Nonfiction > G. Gregory Smith, ed. > Elizabethan Critical Essays
G. Gregory Smith, ed.  Elizabethan Critical Essays.  1904.
Thomas Nashe (1567–1601)
II. From The Anatomie of Absurditie
[The following extracts are taken from The Anatomie of Absurditie … Compiled by T. Nashe … At London, Printed by I. Charlewood for Thomas Hacket … Ann. Dom. 1589, which may have been written before the Preface to Greene’s Menaphon. The text is taken from the copy in the Bodleian (Malone 566). The last printed page (from ‘me of,’ p. 336, l. 32) is missing. It is added in MS., in a careful hand.]

ZEUXES, beeing about to drawe the counterfet of Iuno, assembled all the Agrigentine Maydes, whom after he pausing had viewed, he chose out fiue of the fayrest, that in their beautie he might imitate what was most excellent: euen so it fareth with mee, who, beeing about to anatomize Absurditie, am vrged to take a view of sundry mens vanitie, a suruey of their follie, a briefe of their barbarisme, to runne through Authors of the absurder sort assembled in the Stacioners shop, sucking and selecting out of these vpstart antiquaries somewhat of their vnsauery duncerie, meaning to note it with a Nigrum theta, that each one at the first sight may eschew it as infectious, to shewe it to the world that all men may shunne it. And euen as Macedon Phillip, hauing finished his warres, builded a Cittie for the worst sorte of men, which hee called [poniropolis], malorum Ciuitas, so I, hauing laide aside my grauer studies for a season, determined with my selfe, beeing idle in the Countrey, to beginne in this vacation the foundation of a trifling subiect, which might shroude in his leaues the abusiue enormities of these our times. It fareth nowe a daies with vnlearned Idiots as it doth with she Asses, who bring foorth all their life long: euen so these brainlesse Bussards are euery quarter bigge wyth one Pamphlet or other. But as an Egge that is full beeing put into water sinketh to the bottome, whereas that which is emptie floateth aboue, so those that are more exquisitly furnished with learning shroude themselues in obscuritie, whereas they that [are] voide of all knowledge endeuour continually to publish theyr follie.
  Such and the very same are they that obtrude themselues vnto vs as the Authors of eloquence and fountains of our finer phrases, when as they sette before vs nought but a confused masse of wordes without matter, a Chaos of sentences without any profitable sence, resembling drummes, which beeing emptie within sound big without. Were it that any Morrall of greater moment might be fished out of their fabulous follie, leauing theyr words we would cleaue to their meaning, pretermitting their painted shewe we woulde pry into their propounded sence; but when as lust is the tractate of so many leaues, and loue passions the lauish dispence of so much paper, I must needes sende such idle wits to shrift to the vicar of S. Fooles, who in steede of a worser may be such a Gothamists ghostly Father. Might Ouids exile admonish such Idlebies to betake them to a new trade, the Presse should be farre better employed; Histories of antiquitie not halfe so much belyed; Minerals, stones, and herbes should not haue such cogged natures and names ascribed to them without cause; Englishmen shoulde not be halfe so much Italianated as they are; finallie, loue woulde obtaine the name of lust, and vice no longer maske vnder the visard of vertue.  2
  Are they not ashamed in their prefixed posies to adorne a pretence of profit mixt with pleasure, when as in their bookes there is scarce to be found one precept pertaining to vertue, but whole quires fraught with amorous discourses kindling Venus flame in Vulcans forge, carrying Cupid in tryumph, alluring euen vowed Vestals to treade awry, inchaunting chaste mindes and corrupting the continenst? Henceforth, let them alter their posies of profit with intermingled pleasure, inserting that of Ouid insteed,
Si quis in hoc artem populo non nouit amandi,
Me legat, & lecto carmine doctus amet.
