In 1592 Dr Harvey published Foure Letters, and certaine sonnets, his reply to the slurs made on his family by the recently-dead Robert Greene in his pamphlet A Quip for an Upstart Courtier, and on his brother Richard by Nashe in Pierce Penilesse. For a brief description of its contents click here.

Below are the sonnets with which the Foure letters conclude. I took them from a 19th century edition of Harvey's work, and believe they are not copyright. Any errors are the fault of the copyist, Rita Lamb. This page is in the public domain.

The image on the left is of the dead Greene, and comes from a pamphlet published in 1598, Greene in Conceit. It shows the late author in his shroud.

certaine Funerall Sonnets.

To the foresaid Maister Emmanuell Demetrius, Maister Christopher Bird, and all gentle wits,

that will voutsafe the reading.


His Repentance, that meant to call Greene to his

ALAS that I so hastely should come
To terrifie the man with fatall dread,
That deemed quiet Pennes, or dead, or dum,
And stoutly knock't poore Silence on the head.
Enough can say : dead is the Dog of spite :
I, that for pitie praised him aliue,
And smil'd to hear him gnar, and see him bite,
Am not with sory carcasses to striue.
The worst I list of Famous him report :
Poules hath the Onely Pregnant Autor lost :
Aihme, quoth Wit in lamentable sort,
What worthy wight shall now commaund the rost?
Fame heard the plaint : and pointed at A man
As greene as Greene, and white as whitest Swanne.

Poules : 'Paul's', i.e. St Paul's Churchyard, centre of the London bookselling trade.


His misfortun, in being spitefully iniuried by
some, whom he partially commended.

VNLUCKY I, vnhappiest on Earth,
That fondly doting vpon dainty witts,
And deepely rauish'd with their luring fitts,
Of gentle fauours find so hard a Dearth.
Is it my Fate, or Fault, that such fine men
Should their Commender so vnkindly bite?
That looues to looue, in spite of rankest Spite,
And hates to hate, with Hart, or Tongue, or Pen.
Sweet Writers, as yee couet to be sweet,
Nor me, nor other, nor your selues abuse :
Humanity doth courteously peruse
Ech act of frend, or foe, with fauour meet.
   Foule Diuel, and fouler Malice, cease to raue :
   For euery fault I twenty pardons craue.


His admonition to Greenes Companions.

THE flourishing, and gaily-springing wight,
That vainely me prouok'd with vile reproch,
Hath done his worst, and hath no more to broche :
Maugre the Diuell of villanous despite.
I cannot raile, what-euer cause to raile :
For Charity I louingly imbrace,
That me for Enuy odiously deface :
But in their highest rage extreamely faile.
I can doe him no harme that is in Heauen :
I can doe him no good that is in Hell :
I wish the best to his Suruiuours fell,
Deepely acquainted with his Six ; and Seauen.
   O be not like to Death, that spareth none :
    Your greenest Flower, and Peacockes taile is gone.


The miserable end of wilful desperatnesse.

THE iolly Fly dispatch'd his silly selfe :
What Storyes quaint of many a douty Fly,
That read a Lecture to the ventrous Elfe?
Yet will he haue his lusty swing, to dy.
I cannot raile, what-euer cause to raile :
Currage, and stirring witt in time do well :
But that same obstinate Desperation,
A furious fiend of selfe-deuouring Hell :
Rushing with terrible Commination,
(What storme so hideous, as Rages spell?)
Concludes with horrible Lamentation :
Each blessed tongue accurse malediction,
The ugly mouth of ruthfull confusion.
   Nothing so doulcely sweete, or kindly deare,
   As sugred lippes, and Harts delicious cheare.


The learned should louingly affect the learned.

