Thomas Campion


TO  THE  Reader.

OVT of many Songs which, partly at the request of friends, partly for my owne recreation, were by mee long since composed, I haue now enfranchised a few, sending them forth diuided, according to their different subiect, into seuerall Bookes.   The first are graue and pious ;  the second amorous and light.   For hee that in publishing any worke, hath a desire to content all palates, must cater for them accordingly.

———Non omnibus vnum est
Quod placet, hic Spinas colligit, ille Rosas.
    These Ayres were for the most part framed at first for one voyce with the Lute, or Violl, but upon occasion, they have since beene filled with more parts, which who so please may vse, who like not may leaue.  Yet doe wee daily obserue, that when any shall sing a Treble to an Instrument, the standers by will be offring at an inward part out of their own nature ;  and, true or false, out it must, though to the peruerting of the whole harmonie.   Also, if we consider well, the Treble tunes, which are with vs commonly called Ayres, are but Tenors mounted eight Notes higher, and therefore an an inward part must needes well become them, such as may take vp the whole distance of the Diapason, and fill vp the gaping betweene the two extreame parts ;  whereby though they are not three parts in perfection, yet they yeeld a sweetnesse and content both the eare and minde, which is the ayme and perfection of Musicke.  Short Ayres, if they be skilfully framed, and naturally exprest, are like quicke and good Epigrammes in Poesie, many of them shewing as much artifice, and breeding as great difficultie as a larger Poeme.   Non omnia possumus omnes, said the Romane Epick Poet.  But some there are who admit onely French or Italian Ayres, as if euery Country had not his proper Ayre, which the people thereof naturally vsurpe in their Musicke.  Others taste nothing that comes forth in Print, as if Catullus or Martials Epigrammes were the worse for being published.  In these English Ayres, I haue chiefly aymed to couple my Words and Notes louingly together, which will be much for him to doe that hath not power ouer both.   The light of this will best appeare to him who hath paysd our Monasyllables and Syllables combined, both of which, are so loaded with Consonants, as that they will hardly keepe company with swift Notes, or giue the Vowell conuenient liberty.  To conclude ;  mine owne opinion of these Songs I deliuer thus :

Omnia nec nostris bona sunt, sed nec mala libris ;
Sic placet hac cantes, hac quoque lege legas.


Campion, Thomas. Campion's Works. Percival Vivian, Ed.
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1909. 114-115.

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