G. Gregory Smith, ed. Elizabethan Critical Essays. 1904.
George Puttenham (15291590)
The Arte of English Poesie The Second Booke. Of Proportion Poetical
CHAP. I. Of Proportion Poeticall.
IT is said by such as professe the Mathematicall sciences, that all things stand by proportion, and that without it nothing could stand to be good or beautiful. The Doctors of our Theologie to the same effect, but in other termes, say that God made the world by number, measure and weight; some for weight say tune, and peraduenture better. For weight is a kind of measure or of much conueniencie with it; and therefore in their descriptions be alwayes coupled together statica et metrica, weight and measures. Hereupon it seemeth the Philosopher gathers a triple proportion, to wit, the Arithmeticall, the Geometricall, and the Musicall. And by one of these three is euery other proportion guided of the things that haue conueniencie by relation, as the visible by light colour and shadow; the audible by stirres, times and accents; the odorable by smelles of sundry temperaments; the tastible by sauours to the rate; the tangible by his obiectes in this or that regard. Of all which we leaue to speake, returning to our poeticall proportion, which holdeth of the Musical, because, as we sayd before, Poesie is a skill to speake & write harmonically: and verses or rime be a kind of Musicall vtterance, by reason of a certaine congruitie in sounds pleasing the eare, though not perchance so exquisitely as the harmonicall concents of the artificial Musicke, consisting in strained tunes, as is the vocall Musike, or that of melodious instruments, as Lutes, Harpes, Regals, Records and such like. And this our proportion Poeticall resteth in fiue points: Staffe, Measure, Concord, Scituation, and Figure, all which shall be spoken of in their places.
Staffe in our vulgare Poesie I know not why it should be so called, vnlesse it be for that we vnderstand it for a bearer or supporter of a song or ballad, not vnlike the old weake bodie that is stayed vp by his staffe, and were not otherwise able to walke or to stand vpright. The Italian called it Stanza, as if we should say a resting place: and if we consider well the forme of this Poeticall staffe, we shall finde it to be a certaine number of verses allowed to go altogether and ioyne without any intermission, and doe or should finish vp all the sentences of the same with a full period, vnlesse it be in som special cases, & there to stay till another staffe follow of like sort: and the shortest staffe conteineth not vnder foure verses, nor the longest aboue ten; if it passe that number it is rather a whole ditty then properly a staffe. Also for the more part the staues stand rather vpon the euen nomber of verses then the odde, though there be of both sorts. The first proportion then of a staffe is by quadrein or foure verses. The second of fiue verses, and is seldome vsed. The third by sizeine or sixe verses, and is not only most vsual, but also very pleasant to theare. The fourth is in seuen verses, & is the chiefe of our ancient proportions vsed by any rimer writing any thing of historical or graue poeme, as ye may see in Chaucer and Lidgate, thone writing the loues of Troylus and Cresseida, thother of the fall of Princes: both by them translated, not deuised. The first proportion is of eight verses very stately and Heroicke, and which I like better then that of seuen, because it receaueth better band. The sixt is of nine verses, rare but very graue. The seuenth proportion is of tenne verses, very stately, but in many mens opinion too long; neuerthelesse of very good grace & much grauitie. Of eleuen and twelue I find none ordinary staues vsed in any vulgar language, neither doth it serue well to continue any historicall report and ballade or other song, but is a dittie of it self, and no staffe; yet some moderne writers haue vsed it, but very seldome. Then last of all haue ye a proportion to be vsed in the number of your staues, as to a caroll and a ballade, to a song, & a round, or virelay. For to an historicall poeme no certain number is limited, but as the matter fals out: also a distick or couple of verses is not to be accompted a staffe, but serues for a continuance, as we see in Elegie, Epitaph, Epigramme, or such meetres, of plaine concord, not harmonically entertangled as some other songs of more delicate musick be.
A staffe of fiue verses is not much vsed, because he that can not comprehend his periode in foure verses will rather driue it into six then leaue it in fiue, for that the euen number is more agreable to the eare then the odde is.
A staffe of seuen verses, most vsuall with our auncient makers, also the staffe of eight, nine, and ten of larger complement then the rest, are onely vsed by the later makers, &, vnlesse they go with very good bande, do not so well as the inferiour staues. Therefore, if ye make your staffe of eight by two fowers not entertangled, it is not a huitaine or a staffe of eight, but two quadreins: so is it in ten verses; not being entertangled, they be but two staues of fiue.
Meeter and measure is all one, for what the Greeks call [metron], the Latines call Mensura, and is but the quantitie of a verse, either long or short. This quantitie with them consisteth in the number of their feete: & with vs in the number of sillables, which are comprehended in euery verse, not regarding his feete, otherwise then that we allow, in scanning our verse, two sillables to make one short portion (suppose it a foote) in euery verse. And after that sort ye may say we haue feete in our vulgare rymes, but that is improperly; for a foote by his sence naturall is a member of office and function, and serueth to three purposes, that is to say, to go, to runne, & to stand still; so as he must be sometimes swift, sometimes slow, sometime vnegally marching or peraduenture steddy. And if our feete Poeticall want these qualities it can not be sayd a foote in sence translatiue as here. And this commeth to passe, by reason of the euident motion and stirre which is perceiued in the sounding of our wordes not alwayes egall, for some aske longer, some shorter time to be vttered in, & so, by the Philosophers definition, stirre is the true measure of time. The Greekes & Latines, because their wordes hapned to be of many sillables, and very few of one sillable, it fell out right with them to conceiue and also to perceiue a notable diuersitie of motion and times in the pronuntiation of their wordes, and therefore to euery bissillable they allowed two times, & to a trissillable three times, & to euery polisillable more, according to his quantitie, & their times were some long, some short, according as their motions were slow or swift. For the sound of some sillable stayd the eare a great while, and others slid away so quickly, as if they had not bene pronounced; then euery sillable being allowed one time, either short or long, it fell out that euery tetrasillable had foure times, euery trissillable three, and the bissillable two, by which obseruation euery word, not vnder that sise, as he ranne or stood in a verse, was called by them a foote of such and so many times, namely the bissillable was either of two long times, as the spondeus, or two short, as the pir[ri]chius, or of a long & a short as the trocheus, or of a short and a long as the iambus; the like rule did they set vpon the word trissillable, calling him a foote of three times, as the dactilus of a long and two short, the molossus of three long, the tribracchus of three short, the amphibracchus of two long and a short, the amphimacer of two short and a long. The word of foure sillables they called a foote of foure times, some or all of them, either long or short: and yet, not so content, they mounted higher, and, because their wordes serued well thereto, they made feete of sixe times; but this proceeded more of curiositie then otherwise, for whatsoeuer foote passe the trissillable is compounded of his inferiour, as euery number Arithmeticall aboue three is compounded of the inferiour number, as twise two make foure, but the three is made of one number, videl. of two and an vnitie. Now because our naturall & primitiue language of the Saxon English beares not any wordes (at least very few) of moe sillables then one (for whatsoeuer we see exceede commeth to vs by the alterations of our language growen vpon many conquestes and otherwise), there could be no such obseruation of times in the sound of our wordes, & for that cause we could not haue the feete which the Greeks and Latines haue in their meetres. But of this stirre & motion of their deuised feete nothing can better shew the qualitie then these runners at common games, who setting forth from the first goale, one giueth the start speedely, & perhaps before he come half way to thother goale decayeth his pace, as a man weary & fainting; another is slow at the start, but by amending his pace keepes euen with his fellow or perchance gets before him; another one while gets ground, another while loseth it again, either in the beginning or middle of his race, and so proceedes vnegally, sometimes swift, somtimes slow, as his breath or forces serue him; another sort there be that plod on & will neuer change their pace, whether they win or lose the game: in this maner doth the Greeke dactilus begin slowly and keepe on swifter till thend, for his race being deuided into three parts, he spends one, & that is the first slowly, the other twaine swiftly; the anapestus his first two parts swiftly, his last slowly: the Molossus spends all three parts of his race slowly and egally; Bacchius his first part swiftly, & two last parts slowly; the tribrachus all his three parts swiftly; the antibacchius his two first partes slowly, his last & third swiftly; the amphimacer his first & last part slowly & his middle part swiftly; the amphibracus his first and last parts swiftly, but his midle part slowly, & so of others by like proportion. This was a pretie phantasticall obseruation of them, and yet brought their meetres to haue a maruelous good grace, which was in Greeke called [rihmos]; whence we haue deriued this word ryme, but improperly & not wel, because we haue no such feete or times or stirres in our meeters, by whose simpathie, or pleasant conueniencie with theare, we could take any delight: this rithmus of theirs is not therfore our rime, but a certaine musicall numerositie in vtterance, and not a bare number as that of the Arithmeticall computation is, which therefore is not called rithmus but arithmus. Take this away from them, I meane the running of their feete, there is nothing of curiositie among them more then with vs, nor yet so much.
CHAP. IV.1 How Many Sorts of Measures We Vse in Our Vulgar.
To returne from rime to our measure againe, it hath bene sayd that, according to the number of the sillables contained in euery verse, the same is sayd a long or short meeter, and his shortest proportion is of foure sillables, and his longest of twelue; they that vse it aboue passe the bounds of good proportion. And euery meeter may be aswel in the odde as in the euen sillable, but better in the euen, and one verse may begin in the euen, & another follow in the odde, and so keepe a commendable proportion. The verse that containeth but two silables, which may be in one word, is not vsuall: therefore many do deny him to be a verse, saying that it is but a foot, and that a meeter can haue no lesse then two feete at the least; but I find it otherwise, aswell among the best Italian Poets as also with our vulgar makers, and that two sillables serue wel for a short measure in the first place, and midle, and end of a staffe, and also in diuerse scituations and by sundry distances, and is very passionate and of good grace, as shalbe declared more at large in the Chapter of proportion by scituation.
The next measure is of two feete or of foure sillables, and then one word tetrasillable diuided in the middest makes vp the whole meeter, as thus Rurntli; or a trisillable and one monosillable, thus, Soueraine God; or two bisillables, and that is plesant, thus, Restore againe; or with foure monosillables, and that is best of all, thus, When I doe thinke. I finde no fauour in a meetre of three sillables, nor in effect in any odde; but they may be vsed for varietie sake, and specially, being enterlaced with others, the meetre of six sillables is very sweete and delicate, as thus,
The meter of seuen sillables is not vsual, no more is that of nine and eleuen; yet if they be well composed, that is, their Cesure well appointed, and their last accent which makes the concord, they are commendable inough, as in this ditty, where one verse is of eight, an other is of seuen, and in the one the accent vpon the last, in the other vpon the last saue on.
And all the reason why these meeters in all sillable are alowable is, for that the sharpe accent falles vpon the penultima or last saue one sillable of the verse, which doth so drowne the last, as he seemeth to passe away in maner vnpronounced, & so make the verse seeme euen: but if the accent fall vpon the last and leaue two flat to finish the verse, it will not seeme so; for the odnes will more notoriously appeare, as for example in the last verse before recited, Not loue, but still be sweruing, say thus, Loue it is a maruelous thing. Both verses be of egall quantitie, vidz. seauen sillables a peece, and yet the first seemes shorter then the later, who shewes a more odnesse then the former by reason of his sharpe accent which is vpon the last sillable, and makes him more audible then if he had slid away with a flat accent, as the word swéruing.
Your ordinarie rimers vse very much their measures in the odde, as nine and eleuen, and the sharpe accent vpon the last sillable, which therefore makes him go ill fauouredly and like a minstrels musicke. Thus sayd one in a meeter of eleven very harshly in mine eare, whether it be for lacke of good rime or of good reason, or of both I wot not.
Now sucke childe and sleepe childe, thy mothers owne ioy,
This meeter of twelue sillables the French man calleth a verse Alexandrine, and is with our moderne rimers most vsuall; with the auncient makers it was not so. For before Sir Thomas Wiats time they were not vsed in our vulgar; they be for graue and stately matters fitter than for any other ditty of pleasure. Some makers write in verses of foureteene sillables, giuing the Cesure at the first eight; which proportion is tedious, for the length of the verse kepeth the eare too long from his delight, which is to heare the cadence or the tuneable accent in the ende of the verse. Neuerthelesse that of twelue, if his Cesure be iust in the middle, and that ye suffer him to runne at full length, and do not as the common rimers do, or their Printer for sparing of paper, cut them of in the middest, wherin they make in two verses but halfe rime, they do very wel, as wrote the Earle of Surrey, translating the booke of the preacher,
This verse is a very good Alexandrine, but perchaunce woulde haue sounded more musically if the first word had bene a dissillable or two monosillables, and not a trissillable: hauing his sharpe accent vppon the Antepenultima as it hath, by which occasion it runnes like a Dactill, and carries the two later sillables away so speedily as it seemes but one foote in our vulgar measure, and by that meanes makes the verse seeme but of eleuen sillables, which odnesse is nothing pleasant to the eare. Iudge some body whether it would haue done better if it might haue bene sayd thus,
Robóham Dauids sonne, king of Ierusalem,
letting the sharpe accent fall vpon bo; or thus,
Restóre king Dáuids sónne vntó Ierúsalém.
