To see a commentary note, click on a blue square. To see a textual note, click on a red square. To see the Latin text, click on a green square.
CLI. IN PRAISE OF THE EAGLESTONE
Often lofty virtue lies hidden beneath a tiny stone, as can be judged by all men thanks to the eaglestone. I was present at a childbirth, alas, when the women called out, “help me, chaste goddess.” Her concerned husband, who was holding his silence out of piety, touched her belly with eaglestone. Scarce had he done so when the babe started crying and came out, a tiny thing having the face of his father. Oh what a Ruler, Who by His great divine will commands stones to be subject to our use!
CLII. TO JEAN CHÉRADAME
Everywhere and with all sorts of words, Chéradame, you gladly extol the slender Muses of your friend Leland, and he, albeit unequal, is now in turn attempting to use his thrice-thin reed to sound yours, which very much smack of the tragic buskin. With tuneful Phoebus’s favor, perhaps he can someday rise to loftier things and sound your bright fame in British waters with the trumpet of a Homer.
CLIII. ON THE TITLE PAGE OF AULUS, MACER, AND SERENIUS
The decision has been made to translate the learned poems of health-bringing Macer for your edification, friendly reader, since for a long time they have been hidden in deep darkness, their bodies disfigured by undeserved blemishes. And now all their copies have been collated, they have lost all that filth and been returned to their splendor. If (as I hope) my efforts have bestowed usefulness to these well-scrubbed Muses, candid reader, give me a cheer.
CLIV. TO NICOLAUS BEROALD, A FRENCHMAN
You have hymned the chaste eyes of a heavenly girl in a poem which cannot be surpassed for its learning. I do not know whether I should give greater praise to its artful construction or to the fit distribution of its Latin words, so that I must refrain from describing how it flows as a golden vein at full stream, bearing the splendid wealth of your language, and how your ready pen miraculously abounds in mature gravity mixed with witticisms. Always feel congratulated on this success, learned Beroald: for you a festive wreath will be made out of ivy.
CLV. ON THE HEAD OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST, PAINTED BY ANTONIO SOLARIANO
Antonio was blessed among painters, his reputation was known to the waters of Venice. He painted St. John’s head, cut off by a deadly wounding, with such great dexterity that, if the much-praised Apelles were alive to day, he would break his tools with an angry hand.
CLVI. TO WINTER VON ANDERNACH
A welcome mildness, painted with rose-tendrils, surveys the fair countenance of a serene sky and the solid orb of a burgeoning earth.
The gentler air of the calm west wind tempers the hot blasts of raging Leo, in whose vast heaven the sun goes flying.
And so let’s take turns in plying the tuneful strings of our Lesbian lute. They say the Italian Muses love alternating songs.
Whether you desire to recall your loves in unequal verses under shifting shadows or along river-banks where the Naiad sports in the deep river.
Hurry, I know a dark forest where the Dryads often trip their measures, and on whose banks the blue-green Naiad is wont to bathe.
CLVII. THE GARDENS OF WILLIAM GONSON, BLOOMING IN WINTER
Now let men cease praising the rose-beds of Paestum, which yields its flowers twice a year, nor let royal Rome boast of its gardens. We have seen a garden flourish for the water-bound Britons when Janus was oppressing the fields with his icy chill: bright violets, blue hyacinths, yellow marigolds, and Attic thyme. Hence we have seen the noble flower of transformed Clytia and Venus’ sweet roses, her lovely gifts, and others it would take me a long time to name. Live long, you painted tracts of fertile soil!
CLVIII. IN PRAISE OF BOURBON
In my view, Bourbon deservedly is to be decorated with honor, for he is strong in intellect and vigorous in eloquence. Depart now, you tuneful Muses, you Pimplean crew, and also you, Apollo with your resonant lyre. Go somewhere else, you Loves, Graces, Persuasions, and Elegance. I have no care for applause, or for your praises. Perhaps I shall be called an ingrate, and likewise a naysayer. But whoever is learned, that man is a Phoebus for me, I make him my darling. So thanks to my song my Bourbon will become famous.
CLIX. ON A PORTRAIT OF MELANCHON
The face of Melanchthon you are looking at is all but alive. Holbein painted it. This beautiful picture is excellent!
CLX. TO BRIAN TUKE
I chanced to be strolling in a green field, bent on enjoying the faire breeze of heaven, when a zephyr struck my ears with a whisper such as this:
“I bring news which will please you, for splendid Tuke, the glory of your Muses, now glitters with the dignity of a knight.
“So come, take up your tuneful lyre and, having invoked the godhead of holy Clarian Apollo, you must dare to play festive songs on its happy strings.”
It spoke, and, hearing this, my Erato put on a happy face, pouring forth tunes such as these from her mouth.
“I must always mark this happy day with a happy day and with festive roses, the day on which my Tuke acquired the title of a knightly estate.
“Now wholehearted joy possess my hear, for it feels such gratitude towards you, my great patron, for my fortunate lot.”
I pray that this may be the least part of your praises that you be enhanced by many a title, and that you live until you surpass the years of Pylian Nestor.
CLXI. THE ARMS OF KING HENRY VIII
The sweet lilies, conjoined with great-hearted lions, take their illumination from King Henry’s divine majesty.
CLXII. THE ARMS OF PRINCE EDWARD
A golden coronet decorated with three plumes gleams atop Edward’s star-like head.
CLXIII. TO A SWAN, ABOUT SIR JOHN MASON
My swan, glory of Mt. Pimplaia, you ask with what love I attend on my Mason. Since you ask this with friendly interest, hear my words, spoken with sincerity. I embrace loyal Mason with affection such as no tongue can express.
CLXIV. TO EDWARD, RIGHT ILLUSTRIOUS PRINCE OF WALES, DUKE OF CORNWALL, AND COUNT PALATINE
My Muse is most devoted to your father, whose head it wreaths with a happy garland. Therefore in all her humble ways she works and strives to do well by you, such and so great that you are. Although she lacks the powers, in her friendly heart she nevertheless yearns to celebrate your great endowments. Lately she has given a specimen, and in tuneful song has happily sung of your birthday. Then was published a book, whatever its quality may be, which is read by the learned and submits to their judgment. It could not bestow Vergil’s majesty, nor approach Ovid’s sacred founts, but in her straightforward way my Muse carefully did all that she could, dutiful in all her shrewd ways, and issued a catalogue of all the ancient cities, rivers, camps, and bays in your province, whose fame has been obscured by unwelcome silence, although Wales was formerly brightened by their light. Not content to set this goal for her goodly studies, my Muse returned to her regular task. See, this happy volume comes forth containing noble encomiums, gifts prepared for noble gentleman. And it wonderfully desires to proclaim your name, your fame, virtues, majesty, and all your glory, proclaiming things about you such as this present age and coming posterity may sing.
(see the Appendix)
CLXV. TO THE RIGHT SERENE ELIZABETH, MATCHLESS VIRGIN AND DAUGHTER OF HENRY VIII KING OF ENGLAND &c.
Your virtue is so bright, noble virgin, that it shines as if it were being carried in Diana’s gleaming chariot, and demands the best of praise, rewards worthy to live forever in cedar. How I wish I could publish your endowments, you would shine like a serene star in the sky! If the Castalian font had watered my mouth abundantly, then my Muse would have poured forth her clear tune. As things are, as a pious witness I can report these things which commend you and greatly please myself. When I came to Ampthill with an ardent desire to visit noble Edward, who is my great glory, coming under a lucky star, here I saw your brother and paid my respects at the time when polished Cheke, that darling of the Muses, commended me to you in friendly terms. He arranged for you to greet me in Latin, so that I might learn how much grace was in your mouth. I had conceived every great notion of you, but, fair lady, you surpassed all my judgment. Why describe here the sweetness with which you filled my ears when you spoke French clearly? Or why describe the music and melodious songs you produced after you took up your lute? More properly, my nymph, I wish to suggest your virginal modesty and noble manners. Your well-known modesty will garner a heap of praise, and all the course of your fortune will be smooth. Pray continue in this way, blessed Lady, and happily revere virtue as your guide.
CLXVI. TO SIR JOHN POLLARD
Although your are distinguished on many a score, being a prudent man of sound judgment, and eminent for your fine work as an advocate when your effort waxes warm in the courtroom, nevertheless you are no more distinguished for any reason than that you are a blossoming supporter of the Muses. For which reason, learned men lavishly thank you, you may enjoy their thanks to your advantage. For that gratefully publishes everything, and you will shine bright amidst the Castalian choir. Though I am a trifling fellow, yet I worship the sacred Muses and am able to extol your endowments as a herald. Meanwhile, honorably perform the great thing I ask, and continue to show your favor to my singing Muse.
CLVII. TO SIR JOHN BRENN
The splendid glory of martial Brennus has shone forth, whose name is known to both poles of the globe. He was an ornament to the camp, and as a victor he triumphantly yoked the Romans’ proud necks. Hence writers both Greek and Latin have written his praises, competing to celebrate such a general. He was a Gaul, if Rome tells everything truly, and a vigorous leader of the Senones. But my Muse denies he was a Gaul. He became well-known to the Gauls thanks to his martial deeds, but a British mother gave him his birth. He had a brother, Bellinus, born for warfare, who was the apple of the Britons’ eye. So earlier writers have taught me, since I am devoted to such things, and I shall not scorn my nation’s praises. Meanwhile you should continue to rise up, inspired by this fine example, and being a happy imitator of this general. It is fitting that one Brennus should serve the interests of another, such glory is a spur to genuine virtue. Therefore, since you derive your name from Brennus, you must do Brennus-like deeds with your doughty hand. Happy Italy has taught you many excellent things, from which has grown a great part of your reputation. You have boldly witnessed the Caledonian Scotsmen defeated and routed in battle, so you too have been a victor. When Boulogne fell, shattered by great forth, you were present as a fierce soldier, bearing blood-stained arms. But why should I dwell on those wars? My hope is placed in the Muses, my darling. Fair peace prevails, put down those troublesome arms. You too should tirelessly court your Muses. They will set you happily atop Mt. Parnassus, and the noble prize will be the laurel.
CLXVIII. ON HECTOR BOECE
Reader, if you want me to count up all the lies written by the historian Hector, you might as well bid me count the waves of the sea and the stars of the clear sky.
CLXIX. ON HIERONIMO VIDAE’S BOOK DE SCACCHIS
Homer sang of the fierce wars which the savage Greek soldier fought against his Trojan counterpart, whereas Marco Vida sang of playful battles waged by generals painted black and white. The Iliad conferred an immortal name upon sublime Homer, as these mock-wars will on Marco.
CLXX. TO POLYDORE VERGIL
I was the first person to identify ancient cities by our English names, Polydore — don’t deny it. And it was by my doing that new light was cast on things buried in Cimmerian darkness.
