Second Fruits is John Florio’s second work. Entitled Second Frutes to be gathered of twelve trees, of diverse but delightful tastes to the tongues of Italian and English (1591), it appeared thirteen years after the publication of the First Fruits, and is a product of perhaps the most interesting period of his life.


“As for me, for it is I, and I am an Englishman in Italiane; I know they haue a knife at command to cut my throate, Un Inglese Italianato é un Diavolo Incarnato.”



Florio’s Second Fruits paralleled the most fertile period of Elizabethan literature. As usual, Florio is found connected with interesting and brilliant circles, and the Second Fruits is a work up to the minute in meeting the demands of the new literary fashion of the 1590’s. The dedication of the Second Fruits is to “Master Nicholas Saunder of Ewel” to whom Florio seems to be indebted for the benevolence and bounty shown him while at Oxford and later in London. Florio claims that his monument, Second Fruits, will render immortal “your worthiness”:

“Far indeede I neither may in equitie forget, nor in reason conceale, the rare curtesies you vouchfast me at Oxford, the friendly offers and great liberalitie sinee (above my hope and my desert) continued at London, where with you have fast bound me to beare a dutifull & grateful observance towards you while I live, & to honour that mind, from which as from a spring, al your friendships & goodnes hath flowed: And therefore to give you some paune and certaine assurance of a thankfull minde, and my professed devotion, I have consecrated these my slender endeauours, wholy to your delight which shall stand for an image and monument of your worthinesse to posteritie.”


His statement in the Dedication that First Fruits and Second Fruits are the “daughters and offsprings of my care and studie” is significant. He proceeds with the metaphor asserting that his elder (First Fruites) because she was ambitious “I married for preferment and for honour” but this younger (Second Fruits) is “better, riper, and pleasanter than the first”. And since it’s “fayrer, better nurtured, and comelier than her sister,” he hopes that it will be better received and appreciated than was First Fruites:

“…I thought to have cloystred up some solitarynes, which shee perceiving, with haste putting on her best ornaments and (following the guise of her countrie women presuming very much upon the love and favour of her parentes) hath voluntaryly made her choyce (plainly telling me that she will not leade apes in hell) and matched with such a one as she best liketh, and hopeth will both dearely love her, & make her such a ioynter as shal be to the comfort of her parents, and ioy of her match, and therefore have I given her my consent, because shee hath iumped so well with modesty, and not aspired so high that shee might be upbraided either with her birth or basenes when she could not mend it.”


He then concludes discussing about the proverbial speech, and how much “graceth a wise meaning, and how probably it atgueth a good conceipt”:

“….and also, how naturally the Italians please themselves with such materyall, short, and wittty speeches (which when they themselves are out of Italy and amongst strangers, who they think hath learnt a little Italian out of Castilian’s courtier, or Guazzo his dialogues, they will endevour to gorget or neglect and speake bookish, and not as they will doe amongst themselves because they know their proverbs never came over the Alpes) no sell than with the conepited apothegmes, or Imprefes, which never fall within the reach of a barren or vulgar head.”

Second Frutes, London, 1591. Printed for Thomas Woodcock.


The dedicatory epistle is a “remarkably comprehensive sketch of current publication in the various fields of journalism, poetry, and the drama.” 1 and opens with a passage which must be quoted:

