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plentiful storehouse for common eloquence in mean matters, and all private men's affairs, as the Latin tongue, for that respect, hath not the like again. When I remember the worthy time of Rome wherein Plautus did live, I must needs honour the talk of that time, which we see Plautus doth use.
Terence is also a storehouse of the same tongue for another time, following soon after; and although he be not so full and plentiful as Plautus is, for multitude of matters and diversity of words ; yet his words be chosen so purely, placed so orderly, and all his stuff so neatly packed up, and wittily compassed in every place, as by all wise men's judgement, “he is counted the cunninger workman, and to have his shop, for the room that is in it, more finely appointed, and trimlier ordered, than Plautus's is.'
Three things chiefly, both in Plantus and Terence, are to be specially considered : the matter, the utterance, the words, the metre. The matter in both is altogether within the compass of the meanest men's manners, and doth not tch to any thing of any great weight at all, but standeth chiefly * in uttering the thoughts and conditions of hard fathers, foolish mothers, unthrifty young men, crafty servants, subtle bawds, and wily harlots; and so is much spent in finding out fine fetches, and packing up pelting matters, such as in London commonly come to the hearing of the masters of Bridewell. Here is base stuff for that scholar that should become hereafter either a good minister in religion, or a civil gentleman in service of his prince and country, (except the preacher do know such matters to confute them,) when ignorance surely in all such things were better for a civil gentleman than knowledge. " And thus for matter, both Play. tus and Terence be like mean painters, that work by halves, and be cunning only in making the worst part of the pic. ture; as if one were skilful in painting the body of a naked person from the navel downward, but nothing else."
For word and speech, Plautus is more plentiful, and Te
* In this is chiefly contained the subject matter of all comedies, which Ovid has ingeniously comprised in two verses :
6 Dum fallax servus, durus pater, improba lena,
Vivent, dum meretrix blanda; Menandros erit." And so has Terence before him with no less art, in the prologue to his. Eunuchus.
rence more pure and proper. And for one respect, Terence is to be embraced above all that ever wrote in this kind of argument; because it is well known by good record of learning, and that * by Cicero's own witness, that some comedies bearing Terence's name, were written by worthy Scipio and wise Lælius; and namely Heautontimorumenos and Adelphi. And therefore, as oft as I read those comedies, so oft doth soúnd in mine ear the pure fine talk of Rome, which was used by the flower of the worthiest nobility that ever Rome bred. Let the wisest man, and best learned that liveth, read advisedly over the first scene of Heautontimorumenos, and the first scene of Adelphi, and let him considerately judge, whether it is the talk of a servile stranger born, or rather even that mild eloquent wise speech which Cicero t in Brutus doth so lively express in Lælius. And yet, nevertheless, in all this good propriety of words, and pureness of phrases, which be in Terence, you must not follow him always in placing of them; because for the metre sake, some words in him sometime be driven awry, which require a straighter placing in plain prose; if you will form, as I would you should do, your speech and writing to that excellent perfecte ness which was only in Tully,
or only in Tully's time. The metre and verse of Plautus and Terence be very mean, and not to be followed; which is not their reproach, but the fault of the time wherein they wrote, when no kind of poetry in the Latin tongue was brought to perfection; as doth well appear in the fragments of Ennius, Cæcilius, and others, and evidently in Plautus and Terence ; if these in Latin be compared with right skill with Homer, Euripides, Aristophanes, and others in Greek of like sort.
* “ Secutus sum, non dico Cæcilium, Mane ut ex portu in Piræeum, (malus enim auctor Latinitatis est, sed Terentium, cujus fabellæ, propter elegantiam sermonis, putabantur à C. Lælio scribi: Heri aliquot adolescentuli coimus in Piræeum.” Cic. lib. 7. Epist. ad Attic. Ep. 3.
+ “De ipsius Lælii et Scipionis ingenio, quanquam ea jam est opinio, ut plurimum tribuatur ambobus; dicendi tamen laus est in Lælio illustrior.
Nam ut ex bellica laude adspirare ad Africanum nemo potest, in qua ipsa egregium Viriati bello reperimus fuisse Lælium : sic ingenii
, literarum, eloquentiæ, sapientiæ denique, etsi utrique primas, priores tamen libenter deferunt Lælio.” Cic. de claris Orator. In which place he has drawn a full comparison betwixt Lælius and Galba.
Cicero himself doth complain of this imperfectness, but more plainly Quintilian, saying, In comædia maxime claudicamus: and, Vix levem consequimur umbram: and most earnestly of all, Horace in Arte Poetica. Which he doth namely propter carmen Iambicum, and referreth all good students herein to the imitation of the Greek tongue, saying,
“ Vos exemplaria Græca Nocturna versate manu, versate diurna.” This matter maketh me gladly remember my sweet time spent at Cambridge, and the pleasant talk which I had oft with Mr. Cheke and Mr. Watson of this fault, not only in the old Latin poets, but also in our new English rhymers at this day. They wished, as Virgil and Horace were not wedded to follow the faults of former fathers (a shrewd marriage in greater matters), but by right Imitation of the perfect Grecians, had brought poetry to perfectness also in the Latin tongue; that we Englishmen likewise would acknowledge and understand rightfully our rude beggarly rhyming, brought first into Italy by Goths and Huns, when all good verses, and all good learning too, were destroyed by them; and after carried into France and Germany, and at last received into England by men of excellent wit indeed, but of small learning and less judgement in that behalf.
