formes of all
politique regiment? Finally how could he so naturally paint
out the speeches, countenance and maners of Princely persons
and priuate, to wit, the wrath of Achilles, the
magnanimitie of Agamemnon, the prudence of
Menelaus, the prowesse of Hector, the
maiestie of king Priamus, the grauitie of
Nestor, the pollicies and eloquence of Vlysses
, the calamities of the distressed Queenes, and
valiance of all the Captaines and aduenturous knights in
those lamentable warres of Troy? It is therefore of Poets
thus to be conceiued, that if they be able to deuise and
make all these things of them selues, without any subiect of
veritie, that they be (by maner of speech) as creating gods.
If they do it by instinct diuine or naturall, then surely
much fauoured from aboue. If by their experience, then no
doubt very wise men. If by any president or paterne layd
before them, then truly the most excellent imitators |&|
counterfaitors of all others. But you (Madame) my most
Honored and Gracious: if I should seeme to offer you this my
deuise for a discipline and not a delight, I might well be
reputed, of all others the most arrogant and iniurious: your
selfe being alreadie, of any that I know in our time, the
most excellent Poet. Forsooth by your Princely purse fauours
and countenance, making in maner what ye list, the poore man
rich, the lewd well learned, the coward couragious, and vile
both noble and valiant. Then for imitation no lesse, your
person as a most cunning counterfaitor liuely representing
Venus in countenance, in life Diana,
Pallas for gouernement, and Iuno in all
honour and regall magnificence.

{{Page 3}}


CHAP. II.


That there may be an Art of our English Poesie, aswell as
there is of the Latine and Greeke.


¶1.2.1 THen as there was no art in the
world till by experience found out: so if Poesie be now an
Art, |&| of al antiquitie hath bene among the Greeks and
Latines, |&| yet were none, vntill by studious persons
fashioned and reduced into a method of rules |&| precepts,
then no doubt may there be the like with vs. And if th'art
of Poesie be but a skill appertaining to vtterance, why may
not the same be with vs aswel as with them, our language
being no lesse copious pithie and significatiue then theirs,
our conceipts the same, and our wits no lesse apt to deuise
and imitate then theirs were? If againe Art be but a
certaine order of rules prescribed by reason, and gathered
by experience, why should not Poesie be a vulgar Art with vs
aswell as with the Greeks and Latines, our language
admitting no fewer rules and nice diuersities then theirs?
but peraduenture moe by a peculiar, which our speech hath in
many things differing from theirs: and yet in the generall
points of that Art, allowed to go in common with them: so as
if one point perchance which is their feete whereupon their
measures stand, and in deede is all the beautie of their
Poesie, and which feete we haue not, nor as yet neuer went
about to frame (the nature of our language and wordes not
permitting it) we haue in stead thereof twentie other
curious points in that still more then they euer had, by
reason of our rime and tunable concords or simphonie, which
they neuer obserued. Poesie therefore may be an Art in our
vulgar, and that verie methodicall and commendable.


CHAP. III.


How Poets were the first priests, the first prophets, the
first Legislators and polititians in the world.


¶1.3.1 THe profession and vse of Poesie
is most ancient from the beginning, and not as manie
erroniously suppose, after, but before any ciuil society was
among men. For it is written, that Poesie was th'originall
cause and occasion of their first assemblies, when before
the people remained in the woods and mountains, vagarant and
dipersed like the wild beasts,
lawlesse and naked, or verie ill

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clad, and of all good and necessarie prouision for harbour
or sustenance vtterly vnfurnished: so as they litle diffred
for their maner of life, from the very brute beasts of the
field. Whereupon it is fayned that Amphion and
Orpheus, two Poets of the first ages, one of them, to
wit Amphion, builded vp cities, and reared walles
with the stones that came in heapes to the sound of his
harpe, figuring thereby the mollifying of hard and stonie
hearts by his sweete and eloquent perswasion. And
Orpheus assembled the wilde beasts to come in heards
to harken to his musicke, and by that meanes made them tame,
implying thereby, how by his discreete and wholsome lessons
vttered in harmonie and with melodious instruments, he
brought the rude and sauage people to a more ciuill and
orderly life, nothing, as it seemeth, more preuailing or fit
to redresse and edifie the cruell and sturdie courage of man
then it. And as these two Poets and Linus before
them, and Museus also and Hesiodus in
Greece and Archadia: so by all likelihood had mo Poets done
in other places, and in other ages before them, though there
be no remembrance left of them, by reason of the Recordes by
some accident of time perished and failing. Poets therfore
are of great antiquitie. Then forasmuch as they were the
first that entended to the obseruation of nature and her
works, and specially of the Celestiall courses, by reason of
the continuall motion of the heauens, searching after the
first mouer, and from thence by degrees comming to know and
consider of the substances separate |&| abstract, which we
call the diuine intelligences or good Angels (
Demones) they were the first that instituted
sacrifices of placation, with inuocations and worship to
them, as to Gods: and inuented and stablished all the rest
of the obseruances and ceremonies of religion, and so were
the first Priests and ministers of the holy misteries. And
because for the better execution of that high charge and
function, it behoued them to liue chast, and in all holines
of life, and in continuall studie and contemplation: they
came by instinct diuine, and by deepe meditation, and much
abstinence (the same assubtiling and refining their spirits)
to be made apt to receaue visions, both waking and sleeping,
which made them vtter prophesies, and foretell things to
come. So also were they the first Prophetes or seears,
Videntes, for so the Scripture tearmeth
them in Latine after

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the Hebrue word, and all the oracles and answers of the gods
were giuen in meeter or verse, and published to the people
by their direction. And for that they were aged and graue
men, and of much wisedome and experience in th'affaires of
the world, they were the first lawmakers to the people, and
the first polititiens, deuising all expedient meanes for
th'establishment of Common wealth, to hold and containe the
people in order and duety by force and vertue of good and
wholesome lawes, made for the preseruation of the publique
peace and tranquillitie. The same peraduenture not purposely
intended, but greatly furthered by the aw of their gods, and
such scruple of conscience, as the terrors of their late
inuented religion had led them into.


CHAP. IIII.


How the Poets were the first Philosophers, the first
Astronomers and Historiographers and Oratours and Musitiens
of the world.


¶1.4.1 VTterance also and language is
giuen by nature to man for perswasion of others, and aide of
them selues, I meane the first abilite to speake. For speech
it selfe is artificiall and made by man, and the more
pleasing it is, the more it preuaileth to such purpose as it
is intended for: but speech by meeter is a kind of
vtterance, more cleanly couched and more delicate to the
eare then prose is, because it is more currant and slipper
vpon the tongue, and withal tunable and melodious, as a kind
of Musicke, and therfore may be tearmed a musicall speech or
vtterance, which cannot but please the hearer very well.
Another cause is, for that it is briefer |&| more
compendious, and easier to beare away and be retained in
memorie, then that which is contained in multitude of words
and full of tedious ambage and long periods. It is beside a
maner of vtterance more eloquent and rethoricall then the
ordinarie profe, which we vse in our daily talke: because it
is decked and set out with all maner of fresh colours and
figures, which maketh that it sooner inuegleth the iudgement
of man, and carieth his opinion this way and that whither
soeuer the heart by impression of the eare shalbe most
affectionatly bent and directed. The vtterance in prose is
not of so great efficacie, because not only it is dayly
vsed, and by that occasion the eare is ouerglutted with it,
but is also not so voluble

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and slipper vpon the tong, being wide and lose, and nothing
numerous, nor contriued into measures, and sounded with so
gallant and harmonical accents, nor in fine alowed that
figuratiue conueyance, nor so great license in choise of
words and phrases as meeter is. So as the Poets were also
from the beginning the best perswaders and their eloquence
the first Rethoricke of the world. Euen so it became that
the high mysteries of the gods should be reuealed |&|
taught, by a maner of vtterance and language of
extraordinarie phrase, and briefe and compendious, and aboue
al others sweet and ciuill as the Metricall is. The same
also was meetest to register the liues and noble gests of
Princes, and of the great Monarkes of the world, and all
other the memorable accidents of time: so as the Poet was
also the first historiographer. Then forasmuch as they were
the first obseruers of all naturall causes |&| effects in
the things generable and corruptible, and from thence
mounted vp to search after the celestiall courses and
influences, |&| yet penetrated further to know the diuine
essences and substances separate, as is sayd before, they
were the first Astronomers and Philosophists and
Metaphisicks. Finally, because they did altogether endeuour
th|em| selues to reduce the life of man to a certaine
method of good maners, and made the first differences
between vertue and vice, and then tempered all these
knowledges and skilles with the exercise of a delectable
Musicke by melodious instruments, which withall serued them
to delight their hearers, |&| to call the people together by
admiration, to a plausible and vertuous conuersation,
therefore were they the first Philosophers Ethick, |&| the
first artificial Musiciens of the world. Such was
Linus, Orpheus, Amphi|on| |&| Museus the most ancient
Poets and Philosophers, of whom there is left any memorie by
the prophane writers. King Dauid also |&|
Salomon his sonne and many other of the holy Prophets
wrate in meeters, and vsed to sing them to the harpe,
although to many of vs ignorant of the Hebrue language and
phrase, and not obseruing it, the same seeme but a prose. It
can not bee therefore that anie scorne or indignitie should
iustly be offred to so noble, profitable, ancient and diuine
a science as Poesie is.


CHAP. V.


How the wilde and sauage people vsed a naturall Poesie in
versicle and rime as our vulgar is.

{{Page 7}}


¶1.5.1 ANd the Greeke and Latine Poesie
was by verse numerous and metricall, running vpon pleasant
feete, sometimes swift, sometime slow (their words very
aptly seruing that purpose) but without any rime or tunable
concord in th'end of their verses, as we and all other
nations now vse. But the Hebrues |&| Chaldees who were more
ancient then the Greekes, did not only vse a metricall
Poesie, but also with the same a maner of rime, as hath bene
of late obserued by learned men. Wherby it appeareth, that
our vulgar running Poesie was common to all the nations of
the world besides, whom the Latines and Greekes in speciall
called barbarous. So as it was notwithstanding the first and
most ancient Poesie, and the most vniuersall, which two
points do otherwise giue to all humane inuentions and
affaires no small credit. This is proued by certificate of
marchants |&| trauellers, who by late nauigations haue
surueyed the whole world, and discouered large countries and
strange peoples wild and sauage, affirming that the
American, the Perusine |&| the very Canniball, do sing and
also say, their highest and holiest matters in certaine
riming versicles and not in prose, which proues also that
our maner of vulgar Poesie is more ancient then the
artificiall of the Greeks and Latines, ours comming by
instinct of nature, which was before Art or obseruation, and
vsed with the sauage and vnciuill, who were before all
science or ciuilitie, euen as the naked by prioritie of time
is before the clothed, and the ignorant before the learned.
The naturall Poesie therefore being aided and amended by
Art, and not vtterly altered or obscured, but some signe
left of it, (as the Greekes and Latines haue left none) is
no lesse to be allowed and commended then theirs.


CHAP. VI.


How the riming Poesie came first to the Grecians and
Latines, and had altered and almost spilt their maner of
Poesie.


¶1.6.1 BVt it came to passe, when
fortune fled farre from the Greekes and Latines, |&| that
their townes florished no more in traficke, nor their
Vniuersities in learning as they had done continuing those
Monarchies: the barbarous conquerers inuading them with
innumerable swarmes of strange nations, the Poesie metricall
of the Grecians and Latines came to be much corrupted and
altered,

{{Page 8}}

in so much as there were times that the very Greekes and
Latines themselues tooke pleasure in Riming verses, and vsed
it as a rare and gallant thing: Yea their Oratours proses
nor the Doctors Sermons were acceptable to Princes nor yet
to the common people vnlesse it went in manner of tunable
rime or metricall sentences, as appeares by many of the
auncient writers, about that time and since. And the great
Princes, and Popes, and Sultans would one salute and greet
an other sometime in friendship and sport, sometime in
earnest and enmitie by ryming verses, |&| nothing seemed
clerkly done, but must be done in ryme: Whereof we finde
diuers examples from the time of th'Emperours Gracian |&|
Valentinian downwardes: For then aboutes began the
declination of the Romain Empire, by the notable inundations
of the Hunnes and Vandalles in Europe,
vnder the conduict of Totila |&| Atila
and other their generalles. This brought the ryming Poesie
in grace, and made it preuaile in Italie and Greece (their
owne long time cast aside, and almost neglected) till after
many yeares that the peace of Italie and of th'Empire
Occidentall reuiued new clerkes, who recouering and perusing
the bookes and studies of the ciuiler ages, restored all
maner of arts, and that of the Greeke and Latine Poesie
withall into their former puritie and netnes. Which
neuerthelesse did not so preuaile, but that the ryming
Poesie of the Barbarians remained still in his reputation,
that one in the schole, this other in Courts of Princes more
ordinary and allowable.


