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licentiousness of life. Plato found in Sicily every city full of vanity, full of factions, even as Italy is now. And as Homer, like a learned poet, doth feign that Circe by pleasant enchantments did turn men into beasts, some into swine, some into asses, some into foxes, some into wolyes, &c. even so * Plato, like a wise philosopher, doth plainly declare, that pleasure by licentious vanity, that sweet and perilous poison of all youth, doth engender in all those that yield up themselves to her, four notorious properties,
4. "TBPIN. The first, Forgetfulness of all good things learned before; the second, Dulness to receive either learning or honesty ever after ; the third, A mind embracing lightly the worse opinion, and barren of discretion to make true difference betwixt good and ill, betwixt truth and vanity; the fourth, A proud disdainfulness of other good men in all honest matters.
Homer and Plato have both one meaning, look both to one end. For if a man inglut himself with vanity, or welter in filthiness like a swine, all learning, all goodness, is soon forgotten. Then quickly shall he become a dull ass, to understand either learning or honesty, and yet shall he be as subtle as a fox in breeding of mischief, in bringing in mis
* Plato seems to insist upon å nicety, in the beginning of this letter to Dionysius. It was usual to greet their friends in this form, Xaipet nad şi apátterv: that is, wish them joy, and true felicity, founded upon good conduct. Plato, though he observes that Dionysius had chose the former, to caress and compliment the Delphian god, bespeaking him in this verse,
Χαίρε, και ηδόμενον βίοτον διάσωζε Τυράννου, yet he himself approves only of the latter; which he constantly used to his friends, and that, for these reasons, whereunto our author alludes :
'Εγώ δε ουδέ ανθρώπων κλήσει, μή ότι δή θεώ, παρακελευσαίμην αν δράν τούτο. Θεώ μεν, ότι παρά φύσιν προστάττοιμ' άν. (πόρρω γάρ ηδονής ίδρυται και λύπης το θείον) ανθρώπω δε, ότι τα πολλά βλάβην ηδονή και λύπης γεννά, δυσμαθίαν, και λήθην, και αφροσύνην, και ύβριν τίκτουσα εν τη ψυχή
order with a busy head, a discoursing tongue, and a factious heart, in every private affair, in all matters of state; with this pretty property, always glad to commend the worse party, and ever ready to defend the falser opinion. And why? For where will is given from goodness to vanity, the mind is soon carried from right judgement to any fond opinion in religion, in philosophy, or any other kind of learning. The fourth fruit of vain pleasure, by Homer and Plato's judgement, is pride in themselves, contempt of others, the very badge of all those that serve in Circe's court. The true meaning of both Homer and Plato, is plainly declared in one short sentence of the holy prophet of God Jeremiah, crying out of the vain and vicious life of the Israelites : “ This people (saith he) be fools and dulheads to all goodness, but subtle, cunning, and bold in any mischief,” &c.
The true medicine against the enchantments of Circe, the vanity of licentious pleasure, the enticements of all sin, is in Homer the herb Moly, with the black root and white flower, sour at the first, but sweet in the end; which Hesiod termeth * the study of virtue, hard and irksome in the beginning, but in the end easy and pleasant. And that which is most to be marvelled at, the divine poet Homer saith plainly, that this medicine against sin and vanity, is not found out by man, but given and taught by God. And for some one's sake, that will have delight to read that sweet and godly verse, I will recite the very words of Homer, and also turn them into rude English metre:
Χαλεπόν δέ τ' ορύσσειν
No mortal man, with sweat of brow or toil of mind,
* The place in Hesiod, which he points to, is this, "Epywy xal 'Huep. ver. 289.
Της δ' Αρετης ιδρώτα θεοι προπάροιθεν έθηκαν
Ρηϊδίη δ' ήπειτα πέλει, χαλεπή περ εούσα. These verses Lucian in his Νεκυομαντεία, calls πάνδημα έπη, famous and celebrated verses.
Plato also, that divine philosopher, hath many godly medicines against the poison of vain pleasure in many places, but specially in his epistles to Dionysius, the tyrant of Sicily. Yet against those that will needs become beasts with serving of Circe, the prophet David crieth most loud, Nolite fieri sicut equus et mulus; and by and by giveth the right medicine, the true herb Moly, In camo et freno maxillas eorum constringe: that is to sảy, “ Let God's grace be the bit, let God's fear be the bridle, to stay them from running headlong into vice, and to turn them into the right way again." David, in the second psalm after, giveth the same medicine, but in these plainer words, Diverte a malo, et fac bonum.
