Back to top


Defence of Poesie (Ponsonby, 1595)
Sir Philip Sidney
Transcribed, with an introduction, notes, and bibliography,
by Richard Bear, University of Oregon, September-December 1992.
A note on the etext edition
This etext of Philip Sidney's _Defence of Poesie_ is based on the Scolar
Press facsimile of the British Museum's copy (Shelf-mark: C.57.b.38) of the
Ponsonby editon of the _Defence_. It was transcribed in October, 1992 by
Richard Bear of the University of Oregon and proofed by Richard Bear and
Micah Bear. The editor acknowledges the invaluable guidance of Professor
William Rockett in making improvements to the Introduction. The text has
not been tagged in any way. The letters "j," "u" and "v" have been
normalized for the modern reader, and catchwords eliminated; otherwise the
old spellings have been retained. As in the original Ponsonby text, there
is neither paragraphing no pagination. Quotations found in the original in
the Greek alphabet have generally been transliterated, and a few
corrections of compositor's typographical errors or omissions have been
made which will be found within square brackets. Endnotes are serially
numbered and are enclosed within braces. As these may interfere with
linguistic or other research, scholars should feel free to make working
copies from which the notation and other extraneous text have been removed;
however, copies distributed to others must remain unmodified and include
this paragraph. Copyright (1992) for this edition belongs to the University
of Oregon; it is freely distributed for nonprofit scholarly and teaching
purposes only. Please forward all comments, corrections and emendations to, or by snailmail to Richard Bear, Department of
English, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR USA 97478
Biographical note
Born into great expectations at the great estate of Penshurst, Kent, on 30
November 1554, Philip Sidney was educated at Shrewsbury Grammar School in
Shropshire, and entered Corpus Christi College, Oxford, in 1568. After
three years, he departed for the traditional "Grand Tour" of continental
Europe, arriving in Paris 1572, the year of the St. Bartholomew's Day
Massacre, of which he was an eyewitness. He became friends with the noted
humanist scholar Hubert Languet, and spent the winter with him at Frankfort.
In 1573 he passed through Hungary and Vienna on his way to Venice, and the
following winter visited Padua, Florence, and Genoa. Sidney joined Edward
Wotton for an embassy to the Imperial Court at Vienna, 1574-5, and returned
to England, after a visit to Poland, in June 1575. In 1576 he became Queen
Elizabeth's cupbearer and traveled to Ireland to take part in the campaign
with Essex. For several years, the gallant, dashing, and well-traveled
young Sidney, who was greatly admired on the Continent and at home, waited
for an opportunity to serve his Queen in some capacity commensurate with
his abilities, but no such opportunity came--perhaps because his volatile
temperament could not safely be employed in the temporizing style of
government she required to ensure stability. It was probably in 1578 that
Sidney's small pageant, _The Lady of May_, was presented before the Queen
in vain hopes of persuading her to look with more favor on his uncle
Leicester (and by extension, himself). At this time he also began work on
the _Old Arcadia_, which he completed about 1581. Finding employment at
Court virtually denied him, Sidney at this time (1578-82) divided his time
between visits with his friends (including Edmund Spenser, who published
_The Shepheardes Calender_ in 1579) and his own writing, including _The
Defence of Poesie_ [1580-81], _Certaine Sonets_ [1581], and _Astrophil and
Stella_ [1581-2]. He also began, but did not complete, a new version of the
Beginning about 1583, it seemed Sidney's fortunes might be about to
turn. He was knighted in that year, so that he could stand in for his
absent friend Prince Casimir of the Palatinate in installation as a Knight
of the Garter. An important appointment came to him soon after, assisting
the Earl of Warwick, Master of Ordinance, in preparing the defense of
England against possible invasion by the Spanish. In the fall, he married
Frances Walsingham.
It was Sidney's belief that the best way to slow the advance of the
Spanish empire on the Continent was to attack the colonies of Spain in the
New World. He arranged, in 1584, to sail with Sir Francis Drake on such an
expedition but was recalled by the Queen at the last moment and made
governor of Flushing, in the Netherlands. Sidney took up the cause of the
overextended and unpaid garrison but discovered that his uncle, the Earl of
Leicester, had diverted the allocated funds to his own use. Sidney
nevertheless rallied the troops as best he could, and, going to the relief
of the garrison at Zutphen, 22 September 1586, was wounded in the thigh by
a musket ball. The wound festered, and he died, in great pain, at Arnheim,
17 October. All of Europe was stunned by the loss, and the body of Philip
Sidney was laid to rest with a lavish state funeral at St. Paul's
cathedral, London, 16 February 1587 (Kimbrough, unpaginated chronology,
_Sir Philip Sidney_).
The Defence of Poesie
Henry Olney produced a printing of _An Apologie for Poetrie_ in the spring
of 1595; this edition proved to be unauthorized, as William Ponsonby had
entered the work in the Stationer's register on November 29, 1594. Olney was
directed to halt sale and turn over his remaining copies to Ponsonby, who
replaced the title page with his own and sold the copies along with his own
printing. These combined copies, and those of Ponsonby's own edition
printed by Thomas Creede, are rare, whereas Olney's exists in a number of
copies. Four versions of the _Defence_ are known: The Penshurst manuscript,
De L'Isle MS. no. 1226,; The Norwich manuscript found in 1966 in a
commonplace book of Francis Blomefield's; _An Apologie for Poetrie_,
Olney's printing of 1595, and Ponsonby's _The Defence of Poesie_ of the
same year. An examination of the paper used in the two manuscript versions,
which was done at the request of Mary Mohl, the discoverer of the Norfolk
maunuscript, suggested that the latter, though in some respects inferior,
is the older of the two (_The Apology for Poetry_ xxiv). If this is the
case, a stemma of these documents might appear as follows:
Fair Copy (no longer extant)
Copy seen by both/ \Copy seen by both
Ponsonby's compositor   Norfolk scribe and
|------Penshurst scribe   Olney's compositor--|
|    (no longer extant)   (no longer extant)  |
|          |                  |               |
|          |          Norfolk, 1584-1555 (?)  |
|          |                                  |
|      Ponsonby, 1595               Olney, 1595
Penshurst (Robert Sidney's copy) ca. 1600
A definitive edition, collating all these, and recording all variants, with
excellent endnotes, may be found in _Miscellaneous Prose of Sir Philip
Sidney_ [1973], edited by Katherine Duncan-Jones and Jan Van Dorsten. See
also Katherine Duncan-Jones' excellent contribution to the Oxford Authors
Series of Oxford University Press, _Sir Philip Sidney_ [1989]. The notes
are, as is usual in the series, outstanding, especially in tracing Sidney's
reading in Scaliger and the classical authors.
Many scholars, some of whom have devoted a lifetime with skill and
devotion to the task, have written on Sidney and on the _Defence_, so a
definitive general introduction will not be attempted here. There is one
aspect of the _Defence_, however, that has been often noted only in
passing, and often dismissively, and as I feel it is Sidney's main point I
will attempt to throw a little light on it. Sidney is conscious throughout
his defence that it is _fiction_ he is defending, and that his strength
lies in attacking the privilege generally accorded to "fact." He says that
"of all writers under the Sunne, the Poet is the least lyer"; that is, the
practitioners of what we now call the academic disciplines are regularly
betrayed by their literalism, while the poet, who is under no illusions,
freely creates "fictional" statements as true as any other, and the truer
for not being asserted as literal. Sidney's approach is characteristic of
Renaissance humanism, and more closely akin to modern semiotic theory than
is generally appreciated.
Renaissance education came to specialize in rhetoric at a time in which
political and economic power came to be concentrated in the courts of
princes. This can hardly be a coincidence. Every courtier was trained to
the art of _sprezzatura_, of skill in seeming effortlessness in
horsemanship, swordplay, singing, dancing, speaking, and writing, so as to
catch the eye of those higher in the hierarchy, and especially that of the
prince. Self-presentation has always been and remains the first move in the
game of self-advancement, but for the Renaissance in general and
Elizabethans especially, "fashioning a self," to echo Spenser, was an
obsession. Peter Ramus and the humanist rhetoricians provided a timely
operating environment for such pursuits, because their foregrounding of the
provisional status of any assertion helped the courtiers to understand
self-image as a work in progress rather than as a cynical device.
_The_Defence of Poesie_ reflects the humanist education which Shrewsbury
and Oxford had given to Sidney, and reflects on the rhetorical aims of
self-presentation with which an underemployed Elizabethan gentleman would
undertake such a work. It follows the rules and outline of a standard
argument: exordium, proposition, division, examination, refutation,
digression, peroration; and does so with a spirit and style that must have
done its author great credit in the eyes of his contemporaries. The
_Defence_ serves almost as a _copia_ of Renaissance theory, for Sidney
brings every available gun to bear on his objective: Pliny, Musaeus, Homer,
Hesiod, Orpheus, Linus, Amphion, Livius Andronicus, Ennius, Dante,
Boccaccio, Petrarch, Gower, Chaucer, Thales, Empedocles, Parmenides,
Pythagoras, Phocilydes, Herodotus, Virgil, Xenophon, Tremellius, Junius,
Tyrtaeus, Lucretius, Manilius, Pontanus, Lucan, Cicero, Heliodorus, Plato,
Aristotle, Cornelius Agrippa, Horace, Terence, More, Erasmus, "Dares
Phrygius," Plautus, Euripides, Phocion, Sannazaro, Boethius, Persius,
Plutarch, Pindar, Tasso, Ovid, Dio Cassius, Ariosto, Scaliger, Bembo,
Bibbiena, Beze, Melancthon, Fracastorio, Muret, Buchanan, Hurault, Juvenal,
Surrey, Spenser, Sackville, Norton, Apuleius, Demosthenes, Landino, and
both Old and New Testaments are all cited in support of his position, which
as every critic will tell you is that poetry is useful because it delights
as it teaches, a view that dates back to Horace and beyond.
The venerable tradition of didacticism, and Sidney's heavy reliance
upon it in the _Defence_, has sometimes led to a tendency to dismiss the
_Defence_ as derivative: "not a very original theorist," says Hazard Adams
in _Critical Theory Since Plato_ (154). Adams himself, however, notices
something that "sounds modern" in Sidney's argument that the poet "nothing
affirmeth, and therefore never lieth." He perceptively compares Sidney on
this point to I.A. Richards, but concludes that the comparison will go
nowhere because "Sidney does not have a modern theory of language" (154).
While it is obvious that Sidney had not the advantage, in his education, of
having read Ferdinand de Saussure and his successors, I believe it is a
mistake, on the basis of our own historical chauvinism, not to seek the
implications of Sidney's argument, and to callously assume that Sidney did
not himself see some of those implications. Nor was Sidney alone in so
seeing; Renaissance humanists, of whom Sidney was one, understood not
merely formal rhetoric but epistemology and even _ontology_ in terms of
Throughout the period, diagrams appeared in books, such as Andrew
Borde's _The First Book of the Introduction to Knowledge_ [1542], or Robert
Fludd's _Utriusque Cosmi Historia_ [1616], relating the Ptolemaic cosmology
to the idea of a "great chain of being" in which the cosmos is arranged as
a hierarchy in which each successive level downward in the hierarchy
contains entities which are _analogies_ of entities in the preceding level;
to begin to understand the world view of those who produced these diagrams,
it may help to visualize ourselves not as "made in the image of God" in the
sense that we are independent objects that resemble God, but are actual
_depictions_ of God, like paintings. In this view, nature is not divided
from God in the way in which we are accustomed, after Descartes, to think,
but is something more like a thought or _imagination_ in the mind of God.
As _imago dei_, we reflect our Maker in all that we do, and most of all in
doing what our Maker does: to make, especially by imagining. To attempt to
improve one's image is then not the dishonest activity which an
Enlightenment materialist assumes it to be, but _in imitatio dei_, is to
participate in the creative activity of the Cosmos. Such a world view will
hold that all epistemological practice will be mimetic in procedure, and
this is in fact what Sidney tells us early on:
There is no Art delivered unto mankind that hath not the workes of
nature for his principall object, without which they could not consist,
and on which they so depend, as they become Actors & Plaiers, as it were
of what nature will have set forth. So doth the Astronomer looke upon
the starres, and by that he seeth set downe what order nature hath taken
therein. So doth the Geometritian & Arithmetitian, in their divers sorts
of quantities. So doth the Musitians intimes tel you, which by nature
agree, which not. The natural Philosopher thereon hath his name, and the
morall Philosopher standeth uppon the naturall vertues, vices, or
passions of man: and follow nature saith he therein, and thou shalt not
erre. The Lawier saith, what men have determined. The Historian, what
men have done. The Gramarian, speaketh onely of the rules of speech, and
the Rhetoritian and Logitian, considering what in nature wil soonest
proove, and perswade thereon, give artificiall rules, which still are
compassed within the circle of a question, according to the proposed
matter. The Phisitian wayeth the nature of mans bodie, & the nature of
things helpfull, or hurtfull unto it. And the Metaphisicke though it be
in the second & abstract Notions, and therefore be counted
supernaturall, yet doth hee indeed build upon the depth of nature.
"By that he seeth set down what order nature hath taken therein." The
sciences _map_ the patterns of their objects of inquiry. The poet has the
advantage over these, says Sidney, in that he creates a meta-map, or seeks
to re-present the mind itself ("first nature") in which nature ("second
nature") is but a thought. Poetic imagination brings forth a model on which
readers or audiences can build their own characters for the better: it
worketh, not onely to make a Cyrus, which had bene but a particular
excellency as nature might have done, but to bestow a Cyrus upon the
world to make many Cyrusses, if they will learne aright, why and how
that maker made him.
It is this poetic mold from which so many Cyruses can be formed that Sidney
refers to as _architectonike_, the science of sciences. The argument
between the philosopher and the historian which Sidney vividly describes is
a battle for the honor of being taken for the prescribing artist. The
philosopher gives precepts but does not map them onto the world; the
historian gives a picture of the world, but cannot by mere description
point us to the precepts which would bring it into harmony with the divine
mind; the poet then takes away the honor from them both by relating the
precepts to the world, mapping "should" onto "is," as it were:
Now doth the peerlesse Poet performe both [the work of the philosopher
and the historian], for whatsoever the Philospher saith should be done,
he gives a perfect picture of it by some one, by whom he presupposeth it
was done, so as he coupleth the generall notion with the particuler
The poet's "presupposition" makes no assertion of fact, though it is
important to note that it does _imply_ an assertion that the model
presented is, if "rightly" done, exemplary. Every practitioner of an "art"
or "science" proceeds by mimetic activity, in observing and then in
proceeding through metaphor to represent to society what has been observed.
Only the poet (here, creator of fiction, or literary practitioner) trades
in metaphor itself rather than in its product. This is not strictly true,
even for Sidney, for he admits that the priest or preacher takes precedence
in such trading. But he does not admit that theologians work in anything
"better" than metaphor; instead, he refers to David and Jesus as poets, and
suggests, albeit obliquely, that all didacticism is dependent upon a merely
posited and purely metaphorical world view. A simpler way to put all this
is that there is unfortunately no alternative to simply taking our belief
in God, the cosmos, our earth as we perceive it, and our society as we
experience it, on faith and not as anything known directly in and of itself.
The lines drawn ("coupleth") in mental space between "notion" and "example"
are the very stuff of which all knowledge, Sidney implies, is made.
Sidney hammers this point home by his argument on "lies." Poets are
accused of lying, since there is no necessary connection between their
models and observed phenomena. His reply is that in all the other arts, the
assumption is made that models re-present observations accurately; but this
is never so. Therefore he can assert
that of all writers under the Sunne, the Poet is the least lyer: and
though he wold, as a Poet can scarecely be a lyer. The Astronomer with
his cousin the Geometrician, can hardly escape, when they take upon them
to measure the height of the starres. How often thinke you do the
Phisitians lie, when they averre things good for sicknesses, which
afterwards send Charon a great number of soules drowned in a potion,
before they come to his Ferrie? And no lesse of the rest, which take
upon them to affirme. Now for the Poet, he nothing affirmeth, and
therefore never lieth: for as I take it, to lie, is to affirme that to
bee true, which is false. So as the other Artistes, and especially the
Historian, affirming manie things, can in the clowdie knowledge of
mankinde, hardly escape from manie lies.
The argument is at first glance specious. Of course fictions are false;
that is what fiction means. Our common sense (empiricist) assumption, which
has gained ground greatly since the age of Hobbes and Newton, is that while
Sidney's point is well taken, in that our technicians have as yet gotten
the facts wrong, but he must be joking, for the facts are nevertheless
_there_, and they will get them right eventually. But I believe Sidney is
serious here. He says, "in the clowdy knowledge of mankinde," with
no qualifiers. That he does so provides us with the crux of his argument.
From Petrarch on, the assumption of scholars during the Renaissance was
that the centuries from the fall of Rome until their own time were a "dark
age," in which the great knowledge of the ancients fell into disuse; it was
their mission to recover something of the glory of Greece and Rome by
recovering and mastering their literature and "arts," or, interchangeably,
"sciences." History, Philosophy, Mathematics, Astronomy, and Medicine were
among these, as were painting and sculpture, music, and the production of
literary works, especially epic, tragedy, comedy, satire, lyric, pastoral,
and other forms, which some authorities gathered together under the heading
of "poesie." A student in England in the age of Ascham and Wilson could
expect to be exposed to a wide range of "arts" and literary and historical
works under the curriculum--an adaptation of the medieval _trivium_--by
which means students had for centuries been taught grammar, rhetoric, and
dialectic. Although this curriculum was often taught under the implicit
assumption that it formed a seamless and perfect whole, it contained a
contradiction that produced (and still produces today) considerable
friction among thinkers and artists. Plato had regarded rhetoric as a
highly suspect art, productive of immorality. He argued for dialectic to
be used in its place, which he defined as the science of understanding
(_architectonike_) as oppposed to merely convincing; he desired that the
conclusion of a syllogism be true of the world to which it refers
(_Theatetus_, _Sophist_, _Phaedrus_, _Republic_). Aristotle had made a
place for rhetoric _within_ dialectic by claiming that dialectic is simply
the use of complete syllogisms to understand truth while rhetoric is the
use of partial syllogisms to attain specific ends, such as convincing a
jury of one's innocence, regardless of one's actual guilt (_Rhetoric_).
But attacks against the primacy of dialectic had been made, notably by
Peter Ramus, whose doctoral dissertation was on the topic "everything
Aristotle said was wrong." Ramus chose to invert Aristotle's position and
upheld that dialectic is but a part of rhetoric, thus re-privileging
rhetoric  as the _architectonike_, or science of sciences, as it had been
formerly held by the Sophists to be. Ramus' insight was that an assumption
generally made by dialecticians is that true premises can be found upon
which to base the complete syllogisms that are intended to lead to true,
that is, ontological, knowledge. Ramus's system of logic, unlike that of
Aristotle, assumes that _a premise is always only posited, and any
conclusions based on it are likewise only posited_.