CHAP. VII.


How in the time of Charlemaine and many yeares after him the
Latine Poetes wrote in ryme.


¶1.7.1 ANd this appeareth euidently by
the workes of many learned men, who wrote about the time of
Charlemaines raigne in the Empire
Occidentall, where the Christian Religion, became
through the excessiue authoritie of Popes, and deepe
deuotion of Princes strongly fortified and established by
erection of orders Monastical, in which many
simple clerks for deuoti|on| sake |&| sanctitie were
receiued more then for any learning, by which occasion |&|
the solitarinesse of their life, waxing studious without
discipline or instruction by any good methode, some of them
grew to be histo-

{{Page 9}}

riographers,some Poets, and following either the barbarous
rudenes of the time, or els their own idle inuentions, all
that they wrote to the fauor or prayse of Princes, they did
it in such maner of minstrelsie, and thought themselues no
small fooles, when they could make their verses goe all in
ryme as did the schoole of Salerne, dedicating
their booke of medicinall rules vnto our king of England,
with this beginning.


Anglorum Rege scripsit tota schola Salerni
Sivis incolumem, sivis te reddere sanum
Curas tolle graues, irasci crede prophanum
Nec retine ventrem nec stringas fortiter annum
.


¶1.7.2 And all the rest that follow throughout the
whole booke more curiously then cleanely, neuerthelesse very
well to the purpose of their arte. In the same time king
Edward the iij. him selfe quartering the Armes of
England and France, did discouer his pretence and clayme to
the Crowne of Fraunce, in these ryming verses.


Rex sum regnorum bina ratione duorum
Anglorum regno sum rex ego iure paterno
Matris iure quidem Francorum nuncuporidem
Hinc est armorum variatio facta meorum
.


¶1.7.3 Which verses Phillip de Valois
then possessing the Crowne as next heire male by pretexte of
the law Salique, and holding out Edward
the third, aunswered in these other of as good stuffe.


Prædo regnorum qui diceris esse duorum
Regno materno priuaberis atque paterno
Prolis ius nullum vbi matris non fuit vllum
Hinc est armorum variatio stulta tuorum.


¶1.7.4 It is found written of Pope Lucius
, for his great auarice and tyranny vsed ouer the Clergy
thus in ryming verses.


Lucius est piscis rex |&| tyrannus aquarum
A quo discordat Lucius iste parum
Deuorat hic homines, hic piscibus insidiatur
Esurit hic semper hic aliquando satur
Amborum vitam silaus equata notaret
Plus rationis habet qui ratione caret
.


¶1.7.5 And as this was vsed in the greatest and
gayest matters of Princes and Popes by the idle inuention of
Monasticall men then rai-

{{Page 10}}

gning al in their superlatiue. So did euery scholer |&|
secular clerke or versifier, when he wrote any short poeme
or matter of good lesson put it in ryme, whereby it came to
passe that all your old Prouerbes and common sayinges, which
they would haue plausible to the reader and easie to
remember and beare away, were of that sorte as these.


Inmundo mira faciunt duo nummus |&| ira
Mollificant dura peruertunt omnia iura
.


¶1.7.6 And this verse in disprayse of the
Courtiers life following the Court of Rome.


Vita palatina dura est animae|que| ruina.


¶1.7.7 And these written by a noble learned man.


Ire redire sequi regum sublimia castra
Eximius status est, sed non sic itur ad astra
.


¶1.7.8 And this other which to the great iniurie
of all women was written (no doubt by some forlorne louer,
or els some old malici ous Monke) for one womans sake
blemishing the whole sexe.


Fallere flere nere mentiri nil |que| tacere
Haec quinque vere statuit Deus in muliere
.


¶1.7.9 If I might haue bene his Iudge, I would
haue had him for his labour, serued as Orpheus was
by the women of Thrace. His eyes to be picket out with
pinnes, for his so deadly belying of them, or worse handled
if worse could be deuised. But will ye see how God raised a
reuenger for the silly innocent women, for about the same
ryming age came an honest ciuill Courtier somewhat bookish,
and wrate these verses against the whole rable of Monkes.


O Monachi vestri stomachi sunt amphora Bacchi
Vos estis Deus est testis turpissima pestis
.


¶1.7.10 Anon after came your secular Priestes as
iolly rymers as the rest, who being sore agreeued with their
Pope Calixius, for that he had enioyned them from
their wiues, |&| railed as fast against him.


O bone Calixte totus mundus perodit te
Quondam Presbiteri, poterant vxoribus vti
Hoc destruxisti, postquam tu Papa fursti.


¶1.7.11 Thus what in writing of rymes and
registring of lyes was the Clergy of that fabulous age
wholly occupied.


¶1.7.12 We finde some but very few of these ryming
verses among the

{{Page 11}}

Latines of the ciuiller ages, and those rather hapning by
chaunce then of any purpose in the writer, as this
Distick among the disportes of Ouid.


Quot caelum stellas tot habet tua Roman puellas
Pascua quot|que| haedos tot habet tua Roma Cynaedos
.

The posteritie taking pleasure in this manner of
Simphonie had leasure as it seems to deuise many
other knackes in their versifying that the auncient and
ciuill Poets had not vsed before, whereof one was to make
euery word of a verse to begin with the same letter, as did
Hugobald the Monke who made a large poeme to the
honour of Carolus Caluus, euery word beginning
with C. which was the first letter of the kings
name thus.


Carmina clarisonæ Caluis cantate camenæ.


¶1.7.13 And this was thought no small peece of
cunning, being in deed a matter of some difficultie to finde
out so many wordes beginning with one letter as might make a
iust volume, thought in truth it were but a phantasticall
deuise and to no purpose at all more then to make them
harmonicall to the rude eares of those barbarous ages.


¶1.7.14 Another of their pretie inuentions was to
make a verse of such wordes as by their nature and manner of
construction and situation might be turned backward word by
word, and make another perfit verse, but of quite contrary
sence as the gibing Monke that wrote of Pope
Alexander these two verses.


Laus tua non tua fraus, virtus non copia rerum,
Scandere te faciunt hoc decus eximium
.


¶1.7.15 Which if ye will turne backward they make
two other good verses, but of a contrary sence, thus.


Eximium decus hoc faciunt te scandere, rerum
Copia, non virtus, fraus tua non tua laus.


¶1.7.16 And they called it Verse Lyon.


¶1.7.17 Thus you may see the humors and appetites
of men how diuers and chaungeable they be in liking new
fashions, though many tymes worse then the old, and not
onely in the manner of their life and vse of their garments,
but also in their learninges and arts and specially of their
languages.

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CHAP. VIII.


In what reputation Poesie and Poets were in old time with
Princes and otherwise generally, and ho{w} they be no{w}
become contemptible and for {w}hat causes.


¶1.8.1 FOr the respectes aforesayd in
all former ages and in the most ciuill countreys and common
wealthes, good Poets and Poesie were highly esteemed and
much fauoured of the greatest Princes. For proofe whereof we
read how much Amyntas king of Macedonia
made of the Tragicall Poet Euripides. And the
Athenians of Sophocles. In what price the
noble poemes of Homer were holden with
Alexander the great, in so much as euery night they
were layd vnder his pillow, and by day were carried in the
rich iewell cofer of Darius lately before
vanquished by him in battaile. And not onely Homer
the father and Prince of the Poets was so honored by him,
but for his sake all other meaner Poets, in so much as
Cherillus one no very great good Poet had for
euery verse well made a Phillips noble of gold,
amounting in value to an angell English, and so for euery
hundreth verses (which a cleanely pen could speedely
dispatch( he had a hundred angels. And since
Alexander the great how Theocritus the
Greeke Poet was fauored by Tholomee king of Egipt
|&| Queene Berenice his wife, Ennius
likewise by Scipio Prince of the Romaines,
Virgill
also by th'Emperour Augustus. And in
later times how much were Iehan de Mehune |&| Guillaume
de Loris
made of by the French kinges, and Geffrey
Chaucer
father of our English Poets by Richard
the second, who as it was supposed gaue him the maner of
new Holme in Oxfordshire. And Go{w}er to
Henry the fourth and Harding to
Ed{w}ard the fourth. Also how Fraunces the
Frenche king made Sangelais, Salmonius, Macrinus,
and Clement Marot of his priuy Chamber for their
excellent skill in vulgare and Latine Poesie. And king
Henry the 8. her Maiesties father for a few
Psalmes of Dauid turned into English meetre by
Sternhold, made him groome of his priuy chamber, |&| gaue
him many other good gifts. And one Gray what good
estimation did he grow vnto with the same king Henry
, |&| afterward with the Duke of Sommerset Protectour, for
making certaine merry Ballades, whereof one chiefly was,
The hunte is vp, the hunte is vp. And Queene
Mary his daughter for one Epi-

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thalamie or nuptiall song made by Vargas
a Spanish Poet at her mariage with king Phillip in
Winchester gaue him during his life two hundred Crownes
pension: nor this reputation was giuen them in auncient
times altogether in respect that Poesie was a delicate arte,
and the Poets them selues cunning Princepleasers, but for
that also they were thought for their vniversall knowledge
to be vary sufficient men for the greatest charges in their
common wealthes, were it for counsell or for conduct,
whereby no man neede to doubt but that both skilles may very
well concurre and be most excellent in one person. For we
finde that Iulius Caesar the first Emperour and a
most noble Captaine, was not onely the most eloquent Orator
of his time, but also a very good Poet, though none of his
doings therein be now extant. And Quintus Catalus
a good Poet, and Cornelius Gallus treasurer of
Egipt, and Horace the most delicate of all the
Romain Lyrickes, was thought meete and by many
letters of great instance prouoked to be Secretarie of
estate to Augustus th'Emperour, which
neuerthelesse he refused for his vnhealthfulnesse sake, and
being a quiet mynded man and nothing ambitious of glory:
non voluit accedere ad Rempublicam, as it is
reported. And Ennius the Latine Poet was not as
some perchaunce thinke, onely fauored by Scipio
the Africane for his good making of verses, but
vsed as his familiar and Counsellor in the warres for his
great knowledge and amiable conuersation. And long before
that Antimenides and other Greeke Poets, as
Aristotle reportes in his Politiques, had charge in
the warres. And Tyrteus the Poet being also a lame
man |&| halting vp|on| one legge, was chosen by the Oracle
of the gods from the Athenians to be generall of
the Lacedemonians armie, not for his Poetrie, but
for his wisedome and graue perswasions, and subtile
Stratagemes whereby he had the victory ouer his enemies. So
as the Poets seemed to haue skill not onely in the
subtilties of their arte, but also to be meete for all maner
of functions ciuill and martiall, euen as they found fauour
of the times they liued in, insomuch as their credit and
estimation generally was not small. But in these dayes
(although some learned Princes may take delight in them) yet
vniversally it is not so. For as well Poets and Poesie are
despised, |&| the name become, of honorable infamous,
subiect to scorne and deri-

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sion, and rather a reproch than a prayse to any that vseth
it: for commonly who so is studious in th'Arte or shewes him
selfe excellent in it, they call him in disdayne a
phantasticall: and a light headed or phantasticall
man (by conuersion) they call a Poet. And this proceedes
through he barbarous ignoraunce of the time, and pride of
many Gentlemen, and others, whose grosse heads not being
brought vp or acquainted with any excellent Arte, nor able
to contriue, or in manner conceiue any matter of subtiltie
in any businesse or science, they doe deride and scorne it
in all others as superfluous knowledges and vayne sciences,
and whatsoeuer deuise be of rare inuention they terme it
phantasticall, construing it to the worst side: and
among men such as be modest and graue, |&| of litle
conuersation, nor delighted in the busie life and vayne
ridiculous actions of the popular, they call him in scorne a
Philosopher or Poet, as much to say as a
phantasticall man, very iniuriously (God wot) and to the
manifestation of their own ignoraunce, not making difference
betwixt termes. For as the euill and vicious disposition of
the braine hinders the sounde iudgement and discourse of man
with busie |&| disordered phantasies, for which cause the
Greekes call him phantasikos, so is that
part being well affected, not onely nothing disorderly or
confused with any monstruous imaginations or conceits, but
very formall, and in his much multiformitie vniforme
, that is well proportioned, and so passing cleare, that
by it as by a glasse or mirrour, are represented vnto the
soule all maner of bewtifull visions, whereby the inuentiue
parte of the mynde is so much holpen, as without it no man
could deuise any new or rare thing: and where it is not
excellent in his kind, there could be no politique Captaine,
nor any witty engineer or cunning artificer, nor yet any law
maker or counsellor of deepe discourse, yea the Prince of
Philosophers stickes not to say animam n|on|
intelligere absque phantasmate
, which text to
another purpose Alexander Aphrodiseus well noteth,
as learned men know. And this phantasie may be resembled to
a glasse as hath bene sayd, whereof there be many tempers
and manner of makinges, as the perspectiues doe
acknowledge, for some be false glasses and shew thinges
otherwise than they be in deede, and others right as they be
in deede, neither fairer nor fouler, nor greater nor
smaller. There be againe of these

