Not only are the word parallels are significant but also the substantive content of the analogies.


W. S. / Ox

Willobie his AVISA


Such is then th'extremity of my passions, the which I could never have been content to commit unto this telltale paper were it not that I am destitute of all other help. Accept therefore, I beseech you, the earnest good will of a more trusty than worthy servant, who, being thereby encouraged, may supply the defects of his ability with ready trial of dutiful loyalty... More yours than his own. F. I.


F. I.

And with such luck and loss,
I will content myself:
Till tides of turning time may toss,
Such fishers on the shelf.
And when they stick on sands,
That every man may see:
Then will I laugh and clap my hands,
As they do now at me.

(Ox, 16)


I freeze in hope, I thaw in hot desire,
Far from the flame, and yet I burn like fire.

(Ox, 55)


H. W. being suddenly infected with the contagion of a fantastical fit, at the first sight of A, pineth a while in secret grief, at length not able any longer to endure the burning heat of so fervent a humour, bewrayeth the secrecy of his disease unto his familiar friend W. S. who not long before had tried the courtesy of the like passion, and was now newly recovered of the like infection … Thus this miserable comforter comforting his friend with an impossibility, either for that he now would secretly laugh at his friends folly, that had given occasion not long before unto others to laugh at his own …






H. W.
My humors all are out of frame,
I freeze amid'st the burning flame.



Harry, I do not only marvel where thou spendest thy time, but also how thou art accompanied. For though the camomile, the more it is trodden on, the faster it grows, yet youth, the more it is wasted, the sooner it wears.

(W. S., 1Henry IV, II/4)


W. S.

Well met friend Harry, what’s the cause

You look so pale with Lented cheeks?

Your wanny face & sharpened nose
Show plain, your mind something mislikes




When that thine eye hath chose the dame,

And stalled the deer that thou wouldst strike,

Let reason rule things worthy blame,

As well as fancy, partial like;

  Take counsel of some other head,

  Neither unwise nor yet unwed.

(Ox, 97)


Fain would I sing, but fury makes me fret,

And rage hath sworn to seek revenge of wrong:

(Ox, 82)


W. S.

So sorrows shrined in secret breast,

Attaint the heart with hotter rage,

Then griefs that are to friends expressed,

Whose comfort may some part assuage:

  If I a friend, whose faith is tried,

  Let this request not be denied.


No reason rules, where sorrows plant,
And folly feeds, where fury frets 



She is a woman, therefore may be woo’d, 

She is a woman, therefore may be won.

(W. S., Titus Andronicus,II/1)


And to her will frame all thy ways;

Spare not to spend, and chiefly there

Where thy expense may sound thy praise,

By ringing always in her ear:

  The strongest castle, tower or town,

  The golden bullet beateth down.


What though her frowning brows be bent,

her cloudy looks will clear ere night,

and she perhaps will soon repent

that she dissembled her delight;

  and twice desire, ere it be day,

  that with such scorn she put away.

(Ox, 97)


W. S.

She is no Saint, She is no Nun,

I think in time she may be won.



Apply her still with divers things,

(For gifts the wisest will deceive)

Sometimes with gold, sometimes with rings,

No time for fit occasion leave,

  Though coy at first she seem and wield,

  These toys in time will make her yield.


But I (alas) within whose mourning mind
The grafts of grief are only given to grow,
Cannot enjoy the spring which others find,
But still my will must wither all in woe …

Needs must I fall, I fade both root and rind,
My branches bow at blast of ev'ry wind.

(Ox, 40)

Drown me, you trickling tears,

  You wailful wights of woe …

Where earthly worms on me shall feed,

  Is all the joy I crave;

And hide myself from shame,

  Sith that mine eyes do see,

Ah a lalalantida, my dear dame

Hath thus tormented me.

(Ox, 72)


The trickling tears that fall along my cheeks

(Ox, 74)


H. W.

The flowring herbs, the pleasant spring,
That decks the fields with vernant hue,

The harmless birds, that sweetly sing,

My hidden griefs, do still renew:
  The joys that others long to see,
  Is it that most tormenteth me.

I greatly doubt, though March be passed,
Where I shall see that wished May,
That can recure
that baleful blast,
cold despair wrought my decay


Where thinking on my hopeless hap,
My trickling tears like rivers flow


For why by proof the field is eath to win,
Whereas the chieftains yield themselves in chains:
The port or passage plain to enter in
Where porters list to leave the key for gains.