For now the sharpe accent falles vpon bo, and so doth it vpon the last in restóre, which was not in thother verse. But because we haue seemed to make mention of Cesure, and to appoint his place in euery measure, it shall not be amisse to say somewhat more of it, & also of such pauses as are vsed in vtterance, and what commoditie or delectation they bring either to the speakers or to the hearers.
There is no greater difference betwixt a ciuill and brutish vtteraunce then cleare distinction of voices; and the most laudable languages are alwaies most plaine and distinct, and the barbarous most confuse and indistinct: it is therefore requisit that leasure be taken in pronuntiation, such as may make our wordes plaine & most audible and agreable to the eare; also the breath asketh to be now and then releeued with some pause or stay more or lesse; besides that the very nature of speach (because it goeth by clauses of seuerall construction & sence) requireth some space betwixt them with intermission of sound, to thend they may not huddle one vpon another so rudly & so fast that theare may not perceiue their difference. For these respectes the auncient reformers of language inuented three maner of pauses, one of lesse leasure then another, and such seuerall intermissions of sound to serue (besides easment to the breath) for a treble distinction of sentences or parts of speach, as they happened to be more or lesse perfect in sence. The shortest pause or intermission they called comma, as who would say a peece of a speach cut of. The second they called colon, not a peece, but as it were a member for his larger length, because it occupied twise as much time as the comma. The third they called periodus, for a complement or full pause, and as a resting place and perfection of so much former speach as had bene vttered, and from whence they needed not to passe any further, vnles it were to renew more matter to enlarge the tale. This cannot be better represented then by example of these common trauailers by the hie ways, where they seeme to allow themselues three maner of staies or easements: one a horsebacke calling perchaunce for a cup of beere or wine, and, hauing dronken it vp, rides away and neuer lights; about noone he commeth to his Inne, & there baites him selfe and his horse an houre or more; at night, when he can conueniently trauaile no further, he taketh vp his lodging, and rests him selfe till the morrow; from whence he followeth the course of a further voyage, if his businesse be such. Euen so our Poet when he hath made one verse, hath as it were finished one dayes iourney, & the while easeth him selfe with one baite at the least, which is a Comma or Cesure in the mid way, if the verse be euen and not odde, otherwise in some other place, and not iust in the middle. If there be no Cesure at all, and the verse long, the lesse is the makers skill and hearers delight. Therefore in a verse of twelue sillables the Cesure ought to fall right vpon the sixt sillable; in a verse of eleuen vpon the sixt also, leauing fiue to follow. In a verse of ten vpon the fourth, leaving sixe to follow. In a verse of nine vpon the fourth, leauing fiue to follow. In a verse of eight iust in the middest, that is, vpon the fourth. In a verse of seauen, either vpon the fourth or none at all, the meeter very ill brooking any pause. In a verse of sixe sillables and vnder is needefull no Cesure at all, because the breath asketh no reliefe: yet if ye giue any Comma, it is to make distinction of sense more then for any thing else; and such Cesure must neuer be made in the middest of any word, if it be well appointed. So may you see that the vse of these pawses or distinctions is not generally with the vulgar Poet as it is with the Prose writer, because the Poetes cheife Musicke lying in his rime or concorde to heare the Simphonie, he maketh all the hast he can to be at an end of his verse, and delights not in many stayes by the way, and therefore giueth but one Cesure to any verse: and thus much for the sounding of a meetre. Neuerthelesse, he may vse in any verse both his comma, colon, and interrogatiue point, as well as in prose. But our auncient rymers, as Chaucer, Lydgate, & others, vsed these Cesures either very seldome, or not at all, or else very licentiously, and many times made their meetres (they called them riding ryme) of such vnshapely wordes as would allow no conuenient Cesure, and therefore did let their rymes runne out at length, and neuer stayd till they came to the end: which maner though it were not to be misliked in some sort of meetre, yet in euery long verse the Cesure ought to be kept precisely, if it were but to serue as a law to correct the licentiousnesse of rymers, besides that it pleaseth the eare better, & sheweth more cunning in the maker by following the rule of his restraint. For a rymer that will be tyed to no rules at all, but range as he list, may easily vtter what he will: but such maner of Poesie is called, in our vulgar, ryme dogrell, with which rebuke we will in no case our maker should be touched. Therfore before all other things let his ryme and concordes be true, cleare, and audible, with no lesse delight then almost the strayned note of a Musicians mouth, and not darke or wrenched by wrong writing, as many doe to patch vp their meetres, and so follow in their arte neither rule, reason, nor ryme. Much more might be sayd for the vse of your three pauses, comma, colon, & periode, for perchance it be not all a matter to vse many commas, and few, nor colons likewise, or long or short periodes for it is diuersly vsed by diuers good writers. But because it apperteineth more to the oratour or writer in prose then in verse, I will say no more in it then thus, that they be vsed for a commodious and sensible distinction of clauses in prose, since euery verse is as it were a clause of it selfe, and limited with a Cesure howsoeuer the sence beare, perfect or imperfect, which difference is obseruable betwixt the prose and the meeter.
CHAP. VI. Of Proportion in Concord, Called Symphonie or Rime.
Because we vse the word rime (though by maner of abusion), yet to helpe that fault againe we apply it in our vulgar Poesie another way very commendably & curiously. For wanting the currantnesse of the Greeke and Latine feete, in stead thereof we make in th ends of our verses a certaine tunable sound: which anon after with another verse reasonably distant we accord together in the last fall or cadence, the eare taking pleasure to heare the like tune reported and to feel his returne. And for this purpose serue the monosillables of our English Saxons excellently well, because they do naturally and indifferently receiue any accent, & in them, if they finish the verse, resteth the shrill accent of necessitie, and so doth it not in the last of euery bissillable, nor of euery polisillable word. But to the purpose, ryme is a borrowed word from the Greeks by the Latines and French, from them by vs Saxon angles, and by abusion as hath bene sayd, and therefore it shall not do amisse to tell what this rithmos was with the Greekes, for what is it with vs hath bene already sayd. There is an accomptable number which we call arithmeticall (arithmos) as one. two. three. There is also a musicall or audible number, fashioned by stirring of tunes & their sundry times in the vtterance of our wordes, as when the voice goeth high or low, or sharpe or flat, or swift or slow: & this is called rithmos or numerositie, that is to say, a certaine flowing vtteraunce by slipper words and sillables, such as the toung easily vtters, and the eare with pleasure receiueth, and which flowing of words with much volubilitie smoothly proceeding from the mouth is in some sort harmonicall and breedeth to theare a great compassion. This point grew by the smooth and delicate running of their feete, which we haue not in our vulgare, though we vse as much as may be the most flowing words & slippery sillables that we can picke out: yet do not we call that by the name of ryme, as the Greekes did, but do giue the name of ryme onely to our concordes, or tunable consentes in the latter end of our verses, and which concordes the Greekes nor Latines neuer vsed in their Poesie till by the barbarous souldiers out of the campe it was brought into the Court and thence to the schoole, as hath bene before remembred; and yet the Greekes and Latines both vsed a maner of speach by clauses of like termination, which they called [homoeoteleuton], and was the nearest that they approched to our ryme, but is not our right concord; so as we in abusing this terme (ryme) be neuerthelesse excusable applying it to another point in Poesie no lesse curious then their rithme or numerositie, which in deede passed the whole verse throughout, whereas our concordes keepe but the latter end of euery verse, or perchaunce the middle and the end in meetres that be long.
CHAP. VII. Of Accent, Time, and Stir Perceiued Euidently in the Distinction of Mans Voice, and Which Makes the Flowing of a Meeter.
Nowe because we haue spoken of accent, time, and stirre or motion in wordes, we will set you downe more at large what they be. The auncient Greekes and Latines by reason their speech fell out originally to be fashioned with words of many sillables for the most part, it was of necessity that they could not vtter euery sillable with one like and egall sounde, nor in like space of time, nor with like motion or agility, but that one must be more suddenly and quickely forsaken, or longer pawsed vpon then another, or sounded with a higher note & clearer voyce then another; and of necessitie this diuersitie of sound must fall either vpon the last sillable, or vpon the last saue one, or vpon the third, and could not reach higher to make any notable difference. It caused them to giue vnto three different sounds three seuerall names: to that which was highest lift vp and most eleuate or shrillest in the eare they gaue the name of the sharpe accent; to the lowest and most base, because it seemed to fall downe rather then to rise vp, they gaue the name of the heauy accent; and that other which seemed in part to lift vp and in part to fall downe they called the circumflex, or compast accent, and, if new termes were not odious, we might very properly call him the windabout, for so is the Greek word. Then bycause euery thing that by nature fals down is said heauy, & whatsoeuer naturally mounts vpward is said light, it gaue occasion to say that there were diuersities in the motion of the voice, as swift & slow, which motion also presupposes time, bycause time is mensura motus by the Philosopher. So haue you the causes of their primitiue inuention and vse in our arte of Poesie. All this by good obseruation we may perceiue in our vulgar wordes if they be of mo sillables then one, but specially if they be trissillables; as, for example, in these wordes altitude and heauinesse the sharpe accent falles vpon al & he which be the antepenultimaes, the other two fall away speedily as if they were scarse sounded; in this trissilable forsaken the sharp accent fals vpon sa, which is the penultima, and in the other two is heauie and obscure. Againe, in these bissillables, endúre, vnsúre, demúre, aspíre, desíre, retíre, your sharpe accent falles vpon the last sillable; but in words monosillable, which be for the more part our naturall Saxon English, the accent is indifferent, and may be vsed for sharp or flat and heauy at our pleasure. I say Saxon English, for our Normane English alloweth vs very many bissillables, and also trissillables, as, reuerence, diligence, amorous, desirous, and such like.
CHAP. VIII. Of Your Cadences by Which Your Meeter Is Made Symphonicall, When They Be Sweetest and Most Solemne in a Verse.
As the smoothnesse of your words and sillables running vpon feete of sundrie quantities make with the Greekes and Latines the body of their verses numerous or Rithmicall, so in our vulgar Poesie, and of all other nations at this day, your verses answering eche other by couples, or at larger distances in good cadence, is it that maketh your meeter symphonicall. This cadence is the fal of a verse in euery last word with a certaine tunable sound, which, being matched with another of like sound, do make a concord. And the whole cadence is contained sometime in one sillable, sometime in two, or in three at the most: for aboue the antepenultima there reacheth no accent (which is chiefe cause of the cadence), vnlesse it be vsurpation in some English words, to which we giue a sharpe accent vpon the fourth, as Hónorable, mátrimonie, pátrimonie, míserable, and such other as would neither make a sweete cadence, nor easily find any word of like quantitie to match them. And the accented sillable with all the rest vnder him make the cadence, and no sillable aboue, as in these words, Agíllitie, facíllitie, subiéction, diréction, and these bissilables, Ténder, slénder, trústie, lústie; but alwayes the cadence which falleth vpon the last sillable of a verse is sweetest and most commendable; that vpon the penultima more light, and not so pleasant; but falling vpon the antepenultima is most vnpleasant of all, because they make your meeter too light and triuiall, and are fitter for the Epigrammatist or Comicall Poet then for the Lyrick and Elegiack, which are accompted the sweeter Musickes. But though we haue sayd that (to make good concord) your seuerall verses should haue their cadences like, yet must there be some difference in their orthographie, though not in their sound, as if one cadence be constraíne, the next restraíne, or one aspíre, another respíre, this maketh no good concord, because they are all one; but if ye will exchange both these consonants of the accented sillable, or voyde but one of them away, then will your cadences be good and your concord to, as to say, restraine, refraine, remaine; aspire, desire, retire; which rule neuerthelesse is not well obserued by many makers, for lacke of good iudgement and delicate eare. And this may suffise to shew the vse and nature of your cadences, which are in effect all the sweetnesse and cunning in our vulgar Poesie.