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glasses that shew thinges exceeding faire and comely, others
that shew figures very monstrous |&| illfauored. Euen so is
the phantasticall part of man (if it be not disordered) a
representer of the best, most comely and bewtifull images or
apparances of thinges to the soule and according to their
very truth. If otherwise, then doth it breede
Chimeres |&| monsters in mans imaginations, |&| not
onely in his imaginations, but also in all his ordinarie
actions and life which ensues. Wherefore such persons as be
illuminated with the brightest irradiations of knowledge and
of the veritie and due proportion of things, they are called
by the learned men not phantastici
but euphantasiote, and of this
sorte of phantasie are all good Poets, notable Captaines
stratagematique, all cunning artificers and enginers, all
Legislators Polititiens |&| Counsellours of estate, in whose
exercises the inuentiue part is most employed and is to the
sound |&| true iudgement of man most needful. This
diuersitie in the termes perchance euery man hath not noted,
|&| thus much be said in defence of the Poets honour, to the
end no noble and generous minde be discomforted in the
studie thereof, the rather for that worthy |&| honorable
memoriall of that noble woman twise French Queene, Lady
Anne of Britaine, wife first to king Charles
the viij. and after to Lewes the xij. who
passing one day from her lodging toward the kinges side, saw
in a gallerie Maister Allaine Chartier the kings
Secretarie, an excellent maker or Poet leaning on a tables
end a sleepe, |&| stooped downe to kisse him, saying thus in
all their hearings, we may not of Princely courtesie passe
by and not honor with our kisse the mouth from whence so
many sweete ditties |&| golden poems haue issued. But me
thinks at these words I heare some smilingly say, I would be
loath to lacke liuing of my own till the Prince gaue me a
maner of new Elme for my riming. And another to say I haue
read that the Lady Cynthia came once downe out of
her skye to kiss the faire yong lad Endimion as he
lay a sleep: |&| many noble Queenes that haue bestowed
kisses vpon their Princes paramours, but neuer vpon any
Poets. The third me thinks shruggingly saith, I kept not to
sit sleeping with my Poesie till a Queene came and kissed
me. but what of all this? Princes may giue a good Poet such
conuenient countenaunce and also benefite as are due to an
excellent artificer, though they nei-

{{Page 16}}

ther kisse nor cokes them, and the discret Poet lookes for
no such extraordinarie fauors, and aswell doth he honour by
his pen the iust, liberall, or magnanimous Prince, as the
valiaunt, amiable or bewtifull though they be euery one of
them the good giftes of God. So it seemes not altogether the
scorne and ordinarie disgrace offered vnto Poets at these
dayes, is cause why few Gentlemen do delight in the Art, but
for that liberalitie, is come to fayle in Princes, who for
their largesse were wont to be accompted th'onley patrons of
learning, and first founders of all excellent artificers.
Besides it is not perceiued, that Princes them selues do
take any pleasure in this science, by whose example the
subiect is commonly led, and allured to all delights and
exercises be they good or bad, according to the graue saying
of the historian. Rex multitudinem religione
impleuit, quae semper regenti similis est
. And
peradu|en|ture in this iron |&| malitious age of ours,
Princes are lesse delighted in it, being ouer earnestly bent
and affected to the affaires of Empire |&| ambition, whereby
they are as it were inforced to indeuour them selues to
armes and practises of hostilitie, or to entend to the right
pollicing of their states, and haue not one houre to bestow
vpon any other ciuill or delectable Art of naturall or
morall doctrine: nor scarce any leisure to thincke one good
thought in perfect and godly contemplation, whereby their
troubled mindes might be moderated and brought to
tranquillitie. So as, it is hard to find in these dayes of
noblem|en| or gentlemen any good Mathematici|an|,
or excellent Musitian, or notable
Philosopher, or els a cunning Poet: because we find
few great Princes much delighted in the same studies. Now
also of such among the Nobilitie or gentrie as be very well
seene in many laudable sciences, and especially in making or
Poesie, it is so come to passe that they haue no courage to
write |&| if they haue, yet are they loath to be a knowen of
their skill. So as I know very many notable Gentlemen in the
Court that haue written commendably, and suppressed it
agayne, or els suffred it to be publisht without their owne
names to it: as if it were a discredit for a Gentleman, to
seeme learned, and to shew himselfe amorous of any good Art.
In other ages it was not so, for we read that Kinges |&|
Princes haue written great volumes and publisht them vnder
their own regall titles. As to begin with Salomon
the wisest

{{Page 17}}

of Kings, Iulius Caesar the greatest of Emperours,
Hermes Trismegistus the holiest of Priestes and
Prophetes, Euax king of Arabia wrote a
booke of precious stones in verse, Prince Auicenna
of Phisicke and Philosophie, Alphonsus king of
Spaine his Astronomicall Tables, Almansor a king
of Marrocco diuerse Philosophicall workes, and by
their regal example our late soueraigne Lord king
Henry the eight wrate a booke in defence of his
faith, then perswaded that it was the true and Apostolicall
doctrine, though it hath appeared otherwise since, yet his
honour and learned zeale was nothing lesse to be allowed.
Queenes also haue bene knowen studious, and to write large
volumes, as Lady Margaret of Fraunce Queene of
Nauarre in our time. But of all others the Emperour
Nero was so well learned in Musique and Poesie, as
when he was taken by order of the Senate and appointed to
dye, he offered violence to him selfe and sayd,
O quantus artisex pereo! as much to say, as,
how is it possible a man of such science and learning as my
selfe, should come to this shamefull death? Th'emperour
Octauian being made executor to Virgill,
who had left by his last will and testament, that his bookes
of the Æneidos should be committed to the fire
as things not perfited by him, made his excuse for
infringing the deads will, by a nomber of verses most
excellently written whereof these are part.


Frangatur potiùs legum veneranda potestas,
Quàm tot congestos noctésque diésque labores

Hauserit vna dies.

And put his name to them. And before him his vncle |&|
father adoptiue Iulius Caesar was not ashamed to
publish vnder his owne name, his Commentaries of the French
and Britaine warres. Since therefore so many noble
Emperours, Kings and Princes haue bene studious of Poesie
and other ciuill arts, |&| not ashamed to bewray their skils
in the same, let none other meaner person despise learning,
nor (whether it be in prose or in Poesie, if they them
selues be able to write, or haue written any thing well or
of rare inuention) be any whit squeimish to let it be
publisht vnder their names, for reason serues it, and
modestie doth not repugne.

{{Page 18}}


CHAP. IX.


How Poesie should not be imployed vpon vayne conceits or
vicious or infamous.


¶1.9.1 {W}Herefore the Nobilitie and
dignitie of the Art considered aswell by vniuersalitie as
antiquitie and the naturall excellence of it selfe, Poesie
ought not to be abashed and imployed vpon any vnworthy
matter |&| subiect, nor vsed to vaine purposes, which
neuerthelesse is dayly seene, and that is to vtter conceits
infamous |&| vicious or ridiculous and foolish, or of no
good example |&| doctrine. Albeit in merry matters (not
vnhonest) being vsed for mans solace and recreation it may
be well allowed, for as I said before, Poesie is a pleasant
maner of vtterance varying from the ordinarie of purpose to
refresh the mynde by the eares delight. Poesie also is not
onely laudable, because I said it was a metricall speach
vsed by the first men, but because it is a metricall speach
corrected and reformed by discreet iudgements, and with no
lesse cunning and curiositie then the Greeke and Latine
Poesie, and by Art bewtified |&| adorned, |&| brought far
from the primitiue rudenesse of the first inuentors,
otherwise it might be sayd to me that Adam and
Eues apernes were the gayest garmentes, because they
were the first, and the shepheardes tente or pauillion, the
best housing, because it was the most auncient |&| most
vniuersall: which I would not haue so taken, for it is not
my meaning but that Art |&| cunning concurring with nature,
antiquitie |&| vniuersalitie, in things indifferent, and not
euill, doe make them more laudable. And right so our vulgar
riming Poesie, being by good wittes brought to that
perfection we see, is worthily to be preferred before any
other maner of vtterance in prose, for such vse and to such
purpose as it is ordained, and shall hereafter be set downe
more particularly.


CHAP. X.


The subiect or matter of Poesie.


¶1.10.1 HAuing sufficiently sayd of the
dignitie of Poets and Poesie, now it is tyme to speake of
the matter or subiect of Poesie, which to myne intent is,
what soeuer wittie and delicate conceit of man meet or
worthy to be put in written verse, for any necessary vse of
the present time, or good instruction of the posteri-

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tie. But the chief and principall is: the laud honour |&|
glory of the immortall gods (I speake now in phrase of the
Gentiles.) Secondly the worthy gests of noble Princes: the
memoriall and registry of all great fortunes, the praise of
vertue |&| reproofe of vice, the instruction of morall
doctrines, the reuealing of sciences naturall |&| other
profitable Arts, the redresse of boistrous |&| sturdie
courages by perswasion, the consolation and repose of
temperate myndes, finally the common solace of mankind in
all his trauails and cares of this transitorie life. And in
this last sort being vsed for recreation onely, may
allowably beare matter not alwayes of the grauest, or of any
great commoditie or profit, but rather in some sort, vaine,
dissolute, or wanton, so it be not very scandalous |&| of
euill example. But as our intent is to make this Art vulgar
for all English mens vse, |&| therefore are of necessitie to
set downe the principal rules therein to be obserued: so in
mine opinion it is no lesse expedient to touch briefly all
the chief points of this auncient Poesie of the Greeks and
Latines, so far forth as it is conformeth with ours. So as
it may be knowen what we hold of them as borrowed, and what
as of our owne peculiar. Wherefore now that we haue said,
what is the matter of Poesie, we will declare the manner and
formes of poemes vsed by the auncients.


CHAP. XI.


Of poemes and their sundry formes and how thereby the
auncient Poets receaued surnames.


¶1.11.1 AS the matter of Poesie is
diuers, so was the forme of their poemes |&| maner of
writing, for all of them wrote not in one sort, euen as all
of them wrote not vpon one matter. Neither was euery Poet
alike cunning in all as in some one kinde of Poesie, nor
vttered with like felicitie. But wherein any one most
excelled, thereof he tooke a surname, as to be called a Poet
Heroick, Lyrick, Elegiack, Epigr|am|matist or
otherwise. Such therefore as gaue them selues to write long
histories of the noble gests of kings |&| great Princes
entermedling the dealings of the gods, halfe gods or
Heroes of the gentiles, |&| the great |&| waighty
consequences of peace and warre, they called Poets
Heroick, whereof Homer was chief and most
auncient among the Greeks, Virgill among the
Latines:

{{Page 20}}

Others who more delighted to write songs or ballads of
pleasure, to be song with the voice, and to the harpe, lute,
or citheron |&| such other musical, instruments, they were
called melodious Poets [melici] or by a more
common name Lirique Poets, of which sort was
Pindarus, Anacreon and Callimachus with
others among the Greeks: Horace and
Catullus among the Latines. There were an other sort,
who sought the fauor of faire Ladies, and coueted to bemone
their estates at large, |&| the perplexities of loue in a
certain pitious verse called Elegie, and thence
were called Eligiack: such among the Latines were
Ouid, Tibullus, |&| Propertius. There were also
Poets that wrote onely for the stage, I means playes and
interludes, to recreate the people with matters of disporte,
and to that intent did set forth in shewes |&| pageants,
accompanied with speach the common behauiours and maner of
life of priuate persons, and such as were the meaner sort of
men, and they were called Comicall Poets, of whom
among the Greekes Menander and Aristophanes
were most excellent, with the Latines Terence
and Plautus. Besides those Poets Comick
there were other who serued also the stage, but medled not
with so base matters: For they set forth the dolefull falles
of infortunate |&| afflicted Princes, |&| were called Poets
Tragicall. Such were Euripides and
Sophocles with the Greeks, Senecaamong the
Latines. There were yet others who mounted nothing so high
as any of them both, but in base and humble stile by maner
of Dialogue, vttered the priuate and familiar talke of the
meanest sort of men, as shepheards, heywards and such like,
such was among the Greekes Theocritus: and
Virgill among the Latines, their poemes were named
Eglogues or shepheardly talke. There was yet another
kind of Poet, who intended to taxe the common abuses and
vice of the people in rough and bitter speaches, and their
inuectiues were called Satyres, and them selues
Satyricques. Such were Lucilius, Iuuenall
and Persius among the Latines, |&| with vs he that
wrote the booke called Piers plowman. Others of a more fine
and pleasant head were giuen wholly to taunting and scoffing
at vndecent things, and in short poemes vttered pretie merry
conceits, and these men were called Epigrammatistes.
There were others that for the peoples good instruction,
and triall of their owne witts vsed in places of great
assembly, to

{{Page 21}}

say by rote nombers of short and sententious meetres, very
pithie and of good edification, and thereupon were called
Poets Mimistes: as who would say, imitable and
meet to be followed for their wise and graue lessons. There
was another kind of poeme, inuented onely to make sport, |&|
to refresh the company with a maner of buffonry or
counterfaiting of merry speaches, conuerting all that which
they had hard spoken before, to a certaine derision by a
quite contrary sence, and this was done, when
Comedies or Tragedies were a playing, |&|
that betweene the actes when the players went to make ready
for another, there was great silence, and the people waxt
weary, then came in these maner of counterfaite vices, they
were called Pantomimi, and all
that had before bene sayd, or great part of it, they gaue a
crosse construction to it very ridiculously. Thus haue you
how the names of the Poets were giuen them by the formes of
their poemes and maner of writing.


