TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
Elizabeth, Countess of Northumberland:
IN HER OWN RIGHT
BARONESS PERCY, LUCY, POYNINGS, FITZPAYNE, BRYAN, AND LATIMER.
THOSE writers who solicit the protection of the noble and the great are often exposed to censure by the impropriety of their addresses: a remark that will perhaps be too readily applied to him who, having nothing better to offer than the rude Songs of ancient Minstrels, aspires to the patronage of the Countess of Northumberland, and hopes that the barbarous productions of unpolished ages can obtain the approbation or the notice of her, who adorns courts by her presence, and diffuses elegance by her example.
But this impropriety, it is presumed, will disappear, when it is declared that these poems are presented to your Ladyship, not as labours of art, but as effusions of nature, showing the first efforts of ancient genius, and exhibiting the customs and opinions of remote ages, -- of ages that had been almost lost to memory, had not the gallant deeds of your illustrious Ancestors preserved them from oblivion.
No active or comprehensive mind can forbear some attention to the reliques of antiquity: it is prompted by natural curiosity to survey the progress of life and manners, and to inquire by what gradations barbarity was civilized, grossness refined, and ignorance instructed; but this curiosity, Madam, must be stronger in those who, like your Ladyship, can remark in every period the influence of some great Progenitor, and who still feel in their effects the transactions and events of distant centuries.
By such Bards, Madam, as I am now introducing to your presence, was the infancy of genius nurtured and advanced; by such were the minds of unlettered warriors softened and enlarged; by such was the memory of illustrious actions preserved and propagated; by such were the heroic deeds of the Earls of Northumberland sung at festivals in the hall of ALNWICK and those Songs which the bounty of your ancestors rewarded, now return to your Ladyship by a kind of hereditary right; and, I flatter myself, will find such reception as is usually shown to poets and historians by those whose consciousness of merit makes it their interest to be long remembered.
I am, Madam,
Your Ladyship's most humble
and most devoted servant,