(Ox, 26)

How can the feeble fort but yield at last,

whom daily force of sharp assault assays?

Weak are the walls the battery to abide

of such as seek the spoil of our renown:

they lye in wait, they practise and provide

to stop our straights and beat our bulwarks down,

  to sack our walls and in most cruel sort

  with cannon shot to root our feeble fort.

They seek by slights and work by wills to win

our tender hearts and counsel to disclose:

our privy case discovered we begin

to faint and fall in danger of our foes.

(Ox, 95)


I will take upon me this name, your SHE.

(The Adventures of Master F. I.)


H. W.  the first assault.

Pardon (sweet wench) my fancies fault,
If I offend to show my smart,
Your face hath made such fierce assault,
And battered so my fenceless heart:
That of my foe, my life to save,
For grace I am constrained to crave.


Here I surrender room and right,
And yield the fort at captains sight.

You are the chieftain, that have laid
This heavy siege to strengthless fort,
And fancy that my will betrayd,
Hath lent despair his strongest port:

Your glancing eyes as Cannon shot,
Have pierc’d my heart, and freedom got.





And now I know you are the She,

that was ordained to vanquish me.



I live and love, what would you more:
As never lover liv'd before.

(Ox, 45)

And since Dame Nature hath ordained so,
Her happy hest I gladly shall embrace:
I yield my will, although it were to woe,
I stand content to take my grief for grace

(Ox, 38)


H. W.

I bare that liking, few have bore,
I love, that never lov'd before.


Can you withstand what fates ordain?
Can you reprove dame Natures frame?
Where natures join, shall will disclaim?




For thou hast caught a proper paragon,
A thief, a coward and a peacock fool:
An ass, a milksop and a minion
Which hath none oil thy furious flames to cool

(Ox, 42)


Nor greater joy can be than this,

Than to enjoy what others miss.

(Ox, 71)


H. W.

Your husband is a worthless thing,
That no way can content your mind,
That no way can that pleasure bring,
Your flowring years desire to find:



This I will count my chiefest bliss,
If I obtain that others miss.



Think women love to match with men,

and not to live so like a saint …

The wiles and guiles that in them lurk,

dissembled with an outward show,

the tricks and toys and means to work

(Ox, 97)

H. W.

Let me be hanged if you be such,
As you pretend in outward show:
Yet I commend your wisdom much,
Which mov'd me first to love you so:
Where men no outward shows detect,
Suspicious minds can nil suspect.




A silent suit doth seld to grace aspire;

My hapless hap doth roll the restless stone

(Ox, 73)


Then leave this fruitless suit to move,
Least like to Sysyphus you find,
With endless labour, gainless pain,
To roll the stone that turns again.



A silent suit doth seld to grace aspire;

My hapless hap doth roll the restless stone

(Ox, 73)


If fortune may enforce the careful heart to cry

And griping grief constrain the wounded wight lament:


Whose passed proof of pleasant joy,

Mischance hath changed to griefs annoy:


Each thing I plainly see, whose virtues may avail,

To ease the pinching pain which gripes the groaning wight:


To cool the scorching heat of every smarting sore,

And healeth deepest scarce, though grievous be the wound.


For why the heavens for me prepare

To hue in thought, and die in care.

                                         Oh lasting pain.


Yet all this nought avails to kill that me annoys,

I mean to stop these floods of care that overflow my joys.


That whiles for life and death I cry,

In death I live, and living die.

                                         Oh froward fate.

Lo here my hard mishap, lo here my strange disease,

Lo here my deep despair, lo here my lasting pain:


While luckless, lo, I live, in loss of labours due,

Compelled by proof of torment strong, my endless grief to rue:

In which, since needs, I must consume both youth and age,

If old I live, and that my care no comfort can assuage.

(Ox, 67)


F. I.

I first beheld that heavenly hue of thine,
Thy stately stature, and thy comely grace,
I must confess these dazzled eyes of mine
Did wink for fear, when I first view’d thy face

(Ox, 4)


H. W.

If then the wellspring of my joy,
A flood of woe, in fine become,
If love engender love’s annoy,
Then farewell life, my glass is run:
If you thus constant still remain;
Then must I die, or live in pain.