CHAP. IX. How the Good Maker Will Not Wrench His Word to Helpe His Rime, Either by Falsifying His Accent, or by Vntrue Orthographie.
Now there can not be in a maker a fowler fault then to falsifie his accent to serue his cadence, or by vntrue orthographie to wrench his words to helpe his rime, for it is a signe that such a maker is not copious in his owne language, or (as they are wont to say) not halfe his crafts maister: as for example, if one should rime to this word Restore, he may not match him with Doore or Poore, for neither of both are of like terminant, either by good orthography or in naturall sound, therfore such rime is strained; so is it to this word Ram to say came, or to Beane, Den, for they sound not nor be written a like; & many other like cadences which were superfluous to recite, and are vsuall with rude rimers who obserue not precisely the rules of prosidie; neuerthelesse in all such cases (if necessitie constrained) it is somewhat more tollerable to help the rime by false orthographie then to leaue an vnplesant dissonance to the eare by keeping trewe orthographie and loosing the rime, as for example it is better to rime Dore with Restore then his truer orthographie, which is Doore, and to this word Desire to say Fier then fyre, though it be otherwise better written fire. For since the cheife grace of our vulgar Poesie consisteth in the Symphonie, as hath bene already sayd, our maker must not be too licentious in his concords, but see that they go euen, iust, and melodious in the eare, and right so in the numerositie or currantnesse of the whole body of his verse, and in euery other of his proportions. For a licentious maker is in truth but a bungler and not a Poet. Such men were in effect the most part of all your old rimers, and specially Gower, who to make vp his rime would for the most part write his terminant sillable with false orthographie, and many times not sticke to put in a plaine French word for an English; & so, by your leaue, do many of our common rimers at this day, as he that by all likelyhood hauing no word at hand to rime to this word ioy, he made his other verse ende in Roy, saying very impudently thus,
O mightie Lord of loue, dame Venus onely ioy,
Who art the highest God of any heauenly Roy.
Which word was neuer yet receiued in our language for an English word. Such extreme licentiousnesse is vtterly to be banished from our schoole, and better it might haue bene borne with in old riming writers, bycause they liued in a barbarous age, & were graue morall men but very homely Poets, such also as made most of their workes by translation out of the Latine and French toung, & few or none of their owne engine, as may easely be knowen to them that list to looke vpon the Poemes of both languages.
Finally, as ye may ryme with wordes of all sortes, be they of many sillables or few, so neuerthelesse is there a choise by which to make your cadence (before remembred) most commendable, for some wordes of exceeding great length, which haue bene fetched from the Latine inkhorne or borrowed of strangers, the vse of them in ryme is nothing pleasant, sauing perchaunce to the common people, who reioyse much to be at playes and enterludes, and, besides their naturall ignoraunce, haue at all such times their eares so attentiue to the matter, and their eyes vpon the shewes of the stage, that they take little heede to the cunning of the rime, and therefore be as well satisfied with that which is grosse, as with any other finer and more delicate.
CHAP. X. Of Concorde in Long and Short Measures, and by Neare or Farre Distaunces, and Which of Them Is Most Commendable.
But this ye must obserue withall, that bycause your concordes containe the chief part of Musicke in your meetre, their distaunces may not be too wide or farre a sunder, lest theare should loose the tune and be defrauded of his delight; and whensoeuer ye see any maker vse large and extraordinary distaunces, ye must thinke he doth intende to shew himselfe more artificiall then popular, and yet therein is not to be discommended, for respects that shalbe remembred in some other place of this booke.
Note also that rime or concorde is not commendably vsed both in the end and middle of a verse, vnlesse it be in toyes and trifling Poesies, for it sheweth a certaine lightnesse either of the matter or of the makers head, albeit these common rimers vse it much, for, as I sayd before, like as the Symphonie in a verse of great length is, as it were, lost by looking after him, and yet may the meetre be very graue and stately, so on the other side doth the ouer busie and too speedy returne of one maner of tune too much annoy &, as it were, glut the eare, vnlesse it be in small & popular Musickes song by these Cantabanqui vpon benches and barrels heads, where they haue none other audience then boys or countrey fellowes that passe by them in the streete, or else by blind harpers or such like tauerne minstrels that giue a fit of mirth for a groat, & their matters being for the most part stories of old time, as the tale of Sir Topas, the reportes of Beuis of Southampton, Guy of Warwicke, Adam Bell, and Clymme of the Clough, & such other old Romances or historicall rimes, made purposely for recreation of the common people at Christmasse diners & brideales, and in tauernes & alehouses, and such other places of base resort; also they be vsed in Carols and rounds and such light or lasciuious Poemes, which are commonly more commodiously vttered by these buffons or vices in playes then by any other person. Such were the rimes of Skelton, vsurping the name of a Poet Laureat, being in deede but a rude rayling rimer & all his doings ridiculous: he vsed both short distaunces and short measures, pleasing onely the popular eare: in our courtly maker we banish them vtterly. Now also haue ye in euery song or ditty concorde by compasse & concorde entertangled and a mixt of both: what that is and how they be vsed shalbe declared in the chapter of proportion by scituation.
This proportion consisteth in placing of euery verse in a staffe or ditty by such reasonable distaunces as may best serue the eare for delight, and also to shew the Poets art and variety of Musick. And the proportion is double: one by marshalling the meetres, and limiting their distaunces, hauing regard to the rime or concorde how they go and returne; another by placing euery verse, hauing a regard to his measure and quantitie onely, and not to his concorde, as to set one short meetre to three long, or foure short and two long, or a short measure and a long, or of diuers lengthes with relation one to another, which maner of Situation, euen without respect of the rime, doth alter the nature of the Poesie, and make it either lighter or grauer, or more merry, or mournfull, and many wayes passionate to the eare and hart of the hearer, seeming for this point that our maker by his measures and concordes of sundry proportions doth counterfait the harmonicall tunes of the vocall and instrumentall Musickes. As the Dorien, because his falls, sallyes, and compasse be diuers from those of the Phrigien, the Phrygien likewise from the Lydien, and all three from the Eolien, Miolidien, and Ionien, mounting the falling from note to note such as be to them peculiar, and with more or lesse leasure or precip[it]ation; euen so by diuersitie of placing and scituation of your measures and concords, a short with a long, and by narrow or wide distances, or thicker or thinner bestowing of them, your proportions differ, and breedeth a variable and strange harmonie not onely in the eare, but also in the conceit of them that heare it; whereof this may be an ocular example.
Where ye see the concord or rime in the third distance, and the measure in the fourth, sixth, or second distaunces, whereof ye may deuise as many other as ye list, so the staffe be able to beare it. And I set you downe an occular example, because ye may the better conceiue it. Likewise it so falleth out most times your occular proportion doeth declare the nature of the audible; for if it please the eare well, the same represented by delineation to the view pleaseth the eye well, and e conuerso; and this is by a naturall simpathie, betweene the eare and the eye, and betweene tunes & colours, even as there is the like betweene the other sences and their obiects, of which it appeteineth not here to speake.
Now for the distances vsually obserued in our vulgar Poesie. They be in the first, second, third, and fourth verse, or, if the verse be very short, in the fift and sixt, and in some maner of Musickes farre aboue.
And the first distance for the most part goeth all by distick or couples of verses agreeing in one cadence, and do passe so speedily away and so often returne agayne, as their tunes are neuer lost nor out of the eare, one couple supplying another so nye and so suddenly: and this is the most vulgar proportion of distance or situation, such as vsed Chaucer in his Canterbury tales, and Gower in all his workes.
Third distaunce is when your rime falleth vpon the first and fourth verse, ouerleaping two: this maner is not so common, but pleasant and allowable inough. In which case the two verses ye leaue out are ready to receiue their concordes by the same distaunce or any other ye like better.
The fourth distaunce is by ouerskipping three verses and lighting upon the fift: this maner is rare and more artificiall then popular, vnlesse it be in some speciall case, as when the meetres be so little and short as they make no shew of any great delay before they returne. Ye shall haue example of both. And these ten litle meeters make but one Exameter at length.
There be also of the seuenth, eight, tenth, and twe[l]fth distance, but then they may not go thicke; but two or three such distances serue to proportion a whole song, and all betweene must be of other lesse distances, and these wide distaunces serue for coupling of staues, or for to declare high and passionate or graue matter, and also for art: Petrarch hath giuen vs examples hereof in his Canzoni, and we by lines of sundry lengths and distances, as followeth:
And all that can be obiected against this wide distance is to say that the eare by loosing his concord is not satisfied. So is in deede the rude and popular eare, but not the learned; and therefore the Poet must know to whose eare he maketh his rime, and accommodate himselfe thereto, and not giue such musicke to the rude and barbarous, as he would to the learned and delicate eare.
There is another sort of proportion vsed by Petrarche called the Seizino, not riming as other songs do, but by chusing sixe wordes out of which all the whole dittie is made, euery of those sixe commencing and ending his verse by course, which restraint to make the dittie sensible will try the makers cunning, as thus:
Besides all this there is in Situation of the concords two other points, one that it go by plaine and cleere compasse not intangled, another by enterweauing one with another by knots, or, as it were, by band, which is more or lesse busie and curious, all as the maker will double or redouble his rime or concords, and set his distances farre or nigh, of all which I will giue you ocular examples, as thus:
The staffe of seuen verses hath seuen proportions, whereof one onely is the vsuall of our vulgar, and kept by our old Poets Chaucer and other in their historicall reports and other ditties: as in the last part of them that follow next.
The staffe of nine verses hath yet moe then the eight, and the staffe of ten more then the ninth, and the twelfth, if such were allowable in ditties, more then any of them all, by reason of his largenesse receiuing moe compasses and enterweauings, alwayes considered that the very large distances be more artificiall then popularly pleasant, and yet do giue great grace and grauitie, and moue passion and affections more vehemently, as it is well to be obserued by Petrarcha his Canzoni.
Now ye may perceiue by these proportions before described, that there is a band to be giuen euery verse in a staffe, so as none fall out alone or vncoupled, and this band maketh that the staffe is sayd fast and not loose; euen as ye see in buildings of stone or bricke the mason giueth a band, that is a length to two breadths, & vpon necessitie diuers other sorts of bands to hold in the worke fast and maintaine the perpendicularitie of the wall: so, in any staffe of seuen or eight or more verses, the coupling of the moe meeters by rime or concord is the faster band, the fewer the looser band, and therfore in a huiteine he that putteth foure verses in one concord and foure in another concord, and in a dizaine fiue, sheweth him selfe more cunning, and also more copious in his owne language. For he that can find two words of concord can not find foure or fiue or sixe, vnlesse he haue his owne language at will. Sometime also ye are driuen of necessitie to close and make band more then ye would, left otherwise the staffe should fall asunder and seeme two staues: and this is in a staffe of eight and ten verses: whereas without a band in the middle, it would seeme two quadreins or two quintaines, which is an error that many makers slide away with. Yet Chaucer and others in the staffe of seuen and sixe do almost as much a misse, for they shut vp the staffe with a disticke, concording with none other verse that went before, and maketh but a loose rime, and yet, bycause of the double cadence in the last two verses, serue the eare well inough. And as there is in euery staffe band giuen to the verses by concord more or lesse busie, so is there in some cases a band giuen to euery staffe, and that is by one whole verse running alone throughout the ditty or ballade, either in the middle or end of euery staffe. The Greekes called such vncoupled verse Epimonie, the Latines Versus intercalaris. Now touching the situation of measures, there are as manie or more proportions of them which I referre to the makers phantasie and choise, contented with two or three ocular examples and no moe.
Which maner of proportion by situation of measures giueth more efficacie to the matter oftentimes then the concords them selues, and both proportions concurring together as they needes must, it is of much more beautie and force to the hearers mind.
To finish the learning of this diuision, I will set you downe one example of a dittie written extempore with this deuise, shewing not onely much promptnesse of wit in the maker, but also great arte and a notable memorie. Make me, saith this writer to one of the companie, so many strokes or lines with your pen as ye would haue your song containe verses; and let euery line beare his seuerall length, euen as ye would haue your verse of measure. Suppose of foure, fiue, sixe, or eight, or more sillables, and set a figure of euerie number at th end of the line, whereby ye may knowe his measure. Then where you will haue your rime or concord to fall, marke it with a compast stroke or semicircle passing ouer those lines, be they farre or neare in distance, as ye haue seene before described. And bycause ye shall not thinke the maker hath premeditated beforehand any such fashioned ditty, do ye your selfe make one verse, whether it be of perfect or imperfect sense, and giue it him for a theame to make all the rest vpon. If ye shall perceiue the maker do keepe the measures and rime as ye haue appointed him, and besides do make his dittie sensible and ensuant to the first verse in good reason, then may ye say he is his crafts maister. For, if he were not of a plentiful discourse, he could not vpon the sudden shape an entire dittie vpon your imperfect theame or proposition in one verse. And, if he were not copious in his language, he could not haue such store of wordes at commaundement as should supply your concords. And, if he were not of a maruelous good memory, he could not obserue the rime and measures after the distances of your limitation, keeping with all grauitie and good sense in the whole dittie.
