Instead of making slavery an oppressive institution with
Those who by artifice endeavour to acquire or preserve the reputation of abilities or ingenuity, while they abound in the words of others, have little cause to boast of their own inventions. For the composers of that polished language, in which such various cases as occur in the great body of law are treated with such an appropriate elegance of style, must ever stand forward in the first ranks of praise. I should indeed have said, that the authors of refined language, not the hearers only, the inventors, not the reciters, are most worthy of commendation. You will find, however, that the practices of the court and of the schools are extremely similar; as well in the subtleties they employ to lead you forward, as in the steadiness with which they generally maintain their own positions. Yet it is certain that the knowledge of logic (the acumen, if I may so express it, of all other sciences as well as arts) is very useful, when restricted within proper bounds; whilst the court (i.e. courtly language), excepting to sycophants or ambitious men, is by no means necessary. For if you are successful at court, ambition never wholly quits its hold till satiated, and allures and draws you still closer; but if your labour is thrown away, you still continue the pursuit, and, together with your substance, lose your time, the greatest and most irretrievable of all losses. There is likewise some resemblance between the court and the game of dice, as the poet observes:-
"Sic ne perdiderit non cessat perdere lusor,
Dum revocat cupidas alea blanda manus;"
which, by substituting the word CURIA for ALEA, may be applied to the court. This further proof of their resemblance may be added; that as the chances of the dice and court are not productive of any real delight, so they are equally distributed to the worthy and the unworthy.
Since, therefore, among so many species of men, each follows his own inclination, and each is actuated by different desires, a regard for posterity has induced me to choose the study of composition; and, as this life is temporary and mutable, it is grateful to live in the memory of future ages, and to be immortalized by fame; for to toil after that which produces envy in life, but glory after death, is a sure indication of an elevated mind. Poets and authors indeed aspire after immortality, but do not reject any present advantages that may offer.
I formerly completed with vain and fruitless labour the Topography of Ireland for its companion, the king Henry the Second, and Vaticinal History, for Richard of Poitiou, his son, and, I wish I were not compelled to add, his successor in vice; princes little skilled in letters, and much engaged in business. To you, illustrious Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, equally commendable for your learning and religion, I now dedicate the account of our meritorious journey through the rugged provinces of Cambria, written in a scholastic style, and divided into two parts. For as virtue loves itself, and detests what is contrary to it, so I hope you will consider whatever I may have written in commendation of your late venerable and eminent predecessor, with no less affection than if it related to yourself. To you also, when completed, I destine my treatise on the Instruction of a Prince, if, amidst your religious and worldly occupations, you can find leisure for the perusal of it. For I purpose to submit these and other fruits of my diligence to be tasted by you at your discretion, each in its proper order; hoping that, if my larger undertakings do not excite your interest, my smaller works may at least merit your approbation, conciliate your favour, and call forth my gratitude towards you; who, unmindful of worldly affections, do not partially distribute your bounties to your family and friends, but to letters and merit; you, who, in the midst of such great and unceasing contests between the crown and the priesthood, stand forth almost singly the firm and faithful friend of the British church; you, who, almost the only one duly elected, fulfil the scriptural designation of the episcopal character. It is not, however, by bearing a cap, by placing a cushion, by shielding off the rain, or by wiping the dust, even if there should be none, in the midst of a herd of flatterers, that I attempt to conciliate your favour, but by my writings. To you, therefore, rare, noble, and illustrious man, on whom nature and art have showered down whatever becomes your supereminent situation, I dedicate my works; but if I fail in this mode of conciliating your favour, and if your prayers and avocations should not allow you sufficient time to read them, I shall consider the honour of letters as vanished, and in hope of its revival I shall inscribe my writings to posterity.
SECOND PREFACE - TO THE SAME PRELATE
Since those things, which are known to have been done through a laudable devotion, are not unworthily extolled with due praises; and since the mind, when relaxed, loses its energy, and the torpor of sloth enervates the understanding, as iron acquires rust for want of use, and stagnant waters become foul; lest my pen should be injured by the rust of idleness, I have thought good to commit to writing the devout visitation which Baldwin, archbishop of Canterbury, made throughout Wales; and to hand down, as it were in a mirror, through you, O illustrious Stephen, to posterity, the difficult places through which we passed, the names of springs and torrents, the witty sayings, the toils and incidents of the journey, the memorable events of ancient and modern times, and the natural history and description of the country; lest my study should perish through idleness, or the praise of these things be lost by silence.