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prose composition; and was among the first to reject the use of foreign words and idioms; a fashion which, in the time of Henry VIII., began to be very prevalent. The following is
HIS APOLOGY FOR WRITING IN ENGLISH.
If any man would blame me either for taking such a matter in hand, or else for writing it in the English tongue, this answer 1 may make him, that when the best of the realm think it honest for them to use, I, one of the meanest sort, ought not to suppose it vile for me to write: and though to have written it in another tongue had been both more profitable for my study, and also more honest for my name, yet I can think my labour well bestowed, if with a little hinderance of my profit and name may come any furtherance to the pleasure or commodity of the gentlemen and yeomen of England, for whose sake I took this matter in hand. And as for the Latin or Greek tongue, every thing is so excellently done in them, that none can do better; in the English tongue, contrary, every thing in a manner so meanly, both for the matter and handling, that no man can do worse. For therein the least learned, for the most part, have been always most ready to write. And they which had least hope in Latin have been most bold in English: when surely every man that is most ready to talk is not most able to write. He that will write well in any tongue, must follow this counsel of Aristotle, to speak as the common people do, to think as wise men do: as so should every man understand him, and the judgment of wise men allow him. Many English writers have not done so, but, using strange words, as Latin, French, and Italian, do make all things dark and hard. Once I communed with a man which reasoned the English tongue to be enriched and increased thereby, saying, Who will not praise that feast where a man shall drink at a dinner both wine, ale, and beer? Truly (quoth I) they be all good, every one taken by himself alone, but if you put malvesye1 and sack, red wine and white, ale and beer, and all in one pot, you shall make a drink not easy to be known, nor yet wholesome for the body.
The other principal work of Roger Ascham is his "School Master."* Of
* The title ta, "The School Master, or plain and perfect way of teaching children to understand, write, and speak the Latin tongue; but specially purposed for the private bringing up of youth In gentlemen and noblemeii's houses, and commodious also for all such as have forgot the Latin tongue, and would by themselves, and without a school master, In short time and with small pains, recover n sufficient babllity to understand, write, and speak Latin." One of the most curious titles of o'd books U the following, which I will give In full for the humor of It.
"Drlii ke and Welcome: or the famous Historic of the most part of Drinks In use now In the king domes of Great Brlttalne and Ireland: with an espcclall declaration of the potency, vertue, and operation of our English Ale: With a description of all sorts of Waters, from the Ocean Sea to Uio teares of a Woman. As also, the causes of nil sorts of Weather, faire or foule, sleet, nunc, nolle, frost, snow, forges, mists, vapours, clouds, stormes, windes, thunder and lfxlitnlng. Compiled first
this, Dr. Johnson says: "It is conceived with great vigor, ani finished with Kroat accuracy: and perhaps contains the best advice that was ever given for the study of languages." He thus recommends an
INTERMIXTURE OF STUDY AND EXERCISE.
I would wish, that beside some good time, fitly appointed, and constantly kept, to increase by reading the knowledge of the tongues, and learning, young gentlemen should use, and delight in all courtly exercises, and gentlemanlike pastimes. And good cause why: for the self-same noble city of Athens, justly commended of me before, did wisely, and upon great consideration, appoint the muses, Apollo and Pallas, to be patrons of learning to their youth. For the muses, besides learning, were also ladies of dancing, mirth, and minstrelsy: Apollo was god of shooting, and author of cunning playing upon instruments; Pallas also was lady mistress in wars. Whereby was nothing else meant, but that learning should be always mingled with honest mirth and comely exercises; and that war also should be governed by learning and moderated by wisdom; as did well appear in those captains of Athens named by me before, and also in Scipio and Caesar, the two diamonds of Rome. And Pallas was no more feared in wearing JEgidu? than she was praised for choosing Olivam;" whereby shineth the glory of learning, which thus was governor and mistress, in the noble city of Athens, both of war and peace.
That the schoolmaster was not so well rewarded at this period, notwithstanding the high value placed on classical literature, may be drawn from the following complaint of Ascham, on
THE CONSEQUENCES OF NEGLECTED EDUCATION.
It is pity that, commonly, more care is had, yea, and that among very wise men, to find out rather a cunning man for their horse, than a cunning man for their children. They say nay in word, but they do so in deed. For to the one they will gladly give a stipend of two hundred crowns by year, and loth to offer to the other two hundred shillings. God, that sitteth in heaven, laugheth their choice to scorn, and rewardeth their liberality as it should; for he suflereth them to have tame and well-ordered horse, but wild and unfortunate children; and, therefore, in the end, they find more pleasure in their horse than comfort in theii children.'
