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my contempt of all the writers of the
of Pliny. If it should be observed, that I have imitated the manner of Pliny, I shall then screen myself by what Sidonius Apollinaris, an author who is by no means disreputable, says in commendation of his epistolary style. Do I resemble Symmachus ? I shall not be sorry, for they distinguish his openness and conciseness. Am I considered in no wise resembling him ? I shall confess that I am not pleased with his dry
Will my letters be condemned for their length? Plato, Aristotle, Thucydides, and Cicero, have all written long ones. Will some of them be criticised for their brevity? I allege in my favour the examples of Dion, Brutus, Apollonius, Philostratus, Marcus Antoninus, Alciphron, Julian, Symmachus, and also Lucian, who vulgarly, but falsely, is believed to have been Phalaris.
I shall be censured for having treated of topics which are not generally considered as proper for epistolary composition. I admit this censure, provided while I am condemned, Seneca also shares in the condemnation. Another will not allow of a sententious manner in my letters; I will still justify myself by Seneca. Another, on the contrary, desires abrupt sententious periods; Dionysius shall answer him for me, who maintains, that pointed sentences should not be admitted into letters.
Is my style too perspicuous ? It is precisely that which Philostratus admires. Is it obscure! Such is that of Cicero to Atticus. Negligent? An agreeable negligence in letters is more graceful than elaborate ornaments. Laboured? Nothing can be more proper, since we send epistles to our friends as a kind of presents. If they display too nice an arrangement, the Halicarnassian shall vindicate me. If there is none; Artemon
there should be none. Now as a good and pure Latinity has its peculiar taste, its manners, and (to express myself thus) its Atticisms; if in this sense a letter shall be found not sufficiently Attic, so much the better; for what was Herod the sophist censured ? but that having been born an Athenian, he affected too much to appear one in his language. Should a letter seem too Attical; still better, since it was by discovering Theophrastus, who was no Athenian, that a good old woman of Athens laid hold of a word, and shamed him.
Shall one letter be found not sufficiently serious? I love to jest. Or is it too grave ? I am pleased with gravity. Is another full of figures ? Letters being the images of discourse, figures have the effect of graceful action in conversation. Are they deficient in figures ? This is just what characterises a letter, this want of figures ! Does it discover the genius of the writer ? This frankness is recommended. Does it conceal it? The
writer did not think proper to paint himself; and it is one requisite in a letter, that it should be void of ostentation. You express yourself, some one will observe, in common terms on common topics, and in new terms on new topics. The style is thus adapted to the subject. No, no, he will answer; it is in common terms you express new ideas, and in new terms common ideas. Very well! It is because I have not forgotten an ancient Greek precept which expressly recommends this.
It is thus by attempting to be ambidextrous I try to ward off attacks. My critics will however criticise me as they please. It will be sufficient for me, my Lord, to be assured of having satisfied you, by my letters, if they are good; or by my obedience, if they are not so.
ORIGINAL LETTER OF QUEEN
In the Cottonian Library, Vespasian, F. III. is preserved a letter written by Queen Elizabeth (then Princess) to her sister Queen Mary. It appears by this epistle that Mary had desired to have her picture; and in gratifying the wishes of her majesty, Elizabeth accompanies the present with the following elaborate letter. It bears no date of the year in which it was written; but her place of residence is marked to be at Hatfield. There she had retired to enjoy the silent pleasures of a studious life, and to be distant from the dangerous politics of the time. When Mary died, Elizabeth was at Hatfield; the letter must have been written shortly before this circumstance took place. She was at the time of its composition in habitual intercourse with the most excellent writers of antiquity; her letter displays this in every part of it; it is polished and repolished. It has also the merit of now being first published.
“ LIKE as the riche man that dayly gathereth riches to riches, and to one bag of money layeth a greate sort til it come to infinit, so me thinkes, your Majestie not beinge suffised with many benefits and gentilnes shewed to me afore this time, dothe now increase them in askinge and desiring wher you may bid and comaunde, requiring a thinge not worthy the desiringe for it selfe, but made worthy for your highness request. My pictur I mene, in wiche if the inward good mynde towarde your grace might as wel be declared as the outwarde face and countenance shal be seen, I wold nor haue taried the comandement but prevent it, nor haue bine the last to graunt but the first to offer it. For the face, I graunt, I might wel blusche to offer, but the mynde I shall neur be ashamed to present. For thogth from the grace of the pictur, the coulers may fade by time, may giue by wether, may be spotted by chance, yet the other nor time with her swift winges shall ouertake, nor the mistie cloudes with their loweringes may darken, nor chance with her slipery fote may overthrow. Of this althogth yet the profe could not be greate because the occasions hathe bine but smal, notwithstandinge as a dog hathe a day, so may I perchaunce haue time to declare it in dides wher now I do write them but in wordes. And further I shal most humbly beseche your Maiestie that whan you shall loke on my pictur you wil witsafe to thinke that as you haue but the outwarde shadow of the body afore you, so my inward minde wischeth, that the body it selfe wer oftener in
your presence; howbeit bicause bothe my so beinge I thinke coulde do your Maiestie litel pleasure thogth my selfe great good, and againe bicause I se as yet not the time agreing therūto, I shal lerne to folow this sainge of Orace, Feras non culpes quod vitari non potest. And thus I wil (troblinge your Maiestie I fere) ende with my most humble thankes, besechinge God longe to preserue you to his honour, to your cõfort, to