Sir in this stirring time, and pregnant prime of invention when everie ‘bramble is fruiteful, when everie mol-hill hath cast of the winters mourning garment, and when everie man is busilie woorking to feede his owne fancie; some by delivering to te presse the occurences & accidents of the world, newes from the marte, or from the mint, and newes are the credite of a travailer, and first question of an Englishman. Some, like Alchimists distilling quintessences of wit, that melt golde to nothing, & yet would make golde of nothing; that make men in the moone and catch moon shine in the water. Some putting on pyed coats lyke calendars, and hammering upon dialls, taking the elevation of Paneridge church (their quotidian walkes) pronosticate of faire, of foule or of smelling weather, Men weatherwise, that wil by aches foretell of change and alteration of wether. Some more active gallants made of a finer molde, by devising how to win their Mistrises favours, and how to blaze and blanche their passions with aeglogues, songs, and sonnets, in pitiful verse or miserable prose, and most, far a fashion; is not Love then a wagg, that makes men so wanton? yet love is a pretie thing to give unto my Ladie. Other some with new caracterisings bepasting all the posts in London to the proofe, and fouling of paper, in twelve howres thinke to effect Calabrian wonders; is not the number of twelve wonderfull? Some wìrh Amadysing & Martinising a multìtude of our libertine yonkers with triviall, frivolous, and vaine vaine droleries, set manie mindes a gadding; could a foole with a feather make men better sport? l could not chuse but apply myself in some sort to the season, and either proove a weede in my encrease without profit, or a wholesome pothearbe in profit without pleasure. lf I proove more than I promise, I will impute it to the gracious Soile where my endeavours are planted, whose soveraine vertue divided with such worthless seedes, hath transformed my unregarded slips to medeinable simples. […]


There is first a hint at Greene’s Mourning Garment (1590). Then he defends the passion for “news”. He had indeed been involved in publishing news pamphlets, of which ‘A letter lately written from Rome’ was published in 1585 when he was at the French Embassy. Next there is an allusion to one of Lyly’s recent plays, Endimion, The Man in the Moone; to Thomas Nashe, who in 1591 published A Wonderfull, strange and miraculous, Astrological Prognostication for the year of our Lord God; to John Doleta who in 1586 prophesied Straunge Newes out of Calabria that the following year would bring forth weird and horrible events. There is also an allusion to Greene’s Groats-worth of Witte, bought with a million of Repentance (1592), specifically when Greene mentions a play called The Twelve Labours of Hercules.


John Florio also mentions the Martin Marprelate controversy, a pamphlet war in which the self-styled ‘Marprelate’ attacked the bishops of the Church of England as “petty popes” and in which Thomas Nashe had taken part, replying in at least one pamphlet of his own ‘An Almond for a Parrot’.:

   “Some with Amadysing and Martinising a multitude of our libertine yonkers with trivial, frivolous and vain vain drolleries, set many minds a gadding; could a fool with a feather make men better sport?”.

By coining the phrase ‘Amadysing and Martinising’ Florio draws together both Thomas Nashe and the group of University wits to attack the affected style of these pamphlets.


The Epistle to the reader of the Second Fruits shows that Florio had recently been meeting with adverse criticism because of his Italian sympathies:

“As for me, for it is I, and I am an Englishman in Italiane; I know they haue a knife at command to cut my throate, Un Inglese Italianato é un Diavolo Incarnato.


Defining himself an Englishman in Italiane, John Florio writes a two-fold defence of Italian culture in England and of the practise of translation. He also writes a commendation of Queen Elizabeth’s knowledge of Italian, and a succinct of Florio’s belief in treating proverbs as a mean to facilitate colloquial and idiomatic speech. “To the Reader” offers an impassioned response to the celebrated Italian proverb that describes the apparently pernicious effect that the country has on many of its English visitors. The proverb “Un Inglese Italianato é un diavolo incarnato” is introduced into England in Roger Ascham’s The Scholemaster (1570), where young English gentlemen are given a stern warning about the dangers of exposing themselves to the Siren songes of Italie. 2 Ascham gave a major example of this anti- cosmopolitan campaign, due to its description of the traveller to Italy as:

“A meruelous monster, which, for filthines of liuyng, for dulnes to learning him selfe, for wilinesse in dealing with others, for malice in hurting without cause, should carie at once in one bodie, the belie of a Swyne, the head of an Asse, the brayne of a Foxe, the wombe of a wolfe.” 3


John Florio responds directly to Thomas Nashe who was one of Florio’s contemporaries who criticised the young English Nobles who travelled in Italy and returned not only well versed in the language and culture, but apparently also in the vices and loose morals they had encountered by the way:

“Mislike you the language? Why the best speak it best, and her Majesty none better.”

Florio also recalls the great and the good from history who made the learning of languages a virtue:

“Mithridates was reported to have learned three and twenty several languages, and Ennius to have three hearts because three tongues, but it should seem thou hast not one sound heart, but such a one as is cankered with envy; nor any tongue, but a forked tongue, thou hissest so like a snake.”  

