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speeches. So again letters of affairs from such as manage them, or are privy to them, are of all others the best instructions for history, and to a diligent reader the best histories in themselves.
For Apophthegms, it is a great loss of that book of Cæsar's; for as his history, and those few letters of his which we have, and those apophthegms which were of his own, excel all men's else, so I suppose would his collection of apophthegms have done; for as for those which are collected by others, either I have no taste in such matters, or else their choice hath not been happy. But upon these three kinds of writings I do not insist, because I have no deficiencies to propound concerning them.
Thus much therefore concerning history; which is that part of learning which answereth to one of the cells, domiciles, or offices of the mind of man; which is that of the memory.
POESY is a part of learning in measure of words for the most part restrained, but in all other points extremely licensed, and doth truly refer to the imagination; which, being not tied to the laws of matter, may at pleasure join that which nature hath severed, and sever that which nature hath joined; and so make unlawful matches and divorces of things; "Pictoribus atque poetis, &c." (Painters and poets, &c.) It is taken in two senses, in respect of words,
or matter; in the first sense it is but a character of style, and belongeth to arts of speech, and is not pertinent for the present: in the latter, it is, as hath been said, one of the principal portions of learning, and is nothing else but feigned history, which may be styled as well in prose as in verse.
The use of this feigned history hath been to give some shadow of satisfaction to the mind of man in those points wherein the nature of things doth deny it, the world being in proportion inferior to the soul; by reason whereof there is, agreeable to the spirit of man, a more ample greatness, a more exact goodness, and a more absolute variety, than can be found in the nature of things. Therefore, because the acts or events of true history have not that magnitude which satisfieth the mind of man, poesy feigneth acts and events greater and more heroical: because true history propoundeth the successes and issues of actions not so agreeable to the merits of virtue and vice, therefore poesy feigns them more just in retribution, and more according to revealed providence: because true history representeth actions and events more ordinary, and less interchanged, therefore poesy endueth them with more rareness, and more unexpected and alternative variations: so as it appeareth poesy serveth and conferreth to magnanimity, morality, and to delectation.
And therefore it was ever thought to have some participation of divineness, because it doth raise and erect the mind, by submitting the shews of things to the desires of the mind; whereas reason doth buckle and bow the mind unto the nature of things.
And we see, that by these insinuations and congruities with man's nature and pleasure, joined also with the agreement and consort it hath with music, it hath had access and estimation in rude times and barbarous regions, where other learning stood excluded.
The division of poesy, which is aptest in the propriety thereof, (besides those divisions which are common unto it with history, as feigned chronicles, feigned lives, and the appendices of history, as feigned epistles, feigned orations, and the rest) is into Poesy Narrative, Representative, and Allusive.
The Narrative is a mere imitation of history, with the excesses before remembered; choosing for subject commonly wars and love, rarely state, and sometimes pleasure or mirth.
Representative is as a visible history; and is an image of actions as if they were present, as history is of actions in nature as they are, that is past.
Allusive or parabolical is a narration applied only to express some special purpose or conceit: which
latter kind of parabolical wisdom was much more in use in the ancient times, as by the fables of Æsop, and the brief sentences of the Seven, and the use of hieroglyphics, may appear. And the cause was, for that it was then of necessity to express any point of reason, which was more sharp or subtile than the vulgar, in that manner; because men in those times wanted both variety of examples and subtilty of conceit and as hieroglyphics were before letters, so parables were before arguments. And nevertheless now, and at all times, they do retain much life and vigour; because reason cannot be so sensible, nor examples so fit.
But there remaineth yet another use of poesy parabolical, opposite to that which we last mentioned: for that tendeth to demonstrate and illustrate that which is taught or delivered, and this other to retire and obscure it: that is, when the secrets and mysteries of religion, policy, or philosophy, are involved in fables or parables.
Of this in divine poesy we see the use is authorized. In heathen poesy we see the exposition of fables doth fall out sometimes with great felicity; as in the fable that the giants being overthrown in their war against the gods, the Earth their mother in revenge thereof brought forth Fame:
"Illam Terra parens, irâ irritata deorum,
Extremam, ut perhibent, Coo Enceladoque sororem Progenuit."
(Whom, in her wrath to heav'n, the teeming Earth Produc'd the last of her gigantic birth :) expounded, that when Princes and monarches have suppressed actual and open rebels, then the malignity of people, which is the mother of rebellion, doth bring forth libels and slanders, and taxations of the state, which is of the same kind with rebellion, but more feminine. So in the fable, that the rest of the gods having conspired to bind Jupiter, Pallas called Briareus with his hundred hands to his aid; expounded, that monarchies need not fear any curbing of their absoluteness by mighty subjects, as long as by wisdom they keep the hearts of the people, who will be sure to come in on their side. So in the fable, that Achilles was brought up under Chiron the Centaur, who was part a man and part a beast; expounded ingeniously, but corruptly by Machiavel, that it belongeth to the education and discipline of princes to know as well how to play the part of the lion' in violence, and the fox in guile, as of the man in virtue and justice.
Nevertheless, in many the like encounters, I do rather think that the fable was first, and the exposition devised, than that the moral was first, and