Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit: John Lyly: publication of two prose romances, Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit () and Euphues and His England (). Euphues, The Anatomy of Wit, and Euphues and His England, by John Lyly, were published respectively in and , when the author was a young. “Euphues: The Anatomy of Wyt”, a didactic romance written by John Lyly, was entered in the Stationers’ Register 2 December and published that same.

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The text comes from the first edition, I’ve added the paragraph numbers. The original is in black-letter, with emphasized words in roman; I’ve used roman for the text, and italics for the emphasis. I have eupues macrons indicating omitted m and n ‘s.

The text still has to be proofread against the original, and I hope to add commentary as time permits. But seing my folly in writing to be as great as others, I was willing my fortune should be as ill as any mans.

Lylg commonly see the booke that at Christmas lyeth bound on the Stacioners stall, at Easter to be broken in the Haberdasshers shop, which sith it is the order of proceding, I am content eupnues winter to haue my doings read for a toye, that in sommer they may be ready for trash.

It is not straunge when as the greatest wonder lasteth but nyne dayes: That a newe worke should not endure but three monethes. Gentlemen vse bookes, as gentlewomen handle theyr flowres, who in the morning sticke them in their heads, and at night strawe them at their heeles.

In my mynde Printers and Taylors are bound chiefely to pray for Gentlemen, the one hath so many fantasies to print, the other such diuers fashions to make, that the pressing yron of the one is neuer out of the fyre, nor the printing presse of the other any tyme lyeth still.

But a fashion is but a dayes wearing, and a booke but an howres reading, which seeing it is so, I am of a shomakers mynde, who careth not so the shooe hold the plucking on, and I, so my labours last the running ouer. He that commeth in print bicause he would be knowen, is lyke the foole that commeth into the market bicause he would be seene.

I am not he that seeketh prayse lhly his labour, but pardon for his offence, neither doe I set this foorth for any deuotion in print, but for dutie whith I owe to my Patrone.

If one write neuer so well, he eulhues please all, and write he neuer so ill hee shall please some. Fine heads will pick a quarrell with me uephues all be not curious, and flatterers a thanke, if any thing be currant. But this is my mynde, let him that fyndeth fault amende it, and him that liketh lyoy, vse it. Enuie euphuez but draweth no bloud, the malicious haue more mynde to quippe, then might to cut.


I submit my selfe to the iudgement of the wise, and I little esteme the censure of fooles. The one will be satisfyed with reason, the other are to be aunswered with silence. I know gentlemen wil fynde no fault without cause, and beare with those that deserue blame, as for others I care not for their iestes, for I neuer ment to make them my Iudges.

Aristippus his wart, Lycurgus his wenne: So likewise in the disposition of y e minde, eitheir vertue is ouershaddowed with some vice or vice ouercast with some vertue.

Alexander valiaunt in warre, yet gyuen to wine. Tulli euphurs in his gloses, yet vayneglorious: Salomon wyse, yet to too wanton: Dauid holye, but yet an homicide: Dyd they not remember that whiche no man ought to forgette, that the tender youth of a childe is lyke the temperinge of newe waxe apte to receiue any forme? The Troyans repented to late when their towne was spoiled: But nowe to thy present tyme: If kyly sight of such vglye shapes caused a loathinge of the like sinnes, then my good Ephues consider their plight, and beware of thyne owne perill.

Let the Lacedemonianthe Persianthe Parthianyea, the Neapolitancause thee rather to detest suche villanie, at the sight and viewe of their vanitie. Thys ehphues Gentleman hauinge finished his dyscourse, Euphues beganne to shape hym an aunswere in this sort.

Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit

I meane not to cauill wyth you as one louinge sophistrye, neyther to controwle you as one hauing superioritie, the one woulde bring my talke into the suspition of fraude, the other conuince me of folly. Aristippusa Philosopher, yet who more courtely? Diogeneslgly Philosopher, yet who more carterly?

Who more popular then Platoretayning alwayes good company? Who more enuious then Tymondenouncing all humaine societie? Who so seuere as the Stoyckeswhich lyke stockes were moued with no melody? Who so secure as the Epicures which wallowed in all kinde of licentiousnesse? It is naturall for the vyne to spread, the more you seeke by arte to alter it, the more in the ende you shall augment it. Though yron be made softe with fire it returneth to his hardnes, though the Fawlcon be reclaimed to y e fist she retyreth to hir haggardnesthe whelpe of a Mastiffe will neuer be taught to retriue the Partridge, education can haue no shew, where the excellencie of nature doth beare sway.

The silly Mouse will by no manner of meanes be tamed, the subtill. Doe you not knowe that which all men doe affirme and knowe, that blacke will take no other coulour? That the stone Abeston being once made hotte will neuer be made colde? That fire cannot be forced downewarde?


That Nature will haue course after kinde? That euery thing will dispose it selfe according to Nature? Can the Aethiope chaunge or alter his skinne?

Euphues, the Anatomy of Wit

Is it possible to gather grapes of thornes, or figges of thistelles? Doth not Aristotle alleadge and confirme, that Nature frameth or maketh nothing in any poynte rude, vayne, and vnperfect? If she haue dealte hardely with me, why extoll you so muche my birth?

If Nature beare no sway, why vse you this adulation? If Nature worke the effecte, what booteth any education? If Nature be of strength or force, what auaileth discipline or nurture? If of none what helpeth Nature? Eyther you would haue all men olde as you are, or els you haue quite forgotten y t you your selfe were young or euer knew young dayes: Doe you measure the hotte assaultes of youth, by the colde skirmishes of age?

You carefull, we carelesse, wee bolde, you fearefull, we in all pointes contrary vnto you and ye in all pointes euphued vnto vs. Woulde you haue one potion ministred to the burning Feuer, and to the colde Palseye?

John Lyly: Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit; excerpt

No no Eubulusbut I will yeelde to more, then eyther I am bounde to graunte, eyther thou able to proue: No, no, it is y e disposition of the thought y t altereth y e nature of y e thing. The Euphuex shineth vppon the dungehill, and is not corrupted, the Diamond lyeth in the fire, and is not consumed, the Christall toucheth the Toade, and is not poysoned, the birde Fiochilus lyueth by the mouth of the Crocodile and is not spoyled, a perfecte wit is neuer bewitched with leaudenesse, neyther entised with lasciuiosnesse.

That the Iuie spreadeth vppon the hard stones? That the softe fetherbed breketh the hard blade? Neither were you such a Saint in your youth, that abandoning all pleasures, all pastimes, and delyghts, you would chuse rather eupyues sacrifice the first fruites of your lyfe to vayne holynesse, then to youthly affections.

The Birde Faurashath a great voyce but a small body, the thunder a greate clappe, yet but a lyttle stone, the emptie vessell giueth a greater sownd, then the full barrell.

And immediately he wente to his owne house, heauily bewayling the young mans vnhappinesse.