Henry Reynolds, Mythomystes, 1632 (9-14)
After these, [poets he approves of, including Petrarch, Dante, Ovid, Chaucer, Sidney, and Spencer] (besides some late dead) there are others now living, dramaticke and liricke writers, that I must deservedly commend for those parts of fancy and imagination they possesse, and should much more, could we see them somewhat more, force those gifts, and liberall graces of Nature, to the end shee gave them; and therewith, worke and constantly tire upon sollid knowledges; the which having from the rich founts of our reverend Auncients, drawne with unwearied, and wholesomely imploied industries, they might in no lesse pleasing and profitable fictions than they have done (the very fittest conduit-pipes) derive downe to us the understanding of things even farthest remooved from us, and most worthy our speculation, and knowledge. But alas, such children of obedience, I must take leave to say, the most of our ordinary pretenders to Poesy now a dayes, are to their owne, and the diseased times ill habits, as the racke will not bee able to make the most advised among twenty of them confesse, to have farther inquired, or attended to more, in the best of their Authours they have chosen to read and study, than meerely his stile, phrase, and manner of expression; or scarce suffered themselves to looke beyond the dimension of their owne braine, for any better counsaile or instruction elsewhere. What can wee expect them of the Poems they write? Or what can a man mee thinks liken them more fitly to, than to Ixion’s issue? for hee that with meerely a naturall veine, (and a little vanity of nature, which I can be content to allow a Poet) writes without other grounds of sollid learning, than the best of these ungrounded rimers understand or aime at, what does he more than imbrace assembled cloudes with Ixion, and beget only Monsters? This might yet be borne with, did not these people as co[n]fidently usurpe to themselves the title of Schollers, and learned men, as if they possest the knowledges of all the Magi, the wise East did ever breed, when, let me demand but a reason for security of my judgement in allowing them for such, they straite give mee to know they understand the Greeke, and Latine; and in conclusion, I discover, the compleate crowne of all their ambition is but to be stiled by others a good Latinist or Grecian, and then they stile themselves good Schollers. So would I too, had I not before hand beene taught to say: Non quia Graeca scias, vel calles verba Latina, Doctus es aut sapiens, sed quia vera vides; & besides, hapned to know a late strattailing Odcombian among us, that became (I know not for what mortaller sinne than his variety of language) the common scorne, and contempt of all the abusive witts of the time; yet possest both those languages in great perfection, as his eloquent orations in both toungs; (and uttered upon his owne head without prompting) have ever sufficiently testified. Now, finding this to be the greater part of the Schollership these our Poets indeavour to have, and which many of them also have, I find with all, they find none as satisfied, as if their [illegible] contained each one the learning and wisdome of an Orpheus, Virgil, Hesiod, [illegible], and Homer altogether. When as, what have they else but the barke and cloathing merely wherein their high and profound doctrines lay? Never looking farther into those their golden fictions for any higher sense, or any thing diviner in them infoulded and hid from the vulgar, but [illegibile] with the mervellous expression and artfull contexture of their fables – tanquam parvi pueri (as one saies) per brunam ad ignem [illegible], aniles nugas fabellas que de Poctis imbibunt, cum interim de utiliore sanctioreque sentential minime sunt solliciti.
I have staid longer, and rubde harder mee thinkes than needs, upon the sore of our now a day Poets. Let mee leave them, and looke backe to the never enough honoured Auncients; and set them before our eyes, who no lesse deservedly wore the name of Prophets, and Privy-counsellors of the Gods (to use their owne phrase, or Sonnes of the Gods, as Plato calls them) than Poets.