I AM not to instruct, where I may learne :
But where I may persuasiuely exhort,
Nor ouer-dissolute, nor ouer-sterne,
A curteous Honesty I would extort.
Good loathes to damage, or vpbraid the good ;
Gentle how loouely to the gentle-wight?
Who seeith not, how euery blooming budd
Smileth on euery flower fairely dyght,
And biddeth fowle illfauourdness Godnight?
Would Alciats Embleme, or sum scarlet whood,
Could teach the Pregnant sonnes of shiny Light,
To interbrace each other with delight.
    Fine Mercury conducts a dainty band
    Of Charities, and Muses, hand in hand.

Andrea Alciato (1492-1550) was an Italian emblematist. I don't know which particular emblem Harvey's referring to here, maybe 'It is wicked for scholars to wrangle with other scholars'. (See http://www.emblems.arts.gla.ac.uk/alciato/emblem.php?id=A31b098 )
A 'scarlet hood' was the sign of a doctorate.


His Pallace of Pleasure.

I WOTT not what these cutting Huffe-snuffes meane:
Of Alehouse-daggers I haue little skill :
I borrow not my phrase of knaue, or queane,
But am a dettour to the Ciuill quill.
It is restoratiue vnto my hart,
To heare how gentle Cheeke, and Smith conuers'd :
No daintier peece of delicatest Art,
Then cordiall Stories charmingly rehears'd,
That whilom rudest wooddes, and stones emperc'd.
Who now begins that amiable part?
Haddon farewell: and Ascham thou art stale,
And euery sweetnes tastes of bitter bale.
    Oh, let me liue to interuiew the face
    Of faire Humanity, and bounteous Grace.

Sir John Cheke (1514-1557) and Sir Thomas Smith (1513-1577) were scholars and Reformers.
Walter Haddon (1516-1572) was a civilian, a distinguished academic and co-author with Cheke of a work defending the Reformation.
Roger Ascham (1515-1568) was the former tutor of the Queen and author of Scholemaster, a treatise on education.


His vnfained wish.

NEVER Vlysses, or Æneas tyr'd,
With toyling trauailes, and huge afflictions :
As arrant penne, and wretched page bemyr'd
With nasty filth of rancke-maledictions.
I seldom call a snarling Curr, a Curr :
But wish the gnarring dog, as sweete a mouth,
As brauest horse, that feeleth golden spurr :
Or shrillest Trompe, that soundeth North, or South :
Or most enchaunting Sirens voice vncouth.
Self-gnawing Harts, and gnashing Teeth of murr,
How faine would I see
Orpheus reuiu'd,
Suadas hoony-bees in you rehiu'd?
    Oh most-delicious hooney-dewes, infuse
    Your daintiest influence into their Muse.

Notice the allusion hidden in line 10, where he complains of his appalling opponent having 'gnashing' teeth? I think, although Harvey doesn't actually name Nashe...he does.
McKerrow (TN, vol.5, p. 305) gives the meaning of the word 'murr' as 'a catarrh'; but perhaps here 'slime' or 'drool'?


A Continuation of the same wish.

LET them forgett their cancred peeuishnes ;
And say to Choller fell : Thou wert our fall :
Hadst thou not boilde in fretting waywardnes,
We might haue laught at Fortunes tossing Ball.
Choler, content thy malecontented selfe :
And cleerest Humour, of right Sanguine pure,
Neately refin'd from that felonious Elfe,
With Iouiall graciousnes thy selfe enure.
If euer siluer conduictes were abroche
Of streaming Witt, and flowing Eloquence :
Yee fludds of milke, and hoony reapproche,
And bounteously poure-out your Quintessence.
    Gently assemble Delicacies all,
    And sweetely nectarize this bitter gall.


His reuiuall of a former motion: added at the instance of an especiall friend.

WERE I as meete, as willing to aduise :
I would in amicable termes entreat
Some forward witts to change their headlong guise,
And lesse in print, and more in mint to sweat.
Pithagoras, and Apollonius sage,
Two woonders of capacity diuine ;
Trained their followers to temper rage,
And Tongue with curious silence to refine.
There is a Time to speake : a Time to write :
But blessed be the Time, that sees, and heares :
Let Petty Starres suppresse their twinckling light :
And glorious Sunne aduance his beamy peeres.
    O you of golden mould, that shine like Sun,
    Display your heauenly giftes: and I haue dun.


