Ajax - AN APOLOGY.

AN APOLOGY.

BUT pah! what have I talked of all this while? of A JAX? Pa-pe, what an unsavoury argument is this! Nay, fie, I marvel you would read it. I have lost all my credit with our wenches, if they hear that my pen has thus polluted my paper.<1> But alas! it is but my fortune and not my fault; I am forced thereto: when the master is in the imperative mood, the man must obey in the present tense,<2> though, he should be thought for his labour, As in praesenti, perfectum format in avi, ut no, nas, knavi,<3>&c. Well, yet you see, I have not forgot all my grammar. I wis it were better for us servingmen, if you masters would do more in the dative case, and speak less in the imperative mood.<4> If you will be lecherous, we must be bawds; if you will be quarrellous, we must be ruffians: and now my master plays the physician, I must be the apothecary. If he cast the water, I must minister the clyster. What is the remedy?

Delirant domini, famuli plectuntur: iniquum est.
The men still bear their masters sin;
But little justice is therein.

But a great many of my master's betters, may say for themselves:

Mea (contendere noli) stultitiam patiuntur opes.
To strive with us it is but vain,

Our wealth our follies will sustain.<5>

Wherefore, now to say somewhat for myself, and as it were to play one bout in mine own defence (for if Zoilus have already bitten at my master's banquet, it may be some Momes will mock me for my short pittance). First, therefore, to answer some Ciceronians, that maintain that such a word as Stercutius should not be named in civility (to omit, that where he condemns it, there he useth it, and in one place besides)<6> But I would ask some rhetoric reader (for sometimes eloquence hath thought it good to give the sword and buckler place), whether it be not as civil a phrase to say, Stercutius is made a noun adjective, as these few that I will here recite; which, if I should English, they would make some perhaps cast up their gorges. Against Piso, a great nobleman, his better in birth, his equal in office;

<7>Cum hac me peste et labe confero? Meministi, caenum; nescio quo egurgustio te prodire obvoluto capite soleatum? foetidam nobis popinam exhalasti. Unde tu nos partim turpissime respondendo, partim foedissime eructando ejecisti.<8>

<9 >And against the worthy Anthony (whom so noble pens have celebrated), mark what he saith, and where; even in the senate. But first, you must imagine that Anthony had had a little mischance while he sat in judgment on the bench (perhaps some foolish orator, that could not tell a slovenly tale cleanly, had been arguing of purgare and reficere cloacam <10>; whereby, the nobleman being queasy, laid open his stomach; and Tully, owing him a grudge, a year after lays it in his dish, in these sweet words;

<11> O rem non modo visu foedam; sed etiam auditu, etc. In coetu Populi Romani negotium publicum gerens, cui ructare turpe esset, is frustis esculentis, vinum redolentibus gremium suum et totum tribunal implevit.<12>

Thus, you see, your M. T. C. <13> when it pleased him to displease others, would use words as bad as the best of us.

But to argue succinctly (as they call it), I say, that that some call scurrility, in this book is indeed but a check to scurrility: I will prove it will teach one to mend his fault, will show the fault in themselves first.<14> Also the incomparable poet of our age, to give a most artificial reproof of following the letter too much, commits the same fault of purpose.

You that do dictionary method bring

Into your rhymes, running in rattling rows.
Sir P. Sydney.

Further, this book where it seems most loose, mark if it do not stop rather than open all gaps of lasciviousness.<15>

But lest some bad disputers, confessing the premises to be true, should deny the conclusion, let me deal sillogistice in mood and figure.<16> And that the syllogism may be suitable to the proposition, let it be in the third figure, the fifth mood, called Bocardo.<17>

Major: Some homely words in necessary matters are not to be condemned.
Minor: But all ages, all writers, all states, have used these words in these matters.
Conclusion: Ergo, the title of the book should not be condemned.

Now if any be in so fierce a figure, and in so angry a mood, that he will reduce all to Barbara, I think we should chop logic best with such a one in ferio.

But if an argument be brought against us inthe second figure, in a sober mood, and in the sacred name of Cesare; in this wise: <18>

1. No words obscene, scurrilous, and sordid, should come to modest, chaste, and virtuous ears;
2. But all words concerning the subject of the book, are obscene, scurrilous, and sordid:

3. Ergo, no part of the book is approvable.

Faith, then we are all non plus. I would our festino had been coelarent;<19> for there is no denying nor replying to that mood; but only say, God save the queen, and pray for the psalm of mercy.

Well, yet I trust, however my master speeds, I shall do well enough. Aquila non capit muscas.<20> Wherefore, to conclude, and to grace myself a little with you and your friends, let me tell you some of my adventures. A servant's boast, you know, is to be like his master. Lo! then how many ways I can liken me to him.

1. First, we are near of an age; past our fool age, neither young nor old.<21>
2. Both of a complexion; inclining to the oriental colour of a Croydon sanguine.

3.Like in disposition; not idle, nor well occupied.

4. One of my kin did teach him at Eton, and one of his kin taught me at Oxford.

5. We have been beyond sea, but never out of the queen's dominions. In England, beyond Wales;<22> in Ireland, on this side England:<23> where we saw young children mothers at eleven, young women old at twenty-three: we saw some fair with little dressing, fat with scant feeding, and warm with thin clothing.
Excellent religion; mass in the morning, common prayer at noon, common dancing at night;<24> we went as undertakers thither, we came back overtaken; as for those that mocked us so, God and our Lady, and one more go with them.

6. Since this travel we have been both poetical, and I musical and pictorical; and though we may lie and steal by authority, yet we are taken for true men, and have holp to hang thieves.

7. At this hour some of our friends think us worthy of better fortunes than we have; but none is our friend so much to help us to them.

8. We have played, and been played with, for our writings: Si quis quod fecit, patiatur jus erit equum.<25> If you do take but such as you give, it is one for another; but if they that play so, would give us but a piece of gold for every good verse we think we have made, we should leave some of them but poor fellows. <26> But soft, if I shUuld tell all, he would say, I am of kin to Sauntus Ablabius. It is no matter, since he made me write of Sauntus Accachius.

But now, that you may know I have been a dealer in emblems, I will conclude with a device not sharp in conceit, but of venerable antiquity; and yet by my masters own computation, it is not so ancient as dame Cloacina, by eighteen hundred years and more. Now riddle me what name is this. <27>

{Illustration 7 device canting John Harington's name}

The (grace of God) guides well both age and youth;
Fly sin with fear, as harmless
(hare) doth hound;
Like precious
(ring) embrace more precious truth;
As
(tun) full of good juice, not empty sound;
In these right scann'd, Misacmos' name is found.

Prev Next