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Mistress; and above all, as being distinguished by his own manuscript notes.
The volume contains three Tracts by the same author.
86 A NEW DISCOURSE OF A STALE SUBJECT, CALLED THE METAMORPHOSIS OF AJAX.
Written by MISACMOS to his friend and cosin PHILOSTILPNOS.
At London. Printed by Richard Field, dwelling in the Black friers.
At the bottom of the title page Sir John has written, in red ink,
"Seen and dissalowed."
The dedication is also in manuscript by the author, and is as follows:
"To the Right Worshipfull
bee d. d.
I will not say moche to you in the beginning of my booke, becaus I have sayd perhaps more then enough of you in the end.
I pray you take yt well for I doubt not but some will take yt ill, but yf they doe yt will be becaus they doe ill understand yt: yo' interest Bb 3
is moch in the work becaus yt is moste in the wryter. So I end the 111d of August, 1596. By the Autor."
Many readers must have seen a facetious Tract on Decency and Places of Retirement, written with considerable learning, and no small degree of humour and wit. It is not easy to say, whether the writer of that performance did or did not borrow many of his ideas from the work before us. He was probably indebted to it. There is, certainly, a great deal of genuine humour in this production from Sir John Harrington, and it is more particularly curious, as illustrative of the domestic manners of the times; but from the subject, it has cost me some little trouble to select an extract, which might not give offence to the refinements of modern delicacy. I think the following is liable to no objection on this head.
"Now (gentle reader) you haue taken much paines and perhaps some pleasure in reading our Metamorphosis of AJAX: and you supposed by this time to haue done, with me; but now with your fauour I haue not done with you. For I found by your countenance, in the reading and hearing hereof, that your conceit oft-times had censured me hardly, and that somewhat diuersley, and namely in these three kindes, First you thought me fantastical; secondly you blamed
blamed my scurrilitie; and thirdly you found me satyricall.
To which three reproofes, being neither causless nor vniust, do me but the iustice to heare my three answers.
I must needes acknowledge it fantasticall for me, whom I suppose you deeme (by many circumstances) not to be of the basest, either birth or breeding, to haue chosen, or of another man's choise to haue taken so straunge a subject. But though I confesse thus much, yet I would not haue you lay it to my charge, for if you so do, I shall straight retort all the blame or the greatest part of it vpon yourself: and namely, I would but aske you this question, & euen truly between God, and your conscience, do but answer it. If I had entituled the booke, A Sermon shewing a soueraigne salue for the sores of the soule. Or, A wholsome hauen of health to harbour the heart in. Or, A maruellous Medicine for the Maladies of the Minde, would you euer haue asked after such a booke? would these graue and sober titles haue wonne you to the view of three or four tittles? much lesse three or foure periodes? But when you heard there was one had written of A JAX, straight you had a great mind to see what strange discourse it would proue, you made enquirie who wrote it, where it might be had, when it wold come forth, you prayed your friend to buy it, Bb 4
beg it, borrow it, that you might see what good stuffe was in it. And why had you such a minde to it? I can tell you; you hoped for some meriments, some toyes, some scurrilitie, or to speake plaine English, some knauerie. Yet gine me leaue briefly to shew you what pretie pills you haue swallowed in your pleasant guadlings, and what wholsome wormewood was enclosed in these raisins of the sunne.
Against malcōtents, Epicures, Atheists, her retickes, & carelesse & dissolute Christians, and especially against pride and sensualitie, the Prologue, & the first part are chiefly intended. The second giues a due praise without flatterie, to one that is worthie of it, and a just checke without gall to some that deserue it. The third part indeed as it teacheth a reformation of the matter in question, so it toucheth in sport, à reprehension of some practises too much in custome. All which the reader that is honorable, wise, vertuous and a true louer of his country must needes take in good part. Now, gentle reader, if you will still say this is fantasticall, then I will say againe, you would not haue read it except it had been fantasticall, and if you will confesse the one, sure I will neuer denie the other.
The second fault you object is scurrilitie, to which I answer, that I confesse the objection but I denie the fault, and if I might know whether
whether he were Papist or Protestant that maketh this objectiō I wold soone answer them: namely thus; I would cite a principall writer of either side and I would proue that either of the hath vsed more obscenous, foule and scurrill phrases (not in defence of their matter but in defacing of their adversaries) in one leafe of their bookes then is in all this. Yet they professe to write of the highest, the holiest, the waightiest matters that can be imagined, and I write of the basest, the barrennest and most witlesse subject that can be described.
Quod decuit tantos cur mihi turpe putem?
I forbeare to shew examples of it, least I should be thought to disgrace men of holy and worthie memorie.
For such as shall find fault that it is too satyricall, surely I suppose their judgment shall sooner be condemned by the wiser sort then my writings. For whe all the learned writers, godly preachers and honest liuers over all England (yea over all Europe, renew that old complaint,
Regnare nequitiam et in deterius res humanas labi.
When wee heare them say daily that there was neuer vnder so gracious a head so gracelesse members, after so sincere teaching so sinfull liuing, in so shining light such works of darke