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Huns, when all good verses, and all good learning too, were destroyed by them, and after carried into France and Germany, and at last received into England by men of excellent wit indeed, but of small learning, and less judgment in that behalf.” 'To "follow rather the Goths in rhyming than the Greeks in true versifying," he considers to be “to eat acorns with swine, when we may freely eat wheat bread among men.” Indeed,” he adds,
Chaucer, Thomas Norton of Bristol, my Lord of Surrey, Tho. Phaer, and other gentlemen, in transJating Ovid, Palingenius*, and Seneca, have gone as far, to their great praise, as the copy they followed could carry them.” He thinks, however, that these good wits would have done better had they not contented themselves with that barbarous and rude rhyming. The English tongue, he maintains, although not very well adapted for hexameter verse, would receive the iambic measure as naturally as either Greek or Latin.
As examples of the revival, in modern times, of the ancient measures, he instances the translation of the fourth book of the Æneid into English by the Earl of Surrey, and that of the Odyssey into Spanish by Gonsalvo Perez; “ yet neither of them,” he says, “ hath fully hit perfect and true versifying.” Afterwards, adverting to the circumstance of English scholars having been beforehand with those of Italy, “ first in spying out, then in seeking to amend this fault in learning,” he introduces the following passage: “And here, for my pleasure, I purpose a little by the way to play and sport with my master
* Marcellus Palingenius, a native of Ferrara, a Latin poet of the sixteenth century, the author of a poem entitled Zodiacus Vitæ, in twelve books, first published in 1536. A translation of the first six books of this poem was published in 1561, by Barnaby Googe, which is now an exceedingly rare book.
Tully, from whom commonly I am never wont to dissent. He himself, for this point of learning, in his verses doth halt a little, by his leave: he could not deny it, if he were alive; nor those defend him now that love him best. This fault I lay to his charge, because once it pleased him, though somewhat merrily, yet over-uncourteously, to rail upon poor England, objecting both extreme beggary and mere barbarousness unto it, writing thus unto his friend Atticus: There is not one scruple of silver in that whole isle; or any one that knoweth either learning or letter.'
" But now, Master Cicero, blessed be God and his son Jesus Christ, whom you never knew, except it were as it pleased him to enlighten you by some shadow, as covertly in one place you confess, saying, “Veritatis tantùm umbram consectamur,' (we follow only the shadow of truth) as your master Plato did before you ; blessed be God, I say, that sixteen hundred
after you were dead and gone, it may truly be said, that for silver there is more comely plate in one city of England than is in four of the proudest cities in all Italy, and take Rome for one of them: and for learning, beside the knowledge of all learned tongues and liberal sciences, even your own books, Cicero, be as well read, and your excellent eloquence is as well liked and loved, and as truly followed in England at this day, as it is now, or ever was since your own time, in any place of Italy, either at Arpinum where you was born, or else at Rome where you was brought up. And a lit!le to brag with you, Cicero, where you yourself, by your leave, halted in some point of learning in your own tongue, many in England at this day go straight up, both in true skill and right doing therein."
Having remarked the small difference “either in propriety of words, or framing of the style,” that is to be found between the familiar epistles of Cicero, and those written to him by his friends, he makes the following fine observation : “ These men and Tully lived all in one time, were like in authority, not unlike in learning and study, which might be just causes of this their equality in writing. And yet surely they neither were indeed, nor yet were counted in men's opinions, equal with Tully in that faculty. And how is the difference hid in his Epistles ? Verily, as the cunning of an expert seaman in a fair calm fresh river doth little differ from the doing of a meaner workman therein : even so, in the short cut of a private letter, where matter is common, words easy, and order not much diverse, small show of difference can appear. But where Tully doth set up his sail of eloquence in some broad deep argument, carried with full tide and wind of his wit and learning, all others may rather stand, and look after him, than hope to overtake him, what course soever he hold, either in fair or foul." “ Four men only,” he continues,
66 when the Latin tongue was full ripe, be left unto us who in that time did flourish, and did leave to posterity the fruit of their wit and learning-Varro, Sallust, Cæsar, and Cicero." Of course the statement is confined to prose writers. The remainder of the treatise is occupied with a review of the characteristics and merits of the first three of these chief Roman classics.
Of Varro, he says, among other things, “ His books of husbandry are much to be regarded and diligently to be read, not only for the propriety, but also for the plenty of good words in all country and husband men's affairs, which cannot be had by so good authority out of any
other author, either of so good a time, or of so great learning, as out of Varro. And yet, because he was four-score years old when he wrote those books, the form of his style there, compared with Tully's writing, is but even the talk of a spent old man: whose words commonly fall out of his mouth, though very wisely, yet hardly and coldly, and more heavily also, than some ears can well bear, except only for age and authority's sake; and perchance, of a rude and country argument, of purpose and judgment he rather used the speech of the country than the talk of the city."
“Sallust,” he says, “is a wise and worthy writer; but he requireth a learned reader and a right considerer of him. My dearest friend and best master that ever I had or heard in learning, Sir John Cheke (such a man, as if I should live to see England breed the like again, I fear I should live over long), did once give me a lesson for Sallust, which, as I shall never forget myself, so is it worthy to be remembered of all those that would come to perfect judgment of the Latin tongue. He said that Sallust was not very fit for young men to learn out of him the purity of the Latin tongue; because he was not the purest in propriety of words, nor choicest in aptness of phrases, nor the best in framing of sentences ; and therefore is his writing, said he, neither plain for the matter, nor sensible for men's understanding.
“¢ And what is the cause thereof, Sir?' quoth I. • Verily,' said he, because in Sallust's writing is more art than nature, and more labour than art, and in his labour also too much toil; as it were, with an uncontented care to write better than he could-a fault common to very many men.
And therefore he doth not express the matter lively, and naturally with common speech, as
you see Xenophon doth in Greek; but it is carried and driven forth artificially after too learned a sort, as Thucydides doth in his Orations.'
«. And how cometh it to pass,' said I,' that Cæsar and Cicero's talk is so natural and plain, and Sallust's writings so artificial and dark, when all they three lived in one time?'
“I will freely tell you my fancy herein,' said he.
6. Surely Cæsar and Cicero, beside a singular prerogative of natural eloquence given unto them by God, both two by use of life were daily orators among the common people, and greatest counsellors in the Senatehouse; and therefore gave themselves to use such speech as the meanest should well understand, and the wisest best allow; following carefully that good counsel of Aristotle, Loquendum, ut multi ; sapiendum, ut puuci. (Speak like the many; think like the few.)
“ 'Sallust was no such man, neither for will to goodness, nor skill by learning, but ill given by nature, and made worse by bringing up; spent the most part of his youth very misorderly in riot and letchery, in the company of such who, never giving their mind to honest doing, could never inure their tongue to wise speaking. But at the last, coming to better years, and buying wit at the dearest hand (that is, by long experience of the hurt and shame that cometh of mischief), moved by the counsel of them that were wise, and carried by the example of such as were good, he first fell to honesty of life, and after to the love of study and learning, and so became so new a man, that Cæsar, being Dictator, made him prætor in Numidia, where he, absent from his couintry, and not inured with the common talk of Rome, but shut up in his study, and bent wholly upon reading, did