  So shall the discreet Reader vnderstand the contents by the title, and their purpose by their posie: what els I pray you doe these bable bookemungers endeuor but to repaire the ruinous wals of Venus Court, to restore to the worlde that forgotten Legendary licence of lying, to imitate a fresh the fantasticall dreames of those exiled Abbie-lubbers, from whose idle pens proceeded those worne out impressions of the feyned no where acts of Arthur of the rounde table, Arthur of litle Brittaine, Sir Tristram, Hewon of Burdeaux, the Squire of low degree, the foure sons of Amon, with infinite others. It is not of my yeeres nor studie to censure these mens foolerie more theologicallie, but to shew how they to no Commonwealth commoditie tosse ouer their troubled imaginations to haue the praise of the learning which they lack. Many of them to be more amiable with their friends of the Feminine sexe blot many sheetes of paper in the blazing of Womens slender praises, as though in that generation there raigned and alwaies remained such singuler simplicitie that all posterities should be enioyned by duetie to fill and furnish their Temples, nay Townes and streetes, with the shrines of the Saints: Neuer remembring that as there was a loyall Lucretia, so there was a light a loue Lais, that as there was a modest Medullina, so there was a mischiuous Medea, that as there was a stedfast Timoclea, so there was a trayterous Tarpeya, that as there was a sober Sulpitia, so there was a deceitful Scylla, that as there was a chast Claudia, so there was a wanton Clodia.  4
  [Nash then proceeds to discuss, in no friendly way, the character of woman, and to offer (in the words of the sub-title of the pamphlet) ‘a breefe confutation of the slender imputed prayses to feminine perfection.’ He rates the ‘idle heads’ for their ‘prodigall commendation,’ and for not consulting their credit ‘in the composition of some other more profitable contrary subiect.’]  5
  I leaue these in their follie, and hasten to other mens furie, who make the Presse the dunghill, whether they carry all the muck of their mellancholicke imaginations, pretending, forsooth, to anatomize abuses, and stubbe vp sin by the rootes, when as there waste paper, beeing wel viewed, seemes fraught with naught els saue dogge daies effects; who, wresting places of Scripture against pride, whoredome, couetousnes, gluttonie, and drunkennesse, extend their inuectiues so farre against the abuse that almost the things remaines not whereof they admitte anie lawfull vse: Speaking of pride, as though they were afraid some body should cut too large peniworthes out of their cloth; of couetousnes, as though in them that Prouerbe had beene verified, Nullus ad amissas ibit amicus opes; of gluttonie, as though their liuing did lye vppon another mans trencher; of drunkennesse, as though they had beene brought vppe all the dayes of their life with bread and water: and finally, of whoredome, as though they had beene Eunuckes from theyr cradle, or blind from the howre of their conception. But as the Stage player is nere the happier because hee represents oft times the persons of mightie men, as of Kings & Emperours, so I account such men neuer the holier because they place praise in painting foorth other mens imperfections.  6
  These men resemble Trees, which are wont eftsoones to die if they be fruitfull beyond their wont; euen so they do die in vertue, if they once ouershoote themselues too much wyth inueighing against vice; to be brainsicke in workes, if they be too fruitfull in words. And euen as the Vultures slay nothing themselues, but pray vpon that which of other is slayne, so these men inueigh against no new vice which heeretofore by the censures of the learned hath not beene sharply condemned, but teare that peecemeale wise which long since by ancient wryters was wounded to the death, so that out of their forepassed paines ariseth their Pamphlets, out of theyr volumes theyr inuectiues. Good God, that those that neuer tasted of any thing saue the excrements of Artes, whose threddebare knowledge, beeing bought at the second hand, is spotted, blemished, and defaced through translaters rigorous rude dealing, shoulde