Lines 1-50 of “A Recantation of an Ill Led Life” by John Clavell

Stand and deliver to your observation,
Right serious thoughts, that you by my relation
May benefit, for otherwise in vaine
I write, you reade, unlesse from hence you gaine
The happinesse I meane you; blest is he
That will make use of others jeopardie.
Be warn’d by me, so may you purchace hence
At a cheape rate my deare experience.
You must not looke from me to have the straine
Of your Black-friers Poets, or the vaine.
Of those high flying men, whose rare Muse brings
Forth births, that Gossipt are by Lords and Kings.
For though I oft have seene Gadd’s-hill, and those
Red tops of Mountaines, where good people lose,
Their ill kept purses, I did never climbe
Pernassus Hill, or could adventure time,
To tread the Muses Mazes, or their floore
Because I knew that they are lightly poore,
And Shooters Hill was fitter farre for me,
Where pas’d releifes for my owne povertie.
I never rode on Pegasus (for then
I had fled farther then pursuite of men)
If therefore you expect a loftie straine,
You wrong your selves, and me, your thoughts are vaine.
Perchance my Verse may amble, trot, or flie
As if my frights presented Hue and Crie
To dogge me still, nor (Poetlike) I faigne
My theame is Truth, my selfe the subject plaine.
I cannot play the Satire; my disguise
Fairely pluck’t off, I am nor grim, nor wise,
Nor curst enough to scourge, no Beadle I
To punish you with petilasherie:
I meane to paint my selfe, and not to be
The Chronicler of others infamie.
I will not ayme at Motes within your eyes,
For I confesse in mine a beame their lies;
Which I plucke out, and deale as punctually
As if I spake against mine enemie.
Let this invite you then, these newest ways
Of selfe invective writing. Now adayes
Each one commends himselfe, and others blame
Of faults, when he is guiltie of the same,
Yea and of worser too, and seeming wise
As folly will the daintest Wits despise.
Such has beene my conceite, for I was prone
To blame each action, which was not mine owne,
Believing what I did was good, maintaining
That my ungodly and worst way of gaining
Was more legitimate, and farre more fit
Then borrowing, and thus I argu’d it.

From: Clavell, John, A recantation of an ill led life, or, A discouerie of the high-way law with vehement disswasions to all (in that kind) offenders : as also many cautelous admonitions and full instructions, how to know, shun, and apprehend a theefe : most necessarie for all honest trauellers to per’use, obserue and practise, 2004, Text Creation Partnership: Ann Arbor, Michigan & Oxford, pp. 1-3.
(http://name.umdl.umich.edu/A18952.0001.001)

Date: 1628

By: John Clavell (1601-1643)

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