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REPORT AND DISCOURSE,
JOHN ASTELY TO R. ASCHAM.
I now find true by experience, which I have oft heard of others, and sometimes read myself, that men make no such account of commodities when they have them, as when they want them. I mean this by our friendly fellowship together at Cheston Chelsey, and here at Hatfield, her Grace's house; our pleasant studies in reading together Aristotle's Rhetoric, Cicero, and Livy; our free talk, mingled always with honest mirth; our trim conferences of that present world, and too true judgements of the troublesome time that followed.
These commodities I now remember with some grief, which we then used with much pleasure, besides many
other fruits of friendship that faithful good-will could afford. And these things cause me oft to wish, either you to be here with us, or me to be there with you: but what wishing is nothing else but a vain wailing for that which will wanteth. I will cease from wishing, and seek the true remedy for this sore; and that is, whilst we meet again indeed, in the mean while to ease our desires with oft writing the one to the other. I would, indeed, I had been partaker in your company, of that your pleasant absence out of your country; and because I was not, I pray you let me be partaker, by your letters, of some fruit of that your journey.
We hear of great stirs in those parts; and how the Emperor, a prince of great wisdom and great power, hath been driven to extreme shifts; and that by the policy of mean men, who were thought to be his friends, and not by the puissantness of others who were known to be his open enemies. I know you were wont in marking diligently and noting truly all such great affairs : and you know likewise, how desirous I am always to read any thing that you write. Write therefore, I pray you, that we your friends, being at home, may enjoy by your letters a pleasant memory of you in that time whilst
be absent abroad. Farewell in Christ. From Hatfield, xix. Octobris, 1552.
R. ASCHAM TO JOHN ASTELY.
Salutem plurimam in Christo Jesu. That part of your letter from Hatfield, decimo nono Octob. renewing a most pleasant memory of our friendly fellowship together, and full of your wonted good will towards me, I answered immediately from Spires, by Francis the post : which letter, if it be not yet come to your hand, ye might have heard tell of it in Mr. Secretary Cecil's chamber in the Court.
As concerning the other part of your letter—for your wish to have been with me in this mine absence from my country; and for your request, to be made partaker by my letters of the stir of these times here in Germany ;-surely I would you had your wish: for then should not I now need to bungle up yours so great a request, when presently you should have seen with much pleasure, which now peradventure you shall read with some doubt, lest* things may increase by writing, which were so great in doing; as I am more afraid to leave behind me much of the matter, than to gather up more than hath sprung of the truth.
Your request containeth few words, but comprehendeth both
great and divers matters. As first, the causes of the open invasion by the Turk; of the secret working for such sudden breaches in Italy and Germany; of the fine fetches in the French practices; of the double-dealing of Rome with all parties : then more particular, why Duke Octavio, the Prince of Salerne, Marquis Albert, and Duke Maurice, brake so out with the Emperor, which were all so fast knit unto him as the bonds of affinity, loyalty, blood, and benefits could assure him of them : Octavio being his son-in-law, the Prince one of his privy chamber, Marquis Albert his kinsman, and
With some doubt, lest, &c.That is, with some doubt lest I should have magnified in my narrative things that were so great in real action.
Duke Maurice 30 inhanced with honour and enriched with benefits by him, as the Duke could not have wished greater in hope, than the Emperor performed in deed. Here is stuff plenty to furnish well up a trim history, if a workman hath it in handling. When you and I read Livy together, if you do remember, after some reasoning we concluded both what was in our opinion to be looked for at his hand that would well and advisedly write a history: First point was, to write nothing false : next, to be bold to say any truth; whereby is avoided two great faults, flattery and hatred : for which two points Cæsar is read to his great praise, and Jovius the Italian to his just reproach. Then to mark diligently the causes, counsels, acts, and issues in all great attempts : and in causes, which is just or unjust; in counsels, what is proposed wisely or rashly; in acts, what is done courageously or faintly; and of every issue, to note some general lesson of wisdom and wariness, for like matters in time to come; wherein Polybius in Greek, and Philip de Comines in French, have done the duties of wise and worthy writers. Diligence also must be used in keeping truly the order of time; and describing lively, both the site of places and nature of persons, not only for the outward shape of the body, but also for the inward disposition of the mind, as Thucydides doth in many places very trimly, and Homer every where, and that always most excellently, which observation is chiefly to be marked in him; and our Chaucer doth the same, very praise-worthily: mark him well, and confer him with any other that writeth in our time in their proudest tongue whosoever list. Yet sometimes higher and lower, as matters do rise and fall: for if proper and natural words, in well-joined sentences, do lively express the matter, be it troublesome, quiet, angry, or pleasant, a man shall think not to be reading, but present in doing of the same. And herein Livy, of all other in any tongue, by mine opinion, carrieth away
the praise. Sir Thomas More, in that pamphlet of Richard the Third, doth in most part, I believe, of all these points so content all men, as if the rest of our story of England were so done, we might well compare with France, Italy, or Germany, in that behalf. But see how the pleasant remembrance of our old talk together hath carried me further than I thought to
And as for your request,--to know the cause and mander of these late stirs here, --you shall not look for such precise order now in writing, as we talked on then. No, it is not all one thing to know perfectly by reading and to perform perfectly in doing. I am not so unadvised to take so much upon me, nor you so unfriendly to look for so much from me.