CHAP. XII.


In what forme of Poesie the gods of the Gentiles were
praysed and honored.


¶1.12.1 THe gods of the Gentiles were
honoured by their Poetes in hymnes, which is an
extraordinarie and diuine praise, extolling and magnifying
them for their great powers and excellencie of nature in the
highest degree of laude, and yet therein their Poets were
after a sort restrained: so as they could not with their
credit vntruly praise their owne gods, or vse in their lauds
any maner of grosse adulation or vnueritable report. For in
any writer vntruth and flatterie are counted most great
reproches. Wherfore to praise the gods of the Gentiles, for
that by authoritie of their owne fabulous records, they had
fathers and mothers, and kinred and allies, and wiues and
concubines: the Poets first commended them by their
genealogies or pedegrees, their mariages and aliances, their
notable exploits in the world for the behoofe of mankind,
and yet as I sayd before, none otherwise then the truth of
their owne memorials might beare, and in such sort as it
might be well auouched by their old written reports, though
in very deede they were not from the beginning all
historically true, and many of them verie fictions, and such
of them as were true, were grounded vpon some

{{Page 22}}

part of an historie or matter of veritie, the rest
altogether figuratiue |&| misticall, couertly applied to
some morall or naturall sense, as Cicero setteth
it foorth in his bookes de natura deorum.
For to say that Iupiter was sonne to
Saturne, and that he maried his owne sister
Iuno, might be true, for such was the guise of all
great Princes in the Orientall part of the world both at
those dayes and now is. Againe that he loued Danae,
Europa, Leda, Calisto
|&| other faire Ladies daughters
to kings, besides many meaner women, it is likely enough,
because he was reported to be a very incontinent person, and
giuen ouer to his lustes, as are for the most part all the
greatest Princes, but that he should be the highest god in
heauen, or that he should thunder and lighten, and do manie
other things very vnnaturally and absurdly: also that
Saturnus should geld his father Celius, to
th'intent to make him vnable to get any moe children, and
other such matters as are reported by them, it seemeth to be
some wittie deuise and fiction made for a purpose, or a very
noble and impudent lye, which could not
be reasonably suspected by the Poets, who were otherwise
discreete and graue men, and teachers of wisedome to others.
Therefore either to transgresse the rules of their primitiue
records, or to seeke to giue their gods honour by belying
them (otherwise then in that sence which I haue alledged)
had bene a signe not onely of an vnskilfull Poet, but also
of a very impudent and leude man. For vntrue praise neuer
giueth any true reputation. But with vs Christians, who be
better disciplined, and do acknowledge but one God
Almightie, euerlasting, and in euery respect selfe suffizant
[autharcos] reposed in all
perfect rest |&| soueraigne blisse, not needing or exacting
any forreine helpe or good. To him we can not exhibit
ouermuch praise, nor belye him any wayes, vnlesse it be in
abasing his excellencie by scarsitie of praise, or by
misconceauing his diuine nature, weening to praise him, if
we impute to him such vaine delights and peeuish affections,
as commonly the frailest men are reproued for. Namely to
make him ambitious of honour, iealous and difficult in his
worships, terrible, angrie, vindicatiue, a louer, a hater, a
pitier, and indigent of mans worships: finally so passionate
as in effect he shold be altogether
Anthropopathis. To the gods of the Gentiles
they might well attribute these infirmities, for they were
but the chil-

{{Page 23}}

dren of men, great Princes and famous in the world, and not
for any other respect diuine, then by some resemblance of
vertue they had to do good, and to benefite many. So as to
the God of the Christians, such diuine praise might be
verified: to th'other gods none, but figuratiuely or in
misticall sense as hath bene said . In which sort the
ancient Poets did in deede giue them great honors |&|
praises, and made to them sacrifices, |&| offred them
oblations of sundry sortes, euen as the people were taught
and perswaded by such placations and worships to receaue any
helpe, comfort or benefite to them selues, their wiues,
children, possessions or goods. For if that opinion were
not, who would acknowledge any God? the verie
Etimologie of the name with vs of the North partes of
the world declaring plainely the nature of the attribute,
which is all one as if we sayd good, [bonus
] or a giuer of good things. Therfore the Gentiles
prayed for peace to the goddesse Pallas: for warre
(such as thriued by it) to the god Mars: for honor
and empire to the god Iupiter: for riches |&|
wealth to Pluto: for eloquence and gayne to
Mercurie: for safe nauigation to Neptune:
for faire weather and prosperous windes to Eolus:
for skill in musick and leechcraft to Apollo: for
free life |&| chastitie to Diana: for bewtie and
good grace, as also for issue |&| prosperitie in loue to
Venus: for plenty of crop and corne to Ceres
: for seasonable vintage to Bacchus: and for
other things to others. So many things as they could imagine
good and desirable, and to so many gods as they supposed to
be authors thereof, in so much as Fortune was made
a goddesse, |&| the feuer quartaine had her aulters, such
blindnes |&| ignorance raigned in the harts of men at that
time, and whereof it first proceeded and grew, besides
th'opinion hath bene giuen , appeareth more at large in our
bookes of Ierotekni, the matter being of another
consideration then to be treated of in this worke. And these
hymnes to the gods was the first forme of Poesie and the
highest |&| the stateliest, |&| they were song by the Poets
as priests, and by the people or whole congregation as we
sing in our Churchs the Psalmes of Dauid, but they
did it commonly in some shadie groues of tall tymber trees:
In which places they reared aulters of greene turfe, and
bestrewed them all ouer with flowers, and vpon them offred
their oblations and made their bloudy sa-

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crifices,(for no kinde of gift can be dearer then life) of
such quick cattaile, as euery god was in their conceit most
delighted in, or in some other respect most fit for the
misterie: temples or churches or other chappels then these
they had none at those dayes.


CHAP. XIII.


In what forme of Poesie vice and the common abuses of mans
life was reprehended.


¶1.13.1 SOme perchance would thinke
that next after the praise and honoring of their gods,
should commence the worshippings and praise of good men, and
specially of great Princes and gouernours of the earth in
soueraignety and function next vnto the gods. But it is not
so, for before that came to passe, the Poets or holy
Priests, chiefly studied the rebuke of vice, and to carpe at
the common abuses, such as were most offensiue to the
publique and priuate, for as yet for lacke of good ciuility
and wholesome doctrines, there was greater store of lewde
lourdaines then of wise and learned Lords, or of noble and
vertuous Princes and gouernours. So as next after the
honours exhibited to their gods, the Poets finding in man
generally much to reproue |&| litle to praise, made certaine
poems in plaine meetres, more like to sermons or preachings
then otherwise, and when the people were assembled togither
in those hallowed places dedicate to their gods, because
they had yet no large halles or places of conuenticle, nor
had any other correction of their faults, but such as rested
onely in rebukes of wise and graue men, such as at these
dayes make the people ashamed rather then afeard, the said
auncient Poets vsed for that purpose, three kinds of poems
reprehensiue, to wit, the Satyre, the
Comedie, |&| the Tragedie: and the first
and most bitter inuectiue against vice and vicious men, was
the Satyre: which to th'intent their bitternesse
should breede none ill will, either to the Poets, or to the
recitours, (which could not haue bene chosen if they had
bene openly knowen) and besides to make their admonitions
and reproofs seeme grauer and of more efficacie, they made
wise as if the gods of the woods, whom they called
Satyres or Siluanes, should appeare and
recite those verses of rebuke, whereas in deede they were
but disguised persons vnder the shape of Sa-

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tyres as who would say, these terrene and base
gods being conuersant with mans affaires, and spiers out of
all their secret faults: had some great care ouer man, |&|
desired by good admonitions to reforme the euill of their
life, and to bring the bad to amendment by those kinde of
preachings, whereupon the Poets inuentours of the deuise
were called Satyristes.

CHAP. XIIII.


How vice was afterward reproued by two other maner of poems,
better reformed then the Satyre, whereof the first was
Comedy, the second Tragedie.


¶1.14.1 BVt when these maner of
solitary speaches and recitals of rebuke, vttered by the
rurall gods out of bushes and briers, seemed not to the
finer heads sufficiently perswasiue, nor so popular as if it
were reduced into action of many persons, or by many voyces
liuely represented to the eare and eye, so as a man might
thinke it were euen now a doing. The Poets deuised to haue
many parts played at once by two or three or foure persons,
that debated the matters of the world, sometimes of their
owne priuate affaires, sometimes of their neighbours, but
neuer medling with any Princes matters nor such high
personages, but commonly of marchants, souldiers,
artificers, good honest housholders, and also of vnthrifty
youthes, yong damsels, old nurses, bawds, brokers, ruffians
and parasites, with such like, in whose behauiors, lyeth in
effect the whole course and trade of mans life, and
therefore tended altogither to the good amendment of man by
discipline and example. It was also much for the solace |&|
recreation of the common people by reason of the pageants
and shewes. And this kind of poeme was called Comedy
, and followed next after the Satyre, |&| by
that occasion was somwhat sharpe and bitter after the nature
of the Satyre, openly |&| by expresse names taxing
men more maliciously and impudently then became, so as they
were enforced for feare of quarell |&| blame to disguise
their players with strange apparell, and by colouring their
faces and carying hatts |&| capps of diuerse fashions to
make them selues lesse knowen. But as time |&| experience do
reforme euery thing that is amisse, so this bitter poeme
called the old Comedy, being disused and taken
away, the

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new Comedy came in place, more ciuill and pleasant
a great deale and not touching any man by name, but in a
certaine generalitie glancing at euery abuse, so as from
thenceforth fearing none illwill or enmitie at any bodies
hands, they left aside their disguisings |&| played bare
face, till one Roscius Gallus the most excellent
player among the Romaines brought vp these vizards, which we
see at this day vsed, partly to supply the want of players,
when there were moe parts then there were persons, or that
it was not thought meet to trouble |&| pester princes
chambers with too many folkes. Now by the chaunge of a
vizard one man might play the king and the carter, the old
nurse |&| the yong damsell, the marchant |&| the souldier or
any other part he listed very conueniently. There be that
say Roscius did it for another purpose, for being
him selfe the best Histrien or buffon that was in
his dayes to be found, insomuch as Cicero said
Roscius contended with him by varietie of liuely
gestures to surmount the copy of his speach, yet because he
was squint eyed and had a very vnpleasant countenance, and
lookes which made him ridiculous or rather odious to the
presence, he deuised these vizards to hide his owne
ilfauored face. And thus much touching the Comedy.


CHAP. XV.


In {w}hat forme of Poesie the euill and outragious
behauiours of Princes {w}ere reprehended.


¶1.15.1 BVt because in those dayes when
the Poets first taxed by Satyre and Comedy
, there was no great store of Kings or Emperors or such
high estats (al men being yet for the most part rude, |&| in
a maner popularly egall) they could not say of them or of
their behauiours any thing to the purpose, which cases of
Princes are sithens taken for the highest and greatest
matters of all. But after that some men among the moe became
mighty and famous in the world, soueraignetie and dominion
hauing learned them all maner of lusts and licentiousnes of
life, by which occasions also their high estates and
felicities fell many times into most lowe and lamentable
fortunes: whereas before in their great prosperities they
were both feared and reuerenced in the highest degree, after
their deathes when the posteritie stood no more in dread of
them,

{{Page 27}}

their infamous life and tyrannies were layd open to all the
world, their wickednes reproched, their follies and extreme
insolencies derided, and their miserable ends painted out in
playes and pageants, to shew the mutabilitie of fortune, and
the iust punishment of God in reuenge of a vicious and euill
life. These matters were also handled by the Poets and
represented by action as that of the Comedies: but
because the matter was higher then that of the
Comedies the Poets stile was also higher and more
loftie, the prouision greater, the place more magnificent:
for which purpose also the players garments were made more
rich |&| costly and solemne, and euery other thing
apperteining, according to that rate: So as where the
Satyre was pronounced by rusticall and naked
Syluanes speaking out of a bush, |&| the common
players of interludes called Plampedes, played
barefoote vpon the floore: the later Comedies vpon
scaffolds, and by men well and cleanely hosed and shod.
These matters of great Princes were played vpon lofty
stages, |&| the actors thereof ware vpon their legges
buskins of leather called Cothurni, and other
solemne habits, |&| for a speciall preheminence did walke
vpon those high corked shoes or pantofles, which now they
call in Spaine |&| Italy Shoppini. And because
those buskins and high shoes were commonly made of goats
skinnes very finely tanned, and dyed into colours: or for
that as some say the best players reward, was a goate to be
giuen him, or for that as other thinke, a goate was the
peculiar sacrifice to the god Pan, king of all the
gods of the woodes: forasmuch as a goate in Greeke is called
Tragos, therfore these stately
playes were called Tragedies. And thus haue ye
foure sundry formes of Poesie Dr|am|matick
reprehensiue, |&| put in execution by the seate |&|
dexteritie of mans body, to wit, the Satyre, old
Comedie, new Comedie, and
Tragedie, whereas all other kinde of poems except
Eglogue whereof shalbe entreated hereafter, were
onely recited by mouth or song with the voyce to some
melodious instrument.