A more particular Declaration of his intention.

YET let Affection interpret selfe :
Arcadia braue, and dowty Faery Queene
Cannot be stain'd by
Gibelin, or Guelph,
Or goodliest Legend, that Witts eye hath seene.
The daintiest Hand of exquisitest Art,
And nimble Head of pregnantest receit,
Neuer more finely plaid their curious part,
Then in those liuely Christals of conceit.
Other fair Wittes I cordially embrace :
And that sweet Muse of azur Dy, admire :
And must in euery Sonnet interlace
The earthly Soueraine of heauenly fire.
    A fitter place remaineth to implore,
    Of deepest Artists the profoundest lore.

'Gibelin or Guelph': The Guelphs and Ghibellines were two factions that kept Italy divided and devastated by civil war during the greater part of the later Middle Ages.


His Desire, to honour excellent Perfections in the best.

Another addition, inserted at the request of one, that might commaunde.

BLACKE Art, avaunt : and Haile thrise-grace-full Grace,
That whitest white on Earth, or Heauen exceedes,
In purity, and souerainety immense.
Or locke my mouth : or schoole my infant-lippes,
Resplendent lightes of Milky Way to sing,
Rare subiectes of thy indulgence supreame.
Yet what should I conspicuous Mirrours sing,
That radiantly display their beauteous beames
Of glistering Vertue, and reshining Witt :
The Luminaries great of little world?:
Folly impossibilities attempts :
Astonishment such brightnesse best becummes :
    Or lend me Pegasus, thy mounting winges :
    And let me heare, how quire of Angels singes.


His Court of Honour.

WERE fine Castilio, the Heire of Grace :
What gallant port more graciously fine?
As dainty
Petrarch was sweet Sirens sonne :
What witching tune more Orpheously sweete?
Him, him, the Idee high, and deepe Abysse,
Of noble Excellence I would proclaime.
But what should drowsy Muse of Phantoms dreame?
Cast glauncing eie into Queene Pallas Court ::
And scorne the dimnes of thy dazeled sight,
Astound with Lord-and-Lady-Graces view :
Idees how high, Abysses how profounde
Of valour braue, and admirable worth?
    Poore glimmering Gemmes, and twinckling Stars adieu :
    Here, here the Sun, and Moone of Honor true.


His intercession to Fame.

LIUE euer valorous renowned Knightes ;
Liue euer
Smith, and Bacon, Peereles men :
Liue euer,
Walsingham, and Hatton wise :
Liue euer
Mildmayes honorable name.
Ah, that Sir
Humfry Gilbert should be dead :
Ah, that Sir
Philip Sidney should be dead :
Ah, that Sir
William Sackeuill should be dead :
Ah, that Sir
Richard Grinuile should be dead :
Ah, that braue
Walter Deuoreux should be dead :
Ah, that the Flowre of Knighthood should be dead,
Which, maugre deadlyest Deathes, and stonyest Stones,
That coouer worthiest worth, shall neuer dy
   Sweete Fame, adorne thy glorious Triumph new :
    Or Vertues all, and Honours all adieu.


A Repetition of the former Petition.

BUT Vertues all, and Honours all suruiue :
And Vertues all, and Honours all inflame
Braue mindes to platfourme, and redoubted handes
To doe such deedes, and such exploites achieue,
As they, and they couragiously perform'd.
Egregious men, and memorable Knightes :
Ay memorable Knightes, while Sunne shall shine.
And teach industrious Worth, to shine like Sunne :
To liue in motion, and action hoat :
To eternize Entelechy diuine :
Where Plutarches Liues: where Argonautiques braue:
Where all Heroique woonderments concurr.
   Oh, Oh, and Oh a thousand thousand times,
   That thirsty Eare might heare Archangels rimes.

