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pointed Governor of Flushing, 1585. Zutphen, and died, 1586.]
POETS AND NATURE.—Nature never set forth the earth in so rich tapestry, as divers Poets have done, neither with pleasant rivers, fruitful trees, sweet smelling flowers; nor whatsoever else may make the too much loved earth more lovely. Her world is brasen, the Poets only deliver a golden : but let those things alone, and go to man, for whom as the other things are, so it seemeth in him her uttermost cunning is employed, and know
, whether she have brought forth so true a lover as Theagines, so constant a friend as Pilades, so valiant a man as Orlando, so right a Prince as Zenaphon's Cyrus : so excellent a man every way, as Virgils Æneas : neither let this be jestingly conceived, because the works of the one be essential : the other, in imitation or fiction, for any understanding knoweth the skill of the artificer standeth in that Idea or fore-conceit of the work, and not in the work itself. And that the Poet hath that Idea is manifest, by delivering them forth in such excellency as he hath imagined them, Which delivering forth also, is not wholly imaginative, as we wont to say by them that build Castles in the air ; but so far substantially it worketh, not only to make a Cyrus, which had been but a particular excellency, as Nature might have done, but to bestow a Cyrus upon the world, to make many Cyrus's, if they will learne aright, why, and how that Maker made him.
(An Apologie for Poetrie, pp. 25, 26. Arber's Reprint.)
POETRY TEACHETH BY EXAMPLE.—Tully taketh much pains, and many times not without poetical helps, to make us know the force love of our country hath in us. Let us but hear old Anchises speaking in the midst of Troy's flames, and see Ulisses in the fulness of all Calipso's delights, bewail his absence from barren and beggarly Ithaca. Anger the Stoicks say, was a short madness, let but Sophocles bring you Ajax on a stage, killing and whipping sheep and oxen, thinking them the Army of Greeks, with their chieftains Agamemnon and Menelaus, and tell me if you have not a more familiar insight into anger, than finding in the Schoolmen his genus and difference. See whether wisdom and temperance in Ulisses and Diomedes, valour in Achilles, friendship in Nisus, and Euryalus, even to an ignorant man, carry not an apparent shining: and contrarily, the remorse of conscience in Oedipus, the soon repenting pride of A gamemnon, the self devouring cruelty in his father Atreus, the violence of ambition in the two Theban brothers, the sour sweetness of revenge in Medæa, and to fall lower, the Terentian Gnato, and our Chaucer's Pandar, so exprest, that we now use their names to signify their trades. And finally, all virtues, vices, and passions, so in their own natural seats laid to the view, that we seem not to hear of them, but clearly to see through them. But even in the most excellent determination of goodness, what Philosophers counsel can so readily direct a Prince, as the feigned Cyrus in Zenophon ? or a virtuous man in all fortunes, as Æneas in Virgil ? or a whole Common-wealth, as the way of Sir Thomas Moore's Eutopia. (Ibid., pp. 33, 34.)
A CONJURATION TO LOVE POETRY.–So that sith the ever-praiseworthy Poesie, is full of virtuebreeding delightfulness, and void of no gift that ought to be in the noble name of learning: sith the blames laid against it, are either false, or feeble : sith the cause why it is not esteemed in England, is the fault of Poet-apes, not Poets : sith lastly, our tongue is most fit to honor Poesie, and to be honoured by Poesie, I conjure you all, that have had the evil luck to read this ink-wasting toy of mine, even in the name of the nine Muses, no more to scorn the sacred mysteries of Poesie : no more to laugh at the name of Poets, as though they were next inheritors to Fools: no more to jest at the reverent title of a Rymer : but to believe with Aristotle, that they were the antient Treasurers, of the Græcians Divinity. To believe with Bembus, that they were the first bringers in of all civility. To believe with Scaliger, that no Philosopher's precepts can sooner make you an honest man than the reading of Virgil. To believe with Clauserus the Translator of Cornutus, that it pleased the heavenly Deity, by Hesiod and Homer, under the veil of fables, to give us all knowledge, Logick, Retorick, Philosophy, natural and moral ; and Quidnon? To believe with me, that there are many mysteries contained in Poetry, which of purpose were written darkly, lest by profane wits, it should be abused. To believe with Laudin, that they are so beloved of the Gods, that whatsoever they write, proceeds of a divine fury. Lastly, to believe themselves, when they tell you they will make you immortal by their verses.
(Ibid., pp. 71, 72.)
(Born 1560_1. Matriculated, Trin. Coll., Cambridge, 1573. Admitted at Gray's Inn, 1576. First sat in the House of Commons for Melcombe, 1584 Published First Edition of the Essays,” 1596. Knighted by James I., 1603. King's Counsel, 1604. Published the Advancement of Learning.” 1605. Solicitor General, 1607; Attorney General, 1613 ; Privy Councillor, 1616; Lord Keeper, 1617; Lord High Chancellor, 1618–9; Baron Verulam, 1619. Published the “Novum Organum," 1620. Viscount St. Albans, 1620–1. Sentenced by the House of Lords, 1621. Published “ De Augmentis Scientiarum," 1623. Died, 1626.)