But I am afraid, that over many of our travellers into Italy do not eschew the way to Circe's court, but go, and ride, and run, and fly thither : they make great haste to come to her; they make great suit to serve her; yea, I could point out some with my finger, that never had gone out of England, but only to serve Circe in Italy, Vanity and vice, and any licence to ill living in England, was counted stale and rude únto them. And so, being mules and horses before they went, return very swine and asses home again : yet every where very foxes with subtle and busy heads; and where they may, very wolves, with cruel malicious hearts. A marvellous monster, which for filthiness of living, for dulness to learning himself, for wiliness in dealing with others, for malice in hurting without cause, should carry at once in one body, the belly of a'swine, the head of an ass, the brain of a fox, the womb of a wolf. If you think we judge amiss, and write too sore against you, hear what the Italian saith of the Englishman; what the master reporteth of the scholar, who uttereth plainly what is taught by him, and what is learned by you, saying, Inglese Italianato è un diabolo incarnato ; that is to say,
“ You remain men in shape and fashion, but become devils in life and condition.”
This is not the opinion of one for some private spite, but the judgement of all in a common proverb, which riseth of that learning, and those manners, which you gather in Italy:
good school-house of wholesome doctrine, and worthy masters of commendable scholars; where the master had rather disfame himself for his aching, than not shame his scholar for his learning. A good nature of the master, and fair conditions of the scholars. And now choose you, you Italian
Englishmen, whether you will be angry with us for calling you monsters, or with the Italians for calling you devils, or else with your own selves, that take so much pains, and go so far, to make yourselves both. If some yet do not well understand what is an Englishman Italianated, I will plainly tell him : “ He that by living and travelling in Italy, bringeth home into England out of Italy, the religion, the learning, the policy, the experience, the manners of Italy.” That is to say, for religion, papistry, or worse; for learning, less commonly than they carried out with them; for policy, a factious heart, a discoursing head, a mind to meddle in all men's matters; for experience, plenty of new mischiefs never known in England before ; for manners, variety of vanities, and change of filthy living.
These be the enchantments of Circe, brought out of Italy, to mar men's manners in England; much by example of ill life, but more by precepts of fond books, of late translated out of Italian into English, sold in every shop in London ; commended by honest titles, the sooner to corrupt honest manners; dedicated over boldly to virtuous and honourable personages, the easilier to beguile simple and innocent wits. 5. It is pity, that those which have authority and charge to allow and disallow books to be printed, be no more circumspect herein than they are.” Ten sermons at Paul's Cross do not so much good for moving men to true doctrine, as one of those books do harm with enticing men to ill living. Yea, I say farther, those books tend not so much to corrupt honest living, as they do to subvert true religion. More papists be made by your merry books of Italy, than by your earnest books of Louvain. And because our great physicians do wink at the matter, and make no account of this sore, I, though not admitted one of their fellowship, yet having been many years a prentice to God's true religion, and trust to continue a poor journeyman therein all days of my life, for the duty I owe, and love I bear both to true doctrine and honest living, though I have no authority to amend the sore myself, yet I will declare my good will to discover the sore to others.
St. Paul saith, “ that sects and ill opinions be the works of the flesh and fruits of sin.” This is spoken no more truly for the doctrine than sensible for the reason. And why? “ For ill doings breed ill thinkings; and of corrupted manners spring perverted judgements. And how? There be in man two special things; man's will, man's mind. Where will inclineth to goodness, the mind is bent to truth. Where will is carried from goodness to vanity, the mind is soon drawn from truth to false opinion. And so, the readiest way to entangle the mind with false doctrine, is first to entice the will to wanton living. Therefore, when the busy and open papists abroad, could not by their contentious books turn men in England fast enough from truth and right judgement in doctrine, then the subtle and secret papists at home, procured bawdy books to be translated out of the Italian tongue, whereby over many young wills and wits allured to wantonness, do now boldly contemn all severe books that sound to honesty and godliness.
In our forefathers' time, when papistry, as a standing pool, covered and overflowed all England, few books were read in our tongue, saving certain books of chivalry, as they said for pastime and pleasure; which, as some say, were made in monasteries by idle monks or wanton canons. As one for example, Morte Arthur ; the whole pleasure of which book standeth in two special points, in open manslaughter and bold bawdry. In which book those be counted the noblest knights, that do kill most men without any quarrel, and commit foulest adulteries by subtlest shifts: as Sir Launcelot, with the wife of King Arthur his mastet; Sir Tristram, with the wife of King Mark his uncle; Sir Lamerock, with the wife of King Lote, that was his own aunt. This is good stuff for wise men to laugh at, or honest men to take pleasure at : yet I know, when God's Bible was banished the court, and Morte Arthur received into the prince's chamber.
What toys the daily reading of such a book may work in the will of a young gentleman, or a young maid, that liveth wealthily and idly, wise men can judge, and honest men do pity. And yet ten Morte Arthurs do not the tenth
part much harm, as one of these books made in Italy and translated in England. They open, not fond and common ways to vice, but such subtle, cunning, new, and divers shifts, to carry young wills to vanity, and young wits to mischief, to teach old bawds new school points, as the simple head of an Englishman is not able to invent, nor never was heard of in England before, yea, when papistry overflowed all. Suffer these books to be read, and they shall soon displace all books of godly learning. 1" For they, carrying the will to vanity, and marring good manners, shall easily corrupt the mind