1 ________________________________________________________________________ PREFACE TO SIDNEY’S ASTROPHEL AND STELLA
Somewhat To Read For Them That List Tempus adest plausus, aurea pompa venit, so ends the scene of idiots, and enter Astrophel in pomp. Gentlemen, that have seen a thousand lines of folly drawn forth ex uno puncto impudentiae, & two famous mountains to go to the conception of one mouse, that have had your ears deafened with the echo of Fame’s brazen towers, when only they have been touched with a leaden pen, that have seen Pan sitting in his bower of delights, & a number of Midases to admire his miserable hornpipes, let not your surfeited sight, new come from such puppet play, think scorn to turn aside into this theatre of pleasure, for here you shall find a paper stage strewed with pearl, an artificial heaven to overshadow the fair frame, & crystal walls to encounter your curious eyes, whiles the tragi-comedy of love is performed by starlight. The chief actor here is Melpomene, whose dusky robes, dipped in the ink of tears, as yet seem to drop when I view them near. The argument, cruel chastity; the prologue, hope; the epilogue, despair; Videte, queso, et linguis animisque fauete. And here, peradventure, my witless youth may be taxed with a margent note of presumption for offering to put up any motion of applause in the behalf of so excellent a poet (the least syllable of whose name, sounded in the ears of judgement, is able to give the meanest line he writes a dowry of immortality), yet those that observe how jewels oftentimes come to their hands that know not their value, & that the coxcombs of our days, like Aesop’s cock, had rather have a barley-kernel wrapped up in a ballad than they will dig for the wealth of wit in any ground that they know not, I hope will also hold me excused, though I open the gate to his glory, & invite idle ears to the admiration of his melancholy. Quid petitur sacris nisi tantum fama poetis? Which although it be...
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