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LIX. SALUTATIONS TO DOMINUS ROBERT DORSET
Ovid, cease your sad lamentations about your exile. Ah, I am ashamed! You were the teacher of wanton love. To be sure, you were an exile, but not because your song came so readily for its appropriate measures (only the gods could do better). Your crime, not your song, is believed to have been the cause of your exile, and the penalty was lighter than its cause. But I, oh gods, have borne punishment, not because I did well or evil, but only because of my ability to versify. Why was I so foolish as to learn this? Was there any advantage in being able to count off my poems on my fingers? You people live happily who at no time have forced your well-chosen words to submit to poetry’s strict yoke. If the same law that governed me had governed the ancient poets, accoring to that rule a poet would never have existed. Alas poor me, for the sole reason that I can compose a song, I am obliged to suffer savage whippings. Phoebus, do you permit me such a hope for loving you? Another man will be my champion for thus adoring you. My excellent Maecenas, can you witness these things with calm eyes? Does your erstwhile concern for my talent remain? You see, and your old care for me remains, as it has been accustomed to remain, and my songs touch your heart. The manifest wrong of this deed prevents me from writing more. I pray that my pain be a matter for your concern.
LX. TO ROBERT WAKE
Among the small birds, he is no more preeminent who sings with tranquil spirits and red breast than you are among the lads, dear boy, my little Robin; so the golden moon surpasses kindled torches.
LXI. TO AN INGRATE
If fate had taken you first in my lifetime (for in my overconfidence I would have thought that this could only be accomplished by death), if a pious tear could avail anything, unkempt with grief I should have built enduring monuments for you; or if pious songs could have any power, then my songs, such as they may be, should have adorned your grave. But now, since your perverse willfulness has removed you, or the fastidious arrogance of a nose thrust high in the air, or a raging desire for novelty, receive the gift which anger over a rejected friendship has supplied. For why grieve? Ah, that is insufficient, and much milder than my wrath. But what am I doing in my frenzy? Perhaps you have lived your final hour, and I am gnawing at a sad, innocuous ghost. Let me say nothing rashly. Possibly a faithless messenger, jealous of our friendship, told me this thing. Let me believe nothing rashly, for perhaps vain fear has deceived my heart (for we lovers fear everything). Let me do nothing rashly, for I will think that each and every thing can be changed before I think you mutable. And would that you were assuredly dead or less inconstant, would that the messenger had told me falsehoods, or would that my deceived imagination had manufactured the fearful things I heard. Even now I wish to be proven to be wrong and speaking falsehood. But you live, treacherous man, you live. I say “you live” with a groan, for you provide fuel for my grief, and what I could never imagine in my sense of security, nor could anybody have told me, your very mouth, ingrate, has poured in my ear. Where am I borne? Or where am I? How my mind rages, filled with such bile! With what heat my anger boils over!
LXII. TO MARTIN HETON
A friend sends his friend these small gifts of his invention, if they can possibly be termed gifts. In fact you will receive nothing, save perhaps my love. Let my love be taken into account, not the thing itself. But if my “to be able” could match my “to wish,” you would have received far more splendid gifts, in accordance with my will. I shall pray (for what save prayers remain?), that for you this New Year should go smoothly.
LXIII. THE HANDSOME MAN
Behold, I am handsome. How much handsomer would I be if modesty were conjoined with my innate beauty?
LXIV. THE UNHANDSOME MAN
Behold, I am ugly. How much uglier would I be if arrogance were conjoined with my unpleasant looks!
LXV. MORE LINES IN THE SAME VEIN
Handsome is he to whom fair Venus has given a fair aspect of countenance, but much fairer he for whose comeliness there is an admixture of morals. He is ugly to whom Nature, a harsh step-mother, has given a misshapen countenance, but he is much more deformed to whose appearance has been added an admixture of vice. You ought to ponder these things as you look in the mirror.
LXVI. TO DOMINUS ROBERT DORSET
“Who gives quickly gives twice.” But if to have given even lately is to have given once, then it is sufficient for me to have given over-late. “Who gives quickly gives twice.” If the person who gives quickly is more well-wishing, then it is not enough to have given late. But a gift from a friend never comes late, and the show of duty slowed by delay receives pardon. Maecenas, receive my poem either as pledge of my affection or as a New Year’s gift.
LXVII. TO MASTER ROBERT DORSET
Joacim could not surpass Robert in probity, nor does your Martha yield to chaste Susanna.
LXVIII. GREETINGS TO MASTER ROBERT DORSET
Pray forgive me if these poems offend in harsh sense with difficulty, if the verses do not run smoothly, if they are harsh and not redolent of the sweet Muse. Their matter forbids elegance, nor does prose go well into verse, and the Greek does not square with the Latin. Nor do my verses (if these little poems can be called the product of my own talent) like to be pent up, or obey fixed limits, but rather to range freely over the landscape. Therefore pardon me, I pray. What I ask is enough, that you pardon me.
LXIX. TO QUEEN ELIZABETH
Not even if our great Father, most worthy monarch, had given me a hundred tongues and the same number of mouths, could I count your gifts in a voice sufficiently loud, or pour forth words equal to your favors. I am at once burdened and cheered by the weight of your kindnesses, nor does my too limited mind grasp what it nevertheless yearns to receive. But as many and as great thanks as either the trumpeting of my mouth or my wit can multiply, these I confess are owed to you, and shall always so confess, as long as the boar loves the mountain ridge and the fish the sea. Sufficiently long may you live for yourself, your praise, your nation and subjects. Alas that one may not forever say “long may you live!”
LXX. TO DOMINUS ROBERT DORSET
You ask why I send these gifts to you above all other others? You are pleasant, and pleasant things must be given to a pleasant man. For these things are not more welcome to a discriminating palate than you, sweet friend, are to be held dear to my mind.
LXXI. THE GIRDLE
Although the donor of this gift of a girdle gave it willingly, he gave it upon a double condition. He said that one was a condition of keeping, the other of loosening, and he imposed a fine to go with each injunction. He said “When you lose this, you will lose me a pound, and the price of your loosening this will be your chastity. Thus, although this is yours, it does not seem to be yours, though when you gain a wife you may call it your own.” I accepted it, giving thanks for such a good gift, saying to myself, “Soon this will be mine. I pray the gods grant that if I must ever pay the fine, I should pay it by the forfeit of my virginity, either because I should not want to see my dear friend’s gift carelessly lost, or because the fine is pleasing.”
Although I be a girdle made of rough silk and gold, I am a double concern to you. First, that you keep me, and second, that you loosen me with care. Lose me, you lose a pound. Loosen me, you are a husband.
I cannot lose or loosen this girdle. I lose it at the cost of a pound, I loosen it at the cost of my chastity.
LXXIV. TO DOMINUS ROBERT DORSET
A poet, my dear Maecenas, is like a swan: both have the same voice and hue. Both rejoice in fountains and rivers, and in pleasant streams, and the Pythian god rejoices in either. But the swan only sings, its white neck outstretched, when the gentle Zephyr blows. So why not should not I — I dare not say “as your bard,” for that word is too grandiose for my endowments — sing my tunes forever with whatever clumsy talent I may have, since you are my Zephyr, and your fostering breeze always favors my talent?
LXXV. TO RICHARD EEDES
I send you these points as a token of our love, so that they may tie our hearts together, just as they do your clothes.
LXXVI. AN ALLUSIVE POEM ON THE FAMILY CRESTS OF OUR MOST SERENE AND ILLUSTRIOUS QUEEN ELIZABETH AND OF SIR WILLIAM CORDELL, MASTER OF THE ROLLS
They say that the lion loathes the sight of the cock, because he pours forth his raucous voice in clamorous tones. How different the case here! As a mark of his great affection the lion condescends to visit the cock’s house. But what am I doing? Under the name of the cock I have concealed that basilisk who kills by a single look, not his voice. Yet proceed, sovereign beast, the sharp glance of the snake-like bird will give you no cause for fear. Nor is there need for the weasel to lend you aid, the affair has no need for such anxiety. For the basilisks you see here are rendered harmless by your glance, grown rigid at your sight. And so if they really were real basilisks, they would lack the use of their eyes, just as they would lack the shrill artistry of their throats if they were cocks. But if they were able to work harm by their eyes or voices there would be no cause for you to fear. Rather, if needs be, you would see them bearing aid to the lion’s noble standard against the French. And now, as you arrive, they seem to flap their wings, expressing the mind of their master.
LXXVII. AN ALLUSIVE POEM ON SIR WILLIAM CORDELL’S NAME, ON THE OCCASION OF THE QUEEN’S VISIT TO MELFORDYou see a lion shut up in a human heart. I shall briefly explain this emblem’s signification. Cordell’s heart is this lion of yours. Cordell delights in both, and so has the name of Cordeleo, if you extend his name aright by adding two extra letters. Thus the name which is abbreviated Cordell will more properly become Cordeleo. But he has not shut up the noble lion in his heart so much because he thinks his name is derived from it, as because in his lion’s heart (this time not a fiction) and spirit he adores, praises, honors, and loves you as his mistress. This is his pleasure, this is dear to his heart. But what has pleased him even before will assuredly please him mightily, because of your arrival.
Either I embrace you with excessive affection or your songs are written in competent verse. I have never been ashamed to profess our friendship, nor could I conceal it if I wanted. I admit that I have been amazed at your sudden acuteness at Oxford, and your seriousness, tempered by merry jests. My affection has persuaded me of these things, but I am not so trusting in that affection as to think that I shall give you greater credit than is due. And possibly it bade me praise you, but my Muse will not embark upon your praise merely because it has bidden me, but because (if I am worthy to praise another man’s effort in the same field), whatever my motivation may be, your manuscript deservedly claims my approval. Therefore, if have any ability in poetry (and I know it is trifling), and if any weight is to be placed on my evaluation, my friend, since I am not deceived by excessive affection, I say that your songs are written in competent verse. If Euripides were alive, he would be in your debt, Iphigeneia herself would thank you. I pray you, persevere in placing the ancient poets under your obligation. If you can get on good terms with the ancients, you can easily do grace to the moderns.
Late at night, while I was working on my poetry, pondering how to write something or other about your book, somebody began plucking at my elbow, or at least seemed to pluck it. Whoever he was, this much I know: he was club-footed, swart of visage, one-eyed, and red-haired. “What are you doing?” he asked. “You don’t know, rash fellow, you don’t know how easy silly tales come to the pen. Educated men read Greek stuff, or at least Latin. But how can anything written in these verses make an impression on anyone?” So saying, he fled, and the following words were dashed off by my hand as it tried to write a rebuttal.
“To be sure, it’s a tale, but it’s not silly for being one, nor do learned stories readily come to the pen. It’s the tales that cause Ovid and Seneca to be read, and all of Sophocles and Homer consist of tales. To be sure, the earth grows both corn and lilies, it produces both the lofty oak and the strawberry patch. A tale purveys the useful, commingled with the pleasant, such as pleases the young and entertains the old. And how often has a tale caused its writer to chew his nails, to bang his head against the bedboard, though it be just a fiction? Trust me, the things that appear to have been done effortlessly will cost a good deal of work if you try them. I confess they are written in our language, but there is a certain charm in English too, and works in our tongue have provided quite enough pleasure for native-born men. Learned men, to be sure, read Greek and Latin literature, but there are plenty who are ignorant of both tongues. Such things are written for their benefit; nevertheless, this and that written in English verse may please even the learned. Golding is golden, purer than clear water, and there are many others (whom I don’t wish to name here) whom neither their death-day nor wrinkled, hoary old age can take away, whom gnawing envy cannot devour.”