Thrice happy they, whose joined hearts,
United wills have linked in one,
Whose eyes discern the due deserts,
The griping grief, and grievous groan,
That faith doth breed in settled mind,
As fancies are by fates inclined.


And shall I roll the restless stone?
And must I prove the endless pain?
In cureless care shall I alone,
Consume with grief, that yields me gain?
If so I curse these eyes of mine,
That first beheld that face of thine.



The painted pale, the (too much) red made white,

Are smiling baits to fish for loving fools.

(Ox, 29)


Beware least that your heart be tied,
To fond affects by wanton sights:
Their wandring eyes, and wanton looks
Catch fools as fish, with painted hooks.



Even so my friend F. I., lately overcome by the beautiful beams of this Dame Ellinor, and having now committed his most secret intent to these late rehearsed letters, was at unawares encountered with his friendly foe ...

(The Adventures of Master F. I.)


F. I.

Of thee dear Dame, three lessons would I learn:
What reason first persuades the foolish fly
(As soon as she a candle can discern)
To play with flame, till she be burnt thereby?
Or what may move the mouse to bite the bait
Which strikes the trap, that stops her hungry breath?
What calls the bird, where snares of deep deceit
Are closely couched to draw her to her death?
Consider well, what is the cause of this,
And though percase thou wilt not so confess,
Yet deep desire, to gain a heavenly bliss,
May drown the mind in dole and dark distress:
Oft is it seen (whereat my heart may bleed)
Fools play so long till they be caught in deed.

(Ox, 4)


H. W. To AVISA my friendly foe.


The busy Gnat about the candle, hovering still doth fly,
The slimy Fish about the bait, still wavering doth lie,
The fearful Mouse about the trap doth often try his stength,
Until both Gnat, and Fish and Mouse, be taken at the length,
Even so unhappy I, do like my greatest bane,
Unless you do with speed, release my mortal pain.


Mine enemy I say, though yet my sweetest friend,
If of my sorrows I may see some speedy holesome end.



So that I crave, or presence for relief,
Or some supply to ease mine absent grief.

(Ox, 63)

                                         Oh luckless lot.

Oh cursed caitiff wretch, whose heavy hard mishap

Doth wish ten thousand times that thou hadst not been born:

(Ox, 67)

Weak are the walls the battery to abide

of such as seek the spoil of our renown:

(Ox, 95)

And sing, woe worth on me

  woe worth on me, forsaken man!

(Ox, 72)


Thus in thy looks my love and life have hold,
And with such life my death draws on apace:

(Ox, 31)


H. W.

Your sharp replies, your frowning cheer,
To absent lines, and present view,
Doth aye redouble trembling fear,
And griping griefs do still renew,
Your face to me my sole relief,
My sight to you your only grief.

O luckless wretch, what hap had I,
To plant my love in such a soil?

What fury makes me thus rely
On her that seeks my utter spoil?


And if thou canst, woe worth the place,
Where first I saw that flattering face.



My life doth on your love depend,
My love and life at once must end.



I leave not Lucrece out, believe in her who list,
I think she would have lik'd his lure, and stooped to his fist.

(Ox, 25)



I can not stoop to wandring lure;
My mind is one, and still the same;

While breath, while life, while days endure,
I will not yield to work my shame




I cannot wish thy grief, although thou work my woe,
Since I profess to be thy friend, I cannot be thy foe:


And whiles I sought a mean, by pity to procure,
Too late I found that gorged hawks do not esteem the lure.

This vantage hast thou then, thou mayst well brag and boast.

(Ox, 24)


I not discern what life but loathsome were,
When faithful friends are kept in twain by want


But high foresight in dreams hath stopped my breath,
And caused the swan to sing before his death.

(Ox, 20)

H. W.

I will not wish, I cannot vow,
Thy hurt, thy grief, though thou disdain,
Though thou refuse, I know not how,
To quite my love with love again:
Since I have swore to be thy friend,
As I began, so will I end.

Swear thou my death, work thou my woe,
Conspire with grief to stop my breath,
Yet still thy friend, & not thy foe
I will remain until my death:


I have both time, & travel spent
In vain, in vain: and now I see,
They do but fruitless pain procure,
To haggard kites that cast the lure.

When I am dead, yet thou mayst boast,
Thou hadst a friend, a faithful friend




The lover (as I say, upon the sudden) was droven into such a malady as no meat might nourish his body, no delights please his mind, no remembrance of joys forepassed content him, nor any hope of the like to come might recomfort him: hereat, some unto whom I have imparted this tale have take occasion to discommend his fainting heart...

