Open main menu

Of Englishe Dogges/To the well disposed Reader

< Of Englishe Dogges

To the well disposed Reader.

AS euery manifest effect proceedeth frō som certain cause, so the penning of this present abridgement (gentle and courteous reader) issued from a speciall occasion. For Conradus Gesnerus, a man whiles he liued, of incomparable knowledge, and manyfold experience, being neuer satisfied with the sweete sappe of understanding, requested Iohannes Caius a profound clarke and a rauennous deuourer of learning (to ble praise be it spoke, though the language be somewhat homely) to write a breuiary or short treatise of such dogges as were ingendred within the borders of England. To the contentation of whose minde and the vtter accomplishement of whose desire, Caius spared no study, (for the acquaintance which was betweene them, as it was confirmed by continuaunce, and established vpon vnfainednes, so was it sealed with vertue and honesty), withdrew himself from no labour, repined at no paines, forsooke no trauaile, refused no endeuour, finally pretermitted no opportunity or circumstaunce which seemed pertinent and requisite to the performance of this litle libell. In the whole discourse wherof, the booke, to consider the substaunce, being but a pamphlet or skantling, the argument not so fyne and affected, and yet the doctrine very profitable and necessarye, he vseth such a smoothe and comely style, and tyeth his inuention to such methodicall and orderly proceedings, as the elegantnes and neatnesse of his Latine phrase (being pure, perfect, and vnmingled) maketh the matter which of it selfe is very base and clubbishe, to appeare (shall I say tollerable) nay rather commendable and effectuall. The sundry sortes of Englishe dogges he discouereth so euidently, their natures he rippeth vp so apparantly, their manners he openeth so manifestly, their qualities he decluareth so skilfully, their proportions he painteth out so perfectly, their colours he describeth so artificially, and knytteth all theie in such shortnesse and breuity, that the mouth of th'adversary must needes confesse & giue sentence that commendation ought to bee his rewarde, and praise his deserued pension. An ignoraunt man woulde neuer have beene drawne into this opinion, to thincke that there had bene in England such variety & choice of dogges, in all respectes (not onely for name but also for qualitie) so diuerse and vnlike. But what cannot learning attaine? what cannot the kay of knowledge open? what cannot the lamps of vnderstanding lighten? what secretes cannot discretion detect? finally what cannot experience comprehend? what huge heapes of histories hath Gesnerus hoarded vp in volumes of a large syze? Fishes in floudes, Cattell on lande, Byrdes in the ayre, how hath he sifted them by their naturall differences, how closely and in how narrow a compasse hath he couched mighty and monstruous beasts, in bygnesse lyke mountaines, the bookes themselues being lesser then Molehilles. The lyfe of this man was not so great a restrority of comfort, as his death was an vlcer or wonnd of sorrow; the losse of whom Caius lamented, not so much as he was his faithfull friende, as for that he was a famous Philosopher, and yet the former reaeon (being in very deede vehement and forceable) did stinge him with more griefe, then he peraduenture was willing to disclose. And though death he counted terrible for the time, and consequently vnhappy, yet Caius aduoucheth the death of Gesner most blessed, luckie, and fortunate, as in his Booke intituled De libris propijs, appeareth. But of these two Eagles sufficient is spoken as I suppose, and yet litle enough in consideration of their dignitie and worthines. Neurthelesse litle or mickle, something or nothing, substaunce or shadow take all in good part, my meaning is by a fewe wordes to wynne credit to this worke, not so much for mine owne Englishe Translation as for the singular commendation of them, challenged of dutie and desart. Wherefore gentle Reader I commit them to thy memorie, and their bookes to thy courteous censure. They were both learned men, and painefull practitioners in their professions, so much the more therfore are their workes worthy estimation, I would it were in me to advaunce them as I wishe, the worst (and yet both, no doubt, excellent) hath deserued a monument of immortality. Well there is no more to be added but this, that as the translatiō of this booke was attempted, finished, and published of goodwill (not onely to administer pleasure, as to affoord profit) so it is my desire and request that my labour therin employed may be acceptable, as I hope it shalbe to men of indifferent iudgement. As for such as shall snarr and snatch at the Englishe abrydgement, and to are the Translatour, being absent, with the teath of spightfull enuye, I conclude in breuity there eloquence in but currishe, if I serue in their meat with wrong sawce, ascribe it not to vnskillfulnesse in coquery, but to ignoraunce in their diet, for as the Poet sayeth

Non satis est ars sola coquo, seruire palato:
Nonque coquus domini debet habere gulam:

It is not enough that a cooke vnderstand,
Except his Lordes stomack he holds in his hand.

To winde vp all in a watcheworde I saye no more, But doe well, and Farewell.

His and his Friendes,

Abraham

Fleming.