Your last proportion is that of figure, so called for that it yelds an ocular representation, your meeters being by good symmetrie reduced into certaine Geometricall figures, whereby the maker is restrained to keepe him within his bounds, and sheweth not onely more art, but serueth also much better for briefenesse and subtiltie of deuice; and for the same respect are also fittest for the pretie amourets in Court to entertaine their seruants and the time withall, their delicate wits requiring some commendable exercise to keepe them from idlenesse. I find not of this proportion vsed by any of the Greeke or Latine Poets, or in any vulgar writer, sauing of that one forme which they cal Anacreons egge. But being in Italie conuersant with a certaine gentleman who had long trauailed the Orientall parts of the world and seene the Courts of the great Princes of China and Tartarie, I being very inquisitiue to know of the subtillities of those countreyes, and especially in matter of learning and of their vulgar Poesie, he told me that they are in all their inuentions most wittie, and haue the vse of Poesie or riming, but do not delight so much as we do in long tedious descriptions, and therefore when they will vtter any pretie conceit, they reduce it into metricall feet, and put it in forme of a Lozange or square, or such other figure; and so engrauen in gold, siluer, or iuorie, and sometimes with letters of ametist, rubie, emeralde, or topas curiousely cemented and peeced together, they sende them in chaines, bracelets, collars, and girdles to their mistresses to weare for a remembrance. Some fewe measures composed in this sort this gentleman gaue me, which I translated word for word, and as neere as I could followed both the phrase and the figure, which is somewhat hard to performe, because of the restraint of the figure from which ye may not digresse. At the beginning they wil seeme nothing pleasant to an English eare, but time and vsage wil make them acceptable inough, as it doth in all other new guises, be it for wearing of apparell or otherwise. The formes of your Geometricall figures be hereunder represented.
The Lozange is a most beautifull figure, & fit for this purpose, being in his kind a quadrangle reuerst, with his point vpward like to a quarrell of glasse. The Greekes and Latines both call it Rombus, which may be the cause, as I suppose, why they also gaue that name to the fish commonly called the Turbot, who beareth iustly that figure. It ought not to containe aboue thirteene or fifteene or one & twentie meetres, & the longest furnisheth the middle angle, the rest passe vpward and downward, still abating their lengthes by one or two sillables till they come to the point. The Fuzie is of the same nature but that he is sharper and slenderer. I will giue you an example or two of those which my Italian friend bestowed vpon me, which as neare as I could I translated into the same figure, obseruing the phrase of the Orientall speach word for word.
A great Emperor in Tartary whom they cal Can, for his good fortune in the wars & many notable conquests he had made, was surnamed Temir Cutzclewe. This man loued the Lady Kermesine, who presented him returning from the conquest of Corasoon (a great kingdom adioyning) with this Lozange made in letters of rubies & diamants entermingled thus:
The Triangle is an halfe square, Lozange, or Fuzie parted vpon the crosse angles; and so, his base being brode and his top narrow, it receaueth meetres of many sizes, one shorter then another: and ye may vse this figure standing or reuersed, as thus.
A certaine great Sultan of Persia called Ribuska, entertaynes in loue the Lady Selamour, sent her this triquet reue[r]st pitiously bemoning his estate, all set in merquetry, with letters of blew Saphire and Topas artificially cut and entermingled.
This condition seeming to Sultan Ribuska very hard to performe, and cruell to be enioyned him, doeth by another figure in Taper, signifying hope, answere the Lady Selamour, which dittie for lack of time I translate not.
The Taper is the longest and sharpest triangle that is, & while he mounts vpward he waxeth continually more slender, taking both his figure and name of the fire, whose flame, if ye marke it, is alwaies pointed, and naturally by his forme couets to clymbe: the Greekes call him Pyramis, of [pur]. The Latines, in use of Architecture, called him Obeliscus. It holdeth the altitude of six ordinary triangles, and in metrifying his base can not well be larger then a meetre of six; therefore in his altitude he wil require diuers rabates to hold so many sizes of meetres as shall serue for his composition, for neare the toppe there wilbe roome litle inough for a meetre of two sillables, and sometimes of one to finish the point. I haue set you downe one or two examples to try how ye can disgest the maner of the deuise.
The Piller is a figure among all the rest of the Geometricall most beawtifull, in respect that he is tall and vpright and of one bignesse from the bottom to the toppe. In Architecture he is considered with two accessarie parts, a pedestall or base, and a chapter or head; the body is the shaft. By this figure is signified stay, support, rest, state, and magnificence. Your dittie then being reduced into the forme of the Piller, his base will require to beare the brea[d]th of a meetre of six or seuen or eight sillables; the shaft of foure; the chapter egall with the base. Of this proportion I will giue you one or two examples, which may suffise.
The most excellent of all the figures Geometrical is the Round, for his many perfections. First, because he is euen & smooth, without any angle or interruption, most voluble and apt to turne, and to continue motion, which is the author of life: he conteyneth in him the commodious description of euery other figure, & for his ample capacitie doth resemble the world or vniuers, & for his indefinitenesse, hauing no speciall place of beginning nor end, beareth a similitude with God and eternitie. This figure hath three principall partes in his nature and vse much considerable: the circle, the beame, and the center. The circle is his largest compasse or circumference; the center is his middle and indiuisible point; the beame is a line stretching directly from the circle to the center, & contrariwise from the center to the circle. By this description our maker may fashion his meetre in Roundel, either with the circumference, and that is circlewise, or from the circumference, that is like a beame, or by the circumference, and that is ouerthwart and dyametrally from one side of the circle to the other.
A generall resemblance of the Roundell to God, the World, and the Queene
All and whole, and euer, and one,
Single, simple, eche where, alone,
These be counted, as Clerkes can tell,
True properties of the Roundell.
His still turning by consequence
And change doe breede both life and sence.
Time, measure of stirre and rest,
Is also by his course exprest.
How swift the circle stirre aboue,
His center point doeth neuer moue:
All things that euer were or be
Are closde in his concauitie.
And though he be still turnde and tost,
No roome there wants, nor none is lost.
The Roundell hath no bonch nor angle,
Which may his course stay or entangle.
The furthest part of all his spheare
Is equally both farre and neare.
So doth none other figure fare
Where natures chattels closed are:
And beyond his wide compasse
There is no body nor no place,
Nor any wit that comprehends
Where it begins, or where it ends:
And therefore all men doe agree,
That it purports eternitie.
God aboue the heauens so hie
Is this Roundell; in world the skie;
Vpon earth soe who beares the bell
Of maydes and Queenes is this Roundell:
All and whole and euer alone,
Single, sans peere, simple, and one.
A special and particular resemblance of her Maiestie to the Roundell.
The Square is of all other accompted the figure of most solliditie and stedfastnesse, and for his owne stay and firmitie requireth none other base then himselfe, and therefore as the Roundell or Spheare is appropriat to the heauens, the Spire to the element of the fire, the Triangle to the ayre, and the Lozange to the water, so is the Square for his inconcussable steadinesse likened to the earth, which perchaunce might be the reason that the Prince of Philosophers, in his first booke of the Ethicks, termeth a constant minded man euen egal and direct on all sides, and not easily ouerthrowne by euery litle aduersitie, hominem quadratum, a square man. Into this figure may ye reduce your ditties by vsing no moe verses then your verse is of sillables, which will make him fall out square; if ye go aboue it wil grow into the figure Trapezion, which is some portion longer then square. I neede not giue you any example, bycause in good arte all your ditties, Odes, & Epigrammes should keepe & not exceede the nomber of twelue verses, and the longest verse to be of twelue sillables & not aboue, but vnder that number as much as ye will.
This figure taketh his name of an egge, and also as it is thought his first origine, and is, as it were, a bastard or imperfect rounde declining toward a longitude, and yet keeping within one line for her periferie or compasse as the rounde; and it seemeth that he receiueth this forme not as an imperfection by any impediment vnnaturally hindring his rotunditie, but by the wisedome and prouidence of nature for the commoditie of generation, in such of her creatures as being not forth a liuely body (as do foure footed beasts), but in stead thereof a certaine quantitie of shapelesse matter contained in a vessell, which after it is sequestred from the dames body, receiueth life and perfection, as in the egges of birdes, fishes, and serpents: for the matter being of some quantitie, and to issue out at a narrow place, for the easie passage thereof it must of necessitie beare such shape as might not be sharpe and greeuous to passe, as an angle, nor so large or obtuse as might not essay some issue out with one part moe then other, as the rounde; therefore it must be slenderer in some part, & yet not without a rotunditie & smoothnesse to giue the rest an easie deliuerie. Such is the figure Ouall whom for his antiquitie, dignitie, and vse, I place among the rest of the figures to embellish our proportions: of this sort are diuers of Anacreons ditties, and those other of the Grecian Liricks who wrate wanton amorous deuises, to solace their witts with all; and many times they would (to giue it right shape of an egge) deuide a word in the midst, and peece out the next verse with the other halfe, as ye may see by perusing their meetres.2
Of the Deuice or Embleme, and that other which the Greekes call Anagramma, and we the Posie transposed.
And besides all the remembred points of Metricall proportion, ye haue yet two other sorts of some affinitie with them, which also first issued out of the Poets head, and whereof the Courtly maker was the principall artificer, hauing many high conceites and curious imaginations, with leasure inough to attend his idle inuentions: and these be the short, quicke, and sententious propositions, such as be at these dayes all your deuices of armes and other amorous inscriptions which courtiers vse to giue and also to weare in liuerie for the honour of their ladies, and commonly containe but two or three words of wittie sentence or secrete conceit till they [be] vnfolded or explaned by some interpretation. For which cause they be commonly accompanied with a figure or purtraict of ocular representation, the words so aptly corresponding to the subtilitie of the figure that aswel the eye is therwith recreated as the eare or the mind. The Greekes call it Emblema, the Italiens Impresa, and we, a Deuice, such as a man may put into letters of gold and sende to his mistresse for a token, or cause to be embrodered in scutchions of armes, or in any bordure of a rich garment to giue by his noueltie maruell to the beholder. Such were the figures and inscriptions the Romane Emperours gaue in their money and coignes of largesse, and in other great medailles of siluer and gold, as that of the Emperour Augustus, an arrow entangled by the fish Remora, with these words, Festina lente, signifying that celeritie is to be vsed with deliberation; all great enterprises being for the most part either ouerthrowen with hast or hindred by delay, in which case leasure in thaduice and speed in thexecution make a very good match for a glorious successe.
ThEmperour Heliogabalus, by his name alluding to the sunne, which in Greeke is Helios, gaue for his deuice, the clestial sunne, with these words Soli inuicto: the subtilitie lyeth in the word soli which hath a double sense, viz. to the Sunne, and to him onely.
We our selues attributing that most excellent figure, for his incomparable beauty and light, to the person of our Soueraigne lady, altring the mot, made it farre passe that of ThEmperour Heliogabalus both for subtilitie and multiplicitie of sense, thus, Soli nunquam deficienti, To her onely that neuer failes, viz. in bountie and munificence toward all hers that deserue, or else thus, To her onely whose glorie and good fortune may neuer decay or wane. And so it inureth as a wish by way of resemblaunce in Simile dissimile, which is also a subtillitie, likening her Maiestie to the Sunne for his brightnesse, but not to him for his passion, which is ordinarily to go to glade, and sometime to suffer eclypse.