The empiricist view is that the senses report a "real" or literal world
that is like our conception of it. The empiricist view of language is that
words refer to objects in a "real" world, and that metaphor is a distortion
of reference, so that a word can be used out of its proper context in order
to make a useful statement about another kind of object in another context.
Thus, we can say of a wise prince: "behold Cyrus!" -- transferring
reference from the real Cyrus who was wise onto someone who is not Cyrus,
but whose wisdom we wish to praise. Sidney calls our attention to the
unsupportable assumption in the phrase "real Cyrus." What real Cyrus?
Historians cannot show us one; they are only repeating what they have
heard. Their Cyrus is posited only. This realization undermines the
empiricist view of language and suggests that contrary to what we expect,
all reference is metaphorical. It is our insistence on literality that is
the distortion, for the literal is only metaphor that we have agreed among
ourselves to regard as somehow non-metaphorical. This idea is is at the
root both of the effectiveness of the art of rhetoric and of our uneasy but
continued acceptance of it. Plato sought an immaterial reality, Aristotle a
material one; Sidney suspects that neither can be found by us, but at best
a model of a posited model, or copy of a posited copy (Plato's nightmare)
can be fashioned and tested. This utilitarian view is the basis of
rhetorical theory, and can be traced from the Sophists through Scaliger,
Ramus, and the humanists, to Sidney, to Milton, to the reaction to the
Enlightenment in Coleridge's criticism, and in our own time to suggestions
made by C.S. Peirce, William James, Karl Popper, Owen Barfield, W.V. Quine,
Benjamin Lee Whorf, Stanley Fish, and many others.
Why, then, do critics feel that Sidney "does not have a modern theory of
language"? The answer is that he does not follow through on his own
insight but applies the very principle he has just refuted, that of the
common-sense privileging of literality, in his criticism of the current
drama; of it he complains that
Now you shall have three Ladies walke to gather flowers, and then we
must beleeve the stage to be a garden. By and by we heare newes of
shipwrack in the same place, then we are too blame if we accept it not
for a Rock. Upon the back of that, comes out a hidious monster with fire
and smoke, and then the miserable beholders are bound to take it for a
Cave: while in the meane time two Armies flie in, represented with foure
swords & bucklers, and then what hard hart wil not receive it for a
pitched field.
The complaint here is of the English habit of paying little or no attention
to "unity of place." Sidney believed, along with Lodovico Castelvetro and
others, that Aristotle had proscribed dramatic action beyond one circuit of
the sun. The name of Aristotle as the authority behind the notion of "unity
of time" could hardly be ignored. Greeks in the time of Aristotle regarded
physical presentation in drama (and dance) as a sacred activity, and it was
as important not to do confusing things with time as it would be not to get
the words of a spell out of sequence. _Literality_ mattered; one cannot
move twenty years in one's own body, so one's "stage" body ought not to do
this either; it is an insult to the _persona_ inhabited by the actor to be
treated quite so cavalierly. Renaissance critics sensed that jumping the
action from one location to another involved the same problem as jumping it
from one time to another; if we cannot get from the garden to the
battlefield in three minutes ourselves, we should not have our actors do
so. But in English drama, eighteen hundred years after the drama described
by Aristotle, the _tabu_ against representing a long story as nimbly with
one's body as Homer was free to do with his words has largely disappeared.
The actors engage our imaginations only, are visual as well as auditory
metaphors, and the audience can provide narrative unity itself by the use
of memory. Though Sidney does not see that his own destruction of
literality points to the success, rather than failure, of the native
theatrical tradition, he provides a glimpse of the solution even as he
argues mistakenly for the literalism of observing the unities: shall have Asia of the one side, and Affricke of the other, and
so mannie other under Kingdomes, that the Player when he comes in, must
ever begin with telling where he is, or else the tale will not be
The players know what they are about. When they come in, they say:
Viola:   What country, friends, is this?
Captain:                                 Illyria, lady.
The tale is immediately conceived.
The charge that Sidney's theory of language is not modern is
misdirected. He is accurate in his assessment of language, and goes astray
only when adopting a poetics that runs counter to his own theory. In
_Twelfth Night_, which our unfortunate Sir Philip did not live to witness,
we have both the refutation of the literalist theory with which he was
saddled, and the confirmation of the metaphorical theory he so brilliantly
elucidated. In refutation, we easily conceive the three months of the
action, and its movement from seacoast to palace, street, and garden; the
work is unified by its being a kind of land voyage of discovery, or rather
recovery, of the losses that were sustained on the high seas. In
confirmation, the play is, as Sidney recommends, an invention that is
_eikastike_, and not _phantastike_, in that it figures forth good things,
showing its Viola as one who should be emulated and its Malvolio as one
who, perhaps, should not, though he never lacks his humanity. And these are
inventions all, the "lies" of the poet. Yet if anyone should call Viola a
lie, would we not give them the lie-direct? She lives in our minds, and not
necessarily in our minds alone: so far substantially is she worked, not
only to make a Viola, which had been but a particular excellency, as nature
might have done, but to bestow a Viola upon the world, to make many Violas,
if we will learn aright why and how that maker made her!
We all use metaphors, says Sidney, for we cannot communicate our
various knowledges without them, literal reference being a prerogative of a
higher Nature than that we are born to. But to some of us it is given to
not merely use metaphors, but to create them. If, says he, we are so
blinded by our literality that we must condemn our metaphor-makers out of
hand, then we bring upon ourselves the curse of oblivion, for our memorials
are necessarily constructed entirely of metaphor:
...and when you die, your memorie die from the earth for want of an
_The Defence of Poesie_ cannot be charged with lack of modernity until its
linguistic premise can be shown to have been superseded. This has not yet
--Richard Bear
By Sir Phillip Sidney,
[Thomas Creede's Device]
Printed for VViliam Ponsonby.
When the right vertuous E.W.{1} and I were at the Emperours Court togither,
wee gave our selves to learne horsemanship of Jon Pietro Pugliano, one that
with great commendation had the place of an Esquire in his stable: and hee
according to the fertilnes of the Italian wit, did not onely affoord us the
demonstration of his practise, but sought to enrich our mindes with the
contemplations therein, which he thought most precious. But with none I
remember mine eares were at any time more loaden, then when (either angred
with slow paiment, or mooved with our learnerlike admiration) hee exercised
his speech in the praise of his facultie. He said souldiers were the
noblest estate of mankind, and horsemen the noblest of souldiers. He said
they were the maisters of warre, and ornaments of peace, speedie goers, and
strong abiders, triumphers both in Camps and Courts: nay to so unbleeved a
point he proceeded, as that no earthly thing bred such wonder to a Prince,
as to be a good horseman. Skill of government was but a Pedenteria{2}, in
comparison, then would he adde certaine praises by telling us what a
peerless beast the horse was, the one serviceable Courtier without
flattery, the beast of most bewtie, faithfulnesse, courage, and such more,
that if I had not beene a peece of a Logician before I came to him, I
thinke he would have perswaded me to have wished myselfe a horse. But thus
much at least, with his no few words he drave into me, that selflove is
better than any guilding, to make that seem gorgious wherein ourselves be
parties. Wherein if Pulianos strong affection and weake arguments will not
satisfie you, I will give you a nearer example of my selfe, who I know not
by what mischance in these my not old yeares and idlest times, having slipt
into the title of a Poet, am provoked to say something unto you in the
defence of that my unelected vocation, which if I handle with more good
will, then good reasons, beare with me, since the scholler is to be
pardoned that followeth in the steps of his maister. And yet I must say,
that as I have more just cause to make a pittifull defence of poor Poetrie,
which from almost the highest estimation of learning, is falne to be the
laughing stocke of children, so have I need to bring some more available
proofes, since the former is by no man bard of his deserved credit, the
silly lat[t]er, hath had even the names of Philosophers used to the
defacing of it, with great daunger of civill warre among the Muses. And
first truly to all them that professing learning envey against Poetrie, may
justly be objected, that they go very neare to ungratefulnesse, to seeke to
deface that which in the noblest nations and languages that are knowne,
hath bene the first light giver to ignorance, and first nurse whose milk
litle & litle enabled them to feed afterwardes of tougher knowledges. And
will you play the Hedge-hogge, that being received into the den, drave out
his host? Or rather the Vipers, that with their birth kill their parents?
Let learned Greece in any of his manifold Sciences, be able to shew me one
booke before Musaeus{3}, Homer, & Hesiod, all three nothing else but Poets.
Nay let any Historie bee brought, that can say any writers were there
before them, if they were not men of the same skill, as Orpheus, Linus, and
some other are named, who having bene the first of that country that made
pennes deliverers of their knowledge to the posteritie, nay, justly
challenge to bee called their Fathers in learning. For not onely in time
they had this prioritie, (although in it selfe antiquitie be venerable){4}
but went before them, as causes to draw with their charming sweetnesse the
wild untamed wits to an admiration of knowledge. So as Amphion{5}, was said
to moove stones with his Poetry, to build Thebes, and Orpheus to be
listened to by beasts, indeed stonie and beastly people. So among the
Romans, were Livius, Andronicus, and Ennius, so in the Italian language,
the first that made it aspire to be a treasure-house of Science, were the
Poets Dante, Bocace, and Petrach. So in our English, wer Gower, and
Chawcer, after whom, encoraged & delighted with their excellent foregoing,
others have folowed to bewtify our mother toong, aswel in the same kind as
other arts. This did so notably shew itself, that the Philosphers of Greece
durst not a long time apear to the world, but under the mask of poets. So
Thales, Empedocles, and Parmenides, sang their naturall Philosophie in
verses. So did Pithagoras and Phocillides, their morall Councels. So did
Tirteus in warre matters, and Solon in matters of pollicie, or rather they
being Poets{6}, did exercise their delightfull vaine in those points of
highest knowledge, which before them laie hidden to the world. For, that
wise Solon was directly a Poet, it is manifest, having written in verse the
notable Fable of the Atlantick Iland, which was continued by Plato. And
truly even Plato who so ever well considereth, shall finde that in the body
of his worke though the inside & strength were Philosophie, the skin as it
were and beautie, depended most of Poetrie. For all stands upon Dialogues,
wherein hee faines many honest Burgesses of Athens speak of such matters,
that if they had bene set on the Racke, they would never have confessed
them: besides his Poeticall describing the circumstances of their meetings,
as the well ordering of a banquet{7}, the delicacie of a walke{8}, with
enterlacing meere Tales, as Gyges Ring{9} and others, which, who knows not
to bee flowers of Poetrie, did never walke into Appollos Garden. And even
Historiographers, although their lippes sound of things done, and veritie
be written in their foreheads, have bene glad to borrow both fashion and
perchance weight of the Poets. So Herodotus entitled his Historie, by the
name of the nine Muses, and both he and all the rest that followed him,
either stale{10}, or usurped of Poetrie, their passionate describing of
passions, the many particularities of battels which no man could affirme,
or if that be denied me, long Orations put in the mouths of great Kings and
Captains, which it is certaine they never pronuonced. So that truly
Philosopher, nor Historiographer, could at the first have entered into the
gates of popular judgements, if they had not taken a great pasport of
Poetrie, which in all nations at this day where learning flourisheth not,
is plaine to be seene: in all which, they have some feeling of Poetry. In
Turkey, besides their lawgiving devines, they have no other writers but
Poets. In our neighbor Countrey Ireland, where truly learning goes verie
bare, yet are their Poets held in a devout reverence. Even among the most
barbarous and simple Indians, where no writing is, yet they have their
Poets who make & sing songs which they call Arentos{11}, both of their
Auncestors deeds, and praises of their Gods. A sufficient probability, that
if ever learning come among them, it must be by having their hard dull
wittes softened and sharpened with the sweete delights of Poetrie, for
untill they finde a pleasure in the exercise of the minde, great promises
of much knowledge, wil little persuade them that know not the frutes of
knowledge. In VVales, the true remnant of the auncient Brittons, as there
are good authorities to shew, the long time they had Poets which they
called Bardes: so thorow all the conquests  of Romans, Saxons, Danes, and
Normans, some of whom, did seeke to ruine all memory of learning from among
them, yet do their Poets even to this day last: so as it is not more
notable in the soone beginning, then in long continuing. But since the
Authors of most of our Sciences, were the Romanes, and before them the
Greekes, let us a little stand upon their authorities, but even so farre as
to see what names they have given unto this now scorned skill. Among the
Romanes a Poet was called Vates, which is as much as a diviner, foreseer,
or Prophet, as by his conjoyned words Vaticinium, and Vaticinari{12}, is
manifest, so heavenly a title did that excellent people bestowe uppon this
hart-ravishing knowledge, and so farre were they carried into the
admiration thereof, that they thought in the chanceable hitting uppon any
of such verses, great foretokens of their following fortunes, were placed.
Whereupon grew the word of Sortes Vergilianae, when by suddaine opening
Virgils Booke, they lighted uppon some verse of his, as it is reported by
many, whereof the Histories of the Emperours lives are full. As of Albinus
the Governour of our Iland, who in his childhood met with this verse Arma
amens capio, nec sat rationis in armis{13}: and in his age performed it,
although it were a verie vaine and godlesse superstition, as also it was,
to think spirits were commaunded by such verses, whereupon this word
Charmes derived of Carmina, commeth: so yet serveth it to shew the great
reverence those wittes were held in, and altogither not without ground,
since both by the Oracles of Delphos and Sybillas prophesies, were wholly
delivered in verses, for that same exquisite observing of number and
measure in the words, and that high flying libertie of conceit propper to
the Poet, did seeme to have some divine force in it. And may not I presume
a little farther, to shewe the reasonablenesse of this word Vatis, and say
that the holy Davids Psalms are a divine Poeme? If I do, I shal not do it
without the testimony of great learned men both auncient and moderne. But
even the name of Psalmes wil speak for me, which being interpreted, is
nothing but Songs: then that it is fully written in meeter as all learned
Hebritians{14} agree, although the rules be not yet fully found. Lastly and
principally, his handling his prophecie, which is meerly Poeticall. For
what else is the awaking his musical Instruments, the often and free
chaunging of persons, his notable Prosopopeias{15}, when he maketh you as
it were see God comming in his maijestie, his telling of the beasts
joyfulnesse, and hils leaping, but a heavenly poesie, wherein almost he
sheweth himselfe a passionate lover of that unspeakable and everlasting
bewtie, to be seene by the eyes of the mind, onely cleared by faith? But
truly now having named him, I feare I seeme to prophane that holy name,
applying it to Poetry, which is among us throwne downe to so ridiculous an
estimation. But they that with quiet Judgements wil looke a little deeper
into it, shal find the end & working of it such, as being rightly applied,
deserveth not to be scourged out of the Church of God. But now let us see
how the Greekes have named it, and how they have deemed of it. The Greekes
named him poieten{16}, which name, hath as the most excellent, gone through
other languages, it commeth of this word poiein which is to make: wherein I
know not whether by luck or wisedome, we Englishmen have met with the
Greekes in calling him a Maker. Which name, how high and incomparable a
title it is, I had rather were knowne by marking the scope of other
sciences, then by any partial allegation. There is no Art{17} delivered
unto mankind that hath not the workes of nature for his principall object,
without which they could not consist, and on which they so depend, as they
become Actors & Plaiers, as it were of what nature will have set forth. So
doth the Astronomer looke upon the starres, and by that he seeth set downe
what order nature hath taken therein. So doth the Geometritian &
Arithmetitian, in their divers sorts of quantities. So doth the Musitians
intimes tel you, which by nature agree, which not. The natural Philosopher
thereon hath his name, and the morall Philosopher standeth uppon the
naturall vertues, vices, or passions of man: and follow nature saith he
therein, and thou shalt not erre. The Lawier saith, what men have
determined. The Historian, what men have done. The Gramarian, speaketh
onely of the rules of speech, and the Rhetoritian and Logitian, considering
what in nature wil soonest proove, and perswade thereon, give artificiall
rules, which still are compassed within the circle of a question, according
to the proposed matter. The Phisitian wayeth the nature of mans bodie, &
the nature of things helpfull, or hurtfull unto it. And the Metaphisicke
though it be in the second & abstract Notions, and therefore be counted
supernaturall, yet doth hee indeed build upon the depth of nature. Only the
Poet disdeining to be tied to any such subjection, lifted up with the vigor
of his own invention, doth grow in effect into another nature: in making
things either better then nature bringeth foorth, or quite a new, formes
such as never were in nature: as the Heroes, Demigods, Cyclops, Chymeras,
Furies, and such like; so as he goeth hand in hand with nature, not
enclosed within the narrow warrant of her gifts, but freely raunging within
the Zodiack of his owne wit. Nature never set foorth the earth in so rich
Tapistry as diverse Poets have done, neither with so pleasaunt rivers,
fruitfull trees, sweete smelling flowers, nor whatsoever els 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 goe to man, for whom as
the other things are, so it seemeth in him her uttermost comming is
imploied: & know whether she have brought foorth so true a lover as
Theagenes{18}, so constant a friend as Pylades{19}, so valiant a man as
Orlando{20}, so right a Prince as Xenophons Cyrus{21}, so excellent a man
every way as Virgils Aeneas{22}. Neither let this be jestingly conceived,
bicause the works of the one be essenciall, the other in imitation or
fiction: for everie understanding, knoweth the skill of ech Artificer
standeth in that Idea, or fore conceit of the worke, and not in the worke
it selfe. And that the Poet hath that Idea, is manifest, by delivering them
foorth in such excellencie as he had imagined them: which delivering
foorth, also is not wholly imaginative, as we are wont to say by them that
build Castles in the aire: but so farre substancially it worketh, not onely
to make a Cyrus, which had bene but a particular excellency as nature might
have done, but to bestow a Cyrus upon the world to make many Cyrusses, if
they will learne aright, why and how that maker made him. Neither let it be
deemed too sawcy a comparison, to ballance the highest point of mans wit,
with the efficacie of nature: but rather give right honor to the heavenly
maker of that maker, who having made man to his owne likenes, set him
beyond and over all the workes of that second nature, which in nothing he
sheweth so much as in Poetry; when with the force of a divine breath, he
bringeth things foorth surpassing her doings: with no small arguments to
the incredulous of that first accursed fall of Adam, since our erected wit
maketh us know what perfection is, and yet our infected wil keepeth us from
reaching unto it{23}. But these arguments will by few be understood, and by
fewer graunted: thus much I hope will be given me, that the Greeks with
some probability of reason, gave him the name above all names of learning.
Now let us go to a more ordinary opening of him, that the truth may be the
more palpable: and so I hope though we get not so unmatched a praise as the
Etimologie of his names will graunt, yet his verie description which no man
will denie, shall not justly be barred from a principall commendation.
