by Thomas Watson

Dedications and Introductory Poems
Transcribed by Barboura Flues. Web version created by Robert Brazil.
copyright © 2002

Some, but not all footnotes are derived from the original publication.
Notes that derived from Graves The Greek Myths are marked (Graves).
Notes from the transcriber are marked (BF).
Words/phrases described in the glossary are underlined.



Centurie of

To the Right Honorable my
very good Lord Edward de Vere, Earle
of Oxenford, Viscount Bulbecke, Lord

of Escales, and Badlesmere, and Lord High
Chamberlain of England, all

Alexander the Great, passing on a time by the workshop of Apelles, curiously surveyed some of his doings, whose long stay in viewing them brought all the people into so great a good liking of the painter's workmanship, that immediately after they bought up all his pictures, what price soever he set them at.
  And the like good hap (Right Honorable) befell unto me lately concerning these my Love Passions, which then chanced to Apelles for his Portraits. For since the world hath understood (I know not how) that your Honor had willingly vouchsafed the acceptance of this work, and at convenient leisures favorably perused it, being as yet but in written hand, many have oftentimes and earnestly called upon me to put it to the press, that for their money they might but see what your Lordship with some liking had already perused. And therewithal some of them said (either to yield your Honor his due praise, for soundness of judgment; or to please me, of whom long since they had conceived well) that Alexander would like of no lines, but such as were drawn by the cunning hand, and with the curious pencil, of Apelles. Which I set not down here to that end, that I would confer my Poems with Apelle's Portraits for worthiness; albeit I fitly compare your Honor's person with Alexander's for excellence. But how bold soever I have been in turning out this my petty poor flock upon the open Common of the wide world, where every man may behold their nakedness, I humbly make request that if any storm fall unlooked-for (by the fault of malicious high foreheads or the poison of evil-edged tongues) these my little ones may shroud themselves under the broad-leafed Platane of your Honor's patronage. And thus at this present, I humbly take my leave; but first wishing the continual increase of your Lordship's honor, with abundance of true Friends, reconciliation of all Foes, and what good soever tendeth unto perfect happiness.

Your Lordship's humbly at command

Thomas VVatson

To the friendly Reader.

Courteous Reader, if any thing herein either please or profit thee, afford me thy good word in recompense of my pains: if ought offend or hurt thee, I desire that thou forget the one and forgive the other. This toy being liked, the next may prove better; being discouraged, will cut off the likelihood of my travail to come. But by that means all will be well, and both parties pleased. For neither shall I repent my labor in the like, nor thou be any more troubled with my faults or follies.
  Yet for this once I hope that thou wilt in respect of my travail in penning these love-passions, or for pity of my pains in suffering them (although but supposed) so survey the faults herein escaped, as either to wink at them, as oversights of a blind Lover; or to excuse them, as idle toys proceeding from a youngling frenzy; or lastly, to defend them by saying, it is nothing Praeter decorum for a maimed man to halt in his pace, where his wound enforceth him, or for a Poet to falter in his Poem when his matter requireth it. Homer, in mentioning the swiftness of the wind, maketh his verse to run in post-haste all upon Dactilus: and Virgil in expressing the striking-down of an ox, letteth the end of his hexameter fall withal, Procumbit humi bos.
  Therefore, if I rough-hewed my verse, where my sense was unsettled, whether through the nature of the passion, which I felt, or by rule of art, which I had learned, it may seem a happy fault; or if it were so framed by counsel, thou mayest think it well done; if by chance, happily.

Yet write I not this to excuse myself of such errors, as are escaped either by dotage, or ignorance; but those I refer to thy gentle courtesy and favorable construction, or lay many of them upon the Printer's neck, whom I would blame by his own press, if he would suffer me.
  As for any Aristarchus, Momus, or Zoilus, if they pinch me more than is reasonable, thou courteous Reader, which art of a better disposition, shalt rebuke them in my behalf; saying to the first that my birds are all of mine own hatching and that my only over-much haste made Sol angry in their Birthday; to the second, that although Venus be in my verse, yet her slipper is left out; to the last and worst, that I rather take upon me to write better than Chaerilus, than once suppose to imitate Homer.
  I am over-long, as well for the fear I had to be bitten by such as are captious, as for the desire I have to please thee that art friendly. But since I now well remember me, that nothing is more easily let flown, nothing sooner dispersed, nothing later recalled back again, than the bitter blast of an evil-spoken man, and that he whom it shall hurt had no recure but by patience; I will set it behind my heel as a hurt remedyless, or else, when it comes, salve it up with patience.
  In the mean space (courteous Reader) I once again crave the favorable judgment: and so, for brevity's sake, abruptly make an end; committing thee to God, and my work to thy favor.

Thine, as thou art his,
Thomas Watson.

John Lyly to the Author his friend.