So persevere in your efforts, my Peele, and if you follow your pursuit you will be second to nobody. If your latest work match your first efforts, you will not only be equal to the best, but you will be altogether the first. Therefore I pray you persevere. When Destiny takes away everything else, only your poetry will escape the sad funeral pyre.
Heavenly virtue governs lower bodies, and whatever the lower has comes from the higher. Not to speak of all the individual things produced by the fertile earth, or all the fish in the sea and birds in the air, celestial things touch human affairs the more, and a fixed destiny awaits each of us in the heaven. Saturn grants a short life, Jupiter a long one, and Mars hastens great-hearted captains into fierce fighting. The sun produces hot tempered men, Mercury teaches the arts, and finally the moon and Venus beget the handsome.
Whoever denies a wise men the wedding torches by a harsh law is either a child or an old fool. For he who lacks a wife leads a miserable life, nor knows Venus’ dear pledges. Then too, he is born an unworthy burden on the earth, from whom no other is born. Therefore the wise man will join in Pallas’ choruses, but it is also right for him to pay his sacred offerings to Juno’s couch.
Albeit the mind is enclosed in the obscuring shades of a prison, like the sun when a black cloud darkens the day, like a captive, it peeps out through the little windows of the senses and gains the light of understanding. It perceives more than the others by sight alone, but it learns most of all by the single work of hearing. For those whom Nature has caused to be deaf she has also made stupid and doglike in appearance. But she has not made those who created blind to be ignorant men. Great blind Homer will serve as an example.
The medicines that quickly relive physical pain have no power on the ills of the mind. What is the point in testing the throbbing pulse with your thumb while a mute fever is piteously consuming the bones? What about fury and rage, curable by no herb, and about hatred, giving voice to its exaggerated threats? And finally the mind’s thirst for gold surpasses physical ills, an evil curable by no art.
The sway of a just king is more to be wished than to submit your neck to the law’s just yoke. The highest law often works the highest harm, and the law itself doesn’t know what it wants in a doubtful case. The prudent king weighs cases with balanced judgment and knows how to impose a bridle on the harsh law.
Just as death awaits every man, so does the time of his death, and men stand and fall by turns. For if someone is taken off by steel, plague, fire, or water, or rushes headlong to his fate, he runs a course which chance, not Nature, has assigned him, and sadly falls before his appointed day. It is no different than when a flourishing cypress on a mountain is cut down, or when a house collapses during a heavy rainfall, or when an unripe apple is plucked off a tree, or when a blazing fire is quenched by water. But those who die at a ripe old age, in their appointed year, fall on their own, like ripened apples.
Anger is a mild form of insanity, for it is short-lived, while pleasure is a serious form, knowing not how to make an end. The former rushes headlong, swept on by a blind whirlwind, and flows along like water that has been dammed. But the latter beguiles us with its seductions, always detaining us, settling in our veins, and laying its traps. Anger works its harm in the open, but pleasure harms you with no injury greater than that it hurts while you imagine yourself unharmed. An enemy is always thought the more dangerous to the degree he is concealed, and manifest violence is less dangerous than silent deceit.
Whatever fortune befalls, be it happy or sad, comes as something to be shared with your friend. And thus you will not find that in sadness another portion is added to your injury, but rather that by with his weeping and sighing he will make your lot easier as you weep and sigh, and he will employ whatever skill he has to cheer you in your sorrow. It is no small consolation to be mourned in death itself, and it is something to have had companions in your evil times.no matter with what skill he may speak, since he is hunchbacked and swarthy of hue. I take pleasure in your virtue, my Brainche, and all the more in the beauty that harmonizes with that virtue. Nor let me conceal what I am obliged to express in words (and there is no shame), I confess your beauty is adorable. Nevertheless I swear a sacred oath that the beauty of your character, the probity of your family, and your character please me more. I pray, Brainche, that you may live, and that you outgrow the treetops and cast your shadow the earth, be a grove for this region. I pray, Brainche, that you flourish, second hope of our race, and that you may always continue in the course you have started. Live, be prosperous, let this New Year pass pleasantly for you, and may you always wish to love me as you do. Send me nothing save, as I ask, your poems. To me they serve as a great gift.
Most learned of bold Brutus’ descendants, who ever were, are now, or will be infuture years, Mathew, most eminent priest, I thank you profusely, I, the worst of those who wear the least distinguished academic hood. I am the worst of those of that order as you are the best of those who wear the most distinguished hood.
Woman’s love is a light thing, as is wind bearing dust, a feather, but a young man’s love is lighter still.belted with a huge old baldric? And next to show some Gregories, next to them in order of piety and represented as half the size, Jerome’s battered hat, Ambrose minus his nose and ears, and others distinguished by their miters and old hoods? What fruit of piety does one reap for boasting with such great solemnity of these smoke-stained figures painted on a large canvas if you life sinfully in the presence of these ancients? What is the use of these effigies of the thrice holy, if you pass your night evilly before the Fathers’ hoary countenances, if you go to bed at sunrise, the very time when they were accustomed to pray for themselves and their people and exercise vigilance over their beloved flocks? Therefore (pray let me inquire) although you be the great Father and great thrice-holy priest who exultantly triumphs in the seven-hilled city as head of the Roman empire and king of kings, why, successor of Peter, are you arrogant, thinking it a fine to thing to wear your triple tiara? For why will anybody say you are thrice holy, if you are unworthy of your chair, if you are swollen with pride for being preeminent in such an ancient succession and for having a false name, as if you had done something for which you could be deemed holy (or at least if you had refrained from doing things for which you could deservedly be deemed a scoundrel), if you are a liar and a fleecer of your sheep, and finally if you allow foul things to be spoken such as are offensive to the pure, such as would put Peter and the Fathers to shame albeit they are made of marble, against which Paul would draw his hoary sword, if it weren’t carved out of wood?
And so, even if the saints of old adorn so many galleries, Christ is our only salvation and sole hope.
Let the savage willow, always unfriendly to boys, cease growing in the nearby fields. Let this useless tree wither before all the others, let its lifeless trunk lie on the barren bank, since it donated its accursed branch for the switch, the switch which made Brainche’s tender ass glow red.
I send you a piece of fruit — I cannot say an apple. Ah, that word scarcely befits the New Year.
I send you an apple — I cannot say a piece of fruit. That word is certainly gentler than my animus towards you.
Just as the fabric of heaven does not well tolerate twin suns, so no land will tolerate two sovereigns.
Here reposes William Cordell, distinguished by pedigree, but even more so by his character. He industriously applied his first years to his studies, and soon was a vigorous pleader at the bar. So much learning accrued to him, so much eloquence, that he became Speaker of Parliament. Later knighted, he supplied privy counsel to Queen Mary and good works to his nation, and was appointed Master of the Rolls. When old age was upon him, he paved his way to heaven, dying in Christ. Generous to the poor, granting them food and clothing, he went so far as to erect a poorhouse. Both his sovereign and his nation knew him as a man great for his good deeds and his piety. He was a faithful and just man, whom neither hatred nor fear could make swerve from the way of justice. He did what he promised, he knew how to avoid bad men and love good ones. He was foremost in the cultivation of friendship, a pleasant companion. It is undoubtable that the spirit of a man who lived his life thus and then departed it, is now dwelling among the company of heaven.
A favorable wind has blown me the ship you sent, handsome with its bow and stern. It arrived opportunely, nor has a more welcome one put in to my harbor. For they are preparing to wage war against me by land and sea, and Thraso has drawn up his regiments and battalions. He himself holds a sword in his right hand, a shield in his left. How can I describe his countenance, his horrible threats? But there is no need for fear. Thanks be to the gods, Thraso is a great slug, vain, incompetent, and lazy. But I am happy that your ship has arrived in support, and I send you thanks for this vessel. Farewell.
Most acute student of Christ’s laws of those now being sheltered by Christ Church, of those who ever will or will be hereafter, Gager, the lowliest Master of Arts wishes you a happy New Year, the lowliest of Masters of Arts to the same degree as you are the best minister of them all.You aren’t Laocoon, nor I the Trojan horse. Quidquid id est timeo. Thus the warlike Trojan was afraid of his Greek foe. What reason have you for fear? Quidquid id est timeo. Thus Troilus hated Ulysses. Have no fear, Troilus, I’m no Ithacan. Quidquid id est timeo. Set aside your pointless anxiety. I’m no Greek, and I’m giving you no gift.
Roger Alford is buried in this tomb. What? Can so little earth contain such a great man? He does not entirely lie here: his good reputation wanders abroad freely, let it not be contained in this humble plot of soil. His other and better part now dwells among the stars, and thus this small urn contains such a distinguished body.
Tell me, pray, of what tree may I call you the branch? Of an alder? Or should I think you belong to an oak? You are harder than oak, and are bitter like the alder. But I rather imagine you to be born of the cypress, since you are huge and overtop the forest with your top, but you are as fruitless as a cypress, showing me no love.
Am I deceived? Or am I not embracing someone in whose affections I am making no headway? I am deceived. I do not trust him, I shall be second.
ON THE COUPLET
Why fear to be deceived? I, whom you imagine to be first in his affections, lately was so (strange to say “lately was”!). Now I occupy the last position, I to whom you imagined yourself a second. Dismiss your anxiety, I am obliged to love from the humblest rank. Now you are free to take a hundred kisses, and repay with a hundred more, you may cherish in your embrace and clasp him to your bosom. For my part, I am scarcely jealous, for I never loved him physically. The part that concerns me is the mind, take the rest for yourself. But be not credulous, nor dismiss your anxiety. See how I am last who lately was the first. What you possess others have had, and soon another will gain. Perhaps he gains it now, for anxiety is a suspicious thing. Your portion is common property, mine belongs to me alone. Is? I fear I must say “lately was.”
Human lust first made Love a god on earth, arming his hands with weapons, picturing his wings, bow, and savage torches, saying he is the child of Venus and the limping god. Love is a blind violence of the mind and a raging heat of the spirit, born of youthful wantonness, fed on leisure, to be counted among the seductive offerings of Fortune. If you cease to foster him he lies, conquered, and soon his powers evanescence of their own volition and collapse.
Amidst doubtful fortune, not the least part of the evil is to fear evil. It is not at hand, and you must think it far removed. Soon it will be here, but you should hope that it will turn out better in the future, that it will scarcely arrive soon, perhaps never. Now it oppresses you. Bear it with tranquillity. If you cannot bear it, at least grieve bravely.
Would that my heart’s sorrows were visible to your mind! But just as water stirred up by sudden winds does not offer the same sight to our eyes as it does when tranquil, so the aspect of my sorrow does not present itself to your mind, inwardly roiled by the storm of your wrath, as it would were your mind at peace.seek punishment, seek out fitting vengeance. Let the worn-out neck of the old man of Aetolia take rest and, leaning on this arm of mine, let him goad me in my exhausted side. Let the river flee me, let fugitive food cheat me. Let the Thessalian king’s savage wheel whirl me, let the greedy vulture gnaw my reborn liver, let the sisters’ fruitless labor torment me. And if you are ingenious enough to add to these tortures, invent punishments, employ your wit. Are you too delaying? Earth, can you tolerate such a plague? Will you not plunge me and yourself down to the halls of the dead? Where should I direct my prayers?
Foolishness first made Fortune a god in heaven, and folly imagined her to be a holy godhead. If any reversal oppresses a man not gifted with foresight, he ascribes it all to the false goddess Chance. There is no Fortune, if providence has any power on earth, if a divinity in heaven exists and has any concern for us. Whatever is done anywhere, you ought to conceive as done according to the god’s will and judgement. The heart and government of Jove is wise. And as often as he hurls the lightning with his hand or makes ready to oppress us poor mortals with catastrophe, he scarcely reveals this to us beforehand or gives indication of his intention.
