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Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586)

The Defence of Poesie (1595)

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THE DEFENCE OF
Poesie.

By Sir Phillip Sidney,
Knight.
{{printer's device: McKerrow 299}}
LONDON,
Printed for William Ponsonby.
1595.

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The defence of Poesie, by
Sir Philip Sidney Knight.

1   WHen the right vertuous E.w. and
2   I, were at the Emperours Court
3   togither, wee gaue our selues to
4   learne horsemanship of Ion Pietro
5   Pugliano,one that with great com-
6   mendation had the place of an Es-
7   quire in his stable : and hee accor-
8   ding to the fertilnes of the Italian wit,did not onely
9   affoord vs the demonstration of his practise, but
10 sought to enrich our mindes with the contemplati-
11 ons therein, which he thought most precious. But
12 with none I remember mine eares were at any time
13 more loaden, then when (either angred with slow
14 paiment, or mooued with our learnerlike admirati-
15 on) hee exercised his speech in the praise of his fa-
16 cultie. He said souldiers were the noblest estate of
17 mankind,and horsemen the noblest of souldiers.He
18 said they were the maisters of warre,and ornaments
19 of peace, speedie goers, and strong abiders, trium-
20 phers both in Camps and Courts : nay to so vnblee-
21 ued a point he proceeded , as that no earthly thing
22 bred such wonder to a Prince, as to be a good horse-
23 man. Skill of gouernment was but a Pedanteria, in

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24 comparison,then would he adde certaine praises by
25 telling what a peerlesse beast the horse was,the one-
26 ly seruiceable Courtier without flattery,the beast of
27 most bewtie, faithfulnesse,courage,and such more,
28 that if I had not bene a peece of a Logician before I
29 came to him,I thinke he would haue perswaded me
30 to haue wished my selfe a horse. But thus much at
31 least, with his no few words he draue into me, that
32 selfeloue is better then any guilding , to make that
33 seem gorgious wherin our selues be parties. Wher-
34 in if Pulianos strong affection and weake arguments
35 will not satisfie you,I wil giue you a nearer example
36 of my selfe , who I know not by what mischance in
37 these my not old yeares and idlest times,hauing slipt
38 into the title ofa Poet, am prouoked to say somthing
39 vnto you in the defence of that my vnelected voca-
40 tion, which if I handle with more good will , then
41 good reasons beare with me, since the scholler is to
42 be pardoned that followeth the steps of his maister.
43 And yet I must say , that as I haue more iust cause to
44 make a pittifull defence of poore Poetrie , which
45 from almost the highest estimation of learning , is
46 falne to be the laughing stocke of children, so haue
47 I need to bring some more auaileable proofes, since
48 the former is by no man bard of his deserued credit,
49 the silly later , hath had euen the names of Philoso-
50 phers, vsed to the defacing of it , with great daunger
51 of ciuill warre among the Muses. And first truly to
52 all them that professing learning enuey against Poe-
53 trie,may iustly be obiected, that they go very neare
54 to vngratefulnesse, to seeke to deface that which in
55 the noblest nations and languages that are knowne,

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56 hath bene the first light giuer to ignorance,and fir{st]
57 nurse whose milke litle |&| litle enabled them to feed
58 afterwards of tougher knowledges. And will you
59 play the Hedge-hogge,that being receiued into the
60 den, draue out his host? Or rather the Vipers, that
61 with their birth kill their parents ? Let learned Greece
62 in any of his manifold Sciences, be able to shew me
63 one booke before Musæus,Homer,|&| Hesiod, all three
64 nothing else but Poets. Nay let any Historie bee
65 brought,that can say any writers were there before
66 them, if they were not men of the same skill, as Or-
67 pheus, Linus, and some other are named,who hauing
68 bene the first of that country that made pennes deli-
69 uerers of their knowledge to the postertie,nay iust-
70 ly challenge to bee called their Fathers in learning.
71 For not onely in time they had this prioritie, (al-
72 though in it selfe antiquitie be venerable) but went
73 before them,as causes to draw with their charming
74 sweetnesse the wild vntamed wits to an admiration
75 of knowledge. So as Amphion, was said to mooue
76 stones with his Poetry,to build Thebes, and Orpheus
77 to be listned to by beasts , indeed stonie and beastly
78 people.So among the Romans, were Liuius, Andro-
79 nicus,and Ennius,so in the Italian language,the first
80 that made it aspire to be a treasure-house of Science,
81 were the Poets Dante,Bocace, and Petrach. So in our
82 English,wer Gower, and Chawcer, after whom,enco-
83 raged |&| delighted with their excellent foregoing,
84 others haue folowed to bewtify our mother toong,
85 aswel in the same kind as other arts. This did so nota-
86 bly shew it self, |yt| the Philosophers of Greece durst not a
87 l|on|g time apear to |ye| world, but vnder |ye| mask of poets.

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88 So Thales,Empedocles, and Parmenides , sang their na-
89 turall Philosophie in verses. So did Pithagoras and
90 Phocillides, their morall Councels. So did Tirteus in
91 warre matters,and Solon in matters of pollicie,or ra-
92 ther they being Poets , did exercise their delightfull
93 vaine in those points of highest knowledge, which
94 before them laie hidden to the world.For,that wise
95 Solon was directly a Poet,it is manifest,hauing writ-
96 ten in verse the notable Fable of the Atlantick Iland,
97 which was continued by Plato.And truely euen Pla-
98 to who so euer well considereth , shall finde that in
99 the body of his worke though the inside |&| strength
100 were Philosophie , the skin as it were and beautie,
101 depended most of Poetrie. For all stands vpon Dia-
102 logues, wherein hee faines many honest Burgesses
103 of Athens speak of such matters,that if they had bene
104 set on the Racke,they would neuer haue confessed
105 them : besides his Poeticall describing the circum-
106 stances of their meetings, as the well ordering of a
107 banquet, the delicacie of a walke, with enterlacing
108 meere Tales, as Gyges Ring and others, which, who
109 knowes not to bee flowers of Poetrie, did neuer
110 walke into Appollos Garden. And euen Historiogra-
111 phers, although their lippes sound of things done,
112 and veritie be written in their forehead, haue bene
113 glad to borrow both fashion and perchance weight
114 of the Poets. So Herodotus entituled his Historie,by
115 the name of the nine Muses, and both he and all the
116 rest that followed him , either stale , or vsurped of
117 Poetrie, their passionate describing of passions, the
118 many particularities of battels which no man could
119 affirme, or if that be denied me, long Orations put

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120 in the mouthes of great Kings and Captains,which
121 it is certaine they neuer pronounced. So that truly
122 neither Philosopher, nor Historiographer, could at the
123 first haue entered into the gates of populer iudge-
124 ments, if they had not taken a great pasport of Poe-
125 trie, which in all nations at this day where learning
126 flourisheth not , is plaine to be seene : in all which,
127 they haue some feeling of Poetry.In Turkey,besides
128 their lawgiuing Diuines , they haue no other wri-
129 ters but Poets.In our neighbour Countrey Ireland,
130 where truly learning goes verie bare , yet are their
131 Poets held in a deuout reuerence. Euen among the
132 most barbarous and simple Indians, where no wri-
133 ting is, yet haue they their Poets who make |&| sing
134 songs which they call +Arentos, both of their Aunce-
135 stors deeds , and praises of their Gods. A sufficient
136 probability,that if euer learning come among them,
137 it must be by hauing their hard dull wittes softened
138 and sharpened with the sweete delights of Poetrie,
139 for vntill they finde a pleasure in the exercise of the
140 minde, great promises of much knowledge, wil lit-
141 tle persuade them that know not the frutes of know-
142 ledge. In wales , the true remnant of the auncient
143 Brittons, as there are good authorities to shew , the
144 long time they had Poets which they called Bardes:
145 so thorow all the c|on|quests of Romans, Saxons, Danes,
146 and Normans, some of whom , did seeke to ruine all
147 memory of learning from among them, yet do their
148 Poets euen to this day last : so as it is not more nota-
149 ble in the soone beginning , then in long continu-
150 ing. But since the Authors of most of our Sciences,
151 were the Romanes, and before them the Greekes, let vs

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152 a litle stand vpon their authorities, but euen so farre
153 as to see what names they haue giu|en| vnto this now
154 scorned skill.Among the Romanes a Poet was called
155 Vates, which is as much as a diuiner, foreseer, or
156 Prophet , as by his conioyned words Vaticinium,
157 and Vaticinari, is manifest, so heauenly a title did
158 that excellent people bestowe vppon this hart-ra-
159 uishing knowledge , and so farre were they car-
160 ried into the admiration thereof, that they thought
161 in the chanceable hitting vppon any of such ver-
162 ses , great foretokens of their following fortunes,
163 were placed. Whereupon grew the world of Sor-
164 tes Vergilianæ, when by suddaine opening Virgils
165 booke, they lighted vppon some verse of his, as it
166 is reported by many , whereof the Histories of the
167 Emperours liues are full. As of Albinus the Go-
168 uernour of our Iland , who in his childhood met
169 with this verse Arma amens capio , nec sat rationis
170 in armis : and in his age performed it , although
171 it were a verie vaine and godlesse superstition, as
172 also it was, to thinke spirits were commaunded by
173 such verses , whereupon this word Charmes deri-
174 ued of Carmina, commeth : so yet serueth it to shew
175 the great reuerence those wittes were held in , and
176 altogither not without ground , since both by the
177 Oracles of Delphos and Sybillas prophesies , were
178 wholly deliuered in verses, for that same exquisite
179 obseruing of number and measure in the words,
180 and that high flying libertie of conceit propper to
181 the Poet, did seeme to haue some diuine force in it.
182 And may not I presume a little farther,to shewe the
183 reasonablenesse of this word Vatis , and say that the

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184 holy Dauids Psalms are a diuine Poeme? If I do, I shal
185 not do it without the testimony of great learned m|en|
186 both auncient and moderne. But euen the name of
187 Psalmes wil speak for me, which being interpreted,
188 is nothing but Songs : then that it is fully written in
189 meeter as all learned Hebritians agree, although the
190 rules be not yet fully found. Lastly and principally,
191 his handling his prophecie, which is meerly Poeti-
192 call.For what else is the awaking his musical Instru-
193 ments, the often and free chaunging of persons,his
194 notable Prosopopeias, wh|en| he maketh you as it were
195 see God comming in his maiestie, his telling of the
196 beasts ioyfulnesse, and hils leaping, but a heauenly
197 poesie,wherin almost he sheweth himselfe a passio-
198 nate louer of that vnspeakable and euerlasting bew-
199 tie,to be seene by the eyes of the mind,onely cleared
200 by faith?But truly now hauing named him, I feare I
201 seeme to prophane that holy name, applying it to
202 Poetry,which is among vs throwne downe to so ri-
203 diculous an estimation. But they that with quiet
204 iudgements wil looke a litle deeper into it,shal find
205 the end |&| working of it such,as being rightly appli-
206 ed, deserueth not to be scourged out of the Church
207 of God. But now let vs see how the Greekes haue
208 named it,and how they deemed of it. The Greekes
209 named him poi{ee}ten which name,hath as the most ex-
210 cellent,gone through other languages,it commeth
211 of this word poiein which is to make: wherin I know
212 not whether by luck or wisedome, we Englishmen
213 haue met with the Greekes in calling him Maker.
214 Which name, how high and incomparable a title it
215 is, I had rather were knowne by marking the scope

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216 of other sciences,th|en| by any partial allegati|on|. There
217 is no Art deliuered vnto mankind that hath not the
218 workes of nature for his principall obiect, without
219 which they could not consist, and on which they so
220 depend,as they become Actors |&| Plaiers, as it were
221 of what nature will haue set forth. So doth the A-
222 stronomer looke vpon the starres,and by that he seeth
223 set downe what order nature hath taken therein.So
224 doth the Geometritian |&| Arithmititian,in their diuers
225 sorts of quantities. So doth the Musitians in times tel
226 you,which by nature agree,which not. The natu-
227 ral Philosopher thereon hath his name , and the(mo-
228 rall Philosopher standeth vppon the naturall vertues,
229 vices,or passions of man : and follow nature saith he
230 therein, and thou shalt not erre. The Lawier saith,
231 what men haue determined. The Historian,what
232 men haue done. The Gramarian, speaketh onely of
233 the rules of speech, and the Rhetoritian and Logiti-
234 an, considering what in nature wil soonest prooue,
235 and perswade thereon, giue artificiall rules, which
236 still are compassed within the circle of a question, ac-
237 cording to the proposed matter. The Phisitian way-
238 eth the nature of mans bodie,|&| the nature of things
239 helpfull,or hurtfull vnto it. And the Metaphisicke
240 though it be in the second |&| abstract Notions, and
241 therefore be counted supernaturall, yet doth hee in-
242 deed build vpon the depth of nature. Only the Poet
243 disdeining to be tied to any such subiecti|on| , lifted vp
244 with the vigor of his own inuention, doth grow in
245 effect into an other nature : in making things either
246 better then nature bringeth foorth, or quite a new,
247 formes such as neuer were in nature : as the Heroes,

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248 Demigods, Cyclops, Chymeras, Furies, and such like ; so
249 as he goeth hand in hand with nature, not enclosed
250 within the narrow warrant of her gifts , but freely
251 raunging within the Zodiack of his owne wit.Na-
252 ture neuer set foorth the earth in so rich Tapistry as
253 diuerse Poets haue done , neither with so pleasaunt
254 riuers, fruitfull trees, sweete smelling flowers, nor
255 whatsoeuer els may make the too much loued earth
256 more louely: her world is brasen,the Poets only de-
257 liuer a golden. But let those things alone and goe to
258 man, for whom as the other things are,so it seemeth
259 in him her vttermost comming is imploied:|&| know
260 whether she haue brought foorth so true a louer as
261 Theagenes, so constant a friend as Pylades, so valiant a
262 man as Orlando, so right a Prince as Xenophons Cyrus,
263 so excellent a man euery way as Virgils Aeneas. Nei-
264 ther let this be iestingly c|on|ceiued,bicause the works
265 of the one be essenciall, the other in imitation or fi-
266 ction : for euerie vnderstanding,knoweth the skill
267 of ech Artificer standeth in that Idea, or fore conceit
268 of the worke, and not in the worke it selfe.And that
269 the Poet hath that Idea, is manifest , by deliuering
270 them foorth in such excellencie as he had imagined
271 them : which deliuering foorth, also is not wholly
272 imaginatiue,as we are wont to say by th|em| that build
273 Castles in the aire : but so farre substancially it wor-
274 keth,not onely to make a Cyrus,which had bene but
275 a particular excellency as nature might haue done,
276 but to bestow a Cyrus vpon the world to make ma-
277 ny Cyrusses, if they will learne aright,why and how
278 that maker made him. Neither let it be deemed too
279 sawcy a comparison,to ballance the highest point of

