[The Epistle Dedicatory]
0.15To the true ennobled lady and his most bountiful mistress, Mistress Anne Fitton, maid of honor to the most sacred maid royal, Queen Elizabeth.
Honorable mistress, in the wane of 0.20my little wit I am forced to desire your protection, else every ballad singer will proclaim me bankrupt of honesty. A sort of mad fellows, seeing me merrily disposed in a morris, have so bepainted 0.25me in print since my gambols began from London to Norwich, that -- having but an ill face before -- I shall appear to the world without a face, if your fair hand wipe not away their foul colors. One hath written "Kemp's Farewell," to 0.30the tune of "Kerry, Merry, Buff"; another his "Desperate Dangers in his Late Travel"; the third his "Entertainment to Newmarket," which town I came never near by the length of half the heath. Some swear in a trenchmore I have trod a 0.35good way to win the world; others that guess righter affirm I have without good help danced myself out of the world. Many say many things that were never thought. But in a word, your poor servant offers the truth of his progress and 0.40profit to your honorable view. Receive it, I beseech you, such as it is, rude and plain, for I know your pure judgment, looks as soon to see beauty in a Blackamoor or hear smooth speech from a stammerer as to find anything but blunt mirth 0.45in a morris dancer, especially such a one as Will Kemp, that hath spent his life in mad jigs and merry jests. Three reasons moue me to make public this journey: one, to reprove lying fools I never knew; the other, to commend loving friends, 0.50which by the way I daily found; the third, to show my duty to your honorable self, whose favors, among other bountiful friends, makes me despite of this sad world, judge my hart cork and my heels feathers, so that methinks I could fly 0.55to Rome -- at least hop to Rome, as the old proverb is -- with a mortar on my head. In which light conceit I lowly beg pardon and leave, for my taborer strikes his hunt's-up; I must to Norwich. Imagine, noble mistress, I am now setting from my 0.60lord mayor's, the hour about seven, the morning gloomy, the company many, my hart merry.
Your worthy ladyship's most unworthy servant, William Kemp.