Poesie therefore, is an Art of Imitation: for so Aristotle termeth it in
the word mimesis{24}, that is to say, a representing, counterfeiting, or
figuring forth to speake Metaphorically. A speaking Picture, with this end
to teach and delight{25}. Of this have bene three generall kindes, the
chiefe both in antiquitie and excellencie, were they that did imitate the
unconceivable excellencies of God. Such were David in his Psalmes, Salomon
in his song of songs, in his Ecclesiastes and Proverbes. Moses and Debora,
in their Hymnes, and the wryter of Jobe: Which beside other, the learned
Emanuell, Tremelius, and F. Junius{26}, doo entitle the Poeticall part of
the scripture: against these none will speake that hath the holie Ghost in
due holie reverence. In this kinde, though in a full wrong divinitie, were
Orpheus, Amphion, Homer in his himnes, and manie other both Greeke and
Romanes. And this Poesie must be used by whosoever will follow S.
Paules{27} counsaile, in singing Psalmes when they are mery, and I knowe is
used with the frute of comfort by some, when in sorrowfull panges of their
death bringing sinnes, they finde the consolation of the never leaving
goodnes. The second kinde, is of them that deale with matters
Philosophicall, either morall as Tirteus, Phocilides, Cato; or naturall, as
Lucretius, and Virgils Georgikes; or Astronomicall as Manilius and
Pontanus; or Historicall as Lucan{28}: which who mislike the fault, is in
their judgement quite out of tast, & not in the sweet food of sweetly
uttered knowledge. But bicause this second sort is wrapped within the fold
of the proposed subject, and takes not the free course of his own
invention, whether they properly bee Poets or no, let Gramarians dispute,
and goe to the third indeed right Poets, of whom chiefly this question
ariseth: betwixt whom and these second, is such a kinde of difference, as
betwixt the meaner sort of Painters, who counterfeyt onely such faces as
are set before them, and the more excelent, 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 looke of Lucretia, when she punished in her
selfe another faulte: wherein hee painteth not Lucretia whom he never saw,
but painteth the outward bewty of such a vertue. For these third be they
which most properly do imitate to teach & delight: and to imitate, borrow
nothing of what is, hath bin, or shall be, but range onely 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
meerly make to imitate, and imitate both to delight & teach, and delight to
move men to take that goodnesse in hand, which without delight they would
flie as from a stranger; and teach to make them know that goodnesse
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.
These be subdivided into sundry more special denominations. The most
notable be the Heroick, Lyrick, Tragick, Comick, Satyrick, Iambick,
Elegiack, Pastorall, and certaine others: some of these being tearmed
according to the matter they deale with, some by the sort of verse they
liked best to write in, for indeed the greatest part of Poets, have
apparelled their poeticall inventions, in that numbrous kind of writing
which is called vers. Indeed but apparelled verse: being but an ornament
and no cause to Poetrie, since there have bene many most excellent Poets
that never versified, and now swarme many versifiers that need never
answere to the name of Poets. For Xenophon who did imitate so excellently
as to give us effigiem justi imperii, the pourtraiture of a just Empyre
under the name of Cyrus, as Cicero saith of him, made therein an absolute
heroicall Poeme. So did Heliodorus, in his sugred invention of that picture
of love in Theagenes & Chariclea{29}, and yet both these wrote in prose,
which I speake to shew, that it is not ryming and versing that maketh a
Poet, (no more than a long gown maketh an Advocate, who though he pleaded
in Armour, should be an Advocat and no souldier) but it is that faining
notable images of vertues, vices, or what els, with that delightfull
teaching, which must be the right describing note to know a Poet by.
Although indeed the Senate of Poets hath chosen verse as their fittest
raiment: meaning as in matter, they passed all in all, so in manner, to go
beyond them: not speaking table talke fashion, or like men in a dreame,
words as they chanceably fall from the mouth, but peasing each sillable of
eache word by just proportion, according to the dignitie of the suject. Now
therfore it shal not be amisse, first to way this latter sort of poetrie by
his workes, and then by his parts, and if in neither of these Anatomies hee
be condemnable, I hope we shall obteine a more favourable sentence. This
purifying of wit, this enriching of memorie, enabling of judgement, and
enlarging of conceit, which commonly we cal learning, under what name so
ever it come forth, or to what immediate end soever it be directed, the
finall end is, to lead and draw us to as high a perfection, as our
degenerate soules made worse by their clay-lodgings, can be capable of.
This according to the inclination of man, bred many formed impressions. For
some that thought this felicity principally to be gotten by knowledge, and
no knowledge to be so high or heavenly, as acquaintance with the stars;
gave themselves to Astronomie: others perswading themselves to be Demygods,
if they knew the causes of things, became naturall and supernaturall
Philosophers. Some an admirable delight drew to Musicke; and some the
certaintie of demonstration to the Mathematicks: but all one and other
having scope to know, & by knowledge to lift up the minde from the dungeon
of the bodie, to the enjoying his owne divine essence. But when by the
ballance of experience it was found that the Astronomer looking to the
stars might fall in a ditch, that the inquiring Philosopher might be blind
in him self, & the Mathematician, might draw forth a straight line with a
crooked hart. Then lo did proofe, the overruler of opinions make manifest,
that all these are but serving sciences; which as they have [each] a
private end in themselves, so yet are they all directed to the highest end
of the mistresse knowledge by the Greeks [called] architectonike{30}, which
stands as I thinke, in the knowledge of a mans selfe, in the Ethike and
Politique consideration, with the end of well doing, and not of well
knowing onely. Even as the Sadlers next ende is to make a good Saddle, but
his further ende, to serve a nobler facultie, which is horsmanship, so the
horsemans to souldiery: and the souldier not only to have the skill, but to
performe the practise of a souldier. So that the ending end of all earthly
learning, being verteous action, those skils that most serve to bring forth
that, have a most just title to be Princes over al the rest: wherein if we
can shew, the Poet is worthy to have it before any other competitors: among
whom principally to challenge it, step forth the moral Philosophers, whom
me thinkes I see comming towards me, with a sullen gravitie, as though they
could not abide vice by day-light, rudely cloathed for to witness outwardly
their contempt of outward things, with books in their hands against glorie,
whereto they set their names: sophistically speaking against subtiltie, and
angry with any man in whom they see the foule fault of anger. These men
casting larges as they go of definitions, divitions and distinctions, with
a scornful interrogative, do soberly aske, whether it be possible to find
any path so ready to lead a man to vertue, as that which teacheth what
vertue is, & teacheth it not only by delivering forth his very being, his
causes and effects, but also by making knowne his enemie vice, which must
be destroyed, and his cumbersome servant passion, which must be mastred: by
shewing the generalities that contains it, and the specialties that are
derived from it. Lastly by plaine setting downe, how it extends it selfe
out of the limits of a mans owne little world, to the government of
families, and mainteining of publike societies. The Historian scarcely
gives leisure to the Moralist to say so much, but that he loaden with old
Mouse-eaten Records, authorising himselfe for the most part upon other
Histories, whose greatest authorities are built uppon the notable
foundation Heresay, having much ado to accord differing writers, & to pick
truth out of partiality: better acquainted with a 1000. yeres ago, then
with the present age, and yet better knowing how this world goes, then how
his owne wit runnes, curious for Antiquities, and inquisitive of Novelties,
a wonder to yoong folkes, and a Tyrant in table talke; denieth in a great
chafe, that any man for teaching of vertue, and vertues actions, is
comparable to him. I am Testis temporum, lux veritatis, vita memoriae,
magistra vitae, nuncia vetustatis{31}. The Philosopher saith he, teacheth a
disputative vertue, but I do an active. His vertue is excellent in the
dangerlesse Academy of Plato: but mine sheweth forth her honourable face in
the battailes of Marathon, Pharsalia, Poietiers, and Agincourt. Hee
teacheth vertue by certaine abstract considerations: but I onely follow the
footing of them that have gone before you. Old aged experience, goeth
beyond the fine witted Philosopher: but I give the experience of many ages.
Lastly, if he make the song Booke, I put the learners hand to the Lute, and
if he be the guide, I am the light. Then he would alleage you innumerable
examples, confirming storie by stories, how much the wisest Senators and
Princes, have bene directed by the credit of Historie, as Brutus, Alphonsus
of Aragon, (and who not if need be.) At length, the long line of their
disputation makes a point in this, that the one giveth the precept, & the
other the example. Now whom shall we find, since the question standeth for
the highest forme in the schoole of learning to be moderator? Truly as mee
seemeth, the Poet, and if not a moderator, even the man that ought to carry
the title from them both: & much more from all the other serving sciences.
Therfore compare we the Poet with the Historian, & with the morall
Philosopher: and if hee goe beyond them both, no other humaine skill can
match him. For as for the divine, with all reverence it is ever to be
excepted, not onely for having his scope as far beyond any of these, as
Eternitie exceedeth a moment: but even for passing ech of these in
themselves. And for the Lawier, though Jus be the daughter of Justice, the
chiefe of vertues, yet because he seeks to make men good, rather formidine
poenae{32}, then virtutis amore{33}: or to say righter, doth not endevor to
make men good, but that their evill hurt not others, having no care so he
be a good citizen, how bad a man he might be. Therefore, as our wickednes
maketh him necessarie, and necessitie maketh him honorable, so he is not in
the deepest truth to stand in ranck with these, who al endevour to take
naughtinesse away, and plant goodnesse even in the secretest cabinet of our
soules: and these foure are all that any way deale in the consideration of
mens manners, which being the supreme knowledge, they that best breed it,
deserve the best commendation. The Philosopher therefore, and the
Historian, are they which would win the goale, the one by precept, the
other by example: but both, not having both, doo both halt. For the
Philosopher setting downe with thornie arguments, the bare rule, is so hard
of utterance, and so mistie to be conceived, that one that hath no other
guide but him, shall wade in him till he be old, before he shall finde
suffiecient cause to be honest. For his knowledge standeth so upon the
abstract and generall, that happie is that man who may understand him, and
more happie, that can apply what he doth understand. On the other side, the
Historian wanting the precept, is so tied, not to what should be, but to
what is, to the particular truth of things, that his example draweth no
necessary consequence, and therefore a lesse fruitfull doctrine. Now doth
the peerlesse Poet performe both, for whatsoever the Philospher saith
should be done, he gives a perfect picture of it by some one, by whom he
presupposeth it was done, so as he coupleth the generall notion with the
particuler example. A perfect picture I say, for hee yeeldeth to the powers
of the minde an image of that whereof the Philosopher bestoweth but a
wordish description, which doth neither strike, pearce, nor possesse, the
sight of the soule so much, as that other doth. For as in outward things to
a man that had never seene an Elephant, or a Rinoceros, who should tell him
most exquisitely all their shape, cullour, bignesse, and particuler marks,
or of a gorgious pallace an Architecture, who declaring the full bewties,
might well make the hearer able to repeat as it were by roat all he had
heard, yet should never satisfie his inward conceit, with being witnesse to
it selfe of a true lively knowledge: but the same man, assoon as he might
see those beasts wel painted, or that house wel in modell, shuld
straightwaies grow without need of any description to a judicial
comprehending of them, so no doubt the Philosopher with his learned
definitions, be it of vertues or vices, matters of publike policy or privat
government, replenisheth the memory with many infallible grounds of
wisdom, which notwithstanding lie darke before the imaginative and judging
power, if they be not illuminated or figured forth by the speaking picture
of Poesie. Tully taketh much paines, and many times not without Poeticall
helpes to make us know the force, love of our country hath in us. Let us
but hear old Anchices{34}, speaking in the middest of Troies flames, or see
Ulisses in the fulnesse of all Calipsoes delightes, bewaile his absence
from barraine and beggarly Itheca{35}. Anger the Stoickes said, was a short
madnesse{36}: let but Sophocles bring you Ajax on a stage, killing or
whipping sheepe and oxen, thinking them the Army of Greekes, with their
Chieftaines Agamemnon, and Menelaus: and tell me if you have not a more
familiar insight into Anger, then finding in the schoolemen his Genus and
Difference. See whether wisdom and temperance in Ulisses and Diomedes,
valure in Achilles, friendship in Nisus and Eurialus{37}, even to an
ignorant man carry not an apparant shining: and contrarily, the remorse of
conscience in Oedipus; the soone repenting pride in Agamemnon; the selfe
devouring crueltie in his father Atreus; the violence of ambition, in the
two Theban brothers; the sower sweetnesse of revenge in Medea; and to fall
lower, the Terentian Gnato{38}, and our Chawcers Pander{39} so exprest,
that we now use their names, to signify their Trades: And finally, all
vertues, vices, and passions, so in their owne naturall states, laide to
the view, that we seeme not to heare of them, but clearly to see through
them. But even in the most excellent determination of goodnesse, what
Philosophers counsaile can so readely direct a Prince, as the feined Cirus
in Xenophon, or a vertuous man in all fortunes: as Aeneas in Virgill, or a
whole Common-wealth, as the Way of Sir Thomas Moore's Eutopia. I say the
Way, because where Sir Thomas Moore erred, it was the fault of the man and
not of the Poet: for that Way of patterning a Common-wealth, was most
absolute though hee perchaunce hath not so absolutely performed it. For the
question is, whether the fashioned Image of Poetrie, or the regular
instruction of Philosophie, hath the more force in teaching? Wherein if the
Philosophers have more rightly shewed themselves Philosophers then the
Poets, have attained to the high toppe of their profession (as in truth
Mediocribus esse poetis non Dii, non homines, non concessere columnae{40},)
it is (I say againe) not the fault of the Art, but that by fewe men that
Art can be accomplished. Certainly even our Saviour Christ could as well
have given the morall common places of uncharitablenesse and humblenesse,
as the divine narration of Dives and Lazarus{41}, or of disobedience and
mercy, as the heavenly discourse of the lost childe and the gracious
Father{42}, but that his through searching wisedom, knew the estate of
Dives burning in hell, and Lazarus in Abrahams bosome, would more
constantly, as it were, inhabit both the memorie and judgement. Truly for
my selfe (mee seemes) I see before mine eyes, the lost childs disdainful
prodigalitie, turned to envy a Swines dinner: which by the learned Divines
are thought not to be Historical acts, but instructing Parables. For
conclusion, I say the Philosopher teacheth, but he teacheth obscurely, so
as the learned onely can understand him, that is to say, he teacheth them
that are alreadie taught. But the Poet is the food for the tenderest
stomacks, the Poet is indeed, the right populer Philosopher. Whereof Esops
Tales give good proofe, whose prettie Allegories stealing under the formall
Tales of beastes, makes many more beastly than beasts: begin to hear the
sound of vertue from those dumbe speakers. But now it may be alleadged,
that if this imagining of matters be so fit for the imagination, then must
the Historian needs surpasse, who brings you images of true matters, such
as indeed were done, and not such as fantastically or falsely may be
suggested to have bin done. Truly Aristotle himselfe in his discourse of
Poesie{43}, plainly determineth this question, saying, that Poetrie is
philosophoteron and spuodaioteron, that is to say, it is more
Philosophicall and more [studiously serious]{44} then History. His reason
is, because Poesie dealeth with katholou, that is to say, with the
universall consideration, and the Historie with kathekaston, the
particular. Now saith he, the universall wayes what is fit to be said or
done, either in likelihood or necessitie, which the Poesie considereth in
his imposed names: and the particular onely maketh whether Alcibiades did
or suffered this or that. Thus farre Aristotle. Which reason of his, as all
his is most full of reason. For indeed if the question were, whether it
were better to have a particular act truly or faithfully set downe, there
is no doubt which is to be chosen, no more than whether you had rather have
Vespacians Picture right as he was, or at the Painters pleasure nothing
resembling. But if the question be for your owne use and learning, whether
it be better to have it set downe as it should be, or as it was; then
certainly is more doctrinable, the fained Cyrus in Xenophon, then the true
Cyrus in Justin{45}: and the fained Aeneas in Virgill, then the right
Aeneas in Dares Phrigius{46}: as to a Ladie that desired to fashion her
countenance to the best grace: a Painter shuld more benefite her to
pourtrait a most sweete face, writing Canidia uppon it, then to paint
Canidia as shee was, who Horace sweareth was full ill favoured{47}. If the
Poet do his part aright, he will shew you in Tantalus Atreus{48}, and such
like, nothing that is not to be shunned; in Cyrus, Aeneas, Ulisses, each
thing to be followed: where the Historian bound to tell things as things
were, cannot be liberall, without hee will be Poeticall of a perfect
patterne, but as Alexander or Scipio himselfe, shew things, some to be
liked, some to be misliked, and then how will you discerne what to follow,
but by your own discretion which you had without reading Q. Curtius{49}.
