The Floures of Philosophie

The Floures
of Philosophie

With the Pleasures of
Poetrie annexed unto
them, as wel plea-
sant to be read,
as profytable to be followed
of all men. SENECA
Otium sine litteris mors est & vivi hominis sepultura.

Imprinted at Lon-
don by Frauncis Col-
docke and Henry
Anno. 1581
Cum privilegio

PUBLISHED BY Frauncis Coldocke
PUBLISHED BY Henry Bynneman.

The description of my
Garden, with the sundrie sortes
of Flouers that grow most freshly
in the same.

To the Reader

I Plat at length a pleasaunt plotte
of fragra[n]t floures have fou[n]d
Wherein the swete Carnatio[n]s
with Roses do abound.
Here springs the goodly Gelofers,
some white, some red in shew
Here pretie Pinkes with iagged leaves,
on ragged rootes do grow.
The Johns so sweete in shew and smel,
distinct by colours twaine,
About the borders of their beddes
in seemely sight remaine.
Such vertue have my Marigoldes,
within their stalkes enrolde
That Phoebus with his burning beames
cannot their leaves unfolde.
The double Dayses al in rankes,
about my garden goe,
With comely course of Camomil
that spreadeth too and fro.
In fouresquare formes, and carved knots
the beds most bravely made,
With be[n]ded boughs do kepe their herbs
within their pleasant shade.
Besides these herbes, there is a vine
within this fertile soile,
Whose grapes out preste, doe make the tubbes
with Nectar new to boyle,
The trees so sweete with sugred sappe
such famous fruite do beare.
That wasting worms with greedy iawes
their leaves can never teare.
In midst of al this worthy worke,
thus framde by science skill
A maze there is for Ladies all,
with Lords to walke their fil.
It brings them far with crooked pathes,
and turnes them straight againe,
That going much, they thinke the[m]selves
but little ground to gaine.
But yet in fine, to hoped ende
their restlesse feete aspire,
And open gappe bewrayes it selfe,
to fil their long desire.
Wel, since that art with paines hath met
this featurde forme to frame,
Grudge not to spend a little quoyne,
in buying of the same.
And whe[n] thou hast my labours bought,
to read for thy repast,
Seeke not upon my smelling herbes
to breath thy noysome blast.
A swelling spider on my floures
shew not thy selfe to be,
Whose poyson comes fro[m] sweetest herbs
as trial telleth mee,
But learne from soure to suck the swete,
much like the roaming bee,
Which fro[m] the worst doth take the best,
and lets the worst go free.
So shal my paines be wel bestowde
in planting thee a place,
Where all thy wittes in garden greene,
may runne a joyful race.


With good wil accept this, as I do it sende,
And pay me with good wil, for good wil I lende,
My labour is little, my cunning is small,
My good wil is greatest, let that pay for all.


[Page 105]