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280 mans wit , with the efficacie of nature : but rather
281 giue right honor to the heauenly maker of that ma-
282 ker, who hauing made man to his owne likenes, set
283 him beyond and ouer all the workes of that second
284 nature, which in nothing he sheweth so much as in
285 Poetry ; when with the force of a diuine breath,he
286 bringeth things foorth surpassing her doings: with
287 no small arguments to the incredulous of that first
288 accursed fall of Adam, since our erected wit maketh
289 vs know what perfecti|on| is,and yet our infected wil
290 keepeth vs fr|om| reaching vnto it. But these argum|en|ts
291 will by few be vnderstood,and by fewer graunted :
292 thus much I hope wil be giuen me, that the Greeks
293 with some probability of reason,gaue him the name
294 aboue all names of learning. Now let vs goe to a
295 more ordinarie opening of him , that the truth may
296 be the more palpable: and so I hope though we get
297 not so vnmatched a praise as the Etimologie of his
298 names will graunt , yet his verie description which
299 no man will denie, shall not iustly be barred from
300 a principall commendation. Poesie therefore,is an
301 Art of Imitation: for so Aristotle termeth it in the
302 word mim{ee}sis, that is to say, a representing,counterfei-
303 ting, or figuring forth to speake Metaphorically. A
304 speaking Picture,with this end to teach and delight.
305 Of this haue bene three generall kindes, the chiefe
306 both in antiquitie and excellencie , were they that
307 did imitate the vnc|on|ceiueable excellencies of God.
308 Such were Dauid in his Psalmes, Salomon in his song
309 of songs, in his Ecclesiastes and Prouerbes. Moses
310 and Debora, in their Hymnes , and the wryter of
311 Iobe: Which beside other , the learned Emanuell,

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312 Tremelius, and F. Iunius, doo entitle the Poeticall
313 part of the scripture : against these none will speake
314 that hath the holie Ghost in due holie reuerence. In
315 this kinde, though in a full wrong diuinitie, were
316 Orpheus, Amphion, Homer in his himnes, and ma-
317 nie other both Greeke and Romanes. And this Poe-
318 sie must be vsed by whosoeuer will follow S. Paules
319 counsaile, in singing Psalmes when they are mery,
320 and I knowe is vsed with the frute of comfort by
321 some , when in sorrowfull panges of their death
322 bringing sinnes, they finde the consolation of the
323 neuer leauing goodnes. The second kinde, is of
324 them that deale with matters Philosophicall, either
325 morall as Tirteus, Phocilides, Cato; or naturall,as Lu-
326 cretius, and Virgils Georgikes; or Astronomicall as Ma-
327 nilius and Pontanus; or Historicall as Lucan: which
328 who mislike the fault, is in their iudgement quite
329 out of tast, |&| not in the sweet food of sweetly vtte-
330 red knowledge.But bicause this second sort is wrap-
331 ped within the folde of the proposed subiect , and
332 takes not the free course of his own inuenti|on|,whe-
333 ther they properly bee Poets or no, let Gramarians
334 dispute ; and goe to the third indeed right Poets,of
335 whom chiefly this question ariseth:betwixt whom
336 and these second, is such a kinde of difference, as
337 betwixt the meaner sort of Painters , who coun-
338 terfeyt onely such faces as are set before them, and
339 the more excelent, who hauing no law but wit,be-
340 stow that in colours vpon you , which is fittest for
341 the eye to see, and the constant, though lamenting
342 looke of Lucretia , when shee punished in her
343 selfe anothers faulte : wherein hee painteth not

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344 Lucretia whom he neuer saw, but painteth the out-
345 ward bewty of such a vertue. For these third be they
346 which most properly do imitate to teach |&| delight:
347 and to imitate,borrow nothing of what is,hath bin,
348 or shall be,but range onely reined with learned dis-
349 cretion , into the diuine consideration of what may
350 be and should be. These be they that as the first and
351 most noble sort, may iustly be termed Vates: so these
352 are waited on in the excellentest languages and best
353 vnderst|an|dings, with the fore described name of Po-
354 ets.For these indeed do meerly make to imitate,and
355 imitate both to delight |&| teach,and delight to moue
356 men to take that goodnesse in hand,which without
357 delight they would flie as from a stranger; and teach
358 to make them know that goodnesse wherunto they
359 are moued:which being the noblest scope to which
360 euer any learning was directed, yet want there not
361 idle tongues to barke at them. These be subdiuided
362 into sundry more speciall denominations. The most
363 notable be the Heroick, Lyrick, Tragick, Comick, Saty-
364 rick, Iambick, Elegiack, Pastorall, and certaine others:
365 some of these being tearmed according to the mat-
366 ter they deale with, some by the sort of verse they li-
367 ked best to write in , for indeed the greatest part of
368 Poets,haue apparelled their poeticall inuentions,in
369 that numbrous kind of writing which is called vers.
370 Indeed but apparelled verse : being but an ornament
371 and no cause to Poetrie, since there haue bene many
372 most excellent Poets that neuer versefied, and now
373 swarme many versefiers that need neuer answere to
374 the name of Poets. For Xenophon who did imitate so
375 excellently as to giue vs effigiem iusti imperii , the

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376 pourtraiture of a iust Empyre vnder the name of Cy-
377 rus, as Cicero saith of him, made therein an absolute
378 heroicall Poeme.So did Heliodorus, in his sugred in-
379 uention of that picture of loue in Theagenes |&| Cha-
380 riclea, and yet both these wrote in prose , which I
381 speake to shew,that it is not ryming and versing that
382 maketh a Poet, (no more then a long gown maketh
383 an Aduocate, who though he pleaded in Armour,
384 should be an Aduocat and no souldier) but it is that
385 faining notable images of vertues,vices,or what els,
386 with that delightfull teaching , which must be the
387 right describing note to know a Poet by. Although
388 indeed the Senate of Poets hath chosen verse as their
389 fittest raiment : meaning as in matter, they passed all
390 in all,so in maner, to go beyond them : not speaking
391 table talke fashion , or like men in a dreame, words
392 as they chanceably fall from the mouth,but peasing
393 each sillable of eache word by iust proportion, ac-
394 cording to the dignitie of the subiect.Now therfore
395 it shal not be amisse,first to way this latter sort of po-
396 etrie by his workes, and then by his parts, and if in
397 neither of these Anatomies hee be condemnable , I
398 hope we shall obteine a more fauourable sentence.
399 This purifying of wit , this enriching of memorie,
400 enabling of iudgement , and enlarging of conceit,
401 which comm|on|ly we cal learning,vnder what name
402 so euer it come forth,or to what immediate end soe-
403 uer it be directed, the finall end is, to lead and draw
404 vs to as high a perfection, as our degenerate soules
405 made worse by their clay-lodgings, can be capable
406 of. This according to the inclination of man, bred
407 many formed impressions. For some that thought

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408 this felicity principally to be gotten by knowledge,
409 and no knowledge to be so high or heauenly , as ac-
410 quaintance with the stars ; gaue th|em|selues to Astro-
411 nomie: others perswading th|em|selues to be Demygods,
412 if they knew the causes of things , became naturall
413 and supernaturall Philosophers. Some an admirable
414 delight drew to Musicke; and some the certaintie of
415 demonstration to the Mathematicks : but all one and
416 other hauing this scope to know, |&| by knowledge
417 to lift vp the minde from the dungeon of the bodie,
418 to the enioying his owne diuine essence. But when
419 by the ballance of experience it was found,that the
420 Astronomer looking to the stars might fall in a ditch,
421 that the inquiring Philosopher might be blind in him
422 self,|&| the Mathematician,might draw forth a straight
423 line with a crooked hart. Then lo did proofe, the o-
424 uerruler of opinions make manifest, that all these are
425 but seruing sciences ; which as they haue a priuate
426 end in themselues, so yet are they all directed to the
427 highest end of the mistresse knowledge by |ye| Greeks
428 architektonik{ee} which stands as I thinke,in the knowledge
429 of a mans selfe,in the Ethike and Politique conside-
430 ration, with the end of well doing, and not of well
431 knowing onely. Euen as the Sadlers next ende is to
432 make a good Saddle, but his further ende, to serue a
433 nobler facultie, which is horsmanship, so the horse-
434 mans to souldiery: and the souldier not onely to haue
435 the skill, but to performe the practise of a souldier.
436 So that the ending end of all earthly learning,being
437 verteous action , those skils that most serue to bring
438 forth that,haue a most iust title to be Princes ouer al
439 the rest:wherin if we c|an| shew,the Poet is worthy to

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440 haue it before any other competitors : among wh|om|
441 principally to challenge it, step forth the moral Phi-
442 losophers, whom me thinkes I see comming towards
443 me,with a sullain grauitie,as though they could not
444 abide vice by day-light,rudely cloathed,for to wit-
445 nesse outwardly their contempt of outward things,
446 with bookes in their hands against glorie , whereto
447 they set their names : sophistically speaking against
448 subtiltie, and angry with any man in whom they see
449 the foule fault of anger. These men casting larges as
450 they go of definitions , diuitions , and distinctions,
451 with a scornful interrogatiue, do soberly aske,whe-
452 ther it be possible to find any path so ready to lead a
453 man to vertue , as that which teacheth what vertue
454 is, |&| teacheth it not only by deliuering forth his ve-
455 ry being, his causes and effects, but also by making
456 knowne his enemie vice, which must be destroyed,
457 and his combersome seruant passion,which must be
458 mastred : by shewing the generalities that contains
459 it,and the specialities that are deriued from it.Lastly
460 by plaine setting downe, how it extends it selfe out
461 of the limits of a mans owne little world, to the go-
462 uernment of families , and mainteining of publike
463 societies. The Historian scarsely giues leisure to the
464 Moralist to say so much,but that he loaden with old
465 Mouse-eaten Records, authorising himselfe for the
466 most part vpon other Histories , whose greatest au-
467 thorities are built vppon the notable foundation
468 Heresay, hauing much ado to accord differing wri-
469 ters,|&| to pick truth out of partiality:better acquain-
470 ted with a 1000 .yeres ago,th|en| with the present age,
471 and yet better knowing how this world goes, then

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472 how his owne wit runnes, curious for Antiquities,
473 and inquisitiue of Nouelties, a wonder to yoong
474 folkes, and a Tyrant in table talke;denieth in a great
475 chafe, that any man for teaching of vertue, and ver-
476 tues actions, is comparable to him. I am Testis tem-
477 porum, lux veritatis, vita memoriæ, magistra vitæ, nun-
478 cia vetustatis. The Philosopher saieth he,teacheth a dis-
479 putatiue vertue,but I do an actiue. His vertue is ex-
480 cellent in the dangerlesse Academy of Plato: but mine
481 sheweth forth her honourable face in the battailes
482 of Marathon, Pharsalia,Poietiers, and Agincourt. Hee
483 teacheth vertue by certaine abstract considerations:
484 but I onely bid you follow the footing of them that
485 haue gone before you. Old aged experience, goeth
486 beyond the fine witted Philosopher : but I giue the
487 experience of many ages. Lastly, if he make the song
488 Booke, I put the learners hand to the Lute,and if he
489 be the guide,I am the light. Then would he alleage
490 you innumerable examples , confirming storie by
491 stories, how much the wisest Senators and Princes,
492 haue bene directed by the credit of Historie,as Bru-
493 tus, Alphonsus of Aragon, (and who not if need be.)
494 At length, the long line of their disputation makes a
495 point in this,that the one giueth the precept, |&| the
496 other the example. Now whom shall we find,since
497 the question standeth for the highest forme in the
498 schoole of learning to be moderator? Truly as mee
499 seemeth, the Poet, and if not a moderator, euen the
500 man that ought to carry the title from them both:
501 |&| much more from all other seruing sciences. Ther-
502 fore compare we the Poet with the Historian, |&| with
503 the morall Philosopher : and if hee goe beyond them

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504 both,no other humaine skill can match him. For as
505 for the diuine, with all reuerence it is euer to be ex-
506 cepted, not onely for hauing his scope as far beyond
507 any of these , as Eternitie exceedeth a moment: but
508 euen for passing ech of these in themselues. And for
509 the Lawier, though Ius be the daughter of Iustice, the
510 chiefe of vertues, yet because he seeks to make men
511 good, rather formidine pœnæ, then virtutis amore:or
512 to say righter,doth not endeuor to make men good,
513 but that their euill hurt not others , hauing no care
514 so he be a good citizen,how bad a man he be. Ther-
515 fore as our wickednes maketh him necessarie , and
516 necessitie maketh him honorable , so is he not in the
517 deepest truth to stand in ranck with these,who al en-
518 deuour to take naughtinesse away, and plant good-
519 nesse euen in the secretest cabinet of our soules: and
520 these foure are all that any way deale in the conside-
521 ration of mens manners, which being the supreme
522 knowledge, they that best breed it, deserue the best
523 commendation. The Philosopher therefore, and the
524 Historian, are they which would win the goale, the
525 one by precept,the other by example: but both,not
526 hauing both,doo both halt. For the Philosopher set-
527 ting downe with thornie arguments, the bare rule,
528 is so hard of vtterance,and so mistie to be conceiued,
529 that one that hath no other guide but him ,shall
530 wade in him till he be old, before he shall finde suf-
531 ficient cause to be honest. For his knowledge stan-
532 deth so vpon the abstra{ct) and generall that happie is
533 that man who may vnderstand him, and more hap-
534 pie,that can apply what he doth vnderstand. On the
535 other side, the Historian wanting the precept, is so