And whereas a man may say, though in universall consideration of doctrine,
the Poet prevaileth, yet that the Historie in his saying such a thing was
done, doth warrant a man more in that he shall follow. The answere is
manifest, that if he stand upon that was, as if he should argue, because it
rained yesterday, therefore it should raine to day, then indeede hath it
some advantage to a gross conceit. But if hee knowe an example onely
enformes a conjectured likelihood, and so goe by reason, the Poet doth so
farre exceed him, as hee is to frame his example to that which is most
reasonable, be it in warlike, politike, or private matters, where the
Historian in his bare, was, hath many times that which we call fortune, to
overrule the best wisedome. Manie times he must tell events, whereof he can
yield no cause, or if he do, it must be poetically. For that a fained
example (for as for to moove, it is cleare, since the fained may be tuned
to the highest key of passion) let us take one example wherein an Historian
and a Poet did concurre. Herodotus and Justin doth both testifie, that
Zopirus, King Darius faithfull servant, seeing his maister long resisted by
the rebellious Babilonians, fained himselfe in extreame disgrace of his
King, for verifying of which, he caused his owne nose and eares to be cut
off, and so flying to the Babylonians was received, and for his knowne
valure so farre creadited, that hee did finde meanes to deliver them over
to Darius{50}. Much like matter doth Livy record of Tarquinius, and his
sonne{51}. Xenophon excellently faineth such another Strategeme, performed
by Abradates in Cyrus behalfe{52}. Now would I faine knowe, if occasion be
presented unto you, to serve your Prince by such an honest dissimulation,
why you do not as well learne it of Xenophons fiction, as of the others
veritie: and truly so much the better, as you shall save your nose by the
bargaine. For Abradates did not counterfeyt so farre. So then the best of
the Historian is subject to the Poet, for whatsoever action or faction,
whatsoever counsaile, pollicie, or warre, strategeme, the Historian is
bound to recite, that may the Poet if hee list with his imitation make his
owne; bewtifying it both for further teaching, and more delighting as it
please him: having all from Dante his heven to his hell, under the
authority of his pen. Which if I be asked what Poets have done so? as I
might well name some, so yet say I, and say again, I speake of the Art and
not of the Artificer. Now to that which commonly is attributed to the
praise of Historie, in respect of the notable learning, is got by marking
the successe, as though therein a man shuld see vertue exalted, & vice
punished: truly that commendation is peculiar to Poetrie, and farre off
from Historie: for indeed Poetrie ever sets vertue so out in her best
cullours, making fortune her well-wayting handmayd, that one must needs be
enamoured of her. Well may you see Ulisses in a storme and in other hard
plights, but they are but exercises of patience & magnanimitie, to make
them shine the more in the neare following prosperitie. And of the contrary
part, if evill men come to the stage, they ever goe out (as the Tragedie
writer answered to one that misliked the shew of such persons) so manicled
as they litle animate folkes to follow them. But the Historie being
captived to the trueth of a foolish world, is many times a terror from
well-doing, and an encouragement to unbrideled wickednes. For see we not
valiant Milciades{53} rot in his fetters? The just Phocion{54} and the
accomplished Socrates{55}, put to death like Traytors? The cruell
Severus{56}, live prosperously? The excellent Severus{57} miserably
murthered? Sylla and Marius dying in their beds{58}? Pompey and Cicero
slain then when they wold have thought exile a happinesse{59}? See we not
vertous Cato{60} driven to kill himselfe, and Rebell Caesar so advanced,
that his name yet after 1600. yeares lasteth in the highest honor? And
marke but even Caesars owne words of the forenamed Sylla, (who in that
onely, did honestly to put downe his dishonest Tyrannie) Litteras
nescivet{61}: as if want of learning caused him to doo well. He ment it not
by Poetrie, which not content with earthly plagues, deviseth new
punishments in hell for Tyrants: nor yet by Philosophy, which teacheth
Occidentos esse{62}, but no doubt by skill in Historie, for that indeed can
affoord you Cipselus, Periander, Phalaris, Dionisius{63}, and I know not
how many more of the same kennel, that speed well inough in their
abhominable injustice of usurpation. I conclude therefore that he excelleth
historie, not onely in furnishing the minde with knowledge, but in setting
it forward to that which deserves to be called and accounted good: which
setting forward and moving to well doing, indeed setteth the Lawrell Crowne
upon the Poets as victorious, not onely of the Historian, but over the
Philosopher, howsoever in teaching it may be questionable. For suppose it
be granted, that which I suppose with great reason may be denied, that the
Philosopher in respect of his methodical proceeding, teach more perfectly
then the poet, yet do I thinke, that no man is so much philophilosophos{64}
as to compare the philosopher in mooving with the Poet. And that mooving is
of a higher degree than teaching, it may by this appeare, that it is well
nigh both the cause and effect of teaching. For who will be taught, if he
be not mooved with desire to be taught? And what so much good doth that
teaching bring foorth, (I speake still of morall doctrine) as that it
mooveth one to do that which it doth teach. For as Aristotle saith, it is
not gnosis but praxis{65} must be the frute: and how praxis can be without
being moved to practice, it is no hard matter to consider. The Philosopher
sheweth you the way, hee enformeth you of the particularities, as well of
the tediousnes of the way, as of the pleasaunt lodging you shall have when
your journey is ended, as of the many by turnings that may divert you from
your way. But this is to no man but to him that will reade him, and reade
him with attentive studious painfulnesse, which constant desire, whosoever
hath in him, hath alreadie past halfe the hardnesse of the way: and
therefore is beholding to the Philosopher, but for the other halfe. Nay
truly learned men have learnedly thought, that where once reason hath so
much over-mastered passion, as that the minde hath a free desire to doo
well, the inward light each minde hath in it selfe, is as good as a
Philosophers booke, since in Nature we know it is well, to doo well, and
what is well, and what is evill, although not in the wordes of Art which
Philosophers bestow uppon us: for out of naturall conceit the Philosophers
drew it; but to be moved to doo that which wee know, or to be mooved with
desire to know. Hoc opus, hic labor est{66}. Now therein of all Sciences I
speake still of humane (and according to the humane conceit) is our Poet
the Monarch. For hee doth not onely shew the way, but giveth so sweete a
prospect into the way, as will entice anie man to enter into it: Nay he
doth as if your journey should lye through a faire vineyard, at the verie
first, give you a cluster of grapes, that full of the taste, you may long
to passe further. Hee beginneth not with obscure definitions, which must
blurre the margent with interpretations, and loade the memorie with
doubtfulnesse: but hee commeth to you with words set in delightfull
proportion, either accompanied with, or prepared for the well enchanting
skill of musicke, and with a tale forsooth he commeth unto you, with a
tale, which holdeth children from play, and olde men from the Chimney
corner; and pretending no more, doth intend the winning of the minde from
wickednes to vertue; even as the child is often brought to take most
wholesome things by hiding them in such other as have a pleasaunt taste:
which if one should begin to tell them the nature of the Alloes or
Rhabarbarum they should receive, wold sooner take their physic at their
eares then at their mouth, so it is in men (most of which, are childish in
the best things, til they be cradled in their graves) glad they will be to
heare the tales of Hercules, Achilles, Cyrus, Aeneas, and hearing them,
must needes heare the right description of wisdom, value, and justice;
which if they had bene barely (that is to say Philosophically) set out,
they would sweare they be brought to schoole againe; that imitation whereof
Poetrie is, hath the most conveniencie to nature of al other: insomuch that
as Aristotle saith, those things which in themselves are horrible, as cruel
battailes, unnatural monsters, are made in poeticall imitation,
delightfull{67}. Truly I have known men, that even with reading Amadis de
gaule{68}, which God knoweth, wanteth much of a perfect Poesie, have found
their hearts moved to the exercise of courtesie, liberalitie, and
especially courage. Who readeth Aeneas carrying old Anchises on his
backe{69}, that wisheth not it were his fortune to performe so excellent an
Act? Whom doth not those words of Turnus moove, (the Tale of Turnus having
planted his image in the imagination) fugientam haec terra videbit?
Usqueadeone mori miserum est{70}? Wher the Philosophers as they think
scorne to delight, so must they be content little to moove; saving
wrangling whether Virtus be the chiefe or the onely good; whether the
contemplative or the active life do excell; which Plato and Poetius{71}
well knew: and therefore made mistresse Philosophie very often borrow the
masking raiment of Poesie. For even those hard hearted evill men who thinke
vertue a schoole name, and know no other good but indulgere genio{72}, and
therefore despise the austere admonitions of the Philosopher, and feele not
the inward reason they stand upon, yet will be content to be delighted,
which is all the good, fellow Poet seemes to promise; and so steale to see
the form of goodnes, (which seene, they cannot but love) ere themseves be
aware, as if they tooke a medicine of Cheries. Infinit proofes of the
straunge effects of this Poeticall invention, might be alleaged: onely two
shall serve, which are so often remembered, as I thinke all men know them.
The oone of Menemus Agrippa{73}, who when the whole people of Rome had
resolutely divided themselves from the Senate, with apparent shew of utter
ruine, though he were for that time an excellent Orator, came not among
them upon trust either of figurative speeches, or cunning insinuations, and
much lesse with farre set Maximes of Philosophie, which especially if they
were Platonike, they must have learned Geometrie before they could well
have conceived: but forsooth, he behaveth himselfe like a homely and
familiar Poet. He telleth them a tale, that there was a time, when all the
parts of the bodie made a mutinous conspiracie against the belly, which
they thought devoured the frutes of each others labour: they concluded that
they would let so unprofitable a spender starve. In the end, to be short,
for the tale is notorious, and as notorious that it was a tale, with
punishing the belly they plagued themselves; this applied by him, wrought
such effect in the people, as I never red, that onely words brought foorth:
but then so sudden and so good an alteration, for upon reasonable
conditions, a perfect reconcilement ensued. The other is of Nathan the
Prophet{74}, who when the holy David, had so farre forsaken God, as to
confirme Adulterie with murther, when he was to do the tendrest office of a
friend, in laying his owne shame before his eyes; sent by God to call
againe so chosen a servant, how doth he it? but by telling of a man whose
beloved lambe was ungratefully taken from his bosome. The Application most
divinely true, but the discourse it selfe fained; which made David (I
speake of the second and instrumentall cause) as in a glasse see his owne
filthinesse as that heavenly Psalme of mercie{75} well testifieth. By these
therefore examples and reasons, I thinke it may be manifest, that the Poet
with that same hand of delight, doth draw the mind more effectually then
any other Art doth. And so a conclusion not unfitly ensue, that as vertue
is the most excellent resting place for al worldly learning to make his end
of, so Poetry being the most familiar to teach it, and most Princely to
move towards it, in the most excellent worke, is the most excellent
workeman. But I am content not onely to decipher him by his workes
(although workes in commendation and dispraise, must ever hold a high
authoritie) but more narrowly will examine his parts, so that (as in a man)
though altogither may carrie a presence full of majestie and bewtie,
perchanve in some one defectuous peece we may finde blemish: Now in his
parts, kindes, or species, as you list to tearme them, it is to be noted
that some Poesies have coupled togither two or three kindes, as the
Tragicall and Comicall, whereupon is risen the Tragicomicall, some in the
manner have mingled prose and verse, as Sanazara{76} and Boetius{77}; some
have mingled matters Heroicall and Pastorall, but that commeth all to one
in this question, for if severed they be good, the conjunction cannot be
hurtfull: therefore perchance forgetting some, and leaving some as
needlesse to be remembered. It shall not be amisse, in a word to cite the
speciall kindes, to see what faults may be found in the right use of them.
Is it then the Pastorall Poeme which is misliked? (For perchance where the
hedge is lowest they will soonest leape over) is the poore pipe disdained,
which sometimes out of Moelibeus{78} mouth, can shewe the miserie of
people, under hard Lords and ravening souldiers? And again by Titerus, what
blessednesse is derived, to them that lie lowest, from the goodnesse of
them that sit highest? Sometimes under the prettie tales of Woolves and
sheepe, can enclude the whole considerations of wrong doing and patience;
sometimes shew that contentions for trifles, can get but a trifling
victory, wher perchance a man may see, that even Alexander & Darius, when
they strave who should be Cocke of this worldes dunghill, the benefit they
got, was, that the afterlivers may say, Haec memini & victum frustra
contendere Thirsim. Ex illo Coridon, Coridon est tempore nobis{79}. Or is
it the lamenting Elegiack, which in a kinde heart would moove rather pittie
then blame, who bewaileth with the great Philosopher Heraclitus; the
weaknesse of mankinde, and the wretchednesse of the world: who surely is to
bee praised either for compassionate accompanying just causes of
lamentations, or for rightlie painting out how weake be the passions of
woefulnesse? Is it the bitter but wholesome Iambick{80}, who rubbes the
galled minde, in making shame the Trumpet of villanie, with bolde and open
crying out against naughtinesse? Or the Satirick, who Omne vafer vitium
ridenti tangit amico{81}, who sportingly, never leaveth, till he make a man
laugh at follie; and at length ashamed, to laugh at himself; which he
cannot avoyde, without avoyding the follie? who while Circum praecordia
ludit{82}, giveth us to feele how many headaches a passionate life bringeth
us to? How when all is done, Est Ulubris animus si nos non deficit
aequus{83}. No perchance it is the Comick, whom naughtie Play-makers and
stage-keepers, have justly made odious. To the arguments of abuse, I will
after answer, onely thus much now is to be said, that the Comedy is an
imitation of the common errors of our life, which he representeth in the
most ridiculous & scornfull sort that may be: so as it is impossible that
any beholder can be content to be such a one. Now as in Geometrie, the
oblique must be knowne as well as the right, and in Arithmetick, the odde
as well as the even, so in the actions of our life, who seeth not the
filthinesse of evill, wanteth a great foile to perceive the bewtie of
vertue. This doth the Comaedie handle so in our private and domesticall
matters, as with hearing it, wee get as it were an experience what is to be
looked for of a niggardly Demea, of a crafty Davus, of a flattering Gnato,
of a vain-glorious Thraso{84}: and not onely to know what effects are to be
expected, but to know who be such, by the signifying badge given them by
the Comaedient. And little reason hath any man to say, that men learne the
evill by seeing it so set out, since as I said before, there is no man
living, but by the force truth hath in nature, no sooner seeth these men
play their parts, but wisheth them in Pistrinum{85}, athough perchance the
lack of his owne faults lie so behinde his backe, that he seeth not
himselfe to dance the same measure: whereto yet nothing can more open his
eies, then to see his owne actions contemptibly set forth. So that the
right use of Comaedie, will I thinke, by no bodie be blamed; and much lesse
of the high and excellent Tragedie, that openeth the greatest woundes, and
sheweth forth the Ulcers that are covered with Tissue, that maketh Kings
feare to be Tyrants, and Tyrants manifest their tyrannicall humours, that
with stirring the affects of Admiration and Comiseration, teacheth the
uncertaintie of this world, and uppon how weak foundations guilden roofes
are builded: that maketh us know, Qui sceptra Saevus duro imperio regit,
Timet timentes, metus in authorem redit{86}. But how much it can move,
Plutarch yeeldeth a notable testimonie of the abhominable Tyrant Alexander
Pheraeus{87}, from whose eyes a Tragedie well made and represented, drew
abundance of teares, who without all pittie had murthered infinite numbers,
and some of his owne bloud: so as he that was not ashamed to make matters
for Tragedies, yet could not resist the sweete violence of a Tragedie. And
if it wrought no further good in him, it was, that in despight of himself,
withdrew himselfe form hearkening to that which might mollifie his hard
heart. But it is not the Tragedie they doe mislike, for it were too absurd
to cast out so excellent a representation of whatsoever is most woothie to
be learned. Is it the Lyricke that most displeaseth, who with his tuned
Lyre and well accorded voice, giveth praise, the reward of vertue, to
vertuous acts? who giveth morall preceptes and naturall Problemes, who
sometimes raiseth up his voyce to the height of the heavens, in singing the
laudes of the immortall God? Certainly I must confesse mine owne
barbarousnesse, I never heard the old Song of Percy and Duglas{88}, that I
founde not my heart mooved more than with a Trumpet; and yet is it sung but
by some blinde Crowder{89}, with no rougher voyce, then rude stile: which
being so evill apparelled in the dust and Cobwebbes of that uncivill age,
what would it worke, trimmed in the gorgeous eloquence of Pindar? In
Hungarie I have seene it the manner at all Feastes and other such like
meetings, to have songs of their ancestors valure, which that right
souldierlike nation, think one of the chiefest kindlers of brave courage.
The incomparable Lacedemonians, did not onelie carrie that kinde of Musicke
ever with them to the field, but even at home, as such songs were made, so
were they all content to be singers of them: when the lustie men were to
tell what they did, the old men what they had done, and the yoong what they
would doo. And where a man may say that Pindare many times praiseth highly
Victories of small moment, rather matters of sport then vertue, as it may
be answered, it was the fault of the Poet, and not of the Poetrie; so
indeed the chiefe fault was, in the time and custome of the Greekes, who
set those toyes at so high a price, that Philip of Macedon reckoned a
horse-race wonne at Olympus, among his three fearfull felicities. But as
the unimitable Pindare often did, so is that kind most capable and most
fit, to awake the thoughts from the sleepe of idlenesse, to embrace
honourable enterprises. Their rests the Heroicall, whose verie name I
thinke should daunt all backbiters. For by what conceit can a tongue bee
directed to speake evil of that which draweth with him no lesse champions
then Achilles, Cirus, Aeneas, Turnus, Tideus{90}, Rinaldo{91}, who doeth
not onely teache and moove to a truth, but teacheth and mooveth to the most
high and excellent truth: who maketh magnanimitie and justice, shine
through all mistie fearfulnesse and foggie desires. Who if the saying of
Plato and Tully{92} bee true, that who could see vertue, woulde be
woonderfullie ravished with the love of her bewtie. This man setteth her
out to make her more lovely in her holliday apparell, to the eye of anie
that will daine, not to disdaine untill they understand. But if any thing
be alreadie said in the defence of sweete Poetrie, all concurreth to the
mainteining the Heroicall, which is not onlie a kinde, but the best and
most accomplished kindes of Poetrie. For as the Image of each Action
stirreth and instructeth the minde, so the loftie Image of such woorthies,
moste enflameth the minde with desire to bee woorthie: and enformes with
counsaile how to bee woorthie. Onely let Aeneas bee worne in the Tablet of
your memorie, how hee governeth himselfe in the ruine of his Countrey, in
the preserving his olde Father, and carrying away his religious Ceremonies,
in obeying Gods Commaundment, to leave Dido, though not onelie all
passionate kindeness, not even the humane consideration of vertuous
gratefulnesse, would have craved other of him: how in stormes, how in
sports, how in warre, how in peace, how a fugitive, how victorious, how
besieged, how beseiging, how to straungers, how to Allies, how to enemies,
how to his owne. Lastly, how in his inwarde selfe, and how in his outwarde
government, and I thinke in a minde moste prejudiced with a prejudicating
humour, Hee will bee founde in excellencie fruitefull. Yea as Horace saith,
Melius Chrisippo & Crantore{93}: but truly I imagin it falleth out with
these Poet-whippers, as with some good women who often are sicke, but in
faith they cannot tel where. So the name of Poetrie is odious to them, but
neither his cause nor effects, neither the summe that containes him, nor
the particularities descending from him, give any fast handle to their
carping dispraise. Since then Poetrie is of all humane learnings the most
ancient, and of most fatherly antiquitie, as from whence other learnings
have taken their beginnings; Since it is so universall, that no learned
nation doth despise it, nor barbarous nation is without it; Since both
Romane & Greeke gave such divine names unto it, the one of prophesying, the
other of making; and that indeed the name of making is fit for him,
considering, that where all other Arts retain themselves within their
subject, and receive as it were their being from it. The Poet onely, onely
bringeth his owne stuffe, and doth not learn a Conceit out of a matter, but
maketh matter for a Conceit. Since neither his description, nor end,
containing any evill, the thing described cannot be evil; since his effects
be so good as to teach goodnes, and delight the learners of it; since
therein (namely in morall doctrine the chiefe of all knowledges) hee doth
not onely farre pass the Historian, but for instructing is well nigh
comparable to the Philosopher, for moving, leaveth him behind him. Since
the holy scripture (wherein there is no uncleannesse) hath whole parts in
it Poeticall, and that even our Savior Christ vouchsafed to use the flowers
of it: since all his kindes are not only in their united formes, but in
their severed dissections fully commendable, I thinke, (and thinke I thinke
rightly) the Lawrell Crowne appointed for triumphant Captaines, doth
worthily of all other learnings, honour the Poets triumph. But bicause we
have eares as well as toongs, and that the lightest reasons that may be,
will seeme to waigh greatly, if nothing be put in the counterballance, let
us heare, and as well as we can, ponder what objections be made against
this Art, which may be woorthie either of yeelding, or answering. First
truly I note, not onely in these mysomousoi, Poet-haters, but in all that
kind of people who seek a praise, by dispraising others, that they do
prodigally spend a great many wandring words in quips and scoffes, carping
and taunting at each thing, which by sturring the spleene, may staie the
brain from a th[o]rough beholding the worthinesse of the subject. Those
kind of objections, as they are full of a verie idle easinesse, since there
is nothing of so sacred a majestie, but that an itching toong may rub it
selfe upon it, so deserve they no other answer, but in steed of laughing at
the jeast, to laugh at the jeaster. We know a playing wit can praise the
discretion of an Asse, the comfortablenes of being in debt, and the jolly
commodities of being sicke of the plague. So of the contrary side, if we
will turne Ovids verse, Ut lateat virtus, prox imitate mali{94}, that good
lye hid, in nearnesse of the evill. Agrippa{95} will be as mery in shewing
the vanitie of Science, as Erasmus was in the commending of folly: neither
shal any man or matter, escape some touch of these smiling Raylers. But for
Erasmus and Agrippa, they had an other foundation then the superficiall
part would promise. Marry these other pleasaunt fault-finders, who will
correct the Verbe, before they understande the Nowne, and confute others
knowledge, before they confirme their owne, I would have them onely
remember, that scoffing commeth not of wisedome; so as the best title in
true English they get with their meriments, is to be called good fooles:
for so have our grave forefathers ever tearmed that humorous kinde of
jesters. But that which giveth greatest scope to their scorning humor, is
ryming and versing. It is alreadie said (and as I thinke truly said) it is
not ryming and versing that maketh Poesie: One may be a Poet without
versing, and a versefier without Poetrie. But yet presuppose it were
inseperable, as indeed it seemeth Scalliger{96} judgeth truly, it were an
inseperable commendation. For if Oratio, next to Ratio, Speech next to
Reason{97}, be the greatest gift bestowed upon Mortalitie, that cannot bee
praiseless, which doth most polish that blessing of speech; which
considereth each word not onely as a man may say by his forcible qualitie,
but by his best measured quantity: carrying even in themselves a Harmonie,
without perchance number, measure, order, proportion, be in our time growne
odious. But laie aside the just praise it hath, by being the onely fit
speech for Musicke, (Musicke I say the most divine striker of the senses)
Thus much is undoubtedly true, that if reading be foolish without
remembring, Memorie being the onely treasure of knowledge, those words
which are fittest for memory, are likewise most convenient for knowledge.
