G. Gregory Smith, ed. Elizabethan Critical Essays. 1904.
Spenser-Harvey Correspondence: Letters on Reformed Versifying, &c. 157980
Edmund Spenser to Gabriel Harvey [III]
To My Long Approoued and Singular Good Frende, Master G. H.
Good Master H. I doubt not but you haue some great important matter in hande, which al this while restraineth youre Penne and wonted readinesse in prouoking me vnto that wherein your selfe nowe faulte. If there bee any such thing in hatching, I pray you hartily lette vs knowe before al the worlde see it. But if happly you dwell altogither in Iustinians Courte, and giue your selfe to be deuoured of secreate Studies, as of all likelyhood you doe, yet at least imparte some your olde or newe, Latine or Englishe, Eloquent and Gallant Poesies to vs, from whose eyes, you saye, you keepe in a manner nothing hidden. Little newes is here stirred: but that olde greate matter still depending. His Honoure neuer better. I thinke the Earthquake was also there wyth you (which I would gladly learne) as it was here with vs, ouerthrowing diuers old buildings and peeces of Churches. Sure verye straunge to be hearde of in these Countries, and yet I heare some saye (I knowe not howe truely) that they haue knowne the like before in their dayes. Sed quid vobis videtur magnis Philosophis? I like your late English Hexameters so exceedingly well that I also enure my Penne sometime in that kind: whyche I fynd indeede, as I haue heard you often defende in worde, neither so harde, nor so harshe, that it will easily and fairely yeelde it selfe to oure Moother tongue. For the onely or chiefest hardnesse, whych seemeth, is in the Accente; whyche sometime gapeth, and, as it were, yawneth ilfauouredly, comming shorte of that it should, and sometime exceeding the measure of the Number, as in Carpenter the middle sillable, being vsed shorte in speache, when it shall be read long in Verse, seemeth like a lame Gosling that draweth one legge after hir: and Heauen, beeing vsed shorte as one sillable, when it is in Verse stretched out with a Diastole, is like a lame Dogge that holdes vp one legge. But it is to be wonne with Custome, and rough words must be subdued with Vse. For why, a Gods name, may not we, as else the Greekes, haue the kingdome of oure owne Language, and measure our Accentes by the sounde, reseruing the Quantitie to the Verse? Loe, here I let you see my olde vse of toying in Rymes turned into your artificial straightnesse of Verse by this Tetrasticon. I beseech you tell me your fancie without parcialitie.
See yee the blindefoulded pretie God, that feathered Archer,
Of Louers Miseries which maketh his bloodie Game?
Wote ye why his Moother with a Veale hath coouered his Face?
Trust me, least he my Looue happely chaunce to beholde.
Seeme they comparable to those two, which I translated you ex tempore in bed, the last time we lay togither in Westminster?
That which I eate did I ioy, and that which I greedily gorged.
As for those many goodly matters leaft I for others.
I would hartily wish you would either send me the Rules and Precepts of Arte, which you obserue in Quantities, or else followe mine, that M. Philip Sidney gaue me, being the very same which M. Drant deuised, but enlarged with M. Sidneys own iudgement, and augmented with my Obseruations, that we might both accorde and agree in one, leaste we ouerthrowe one an other and be ouerthrown of the rest. Truste me, you will hardly beleeue what greate good liking and estimation Maister Dyer had of youre Satyricall Verses, and I, since the viewe thereof, hauing before of my selfe had speciall liking of Englishe Versifying, am euen nowe aboute to giue you some token, and howe well therein I am able to doe: for, to tell you trueth, I minde shortely at conuenient leysure to sette forth a Booke in this kinde, whyche I entitle Epithalamion Thamesis, whyche Booke I dare vndertake wil be very profitable for the knowledge and rare for the Inuention and manner of handling. For in setting forth the marriage of the Thames I shewe his first beginning and offspring, and all the Countrey that he passeth thorough, and also describe all the Riuers throughout Englande whyche came to this Wedding, and their righte names, and right passage, &c. A worke, beleeue me, of much labour, wherein notwithstanding Master Holinshed hath muche furthered and aduantaged me, who therein hath bestowed singular paines in searching oute their firste heades and sources, and also in tracing and dogging oute all their course til they fall into the Sea.
O Tite, siquid ego,
Ecquid erit pretii?
But of that more hereafter. Nowe, my Dreames and Dying Pellicane being fully finished (as I partelye signified in my laste Letters) and presentlye to bee imprinted, I wil in hande forthwith with my Faery Queene, whyche I praye you hartily send me with al expedition; and your frendly Letters and long expected Iudgement wythal, whyche let not be shorte, but in all pointes suche as you ordinarilye vse and I extraordinarily desire. Multum vale. Westminster, Quarto Nonas Aprilis 1580. Sed, amabo te, meum Corculum tibi se ex animo commendat plurimum: iam diu mirata, te nihil ad literas suas responsi dedisse. Vide quaeso, ne id tibi Capitale sit: Mihi certe quidem erit, neque tibi hercle impune, vt opinor, iterum vale, et quam voles saepe.