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To the Right Honorable, and his singular good Lord and Maister, S. William Brooke Knight, Lord Warden of the cinque Ports, and Baron of Cobham, all increase of the feare and knowledge of God, firme obedience toward his Prince, infallible loue to the common wealth, and commendable renowme here in this world, and in the world to come life euerlasting.
Compare 1577 edition: 1 _HAuing had iust occasion, Right Honorable, to re|maine in London, during the time of Trinitie terme last passed, and being earnestlie required of diuers my freends, to set downe some breefe discourse of parcell of those things, which I had obserued in the reading of such manifold antiquities as I had perused toward the furniture of a Chronologie, which I haue yet in hand; I was at the first verie loth to yeeld to their desires: first, for that I thought my selfe vnable for want of skill and iudgment, so suddenlie & with so hastie speed to take such a charge vpon me: secondlie, bicause the dealing therein might prooue an hinderance and impechment vnto mine owne Treatise: and finallie, for that I had giuen ouer all earnest studie of histories, as iudging the time spent about the same, to be an hinderance vnto my more necessarie dealings in that vocation & function wherevnto I am called in the ministerie. But when they were so importunate with me, that no reasonable ex|cuse could serue to put by this trauell, I condescended at the length vnto their yrkesome sute, promising that I would spend such void time as I had to spare, whilest I should be in|forced to tarie in the citie, vpon some thing or other that should satisfie their request; and stand in lieu of a description of my Countrie. For their parts also they assured me of such helps as they could purchase: and thus with hope of good, although no gaie successe, I went in hand withall, then almost as one leaning altogither vnto memorie, sith my books and I were parted by fourtie miles in sunder. In this order also I spent a part of Michaelmas and Hilarie termes insuing, being inforced thereto I say by other businesses which compelled me to keepe in the citie, and absent my selfe from my charge, though in the meane season I had some repaire vnto my poore librarie, but not so great as the dignitie of the matter re|quired, and yet far greater than the Printers hast would suffer. One helpe, and none of the smallest that I obtained herein, was by such commentaries as Leland had somtime collected of the state of Britaine, books vtterlie mangled, defaced with wet and weather, and finallie vnperfect through want of sundrie volumes: secondlie, I gat some knowledge of things by letters and pamphlets, from sundrie places & shires of England, but so discordant now and then amongst themselues, especiallie in the names and courses of riuers and situation of townes, that I had oft greater trouble to reconcile them one with an other, than orderlie to pen the whole discourse of such points as they contained: the third aid did grow by con|ference with diuers, either at the table or secretlie alone, wherein I marked in what things the talkers did agree, and wherin they impugned ech other, choosing in the end the former, and reiecting the later, as one desirous to set foorth the truth absolutelie, or such things in deed as were most likelie to be true. The last comfort arose by mine owne reading of such writers as haue heretofore made mention of the condition of our countrie, in speaking wherof, if I should make account of the successe, & extraordinarie cõming by sundrie trea|tises not supposed to be extant, I should but seeme to pronounce more than may well be said with modestie, & say farder of my selfe than this Treatise can beare witnes of. Howbeit, EEBO page image 3 I refer not this successe wholie vnto my purpose about this Description, but rather giue notice thereof to come to passe in the penning of my Chronologie, whose crums as it were fell out verie well in the framing of this Pamphlet. In the processe therefore of this Booke, if your Honor regard the substance of that which is here declared, I must needs con|fesse that it is none of mine owne: but if your Lordship haue consideration of the barba|rous composition shewed herein, that I may boldlie claime and challenge for mine owne, sith there is no man of any so slender skill, that will defraud me of that reproch, which is due vnto me for the meere negligence, disorder, and euill disposition of matter compre|hended in the same. Certes I protest before God