Now that Verse far exceedeth Prose, in the knitting up of the memorie, the
reason is manifest, the words (besides their delight, which hath a great
affinitie to memorie) being so set as one cannot be lost, but the whole
woorke failes: which accusing it selfe, calleth the remembrance back to it
selfe, and so most strongly confirmeth it. Besides one word, so as it were
begetting an other, as be it in rime or measured verse, by the former a man
shall have a neare gesse to the follower. Lastly even they that have taught
the Art of memory, have shewed nothing so apt for it, as a certain roome
divided into many places, well & thoroughly knowne: Now that hath the verse
in effect perfectly, everie word having his natural seat, which must needs
make the word remembred. But what needes more in a thing so knowne to all
men. Who is it that ever was scholler, that doth not carry away som verse
of Virgil, Horace, or Cato, which in his youth hee learned, and even to his
old age serve him for hourely lessons; as Percontatorem fugito nam garrulus
idem est, Dum tibi quisq; placet credula turba sumas{98}. But the fitnes it
hath for memorie, is notably prooved by all deliverie of Arts, wherein for
the most part, from Grammer, to Logick, Mathematickes, Physick, and the
rest, the Rules chiefly necessa[r]ie to be borne away, are compiled in
verses. So that verse being in it selfe sweet and orderly, and being best
for memorie, the onely handle of knowledge, it must be in jest that any man
can speak against it. Now then goe we to the most important imputations
laid to the poore Poets, for ought I can yet learne, they are these. First,
that there beeing manie other more frutefull knowledges, a man might better
spend his time in them, then in this. Secondly, that it is the mother of
lyes. Thirdly, that it is the nurse of abuse, infecting us with many
pestilent desires, with a Sirens sweetnesse, drawing the minde to the
Serpents taile of sinfull fansies; and herein especially Comedies give the
largest field to eare{99}, as Chawcer saith, how both in other nations and
in ours, before Poets did soften us, we were full of courage given to
martial exercises, the pillers of man-like libertie, and not lulled a
sleepe in shadie idlenes, with Poets pastimes. And lastly and chiefly, they
cry out with open mouth as if they had shot Robin-hood, that Plato
banisheth them out of his Commonwealth{100}. Truly this is much, if there
be much truth in it. First to the first. That a man might better spend his
time, is a reason indeed: but it doth as they say, but petere
principium{101}. For if it be, as I affirme, that no learning is so good,
as that which teacheth and moveth to vertue, and that none can both teach
and move thereto so much as Poesie, then is the conclusion manifest; that
incke and paper cannot be to a more profitable purpose imployed. And
certainly though a man should graunt their first assumption, it should
follow (mee thinks) very unwillingly, that good is not good, because better
is better. But I still and utterly deny, that there is sprung out of the
earth a more fruitfull knowledge. To the second therfore, that they should
be the principall lyers, I answere Paradoxically, but truly, I think truly:
that of all writers under the Sunne, the Poet is the least lyer: and though
he wold, as a Poet can scarecely be a lyer. The Astronomer with his cousin
the Geometrician, can hardly escape, when they take upon them to measure
the height of the starres. How often thinke you do the Phisitians lie, when
they averre things good for sicknesses, which afterwards send Charon{102} a
great number of soules drowned in a potion, before they come to his Ferrie?
And no lesse of the rest, which take upon them to affirme. Now for the
Poet, he nothing affirmeth, and therefore never lieth: for as I take it, to
lie, is to affirme that to bee true, which is false. So as the other
Artistes, and especially the Historian, affirming manie things, can in the
clowdie knowledge of mankinde, hardly escape from manie lies. But the Poet
as I said before, never affirmeth, the Poet never maketh any Circles about
your imagination{103}, to conjure you to beleeve for true, what he writeth:
he citeth not authorities of other histories, even for his entrie, calleth
the sweete Muses to inspire unto him a good invention. In troth, not
laboring to tel you what is, or is not, but what should, or should not be.
And therefore though he recount things not true, yet because he telleth
them not for true, he lieth not: without we will say, that Nathan lied in
his speech before alleaged to David, which as a wicked man durst scarce
say, so think I none so simple, wold say, that Esope lied, in the tales of
his beasts: for who thinketh Esope wrote it for actually true, were wel
wothie to have his name Cronicled among the beasts he writeth of. What
childe is there, that comming to a play, and seeing Thebes written in great
letters upon an old Doore, doth beleeve that it is Thebes? If then a man
can arrive to the childes age, to know that the Poets persons and dooings,
are but pictures, what should be, and not stories what have bin, they will
never give the lie to things not Affirmatively, but Allegorically and
figuratively written; and therefore as in historie looking for truth, they
may go away full fraught with falshood: So in Poesie, looking but for
fiction, they shall use the narration but as an imaginative groundplat of a
profitable invention. But hereto is replied, that the Poets give names to
men they write of, which argueth a conceit of an actuall truth, and so not
being true, prooveth a falshood. And dooth the Lawier lye, then when under
the names of John of the Stile, and John of the Nokes, hee putteth his
Case? But that is easily answered, their naming of men, is but to make
their picture the more lively, and not to build anie Historie. Painting
men, they cannot leave men namelesse: wee see, wee cannot plaie at Chestes,
but that wee must give names to our Chessemen; and yet mee thinkes he were
a verie partiall Champion of truth, that would say wee lyed, for giving a
peece of wood the reverende title of a Bishop. The Poet nameth Cyrus and
Aeneas, no other way, then to shewe what men of their fames, fortunes, and
estates, should doo. Their third is, how much it abuseth mens wit, training
it to wanton sinfulnesse, and lustfull love. For indeed that is the
principall if not onely abuse, I can heare alleadged. They say the Comedies
rather teach then reprehend amorous conceits. They say the Lirick is larded
with passionat Sonets, the Elegiack weeps the want of his mistresse, and
that even to the Heroical, Cupid hath ambitiously climed. Alas Love, I
would thou couldest as wel defend thy selfe, as thou canst offend others: I
would those on whom thou doest attend, could either put thee away, or yeeld
good reason why they keepe thee. But grant love of bewtie to be a beastly
fault, although it be verie hard, since onely man and no beast hath that
gift to discerne bewtie, graunt that lovely name of love to deserve all
hatefull reproches, although even some of my maisters the Philosophers
spent a good deale of their Lampoyle in setting foorth the excellencie of
it, graunt I say, what they will have graunted, that not onelie love, but
lust, but vanitie, but if they will list scurrilitie, possesse manie leaves
of the Poets bookes, yet thinke I, when this is graunted, they will finde
their sentence may with good manners put the last words foremost; and not
say, that Poetrie abuseth mans wit, but that mans wit abuseth Poetrie. For
I will not denie, but that mans wit may make Poesie, which should be
eikastike{104}, which some learned have defined figuring foorth good things
to be phantastike{105}, which doth contrariwise infect the fancie with
unwoorthie objects, as the Painter should give to the eye either some
excellent perspective, or some fine Picture fit for building or
fortification, or containing in it some notable example, as Abraham
sacrificing his sonne Isaack{106}, Judith killing Holofernes{107}, David
fighting with Golias{108}, may leave those, and please an ill pleased eye
with wanton shewes of better hidden matters. But what, shal the abuse of a
thing, make the right use odious? Nay truly though I yeeld that Poesie may
not onely be abused, but that being abused it can do more hurt then anie
other armie of words: yet shall it be so farre from concluding, that the
abuse should give reproach to the abused, that contrariwise, it is a good
reason, that whatsoever being abused, doth most harme, being rightly used
(and upon the right use, ech thing receives his title) doth most good. Do
we not see skill of Phisicke the best ramper to our often assaulted bodies,
being abused, teach poyon the most violent destroyer? Doth not knowledge of
Law, whose end is, to even & right all things, being abused, grow the
crooked fosterer of horrible injuries? Doth not (to go to the highest) Gods
word abused, breed heresie, and his name abused, become blasphemie? Truly a
Needle cannot do much hurt, and as truly (with leave of Ladies be it
spoken) it cannot do much good. With a swoord thou maist kill thy Father,
and with a swoord thou maist defende the Prince and Countrey: so that, as
in their calling Poets, fathers of lies, they said nothing, so in this
their argument of abuse, they proove the commendation. They alledge
herewith, that before Poets began to be in price, our Nation had set their
hearts delight uppon action, and not imagination, rather doing things
worthie to be written, then writing things fit to be done. What that before
times was, I think scarcely Sp[h]inx can tell, since no memorie is so
ancient, that hath not the precedens of Poetrie. And certain it is, that in
our plainest homelines, yet never was the Albion Nation{109} without
Poetrie. Marry this Argument, though it be leviled against Poetrie, yet is
it indeed a chain-shot{110} against all learning or bookishnes, as they
commonly terme it. Of such mind were certaine Gothes, of whom it is
written{111}, that having in the spoile of a famous Cittie, taken a faire
Librarie, one hangman belike fit to execute the frutes of their wits, who
had murthered a great number of bodies, woulde have set fire in it. No said
an other verie gravely, take heed what you do, for while they are busie
about those toyes, wee shall with more leisure conqure their Countries.
This indeed is the ordinarie doctrine of ignorance, and many words
sometimes I have heard spent in it: but bicause this reason is generally
against al learning, as well as Poetrie, or rather all learning but
Poetrie, because it were too great a digression to handle it, or at least
too superfluous, since it is manifest that all government of action is to
be gotten by knowledge, and knowledge best, by gathering manie knowledges,
which is reading; I onlely with Horace, to him that is of that opinion,
jubeo stultum esse libenter{112}, for as for Poetrie it selfe, it is the
freest from this objection, for Poetrie is the Companion of Camps. I dare
undertake, Orlando Furioso, or honest king Arthure, will never displease a
souldier: but the quidditie of Ens & Prima materia, will hardly agree with
a Corcelet{113}. And therefore as I said in the beginning, even Turkes and
Tartars, are delighted with Poets. Homer a Greeke, flourished, before
Greece flourished: and if to a slight conjecture, a conjecture may bee
apposed, truly it may seem, that as by him their learned men tooke almost
their first light of knowledge, so their active men, received their first
motions of courage. Onely Alexanders example may serve, who by Plutarche is
accounted of such vertue, that fortune was not his guide, but his
footestoole, whose Acts speake for him, though Plutarche did not: indeede
the Phoenix of warlike Princes. This Alexander, left his schoolemaister
living Aritotle behinde him, but tooke dead Homer with him. Hee put the
Philosopher Callithenes to death, for his seeming Philosophicall, indeed
mutinous stubbornnesse, but the chiefe thing hee was ever heard to wish
for, was, that Homer had bene alive. Hee well founde hee received more
braverie of minde by the paterne of Achilles, then by hearing the
definition of fortitude. And therefore if Cato misliked Fulvius for
carrying Ennius with him to the field{114}, It may be answered, that if
Cato misliked it, the Noble Fulvius liked it, or else he had not done it,
for it was not the excellent Cato Uticencis{115}, whose authoritie I would
much more have reverenced: But it was the former, in truth a bitter
punisher of faultes, but else a man that had never sacrificed to the
Graces. He misliked and cried out against all Greeke learning, and yet
being foure score yeares olde began to learne it, belike fearing that
Pluto{116} understood not Latine. Indeed the Romane lawes allowed no person
to bee to the warres, but hee that was in the souldiers Role. And therefore
though Cato misliked his unmustred person, he misliked not his worke. And
if hee had, Scipio Nasica, (judged by common consent the best Romane) loved
him: both the other Scipio brothers, who had by their vertues no lesse
surnames then of Asia and Afficke, so loved him, that they caused his{117}
bodie to be buried in their Sepulture. So as Catoes authoritie beeing but
against his person, and that answered with so farre greater then himselfe,
is herein of no validitie. But now indeede my burthen is great, that Plato
his name is laide uppon me, whom I must confessse of all Philosophers, I
have ever esteemed most worthie of reverence; and with good reason, since
of all Philosophers hee is the most Poeticall: yet if hee will defile the
fountain out of which his flowing streames have proceeded, let us boldly
examine with what reasons hee did it. First truly a man might maliciously
object, that Plato being a Philosopher, was a naturall enemy of Poets. For
indeede after the Philosophers had picked out of the sweete misteries of
Poetrie, the right discerning true points of knowledge: they forthwith
putting it in methode, and making a Schoole Art of that which the Poets did
onely teach by a divine delightfulnes, beginning to spurne at their guides,
like ungratefull Prentices, were not content to set up shop for themselves,
but sought by all meanes to discredit their maisters, which by the force of
delight being barred them, the lesse they could overthrow them, the more
they hated them. For indeed they found for Homer, seven cities, strave who
should have him for their Cittizen, where so many Cities banished
Philosophers, as not fit members to live among them. For onely repeating
certaine of Euripides verses, many Atheniens had their lives saved of the
Siracusans{118}, where the Atheniens themseves thought many Philosophers
unworthie to live. Certaine Poets, as Simonides, and Pindarus, had so
prevailed with Hiero the first, that of a Tyrant they made him a just
King{119}: where Plato could do so little with Dionisius, that he himselfe
of a Philosopher, was made a slave{120}. But who should do thus, I confesse
should requite the objections made against Poets, with like cavilations
against Philosophers: as likewise one should do, that should bid one read
Phaedrus or Simposium in Plato, or the discourse of love in Plutarch{121},
and see whether any Poet do authorise abhominable filthinesse as they doo.
Againe, a man might aske, out of what Common-wealth Plato doth banish them,
in sooth, thence where himselfe alloweth communitie of women{122}. So as
belike this banishment grew not for effeminate wantonnesse, since little
should Poetical Sonnets be hurtful, when a man might have what woman he
listed. But I honor Philosophicall instructions, and blesse the wits which
bred them: so as they be not abused, which is likewise stretched to
Poetrie. S. Paul himselfe{123} sets a watch-word uppon Philosophie{124},
indeed upon the abuse. So doth PLato uppon the abuse, not upon Poetrie.
Plato found fault that the Poettes of his time, filled the worlde with
wr[o]ng opinions of the Gods, making light tales of that unspotted essence;
and therfore wold not have the youth depraved with such opinions: heerein
may much be said; let this suffice. The Poets did not induce such opinions,
but did imitate those opinions alreadie induced. For all the Greeke stories
can well testifie, that the verie religion of that time, stood upon many,
and many fashioned Gods: Not taught so by Poets, but followed according to
their nature of imitation. Who list may read in Plutarch, the discourses of
Isis and Osiris, and of the cause why Oracles ceased, of the divine
providence, & see whether the Theology of that nation, stood not upon such
dreams, which the Poets indeede superstitiously observed. And truly since
they had not the light of Christ, did much better in it, then the
Philosophers, who shaking off superstition, brought in Atheisme. Plato
therfore, whose authoritie, I had much rather justly consture, then
unjustly resist: ment not in generall of Poets, in those words of which
Julius Scaliger saith; Qua authoritate barbari quidam atq; hispidi abuti
velint ad poetas e rep. Exigendos{125}. But only ment to drive out those
wrong opinions of the Deitie: wherof now without further law, Christianitie
hath taken away all the hurtfull beliefe, perchance as he thought nourished
by then esteemed Poets. And a man need go no further then to Plato himselfe
to knowe his meaning: who in his Dialogue called Ion, giveth high, and
rightly, divine commendation unto Poetrie. So as Plato banisheth the abuse,
not the thing, not banishing it, but giving due honour to it, shall be our
Patron, and not our adversarie. For indeed, I had much rather, since truly
I may do it, shew their mistaking of Plato, under whose Lyons skinne, they
would make an Aslike braying{126} against Poesie, then go about to
overthrow his authoritie; whome the wiser a man is, the more just cause he
shall finde to have in admiration: especially since he attibuteth unto
Poesie, more then my selfe do; namely, to be a verie inspiring of a divine
force, farre above mans wit, as in the forenamed Dialogue is apparant. Of
the other side, who would shew the honours have bene by the best sort of
judgements graunted them, a whole sea of examples woulde present
themselves; Alexanders, Caesars, Scipioes, all favourers of Poets: Laelius,
called the Romane Socrates himselfe a Poet; so as part of
Heautontimoroumenon{127} in Terence, was supposed to bee made by him. And
even the Greeke Socrates, whome Appollo confirmed to bee the onely wise
man, is said to have spent part of his olde time in putting Esopes Fables
into verses. And therefore full evill should it become his scholler Plato,
to put such words in his maisters mouth against Poets. But what needs more?
