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Have all these done- and yet I miss
The swan so relished Pancharis -
And shall not I my Celia bring,
Where men may see whom I do sing?
Though I, in working of my song,
Come short of all this learned throng,
Yet sure my tunes will be the best,
So much my subject drowns the rest.



I that have been a lover, and could show it,

Though not in these, in rhymes not wholly



Since I exscribe your sonnets, am become

A better lover, and much better poet.

Nor is my Muse nor I ashamed to owe it,
To those true numerous graces, whereof some
But charm the senses, others overcome

with divers quatorzains of honorable and learned personages, divided into eight decads: 1594. Shakespeare's Sonnets were not published till thirteen years afterwards, and Constable during the interval enjoyed the reputation of being "the first sonneteer of his time." But his sonnets are infinitely inferior to those of Surrey and Wyatt, by whom he was preceded. — B.

35 The French poet Bonefons, or Bonefonius, who, in imitation of Secundus, wrote Basia, in the praise of his mistress, Pancharis.-W.

86 See ante, pp. 58, 60.

87 The Urania of Lady Mary Wroth was interspersed with numerous songs and snatches of verse, to which this passage alludes.-B.

Both brains and hearts; and mine now best do

know it:

For in your verse all Cupid's armory,

His flames, his shafts, his quiver, and his bow, His very eyes are yours to overthrow. But then his mother's sweets you so apply, Her joys, her smiles, her loves, as readers take For Venus' ceston every line you make.


Rhyme, the rack of finest wits,
That expresseth but by fits

True conceit,

Spoiling senses of their treasure,

Cozening judgment with a measure,

But false weight;

Wresting words from their true calling;

Propping verse for fear of falling

To the ground;

Jointing syllabes, drowning letters,
Fastening vowels, as with fetters

They were bound!

Soon as lazy thou wert known,

All good poetry hence was flown,

And art banished;

For a thousand years together,

All Parnassus' green did wither,

And wit vanished!

Pegasus did fly away;

At the wells no Muse did stay,

But bewailed,

So to see the fountain dry,

And Apollo's music die,

All light failed!

Starveling rhymes did fill the stage,

Not a poet in an age,

Worthy crowning;

Not a work deserving bays,

Nor a line deserving praise,

Pallas frowning.

Greek was free from rhyme's infection,

Happy Greek, by this protection,

Was not spoiled;

Whilst the Latin, queen of tongues, Is not yet free from rhyme's wrongs,

But rests foiled.

Scarce the hill again doth flourish,
Scarce the world a wit doth nourish,
To restore

Phoebus to his crown again;

And the Muses to their brain;

As before.

Vulgar languages that want

Words, and sweetness, and be scant

Of true measure,

Tyrant rhyme hath so abused,

That they long since have refused

Other cesure.

He that first invented thee,

May his joints tormented be,

Cramped forever;

Still may syllabes jar with time,
Still may reason war with rhyme,
Resting never!

May his sense when it would meet

The cold tumor in his feet,

Grow unsounder;

And his title be long fool,

That in rearing such a school

Was the founder !88


If thou wouldst know the virtues of mankind,
Read here in one, what thou in all canst find,
And go no farther: let this circle be
Thy universe, though his epitome.

Cecil, the grave, the wise, the great, the good,
What is there more that can ennoble blood?

38 Some resemblance may be traced between particular passages in this piece and the opening of Dryden's lines to the Earl of Roscommon, on translated verse, in which, following the course of poetry through the Greeks and Romans, he shows how it became debased by the introduction of rhyme: "Till barbarous nations, and more barbarous times, Debased the majesty of verse to rhymes; These rude at first; a kind of hobbling prose,

That limped along, and tinkled in the close."- B.

89 The following note is attached to this epigram in the folio: "Presented upon a plate of gold to his son, Robert, Earl of Salisbury, when he was also Treasurer." See also ante, pp. 24, 31, 32.

The orphan's pillar, the true subject's shield, The poor's full storehouse, and just servant's field;

The only faithful watchman for the realm,
That in all tempests never quit the helm,
But stood unshaken in his deeds and name,
And labored in the work, not with the fame;
That still was good for goodness' sake, nor thought
Upon reward, till the reward him sought;
Whose offices and honors did surprise,

Rather than meet him; and, before his eyes
Closed to their peace, he saw his branches shoot,
And in the noblest families took root

Of all the land:

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Who now, at such a rate,

Of divine blessing, would not serve a state?



So, justest lord, may all your judgments be
Laws; and no change e'er come to one decree:
So may the king proclaim your conscience is
Law to his law, and think your enemies his;
So, from all sickness, may you rise to health,
The care and wish still of the public wealth;
So may the gentler muses, and good fame,
Still fly about the odor of your name;

40 See ante, p. 37. A note in the folio tells us that this epigram (as also that which follows) was written for “ a poor man," who had a suit depending before Lord Elesmere.

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