King Edwarde the thirde, her Maiesties most noble progenitour, first founder of the famous order of the Garter, gaue this posie with it, Honi soit qui mal y pense, commonly thus Englished, Ill be to him that thinketh ill, but in mine opinion better thus, Dishonored be he who meanes vnhonorably. There can not be a more excellent deuise, nor that could containe larger intendment, nor greater subtilitie, nor (as a man may say) more vertue or Princely generositie. For first he did by it mildly & grauely reproue the peruers construction of such noble men in his court as imputed the kings wearing about his neck the garter of the lady with whom he danced to some amorous alliance betwixt them, which was not true. He also iustly defended his owne integritie, saued the noble womans good renowme, which by licentious speeches might haue bene empaired, and liberally recompenced her iniurie with an honor, such as none could haue bin deuised greater nor more glorious or permanent vpon her and all the posteritie of her house. It inureth also as a worthy lesson and discipline for all Princely personages, whose actions, imaginations, countenances and speeches should euermore correspond in all trueth and honorable simplicitie.
Charles the fift Emperour, euen in his yong yeares shewing his valour and honorable ambition, gaue for his new order the golden Fleece, vsurping it vpon Prince Iason and his Argonauts rich spoile brought from Cholcos. But for his deuice two pillers with this mot Plus vltra, as one not content to be restrained within the limits that Hercules had set for an vttermost bound to all his trauailes, viz. two pillers in the mouth of the straight Gibraltare, but would go furder: which came fortunately to passe, and whereof the good successe gaue great commendation to his deuice; for by the valiancy of his Captaines before he died he conquered great part of the west Indias, neuer knowen to Hercules or any of our world before.
In the same time (seeming that the heauens and starres had conspired to replenish the earth with Princes and gouernours of great courage and most famous conquerours) Selim, Emperour of Turkie, gaue for his deuice a croissant or new moone, promising to himself increase of glory and enlargement of empire til he had brought all Asia vnder his subiection, which he reasonably well accomplished. For in lesse then eight yeres which he raigned he conquered all Syria and Egypt, and layd it to his dominion. This deuice afterward was vsurped by Henry the second, French king, with this mot, Donec totum compleat orbem, till he be at his full; meaning it not so largely as did Selim, but onely that his friendes should knowe how vnable he was to do them good and to shew benificence vntil he attained the crowne of France, vnto which he aspired as next successour.
King Lewis the twelfth, a valiant and magnanimous prince, who because hee was on euery side enuironed with mightie neighbours, and most of them his enemies, to let them perceiue that they should not finde him vnable or vnfurnished (incase they should offer any vnlawfull hostillitie) of sufficient forces of his owne, aswell to offende as to defend, and to reuenge an iniurie as to repulse it, he gaue for his deuice the Porkespick with this posie, pres & loign, both farre and neare. For the Purpentines nature is, to such as stand aloofe, to dart her prickles from her, and if they come neare her, with the same as they sticke fast to wound them that hurt her.
But of late yeares in the ransacke of the Cities of Cartagena and S. Dominico in the West Indies, manfully put in execution by the prowesse of her Maiesties men, there was found a deuice made peraduenture without King Philips knowledge, wrought al in massiue copper, a king sitting on horsebacke vpon a monde or world, the horse prauncing forward with his forelegges as if he would leape of, with this inscription, Non sufficit orbis, meaning, as it is to be conceaued, that one whole world could not content him. This immeasurable ambition of the Spaniards, if her Maiestie by Gods prouidence had not with her forces prouidently stayed and retranched, no man knoweth what inconuenience might in time haue insued to all the Princes and common wealthes in Christendome, who haue founde them selues long annoyed with his excessiue greatnesse.
Atila, king of the Huns, inuading France with an army of 300000 fighting men, as it is reported, thinking vtterly to abbase the glory of the Romane Empire, gaue for his deuice of armes a sword with a firie point and these words, Ferro & flamma, with sword and fire. This very deuice, being as ye see onely accommodate to a king or conquerour and not a coillen or any meane souldier, a certaine base man of England, being knowen euen at that time a bricklayer or mason by his science, gaue for his crest: whom it had better become to beare a truell full of morter then a sword and fire, which is onely the reuenge of a Prince, and lieth not in any other mans abilitie to performe, vnlesse ye will allow it to euery poore knaue that is able to set fire on a thacht house. The heraldes ought to vse great discretion in such matters: for neither any rule of their arte doth warrant such absurdities, nor though such a coat or crest were gained by a prisoner taken in the field, or by a flag found in some ditch & neuer fought for (as many times happens), yet is it no more allowable then it were to beare the deuice of Tamerlan, an Emperour in Tartary, who gaue the lightning of heauen, with a posie in that language purporting these words, Ira Dei, which also appeared well to answer his fortune. For from a sturdie shepeheard he became a most mighty Emperour, and with his innumerable great armies desolated so many countreyes and people as he might iustly be called the wrath of God. It appeared also by his strange ende, for in the midst of his greatnesse and prosperitie he died sodainly, & left no child or kinred for a successour to so large an Empire, nor any memory after him more then of his great puissance and crueltie.
But that of the king of China in the fardest part of the Orient, though it be not so terrible, is no lesse admirable, & of much sharpnesse and good implication, worthy for the greatest king and conqueror: and it is, two strange serpents entertangled in their amorous congresse, the lesser creeping with his head into the greaters mouth, with words purporting ama & time, loue & feare. Which posie with maruellous much reason and subtillity implieth the dutie of euery subiect to his Prince, and of euery Prince to his subiect, and that without either of them both no subiect could be sayd entirely to performe his liegeance, nor the Prince his part of lawfull gouernement. For without feare and loue the soueraigne authority could not be vpholden, nor without iustice and mercy the Prince be renowmed and honored of his subiect. All which parts are discouered in this figure: loue by the serpents amorous entertangling; obedience and feare by putting the inferiours head into the others mouth hauing puissance to destroy. On thother side, iustice in the greater to prepare and manace death and destruction to offenders; and if he spare it, then betokeneth it mercie, and a grateful recompence of the loue and obedience which the soueraigne receaueth.
It is also worth the telling how the king vseth the same in pollicie; he giueth it in his ordinarie liueries to be worne in euery vpper garment of all his noblest men and greatest Magistrats & the rest of his officers and seruants, which are either embrodered vpon the breast and the back with siluer or gold or pearle or stone more or lesse richly, according to euery mans dignitie and calling, and they may not presume to be seene in publick without them, nor also in any place where by the kings commission they vse to sit in iustice, or any other publike affaire; wherby the king is highly both honored and serued, the common people retained in dutie and admiration of his greatnesse, the noblemen, magistrats, and officers euery one in his degree so much esteemed & reuerenced, as in their good and loyall seruice they want vnto their persons litle lesse honour for the kings sake then can be almost due or exhibited to the king him selfe.
I could not forbeare to adde this forraine example to accomplish our discourse touching deuices. For the beauty and gallantnesse of it, besides the subtillitie of the conceit, and princely pollicy in the vse, more exact then can be remembred in any other of any European Prince; whose deuises I will not say but many of them be loftie and ingenious, many of them louely and beautifull, many other ambitious and arrogant, and the chiefest of them terrible and ful of horror to the nature of man, but that any of them be comparable with it, for wit, vertue, grauitie, and if ye list brauerie, honour, and magnificence, not vsurping vpon the peculiars of the godsin my conceipt there is none to be found.
This may suffice for deuices, a terme which includes in his generality all those other, viz. liueries, cognizances, emblemes, enseigns, and impreses. For though the termes be diuers, the vse and intent is but one, whether they rest in colour or figure or both, or in word or in muet shew, and that is to insinuat some secret, wittie, morall, and braue purpose presented to the beholder, either to recreate his eye, or please his phantasie, or examine his iudgement, or occupie his braine, or to manage his will either by hope or by dread, euery of which respectes be of no litle moment to the interest and ornament of the ciuill life, and therefore giue them no little commendation. Then hauing produced so many worthy and wise founders of these deuices, and so many puissant patrons and protectours of them, I feare no reproch in this discourse, which otherwise the venimous appetite of enuie by detraction or scorne would peraduenture not sticke to offer me.
One other pretie conceit we will impart vnto you and then trouble you with no more, and is also borrowed primitiuely of the Poet, or courtly maker we may terme him, the posie transposed, or in one word a transpose, a thing if it be done for pastime and exercise of the wit without superstition commendable inough and a meete study for Ladies, neither bringing them any great gayne nor any great losse, vnlesse it be of idle time. They that vse it for pleasure is to breed one word out of another, not altering any letter nor the number of them, but onely transposing of the same, wherupon many times is produced some grateful newes or matter to them for whose pleasure and seruice it was intended: and bicause there is much difficultie in it, and altogether standeth upon hap hazard, it is compted for a courtly conceit no lesse then the deuice before remembred. Lycophron, one of the seuen Greeke Lyrickes who when they met together (as many times they did) for their excellencie and louely concorde were called the seuen starres, pleiades, this man was very perfit & fortunat in these transposes, & for his delicate wit and other good parts was greatly fauoured by Ptolome king of Egypt and Queene Arsinoe his wife. He after such sort called the king [apomelitos], which is letter for letter Ptolomaeus, and Queene Arsinoe he called [ion eras], which is Arsinoe: now the subtillitie lyeth not in the conuersion but in the sence, in this that Apomelitos, signifieth in Greek hony sweet, so was Ptolome the sweetest natured man in the world both for countenance and conditions, and Ioneras signifieth the violet or flower of Iuno, a stile among the Greekes for a woman endued with all bewtie and magnificence; which construction, falling out grateful and so truly, exceedingly well pleased the King and the Queene, and got Lycophron no litle thanke and benefite at both their hands.
The French Gentlemen haue very sharpe witts and withall a delicate language, which may very easily be wrested to any alteration of words sententious, and they of late yeares haue taken this pastime vp among them, many times gratifying their Ladies, and often times the Princes of the Realme, with some such thankfull noueltie. Whereof one made by François de Vallois thus De façon suis Roy, who in deede was of fashion, countenance, and stature, besides his regall vertues, a very king, for in a world there could not be seene a goodlier man of person. Another found this by Henry de Vallois, Roy de nulz hay, a king hated of no man, and was apparant in his conditions and nature, for there was not a Prince of greater affabilitie and mansuetude then he.
I my selfe seeing this conceit so well allowed of in Fraunce and Italie, and being informed that her Maiestie tooke pleasure sometimes in desciphring of names, and hearing how diuers Gentlemen of her Court had essayed but with no great felicitie to make some delectable transpose of her Maiesties name, I would needs try my luck, for cunning I [k]now not why I should call it, vnlesse it be for the many and variable applications of sence, which requireth peraduenture some wit & discretion more then of euery vnlearned man; and for the purpose I tooke me these three wordes (if any other in the world) containing in my conceit greatest mysterie, and most importing good to all them that now be aliue, vnder her noble gouernement,
Elissabet Anglorum Regina.
Which orthographie (because ye shall not be abused) is true & not mistaken, for the letter zeta of the Hebrewes & Greeke and of all other toungs is in truth but a double ss, hardly vttered, and H is but a note of aspiration onely and no letter, which therefore is by the Greeks omitted. Vpon the transposition I found this to redound:
Multa regnabis ense gloria.
By they sword shalt thou raigne in great renowne.
Then transposing the word ense it came to be
Multa regnabis sene gloria.
Aged and in much glorie shall ye raigne.
Both which resultes falling out vpon the very first marshalling of the letters, without any darknesse or difficultie, and so sensibly and well appropriat to her Maiesties person and estate, and finally so effectually to mine own wish (which is a matter of much moment in such cases), I took them both for a good boding, and very fatallitie to her Maiestie appointed by Gods prouidence for all our comfortes. Also I imputed it for no litle good luck and glorie to my selfe to haue pronounced to her so good and prosperous a fortune, and so thankefull newes to all England, which though it cannot be said by this euent any destinie or fatal necessitie, yet surely is it by all probabillitie of reason so likely to come to passe as any other worldly euent of things that be vncertaine, her Maiestie continuing the course of her most regal proceedings and vertuous life in all earnest zeale and godly contemplation of his word, & in the sincere administration of his terrene iustice, assigned ouer to her execution as his Lieutenant vpon earth within the compasse of her dominions.