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536 tied, not to what should be, but to what is, to the
537 particular truth of things, and not to the general rea-
538 son of things, that his example draweth no necessa-
539 rie consequence, and therefore a lesse fruitfull doc-
540 trine. Now doth the peerlesse Poet performe both,
541 for whatsoeuer the Philosopher saith should be done,
542 he giues a perfect picture of it by some one,by wh|om|
543 he presupposeth it was done, so as he coupleth the
544 generall notion with the particuler example. A per-
545 fect picture I say,for hee yeeldeth to the powers of
546 the minde an image of that whereof the Philosopher
547 bestoweth but a wordish description, which doth
548 neither strike, pearce, nor possesse, the sight of the
549 soule so much, as that other doth. For as in outward
550 things to a man that had neuer seene an Elephant,or a
551 Rinoceros , who should tell him most exquisitely all
552 their shape,cullour, bignesse, and particuler marks,
553 or of a gorgious pallace an Architecture,who decla-
554 ring the full bewties,might well make the hearer a-
555 ble to repeat as it were by roat all he had heard , yet
556 should neuer satisfie his inward conceit,with being
557 witnesse to it selfe of a true liuely knowledge : but
558 the same m|an|, assoon as he might see those beasts wel
559 painted,or that house wel in modell, shuld straight-
560 waies grow without need of any description to a iu-
561 dicial comprehending of them,so no doubt the Phi-
562 losopher with his learned definitions,be it of vertues
563 of vices,matters of publike policy or priuat gouern-
564 ment, replenisheth the memorie with many infalli-
565 ble grounds of wisdom, which notwithstanding lie
566 darke before the imaginatiue and iudging power, if
567 they be not illuminated or figured forth by the [[spea-]]

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568 ||spea||king picture of Poesie. Tully taketh much paines,and
569 many times not without Poeticall helpes to make vs
570 know the force,loue of our country hath in vs. Let
571 vs but heare old Anchices, speaking in the middest of
572 Troies flames, or see Vlisses in the fulnesse of all Ca-
573 lipsoes delightes , bewaile his absence from barraine
574 and beggerly Ithecæ. Anger the Stoickes said, was a
575 short madnesse : let but Sophocles bring you Aiax on
576 a stage,killing or whipping sheepe and oxen, thin-
577 king them the Army of Greekes, with their Chief-
578 taines Agamemnon , and Menelaus : and tell me if you
579 haue not a more familiar insight into Anger , then
580 finding in the schoolemen his Genus and Difference.
581 See whether wisdom and temperance in Vlisses and
582 Diomedes, valure in Achilles, friendship in Nisus and
583 Eurialus, euen to an ignorant man carry not an ap-
584 parant shining : and contrarily , the remorse of con-
585 science in Oedipus; the soone repenting pride in Aga-
586 memnon; the selfe deuouring crueltie in his father
587 Atreus ; the violence of ambition in the two Theban
588 brothers; the sower sweetnesse of reuenge in Medea;
589 and to fall lower,the Terentian Gnato,and our Chaw-
590 cers Pander so exprest, that we now vse their names,
591 to signifie their Trades : and finally, all vertues, vi-
592 ces , and passions, so in their owne naturall states,
593 laide to the view , that we seeme not to heare of
594 them , but clearly to see through them . But e-
595 uen in the most excellent determination of good-
596 nesse , what Philosophers counsaile can so readely
597 direct a Prince, as the feined Cirus in Xenophon,
598 or a vertuous man in all fortunes : as Aeneas in
599 Virgill, or a whole Common-wealth, as the Way

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600 of Sir Thomas Moores Eutopia. I say the Way, be-
601 cause where Sir Thomas Moore erred , it was the
602 fault of the man and not of the Poet : for that Way
603 of patterning a Common-wealth,was most absolute
604 though hee perchaunce hath not so absolutely
605 performed it. For the question is, whether the fai-
606 ned Image of Poetrie, or the reguler instruction
607 of Philosophie , hath the more force in teaching ?
608 Wherein if the Philosophers haue more rightly shew-
609 ed themselues Philosophers then the Poets,haue attei-
610 ned to the high toppe of their profession(as in truth
611 Mediocribus esse poetis non Dii,non homines,non concesse-
612 re columnæ, ) it is (I say againe) not the fault of the
613 Art,but that by fewe men that Art can be accompli-
614 shed. Certainly euen our Sauiour Christ could as
615 well haue giuen the morall comon places of vn-
616 charitablenesse and humblenesse,as the diuine nar-
617 ration of Diues and Lazarus, or of disobedience and
618 mercy, as that heauenly discourse of the lost childe
619 and the gracious Father, but that his through sear-
620 ching wisdome, knew the estate of Diues burning
621 in hell , and of Lazarus in Abrahams bosome, would
622 more constantly as it were, inhabit both the memo-
623 rie and iudgement. Truly for my selfe(mee seemes)
624 I see before mine eyes, the lost childs disdainful pro-
625 digalitie,turned to enuy a Swines dinner: which by
626 the learned Diuines are thought not Historical acts,
627 but instructing Parables. For conclusion, I say the
628 Philosopher teacheth,but he teacheth obscurely,so as
629 the learned onely can vnderstand him, that is to say,
630 he teacheth them that are alreadie taught. But the
631 Poet is the food for the tendrest stomacks,the Poet

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632 is indeed,the right populer Philosopher. Whereof
633 Esops Tales giue good proofe , whose prettie Alle-
634 gories stealing vnder the formall Tales of beastes,
635 makes many more beastly then beasts : begin to hear
636 the sound of vertue from those dumbe speakers.But
637 now may it be alleadged, that if this imagining of
638 matters be so fit for the imagination , then must the
639 Historian needs surpasse,who brings you images of
640 true matters,such as indeed were done, and not such
641 as fantastically or falsly may be suggested to haue bin
642 done.Truly Aristotle himselfe in his discourse of Poe-
643 sie,plainly determineth this questi|on|,saying,that Poe-
644 trie is philosoph{o}teron, and spoudaioteron, that is to say,it is more
645 Philosophicall and more then History.His reason is,
646 because Poesie dealeth with katholou, that is to say , with
647 the vniuersall consideration, and the Historie with
648 kath ekaston, the particular. Now saith he, the vniuersall
649 wayes what is fit to be said or done , either in likeli-
650 hood or necessitie , which the Poesie considereth in
651 his imposed names : and the particular onely mar-
652 keth whether Alcibiades did or suffered this or that.
653 Thus farre Aristotle. Which reason of his, as all his
654 is most full of reason.For indeed if the questi|on| were,
655 whether it were better to haue a particular act truly
656 or falsly set downe , there is no doubt which is to be
657 chosen,no more then whether you had rather haue
658 Vespacians Picture right as he was, or at the Painters
659 pleasure nothing resembling. But if the question be
660 for your owne vse and learning, whether it be bet-
661 ter to haue it set downe as it should be, or as it was ;
662 then certainly is more doctrinable, the fained Cyrus
663 in Xenophon , then the true Cyrus in Iustin : and the

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664 fained Aeneas in Virgill , then the right Aeneas in Da-
665 res Phrigius : as to a Ladie that desired to fashion her
666 countenance to the best grace: a Painter shuld more
667 benefite her to pourtrait a most sweete face, wri-
668 ting Canidia vppon it, then to paint Canidia as shee
669 was, who Horace sweareth was full ill fauoured. If
670 the Poet do his part aright, he wil shew you in Tan-
671 talus Atreus, and such like, nothing that is not to
672 be shunned ; in Cyrus,Aeneas,Vlisses, each thing
673 to be followed : where the Historian bound to tell
674 things as things were, cannot be liberall , without
675 hee will be Poeticall of a perfect patterne , but as in
676 Alexander , or Scipio himselfe, shew doings,some to
677 be liked,some to be misliked; and then how wil you
678 discerne what to follow, but by your own discreti|on|
679 which you had without reading Q. Curtius. And
680 whereas a man may say, though in vniuersall consi-
681 deration of doctrine,the Poet preuaileth,yet that the
682 Historie in his saying such a thing was done, doth
683 warrant a man more in that he shall follow. The an-
684 swere is manifest , that if he stand vpon that was , as
685 if he should argue,because it rained yesterday, ther-
686 fore it should raine to day, then indeede hath it
687 some aduantage to a grosse conceit . But if hee
688 knowe an example onely enformes a coniectured
689 likelihood , and so goe by reason , the Poet doth so
690 farre exceed him , as hee is to frame his example
691 to that which is most reasonable , be it in warlike,
692 politike, or priuate matters, where the Historian in
693 his bare, was, hath many times that which we call
694 fortune , to ouerrule the best wisedome . Manie
695 times he must tell euents , whereof he can yeeld no

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696 cause,or if he do,it must be poetically.For that a fai-
697 ned example hath as much force to teach, as a true
698 example (for as for to mooue, it is cleare, since the
699 fained may be tuned to the highest key of passion)
700 let vs take one example wherein an Historian and a
701 Poet did concurre. Herodotus and Iustin doth both
702 testifie, that Zopirus, King Darius faithfull seruant,
703 seeing his maister long resisted by the rebellious Ba-
704 bilonians,fained himselfe in extreame disgrace of his
705 King, for verifying of which , he caused his owne
706 nose and eares to be cut off , and so flying to the
707 Babylonians was receiued , and for his knowne va-
708 lure so farre creadited , that hee did finde meanes
709 to deliuer them ouer to Darius. Much like mat-
710 ter doth Liuy record of Tarquinius, and his sonne.
711 Xenophon excellently faineth such an other Strata-
712 geme, performed by Abradates in Cyrus behalfe.
713 Now would I faine knowe, if occasion be presen-
714 ted vnto you, to serue your Prince by such an ho-
715 nest dissimulation , why you do not as well learne
716 it of Xenophons fiction, as of the others veritie : and
717 truly so much the better, as you shall saue your nose
718 by the bargaine . For Abradates did not coun-
719 terfeyt so farre. So then the best of the Historian
720 is subiect to the Poet , for whatsoeuer action or
721 faction , whatsoeuer counsaile, pollicie, or warre,
722 stratageme , the Historian is bounde to recite, that
723 may the Poet if hee list with his imitation make his
724 owne ; bewtifying it both for further teaching,
725 and more delighting as it please him : hauing all
726 fr|om| Dante his heu|en| to his hell,vnder the authority of
727 his pen.Which if I be asked what Poets haue don for

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728 as I might wel name some,so yet say I,and say again,
729 I speake of the Art and not of the Artificer. Now to
730 that which commonly is attributed to the praise of
731 Historie,in respect of the notable learning,is got by
732 marking the successe,as though therein a man shuld
733 see vertue exalted,|&| vice punished: truly that com-
734 mendation is peculier to Poetrie,and farre off from
735 Historie ; for indeed Poetrie euer sets vertue so out
736 in her best cullours, making fortune her well-way-
737 ting handmayd, that one must needs be enamoured
738 of her. Well may you see Vlisses in a storme and in
739 other hard plights, but they are but exercises of pa-
740 tience |&| magnanimitie , to make th|em| shine the more
741 in the neare following prosperitie. And of the con-
742 trary part, if euill men come to the stage , they euer
743 goe out (as the Tragedie writer answered to one
744 that misliked the shew of such persons) so manicled
745 as they litle animate folkes to follow them. But the
746 Historie beeing captiued to the trueth of a foolish
747 world, is many times a terror from well-doing, and
748 an encouragement to vnbrideled wickednes. For
749 see we not valiant Milciades rot in his fetters ? The
750 iust Phocion and the accomplished Socrates , put to
751 death like Traytors? The cruell Seuerus , liue pros-
752 perously? The excellent Seuerus miserably murthe-
753 red ? Sylla and Marius dying in their beds ? Pompey
754 and Cicero slain then when they wold haue thought
755 exile happinesse? See we not vertuous Cato driuen
756 to kill himselfe, and Rebell Cæsar so aduanced, that
757 his name yet after 1600 . yeares lasteth in the high-
758 est honor? And marke but euen Cæsars owne words
759 of the forenamed Sylla, (who in that onely, did [[ho-]]

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760 ||ho||nestly to put downe his dishonest Tyrannie) Litte-
761 ras nesciuit: as if want of learning caused him to doo
762 well. He ment it not by Poetrie, which not content
763 with earthly plagues,deuiseth new punishments in
764 hell for Tyrants: nor yet by Philosophy,which tea-
765 cheth Occidentos esse,but no doubt by skill in History,
766 for that indeed can affoord you Cipselus, Periander,
767 Phalaris, Dionisius, and I know not how many more
768 of the same kennell, that speed well inough in their
769 abhominable iniustice of vsurpation. I conclude
770 therfore that he excelleth historie,not onely in fur-
771 nishing the minde with knowledge,but in setting it
772 forward to that which deserues to be called and ac-
773 counted good : which setting forward and mouing
774 to well doing , indeed setteth the Lawrell Crowne
775 vpon the Poets as victorious, not onely of the Histo-
776 rian, but ouer the Philosopher, howsoeuer in tea-
777 ching it may be questionable.For suppose it be gran-
778 ted, that which I suppose with great reason may be
779 denied, that the Philosopher in respect of his metho-
780 dical proceeding,teach more perfectly then the Po-
781 et , yet do I thinke , that no man is so much thilothilosothos,
782 as to compare the Philosopher in moouing with the
783 Poet. And that moouing is of a higher degree then
784 teaching, it may by this appeare, that it is well nigh
785 both the cause and effect of teaching. For who will
786 be taught , if hee be not mooued with desire to be
787 taught?And what so much good doth that teaching
788 bring foorth , (I speake still of morall doctrine) as
789 that it mooueth one to do that which it doth teach.
790 For as Aristotle saith,it is not gn{o}sis, but praksis must be
791 the frute : and how praksis can be without being [[mo-]]

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792 ||mo||ued to practise, it is no hard matter to consider. The
793 Philosopher sheweth you the way , hee enformeth
794 you of the particularities, as well of the tediousnes
795 of the way , as of the pleasaunt lodging you shall
796 haue when your iourney is ended , as of the ma-
797 ny by turnings that may diuert you from your way.
798 But this is to no man but to him that will reade
799 him , and reade him with attentiue studious pain-
800 fulnesse, which constant desire, whosoeuer hath in
801 him , hath alreadie past halfe the hardnesse of the
802 way : and therefore is beholding to the Philoso-
803 pher, but for the other halfe. Nat truly learned
804 men haue learnedly thought, that where once rea-
805 son hath so much ouer-mastered passion , as that
806 the minde hath a free desire to doo well , the in-
807 ward light each minde hath in it selfe, is as good
808 as a Philosophers booke, since in Nature we know
809 it is well , to doo well, and what is well, and what
810 is euill, although not in the wordes of Art which
811 Philosophers bestow vppon vs : for out of naturall
812 conceit the Philosophers drew it ; but to be moued
813 to doo that which wee know , or to be mooued
814 with desire to know. Hoc opus, hic labor est. Now
815 therein of all Sciences I speake still of humane (and
816 according to the humane conceit) is our Poet the
817 Monarch. For hee doth not onely shew the way,
818 but giueth so sweete a prospect into the way , as
819 will entice anie man to enter into it : Nay he doth
820 as if your iourney should lye through a faire vine-
821 yard, at the verie first, giue you a cluster of grapes,
822 that full of that taste , you may long to passe fur-
823 ther. Hee beginneth not with obscure [[definiti-]]

