The Praise of English
Beauties of English Index
The Italian is pleasant but without sinews, as too stilly fleeting water : The French delicate but overnice, as a woman scarce daring to open her lips for fear of marring her countenance : the Spanish majestical but fulsome, running too much on the o, and terrible like the devil in a play : the Dutch manlike, but withal very harsh, as one ready at every word to pick a quarrel. Now we in borrowing from them give the strength of consonants to the Italian, the full sound of words to the French, the variety of terminations to the Spanish and the mollifying of more vowels to the Dutch : and so, like bees, gather the honey of their good properties and leave the dregs to themselves. And thus, when substantialness combineth with delightfulness with fineness, seemliness with portliness and courrantness with staidness, how can the language which consisteth of all these sound other than most full of sweetness?
Again, the long words that we borrow, being intermingled with the short of our own store, make up a perfect harmony, by culling from out which mixture (with judgement) you may frame your speech according to the matter you must work on, majestical pleasant, delicate or manly, more or less, in what sort of you please. Add here unto, that whatsoever grace any other language carrieth, in verse or prose, in tropes or metaphors, in echoes or agnominations, they may all be lively and exactly represented in ours.
Will you have Plato's vein?
Read Sir Thomas Smith : the Ionic?
Sir Thomas Moore : Ciceros?
Ascham : Varro? Chaucer : Demosthenes? Sir John Cheke (who in his Treatise to the Rebels hath comprised all the figures of rhetoric).
Will you read Virgil?
Take the Earl of Surrey : Catullus? Shakespeare and Marlow's fragment : Ovid? Daniel : Lucan? Spenser : Martial? Sir John Davis and others.
Will you have all in all for prose and verse?
Take the miracle of our age, Sir Philip Sidney.
By Richard Carew : 1555-1620 : An Epistle on the Excellency of the English Tongue
From The Praise of English to HOME PAGE