This also is worth the noting, and I will assure you of it, that, after the first search whereupon this transpose was fashioned, the same letters being by me tossed & tranlaced fiue hundreth times, I could neuer make any other, at least of some sence & conformitie to her Maiesties estate and the case. If any other man by triall happen vpon a better omination, or what soeuer els ye will call it, I will reioyse to be ouermatched in my deuise, and renounce him all the thankes and profite of my trauaile.3
When I wrate of these deuices, I smiled with my selfe, thinking that the readers would do so to, and many of them say, that such trifles as these might well haue bene spared, considering the world is full inough of them, and that it is pitie mens heades should be fedde with such vanities as are to none edification nor instruction, either of morall vertue or otherwise behooffull for the common wealth, to whose seruice (say they) we are all borne, and not to fill and replenish a whole world full of idle toyes. To which sort of reprehendours, being either all holy and mortified to the world, and therefore esteeming nothing that sauoureth not of Theologie, or altogether graue and worldly, and therefore caring for nothing but matters of pollicie & discourses of estate, or all giuen to thrift and passing for none art that is not gainefull and lucratiue, as the sciences of the Law, Phisicke, and marchaundise: to these I will giue none other answere then referre them to the many trifling poemes of Homer, Ouid, Virgill, Catullus, and other notable writers of former ages, which were not of any grauitie or seriousnesse, and many of them full of impudicitie and ribaudrie, as are not these of ours, nor for any good in the world should haue bene; and yet those trifles are come from many former siecles vnto our times, vncontrolled or condemned or supprest by any Pope or Patriarch or other seuere censor of the ciuill maners of men, but haue bene in all ages permitted as the conuenient solaces and recreations of mans wit. And as I can not denie but these conceits of mine be trifles, no lesse in very deede be all the most serious studies of man, if we shall measure grauitie and lightnesse by the wise mans ballance, who, after he had considered of all the profoundest artes and studies among men, in thende cryed out with this Epyphoneme, Vanitas vanitatum & omnia vanitas. Whose authoritie if it were not sufficient to make me beleeue so, I could be content with Democritus rather to condemne the vanities of our life by derision then as Heraclitus with teares, saying with that merrie Greeke thus,
Omnia sunt risus, sunt puluis, & omnia nil sunt.
Res hominum cunctae, nam ratione carent.
All is but a iest, all dust, all not worth two peason:
For why in mans matters is neither rime nor reason.
Now passing from these courtly trifles, let vs talke of our scholastical toyes, that is of the Grammaticall versifying of the Greeks and Latines, and see whether it might be reduced into our English arte or no.
CHAP. XIII. How If All Maner of Sodaine Innouations Were Not Very Scandalous, Specially in the Lawes of Any Langage or Arte, the Vse of the Greeke and Latine Feete Might Be Brought into Our Vulgar Poesie, and with Good Grace Inough.
Now neuerthelesse albeit we haue before alledged that our vulgar Saxon English standing most vpon wordes monosillable, and little vpon polysillables, doth hardly admit the vse of those fine inuented feete of the Greeks & Latines, and that for the most part wise and graue men doe naturally mislike with all sodaine innouations, specially of lawes (and this the law of our auncient English Poesie), and therefore lately before we imputed it to a nice & scholasticall curiositie in such makers as haue sought to bring into our vulgar Poesie some of the auncient feete, to wit the Dactile into verses exameters, as he that translated certaine bookes of Virgils Eneydos in such measures & not vncommendablyif I should now say otherwise, it would make me seeme contradictorie to my selfe: yet for the information of our yong makers, and pleasure of all others who be delighted in noueltie, and to thintent we may not seeme by ignorance or ouersight to omit any point of subtillitie, materiall or necessarie to our vulgar arte, we will in this present chapter & by our own idle obseruations shew how one may easily and commodiously lead all those feete of the auncients into our vulgar langage; and if mens eares were not perchaunce to daintie, or their iudgementes ouer partiall, would peraduenture nothing at all misbecome our arte, but make in our meetres a more pleasant numerositie then now is. Thus farre therefore we will aduenture and not beyond, to thintent to shew some singularitie in our arte that euery man hath not heretofore obserued, and (her maiesty good liking always had) whether we make the common readers to laugh or to lowre, all is a matter, since our intent is not so exactlie to prosecute the purpose, nor so earnestly, as to thinke it should by authority of our owne iudgement be generally applauded at to the discredit of our forefathers maner of vulgar Poesie, or to the alteration or peraduenture totall destruction of the same, which could not stand with any good discretion or curtesie in vs to attempt; but thus much I say, that by some leasurable trauell it were no hard matter to induce all their auncient feete into vse with vs, and that it should proue very agreable to the eare and well according with our ordinary times and pronunciation, which no man could then iustly mislike, and that is to allow euery word polisillable one long time of necessitie, which should be where his sharpe accent falls in our owne ydiome most aptly and naturally, wherein we would not follow the license of the Greeks and Latines, who made not their sharpe accent any necessary prolongation of their times, but vsed such sillable sometimes long, sometimes short, at their pleasure; the other sillables of any word where the sharpe accent fell not to be accompted of such time and quantitie as his ortographie would best beare, hauing regard to himselfe, or to his next neighbour word bounding him on either side, namely to the smoothnes & hardnesse of the sillable in his vtterance, which is occasioned altogether by his ortographie & scituation; as in this word dáyly the first sillable for his vsuall and sharpe accentes sake to be alwayes long, the second for his flat accents sake to be alwayes short, and the rather for his ortographie, bycause if he goe before another word commencing with a vowell not letting him to be eclipsed, his vtterance is easie & currant; in this trissillable dangrus the first to be long, thother two short for the same causes; in this word dngrosnsse the first & last to be both long, bycause they receiue both of them the sharpe accent, and the two middlemost to be short; in these words remedie & remedilesse the time to follow also the accent, so as if it please better to set the sharpe accent vpon re then vpon dye that sillable should be made long and e conuerso; but in this word remedilesse, bycause many like better to accent the sillable me then the sillable les, therfore I leaue him for a common sillable to be able to receiue both a long and a short time as occasion shall serue. The like law I set in these wordes reuocable, recouerable, irreuocable, irrecouerable, for sometime it sounds better to say rucbl then rucbl, rcurbl then rcurbl: for this one thing ye must alwayes marke that if your time fall either by reason of his sharpe accent or otherwise vpon the penultima, ye shal finde many other words to rime with him, bycause such terminations are not geazon, but if the long time fall vpon the antepenultima ye shall not finde many wordes to match him in his termination, which is the cause of his concord or rime, but if you would let your long time by his sharpe accent fall aboue the antepenultima, as to say curbl, ye shall seldome or perchance neuer find one to make vp rime with him, vnlesse it be badly and by abuse; and therefore in all such long polisillables ye doe commonly giue two sharpe accents, and thereby reduce him into two feete, as in this word rmnrtn which makes a couple of good dactils, and in this word cntrbtn which makes a good spondeus and a good dactill, and in this word recptltn it makes two dactills and a sillable ouerplus to annexe to the word precedent to helpe peece vp another foote. But for wordes monosillables (as be most of ours), because in pronouncing them they do of necessitie retaine a sharpe accent, ye may iustly allow them to be all long if they will so best serue your turne, and if they be tailed one to another, or thone to a disillable or polysillable, ye ought to allow them that time that best serues your purpose and pleaseth your eare most, and truliest aunsweres the nature of the ortographie, in which I would as neare as I could obserue and keepe the lawes of the Greeke and Latine versifiers, that is to prolong the sillable which is written with double consonants or by dipthong or with single consonants that run hard and harshly vpon the toung, and to shorten all sillables that stand vpon vowels, if there were no cause of elision, and single consonants & such of them as are most flowing and slipper vpon the toung, as n, r, t, d, l; and for this purpose to take away all aspirations, and many times the last consonant of a word, as the Latine Poetes vsed to do, specially Lucretius and Ennius, as to say finibu for finibus; and so would not I stick to say thus delite for delight, hye for high, and such like, & doth nothing at all impugne the rule I gaue before against the wresting of wordes by false ortographie to make vp rime, which may not be falsified. But this omission of letters in the middest of a meetre to make him the more slipper helpes the numerositie and hinders not the rime. But generally the shortning or prolonging of the monosillables dependes much vpon the nature of their ortographie, which the Latin Grammariens call the rule of position; as for example, if I shall say thus,
Nt mne days pst. Twentie dayes after.
This makes a good dactill and a good spondeus, but if ye turne them backward it would not do so, as
Many dayes, not past.
And the distick made all of monosillables:
Bt nne f s tre mn nd fre,
Could finde so great good lucke as he.
Which words serue well to make the verse all spondiacke or iambicke, but not in dactil, as other words or the same otherwise placed would do, for it were an ill-fauored dactil to say,
Bt nne f, s ll trwe.
Therefore whensoeuer your words will not make a smooth dactil, ye must alter them or their situations, or else turne them to other feete that may better beare their maner of sound and orthographie; or if the word be polysillable, to deuide him, and to make him serue by peeces, that he could not do whole and entierly. And no doubt by like consideration did the Greeke & Latine versifiers fashion all their feete at the first to be of sundry times, and the selfe same sillable to be sometime long and sometime short, for the eares better satisfaction, as hath bene before remembred.
Now also wheras I said before that our old Saxon English for his many monosillables did not naturally admit the vse of the ancient feete in our vulgar measures so aptly as in those languages which stood most vpon polisillables, I sayd it in a sort truly, but now I must recant and confesse that our Normane English which hath growen since William the Conquerour doth admit any of the auncient feete, by reason of the many polysillables, euen to sixe and seauen in one word, which we at this day vse in our most ordinarie language; and which corruption hath bene occasioned chiefly by the peeuish affectation not of the Normans them selues, but of clerks and scholers or secretaries long since, who, not content with the vsual Normane or Saxon word, would conuert the very Latine and Greeke word into vulgar French, as to say innumerable for innombrable, reuocable, irreuocable, irradiation, depopulation, & such like, which are not naturall Normas nor yet French, but altered Latines, and without any imitation at all; which therefore were long time despised for inkehorne termes, and now be reputed the best & most delicat of any other. Of which & many other causes of corruption of our speach we haue in another place more amply discoursed; but by this meane we may at this day very well receiue the auncient feete metricall of the Greeks and Latines, sauing those that be superflous, as be all the feete aboue the trisillable, which the old Grammarians idly inuented and distinguisht by speciall names, whereas in deede the same do stand compounded with the inferiour feete, and therefore some of them were called by the names of didactilus, dispondeus, and disiambus: all which feete, as I say, we may be allowed to vse with good discretion & precise choise of wordes and with the fauorable approbation of readers; and so shall our plat in this one point be larger and much surmount that which Stanihurst first tooke in hand by his exameters dactilicke and spondaicke in the translation of Virgills Eneidos, and such as for a great number of them my stomacke can hardly digest for the ill shapen sound of many of his wordes polisillable, and also his copulation of monosillables supplying the quantitie of a trissillable to his intent. And right so in promoting this deuise of ours, being (I feare me) much more nyce and affected, and therefore more misliked then his, we are to bespeake fauour, first of the delicate eares, then of the rigorous and seuere dispositions, lastly to craue pardon of the learned & auncient makers in our vulgar; for if we should seeke in euery point to egall our speach with the Greeke and Latin in their metricall obseruations it could not possible be by vs perfourmed, because their sillables came to be timed some of them long, some of them short, not by reason of any euident or apparant cause in writing or sounde remaining vpon one more then another, for many times they shortned the sillable of sharpe accent and made long that of the flat, & therefore we must needes say it was in many of their wordes done by preelection in the first Poetes, not hauing regard altogether to the ortographie and hardnesse or softnesse of a sillable, consonant, vowell, or dipthong, but at their pleasure, or as it fell out: so as he that first put in a verse this word Penelope, which might be Homer or some other of his antiquitie, where he made p in both places long and n and l short, he might haue made them otherwise and with as good reason, nothing in the world appearing that might moue them to make such preelection more in thone sillable then in the other, for pe, ne, and lo being sillables vocals be egally smoth and currant vpon the toung, and might beare aswel the long as the short time, but it pleased the Poet otherwise: so he that first shortned, ca in this word cano, and made long tro in troia, and o in oris, might haue aswell done the contrary, but because he that first put them into a verse found, as it is to be supposed, a more sweetnesse in his owne eare to haue them so tymed, therefore all other Poets who followed were fayne to doe the like, which made that Virgill, who came many yeares after the first reception of wordes in their seuerall times, was driuen of necessitie to accept them in such quantities as they were left him, and therefore said,
Neither truely doe I see any other reason in that lawe (though in other rules of shortning and prolonging a sillable there may be reason) but that it stands vpon bare tradition. Such as the Cabalists auouch in their mysticall constructions Theologicall and others, saying that they receaued the same from hand to hand from the first parent Adam, Abraham, and others; which I will giue them leaue alone both to say and beleeue for me, thinking rather that they haue bene the idle occupations or perchaunce the malitious and craftie constructions of the Talmudists and others of the Hebrue clerks, to bring the world into admiration of their lawes and Religion. Now peraduenture with vs Englishmen it be somewhat too late to admit a new inuention of feete and times that our forefathers neuer vsed nor neuer obserued till this day, either in their measures or in their pronuntiation, and perchaunce will seeme in vs a presumptuous part to attempt, considering also it would be hard to find many men to like of one mans choise in the limitation of times and quantities of words, with which not one but euery eare is to be pleased and made a particular iudge, being most truly sayd that a multitude or comminaltie is hard to please and easie to offend; and therefore I intend not to proceed any further in this curiositie then to shew some small subtillitie that any other hath not yet done, and not by imitation but by obseruation, nor to thintent to haue it put in execution in our vulgar Poesie, but to be pleasantly scanned vpon, as are all nouelties so friuolous and ridiculous as it.
