1639 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Kenelm Digby

Thomas May, "To the most accomplish'd Sir Kenelm Dibgy" May, The Tragedy of Cleopatra (1639) sig. A2-A2v.



Sir,

That it pleased you to cast an eye of favour upon these poor Plays has given me the boldnesse, not only to publish them (which I thought not to have done) but to shelter them, though most unworthy, under that name, to which for authority and approbation the richest pieces that this nation can boast, might be proud to flie. You are to learning what learning is to others a graceful ornament; and known not only able to receive, but fit to make that which we call literature; it being nothing else but rules and observations drawne at the first from such able natures as yours is; and by your daily conversation is better expressed, then wee by writing can define it. Your composition was made to justifie those old Philosophers who resembled a man to the whole world. For as in the world all varieties do meet to make perfect harmony so in the largeness of your soule the severall abilities of most different Nations are conjoyned to an honourable advantage of one entire temper, where the predominancies are magnanimity, prudence, and gentlenesse. But I dare not offer to crowd into a narrow Epistle your noble Character, which will require a longer Treatise and a better pen. For the defects in these two Plays, I that have already been so much obliged to your goodnesse in other matters, cannot here despaire of your forgivenesse, which is the only thing that puts confidence into

Your most obliged and

devoted servant

Tho. May.