G. Gregory Smith, ed. Elizabethan Critical Essays. 1904.
Gabriel Harvey (c. 15451630)
II. From A New Letter of Notable Contents 1593
Some I know in Cambridge, some in Oxford, some in London, some elsewhere, died in the purest graine of Art & Exercise; but a few in either, and not many in all, that vndoubtedly can do excellently well, exceedingly well. And were they thoroughly employed according to the possibility of their Learning & Industry, who can tell what comparison this tongue might wage with the most-floorishing Languages of Europe, or what an inestimable crop of most noble and soueraine fruite the hand of Art and the spirite of Emulation might reape in a rich and honorable field? Is not the Prose of Sir Philip Sidney in his sweet Arcadia the embrodery of finest Art and daintiest Witt? Or is not the Verse of M. Spencer in his braue Faery Queene the Virginall of the diuinest Muses and gentlest Graces? Both delicate Writers, alwayes gallant, often braue, continually delectable, sometimes admirable. What sweeter tast of Suada then the Prose of the One; or what pleasanter relish of the Muses then the Verse of the Other? Sir Iohn Cheekes stile was the hony-bee of Plato, and M. Aschams Period the Syren of Isocrates. His, and his breath, the balme and spicknard of the delightfullest Tempe. You may gesse whose meter I would intitle the harpe of Orpheus, or the dulcimers of Sappho. And which of the Golden Riuers floweth more currently then the siluer streame of the English Ariosto? Oh that we had such an English Tasso: and oh that the worthy du Bartas were so endenisoned! The sky-coloured Muse best commendeth her owne heauenly harmony; and who hath sufficiently praysed the hyacinthine & azure die but itselfe? What colours of astonishing Rhetorique or rauishing Poetry more deeply engrained then some of his amazing deuises, the fine dittyes of another Petrarch, or the sweet charmes of pure enchantment? What Dia-margariton or Dia-ambre so comfortatiue or cordiall as Her Electuary of Gemmes (for though the furious Tragedy Antonius be a bloudy chaire of estate, yet the diuine Discourse of life and Death is a restoratiue Electuary of Gemmes), whom I do not expresly name, not because I do not honour Her with my hart, but because I would not dishonour Her with my pen, whom I admire and cannot blason enough. Some other Paragons of bewtifullest Eloquence, and Mirrours of brightest witt, not so much for breuities sake as for like Honours sake, I ouerskip: whose onely imperfection is that they are touched with no imperfection. Yet Hope is a Transcendent & will not easely be imprisoned or impounded in any Predicament of auncient or moderne Perfection: which it may honour with due reuerence, but will not serue with base homage. Excellency hath in all ages affected singularity: & Ambition how impetuously buckled for the mastery! And albeit witt haue a quicke sent that wil not be coosened, and Iudgement a sharpe eye that cannot be bleared (the Morning Starre of Discretion and the Euening Starre of Experience haue a deepe insight in the merites of euery cause), yet still Hope hath reason to continue Hope, and is a white Angell sent from heauen, aswell to enkindle Vigorous Zeale as to awaken lasie Slougth. A wan or windy Hope is a notable breake-necke vnto itselfe; but the grounded and winged Hope, which I someway perceiue in a few other, no way conceiue in miselfe, is the ascending scale and Milk-way to heauenly excellency.