See how the Dryads blush, the Naiads marvel, the very Orcads rejoice, and Echo’s happy voice, Queen, resounds at your sight. For you, Atlas sets down Olympus, a duty and burden worthy for you to undertake.
Here Pandora eagerly takes her seat at Jupiter’s command, here the divine songstress settles at Phoebus’ bidding. Here the laurel-crowned Muses compose their songs, here the Graces sweetly sing, with garlands round their brows. Vesta’s holy band strives to arrange your bed, and each Sibyl performs the office of your handmaiden. Here Virtue, Virtue’s companion Reputation, and Fortune herself cast themselves at your feet.we once flourished waging wars, but peace has given you a nobler name in the world. Your great reputation has spread to the cities of Greece, this has drawn Greeks from our own soil.
Lo, Juno hands you her scepter, and Pallas her aegis. Chaste Diana yields you her bow. Colchis bestows Phryxus’ fleece on you, and fair Venus gives you the apple which Paris had given to her. Cassandra serves you diligently, Sheba greets you, virginal Atalanta performs her duty. On all sides they vie to please with their gifts and favors. Happy are they, divine lady, whose services you approve.I proclaim all my obligations, and no day will find me forgetful or undeserving of all the favors you have done me. Now let it be proper for me to rejoice that Martin Heton has made it possible for me to live without your oversight. But if I am to do without him, you live on in him; in him, for me, you shall survive among the living. The one is not, to be sure, perceived in the other’s aspect but in his affection, in his pursuits, in his similar character. Greetings to you, Martin, our sweet ornament, behold how our joy confers on you a new triumph. For me, that day of the year which first shone on your elevation to this honor is to be accounted among the year’s holidays. I congratulate you on this, and I hope that more such holidays will occur. In the meantime, let this year pass pleasantly for you. Always love me, for you are dearer to me than anyone, and you are the one man I would want to love me in return.
You give me wine? But there is a great divinity in this, and a small jug contains a god who is scarcely small. My gift is love. But there is also a divinity in him, and this sheet of paper contains not the least of the gods.and the year which was an old man has been made a youth. But you keep your old attitude, even though you wish to appear renewed and to have abandoned your spleen. This is a serious offense, but it is compounded by a graver one, that you teach holy poetry to dissemble. Not without reason, two-faced Janus, did our ancient forebears place you at the beginning of all the months of the year. This is my point: just as the year begins with him, so everybody is two-faced in love. Tell me — since you write that you will always be my friend, should I believe you or your poems? In my eyes you are suspect, your songs are suspect witnesses. And thus I trust neither you nor your poems. You feign that I am in the habit of displaying my affection on New Year’s Day, but quickly cease in my devotion to you. That is, I am a two-faced Janus. But if the name were concealed, I should swear your poetry was written about yourself. I am no Janus, and I cannot bear two-faced men. Hence, since my Muse has become more outspoken, you ought to do the same. For songs betray their author’s mind. But you are more accustomed to dissimulate. Forgive me that my Muse is peevish in an unwonted way. Insulted love does not keep silent when slandered. But I am not angry, and for the future I shall grant what you wish, if from now on you commence being my friend. which death, that last of things, barely removed. “For why,” asked hot-blooded Hector, “should I yield to Achilles? Am I then to beg for peace? What if in his arrogance he refuses me? But suppose he is willing to make a truce. Let him offer it, why must I be the first to request it?” And what did Achilles say for his part? “Am I, the son of Peleus, to supplicate Hector voluntarily, as if I were defeated? Am I to wish to confer? Let him crave this who has the greater need. It’s going well for me.” There was no other reason for this wrangling than that both men were of the highest virtue. For if a quarrel troubles two slothful fellows, or if great enmity and war befall men of disparate quality (as they say occurred to Diomedes in his quarrel with Glaucus), the lesser man immediately yields place, sending gifts, and confesses his inequality. Glaucus reflects to himself “Although Diomedes has done injury to me and mine, his arm nevetheless is vigorous, battle’s outcome is doubtful, he will scarcely scorn me if I send him gifts. Why not be the first to send gifts?” Meanwhile Tydeus’ son says nothing. Possibly he does not reject the gifts, but he does not care if they are offered.
Why all this, you ask? If you change a few details, this tale will fit our case. My Smith (if possibly you care to be called mine), I shall confess you (and let it not shame me to admit it) that the example of Hector mightily pleased me, for my dander was up no less than great Achilles,’ justly to be sure, but uselessly. But my nature is always mild and my heart is not implacable. My anger is vehement at its first outpouring, but it grows feeble like the heat of a small fire, never remaining strong. Lo, an Achilles to others, I am a Glaucus to you, bringing gifts to Diomedes. But that poor wretch gave his golden armor to the son of Tydeus and received iron armor in return. Quite to the contrary, I am sending you these iron poems, and you can send me songs of gold.
Lament Grindall, the dead shepherd, Nymphs, and all of you who are entrusted with care of the sheep and the flocks, especially those whom the rich plain of Kent feeds, and the rest of the crew who inhabit its hills and dales. The immortal glory of England’s shepherds has died; lo, Tityrus himself is given over to the grave. Who now, Tityrus, is to be allowed to play on your reeds? Whose faithful art suffices for such a great flock? Alas, will we never be able to hear your songs? Nobody’s flute has sung more sweetly. At its sound the birds and beasts used to stand still, and you would have thought that it was Orpheus, the race of Calliope. Often the rural divinities led their choruses as he piped a tune on his oaken reed. So that proper thanks be offered for his great favors, let the sheepfold send up a bleating with its mournful sound. Sad shepherds, raise a doleful song, and you, Nymphs, place yew garlands on his grave.
Alas, where are we rushing, helpless? Or why are our cruel tongues being sharpened on bloody-minded whetstones? Have we expended too little on squabbles and dire imprecations? Have our struggles with grasping courtiers not been sufficiently heard of? Not that Waynflete’s community, our defeated rival, should envy our high reputation, nor that your learned sons, Wykeham, should defer to us, or your progeny, Fox, but that, in accordance with the desires of certain people, this House should perish because of discords. What base custom is this? It befits savage bears and wolves thus to behave among themselves. Does the taint of some crime not yet expiated fix on us, or some force of Destiny even more violent? Why are we staring at one another? Let one of us reply. But see, all is silent. Thus it is. The bitter Fates harry us with Furies, the crime of this House’s foundation, from the time it was built with Wolsey’s impious looting, a curse to its sons.
Ill-omened House, worse than Tartarus, always to be accursed by me for its wickedness and evil portents, for you I, Wolsey, your unhappy founder, have abandoned the regions of eternal night, lifting up a head distinguished by the red Cardinal’s hat, a scornful man, greedy, a shameful yoke on the nobility, hateful to God and men, notable for his downfall.
What is being done? Does zeal for peace flourish here? Does anybody expect this to be a pious place, which had me for a founder, and was begun on an ill-omened day by my auspices? The interrupted construction projects hang in abeyance, the huge menaces of your walls and the cranes reaching as high as heaven. This confused appearance indicates a confused manner of life.
Thus it is. This dire progeny reflects its parent, the omen of the place affects those who dwell therein. Aha, do what you do, let there no be ending, no sense of shame, let blind madness drive on your mind, let hate struggle with hate, let sharp tongues be unlimbered against each other, let savage curses be hurled on every side from your engorged faces, let faction place your swarm of drones on a level with your industrious bees. Let scorn, fickle ambition, threats, whisperings, easy suspicion, treachery and envy prevail, let there be no trust in words or appearances, let filthy libel splash the pious and reproach the modest, let cunning schemes oppress the naive. Let things never heard still be alleged to have been heard, unseen things to have been seen, nor let anyone bring to a conclusion these miserable squabbles. Let there be no peace for you, no hope of peace, let the company of the Furies come, everywhere brandishing and shaking their Stygian torches. Let the Fury Discord uproot this edifice from its foundations, built as a monument to arrogance, a substantial portion both of my wicked booty and of my downfall and punishment. And at last let this House, built by my pilling and polling, collapse in utter ruin.
Now another year has been spent, another year in impious discords (and we are not yet ashamed of it), and this noble house, dedicated to Christ, is prostrated by mutual hatreds, this house which neither the virtue of our rival Magdalen can surpass, or Mary’s ancient home (which is always new), nor the glory of that three-tongued house. You did not destroy it, Cox, neither did fire’s savagery nor the iniquitous vice of the times. We, the evil progeny of the wicked Cardinal, will accomplish this in our turn. Alas, either foul savagery and shameful illiteracy will gain control of this house, or it will have cause to weep, falling prey to evil courtiers. Perhaps the plunder will return to its proper owners: of a surety, the third heir scarcely comes to enjoy ill-gotten gains. A lasting brand of infamy sticks to stolen goods, not to be erased by time’s passage. Fortune and the taint of this place hound us, the impious Fates vex us. So what remedy is to be given to these ills, these dire straits? Ah, let no decision prevail over this: this house is to be abandoned to the wild beasts, let it lie vacant for donkeys, bears, and grey wolves, hateful to our posterity, just as Cadmus is said to have fled Thebes, founded by an ill-omened cow.
These goddess do not agree with each other, nor are they worshipped in the same way: Juno is worshipped in marriage beds, Diana in choirs.
Sing, Muse, in order, what Dean and Canons this House, sacred to Christ, now has.
Hail, English Tully, learned Mathew, our Muse flourishes under your auspices.
Elder scholar of the law, much-experienced Kenall, it is proper to name you first after our foremost colleague.
Bankes, nature granted you a stag’s old age. So I think you must have honored your father.
I pray you, Westfaling, condescend to submit to my distich. How can two lines encompass such a man?
Thrice-blessed Isle of Guernsey which receives you, Wake. What shall I sing of your learning, your piety?
Your integrity, Thornton, procures you a fair name, as does your faith, equal to your learning and gravity.
You, Bernard, give the lie to the old saw “Bernard doesn’t see the details,” for you see them.
Pikeover, whoever does not praise your mild ways without reproach shows that his own are harsh.
You defer to everyone, Heton, in age and rank, but your character and probity render you their equal.
TO THE MUSE
Now be not ashamed to remember the learned M. A.’s. You can enumerate each according to his rank.
As long as you live, Wicker, a patron will scarcely be lacking for an honest legal case, for you are steadfast in justice and intent.
Medicine grips you, Bentley, and day and night you wear out your Galen with your constant thumbing.
Touldervey, for four years you have played the courtier. It is most praiseworthy to please leading men.
You put sins to rout, Morrey, powerfully proclaiming the threats and laws of our God.
Since, Stone, you are honeyed, in fact wholly honey, who can but think you are wholly lacking in gall?
The fame of your father and the prestige of his name, Weston, are no small spur to your study of the law.
Hakluyt, you ponder on new lands and the Indies, describing the route to Cathay via the long straits.
Whatever praise belongs to the life of a modest Fellow, my good man, free of contention, this praise is wholly yours.
Whoever remembers you, Brown, laden with so many titles at home and abroad, must think you learned and upright.
Nobody is less torpid than you, Torporley, and you never rest your eyes keeping watch over your flock.
MASTER RICHARD EEDES
It is enough for you to be called Proctor, Eedes, for many things are covered by that title.
Your labor in the vineyards is a patient one, Powndall, a manner of life ever in keeping with your ministry.
Smith, the University employs your mouth and tongue, our avid throng hangs from you lips, making honey.
