Nonfiction > G. Gregory Smith, ed. > Elizabethan Critical Essays
G. Gregory Smith, ed.  Elizabethan Critical Essays.  1904.
Richard Stanyhurst (1547–1618)
From the Dedication and Preface to the Translation of the Aeneid
[The Dedication and the Preface (‘Too thee Learned Reader’) are prefixed to Thee First Fov | re Bookes of Vir- | gil his Aeneis | transla | ted in too English Heroical Verse … || Imprinted at Leiden in Holland by John Pates | Anno M.D.LXXXII.
  The following extracts are taken from the copy which was formerly in the Ashburnham Library, and is now in the British Museum. The only other known copy is preserved in the library at Britwell Court, Burnham, Bucks. The second (or 1583) edition, which is now hardly less rare, was a London reprint by Henry Bynneman, the printer of the Spenser and Harvey Letters (ante, p. 87). As the difference between these editions is entirely orthographical, it appeared, prima facie, to be desirable to take the London text, partly because it is more ‘modern,’ and partly because the earlier is accessible in Mr. Arber’s excellent reprint (1880). Bynneman’s text, on the other hand, was reprinted by James Maidment in 1836 in a private issue of fifty copies. But a collation of the British Museum text of 1582 with that of 1583, in the copy presented to the library of the University of Edinburgh in 1628 by the poet William Drummond, has made it clear that the former is the better. For though Pates speaks, in his Note ‘To thee Cvrteovs Reader,’ of ‘thee nooueltye of imprinting English in theese partes, and thee absence of the author from perusing soom proofes,’ his text is more consistent with Stanyhurst’s rules, and seems, as far as the prefatory matter is concerned, to have been revised by the author. Bynneman, who is somewhat impatient of the ‘newe Ortographie vsed in the booke (whether with the writers mind or the Printers fault, I know not)’, sets himself to cut out most of the double ‘e’s and ‘o’s and other eccentricities of the text; but he retains Stanyhurst’s account of these special forms. His rendering is therefore a botch, neither illustrating his author’s theory nor conforming to contemporary English usage. Stanyhurst’s orthography, like that of the Ormulum, must be considered as a necessary part of the writer’s prosodic theory.
  The Dedication is dated ‘From Leiden in Holland, thee last of Iune 1582.’]

Too Thee Right Honovrable My Verie Looving Broother Thee Lord Baron of Dvnsanye.

WHAT deepe and rare poynctes of hydden secrets Virgil hath sealde vp in his twelue bookes of Æneis may easelye appeere too such reaching wyts as bend theyre endewours too thee vnfolding thereof, not onlye by gnibling vpon thee outward ryne of a supposed historie, but also by groaping thee pyth that is shrind vp wythin thee barck and bodye of so exquisit and singular a discourse. For where as thee chiefe prayse of a wryter consisteth in thee enterlacing of pleasure wyth profit, oure author hath so wiselye alayed thee one wyth thee oother as thee shallow reader may bee delighted wyth a smooth tale, and thee diuing searcher may bee aduantaged by sowning a pretiouse treatise. And certes this preheminencye of writing is chieflye (yf wee respect oure old latin Poëtes) too bee affurded too Virgil in this wurck, and too Ouid in his Metamorphosis. As for Ennius, Horace, Iuuenal, Persius, and thee rablement of such cheate Poëtes, theyre dooinges are, for fauoure of antiquitye, rather to be pacientlye allowed thean highlye regarded. Such leauinges as wee haue of Ennius his ragged verses are nothing current, but sauoure soomwhat nappy of thee spigget, as one that was neauer accustomed too strike vp thee drum, and too crye, in blazing martial exploytes, ‘alarme,’ but when hee were haulfe tipsye, as Horace recordeth. Thee oother three, ouer this that theyre Verses in camfering wise run harshe and rough, perfourme nothing in matter but biting quippes, taunting Darcklye certeyn men of state that liued in theyre age, beesprinckling theyre inuectiues with soom moral preceptes aunswerable too thee capacitye of eurie weake brayne. But oure Virgil, not content wyth such meigre stuffe, dooth laboure, in telling as yt were a Cantorburye tale, too ferret owt thee secretes of Nature, with woordes so fitlye coucht, wyth verses so smoothlye slyckte, with sentences so featlye orderd, with orations so neatlie burnisht, with similitudes so aptly applyed, with eeche decorum so duely obserued, as in truth hee hath in right purchased too hym self thee name of a surpassing poët, thee fame of an od oratoure, and thee admiration of a profound philosopher. Hauing therefore (mi good lord) taken vpon mee too execute soom part of mayster Askam his wyl, who, in his goulden pamphlet intituled thee