Autodidact: self-taught

Dec
02
2012

II

by V. L. Craven

DEMOCRITUS JUNIOR TO HIS BOOK
[Paraphrastic Metrical Translation]

-0001- Go forth my book into the open day;
Happy, if made so by its garish eye.
O’er earth’s wide surface take thy vagrant way,
To imitate thy master’s genius try.
The Graces three, the Muses nine salute,
Should those who love them try to con thy lore.
The country, city seek, grand thrones to boot,
With gentle courtesy humbly bow before.
Should nobles gallant, soldiers frank and brave
Seek thy acquaintance, hail their first advance:
From twitch of care thy pleasant vein may save,
May laughter cause or wisdom give perchance.
Some surly Cato, Senator austere,
Haply may wish to peep into thy book:
Seem very nothing–tremble and revere:
No forceful eagles, butterflies e’er look.
They love not thee: of them then little seek,
And wish for readers triflers like thyself.
Of ludeful matron watchful catch the beck,
Or gorgeous countess full of pride and pelf.
They may say “pish!” and frown, and yet read on:
Cry odd, and silly, coarse, and yet amusing.
Should dainty damsels seek thy page to con,
Spread thy best stores: to them be ne’er refusing:
Say, fair one, master loves thee dear as life;
Would he were here to gaze on thy sweet look.
Should known or unknown student, freed from strife
Of logic and the schools, explore my book:
Cry mercy critic, and thy book withhold:
Be some few errors pardon’d though observ’d:
An humble author to implore makes bold.
Thy kind indulgence, even undeserv’d,
Should melancholy wight or pensive lover,
Courtier, snug cit, or carpet knight so trim
Our blossoms cull, he’ll find himself in clover,
Gain sense from precept, laughter from our whim.
Should learned leech with solemn air unfold
Thy leaves, beware, be civil, and be wise:
Thy volume many precepts sage may hold,
His well fraught head may find no trifling prize.
Should crafty lawyer trespass on our ground,
Caitiffs avaunt! disturbing tribe away!
Unless (white crow) an honest one be found;
He’ll better, wiser go for what we say.
Should some ripe scholar, gentle and benign,
With candour, care, and judgment thee peruse:
Thy faults to kind oblivion he’ll consign;
Nor to thy merit will his praise refuse.
Thou may’st be searched for polish’d words and verse
By flippant spouter, emptiest of praters:
Tell him to seek them in some mawkish verse:
My periods all are rough as nutmeg graters.
The doggerel poet, wishing thee to read,
Reject not; let him glean thy jests and stories.
His brother I, of lowly sembling breed:
Apollo grants to few Parnassian glories.
Menac’d by critic with sour furrowed brow,
Momus or Troilus or Scotch reviewer:
Ruffle your heckle, grin and growl and vow:
Ill-natured foes you thus will find the fewer,
When foul-mouth’d senseless railers cry thee down,
Reply not: fly, and show the rogues thy stern;
They are not worthy even of a frown:
Good taste or breeding they can never learn;
Or let them clamour, turn a callous ear,
As though in dread of some harsh donkey’s bray.
If chid by censor, friendly though severe,
To such explain and turn thee not away.
Thy vein, says he perchance, is all too free;
Thy smutty language suits not learned pen:
Reply, Good Sir, throughout, the context see;
Thought chastens thought; so prithee judge again.
Besides, although my master’s pen may wander
Through devious paths, by which it ought not stray,
His life is pure, beyond the breath of slander:
So pardon grant; ’tis merely but his way.
Some rugged ruffian makes a hideous rout–
Brandish thy cudgel, threaten him to baste;
The filthy fungus far from thee cast out;
Such noxious banquets never suit my taste.
Yet, calm and cautious moderate thy ire,
Be ever courteous should the case allow–
Sweet malt is ever made by gentle fire:
Warm to thy friends, give all a civil bow.
Even censure sometimes teaches to improve,
Slight frosts have often cured too rank a crop,
So, candid blame my spleen shall never move,
For skilful gard’ners wayward branches lop.
Go then, my book, and bear my words in mind;
Guides safe at once, and pleasant them you’ll find.

THE ARGUMENT OF THE FRONTISPIECE.

-0002- Ten distinct Squares here seen apart,
Are joined in one by Cutter’s art.

I.
Old Democritus under a tree,
Sits on a stone with book on knee;
About him hang there many features,
Of Cats, Dogs and such like creatures,
Of which he makes anatomy,
The seat of black choler to see.
Over his head appears the sky,
And Saturn Lord of melancholy.

II.
To the left a landscape of Jealousy,
Presents itself unto thine eye.
A Kingfisher, a Swan, an Hern,
Two fighting-cocks you may discern,
Two roaring Bulls each other hie,
To assault concerning venery.
Symbols are these; I say no more,
Conceive the rest by that’s afore.

III.
The next of solitariness,
A portraiture doth well express,
By sleeping dog, cat: Buck and Doe,
Hares, Conies in the desert go:
Bats, Owls the shady bowers over,
In melancholy darkness hover.
Mark well: If’t be not as’t should be,
Blame the bad Cutter, and not me.

IV.
I’th’ under column there doth stand
_Inamorato_ with folded hand;
Down hangs his head, terse and polite,
Some ditty sure he doth indite.
His lute and books about him lie,
As symptoms of his vanity.
If this do not enough disclose,
To paint him, take thyself by th’ nose.