You, Watkinson, are the model of a worthy minister, to be accounted among our foremost men.
Simberbe, if anybody scorns your witty sallies, he does not have a grain of salt in is whole body.
Out of the books of the ancients, Wickam, you glean recondite gold, and you have no mean name for wisdom.
Copley, you wander afar and will return as our Ulysses, after having learned the ways and places of men.
A fat living befell you honorably, Reeve, worthy of a man such as you.
Sacred pulpits await your voice, Maxey, and worthy rewards are in store for you when once it has been heard.
Russell, you are said to be a glutton who has gulped down many a book, and such reading will made you learned.
What praises can I give you, Hilliard, since the subject exceeds my powers?
Noble pair of brothers, Wrights, to whom the glittering stars of Castor and Pollux, signs for sailors, yield their place.
Who can deny, Bennett, that in your outstanding physical beauty there is a fitting subject for oratory?
As you weigh Galen on this side, Paracelsus on that, Hakluyt Minor, you give promise of becoming a distinguished doctor.
Whoever denies that you have a great character, Goodwin, is jealous, and proves that his own is the lesser.
Shall I be self-critical? That is the mark of a fool. Shall I praise myself? Self-praise is rotten. What shall I do? Let somebody else pass judgment on me.
Browne Minor, nature gave you a playful nature, commingling serious utterances with witty sayings.
While you have charge of our records, Snowe, your usefulness is not light or trivial.
Laurence, the Greek language was born with you, known to you as well as Latin.
Though you scarcely lack a cutting wit, Newberry, you win praise for your massive industry.
Whether a comedy has to be written or acted, Hutton, you can rightfully take first place.
Ravis, hope of our flock, our young men are much indebted for your tutorship.
Cunningham, Bristol with its milder climate produced you, talented for learning.
You have no need of Moorish bow or quiver, Holland, who are upright, to whom it has been granted to live a pious life.
Thanks to your research in the heraldry of the nobility, Howson, you have a noble name.
Just as you have been in the ministry for Timothy’s years, Walronde, so your life imitates his.
Stoughton, man of small body but stout heart, your noble mind makes up for your short size.
Denington, your long name is not in good accord with my brief praises.
King, your ranting tragic roles are to your credit. What a youth of high hopes! What a star for this House!
Crane, man of outstanding talent, second hope of this Rome of ours, you are more suited to acting comedy.
Alwin, all the praise that belongs to an urbane Fellow is owed to your character.
Bache, junior among our M. A.’s this entire year, your sober life adorns your virtues.
Let not my Muse’s opinions be deemed a judgement, that is an invidious thing to give. Rather, I should prefer that these memorials be taken as a judgement of my candor and of a mind free of rancor. But it is framed so that I must confess that I have praised each man less than his virtues and deserts. Each one deserves to be called upright and learned, and any man out of his number you care to choose garners these titles. Lest she should have to recite them so often, my Muse has been compelled to seek out lesser praises for the sake of variety.
Oh strength of Israel and glory of Judah, how have you died, Saul, in the high places! With what slaughter have our great-hearted captains fallen? Let nobody report such a sad reproach in Gath, nor proclaim such a crime in Ascalon, lest perchance the Philistine maidens rejoice and the impious nations celebrate triumphs. Let neither rains nor dew dampen the mountains of Gilboa, let the fields nearby the sun’s heat grow grow parched, where the brave band of heroes was shattered, where Saul’s great shield lies, abandoned, where, alas, Saul’s shield lies shameless together with his people, as if he had not been God’s anointed. Jonathan’s bow was never idle, Saul’s murderous sword never returned unbloodied from battle, smeared with the blood of captains, hot, stained, and red with much slaughter. What a life Saul led! How wonderful and beautiful was that of Jonathan! What a pair died inbattle! They were like lions in their strength, eagles in their swiftness, and death has rendered them equal. Mourn Saul, you maidens. He has dressed your limbs in garments of purple and gold, he has provided gems for your necks and rings for your fingers. I lament you, Jonathan, my beloved brother. Your love for me was sweet, ardent, altogether wonderful. It was a love such as scarcely ever is felt for women. What arms were shattered in war, what leaders slain!
If the shades of the dead cared about the future, and if it were rightful to pray to the gods, what prayers and entreaties, father, should I humbly address to you, whom life and death have made equal to the gods? But lest I be both pious and sinful in the same gesture, lest my piety sin in a very act of piety, I have dedicated these dutiful poems to you, together with my tears, a meet and right memorial of my grief.
We, your numerous offspring, who sat at your table like the shoots of a living olive, father, are now prostrate at your grave like funereal yews or mourning cypress trees.
What obsequies for father? What rites to perform at his tomb? What tears shall I pour forth? What ought I to say? Whence shall I get an idea for a song? Neither graven bronze nor marble are fit for the purpose, nor will a thousand songs contain my sorrow.
Father, accept in peace the funeral offerings given by your son. Why do these two lines confine my laments?
Nature made me the least by birth, but my great grief renders me equal to my brothers.
I, who lately was a vine, fertile with happy shoots, am now prostrated, forlorn by your death. What funereal rites can I perform save those of the dove, bereft of her mate? I inscribe on this marble the pledge I once gave to you in life.
While David was fleeing your arms, Absalom, in the midst of a band of warriors, from a mountain-top Shimei thus cursed him with rabid words, hurling stones mixed with dust:
“Go, rascal, go, worthless and bloodsucking leech! Lo, all the blood of innocent Saul’s house which your hand has spilt God, the most just avenger of crime, has now turned back on your head, to your destruction. Now your evildoings oppress you, now the impious Fates harry the guilty one, now, evil man, you pay the penalty to Saul, whose scepter you have grasped by force of arms, you thief of the Law and tyrant of the kingdom. But things acquired by evil endure but a brief time, perishing all the worse, and sins are wont to be repaid in kind. Lo, false one, as you have seized great-hearted Saul’s government, overthrowing your overlord’s bloodline and all his house, so your son Absalom has wrested it from you and is master of affairs, o you murderer, fated to pay the penalty by his sword.”
But your brother Abishai, stout Joab, could not bear this and, a warlike man gnashing his teeth with forbidden anger, asked “Why, king, do you listen to this and suffer this raging cur to bark? Why not allow my sword to cut the hateful head from off his neck?”
To whom David answered, “What business have I with you, son of Zeruiah? Let him say these things with impunity, as David’s Lord made him curse me; let nobody mutter against him. If Absalom himself, who is of my own blood, is to lay snares against his father and threaten his death, how much more should we tolerate the son of Jemini hurling these implications? Let him continue to curse me. Perhaps the Lord will take pity on His servant’s sufferings and this very day such reproaches will turn out for the better.”
So far the story. Pay attention and I shall explain why I tell it. I am not the man to put myself on a par with David the prophet, but if I may compare small things with great, I would cast you, Malwin, in Shimei’s part, and this part will befit you. What reproaches Malwin lately hurled against me! If you substitute our garden for the mountain, my friend’s loyal ears for the beloved warrior, and then if you imagine me to be David, you would swear Shemei was doing the talking. What stuff did I have to hear, to my unhappiness? With what stones did he bombard me! With what mud did he cover me! What wounds I received from his forked tongue! Wounds which still bleed when touched, which make me shake all over when I recall them.
But what did I do in return? First, Abishai’s reactions rose up in my heart. Neither words nor weapons were sufficient for my outrage. I invited him to fight. He refused. When I began to think about what was proper for me, and what for him, patience gradually overcame my towering wrath. I said to myself, “Surely the Lord has bidden him curse me? Why should I wish to make him stop? His tongue has been made God’s lash, and my sins warrant even a harsher one. If this rebuke is less than I deserve and God has inflicted it, let him continue to revile me. Possibly all these reproaches will turn out to my advantage. God has done this; may He mercifully forgive all my transgressions, and forgive you your sins, Shimei.”
I have written this poem for You, great God, as a reminder of my pain, and I pray You accept it in a kindly spirit.
Whoever boasts of the free will of first Adam, thinking himself his own master, half divine, let him ponder at the same time poor Adam’s fall, when he hurled himself and his free will headlong. Our volition, born free, becomes the slave of chance, and is deposed from its former grand estate. And unless the grace of our Christ redeems it, nobody can loosen the knot of his servitude.
There is no trust in works, we do not gain heaven by our own deserts. Even if you perform all services, you remain a bad slave. Faith alone, like a hand, grasps Christ in heaven, we are justified by the operations of faith alone.
All the splendid things done without Christ are nevertheless not free of the label of profane sin: both because they proceed from the heart’s corrupt source, and because they lack the goal towards which they ought to strive.And I should take it harder that I excited your bile, but since you are a doctor you can heal thyself, you can purge your bile. But I leave off joking, lest your bitter bile be increased by my wit.
An arctic Muse, but nevertheless one elegant and learned, has already adorned your journey to the frigid northerly climes. Now I, the southern Muse Thalia, would sing of your return to the better part of the world, the southland. For the subject is a worthy one, and what well-earned gratitude can be lacking towards such a man in anybody who has a rich vein of poetry? So you have come from the North, welcome as the springtime, and immediately our days begin to pass more happily. It is not my task to match the northern Thalia, and as you come back to us you are already planning your return journey. So your returning here is no homecoming, and brings us no gladness, unless it could be permanent and enduring. And so will you, a man of the South, depart for northern regions? Must you seek such a distant land? Did your climate grow boresome? Does your southland have nothing to hold you?
What, Mathew, do you have in common with these Brigantes? What, you barbaric land, do you have in common with Mathew? Do not see that you are going off into exile? Why voluntarily penalize yourself with exile? If you had been born of Welsh stock (and you are in the habit of congratulating yourself on barely escaping this fate), the loss would have been less, nor would we have such a quarrel with you. But the air of Bristol, more refined in the creation of talent, produced you and was ennobled by your birth. Oxford reared you — is Durham to steal the fruit? That place scarcely matches your nature. Is it proper for you to lie hidden? Will a cave befit you? Can you do without the noontime sun? The whole Court, together with the sovereign, requires your voice; the learned pulpit of St. Paul’s Cross clamors for it; your mother, the University, is eager to hang from your lips, astonished at the gifts of her child; your empty place in the School of Divinity suits you. These are worthy theaters for your talent. Such a character cannot long remain offstage, and each act has its need for you.