Schoolemayster, dooth wish thee Vniuersitie students too applie theyre wittes in bewtifying oure English language with heroical verses, I heeld no Latinist so fit, too geeue thee onset on, as Virgil, who, for his peerelesse style and machlesse stuffe, dooth beare thee prick and price among al thee Roman Poëts. How beyt, I haue heere haulf a guesh that two sortes of carpers wyl seeme too spurne at this myne entreprise; thee one vtterlie ignorant, thee oother meanelye letterd. Thee ignorant wyl imagin that thee passage was nothing craggye, in as much as M. Phaere hath broken thee ice before mee: Thee meaner clarcks wyl suppose my trauail in theese heroical verses too carrye no great difficultie, in that yt lay in my choise too make what word I would short or long, hauing no English writer beefore mee in this kind of poëtrye with whose squire I should leauel my syllables. Too shape therefor an answer too thee first, I say they are altogeather in a wrong box: considering that such woordes as fit M. Phaer may bee very vnapt for mee, which they would confesse, yf theyre skil were, so much as spare, in theese verses. Further more, I stand so nicelie on my pantofles that way, as yf I could, yeet I would not renne on thee skore with M. Phaer or ennie oother, by borrowing his termes in so copious and fluent a language as oure English tongue is. And in good sooth althogh thee gentleman hath translated Virgil in too English rythme with such surpassing excellencie, as a verie few (in my conceit) for pyckt and loftie wordes can burd hym, none, I am wel assured, ouergoe hym: yeet hee hath rather dubled then defalckt oght of my paines, by reason that, in conferring his translation with myne, I was forced too weede owt from my verses such choise woordes as were forestald by him, vnlesse they were so feeling as oothers could not countreuaile theyre signification: In which case yt were no reason too sequester my pen from theyre acquaintance, considering that, as M. Phaer was not thee first founder, so hee may not bee accoumpted thee only owner of such termes. Truely I am so far from embeazling his trauailes, as that for thee honoure of thee English I durst vndertake too renne ouer theese bookes agayne, and too geeue theym a new liuerie in such different wise, as they should not iet with M. Phaer his badges, ne yeet bee clad with this apparaile, wherewith at this present they coom furth atyred. Which I speake not of vanitie, too enhaunce my coonning, but of meere veritie, too aduaunce thee riches of oure speeche. More ouer in soom poinctes of greatest price, where thee matter, as yt were, doth bleede, I was mooued too shun M. Phaer his enterpretation, and clinge more neere too thee meaning of myne authoure, in slising thee husk and cracking thee shel, too bestow thee kernel vpon thee wyttye and enquisitiue reader.
  [Stanyhurst then proceeds to discuss some points of difference between his version and Phaer’s.]
  Now too coom too theym that guesh my trauaile too be easye by reason of thee libertye I had in English woordes (for as I can not deuine vpon such bookes that happlye rouke in studentes mewes, so I trust I offer no man iniurie yf I assume too my selfe thee maydenhed of al wurcks that hath beene beefore this tyme in print, too my knowlegde, diuulged in this kind of verse), I wil not greatly wrangle with theym therein: yeet this much they are too consider, that as thee first applying of a woord may ease mee in thee first place, so perhaps, when I am occasioned too vse thee selfe same woord els where, I may bee as much hyndered as at thee beginning I was furthred. For example: In thee first verse of Virgil I mak season long; in an oother place yt woul[d] steede mee percase more yf I made yt short, and yeet I am now tyed too vse yt as long. So that the aduantage that way is not verie great. But as for thee general facilitiee, this much I dare warrant yoong beginners, that when they shal haue soom firme footing in this kind of Poetrie, which by a litle payneful exercise may bee purchast, they shal find as easye a veyne in thee English as in thee Latin verses, yee, and much more easye than in the English rythmes. Touching myne owne trial, this much I wil discoouer. Thee three first bokes I translated by startes, as my leasure and pleasure would serue mee. In thee fourth booke I did task my self, and persued thee matter soomwhat hoatlie. M. Phaer tooke too thee making of that booke fifteene dayes. I hudled vp myne in ten. Wherein I coouet no prayse, but rather doe craue pardon. Fore lyke as forelittring biches whelp blynd puppies, so I may bee perhaps entwighted of more haste then good speede, as Syr Thomas More in lyke case gybeth at one that made vaunt of certeyn pild verses clowted vp extrumpere.
