Verse > Anthologies > Elizabethan Sonnets > Laura
Seccombe and Arber, comps.  Elizabethan Sonnets.  1904.
Front Matter
Robert Tofte (1561–1620)
The Toys of a Traveller:
The Feast of Fancy.

Poca favilla gran fiamma seconda.

To the no less virtuous than fair, the
Honourable Lady LUCY, sister to
the thrice renowned and noble
[PERCY] Earl

GOOD Madam, I make bold to present unto you a few Toys of mine own travail: [the] most part conceived in Italy, and some of them brought forth in England. By which my imperfections, you may see, as in a lively mirror, your own perfections; and by the follies of my rechlesse [heedless] youth, behold plainly the virtues of your flowering age: hoping your Ladyship will keep them as privately, as I send them unto you most willingly.
  Neither doubt I at all but that your excellent spirit will judge graciously of this my bare, yet bounden, conceit; and to accept the same, as a mean[s], at idle times, to drive away that self-pleasing, yet ill-easing, humour of never-glad melancholy, which spiteful Fortune, seeking (though in vain) most injuriously to insult over you, laboureth by all means possible to inflict upon you: the virtuous behaviour of yourself being such as, even in the midst of all your crosses, you cross her designs with an invincible heart, and with your honourable carriage carry her, with all her devices, as a slave to follow you, in all your generous and thrice-noble actions; maugre the intricate labyrinth of so many and infinite troubles allotted, most unworthily, unto you, by the irrevocable doom of your too partial and flinty Destiny. All which notwithstanding, you bear and over-bear, with a most resolute staiedness; and a resolved courage of a right P E R C Y, and of a mind A per se.  3
  But additions breed suspicions; and fair words, for the most part are counted the blazons of flattery: therefore I will leave to the temperate judgment of the wise, and to the uncorrupt censure of the worthier sort, your heroical and undaunted mind; and the integrity and never-stained proceedings of your spotless self.  4
  Only this, with submission, will I say, that if the richness of the ground is known by the corn; the daintiness of the water, by the sweetness of the fish; and the goodness of the tree, by the rareness of the fruit: then may every man give a guess of the internal habit and excellent qualities of your inward mind, by the outward behaviour and apparent semblance of your exceeding chaste, and more than admirable, demeanour in every respect.  5
  And thus, hoping your Honour will as debonairly accept of these Trifles, as I dutifully bequeath them unto you; and with the sun-shining favour of your gracious aspect deign to read these few lines: craving both privilege, and pardon, for all such faults and defects as shall happen to be discovered in the same,

I humbly devote myself unto
Your Ladyship’s thrice-virtuous and immaculate
disposition and command whatsoever,

Who am bound, as a vasssal,

        To do homage unto the same for ever,

            R. T.
To the Gentle, and Gentlemen, Readers

GENTLEMEN. As the Fencer first maketh a flourish with his weapon before he cometh to strokes, in playing [for] his prize: so I thought good, pro formâ only, to use these few lines unto you, before you come to the pith of the matter.
  What the Gentleman was, that wrote these verses, I know not; and what She is, for whom they are devised, I cannot guess: but thus much I can say, That as they came into the hands of a friend of mine [? the R. B. of page 424] by mere fortune; so happened I upon them by as great a chance.  8
  Only in this I must confess we are both to blame, that whereas he having promised to keep private the original; and I, the copy, secret: we have both consented to send it abroad, as common; presuming chiefly upon your accustomed courtesies. Assuring ourselves, if we may have your protections, we shall think ourselves as safe as ULYSSES did, when he was shadowed under the shield of PALLAS against furious AJAX; so we, by your countenances, shall be sufficiently furnished to encounter against any foul-mouthed JACKS whatsoever.  9
  To censure of this Work is for better wits than mine own: and it is for Poets, not Printers [This therefore was written by VALENTINE SIMMES, the Printer of this Book. See also page 424] to give judgement of this matter. Yet, if I may be bold to report what I have heard other Gentlemen affirm, Many have written worse; Some, better; Few, so well. The Work, being so full of Choice and Change as, it is thought, it will rather delight every way than dislike any way.  10
  Thus, courteous Gentlemen, building upon my wonted foundation of your friendly acceptance, I rest your debtors; and will study, in what I can, daily to make you amends.

Yours always


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