CHAP. XVI.


In what forme of Poesie the great Princes and dominators of
the world were honored.


¶1.16.1 BVt as the bad and illawdable
parts of all estates and degrees were taxed by the Poets in
one sort or an other, and those of

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great Princes by Tragedie in especiall, (|&| not till after
their deaths) as hath bene before remembred, to th'intent
that such exemplifying (as it were) of their blames and
aduersities, being now dead, might worke for a secret
reprehension to others that were aliue, liuing in the same
or like abuses. So was it great reason that all good and
vertuous persons should for their well doings be rewarded
with commendation, and the great Princes aboue all others
with honors and praises, being for many respects of greater
moment, to haue them good |&| vertuous then any inferior
sort of men. Wherfore the Poets being in deede the
trumpetters of all praise and also of slaunder (not
slaunder, but well deserued reproch) were in conscience |&|
credit bound next after the diuine praises of the immortall
gods, to yeeld a like ratable honour to all such amongst
men, as most resembled the gods by excellencie of function,
and had a certaine affinitie with them, by more then humane
and ordinarie vertues shewed in their actions here vpon
earth. They were therfore praised by a second degree of
laude: shewing their high estates, their Princely
genealogies and pedegrees, mariages, aliances, and such
noble exploites, as they had done in th'affaires of peace
|&| of warre to the benefit of their people and countries,
by inuention of any noble science, or profitable Art, or by
making wholsome lawes or enlarging of their dominions by
honorable and iust conquests, and many other wayes. Such
personages among the Gentiles were Bacchus, Ceres,
Perseus, Hercules, Theseus
and many other, who thereby
came to be accompted gods and halfe gods or goddesses [
Heroes] |&| had their c|om|m|en|dations giuen by
Hymne accordingly or by such other poems as their memorie
was therby made famous to the posteritie for euer after, as
shal be more at large sayd in place conuenient. But first we
will speake somewhat of the playing places, and prouisions
which were made for their pageants |&| pomps representatiue
before remembred.


CHAP. XVII.


Of the places where their enterludes or poemes drammaticke
{w}ere represented to the people.


¶1.17.1 AS it hath bene declared, the
Satyres were first vttered in their hallowed
places within the woods where they honoured their

{{Page 29}}

gods vnder the open heauen, because they had no other
housing fit for great assemblies. The old comedies were
plaid in the broad streets vpon wagons or carts vncouered,
which carts were floored with bords |&| made for remouable
stages to passe from one streete of their townes to another,
where all the people might stand at their ease to gaze
vp|on| the sights. Their new comedies or ciuill enterludes
were played in open pauilions or tents of linnen cloth or
lether, halfe displayed that the people might see. Afterward
when Tragidies came vp they deuised to present them vpon
scaffoldes or stages of timber, shadowed with linen or
lether as the other, and these stages were made in the forme
of a Semicircle, wherof the bow serued for the
beholders to sit in, and the string or forepart was
appointed for the floore or place where the players vttered,
|&| had in it sundry little diuisions by curteins as
trauerses to serue for seueral roomes where they might
repaire vnto |&| change their garm|en|ts |&| come in againe,
as their speaches |&| parts were to be renewed. Also there
was place appointed for the musiciens to sing or play vpon
their instrumentes at the end of euery scene, to the intent
the people might be refreshed, and kept occupied. This maner
of stage in halfe circle, the Greekes called
theatrum, as much to say as a beholding
place, which was also in such sort contriued by benches and
greeces to stand or sit vpon, as no man should empeach
anothers sight. But as ciuilitie and withall wealth
encreased, so did the minde of man growe dayly more haultie
and superfluous in all his deuises, so as for their
theaters in halfe circle, they came to be by the
great magnificence of the Romain princes and people
somptuously built with marble |&| square stone in forme all
round, |&| were called Amphitheaters, wherof as
yet appears one am|on|g the anci|en|t ruines of Rome, built
by Pompeius Magnus, for capasitie able to receiue
at ease fourscore thousand persons as it is left written,
|&| so curiously contriued as euery man might depart at his
pleasure, without any annoyance to other. It is also to be
knowne that in those great Amphitheaters, were
exhibited all maner of other shewes |&| disports for the
people, as their sence playes, or digladiations of naked
men, their wrastlings, runnings, leapings and other
practises or actiuitie and strength, also their baitings of
wild beasts, as Elephants, Rhinocer|on|s, Tigers, Leopards

{{Page 30}}

and others, which sights much delighted the common people,
and therefore the places required to be large and of great
content.



CHAP. XVIII.


Of the Shepheards or pastorall Poesie called Eglogue, and to
{w}hat purpose it {w}as first inuented and vsed.


¶1.18.1 SOme be of opinion, and the
chiefe of those who haue written in this Art among the
Latines, that the pastorall Poesie which we commonly call by
the name of Eglogue and Bucolick, a
tearme brought in by the Sicilian Poets, should be the first
of any others, and before the Satyre comedie or
tragedie, because, say they, the shepheards and haywards
assemblies |&| meetings when they kept their cattell and
heards in the common fields and forests, was the first
familiar conuersation, and their babble and talk vnder
bushes and shadie trees, the first disputation and
contentious reasoning, and their fleshly heates growing of
ease, the first idle wooings, and their songs made to their
mates or paramours either vpon sorrow or iolity of courage,
the first amorous musicks, sometime also they sang and
played on their pipes for wagers, striuing who should get
the best game, and be counted cunningest. All this I do
agree vnto, for no doubt the shepheards life was the first
example of honest felowship, their trade the first art of
lawfull acquisition or purchase, for at those daies robbery
was a manner of purchase. So saith Aristotle in
his bookes of the Politiques, and that pasturage was before
tillage, or fishing or fowling, or any other predatory art
or cheuisance. And all this may be true, for before there
was a shepheard keeper of his owne, or of some other bodies
flocke, there was none owner in the world, quick cattel
being the first property of any forreine possession. I say
forreine, because alway men claimed property in their
apparell and armour, and other like things made by their
owne trauel and industry, nor thereby was there yet any good
towne or city or Kings palace, where pageants and pompes
might be shewed by Comedies or Tragedies. But for all this,
I do deny that the Eglogue should be the first and
most auncient forme of artificiall Poesie, being perswaded
that the Poet deuised the Eglogue long after the
other drammatick poems, not of purpose to
counterfait or represent the

{{Page 31}}

rusticall manner of loues and communication: but vnder the
vaile of homely persons, and in rude speeches to insinuate
and glaunce at greater matters, and such as perchance had
not bene safe to haue beene disclosed in any other sort,
which may be perceiued by the Eglogues of Virgill,
in which are treated by figure matters of greater importance
then the loues of Titirus and Corydon.
These Eglogues came after to containe and enforme morall
discipline, for the amendment of mans behauiour, as be those
of Mantuan and other moderne Poets.


CHAP. XIX.


Of historicall Poesie, by which the famous acts of Princes
and the vertuous and worthy liues of our forefathers were
reported.


¶1.19.1 THere is nothing in man of all
the potential parts of his mind (reason and will except)
more noble or more necessary to the actiue life th|en|
memory: because it maketh most to a sound iudgement and
perfect worldly wisedome, examining and comparing the times
past with the present, and by them both considering the time
to come, concludeth with a stedfast resolution, what is the
best course to be taken in all his actions and aduices in
this world: it came vpon this reason, experience to be so
highly commended in all consultations of importance, and
preferred before any learning or science, and yet experience
is no more than a masse of memories assembled, that is, such
trials as man hath made in time before. Right so no kinde of
argument in all the Oratorie craft, doth better perswade and
more vniuersally satisfie then example, which is but the
representation of old memories, and like successes happened
in times past. For these regards the Poesie historicall is
of all other next the diuine most honorable and worthy, as
well for the common benefit as for the speciall comfort
euery man receiueth by it. No one thing in the world with
more delectation reuiuing our spirits then to behold as it
were in a glasse the liuely image of our deare forefathers,
their noble and vertuous maner of life, with other things
autentike, which because we are not able otherwise to
attaine to the knowledge of, by any of our sences, we
apprehend them by memory, whereas the present time and
things

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so swiftly passe away, as they giue vs no leasure almost to
looke into them, and much lesse to know |&| consider of them
throughly. The things future, being also euents very
vncertaine, and such as can not possibly be knowne because
they be not yet, can not be vsed for example nor for delight
otherwise th|en| by hope. Though many promise the contrary,
by vaine and deceitfull arts taking vpon them to reueale the
truth of accidents to come, which if it were so as they
surmise, are yet but sciences meerely coniecturall, and not
of any benefit to man or to the common wealth, where they be
vsed or professed. Therefore the good and exemplarie things
and actions of the former ages, were reserued only to the
historicall reportes of wise and graue men: those of the
present time left to the fruition and iudgement of our
sences: the future as hazards and incertaine euentes vtterly
neglected and layd aside for Magicians and mockers to get
their liuings by: such manner of men as by negligence of
Magistrates and remisses of lawes euery countrie breedeth
great store of. These historical men neuerthelesse vsed not
the matter so precisely to wish that al they wrote should be
accounted true, for that was not needefull nor expedient to
the purpose, namely to be vsed either for example or for
pleasure: considering that many times it is seene a fained
matter or altogether fabulous, besides that it maketh more
mirth than any other, works no lesse good conclusions for
example then the most true and veritable: but often times
more, because the Poet hath the handling of them to fashion
at his pleasure, but not so of th'other which must go
according to their veritie |&| none otherwise without the
writers great blame. Againe as ye know mo and more excellent
examples may fained in one day by a good wit, then many ages
through mans frailtie are able to put in vre, which made the
learned and wittie men of those times to deuise many
historicall matters of no veritie at all, but with purpose
to do good and no hurt, as vsing them for a maner of
discipline and president of commendable life. Such was the
common wealth of Plato, and Sir Thomas Moores
Vtopia
, resting all in deuise, but neuer put in
execution, and easier to be wished then to be performed. And
you shall perceiue that histories were of three sortes,
wholly true and wholly false, and a third holding part of
either, but for honest re-

{{Page 33}}

creation, and good example they were all of them. And this
may be apparant to vs not onely by the Poeticall histories,
but also by those that be written in prose: for as
Homer wrate a fabulous or mixt report of the siege of
Troy, and another of Vlisses errors or wandrings,
so did Museus compile a true treatise of the life
|&| loues of Leander and Hero, both of
them Heroick, and to none ill edification. Also as
Theucidides wrate a worthy and veritable historie,
of the warres betwixt the Athenians and the
Peloponeses: so did Zenophon, a most graue
Philosopher, and well trained courtier and counsellour make
another (but fained and vntrue) of the childhood of
Cyrus king of Persia, neuertheles both to
one effect, that is for example and good information of the
posteritie. Now because the actions of meane |&| base
personages, tend in very few cases to any great good
example: for who passeth to follow the steps, and maner of
life of a craftes man, shepheard or sailer, though he were
his father or dearest frend? yea how almost is it possible
that such maner of men should be of any vertue other then
their profession requireth? Therefore was nothing committed
to historie, but matters of great and excellent persons |&|
things that the same by irritation of good courages (such as
emulation causeth) might worke more effectually, which
occasioned the story writer to chuse an higher stile fit for
his subiect, the Prosaicke in prose, the Poet in meetre, and
the Poets was by verse exameter for his grauitie and
statelinesse most allowable: neither would they intermingle
him with any other shorter measure, vnlesse it were in
matters of such qualitie, as became best to be song with the
voyce, and to some musicall instrument, as were with the
Greeks, all your Hymnes |&| Encomia of
Pindarus |&| Callimachus, not very histories but a
maner of historicall reportes in which cases they made those
poemes in variable measures, |&| coupled a short verse with
a long to serue that purpose the better, and we our selues
who compiled this treatise haue written for pleasure a litle
brief Romance or historicall ditty in the English
tong of the Isle of great Britaine in short and
long meetres, and by breaches or diuisions to be more
commodiously song to the harpe in places of assembly, where
the company shalbe desirous to heare of old aduentures |&|
valiaunces of noble knights in times past, as are those of
king Arthur and his knights

{{Page 34}}

of the round table, Sir Beuys of
Southampton, Guy of
War{w}icke and others like. Such as haue not
premonition hereof, and consideration of the causes
alledged, would peraduenture reproue and disgrace euery
Romance, or short historicall ditty for that they be
not written in long meeters or verses Alexandrins,
according to the nature |&| stile of large histories, wherin
they should do wrong for they be sundry formes of poems and
not all one.