Pardon me for saying so, but your would never have been worth so much if your talent had lacked the benefit of the light. Will you able to withstand blizzards and torrents? Can your slender frame bear the freezes? What about the fear which Ursa Major and Minor inspire? And what of the terrors that that fierce race, hateful to the English, and Jock the Scot will create for you? What about the thieves who are accustomed to strangling men in their beds of nights? There business is conducted by violence. They do not contend at law, but with the sword, and no law prevails save for the law of warfare. They live by thievery, and the old customs of the Scythians. thou shalt not steal carries no weight there. They think that whatever you possess is common property, and the flock you lock up at nightfall you can’t call your own by morning. A robber baron carries off his booty, seeking to make his reputation as a bandit, and acquires a noble name by his depredations. What business have the Muses with Mars? What business have you with harsh campaigning? You wage wars suitable for the eloquent gown. What of the fact that there anybody at all can be eloquent? There a reputation as a speaker is accounted a trivial thing. You may alone speak ornately there, unrivalled, and yet you will sing for yourself not otherwise than than does the shrill cicada. It is nothing to be reckoned eloquent among hayseeds, but in the company of eloquent men it is the height of glory. Caesar, that saying of yours was foolish, that you would prefer to be the top man in a small village rather then even the second man at Rome. Honor is gained for the conqueror from the nature of the man he defeats. Unless Hector was a mighty man, Achilles’ glory would never have been so great. If there had been no Cato, no Catulus, no Hortensius, great Cicero’s praise would have been diminished. The Attic bee gained praise for its industry among other bees, not among idle drones. I do not admire a cypress tall among viburnums, but one that overtops the entire forest. On the waters of the Maeander, the white swan does not sing among crows. To say the things of which Humphreys, Westfaling, their peers Thornton and James, and the learned throng approve, this is praise, this is glory. What of the fact that eloquence fails when the learned congregation does not expect it? For such keen expectation stimulates one’s talents, and rivalry often performs the office of a whetstone. Praise is a mighty stimulus, having it said “this is the man,” and glory well won kindles the fire of industry. For even if every man is your inferior in the battle of eloquence, it is better to have someone to compete against than to win without a contest, there is no honor in laying low those who voluntarily yield. An Olympian palm gained without a contest is a cheap thing, and a victor gains his praise by overcoming his rival. Ulysses would scarcely have put such value on Achilles’ shield if Ajax had not vied with him. Surely there is a natural pleasure in winning with difficulty, a certain pleasure in hard endeavor. The eloquent man loves the pulpit. In what caves are you hiding yourself? Are you seeking some out-of-the-way lair where you can be wise by yourself? And even if you are wise there, the rustic crew hates that which it does not understand and jeers at learned men. This place is barbaric for you, and you are a barbarian as far as it is concerned, when nobody can discern what is said well. When you are not understood, it’s all the same whether you speak or remain silent, all of that endeavor is undertaken pointlessly. I am just stirring the air in vain when I don’t make myself understood to anybody, I’m just scattering my pure salt on an empty beach. Nor is it quite safe to give ignorant illiterates power and judgements over yourself. As soon as the savage crowd is amazed, it goes wild with envy. Ill feeling is your constant companion in Scotland. The ignorance of the common man has been the ruin of many, and the educated have always feared it. The women of Thrace tore Orpheus apart limb by limb as he was leading the trees and beasts by his singing. Let Orpheus serve as a warning.
And in this part of the world you have to feel anxiety lest barbarian words infect your style. For there is a certain contagion under a northern sky, and it scarcely matters where you have lived up to now. I have rarely meet an eloquent northman or Welshman, and I imagine this is to be blamed on the nature of the place. An Athens-born man takes no pleasure in the climate of Thebes, and on this basis each nation acquires its own character. There’s virtue and shortcomings in a place, and another location has heavier air than does your Bristol. But if you are to die beneath a frigid sky (and may this not happen!), oh the shame of it, is this savage place to cover your bones?
But all is in vain. Why say all this? You will go, and what will you leave us save sadness, hungrily longing for you? How can I hope that my entreaties can hold a man whom our mournful mother, the University, cannot restrain? Assuredly, relying on the divine lady’s auspices and holy authority, you will travel wherever Elizabeth commands.
Go, our glory, let no bird of ill omen or slithering snake frighten your horses. Let no pregnant bitch run out before them and create a panic, let no pregnant fox delay your journey once you have begun it. Go, glory, and I hope that my Muse’s fear be in vain, and that you may be happy wherever you chance to be.
What Amphion was to the Thebans, what Orpheus was to the Thracians, the one skilled on the harp, the other accomplished at the lyre, with great praise posterity will sing, Mathew, that you were once such to your northerners. It will report that you tamed the tigers, forests, and beasts, that rivers often stood still at the sound of your voice. Rhetoric is in no way inferior to music, for their voices were sweet, while yours is eloquent. I should like to say that in all respects you are their equal, but I wish you to not to share their final doom. For Amphion died on his own sword, and female hands shredded Orpheus.
We are ruined, for now the sun will dwell in the frigid North and will head there with his horses turned by his novel decree. Now those frigid climes will trade places with the warm southland, and the northern zone will be what the southern once was. For Mathew is headed for those shivering regions, Mathew, the son and glory of our heaven. His eloquence will be broadcast on the land like sunbeams, and winter will begin to abandon its accustomed chill, the suns to shine there more brightly. Rejoice, northmen, for the time remaining for your race to be called barbaric will be brief. He will govern your minds with his words, calming your feuds. He will give you culture, not allowing you to be wild. Henceforth we shall have nothing to fear from the northern region, and that proverb “all evil comes from the North” will be an empty rumor.
Learned Cato (I pray you condescend to accept this name, which your manifold virtues have created for you), I am slightly afraid lest I strike you as preposterous, and as having been amiss in the method of my application, since while I am asking for the Rhetor’s position I become a poet, displaying no thing less than that which I would wish to accomplish. I could have approached you as an orator (for it’s no hard thing to write prose for him who is competent to arrange words according to the strict patterns of meter), but I thought that I could not approach you under any other title that would be more acceptable and welcome to you. And my Muse is quite headstrong and thrusts herself forward of her own volition, and if I set pen to paper, she thinks this falls within her sphere. Nonetheless I come forth as an orator, and I ask and petition that my letter to you not make its journey in vain, so that this Muse of mine, which has often been pleasing to you, might receive this Rhetor’s appointment by means of your support. And if she obtains it, I would be happy, not so much for being given the appointment, as by receiving the gift and the approval of such a distinguished gentleman. But if the matter turns out otherwise, I shall be able to tolerate this rebuff as long is it is not given by your decision. I shall say more to you in person, although I can scarcely restrain my Muse from launching into your praises, my Muse who confesses that she is just as indebted to you as she is to her own master.
The partridge and the hawk do not get along, nor do they perch on the same branch, nor do the stag and the lion lie on the same turf, nor do the lamb and wolf wet their lips from the same stream, nor do the mouse and the cat swap jokes on the same doorstep, nor does a babe play on the same grass with a snake, nor does water get along with fire. The East and the West, North and South are separated from each other. There always will exist the greatest discord between such things, Malwin, but the quarrel between us is yet greater, and always will be so.
To some men I appear importunate and overbold, as I am said to have pinned my hopes on you — men whom I see to be besieging you with petitions for appointments, so that they might boast that they have deserved such things by your vote, who have put up fences around your favor beyond which it is to be wrong for you to venture in any direction you choose. A long line has been drawn for you in a predetermined manner, a chain in no way to be overleapt. I am excluded from this, I cannot say why. Nor can they give a reason, but I am still excluded. Hence whoever wishes to get the better of me exclaims “this man has deserved nothing, so why and on what basis does he make his canvass?”
Yet I cannot be kept away or be driven off with a stick, and you cannot prevent me from being your man. I have deserved nothing good of you, I confess, nor have I deserved anything bad, and I think it sufficient that I have deserved no evil. For who am I? Who can imagine you are in my debt, or that any sense of gratitude towards me can bind such a great man? Let others rely on their merits. I hope that it will help me to admit frankly that I have deserved nothing. And you ought to be all the more inclined towards me than towards the others, because for me the gift will be the greater. Whoever demands a gift as his by right diminishes it, and little thanks awaits your favor. But I shall say this in truth (and not regret having said it), you do not owe it to anybody that you should rightfully deny me. To wish you well, to say all manner of good things about you, these things pertain only to those who think they have deserved well of you. If I wished to compete with such people in the matter of merits, who could best me? I deny any has surpassed me.
But I do not rely on such things, nor is it a meritorious thing to pay your debts and do your duty. Rather, I remember those candid words of your judgment of me, which filled me with pride. I think I shall be right in saying that no other man has won more splendid indications of your disposition than I. Nor has an ingrate won them, nor can my Muse, approved by yourself, cease singing your praise. Believe me, it is often my great pleasure to speak the best of you. Whose name is more welcome on my lips? In all respects I promise that no day will see me heedless or forgetful of your favor.
Relying on these considerations, I confess I have hopes that these barriers which they have erected around your will might be torn down. This shall happen more speedily if you think me to be, not what I am portrayed to be by any man, but as I am proven to be in reality. Finally, thus I request of you, thus I swear, that I do not care to receive this appointment in the absence of your support.
Great lad, born of distinguished parents, but yourself more distinguished for the nobility of your character, what thanks can I tender in exchange for your deserts, what presents can I send worthy of this New Year? I confess I would have given you a horse, hawk, or hound, and you would receive lavish gifts as tokens of my affection. But my estate is not abundant in such things, nor does yours care for them, were I able to send them. My Muse has sent you a song, the only thing she could; accept an even more trifling gift along with this humble song. I confess it is but a toy, but it is a token of my affection. Let my love serve as a great gift. My Muse hopes that this year will flow pleasantly for you, and in her mouth fashions such prayers for you as these: as much as Agamemnon surpassed Atreus in honors, and as Theseus outdid Aegeus in praise, as much as great-hearted Achilles surpassed Peleus, and Saturn yielded in honor to Jove, let your reputation outshine that of your forebears. No prayer could be more comprehensive. Farewell.
Use as a lantern this candle I send you, so that it may cast light on your studies. Wax is not ill sent to a flexible young man, and something white must be given to match your candor.
Duty gets in the way of duty, and this appointment of yours, and your favor to me have prevented me from doing my duty. This New Year warns me of my responsibility. As is customary, it has bidden my Muse make her way by means of strictly-regulated meters. But from the time that you created me Rhetor, she has nearly forgotten her customary measures. They say that a fellow went to sleep atop Parnassus and soon woke up a poet. The thing happened just as quickly to me, but in the reverse way, and in a miraculous manner I am transformed from a poet into a Rhetor. Hence my Muse grudgingly does her duty and complains of her rejection, grieving that a rival has been preferred to her. “Now Polyhymia detains you,” she says, “a loose Muse with straying locks, quarrelsome, talkative, slovenly with her unkempt gown, unbridled, such as no reins can control. What are you seeking? Let her do my job, since thus it has pleased you to abandon your first loyalty.” I confessed all, but I asked her for one year. “After a year,” I said, “you will always be mine.” But she fled, irate, swearing never to return, unless for your sake. And lo, now she has returned, and as often as she returns she will sing of your virtues and endowments. And now she sends greetings to her master, whose welfare is no less dear to her than her own.
This is the case ever since the time I was appointed Rhetor, that my Muse has begun to please me less. She never really pleased me, nor let me be said to be forgetful of a rich vein of talent, since I never had one. Or, if there was one, it never pleased me less than when you were the cause of my writing. Believe me, my blushing Muse has always been somewhat intimidated by yours. You will say that a poet and an orator take their inspiration from the same fount, but my fount has never been bounteous. But whether I be an orator, or whether you compel me to be a poet, I am blessed if I am deemed to be such by your estimation.
You have given me a nosegay and verses, and also yourself. Thus, my friend, I have at one swoop received a triple gift. The flowers were pleasant, the poem more so, but you yourself are far more pleasing than the poem. I thank you for the bouquet, I send you a poem in exchange for yours, and in exchange for you sending yourself to me, I send myself to you. Farewell.
I congratulate you, Faunus, on taking a new four-year lease on your villa. But why do you seem gloomier than usual? Rather, why not take up your hollow pipe with its irregular knots and sing a song in praise of Mathew?
Who am I, Belus, to deny my songs to Mathew? However, would that I could sing songs worthy of such a great man! But who am I? Or what Thracian Orpheus or Inachus-born Linus, or poet greater still greater, even Apollo, although he is music’s inventor, would be up to the task? Forgive me, Belus, if it came to a contest I would not shrink from placing that man ahead of great Pan himself and calling him the god of shepherds. Assuredly he is a god, and in my eyes always will be, nor have I ever invoked a godhead who was more present. So how often will his altar smoke with my incense and the lamb I have slaughtered! It is by his kindness that I am allowed to graze my flock on this mountain, playing my shrill pipes, he brought me back to my homestead. It is as when you engraft a branch from a fallen tree and by the grafting bring it back to life.