CLXXI. TO CARLO CAPELLO, THE VENETIAN AMBASSADOR
I have read your sermons, learned Capello, distinguished for their eloquence, religion, and piety. Who would have thought you had made such progress in the Hebrew language? You could even surpass the rabbis. I could have expected something of the sort from Eli, Munster, or holy Capito. But you wanted to deceive my judgment. Congratulations on your courage, this is a direct path to the saints above.
CLXXII. TO ANTHONY ROUSE
May I have the favor of the nine learned girls and Apollo, Rouse, if I love you like my eyes, you who treat your absent friend with zeal, he who no less yours than he was at the time when he was present daily, joining you in going out into the pleasant fields while clasping some book in his hand, such was would not only teach the grace of the Latin language, but also virtue itself.
CLXXIII. TO LUIS VIVES
You rare honor and glory of the Spanish people, Vives, who bless your nation with your noble arts and eloquence, desiring to restore learned authors to the glory which the mischievous passage of time has defaced, be favorable to my singing Muse, which vehemently yearns wholeheartedly to consecrate your bright lights of genuine virtue to fame, so that all posterity may celebrate you. Marcus Tullius was the perpetual good font of both languages, and the orator Fabius demands nothing less. As the learned and suitable interpreter of the former, you discuss the dream of lofty Scipio that by your welcome effort you even surpass the commentaries of elegant Macrobius. And you frequently revisit the latter’s treatise on the arts of rhetoric, yourself being a fine practitioner thereof. Thus much of erudition has been bequeathed you, a fellow-Spaniard, by Seneca. Meanwhile African Augustine. that fostering source of light, thinks over his books as annotated by your illustrious pen, and he cheers. That pious, excellent professor of Holy Scripture rejoices, moved by the eagerness with which, over the objections of the impious, you restore to God Almighty his festive crown, your great gift of The City of God, and happily inspects the annotations with which you in your fine ways have blessed it. Continue in this way, I pray you. Thus you will mount to the shining choirs of bright Olympus.
CLXXIV. ON THE FLOWERS OF TERENCE ILLUSTRATED BY NICHOLAS UDALL
Fair Terence knew how to exhibit your fine art of eloquence, learned Rome. As industrious as a busy bee, Udall has chosen flowers from his garden. And, so the work would be more welcome for schoolboys, he translated the Latin words into his native language. He has moreover added a commentary, gifts of his articulate tongue, and worthy to live forever preserved in cedar. And so you young Britons should honor Udall, and thus may comic grace flow from your lips.
CLXXV. TO EDWARD FOXE
Foxe, you flourish as a grace of the British nation, deservedly holding a place among the celebrated men who foster the Latin language. Leland asks twice, three times that you smilingly receive this gift of a friend, which his Muse (who does not yet have her shining locks prettily bound with ivy) has scribbled with running pen on a thin sheet of paper, because she has no doubt you will do so all the more willingly (and I may say this having had experience of your name) since you are a leading man among the erudite, and by good fortune their common master, and since she joins you in adoring and happily cultivating our king, whose genuine glory gleams so bright with the beams of the virtues that he is a single sun conferring peace on all the world.
CLXXVI. TO AUGUSTINE PEYTON, PHYSICIAN
I cannot be sufficiently surprised by your unending praise of my Muse. Possibly you are expecting that out of reciprocal affection my Muse will speak in your praise. This will better be done by the learned crew at Padua, a member of which you yourself once were (as was Linacre, most renowned at the medical art, and in my judgment distinguished in both the languages). So pardon my feeble Muse, Augustine. She would speak your praises if she could.
CLXXVII. ON THE TITLE PAGE OF PETRONIUS ARBITER
This man digs out hidden veins of rich gold, that one seeks the wealth of the Red Sea. We with our careful hands handle ancient books, the remains of the Latin language, three or four times over. Behold, erudite reader, Petronius comes forth, quietly triumphant in his snow-white garment. Gold and jewels yield to the passage of time, but the fame of learned Petronius will endure forever.
CLXXVIII. TO N. BISSE OF FONTANUM OF FONTENAY
Your constant probity is most worthy of praise on many a score, friend Bisse, and your learning deserves high titles, whether the holy pulpit or the courtroom summons. And I add that the pure candor of your manners deservedly demands remark. Therefore, just as I embrace these rare good fortunes, so all the chorus of the town of Fontenay should love you.
CLXXIX. A REED OF THE NILE, GIVEN AS A GIFT TO WILLIAM BLOUNT
This reed, sent to me by Smith as a token of his affection, has come to you as a small gift. Slight though it may be, do not scorn it. Great grace is wont to exist even in small things. For (in addition to the other advantages it brings with it), this reed comes from the waters of the Nile. O how often it has scribbled verses in its flying course, doing its duty night and day! A dweller on the bank of the Nile has taught it to whistle, and it has been tuneful when Zephyrus was blowing. And since it is dwelt in my pleasant shrine of the Muses, it has sung tunes in mixed modes. Allowing itself to be separated from its master with difficulty, it admires your household, where Fortune summons it.
CLXXX. TO HIS THALIA, THAT SHE SHOULD VISIT THE PHYSICIAN EDWARD WOTTON
If you wish to please elegant ears, Thalia, you should now seek out candid Wotton, there at the place where a swarm of bees investigates flowers (but sweeter ones) and celebrate a noble man. With profound judgment he teaches the poem of the Sicilian poet. He knowledgeably explains the Books of high-toned Homer. And, himself an orator, he vehemently imparts grace to the rhetorical colors of his Cicero. He cheerfully plies the medical arts and serenely favors our endeavors. By its nature, that place is sacred to the Muses, so you will go and return as all more welcome a guest.
CLXXXI. THE PRAISE OF THE ROSE, TO MARY, THE KING’S DAUGHTER
THE ROSE SPEAKS
You, a virgin whom all men could call the thrice-great glory of your noble father and your nation, behold, I am here, a rose from your flower-bearing garden, a handsome gift, a gem to be set on your milk-white breast. I shall recount the lofty names of my pedigree. Divine girl, my father is Zephyrus, he who with his gentle breeze tempers the flowery realms of the garden soil. My mother, possessed of an excellent origin, is Earth, thanks to whose all-bearing divinity the meadows flourish. She gave me, her dear daughter, my first plentiful flowers, the triumphant grace of renewing springtime. If you ask my nation, my homeland is fair Paestum, a proud boast amidst the homes of Apulia. And if you also ask what is the cause of my fragrant scent, and why I have this blood-red color, I shall explain. Once upon a time Phrygian Ganymede chanced to be serving Jove full beakers of nectar. While he was performing this service, the boy was gawking at the lights of the star-studded heaven and spilled the sweet nectar. And this liquor, dripping through heaven’s curving halls, dripped down on my leaves. I owe my ruddy honor to great Venus, who cherishes me above all other flowers. While she was hunting for Eros though the Idalian groves, a bramble chanced to prick the sole of her foot. And I, being stepped on, imbibed the juice of her wound and was turned from white to red. And now if I please you, right illustrious Mary, you may first kiss my petals three or four times. Then, when my passionate scent has pleased your nose, let your snow-white breast always wear me. It thus behooves you, being superior to all the other girls, to cherish me as your flower and as a partner in your pedigree.
CLXXXII. TO ANTHONY COKE, A NOBLEMAN
My Muse was idle, prostrated by black cares, nor did any pleasure remain in my curved lyre, when your Muse came a-knocking at my locked door, adorned with a scarlet wreath, and when she learnedly strummed her tuneful zither so sweetly that she captivated and delighted me in wondrous wise, and roused my unaccustomed Muse to take up her resounding instrument. Now I believe that with little effort Amphion could summon stones, steeped in his sweet song, to the walls of Thebes. Now I believe the scaly fish obeyed Arion. For Anthony, you who can learnedly rouse my sluggish Muse to join in your measures, are able with little effort to move rocks and the fish of the sea.
CLXXXIII. TO GLORY
Glory, you always stand on the peak of Parnassus, summoning young men to your rites. Among whom, I confess, I once offered up incense and prayers upon prayers. Do you want me to speak the truth and what I think, glory? I have no care for the applause or fickle judgment of the common mean. I can still pay attention to complements, but those which are given by the verdict of learned men.
CLXXXIV. TO THOMAS RUNCORN
Happy because you understand the Latin language, Runcorn, thanks to the rare dexterity of your good judgment, why shouldn’t this poem lay claim on a part of your studies, mixing in some pleasantry with those austere things? Begin, bard, with a prelude à la Homer, and artful Apollo will come to aid your undertakings. Last night when I went to bed and sleep had shut my weary eyes, I saw laurel-garlanded Phoebus, and I saw the Sisters weaving ivy garlands with their facile hands. And after they had adorned your brow with these, the Delian god said, “grow, poet, with good auspices.” Do not hold holy Phoebus’ prophecies in scorn, it is a great thing to have deserved such a god.
CLXXXV. ON THE DAUGHTERS OF THOMAS MORE, THAT BEVY OF GRACES
Cease admiring your eloquent daughters of Hortensius, great Rome. For in many a way these three Graces, the darlings of polished More, put your great names in the shade. Their delight is not to card Milesian wool, nor to spin thread with a ready hand. Rather, their pleasure is to plunge themselves into reading the monuments of Latin eloquence and to adorn its words with their learned annotations, and no less to read Greek authors, Homer, and he to whom attaches the first glory for speaking, not to mention the enthusiasm with which they study the books of Aristotle, those mystic gifts of the goddess of wisdom. Ignorance of the arts of Minerva will henceforth be disgraceful for men, since a crew of women so adore them.
CLXXXVI. TO LOUIS DUBRINGUS
The poem with which you greet me, Louis, after I have returned from my lengthy academic studies pleases me in many ways, not so much because it magnificently brings along with it the friendly chorus of the Sisters and a crew of poets consecrated to the laurel-wearing god, as that it thus displays your fine candor and sure assurance of the future affection between us two similar fellows. I now receive it, and gladly, but I am not minded to accept the praises which you write with your red-hot pen. For they contain things loftier than what my humble Minerva can acknowledge while maintaining her most bashful appearance. But, I may say, you are readily doing that which you always freely do with that charming favor of yours, Dubring: I mean, you often use your high-flown praises to extol everybody devoted to the rites of austere wisdom. Therefore in my hendecasyllables I am repaying the praise you give as a tuneful herald. For thus I ought to and want to give you a gift that matches your verses.
CLXXXVII. TO THE RIGHT ILLUSTRIOUS HENRY, DUKE OF RICHMOND
Just as a Roman letter is written in majescules when it could just as well be written in miniscules, behold, this book will be legible for you in large letters, Prince, you hope and child of the Aonian crew. And if it pleases you (as I certainly hope it will), you will give great gifts in exchange for this small one.