In toe nit 11 Dutch tongue, by the palncfull and Industrious Huldrlcke Van ftpcitglo; a pmium.itleal' Srrwer or Lubeck; and now most learnedly enlarged, amplified, and translntea Into English prose and verse: By John Taylor. London: Printed by Anne Griffln, 1037, *to.w 1 The JEffis, the shield of Minerva.
t The olive, which she is said to hnvc produced, and thus had the right to give hor name (Athf-nei to Athens.
* How true it is, and eve- must be—" Ri ye sow. so shall ye also reap."
DANGERS OF FOREIGN TRAVEL.
I know divers noble personages, and many worthy gentlemen of England, whom all the syren songs of Italy could never untwine from the mast of God's word; nor no inchantment of vanity overturn them from the fear of God and love of honesty.
But I know as many, or mo, and some, sometime my dear friends, (for whose sake I hate going into that country the more,) who, parting out of England fervent in the love of Christ's doctrine, and well furnished with the fear of God, returned out of Italy worse transformed than ever was any in Circe's court. 1 know divers, that went out of England men of innocent life, men of excellent learning, who returned out of Italy, not only with worse manners, but also with less learning; neither so willing to live orderly, nor yet so hable to speak learnedty, as they were at home, before they went abroad. » » « *
But I am afraid that over many of our travellers into Italy do not eschew the way to Circe's court, but go, and ride, and run, and fly thither; they make gTeat haste to come to her; they make great suit to serve her; yea, I could point out some with my finger, that never had gone out of England, but only to serve Circe in Italy. * * * If you think we judge amiss, and write too sore against you, hear what the Italian sayeth of the Englishman; what the master reporteth of the scholar, who uttereth plainly what is taught by him, and what is learned by you, saying, Englese Italianato, e un Diabolo incarnato: that is to say, "you remain men in shape and fashion, but become devils in life and condition." »»»***
If some do not well understand what is an Englishman Italianated, I will plainly tell him: "He that by living and travelling in Italy, bringeth home into England, out of Italy, the religion, the learning, the policy, the experience, the manners of Italy." That is to say, for religion, papistry, or worse; for learning, less commonly than they carried out with them; for policy, a factious heart, a discoursing head, a mind to meddle in all men's matters; for experience, plenty of new mischiefs never known in England before; for manners, variety of vanities, and change of filthy lying.
Then they have in more reverence the triumphs of Petrarch, than the Genesis of Moses; they make more account of Tully's Offices, than of St. Paul's Epistles; of a tale in Boccacio, than a storv of the Bible. Then they count as fables the holy mysteries of Christian religion. They make Christ and his Gospel only serve civil policy. Then neither religion cometh amiss to them. In time they be promoters of both openly; in place, again, mockers of both privily, as I wrote once in a rude rhyme:
Now new, now old, now both, now neither |
To serve the world's course, they care not with whether.
SIR PHILIP SIDNEY. 1054—1086.
"Few characters," says an able writer,1 «appear so well fitted to excite enthusiastic admiration, as that of Sir Philip Sidney. Uniting all the accomplishments which youthful ardor and universality of talent could acquire or bestow; delighting nations by the witchery of his powers, and courts by the fascination of his address; leaving the learned astonished at his proficiency, and the ladies enraptured with his grace; and communicating, wherever he went, the love and spirit of gladness, he was and well deserved to be the idol of the age in which he lived. So rare a union of attraction, so unaccustomed a concentration of excellence, such a compound of military renown with literary distinction, and courtly refinement with noble frankness, gave him a passport to every heart, and secured him, at once, universal sympathy and esteem."
He was born in 1504. At the age of thirteen he entered Oxford, and on leaving the University, though only eighteen, commenced his travels abroad. He was at Paris at the time of the horrible popish massacre of St Bartholomew, on the night of the 24th of August, 1072, and took refuge with many others at the house of Sir Francis Walsingham, at that time ambassador there from England. Leaving Paris soon after, he pursued his route through Germany and Italy, and returned to England in 1070, at the age of twenty-one. He was soon sent by Elizabeth as ambassador to Vienna, where, though so young, he acquitted himself with great credit In 1083 he married the daughter of Sir Francis Walsingham, and was knighted. Two years afterwards he was named as a candidate for the throne of Poland; but his sense of the duty which he owed to his country, led him to acquiesce fully in the remonstrance of Elizabeth against the proposal, «who," gays the historian, "refused to further the advancement, out of fear that she should lose the jewel of her times."
