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Shadowed Meanings in Dendrologia, Part 2 (1650)
James Howell to Sir W. Mason, Kt.

[Howell's Epistolę Ho-elianę: familiar letters domestic and forren, 3rd ed. (London, 1655), 4.23]

I Present you with the second Part of the Vocall Forest, but before you make an entrance into the last Walk therof, be pleas'd to take this short caution along with you, which tends to rectifie such who I hear are over-rash, and critical in their censure of what is there contain'd, not penetrating the main design of the Author in that Allegorical Discours, nor into the quality of the Times, or the prudential Cautions, and indifferencies that an Historical peece expos'd to public view should require, which may make them perchance to shoot their bolts at Randum, and with wry looks at those Trees; Therfore let the discerning Surveyor as he crosseth this last Walk take a short advertisement before-hand; That whatsoever he meets therein glancing on the Oke, consists of imperfect suggestions, forren criticismes, and presumptions, &c. Now, evry petty Sciolist in the Lawes of reason can tell that presumptions were never taken yet for proofs, but for left-handed arguments, approaching rather the nature of cavillations then consequences.
Moreover, Apologs, Parables, and Metaphors, though press'd never so hard, have not the strength to demonstrate, or positively assert any Thesis; For as in Theology, the highest of Sciences, it is a received principle, Scriptura Parabolica non est argumentativa, so this Maxime holds good in all other composures, and Arts. 'Tis granted, that in the Walks of this Forest ther be som free, and home-expressions drawing somwhat neer to the nature of Satyres, for otherwise it had bin a vain superfluous curiosity to have spent so much oile and labor in shrowding Realities under disguises, unles the Author had promised himself before-hand a greater latitude and scope of liberty to pry into som miscariages, and solecismes of State; As also to question and perstringe som sorts of Actors, specially the Cardenian and Classican, who, as the whole world can witnes, were the first Raisers of those hideous tempests which powr'd down in so many showers of bloud upon infortunat Druina, and all her coafforested Territories.
Now, touching that which is spoken of the Oke in the last Walk, if any intemperat Basilean take exceptions therat, let him know, that as 'twas said before, most of them are but traducements, and pretensions; yet, it is a humane principle, (and will ever be so the worlds end) that ther never was yet any Prince, (except one) nor will ther ever be any herafter, but had his frailties, and these frailties in Kings are like staines in the purest Scarlet, which are more visible: What are but motes in others, are as beams in them, because that being mounted so high, they are more expos'd to the eye of the World: And if the Historian points happly at som of those motes in the Royal Oke, he makes good what he promis'd in the Entrance of the Forest, that he would endeavor to make a constant grain of evenes, and impartiality to passe through the whole bulk of that Arborical discourse.
We read that ther being a high feud 'twixt Cicero and Vatinius, who had crooked bow-leggs, Vatinius haing the advantage of pleading first, took occasion to give a touch himself of his natural imperfection that way, that he might tollere ansam, that he might by way of prevention cut off the advantages and intention which Cicero might have had to asperse him in that particular; the application herof is easie and obvious.
But if the sober-minded Reader observe well what is spoken elswhere of the Oke throughout the body and series of the story he will easily conclude, that 'twas far from the design of the Author out of any self or sinister ends to let any sower droppings fall from these Trees to hurt the Oke; and give me leave to tell you, That Hee who hath but as much witt as may suffice to preserve him from being begg'd for a Fool, will judg so.
Lastly, they who know any thing of the Lawes of History, do well know, that verity and indifference are two of the prime vertues that are requisit in a Cronicler. The same answer may serve to stop their mouths who would say something, if they could tell what, against my Survey of the Signory of Venice, and dedicated to the Parlement of England, as if the Author had chang'd his principles, and were affected to Republiques; wheras ther's not a syllable therin but what makes for Monarchy: therfore I rather pitty, then repine at such poor Critiques, with the shallownes of their Judgments.
Thus much I thought good to intimat unto you, not that I mistrust your own censure, which I know to be candid and cleer, but that, if ther be ocasion, you may Vindicat

London, 4. Apr.Your truly affectionat
J. H.

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