Aristotle writes of the Arte of Poesie, and why, if it should not bee
written? Plutarche teacheth the use to bee gathered of them, and how, if
they should not bee reade? And who reades Plutarches either Historie or
Philosophie, shall finde hee trimmeth both their garments with gardes of
Poesie. But I list not to defend Poesie with the helpe of his underling
Historiographie. Let it suffice to have shewed, it is a fit soyle for
praise to dwell uppon; and what dispraise may set uppon it, is either
easily overcome, or transformed into just commendation. So that since the
excellencies of it, may bee so easily and so justly confirmed, and the lowe
creeping objections so soone trodden downe, it not beeing an Art of lyes,
but of true doctrine; not of effoeminatenesse, but of notable stirring of
courage; not of abusing mans wit; but of strengthening mans wit; not
banished, but honored by Plato; Let us rather plant more Lawrels for to
ingarland the Poets heads (which honor of being Lawreate, as besides them
onely triumphant Captaines were, is a sufficient authoritie to shewe the
price they ought to bee held in) then suffer the ill favoured breath of
such wrong speakers once to blow uppon the cleare springs of Poesie. But
sice I have runne so long a Carrier in this matter, me thinkes before I
give my penne a full stoppe, it shall be but a little more lost time, to
enquire why England the Mother of excellent mindes should be growne so hard
a stepmother to Poets, who certainely in wit ought to passe all others,
since all onely proceeds from their wit, beeing indeed makers of
themselves, not takers of others. How can I but exclaime. Musa mihi causas
memoria quo numine laeso{128}. Sweete Poesie that hath aunciently had
Kings, Emperours, Senatours, great Captaines, such as besides a thousandes
others, David, Adrian, Sophocles, Germanicus{129}, not onelie to favour
Poets, but to bee Poets: and of our nearer times, can present for her
Patrons, a Robert King of Scicill{130}, the great King Fraunces of
Fraunce{131}, King James of Scotland{132}; such Cardinalls as Bembus{133},
and Bibiena{134}; suche famous Preachers and Teachers, as Beza{135} and
Melanchthon{136}; so learned Philosophers as Fracastorius{137}, and
Scaliger{138}; so great Orators, as Pontanus{139}, and Muretus{140}; so
pearcing wits, as George Buchanan{141}; so grave Counsailours, as besides
manie, but before all, that Hospitall of Fraunce{142}; then whome I thinke
that Realme never brought forth a more accomplished Judgement, more firmly
builded upon vertue: I say these with numbers of others, not onely to read
others Poesies, but to poetise for others reading; that Poesie thus
embraced in all other places, should onely finde in our time a hard welcome
in England. I thinke the verie earth laments it, and therefore deckes our
soyle with fewer Lawrels then it was accustomed. For heretofore, Poets have
in England also flourished: and which is to be noted, even in those times
when the trumpet of Mars did sonnd lowdest. And now that an over faint
quietnesse should seeme to strowe the house for Poets. They are almost in
as good reputation, as the Mountebanckes at Venice. Truly even that, as of
the one side it giveth great praise to Poesie, which like Venus (but to
better purpose) had rather be troubled in the net with Mars, then enjoy the
homely quiet of Vulcan{143}. So serveth it for a peece of a reason, why
they are lesse gratefull to idle England, which now can scarce endure the
paine of a penne. Upon this necessarily followeth, that base men with
sevill wits undertake it, who thinke it inough if they can be rewarded of
the Printer: and so as Epaminandas is said with the honor of his vertue to
have made an Office, by his execising it, which before was contemtible, to
become highly respected{144}: so these men no more but setting their names
to it, by their own disgracefulnesse, disgrace the most gracefull Poesie.
For now as if all the Muses were got with childe, to bring forth bastard
Poets: without any commission, they do passe over the Bankes of the
Helicon{145}, till they make the Readers more wearie then Post-horses:
while in the meane time, they Queis meliore luto finxit praecordia
Titan{146}, are better content to suppresse the out-flowings of their wit,
then by publishing them, to be accounted Knights of the same order. But I
that before ever I durst aspire unto the dignitie, am admitted into the
companie of the Paper-blurrers, do finde the verie true cause of our
wanting estimation, is want of desert, taking uppon us to be Poets, in
despite of Pallas. Now wherein we want desert, were a thankwoorthie labour
to expresse. But if I knew I should have mended my selfe, but as I never
desired the title, so have I neglected the meanes to come by it, onely
over-mastered by some thoughts, I yeelded an inckie tribute unto them.
Marrie they that delight in Poesie it selfe, should seek to know what they
do, and how they do: and especially looke themselves in an unflattering
glasse of reason, if they be enclinable unto it. For Poesie must not be
drawne by the eares, it must be gently led, or rather it must lead, which
was partly the cause that made the auncient learned affirme, it was a
divine gift & no humane skil; since all other knowledges lie readie for
anie that have strength of wit: A Poet no industrie can make, if his owne
Genius be not carried into it. And therefore is an old Proverbe, Orator
fit, Poeta nascitur{147}. Yet confesse I alwaies, that as the fertilest
ground must be manured{148}, so must the highest flying wit have a
Dedalus{149} to guide him. That Dedalus they say both in this and in other,
hath three wrings to beare itself up into the aire of due commendation:
that is Art, Imitation, and Exercise. But these neither Artificall Rules,
nor imitative paternes, we much comber our selves withall. Exercise indeed
we do, but that verie fore-backwardly; for where we should exercise to
know, we exercise as having knowne: and so is our braine delivered of much
matter, which never was begotten by knowledge. For there being two
principall parts, Matter to be expressed by words, and words to expresse
the matter: In neither, wee use Art or imitation rightly. Our matter is,
Quodlibet{150}, indeed though wrongly performing, Ovids Verse. Quicquid
conabar dicere, Versus erit{151}: never marshalling it into anie assured
ranck, that almost the Readers cannot tell where to finde themselves.
Chawcer undoubtedly did excellently in his Troilus and Creseid: of whome
trulie I knowe not whether to mervaile more, either that hee in that mistie
time could see so clearly, or that wee in this cleare age, goe so
stumblingly after him. Yet had hee great wants, fit to be forgiven in so
reverent an Antiquitie. I account the Mirrour of Magistrates{152}, meetly
furnished of bewtiful partes. And in the Earle of Surreis Lirickes, manie
thinges tasting of a Noble birth, and worthie of a Noble minde{153}. The
Sheepheards Kalender, hath much Poetrie in his Egloges, indeed woothie the
reading, if I be not deceived. That same framing of his style to an old
rusticke language, I dare not allow: since neither Theocritus in Greeke,
Virgill in Latine, nor Sanazara in Italian, did affect it{154}. Besides
these, I doo not remember to have seene but fewe (to speake boldly)
printed, that have poeticall sinnewes in them. For proofe whereof, let but
moste of the Verses bee put in prose, and then aske the meaning, and it
will be founde, that one Verse did but beget an other, without ordering at
the first, what should bee at the last, which becomes a confused masse of
words, with a tingling sound of ryme, barely accompanied with reasons. Our
Tragidies and Commedies, not without cause cryed out against, observing
rules neither of honest civilitie, nor skilfull Poetrie. Excepting
Gorboducke{155}, (againe I say of those that I have seen) which
notwithstanding as it is full of stately speeches, and wel sounding
phrases, clyming to the height of Seneca his style, and as full of notable
morallitie, which it dooth most delightfully teach, and so obtaine the
verie ende of Poesie. Yet in truth, it is verie defectious in the
circumstaunces, which greeves mee, because it might not remaine as an exact
moddell of all Tragidies. For it is faultie both in place and time, the two
necessarie Companions of all corporall actions. For where the Stage should
alway represent but one place, and the uttermoste time presupposed in it,
should bee both by Aristotles{156} precept, and common reason, but one day;
there is both manie dayes and places, inartificially imagined. But if it
bee so in Gorboducke, howe much more in all the rest, where you shall have
Asia of the one side, and Affricke of the other, and so mannie other under
Kingdomes, that the Player when he comes in, must ever begin with telling
where he is, or else the tale will not be conceived. Now you shall have
three Ladies walke to gather flowers, and then we must beleeve the stage to
be a garden. By and by we heare newes of shipwrack in the same place, then
we are too blame if we accept it not for a Rock. Upon the back of that,
comes out a hidious monster with fire and smoke, and then the miserable
beholders are bound to take it for a Cave: while in the meane time two
Armies flie in, represented with foure swords & bucklers, and then what
hard hart wil not receive it for a pitched field. Now of time, they are
much more liberall. For ordinarie it is, that two yoong Princes fall in
love, after many traverses she is got with childe, delivered of a faire boy:
he is lost, groweth a man, falleth in love, and is readie to get another
childe, and all this is in two houres space: which howe absurd it is in
sence, even sence may imagine: and Arte hath taught, and all auncient
examples justified, and at this day the ordinarie players in Italie will
not erre in. Yet will some bring in an example of Eunuche in Terence{157},
that conteineth matter of two dayes, yet far short of twentie yeares. True
it is, and so was it to be played in two dayes, and so fitted to the time
it set foorth. And though Plautus have in one place done amisse{158}, let
us hit it with him, & not misse with him. But they will say, how then shall
we set foorth a storie, which contains both many places, and many times?
And do they not know that a Tragidie is tied to the lawes of Poesie and not
of Historie: not bounde to follow the storie, but having libertie either to
faine a quite new matter, or to frame the Historie to the most Tragicall
conveniencie. Againe, many things may be told which cannot be shewed:if
they know the difference betwixt reporting and representing. As for
example, I may speake though I am here, of Peru, and in speech digresse
from that, to the description of Calecut{159}: But in action, I cannot
represent it without Pacolets Horse{160}. And so was the manner the
Auncients tooke, by some Nuntius{161}, to recount things done in former
time or other place. Lastly, if they will represent an Historie, they must
not (as Horace saith) beginne ab ovo{162}, but they must come to the
principall poynte of that one action which they will represent. By example
this will be best expressed{163}. I have a storie of yoong Polidorus,
delivered for safeties sake with great riches, by his Father Priamus, to
Polmimester King of Thrace, in the Troyan warre time. He after some yeares,
hearing the overthrowe of Priamus, for to make the treasure his owne,
murthereth the Childe, the bodie of the Childe is taken up, Hecuba, shee
the same day, findeth a sleight to bee revenged moste cruelly of the
Tyrant. Where nowe would one of our Tragedie writers begin, but with the
deliverie of the Childe? Then should hee saile over into Thrace, and so
spende I know not how many yeares, and travaile numbers of places. But
where dooth Euripides? even with the finding of the bodie, the rest leaving
to be told by the spirite of Polidorus. This needes no futher to bee
enlarged, the dullest witte may conceive it. But besides these grosse
absurdities, howe all their Playes bee neither right Tragedies, nor right
Comedies, mingling Kinges and Clownes, not because the matter so carrieth
it, but thrust in the Clowne by head and shoulders to play a part in
majesticall matters, with neither decencie nor discretion: so as neither
the admiration and Commiseration, nor the the right sportfulnesse is by
their mongrell Tragicomedie obtained. I know Apuleius did somewhat so, but
that is a thing recounted with space of time, not represented in one
moment: and I knowe the Auncients have one or two examples of
Tragicomedies, as Plautus hath Amphitrio. But if we marke them well, wee
shall finde that they never or verie daintily matche horne Pipes and
Funeralls. So falleth it out, that having indeed no right Comedie in that
Comicall part of our Tragidie, wee have nothing but scurrilitie unwoorthie
of anie chaste eares, or some extreame shewe of doltishnesse, indeede fit
to lift up a loude laughter and nothing else: where the whole tract of a
Comedie should bee full of delight, as the Tragidie should bee still
maintained in a well raised admiration. But our Comedients thinke there is
no delight without laughter, which is verie wrong, for though laughter may
come with delight, yet commeth it not of delight, as though delight should
be the cause of laughter. But well may one thing breed both togither. Nay
rather in themselves, they have as it were a kinde of contrarietie: For
delight wee scarecly doo, but in thinges that have a conveniencie to our
selves, or to the generall nature: Laughter almost ever commeth of thinges
moste disproportioned to our selves, and nature. Delight hath a joy in it
either permanent or present. Laughter hath onely a scornfull tickling. For
example, wee are ravished with delight to see a faire woman, and yet are
farre from beeing mooved to laughter. Wee laugh at deformed creatures,
wherein certainly wee cannot delight. We delight in good chaunces, wee
laugh at mischaunces. We delight to heare the happinesse of our friendes
and Countrey, at which hee were worthie to be laughed at, that would laugh:
we shall contrarily laugh sometimes to finde a matter quite mistaken, and
goe downe the hill against the byas, in the mouth of some such men as for
the respect of them, one shall be heartily sorie, he cannot chuse but
laugh, and so is rather pained, then delighted with laughter. Yet denie I
not, but that they may goe well togither, for as in Alexanders picture well
set out, wee delight without laughter, and in twentie madde Antiques, wee
laugh without delight. So in Hercules, painted with his great beard and
furious countenaunce, in a womans attyre, spinning, at Omphales
commaundement{164}, it breeds both delight and laughter: for the
representing of so straunge a power in Love, procures delight, and the
scornefulnesse of the action, stirreth laughter. But I speake to this
purpose, that all the ende of the Comicall part, bee not uppon suche
scornefull matters as stirre laughter onelie, but mixe with it, that
delightfull teaching whiche is the ende of Poesie. And the great faulte
even in that poynt of laughter, and forbidden plainly by Aristotle{165},
is, that they stirre laughter in sinfull things, which are rather execrable
then ridiculous: or in miserable, which are rather to be pitied then
scorned. For what is it to make folkes gape at a wretched begger, and a
beggerly Clowne: or against lawe of hospitalitie, to jeast at straungers,
because they speake not English so well as we do? What doo we learne, since
it is certaine, Nil habet infoelix paupertas durius in se, Quam quod
ridiculos homines facit{166}. But rather a busie loving Courtier, and a
hartelesse thretning Thraso{167}, a selfe-wise seeming Schoolemaister, a
wry transformed Traveller: these if we saw walke in Stage names, which we
plaie naturally, therein were delightfull laughter, and teaching
delightfulnesse; as in the other the Tragedies of Buchanan{168} do justly
bring foorth a divine admiration. But I have lavished out too many words of
this Play-matter; I do it, because as they are excelling parts of Poesie,
so is there none so much used in England, and none can be more pittifully
abused: which like an unmannerly daughter, shewing a bad education, causeth
her mother Poesies honestie to be called in question. Other sort of
Poetrie, almost have we none, but that Lyricall kind of Songs and Sonets;
which Lord, if he gave us so good mindes, how well it might be employed,
and with how heavenly fruites, both private and publike, in singing the
praises of the immortall bewtie, the immortall goodnes of that God, who
giveth us hands to write, and wits to conceive: of which we might wel want
words, but never matter, of which we could turne our eyes to nothing, but
we should ever have new budding occassions. But truly many of such writings
as come under the banner of unresistable love, if I were a mistresse, would
never perswade mee they were in love: so coldly they applie firie speeches,
as men that had rather redde lovers writings, and so caught up certaine
swelling Phrases, which hang togither like a man that once tolde me the
winde was at Northwest and by South, because he would be sure to name winds
inough, then that in truth they feele those passions, which easily as I
thinke, may be bewraied by that same forciblenesse or Energia, (as the
Greeks call it of the writer). But let this be a sufficient, though short
note, that we misse the right use of the material point of Poesie. Now for
the outside of it, which is words, or (as I may tearme it) Diction, it is
even well worse: so is it that hony-flowing Matrone Eloquence, apparrelled,
or rather disguised, in a Courtisanlike painted affectation. One time with
so farre fet words, that many seeme monsters, but must seeme straungers to
anie poore Englishman: an other time with coursing of a letter, as if they
were bound to follow the method of a Dictionary: an other time with figures
and flowers, extreemely winter-starved. But I would this fault were onely
peculiar to Versefiers, and had not as large possession among Prose-
Printers: and which is to be mervailed among many Schollers, & which is to
be pitied among some Preachers. Truly I could wish, if at I might be so
bold to wish, in a thing beyond the reach of my capacity, the diligent
Imitators of Tully & Demosthenes, most worthie to be imitated, did not so
much keepe Nizolian paper bookes{169}, of their figures and phrase, as by
attentive translation, as it were, devoure them whole, and make them wholly
theirs. For now they cast Sugar and spice uppon everie dish that is served
to the table: like those Indians, not content to weare eare-rings at the
fit and naturall place of the eares, but they will thrust Jewels through
their nose and lippes, because they will be sure to be fine. Tully when he
was to drive out Catiline, as it were with a thunderbolt of eloquence,
often useth the figure of repitition, as Vivit & vincit, imo in senatum,
Venit imo, in senatum venit{170}, &c. Indeede enflamed, with a well
grounded rage, hee would have his words (as it were ) double out of his
mouth, and so do that artificially, which we see men in choller doo
naturally. And we having noted the grace of those words, hale them in
sometimes to a familiar Epistle, when it were too much choller to be
chollericke. How well store of Similiter Cadenses{171}, doth sound with the
gravitie of the Pulpit, I woulde but invoke Demosthenes soule to tell: who
with a rare daintinesse useth them. Truly they have made mee thinke of the
Sophister{172}, that with too much subtiltie would prove two Egges three,
and though he might bee counted a Sophister, had none for his labour. So
these men bringing in such a kind of eloquence, well may they obtaine an
opinion of a seeming finesse, but perswade few, which should be the ende of
their finesse. Now for similitudes in certain Printed discourses, I thinke
all Herberists, all stories of beasts, foules, and fishes, are rifled up,
that they may come in multitudes to wait upon any of our conceits, which
certainly is as absurd a surfet to the eares as is possible. For the force
of a similitude not being to prove any thing to a contrary disputer, but
onely to explain to a willing hearer, when that is done, the rest is a most
tedious pratling, rather overswaying the memorie from the purpose whereto
they were applied, then anie whit enforming the judgement alreadie either
satisfied, or by similitudes not to be satisfied. For my part, I doo not
doubt, when Antonius and Crassus{173}, the great forefathers of Cicero in
eloquence, the one (as Cicero testifieth of them) pretended not to know
Art, the other not to set by it, (because with a plaine sensiblenesse, they
might winne credit of popular eares, which credit, is the nearest steppe to
perswasion, which perswasion, is the chiefe marke of Oratorie) I do not
doubt I say, but that they used these knacks verie sparingly, which who
doth generally use, any man may see doth dance to his own musick, and so to
be noted by the audience, more careful to speak curiously than truly.