1. A mery tale of Maister Mendax
to his friende Credulus

What friend and cousin Credulus,
What fare, what cheere I saye?
I joy to see thee thus in health,
I sweare by this good daye.
CR. And I no lesse rejoyce in mind,
thy happy state to see,
Nowe Maister Mendax in good faith
thou welcome arte to me.
O Neptune King of swelling seas,
whereby did I deserve,
That thou my deere and faithful friend,
in safetie shouldst preserve.
O ye king Aeols winged windes
which breath out boystrous blasts,
What griefs of mine did stay your force
[Page 106]
from maister Mendax mastes?
I thanke you al with hart and voice,
and wil while life doth last,
Since this my friend is safe at home,
and al his dangers past.
ME. Rejoice not yet before yu knowest,
what cares I did abide:
When flashing flouds did beat my bark
and suncke within the side.
Sometime I seemd the starry skies
with mounting mast to touch,
Sometimes my shippe in Plutoes pittes
the hollow hips did couch,
Sometimes I light on ragged rockes
that shooke my brittle barke
Even the[n] when Nimbus pouring down
had made the night ful darke.
And thus I past from paine to paine,
whilst winde and sea did rage,
To stay, and hinder if they coulde
the course of all my age.
But God I thinke dothe alwaies lende
such knaves a longer life,
And stil, the more a shrewe she is,
the longer lives the wife.
CR. Thou thinkst perchance she lives too long
bicause she is a shrewe,
[Page 107]
And makes thy blubbering eies ful oft,
thy cheekes for to bedewe.
But leave we this, since thou hast scapd
al griefe and wretched wo,
And tel me now what sightes thou seest,
in place where thou doste goe.
ME. Of wo[n]drous wars I could declare,
Where trumpets still did sounde,
To sommone Pigmeys to the fielde
to fight with Cranes for grounde.
There should you see a wounded wing,
And there a feather flye,
There should you see a broken bill,
and there a necke to lye.
So when the Cranes were overcome
and forcte to yeelde by fight,
At length they found a ready way
to save themselves by flight.
CR. I love to heare some stra[n]ger news,
I hearde this long ago,
How armes and legs did flie abroade
al tossed too and fro.
ME, Wel, since I now perceive arighte,
and fully knowe thy minde,
I thirste within my memorie
Some strange devise to finde.
There is within Eutopia,
[Page 108]
a house all tylde with tarte,
The walles whereof with custard crustes
are made by wondrous arte.
The postes be all of Synamon
and Ginger joyntly joynde,
And wafers cover al the floore
where every stranger dynde.
The table made of bisket bread
on comfites foure doth stande.
Eache corner hath an antike boy
that holdeth out his hande
To deale about some caraways
to al the standers by,
With Manus Christi many one,
which in their boxe did lye.
The workman of this worthy worke
I longed stil to knowe:
I sought and gazed rounde about,
but none was nigh to showe.
At length I entred in my selfe,
to trie what house he kept,
And through the tender custarde walles
with might and maine I leapte.
The good man heares his house dothe crack
and forth he hyes in haste,
With morter made of yellow yelkes
the broken place to paste.
[Page 109]
When all was well and sounde againe
and broughte to former state,
A craved pardon of my faulte
bicause I knewe no gate.
In deede no marvell friende (quoth he)
since thou didst never see,
In stony workes or timber frames
such costly walles to be.
But since thou camst to view my house,
come in, and sit thee downe,
I trust my wife hir selfe will bidde
thee welcome to the towne.
I thankte him of his curtesie,
and so he led the way,
And there I founde eche thing within
as I before did saye.
Save onely one thing I forgot,
which in the windowe stoode:
A paper prison for the flies,
to keepe them from their foode.
Some were put in for marmelade,
which lately they did sucke,
And some were caught in sugar loaves,
such was their grievous lucke.
Some lymde their wings in ointement pots,
some fel to syrop sweete:
So they were all in prison put,
[Page 110]
with fetters on their feete.
And here they begging for a baite,
were likely soone to sterve:
A good example to the reste,
how they the like deserve.
CR. A preatie prison I have hearde
with divers daintie dishe,
I marvel much I heare no word,
of neither flesh nor filshe.
I pray thee shew what cheere thou hadst,
to bid thee welcome in,
And whereupon thy hungry lippes
to taste did firste begin.
ME. Whe[n] he had plaste me at his boord,
in stately sugred seate,
Forthwith on table to appeare,
he willed all his meate.
But first the cloth did spread it selfe,
the salte made haste apace,
The bread came tumbling in behind,
and knew his wonted place.
The trenchers with their napkins laide
in order on a rowe,
To al the guestes at table sette,
a comely sight did shewe.
Eache dish came placed in his course,
I know not when nor where,
[Page 111]
I marked onely of them al,
two pigges which I see there,
These Pigges came in their peticotes,
with long knives at their waste,
With scriking voice they cryde aloude,
come eate us both in haste.
CR. I marvel much the pigs would seek
to make themselves a pray,
I thinke there is no beast to fonde,
that seekes his own decay.
But who hath ever heard a thing
so farre from sense to fal,
As would abide to bring a sword
to slay it selfe withal?
And yet I may be wel deceivde,
and so I am I knowe:
Else you I dare be bold to say,
the same would never showe,
ME. Who would have thought to bruse your brains,
with such an easy thing,
Which use doth ofte in Painters shops
unto al senses bring?
Yea thousand things more strange than this
in them I did espie,
With crimson coloures finely set,
to holde the gazers eye.
But al things are to Poets pennes
[Page 112]
and Painters pensils free,
And therefore I will prove the same
by reason so to be.
If peril seemed to approche
and dangers were at hande,
Hadst thou not rather shifte for one,
than stil in feare to stande?
Yea, if that sentence were pronounste
that thou in fire shouldst dye,
Wouldst thou prolong thy life in pain,
or suffer presently?
No marvel then, if parched pigge
do bring his fatall knife,
Desiring rather soone to ende,
than live in wretched life.
The Pigs herein did shew some witte,
and did as men woulde doe,
If carefull cause of deepe distresse
did fitly serve thereto.
Well, now a saying sage, by thee
I finde more olde than true,
That where experience comes in place,
there wisedome bids adue.
For thou haste got by travels toyle,
more wisedome in a day,
Than I almost in twentie yeares
by Bookes coulde beare away.
[Page 113]
But this I thinke dothe come to passe
by thy surpassing witte,
And by my dulnesse, which hathe made
my senses all unfitte.