Hos quid te scripsisse mones ex tempore versus?
  Nam liber hoc loquitur, te reticente, tuus.
But too leaue that too thee veredict of oothers (wherein I craue thee good lyking of thee curteouse, and skorne thee controlment of thee currish, as those that vsuallie reprehend moste, and yeet can amend leaste), thee ods beetweene verses and rythme is verye great. For, in thee one, euerye foote, euerye word, euerye syllable, yea euerye letter is too bee obserued: in thee oother, thee last woord is onlye too bee heeded: As is very liuelye exprest by thee lawyer in empaneling a iurye.
Johannes Doa:  Iohannes Den:  Johannes Hye:
Richardus Roa:  Willielmus Fen:  Thomas Pye:
Iohannes Myles:  Willielmus Neile:  Richardus Leake:
Thomas Giles:  Iohannes Sneile:  Johannes Peake.
Happlye such curious makers as youre lordship is wyl accompt this but rythme dogrel; but wee may suite yt wyth a more ciuil woord, by terming yt rythme peale meale—yt rowles so roundlye in thee hyrer his eares. And are there not diuerse skauingers of draftye poëtrye in this oure age, that bast theyre papers wyth smearie larde sauoring al too geather of thee frying pan? What Tom Towly is so simple that wyl not attempt too bee a rithmoure? Yf your Lordship stand in doubt thereof, what thinck you of thee thick skyn that made this for a fare wel for his mystresse vpon his departure from Abingtowne?
Abingtowne, Abingtowne, God bee wyth thee:
For thou haste a steeple lyke a dagger sheathe.
And an oother in thee prayse, not of a steeple, but of a dagger.
When al is goane but thee black scabbard,
Wel fare thee haft wyth thee duggeon dagger.
Thee therd (for I wyl present your lordship with a leshe) in thee commendacion of bacon.
Hee is not a king that weareth satten,
But hee is a king that eateth bacon.
sHaue not theese men made a fayre speake? If they had put in Mightye Ioue, and Gods in thee plural number, and Venus wyth Cupide thee blynd Boy, al had beene in thee nick, thee rythme had beene of a right stamp. For a few such stiches boch vp oure newe fashion makers: Prouyded not wythstanding alwayes that Artaxerxes, al be yt hee bee spurgalde, beeing so much gallopt, bee placed in thee dedicatorye epistle receauing a cuppe of water of a swayne, or elles al is not wurth a beane. Good God, what a frye of such wooden rythmours dooth swarme in stacioners shops, who neauer enstructed in any grammar schoole, not atayning too thee paringes of thee Latin or Greeke tongue, yeet lyke blynd bayards rush on forward, fostring theyre vayne conceites wyth such ouerweening silly follyes, as they reck not too bee condemned of thee learned for ignorant, so they bee commended of thee ignorant for learned. Thee reddyest way therefore too flap theese droanes from thee sweete senting hiues of Poëtrye is for thee learned too applye theym selues wholye (yf they be delighted wyth that veyne) too thee true making of verses in such wise as thee Greekes and Latins, thee fathers of knowledge, haue doone, and too leaue too theese doltish coystrels theyre rude rythming and balducktoom ballads….
Too Thee Learned Reader.