But now, when men know the difference, and have the examples both of the best and of the worst; surely to follow rather the Goths in rhyming, than the Greeks in true versifying, were even to eat acorns with swine, when we may freely eat wheat bread among men. Indeed Chaucer, Tho. Norton of Bristol, my lord of Surrey, Mr. Wiat, Tho. Phaer, and other gentlemen, in translating Ovid, Palingenius, and Seneca, have gone as far to their great praise as the copy they followed could carry them. But if such good
* “ In comedia maximè claudicamus : licet Varro dicat, Musas,' Ælii Stolonis sententia, . Plautino sermone locuturas fuisse, si Latine loqui vellent;' licet Cæcilium veteres laudibus ferant; licet Terentii scripta ad Scipionem Africanum referantur: quæ tamen sunt in hoc genere elegantissima, et plus adhuc habitura gratiæ, si intra versus trimetros stetissent. Vix levem consequimur umbram : adeo ut mihi sermo ipse Romanus non recipere videatur illam solis concessam Atticis Venerem, quando eam ne Græci quidem in alio genere linguæ obtinuerint." Quint. de Instit. Orat. lib. 10. cap. 1.
wits and forward diligence, had been directed to follow the best examples, and not have been carried by time and custom to content themselves with that barbarous and rude rhyming; among their other worthy praises, which they have justly deserved, this had not been the least to be counted among men of learning and skill, more like unto the Grecians than unto the Gothians, in handling of their verse.
Indeed our English tongue, having in use chiefly words of one syllable, which commonly be long, doth not well receive the nature of carmen heroicum : because Dactylus, the aptest foot for that verse, containing one long and two short, is seldom therefore found in English, and doth also rather stumble than stand upon monosyllables. Quintilian, in his learn. ed chapter * de Compositione, giveth this lesson de monosyllabis before me; and in the same place doth justly inveigh against all rhyming; that if there be
with me for misliking of rhyming, they may be angry for company too with Quintilian also, for the same thing; And yet Quintilian had not so just cause to mislike of it then, as men have at this day
And although carmen hexametrum doth rather trot and hobble, than run smoothly in our English tongue; yet I am sure our English tongue † will receive carmen iambicum as naturally as either Greek or Latin. But for ignorance men cannot like, and for idleness men will not labour, to come to any perfectness at all. For as the worthy poets in Athens and Rome were more careful to satisfy the judgement of one learned, than rash in pleasing the humour of a rude multitude ; even so, if men in England now had the like reverend regard to learning, skill, and judgement, and durst not presume to write, except they came with the like learning,
* “ Etiam monosyllaba, si plura sunt, malè continuabuntur, quia necesse est, compositio multis clausulis concisa subsultet. Ideoque etiam brevium verborum ac nominum vitanda continuatio, et ex diverso quoque longorum : afferunt enim quandam dicendi tarditatem. Illa quoque vitia sunt ejusdem loci, si cadentia similiter et similiter desinentia, et eodem modo declinata, multa jungantur.” Idem, lib. 9. cap. 4.
+ This our incomparable Mr. Milton, not inferior to any of the ancients, well understood; as indeed he did every thing else worth knowing, in the whole compass of learning. He that reads him with right judgement, will easily observe, what use he makes of the Iambic, and how frequently in the second place, to give strength and firmness
and also did use like diligence in searching out, not only just measure in every metre (as every ignorant person may easily do), but also true quantity in every foot and syllable (as only the learned shall be able to do, and as the Greeks and Romans were wont to do), surely then rash ignorant heads, which now can easily reckon up fourteen syllables, and easily stumble on every rhyme, either durst not, for lack of such learning, or else would not, in avoiding such labour, be so busy, as every where they be; and shops in London should not be so full of lewd and rude rhymes, as com mmonly they
But now the ripest of tongue be readiest to write. “ And many daily in setting out books and ballads, make great show of blossoms and buds; in whom is neither root of learning nor fruit of wisdom at all.”
Some, that make Chaucer in English, and Petrarch in Italian, their gods in verses, and yet be not able to make true difference, what is a fault and what is a just praise in those two worthy wits, will much mislike this my writing. But such men be even like followers of Chaucer and Petrarch, as one here in England did follow Sir Thomas More; who, being most unlike unto him in wit and learning, nevertheless * in wearing his gown awry upon one shoulder, as Sir Tho
to his verse. As for instance, in these, which I never read without the greatest admiration :
“ Part on the plain, or in the air sublime
Upon the wing, or in swift race contend.
As at th’Olympian games, or Pythian fields." And a little after, in this sweet verse, where all the feet, excepting the fourth, are Iambics.
“ For eloquence the soul, song charms the sense." This excellency almost peculiar to himself in our language, as also his setting aside rhyme, as no true ornament of verse, I question not but Mr. Milton owes in a great measure, (next to his own natural genius,) to the authority and reason of this wise and ingenious writer. It is certain he had the memory of Sir John Cheke in great veneration; and to me he seems, in the short Account of his Verse, printed before his poem, to have had our author in his eye.
* Of this ridiculous and servile Imitation, wise men have always complained. Horace is full of it; and so is Quintilian, and so is Martial. But none so apposite as Tully, in his second book de Oratore.
“ Nihil est facilius, quam amictum imitari alicujus, aut statum, aut motum. Si vero etiam vitiose aliquid est, id sumere, et in eo vitio