But that you may know that I have not been altogether idle in this my absence, and that I will not come home as one that can say nothing of that he hath seen and heard abroad; I will homely and rudely (yet not altogether disorderly) part privately unto you such notes of affairs as I privately marked for myself; which I either felt and saw, or learned in such place and of such persons as had wills to seek for, and ways to come by, and wits to weigh the greatest matters that were to be marked in all these affairs. For no week almost hath past, in the which there hath not commonly come to my hand for the most part of the notable things that have been attempted in Turkey, Hungary, Italy, France, and Germany. In declaring to you these things, I will observe only the first two points of our wont communication ; that is, to my writing I will set forward nothing that is false, nor yet keep back any thing that is true. For I, playing no part of no one side, but sitting down as indifferent looker-on, neither Imperial nor French, but Alat English, do purpose with truth to report the matter; and seeing I shall live under such a prince as King Edward is, and in such a country as England is (I thank God) I shall have neither need to flatter the one side for profit, nor cause to fear the other side for displeasure. Therefore, let my purpose of reporting the truth as much content you, as the mean handling of the matter may mislike you. Yet speaking thus much of truth, I mean not such a hid truth as was only in the breast of Monsieur d'Arras on the Emperor's side, or in Baron Heideck on Duke Maurice's side, with whom and with one other of his counsel he only conferred all his purposes three years before he brake out with the Emperor ; but I mean 'such a truth as by conference and common consent amongst all the ambassadors and agents in this Court, and other witty and indifferent heads beside, was generally conferred and agreed upon. What better commodity to know the truth any writer in Greek, Latin, or other tongue hath had, I cannot perceive, except only Xenophon, Cæsar, and Philip de Comines; which two first worthy writers wrote their own acts so wisely, and so without all suspicion of partiality, as no man hitherto, by my opinion, hath borne himself so
uprightly in writing the histories of others: the third, having in a manner the like opportunity, hath not deserved like commendations, at least as I suppose. England hath matter, and England hath men furnished with all abilities to write; who, if they would, might bring both like praise unto themselves, and like profit to others, as these two noble men have done. They lay for their excuse, the lack of leisure ; which is true indeed : but if we consider the great affairs of Cæsar, we may judge he was worthy to win all praise, that was 80 willing and witty to win such time, when his head and his hands night and day were ever most full-Would to God that these our men, as they are ready to praise him, were even as willing to follow him, and so to win like praise themselves.
And to keep you no longer, with my private talk, from the matter itself
, I will begin at the spring of the matter from whence all these mischiefs did flow, the which now hath so overflowed the most part of Christendom, as God only from heaven must make an end of this miserable tragedy, wherein these two great princes take such pleasure still to play. In religion and liberty were said to be of many men the very causes of all these stirs: yet in my opinion, and as the matter itself shall well prove it, unkindness was the very seed whereof all these troubles did grow. A knight of England, of worthy memory for wit, learning, and experience, old Sir Thomas Wyat, wrote to his son, that the greatest mischief amongst men, and least punished, is unkindness: the greatest mischief truly, and least punished also by any ordinary law and sentence: yet, as I have seen here by experience, unkindness hath so wrought with men, as the men were not afraid to attempt their revenge, nor the Emperor able to withstand their displeasure. Yea, unkindness was only the hook, which Henry the French king hath used these late pluck from the Emperor and draw to himself so many princes and great commodities as he hath: with this hook baited with money, the bait of all inischief, the French king hath not ceased to angle at as many hearts in Italy and Ger many as he knew any matter of unkindness to be ministered unto by the Emperor.
There be few princes in all the Empire but, if I had lei. sure, I could particularly prove, and when I come home in our private talk I will fully declare, that some good big matter of unkindness hath been offered into them by the Empe.