IN thee obseruation of quantitees of syllables, soom happlye wyl bee so stieflie tyed too thee ordinaunces of thee Latins, as what shal seeme too swarue from theyre maximes they wyl not stick too skore vp for errours. In which resolution such curious Priscianistes dooe attribute greater prerogatiue too thee Latin tongue than reason wyl affurd, and lesse libertye too oure language than nature may permit. For in as much as thee Latins haue not beene authors of theese verses, but traced in thee steps of thee Greekes, why should we with thee stringes of thee Latin rules cramp oure tongue more than the Latins doe fetter theyre speeche, as yt were wyth thee chaynes of thee Greeke preceptes. Also that nature wyl not permit vs too fashion oure wordes in al poinctes correspondent too thee Latinistes, may easely appeere in suche termes as we borrow of theym. For exemple: The first of Breuiter is short, thee first of briefly wyth vs must bee long. Lykewise, sonans is short, yeet sowning in English must bee long, and much more yf yt were Sounding, as thee ignorant generaly, but falslye, dooe wryte; nay, that where at I woonder more, thee learned trip theyre pennes at this stoane, in so much as M. Phaer in thee verye first verse of Virgil mistaketh thee woorde. Yeet sound and sowne differ as much in English as solidus and sonus in Latin. Also in thee midest of a woord wee differ soomtymes from the Romans. As in Latin wee pronounce Orâtor, Audîtor, Magîster long: in English, Ortoure, Audtoure, Magstrat short. Lykewise wee pronounce Præpro, compro short in Latin, and prepâred and compâred long in English. Agayne thee infallibelist rule that thee Latins haue for thee quantitye of middle syllables is this. Penultima acuta producitur, vt virtûtis; penultima grauata corripitur, vt sangunis. Honoure in English is short, as wyth thee Latins; yeet dishonour must bee long by thee formoure maxime: which is contrary too an oother ground of thee Latins, whereby they prescribe that thee primatiue and deriuatiue, thee simple and compound, bee of one quantitye. But that rule of al oothers must be abandoned from thee English, oother wise al woordes in effect should bee abridged. Moother I make long; yeet graundmother must bee short. Buckler is long; yeet swashbuckler is short. And albeyt that woord bee long by position, yeet doubtlesse thee natural dialect of English wyl not allow of that rule in middle syllables, but yt must bee of force with vs excepted, where thee natural pronuntiation wyl so haue yt. For ootherwise wee should bannish a number of good and necessarye wordes from oure verses; as M. Gabriel Haruye (yf I mystake not thee gentleman his name) hath verye wel obserued in one of his familiar letters: where hee layeth downe diuerse wordes straying from thee Latin preceptes, as Maiestye, Royaltye, Honestie, &c. And soothly, too my seeming, yf thee coniunction And were made common in English, yt were not amisse, although yt bee long by position: For thee Romans are greatly aduantaged by theyre woordes Et, Que, Quoque, Atque: which were they disioincted from thee Latin poetrie, many good verses would bee rauelde and dismembred that now cary a good grace among theym, hauing theyre ioynctes knit with theese copulatiue sinnewes. But too rip vp further thee peculiar propretye of oure English, let vs listen too Tullye his iudgement, wherein thogh hee seeme verie peremptorie, yeet, with his fauoure, hee misheth thee cushen. Thus in his booke intituled Orator, hee writeth, Ipsa natura, quasi modularetur hominum orationem, in omni verbo posuit acutam vocem, nee vna plus, nec a postrema syllaba citra tertiam. In this saying Tullye obserueth three poinctes. First, that by course of Nature euerye woord hath an accent: next, one only: lastlye, that thee sayde accent must be on thee last syllable, as propè, or on thee last saluing one, as Virtûtis, or, at thee furthest, on thee therd syllable, as Omnîpotens. Yeet this rule taketh no such infallible effect with vs, althogh Tully maketh yt natural, who by thee skyl of thee Greek and Latin dyd ayme at oother languages too hym vnknowen, and therefor is too bee borne wythal. As, Peremtorie is a woord of foure syllables, and yeet thee accent is on thee first. So Sêcundarie, ôrdinarie, Mâtrimonie, Pâtrimonie, Plânetarie, împeratiue, Côsmographie, ôrtography, with many lyke. For althogh thee ignorant pronounce Impêratiue, Cosmôgraphie, Ortôgraphy, geeuing the accent too thee therd syllable, yeet that is not thee true English pronuntiation. Now put case thee cantel of thee Latin verse Sapiens dominabitur astris were thus Englished, Planetary woorckinges thee wismans vertue represseth, albeyt thee middle of planeta bee long with thee Romans, yeet I would not make yt scrupulus too shorten yt in English, by reason thee natural pronountiation would haue yt so. For thee final eende of a verse is to please thee eare, which must needes bee thee vmpyre of thee woord, and according too that weight oure syllables must bee poysed. Wherefor syth thee poëtes theymselues aduouch, Tu nihil inuita facies dicesue Minerua, That nothing may bee doone or spoaken agaynst nature, and that Art is also bound too shape yt self by al imitation