2. A generall discourse uppon

The covetous Carle, whose greedie eies
yt glittring gold doth blind,
No place so safe, no time so sure,
that doth not feare his minde.
At table time, when meate and drinke
before his eyes doth stand,
And guesse declare the wo[n]drous works
that chaunce in strangest land,
Tush meate and drink he doth not wey
they can him not content,
For all the joyes of merry mates
his minde wil not relent.
Alas he saith, that blustring Prince,
whiche on the windes doth reigne,
Hath sent his impes amo[n]gst the flouds,
to teare my shippe in twaine.
Else Neptune with his forked mace,
hath stroke the swelling wave,
Whose foming force with violence
[Page 114]
my barke in peeces clave.
And thoughe the Gods shoulde bee my friends
til winds & waves were past,
Yet sands would sink my shaken ship,
and make it sticke ful fast,
Or ragged rocks would strike hir sides,
til they did cleave asunder,
And gaping gulfes would get alofte
til all my goods were under.
And thus he feares his goods abroade,
and doubts their safe returne,
At home he feares Vulcanus force
his buildings brave to burne,
So that he is unto himselfe,
the cause of all his care,
Whilst he in hope of Nestors yeares
from spending stil doth spare.
He hath ynough, yet wanteth all,
that he with paine hathe got:
For who will thinke a man to have
that thing he useth not?
Who wil beleeve him satisfied,
that stil doth thirst for drinke?
Who thinks that grou[n]d is wet ynough
where raine doth quickly sincke?
What man would deeme his coffers ful
with gripes of gotten golde,
[Page 115]
If that his chestes and coffers yet
a greater summe woulde holde?
So who can wel accompt him riche,
that gapeth stil for gaine,
Although his bagges lye strouting ful,
and so in chest remaine?
Yea, looke the more he hath of goodes,
the more he wantes of fil:
Much like the dropsie drye disease,
that craveth water still.
He's good to none, yet to himselfe
he is the worste of all,
His goodes doe never profite one,
til death on him befall:
And then moste like the wrouting sowe,
whiche never bringeth good,
Til meate be of hir body made,
by letting out hir blood.
So he which in his life was nought,
by leaving goods behinde,
Hath raked up for riotous sonnes,
their life a while to finde.
And looke as he with carefull cloutche
did scrape his goodes togither,
So they wil send them out againe,
at every tyde and weather.
Some is on bankets brave bestowde,
[Page 116]
in Grocers sugred shoppes,
Some heng in neate and stately house,
with brave and golden knoppes:
Some Bacchus doth devoure in cuppes
and drinketh all away.
Yea friendes carousing to and fro,
brings heapes unto decay,
Then Venus shewes hir darlings deere,
which erst in chamber lay,
And do themselves in whorish weedes
before their eies display.
One comes with wanton Lute in hand,
in hope of luckie chaunce,
An other leades aboute the house
Some newe disguised dance.
The third hath fingers ready lymde
whilst youths do turne aboute,
To catche their pursses in his clawes,
and steale thy money out.
The fourth, the fifth, and all the rest
of all the leacherous traine,
Doth bid them either give their goodes,
or else he shall be slaine.
This is the end of goodes ill got,
they will be leudly spent:
And as they softly came to hande,
so swiftly are they spente.
[Page 117]
Beware therefore ye misers all,
and learne to use your owne,
That they may still enjoy the fruites
whiche firste the seedes have sowne.
Who coulde abyde to play the Asse,
with dainties on his backe,
Yet he himselfe to feede on thornes
for needie hungers lacke?
Then use thy golde, both thee and thine
in honest state to finde
For sparing fathers oftentimes
leave spending sonnes behinde.
Thou thinkst by hoording up of heapes,
thou shalt be richer still,
Nay, nay, thou art more poore indeede,
when chestes thou seekst to fill.
For who is rich? even he that doth
content him with his store.
And who is pore? even he that seekes
to gather more and more.
The unthrift will be quickly pore,
when time shall give him leave,
And thou thy selfe unwittingly
of substance doste bereave:
Then spend thy goods amo[n]g thy friends,
whilst life dothe licence lende:
And let thy sonnes know how to get,
[Page 118]
before they know to spend.
[Page 125]