Undoubtedly (at least to my opinion undoubtedly) I have found in divers
smal learned Courtiers, a more sound stile, then in some professors of
learning, of which I can gesse no other cause, but that the Courtier
following that which by practice he findeth fittest to nature, therein
(though he know it not) doth according to art, thogh not by art (as in
these cases he shuld do) flieth from nature, & indeed abuseth art. But
what? methinks, I deserve to be pounded{174} for straying from Poetrie, to
Oratory: but both have such an affinitie in the wordish consideration, that
I think this digression will make my meaning receive the fuller
understanding: which is not to take upon me to teach Poets how they should
do, but only finding my selfe sicke among the rest, to shew some one or two
spots of the common infection growne among the most part of writers; that
acknowledging our selves somewhat awry, wee may bende to the right use both
of matter and manner. Whereto our language giveth us great occasion, being
indeed capable of any excellent exercising of it. I knowe some will say it
is a mingled language: And why not, so much the better, taking the best of
both the other? Another will say, it wanteth Grammer. Nay truly it hath
that praise that it wants not Grammar; for Grammer it might have, but it
needs it not, being so easie in it selfe, and so voyd of those combersome
differences of Cases, Genders, Moods, & Tenses, which I thinke was a peece
of the Tower of Babilons curse{175}, that a man should be put to schoole to
learn his mother tongue. But for the uttering sweetly and properly the
conceit of the minde, which is the end of speech, that hath it equally with
any other tongue in the world. And is perticularly happy in compositions of
two or three wordes togither, neare the Greeke, farre beyonde the Latine,
which is one of the greatest bewties can be in a language. Now of
versefying, there are two sorts, the one auncient, the other moderne. The
auncient marked the quantitie of each sillable, and according to that,
framed his verse: The moderne, observing onely number, with some regard of
the accent; the chiefe life of it, standeth in that like sounding of the
words, which we call Rime. Whether of these be the more excellent, wold
bear many speeches, the ancient no doubt more fit for Musicke, both words
and time observing quantitie, and more fit, lively to expresse divers
passions by the low or loftie sound of the well-wayed sillable. The latter
likewise with his rime striketh a certaine Musicke to the ear: and in fine,
since it dooth delight, though by an other way, it obtaineth the same
purpose, there being in either sweetnesse, and wanting in neither,
majestie. Truly the English before any Vulgare language, I know is fit for
both sorts: for, for the auncient, the Italian is so full of Vowels, that
it must ever be combred with Elisions. The Duch so of the other side with
Consonants, that they cannot yeeld the sweete slyding, fit for a Verse. The
French in his whole language, hath not one word that hath his accent in the
last sillable, saving two, called Antepenultima; and little more hath the
Spanish, and therefore verie gracelessly may they use Dactiles. The English
is subject to none of these defects. Now for Rime, though we doo not
observe quan[ti]tie, yet we observe the Accent verie precisely, which other
languages either cannot do, or will not do so absolutely. That Caesura, or
breathing place in the midst of the Verse, neither Italian nor Spanish
have: the French and we, never almost faile off. Lastly, even the verie
Rime it selfe, the Italian cannot put it in the last sillable, by the
French named the Masculine Rime; but still in the next to the last, which
the French call the Female; or the next before that, which the Italian
Sdrucciola: the example of the former, is Buono, Suono, of the Sdrucciola,
is Femina, Semina. The French of the other side, hath both the Male as Bon,
Son; and the Female, as Plaise, Taise{176}; but the Sdrucciola he hath not:
where the English hath all three, as Du, Trew, Father, Rather, Motion,
Potion{177}, with much more which might be sayd, but that alreadie I finde
the triflings of this discourse is much too much enlarged. So that since
the ever-praise woorthie Poesie is full of vertue breeding delightfulnesse,
and voyd of no gift that ought to be in the noble name of learning, since
the blames layd against it, are either false or feeble, since the cause why
it is not esteemed in England, is the fault of Poet-apes, not Poets. Since
lastly our tongue is most fit to honour Poesie, and to bee honoured by
Poesie, I conjure you all that have had the evill luck to read this inck-
wasting toy of mine, even in the name of the nine Muses, no more to scorne
the sacred misteries of Poesie. No more to laugh at the name of Poets, as
though they were next inheritors to fooles; no more to jest at the reverent
title of a Rimer, but to beleeve with Aristotle, that they were the
auncient Treasurers of the Grecians divinitie{178}; to beleeve with Bembus,
that they were the first bringers in of all Civilitie; to beleeve with
Scalliger that no Philosophers precepts can sooner make you an honest man,
then the reading of Virgil{179}; to beleeve with Clauserus, the Translator
of Cornatus, that it pleased the heavenly deitie by Hesiod and Homer, under
the vaile of Fables to give us all knowledge, Logicke, Rhetoricke,
Philosophie, naturall and morall, and Quid non?{180} To beleeve with me,
that there are many misteries contained in Poetrie, which of purpose were
written darkly, least by prophane wits it should be abused: To beleeve with
Landin{181}, that they are so beloved of the Gods, that whatsoever they
write, proceeds of a divine furie. Lastly, to beleeve themselves when they
tell you they will make you immortal by their verses. Thus doing, your name
shall florish in the Printers shops. Thus doing you shalbe of kin to many a
Poeticall Preface. Thus doing, you shal be most faire, most rich, most
wise, most all: you shall dwel upon Superlatives. Thus doing, though you be
Libertino patre natus{182}, you shall sodeinly grow Herculea proles{183}.
Si quid mea Carmina possunt{184}. Thus doing, your soule shall be placed
with Dantes Beatrix, or Virgils Anchises. But if (fie of such a but) you
bee borne so neare the dull-making Cataract of Nilus, that you cannot heare
the Planet-like Musicke of Poetrie; if you have so earth-creeping a mind
that it cannot lift it selfe up to looke to the skie of Poetrie, or rather
by a certaine rusticall disdaine, wil become such a mome, as to bee a Momus
of Poetrie: then though I will not wish unto you the Asses eares of Midas,
nor to be driven by a Poets verses as Bubonax{185} was, to hang himselfe,
nor to be rimed to death as is said to be done in Ireland, yet thus much
Curse I must send you in the behalfe of all Poets, that while you live, you
live in love, and never get favour, for lacking skill of a Sonet, and when
you die, your memorie die from the earth for want of an Epitaphe.
F I N I S.
Where notes are derived from the notes of others, the source is cited
within parentheses. Uncited notes frequently reflect a cursory inspection
of relevant entries in _A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and
Mythology_, ed. William Smith (London: 1890). I have refrained from
citing line numbers in primary sources as I have not had the opportunity
to check them myself. The reader is hereby advised to regard my
rudimentary knowledge of the classics or continental Renaissance authors
as not in any way authoritative. RSB
{1} E.W.: Edward Wotton, secretary to the English at the court of
Maximilian II. (Duncan-Jones, _Sir Philip Sidney_ [1989] 372)
{2} Pedenteria: pedantry.
{3} In Renaissance times Musaeus was thought to predate Homer.
{4} It was believed that the works of the ancients were intrinsically
superior and of great authority. It was a mark of learning to imitate
them, as in fact Sidney does by casting the _Defence_ in the form of a
classical oration.
{5} Amphion: said to have rebuilt Thebes with the sweetness of his lyre.
{6} Details on the works, or in some cases fragments, of these Greek
philosophers may be found in the excellent exhaustive notes of Duncan-
Jones, 373. She believes Sidney may have encountered them in Henri
Estienne, _Poesis Philosophica_ [1573].
{7} _Symposium_.
{8} _Phaedrus_.
{9} _Republic_ II.
{10} stale: stole.
{11} Arentos: _areytos_. Religious music of the native inhabitants of
Haiti, from _Decades of the newe worlde or West India_ [1555], by Peter
Martyr (tr. Richard Eden), III.vii. (Duncan-Jones 373)
{12} Vaticinium, and Vaticinari: prophecy, prophesying. The prophetic
office of poet has interested poets and philosophers from Plato to S.T.
Coleridge. For a useful discussion of this poetics in Sidney's time, see
Angus Fletcher, _The Prophetic Moment: An Essay on Spenser_ [1971].
{13} Albinus was the Roman governor of Britain in 192 C.E. (Duncan-Jones
and Van Dorsten, _Miscellaneous Prose of Sir Philip Sidney_ 189) The
line quoted from _Aeneid_ II.314 translates "insanely I arm, that have no
reason to arm."
{14} Hebritians: Hebricians, scholars of the Hebrew language. Jerome, and
many others after him, believed that the Psalms were written in verse,
and sought in vain to find the rules. (Duncan-Jones 375)
{15} Prosopopeias: attribution of human qualities (personification) to
natural objects or events.
{16} poieten: "a poet," with which phrase the Greek word is replaced in
subsequent editions.
{17} Art: any skill in production, including of knowledge, hence inclusive
of the sciences.
{18} Theagenes: from Heliodorus, _Aethiopica_.
{19} Pylades: from Euripides, _Oresteia_.
{20} Orlando: Ariosto, _Orlando furioso_ [1532].
{21} Cyrus: Ruler of Persia, 600?-529 B.C.E.; from Xenophon, _Cyropaedia_.
{22} Aeneas is said to have been regarded during the Renaissance as the
perfect man (Duncan-Jones and Van Dorsten 190); he was especially
attractive to Englishmen as the ancestor of the founders of Rome and
also, according to legend, of the founders of Britain. See Michael
Drayton, _Poly-Olbion_ [1612].
{23} Compare Scaliger, _Poetics_ [1561]. The poet, according to Scaliger,
creates models, which partake of the first nature, so that the poet's
creativity is like that of God.
{24} Aristotle, _Poetics_ I.2.
{25} Horace, _Ars Poetica_. Plutarch says, in the _Moralia_, that Simonides
said this first.
{26} Bible translators.
{27} Paules: subsequent editions have James': the quote is from James 5:13.
{28} Pontanus: Giovanni Pontano is the only non-classical author here
cited. For details on the works alluded to, see Duncan-Jones, 375.
{29} Heliodorus, _Aethiopica_.
{30} _architectonike_: Master-art or science of science. Analogous to the
use of "scientific method" as the organizing theory of the scientific
disciplines today.
{31} Sidney seems to be quoting his Cicero (_De oratore_ II.ix.36) from
memory. The passage reads: _Lux vitae, temporum magistra, vita memoriae,
nuntia vetustatis_...: "Light of life, master of the age, life of memory,
messenger from the past..."
{32} Formidine poenae: fear of being punished.
{33} Virtutis amore: love of virtue.
{34} Anchices: Anchises, the father of Aeneas. See Virgil, _Aeneid_ II.
{35} Homer, _Odyssey_ V.
{36} Horace, _Epistles_ I.ii. (Duncan-Jones and Van Dorsten 195)
{37} The first three examples are from the _Iliad_; in _Aeneid_ V., Nisus
helps Euryalus to victory in an important race, even though he himself
has fallen and cannot complete the course.
{38} Terence, _Eunuchus_. "Gnatho" in Sidney's time was any social parasite
after the character by that name in Terence. (Duncan-Jones 376)
{39} Chaucer, _Troilus and Criseyde_. A "pandar" was a procurer of sexual
services, after the character in Chaucer.
{40} Horace, _Ars poetica_: "Mediocrity in poets is permitted neither by
the Gods, nor men, nor booksellers." (Books were sold around columns in
{41} Luke 16:19-31.
{42} Luke 15:11-32.
{43} _Poetics_ X.
{44} "studiously serious" was omitted in Ponsonby.
{45} Justin, _Histories_, translated by Arthur Golding, 1564. (Duncan-Jones
{46} "Dares Phrygius's" purported account of the Trojan war was
traditionally thought to be genuine, but by Sidney's time there were
already serious doubts. (Duncan-Jones and Van Dorsten 196)
{47} Horace, _Epodes_ V.
{48} Tantalus revealed the secrets entrusted to him by Zeus and was
horribly punished in the underworld; Atreus killed the two sons of
Thyestes and served him their flesh at a banquet.
{49} Quintus Rufus Curtius wrote a life of Alexander the Great.
{50} Herodotus, _Histories_ III; Justin, _Histories_ I.x. (Duncan-Jones
{51} Livy, _Histories_ I.iii,iv. (Duncan-Jones 378)
{52} This incident is recorded in _Cyropaedia_ VI.i, but of Araspas, not
Abradates. (Duncan-Jones 378)
{53} Milciades: Miltiades defeated the Persians at Marathon, but afterwards
misused an Athenian fleet and was imprisoned, where he died of a leg
wound received in the naval adventure. Herodotus, _Histories_ IV.
{54} Phocion, an Athenian public servant, was executed for suspicion of
illegally negotiating with the Macedonians; Plutarch, _Phocion_.
{55} Socrates was condemned and executed on suspicion of having taught
atheism to the youth of Athens; Plato, _Apology_, _Crito_, _Phaedo_.
{56} Lucius Septimius Severus, Roman emperor, C.E. 193-211, who tended to
visit horrible vengeance on defeated foes, and celebrated victories with
massively bloody spectacles in the Roman circus.
{57} M. Aurelius Alexander Severus, Roman emperor C.E. 222-235, who
effected many reforms and halted, for awhile, the deterioration of the
the Roman civilization.
{58} Lucius Sulla and Caius Marius (second century B.C.E.) fought over
Rome for many years, with much loss of blood in civil strife, yet neither
came to a violent end.
{59} Each was killed after he had already fled.
{60} Cato, among the defeated at Pharsalia (48 B.C.E.), was run to ground
some time afterward, and killed himself to avoid capture.
{61} "He knew not letters"; Julius Caesar in Suetonius' biography.
{62} _Occidentos esse_: occidendos esse, "they are to be executed."
{63} An assortment of noted tyrants.
{64} _philophilosophos_: "lovers of the lovers of wisdom." A fan of
{65} _gnosis_: knowledge; _praxis_: performance.
{66} "here is the work and the labor." Virgil, _Aeneid_ VI. The Sybil on
getting back from the underworld.
{67} Aristotle, _Poetics_ IV.
{68} _Amadis de Gaule_, written in Spanish, was much read in French
translation and frequently imitated, influencing the genre of knightly
romances, including Sidney's _Arcadia_.
{69} Virgil, _Aeneid_ II.
{70} "And shall my country watch me flee? Is it such a terrible thing to
die?" Virgil, _Aeneid_ XII. In Ponsonby "usque" and "adeone" are run
together into one word.
{71} Poetius: Boethius. Perhaps a typographical error or compositor's
misreading of the transcript; corrected elsewhere.
{72} indulgere genio: "indulging one's natural bent."
{73} A friend of Coriolanus. The story was famous in antiquity, and is
retold in Shakespeare, _Coriolanus_ I.i.
{74} II Samuel 12:1-15.
{75} Psalms 51.
{76} Sannazaro, _Arcadia_ [1504].
{77} Boethius, _De consolatione philosophiae_ [524 C.E.].
{78} Virgil, _Eclogues_ I.
{79} "I remember this, that conquered Thyrsus achieved nothing: meanwhile
for our time it is Corydon [who is the winner]." Virgil, _Eclogues VII.
"Thyrsim" in Ponsonby is elsewhere emended to "Thirsin."
{80} A classical genre, in iambic feet, like satire but less indirect.
{81} "The sly one all vices touches on, so that his friend may laugh."
Persius, _Satires_ I. In the original text: _Omne vafer vitium ridenti
Flaccus amico Tangit, et admissus circum praecordia ludit_.
{82} "around the heart he plays." See quotation from Persius, note 81.
{83} "Is there life in Ulubrae for us if we can keep our balance?" Horace,
_Epistles_ I.xi. Even assuming we can get to Ulubrae without falling
down, the place will bore us stiff, says Horace. The town was reached by
passing through marshes. (Duncan_Jones and Van Orsten, 200)
{84} Terentian characters, none of whom were intended to be imitated.
{85} Pistrinum: _pistrinum_, a type of Roman flour mill, powered by asses;
when slaves misbehaved, they were sometimes substituted for the asses as
a punishment.
{86} "An evil ruler's heavy scepter makes him afraid of those who fear him,
and the fear returns to its author." Seneca, _Oedipus_.
{87} This Alexander had killed his uncle and taken over rule of Pherae (369
B.C.E. approx.), and was particularly noted for bloodshed. Plutarch,
_Vita Pelopidae_.
{88} _Chevy Chase_.
{89} Street musician, especially a fiddle player.
{90} Tideus: Tydeus. Statius, _Thebais_.
{91} Tasso: Gerusalemme Liberata [1575].
{92} Marcus Tullius Cicero.
{93} "Better than Chrysippus and Crantor." Horace, _Epistles_ I.ii. It is
Homer that is better for students than these philosophers, says Horace.
{94} Ovid, _Ars Amatoria_: _et lateat vitium proximitate boni_. Call a
woman light instead of short, "thus hiding evil by its nearness to the
{95} Cornelius Agrippa, _De incertitudine et vanitate scientiarium et
artium_ [1530].
{96} Scaliger, _Poetics_ I.ii.
{97} Other creatures might have speech or some reasoning powers, but only
in the human, it was thought, are these combined.
{98} In Ponsonby only; quisq=quisque. See Horace, _Epistles_ I.xviii; Ovid,
_Remedia amoris_.
{99} _Canterbury Tales_, "The Knights Tale" 28. "To eare" is "to plow."
{100} Plato, _Republic_ II.iii.
{101} "This is but to beg the question."
{102} Charon: ferryman who conveyed souls to Hades over the river Styx.
{103} Magicians drew a pentangle within a circle for conjuring up demons.
{104} eikastike: shown forth.
{105} phantastike: imagined.
{106} Genesis 22.
{107} Judith 13.
{108} I Samuel 17.
{109} Albion Nation: the English.
{110} Chain-shot: two cannon balls connected by a length of chain, fired at
once. Suitable for firing into massed opponents, or ship's rigging.
{111} Dio Cassius, _Historia Roma_, continuation, iii.
{112} "I say to him to feel free to be a fool." Horace, _Satires_ I.i.
{113} Scholastic _topoi_: "essential nature" and "primary substance" are
not subjects that go well with body armor.
{114} M. Portius Cato Censorious sought to prevent M. Fulvius Nobilor from
obtaining the honor of a Triumph because, as he said, Fulvius did not
maintain proper discipline among his troops and kept a poet in his camp.
See Cicero, _Tusculanarum Disputationem_ i.2.
{115} M. Porcius Cato, great-grandson of Cato the Censor.
{116} Pluto: god of the underworld.
{117} Ennius'. Cicero, _Pro archia poeta_ IX.
{118} Told in Plutarch, _Vita Niciae_.
{119} Simonides talked Hieron I into being reconciled to his brother.
(Duncan-Jones 383)
{120} Cicero, _Pro Caius Rabirio postumo_ IX.
{121} Plutarch, _Moralia_.
{122} Plato, _Republic_ V.
{123} Ponsonby here omits "who yet for the credit of Poets allegeth twice
two poets and one of them by the name of prophet," found elsewhere. Acts
17:28 and Titus 1 are cited in the margin of the Penshurst ms.
(Duncan-Jones 383)
{124} Colossians 2:8.
{125} "[Plato's] authority used by barbarians to send out poets from the
republic," Scaliger, _Poetics_ I.ii.
{126} Aesop, _Fables_.
{127} "The Man Who Hurts Himself."
{128} "O muse, cause me to remember how, when balked..." Virgil, _Aeneid_ I.
{129} Generals and poets all. Adrian: The Roman Emperor Hadrian (117-38
C.E.). (Duncan-Jones 384)
{130} Robert II of Anjou, the friend and patron of Francesco Petrarca.
{131} Francis I.
{132} James I.
{133} Bembus: Pietro Bembo. Author of number of works, including poetry;
see also Baldsar Castiglione's _Il Cortegiano_ [1528], in which he
figures prominently.
{134} Bibiena: Bernard Dovizi, Cardinal Bibbiena, served Lorenzo de'Medici.
(Dunstan-Jones 385)
{135} Beza: Theodore de Beze.
{136} Philip Melancthon was known to Sidney's humanist friend Hubert
{137} Fracastorius: Girolamo Fracastorio, scientific and medical author.
{138} Julius Caesar Scaliger had considerable influence on the _Defence_.
{139} Pontanus: Giovanni Pontano.
{140} Muretus: Marc-Antoine Muret.