too Nature, wee must request theese grammatical Precisians, that as euery countrye hath his peculiar law, so they permit euerye language too vse his particular loare. For my part I purpose not too beat on euerye childish tittle that concerneth Prosodia, neither dooe I vndertake too chalck owt any lines or rules too oothers, but too lay downe too thee reader his view thee course I tooke in this my trauaile. Such woordes as proceede from thee Latin, and bee not altred by oure English, in theym I obserue thee quantitie of thee Latin. As Honest, Honor: a few I excepted, as thee first of apeered, auenture, aproched I make short, althogh they are long in Latin, as Appareo, Aduenio, Appropinquo: for which, and percase a few such woordes, I must craue pardon of thee curteous reader. For ootherwise yt were lyke ynough that soom grammatical pullet, hacht in Dispater his sachel, would stand clocking aganyst mee, as thogh hee had found an horse nest, in laying that downe for a falt that perhaps I dooe knowe better then hee. Yeet in theese diriuations of termes I would not bee doomde by euerye reaching herrault, that in roaming wise wyl attempt too fetche thee petit degree of woordes, I know not from what auncetoure. As I make thee first of Riuer short, a Wrangler may imagin yt should bee long, by reason of Riuus, of which yt seemeth too bee deriued. And yeet forsooth riuus is but a brooke, and not a riuer. Likewyse soom English woordes may bee read in soom places long, in soom short, as skyeward, seaward, searowme. Thee difference thereof groweth beecause they are but compound woordes that may bee with good sense sunderd: and thee last of Sea and skye beeing common breedeth that diuersitie. Also thee self same woord may varye beecause of thee signification. Thee first of Felon for a theefe I make long, but when yt signifieth thee disease, so named, I hold yt better too make yt short. Agayne a woord that is short beeing deuided may bee long in an oother place contracted. As thee first of Leaues, yf you deuide yt in two syllables, I make short; yf you contract yt too one syllabe, I make yt long. So thee first in Crauing is long, and thee therd person of thee verb, too wyt, Craues, may seeme short, where the next woord following beginneth with a vocal, yet yt is long by contraction: and so diuerse lyke woordes are too bee taken. And truely such nice obseruations that Grammarians dooe prescribe are not by thee choysest poëtes alwayes so preciselye put in execution: as in this oure authour I haue by thee way marckt. In thee fore front of thee first booke hee maketh thee first of Lauin[i]um long. In thee same booke hee vseth yt for short. Likewise dooth he varie thee first of Sichæus. So in thee therd booke thee midest of Cyclopes soomtyme is made long, soomtyme short. And in the same booke the coniunction Que is long, as
Liminaque laurusque Dei; totusque moueri:
And in thee fourth:
Cretesque Dryopesque fremunt, pictique Agathyrsi:
Also thee first of Italia is long: yeet in thee therd book Italus is short, as
Has autem terras, Italique hanc littoris oram.
  Touching the termination of syllables, I made a prosodia too my selfe squaring soomwhat from thee Latin: in this wise.  4
  A. finita communia. B. D. T. breuia: yeet theese woordes that eende lyke dipthonges are common: as mouth, south, &c. C. common. E. common: yf yt bee short, I wryte yt vsualy with a single E, as the, me; yf long with two, as thee, mee; althogh I would not wish thee quantitie of syllables too depend so much vpon thee gaze of thee eye as thee censure of thee eare. F. breuia. G. breuia: soomtyme long by position where D may bee enterserted, as passage is short, but yf you make yt long, passadge with D would bee written; albeyt, as I sayd right now, thee eare, not ortographie, must decyde thee quantitye as neere as is possible. I. common. K. common. L. breuia, præter Hebræa, vt Michaël, Gabriel. N. Breuia; yeet woordes eending in dipthongwise would bee common, as playne, fayne, swayne. O. common, præter ô longum. P. Breuia. R. Breuia, except woordes eending lyke dipthonges that may bee common, as youre, oure, houre, soure, succour, &c. As and Es common. Is breuia. Os common. Vs breuia. V. common. As for M. yt is either long by position, or els clipt, yf thee next woord begyn with a vocal, as fame, name: for albeyt E bee thee last letter, that must not salue M from accurtation, beecause in thee eare M is thee last letter, and E dooth noght els but leng[t]hen and mollifye thee pronountiation. As for I. Y. W., in as much as they are moungrels, soomtyme consonantes, soomtyme vocals, where they further I dooe not reiect theym, where they hinder I doe not greatlye weigh theym: As thee middle of folowing I make short, notwythstanding thee W, and lykwise the first of power: But where a consonant immediatly followeth the W, I make yt alwayes long, As fowling.  5
  This much I thoght good too acquaynt thee gentle reader wythal, rather too discoouer wyth what priuat preceptes I haue embayed my verses then too publish a directorye too thee learned, who in theyre trauayls may franckly vse theyre owne discretion wythowt my direction.  6
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