CLXXXVIII. TO THE RIGHT INVINCIBLE HENRY VIII, ABOUT HIS JOUSTS
Who is unaware of those shows of olden times, which the chorus of bards praised to high heaven with titles of honor? If I may tell the truth, right invincible king of kings, in comparison to yours they are tedious. For as often as you engage in a battle of horse, mounted on your Scythian courser for all to see, you far surpass the wonders of the Coliseum and what the Campus Martius had to offer. Great Caesar will be my witness, he who possesses France with his great might. For they have often witnessed your triumphs and have awarded them the palm and the majesty. Who can count up the applause you have received, the number of men your fierce steed has unhorsed? Who can sufficiently admire its high capers as you apply the spur on both sides? Who has the power to lavish adequate praise on your skilled hands and on those strong arms of yours? The people shout “huzzah” as often as you victoriously come out of the fray bearing a shattered spear. Meanwhile the views of your nobles differ widely as they state their judgment of your virtue. They all boast loudly and assertively as they compete in heaping noble epithets on you. One maintains that horse-taming Castor was such a one as your audience sees. Another, his heart filled with gladness says “such was Hector of Troy.” A third cheers and matches your name with that of Achilles, noting the similar endowment of virtue in you both. Then, so that the reputation of your deeds may grow, men are not lacking who state their approval of you in this way, saying that the tilting-ring experiences Henry to be a captain as great as warlike Mars is said to be in the fearfully resounding clash of arms.
CLXXXIX. IN PRAISE OF DESIDERIUS ERASMUS
Let a Greek preen himself on the good orator Demosthenes and the Latin throng celebrate their Marcus Cicero, as long as your German praises great Erasmus, in whose mouth there also flows the fountain of eloquence.
CXC. TO STEPHEN GARDINER, A MAN MOST LEARNED IN EVERY RESPECT
He who conferred on you the noble name of Stephen had a presentiment of your destined gifts. Whenever you prepare a case in your eloquent mind, a green wreath encircles your shrewd head. When you demonstrate polished rhetoric’s bright colors in the Schools, the highest crown wreathes your hair. And when a learned play is put on with you serving as its producer, then you acquire the comic crown with your scenes.
CXCI. TO ROBERT ALDRICH
If you thoroughly understood my Muse’s zeal for you, you would receive her with open arms, and (if I am not wrong) would pronounce her worthy of your support. But, I ask you, how can you comprehend the intimate feelings of a Muse who holds her silence? Therefore, that you might understand, she will gladly testify of her love for you, and tunefully touch on your solid praises for learning. She will do so at the bidding of the Cam, which gave you, an upright young man, instructions in the goodly Arts and in elegance at the time when she happily nursed to her bosom Erasmus, a man of immense value, not without great advantage to all her members, and experienced this as a favorable boon, but particularly for your benefit. For you sat in Desiderius’ presence as he carefully collated learned copies, the remains of pure Latinity. Now, Aldrich, my Muse has done her duty by you, and is bent on making an end to her succinct hendecasyllables.
CXCII. AN ACCLAMATION FOR THE RIGHT ILLUSTRIOUS HENRY VIII, KING OF ENGLAND, ON HIS VISITATION TO OXFORD
Have you come, you prince who are the most long-awaited of all things, so that at length you might illuminate this home on the Isis and its number of students, just as the sun lightens the world with its rays? And with their singing the swans Oxford cherishes at its bosom will hymn your titles to the stars above. Pray continue, prince, to bestow their rewards on the learned, who will publish your virtues through the world’s vast climes, so that you will appear to all men to be a thrice-great victor, a single man who is the equal of a multitude.
CXCIII. ON CERTAIN POETS OF OUR AGE
If you ask me who in my judgment will be first among the poets which our age has produced, I shall set aside all invidiousness and clearly state my opinion, Thalia need have no fear of my black claws. The glory of Pontanus, the first, shines forth, he has been the greatest devotee of Ovid. Next to the first comes Greek Marullus, born to verses and honeyed tones. He who is worthy of the name “Actius Sincerus” praised to high heaven the flower of the virginal choir. Tuneful Mantua-born Baptista hymned that same Mary, both shone forth brightly, immortal Angelus joins their number, and the divine bard Vida comes right after. A most illustrious witness to Hessus’ noble Muse is that Iliad that can be found in Latin schools, and another fine translator shines forth in this respect, called by the familiar name of Niccolo Valla. Our age praises More’s wit and acumen, and a more grateful posterity will laud these same things. Even our contemporaries take Bourbon’s Nugae seriously, and there are others whose songs are worthy of cedar. I’m no Sedigitus, let whoever wants lodge his objection against me, As far as I’m concerned, every man is entitled to his own opinion. But if there exists a single fool who would demean the blessed gifts of my Pontanus, I have an answer ready at hand (and I have no fear of ghosts), which this censor himself will regard as worthwhile. Whatever the leading Athenians taught, and what whatever Rome, schooled in Latin eloquence, had to offer, whatever that right prudent goddess Pallas provided out of the fertility of her wisdom, whatever Phoebus and the learned Sisters practiced, whatever shone forth on the Aonian ridges, and whatever the Loves, the Graces, witticisms, elegances, and Persuasion had to show worthy of distinction, not to speak of Urania and the glittering stars of heaven, the gardens of the Hesperides, and also the happy monuments of antiquities now rescued from darkness and brought to light, all these things he learned thoroughly and stored up in his profound mind, being intent on his goodly studies by day and by night. These bright tokens of his serene virtue bid me extol Pontanus to high heaven itself.
CXCIV. TO EDMUND BONNER
I cannot bring down acorn-bearing oaks from the mountains, or move stones with my sweet sound. I cannot stop the rapid currents of rivers nor bring to a halt wild beasts that chase after their pray. Being small, I utter small things. Perhaps, Bonner, my Thalia can charm your ears.
CXCV. TO LOUIS [sic] BEDYLL
If I possessed as great an ability to address you as once the poet Ovid had, or if I owned a rich cornucopia such as they sing Vergil’s once to have been, I would wish to paint you on a bright canvas, Bedyll, you bright glory of the Aonian 7crew. But since my scant equipment does not grant these things to my wit, let it suffice for a poet to have had the desire. And yet it is not enough to have had the desire, unless he says a little of the things which commend you and gives some idea of your praiseworthy points. Warham of Canterbury (a man of much nobility) made much of you as his son. Hence you came to be more welcome to the learned, and in particular great Erasmus was your friend. Great Erasmus’ contemporary Grocyn long cultivated you with piety, and Thomas Linacre, that chief glory of health-bringing medicine, cherished you with equal love. And for a long time More loved you, More, that darling of Phoebus and delight of the courtroom. This is what I had to say, eager to commend you to enduring fame. Now let it grant me my wish.
CXCVI. TO THOMAS HARDING, REGIUS PROFESSOR OF THE SACRED HEBREW LANGUAGE AT OXFORD
Assuredly your recent lecture was a happy one, which cultivated all the elegance of the sacred language, just as the elegant oratory of Demosthenes, from whose mouth flowed Attic charm, just as flourished that of fine Cicero, by whose protection Milo got off scot-free. What is the source from which has grown this divine eloquence which captivated my ears and my mind? Has sweet Persuasion filled you with her nectar’s dew? Or have the bees given you their honey? Whatever lucky happenstance has placed this sweet liquor on your lips has worked to your advantage. So, if in the future, when I have read your oration, it delights me as much as did when heard it, I shall be the greatest champion of your praises and your tuneful herald, and my Muse will celebrate your name in her a song,: none, as I think will be more worthy of cedar.
CXCVII. FRANCISCUS BARBARUS’ BOOK DE RE UXORIA, GIVEN TO THE LADY MARY, THE KING’S DAUGHTER
In this small volume Barbarus gives you a fine explanation of what marriage is, divine Mary. So, being of full marriageable age, this gift is not inappropriate for your responsibilities. Rather, girl, read it with the same kindly expression that a queen shows the bashful throng as she is driven in her snow-white carriage. Thus may you get a handsome husband, girl, whom you may bless with your happy fertility.
CXCVIII. THE REVIVAL OF LEARNING
See how the glory of reviving learning flourishes, as does the understanding of three languages. The treasury of Greece migrates to Italy and proclaims it will repair the goodly Arts. Spain cultivates vivid fonts of eloquence, and nowadays France shines, being wholly dedicated to studies. Germany honorably nourishes many learned men whose names are well known to the world. And our England is a mother of intellects: she has produced Free, Tiptoft, Viduus, and Flemming. Then followed luminaries of learning: Glocyn, Selling, Linacre, pious Latimer, Tunstall, Phaenix, Stockley, Colet, Lily and Pace, a festive group of men. All of them went to Italy under a happy star, and the British Muse shone forth in Italian schools. And all of them returned to their homeland as erudite men, bringing their treasures with them, namely manuscript copies of the ancient Greeks, deserving of everlasting cedar. Long live the happy industry of the learned, thanks to which the light restored to us shines bright, with darkness banished.
CXCIX. TO ROBERT TALBOT
You who quench your thirst with Castalian water, being a blessed companion of the Muses, and always rest your eyes, happy with placid sleep, atop the two peaks of Parnassus, you who now wear the the clinging vine, the traditional reward of a fine bard, and who with your clear voice sing musical songs such as Apollo himself (a god of whatever worth you care to name) would approve, be present to the tunes of my singing Muse, Talbot, you glory of the Aonian choir, which very much hopes to submit to that keen judgment of yours (nothing more neat and elegant, nothing more learned or finished), so that it will either helplessly fail, or brightly stand, branded with your distinguished mark of approval (which is as polished as a pearl) and have no fear of moths or neglect. Now I seem to myself to see sparks growing in your countenance, sparks which kindle the fires of affection. Thus your face grows serene, you eyes (indicate a favorable disposition) shine forth with their beams, and you yourself smile kindly, and this tickles me and advises to consider all my Muse’s affairs now to be safe, quite safe. So she won’t value all the rumors of the more critical at a farthing, she will scorn the malign Codruses (an envious crew), the chattering magpies, the yet more chattering parrot, and the hoarsely cawing crows, trusting in this strong shield, and once more she will record your snow-white kindness in her ledger of remembrance.
CC. FAVONIUS AS A MUSIC-TEACHER
Who teaches the swan to sing? Favonius, whose breath comes from the western world.
CCI. TO HENRY VIII, RIGHT PUISSANT SOVEREIGN
Phoebus will cease to display his beams to the world, and fair Cynthia to show her bright torches, the rapid stream will flow without its silent fish, and the thornbrake will have no bird, the sacred oaks will cease to spread their branches, and the flower to paint the meadows with busy hand before, divine king, your name fades from my heart, for it is the harbor and fair breeze for my studies.