The United Provinces having previously declared their independence, England resolved to assist them to throw off the yoke of Spain, and in 158G, Sidney was sent into the Netherlands, as general of the horse. On the 22d of September of that year, in a skirmish near Zutphen, Sidney beat a superior force of the enemy, which he casually encountered, but lost his own life. After his horse had been shot under him he mounted another, and continued to fight till he received his death-wound. The anecdote recorded of him in his dying moments, though it has been told a thousand times, must ever be repeated when Sidney's character is considered; evincing, as it does, characteristics infinitely more to bo honored and loved than all the glory ever acquired in the bloody, and soon, in the progress of Christian sentiment, to be considered the disgraceful and wicked work of the battle-field. After he had received his death-wound, being overcome with thirst from excessive bleeding, he called for drink. It was brought to him immediately; but the moment he was lifting it to his mouth, a poor soldier was carried by mortally wounded, who fixed his eyes eagerly upon it. Sidney, seeing this, instantly delivered it to him, with these memorable words: "Thy necessity is yet greater than mine." All England wore mourning for his death, and volumes of laments and elegies were poured forth in all languages.1
1 sec Retrospective Review, U. 1, and x. U; ntiw the Quarterly, L «7.
I Lord Brook aays of bim, that "hla end wu not writing, even while he wrote; nor his knowledge uiouided tor tablet or achoola; but both hi.* wit and unicratjuidlng bent upon hia heart to ornke himjeL' and other*, not Id words or opinion, but In life and action, good and great."
Sir Philip Sidney's literary reputation rests on his two prose works—the ■ Arcadia" and the "Defence of Poesy/' He wrote a few sonnets, but though they contain much that is truly poetical, they are disfigured by conceits. That "To Sleep" is the best of them. But his best poetry is his prose;1 and as a prose writer he may justly be regarded as the first of his time.2
The * Arcadia" is a mixture of what has been called the heroic and the pastoral romance. The scene of it is laid in Arcadia, that province of the Peloponnesus, celebrated in olden times as the abode of shepherds, and the scene of most of the pastoral poetry of Greece.
Musidorus and Pyrocles are the heroes of the romance, and are united together in a firm league of friendship. They go forth in quest of adventures, and after killing the customary quantum of giants and monsters, set sail for Greece. The ship is wrecked, and Musidorus is thrown upon the shores of Laconia. He is seen by two shepherds, who offer to conduct him to Kalander, a wealthy inhabitant of Arcadia, the province north of Laconia. As they efer into Arcadia, its beautiful appearance strikes the eyes of Musidorus.
DESCRIPTION OF ARCADIA.
There were hills which garnished their proud heights with jstately trees: humble valleys, whose base estate seemed comforted with the refreshing of silver rivers: meadows, enameled with all sorts of eye-pleasing flowers: thickets, which being lined with most pleasant shade were witnessed so too, by the cheerful disposition of many well-tuned birds: each pasture stored with sheep, feeding with sober security, while the pretty lambs with bleating oratory craved the dam's comfort: here a shepherd's boy piping, as though he should never be old; there a young shepherdess knitting, and withal singing, and it seemed that her voice comforted her hands to work, and her hands kept time to her voice-rx usic.
After being at the house of Kalander a few days, Pyrocles mysteriously arrives. The Prince of Arcadia had two daughters, with whom, of course, the two young heroes till in love. The following is a description of their characters :—
PAMELA AND PH1L0CLEA.
The elder is named Pamela, by many men not deemed inferior to her sister: for my part, when I marked them both, methought there was (if at least such perfections may receive the word of more) more sweetness in Philoclea, but more majesty in Pamela: methought love played in Philoclea's eyes, and threatened in Pamela's: methought Philoclea's beauty only persuaded, but so persuaded as all hearts must yield; Pamela's beauty used violence,
1 Cowper very felicitously call* him a " warbler of poetic proseand he himself says, in his " Defence of Poesy," ''It is not rhyming anil versing that miikcth poesy: one may be a poet without versing, and a versifier without poetry."
- I say this notwithstanding the criticisms of llazliit, as ungrnerous as they are unjust, seo his * Lectures on the Ih-nroBlic Literature of the Age or Elizabeth.11