CHAP. XIV. A More Particular Declaration of the Metricall Feete of the Ancient Poets Greeke and Latine, and Chiefly of the Feete of Two Times.
Their Grammarians made a great multitude of feete, I wot not to what huge number, and of so many sizes as their wordes were of length, namely sixe sizes; whereas, in deede, the metricall feete are but twelue in number, whereof foure only be of two times, and eight of three times, the rest compounds of the premised two sorts, euen as the Arithmeticall numbers aboue three are made of two and three. And if ye will know how many of these feete will be commodiously receiued with vs, I say all the whole twelue. For first for the foote spondeus of two long times, ye haue these English wordes mrnng, mdnght, mschunce, and a number moe whose ortographie may direct your iudgement in this point: for your trocheus of a long and short, ye haue these wordes mnr, brkn, tkn, bdi, mmbr, and a great many moe, if their last sillables abut not vpon the consonant in the beginning of another word, and in these, whether they do abut or no, wtte, dtte, srrw, mrrw, & such like, which end in a vowell. For your iambus of a short and a long, ye haue these wordes rstre, rmrse, dsre,ndre, and a thousand besides. For your foote pirrichius or of two short silables, ye haue these words mne, mny, pne, sli, and others of that constitution or the like. For your feete of three times, and first your dactill, ye haue these wordes & a number moe, ptnce, tmprnce, wmnhed, ilte, dungrus, detfll, and others. For your molossus of all three long, ye haue a member of wordes also, and specially most of your participles actiue, as prsstng, dspilng,ndntng, and such like in ortographie: for your anapestus of two short and a long, ye haue these words but not many moe, as mnfld, mnlsse, rmnnt, hlnsse. For your foote tribracchus of all three short, ye haue very few trissillables, because the sharpe accent will always make one of them long by pronunciation, which els would be by ortographie short, as mrly, minion, & such like. For your foote bacchius of a short & two long, ye haue these and the like words trissillables, lmntng, rqustng, rnoncng, rpntnce,nrng. For your foote antibacchius of two long and a short, ye haue these wordes, frskn,mpgnd and many others. For your amphimacer, that is a long, a short, and a long, ye haue these wordes and many moe, éxcellént,mnnt, and specially such as be proper names of persons or townes or other things, and namely Welsh wordes. For your foote amphibracchus of a short, a long, and a short, ye haue these wordes and many like to these, rsstd, dlghtfll, rprsll,nantr,nmll. So as for want of English wordes, if your eare be not to daintie and your rules to precise, ye neede not be without the metricall feete of the ancient Poets such as be most pertinent and not superfluous. This is (ye will perchaunce say) my singular opinion: then ye shall see how well I can maintaine it. First, the quantitie of a word comes either by preelection, without reason or force as hath bene alledged, and as the auncient Greekes and Latines did in many wordes, but not in all; or by election, with reason as they did in some, and not a few. And a sound is drawen at length either by the infirmitie of the toung, because the word or sillable is of such letters as hangs long in the palate or lippes ere he will come forth, or because he is accented and tuned hier and sharper then another, whereby he somewhat obscureth the other sillables in the same word that be not accented so highin both these cases we will establish our sillable long; contrariwise, the shortning of a sillable is when his sounde or accent happens to be heauy and flat, that is to fall away speedily and as it were inaudible, or when he is made of such letters as be by nature slipper & voluble and smoothly passe from the mouth. And the vowell is alwayes more easily deliuered then the consonant; and of consonants the liquide more then the mute, & a single consonant more then a double, and one more then twayne coupled together: all which points were obserued by the Greekes and Latines, and allowed for maximes in versifying. Now if ye will examine these foure bisillables, rmnnt, rmine, rndr, rnt, for an example by which ye may make a generall rule, and ye shall finde that they aunswere our first resolution. First in remnant, rem, bearing the sharpe accent and hauing his consonant abbut vpon another, soundes long. The sillable nant being written with two consonants must needs be accompted the same, besides that nant by his Latin originall is long, viz. remanns. Take this word remaine: because the last sillable beares the sharpe accent, he is long in the eare, and re, being the first sillable, passing obscurely away with a flat accent, is short, besides that re by his Latine originall and also by his ortographie is short. This word render bearing the sharp accent vpon ren makes it long; the sillable der, falling away swiftly and being also written with a single consonant or liquide, is short, and makes the trocheus. This word rnt hauing both sillables sliding and slipper make[s] the foote Pirrichius, because, if he be truly vttered, he beares in maner no sharper accent vpon the one then the other sillable, but he in effect egall in time and tune, as is also the Spondeus. And because they be not written with any hard or harsh consonants, I do allow them both for short sillables, or to be vsed for common, according as their situation and place with other words shall be. And as I haue named to you but onely foure words for an example, so may ye find out by diligent obseruation foure hundred if ye will. But of all your words bissillables the most part naturally do make the foote Iambus, many the Trocheus, fewer the Spondeus, fewest of all the Pirrichius, because in him the sharpe accent (if ye follow the rules of your accent, as we haue presupposed) doth make a litle oddes: and ye shall find verses made all of monosillables, and do very well, but lightly they be Iambickes, bycause for the more part the accent falles sharp vpon euery second word rather then contrariwise, as this of Sir Thomas Wiats,
I fnde n pece nd yt me wrre s dne,
I feare and hope, and burne and freese like ise.
And some verses where the sharpe accent falles vpon the first and third, and so make the verse wholly Trochaicke, as thus,
Worke not, no nor wish thy friend or foes harme;
Try, but trust not all that speake thee so faire.
And some verses make of monosillables and bissillables enterlaced, as this of thEarles,
When raging loue with extreme paine.
A fairer beast of fresher hue beheld I neuer none.
And some verses made all of bissillables, and others all of trissillables, and others of polisillables egally increasing and of diuers quantities and sundry situations, as in this of our owne, made to daunt the insolence of a beautifull woman,
Brittle beauty, blossome daily fading,
Morne, noon, and eue, in age and eke in eld,
Dangerous disdainefull, pleasantly perswading,
Easie to gripe but combrous to weld,
For slender bottome hard and heauy lading,
Gay for a while, but little while durable,
Suspicious, incertaine, irreuocable,
O since thou art by triall not to trust,
Wisedome it is, and it is also iust
To sound the stemme before the tree be feld,
That is, since death will driue vs all to dust,
To leaue thy loue ere that we be compeld.
In which ye haue your first verse all of bissillables and of the foot trocheus; the second all of monosillables, and all of the foote iambus; the third all of trissillables, and all of the foote dactilus; your fourth of one bissillable, and two monosillables interlarded; the fift of one monosillable and two bisillables enterlaced; and the rest of other sortes and scituations, some by degrees encreasing, some diminishing: which example I haue set downe to let you perceiue what pleasant numerosity in the measure and disposition of your words in a meetre by curious wits: & these with other like were the obseruations of the Greeke and Latine versifiers.
CHAP. XV. Of Your Feet of Three Times, and First of the Dactil.
Your feete of three times by prescription of the Latine Grammariens are of eight sundry proportions, for some notable difference appearing in euery sillable of three falling in a word of that size: but because aboue the antepenultima there was (among the Latines) none accent audible in any long word, therefore to deuise any foote of longer measure then of three times was to them but superfluous, because all aboue the number of three are but compounded of their inferiours. Omitting therefore to speake of these larger feete, we say that of all your feete of three times the Dactill is most vsuall and fit for our vulgar meeter, & most agreeable to the eare, specially if ye ouerlade not your verse with too many of them, but here and there enterlace a Iambus or some other foote of two times to giue him grauitie and stay, as in this quadrein Trimeter or of three measures.
Rndr gane me lbrte,
nd st yor cptue fre.
Glros s th vctre
Cnqururs se wth lnte.
Where ye see euery verse is all of a measure, and yet vnegall in number of sillables; for the second verse is but of sixe sillables, where the rest are of eight. But the reason is for that in three of the same verses are two Dactils a peece, which abridge two sillables in euery verse, and so maketh the longest euen with the shortest. Ye may note besides by the first verse, how much better some bissillable becommeth to peece out an other longer foote then another word doth; for in place of render if ye had sayd restore, it had marred the Dactil and of necessitie driuen him out at length to be a verse Iambic of foure feete, because render is naturally a Trocheus & makes the first two times of a Dactil. Restore is naturally a Iambus, & in this place could not possibly haue made a pleasant Dactil.
Now, againe, if ye will say to me that these two words libertie and conquerours be not precise Dactils by the Latine rule, so much will I confesse to, but since they go currant inough vpon the tongue, and be so vsually pronounced, they may passe wel inough for Dactils in our vulgar meeters; & that is inough for me, seeking but to fashion an art, & not to finish it: which time only & custom haue authoritie to do, specially in all cases of language, as the Poet hath wittily remembred in this verse,
The Earle of Surrey vpon the death of Sir Thomas Wiat made among other this versePentameter and of ten sillables,
What holy graue? alas, what sepulcher?
But if I had the making of him, he should haue bene of eleuen sillables and kept his measure of fiue still, and would so haue runne more pleasantly a great deale; for as he is now, though he be euen, he seemes odde and defectiue, for not well obseruing the natural accent of euery word; and this would haue bene soone holpen by inserting one monosillable in the middle of the verse, and drawing another sillable in the beginning into a Dactil, this word holy being a good Pirrichius and very well seruing the turne, thus,
Wht hle grue? ls, wht ft splchr?
Which verse if ye peruse throughout, ye shall finde him after the first Dactil all Trochaick & not Iambic, nor of any other foot of two times. But perchance if ye would seeme yet more curious, in place of these foure Trocheus ye might induce other feete of three times, as to make the three sillables next following the Dactil the foote Amphimacer, the last word sepulcher the foote Amphibracus, leauing the other midle word for a Iambus thus,
Wht hle grue? ls, wht ft splchr?
If ye aske me further why I make what first long & after short in one verse, to that I satisfied you before, that it is by reason of his accent sharpe in one place and flat in another, being a common monosillable, that is apt to receiue either accent, & so in the first place receiuing aptly the sharpe accent he is made long; afterward receiuing the flat accent more aptly then the sharpe, because the sillable precedent las vtterly distaines him, he is made short & not long, & that with very good melodie; but to haue giuen him the sharpe accent & plucked it from the sillable las it had bene to any mans eare a great discord: for euermore this word alas is accented vpon the last, & that lowdly & notoriously as appeareth by all our exclamations vsed vnder that terme. The same Earle of Surrey & Sir Thomas Wyat, the first reformers & polishers of our vulgar Poesie, much affecting the stile and measures of the Italian Petrarcha, vsed the foote dactil very often but not many in one verse, as in these,
Fll mne that in presence of thy luele hd.
Shed Caesars teares vpon Pmpis hd.
Thnme to life destroi er of all kinde.
If m rus faith in an hart vn fayned.
Myne old dere n my my froward master.
Th fr ous gone in his most ra ging ire.
And many moe which if ye would not allow for Dactils the verse would halt, vnlesse ye would seeme to helpe it contracting a sillable by vertue of the figure Syneresis, which I thinke was neuer their meaning, nor in deede would haue bred any pleasure to the eare, but hindred the flowing of the verse. Howsoeuer ye take it, the Dactil is commendable inough in our vulgar meetres, but most plausible of all when he is sounded vpon the stage, as in these comicall verses shewing how well it becommeth all noble men and great personages to be temperat and modest, yea more then any meaner man, thus:
Lt n nblte, rchs, r hrtge,
Hnur, r mpre, r erthle dmnn
Bred n yur hed nie peuish pnn
That y my sfr uuch ne utrge.