Entelechy: 'that which realizes or makes actual, what is otherwise merely potential'.


A continuation of the same Petition.

THEN would I so my Melody addoulce,
And so attune my Harmony to theirs,
That fellest Fury should confesse her selfe
Enchaunted mightily with charmes diuine :
And in the sweetest termes of sacred Leagues,
With pure deuotion reconcile her rage.
Meane-while I seeke, and seeke, but cannot finde
That Iewell rare of precioussest worth :
Gentle Accord and soueraigne Repose,
The Paradise of Earth, and blisse of Heauen.
Be it in Earth,
ô Heauen direct my course :
Be it in Heauen alone,
ô Earth Farewell.
   Or well-fare Patience, that sweetens sowre,
   And reares on Hellish Earth an Heauenly Boure.


His professed Disdaine, to aunsweare vanity in some, or to enuy prosperity in any.

SOME me haue spited with a cruell spite :
But Fount of Mercy so reclense my sinne,
As I nor them maligne, nor any wight :
But all good mindes affect, like deerest kinne.
Small cause I haue to scorne in any sort :
Yet I extreamely scorne to aunsweare some,
That banish Conscience from their report,
And ouerwantonly abuse the dumme.
God keepe Low-Countrymen from high Disdaine :
Yet I disdaine with haughtiest contempt
To enuy any persons Fame, or Gaine :
Or any crooked practise to attempt.
   Iesu, that we should band, like Iohn Oneale,
   That tenderly should melt in mutuall zeale.


His Exhortation to attonement and Loue.

O MINDES of Heauen, and wittes of highest Sphere,
Molten most-tenderly in mutuall zeale :
Each one with cordiall indulgence forbeare,
And Bondes of Loue reciproquely enseale.
No rose, no violet, no fragrant spice,
No Nectar, no Ambrosia so sweet :
As gratious Looue, that neuer maketh nice,,
But euery one embraceth, as is meet.
Magnets, and many thinges attractive are :
But nothing so allectiue vnder skyes,
As that same dainty amiable Starre,
That none, but grisly mouth of Hell, defyes.
   That Starre illuminate celestiall Harts :
   And who, but Rancour, feeleth irkesome smartes?


Iohn Harueys Welcome to Robert Greene.

COME, fellow Greene, come to thy gaping graue :
Bid Vanity, and Foolery farewell :
Thou ouer-long hast plaid the madbrain'd knaue :
And ouer-loud hast rung the bawdy bell.
Vermine to Vermine must repaire at last :
No fitter house for busy folke to dwell :
Thy Conny-catching Pageants are past :
Some other must those arrant Stories tell.
These hungry wormes thinke longe for their repast:
Come on : I pardon thy offence to me :
It was thy liuing : be not so aghast :
A Foole, and a Phisition may agree.
   And for my Brothers, neuer vex thy selfe :
   They are not to disease a buried Elfe.


His Apology of himselfe, and his brothers.

YET fie on lies, and fie on false Appeales :
No Minister in England lesse affectes
Those wanton kisses, that leaud folly steales,
Then Hee, whome onely Ribaldry suspectes.
Were I a foole, (what man playes not the foole?
The world is full of fooles, and full of sectes :)
Yet was Iohn neuer spoyled with the toole,
That Richard made : and none, but none infectes.
The third is better knowne in Court, and Schoole,
Then thy vaine Quipp, or my Defence shalbe :
Whose Eie, but his, that sitts on Slaunders stoole,
Did euer him in Fleete, or Prison see?
   Loud Mentery small confutation needes :
   Avaunt black Beast, that sowes such cursed seedes.


His Apology of his good Father.