Fortunate fellow, whom such a shepherd has dignified with such affection, has blessed with the honor of his favor! But why do you appear rather downcast?
Ought I to sing happily while burdened by a huge debt? It grows and grows, and there is no source from which I can discharge it. A great weight torments me, which you imagine to be a honor, Belus (for I shall confess it), from the time I began to owe everything to Mathew, even my very security. When I think to myself what he has contributed, and on the other hand what I have deserved or am capable of deserving, and how I have no ability at all to repay him, upon my life I grown oppressed by such a burden, I am tortured of mind, I am pricked in my conscience, and cannot conceal the pain in my expression. Such a weighty thing it is to be in debt and not be able to repay!
Be of good cheer, my Faunus. He will think the debt sufficiently discharged if you show a grateful disposition, making haste to say all good things about him, if you keep his name and favor on your lips always. He makes no further demand.
FAUN.Oh, the ever-unhappy burden, poverty, always accursed! But poverty has nothing worse in itself than because of it we are often accounted ingrates. For each man is reckoned to be grateful to the extent that he repays. Thus, even if I fully satisfy piety’s other duties and am approved by all, since I cannot make satisfaction on this score I lead a life troublesome in my own eyes.
Set aside your great anxiety. Invidious poverty will not harm you. This repayment is not to be made with coin, but truly with songs, nothing is needful here but songs. You have a rich vein of these. So why not open the gate to this stream and let out your Muse at full flow?
Belus, my store of songs is just like my supply of money, and just as I cannot pay him a groat, so he cannot be sung on my reed. It is a great matter, and one beyond my powers, to hymn Mathew’s praises and relate his splendid achievements. This subject is one worthy of your talent, great poet of the Greeks, or of your Muse, god Tityrus, or of you, thrice-great bard of the English race. My Muse is thick-headed, nor is my reed fit for songs.
But where am I being transported? Alas, piety and shame, where are you taking me? Whence has this this new frenzy for singing come over me? Suddenly my mind is eager for song. Where are you taking me, Mathew? To repay you adequate thanks is not in my power, nor within my means. What should I say first? Whatever I possess in this cottage is your gift, as are my flock and herd, my title of shepherd, and this rustic reed. I confess everything, nor will any day see me forgetful. Sooner will the carefree ant shun labor, sooner will the fruitful earth refuse to bear her crops, and their skill will be wanting to the frugal bees, then pious gratitude for your great favor will fade from my heart. Whether I go through the hills or the dales, the hills and dales will speak your name. I shall fill the forests with song. Neither Philomela, nor the dying swan will surpass me. I shall be heard night and day, the entire neighborhood will resound to my singing, and on all sides the happy hills will redouble my voice. And further, I shall carve your name on the living rock, I shall carve it on trees. It will be memorialized by the elm, friendly to the vines, by the beech, useful for making vases, and the ash, preferable for fashioning spears. In all places each mountain ash, and the oak, more enduring than the lofty ash, will bear witness. I shall affix verses on the stalks of plants, I shall spread my songs about you through all the side-roads, streets, and entranceways. Only you must pardon me, and not spurn my myrtles. Pardon me, I pray, be not mortified by my reed, although it be screechy. If my piping had any power, no day would ever remove you from our shepherds’ minds.
What’s this, Faunus? Why do you suddenly pause in mid-song? Why is the pipe you have blown removed from your lips? Why not hasten to finish the song you have begun so well?
And this, which you ask about, is the greatest part of my sorrow. Scarcely had I said “If my piping had any power, no day would ever remove you from our shepherds’ minds,” when it came into my mind how close that day is drawing on which will remove from the shepherd’s eyes Mathew, our light and cynosure. He who has done so many beneficial things for me is preparing to remove from our lands in a short while. He seeks Durham’s climes, and will leave us nothing but tears and a perpetual yearning. Hence grief interrupted my song, my enthusiasm subsided completely, my ardor chilled as quickly as it had grown warm.
BEL.This is our common misfortune, the entire neighborhood, feeling it, testifies to its proper sorrow with piteous voice. I recall nobody piping so sweetly. O, how often have I seen him seated on a hilltop, in the midst of a throng of shepherds, surrounded on all sides by a circle of green youths, and stood stock-still in amazement as he poured forth his songs? I have seen the birds and beasts attentive, the oaks and ferns moving, the forgetful rivers standing still in their courses, the gods coming forth from the forests, captivated by his sweetness, the nymphs leading the dance, and Pan blushing, hiding his reeds in the grass. Do not you see that the woodland gods, the forests and beasts are mourning your departure? Every tree is shedding its leaves for you, and weeping tears from its bark. You can hear the Thames with its swans weeping for you, the pools and fountains, the sprites of the region. The sheepfolds offer up bleats, the masters of the sheep take it up, complaints fill all the fields. I recall that I was present when rumor first conveyed this sorrow to the nymphs (at the time they chanced to be weaving flowers into garlands for you, and into a verdant crown). And when this evil was heard, the flowers they had gathered fell from their slackened tunics, the green color of the box came over their astonished countenances. After their banished senses returned, then in truth they beat their breasts with snow white hands and began to tear at their hair. On all sides the heavens and the groves trembled with their shrieks, the caverns echoed their lamentation. In the meantime, is none of this able to move you? Have you no care for these tears? And do you scorn our affection? But you nymphs of Durham and forest goddesses, you leaders of the herds and rustic divinities, I pray you receive this great man and preserve him from danger, a man such as no past age, nor this one, nor any coming age will see. Strew the ground with violets, shepherds, and scatter your flowers. Cast blooming roses on his breast, his holy shoulders, neck, and head, cast garlands. Go, Mathew, our glory. Fare well, great man. Whatever lands beckon you, take my joys with you, and at the same time receive these tokens of my sorrow. Lo, because of you my flute will always hang on this branch, never to be blown again by my lips.
Sorrow, Faunus, knows no limits. The golden sun is sinking, hiding itself behind the dark hills. Let us go, and drive our flocks to the fold.
Here you lie, Morrey, whom zeal for the Lord reduced to skin and bone, zeal and love of this House. He died touched by holy fire, not by the stroke of disease, and this exceedingly small urn contains that portion of him that was mortal. But, like Elisah, he has been taken up in spirit, if not in body, and he has gone to the kingdom of heaven on a fiery chariot.
This tomb holds Cicely Sandys, the one woman who never should have died. For if a modest matron’s life, and a chaste fidelity rare in a comely appearance, if birth and the virtue innate in ancient lineage had any power, she would have deserved to live forever.
There is nothing I am able to send you by way of a gift, Smith, but yet I am scarcely content to send you nothing. And as I am dithering my Muse interjects, “when I am sending worthless poems I am sending nothing at all.” “But,” I said, “I shall nevertheless send these, since perhaps they can attest my devotion.” Their gist is that I wish you health. I, who always liked you, but have lately come to love you, hope that your New Year passes pleasantly.
Janus, father of the year, fulfill my single wish, which, when you grant it, will be a New Year’s present for two. As well as Pollux is remembered to have loved Castor, and Perithous to have loved Theseus, as dear as Patroclus was to Achilles, Orestes to Pylades, Euryalus to Nisus, so Walter adores Thomas, and Thomas in turn Walter, and each burns with a chaste torch. And since they are no whit inferior to those in birth or in their affection, let their love ennoble them none the less. Noble pair of youths, if Janus has given his nod, no greater New Year’s gift can be given you by anybody.
Here lies Cordell, born of of an illustrious family but one on the verge of collapse. There is nothing that is not snatched away by time’s long passage, diminished by age, and the slippery Fates govern human affairs. Like a light, he at length brought forth from the shadows the glory of his family and stock. In the place, God elevated him, and then his own personal virtue, and then the sovereign’s favor, won by that virtue. What were his piety, his prudence, brilliance, justice, eloquence, grace, generosity! No praise is sufficient. Wayfarer, I pray you say “may Cordell’s bones lie in comfort.”
Child of Cicely, star of your house and likewise glory of our academy, Tomson, bound to be memorialized in long-enduring verses,
A later age will wonder why ours denied you the honor for which you were canvassing, just as it is amazed that antiquity erected no statue to Cato.
I think the Muses were weeping for your setback when it rained the entire night and following day, when I imagined that the heavens were dissolving into tears.
Thus I believe (and let gnawing envy be absent from my Muses) that from this rebuff you derive a glory equal to those who have carried off the palm by industrious canvassing.
But nobody can sufficiently praise your stout heart and prudent counsel, in that you bore this misfortune with equanimity.
Who saw you turn pale then? Who saw you sadden afterwards? Playfully you chased away sadness’ cloud in the fields with your bow and arrows.
Thus they say that Cato, on the very day when he was defeated in a contest for the consulship, smoothed his wrinkled brow by playing ball on the Campus Martius.
You scarcely approved of that foolish saying of Caesar, “today, mother, you will see me made Pontifex Maximus or driven into exile.”
Thus you reflected in your honest heart, “The appointment is deferred for a year, not denied me, and what is bound to be is something I seem to have gained in my grasp.”
Cherish this hope in your breast. Be confident, for the day will come on which the candidate will be made tribune by two hundred votes.
Little Robert, noble offspring of Robert your father, and at the same time the image of your fair mother, the mother sheep does not thus mourn for her lost lamb, nor does Philomela lament her empty nest, as much as your mother and father grieve for you, dear boy. Lately your death was almost death for them.
As a cow treads a violet without notice, or plucks a gentle rose with its hardened mouth, so, poor boy, death has plucked your violet, your rose, in the first springtime of your honor.
He who was the offspring of two Earls and brothers, Leicester and Warwick, heir to the one, son and heir to the other, the hope and image of his mother Lettice, lord of the fields of Denbigh, Robert by name, a noble, is buried in this marble, a jewel of a lad.
Dear son, in your lifetime I was called Lettice, but after your death I shall be called La Triste.
Lo, this little bit of soil holds such a great man, patterned after the heroes of old, and also their highborn offspring, who was elevated to greatness by his own nobility and by royal grace, and by the high virtue of his heart. By his own brilliance he increased the the brilliance he inherited, surpassing his illustrious forebears. He outshone the rest, and was the first to convert his ancestral honor of Baron into that of Earl. In his youthful years he recreated high-minded Hector, as an old man he employed the tongue of wise Nestor. Therefore you lie here, distinguished Earl, scarcely unworthy of your great forefathers, light and glory of your line, mighty in peace and in war. Neither a thousand marble tombs nor a thousand songs can embrace the praises of such a great man.
Not rejoicing is a crime, but we must not rejoice, and our care pulls us in both directions. The glad occasion has come, but it would have come much happier if a dark cloud had not ruined the bright day. Who can deny that the day on which Elisa began to govern the English is by tradition a joyful one? But on the other hand, while Elisa is lamenting lost Sidney, who can think that happiness has its wonted place? It is in part for you, Elisa, and in part for you, great Philip, that our bells ring their changes.
Maiden, fair as milk or the driven snows, I beg you by all gods and goddesses, why are you making ready horribly to ruin our Alberico by loving?
Why does he burn and freeze for you alone? Why does he live and die for you, think of you alone, dream of you alone in his sleep?
Why does he count his nights for you, languish for you of days? Why does he fail to call for his lamp in the morning, and why are his books covered with dust?
Why does he not wear out the gods with his prayers, thinking there to be no gods or goddesses save you, the greatest, and that all-powerful child of Venus?