preferre their sluttered sutes before other mens glittering gorgious array, should offer them water out of a muddie pit, who haue continually recourse to the Fountaine, or dregs to drink, who haue wine to sell. At scire tuum nihil est, nisi te scire hoc sciat alter. Thy knowledge bootes thee not a button, except another knowes that thou hast this knowledge. Anacharsis was wont to say that the Athenians vsed money to no other ende but to tell it: euen so these men make no other vse of learning but to shewe it. But as the Panther smelleth sweetelie but onely to brute beastes, which shee draweth vnto her to theyr destruction, not to men in like maner, so these men seeme learned to none but Idiots, whom, with a coloured shew of zeale, they allure vnto them to their illusion, and not to the learned in like sort. I know not howe it delighteth them to put theyr Oare in another mans boate, and their foote in another mans boote, to incurre that prouerbiall checke, Ne sutor vltra crepidam, or that oratoricall taunt, Quam quisque norit artem in ea se exerceat; with the Elephant to wade and wallowe in the shallow water, when they woulde sooner sincke then swym in the deepe Riuer; to be conuersant in those Authors which they cannot vnderstande but by the translatour their interpreter; to vaunte reading, when the sum of their diuinitie consists in twopennie Catichismes: and yet their ignoraunt zeale wyll presumptuously presse into the Presse, enquiring most curiouslie into euery corner of the Common wealth, correcting that sinne in others wherwith they are corrupted themselues. To prescribe rules of life belongeth not to the ruder sorte; to condemne those callings which are approoued by publique authoritie argueth a proude contempt of the Magistrates superiority. Protogenes knew Apelles by one lyne, neuer otherwise seene; and you may knowe these mens spirit by theyr speeche, their minds by their medling, their folly by their phrase. View their workes, and know their vanitie; see the Bookes bearing their name, and smile in thy sleeue at their shame. A small ship in a shallow Riuer seemes a huge thing, but in the sea a very litle vessell; euen so each trifling Pamphlet to the simpler sorte a most substantiall subiect, whereof the wiser lightly account & the learned laughing contemne. Therefore more earnestly I agrauate their faulte, because their crime is crept into credit, & their dooinges deemed deuotion, when as purposelie to some mans despight they bring into act their cholericke motions.  7
  [Then, after denouncing hypocritical Malcontents and those who ‘search curiouslie into the secrets of nature’ and publish portents for the superstitious, the pamphlet proceeds—]  8
  Hence come our babling Ballets, and our new found Songs & Sonets, which euery rednose Fidler hath at his fingers end, and euery ignorant Ale Knight will breath foorth ouer the potte, as soone as his braine waxeth hote. Be it a truth which they would tune, they enterlace it with a lye or two to make meeter, not regarding veritie so they may make vppe the verse: not vnlike to Homer, who cared not what he fained so hee might make his Countrimen famous. But as the straightest things beeing put into water seeme crooked, so the crediblest trothes if once they come within compasse of these mens wits seeme tales. Were it that the infamie of their ignoraunce did redound onlie vppon themselues, I could be content to apply my speech otherwise then to their Apuleyan eares; but sith they obtaine the name of our English Poets, and thereby make men thinke more baselie of the wittes of our Countrey, I cannot but turne them out of their counterfet liuerie and brand them in the foreheade, that all men may know their falshood. Well may that saying of Campanus be applyed to our English Poets, which hee spake of them in his time: ‘They make,’ saith he, ‘Poetry an occupation; lying is their lyuing, and fables are their mooueables: if thou takest away trifles, sillie soules, they will famish for hunger.’ It were to be wished that the acts of the ventrous and the praise of the vertuous were by publique Edict prohibited: by such mens merry mouthes to be so odiouslie extolde as rather breedes detestation then admiration, lothing then lyking. What politique Counsailour or valiant Souldier will ioy or glorie of this, in that some stitcher, Weauer, spendthrift, or Fidler hath shuffled or slubberd vp a few ragged Rimes, in the memoriall of the ones prudence or the others prowesse? It makes the learned sort to be silent, when as they see vnlearned sots so insolent.  9