CCII. TO TIMOTHY LUCIUS
Lucius, you glory of the Pierian battalion, with whom I have been especially wont to ward off severe cares with sports, now I come to you, and my plea is that you gladly set aside your Plautine verses and jokes for a few hours and read the trifling verses of your familiar friend, which celebrate your facile endowments, and sing of, admire, adore, and adorn you, such an old friend of mine which (in view of your candor) think their part is to repay you with equal kindness for the good things you have done for me.
CCIII. TO SIR BRIAN TUKE, WHEN HE SENT HIM MELA AND SOLINUS
If, Tuke, it behooves a gentleman of breeding to view the manners and cities of many men, and if to gain an understanding of many regions by land and sea is a welcome thing and nothing can be more so, let this slim volume occupy your eyes and mind, for it will serve you as a mirror of all the world.
CCIV. ON THE RETURN OF WILLIAM GONSON
Give me a little time, divine Thalia, give me a little time away from my studies. This is a festive day which has brought its noble light, a day that I must mark in the Cretan way. Behold, my Gonson has happily returned from the city, the sweet glory of my Muse and my bulwark. Let suitable prayers be made to the Panomphaean Thundeerr, who has granted us such great joys under a lucky star.
CCV. ON THE TITLE PAGE OF A BOOK
If you wish to learn the ancient causes of things, and whatever the world possesses that is inscribed on marble, turn your mind and eyes here. Here a golden cornucopia pours forth its wealth.
CCVI. TO FRANCIS DINAMUN
Drinking the Attic honey off your tongue, you devour war-sounding Homer’s learned poem. Continue with a stout mind, fair Apollo will give you full success for your bold beginnings. I myself shall follow when Zephyrus’ gentler air fills the sail of my ship. Meanwhile, Francis, use these happy days, for every hour which passes by without literature is wasted.
CCVII. TO HIS SWAN, ABOUT THE VIRGIN STELLA
Oh what a face, a face worthy of an Apelles, shines forth in my Stella, fair swan! And again, what manners! How pure is her mind. There is no painter who can represent such things.
CCVIII. ON THE AGILITY OF A TIGHTROPE-WALKER
While splendid Rome adored its famous theater and learned drama was esteemed at its proper value, a winged-foot tightrope-walker always kept peoples’ eyes intent upon him and created a great deal of commotion. He played all the artist’s parts with success, being skilled in skimming the stretched line with lightness of foot. Since such spectacles so delighted the common folk, in hope of reward this art came into prominence. A spirited woman came to the sea-girt Britons and on an appointed day put on a spectacle. Since London had a money-mint, it seemed a noble city such as could make new fortunes. Now the day was at hand and a great number of men had flocked together, the ropes were stretched, and the whole place was at a fever pitch. The Gallic girl sported on the tightropes with her agile foot, for she feared the threats of a headlong fall. And whenever she was ready to hop to another rope, she would test and poke at the twisted line. While the people gawked up at her evolutions, a loud voice rang out, “stay your rash feet, girl.” But she kept flying, and at a renewed run persisted in skimming along the ropes. Then she boldly caught round balls with her feet, and danced along the familiar ropes at a fast pace. Soon, when she perceived that the spectators’ wallets were opening, she said “oh, let the prey I am seeking fall into my nets!” The cheering populace generously paid out their money, showing their approval for the tireless girl’s playful accomplishment. I quite approve of the ancients’ spectacles which we maintain, and willingly grant them my admiration. Let there be a heap of happiness, but I completely condemn cruelties, the bloody and murderous hand, the many baleful things such as the violent powers of the city of Rome often had to offer.
CCIX. TO GEORGE GOLDWIN
Tomio, that friend of our mutual studies, greets you through my mouth, asking that in my poems I wholly show my approval of your Muse’s poem, so witty, elegant, and graceful. Although this demands a skilled artist, a fountain of wit, nevertheless, having been asked, I neither can nor wish to refuse anything to a friend. Therefore, Goldwin, I beg that you forgive my unskilled Muse, whom Tomio on the one hand and Lentulus on the other have thus aroused to great exertions when she was idle and all but prostrated.
CCX. IN PRAISE OF GEOFFREY CHAUCER OF OXFORD
As long as the boar loves the mountain ridges, the happy bird its branches, and the scaly fish clear waters, Homer, that most distinguished writer of the Greek tongue, will always be first with his Aonian song. And, with Phoebus’ approval, lofty-singing Virgil will always be the greatest glory of the Latin lyre. And no less will our Geoffrey Chaucer always be Britain’s greatest grace. Who does not know that happy centuries have produced those men? But he was produced by a rude age of the world. Had he seen times in which the Muses were flourishing, he would have equaled and surpassed his famous predecessors.
CCXI. TO H. COLE
You happy companion of the Muses, learned Cole, equipped with that noble energy of mind with which you revisit the fathers of the Latin language, aptly mixing the Latin with the Greek, if you can now take a vacation from austere Minerva, and if greater exertions do not engage your thrice-preoccupied mind, quickly scan this poem of your friend, in which he kindly desires to display his zeal for you, although not with that elegance with which the pure choir of Padua shines and tunefully celebrates your conspicuous endowments, but rather in the way that young beginners are wont to approach holy poetry at the beginning — I mean in a way that is very meager and unmusical.
CCXII. ON SIR GEOFFREY CHAUCER
Florence may deservedly boast of its winged Dante, and Italy may crow over your verses, Petrarch. Our England admires the poet Chaucer, to whom its national tongue is indebted for its graces.
CCXIII. THE VICTORY AT VIENNA
If any day ever has, this happy day bids you take up your tuneful lyre, Calliope. For on high God Almighty has taken pity on Christendom, and it returns victoriously from its vanquished foe. Fair Vienna, the fierce Turk had encircled your walls with countless squadrons of foot and horse. You could imagine that the elements were aware of the cruel tyrant and aimed their shafts at his head. The Danube ran more violently than usual with swollen waters, bent on a just death for this Scythian commander. And (I am speaking the truth) much snow fell from all the sky and a cold spell began to bring everything to a halt. At this point, too, with a thick hail of missiles the townsmen sent many thousands of Turks to their death. Perceiving these things the barbarian Sulieman abandoned the city and made a shameful retreat, more shameful himself.
CCXIV. ON THE RIGHT BOUNTIFUL KING HENRY VIII
I cannot repay my master with adequate thanks for his good offices, but if Fate grants long life to my books, a future age will learn and proclaim that he was a bright heaven-sent light for my Muses.
CCXV. ON THE FLYLEAF OF A BOOK, TO ANTHONY DENNY, A NOBLEMAN
I have collected golden sayings by learned men. They urgently require a sagacious reader, such as you are.
CCXVI. TO THE LEGALIST RICHARD VENTAMUS
I had ceased fitting my plectrum to its accustomed fingers, and my lute was shut up in its case, Ventamus, when your virtue bade me turn my attention to the strings of my tuneful lute. Who will dictate a song to me, unaccustomed to being a bard? Who but my special patron Apollo? He understands full well the endowments of intellect and judgment which holy Minerva has bestowed on you. He also also understand the greatness of eloquence, which is even wont to move hard rocks. But Clarian Apollo must restrain this, and I shall sing no less. Your thunderbolts are familiar in the courtroom, thunderbolts that terrify courageous advocates when they cannot uphold their cases. And I am not being vain and boasting something for which there are no eye-witnesses, Carne and Wotton will testify on my behalf, men whom the throng of querulous clients hold in high esteem as often as a difficult case requires their advice. Let it suffice to sing this part of your praises, someday you will be greater in my song. Then Wales, the mother that reared you, will sing my verses, as will as many learned men whom the British nation breeds.
CCXVII. TO JOHN SHEPREVE
Shepreve, you who hold first place among my dear fair friends for your elegant sweetness of manners and also your more elegant Muses, I have chosen to include your name in my volume, not because I imagine fame will smile on you with a kinder face thanks to my verses, but so that you might learn and approve the disposition of a kindly friend.
CCXVIII. AD THOMAS MARONEM
As much as the violet is an agreement with the Zephyr, honeybees with fragrant thyme, and the vine, its consort, with the elm, thus much am I with your fair manners. Therefore let us be of one heart in fostering the work of fair friendship, with hands honorably clasped. Lo, my hand willingly subscribes to this affection, lest my signature be wanting for this goodly pact. And (what remains to be done) you add yours too, so that this signed contract might perform its welcome work. Thus, learned Maro, may famed Apollo with the nine Muses show their favor to you, a noble son of virtue.
CCXIX. THE FAME OF VIRTUE IS ETERNAL
In what a short time fragile beauty withers and fair glory deserts our bodies! I met a lad who had seen his twelfth year (beauty’s first glory), and I chanced to see him a few months later — alas, the grace of his bright comeliness had disappeared. If I am not wrong, the attraction of a virginal face is like a pleasant flower, for both quickly fail. When the fiery sun seeks the house of retrograde Cancer the blooming rose breathes with its lovely odor. But as soon as its vital juice fails it grows pale and its ruddy petals fall. Thus the charm of a fair countenance will fail and soon disappear. You must imagine that virtue, the beauty of the mind buried deep within the heart, will never abandon the man who cultivates it. It will happily bestow fruits on your present life and establish enduring peace. And in the end it will lead you from this darkness to the fostering light, so that men may forever look on the lofty halls of God.
CCXX. ON JOHN TWYNE
Erato, begin praising our Twyne, whom the entire choir of the learned deservedly allow. With the help of his artful Muses and of Apollo he sings verses which all of Kent holds at high value. He also illustrates our kings in their proper order, all of your descendants, Duke William. Then he seeks out polite monuments of ancient writers, so that he can further learning, and he is vigilant for that school at Canterbury, which possesses a cathedral dedicated to our Savior. If these things are not praiseworthy, then cease Erato, to celebrate my Twyne.
CCXXI. TO THE RIGHT WELL GIFTED SIR THOMAS ELYOT
Perhaps, learned Elyot, you are expecting me to send you some fine gift from the city. How can you not expect one, since the inmost friendliness of your mind towards myself deserves every gift? But my sole concern is that I not send you something rashly or something inappropriate. I shall not send gold. For by the long usage of time gold’s shining glory is destined to die. Nor shall I send you gifts grown in shells of the Red Sea, for the grace of pearls is transitory and brief. And I shall send you no gleaming stars of gems, which only feed the eyes and are in other respects barren. And so I must hit on gifts which no long passage of centuries will spoil, but such presents are sought by great labor and demand the effort of a fertile brain, since my Muse has nothing to offer except for Castalian songs in mixed modes. So accept these gifts with a smiling face, even if they are inferior to your merits. If only the Fates agree to grant them an enduring life, I have given you things far more splendid than gold and gems. Thus it is your pleasure to write immortal books, and me to publish poems worthy of cedar.