3. Of two Gentlemen whiche by
racking of their rents had destroyed a
whole Towne.

AS I for solace of my selfe
to countrey townes did goe,
And poasting on from place to place
did wander too and fro
[Page 126]
At length I founde my resting Inne
to ease my tired mare,
Where from hir backe I lightlye lepte,
hir weary bones to spare.
And sith it was but early day,
and Sunne so weake did shewe,
That he had scarcely drawne aloft
the drops of dampishe dewe,
And that my businesse was but small,
and had no haste away,
I thought it beste to walke about,
and so to spende the day.
So thus resolved in my minde,
my jorney on I tooke,
on everye parte of all this towne
with often eie to looke:
When I had searched round about,
and viewed all the towne,
The rotten roofes of every house,
sent tyle stones dropping downe:
The walles began to crye for props,
the broken sparres did reele,
The posts that bare ye greatest strength
themselves too weake did feele.
I thought that drink had dimd my eies,
to move such fonde conceites:
Til houses whole came tumbling down
[Page 127]
to drive away deceites.
And yet the fieldes were fatte and fresh,
with grasse on goodly grounde,
And heavie eares did make the stalkes
to grase upon the ground.
What mo[n]strous sight is this (quoth I)
how strange and rare of kind,
In moste excesse of pleanteous store
such scarcenesse here to finde?
In plentie here is penurie,
abundance here doth want.
And he that lives in great excesse,
doth feele the greatest scant,
My braines my wittes and senses al,
coulde scarce this doubt dissolve,
Til I in fine a sight out founde
that did me quite resolve.
I saw two buildings built alofte,
of bricke moste faire to sight,
Where windowes wide on every side
did shewe a glistering light,
They stoode like Castels of defence
to save the battered towne,
But all their guns were chargde & shot
to strike and beate it downe.
The one his stately place did take
at entrance of the Citie,
[Page 128]
The other builded in the ende,
the greater was the pitie.
Looke what came in, the first did steale,
and tooke it for his share,
Looke what wente out, the laste it got,
and home to house it bare.
So both the theeves agreed in thefte,
as lawlesse Lordes on soile,
To hang and draw within themselves,
and live upon the spoile.
And yet they woulde be Gentlemen
the simple sorte to feare:
Indeede by bloud they might be so,
for bloudy men they were.
But I am sure in qualities
their birth it was but bad,
For why? not one good gentle thought
within their heartes they had.
They had encrochte into their handes
eache lande and houses nie,
And pincht the pore with racking rents
to heave their walles on hie.
So, whilst the Plowman was not able,
suche loftie rent to pay,
He suffered all his naked barnes
to fall in deepe decay.
And thus each man neglected one
[Page 129]
til al did faile at length,
And towne came topsie turvie down
when founding had no strength.
Thus houses first, and then the townes,
and nexte the realme I feare,
Through cruel deedes of Gentleman,
some grievous smarte wil beare.
For nowe excesse in meate and drinke
spends goods the Divel and al,
And pride is come to perfect pitch,
and therefore needes muste fall.
God mend or end such Gentlemen,
which seeke to make ye pore their pray.
Their mending shall be for themselves,
their ending saveth our decay.
This is a selection from the original text


fertile, food, fruit, herbs, pain, penury

Source text

Title: The Floures of Philosophie

Author: Hugh Platt

Publisher: Frauncis Coldocke, Henry Bynneman

Publication date: 1581

Edition: 2nd Edition

Place of publication: London

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from images available at Early English Books Online: Bib name / number: STC (2nd ed.) / 19990.7 Physical description: [16], 172, [1] p. Copy from: British Library

Digital edition

Original author(s): Hugh Platt

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) title page, preface, Eutopia poem (pp.105-113), covetousness (113-118), rent racking (125-129).


Texts collected by: Ayesha Mukherjee, Amlan Das Gupta, Azarmi Dukht Safavi

Texts transcribed by: Muhammad Irshad Alam, Bonisha Bhattacharya, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Muhammad Ehteshamuddin, Kahkashan Khalil, Sarbajit Mitra

Texts encoded by: Bonisha Bhattacharya, Shreya Bose, Lucy Corley, Kinshuk Das, Bedbyas Datta, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Sarbajit Mitra, Josh Monk, Reesoom Pal

Encoding checking by: Hannah Petrie, Gary Stringer, Charlotte Tupman

Genre: Britain > poetry

For more information about the project, contact Dr Ayesha Mukherjee at the University of Exeter.