  These Bussards thinke knowledge a burthen, tapping it before they haue half tunde it, venting it before they haue filled it; in whom that saying of the Orator is verified, Ante ad dicendum quam ad cognoscendum veniunt. They come to speake before they come to know. They contemne Arts as vnprofitable, contenting themselues with a little Countrey Grammer knowledge, god wote, thanking God with that abscedarie Priest in Lincolneshire, that he neuer knewe what that Romish popish Latine meant. Verie requisite were it that such blockheads had some Albadanensis Appollonius to send them to some other mechanicall Arte, that they might not thus be the staine of Arte. Such kind of Poets were they that Plato excluded from his Common wealth and Augustine banished ex ciuitate Dei, which the Romans derided, and the Lacedæmonians scorned, who wold not suffer one of Archilocus bookes to remaine in their Countrey: and amisse it were not, if these which meddle with the Arte they knowe not were bequethed to Bridwell, there to learne a new occupation: for as the Basiliske with his hisse driueth all other Serpents from the place of his aboad, so these rude Rithmours with their iarring verse allienate all mens mindes from delighting in numbers excellence, which they haue so defaced that wee may well exclaime with the Poet Quantum mutatus ab illo.  10
  But least I should be mistaken as an enemie to Poetrie, or at least not taken as a friend to that studie, I haue thought good to make them priuie to my mind, by expressing my meaning. I account of Poetrie as of a more hidden & diuine kinde of Philosophy, enwrapped in blinde Fables and darke stories, wherin the principles of more excellent Arts and morrall precepts of manners, illustrated with diuers examples of other Kingdomes and Countries, are contained: for amongst the Grecians there were Poets before there were any Philosophers, who embraced entirely the studie of wisedome, as Cicero testifieth in his Tusculanes: whereas he saith that, of all sorts of men, Poets are most ancient, who, to the intent they might allure men with a greater longing to learning, haue followed two things, sweetnes of verse and variety of inuention, knowing that delight doth prick men forward to the attaining of knowledge, and that true things are rather admirde if they be included in some wittie fiction, like to Pearles that delight more if they be deeper sette in golde. Wherfore seeing Poetry is the very same with Philosophy, the fables of Poets must of necessitie be fraught with wisdome & knowledge, as framed of those men which haue spent all their time and studies in the one and in the other. For euen as in Vines the Grapes that are fayrest and sweetest are couched vnder the branches that are broadest and biggest, euen so in Poems the thinges that are most profitable are shrouded vnder the Fables that are most obscure: neither is there almost any poeticall fygment wherein there is not some thing comprehended, taken out either of Histories, or out of the Phisicks or Ethicks; wher vpon Erasmus Roterdamus very wittilie termes Poetry a daintie dish seasoned with delights of euery kind of discipline. Nowe, whether ryming be Poetry, I referre to the iudgment of the learned; yea, let the indifferent Reader diuine what deepe misterie can be placed vnder plodding meeter. Who is it that, reading Beuis of Hampton, can forbeare laughing if he marke what scambling shyft he makes to ende his verses a like. I will propound three or foure payre by the way for the Readers recreation.
The Porter said, by my snout,
It was Sir Beuis that I let out;
or this,
He smote his sonne on the breast,
That he neuer after spoke with Clark nor Priest;
or this,
This almes, by my crowne,
Gives she for Beuis of South-hamptoune;
or this,
Some lost a nose, some a lip;
And the King of Scots hath a ship.