CCXXII. AD MUSE, ABOUT SIR HENRY KNYVETT
As great a friend as Maecenas was to Horace and Vergil when Rome shone with its famous honor, as great a friend as eloquent Stella was to that poet whom lofty Bilbilis boasted to have as a fellow-townsman, as much as that Caius Bassus was to the satirist whose fame was known in Ausonia thanks to his lyre, let Knyvett be that great to you, my tuneful Muse, for no man stands closer to me in true affection.
CCXXIII. ITALIAN CULTURE
Whoever striving to familiarize himself with the various cultural attainments of the Italians should pay a visit to the gallery of my friend Tuke. And then, if he should be curious to discover what fortune brought such fine paintings there, he will learn by my instruction that among the Ausonian painters there is one who is preeminent, and by his outstanding workmanship commands a high price. Keeping his eye on pure Italian neatness and ornamentation, he painted with such rare dexterity of hand that the splendid glory of this work attracted young ladies from all over […]. Wealthy Tasso paid the price, bought it, and gave it to Tuke as a fine gift, at whose house this noble specimen of Italian culture is always on view, one that beguiles the eyes of its viewers.
CCXXIV. TO NICHOLAS WOTTON, DEAN OF THE CATHEDRALS OF CANTERBURY AND YORK
Wotton, you happy bright light of Caesar’s court, turn your serene glance here and with gladdened eyes look on this fair little book, newly published to celebrate learned men and tunefully sing your excellent praises. It asks this one thing, that you consent to show your favor to the author of this toilsome work: gathering strength thanks to his industry, it has finally learned to speak with erudition. The free folk of Kent were the first to see you thanks to their bright lucky star, you who were born to a house of noble stock and endowed with a divine nature. Thanks to this great gift you imbibed polite letters, both domestic and foreign. Next you eagerly visited the Parisians, that eloquent choir, and the Germans, that lovely crew, and finally the Italians, the especial glory of the Latin language, and noble Rome. From this you harvested ample fruit, a great reward for your efforts. And so at length, returning to your home, you came into the courtroom, where clients caught up in doubtful affairs praised, adored, approved, and loved you. Next, enhanced by royal favor, you performed every office of an ambassador. My book has sung your praises. If you sing its praises in return, my Muses will love your alternate measures.
CCXXV. TO THOMAS MOTHERSHED
Snow-white glory of the learned Sisters, my Thomas, you who confer serenity on your nation with your virtues, noble in all respects, now my overjoyed Muse hastens to you, and in view of your friendliness she hopes it will come to pass in wondrous wise that she acquires you as a patron. Thus, having made the acquaintance of such a great patron, and with noble Clarian Apollo’s approval, she might seek the famous mountains of Aonia and, blessed, drink deeply of the waters of Helicon. If with a friendly hand you escort her where she is hastening to go, she will so approve of all your kindness towards herself that in tuneful songs she will proclaim that you are born for polished studies. For she will sing of the most famous deeds of your Caesars and their laurel-bearing triumphs, and also of the conquered Moors and the Turk, defeated and put to rout.
CCXXVI. IN PRAISE OF HUGH WESTON
Famed Weston will be my fair darling, he who preaches Christ and the holy Faith. When he, dressed in white, climbs into the high pulpit to disclose the Word of our eternal God at the place where the Isis river flows, the learned bevy of men come a-flying and they prick up their ears, always holding their silence. Meanwhile he is teaching the miracles of great Christ, and the listener adores him as the sun of justice. Nobody advances pious theses with greater zeal, he is a sweet orator, industrious and wise. “How happily this pious man discharges all the duties which a holy sermon by rights requires!” I have often heard men distinguished in the art of speaking to exclaim, and I was one of their number, captivated by his eloquence. Assuredly I have thus far encountered no other man who shines like my Weston. Why should I expend many words in describing his countenance and decorous appearance, or how pure honey flows from his mouth, or the examples he in his rare dexterity selects to illustrate the points of the divine Law? Prudently imitating the industry of the bees of Hybla, he gathers the honey from so many monuments of the old Fathers. Or why need I speak of the manner in which, relying on divine aid, he entices gentle hearts to his Christ. Let him piously continue in this straight path and, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and he will climb our great God’s lofty pinnacles.
CCXXVII. TO RICHARD SHELLEY
Hail, you pure delight of the British nation, you who make your famous forebears all the more so by your mind’s high virtue, and easily restore both languages to their ancient splendor. Take a brief moment away from your erudite tomes of wisdom, set aside the rhetorical colors of your Tully, while my sweet Pharian Muse sets down a few verses on paper. She desires to stand as one of the number of your followers, if you, resplendent with your bright fortune, permit her out of that usual kindness of yours, as I have not doubt you shall do. You are a modest man, possessed of snow-white candor and noble grace. And now farewell, Shelley. With a happy hand sow the Arts and learned letters.
CCXXVIII. WHY ERASMUS SANG NO SWAN-SONG
What was the reason why Erasmus, as he recently lay a-dying, kept his swan-song locked up in his mouth? The gentle breeze of his Zephyr, which was accustomed to transform singers into artful swans, was not blowing.
CCXXIX. TO THAT RIGHT ERUDITE GENTLEMAN SIR THOMAS SMITH
Smith, you honor the monuments of learned men with your ardent study and equal dexterity. From this you have gained a name for virtue, a reputation which (in my opinion) is never destined to die. Beautiful Cambridge praises, hymns, and ornaments your fine endowments and intellect. Whatever was once lovely on the Aonian mountains, whatever shone on the ridges of Italy, is as familiar to you as could possibly be. You abound in the Arts and you thrive with rare understand. You have watered your thirsty lips in the fountains of eloquence, Attic grace presides over your mouth. You must happily continue to revive the goodly Arts, and posterity will praise your achievement.
CCXXX. TO THOMAS TIDRINGTON
I ask you in the name of the kindly Graces, and I ask you in the name of the friendly Muses, I thrice ask you in the name of the leader of the Castalian crew, I beg you in the name of Minerva’s holy godhead, I beseech you in the name of your good nature, and in the name of those graceful writings of yours, that you ornament my sound work with your words and fresh urgings. If it should languish, you must mindfully rouse your Philo. I know that you are a tried-and-true artist, and that you are an ardent Pericles. Therefore I would have you flex the muscles of your fertile wit. Thus my cause will prevail, with you as my advocate, and you will gain everlasting praise for your kindness.
CCXXXI. ON THE TITLE PAGE OF A BOOK ENTITLED ANTIPHILARCHIA
My piety and love of the truth, my religion and pure faith, and also Christ Himself command that with drawn sword I must attack this raving enemy of the divine Word of the Gospel. Candid readers (for you are my concern), if I am now seeking something reasonable, give your support to this volume with your friendly tongues and minds.
CCXXXII. TO HIS BOOK, ABOUT JOHN CHEKE
If you wish the approval of the Boeotian choir, my book, do as I advise and strive to please eloquent Cheke, he whom Pandion’s Athens adores and eloquent Rome greatly reveres, he whom Henry, greatest and most supreme of all rulers, (thinking him to be sufficiently tried and tested, and believing him to be a sure judge of learning), has wisely entrusted his son and heir, the little boy Edward, so that he might pluck the more beautiful flowers of both languages, plying his hand with easy effort, and imbibe the sweet nectar of Christ. I think this to have been a lucky day which gave this student such a schoolmaster. Hence lovely Cambridge rises up for its son and excitedly cheers. I would hope you would do as I have bidden you, my book, and make Cheke your friend. If he holds you in his fair hand, scanning your verses with his serene eye, oh, you may easily expect a place among the learned poets, and hope widely to spread your master’s fame through the world. Hasten where you have prepared to go.
CCXXXIII. TO THOMAS LEGH, GENTLEMAN OF ADLINGTON, ABOUT THE FAITH AND INTEGRITY OF DOMINUS RICHARD COX
Since the whole world suffers from deceits, my friend, you keep asking that I answer your request by telling you truthfully if I ever find a man I can approve as being faithful in all respects. I want you to believe I have found such a man, and he is more of a rarity than a white crow. You are quite familiar with pious Cox, that resounding trumpet of the Holy Gospel, whom the noble British father of his country cherishes as a favorite and, since he is virtuous, commands to serve his little son. In the estimation of all pious folk, this man is faithful and upright.
CCXXXIV. ON A PORTRAIT OF HENRY VIII KING OF ENGLAND
If ever a hand has painted a lifelike face in a portrait, this fresh canvas has won the prize. Thus splendid Henry looks serene with his star-like eyes and brow, like the sun shining in a cloudless sky.
CCXXXV. TO THOMAS CRANMER, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
At home I have a heap of stuff, golden, noble and lovely, with the help of which I am wholly devoted to returning the glory of the British to its true splendor. But Fortune plays the stepmother and is now cruelly begrudging my happy undertakings. Wherefore, lest all my labors of many a night, and also the beautiful ornaments of our nation perish in a single short hour, so that our antiquities continue to go without their splendor, Cranmer, you excellent glory of the pious, I am compelled to beg for your kindness. And so with your customary friendliness, I would have you petition my glory and patron that he at least show his favor towards my enterprise. An ample reward will follow. Thus elegant learning will properly grant you an enduring name, with a grateful mouth the Briton will grant you a share of the credit that accrues, and so all posterity will love you and you will be famous with a reputation higher than high heaven.
CCXXXVI. TO HENRY HOVERTON, RIGHT ILLUSTRIOUS REGNORUM COMITEM
As many as are the stars in the glowing sky, and as many as the trees in the forests, scaly fish in the British Channel, pebbles in the sands of Libya, vines in the Italian hills, and corn-stalks in the fields of the Nile, so many thanks does Leland wholeheartedly give to his friend the Regnorum comes, weaving you laurel wreaths, an enduring gift, which will crown your festive head with triumphs.
CCXXXVII. POETS SHOULD BE CHASTE
Pretty Lesbia pleased wanton Catullus, Lesbia fair with her shining tresses. Others praised Varro’s gentle amours, and the pretty girl who went by the name of Leucadia. He who sang tender elegies with his resonant Muse praised Quintilia, the mistress of his friend Calvus, and the fair Lycoris darling of the learned and famous poet Gallus, had a fine name. Corinna, the snow-white mistress of Ovid of Pelignum, flourished, wont to serve as a subject for his verses. Cynthia is praised, the beloved of the neat poet Propertius, and Cinara is a girl well known to her Horace. Poets sang such songs to their soft little darlings, since they were ignorant of a better life. But a chaste Christian should sing chaste loves, and his bashful Muse should hymn the consecrated marriage-bed. Thus he will walk in the starry court of heaven, and sing of new forms of happiness.
