Page:The Palace of Pleasure, Volume 1 (1890).djvu/25

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xix
INTRODUCTION.

the favourers of the Newest Learning. They took their ground not only on literary lines, but with distinct reference to manners and morals. The corruption of the Papal Court which had been the chief motive cause of the Reformation—men judge creeds by the character they produce, not by the logical consistency of their tenets—had spread throughout Italian society. The Englishmen who came to know Italian society could not avoid being contaminated by the contact. The Italians them selves observed the effect and summed it up in their proverb, Inglese italianalo e un diabolo incarnato. What struck the Italians must have been still more noticeable to Englishmen. We have a remarkable proof of this in an interpolation made by Roger Ascham at the end of the first part of his Schoolmaster, which from internal evidence must have been written about 1568, the year after the appearance of Painter's Second Tome.[1] The whole passage is so significant of the relations of the chief living exponent of the New Learning to the appearance of what I have called the Newest Learning that it deserves to be quoted in full in any introduction to the book in which the Newest Learning found its most characteristic embodiment. I think too I shall be able to prove that there is a distinct and significant reference to Painter in the passage (pp. 77-85 of Arber's edition, slightly abridged).

But I am affraide, that ouer many of our trauelers into Italie, do not exchewe the way to Circes Court: but go, and ryde, and runne, and flie thether, they make great hast to cum to her: they make great sute to serue her: yea, I could point out some with my finger, that neuer had gone out of England, but onelie to serue Circes, in Italie. Vanitie and vice, And any licence to ill liuyng in England was counted stale and rude vnto them. And fo, beyng Mules and Horfes before they went, returned verie Swyne and Asses home agayne; yet euerie where verie Foxes with as suttle and busie heades; and where they may, verie Woolues, with cruell malicious hartes. A maruelous monster, A trewe Picture
of a knight of
Circes Court
which, for filthines of liuyng, for dulnes to learning him selfe, for wilinesse in dealing with others, for malice in hurting without cause, should carie at once in one bodie, the belie of a Swyne, the head of an Asse, the brayne of a Foxe, the wombe of a

  1. See Prof. Arber's reprint, p. 8.