  But I let these passe as worne out absurdities, meaning not at this instant to vrge (as I might) the like instance of Authors of our time, least, in laying foorth their nakednesse, I might seeme to haue discouered my mallice, imitating Aiax, who, obiecting more irefully vnto Vlysses flattery, detected himselfe of follie.  12
  As these men offend in the impudent publishing of witles vanitie, so others ouershoote themselues as much another waie, in sencelesse stoicall austeritie, accounting Poetrie impietie and witte follie. It is an old Question, and it hath beene often propounded, whether it were better to haue moderate affections, or no affections? The Stoicks said none. The Peripaticians answered to haue temperate affections: and in this respect I am a professed Peripatician, mixing profit with pleasure, and precepts of doctrine with delightfull inuention. Yet these men condemne them of lasciuiousnes, vanitie, and curiositie, who vnder fayned Stories include many profitable morrall precepts, describing the outrage of vnbridled youth hauing the reine in their owne hands, the fruits of idlenes, the ofspring of lust, and how auaileable good educations are vnto vertue. In which their preciser censure they resemble them that cast away the nutte for mislike of the shell, & are like to those which loath the fruite for the leaues, accounting the one sower because the other is bitter. It may be some dreaming dunce, whose bald affected eloquence making his function odious, better beseeming a priuie then a pulpit, a misterming Clowne in a Comedy then a chosen man in the Ministerie, will cry out that it breedes a scabbe to the conscience to peruse such Pamphlets, beeing indeed the display of their duncerie, and breeding a mislike of such tedious dolts barbarisme by the view of their rethoricall inuention. Such trifling studies, say they, infect the minde and corrupt the manners, as though the minde were only conuersant in such toies, or shold continuallie stay where the thoughts by chaunce doo stray. The Sunne beames touching the earth remaine still from whence they came; so a wyse mans mind, although sometimes by chance it wandereth here and there, yet it hath recourse in staied yeeres to that it ought. But graunt the matter to be fabulous, is it therfore friuolous? Is there not vnder Fables, euen as vnder the shaddowe of greene and florishing leaues, most pleasant fruite hidden in secrete, and a further meaning closely comprised? Did not Virgill vnder the couert of a Fable expresse that diuine misterie which is the subiect of his sixt Eglogue.
Iam noua progenies caelo demittitur alto.
  I could send you to Ouid, who expresseth the generall Deluge, which was the olde worldes ouerthrowe, in the Fable of Deucalion and Pirrha: vnder which vndoubtedly it is manifest (although diuers Authors are of contrarie opinion) he meaneth Noes floode, in so much as there is a place in Lucian in his booke De Siria Dea, by the which it appeareth that by Deucalions Deluge is vnderstoode, not (as some will) that Enundation, whereby in times past Greece and Italie was ouerflowne and the Ile Atlanta destroied, but that vniuersall flood which was in the time of Noe. For thus Lucian writeth in that place, that it was receiued for a common opinion among the Grecians that this generation of men that nowe is hath not been from the beginning, but that it which first was wholy perrished, and this second sort of men which now are be of a newe creation, growing into such a multitude by Deucalion and Pirrhas meanes….  14
  Hetherto Lucian an Heathen Poet. Plutarch also recordeth, in his Treatise De industria animalium, that a Doue, beeing sent out of Deucalions Arke, shewed the waters ceasing. By these proofes it is euident that by Deucalions Deluge is vnderstoode Noes flood, because the very like thinges are sette downe in Genesis, of brute Beastes receiued by Noe into the Arke, and the Doue sent forth by him also. I trust, these probabilities beeing duely pondered, there is no man so distrustful to doubt that deeper diuinitie is included in Poets inuentions, and therefore not to be reiected, as though they were voide of all learning and wisedome.  15