"But in truth, Mistress, I am sick," quoth he, and therewithal the trembling of his heart had sent up such throbbing into his throat as that his voice (now deprived of breath) commanded the tongue to be still.

(The Adventures of Master F. I.)


Now have I found the way to weep and wail my fill,

Now can I end my doleful days and so content my will.


For as the stricken deer  that seeth his fellows feed
Amid the lusty herd (unhurt), and feels himself to bleed
Even so I find by proof  that pleasure doubleth pain
Unto a wretched wounded heart which doth in woe remain.

(Ox, 41)


And I among the rest which wrote this weary song,
Must needs allege in my defence that thou hast done me wrong.

(Ox, 59)


The trickling tears that fall along my cheeks,

The secret sighs that show my inward grief:

The present pains perforce that love aye seeks,

Bid me renew my cares without relief …

The stricken deer hath help to heal his wound

(Ox, 74)


Avisa having heard this pathetical fancy of H.W. and seeing the tears trill down his cheeks retorted quite from him, and left him alone ... But he departing home, and not able by reason to rule the raging fume of this phantastical fury, cast himself uppon his bed, & refusing both food & comfort for many days together, fell at length into such extremity of passionate affections, that as many as saw him, had great doubt of his health, but more of his wits …




H. W.

Like wounded Deer, whose tender sides are bath'd in blood,
From deadly wound
, by fatal hand & forked shaft:


Now must I find the way to wail while life doth last,

Yet hope I soon to see, the end of doleful days…

For now I loath the foode, and blood that lends me breath,
I count all pleasures pain that keep me from my death…

In secret silence so, Perforce shall be my song,
Till truth make you confess
that you have done me wrong.


When danger keeps the door of Lady Beauties bower,
When jealous toys have chased trust out of her strongest tower:
Then faith and truth may fly, then falsehood wins the field,
Then feeble naked faultless hearts for lack of fence must yield.
And then prevails as much to hop against the hill,
As seek by suit for to appease a froward Lady’s will.
For oaths and solemn vows are wasted then in vain,
And truth is counted but a toy, when such fond fancies reign.

(Ox, 30)


H. W.

Where fond suspect doth keep the gate,
There trust is chased from the door,
Then faith and truth will come too late,
Where falsehood will admit no more;
Then naked faith and love must yield,
For lack offence, and fly the field.

Then easier were it for to choose,
To crawl against the craggy hill,
Then suits, then sighs, then words to use,
To change a froward woman’s will,
Then oathes and vows are all in vain,
And truth a toy, where fancies reign.


That dreadless heart which durst attempt the thought
To win thy will with mine for to consent,
Maintains that vow which love in me first wrought,
I love thee still, and never shall repent.
That happy hand which hardely did touch,
Thy tender body to my deep delight:
Shall serve with sword to prove my passion such
As loves thee still, much more than it can write.
Thus love I still with tongue, hand, heart and all,
And when I change, let vengeance on me fall.

(Ox, 47)


H. W.

My tongue, my hand, my ready heart,
That spake, that felt, that freely thought,
My love, thy limbs, my inward smart,
Have all performed what they ought,
These all do love you yet, and shall,
And when I change, let vengeance fall.

Shall I repent, I ever saw
That face, that so can frown on me?

Some Diomede is crept into Dame Cresside’s heart

(Ox, 44)

Thou art as true as is the best
That ever came of Cresside’s line:
For constant yet was never none,
But in unconstancy alone.

(Ox, 51)


How many weeping eyes I made to pine in woe;

How many sighing hearts I have no skill to show;

Yet I the prouder grew, and answered them therefore,

Go, go, go, seek some otherwhere,

Importune me no more.

(Ox, 90)



My heart is now, as first it was,

I came not of dame Criseyde’s kind

But I must say, as erst before,
Then cease to wail, and write no more.



At the end of the book, Willobie signs off with: “Ever or Never” as did George Gascoigne at the end of A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres. With this final gesture,Willobie signals that, just like Gascoigne he wishes to show his sympathy for E.Ver without being that person himself.

( In 1609 “Ever or Never” shows up again in the foreword to Troilus and Cressida”, “ A Never Writer to an Ever Reader”.)