Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

told by an historiographer, should be the twelfth booke, which is the last; where I devise that the Faery Queene kept her annuall feaste xii. dayes, uppon which xii. şeverall dayes, the occasions of the xii. several adventures hapned, which being undertaken by xii. severall knights, are in these xii. books severally handled and discoursed. The first was this. In the beginning of the feast, there presented him selfe a tall clownish younge man, who, falling before the Queen of Faries, desired a boone (as the manner then was) which during that feast she might not refuse: which was that hee might have the atchievement of any adventure, which during that feaste should happen: that being graunted, he rested him on the floore, unfitte through his rusticity for a better place. Soone after entred a faire ladye in mourning weedes, riding on a white asse, with a dwarfe behind her leading a warlike steed, that bore the armes of a knight, and his speare in the dwarfes hand. Shee, falling before the Queene of Faeries, complayned that her father and mother, an ancient king and queene, had bene by an huge dragon many years shut up in a brasen castle, who thence suffred them not to yssew: and therefore besought the Faery Queene to assygne her some one of her knights to take on him that exployt. Presently that clownish person, upstarting, desired that adventure: whereat the Queene much wondering, and the lady much gainesaying, yet he earnestly importuned his desire. In the end the lady told him, that unlesse that armour which she brought would serve him (that is, the armour of a Christian man specified by Saint Paul, vi. Ephes.), that he could not succeed in that enterprise: which being forthwith put upon him with dewe furnitures thereunto, he seemed the goodliest man in al that company, and was well liked of the lady. And eftesoones taking on him knighthood, and mounting on that straunge courser, he went forth with her on that adventure: where beginneth the first booke vz.

A gentle knight was pricking on the playne, &c. The second day ther came in a palmer bearing an infant with bloody hands, whose parents he complained to have bene slayn by an enchaunteresse called Acrasia: and therfore craved of the Faery Queene, to appoint him some knight to performe that adventure; which being assigned to Sir Guyon, he presently went forth with that same palmer: which is the beginning of the second booke and the whole subject thereof. The third day there came in a groome, who complained before the Faery Queene, that a vile enchaunter, called Busirane, had in hand a most faire lady, called Amoretta, whom he kept in most grievous torment, because she would not yield him the pleasure of her body. Whereupon Sir Scudamour, the lover of that lady, presently tooke on him that adventure. But being unable to performe it by reason of the hard enchauntments, after long sorrow, in the end met with Britomartis, who succoured him, and reskewed his love.

But by occasion hereof, many other adventures are intermedled, but rather as accidents then intendments: as the love of Britomart, the overthrow of Marinell, the misery of Florimell, the vertuousnes of Belphebe, the lasciviousnes of Hellenora, and many the like.

Thus much, Sir, I have briefly overronne, to direct your understanding to the wel-head of the history, that from thence gathering the whole intention of the conceit, ye may, as in a handfull, gripe al the discourse, which other. wise may happily seeme tedious and confused. So humbly craving the continuance of your honourable favour towards me, and th’ eternall establishment of your happines, I humbly take leave.

23. January, 1589. Yours most humbly affectionate,

Ed. Spenser.

PREFACE TO THE
HISTORY OF THE WORLD

BY SIR WALTER RALEIGH (1614)

bey first dawnsolved me. For though exceed of this mixmad

TTOW unfit and how unworthy a choice I have made

H of myself, to undertake a work of this mixture, II mine own reason, though exceeding weak, hath sufficiently resolved me. For had it been begotten then with my first dawn of day, when the light of common knowledge began to open itself to my younger years, and before any wound received either from Fortune or Time, I might yet well have doubted that the darkness of Age and Death would have covered over both It and Me, long before the performance. For, beginning with the Creation, I have proceeded with the History of the World; and lastly purposed (some few sallies excepted) to confine my discourse with this our renowned Island of Great Britain. I confess that it had better sorted with my disability, the better part of whose times are run out in other travails, to have set together (as I could) the unjointed and scattered frame of our English affairs, than of the universal: in whom, had there been no other defect (who am all defect) than the time of the day, it were enough; the day of a tempestuous life, drawn on to the very evening ere I began. But those inmost and soulpiercing wounds, which are ever aching while uncured; with the desire to satisfy those few friends, which I have tried by the fire of adversity, the former enforcing, the latter per

A sketch of the life of Raleigh will be found prefixed to his “ Dis. covery of Guiana " in the volume of “Voyages and Travels." His “ His. tory of the World” was written during his imprisonment in the Tower of London, which lasted from 1603 to 1616. The Preface is interesting not only as a fine piece of Elizabethan prose, but as exhibiting the attitude toward history, and the view of the relation of history to religion and philosophy, which characterized one who represented with exceptional vigor the typical Elizabethan man of action and who was also a man of thought and imagination.