CHAP. XX.


In what forme of Poesie vertue in the inferiour sort {w}as
commended.


¶1.20.1 IN euerie degree and sort of
men vertue is commendable, but not egally: not onely because
mens estates are vnegall, but for that also vertue it selfe
is not in euery respect of egall value and estimation. For
continence in a king is of greater merit, then in a carter,
th'one hauing all oportunities to allure him to lusts, and
abilitie to serue his appetites, th'other partly, for the
basenesse of his estate wanting such meanes and occasions,
partly by dread of lawes more inhibited, and not so
vehemently caried away with vnbridled affections, and
therfore deserue not in th'one and th'other like praise nor
equall reward, by the very ordinarie course of distributiue
iustice. Euen so parsimonie and illiberalitie are greater
vices in a Prince then in a priuate person, and
pusillanimitie and iniustice likewise: for to th'one,
fortune hath supplied inough to maintaine them in the
contrarie vertues, I meane, fortitude, iustice, liberalitie,
and magnanimitie: the Prince hauing all plentie to vse
largesse by, and no want or neede to driue him to do wrong.
Also all the aides that may be to lift vp his courage, and
to make him stout and fearelesse (augent animos
fortunæ
) saith the Mimist, and
very truly, for nothing pulleth downe a mans heart so much
as aduersitie and lacke. Againe in a meane man prodigalitie
and pride are faultes more reprehensible then in Princes,
whose high estates do require in their countenance, speech
|&| expense, a certaine extraordinary, and their functions
enforce them sometime to exceede the limites of mediocritie
not excusable in a priuat person, whose manner of life and
calling hath no such exigence. Besides the good and bad of
Princes is more exemplarie, and thereby of greater moment
then

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the priuate persons. Therfore it is that the inferiour
persons, with their inferiour vertues haue a certaine
inferiour praise, to guerdon their good with, |&| to comfort
them to continue a laudable course in the modest and honest
life and behauiour. But this lyeth not in written laudes so
much as in ordinary reward and commendation to be giuen them
by the mouth of the superiour magistrate. For histories were
not intended to so generall and base a purpose, albeit many
a meane souldier |&| other obscure persons were spoken of
and made famous in stories, as we finde of Irus
the begger, and Thersites the glorious noddie,
whom Homer maketh mention of. But that happened
(|&| so did many like memories of meane men) by reason of
some greater personage or matter that it was long of, which
therefore could not be an vniuersall case nor chaunce to
euery other good and vertuous person of the meaner sort.
Wherefore the Poet in praising the maner of life or death of
anie meane person, did it by some litle dittie or Epigram or
Epitaph in fewe verses |&| meane stile conformable to his
subiect. So haue you how the immortall gods were praised by
hymnes, the great Princes and heroicke personages by
ballades of praise called Encomia, both of them by
historicall reports of great grauitie and maiestie, the
inferiour persons by other slight poemes.



CHAP. XXI.


The forme wherein honest and profitable Artes and sciences
were treated.


¶1.21.1 THe profitable sciences were no
lesse meete to be imported to the greater number of ciuill
men for instruction of the people and increase of knowledge,
then to be reserued and kept for clerkes and great men
onely. So as next vnto the things historicall such doctrines
and arts as the common wealth fared the better by, were
esteemed and allowed. And the same were treated by Poets in
verse Exameter fauoring the Heroicall,
and for the grauitie and comelinesse of the meetre most vsed
with the Greekes and Latines to sad purposes, Such were the
Philosophicall works of
Lucretius Carus among the Romaines, the
Astronomicall of Aratus and Manilius,
one Greeke th'other Latine, the Medicinall of
Nicander, and that of Oppianus of hunting
and fishes, and many moe that were too long to recite in
this place.

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CHAP. XXII.



In what forme of Poesie the amorous affections and
allurements were vttered.


¶1.22.1 THe first founder of all good
affections is honest loue, as the mother of all the vicious
is hatred. It was not therefore without reason that so
commendable, yea honourable a thing as loue well meant, were
it in Princely estate or priuate, might in all ciuil common
wealths be vttered in good forme and order as other laudable
things are. And because loue is of all other humane
affections the most puissant and passionate, and most
generall to all sortes and ages of men and women, so as
whether it be of the yong or old or wise or holy, or high
estate or low, none euer could truly bragge of any
exempti|on| in that case: it requireth a forme of Poesie
variable, inconstant, affected, curious and most witty of
any others, whereof the ioyes were to be vttered in one
sorte, the sorrowes in an other, and by the many formes of
Poesie, the many moodes and pangs of louers, throughly to be
discouered: the poore soules sometimes praying, beseeching,
sometime honouring, auancing, praising: an other while
railing, reuiling, and cursing: then sorrowing, weeping,
lamenting: in the ende laughing, reioysing |&| solacing the
beloued againe, with a thousand delicate deuises, odes,
songs, elegies, ballads, sonets and other ditties, moouing
one way and another to great compassion.


CHAP. XXIII.


The forme of Poeticall reioysings.


¶1.23.1 PLeasure is the chiefe parte of
mans felicity in this world, and also (as our Theologians
say) in the world to come. Therefore while we may (yea
alwaies if it coulde be) to reioyce and take our pleasures
in vertuous and honest sort, it is not only allowable, but
also necessary and very naturall to man. And many be the
ioyes and consolations of the hart: but none greater, than
such as he may vtter and discouer by some conuenient meanes:
euen as to suppresse and hide a mans mirth, and not to haue
therein a partaker, or at least wise a witnes, is no little
griefe and infelicity. Therfore nature and ciuility haue
ordained (besides the priuate solaces) publike reioisings
for the comfort and recreation of many. And

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they be of diuerse sorts and vpon diuerse occasions grown:
one |&| the chiefe was for the publike peace of a countrie
the greatest of any other ciuill good. And wherein your
Maiestie (my most gracious Soueraigne) haue shewed your
selfe to all the world for this one and thirty yeares space
of your glorious raigne, aboue all other Princes of
Christendome, not onely fortunate, but also most sufficient
vertuous and worthy of Empire. An other is for iust |&|
honourable victory atchieued against the forraine enemy. A
third at solemne feasts and pompes of coronations and
enstallments of honourable orders. An other for iollity at
weddings and marriages. An other at the births of Princes
children. An other for priuate entertainements in Court, or
other secret disports in chamber, and such solitary places.
And as these reioysings tend to diuers effects, so do they
also carry diuerse formes and nominations: for those of
victorie and peace are called Triumphall, whereof
we our selues haue heretofore giuen some example by our
Triumphals written in honour of her Maiesties long
peace. And they were vsed by the auncients in like manner,
as we do our generall processions or Letanies with bankets
and bonefires and all manner of ioyes. Those that were to
honour the persons of great Princes or to solemnise the
pompes of any installment were called Encomia, we
may call them carols of honour. Those to celebrate marriages
were called songs nuptiall or Epithalamies, but in
a certaine misticall sense as shall be said hereafter.
Others for magnificence at the natiuities of Princes
children, or by custome vsed yearely vpon the same dayes,
are called songs natall or Genethliaca. Others for
secret recreation and pastime in chambers with company or
alone were the ordinary Musickes amorous, such as might be
song with voice or to the Lute, Citheron or Harpe, or
daunced by measures as the Italian Pauan and galliard are at
these daies in Princes Courts and other places of honourable
or ciuill assembly, and of all these we will speake in order
and very briefly.


CHAP. XXIIII.


The forme of Poeticall lamentations.


¶1.24.1 LAmenting is altogether
contrary to reioising, euery man saith so, and yet is it a
peece of ioy to be able to lament with ease,

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and freely to poure forth a mans inward sorrowes and the
greefs wherewith his minde is surcharged. This was a very
necessary deuise of the Poet and a fine, besides his poetrie
to play also the Phisitian, and not onely by applying a
medicine to the ordinary sicknes of mankind, but by making
the very greef it selfe (in part) cure of the disease. Nowe
are the causes of mans sorrowes many: the death of his
parents, friends, allies, and children: (though many of the
barbarous nations do reioyce at their burials and sorrow at
their birthes) the ouerthrowes and discomforts in battell,
the subuersions of townes and cities, the desolations of
countreis, the losse of goods and worldly promotions, honour
and good renowne: finally the trauails and torments of loue
forlorne or ill bestowed, either by disgrace, deniall,
delay, and twenty other wayes, that well experienced louers
could recite. Such of these greefs as might be refrained or
holpen by wisedome, and the parties owne good endeuour, the
Poet gaue none order to sorrow them: for first as to the
good renowne it is lost, for the more part by some default
of the owner, and may be by his well doings recouered
againe. And if it be vniustly taken away, as by vntrue and
famous libels, the offenders recantation may suffise for his
amends: so did the Poet Stesichorus, as it is
written of him in his Pallinodie vpon the
disprayse of Helena, and recouered his eye sight.
Also for worldly goods they come and go, as things not long
proprietary to any body, and are not yet subiect vnto
fortunes dominion so, but that we our selues are in great
part accessarie to our own losses and hinderaunces, by
ouersight |&| misguiding of our selues and our things,
therefore why should we bewaile our such voluntary
detriment? But death the irrecouerable losse, death the
dolefull departure of frendes, that can neuer be recontinued
by any other meeting or new acquaintance. Besides our
vncertaintie and suspition of their estates and welfare in
the places of their new abode, seemeth to carry a reasonable
pretext of iust sorrow. Likewise the great ouerthrowes in
battell and desolations of countreys by warres, aswell for
the losse of many liues and much libertie as for that it
toucheth the whole state, and euery priuate man hath his
portion in the damage: Finally for loue, there is no
frailtie in flesh and bloud so excusable as it, no comfort
or discomfort greater

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then the good and bad successe thereof, nothing more
naturall to man, nothing of more force to vanquish his will
and to inuegle his iudgement. Therefore of death and
burials, of th'aduersities by warres, and of true loue lost
or ill bestowed, are th'onely sorrowes that the noble Poets
sought by their arte to remoue or appease, not with any
medicament of a contrary temper, as the Galenistes
vse to cure [contraria contrariis]
but as the Paracelsians, who cure [
similia similibus] making one dolour to
expell another, and in this case, one short sorrowing the
remedie of a long and grieuous sorrow. And the lamenting of
deathes was chiefly at the very burialls of the dead, also
at monethes mindes and longer times, by custome continued
yearely, when as they vsed many offices of seruice and loue
towardes the dead, and thereupon are called Obsequies
in our vulgare, which was done not onely by cladding the
mourners their friendes and seruantes in blacke vestures, of
shape dolefull and sad, but also by wofull countenaunces and
voyces, and besides by Poeticall mournings in verse. Such
funerall songs were called Epicedia if they were
song by many, and Monodia if they were vttered by
one alone, and this was vsed at the enterment of Princes and
others of great accompt, and it was reckoned a great
ciuilitie to vse such ceremonies, as at this day is also in
some countrey vsed. In Rome they accustomed to make orations
funerall and commendatorie of the dead parties in the
publique place called Prorostris: and our
Theologians, in stead thereof vse to make sermons,
both teaching the people some good learning, and also saying
well of the departed. Those songs of the dolorous discomfits
in battaile, and other desolations in warre, or of townes
saccaged and subuerted, were song by the remnant of the army
ouerthrowen, with great skrikings and outcries, holding the
wrong end of their weapon vpwards in signe of sorrow and
dispaire. The cities also made generall mournings |&| offred
sacrifices with Poeticall songs to appease the wrath of the
martiall gods |&| goddesses. The third sorrowing was of
loues, by long lamentation in Elegie: so was their
song called, and it was in a pitious maner of meetre,
placing a limping Pentameter, after a lusty
Exameter, which made it go dolourously more then any
other meeter.

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CHAP. XXV.


Of the solemne reioysings at the natiuitie of Princes
children.