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824 ||definiti||ons, which must blurre the margent with inter-
825 pretations , and loade the memorie with doubt-
826 fulnesse : but hee commeth to you with words
827 set in delightfull proportion, either accompanied
828 with , or prepared for the well enchanting skill of
829 Musicke, and with a tale forsooth he commeth vn-
830 to you, with a tale, which holdeth children from
831 play, and olde men from the Chimney corner ; and
832 pretending no more,doth intend the winning of the
833 minde from wickednes to vertue; euen as the child
834 is often brought to take most wholesome things by
835 hiding them in such other as haue a pleasaunt taste:
836 which if one should begin to tell them the nature of
837 the Alloes or Rhabarbarum they should receiue,wold
838 sooner take their phisick at their eares then at their
839 mouth , so is it in men (most of which, are childish
840 in the best things,til they be cradled in their graues)
841 glad they will be to heare the tales of Hercules, Achil-
842 les, Cyrus, Aeneas, and hearing them, must needes
843 heare the right description of wisdom,value,and iu-
844 stice; which if they had bene barely (that is to say
845 Philosophically) set out, they would sweare they be
846 brought to schoole againe ; that imitation whereof
847 Poetrie is, hath the most conueniencie to nature of al
848 other : insomuch that as Aristotle saith,those things
849 which in themselues are horrible,as cruel battailes,
850 vnnatural monsters,are made in poeticall imitation,
851 delightfull. Truly I haue knowne men , that euen
852 with reading Amadis de gaule, which God knoweth,
853 wanteth much of a perfect Poesie, haue found their
854 hearts moued to the exercise of courtesie, liberali-
855 tie, and especially courage.Who readeth Aeneas car-
856 rying old Anchises on his backe, that wisheth not

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857 it were his fortune to performe so excellent an Act?
858 Whom doth not those words of Turnus mooue,
859 (the Tale of Turnus hauing planted his image in the
860 imagination) fugientem hæc terra videbit? Vsqueadeone
861 mori miserum est? Wher the Philosophers as they think
862 scorne to delight, so must they be content little to
863 mooue ; sauing wrangling whether Virtus be the
864 chiefe or the onely good ; whether the contempla-
865 tiue or the actiue life do excell; which Plato |&| Poe-
866 tius well knew : and therefore made mistresse Philo-
867 sophie verie often borrow the masking raiment of
868 Poesie. For euen those hard hearted euill men who
869 thinke vertue a schoole name, and know no other
870 good but indulgere genio, and therefore despise the
871 austere admonitions of the Philosopher, and feele not
872 the inward reason they stand vpon, yet will be con-
873 tent to be delighted , which is all the good,fellow
874 Poet seemes to promise ; and so steale to see the form
875 of goodnes, (which seene,they cannot but loue) ere
876 themselues be aware, as if they tooke a medicine of
877 Cheries. Infinit proofes of the straunge effects of
878 this Poeticall inuention, might be alleaged : onely
879 two shall serue, which are so often remembred, as
880 I thinke all men know them. The one of Menemus
881 Agrippa, who when the whole people of Rome had
882 resolutely diuided themselues from the Senate, with
883 apparant shew of vtter ruine, though he were for
884 that time an excellent Orator, came not am|on|g them
885 vpon trust either of figuratiue speeches, or cunning
886 insinuations, and much lesse with farre fet Maximes
887 of Philosophie, which especially if they were Pla-
888 tonicke , they must haue learned Geometrie before

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889 they could well haue conceiued : but forsooth, he
890 behaueth himselfe like a homely and familiar Poet.
891 He telleth them a tale, that there was a time , when
892 all the parts of the bodie made a mutinous conspira-
893 cie against the belly , which they thought deuoured
894 the frutes of each others labour : they concluded
895 they would let so vnprofitable a spender starue. In
896 the end, to be short, for the tale is notorious, and as
897 notorious that it was a tale, with punishing the bel-
898 ly they plagued themselues ; this applied by him,
899 wrought such effect in the people, as I neuer red,
900 that onely words brought foorth: but then so sud-
901 daine and so good an alteration,for vpon reasonable
902 conditions,a perfect reconcilement ensued. The o-
903 ther is of Nathan the Prophet, who when the holie
904 Dauid,had so farre forsaken God, as to confirme A-
905 dulterie with murther, when he was to do the ten-
906 drest office of a friend,in laying his owne shame be-
907 fore his eyes; sent by God to call againe so chosen a
908 seruant, how doth he it ? but by telling of a man
909 whose beloued lambe was vngratefully taken from
910 his bosome. The Application most diuinely true,
911 but the discourse it selfe fained; which made Dauid
912 (I speake of the second and instrumentall cause) as
913 in a glasse see his owne filthinesse, as that heauenly
914 Psalme of mercie well testifieth. By these therefore
915 examples and reasons, I thinke it may be manifest,
916 that the Poet with that same hand of delight , doth
917 draw the mind more effectually then any other Art
918 doth. And so a conclusion not vnfitly ensue, that as
919 vertue is the most excell|en|t resting placefor al world-
920 ly learning to make his end of, so Poetry being the

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921 most familiar to teach it, and most Princely to moue
922 towards it , in the most excellent worke, is the most
923 excellent workeman. But I am content not onely
924 to decipher him by his workes (although workes
925 in commendation and dispraise, must euer hold a
926 high authoritie) but more narrowly will examine
927 his parts, so that ( as in a man ) though altogither
928 may carrie a presence full of maiestie and bewtie,
929 perchance in some one defectuous peece we may
930 finde blemish : Now in his parts, kindes, or spe-
931 cies, as you list to tearme them , it is to be noted,
932 that some Poesies haue coupled togither two or three
933 kindes, as the Tragicall and Comicall, whereupon
934 is risen the Tragicomicall, some in the maner haue
935 mingled prose and verse, as Sanazara and Boetius;
936 some haue mingled matters Heroicall and Pastorall,
937 but that commeth all to one in this question, for
938 if seuered they be good, the coniunction cannot
939 be hurtfull : therefore perchance forgetting some,
940 and leauing some as needlesse to be remembred. It
941 shall not bee amisse , in a word to cite the speciall
942 kindes , to see what faults may be found in the right
943 vse of them. Is it then the Pastorall Poeme which is
944 misliked ? (For perchance where the hedge is low-
945 est they will soonest leape ouer) is the poore pipe
946 disdained, which somtimes out of Mælibeus mouth,
947 can shewe the miserie of people, vnder hard Lords
948 and rauening souldiers? And again by Titerus, what
949 blessednesse is deriued,to them that lie lowest, from
950 the goodnesse of them that sit highest ? Sometimes
951 vnder the prettie tales of Woolues and sheepe,can
952 enclude the whole considerations of wrong doing

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953 and patience; sometimes shew that contentions for
954 trifles,can get but a trifling victory,wher perchance
955 a man may see, that euen Alexander |&| Darius, when
956 they straue who should be Cocke of this worldes
957 dunghill,the benefit they got, was, that the afterli-
958 uers may say, Hæc memini |&| victum frustra contende-
959 re Thirsim. Ex illo Coridon, Coridon est tempore nobis.

960 Or is it the lamenting Elegiack , which in a kinde
961 heart would mooue rather pittie then blame, who
962 bewaileth with the great Philosopher Heraclitus,
963 the weakenesse of mankinde, and the wretched-
964 nesse of the world : who surely is to bee praised
965 either for compassionate accompanying iust cau-
966 ses of lamentations , or for nightlie painting out
967 how weake be the passions of wofulnesse ? Is it
968 the bitter but wholesome Iambick, who rubbes the
969 galled minde, in making shame the Trumpet of
970 villanie , with bolde and open crying out against
971 naughtinesse ? Or the Satirick, who Omne vafer vi-
972 tium ridenti tandit amico , who sportingly, neuer
973 leaueth, till he make a man laugh at follie; and at
974 length ashamed, to laugh at himself; which he can-
975 not auoyde, without auoyding the follie ? who
976 while Circum præcordia ludit, giueth vs to feele how
977 many headaches a passionate life bringeth vs to?
978 How when all is done, Est Vlubris animus si nos non
979 deficit aquus. No perchance it is the Comick, whom
980 naughtie Play-makers and stage-keepers,haue iust-
981 ly made odious. To the arguments of abuse, I will
982 after answer, onely thus much now is to be said, that
983 the Comedy is an imitati|on| of the c|om|mon errors of our
984 life,which he representeth in the most ridiculous |&|

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985 scornfull sort that may be : so as it is impossible that
986 any beholder can be content to be such a one. Now
987 as in Geometrie, the oblique must be knowne as well
988 as the right, and in Arithmetick, the odde as well as
989 the euen, so in the actions of our life, who seeth not
990 the filthinesse of euill, wanteth a great foile to per-
991 ceiue the bewtie of vertue. This doth the Comædie
992 handle so in our priuate and domesticall matters, as
993 with hearing it, wee get as it were an experience
994 what is to be looked for of a niggardly Demea , of a
995 craftie Dauus, of a flattering Gnato, of a vain-glori-
996 ous Thrasa: and not onely to know what effects are
997 to be expected, but to know who be such, by the
998 signifying badge giuen them by the Comædient.
999 And litle reason hath any man to say,that men learne
1000 the euill by seeing it so set out, since as I said before,
1001 there is no man liuing,but by the force truth hath in
1002 nature, no sooner seeth these men play their parts,
1003 but wisheth them in Pistrinum,although perchance
1004 the sack of his owne faults lie so behinde his backe,
1005 that he seeth not himselfe to dance the same measure:
1006 wherto yet nothing can more open his eies , then to
1007 see his owne actions contemptibly set forth. So that
1008 the right vse of Comædie , will I thinke , by no bodie
1009 be blamed; and much lesse of the high and excellent
1010 Tragedie, that openeth the greatest woundes , and
1011 sheweth forth the Vlcers that are couered with Tis
1012 sue, that maketh Kings feare to be Tyrants,and Ty-
1013 rants manifest their tyrannicall humours, that with
1014 sturring the affects of Admiration and Comiseration,
1015 teacheth the vncertaintie of this world , and vppon
1016 how weak foundations guilden roofes are builded:

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1017 that maketh vs know, Qui scæptra sæuus duro imperio
1018 regit, Timet timentes , metus in authorem redit. But
1019 how much it can moue, Plutarch yeeldeth a notable
1020 testimonie of the abhominable Tyrant Alexander
1021 Pheræus, from whose eyes a Tragedie well made and
1022 represented,drew abundance of teares, who with-
1023 out all pittie had murthered infinite numbers, and
1024 some of his owne bloud: so as he that was not asha-
1025 med to make matters for Tragedies , yet could not
1026 resist the sweete violence of a Tragedie. And if it
1027 wrought no further good in him, it was, that he in
1028 despight of himself, withdrew himselfe from hear-
1029 kening to that which might mollifie his hardened
1030 heart. But it is not the Tragedie they do mislike,
1031 for it were too absurd to cast our so excellent a re-
1032 presentation of whatsoeuer is most woorthie to be
1033 learned . Is it the Lyricke that moste displeaseth ,
1034 who with his tuned Lyre and well accorded voice,
1035 giueth praise , the reward of vertue , to vertuous
1036 acts ? who giueth morall preceptes and naturall
1037 Problemes , who sometime raiseth vp his voyce to
1038 the height of the heauens , in singing the laudes
1039 of the immortall God ? Certainly I must confesse
1040 mine owne barbarousnesse , I neuer heard the old
1041 Song of Percy and Duglas , that I founde not my
1042 heart mooued more then with a Trumpet ; and
1043 yet is it sung but by some blinde Crowder , with
1044 no rougher voyce , then rude stile : which being
1045 so euill apparelled in the dust and Cobwebbes of
1046 that vnciuill age , what would it worke,trimmed
1047 in the gorgious eloquence of Pindare? In Hunga-
1048 rie I haue seene it the manner at all Feastes and [[o-]]

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1049 ||o||ther such like meetings,to haue songs of their ance-
1050 stors valure, which that right souldierlike nation,
1051 think one of the chiefest kindlers of braue courage.
1052 The incomperable Lacedemonians , did not onelie
1053 carrie that kinde of Musicke euer with them to the
1054 field , but euen at home, as such songs were made,
1055 so were they all content to be singers of them:when
1056 the lustie men were to tell what they did, the old
1057 men what they had done, and the yoong what they
1058 would doo. And where a man may say that Pin-
1059 dare many times praiseth highly Victories of small
1060 moment, rather matters of sport then vertue, as it
1061 may be answered, it was the fault of thePoet , and
1062 not of the Poetrie; so indeed the chiefe fault was,
1063 in the time and custome of the Greekes , who set
1064 those toyes at so high a price, that Phillip of Ma-
1065 cedon reckoned a horse-race wonne at Olympus , a-
1066 mong his three fearefull felicities . But as the
1067 vnimitable Pindare often did , so is that kind most
1068 capable and most fit, to awake the thoughts from
1069 the sleepe of idlenesse , to embrace honourable en-
1070 terprises . Their rests the Heroicall , whose verie
1071 name I thinke should daunt all backbiters. For by
1072 what conceit can a tongue bee directed to speake
1073 euil of that which draweth with him no lesse cham-
1074 pions then Achilles,Cirus,Aeneas,Turnus,Ti-
1075 deus,Rinaldo, who doeth not onely teache and
1076 mooue to a truth, but teacheth and mooueth to
1077 the most high and excellent truth : who maketh
1078 magnanimitie and iustice, shine through all mistie
1079 fearefulnesse foggie desires. Who if the [[say-]]