CCXXXVIII. TO HIS BOOK, ABOUT JOHN BECHENSANUS
When you make your debut, colored with printer’s ink, polished Bechensanus will serve as your protector, he who has learned and taught the goodly Arts. There where the steam Isis flows in its hesitant course there is a city called Oxford, and where the river Seine waters the Parisians, wandering in the midst of a valley, there is the noble honor of a city. You must give this cultivated fellow many a greeting, for he supports and favors learning, being a man who stoutly strives to recall the excellent Arts to their traditional splendor. Here his great reading and happy grace of languages furthers, enhances, and advances his cause. So you must not be behindhand in your duty, dear book, and you will be famous thanks to the fair gift of his friendship.
CCXXXIX. TO HELIUS EOBANUS HESSUS
Hessus, most famous of bards, I have read your books, and when I had done so they pleased me hugely. I perceive the fountains of your genius have now pervaded the facile, fluid vein of Ovid. I would be lying, if I did not say that all of my England, as great as it is, does not proclaim and sing this same thing, and justly so. In such an obvious thing there is no need for witnesses, although my words do not lack such. One was Burgrat, Micocius serves as another, and Bomberg can make a third: my sovereign’s splendid hall is now giving its hospitality to these men, sent as ambassador by the Landgrave of Hesse and the Elector of Saxony. Behold, I have sent you these improvised verses, pray send me in return the delights of your Muse.
CCXL. TO SIR ANTHONY DENNY
Anthony, you who flourish among the fine friends given me by Henry’s noble court, my Muse is striving to celebrate you with due praises and laud your name to the stars. We lived together in our tender years, in the elegant school presided over by Lily. Oh how often I would listen to your words, which provided a steady barrage of jokes and witticisms! Nor was anybody more happily endowed with a keen mind, and grace always flowed from your mouth. Then you were seized by desire for visiting foreign climes: you got your wish, and Brian was your guide. From this derived your deep understanding of languages, and the land of France greatly pleased your eyes. Our most prudent of all kings perceived and as your patron he made you his servant. The degree to which you are now in his good graces is attested by the harmonious court in resounding tone. But so that it may hold its silence, I myself am a more credible witness. You commend my gifts to the King, and hence that Phoebus bathes me in his bright lie and his sweet favor promotes my cause. With what thanks can I repay you for such great good-heartedness? You shall be called the great glory of my Muse.
CCXLI. ON GEOFFREY CHAUCER
When the cultured Athenian had invented lively elegance and polished his language in every respect, he insolently dared call the rest of mankind uncouth. And the industrious Roman, imitating him with great effort, likewise rendered the Latin tongue elegant and joined the Greek in calling other men uncouth. But how much more properly learned Chaucer strikes me as having done his job, he who with his fitting brevity was the first to bring his native language to a condition where it shone with much grace and elegance, much wit and charm, like Hesperus outshining the lesser stars. And yet he did not arrogantly condemn the barbaric language of any nation, he was so friendly and kind. And so, you British youth, strew sweet-smelling roses and soft violets with a happy hand, and be quick in giving your honorable poet a handsome crown of ivy.
CCXLII. TO SIR RICHARD MORYSON
An honorable guest from Oxford gave me your poem, which sing the deeds of heroes in hexameters. And he eagerly asked my opinion, ascribing things to my Muses they scarcely deserve. I said a few things to him on the spur of the moment. I am unworthy to be reckoned an Aristarchus. Rather, I betrayed my happiness by my eager expression, showing that I had perhaps given a favorable reception to your verses. And so, what I have sung and written in my uncouth song (with the god angry at me three or four times over), you might have sung, full of melodious verses and full of Apollo, and you might have outstripped me in gaining the glory of the ivy wreath. Thus may Henry VIII, that greatest glory of our world, love learned books (your gifts). Keep striving to surpass my Muse in your singing, for she is less suited for the loud-sounding trumpet.
CCXLIII. WEALTHY IN PROMISES
If promises could make a man wealthy, my coffers would possess the wealth of an Attalid.
CCXLIV. INSCRIPTION FOR A GIFT GIVEN BY ANTHONY DENNY
Denny exhibits this coat of arms, executed artfully, nor are they unsuited to your pursuits.
CCXLV. TO THOMAS DANET
Danet, you friendly fugleman of my Muses, you who call to mind the learned times of an old century, hang me if you are not beloved to me in such a way that nothing at all could be dearer. And I am ready to show a sign of my affection as often as your situation draws itself to my attention. Meanwhile, friend, accept this gift (which is not a small one) of a song written in unequal strains, a song which, if Phoebus and the learned Sisters are favorable, will someday come to be sung by the mouths of the Ausonian choir. And they will preserve your flourishing name, if only that presiding deity will be the protector of my books.
CCXLVI. TO THOMAS CAIUS
While the glory of their ample empire was a-flourishing, Caius was a noble name among the Romans, and that resounding word suggests something grand: thus the Ausonian fathers have taught me. You, distinguished in your own right, are striving to make that name all the more distinguished, since you shine with eloquence and judgment. You celebrate the great mysteries of austere Wisdom and cultivate the bright lights of the Aonian crew. You take the Muses, suffering after some catastrophe, set them back on their feet, give them consolation, and offer them your help. If you keep showing yourself such over the course of time, you will have gained the crown.
CCXLVII. TO THE ILLUSTRIOUS SIR EDWARD FITTON
When golden-tressed Phoebus shines in mid-heaven, Juno’s peacock raises its feathers with their marks, regards these treasures this way and that and, swelling with pride, thinks everything else in the world inferior to its own beauty, until it directs its eyes towards its curved claws. Then its painted glories return to their proper place. This is an example of which all men should take note, Fitton, and it is useful on many a score, that everybody should abandon the pride of their hearts when the see that their bodies are owed to the crumbling earth.
CCXLVIII. ON GEORGE DAY, BISHOP OF CHICHESTER
Happy Day is dearest to the Muses, and he won’t go ignored by my pen. But here I want to recall my old companion, a noble boy whom Cambridge gave me in my youth, especially since he is such as both Minervas approve and extol to the skies with their tuneful words, and since he is such as Persuasion and Grace compete to have nursed at their breasts. I shall say no more. For my reed is quite wearied by singing of his excellent virtues.
CCXLIX. ON A PORTRAIT OF THE INCOMPARABLE PRINCE EDWARD
Whenever I carefully study your expression and your color, blessed Edward, I seem to be seeing the image of your father shining forth in your face.
CCL. TO DOMINUS OWEN, A ROYAL PHYSICIAN
Owen, you are well known to the Muses of Oxford, which you steadily cultivate, bent on that austere study, and from it you garner excellent fruit, unearthing even the great mysteries of mighty nature which, by the favor of noble Philosophy, now peacefully shine forth, the shadows banished. Hence you are famous for practicing the medical art. With your fair hand you page through the volumes of ancient Hippocrates and the approved books of preeminent Galen. Henry, that pinnacle and glory of kings, perceived this and appointed you physician of pretty Edward, and then of noble, dear Katharine and himself. May he long live the years of a Nestor, enjoying good health, that bulwark of yours and of mine.
CCLI. TO SIR EDWARD NORTH
The noble company of learned men would call me an ingrate and boorish, and rightfully so, if my pen would be unreasonably hesitant and not write your praise. The famous city of London gave birth to us under a happy star, and we learned our first alphabets together. When I was a little boy, you were most closely associated with me in my study, and I admired your manners and your talent. I humbly begged heaven that the constant affection between us would grow, and it granted my prayer. You prepared yourself to be an ornament to the courtroom, and blessed Cambridge cheered me on in my studies. Thus for a long time our bodies were thus separated, yet our minds continued to grow in each others’ presence. When we had completed our studies came a happier hour which could bring us together after our separation. Why should I now recall the friendliness with which you have endlessly blessed my poverty-stricken Muses? Until now I have asked nothing of your which your ready and bountiful favor has not conferred. Tuke was a witness to what you have done, as was our friend Legh. And Coxe lives on, worthy of an eternal poem, who proclaims you are my patron. If I could paint and employ lifelike colors, my hand would paint your portrait and you would shine forth in the courtroom like another evening star, providing a symbol of justice for all to see. But since cannot perform this art with grace, I shall assuredly bring that about which my concern urges, namely that posterity and our late descendants shall know that I always revered your virtues.
CCLII. TO KING HENRY VIII
Dictys comes, now speaking Latin thanks to the effort of Quintus Septimius, and he asks, greatest sovereign, that you read this book about Priam’s war that has been brought to light. It will tell you about the very famous virtues of your ancestors.
CCLIII. TO WILLIAM HENRY, THE RIGHT NOBLE EARL OF ESSEX
Your nobility (none more illustrious) inspires me to my lute and loud-ringing song. Continue bestowing favor on a bard who hymns your praises, William, and you will assuredly be greater on that score. The northern Avon gave birth to your elegant self, a land abounding with all manner of fertility, and when you were a delicate lad Pinder taught you to pronounce Latin words with an eloquent voice. Whichever of the gods it was who taught you melodious verses and quavering tones gained bright fame from having you as a student, for your harmony strikes both the poles of the earth. I could believe that tuneful Phoebus thus taught you, for you are always singing in harmonious strains. The most famous Orpheus does not surpass you in reputation, nor the happy strings of Arion’s lyre. Philomela does not surpass you with her resounding complaints, nor does the white swan which sings as it dies. When Boulogne fell, shattered by thundering war, and when the missiles of Mars had overwhelmed the savage Morini, your music rang out with a sweetness such as even the Muses would have liked to sing. The famous Dante produced none better, nor the man famous under the name of Petrarch, no, not even musical Chaucer with his resonant mouth, or my beloved Wyatt with his shrill voice. You are often wont to praise the numbers of the learned, bestowing worthy rewards on deserving men. So here you have won the point, with the result that I seem unequal to the task of sounding your praises.
CCLIV. TO HELIUS EOBANUS HESSUS
Lately I sent some insignificant elegies to you, the worshiper of Phoebus and the Castalian choir. No letter of acknowledgement has reached me from Hessus, giving his thanks. Lo, once more Burgrat is inciting my incompetent pen. Pardon my trifles, great poet.