Ah me, in what vortex are you being whirled, poor man? What god can heal you, wretched Alberico, or what witch can free you with her incantation?
Though you shine with that white skin of yours, just as do the statues of the goddess of Cos or gleaming ivory or a lily painted with glittering enamel,
And though the endowments of your wit are no less than those of your comely figure, nevertheless I pray you, maiden, cease ruining Alberico miserably with loving.
CLXVII. see XXXVa
I confess I would want my poetry to be written dextrously, Dexter, but not excessively, for that does not excessively please me. But to whom might these poems appear to be cleverly composed, which have nothing of dexterousness in them? Who understands them over-dextrously reads them in a sinister way. Woe is me, why is my right hand made into my left? Neither in a sinister way, nor too dexterously!
Devyne Beutye, natur’s ritchest treasure,
Howe can there be so secrett strencthe in the,
So mightye, yet so brittel to indure,
So weake a thinge, yet so commandinge me?
Howe speakest thou so lowde, and say’st nothinge? 5
Howe mayst thou be of weale and woe the springe?
Right wisely hathe it pleasde thy excelence,
To make Elisa thy cheefe dwellinge place,
In her to keepe thy royall residence,
Adorninge her with all thy giftes of grace. 10
Well in the ringe then is the rubye sett
When vertue is with peereles bewtye mett.
CLXXI. ON THE DEATH OF MY UNCLE EDWARD CORDELL, WHO PASSED ME OVER IN HIS WILL IN VIOLATION OF ALL HIS PROMISES, AND OF LAW BOTH CIVIL AND NATURAL, AFTER HE HAD MARRIED MISTRESS DIGBY TWO YEARS PREVIOUSLY AND MADE HER HIS ONLY HEIR,
DECEMBER 8, 1590
O Fortune, always contrary to my desires! O death! Oh woman, more evil than death! What do I say? Or where am I? What result have all these promises produced? Where have all my hopes disappeared? Is this sworn faith? Is this lawful? Is this the inheritance’s right? Is this the ordering of our bloodline? Is this love for posterity? What praise was there, uncle, in frustrating so many hopes of your family, or in losing any sense of shame for your line? How did either of your sisters deserve this? Or how did your throng of nephews merit such an outrage? How did I myself offend you? What insult did I inflict that I was to be branded with the disgrace of being passed over? What was in your mind when you cut off your living limbs and replaced then with ones of wood? Dear uncle, I was not so discreditable to you, nor was it creditable for you to pass over your heir. Does a strange women own this house? Does she come into possession of these silver vessels, all this finery, and so great wealth? Shall a barren little frippet possess these fertile fields? Oh rights, vainly sought by my hopes! Is nothing else left to me save for the weeping, bitterness of mind, and poverty? Oh, the pain! Oh embarrassment, mixed with distress, how you gnaw my heart within, burning my spirit by night and by day! Oh William, founder and champion of our house, do you see your brother’s spiteful deeds? Do you see all your property, all the efforts of your wit, your eloquence, your intelligence diverted by fraud? But, no matter how this thing may be, I shall not deny my indebtedness towards you, and would that my good disposition had remained what it was. But favor is a deceitful thing, for after it has filled one’s sails with a favorable wind and has peacefully carried his barque far from shore, it strands it, becalmed in mid-ocean. Oh will of God, often obscure to us, but always just! Where am I being carried by my words? I shall address my words to the Lord, who cannot deceive us. Assuredly it is a vain thing to put one’s trust in princes.
And so farewell, human affairs, which have thrice deceived me unjustly. Henceforth God alone will be my sole hope.
Light and glory of the Italian race, when this first birth lately held you in gentle suspense, whether you were about to be the father of a boy or a girl,
Behold, the womb’ barriers broken, a boy at length came first and raised his manly face, having a countenance that reflects both his parents.
Now you exult in the title of father, you prefer “father” to “knight,” boasting greatly that you are a man, experiencing amazing love.
Meanwhile your maternal wife keeps her silence, admiring you and herself, bashfully eying the boy with sidelong glances, storing up joy deep within.
And now bashfully, timidly, she admits that you are a father and husband, and herself a mother; now heavy sorrow flees, the birth-pangs recede.
The midwife chatters, saying that the babe is similar to his father, similar to his mother.
The matrons nod their agreement, praising the father for the son that resembles him.
So hail, boy, scion of an ancient line, a preeminent family, pure gem of gems, spark of a chaste fire.
Whence did you come, new guest in this world, immediately its citizen? Say whence such a one as you has come? With what a to-do you make your debut!
As the first rose of spring comes forth from the bud, as Lucifer, the night watchman and attendant of the dawn shines forth,
Thus you shine, boy, one for whom Venus herself would trade her son, for whom Myrrha would exchange her Adonis, and Creusa her snow white Iulus.
The throng of Muses have sung a sweet song for you as you were born, and all the white swans who swim beside the streams of the Thames have sung.
Juno has stood before the bed as midwife, with their hands the nymphs have bathed you, the Graces themselves have bound your waxy limbs with swaddling clothes.
Why, lad, do you cry and terrify your fearful mother? Ah, what labors your mother expended on you! But you, cruel one, have no care for such matters.
Lo, the entire house dances attendance on you alone, constantly calling you master and heir. When you cry the nurse gives you a kiss and her breast.
But you cry, and again you laugh, you play, you sleep, stay awake, suck, spit out the breast, demand it again, throwing everything into turmoil.
Have no fear that you disturb your father, nor does the father feel the boy is a disturbance. No lute caresses his ears with a sound more welcome than your bawling.
But stop your crying. Behold the twin fountains of nectar, the food of the gods. Begin to know your mother’s appearance and gentle laughter.
Stop your crying, boy. See, now the nurse is singing for you, gently stroking you. Good, now you slumber, and your happy mother can get some sleep.
To him Venus gave beauty, Juno his father’s wealth, and Pallas herself is planning to send him gifts worthy of such a family,
I pray the Fate give a long life. May he live and make a father blessed with his son. He surely is a son blessed with such a father.
In future, Ragsdall, who will think you to have been bereft of little children? Who could deny you are a true father? The children denied you as a young man by ripe nature, whom neither a wife nor your life gave you, these have been born to you, dead in your old age, by religion, zeal, devotion, and Christ. Whereas you have set up a poorhouse for twenty-four inmates, bidding there be an endowment and a Warden, your piety has rendered you fruitful, a parent in perpetuity, to whom genuine offspring can never be lacking. Of a surety, piety is more fruitful than any wife, and your torch, Christ, surpasses that of the marriage chamber. Thus you are blessed with offspring, o father! May it fall to my lot to die having such progeny.
Owen Ragsdall lies here, covered by this marble. He was a man of such wisdom, such probity! How prudent of heart, how provident in experience, how great in the love of his neighbor and of his God! How loving of enduring peace! How praiseworthy and adroit in the settling of disputes, how shrewd in practical matters! While he was alive, there lived a champion of the honest cause, of the widow, the child, the old man now twice a child. The wealth which Christ gave him in life, in death he returns to you, Christ, and to Your poor. The streets feel his generosity, undowered girls, his relations, and the impoverished throng. The school at Rothwell, the rebuilt church, the tumbledown market place all attest to his munificence. How little earth covers such a great man! This urn receives your body, the stars your soul, but his excellent reputation flies across the land.
You’re a poor man, and happy? Pray let Fortune learn this, so that she will cease being so unkind to you.
Day has dawned, at the same time this year puts off the previous year, and suddenly the young blossoms out of the old. Now each man sends gifts to his friend, and today everything is of a sudden made new. But who, Christ, puts off the old man for Your sake? Or who makes new the shameful hoariness of sin, or who changes from an impure old man to an innocent babe? I indeed remain old, and shall remain so forever, unless, dearest Christ, You renew me. Christ, build me anew, build me a new heart. I confess I am asking a great thing, but it is what Elisha granted. Could he put new flesh on Naaman. Could Jordan’s water not wash away the stain? Cannot Your grace, Christ, make for me a new mind? Cannot my leprosy be cleansed by Your blood? One drop of Your blood is more powerful than all Jordan. You are the Master, Elisha was but a servant. Although I am afflicted of soul, not in the body, and although a dire sickness of the soul is graver than a corporeal one, our hope of salvation exceeds the hope of the Assyrian, by the work of the medicine and of the Healer. Condescend, Christ, to bathe me with Your blood, let me be moistened with the celestial flood of Your side. Thus to me, as to a child, will come a new mind, not new flesh, this new shape will make me Your child. For why ought I to remember that Medea is said to have rejuvenated old Aeson by her herbs? I do not ask that you restore to me the Decembers that have passed, Christ, all my life’s youth has scarcely passed. My mind is sick, worn out by holy heat, sin’s ancient weight impedes me. Sins hurl a man headlong, stealing his old age, his temples grow white slower than his vices ripen. Ancient in wickedness, though not in years, I regret the years, my soul has already attained hoary old age. But this soul of mine and whatever is of me I offer up to You, praying that by Your means genuine youth will return to me. As I send you my sinful soul as a New Year’s gift, Christ, as soon as possible send me a new one.
For the Egyptians a hooped snake signifies the year, since the year rolls along without end, like a wheel. Snakelike, the New Year sheds his offscourings and comes forth, glittering with his new skin. And behold, the old man who was a-languishing last night suddenly became a child at the dawn. Like that of the eagle, so Janus’ youth has been renewed, and everything wears a new aspect. Everywhere innumerable New Year’s gifts are sent to friends, and in every quarter gratitude arises for such gifts. But I remain old, contrary to the year, and my gift to you will be something ancient. For I send you my old mind, which the years cannot change, nor a change of heart can make strange. If I sent you all the things such as a wealthy friend might send, no greater present could come from me. I have sent nothing greater to Christ, so don’t despise the gift. Who has anything he can send greater than the gift of himself? But be this as it may, I send you myself wholly, dearest friend. Accept the gift, for surely you don’t fear that I may come as a burden? I do not come in the flesh, lest I be an encumbrance rather than a gift. Everybody consists of his mind and spirit. I come to you in mind and spirit, accept this pledge of my affection. My affection will scarcely prove burdensome to you. I bring with me nothing but the wish that God Who rules the stars bless this year for you.
The health you wished me this morning, although not well yourself, I in my health would wish to return to you at eventide. Cooper, your mind is most deserving of a healthy body. Why is it not strong, for a man who is strong of wit? Who would not be grieved to set a jewel in lead, for a hale master to preside over a sickly household? But since you are mindful of me even in sickness, Cooper, may I fall sick if I am not always mindful of you. If verses, wishes, and prayers can restore health, then see, I send you verses, wishes, and prayers. May God confirm them. Thus this year which begins rather badly for you will commence to go well. Farewell.
When I think over my youthful misdeeds, I am so ashamed that it shames me not to have been more ashamed at the time. Grant, Lord, I pray, that henceforth as a man and an old man I do nothing, or at least little, that is shameful, both since it is base for a grown man to err, and because shame for a sin is disgraceful in old age.
Alas, now is enough: let this be an end to my youthful transgressions, if there can be any end. For who can set a limit on sinning? How far and wide are my vices manifest? I have passed my youth, why do my youthful habits not cease? This mode of living does not suit my age. Great God, let there at length be an end to my youthful sinning, or let there be an end to my life.
Death, who could think you a skilled craftsman? Who should not imagine you as an untrained goldsmith for having shut such a jewel in this base marble? Oh death, this morass does not suit such a glittering gem. But only her body was your due, while her soul’s bright star shines in the heaven.