  I woulde not haue any man imagine that in praysing of Poetry I endeuour to approoue Virgils vnchast Priapus, or Ouids obscenitie: I commende their witte, not their wantonnes, their learning, not their lust: yet euen as the Bee out of the bitterest flowers and sharpest thistles gathers honey, so out of the filthiest Fables may profitable knowledge be sucked and selected. Neuerthelesse, tender youth ought to bee restrained for a time from the reading of such ribauldrie, least, chewing ouer wantonlie the eares of this Summer Corne, they be choaked with the haune before they can come at the karnell. Hunters, being readie to goe to their Game, suffer not their dogges to taste or smell of anything by the way, no carrion especially, but reserue them wholy to their approching disport; euen so youth, beeing ready to vndertake more waightier studies, ought in no case be permitted to looke aside to lasciuious toyes, least the pleasure of the one should breed a loathing of the profit of the other. I would there were not any, as there be many, who in Poets and Historiographers reade no more then serueth to the feeding of their filthy lust, applying those things to the pampering of their priuate Venus which were purposely published to the suppressing of that common wandering Cupid. These be the Spyders which sucke poyson out of the hony combe and corruption out of the holiest thinges, herein resembling those that are troubled with a Feuer, in whome diuers things haue diuers effects, that is to say, of hote things they waxe cold, of cold things hote; or of Tygers, which by the sound of melodious Instruments are driuen into madnesse, by which men are wont to expell melancholie. He that wil seeke for a Pearle must first learne to know it when he sees it, least he neglect it when hee findes it, or make a nought worth peeble his Jewell: and they that couet to picke more precious knowledge out of Poets amorous Elegies must haue a discerning knowledge before they can aspire to the perfection of their desired knowledge, least the obtaining of trifles be the repentant end of their trauell.  16
  Who so snatcheth vp follies too greedilie, making an occupation of recreation, and delight his day labour, may happes proue a wittome whiles he fisheth for finer witte, and a Foole while hee findes himselfe laughing pastime at other mens follies; not vnlike to him who drinking Wine immoderately, besides that hee many times swallowes downe dregs, at length prooues starke drunke.  17
  There is no extremitie, either in actiue or contemplatiue life, more outragious then the excessiue studies of delight, wherwith young Students are so besotted that they forsake sounder Artes to followe smoother eloquence, not vnlike to him that had rather haue a newe painted boxe, though there be nothing but a halter in it, then an olde bard hutch with treasure inualuable; or Æsops Cocke, which parted with a Pearle for a Barlie kurnell. Euen as a man is inclined, so his studies are bended; if to vaineglorie, to eloquence; if to profounde knowledge, to Aristotle; if lasciuious, good in some English deuise of verse; to conclude, a passing potman, a passing Poet.  18
  [Then follows an attack on the ‘abusiue enormities’ practised in the name of knowledge, and a plea for the ‘suppression of the rauenous rable’ who discredit learning. ‘There be three things which are wont to slack young Students endeuour: Negligence, want of Wisedome, & Fortune.’ ‘Nothing is so great an enemie to a sounde iudgment as the pride of a peeuish conceit, which causeth a man both in life and beliefe either to snatch vppe or hatch newfangles.’]  19
  There is no such discredit of Arte as an ignoraunt Artificer,—men of meaner iudgement measuring oft times the excellencie of the one by the ignoraunce of the other. But as hee that censureth the dignitie of Poetry by Cherillus paultry paines, the maiestie of Rethorick by the rudenesse of a stutting Hortensius, the subtiltie of Logique by the rayling of Ramus, might iudge the one a foole in writing he knewe not what, the other tipsie by his stammering, the thirde the sonne of Zantippe by his scolding: so he that estimats Artes by the insolence of Idiots, who professe that wherein they are Infants, may deeme the Vniuersitie nought but the nurse of follie, and the knowledge of Artes nought but the imitation of the Stage. This I speake to shew what an obloquie these impudent incipients in Arts are vnto Art.  20
  Amongst all the ornaments of Artes, Rethorick is to be had in highest reputation, without the which all the rest are naked, and she onely garnished: yet some there be who woulde seperate Arts from Eloquence, whose [opinion we] oppugne, because it abhorres from common experience. Who doth not know that in all tongues taske eloquence is odious if it be affected, and that attention is altogether wanting where it is reiected? A man may baule till his voice be hoarse, exhort with teares till his tongue ake and his eyes be drie, repeate that hee woulde perswade til his stalenes dooth secretlie call for a Cloake bagge, and yet moue no more then if he had been all that while mute, if his speech be not seasoned with eloquence and adorned with elocutions assistance. Nothing is more odious to the Auditor then the artlesse tongue of a tedious dolt, which dulleth the delight of hearing, and slacketh the desire of remembring; and I know not how it comes to passe, but many are so delighted to heare themselues that they are a cumber to the eares of all other, pleasing