(5) HC XXXIX

69

[ocr errors]

suading; have caused me to make my thoughts legible, and myself the subject of every opinion, wise or weak.

To the world I present them, to which I am nothing indebted: neither have others that were, (Fortune changing) sped much better in any age. For prosperity and adversity have evermore tied and untied vulgar affections. And as we see it in experience, that dogs do always bark at those they know not, and that it is their nature to accompany one another in those clamors: so it is with the inconsiderate multitude; who wanting that virtue which we call honesty in all men, and that especial gift of God which we call charity in Christian men, condemn without hearing, and wound without offence given: led thereunto by uncertain report only; which his Majesty truly acknowledgeth for the author of all lies. “Blame no man," saith Siracides,"before thou have inquired the matter: understand first, and then reform righteously. 'Rumor, res sine teste; sine judice, maligna, fallax'; Rumor is without witness, without judge, malicious and deceivable." This vanity of vulgar opinion it was, that gave St. Augustine argument to affirm, that he feared the praise of good men, and detested that of the evil. And herein no man hath given a better rule, than this of Seneca; “ Conscientiæ satisfaciamus: nihil in famam laboremus, sequatur vel mala, dum bene merearis.” “Let us satisfy our own consciences, and not trouble ourselves with fame: be it never so ill, it is to be despised so we deserve well."

For myself, if I have in anything served my Country, and prized it before my private, the general acceptation can yield me no other profit at this time, than doth a fair sunshine day to a sea-man after shipwreck; and the contrary no other harm, than an outrageous tempest after the port attained. I know that I lost the love of many, for my fidelity towards Her,' whom I must still honor in the dust; though further than the defence of her excellent person, I never persecuted any man. Of those that did it, and by what device they did it, He that is the Supreme Judge of all the world, hath taken the account: so as for this kind of suffering, I must say with Seneca, “ Mala opinio, bene parta, delectat.”

1 Queen Elizabeth. 9" An ill opinion, honorably acquired, is pleasing."

As for other men; if there be any that have made themselves fathers of that fame which hath been begotten for them, I can neither envy at such their purchased glory, nor much lament mine own mishap in that kind; but content myself to say with Virgil, “Sic vos non vobis," in many particulars. To labor other satisfaction, were an effect of frenzy, not of hope, seeing it is not truth, but opinion, that can travel the world without a passport. For were it otherwise; and were there not as many internal forms of the mind, as there are external figures of men; there were then some possibility to persuade by the mouth of ne advocate, even equity alone.

But such is the multiplying and extensive virtue of dead earth, and of that breath-giving life which God hath cast upon time and dust, as that among those that were, of whom we read and hear; and among those that are, whom we see and converse with; everyone hath received a several picture of face, and everyone a diverse picture of mind; everyone a form apart, everyone a fancy and cogitation differing: there being nothing wherein Nature so much triumpheth as in dissimilitude. From whence it cometh that there is found so great diversity of opinions; so strong a contrariety of inclinations; so many natural and unnatural; wise, foolish, manly, and childish affections and passions in mortal men. For it is not the visible fashion and shape of plants, and of reasonable creatures, that makes the difference of working in the one, and of condition in the other; but the form internal.

And though it hath pleased God to reserve the art of reading men's thoughts to himself: yet, as the fruit tells the name of the tree; so do the outward works of men (so far as their cogitations are acted) give us whereof to guess at the rest. Nay, it were not hard to express the one by the other, very near the life, did not craft in many, fear in the most, and the world's love in all, teach every capacity, according to the compass it hath, to qualify and make over their inward deformities for a time. Though it be also true, “Nemo potest diu personam ferre fictam: cito in naturam suam residunt, quibus veritas non subest”: “No man can

s“ So you not to yourselves."

« AnteriorContinuar »