and your Honour, that I neuer made any choise of stile, or words, neither regarded to handle this Treatise in such precise order and method as manie other would haue done, thinking it sufficient, truelie and plainelie to set foorth such things as I minded to intreat of, rather than with vaine affectation of eloquence to paint out a rotten sepulchre; a thing neither commendable in a writer, nor profitable to the reader. How other affaires troubled me in the writing hereof manie know, and perad|uenture the flacknesse shewed herein can better testifie: but howsoeuer it be done, & what|soeuer I haue done, I haue had an especiall eye vnto the truth of things, and for the rest, I hope that this foule frizeled Treatise of mine will prooue a spur to others better learned, more skilfull in Chorographie, and of greater iudgement in choise of matter to handle the selfe same argument, if in my life time I doo not peruse it againe. It is possible also that your Honour will mislike hereof, for that I haue not by mine owne trauell and ey|sight viewed such things as I doo here intreat of. In deed I must needs confesse, that vntill now of late, except it were from the parish where I dwell, vnto your Honour in Kent; or out of London where I was borne, vnto Oxford & Cambridge where I haue bene brought vp, I neuer trauelled 40. miles foorthright and at one iourney in all my life; neuerthelesse in my report of these things, I vse their authorities, who either haue performed in their persons, or left in writing vpon sufficient ground (as I said before) whatsoeuer is wanting in mine. It may be in like sort that your Honour will take offense at my rash and retchlesse behauiour vsed in the composition of this volume, and much more that being scambled vp after this ma|ner, I dare presume to make tendour of the protection therof vnto your Lordships hands. But when I consider the singular affection that your Honour dooth beare to those that in any wise will trauell to set foorth such profitable things as lie hidden, and therevnto doo weigh on mine owne behalfe my bounden dutie and gratefull mind to such a one as hath so manie and sundrie waies benefited me that otherwise can make no recompense, I can not but cut off all such occasion of doubt, and therevpon exhibit it, such as it is, and so penned as it is, vnto your Lordships tuition, vnto whome if it may seeme in anie wise acceptable, I haue my whole desire. And as I am the first that (notwithstanding the great repugnancie to be seene among our writers) hath taken vpon him so particularlie to describe this Ile of Britaine; so I hope the learned and godlie will beare withall, & reforme with charitie where I doo tread amisse. As for the curious, and such as can rather euill fauouredlie espie than skilfullie correct an error, and sooner carpe at another mans dooings than publish any thing of their owne, (keeping themselues close with an obscure admiration of learning & know|ledge among the common sort) I force not what they saie hereof: for whether it doo please or displease them, all is one to me, sith I referre my whole trauell in the gratification of your Honour, and such as are of experience to consider of my trauell, and the large scope of things purposed in this Treatise, of whome my seruice in this behalfe may be taken in good part, that I will repute for my full recompense, and large guerdon of my labours. The Al|mightie God preserue your Lordship in continuall health, wealth, and prosperitie, with my good Ladie your wife, your Honours children, (whom God hath indued with a singular to|wardnesse vnto all vertue and learning) and the rest of your reformed familie, vnto whom I wish farder increase of his holie spirit, vnderstanding of his word, augmentation of honor, and continuance of zeale to follow his commandements.
Your Lordships humble seruant and houshold Chaplein. W. H.
¶The names of the Authors from whome this Historie of England is collected.
- Compare 1577 edition:
- Aelius Spartianus.
- Aelius Lampridius.
- Asserius Meneuensis.
- Alfridus Beuerlacensis.
- Aeneas Syluius Senensis.
- Adam Merimouth with additions.
- Antoninus Archiepiscopus Florentinus.
- Albertus Crantz. Alexander Neuill.
- Arnoldus Ferronius.
- Annius Viterbiensis.
- Amianus Marcellinus.
- Alliances genealogiques des Roys & Prin|ces de France.
- Annales D. Aquitaine per Iean Bouchet.
- Annales de Bourgoigne per Guilamme
- Annales de France per Nicol Giles.
- Annales rerum Flandricarum per Iaco|bum Meir.
- Antonius Sabellicus.
- Antonius Nebricensis. Aurea Historia.