To the most kind and virtuous Gentleman, Master WILLIAM ESSEX of Lamebourne, in the County of Berk[shire], Esquire.
SIR, IT may seem strange that I should be thus far bold to make choice of yourself, a Patron of so slender a work; especially being so little known unto you as I am: but, howsoever, I protest what is done, proceeded from the unfeigned love I bear unto you, your own demerit, your friends hope, and the good report of all men. All which are lively witnesses of your love to the Muses, your grace with Fortune, and your fame with the World; quickened in your birth, increased in your travails, and living after death.
COURTEOUS GENTLEMEN. IT may please you, entertain with patience this poor pamphlet! unworthy I confess so worthy patronage. If I presume, I crave pardon! if offend, it is the firstfruit of any my writings! if dislike, I can be but sorry! Sweet Gentlemen, censure mildly, as protectors of a poor stranger! judge the best, as encouragers of a young beginner! So shall I make true report of your undeserved favours; and you shall be yourselves ever courteous!
In this hope, if promise may go for current, I willingly make the same unto you, of a Pastoral, yet unfinished; that my purpose was to have added, for variety sake, to this little volume of Sonnets. The next Term you may expect it! In the meantime, I wholly rely on your gentle acceptance.