¶1.25.1 TO returne from sorrow to
reioysing it is a very good hap and no vnwise part for him
that can do it, I say therefore, that the comfort of issue
and procreation of children is so naturall and so great, not
onely to all men but specially to Princes, as duetie and
ciuilitie haue made it a common custome to reioyse at the
birth of their noble children, and to keepe those dayes
hallowed and festiuall for euer once in the yeare, during
the parentes or childrens liues: and that by publique order
|&| consent. Of which reioysings and mirthes the Poet
ministred the first occasion honorable, by presenting of
ioyfull songs and ballades, praysing the parentes by proofe,
the child by hope, the whole kinred by report, |&| the day
it selfe with wishes of all good successe, long life, health
|&| prosperitie for euer to the new borne. These poems were
called in Greeke Genetliaca, with vs they may be
called natall or birth songs.



CHAP. XXVI.


The maner of reioysings at mariages and {w}eddings.


¶1.26.1 AS the consolation of children
well begotten is great, no lesse but rather greater ought to
be that which is occasion of children, that is honorable
matrimonie, a loue by al lawes allowed, not mutable nor
encombred with such vaine cares |&| passions, as that other
loue, whereof there is no assurance, but loose and fickle
affection occasioned for the most part by sodaine sights and
acquaintance of no long triall or experience, nor vpon any
other good ground wherein any suretie may be conceiued:
wherefore the Ciuill Poet could do no lesse in conscience
and credit, then as he had before done to the ballade of
birth: now with much better deuotion to celebrate by his
poeme the chearefull day of mariages aswell Princely as
others, for that hath alwayes bene accompted with euery
countrey and nation of neuer so barbarous people, the
highest |&| holiest, of any ceremonie apperteining to man: a
match forsooth made for euer and not for a day, a solace
prouided for youth, a comfort for age, a knot of alliance
|&| amitie indissoluble: great reioysing was therefore due
to such a matter and to so glad-

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some a time. This was done in ballade wise as the natall
song, and was song very sweetely by Musitians at the chamber
dore of the Bridegroome and Bride at such times as shalbe
hereafter declared and they were called Epithalamies
as much to say as ballades at the bedding of the bride:
for such as were song at the borde at dinner or supper were
other Musickes and not properly Epithalamies.
Here, if I shall say that which apperteineth to th'arte, and
disclose the misterie of the whole matter, I must and doe
with all humble reuerence bespeake pardon of the chaste and
honorable eares, least I should either offend them with
licentious speach, or leaue them ignorant of the ancient
guise in old times vsed at weddings (in my simple opinion)
nothing reproueable. This Epithalamie was deuided
by breaches into three partes to serue for three seuerall
fits or times to be song. The first breach was song at the
first parte of the night when the spouse and her husband
were brought to their bed |&| at the very chamber dore,
where in a large vtter roome vsed to be (besides the
musiti|en|s) good store of ladies or g|en|tlewomen of their
kinsefolkes, |&| others who came to honor the mariage, |&|
the tunes of the songs were very loude and shrill, to the
intent there might no noise be hard out of the bed ch|am|ber
by the skreeking |&| outcry of the young damosell feeling
the first forces of her stiffe |&| rigorous young man, she
being as all virgins tender |&| weake, |&| vnexpert in those
maner of affaires. For which purpose also they vsed by old
nurses (appointed to that seruice) to suppresse the noise by
casting of pottes full of nuttes round about the chamber
vpon the hard floore or pauem|en|t, for they vsed not mattes
no rushes as we doe now. So as the Ladies and gentlewomen
should haue their eares so occupied what with Musicke, and
what with their handes wantonly scambling and catching after
the nuttes, that they could not intend to harken after any
other thing. This was as I said to diminish the noise of the
laughing lamenting spouse. The tenour of that part of the
song was to congratulate the first acquaintance and meeting
of the young couple, allowing of their parents good
discretions in making the match, th|en| afterward to sound
cherfully to the onset and first encounters of that amorous
battaile, to declare the c|on|sort of childr|en|, |&|
encrease of loue by that meane chiefly caused: the bride
shewing her self euery waies well disposed and still

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supplying occasions of new lustes and loue to her husband,
by her obedience and amorous embracings and all other
allurementes. About midnight or one of the clocke, the
Musicians came again to the chamber dore (all the Ladies and
other women as they were of degree, hauing taken their
leaue, and being gone to their rest.) This part of the
ballade was to refresh the faint and weried bodies and
spirits, and to animate new appetites with cherefull wordes,
encoraging th|em| to the recontinuance of the same
entertainments, praising and comm|en|ding (by supposall) the
good conformities of them both, |&| their desire one to
vanquish the other by such fr|en|dly conflictes: alledging
that the first embracementes neuer bred barnes, by reason of
their ouermuch affection and heate, but onely made passage
for children and enforced greater liking to the late made
match. That the second assaultes, were less rigorous, but
more vigorous and apt to auance the purpose of procreation,
that therefore they should persist in all good appetite with
an inuincible courage to the end. This was the second part
of the Epithalamie. In the morning when it was
faire broad day, |&| that by liklyhood all tournes were
sufficiently serued, the last actes of the enterlude being
ended, |&| that the bride must within few hours arise and
apparrell her selfe, no more as a virgine, but as a wife,
and about dinner time must by order come forth
Sicut sponsa de thalanio, very demurely and
stately to be sene and acknowledged of her parents and
kinsfolkes whether she were the same woman or a changeling,
or dead or aliue, or maimed by any accident nocturnall. The
same Musicians came againe with this last part, and greeted
them both with a Psalme of new applausions, for that they
had either of them so well behaued them selues that night,
the husband to rob his spouse of her maidenhead and saue her
life, the bride so lustely to satisfie her husbandes loue
and scape with so litle daunger of her person, for which
good chaunce that they should make a louely truce and
abstinence of that warre till next night sealing the placard
of that louely league, with twentie maner of sweet kisses,
then by good admonitions enformed them to the frugall |&|
thriftie life all the rest of their dayes. The good man
getting and bringing home, the wife sauing that which her
husband should get, therewith to be the better able to keepe
good

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hospitalitie, according to their estates, and to bring vp
their children, (if God sent any) vertuously, and the better
by their owne good example. Finally to perseuer all the rest
of their life in true and inuiolable wedlocke. This ceremony
was omitted when men maried widowes or such as had tasted
the frutes of loue before, (we call them well experienced
young women) in whom there was no feare of daunger to their
persons, or of any outcry at all, at the time of those
terrible approches. Thus much touching the vsage of
Epithalamie or bedding ballad of the ancient
times, in which if there were any wanton or lasciuious
matter more then ordinarie which they called
Ficenina luc|en|tia it was borne withal for
that time because of the matter no lesse requiring.
Catullus hath made of th|em| one or two very
artificiall and ciuil: but none more excellent then of late
yeares a young noble man of Germanie as I take it
Ioh|an|nes secundus who in that and in his poeme
De basijsh any of the auncient or
moderne Poetes in my iudgment.



CHAP. XXVII.


The manner of Poesie by which they vttered their bitter
taunts, and priuy nips, or witty scoffes and other merry
conceits.


¶1.27.1 BVt all the world could not
keepe, nor any ciuill ordinance to the contrary so preuaile,
but that men would and must needs vtter their splenes in all
ordinarie matters also: or else it seemed their bowels would
burst, therefore the poet deuised a prety fashioned poeme
short and sweete (as we are wont to say) and called it
Epigramma in which euery mery conceited man might
without any long studie or tedious ambage, make his frend
sport, and anger his foe, and giue a prettie nip, or shew a
sharpe conceit in few verses: for this Epigramme
is but an inscription or writting made as it were vpon a
table, or in a windowe, or vpon the wall or mantell of a
chimney of some place of common resort, where it was allowed
euery man might come, or be sitting to chat and prate, as
now in our tauernes and common tabling houses, where many
merry heades meete, and scrible with ynke with chalke, or
with a cole such matters as they would euery m|an| should
know, |&| descant vp|on|. Afterward the same came to be put
in paper and in bookes, and vsed as ordinarie missiues, some
of frendship, some

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of defiaunce, or as other messages of mirth: Martiall
was the chiefe of this skil among the Latines, |&| at
these days the best Epigr|am|mes we finde, |&| of the
sharpest conceit are those that haue bene gathered among the
reliques of the two muet Satyres in Rome,
Pasquill and
Marphorius, which in time of sede
vacante
, when merry conceited men listed to
gibe |&| iest at the dead Pope, or any of his Cardinales,
they fastened them vpon those Images which now lie in the
open streets, and were tollerated, but after that terme
expired they were inhibited againe. These inscriptions or
Epigrammes at their begining had no certaine author that
would auouch them, some for feare of blame, if they were
ouer saucy or sharpe, others for modestie of the writer as
was that disticke of Virgil which he set
vpon the pallace gate of the emperour Augustus,
which I will recite for the breifnes and quicknes of it, |&|
also for another euente that fell out vpon the matter worthy
to be remembred. These were the verses.


Nocte pluit tota, redeunt spectacula mane
Diuisum imperium cum Ioue Cæsar habet
.


¶1.27.2 Which I haue thus Englished,


It raines all night, early the shewes returne
God and Cæsar, do raigne and rule by turne
.


¶1.27.3 As much to say, God sheweth his power by
the night raines. Cæsar his magnificence by the pompes of
the day.


¶1.27.4 These two verses were very well liked, and
brought to th'Emperours Maiestie, who tooke great pleasure
in them, |&| willed the author should be knowen. A sausie
courtier profered him selfe to be the man, and had a good
reward giuen him: for the Emperour him self was not only
learned, but of much munificence toward all learned men:
whereupon Virgill seing him self by his ouermuch
modestie defrauded of the reward, that an impudent had
gotten by abuse of his merit, came the next night, and
fastened vpon the same place this halfe metre, four times
iterated. Thus.


Sic vos non vobis
Sic vos non vobis
Sic vos non vobis
Sic vos non vobis


¶1.27.5 And there it remained a great while
because no man wist what

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it meant, till Virgill opened the whole fraude by
this deuise. He wrote aboue the same halfe metres this whole
verse Exameter. Hos
ego versiculos feci tulit alter honores
.
And then finished the foure half metres, thus.


Sic vos non vobis Fertis aratra boues.
Sic vos non vobis Vellera fertis oues.
Sic vos non vobis Mellificatis apes.
Sic vos non vobis Indificatis aues.


¶1.27.6 And put to his name Publius Virgilius
Maro
. This matter came by and by to Th'emperours eare,
who taking great pleasure in the deuise called for
Virgill, and gaue him not onely a present reward,
with a good allowance of dyet a bonche in court as we vse to
call it: but also held him for euer after vpon larger triall
he had made of his learning and vertue in so great
reputation, as he vouchsafed to giue him the name of a frend
(amicus) which among the Romanes
was so great an honour and speciall fauour, as all such
persons were allowed to the Emperours table, or to the
Senatours who had receiued them (as frendes) and they were
the only men that came ordinarily to their boords, |&|
solaced with them in their chambers, and gardins when none
other could be admitted.



CHAP. XXVIII.


Of the poeme called Epitaph vsed for memoriall of the dead.


¶1.28.1 AN Epitaph is but a kind of
Epigram only applied to the report of the dead persons
estate and degree, or of his other good or bad partes, to
his commendation or reproch: and is an inscription such as a
man may commodiously write or engraue vpon a tombe in few
verses, pithie, quicke and sententious for the passer by to
peruse, and iudge vpon without any long tariaunce: So as if
it exceed the measure of an Epigram, it is then (if the
verse be correspondent) rather an Elegie then an Epitaph
which errour many of these bastard rimers commit, because
they be not learned, nor (as we are wont to say) their
catstes masters, for they make long and tedious discourses,
and write them in large tables to be hanged vp in Churches
and chauncells ouer the tombes of great men and others,
which be so exceeding long as one must haue halfe

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a dayes leasure to reade one of them, |&| must be called
away before he come halfe to the end, or else be locked into
the Church by the Sexten as I my selfe was once serued
reading an Epitaph in a certain cathedrall Church of
England. They be ignor|an|t of poesie that call such l|on|g
tales by the name of Epitaphes, they might better call them
Elegies, as I said before, and then ought neither to be
engrauen nor hanged vp in tables. I haue seene them
neuertheles vpon many honorable tombes of these late times
erected, which doe rather disgrace then honour either the
matter or maker.



CHAP. XXIX.


A certaine auncient forme of poesie by which men did vse to
reproch their enemies.