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1080 ||say||ing of Plato and Tully bee true , that who could
1081 see vertue , woulde bee woonderfullie rauished
1082 with the loue of her bewtie . This man setteth
1083 her out to make her more louely in her holliday
1084 apparrell,to the eye of anie that will daine, not to
1085 disdaine vntill they vnderstand. But if any thing
1086 be alreadie said in the defence of sweete Poetrie, all
1087 concurreth to the mainteining the Heroicall, which
1088 is not onelie a kinde, but the best and most ac-
1089 complished kindes of Poetrie. For as the Image
1090 of each Action stirreth and instructeth the minde,
1091 so the loftie Image of such woorthies , moste en-
1092 flameth the minde with desire to bee woorthie:
1093 and enformes with counsaile how to bee woor-
1094 thie. Onely let Aeneas bee worne in the Ta-
1095 blet of your memorie, how hee gouerneth him-
1096 selfe in the ruine of his Countrey, in the preser-
1097 uing his olde Father, and carrying away his re-
1098 ligious Ceremonies, in obeying Gods Commaun-
1099 ment, to leaue Dido , though not onelie all pas-
1100 sionate kindnesse , but euen the humane conside-
1101 ration of vertuous gratefulnesse, would haue cra-
1102 ued other of him : how in stormes, how in sports,
1103 how in warre , how in peace , how a fugitiue,
1104 how victorious , how besieged , how besieging,
1105 how to straungers , how to Allies , how to ene-
1106 mies , how to his owne. Lastly , how in his in-
1107 warde selfe , and howe in his outward gouern-
1108 ment , and I thinke in a minde moste preiudiced
1109 with a preiudicating humour , Hee will bee
1110 founde in excellencie fruitefull . Yea as Horace

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1111 saith , Melius Chrisippo |&| Crantore : but truly I ima-
1112 gin it falleth out with these Poet-whippers, as with
1113 some good women who often are sicke,but in faith
1114 they cannot tel where.So the name of Poetrie is odi-
1115 ous to them, but neither his cause nor effects, nei-
1116 ther the summe that containes him,nor the particu-
1117 larities descending from him,giue any fast handle to
1118 their carping dispraise. Since then Poetrie is of al hu-
1119 mane learnings the most ancient,and of most father-
1120 ly antiquitie, as from whence other learnings haue
1121 taken their beginnings ; Since it is so vniuersall , that
1122 no learned nation doth despise it, nor barbarous na-
1123 tion is without it ; Since both Romane |&| Greeke gaue
1124 such diuine names vnto it,the one of prophesying,
1125 the other of making ; and that indeed that name of
1126 making is fit for him,considering, that where all o-
1127 ther Arts retain themselues within their subiect,and
1128 receiue as it were their being from it. The Poet one-
1129 ly,onely bringeth his own stuffe,and doth not learn
1130 a Conceit out of a matter, but maketh matter for a
1131 Conceit.Since neither his description,nor end,con-
1132 taining any euill,the thing described cannot be euil;
1133 since his effects be so good as to teach goodnes, and
1134 delight the learners of it; since therein (namely in
1135 morall doctrine the chiefe of all knowledges) hee
1136 doth not onely farre passe the Historian , but for in-
1137 structing is well nigh comparable to the Philosopher,
1138 for mouing, leaueth him behind him.Since the ho-
1139 ly scripture (wherein there is no vncleannesse) hath
1140 whole parts in it Poeticall,and that euen our Sauior
1141 Christ vouchsafed to vse the flowers of it : since all
1142 his kindes are not onely in their vnited formes , but

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1143 in their seuered dissections fully commendable , I
1144 thinke, ( and thinke I thinke rightly ) the Lawrell
1145 Crowne appointed for tryumphant Captaines,doth
1146 worthily of all other learnings,honour the Poets tri-
1147 umph.But bicause we haue eares as well as toongs,
1148 and that the lightest reasons that may be , will seeme
1149 to waigh greatly, if nothing be put in the counter-
1150 ballance, let vs heare,and as well as we can,ponder
1151 what obiections be made against this Art , which
1152 may be woorthie either of yeelding, or answering.
1153 First truly I note,not onely in these misomousoi, Poet-ha-
1154 ters, but in all that kind of people who seek a praise,
1155 by dispraising others,that they do prodigally sp|en|d
1156 a great many wandring words in quips and scoffes,
1157 carping and taunting at each thing, which by stur-
1158 ring the spleene, may staie the brain from a through
1159 beholding the worthinesse of the subiect. Those
1160 kind of obiections,as they are full or a verie idle ea-
1161 sinesse,since there is nothing of so sacred a maiestie,
1162 but that an itching toong may rub it selfe vpon it, so
1163 deserue they no other answer, but in steed of laugh-
1164 ing at the ieast, to laugh at the ieaster. We know a
1165 playing wit can praise the discretion of an Asse, the
1166 comfortablenes of being in debt,and the iolly com-
1167 modities of being sicke of the plague.So of the con-
1168 trary side,if we will turne Ouids verse, Vt lateat vir-
1169 tus, prox imitate mali, that good lye hid,in nearnesse
1170 of the euill. Agrippa will be as mery in shewing the
1171 vanitie of Science,as Erasmus was in the commen-
1172 ding of folly : neither shal any man or matter,escape
1173 some touch of these smiling Raylers. But for Eras-
1174 mus and Agrippa,they had an other foundation then

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1175 the superficiall part would promise. Marry these o-
1176 ther pleasaunt fault-finders , who will correct the
1177 Verbe, before they vnderstand the Nowne, and con-
1178 fute others knowledge,before they confirme their
1179 owne, I would haue them onely remember, that
1180 scoffing commeth not of wisedome ; so as the best
1181 title in true English they get with their meriments,
1182 is to be called good fooles : for so haue our graue
1183 forefathers euer tearmed that humorous kinde of
1184 iesters.But that which giueth greatest scope to their
1185 scorning humor , is ryming and versing. It is alrea-
1186 die said (and as I thinke truly said) it is not ryming
1187 and versing that maketh Poesie: One may be a Poet
1188 without versing,and a versefier without Poetrie. But
1189 yet presuppose it were inseperable, as indeed it see-
1190 meth Scalliger iudgeth truly, it were an inseperable
1191 commendation. For if Oratio, next to Ratio, Speech
1192 next to Reason , be the greatest gift bestowed vpon
1193 Mortalitie, that cannot bee praiselesse, which doth
1194 most polish that blessing of speech ; which conside-
1195 reth each word not onely as a man may say by his
1196 forcible qualitie, but by his best measured quantity:
1197 carrying euen in themselues a Harmonie, without
1198 perchance number, measure, order, proportion, be
1199 in our time growne odious. But laie aside the iust
1200 praise it hath, by being the onely fit speech for Mu-
1201 sicke, (Musicke I say the most diuine striker of the sen-
1202 ses) Thus much is vndoubtedly true, that if rea-
1203 ding be foolish without remembring, Memorie be-
1204 ing the onely treasure of knowledge , those words
1205 which are fittest for memory,are likewise most con-
1206 uenient for knowledge. Now that Verse far [[excee-]]

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1207 ||excee||deth Prose, in the knitting vp of the memorie, the
1208 reason is manifest, the words (besides their delight,
1209 which hath a great affinitie to memorie) being so set
1210 as one cannot be lost, but the whole woorke failes:
1211 which accusing it selfe , calleth the remembrance
1212 back to it selfe , and so most strongly confirmeth it.
1213 Besides one word , so as it were begetting an other,
1214 as be it in rime or measured verse,by the former a m|an|
1215 shall haue a neare gesse to the follower. Lastly euen
1216 they that haue taught the Art of memory,haue she-
1217 wed nothing so apt for it,as a certain roome diuided
1218 into many places,well |&| throughly knowne: Now
1219 that hath the verse in effect perfectly, euerie word
1220 hauing his natural seat, which seat must needs make
1221 the word remembred. But what needes more in a
1222 thing so knowne to all men. Who is it that euer was
1223 scholler, that doth not carry away som verses of Vir-
1224 gil, Horace, or Cato, which in his youth hee learned,
1225 and eu|en| to his old age serue him for hourely lessons;
1226 as Percontatorem fugito nam garrulus idem est, Dum tibi
1227 quis|que| placet credula turba sumas. But the fitnes it hath
1228 for memorie, is notably prooued by all deliuerie of
1229 Arts , wherein for the most part, from Grammer, to
1230 Logick, Mathematickes, Phisick, and the rest,the Rules
1231 chiefly necessaie to be borne away, are compiled in
1232 verses. So that verse being in it selfe sweet and order-
1233 ly,and being best for memorie,the onely handle of
1234 knowledge, it must be in iest that any man can speak
1235 against it. Now then goe we to the most important
1236 imputations laid to the poore Poets,for ought I can
1237 yet learne, they are these. First that there beeing
1238 manie other more frutefull knowledges , a man

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1239 might better spend his time in them, then in this.
1240 Secondly, that it is the mother of lyes. Thirdly, that
1241 it is the nurse of abuse,infecting vs with many pesti-
1242 lent desires, with a Sirens sweetnesse, drawing the
1243 minde to the Serpents taile of sinfull fansies ; and
1244 herein especially Comedies giue the largest field to
1245 eare, as Chawcer saith, how both in other nations and
1246 in ours, before Poets did soften vs , we were full of
1247 courage giu|en| to martial exercises,the pillers of man-
1248 like libertie,and not lulled a sleepe in shadie idlenes,
1249 with Poets pastimes. And lastly and chiefly,they cry
1250 out with open mouth as if they had ouershot Robin-
1251 hood, that Plato banished them out of his Common-
1252 wealth. Truly this is much, if there be much truth
1253 in it. First to the first. That a man might better spend
1254 his time,is a reason indeed : but it doth as they say,
1255 but petere principium. For if it be, as I affirme, that
1256 no learning is so good, as that which teacheth and
1257 moueth to vertue,and that none can both teach and
1258 moue thereto so much as Poesie, then is the conclu-
1259 sion manifest ; that incke and paper cannot be to a
1260 more profitable purpose imployed. And certainly
1261 though a man should graunt their first assumption,
1262 it should follow (mee thinks) very vnwillingly, that
1263 good is not good, because better is better. But I still
1264 and vtterly deny, that there is sprung out of earth a
1265 more fruitfull knowledge. To the second therfore,
1266 that they should be the principall lyers, I answere
1267 Paradoxically, but truly,I think truly : that of all wri-
1268 ters vnder the Sunne , the Poet is the least lyer : and
1269 though he wold,as a Poet can scarcely be a lyer. The
1270 Astronomer with his cousin the Geometrician , can

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1271 hardly escape, when they take vpon them to mea-
1272 sure the height of the starres.How often thinke you
1273 do the Phisitians lie , when they auerre things good
1274 for sicknesses, which afterwards send Charon a great
1275 number of soules drownd in a potion, before they
1276 come to his Ferrie? And no lesse of the rest , which
1277 take vpon them to affirme.Now for the Poet,he no-
1278 thing affirmeth, and therefore neuer lieth : for as I
1279 take it , to lie, is to affirme that to bee true, which is
1280 false. So as the other Artistes, and especially the Hi-
1281 storian, affirming manie things, can in the clowdie
1282 knowledge of mankinde,hardly escape from manie
1283 lies.But the Poet as I said before,neuer affirmeth, the
1284 Poet neuer maketh any Circles about your imagina-
1285 ti|on|,to coniure you to beleeue for true,what he wri-
1286 teth:he citeth not authorities of other histories,but
1287 eu|en| for his entrie,calleth the sweete Muses to inspire
1288 vnto him a good inuention.In troth, not laboring to
1289 tel you what is,or is not,but what should,or should
1290 not be. And therefore though he recount things not
1291 true, yet because he telleth them not for true, he li-
1292 eth not : without we will say,that Nathan lied in his
1293 speech before alleaged to Dauid, which as a wicked
1294 man durst scarce say,so think I none so simple, wold
1295 say,that Esope lied,in the tales of his beasts:for who
1296 thinketh that Esope wrote it for actually true, were
1297 wel worthie to haue his name Cronicled among the
1298 beasts he writeth of.What childe is there, that com-
1299 ming to a play,and seeing Thebes written in great let-
1300 ters vpon an old doore , doth beleeue that it is The-
1301 bes? If then a man can arriue to the childes age, to
1302 know that the Poets persons and dooings, are but

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1303 pictures,what should be,and not stories what haue
1304 bin, they will neuer giue the lie to things not Affir-
1305 matiuely , but Allegorically and figuratiuely writ-
1306 ten; and therefore as is historie looking for truth,
1307 they may go away full fraught with falshood : So
1308 in Poesie, looking but for fiction , they shall vse the
1309 narration but as an imaginatiue groundplat of a
1310 profitable inuention.But hereto is replied, that the
1311 Poets giue names to men they write of, which ar-
1312 gueth a conceit of an actual truth, and so not be-
1313 ing true , prooueth a falshood . And dooth the
1314 Lawier lye, then when vnder the names of Iohn of
1315 the Stile, and Iohn of the Nokes , hee putteth his
1316 Case ? But that is easily answered , their naming
1317 of men , is but to make their picture the more liue-
1318 ly , and not to build anie Historie. Painting men,
1319 they cannot leaue men namelesse : wee see, wee
1320 cannot plaie at Chestes , but that wee must giue
1321 names to our Chessemen ; and yet mee thinkes he
1322 were a verie partiall Champion of truth,that would
1323 say wee lyed, for giuing a peece of wood the re-
1324 uerende title of a Bishop. The Poet nameth Cy-
1325 rus and Aeneas, no other way , then to shewe
1326 what men of their fames , fortunes , and estates,
1327 should doo. Their third is , how much it abu-
1328 seth mens wit, training it to wanton sinfulnesse,
1329 and lustfull loue. For indeed that is the principall
1330 if not onely abuse, I can heare alleadged. They say
1331 the Comedies rather teach then reprehend amorous
1332 c|on|ceits. They say the Lirick is larded with passionat
1333 Sonets, the Elegiack weeps the want of his mistresse,
1334 and that euen to the Heroical Cupid hath ambitiously

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1335 climed. Alas Loue, I would thou couldest as wel de-
1336 fend thy selfe, as thou canst offend others: I would
1337 those on whom thou doest attend , could either put
1338 thee away, or yeeld good reason why they keepe
1339 thee. But grant loue of bewtie to be a beastly fault,
1340 although it be verie hard , since onely man and no
1341 beast hath that gift to discerne bewtie, graunt that
1342 louely name of loue to deserue all hatefull repro-
1343 ches, although euen some of my maisters the Philo-
1344 sophers spent a good deale of their Lampoyle in set-
1345 ting foorth the excellencie of it, graunt I say, what
1346 they will haue graunted, that not onelie loue, but
1347 lust, but vanitie , but if they list scurrilitie , possesse
1348 manie leaues of the Poets bookes , yet thinke I,
1349 when this is graunted , they will finde their sen-
1350 tence may with good manners put the last words
1351 foremost ; and not say , that Poetrie abuseth mans
1352 wit, but that mans wit abuseth Poetrie. For I will
1353 not denie , but that mans wit may make Poesie,
1354 which should be eikastik{ee} which some learned haue
1355 defined figuring foorth good things to be thantastik{ee}
1356 which doth contrariwise infect the fancie with vn-
1357 woorthie obiects , as the Painter should giue to
1358 the eye either some excellent perspectiue, or some
1359 fine Picture fit for building or fortification , or
1360 containing in it some notable example , as Abra-
1361 ham sacrificing his sonne Isaack , Iudith killing Ho-
1362 lofernes , Dauid fighting with Golias,may leaue those,
1363 and please an ill pleased eye with wanton shewes
1364 of better hidd|en| matters.But what,shal the abuse of a
1365 thing, make the right vse odious? Nay truly though

