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French by an unknown hand; thus much are we informed from the preliminary discourses of Locher and Barclay; the latter of whom, in his English translation, accounts in the following words, for the publication of his book:
"Wherefore willing to redresse the errours and vices of this our realme of Englande, as theforesaide composer and translatours have done in their countreys, I have taken upon me, howbeit unworthily, to drawe into our Englishe tongue, the saide booke named the Ship of Fools, so nere to the saide three languages, as the parcitie of my witte will suffer me."
With respect to the present Ship of Fools, the editor conceives it highly necessary to acquaint the public, that the Poetaster has, in no one instance, encroached on the production of Alexander Barclay, as far as relates to the body of his work, having merely copied a part of his title-page, and inserted the running heads of many of his sections *, the poetry, Latin and Italian quotations, &c. being entirely the effu
* Viz. Of foolish unprofitable books—Of new fashions, and fools that wear disguised garments, &c. &c.
sions of his genius, and the result of his own researches. The editor has conceived this intimation the more essentially requisite, as it would be infinitely detrimental to the poet, was he branded with the stigma of plagiarism, when his labours are entirely original, and obviously committed to paper currente calamo; but, as the writer has ventured to correct some lines in the progress of these sections, he hopes that the poetical part of the volume is not wholly ushered into the world without Lima? labor ac mora; and therefore trusts, that any trifling inaccuracies which may have escaped him, will be regarded leniently by that class of critics, which is, perhaps, over severe in its judgment on the literary productions of others.
Under the firm assurance that the reader will consider this work, in the light in which it is conceived the author originally intended that it should be accepted, the editor takes his leave, after placing himself in the situation of the versifier of this volume, exclaiming with
Non ego mordaci distrinxi carmine qucnquam,
It is allowed, that the mental, equally with the corporeal being, stands in need of repose—■ I had just atchieved the last section of this my Ship of Fools, when I was assailed by one of those soft and genial slumbers, which will frequently extend its influence to renovate the animal system, and give new vigour to intellectuality:
Opere in longo fas est obrepere somnum. Horace.
while entranced in this state of oblivion, a female form suddenly presented itself to my wandering imagination, whose broad, fat, unmeaning countenance and vacant stare, seemed anxious to convey an expression of displeasure; b2
but so aukwardly was the passion depicted, as rather to excite risibility, than inspire my soul with a sensation of awe.
"Dost thou not know me?" demanded the female, in sullen accents; "Yes," I replied; for who can fix his eyes on that inexpressive physiognomy, upon that cap, adorned with lanky ass's ears, upon that tawdry mantle, together with those jingling bells and empty ladle, without proclaiming thee aloud, for that thou truly art, Queen of Folly, or the Goddess of Fools i"
"Thou judgest right," replied the vision; "and since thou knowest me for an immortal being, learn henceforth to respect my boundless sway." At the conclusion of these words, Erasmus's account of the parents and guardians of Folly, suddenly flushed upon my mind, when the following ejaculation escaped my lips:
"Yes, I know thee well: at thy conception Hymen did not attend, neither wast thou born upon the floating Delos *, but on one
'* It was on this island, which is said to have suddenly of those fortunate islands, whose luxurious and spontaneous soil affords every thing without the aid of culture; and from whence is consequently banished labour, together with penury, sickness, and old age: thy nurses were the daughter of Bacchus and the progeny of Pan, whose attendants were Scorn, Self-love, and Adulation (sleepy-eyed), Lethe, or Oblivion; Idleness with listless air, and perfumed Voluptuousness, crowned with odoriferous flowers. Amidst this train of nymphs two gods appeared; the one was patron of gluttony, the other of profoundest sleep. Such even now constitute thy suite ; and, aided by their baleful fascinations, dost thou hold, under thy dominion, this world immense of countless fools."
"True"; answered the vision, " and since thou knowest so well my sovereignty and
made its appearance on the surface of the oeean, by the power of Neptune, that the persecuted Latona was permitted to bring forth her offspring Apollo. Delos wa§ also the birth place of Diana. It is almost needless to add, that Science and Chastity are total strangers to the Goddess of Fools.