A discourse of the adventures passed by Master F. J.

The letter of G. T. to his very friend H. W. concerning this work.

Remembering the late conference passed between us in my lodging, and how you seemed to esteem some Pamphlets which I did there show unto you far above their worth in skill, I did straightway conclude the same your judgment to proceed of two especial causes: One (and principal), the stedfast good will which you have ever hitherto sithens our first familiarity borne towards me. Another (of no less weight), the exceeding zeal and favor that you bear to good letters. The which (I agree with you) do no less bloom and appear in pleasant ditties or compendious Sonnets devised by green youthful capacities than they do fruitfully flourish unto perfection in the riper works of grave and grayhaired writers. For as in the last, the younger sort may make a mirror of perfect life, so in the first, the most frosty bearded Philosopher may take just occasion of honest recreation not altogether without wholesome lessons tending to the reformation of manners. For who doubteth but that Poets in their most feigned fables and imaginations have metaphorically set forth unto us the right rewards of virtues and the due punishments for vices?

Marry, indeed, I may not compare Pamphlets unto Poems, neither yet may justly advant for our native countrymen that they have in their verses hitherto (translations excepted) delivered unto us any such notable volume as have been by Poets of antiquity left unto the posterity. And the more pity that amongst so many toward wits no one hath been hitherto encouraged to follow the trace of that worthy and famous Knight Sir Geoffrey Chaucer and, after many pretty devises spent in youth for the obtaining a worthless victory, might consume and consummate his age in describing the right pathway to perfect felicity with the due preservation of the same. The which, although some may judge over grave a subject to be handled in style metrical, yet for that I have found in the verses of eloquent Latinists, learned Greeks, & pleasant Italians, sundry directions whereby a man may be guided toward th'attaining of that unspeakable treasure, I have thus far lamented, that our countrymen have chosen rather to win a passover praise by the wanton penning of a few loving lays than to gain immortal fame by the clerkly handling of so profitable a Theme. For if quickness of invention, proper vocables, apt Epithets, and store of monosyllables may help a pleasant brain to be crowned with Laurel, I doubt not but both our countrymen & country language might be enthronized among the old foreleaders unto the mount Helicon.

But now let me return to my first purpose, for I have wandered somewhat beside the path, and yet not clean out of the way. I have thought good (I say) to present you with this written book, wherein you shall find a number of Sonnets, lays, letters, Ballads, Rondelets, verlays and verses, the works of your friend and mine, Master F. J., and divers others, the which when I had with long travail confusedly gathered together, I thought it then Opere precium to reduce them into some good order. The which I have done, according to my barren skill, in this written Book, commending it unto you to read and to peruse, and desiring you, as I only do adventure thus to participate the sight thereof unto your former good will, even so that you will by no means make the same common: but after your own recreation taken therein that you will safely redeliver unto me the original copy. For otherwise I shall not only provoke all the authors to be offended with me, but further shall lose the opportunity of a greater matter, half and more granted unto me already, by the willing consent of one of them.

And to be plain with you, my friend, he hath written, which as far as I can learn did never yet come to the reading or perusing of any man but himself, two notable works. The one called the Sundry lots of love. The other of his own invention entitled The climbing of an Eagles nest. These things (and especially the later) doth seem by the name to be a work worthy the reading. And the rather I judge so because his fantasy is so occupied in the same, as that contrary to his wonted use, he hath hitherto withheld it from sight of any of his familiars until it be finished, you may guess him by his Nature. And therefore I require your secrecy herein, least if he hear the contrary, we shall not be able by any means to procure these other at his hands.

So fare you well, from my Chamber this tenth of August, 1572.

Yours or not his own.
G. T.

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The Adventures of Master F. J. by George Gascoigne, 1573