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1366 I yeeld,that Poesie may not onely be abused, but that
1367 being abused by the reason of his sweete charming
1368 force, it can do more hurt then anie other armie of
1369 words : yet shall it be so farre from concluding, that
1370 the abuse should giue reproach to the abused , that
1371 c|on|trariwise,it is a good reason, that whatsoeuer be-
1372 ing abused,doth most harme,being rightly vsed (and
1373 vpon the right vse, ech thing receiues his title) doth
1374 most good. Do we not see skill of Phisicke the best
1375 ramper to our often assaulted bodies,being abused,
1376 teach poyson the most violent destroyer ? Doth not
1377 knowledge of Law, whose end is , to euen |&| right
1378 all things,being abused,grow the crooked fosterer
1379 of horrible iniuries? Doth not (to go to the highest)
1380 Gods word abused, breede heresie, and his name a-
1381 bused, become blasphemie? Truly a Needle cannot
1382 do much hurt, and as truly (with leaue of Ladies be
1383 it spoken) it cannot do much good. With a swoord
1384 thou maist kill thy Father, and with a swoord thou
1385 maist defende thy Prince and Countrey: so that,as in
1386 their calling Poets,fathers of lies,they said nothing ,
1387 so in this their argument of abuse, they prooue the
1388 commendation. They alledge herewith,that before
1389 Poets began to be in price, our Nation had set their
1390 hearts delight vppon action, and not imagination,
1391 rather doing things worthie to be written, th|en| wri-
1392 ting things fit to be done. What that before time
1393 was, I think scarcely Spinx can tell : since no meme-
1394 rie is so ancient , that hath not the precedens of Poe-
1395 trie. And certain it is, that in our plainest homelines,
1396 yet neuer was the Albion Nation without Poetrie.
1397 Marry this Argument , thou it be leuiled against

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1398 Poetrie, yet is it indeed a chain-shot against all lear-
1399 ning or bookishnes,as they commonly terme it. Of
1400 such mind were certaine Gothes, of whom it is writ-
1401 ten,that hauing in the spoile of a famous Cittie, ta-
1402 ken a faire Librarie, one hangman belike fit to exe-
1403 cute the frutes of their wits,who had murthered a
1404 great number of bodies , would haue set fire in it.
1405 No said an other verie grauely,take heed what you
1406 do, for while they are busie about those toyes, wee
1407 shall with more leisure conquere their Countries.
1408 This indeed is the ordinarie doctrine of ignorance,
1409 and many words sometimes I haue heard spent in
1410 it:but bicause this reason is generally against al lear-
1411 ning,as wel as Poetrie,or rather all learning but Poe-
1412 trie,because it were too large a digression to handle
1413 it, or at least too superfluous,since it is manifest that
1414 all gouernment of action is to be gotten by know-
1415 ledge, and knowledge best , by gathering manie
1416 knowledges, which is reading; I onely with Horace,
1417 to him that is of that opinion, Iubio stultum esse liben-
1418 ter: for as for Poetrie it selfe , it is the freest from this
1419 obiection, for Poetrie is the Companion of Camps.
1420 I dare vndertake,Orlando Furioso,or honest king Ar-
1421 thure, will neuer displease a souldier : but the quid-
1422 ditie of Ens |&| Prima materia, will hardly agree with
1423 a Corcelet. And therefore as I said in the beginning,
1424 euen Turkes and Tartars, are delighted with Poets.
1425 Homer a Creeke, flourished,before Greece flourished :
1426 and if to a slight coniecture , a coniecture may bee
1427 apposed, truly it may seem,that as by him their lear-
1428 ned m|en| tooke almost their first light of knowledge,
1429 so their actiue men, receiued their first motions of

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1430 courage. Onely Alexanders example may serue,
1431 who by Plutarche is accounted of such vertue, that
1432 fortune was not his guide , but his footestoole,
1433 whose Acts speake for him, though Plutarche did
1434 not : indeede the Phœnix of warlike Princes. This
1435 Alexander , left his Schoolemaister liuing Ari-
1436 stotle behinde him , but tooke dead Homer with
1437 him. Hee put the Philosopher Callisthenes to death,
1438 for his seeming Philosophicall , indeed mutinous
1439 stubbornnesse , but the chiefe thing hee was euer
1440 heard to wish for, was, that Homer had bene aliue.
1441 Hee well founde hee receiued more brauerie of
1442 minde by paterne of Achilles, then by hearing
1443 the definition of fortitude. And therefore if Ca-
1444 to misliked Fuluius for carrying Ennius with him
1445 to the field, It may be answered, that if Cato misli-
1446 ked it , the Noble Fuluius liked it , or else he had
1447 not done it ; for it was not the excellent Cato Vti-
1448 cencis, whose authoritie I would much more haue
1449 reuerenced : But it was the former , in truth a bit-
1450 ter punisher of faultes , but else a man that had ne-
1451 uer sacrificed to the Graces. Hee misliked and cri-
1452 ed out against all Greeke learning , and yet being
1453 foure score yeares olde beganne to learne it , be-
1454 like fearing that Pluto vnderstood not Latine. In-
1455 deed the Romane lawes allowed no person to bee
1456 carried to the warres , but hee that was in the soul-
1457 diers Role. And therefore though Cato misliked
1458 his vnmustred person , he misliked not his worke.
1459 And if hee had, Scipio Nasica (iudged by common
1460 consent the best Romane) loued him : both the other
1461 Scipio brothers, who had by their vertues no lesse

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1462 surnames then of Asia and Affricke,so loued him,
1463 that they caused his bodie to be buried in their Se-
1464 pulture. So as Catoes authoritie beeing but against
1465 his person , and that answered with so farre grea-
1466 ter then himselfe , is herein of no validitie. But
1467 now indeede my burthen is great , that Plato his
1468 name is laide vppon mee , whom I must confesse
1469 of all Philosophers, I haue euer esteemed most wor-
1470 thie of reuerence ; and with good reason, since of
1471 all Philosophers hee is the most Poeticall : yet if hee
1472 will defile the fountaine out of which his flowing
1473 streames haue proceeded , let vs boldly examine
1474 with what reasons hee did it . First truly a man
1475 might maliciously obiect, that Plato being a Philo-
1476 sopher, was a naturall enemy of Poets. For indeede
1477 after the Philosophers had picked out of the sweete
1478 misteries of Poetrie, the right discerning true points
1479 of knowledge : they foorthwith putting it in me-
1480 thode, and making a Schoole Art of that which the
1481 Poets did onely teach by a diuine delightfulnes, be-
1482 ginning to spurne at their guides , like vngratefull
1483 Prentices, were not content to set vp shop for them-
1484 selues , but sought by all meanes to discredit their
1485 maisters, which by the force of delight being bar-
1486 red them, the lesse they could ouerthrow them, the
1487 more they hated them. For indeed they found for
1488 Homer, seuen Cities straue who should haue him for
1489 their Cittizen, where many Cities banished Philoso-
1490 phers, as not fit members to liue among them. For
1491 onely repeating certaine of Euripides verses, ma-
1492 ny Atheniens had their liues saued of the Sira-
1493 cusans; where the Atheniens themselues thought

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1494 many Philosophers vnworthie to liue. Certaine Po-
1495 ets,as Simonides, and Pindarus, had so preuailed with
1496 Hiero the first, that of a Tyrant they made him a iust
1497 King : where Plato could do so little with Dionisius,
1498 that he himselfe of a Philosopher , was made a slaue.
1499 But who should do thus, I confesse should requite
1500 the obiections made against Poets , with like cauil-
1501 lations against Philosophers : as likewise one should
1502 do , that should bid one read Phædrus or Simposium
1503 in Plato, or the discourse of loue in Plutarch, and see
1504 whether any Poet do authorise abhominable filthi-
1505 nesse as they doo. Againe, a man might aske,out of
1506 what Common-wealth Plato doth banish them , in
1507 sooth, thence where he himselfe alloweth commu-
1508 nitie of women. So as belike this banishment grew
1509 not for effeminate wantonnesse, since little should
1510 Poetical Sonnets be hurtful,when a man might haue
1511 what woman he listed. But I honor Philosophicall
1512 instructions, and blesse the wits which bred them:
1513 so as they be not abused,which is likewise stretched
1514 to Poetrie. |S.| Paul himselfe sets a watch-word vppon
1515 Philosophie , indeed vppon the abuse. So doth Plato
1516 vppon the abuse, not vpon Poetrie. Plato found fault
1517 that the Poettes of his time , filled the worlde with
1518 wrng opinions of the Gods , making light tales of
1519 that vnspotted essence ; and therfore wold not haue
1520 the youth depraued with such opinions : heerein
1521 may much be said ; let this suffice. The Poets did not
1522 induce such opinions , but did imitate those opini-
1523 ons alreadie induced. For all the Greeke stories can
1524 well testifie,that the verie religi|on| of that time,stood
1525 vpon many,and many fashioned Gods:Not taught

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1526 so by Poets, but followed according to their nature
1527 of imitation. Who list may read in Plutarch, the dis-
1528 courses of Isis and Osiis , of the cause why Oracles
1529 ceased,of the diuine prouidence, |&| see whether the
1530 Theology of that nation,stood not vpon such dreams,
1531 which the Poets indeede superstitiously obserued.
1532 And truly since they had not the light of Christ, did
1533 much better in it,then the Philosophers,who shaking
1534 off superstition,brought in Atheisme. Plato therfore,
1535 whose authoritie, I had much rather iustly c|on|sture,
1536 then vniustly resist: ment not in generall of Poets, in
1537 those words of which Iulius Scaliger saith ; Qua au-
1538 thoritate barbari quidam at|que| hispidi abuti velint ad poe-
1539 tas |&| è rep. Exigendos.But only ment to driue out those
1540 wrong opinions of the Deitie : wherof now with-
1541 out further law,Christianitie hath taken away all the
1542 hurtful beliefe,perchance as he thought nourished
1543 by then esteemed Poets. And a man need go no fur-
1544 ther then to Plato himselfe to knowe his meaning:
1545 who in his Dialogue called Ion , giueth high , and
1546 rightly, diuine commendation vnto Poetrie. So as
1547 Plato banishing the abuse, not the thing, not bani-
1548 shing it, but giuing due honour to it , shall be our
1549 Patron, and not our aduersarie. For indeed , I had
1550 much rather, since truly I may do it, shew their mi-
1551 staking of Plato, vnder whose Lyons skinne, they
1552 would make an Aslike braying against Poesie , then
1553 go about to ouerthrow his authoritie ; whome the
1554 wiser a man is , the more iust cause he shall finde to
1555 haue in admiration : especially since he attributeth
1556 vnto Poesie, more then my selfe do ; namely, to be a
1557 verie inspiring of a diuine force, farre aboue mans

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1558 wit,as in the forenamed Dialogue is apparant. Of
1559 the other side,who would shew the honours haue
1560 bene by the best sort of iudgements graunted them,
1561 a whole sea of examples woulde present them-
1562 selues; Alexanders , Cæsars,Scipioes, all fauourers
1563 of Poets : Lælius, called the Romane Socrates him-
1564 selfe a Poet ; so as part of Heautontimoroumenon in
1565 Terrace, was supposed to bee made by him. And
1566 euen the Greeke Socrates , whome Appollo con-
1567 firmed to bee the onely wise man , is said to haue
1568 spent part of his olde time in putting Esopes Fa-
1569 bles into verses. And therefore full euill should
1570 it become his scholler Plato, to put such words in
1571 his maisters mouth against Poets. But what needs
1572 more ? Aristotle writes the Arte of Poesie , and
1573 why, if it should not bee written ? Plutarche tea-
1574 cheth the vse to bee gathered of them, and how,
1575 if they should not bee reade ? And who reades
1576 Plutarches either Historie or Philosophie, shall finde
1577 hee trimmeth both their garments with gardes of
1578 Poesie. But I list not to defend Poesie with the helpe
1579 of his vnderling Historiographie . Let it suffice to
1580 haue shewed, it is a fit soyle for praise to dwell vp-
1581 pon : and what dispraise may set vppon it , is ei-
1582 ther easily ouercome,or transformed into iust com-
1583 mendation. So that since the excellencies of it,
1584 may bee so easily and so iustly confirmed, and the
1585 lowe creeping obiections so soone trodden downe,
1586 it not beeing an Art of lyes, but of true doctrine;
1587 not of effœminatenesse, but of notable stirring of
1588 courage; not of abusing mans wit, but of strengthe-
1589 ning mans wit;not banished,but honored by Plato;

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1590 Let vs rather plant more Lawrels for to ingarland
1591 the Poets heads (which honor of being Lawreate,
1592 as besides them onely triumphant Captaines were,
1593 is a sufficient authoritie to shewe the price they
1594 ought to bee held in ) then suffer the ill sauoured
1595 breath of such wrong speakers once to blow vp-
1596 pon the cleare springs of Poesie. But since I haue
1597 runne so long a Carrier in this matter, methinkes
1598 before I giue my penne a full stoppe, it shall be
1599 but a litle more lost time, to enquire why England
1600 the Mother of excellent mindes should be growne
1601 so hard a stepmother to Poets , who certainely in
1602 wit ought to passe all others , since all onely pro-
1603 ceedes from their wit , beeing indeed makers of
1604 themselues, not takers of others. How can I but
1605 exclaime. Musa mihi causas memoria quo numine
1606 læso, Sweete Poesie that hath aunciently had Kings,
1607 Emperours, Senatours, great Captaines, such as
1608 besides a thousandes others, Dauid, Adrian, So-
1609 phocles, Germanicus, not onelie to fauour Poets, but
1610 to bee Poets : and of our nearer times, can present
1611 for her Patrons , a Robert King of Scicill, the great
1612 King Fraunces of Fraunce, King Iames of Scotland;
1613 such Cardinalls as Bembus , and Bibiena ; suche fa-
1614 mous Preachers and Teachers , as Beza and Me-
1615 lanchthon ; so learned Philosophers , as Fracasto-
1616 rius , and Scaliger ; so great Orators, as Pontanus,
1617 and Muretus ; so pearcing wits , as George Bucha-
1618 nan ; so graue Cousailours , as besides manie,
1619 but before all , the Hospitall of Fraunce ; then
1620 whome I thinke that Realme neuer brought forth