{141} George Buchanan was a humanist scholar and tutor to James VI.
{142} Michel Hurault de l'Hospital.
{143} See Ovid, _Metamorphoses_ IV. In Golding, lines 202ff.
{144} The office of Telearch included keeping the streets clean. Plutarch,
{145} Stream (here, of unnecessary words) flowing from the spring of the
{146} "From superior clay their being by the Titan formed." Juvenal,
_Satires_ XIV.
{147} "Orators are made, but poets are born."
{148} Manured: fertilized. This included the turning under of the soil.
{149} Dedalus: Daedalus, mythological architect and archetype of the
artist. "Wrings"="wings." Daedalus constructed wings for himself and his
son in order to effect an escape. The fate of Icarus demonstrates
Sidney's point that it is the use of a thing, not the thing itself, that
goes awry, though he does not pursue that point here.
{150} Quodlibet: Scholastic term for "what you will"; the floor is open to
debate on any point.
{151} "Anything I attempted to say, verses became." Ovid, _Tristia_ IV.x.
(Duncan-Jones 387)
{152} _The Mirror of Magistrates_ first appeared in 1555, but was
suppressed by the Lord Chancellor as a threat to Queen Mary's reign. It
survived through seven more editions, however, and became immensely
popular and influential. There may have been as many as seven authors in
the first edition, and the number grew as the volume was expanded; hence
"partes." (Hyder Rollins and Baker and Herschel Baker, _The Renaissance
in England: Non-Dramatic Prose and Verse of the Sixteenth Century [1954]
{153} Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. Many of his poems had found their way
into the popular volume of Richard Tottel's _Songs and Sonnets Written by
the Right Honorable Henry Haward Late Earl of Surrey and Other_ [1557],
known to posterity as the _Miscellany_. In fact only some forty of the
poems were Surrey's; more than ninety are attributed to Thomas Wyatt.
(Rollins and Baker 194).
{154} Edmund Spenser, _The Shepheardes Calender Conteyning Twelve Aeglogves
Proportionable to the Twelve Monethes_ [1579]. Theocritus, Virgil, and
Sannazaro represent the pastoral tradition which the _Calender_ follows.
Sidney objects that none of them affects archaic language.
{155} Thomas Sackville and Thomas Norton, _Gorboduc_ [1571].
{156} Aristotle, _Poetics V.i. It was commonly believed that Aristotle
limited the action of drama to a single day, or what computer game
designers now call "real-time." Aristotle was descibing current practice,
not laying down rules.
{157} This is not _Eunuchus_ but _Heautontimouromenos_ (see note 127
above). Sidney, as was very common at the time and well into the
seventeenth century, appears to be working from memory alone for most of
his citations.
{158} Probably a reference to the _Captivi_ of Plautus.
{159} Calecut: Calicut, a port on the southwest, or Malibar, coast of
India, reached by Vasco da Gama in 1498.
{160} Pacolet, the magician in the medieval romance _Valentine and Orson_,
had a horse that could transport him instantaneously to his destination.
{161} Message runner.
{162} _ab ovo_: "out of the egg." Horace, _Ars poetica_.
{163} The story is from Euripides' _Hecuba_.
{164} Hercules, in mythology, fell in love with Omphale, giving her the
leverage to order him to yet more labors besides the famous Twelve which
he had just completed.
{165} Aristotle, _Poetics_ V.i. What Aristotle actually says is that comedy
examines the ludicrous but not to the extent of finding humor in pain.
{166} "There is no greater unhappiness in poverty than than it makes men
appear silly." Juvenal, _Satires_ III.
{167} Thraso: a character in Terence, _Eunuchus_.
{168} Buchanan: George Buchanan, the tutor of James VI.
{169} Nizolian paper bookes: common-place books containing a _copia_ of
useful phrases, the misuse of which could lead to writing that smelled of
"ink-horn termes" (Wilson, _Arte of Rhetorique_ [1553]).
{170} Cicero, _In Catilinam_ I: "Senatus haec intelligit, consu videt; hic
tamen vivit. Vivit? Imo vero etiam in senatum venit..." "The Senate knows
this, and the consul has seen it, yet he is still alive. Alive? why, he
even comes to his seat in the senate!" The effect of alliteration of "v"
in "sees," "lives," "lives," "truth," "comes" (in the Latin), says
Sidney, is imitative of someone so filled with moral indignation that he
hasn't time to prepare a formal speech on the topic.
{171} Similiter cadenses: _similiter cadentes_, use of similar-sounding
endings of nouns and clauses in excessive imitation of Cicero. (Duncan-
Jones and Van Dorsten 207)
{172} The Sophists were teachers of rhetoric criticized by Plato for being
too ready to take either side of a question for pay. The story of the
eggs was an old (Thomas More used it) but still useful joke in Sidney's
{173} M. Antonius and L. Crassus, first century B.C.E. Cicero, _De oratore_
{174} pounded: impounded.
{175} Tower of Babel, Genesis 10.
{176} "plaise, taise" require two-syllable pronunciation to take his point.
{177} "motion, potion" in Sidney's example of _sdrucciola_ are three-
syllable words.
{178} Attributed to Aristotle by Boccaccio, _De genealogia deorum_ XIV.vii.
(Duncan-Jones 390, Duncan_Jones and Van Dorsten 208)
{179} Scaliger, _Poetics_ III.xix.
{180} Conrad Clauser, preface to 1543 translation of Lucius Annaeus
Cornutus, _De natura deorum gentilium_. (Duncan-Jones 390) "Quid non?"
is "What not?"
{181} Landin: Cristoforo Landino, preface to edition [1481] of Dante
Alighieri, _Divina commedia_. (Duncan_Jones and Van Dorsten 209)
{182} "Of a free father born." Horace, _Satires_ I.iv.
{183} Herculea proles: "descendants of Hercules."
{184} "If these my numbers have any power." Virgil, _Aeneid_ IX.
{185} Plinius Secundus, _Historia Naturalis_ XXXVI.v. The sculptor Bupalus
was driven to kill himself by the recited poetry of Hipponax. (Duncan-
Jones 390)
A selected bibliography
Allen, M. J. B. "Sidney's Defense and the Image Making of Plato's Sophist."
_Sir Philip Sidney's Achievements_. Allen, M. J. B., ed., Baker-Smith,
Dominic, ed., Kinney, Arthur F., ed., Sullivan, Margaret, ed. New
York: AMS, 1990. Rhetoric and Plato in the _Defence_.
Attridge, Derek. "Puttenham's Perplexity: Nature, Art, and the Supplement
in Renaissance Poetic Theory." _Literary Theory/Renaissance Texts_.
Parker, Patricia, ed., Quint, David (ed. & introd.) Baltimore: Johns
Hopkins UP, 1986. George Puttenham's _The Arte of English Poesie_, the
_Defence_, and deconstructionist theory.
Bergvall, Ake. _The "Enabling of Judgement": Sir Philip Sidney and the
Education of the Reader_. Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis,
1989, (Studia Anglistica Upsaliensia 70). The _Defence_, Plato,
Augustine,  Aristotle, epistemology and instruction theory.
Berry, Edward. "The Poet as Warrior in Sidney's Defence of Poetry." _SEL:
Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900_ 1989 Winter v29(1). 21-34.
Polemics as literary warfare and the poet as the exemplary warrior.
Bogdan, Deanne. "Sidney's Defence of Plato and the 'Lying' Greek Poets: The
Argument from Hypothesis." _Classical and Modern Literature: A
Quarterly_. 1986 Fall v7(1), 43-54. Sidney's understanding of Plato's
poetics.  Coogan, Robert M. "More Dais Than Dock: Greek Rhetoric and
Sidney's Encomium on Poetry." _Studies in the Literary Imagination_
1982 Spring v15(1), 99-113. _Defence_ as an instance of Classical
rhetoric in action.
________________. "The Triumph of Reason: Sidney's Defense and Aristotle's
Rhetoric." _Papers on Language and Literature: A Journal for Scholars
and Critics of Language and Literature_. 1981 Summer v17(3), 255-270.
Sidney and Aristotelian epideictic rhetoric.
DeNeef, A. Leigh. "Opening and Closing the Sidneian Text."_Sidney
Newsletter_ 1981 v2(1), 3-6. Textual criticism and _Defence_.
Devereux, James A. "The Meaning of Delight in Sidney's Defence of Poesy."
_Studies in the Literary Imagination_. 1982 Spring v15(1), 85-97.
Doherty, M. J. _The mistress-knowledge : Sir Philip Sidney's Defence of
Poesie and Literary Architectonics in the English Renaissance_.
Nashville: VUP 1991. Includes bibliography. Sidney and epistemology.
Dorsten, Jan van. "How Not to Open the Sidneian Text." _Sidney Newsletter_
1981 v2(2), 4-7. A reply to DeNeef on textual criticism of the
Duncan-Jones, Katherine, and Jan Van Dorsten. _Miscellaneous Prose of Sir
Philip Sidney_. Oxford: Clarendon, 1973. This prose anthology includes
a nicely annotated _Defence_ with an outline of its encomiastic
structure and marginalia to help keep the outline in mind.
_______________________. _Sir Philip Sidney_. Oxford: OUP, 1989. This is
the most useful of the many anthologies of Sidney's poetry and prose. A
volume in the Oxford Authors series, its notes are comprehensive.
Dundas, Judith. "'To speak metaphorically': Sidney in the Subjunctive
Mood." _Renaissance Quarterly_ 1988 Summer v41(2), 268-287. _Defence_
and metaphor.
Fargnoli, Joseph. "Patterns of Renaissance Imagination in Sir Philip
Sidney's Defence of Poesie." _Massachusetts Studies in English_ 1982
v8(3), 36-42. Renaissance theories of the imagination and the
Ferguson, Margaret W. _Trials of Desire: Renaissance Defenses of Poetry_.
New Haven: YUP, 1983. Studies of _Defence_ and similar works: Du
Bellay, Tasso.
Fonesca, Terezinha A. _The 'Correlitiue Knowledge of Thinges': Relations
and Intertextuality in 'Astrophil and Stella' and 'A Defence of
Poetry'_. Diss. Abs. 1989 Apr. v49(10), 3032A.
Hamilton, A. C. "Sidney's Humanism."  _Sir Philip Sidney's Achievements_.
Allen, M. J. B., ed., Baker-Smith, Dominic, ed., Kinney, Arthur F.,
ed. Sullivan, Margaret, ed. New York: AMS, 1990. _Defence_ as late
Renaissance document.
______________. _Sir Philip Sidney : a Study of His Life and Works_.
Cambridge: CUP, 1977. A standard biography and literary introduction.
Heninger, S. K., Jr. "'Metaphor' and Sidney's Defence of Poesie." _John
Donne Journal: Studies in the Age of Donne_. 1982 v1(1-2), 117-149.
Mimesis and metaphor, Aristotle's _Poetics_ and _Rhetoric_, and the
___________________. "Sidney and Boethian Music" _SEL: Studies in English
Literature, 1500-1900_. 1983 Winter v23(1), 37-46. Boethius, Plato,
Aristotle, mimesis, and _Defence_.
___________________. "Sidney and Serranus' Plato." _English Literary
Renaissance_. 1983 Spring v13(2), 146-161. The _Defence_ and Plato,
Serres, Estienne, and translation. See also: 27-44 in _Sidney in
Retrospect: Selections from English Literary Renaissance_. Kinney,
Arthur F., ed.. Amherst: UMP; 1988.
___________________. "Speaking Pictures: Sidney's Rapprochement between
Poetry and Painting."  _Sir Philip Sidney and the Interpretation of
Renaissance Culture: The Poet in His Time and in Ours: A Collection of
Critical and Scholarly Essays_. Waller, Gary F., ed., Moore, Michael
D., ed. Totowa, NJ: Barnes & Noble, 1984. The _Defence_, Aristotle's
_Poetics_, and critical theory.
Herman, Peter C. "'Do As I Say, Not As I Do': The Apology for Poetry and
Sir Philip Sidney's Letters to Edward Denny and Robert Sidney." _
Sidney Newsletter_ 1989 v10(1), 13-24. Sidney's poetics reflects
humanistic education, especially as touching upon morality.
Correspondence shows the same influence.
Hunt, John. "Allusive Coherence in Sidney's Apology for Poetry." _SEL:
Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900_ 1987 Winter v27(1), 1-16.
Coherence and ambiguity in the _Defence_.
Hunter, C. Stuart. "Erected Wit and Infected Will: Sidney's Poetic Theory
and Poetic Practice." _Sidney Newsletter_ 1984 Fall-Winter v5(2), 3-10.
The _Defence_ and _Astrophil and Stella_.
Kimbrough, Robert. _Sir Philip Sidney._ New York: Twayne, 1971. A volume in
the Twayne English Authors series. Biography, literary history,
criticism. With annotated bibliography.
Kouwenhoven, Jan Karel. "Sidney, Leicester, and The Faerie Queene." _Sir
Philip Sidney: 1586 and the Creation of a Legend_. Dorsten, Jan van,
ed. Baker-Smith, Dominic (ed. & pref.) Kinney, Arthur F. (ed. &
pref.) Leiden: Brill, 1986. Discusses connection between _Defence_ and
Sidney's partisanship with Leicester at Court.
Martin, Christopher. "Sidney's Defence: The Art of Slander and the Slander
of Art." _Sidney Newsletter_ 1988 v9(1) p3-10. The encomium as
Miller, Anthony. "Sidney's Apology for Poetry and Plutarch's Moralia."
_English Literary Renaissance_ 1987 Autumn v17(3), 259-276. Plutarch as
a source in French.
Myrick, Kenneth O. _Sir Philip Sidney as a Literary Craftsman_. Cambridge,
MA: HUP, 1935. The classic study of Sidney and Castiglione.
Payne, Paula H. "Aristotle's Rhetoric: 'Matter' and 'Manner' in Sidney's
Sonnet Sequence, _Astrophil and Stella_, and in His _Defence of
Poesie_." Diss Abs. 1988 Aug. v49(2), 260A.
______________. "Tracing Aristotle's Rhetoric in Sir Philip Sidney's Poetry
and Prose." _Rhetoric Society Quarterly_ 1990 Summer v20(3). 241-250,
The _Rhetoric_ in both the _Defence_ and in _Astrophil and Stella_.
Pears, Stewart A., ed. _The Correspondence of Sir Philip Sidney and Hubert
Languet_. London: Pickering, 1845. Continental humanists continued in
the tradition of Erasmus in guiding the bright stars of English
literature, as exemplified by Languet's friendship with Sidney.
Prescott, Anne L. "King David as a 'Right Poet': Sidney and the Psalmist."
_English Literary Renaissance_ 1989 Spring v19(3), 131-151. The Book of
Psalms and Sidney's poetics.
Qiu, Zihua. "The Aesthetic Manifesto of English Humanism: On Sidney's
Defence of Poesie." _Foreign Lit. Studies_. 1986 Mar. v31(1), 9,49-54.
China. _Defence_ as a document of the Renaissance humanist tradition.
Raitiere, Martin N. "The Unity of Sidney's Apology for Poetry." _SEL:
Studies in English Literature_. 1981 Winter v21(1), 37-57.
Reichert, John. "Do Poets Ever Mean What They Say?" _New Literary History:
A Journal of Theory and Interpretation_. 1981 Autumn v8(1), 53-68. How
literary conventions mask the power gestures of authors.
Robinson, Forrest G. _The Shape of Things Known; Sidney's Apology in its
Philosophical Tradition_. Cambridge, MA: HUP, 1972. Sidney and
Schleiner, Louise. "Spenser and Sidney on the Vaticinium." _Spenser
Studies: A Renaissance Poetry Annual_. 1985 v6, 129-45. _The
Shepheardes Calender_ and the _Defence_ on _vaticinium_.
Sidney, Sir Philip. _The Defense of Poesie_. London: Ponsonby, 1595.
Reprinted in facsimile by The Scolar Press, Menston, 1968.
__________________. _The Norwich Sidney Manuscript: The Apology for
Poetry_. Mahl, Mary R., ed. Northridge, CA: SFVSC, 1969. This is the
official transcription of the famous Sidney manuscript that was found
in 1960, mis-shelved as "A Treatise of Horseman Shipp." While not
holograph, nor even of so early date as the Ponsonby edition, it was
copied from another ms., possibly from Sidney's original, and is of
great value to scholarship.
_________________._Prose works_. Feuillerat, Albert, ed. Cambridge: CUP,
1962. 4 vols. (First edition appeared 1912-26). Useful as primary
__________________. _The works of the Honourable Sir Philip Sidney, kt._
London: 1724-1725. 3 vols. A standard collection from days gone by.
Sinfield, Alan. "The Cultural Politics of the Defence of Poetry."   _Sir
Philip Sidney and the Interpretation of Renaissance Culture: The Poet
in His Time and in Ours: A Collection of Critical and Scholarly
Essays_. Waller, Gary F., ed., Moore, Michael D., ed. Totowa, NJ:
Barnes & Noble, 1984. Pagan literature and Puritanism.
Snare, Gerald. "Dissociation of Sensibility and the Apology for Poetry in
the Twentieth Century." _Studies in the Literary Imagination_ 1982
Spring v15(1), 115-128. Eliot, New Criticism, and Sidney.
Stump, Donald V. "Sidney's Concept of Tragedy in the Apology and in the
Arcadia." _Studies in Philology_. 1982 Winter v79(2), 41-61. Aristotle,
the _Arcadia_, George Buchanan, tragedy and comedy.
Ulreich, John C., Jr. "'The Poets Only Deliver': Sidney's Conception of
Mimesis." _Studies in the Literary Imagination_. 1982 Spring v15(1),
67-84. The failure of the literal and its inevitable absortion into the
mimetic and metaphorical.
Voss, A. E. "The 'Right Poet' in Astrophil and Stella." _Unisa English
Studies: Journal of the Department of English_ 1986 Sept. v24(2), 7-10.
_Defence_ and Astrophil and Stella.
Wallace, Malcolm. W. _The Life of Sir Philip Sidney_. Cambridge: CUP, 1915.
Still the standard biography. Sympathetic, but with a minimum of the
enthusiast's distortion.
Webster, John. _William Temple's Analysis of Sir Philip Sidney's Apology
for Poetry_. Binghamton: Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies 32.
1984. Discussion of Sir William Temple's _Analysis Tractationis de
Poesi Contextae a Nobilissimo Viro Philippe Sidneio Equite Aurato_.
Weiner, Andrew D. "Sidney, Protestantism, and Literary Critics: Reflections
on Some Recent Criticism of The Defense of Poetry." _Sir Philip
Sidney's Achievements_. Allen, M. J. B., ed., Baker-Smith, Dominic,
ed. Kinney, Arthur F., ed., Sullivan, Margaret, ed. New York: AMS,
1990. The continuing influence of Gosson's atitude.
________________. _Sir Philip Sidney and the Poetics of Protestantism : a
Study of Contexts_. Minneapolis, MN: UMP, 1978.  Includes bibliography.
Puritans and Poetics.
--End of File--