CCLV. TO GEORGE FERRERS
If only Verulam (an ancient city once familiar to the conquering Romans) could wholly shine forth with its applause, surely it would gratefully mark your birth with white stones and weave floral garlands with a friendly hand, so that it could rejoice along with you and bind your festival brows because you adore the Muses and the Castalian crew. But the glory of that ancient city has wholly fallen, a work which St. Albans has restored. Mounting to the pinnacle of good fortune, Cromwell, that canny man, took you on. Then you brooded on our national laws and carefully preserved for the benefit of the courtroom. Being a patron yourself, you sought out your old patron again and devoted yourself to witty sayings and pleasure. But his glory collapsed and suffered a great downfall: thus treacherous Fortune turns her wheels. You liked the courtier’s life, and soon great Henry’s court clasped you to its bosom. Horrible wars sounded forth, the offspring of Mars flashed, and the Scotsmen and Morini brandished their bloodthirsty arms. Taking up sword and shield, you went to meet them, more doughty than they, and revealed yourself to be a warrior. And, a threatening trooper, as a victor you saw the Scotsmen and Morini put to rout, so that your virtue shone forth more amply than ever. Continue as you have begun, Ferrers, by your deeds showing yourself to be a great man, and you will be greater than this song of mine.
CCLVI. TO WILLIAM PAGET, SECRETARY TO KING HENRY VIII
I greatly desire to illuminate your name, fair Paget, and celebrate it with white notes. May bright Phoebus inspire me as I sing welcome things, and may he be friendly and further my undertaking. Thus I shall be able to produce a grand song and tell of your deeds in resounding strains. London brought you to the fostering light of day, and that same city is also my home. In it you profitably devoted yourself to your studies, nor was I averse to them. A the time the glory of the grammarian Lily shone bright, he was a familiar figure to you and also to me. And you where his champion, supporting his cause with your pen, when Gonell was challenging him. Meanwhile you grew to riper years and your schoolboy days were over. Lo, you sought out those living fountains of knowledge by the flowing Granta, and wet your lips in its nectarine water. I had gone on before you, but were not slow in following and you surpassed my small gifts with your talent. You sought out Gardiner’s house, that home of learned eloquence and the Pierian choir. My hard luck led me to quarreling sophists, and I could not tolerate their yoke. As an honorable means of escape I visited the French realm, where the school of Paris thrives. And you hastened there too, with an ardent desire to acquire a bright understanding of languages. And when you had happily finished your business, you returned to your native soil, being a friendly citizen, and cultivated Gardiner once more as a patron (in your usual way), and Wriothesley’s name was dear to you. And so you industriously served the palace as a clerk, plying your pen with novel dexterity. At that time the Preston girl was married to you, a woman such as is Cynthia when she is borne on her celestial car. She has blessed you with noble offspring and always shines with the chastity of marriage. At length our sovereign’s favor lighted upon you, and you performed an embassy to the King of France. And then you visited the court of Caesar most successfully, being a prudent and distinguished ambassador. Rewards shone forth, worthy of your merits. You grew wealthy, your coffer contained heaps: it is a great thing to serve a bountiful master. The King blessed you and set you in a high position. Here (in keeping with our old custom) I would have hoped to be at your side in your pursuits, save that your friend and mine Mason had persuaded me that it was sufficient for this to be yours. And he added this too, that you were curious to learn from me about the glory, fame and splendor of Burton. If such things are somehow helpful, I can describe them in detail and shed light on the town with ancient facts, since its reputation is known from old books. Andresega is an island flourishing amidst its water, and Trent, the king of rivers, flows by with its rapid stream, having many windings. That most needy gang, the Danish pillagers, kept on doing violence to to place as they revisited it. Victorious Spot could not tolerate this evil slaughter, and piously restored it to its ancient splendor. But why should I, weary, linger over those waters? This task requires an opportune time. Then my care will deservedly laud Burton (which takes its name from Burgidumum) to the skies. Meanwhile you fill out the sails of my skiff, so that my happy Muse may convey your praises.
CCLVII. DRAWINGS SKETCHED BY LUCAS, THE ROYAL PAINTER
THE ROYAL COAT OF ARMS
The roundlet of empire which encircles the vast world also shines aloft on a crowned head, and ennobles Henry’s arms with its many votive gifts, those lions, great-hearted by night and by day, and those lilies, glowing white with their fresh petals. What is the meaning of the laurels and the festive garland of olive? The one adores its Phoebus, the other fruitfully worships Minerva.
QUEEN JANE’S ARMS
Lately I was a Phoenix, lovely with my feathers. The Arabs did not give me my birth, but rather the noble house of Seymour. I serenely adored Henry as my son, to whom I readily offered up my chick, my son who shines under a lucky star.
THE UNION OF THE ROSES
That longed-for day brought the English their salvation, on which the white rose was joined to the red.
THE PORTCULLIS, THE FAMILY EMBLEM OF THE DUKES OF SOMERSET
This portcullis which shines on the Duke’s tawny gold has been the familiar badge of the Somersetshire men.
Who does not know that the lily, sent down from high heaven, has yielded to the government of its Henry?
THE PLUME, THE BADGE OF PRINCE EDWARD
This white plume, the adornment of a bejeweled coronet, raises Prince Edward’s head to high heaven.
CCLVIII. TO WALTER HADDON, A CICERONIAN
Haddon, you are favored by the learned throng who dwell on the river Granta, on whose banks I myself used to play as a lad, and whittle musical reeds when Zephyrus’ breeze blew favorably. With careful care you favor learned Marcus Tullius and you cultivate his manner of speech: eloquent, neat, elegant, and lovely, terse, striking, flowing, pleasant, polished, and colored with the beauty of flowers fresh in all respects, so much so that with a certain shining majesty you express Attic grace of style drawn from Greek sources. I think you happy and blessed, you who thus pursue your work that with your learned studies you are an ornament to the Cambridge that fosters you — Cambridge, for which my love grows as much as does Phoebus’ child, the shade-giving laurel, grows in the new springtime and surpasses the tender osiers. So use your strong hand to unreef the sails for your prosperous undertakings. Soon the west wind will blow, and you will find the longed-for harbor readied for you, where you may conveniently find repose.
CCLIX. TO THOMAS WRIOTHESLEY OF TITCHFIELD, LORD CHANCELLOR
Phoebus is at hand, in the company of the nine delightful Muses, and he brings with him serene tokens of happiness. And he consoles me in my sadness with a song such as this, a song such as he sings on the ridges of Boeotia. “You should obey my command and abandon your suspicion of my sweet-sounding sisters. Take my advice and employ worthy notes in extolling Wriothesely, noble for his titles and rank, whose intellect, manners and modest virtue have always pleased me so that (be he better suited for heaven or earth) I would hope to have him as my constant companion. Yet I do not want to deprive the earth of such a light: let him shine and bring daylight to dark thing. Obey my tuneful order, poet, and have no fear, I shall grant you the strength and the eloquence.” He spoke, the Muses echoed their applause, and suddenly they returned to their home. You yourself, blessed Wriothesely, see where Clarian Apollo’s command has driven me. Since you were once my familiar when we were young, noble sir, be friendly and applaud my endeavors. There is a god within me, I grow warm by his agitation, and this is the source of my ardor to proclaim your deeds. My famous city of London gave birth to you, and from your early years you wholeheartedly cultivated the Muses, such was the command of your good character. You took care to be excellent at plucking the resonant strings of the musical lute with your skilled hand. And your mother Fortune thus advanced you that your light became familiar in the courtroom. Under a happy star you sought out the schools of Cambridge, with Gardiner your sponsor. The learned company called you “York,” for his noble calling conferred this title on your father. Such comeliness shone in your face, such brightness was in your golden hair, and such light of your keen intellect blazed forth, such triumphant virtue adorned you, that you seemed to be a single person who was the equivalent of many. To me you are fragrant honey and delicious wine. Why should I now recall the time that comedy of Plautus’ boastful soldier received you with applause? If I have ever had good judgment, if my ears and eyes have served me well, hang me if you weren’t such a brilliant actor as the best, and I want to tell the truth here. Thus that man managed his eyes, hands, and face whose concern it was to be called the darling of the Roman theater and who reaped the reward for all his effort. Gardiner (a man born for ample good fortune) consecrated and dedicated himself to Wolsey. Having the highest hopes, you came down from Cambridge and sought out the splendid palace of King Henry. You handled his treasury-ledgers by night and more often by day, always looking out for them with your good care. Seeing this, friendly Peckham said, “in my opinion this honest fellow will rise up.” Then Gardiner performed an embassy with you at his side. The result of this was that your sure experience of affairs grew and your fame spread further abroad. Mighty Cromwell was so delighted by the pleasant flower of your intellect and adroitness that he imagined you had imbibed these as natural gifts from the fountains of sage Wisdom. When you went to the Dutch and the powerful Belgians as a celebrated ambassador you triumphed, having done your work excellently. Caesar’s sister, that blessed queen, applauded and approved all your work. May Henry flourish, the protection of the British realm, who has always extolled you in exchange for your merits. At Phoebus’ behest I have sung this song, of whatever quality it may be. Long may you live and thrive.
CCLX. ON RICHARD CROKE, A SLANDERER
Speaking on the basis of his great authority, Croke pronounces me to be a fool of fools. If I am one, the Furies do not torment me: day and night they assault his astrological head.
CCLXI. AT THE BEGINNING OF THE VOLUME ENTITLED GENETHLIACON
I come to light very late, beloved reader, and the reason was my master’s lazybones of a Muse. Be friendly and pardon a man who asks it for just cause, and he’ll defer to you without complaint. Now I make my appearance in a much more polished condition, and I am the first to restore to the British their ancient glory.
CCLXII. THE ARMS OF PRINCE EDWARD
The festive arms consist of feathers with a crown. They belong to Prince Edward, whose splendor, honor, titles, name and praises will endure as long as snow-white swans rejoice in a watery stream, and lilies grow in manicured gardens.
CCLXIII. PRINCE EDWARD’S FEATHER ADDRESSES HIM
Here I am, Prince, whiter than snow, than milk, than privet, and I shall happily submit to the yoke of your rule. As often as your hand wields the olive of peace, I shall stand on your cap for all to see. Let the west wind fill my sails with its welcome breeze and you shall suffer no discomfort beneath a hot sun. If the noble laurel should summon you to the wars, I shall proudly stand atop your helmet. Prince, you unique glory of noble little boys, may you live, and for me you will be a constant source of majestic glory.
CCLXIV. AN ALLUSION TO THE ETYMOLOGY OF THE NAME EDWARD
Whoever renders the name Edward in Latin will say it means the guardian of our holy Faith. Because I would believe that this name is heaven-sent to this boy of happy birth. His father is a friendly Defender of the Faith, and at no time will his son be his inferior.
CCLXV. A CHEER FOR HENRY VIII
Long life to you, father of our nation, invincible King. And long live that Ascanius of yours, the son of a propitious Phoenix.