V.
_Hypocondriacus_ leans on his arm,
Wind in his side doth him much harm,
And troubles him full sore, God knows,
Much pain he hath and many woes.
About him pots and glasses lie,
Newly brought from’s Apothecary.
This Saturn’s aspects signify,
You see them portray’d in the sky.

VI.
Beneath them kneeling on his knee,
A superstitious man you see:
He fasts, prays, on his Idol fixt,
Tormented hope and fear betwixt:
For Hell perhaps he takes more pain,
Than thou dost Heaven itself to gain.
Alas poor soul, I pity thee,
What stars incline thee so to be?

VII.
But see the madman rage downright
With furious looks, a ghastly sight.
Naked in chains bound doth he lie,
And roars amain he knows not why!
Observe him; for as in a glass,
Thine angry portraiture it was.
His picture keeps still in thy presence;
‘Twixt him and thee, there’s no difference.

VIII, IX.
_Borage_ and _Hellebor_ fill two scenes,
Sovereign plants to purge the veins
Of melancholy, and cheer the heart,
Of those black fumes which make it smart;
To clear the brain of misty fogs,
Which dull our senses, and Soul clogs.
The best medicine that e’er God made
For this malady, if well assay’d.

X.
Now last of all to fill a place,
Presented is the Author’s face;
And in that habit which he wears,
His image to the world appears.
His mind no art can well express,
That by his writings you may guess.
It was not pride, nor yet vainglory,
(Though others do it commonly)
Made him do this: if you must know,
The Printer would needs have it so.
Then do not frown or scoff at it,
Deride not, or detract a whit.
For surely as thou dost by him,
He will do the same again.
Then look upon’t, behold and see,
As thou lik’st it, so it likes thee.
And I for it will stand in view,
Thine to command, Reader, adieu.

THE AUTHOR’S ABSTRACT OF MELANCHOLY,
[Greek: Dialogos]

-0003- When I go musing all alone
Thinking of divers things fore-known.
When I build castles in the air,
Void of sorrow and void of fear,
Pleasing myself with phantasms sweet,
Methinks the time runs very fleet.
All my joys to this are folly,
Naught so sweet as melancholy.
When I lie waking all alone,
Recounting what I have ill done,
My thoughts on me then tyrannise,
Fear and sorrow me surprise,
Whether I tarry still or go,
Methinks the time moves very slow.
All my griefs to this are jolly,
Naught so mad as melancholy.
When to myself I act and smile,
With pleasing thoughts the time beguile,
By a brook side or wood so green,
Unheard, unsought for, or unseen,
A thousand pleasures do me bless,
And crown my soul with happiness.
All my joys besides are folly,
None so sweet as melancholy.
When I lie, sit, or walk alone,
I sigh, I grieve, making great moan,
In a dark grove, or irksome den,
With discontents and Furies then,
A thousand miseries at once
Mine heavy heart and soul ensconce,
All my griefs to this are jolly,
None so sour as melancholy.
Methinks I hear, methinks I see,
Sweet music, wondrous melody,
Towns, palaces, and cities fine;
Here now, then there; the world is mine,
Rare beauties, gallant ladies shine,
Whate’er is lovely or divine.
All other joys to this are folly,
None so sweet as melancholy.
Methinks I hear, methinks I see
Ghosts, goblins, fiends; my phantasy
Presents a thousand ugly shapes,
Headless bears, black men, and apes,
Doleful outcries, and fearful sights,
My sad and dismal soul affrights.
All my griefs to this are jolly,
None so damn’d as melancholy.
Methinks I court, methinks I kiss,
Methinks I now embrace my mistress.
O blessed days, O sweet content,
In Paradise my time is spent.
Such thoughts may still my fancy move,
So may I ever be in love.
All my joys to this are folly,
Naught so sweet as melancholy.
When I recount love’s many frights,
My sighs and tears, my waking nights,
My jealous fits; O mine hard fate
I now repent, but ’tis too late.
No torment is so bad as love,
So bitter to my soul can prove.
All my griefs to this are jolly,
Naught so harsh as melancholy.
Friends and companions get you gone,
‘Tis my desire to be alone;
Ne’er well but when my thoughts and I
Do domineer in privacy.
No Gem, no treasure like to this,
‘Tis my delight, my crown, my bliss.
All my joys to this are folly,
Naught so sweet as melancholy.
‘Tis my sole plague to be alone,
I am a beast, a monster grown,
I will no light nor company,
I find it now my misery.
The scene is turn’d, my joys are gone,
Fear, discontent, and sorrows come.
All my griefs to this are jolly,
Naught so fierce as melancholy.
I’ll not change life with any king,
I ravisht am: can the world bring
More joy, than still to laugh and smile,
In pleasant toys time to beguile?
Do not, O do not trouble me,
So sweet content I feel and see.
All my joys to this are folly,
None so divine as melancholy.
I’ll change my state with any wretch,
Thou canst from gaol or dunghill fetch;
My pain’s past cure, another hell,
I may not in this torment dwell!
Now desperate I hate my life,
Lend me a halter or a knife;
All my griefs to this are jolly,
Naught so damn’d as melancholy.

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