It was mine exercise, Right Honorable and My Singular Good Lord, to make upon a plainsong not long ago, forty several ways of 2. parts in one. With what commendation I shall then perceive when others shall have judged; with what study, myself am privy—neither long, nor serious. This poor conceit I have presumed of your honorable favor to present unto your Lordship, under coverture of whom to the view of the world—not that I knew it unworthy of so high a personage [and in needing] the more noble patronage, the less is in it to recommend itself (which how little it is, I am greatly to fear hereunto, my good Lord). Rather I was emboldened for your L. great affection to this noble science, hoping for the one you might pardon the other, and desirous to make known your inclination this way. For howsoever my skill be nothing such as in least part to express the dignity of the art, yet this I am sure of (if grave auctors have rightly informed me): that the wisest men, such as Pythagoras and Plato, have made it their study, and most honorable persons as Hercules and Achilles, their earnest practice.
Besides this, my good Lord, I bear this conceit: that not only myself am vowed to your commandment, but all that is in me is dedicated to your Lordship’s service. So that, albeit I am unable to make shew of my duty in such sort as I wish, yet to transport to other, what I owe your Lordship I deemed not to sit with such a profession. Only if it shall please your honorable mind to measure my deed by my desire, it may happily seem somewhat which of itself is less than nothing. Which beseeching your Lordship with all instancy, and as before hoping, so now most humbly craving pardon of my presumption, I rest in prayer for the preservation of Your Honor in long life and great happiness, in the one to match the oldest, in the other the blessedest.
Your Lordship’s most bounden servant, and at all commandment most ready.
[Thanks to Nina Green.]
1596: Dedicatory Verse to Oxford in Spenser’s Fairie Queene.
To the right Honourable the Earle
of Oxenford, Lord high Chamberlayne of
REceiue most Noble Lord in gentle gree,
The vnripe fruit of an vnready wit:
Which by thy countenaunce doth craue to bee
Defended from foule Enuies poisnous bit.
Which so to doe may thee right well befit,
Sith th’antique glory of thine auncestry
Vnder a shady vele is therein writ,
And eke thine owne long liuing memory,
Succeeding them in true nobility:
And also for the loue, which thou doest beare
To th’Heliconian ymps, and they to thee,
They vnto thee, and thou to them most deare:
Deare as thou art unto thy selfe, so loue
That loues & honours thee, as doth behoue.