CCLXVI. TO SIR WILLIAM CECIL
You could justly be called the son of a white hen, thus the favorable Fates revere you as their own. The do not just revere you, should more properly commend you to Phoebus and the Pierian choir. This is also is the source of that happy success which promises you rewards worthy of cedar. My fair friend Cheke trained you, Cheke, that leading glory of the Athenian crew. You shine with an abundant knowledge of the Greek language, and intermingle Latin words with the Greek. You earnestly pursue your studies by night and by day, and thus with the help of the Muses you have gained the crown. That day is always to be marked with a white stone which joined you to Mildred with equal love. For you she is the vine, and for her you are the fair elm, and both of you rejoice in your happy union. Live happily, the both of you, and may the enduring care of the Muses preserve you and set you in the highest place.
CCLXVII. TO DOMINUS HARLEY
Your mind’s virtues seem to wreathe you, just as a fresh garland wreathes a festive head, and therefore they demand worthy praise as their reward. If I had ever wet my lips in the Nag’s Font, I would eagerly laud your holy virtues to high heaven, and this Muse of mine would laud you as a tried-and-true adherent of virtue. She humbly creeps on the ground, and crouches low, since she lacks strength, and yet she is dutiful. On which score, being such as she is, she will be friendly and briefly touch on your praises, touching her tuneful strings. You have industriously tasted of every manner of wisdom, and you have drunken of flowing wine of pious eloquence. You are also a great admirer of eloquent Cicero and Vergil’s majesty is to you your liking. You likewise adore Ovid’s gushing stream, and you come away from his verses with a sense of gratitude. No monuments of the ancient poets survive in whose flowery fields you have failed to walk. Hence as a noted poet, elegant and very graceful, you sing happy songs with your melodious notes. These are things which will happily recommend you to posterity and make your name famous. Behold, my Muse has done her duty, and stakes her claim on your applause.
CCLXVIII. TO RICHARD GOODRICH
You have a magnificent name, fair Goodrich, as is shown by your Saxon name. Thus you could rightly be called both good and rich, and this name entirely suits your manners. But this fine name has not made you a good man or a rich one. Only your virtue has made you happy, you should be congratulated for this virtue , you will bear off blessed gifts. Thus your fame and praise shines forth in the courtroom, and your client reveres you as his patron. And, not content thus to limit your virtue, you should honor the bright lights of pious doctrine. They have the ability to lift your praises to heaven and adorn you with fair tokens of approval.
CCLXIX. CONQUERED BOULOGNE SPEAKS
My ancient settlers called me Gessoriacum, and my noble lot was rare. But when I was conquered and yielded to Caesar’s triumphs, to Roman armies and the yoke of empire, I came to be called by the Latin name of Bononia, there on the shore where the shattered throng of the Morini dwelt. Oh what slaughter and great catastrophes I suffered! The Frank conquered me, and the Dane, and the savage Angles. Farewell to the Romans, farewell to the Franks and the Danes. The King of England will be my life, my hope and salvation. He shattered my walls in a hard war, I confess, and my heart and bowels were broken, not otherwise than when Ossa is rolled about by an upheaval of the earth, creaking and leaping with horrible-sounding threats. What then? My lord Henry (that glory, palm and honor of kings) will repair my roofs. Now I shall learn to obey the English, my neighbors, and often to seek the familiar shores of Kent. Meanwhile, you Frenchmen, take to your heels, for the victorious King of England is thundering and angrily wielding his mighty weapons. What do you hope for, France? The defender of his ancestral faith is stoutly seeking to recover all his domain.
CCLXX. BOULOGNE ADDRESSES THE VICTORIOUS HENRY VIII
When they were masters of the world the Romans, seeking the Kentish shores, cultivated me as the guide for their crossing. Now that they are conquered, what do I have to do with the Romans? A noble hand wholly claims me, Englishman, and it is yours, and (since it displeases the Frenchman) I have cheerfully shifted all my dutifulness to your divine self. May the father’s happy victory flourish forever, and may his son Edward maintain its like.
CCLXXI. AT THE BEGINNING OF THE VOLUME ENTITLED BONONIA GALLOMASTIX
BOULOGNE ADDRESSES THE READERS
I was entirely French, now I am British according to the fortune of war, and this marriage greatly pleases me. Let Henry hear your loud applause: you must say “Huzzah, long live the victor! Huzzah, the victor!”
CCLXXII. TO HENRY COLLYNS
The happy nation of the Atrebates produced your happy self, there were even mighty Caesar went. Then Oxford cherished you as its sweet son, that ancient, decent, learned, lovely and bright city. And it thoroughly taught you both languages, a source of true glory for yourself. Perceiving these thing and seeing the bright signs of your intellect, that older brother of yours hurled himself into pleasant studies, for he earnestly desired to be like yourself. At length great acclaim was the reward of his fruitful labor and he earned a place among the learned. You two, being brothers equal in love, should compete in your great studies, so the noble honor of your learning might shine forth.
CCLXXIV. TO JOANNEM PONET, A GENTLEMAN RIGHT WELL VERSED IN BOTH LANGUAGES
In your friendly way, by loudly praising absent Leland as often as you do, you demonstrate signs of both your good disposition and your fair manners, manners which, if I wanted to describe them with more words, words I would not have the time to utter, or you to hear at this time. In the meantime, lest I perhaps seem heedless of my well-tried dutifulness towards you, behold, I shall gladly express my thanks. Thus my humble Muse commands me, Ponet, since you extol me with magnificent words, although undeservedly. For, by all rights (and it should not embarrass me to say something so well known) I most certainly cannot honestly acknowledge with a straight face the glory you attribute to me. I know what a vehement pleader you are being in a humble friend’s cause. You indulge me too much. But, lest my words detain you too long, I shall say what in my truthful heart I feel. I am immoderately overjoyed by the friendliness of your mind, and all the praises which you heap on me, I am content to repeat in turn to your splendid self.
CCLXXIII. ON A PROCESSION OF SWANS
(Preserved only in B, in a highly mutilated condition)
CCLXXVI. INSCRIPTIONS ON THE WALL OF THE FORT OF ST. MAWES
Henry, your honor and praises will endure forever.
Yield your sails to Henry’s rule, you ships.
Now let happy Cornwall rejoice in its Duke Edward.
Let Edward resemble his father in his fame and deeds.
CCLXXV. TO GEORGE HENEAGE
The river Thames applauds you, eloquent George, and honors your birthday on which the town (shining for its reputation and its court) gave you birth, the town which takes its name from the clear river. So that you may be wholly bright, in its friendly way it strives to unite you to its brother the Isis. If you will take my advice, you should now take advantage of these rivers, you will have an ample lot of good fortune. At Oxford you must most energetically study the learned Arts, and you will gain worthy rewards for your good deserts. As a young man you have written many books which have greatly pleased my King. Now that you are more mature in your years you should publish them in polished form, and the learned crew will stand up and cheer your Muses.
CCLXXVII. TO JAMES BUTLER
The students of Carmarthen, an eloquent crew, celebrate you there where the glassy Cherwell flows into the waters of the Isis. And you deservedly requite the learned students of Carmarthen with welcome effort of pious duty. Your love grows, your virtue exerts itself on the learned Arts, and in this respect you are wholly brilliant. Happily seeing your considerable progress Chambers (an upright man and a Royal Physician, flourishing in his art) befriended you and so generously praised you that your reputation shone everywhere among the leading men. At length, moved by this splendor (as if by an omen), you traveled to Italy, not without praise. Hence you gained a name destined to live for the honorable sake of your virtue, and conspicuous glory. There you eagerly investigated the nature of things and the sources of enduring wisdom with your constant dexterity, powerful in the noble Arts and eloquence. But your lucky star recalled you to your peaceful homeland, and you happily came, bringing delights such as a cornucopia pours forth, showing its flowers, its blessed gifts. You happily returned to Italy as an ambassador, the time you saw the Roman court and, returning home, you grew dearer to Henry, your bountiful king. Soon you were appointed secretary to the Queen, a welcome office that you liked. Next you were sent to our German friends and discharged every command of your sovereign. As I was singing these things, my fair Muse addressed me, moving her lips with verses such as these. “I praise you three or four times over for being mindful of your duty, always singing of your Butler. In my opinion, that man is right worthy of ivy, the distinguished prize of poets.”
CCLXXVIII. ACHIEVEMENTS SHOWN ON PAINTINGS
THE ARMS OF KING HENRY = CLXI
THE ARMS OF PRINCE EDWARD = CLXII
THE ARMS OF SIR WILLIAM LELAND
These are the splendid arms of Leland, of whose martial feats laurel-decorated brave men sing.
CCLXXIX. TO JAMES CURIO
You, Curio, whom twin-peaked Parnassus honors with deserved honor, whom the Castalian fountain proclaims to be its own, who is hymned by the Oxford choir (yet more expressive) as a man famed for his eloquence and judgment, my Muse sings of you, and also happily weaves a garland as a worthy reward for your brows. Rumor has it that you are striving to write polished books. May the lofty gods be favorable to you, and thus you will be able happily to garner the sweet glory of everlasting fame by abridging so many things. With eager eyes the learned look forward to your efforts, may this fruit of your intellect come forth. Assuredly, on this score you will be welcome to your nation, a nation which approves, decorates and loves the learned.
CCLXXX. THE NATURE OF RICHARD SHELLEY
Just as is Zephyrus when it blows from the west with its gentle breeze, caressing the bejeweled meadows, just as is the fair-haired Titan with his life-bringing light when he spreads the rosy day from bright heaven, such to us is lovely Shelley, who nobly brings Zephyrus and Phoebus in his face. In his face he nobly brings honey, wine, nectar and figs, and in his heart (yet more candid) he brings white privet.
CCLXXXI. INSCRIPTION FOR A PAINTING
Great Alexander is said to have adjudged that Apelles should be his one painter. A portrait of Henry VIII demands to be painted by the skill of Holbein’s hand.
CCLXXXII. TO THE PHYSICIAN JOHN CAIUS
The noble race of East Anglia shines forth, boasting of its ancient city of Norwich, where you have your family beginnings Caius, which first gave you the rewards of life. But this was done, if I am not mistaken on the condition that you show your gratitude by cultivating the goodly Arts. Here too you garnered great praise, my fair friend, performing every task required by that condition. First you went to Cambridge, captivated by an ardent love of the Muses and by their mellifluous sounds. At which place, like a new evening star, you shone forth learnedly, showing your welcome lights, bright lights which captured and held the eyes of your friend Framyngham, so much so that he always sent you the polished books he wrote for your judgment. Next, under a happy star you went to Italy, and as the result of this you gravely plumbed the nature of things. This pleasant study delighted you, because (in addition to everything else) it taught and showed you the medical arts. The crew at Padua, accustomed to polished studies, perceived this and sang your praises. Then you gathered up your treasures and industriously visited that city called Basel, where you served as a learned, faithful translator of Galen, combining Latin honey with Attic honeycombs, and now your published volumes stand as witnesses to your learning and intellect.