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1621 a more accomplished iudgement,more firmly buil-
1622 ded vp|on| vertue:I say these with numbers of others,
1623 not onely to read others Poesies, but to poetise for o-
1624 thers reading ; that Poesie thus embraced in all other
1625 places, should onely finde in our time a hard wel-
1626 come in England.I thinke the verie earth laments it,
1627 and therefore deckes our soyle with fewer Lawrels
1628 then it was accustomed.For heretofore, Poets haue
1629 in England also flourished : and which is to be no-
1630 ted,euen in those times when the Trumpet of Mars
1631 did sonnd lowdest. And now that an ouer faint qui-
1632 etnesse should seeme to strowe the house for Poets.
1633 They are almost in as good reputation,as the Moun-
1634 tebanckes at Venice. Truly euen that,as of the one side
1635 it giueth great praise to Poesie, which like Venus(but
1636 to better purpose) had rather be troubled in the net
1637 with Mars,then enioy the homely quiet of Vulcan.
1638 So serueth it for a peece of a reas|on|,why they are lesse
1639 gratefull to idle England,which now can scarce en-
1640 dure the paine of a penne. Vpon this necessarily fol-
1641 loweth,that base men with seruill wits vndertake it,
1642 who thinke it inough if they can be rewarded of the
1643 Printer:and so as Epaminandas is said with the honor
1644 of his vertue to haue made an Office, by his exerci-
1645 sing it, which before was contemtible, to become
1646 highly respected : so these men no more but setting
1647 their names to it, by their own disgracefulnesse, dis-
1648 grace the most gracefull Poesie. For now as if all the
1649 Muses were got with childe, to bring forth bastard
1650 Poets : without any commission,they do passe ouer
1651 the Bankes of Helicon , till they make the Readers
1652 more wearie then Post-horses : while in the meane

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1653 time, they Queis meliore luto finxit præcordia Titan,,
1654 are better content to suppresse the out-flowings of
1655 their wit,then by publishing them,to be accounted
1656 Knights of the same order. But I that before euer I
1657 durst aspire vnto the dignitie , am admitted into the
1658 companie of the Paper-blurrers , do finde the verie
1659 true cause of our wanting estimation, is want of de-
1660 sert, taking vppon vs to be Poets,in despite of Pallas.
1661 Now wherein we want desert, were a thankwoor-
1662 thie labour to expresse. But if I knew I should haue
1663 mended my selfe, but as I neuer desired the title, so
1664 haue I neglected the meanes to come by it , onely
1665 ouer-mastered by some thoughts,I yeelded an inc-
1666 kie tribute vnto them. Marrie they that delight in
1667 Poesie it selfe,should seek to know what they do,and
1668 how they do: and especially looke themselues in an
1669 vnflattering glasse of reason , if they be enclinable
1670 vnto it. For Poesie must not be drawne by the eares,
1671 it must be gently led , or rather it must lead, which
1672 was partly the cause that made the auncient learned
1673 affirme,it was a diuine gift |&| no humane skil;since
1674 all other knowledges lie readie for anie that haue
1675 strength of wit : A Poet no industrie can make,if his
1676 owne Genius be not carried into it. And therefore is
1677 an old Prouerbe, Orator fit, Pœta nascitur. Yet con-
1678 confesse I alwaies, that as the fertilest ground must
1679 be manured, so must the highest flying wit haue a
1680 Dedalus to guide him. That Dedalus they say both in
1681 this and in other, hath three wrings to beare it selfe
1682 vp into the aire of due commendation : that is Art,
1683 Imitation, and Exercise. But these neither Artific-
1684 all Rules,nor imitatiue paternes, we much comber

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1685 our selues withall. Exercise indeed we do, but that
1686 verie fore-backwardly ; for where we should exer-
1687 cise to know , we exercise as hauing knowne : and
1688 so is our braine deliuered of much matter , which
1689 neuer was begotten by knowledge. For there be-
1690 ing two principall parts , Matter to be expressed by
1691 words, and words to expresse the matter : In nei-
1692 ther , wee vse Art or imitation rightly. Our mat-
1693 re is, Quodlibet, indeed though wrongly perfor-
1694 ming , Ouids Verse. Quicquid conabor dicere, Ver-
1695 sus erit: neuer marshalling it into anie assured ranck,
1696 that almost the Readers cannot tell where to finde
1697 themselues. Chawcer vndoubtedly did excellent-
1698 ly in his Troilus and Creseid : of whome trulie I
1699 knowe not whether to meruaile more, either that
1700 hee in that mistie time could see so clearly, or that
1701 wee in this cleare age , goe so stumblingly after
1702 him . Yet had hee great wants , fit to be forgi-
1703 uen in so reuerent an Antiquitie . I account the
1704 Mirrour of Magistrates, meetly furnished of bew-
1705 tiful partes. And in the Earle of Surreis Lirickes,
1706 manie thinges tasting of a Noble birth , and wor-
1707 thie of a Noble minde . The Sheepheards Kal-
1708 lender, hath much Poetrie in his Egloges, indeed
1709 woorthie the reading, if I be not deceiued. That
1710 same framing of his style to an olde rusticke lan-
1711 guage, I dare not allow : since neither Theocritus
1712 in Greeke, Virgill in Latine , nor Sanazara in Ita-
1713 lian , did affect it. Besides these , I doo not re-
1714 member to haue seene but fewe (to speake bold-
1715 ly) printed, that haue poeticall sinnewes in them.
1716 For proofe whereof , let but moste of the Verses

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1717 bee put in profe, and then aske the meaning , and
1718 it will bee founde , that one Verse did but beget
1719 an other, without ordering at the first, what should
1720 bee at the last, which becomes a confused masse of
1721 words, with a tingling {s}ound of ryme, barely ac-
1722 companied with reasons. Our Tragidies and Com-
1723 medies,not without cause cryed out against , ob-
1724 seruing rules neither of honest ciuilitie , not skil-
1725 full Poetrie. Excepting Gorboducke, (againe I say of
1726 those that I haue seen) which notwithstanding as it
1727 is full of stately speeches,and wel sounding phrases,
1728 clyming to the height of Seneca his style , and as
1729 full of notable morallitie, which it dooth most de-
1730 lightfully teach , and so obtaine the verie ende of
1731 Poesie. Yet in truth , it is verie defectious in the
1732 circumstaunces , which greeues mee , because it
1733 might not remaine as an exact moddell of all Tra-
1734 gidies. For it is faultie both in place and time,
1735 the two necessarie Companions of all corporall
1736 actions. For where the Stage should alway re-
1737 present but one place, and the vttermoste time
1738 presupposed in it, should bee both by Aristotles
1739 precept, and common reason, but one day; there
1740 is both manie dayes and places, inartificially ima-
1741 gined. But if it bee so in Gorboducke, howe much
1742 more in all the rest, where you shall haue A-
1743 sia of the one side, and Affricke of the other , and
1744 so manie other vnder Kingdomes , that the Play-
1745 er when he comes in , must euer begin with telling
1746 where he is , or else the tale will not be conceiued.
1747 Now you shall haue three Ladies walke to gather

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1748 flowers,and then we must beleeue the stage to be a
1749 garden. By and by we heare newes of shipwrack in
1750 the same place, then we are too blame if we accept
1751 it not for a Rock. Vpon the back of that,comes out a
1752 hidious monster with fire and smoke , and then the
1753 miserable beholders are bound to take it for a Caue:
1754 while in the meane time two Armies flie in, repre-
1755 sented with foure swords |&| bucklers,and th|en| what
1756 hard hart wil not receiue it for a pitched field. Now
1757 of time,they are much more liberall. For ordinarie
1758 it is,that two yoong Princes fall in loue, after many
1759 trauerses she is got with childe , deliuered of a faire
1760 boy: he is lost, groweth a man, falleth in loue, and
1761 is readie to get an other childe, and all this in two
1762 houres space : which howe absurd it is in sence , e-
1763 uen sence may imagine : and Arte hath taught,
1764 and all auncient examples iustified , and at this
1765 day the ordinarie players in Italie will not erre in.
1766 Yet will some bring in an example of Eunuche in
1767 Terence,that conteineth matter of two dayes, yet far
1768 short of twentie yeares. True it is, and so was it to
1769 be played in two dayes , and so fitted to the time it
1770 set foorth. And though Plautus haue in one place
1771 done amisse,let vs hit it with him, |&| not misse with
1772 him.But they will say,how then shall we set foorth
1773 a storie, which contains both many places,and ma-
1774 ny times ? And do they not know that a Tragidie is
1775 tied to the lawes of Poesie and not of Historie : not
1776 bounde to follow the storie, but hauing libertie ei-
1777 ther to faine a quite new matter, or to frame the Hi-
1778 storie to the most Tragicall conueniencie. Againe,
1779 many things may be told which cannot be shewed :

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1780 if they know the difference betwixt reporting and
1781 representing.As for example,I may speake though I
1782 am here,of Peru, and in speech digresse from that,to
1783 the description of Calecut : But in action,I cannot re-
1784 present it without Pacolets Horse. And so was the
1785 manner the Auncients tooke, by some Nuntius, to
1786 recount things done in former time or other place.
1787 Lastly, if they will represent an Historie, they must
1788 not (as Horace saith ) beginne ab ouo, but they must
1789 come to the principall poynte of that one action
1790 which they will represent. By example this will
1791 be best expressed. I haue a storie of yoong Poli-
1792 dorus, deliuered for safeties sake with great riches,
1793 by his Father Priamus , to Polminester King of
1794 Thrace, in the Troyan warre time. He after some
1795 yeares , hearing the ouerthrowe of Priamus , for
1796 to make the treasure his owne, murthereth the
1797 Childe, the bodie of the Childe is taken vp, He-
1798 cuba, shee the same day , findeth a sleight to bee
1799 reuenged moste cruelly of the Tyrant . Where
1800 nowe would one of our Tragedie writers begin,
1801 but with the deliuerie of the Childe ? Then should
1802 hee saile ouer into Thrace , and so spende I know
1803 not howe many yeares , and trauaile numbers of
1804 places. But where dooth Euripides ? euen with
1805 the finding of the bodie , the rest leauing to be told
1806 by the spirite of Polidorus . This needes no fur-
1807 ther to bee enlarged , the dullest witte may con-
1808 ceiue it . But besides these grosse absurdities,
1809 howe all their Playes bee neither right Trage-
1810 dies, nor right Comedies , mingling Kinges and
1811 Clownes, not because the matter so carrieth it, but

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1812 thrust in the Clowne by head and shoulders to play
1813 a part in maiesticall matters , with neither decen-
1814 cie not discretion : so as neither the admiration
1815 and Commiseration, not the right sportfulnesse is
1816 by their mongrell Tragicomedie obtained.I know
1817 Apuleius, did somewhat so , but that is a thing
1818 recounted with space of time , not represented in
1819 one moment : and I knowe the Auncients haue
1820 one or two examples of Tragicomedies, as Plau-
1821 tus hath Amphitrio. But if we marke them well,
1822 wee shall finde that they neuer or verie daintily
1823 matche horne Pipes and Funeralls. So falleth it
1824 out, that hauing indeed no right Comedie in that
1825 Comicall part of our Tragidie, wee haue nothing
1826 but scurrillitie vnwoorthie of anie chaste eares,
1827 or some extreame shewe of doltishnesse, indeede
1828 fit lift vp a loude laughter and nothing else:
1829 where the whole tract of a Comedie should be
1830 full of delight , as the Tragidie should bee still
1831 maintained in a well raised admiration. But our
1832 Comedients thinke there is no delight without
1833 laughter, which is verie wrong, for though laugh-
1834 ter may come with delight , yet commeth it not
1835 of delight, as though delight should be the cause
1836 of laughter. But well may one thing breed both
1837 togither. Nay rather in themselues, they haue as
1838 it were a kinde of contrarietie : For delight wee
1839 scarcely doo , but in thinges that haue a conue-
1840 niencie to our selues , or to the generall nature :
1841 Laughter almost euer commeth of thinges moste
1842 disproportioned to our selues , and nature. [[De-]]

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1843 ||De||light hath a ioy in it either permanent or present.
1844 Laughter hath onely a scornfull tickling. For ex-
1845 ample, wee are rauished with delight to see a faire
1846 woman , and yet are farre from beeing mooued
1847 to laughter. Wee laugh at deformed creatures,
1848 wherein certainly wee cannot delight. We de-
1849 light in good chaunces, wee laugh at mischaun-
1850 ces. We delight to heare the happinesse of our
1851 friendes and Countrey, at which hee were wor-
1852 thie to be laughed at, that would laugh : we shall
1853 contrarily laugh sometimes to finde a matter quite
1854 mistaken, and goe downe the hill against the byas,
1855 in the mouth of some such men as for the respect
1856 of them, one shall be hartily sorie, he cannot chuse
1857 but laugh, and so is rather pained, then delighted
1858 with laughter. Yet denie I not, but that they
1859 may goe well togither , for as in Alexanders pic-
1860 ture well set out, wee delight without laughter,
1861 and in twentie madde Antiques, wee laugh with-
1862 out delight . So in Hercules , painted with his
1863 great beard and furious countenaunce , in a wo-
1864 mans attyre , spinning , at Omphales commaunde-
1865 ment, it breedes both delight and laughter : for
1866 the representing of so straunge a power in Loue,
1867 procures delight , and the scornefulnesse of the
1868 action, stirreth laughter . But I speake to this
1869 purpose , that all the ende of the Comicall part,
1870 bee not vppon suche scornefull matters as stirre
1871 laughter onelie, but mixe with it , that delight-
1872 full teaching whiche is the ende of Poesie . And
1873 the great faulte euen in that poynt of laughter,