¶1.29.1 AS frendes be a rich and
ioyfull possession, so be foes a continuall torment and
canker to the minde of man, and yet there is no possible
meane to auoide this inconuenience, for the best of vs all,
|&| he that thinketh he liues most blamelesse, liues not
without enemies, that enuy him for his good parts, or hate
him for his euill. There be wise men, and of them the great
learned man Plutarch that tooke vpon them to
perswade the benefite that men receiue by their enemies,
which though it may be true in manner of Paradoxe,
yet I finde mans frailtie to be naturally such, and alwayes
hath beene, that he cannot conceiue it in his owne case, nor
shew that patience and moderation in such greifs, as
becommeth the man perfite and accomplisht in all vertue: but
either in deede or by word, he will seeke reuenge against
them that malice him, or practise his harmes, specially such
foes as oppose themselues to a mans loues. This made the
auncient Poetes to inuent a meane to rid the gall of all
such Vindicatiue men: so as they might be a wrecked of their
wrong, |&| neuer bely their enemie with slaunderous
vntruthes. And this was done by a maner of imprecation, or
as we call it by cursing and banning of the parties, and
wishing all euill to a light vpon them, and though it neuer
the sooner happened, yet was it great easment to the boiling
stomacke: They were called Diræ
, such as Virgill made aginst Battarus
, and Ouide against Ibis: we
Christians are forbidden to vse such vncharitable fashions,
and willed to referre all our reuenges to God alone.

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CHAP. XXX


Of short Epigrames called Posies.


¶1.30.1 THere be also other like
Epigrammes that were sent vsually for new yeares giftes or
to be Printed or put vpon their banketting dishes of suger
plate, or of march paines, |&| such other dainty meates as
by the curtesie |&| custome euery gest might carry from a
common feast home with him to his owne house, |&| were made
for the nonce, they were called Nenia or
apophoreta, and neuer contained aboue one verse, or
two at the most, but the shorter the better, we call them
Posies, and do paint them now a dayes vpon the backe sides
of our fruite trenchers of wood, or vse them as deuises in
rings and armes and about such courtly purposes. So haue we
remembred and set forth to your Maiestie very briefly, all
the commended fourmes of the auncient Poesie, which we in
our vulgare makings do imitate and vse vnder these common
names: enterlude, song, ballade, carroll and ditty:
borrowing them also from the French al sauing this word
(song) which is our naturall Saxon English word. The rest,
such as time and vsurpation by custome haue allowed vs out
of the primitiue Greeke |&| Latine, as Comedie, Tragedie,
Ode, Epitaphe, Elegie, Epigramme, and other moe. And we haue
purposely omitted all nice or scholasticall curiosities not
meete for your Maiesties contemplation in this our vulgare
arte, and what we haue written of the auncient formes of
Poemes, we haue taken from the best clerks writing in the
same arte. The part that next followeth to wit of
proportion, because the Greeks nor Latines neuer had it in
vse, nor made any obseruation, no more then we doe of their
feete, we may truly affirme to haue bene the first deuisers
thereof our selues, as autodidaktoi, and
not to haue borrowed it of any other by learning or
imitation, and thereby trusting to be holden the more
excusable if any thing in this our labours happen either to
mislike, or to come short of th'authors purpose, because
commonly the first attempt in any arte or engine artificiall
is amendable, |&| in time by often experiences reformed. And
so no doubt may this deuise of ours be, by others that shall
take the penne in hand after vs.

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CHAP. XXXI.


Who in any age haue bene the most commended writers in our
English Poesie, and the Authors censure giuen vpon them.


¶1.31.1 IT appeareth by sundry records
of bookes both printed |&| written, that many of our
countreymen haue painfully trauelled in this part: of whose
works some appeare to be but bare translati|on|s, other some
matters of their owne inuention and very commendable,
whereof some recitall shall be made in this place, to
th'intent chiefly that their names should not be defrauded
of such honour as seemeth due to them for hauing by their
thankefull studies so much beautified our English tong (as
at this day it will be found our nation is in nothing
inferiour to the French or Italian for copie of language,
subtiltie of deuice, good method and proportion in any forme
of poeme, but that they may compare with the most, and
perchance passe a great many of them. And I will not reach
aboue the time of king Edward the third, and
Richard the second for any that wrote in English
meeter: because before their times by reason of the late
Normane conquest, which had brought into this Realme much
alteration both of our langage and lawes, and there withall
a certain martiall barbarousnes, whereby the study of all
good learning was so much decayd, as long time after no man
or very few entended to write in any laudable science: so as
beyond that time there is litle or nothing worth
commendation to be founde written in this arte. And those of
the first age were Chaucer and Gower
both of them as I suppose Knightes. After whom followed
Iohn Lydgate the monke of Bury, |&| that nameles, who
wrote the Satyre called Piers Plowman, next him
followed Harding the Chronicler, then in king
Henry th'eight times Skelton, (I wot not
for what great worthines) surnamed the Poet Laureat
. In the latter end of the same kings raigne spr|on|g vp a
new company of courtly makers, of whom Sir Thomas
Wyat
th'elder |&| Henry Earle of Surrey were
the two chieftaines, who hauing trauailed into Italie, and
there tasted the sweete and stately measures and stile of
the Itali|an| Poesie as nouices newly crept out of the
schooles of Dante Arioste and Petrarch,
they greatly pollished our rude |&| homely maner of vulgar
Poesie, from that it had bene before, and for that cause may
iustly be sayd the first reformers of our English

{{Page 49}}

meetre and stile. In the same time or not long after was the
Lord Nicholas Vaux, a man of much facilitie in
vulgar makings. Afterward in king Edward the
sixths time came to be in reputation for the same facultie
Thomas Sternehold, who first translated into
English certaine Psalmes of Dauid, and Iohn Heywood
the Epigrammatist who for the myrth and quicknesse of his
conceits more then for any good learning was in him came to
be well benefited by the king. But the principall man in
this profession at the same time was Maister Edward
Ferrys
a man of no lesse mirth |&| felicitie that way,
but of much more skil, |&| magnificence in his meeter, and
therefore wrate for the most part to the stage, in Tragedie
and sometimes in Comedie or Enterlude, wherein he gaue the
king so much good recreation, as he had thereby many good
rewardes. In Queenes Maries time florished aboue
any other Doctour Phaer one that was well learned
|&| excellently well translated into English verse Heroicall
certaine bookes of Virgils Æneidos. Since him
followed Maister Arthure Golding, who with no
lesse commendation turned into English meetre the
Metamorphosis of Ouide, and that other Doctour,
who made the supplement to those bookes of Virgiles
Æneidos
, which Maister Phaer left vndone.
And in her Maiesties time that now is are sprong vp an other
crew of Courtly makers Noble men and Gentlemen of her
Maiesties owne seruantes, who haue written excellently well
as it would appeare if their doings could be found out and
made publicke with the rest, of which number is first that
noble Gentleman Edward Earle of Oxford.
Thomas Lord of Bukhurst, when he was young,
Henry Lord Paget, Sir Philip Sydney, Sir
Walter Rawleigh, Master Edward Dyar,
Maister Fulke Greuell, Gascon, Britton, Turberuille
and a great many other learned Gentlemen, whose names I
do not omit for enuie, but to auoyde tediousnesse, and who
haue deserued no little commendation. But of them all
particularly this is myne opinion, that Chaucer,
with Gower, Lidgat and Harding for their
antiquitie ought to haue the first place, and Chaucer
as the most renowmed of them all, for the much learning
appeareth to be in him aboue any of the rest. And though
many of his bookes be but bare translations out of the Latin
|&| French, yet are they wel handled, as his bookes of
Troilus

{{Page 50}}

and Cresseid, and the Romant of the Rose, whereof
he translated but one halfe, the deuice was Iohn de
Mehunes
a French Poet, the Canterbury tales were
Chaucers owne inuention as I suppose, and where he
sheweth more the naturall of his pleasant wit, then in any
other of his workes, his similitudes comparisons and all
other descriptions are such as can not be amended. His
meetre Heroicall of Troilus and Cresseid
is very graue and stately, keeping the staffe of seuen, and
the verse of ten, his other verses of the Canterbury tales
be but riding ryme, neuerthelesse very well becomming the
matter of that pleasaunt pilgrimage in which euery mans part
is playd with much decency. Gower sauing for his
good and graue moralities, had nothing in him highly to be
commended, for his verse was homely and without good
measure, his wordes strained much deale out of the French
writers, his ryme wrested, and in his inuentions small
subtilitie: the applications of his moralities are the best
in him, and yet those many times very grossely bestowed,
neither doth the substance of his workes sufficiently
aunswere the subtilitie of his titles. Lydgat a
translatour onely and no deuiser of that which he wrate, but
one that wrate in good verse. Harding a Poet Epick
or Historicall, handled himselfe well according to the time
and maner of his subiect. He that wrote the Satyr of Piers
Ploughman, seemed to haue bene a malcontent of that time,
and therefore bent himselfe wholy to taxe the disorders of
that age, and specially the pride of the Romane Clergy, of
whose fall he seemeth to be a very true Prophet, his verse
is but loose meetre, and his termes hard and obscure, so as
in them is litle pleasure to be taken. Skelton a
sharpe Satirist, but with more rayling and scoffery then
became a Poet Lawreat, such among the Greekes were called
Pantomimi, with vs Buffons, altogether applying their
wits to Scurrillities |&| other ridiculous matters.
Henry Earle of Surrey and Sir Thomas Wyat,
betweene whom I finde very litle differ|en|ce, I repute them
(as before) for the two chief l|an|ternes of light to all
others that haue since employed their pennes vpon English
Poesie, their conceits were loftie, their stiles stately,
their conueyance cleanely, their termes proper, their meetre
sweete and well proportioned, in all imitating very
naturally and studiously their Maister Francis
Petrarcha
.

{{Page 51}}

The Lord Vaux his commendati|on| lyeth chiefly in
the facillitie of his meetre, and the aptnesse of his
descriptions such as he taketh vpon him to make, namely in
sundry of his Songs, wherein he sheweth the counterfait
acti|on| very liuely |&| pleasantly. Of the later sort I
thinke thus. That for Tragedie, the Lord of Buckhurst, |&|
Maister Edward Ferrys for such doings as I haue
sene of theirs do deserue the hyest price: Th'Earle of
Oxford and Maister Edwardes of her Maiesties
Chappell for comedy and Enterlude. For Eglogue and pastorall
Poesie, Sir Philip Sydney and Maister
Challenner, and that other Gentleman who wrate the
late shepheardes Callender. For dittie and amorous
Ode I finde Sir Walter Rawleyghs vayne most
loftie, insolent, and passionate. Maister Edward Dyar
, for Elegie most sweete, solempne and of high conceit.
Gascon for a good meeter and for a plentifull vayne.
Phaer and Golding for a learned and well
corrected verse, specially in translation cleare and very
faithfully answering their authors intent. Others haue also
written with much facillitie, but more commendably perchance
if they had not written so much nor so popularly. But last
in recitall and first in degree is the Queene our soueraigne
Lady, whose learned, delicate, noble Muse, easily
surmounteth all the rest that haue writt|en| before her time
or since, for sence, sweetnesse and subtillitie, be it in
Ode, Elegie, Epigram, or any other kinde of poeme Heroick or
Lyricke, wherein it shall please her Maiestie to employ her
penne, euen by as much oddes as her owne excellent estate
and degree exceedeth all the rest of her most humble
vassalls.

[[ornament]]


  • Original Text: George Puttenham, The Arte of English Poesie: 1589 (Menston: Scolar Press, 1968).
  • First Publication Date: The Arte of English Poesie. London: Richard Field, 1589. STC 20519. British Library G.11548 (owned by Ben Jonson)
  • Representative Poetry On-line: Editor, I. Lancashire; Publisher, Web Development Group, Inf. Tech. Services, Univ. of Toronto Lib.
  • Edition: RPO 1998. © I. Lancashire, Dept. of English (Univ. of Toronto), and Univ. of Toronto Press 1998. Research Assistant: Allison Hay.

Editorial Conventions

Note: the four-page concluding Table of Contents is not included in this electronic text.

This edition does not encode signatures, page numbers, or catchwords. Old spelling is retained except for ligatured letters, which are normalized. Contractions and abbreviations are placed within vertical bars. Italics and lineation are retained, but not small capitals and the text of catchwords, signatures, and running titles. Original lineation and irregularities in spacing are ignored. Reference citations are by page numbers and editorial through-text paragraph numbers.

The following character codes represent letters not available in the 256-character set employed in HTML documents.


  • {-a} : a-curl
  • {_a} : a-macron
  • {-e} : e-curl
  • {_e} : e-macron
  • {-i} : i-curl
  • {_i} : i-macron
  • {-o} : o-curl
  • {_o} : o-macron
  • {-u} : u-curl
  • {_u} : u-macron
  • {w}{W} : double-v w

Greek is transliterated according to the following scheme:
  • a : alpha
  • b : beta
  • g : gamma
  • d : delta
  • e : epsilon
  • z : zeta
  • {ee} : eta
  • th : theta
  • i : iota
  • k : kappa
  • l : lambda
  • m : mu
  • n : nu
  • x : ksi
  • o : omicron
  • p : pi
  • r : rho
  • s : sigma
  • t : tau
  • u : upsilon
  • ph : phi
  • ch : chi
  • ps : psi
  • {o} : omega


Online text copyright © 2005, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.


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