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the free course of his own invention, whether they properly be Poets, or no, let Grammarians dispute, and go to the third, indeed right Poets, of whom chiefly this question ariseth : betwixt whom and these second is such a kind of difference, as betwixt the meaner sort of Painters, who counterfeit only such faces as are set before them ; and the more excellent, who having no law but wit, bestow that in colours upon you which is fittest for the eye to see, as the constant, though lamenting look of Lucretia, when she punished in herself another's fault: wherein he painteth not Lucretia, whom he never saw, but painteth the outward beauty of such a virtue. For these three be they which most properly do imitate to teach and delight; and to imitate, borrow nothing of what is, hath been, or shall be, but range only, reined with learned discretion, into the divine consideration of what may be, and should be. These be they, that, as the first and most noble sort, may justly be termed Vates: so these are waited on in the excellentest languages and best understandings, with the fore-described name of Poets. For these, indeed, do merely make to imitate, and imitate both to delight and teach, and delight to move men to take that goodness in hand, which, without delight, they would fly as from a stranger, and teach to make them know that goodness whereunto they are moved; which being the noblest scope to which ever any learning was directed, yet want there not idle tongues to bark at them.
Now, therein, of all Sciences, I speak still of human, and, according to the human conceit, is our Poet the monarch. For he doth not only shew the way, but giveth so sweet a prospect into the way, as will intice any man to enter into it: nay, he doth, as if your journey should lie through a fair vineyard, at the very first, give you a cluster of grapes, that, full of that taste, you may long to pass farther. He beginneth not with obscure definitions, which must blur the margin with interpretations, and load the memory with doubtfulness; but he cometh to you with words set in delightful proportion, either accompanied with, or prepared for the well-enchanting skill of music, and with a tale, forsooth, he cometh unto you with a tale, which holdeth children from play, and old men from the chimney corner; and, pretending no more, doth intend the winning of the mind from wickedness to virtue; even as the child is often brought to take most wholesome things by hiding them in such other as have a pleasant taste: which, if one should begin to tell them the nature of the Aloes or Rhabarbarum they should receive, would sooner take their physic at their ears than at their mouth ; so is it in men, most of which are childish in the best things, 'till they be cradled in their graves, glad they will be to hear the tales of
Hercules, Achilles, Cyrus, AEneas, and hearing them,
must needs hear the right description of wisdom, valour and justice; which, if they had been barely, that is to say, philosophically, set out, they would swear they be brought to school again. That imitation whereof Poetry is, hath the most conveniency to nature of all other: insomuch that, as Aristotle saith, those things which in themselves are horrible, as cruel battles, unnatural monsters, are made, in poetical imitation, delightful. Truly, I have known men, that even with reading Amadis de Gaul, which, God knoweth, wanteth much of a perfect Poesy, have found their hearts moved
to the exercise of courtesy, liberality, and especially
courage. Who readeth HEneas carrying old Anchises on his back, that wisheth not, it were his fortune to perform so excellent an act? Whom doth not those words of Turnus move, the tale of Turnus having planted his image in the imagination, Fugientem haec terra videbit 2 Usque adeone mori miserum est?
Where the Philosophers, as they think, scorn to delight, so much they be content little to move, saving wrangling whether Virtus be the chief or the only whether the contemplative or the active life do excel: which Plato and Boetius well knew; and therefore made mistress Philosophy very often borrow the masking
raiment of Poesy. For even those hard hearted evil men, who think virtue a school-name, and know no other good but indulgere genio, and therefore despise the austere admonitions of the Philosopher, and feel not the inward reason they stand upon, yet will be content to be delighted, which is all the good fellow Poet seems to promise; and so steal to see the form of goodness, which seen, they cannot but love, e'er themselves be aware, as if they took a medicine of cherries.
Eudor. BUT if that country of Ireland, whence you lately came, be of so goodly and commodious a soil, as you report, I wonder that no course is taken for the turning thereof to good uses, and reducing that nation to better government and civility.
Iren. Marry so there have been divers good plots devised, and wise counsels cast already about reformation of that realm: but they say, it is the fatal destiny of that land, that no purposes whatsoever which are meant for her good, will prosper or take good effect, which, whether it proceed from the very genius of the soil, or influence of the stars, or that Almighty God hath not yet appointed the time of her reformation, or that he reserveth her in this unquiet state still for some secret scourge, which shall by her come unto England, it is hard to be known, but yet much to be feared.
Eudor. Surely I suppose this but a vain conceit of simple men, which judge things by their effects, and not by their causes; for I would rather think the cause of this evil, which hangeth upon that country, to proceed rather of the unsoundness of the counsels, and plots, which you say have been oftentimes laid for the reformation, or of faintness in following and effecting the same, than of any such fatal course appointed of God, as you misdeem; but it is the manner of men, that when they are fallen into any absurdity, or their actions succeed not as they would, they are always ready to impute the blame thereof unto the heavens, so to excuse their own follies and imperfections. So have I heard it often wished also, even of some whose great wisdoms in opinion should seem to judge more soundly of so weighty a consideration, that all that land were a sea-pool; which kind of speech is the manner rather of desperate men far driven, to wish the utter ruin of that which they cannot redress, than of grave counsellors, which ought to think nothing so hard, but that through wisdom it may be mastered and subdued, since the Poet saith, that “the wise man shall rule even over the stars,” much more over the earth; for were it not the part of a desperate physician to wish his diseased patient dead, rather than to apply the best endeavour of his skill for his recovery. But since we are so far entered, let us, I pray you, a little devise of those evils, by which that country is held in this wretched case, that it cannot, as you say, be recured. And if it be not painful to you, tell us what things, during your late continuance there, you observed to be most offensive, and greatest impeachment to the good rule and government thereof. Iren. Surely Eudoxus. The evils which you desire to be recounted are very many, and almost countable with those which were hidden in the basket of Pandora! But since you please, I will out of that infinite num. ber, reckon but some that are most capital, and com monly occurrent both in the life and conditions o private men, as also in the managing of public affair and policy, the which you shall understand to be o divers natures, as I observed them: for some of then are of very great antiquity and continuance ; other
more late and of less endurance; others daily growing and increasing continually by their evil occasions, which are every day offered. Eudor. Tell them then, I pray you, in the same order that you have now rehearsed them; for there can be no better method than this which the very matter itself offereth. And when you have reckoned all the evils, let us hear your opinion for the redressing of them: after which there will perhaps of itself appear some reasonable way to settle a sound and perfect rule of government, by shunning the former evils, and following the offered good. The which method we may learn of the wise physicians, which first require that the malady be known throughly, and discovered: afterwards to teach how to cure and redress it: and lastly do prescribe a diet, with straight rule and orders to be daily observed, for fear of relapse into the former disease, or falling into some other more dangerous than it. Iren. I will then according to your advisement begin to declare the evils, which seem to me most hurtful to the common-weal of that land; and first, those, I say, which were most ancient and long grown. And they also are of three sorts: the first in the Laws, the second in Customs, and the last in Religion.
Iren. They have another custom from the Scythians, that is the wearing of mantles, and long glibs, which is a thick curled bush of hair, hanging down over their eyes, and monstrously disguising them, which are both very bad and hurtful.
Eudor. Do you think that the mantle cometh from the Scythians? I would surely think otherwise, for by that which I have read, it appeareth that most nations of the world anciently used the mantle. For the Jews used it, as you may read of Elias mantle. The Chaldees also used it, as you may read in Diodorus. The Egyptians likewise used it, as you may read in Herodotus, and may be gathered by the description of Beremice, in the Greek commentary upon Callimachus,