Enforced by affection (that leades the mindes of men to a multitude of causes) I stood studying howe to requit a good turne received, and confessing that no one thing is more monstrous in nature than an unthankfull minde, I saw my self in debt, and bound either one way or other to pay that I owe, but not in such degree as I received, but in such sort as my abilitie serveth, and as a man might say to make a cunning exchange, in steed of due payment, to offer glasse for gold and bare words for friendly deedes. In good truth (my honourable Frend) if my creditours will so stande contented, I am readier to depart from wordes, and discharge debt therewith, than to promise treasure, and offer that I have not. For if free harted people (fortunate in the worlde) through bountie of minde (towarde my sutes or preferment) bestowe manye speaches to doo mee good, where grace is to bee gotten: I can but yeeld one ordinarie thanke, for a thousande benefites, except they ransacke my storehouse of vaine inventions, and finde some pleasant papers, bepainted with verses, or pollished Pamphlets (beblotted with barraine matter) where both verse and prose, shall make but a bad restitution for the goodnesse I have stollen by fortune or borrowed by frendshippe. Yet waying how little Fortune hath done for mee, and howe fewe creditors I have, that have either lent me anie porcion of preferment (or procured me but a peece of anie certaine living) I thinke my self somwhat able with the little talent God hath given me, to repay all the debtes that ever I could bring to perfect remembrance, saving a most honorable Personage, that I dedicated my booke of Choice unto, who got me two great Seales (besides common courtesies manie) to shifte withall a season. And furthermore, your selfe 6. yeres past bestowed good speaches to the Q. Majestie in my behalfe, by the which I got some comfortable recreation, to quicken my spirites and keepe me in breath. And yet loe a matter to be mused at, I have sixteene severall bookes printed presently to bee bought (albeit they are but trifles) dedicated in sundrie seasons to severall men off good and greate credite, but to be plaine not one among them all, from the first day of my labour and studies, to this present yeere and hower, hath anie waye preferred my sutes, amended my state, or given mee anie countenance, I hope I am not much indebted to those, nor fallen so farre in their dangers, but may easely get out, though I yeelde them no more, but a customable good will. So finding my Muses franke and free from their servitude, I addresse this woorke of unfeyned friendshippe to your good consideration, which worke showes the value and woorth of frendes (whose love is necessarie about all Estates) the flatterie and fineness of foes, and the dayly dissimulation of a cunning worlde. And if the world mervaile why I treat of that which is so commonly knowen, and often put in practise, I answere not those wondring wits, but shoot what bolts I thinke convenient, at the bad behaviour of transformed people, that beares but the shapes of tame men, and showes the maners of wilde monsters: and if the worlde say (as I know it is talkative) I show a kinde of adulation to fawne for favour on those that are happie, I answere, that is a point of wisdome, which my betters have taught me, and I have read in a great booke of latine (printed 400. yeres agoe) that one of your owne Ancestors called Sir Water Ralegh, had more fawners and followers than you have: for he was L. chief Justice of England, and so farre in credit with his Prince, (his learning was such) that he made lawes and edicts, the which the Prince confirmed and allowed. I take an example from the fish that followes the streame, the fowles that comes to the covert from the windes, and the brute beastes that avoydes a sturdie storme, under the savegard of a strong and flourishing tree. Their craftie forecast though they want reason, may succor the simplenes of any reasonable creature, and the defence and provision they make to escape open danger, may set to schoole a great companie of ignorant schollers. But I leave to speake of their examples (because they are brute) and follow the gravest sort of sage and wise personages, that will not blush nor thinke scorne, to learne a lesson of their forefathers, that got al their good fortune by following the flood, where we fish for preferment. Thus honorable friend, as my affection (and other good causes moves) bad me go forward with this my device and Present unto you: so beginning the same in health, and falling sodainly sicke, I feared God would have cut me short from my purposed enterprise: but his goodness called me up, from the bed of sorrow, (where despaire had almost dispatched the life) and set me afoote to go and ende my first determination, and brought me in hope you wil accept my good will: which may encourage me to a further labour and studie, that may purchase more greater favor and thanks. So resting yours in al that my small power may stretch unto, I take leave, and wish you what goodnes you can imagine or desire.
London, at my lodging the 8. of March.
Most willing at commandment,