My good friend, I have read your new passions, and they have renewed mine old pleasures, the which brought to me no less delight than they have done to yourself commendations. And certes had not one of mine eyes about serious affairs been watchful, both by being too too busy had been wanton: such is the nature of persuading pleasure, that it melteth the marrow before it scorch the skin, and burneth before it warmeth: Not unlike unto the oil of Jeat, which rotteth the bone and never rankleth the flesh, or the Scarab flies, which enter into the root and never touch the rind.
  And whereas you desire to have my opinion, you may imagine that my stomach is rather cloyed than queasy, and therefore mine appetite of less force than mine affection, fearing rather a surfeit of sweetness than desiring a satisfying. The repeating of Love wrought in me a remembrance of liking, but searching the very veins of my heart, I could find nothing but a broad scar where I left a deep wound: and loose string, where I tied hard knots: and a table of steel where I framed a plot of wax.
  Whereby I noted that young swans are gray and the old white, young trees tender and the old tough, young men amorous, and growing in years, either wiser or warier. The Coral in the water is a soft weed, on the land a hard stone: a sword frieth in the fire like a black eel, but laid in earth like white snow: the heart in love is altogether passionate but free from desire, altogether careless.
  But it is not my intent to inveigh against love, which women account but a bare word, and that men reverence as the best God: only this I would add without offense to Gentlewomen, that were not men more superstitious in their praises, than women are constant in their passions: Love would either shortly be worn out of use, or men out of love, or women out of lightness. I can condemn none but by conjecture, nor commend any but by lying, yet suspicion is as free as thought, and as far as I see as necessary as credulity.
  Touching your Mistress I must needs think well, seeing you have written so well, but as false glasses show the fairest faces, so fine glozes amend the baddest fancies. Apelles straight leg, whom nature framed with a poult-foot, which proveth men to be of greater affection their judgment. But in that so aptly you have varied upon women, I will not vary from you, so confess I must, and if I should not, yet mought I be compelled, that to Love were the sweetest thing in the earth: If women were the faithfullest, and that women would be more constant if men were more wise. And seeing you have used me so friendly, as to make me acquainted with your passions, I will shortly make you privy to mine, which I would be loath the printer should see, for that my fancies being never so crooked, he would put them in straight lines, unfit for my humor, necessary for his art, who setteth down, blind, in as many letters as seeing.


Authoris ad Libellum
(Latin Poem # 1)

A Quatorzain, in the com-
mendation of Master Thomas
and of his Mistress, for whom
he wrote this Book of Passionate

THe stars, which did at Petrarch's birthday reign,
Were fix'd again at thy nativity,
Destining thee the Tuscan's poesy,
Who scaled the skies in lofty Quatorzain,
The Muses gave to thee thy fatal vein,
The very fame that Petrarch had, whereby
Madonna Laura's fame is grown so high,
And that whereby his glory he did gain.
Thou hast a Laura, whom well thou dost commend,
And to her praise thy passion songs do tend;
Ye both such praise deserve, as naught can smother;
In brief, with Petrarch and his Laura in grace
Thou and thy Dame be equal, save percase
Thou pass the one, and she excels the other.

G. Bucke.

To the Author.
Thy book beginning sweet and ending sour,
Dear friend, bewrays thy false success in love,
Where smiling first, thy Mistress falls to lower,
When thou did'st hope her courtesy to prove;
And finding thy expected luck to fail,
Thou fall'st from praise, and dost begin to rail.
To use great terms in praise of thy device,
I think were vain: therefore I leave them out;
Content thee, that the Censure of the wise
Hath put that needless question out of doubt:
Yet how I weight the work that thou hast wrought,
My judgment I refer unto thy thought.
T. Acheley.

An Ode, written to the Muses Concerning
this Author.

You sacred Nymphs, Apollo's sisters fair,
Daughters of Jove, parents of rare device,
Why take you no delight in change of air?
Is Helicon your only paradise?
Hath Britain soil no hill, no heath, no well,
No weed, no wit, wherein you list to dwell?
Ladies vouchsafe with patience once to view
Our lively springs, high hills, and pleasant shades,
And as you like the seat and country's hue,
Pitch down your tents, and use your sporting trades;
Hard hap it is, if nothing here you find
That you can deem delightful to your mind.
Lo Watson press'd to entertain your power
In pleasant springs of flowing wit and skill;
If you esteem the pleasures of his bower,
Let Britain bear your spring, your grove and hill,
That it hence forth may of your favor boast,
And him, whom first you here vouchsafe for host.
C. Downhalus.

Eivsdem aliud de Authore.

Poem #2)

It's seldom seen that Merit hath his due,
Or else Desert to find his just desire:
For now Reproof with his defacing crew
Treads underfoot that rightly should aspire:
Mild Industry discourag'd hides his face,
And shuns the light, in fear to meet Disgrace.
Seld seen said I (yet always seen with some)
That Merit gains good will, a golden hire,
With whom Reproof is cast aside for scum;
That grows apace that virtue helps t' aspire;
And Industry well cherish'd to his face
In sunshine walks, in spite of sour Disgrace.
This favor hath put life into the pen,
That here presents his first fruit in this kind;
He hopes acceptance, friendly grant it then;
Perchance some better work doth stay behind.
My censure is, which reading you shall see,
A Pithy, sweet, and cunning poesy.
M. Royden.

To the Author.
IF graver heads shall count it over-light,
To treat of Love: say thou to them: A stain
Is incident unto the finest die.
And yet no stain at all it is for thee,
These lays of Love, as mirth to melancholy,
To follow fast thy sad Antigone,
Which may bear out a broader work than this,
Compil'd with judgment, order, and with art.
And shroud thee under shadow of his wings,
Whose gentle heart, and head with learning fraught
Shall yield thee gracious favor and defense.
G. Peele.

A Quatorzain of the Au-
thour unto this his booke
of Lovepassi-

MY little book go hie thee hence away,
Whose price (God knows) will countervail no part
Of pains I took to make thee what thou art:
And yet I joy thy birth. But hence I say,
Thy brothers are half hurt by thy delay;
For thou thyself art like the deadly dart,
Which bred thy birth from out my wounded heart.
But still observe this rule where ere thou stay,
In all thou may'st tender thy father's fame,
Bad is the Bird that filleth his own nest.
If thou be much mislik'd, They are to blame,
Say thou, that deeds well done to evil rest:
Or else confess, A Toy to be thy name;
This trifling world A Toy beseemeth best.

Read Sonnets 1 - 100

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