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1874 and forbidden plainly by Aristotle,is,that they stirre
1875 laughter in sinfull things, which are rather execra-
1876 ble then ridiculous : or in miserable , which are ra-
1877 ther to be pitied then scorned. For what is it to make
1878 folkes gape at a wretched begger , and a beggerly
1879 Clowne : or against lawe of hospitalitie ; to ieast at
1880 straungers, because they speake not English so well
1881 as we do ? What doo we learne, since it is certaine,
1882 Nil habet infœlix paupert as durius in se,Quam quod ri-
1883 diculos homines facit. But rather a busie louing Cour-
1884 tier , and a hartlesse threatning Thraso; a selfe-wise-
1885 seeming Schoolemaister, a wry transformed Tra-
1886 ueller : these if we saw walke in Stage names,which
1887 we plaie naturally, therein were delightfull laugh-
1888 ter, and teaching delightfulnesse; as in the other
1889 the Tragidies of Buchanan do iustly bring foorth a
1890 a diuine admiration. But I haue lauished out too
1891 many words of this Play-matter; I do it, because as
1892 they are excelling parts of Poesie, so is there none so
1893 much vsed in England, and none can be more pitti-
1894 fully abused : which like an vnmannerly daughter,
1895 shewing a bad education, causeth her mother Poe-
1896 sies honestie to be called in question. Other sort of
1897 Poetrie, almost haue we none, but that Lyricall kind
1898 of Songs and Sonets ; which Lord , if he gaue vs so
1899 good mindes, how well it might be employed, and
1900 with how heauenly fruites, both priuate and pub-
1901 like, in singing the praises of the immortall bewtie,
1902 the immortall goodnes of that God, who giueth vs
1903 hands to write, and wits to conceiue : of which we
1904 might wel want words,but neuer matter,of which
1905 we could turne our eyes to nothing,but we should

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1906 euer haue new budding occasions. But truly many
1907 of such writings as come vnder the banner of vnre-
1908 sistable loue, if I were a mistresse, would neuer per-
1909 swade mee they were in loue : so coldly they applie
1910 firie speeches, as men that had rather redde louers
1911 writings, and so caught vp certaine swelling Phra-
1912 ses, which hang togither like a man that once tolde
1913 me the winde was at Northwest and by South,be-
1914 cause he would be sure to name winds inough,then
1915 that in truth they feele those passions, which easily
1916 as I thinke, may be bewraied by that same forcible-
1917 nesse or Euergia,(as the Greeks call it of the writer).
1918 But let this be a sufficient, though short note , that
1919 we misse the right vse of the materiall point of Poesie.
1920 Now for the outside of it, which is words, or (as I
1921 may tearme it) Diction,it is euen well worse : so is it
1922 that hony-flowing Matrone Eloquence, apparrelled,
1923 or rather disguised, in a Courtisanlike painted affec-
1924 tation. One time with so farre fet words,that many
1925 seeme monsters , but must seeme straungers to anie
1926 poore Englishman : an other time with coursing of
1927 a letter, as if they were bound to follow the method
1928 of a Dictionary : an other time with figures and flo-
1929 wers extreemly winter-starued. But I would this
1930 fault were onely peculiar to Versefiers,and had not
1931 as large possessi|on| among Prose-Printers: and which
1932 is to be meruailed among many Schollers, |&| which
1933 is to be pitied among some Preachers. Truly I could
1934 wish, if at least I might be so bold to wish, in a thing
1935 beyond the reach of my capacity, the diligent Imita-
1936 tors of Tully |&| Demosthenes,most worthie to be imi-
1937 tated,did not so much keepe Nizolian paper bookes,

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1938 of their figures and phrases, as by attentiue transla-
1939 tion , as it were, deuoure them whole , and make
1940 them wholly theirs. For now they cast Suger and
1941 spice vppon euerie dish that is serued to the table :
1942 like those Indians, not content to weare eare-rings
1943 at the fit and naturall place of the eares, but they
1944 will thrust Iewels through their nose and lippes,
1945 because they will be sure to be fine. Tully when he
1946 was to driue out Cataline, as it were with a thunder-
1947 bolt of eloquence, often vseth the figure of repiti-
1948 tion, as Viuit |&| vincit, imo insenatum, Venit imo, inse-
1949 natum venit, |&c.| Indeede enflamed , with a well
1950 grounded rage, hee would haue his words ( as it
1951 were) double out of his mouth, and so do that ar-
1952 tificially, which we see men in choller doo natural-
1953 ly. And we hauing noted the grace of those words,
1954 hale them in sometimes to a familiar Epistle, when
1955 it were too much choller to be chollericke. How
1956 well store of Similiter Cadenses , doth sound with
1957 the grauitie of the Pulpit , I woulde but inuoke
1958 Demosthenes soule to tell : who with a rare dain-
1959 tinesse vseth them . Truly they haue made mee
1960 thinke of the Sophister, that with too much subtil-
1961 tie would proue two Egges three , and though he
1962 might bee counted a Sophister , had none for his
1963 labour. So these men bringing in such a kinde of
1964 eloquence, well may they obtaine an opinion of a
1965 seeming finenesse, but perswade few, which should
1966 be the ende of their finenesse. Now for similitudes
1967 in certain Printed discourses,I thinke all Herberists,
1968 all stories of beasts, foules, and fishes, are rifled vp,
1969 that they may come in multitudes to wait vpon any

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1970 of our conceits, which certainly is as absurd a surfet
1971 to the eares as is possible. For the force of a simili-
1972 tude not being to proue any thing to a contrary dis-
1973 puter , but onely to explaine to a willing hearer,
1974 when that is done , the rest is a moste tedious prat-
1975 ling , rather ouerswaying the memorie from the
1976 purpose whereto they were applied , then anie
1977 whit enforming the iudgement alreadie either sa-
1978 tisfied, or by similitudes not to be satisfied. For
1979 my part, I doo not doubt, when Antonius and
1980 Crassus, the great forefathers of Cicero in eloquence,
1981 the one (as Cicero testifieth of them) pretended not
1982 to knowe Art , the other not to set by it, (because
1983 with a plaine sensiblenesse, they might winne cre-
1984 dit of popular eares , which credit , is the nearest
1985 steppe to perswasion , which perswasion , is the
1986 chiefe marke of Oratorie) I do not doubt I say,but
1987 that they vsed these knacks verie sparingly, which
1988 who doth generally vse,any man may see doth dance
1989 to his owne musick, and so to be noted by the audi-
1990 ence, more careful to speak curiously then truly. Vn-
1991 doubtedly (at least to my opinion vndoubtedly ) I
1992 haue found in diuers smal learned Courtiers, a more
1993 sound stile, then in some professors of learning , of
1994 which I can gesse no other cause, but that the Cour-
1995 tier following that which by practise he findeth fit-
1996 test to nature, therein(though he know it not)doth
1997 according to art,thogh not by art : where the other
1998 vsing art to shew art and not hide art (as in these ca-
1999 ses he shuld do) flieth from nature,|&| indeed abuseth
2000 art. But what? methinks I deserue to be po|_u|ded for
2001 straying from Poetrie,to Oratory:but both haue such

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2002 an affinitie in the wordish considerati|on|,that I think
2003 this digression will make my meaning receiue the
2004 fuller vnderstanding : which is not to take vpon me
2005 to teach Poets how they should do, but only finding
2006 my selfe sicke among the rest, to shew some one or
2007 two spots of the common infection growne among
2008 the most part of writers, that acknowledging our
2009 selues somewhat awry, wee may bende to the right
2010 vse both of matter and manner. Whereto our lan-
2011 guage giueth vs great occasion, being indeed capa-
2012 ble of any excellent exercising of it. I knowe some
2013 will say it is a mingled language : And why not , so
2014 much the better, taking the best of both the other ?
2015 Another will say, it wanteth Grammer. Nay truly
2016 it hath that praise that it wants not Grammer ; for
2017 Grammer it might haue, but it needs it not, being so
2018 easie in it selfe , and so voyd of those combersome
2019 differences of Cases,Genders,Moods, |&| Tenses, which
2020 I thinke was a peece of the Tower of Babilons curse,
2021 that a man should be put to schoole to learn his mo-
2022 ther tongue. But for the vttering sweetly and pro-
2023 perly the conceit of the minde, which is the end of
2024 speech, that hath it equally with any other tongue
2025 in the world. And is perticularly happy in composi-
2026 tions of two or three wordes togither , neare the
2027 Greeke, farre beyond the Latine, which is one of
2028 the greatest bewties can be in a language. Now of
2029 versefying,there are two sorts, the one auncient,the
2030 other moderne. The auncient marked the quantitie
2031 of each sillable, and according to that , framed his
2032 verse : The moderne, obseruing onely number,
2033 with some regard of the accent; the chiefe life of it,

K1r

2034 standeth in that like sounding of the words, which
2035 we call Rime. Whether of those be the more excel-
2036 lent,wold bear manyspeeches,the ancient no doubt
2037 more fit for Musick,both words and time obseruing
2038 quantitie, and more fit, liuely to expresse diuers pas-
2039 sions by the low or loftie sound of the well-wayed
2040 sillable. The latter likewise with his rime striketh
2041 a certaine Musicke to the eare : and in fine , since
2042 it dooth delight, though by an other way, it obtai-
2043 neth the same purpose , there being in either sweet-
2044 nesse,and wanting in neither maiestie. Truly the
2045 English before any Vulgare language , I know is fit
2046 for both sorts : for, for the auncient, the Italian is so
2047 full of Vowels , that it must euer be combred with
2048 Elisions. The Duch so of the other side with Conso-
2049 nants, that they cannot yeeld the sweete slyding, fit
2050 for a Verse. The French in his whole language, hath
2051 not one word that hath his accent in the last sillable,
2052 sauing two, called Antepenultima; and little more
2053 hath the Spanish, and therefore verie gracelesly may
2054 they vse Dactiles. The English is subiect to none of
2055 these defects. Now for Rime , though we doo not
2056 obserue quantie, yet wee obserue the Accent verie
2057 precisely, which other languages either cannot do,
2058 or will not do so absolutely. That Cæsura , or brea-
2059 thing place in the midst of the Verse , neither Italian
2060 nor Spanish haue : the French and we , neuer almost
2061 faile off. Lastly,euen the verie Rime it selfe,the Ita-
2062 lian cannot put it in the last sillable,by the French na-
2063 med the Masculine Rime; but still in the next to the
2064 last,which the French call the Female; or the next be-
2065 fore that,which the Italian Sdrucciola: the example

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2066 of the former, is Buono, Suono, of the Sdrucciola, is
2067 Femina, Semina. The French of the other side , hath
2068 both the Male as Bon, Son; and the Female,as Plaise,
2069 Taise;but the Sdrucciola he hath not:where the Eng-
2070 lish hath all three, as Du, Trew, Father, Rather, Mo-
2071 tion, Potion ,with much more which might be sayd,
2072 but that alreadie I finde the triflings of this discourse
2073 is much too much enlarged. So that since the euer-
2074 praise woorthie Poesie is full of vertue breeding de-
2075 lightfulnesse, and voyd of no gift that ought to be
2076 in the noble name of learning, since the blames layd
2077 against it, are either false or feeble , since the cause
2078 why it is not esteemed in England,is the fault of Po-
2079 et-apes, not Poets. Since lastly our tongue is most fit
2080 to honour Poesie , and to bee honoured by Poesie,
2081 I coniure you all that haue had the euill luck to read
2082 this inck-wasting toy of mine , euen in the name of
2083 the nine Muses, no more to scorne the sacred miste-
2084 ries of Poesie. No more to laugh at the name of Po-
2085 ets, as though they were next inheritors to fooles;
2086 no more to iest at the reuerent title of a Rimer , but
2087 to beleeue with Aristotle, that they were the aunci-
2088 ent Treasurers of the Grecians diuinitie; to beleeue
2089 with Bembus, that they were first bringers in of all
2090 Ciuilitie; to beleeue with Scalliger that no Philoso-
2091 phers precepts can sooner make you an honest man,
2092 then the reading of Virgil; to beleeue with Clause-
2093 rus the Translator of Cornutus , that it pleased the
2094 heauenly deitie by Hesiod and Homer, vnder the vaile
2095 of Fables to giue vs all knowledge, Logicke, Rheto-
2096 ricke, Philosophie, naturall and morall, and Quid non?
2097 To beleeue with me , that there are many misteries

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2098 contained in Poetrie, which of purpose were writ-
2099 ten darkly, least by prophane wits it should be abu-
2100 sed : To beleeue with Landin, that they are so belo-
2101 ued of the Gods , that whatsoeuer they write, pro-
2102 ceeds of a diuine furie. Lastly, to beleeue them-
2103 selues when they tell you they will make you im-
2104 mortal by their verses. Thus doing,your name shall
2105 florish in the Printers shops. Thus doing, you shalbe
2106 of kin to many a Poeticall Preface. Thus doing,you
2107 shal be most faire,most rich,most wise,most all:you
2108 shall dwel vpon Superlatiues. Thus doing, though
2109 you be Libertino patre natus, you shall sodeinly grow
2110 Herculea proles. Si quid mea Carmina possunt. Thus do-
2111 ing your soule shall be placed with Dantes Beatrix,
2112 or Virgils Anchises. But if (fie of such a but) you bee
2113 borne so neare the dull-making Cataract of Nilus,
2114 that you cannot heare the Planet-like Musicke of
2115 Poetrie; if you haue so earth-creeping a mind that it
2116 cannot lift it selfe vp to looke to the skie of Poetrie ,
2117 or rather by a certaine rusticall disdaine,wil become
2118 such a mome, as to bee a Momus of Poetrie: then
2119 though I will not wish vnto you the Asses eares of
2120 Midas, nor to be driuen by a Poets verses as Bubonax
2121 was,to hang himselfe, nor to be rimed to death as is
2122 said to be done in Ireland , yet thus much Curse I
2123 must send you in the behalfe of all Poets, that while
2124 you liue, you liue in loue,and neuer get fauour,
2125 for lacking skill of a Sonet, and when you
2126 die, your memorie die from the earth
2127 for want of an Epitaphe.

FINIS.


Copytext: Sidney 1595.
Source: Sir Philip Sidney. The Defence of Poesie. London: William Ponsonby, 1595. British Library C.57.b.38 (STC Collection, University Microfilms)
Ed. (text): Ian Lancashire, Rep. Criticism On-line (1996).

Editorial Conventions

Old spelling is retained except for long-s and ligatured letters, which are normalized. Contractions and abbreviations are placed within vertical bars and are generally expanded. Italics and lineation are retained, but not small capitals and the text of catchwords, signatures, and running titles. Reference citations are by signatures and through-text line numbers at the left margin.

Double square brackets enclose the first part of a word split between pages. Double vertical bars enclose the first part of a word split between pages when it is repeated just before the second part of the word at the top of the following page.

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.
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