To all Writing Ladies


It is to be observed that there is a secret working by Nature, as to cast an influence upon the minds of men: like as in contagions, when as the air is corrupted it produces several diseases, so several distempers of the mind by the inflammations of the spirits. And as in healthful ages, bodies are purified, so wits are refined; yet it seems to me as if there were several invisible spirits, that have several but visible powers, to work in several ages upon the minds of men. For in many ages men will be affected and disaffected alike: as in some ages so strongly and superstitiously devout that they make many gods, and in another age so atheistical as they believe in no god at all, and live to those principles. Some ages again have such strong faiths that they will not only die in their several opinions, but they will massacre, and cut one another’s throats, because their opinions are different. In some ages all men seek absolute power, and every man would be emperor of the world, which makes civil wars; for their ambition makes them restless, and their restlessness makes them seek change. Then in another age all live peaceable, and so obedient that the very governors rule with obedient power. In some ages again, all run after imitation, like a company of apes, as to imitate such a poet, to be of such a philosopher’s opinion. Some ages mixed, as moralists, poets, philosophers, and the like; and in some ages again, all affect singularity, and they are thought the wisest that can have the most extravagant opinions. In some ages learning flourisheth in arts and sciences; other ages so dull, as they lose what former ages had taught. And in some ages it seems as if there were a commonwealth of those governing spirits, where most rule at one time. Some ages, as in aristocracy, when some part did rule, and other ages a pure monarchy, when but one rules, and in some ages, it seems as if all those spirits were at defiance who should have most power, which makes them in confusion, and war; so confused are some ages, and it seems as if there were spirits of the feminine gender, as also the masculine. There will be many heroic women in some ages, in others very prophetical, in some ages very pious and devout—for our sex is wonderfully addicted to the spirits. But this age hath produced many effeminate writers, as well as preachers, and many effeminate rulers, as well as actors. And if it be an age when the effeminate spirits rule, as most visible they do in every kingdom, let us take the advantage, and make the best of our time, for fear their reign should not last long, whether it be in the Amazonian government, or in the politic commonwealth, or in flourishing monarchy, or in schools of divinity, or in lectures of philosophy, or in witty poetry, or anything that may bring honor to our sex, for they are poor, dejected spirits that are not ambitious of fame. And though we be inferior to men, let us show ourselves a degree above beasts, and not eat, and drink, and sleep away our time as they do, and live only to the sense, not to the reason, and so turn into forgotten dust. But let us strive to build us tombs while we live, of noble, honorable, and good actions, as2 least harmless,

That though our bodies die,
Our names may live to after memory.

To the Reader, Concerning Fairies

Worthy Readers,1

I wonder any should laugh or think it ridiculous to hear of fairies, and yet verily believe there are spirits, which spirits can have no description, because no dimension—and so of2 witches, which are said to change themselves into several forms, and then to return into their first form again ordinarily, which is altogether against nature—and yet3 laugh at the report of fairies as impossible, which are only small bodies not subject to our sense, although they4 be to our reason. For Nature can as well make small bodies as great, and thin bodies as well as5 thick. We may as well think there is no air, because we do not see it, or think6 there is no air in an empty barrel, or the like, because when we put our hands and7 arms into the same we do not feel it. And why should not they get through doors or walls as well as air doth, if their bodies were as thin? And if we can grant there may be a substance, although not subject to our sense, then we must grant that substance must have some form, and if some form, why8 not of man as well as9 of anything else? And why may not10 rational souls live in a small body as well as in a gross, and in a thin, as well as11 in a thick?

Shall we say dwarfs have less souls because they have less12 or thinner bodies? And if rational souls, why not saving souls? Wherefore13 there is no reason in nature, but that there may not only be such things as fairies, but these be14 as dear to God as we.