And in this distique taxing the Prelate symoniake, standing all vpon perfect Dactils,
But this aduertisement I will giue you withall, that if ye vse too many Dactils together ye make your musike too light and of no solemne grauitie such as the amorous Elegies in court naturally require, being alwaies either very dolefull or passionate as the affections of loue enforce, in which busines ye must make your choise of very few words dactilique, or them that ye can not refuse, to dissolue and breake them into other feete by such meanes as it shall be taught hereafter: but chiefly in your courtly ditties take heede ye vse not these maner of long polisillables, and specially that ye finish not your verse with them, as retribution, restitution, remuneration, recapitulation, and such like: for they smatch more the school of common players than of any delicate Poet, Lyricke or Elegiacke.
CHAP. XVI. Of All Your Other Feete of Three Times, and How Well They Would Fashion a Meetre in Our Vulgar.
All your other feete of three times I find no vse of them in our vulgar meeters nor no sweetenes at all, and yet words inough to serue their proportions. So as though they haue not hitherto bene made artificiall, yet nowe by more curious obseruation they might be, since all artes grew first by obseruation of natures proceedings and custome. And first your Molossus, being of all three long, is euidently discouered by this word prmttng; the Anapestus, of two short and a long, by this word frus, if the next word beginne with a consonant; the foote Bacchius, of a short and two long, by this word rsstnce; the foote Antibac[c]hius, of two long [and] a short, by this word cnqurng; the foote Amphimacer, of a long a short & a long, by this word cnqurng; the foote Amphibrachus, of a short a long and a short, by this word rmmbr, if a vowell follow. The foote Tribrachus, of three short times, is very hard to be made by any of our trissillables, vnles they be compounded of the smoothest sort of consonants or sillables vocals, or of three smooth monosillables, or of some peece of a long polysillable, & after that sort we may with wresting of words shape the foot Tribrachus rather by vsurpation then by rule, which neuertheles is allowed in euery primitiue arte & inuention: & so it was by the Greekes and Latines in their first versifying, as if a rule should be set downe that from henceforth these words should be counted al Tribrachus,nme, rmde, slns, mnls, pnls, crlle, & such like, or a peece of this long word rcurbl, innmrbl, redle, and others. Of all which manner of apt wordes to make these stranger feet of three times which go not so currant with our eare as the Dactil, the maker should haue a good iudgement to know them by their manner of orthographie and by their accent which serue most fitly for euery foote, or else he shoulde haue alwaies a little calender of them apart to vse readily when he shall neede them. But because in very truth I thinke them but vaine & superstitious obseruations nothing at all furthering the pleasant melody of our English meeter, I leaue to speake any more of them, and rather wish the continuance of our old maner of Poesie, scanning our verse by sillables rather than by feete, and vsing most commonly the word Iambique & sometime the Trochaike, which ye shall discerne by their accents, and now and then a Dactill, keeping precisely our symphony or rime without any other mincing measures, which an idle inuentiue head could easily deuise, as the former examples teach.
CHAP. XVII. Of Your Verses Perfect and Defectiue, and That Which the Graecians Called the Halfe Foote.
The Greekes and Latines vsed verses in the odde sillable of two sortes, which they called Catalecticke and Acatalecticke, that is odde vnder and odde ouer the iust measure of their verse, & we in our vulgar finde many of the like, and specially in the rimes of Sir Thomas Wiat, strained perchaunce out of their originall made first by Francis Petrarcha: as these,
Like vnto these immeasurable mountaines,
So is my painefull life the burden of ire:
For hie be they, and hie is my desire,
And I of teares and they are full of fountaines.
Where in your first, second, and fourth verse ye may find a sillable superfluous, and though in the first ye will seeme to helpe it by drawing these three sillables, m ms into a Dactil, in the rest it can not be so excused; wherefore we must thinke he did it of purpose, by the odde sillable to giue greater grace to his meetre; and we finde in our old rimes this odde sillable, sometime placed in the beginning and sometimes in the middle of a verse, and is allowed to go alone & to hang to any other sillable. But this odde sillable in our meetres is not the halfe foote as the Greekes and Latines vsed him in their verses, and called such measure pentimimeris and eptamimeris, but rather is that which they called the catalectik or maymed verse. Their hemimeris or halfe foote serued not by licence Poeticall or necessitie of words but to bewtifie and exornate the verse by placing one such halfe foote in the middle Cesure, & one other in the end of the verse, as they vsed all their pentameters elegiack, and not by coupling them together, but by accompt to make their verse of a iust measure and not defectiue or superflous: our odde sillable is not altogether of that nature, but is in a maner drownd and supprest by the flat accent, and shrinks away as it were inaudible, and by that meane the odde verse comes almost to be an euen in euery mans hearing. The halfe foote of the auncients was reserued purposely to an vse, and therefore they gaue such odde sillable, wheresoeuer he fell, the sharper accent, and made by him a notorious pause as in this pentameter,
Which in all make fiue whole feete, or the verse Pentameter. We in our vulgar haue not the vse of the like half foote.
CHAP. XVIII. Of the Breaking Your Bissillables and Polysillables, and When It Is to Be Vsed.
But whether ye suffer your sillable to receiue his quantitie by his accent, or by his ortography, or whether ye keepe your bissillable whole, or whether ye breake him, all is one to his quantitie, and his time will appeare the selfe same still, and ought not to be altered by our makers, vnlesse it be when such sillable is allowed to be common and to receiue any of both times, as in the dimeter, made of two sillables entier,
The first is a good spondeus, the second a good iambus; and if the same wordes be broken thus it is not so pleasant,
n x trame d sire.
And yet the first makes a iambus, and the second a trocheus ech sillable retayning still his former quantities.
And alwaies ye must haue regard to the sweetenes of the meetre, so as if your word polysillable would not sound pleasantly whole, ye should for the nonce breake him, which ye may easily doo by inserting here and there one monosillable among your polysillables, or by chaunging your word into another place then where he soundes vnpleasantly, and by breaking, turne a trocheus to a iambus, or contrariwise, as thus,
Hllw vllis ndr hst montanes;
Crgge clffes brng forth th farst fontanes.
These verses be trochaik, and in mine eare not so sweete and harmonicall as the iambicque, thus,
Th hllwst vls le ndr hst muntines;
Th crggst clfs brng frth th farst fontines.
All which verses bee now become iambicque by breaking the first bissillables, and yet alters not their quantities though the feete be altered: and thus,
And following this obseruation, your meetres being builded with polysillables will fall diuersly out, that is some to be spondaick, some iambick, others dactilick, others trochaick, and of one mingled with another, as in this verse,
Haue s th brdn of Prncs re.
The verse is trochaick, but being altered thus is iambicque,
Fll haue s th pise f Prncs re.
And as Sir Thomas Wiat song in a verse wholly trochaick, because the wordes do best shape to that foote by their naturall accent, thus,
Frewll lue nd ll the lwes fr ur.
And in this ditty of thErle of Surries, passing sweete and harmonicall, all be Iambick,
When raging loue with extreme paine
So cruelly doth straine my hart,
And that the teares like fluds of raine
Bear witnesse of my wofull smart.
Which beyng disposed otherwise or not broken, would proue all trochaick, but nothing pleasant.
Now furthermore ye are to note that al your monosyllables may receiue the sharp accent, but not so aptly one as another, as in this verse where they serue well to make him iambicque, but not trochaick,
Gd grant ths pece my lng ndre,
Where the sharpe accent falles more tunably vpon graunt, peace, long, dure, then it would by conuersion, as to accent them thus,
Gd grantths pecemy lngndre,
And yet if ye will aske me the reason, I can not tell it, but that it shapes so to myne eare, and as I thinke to euery other mans. And in this meeter where ye haue whole words bissillable vnbroken, that maintaine (by reason of their accent) sundry feete, yet going one with another be very harmonicall.
Where ye see one to be a Trocheus another the Iambus, and so entermingled not by election but by constraint of their seuerall accents, which ought not to be altred, yet comes it to passe that many times ye must of necessitie alter the accent of a sillable, and put him from his naturall place, and then one sillable of a word polysillable, or one word monosillable, will abide to be made sometimes long, sometimes short; as in this quadreyne of ours playd in a mery moode,
Gèue mé mìne ówne ànd whén I dó dèsíre,
Geue others theirs, and nothing that is mine,
Nòr gíue mè thát, wherto all men aspire
Then neither gold, nor faire women, nor wine.
Where in your first verse these two words, giue and me, are accented one high, thother low; in the third verse the same words are accented contrary: and the reason of this exchange is manifest, because the maker playes with these two clauses of sundry relations, giue me and giue others, so as the monosillable me, being respectiue to the word others, and inferring a subtilitie or wittie implication, ought not to haue the same accent as when he hath no such respect; as in this distik of ours,
Prue m (Madame) ere ye rprue;
Meeke minds should xcse not ccse.
In which verse ye see this word reprooue, the sillable prooue alters his sharpe accent into a flat, for naturally it is long in all his singles and compoundes reproòue, approòue, disproòue, & so is the sillable cuse in excuse, accuse, recuse, yet in these verses by reason one of them doth as it were nicke another, and haue a certaine extraordinary sence with all, it behoueth to remoue the sharpe accents from whence they are most naturall, to place them where the nicke may be more expresly discouered; and therefore in this verse where no such implication is, nor no relation, it is otherwise, as thus,
If ye rprue my constancie,
I will excse you curtesly.
For in this word reproòue, because there is no extraordinary sence to be inferred, he keepeth his sharpe accent vpon the sillable proòue, but in the former verses, because they seeme to encounter ech other, they do thereby merite an audible and pleasant alteration of their accents in those sillables that cause the subtiltie. Of these maner of nicetees ye shal finde in many places of our booke, but specially where we treate of ornament, vnto which we referre you, sauing that we thought good to set down one example more to solace your mindes with mirth after all these scholasticall preceptes, which can not but bring with them (specially to Courtiers) much tediousnesse, and so to end. In our Comedie intituled Ginecocratia the king was supposed to be a person very amorous and effeminate, and therefore most ruled his ordinary affaires by the aduise of women, either for the loue he bare to their persons or liking he had to their pleasant ready witts and vtterance. Comes me to the Court one Polemon, an honest plaine man of the country, but rich; and, hauing a suite to the king, met by chaunce with one Philino, a louer of wine and a merry companion in Court, and praied him in that he was a stranger that he would vouchsafe to tell him which way he were best to worke to get his suite, and who were most in credit and fauour about the king, that he might seeke to them to furder his attempt. Philino, perceyuing the plainnesse of the man, and that there would be some good done with him, told Polemon that if he would well consider him for his labor he would bring him where he should know the truth of all his demaundes by the sentence of the Oracle. Polemon gaue him twentie crownes; Philino brings him into a place where behind and arras cloth hee himselfe spake in manner of an Oracle in these meeters, for so did all the Sybils and sothsaiers in old times giue their answers.
Your best way to worke, and marke my words well,
Not money; nor many;
Nor any; but any;
Not weemen; but weemen beare the bell.
Polemon wist not what to make of this doubtful speach, &, not being lawfull to importune the oracle more then once in one matter, conceyued in his head the pleasanter construction, and stacke to it: and hauing at home a fayre young damsell of eighteene yeares old to his daughter, that could very well behaue her selfe in countenance & also in her language, apparelled her as gay as he could, and brought her to the Court, where Philino, harkning daily after the euent of this matter, met him, and recommended his daughter to the Lords, who perceiuing her great beauty and other good parts, brought her to the King, to whom she exhibited her fathers supplication, and found so great fauour in his eye, as without any long delay she obtained her sute at his hands. Polemon by the diligent solliciting of his daughter, wanne his purpose: Philino gat a good reward and vsed the matter so, as, howsoeuer the oracle had bene construed, he could not haue receiued blame nor discredit by the successe, for euery waies it would haue proued true, whether Polemons daughter had obtayned the sute, or not obtained it. And the subtiltie lay in the accent and Ortographie of these two wordes any and weemen, for any being deuided sounds a nie or neere person to the king, and weemen being diuided soundes wee men, and not weemen, and so by this meane Philino serued all turnes and shifted himselfe from blame; not vnlike the tale of the Rattlemouse who in the warres proclaimed betweene the foure footed beasts and the birdes, beyng sent for by the Lyon to be at his musters, excused himselfe for that he was a foule and flew with winges; and beyng sent for by the Eagle to serue him, sayd that he was a foure footed beast; and by that craftie cauill escaped the danger of the warres, and shunned the seruice of both Princes, and euer since sate at home by the fires side, eating vp the poore husbandmans baken, half lost for lacke of a good huswifes looking too.