To the Reader

If those precepts that advise the preventing of the infirmities of the mind have been ever more safe and sweet than theirs, that like laws hold their peace until they have them in their power and then pluck them up by the roots, is he that prescribes temperance the best physician? He the best pilot that foresees a storm? He the best statesman, that understands the dangers of his country in their bud and greenness? And in a word they the happiest counsellors, that seek to keep us out of the contingency of peril? It is not impossible (Reader) but I may be of some use to thee. But I praisCheck-out: Sadness, so doth the physician his medicine, which howsoever thy taste abhors,[1] thy reason desires, and being once down, thou art content to forget the loathsomeness and regard the operation.[2] I will commend my prescription to thee no further than that it cannot hurt; what good it may do, let thy experience resolve thee, which the warranty of the safety may invite thee to. If it wants those graces and embellishments that he hath need of that adventures on an innovation, let a plain true tale be accepted better than a filed[3] falsehood, especially since, through the cloud of mine ignorance, truth shows thee light enough to direct thy way, though not to delight thee in thy journey. I seek not honour from thee, nor am I the subject of thine opinion, thy censure shall only concern thy self; for me, though I should hold my cloak the faster for the wind, yet shall I never yield it to the Sun;[4] he that feels not their present power needs not fear the future, and I am armed against both, either with a knowledge or a dullness of proof. And so I leave thee to thine own judgement if thou hast one, or if thou hast not, to live like the mole[5] by hearing: Farewell.


[1] “To regard with disgust or hatred; to loathe, abominate. Now frequently in hyperbolic use” (OED v., 2).

[2] Here in the general sense of being active.

[3] “In senses of the verb: chiefly figurative of speech, etc.: Polished, smooth, neatly finished off or elaborated; fine (now rare). Also with defining word prefixed as fair-filedtrue-filed adjs.” (OED adj.).

[4] Reference to Aesop’s fable “The North Wind and the Sun”. The two of them compete in forcing a traveler to take off his coat in order to establish which one is stronger: the persuasion of the Sun wins over the brutal force of the Wind. Read it here.  

[5] Moles are usually use in similies with reference to their proverbial blindness (see also OED n3, 1b).