their Auditors in nothing more then in the pause of a ful point, when as by their humming and hawking respit they haue leisure to gesture the mislike of his rudenes. To the eschewing therefore of the lothing hatred of them that heare them, I would wish them to learne to speake many things in few, neither to speake all things which to theyr purpose they may speake, least those things be lesse profitably spoken which they ought to speake; neither would I haue them ouershoote themselues with an imitation of breuitie, so that striuing to be very short they should prooue very long, namelie, when as they endeuor to speake many things breefelie. Perswade one point throughlie rather then teach many things scatteringly; that which we thinke let vs speake, and that which we speake let vs thinke; let our speeche accorde with our life. Endeuour to adde vnto Arte Experience: experience is more profitable voide of arte then arte which hath not experience. Of it selfe arte is vnprofitable without experience, and experience rashe without arte. In reading thou must with warie regard learne as wel to discerne thy losse as thy gaine, thy hurt as good, least, being wonne to haue a fauorable like of Poets wanton liues, thou be excited vnto the imitation of their lust. It is very vnseemely that nobler wits shoulde be discredited with baser studies, and those whom high and mightie callings doo expect shold be hindered by the inticements of pleasure and vanitie. Young men are not so much delighted with solide substances as with painted shadowes, following rather those thinges which are goodly to the viewe then profitable to the vse; neither doo they loue so much those things that are dooing as those things that are sounding, reioycing more to be strowed with flowers then nourished with frute. How many be there that seeke truth, not in truth but in vanitie, and find that they sought not according to trueth but according to vanitie, and that, which is most miserable, in the words of life they toile for the merchandise of death. Hence commeth it to passe that many make toyes their onelie studie; storing of trifles, when as they neglect most precious treasures: and, hauing left the Fountaines of truth, they folow the Riuers of opinions. I can but pittie their folly, who are so curious in fables and excruciate themselues about impertinent questions, as about Homers Countrey, parentage, and sepulcher, whether Homer or Hesiodus were older, whether Achilles or Patroclus more ancient, in what apparrell Anacharsis the Scithian slept, whether Lucan is to be reckoned amongst the Poets or Historiographers, in what Moneth in the yere Virgill died, with infinite other, as touching the Letters of the Hiacinth, the Chestnut tree, the children of Niobe, the trees where Latona brought foorth Diana, in all which idle interrogatories they haue left vnto vs not thinges found, but things to be sought, and peraduenture they had founde necessary things if they had not sought superfluous thinges.  21
  [So too in Philosophy there are ‘innumerable such vnnecessary questions.’]  22
  I know the learned wil laugh me to scorne for setting down such Rams horne rules of direction, and euen nowe I begin to bethinke me of Mulcasters Positions, which makes my penne heere pause as it were at a full point: which pause hath changd my opinion, and makes me rather refer you to Aschame, the antienter of the two: whose prayses seeing Maister Grant hath so gloriously garnished, I will referre you to his workes, and more especially to his Schoolemaster, where he hath most learnedly censured both our Latine and Greeke Authors. As for lighter studies, seeing they are but the exercise of youth to keepe them from idlenes, and the preparation of the minde to more weightie meditations, let vs take heede least, whiles we seeke to make them the furthering helps of our finall profession, they proue not the hindering harmes of our intended vocation, that we dwell not so long in Poetry that wee become Pagans, or that we make not such proceedinges in Aristotle that we prooue proficients in Atheisme. Let not learning, which ought to be the Leuell whereby such as liue ill ought to square theyr crooked waies, be the occasion vnto them of farther corruption who haue already sucked infection, least thair knowledge way them downe into hell, when as the ignorant goe the direct way to heauen.  23
  And thus I ende my Anatomie, least I might seeme to haue beene too tedious to the Reader in enlarging a Theame of Absurditie, desiring of the learned pardon, and of Women patience, which may encourage me heereafter to endeuour in some other matter of more moment, as well to be answerable to the expectation of the one as to make amends to the other. In the meane time I bidde them both farewell.  24

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