AH my deere Father, and my Parent sweete,
Whose honesty no neighbour can empeach :
That any Ruffian should in termes vnmeete,
To your discredit shamfully outreach.
O rakehell Hand, that scribled him a knaue,
Whome neuer Enemy did so appeach :
Repent thy wicked selfe, that so didst raue,
And cancell that, which Slaunders mouth did teach.
Nor euery man, nor euery trade is braue :
Maulte, haires, and hempe, and sackcloth must be had:
Truth him from odious imputations saue :
And many a gallant Gentleman more bad.
   Four Sonnes, him cost a thousand pounds at lest :
   Well may he fare : and thou enioy thy rest.


His charitable hope: and their eternall repose.

LET memory of grose abuses sleepe :
Who ouer-shooteth not in recklesse youth?
Were sinnes as redd, as reddest scarlet deepe,
A penitentiall Hart preuenteth ruth.
Well-wishing Charity presumes the best :
Nothing impossible to powrefull Trueth.
Body to Graue ; and Soule to Heauen addrest,
Leaue vpon Earth, the follies of their youth.
Some Penury bewaile : some feare Arrest :
Some Parmaes force: some Spanyardes gold addread:
Some vnderly the terrible inquest :
Some carry a Ielous : some a climing Head.
   We that are dead, releas'd from liuing woes,,
   Soundly enioy a long, and long Repose.


L'enuoy : or an Answere to the Gentleman, that drunke to Chaucer, vpon view of the former Sonnets, and other Cantos, in honour of certaine braue men.

SOME Tales to tell, would I a Chaucer were :
Yet would I not euen now an Homer be :
Though Spencer me hath often Homer term'd :
And Monsieur Bodine vow'd as much as he.
Enuy, and Zoilus, two busy wightes :
No petty shade of Homer can appeere,
But he the Diuell, and she his Dam display :
And Furies fell annoy sweete Muses cheere.
Nor Martins I, nor Counter-martins squibb :
Enough a doo, to clere my simple selfe :
Momus gainst Heauen ; and Zoilus gainst Earth,
A Quipp for Gibeline : and whip for Guelph.
   Or purge this humour: or woe-worth the State,
   That long endures the one, or other mate.

Harvey's sonnets are followed by three other poems. Two are Latin verses on the recently-dead Robert Greene and John Harvey, Gabriel's brother, who had died some three months earlier: the third is not by Harvey but is addressed to him, and was written, though not for this occasion, by his friend Edmund Spenser.

Robertus Grenus, vtriusq. Academiaæ Artium
Magister, de Seipso

ILLE ego, cui risus, rumores, festa, puellæ,
Vana libellorum scriptio, vita fuit :
Prodigus vt vidi Ver, Æstatemq, furoris,
Autumno, atque Hyemi, cum Cane dico vale.
Ingenii bullam; plumam Artis; fistulam Amandi ;
Ecquæ non misero plangat auena tono?

Gabriel Harueius, desideratissimaæ animæ Ionnis
AT Iunioris erat, Seniori pangere carmen
Funebre, ni Fati lex violenta vetet.
Quid frustra exclamem, Frater, fraterrime Frater?
Dulcia cuncta abeunt : tristia sola manent.
Totus ego Funus, pullato squallidum amictu,
Quamvis cælicolæ, flebile dico vale.

To the Right Worshipfull, my singular good frend,
M. Gabriell Haruey, Doctor of the Lawes.

HARUEY, the happy aboue happiest men
I read : that sitting like a Looker-on
Of this worldes Stage, doest note with critique pen
The sharpe dislikes of each condition :
And as one carelesse of suspition,
Ne fawnest for the fauour of the great :
Ne fearest foolish reprehension
Of faulty men, which daunger to thee threat.
But freely doest, of what thee list, entreat,
Like a great Lord of peerelesse liberty :
Lifting the good vp to high Honours seat,
And the Euill damning euermore to dy ;
   For Life, and Death is in thy doomefull writing:
   So thy renowme liues euer by endighting.

Dublin : this xviii of Iuly : 1586.

               Your deuoted frend, during life,


For my own opinions as to what these sonnets mean, click here.