Lest my verses always come to you unaccompanied, and, when I send words, lest I be thought to give naught but words, see how at the same time I send this small book by way of a gift, but a book than which there is no greater in the world. It is forever new, and so no New Year’s gift could be more appropriate for this new year.
Here you lie, Owen. But as long as the reputation of an outstanding young man may endure, you will also live. No day will erase you from this generation’s memory, as long as we are living. In this way too you will live. And what of the fact that you live in your better part? Who but will think that in thus dying you were not able to die at all?
Accept, your Eminence, this pair of gloves, an unworthy gift, not suitable either for your deserts or for my disposition towards you. Nor, perhaps, will they fit your hands, so they are unfitting in all ways. Not the sort of thing which is suitable for you to receive, or fit for you to accept, but all that my fortune can allow me to send. This is the only New Year’s gift I can afford to send. And what would be equal to your merits, or equal to the favor you have shown me, and what such gift would match my good will towards you? In this situation, what am I to do, unless at length I send you myself. Nobody has anything greater than himself that he can send. Whatever I am, or shall be (and I know how trifling this is and will be), whatever it may be, accept as a gift. But what this is was yours already, for I was formerly devoted to you, and when I give myself to you I am giving nothing new. I am yours by ancient right, by familiarity, custom, disposition, and, as it were, I am yours by purchase and earning. Nor can their be any greater or sweeter protection for me, than that I am yours and thought to be so. I am accounted to be one of your concerns, and I am said to have placed my trust in a sound place. For, without you, what thing, what sure hope remains for me? If you fail me, where am I to place my hopes? Hail, splendor, apex of my desires! O final goal on which my eyes are fixed! Leaning on this support I can more patiently tolerate this humble, dusty life, my freezing hovel. Relying on this plank I hope to come into port, and tolerate the tiresome aspects of old age. But I take a sacred vow, I have always loved you, not that which is in your power. For what can there be for me to love finer than you? In his frame of mind I humbly pray God, that this New Year go sweetly for you and your sweet wife.
The Bistonian Thracians are said to have clapped playfully at the sorrowful funerals and burial rites of their men. No wonder: Thracians were not worthy of tears or funerals, but only of such elogies as yours, Sardanapalus. For if somebody were not to mourn at his funeral, he would be found to be more savage than the untamed Thracian. For at his death perished piety, virtue’s sanctuary, and Jove’s child Minerva fell. Themis cherished him, chaste Diana was his companion. See how the gifts of both goddesses perish with him! Thus he died, thus his virtue died, and what is more to be mourned, he was carried off by death in the bloom of his youth. But I must not blame death. When death remembered all his virtues and accomplishments, she fancied he was an old man.
Pythagoras his letter cutt twee hornedly
A semblance of the life of man seemes to imply.
For vertues way the right hande path doth houlde on hye,
An entrance harde at first it offers to the eye.
But rest it gives to waerye limms upon the toppe. 5
An easy way the bradeway shewes, but the last stoppe
Slaves hedlonge throwes, and roules them downe the steepy rocks.
But who for vertues love shall overstande harde knocks
He to himselfe shall gett both praise and honour dewe.
But whosoe sloth and filthie riott shall ensue, 10
Whilst offerde pains unwarily he shuns, alas
Shamefull and poore, a life full wretched shall he pass.
Life is but shorte all must forsake their breath
Death is not evill but an evill death.
When I reckon up Priam’s years, or those of Nestor, then I think the Fates’ distaff to be unjust. I wonder what the cause was, or what stood in the way, that he could not live out Nestor’s days. What was Priam’s virtue, or Nestor’s, that was not visible in this man? What candor of mind in a man who is said to have loved both the Latin and the Attic Minerva! But this did not happen because of the three Sisters’ envy, but because of their love, that they made little delay in drawing his funeral thread, and because he made haste to join the Elysian shades. For, perhaps, when he had lived out his brief alotted span and could not call back his years, the Fates contrived that when he achieves resurrection he shall be able to surpass the days of Nestor.
HARTE Myne eye why didst thou light
One that which was not thyne?
Why haste thou with thy sight
Thus slayne a harte of myne?
Ah thou unhappye Eye 5
Woulde God thou hadst beene blynde
When first thou didst here spye
For whome this greefe I fynde.
EYE Why Sir it is not I
That doe deserve such blame 10
Your fancye not your eye
Is causer of the same.
For I ame reddye prest
As page that serves your ease
To serche what thinge is best 15
That may your fancye please.
HARTE I sent the forthe to see
But not so longe to byde
Thoughe fancye went with thee
Thou werte my fancyes gyde. 20
Thy message beeinge done
Thou moughst returne agayne
So Cupid Venus sonne
No whitt my harte shoulde payne.
EYE Where fancye bearethe swaye 25
There favor will be boulde
And reason flyes awaye
From Cupids shafte of goulde.
If you fynde cause heerby
For anye payne to smarte 30
Alas blame not your Eye,
But blame consent of Harte.
HARTE My harte I must excuse
And lay the falte in thee
Bycause thy sight did chuse 35
When Harte from thought was free.
Thy sight thus wrought consent
Consent hathe bred my greefe
And I must bee content
With sorrowe for releefe. 40
As I remember, Aelia, foure teethe you had,
One coughe spude owte a payre, and one, the other twoe;
Now freely you may coughe, and all your dayes be glad;
A third coughe after them hathe nothinge there to doe.
If skilfull Ouid plesure gatt
In praysinge of his hazell nut:
If Virgill vantinge of a gnatt
Hym selfe with grete delight did glutt:
My shadowe prayse why should not 5
That passethe nutt or foolish flye?
This one thinge yet my harte dothe gall
Bycause that pretius thinges in scoff
By name of shadowe summe will call
T’abate the worthynes thereof. 10
Renowne and fame mens pryde t’alaye
Is but a shadowe summe will saye.
Beautye is but a shade thay fayne,
The bravest flowres are shadowes thinne.
Yea man him selfe like shadowe vayne 15
Shall fade as thoughe he had not bynne.
In all disprayse shadowe thay brynge
As shadowe were a tryflynge thinge.
If shadowe be a tryflinge toye
Summe thinke me fonde the same t’advance, 20
But I fynde it so grete a joye
Of Zoilus whipp Ile byde the lance.
Wherefore to sett you in a mase
My shadowes prayse I meane to blase.
And first if frendeshipp be of pryce 25
Wherof mens welthe wholy dependes,
My shadowe passethe mans devyce
Whoe frendeshipp symtyme open rendes.
All humane love it passethe as farr
As dothe the sunne eche littell starr. 30
For when I walke it walke’s with mee
If that I saye it stayes also.
Where I lye downe there will it bee,
It waytes one me wherever I goe
Which of grete love a token is 35
But harke a greter thinge then this.
If my frende shake me by the hande
My shade his shadowe entertaynes.
If with my foe in fight I sande
My shade besturr’s with equall paynes 40
As whoe woulde say in joy or smarte
To lyve or die Ile take thy parte.
My shadowe West puttes me in mynde
Godly to spend the day begunne.
My shadowe to the Este inclynde 45
Bids me repent what is ill donne.
A lovely lesson of a frende
Lest tyme in vayne I shoulde mispende.
If absent be my shade sumetyme
That’s but the dymnes of my sight 50
Which cane not vewe a thinge devine
Unlesse the sonne or other light
Doe helpe myne eyes the same to see,
But yett I knowe it bydes with mee.
My shade is of suche worthy fame 55
Glydinge one water t’will not sinke.
It is not hurte in burninge flame
No dint of sworde cane make it shrinke.
From every kinde of casualtye
The Godd’s I trowe were not so free. 60
Apelles with his pensill quaynte
Orr poett’s with there skilfull penn
My shadowes prayse cane not depaynte,
It passeth farr the arte of men.
O shadowe myne the well of glee, 65
What cause have I to joye in thee!
Full ofte my shadowe bringes to mynde
The worthines of shadowes all,
Wherby grete argument I fynde
That shadowes prayse is eternall. 70
Of other shadowes dignytye
Why shulde not myne a patterne bee?
The shades of lusty greenwud tree
Before the rest I will recyte,
To byrdes and bestes whiche gladsumme bee 75
And plesant to eche erthely wight.
All creturs tyrde by heate of sunne
There corpses to coole to shadowe runne.
Good geometrycians by the shade
Will knowe the hiyght of towre and tree. 80
When captaynes will a forte invade
The castells shadowe thay will see
To skall the walls by vewe of itt
Thay’ll tell whatt ladders shall be fitt.
The shade in diall rightly grave 85
Shewthe us howe tyme dothe pass abowte.
In paynters arte the shadowes brave
Of light and dark the worke settes owte.
The spotted shade on looking glasse
Shewes us to clense owre fowled face. 90
The image of owre frende so deere
Beinge but paynted one a clothe
Whoe shoulde the same in peeces tere
Showlde greeve owre harte, yet this in trothe
Is but a shadowe of owre frynde, 95
But loe a shadowe moves owre myned.
Of inwarde mynde owre owtewarde fame
Is but a shadowe summe men fayne,
Yet whosoever wantes the same
Dothe seldumme prove an honest man. 100
But lett us serche the worlde abowte
Shadowes dwe prayse to furnishe owte.
The regall power of a prynce
A shadowe is of hevnely might
Declaringe Godd’s magnificence 105
To punnishe wronge and mayntayne right.
This shadowe suche a tresure is
That realmes decay where it dothe misse.
The blusteringe windes which tosse abowte,
Are shadowes of Godds mighty breathe 110
Which power have all thinges no dowte
Like chaffe to hurle abowte the earthe.
The thunders which so lowde do thumpe
Are shadowes of the latter trumpe.
The sonne, the mone, the starrs also 115
Are shades of Godd’s eternall light.
The showers moystinge where they goe
Presentes his mercye to owre sight.
The corne or frute stande well or fall
Declare his bountye to us all. 120
In flouers freshe, o Lord, howe smell’s
The sent of hys sweete hevnely grace!
In herbes, trees, clowdes, fountaynes and wells
We see the gloryes of his face.
All thinges if wee believe aright 125
Are shadowes of his worthy might.
Some say that knyves cutt love, an chiefly then
When thay are sent, to weemen, giftes from men.
But suche conceipts are superstitius,
And troble muche the foolish amorus.
I neede not cast suche doubts, for thoughe I send 5
Knyves for a gifte to you a woman frend,
Who throughe your just desertes althoughe you be
More leife and deere than any love to me,
Yet this I know and so ame boulde to say,
There is no knife so sharpe can cut away 10
The kindnes undeservde, the grete good will,
The harty favor which you bear me still
When therfor I shall from my duty starte,
I wisshe not one but ten knyves in my harte.
CXCIII. see XXXVIIIa
A man telling a tale at the dinner table chanced to emit a ringing fart. He looked over his shoulder and said “Is this your way of criticizing a speaker while he is telling a story? Then you tell the rest of it.”
A sick man was lying a-bed, and the doctor inquired in the customary way what he had been eating. “Nothing but frogs,” he said. And to the doctor, who was fearful lest he had eaten a toad along with the frogs, he added “if this is supposed to be dangerous, why does the toad look so much like the frog?”
Reverend sir, who was once a spectator, condescend to attend my play as a reader.
Only the worse portion of Martin Heton, Bishop of Ely, lies in this tomb, for his better part has departed far from this world. That part is gathered up in heaven, this one is buried in earth. No man was better, none more enamored of the truth, more pious, or possessed of greater integrity and candor. What sweetness of habit! What piety of mind! How little earth covers such a great man! How amply endowed with learning, intelligence, and religion! As he lived on this earth he was spoken of as a good man and a good father. The man’s posthumous reputation speaks the truth.