He also mentions Nashe’s tale about the fox and the goat at the well when he reminds his readers of all the good literature to make its way in England through translators of the past when he says:

“Had they not known Italian, how had they translated it?  Had they not translated it, where were now they reading?  Rather drink at the well-head than sip at puddled streams”. 


One particularly telling remark in all this is the very direct “Now, who the devil taught thee so much Italian?” which suggests Nashe may, at one time, have been among Florio’s pupils at St. John’s. Another St. John’s contemporary who certainly was among Florio’s pupils was Gabriel Harvey who, together with his brother, waged a similar literary battle with Thomas Nashe.  The epistle to the reader ends on an extremely combative tone:

To use them [proverbs] is a grace, to understand them a good, but to gather them a paine to me, though gaine to thee. I, but for all that I must not scape without some new flout: now would I were by thee to give thee another, and surely I would give thee bread for cake. Farewell if thou meane well; els fare as ill, as thou wishest me to fare.

The last of April, 1591. Resolute I.F.


The Epistle Dedicatorie shows that Florio knew that his Second Fruits was a provocative work, and here for the first time he signs himself with the adjective that stuck to him through life and after death: Resolute John Florio. Unlike his earlier manual, Florio’s Second Fruits is prefaced by a single commendatory sonnet: Phaeton to his friend Florio. What is of great significance concerning this sonnet is that it is one of the earliest Elizabethan sonnets to be printed:

Sweet friend, whose name agrees with thy increase
How fit a rival art thou of the spring!
For when each branch hath left his flourishing,
And green-locked summer’s shady pleasures cease,
She makes the winter’s storms repose in peace
And spends her franchise on each living thing:
The daisies spout, the little birds do sing,
Herbs, gums, and plants do vaunt of their release.
So when that all our English wits lay dead
(Except the laurel that is evergreen)
Thou with thy fruits our barrenness o’erspread
And set thy flowery pleasance to be seen.
Such fruits, such flowerets of morality
Were ne’er before brought out of Italy.
Phaeton to his friend Florio

Moreover, it is published in the Second Fruits, an Italian language book which contains a heterogeneous stock of raw materials for contemporary sonneteers. It is possible that Florio is again meeting a demand here as he did in his earlier work in the case of the Euphuists.


Florio had a genius for catching the very spirit of the particular time in which he was writing – its current literary interests, fashion, and gossip. 4 Then too, the Second Fruits was intentionally directed towards the more literary, more intellectual segment of those interested in learning foreign languages. Florio always moved among the more courtly circles, and one would naturally expect his books to reflect this atmosphere. In this context, it is important to note that John Florio did not intentionally set out to be a language-teacher. Inevitable similarities apart, he differs very considerably from Hollyband, Saravia, Stepney and scores of other protestant refugees who kept school in London in the 16th and 17th century. His language lesson books were not for school children or beginners in the language as were those of Hollyband, and he opportunely supplies just the kind of material which would appeal to the writers of sonnets: arguments about women, beauty and love.


Furthermore, the aim of the work did not stop with polite speech; it was also designed to teach fine writing and a definite literary style. Instead of prayers, long tirades on morality, and doctrinal dissertations found in the Firste Fruites and other Elizabethan language lesson manuals, the dramatic dialogues of the Second Fruits are concerned primarily with the occupations of courtly life and the interests of the more gentle circles. Opposed to the first manual, now in Second Fruits the dramatic dialogues have different characters with names prefixed in the title for each chapter. Understandably, the dialogues of Florio have captured the attention of scholars, who often comment on the theatrical nature of these exchanges. In his book-length study of early modern Anglo-Italian relations, Michael Wyatt recognizes a “theatrical structure” in Florio’s bilingual dialogues 5. In this context, it is important to make a difference between Florio and other teachers of languages. Florio, in fact, did not write an elementary book for school children; he aimed rather at the interests of the “gentlemen” and nobility. Professor Spampanato has defined this attitude nicely:

“Because it treats of arms and horses, of amusement, of courtesy and love, of banquests, of games and travels, the Second Fruits can in most respects belong to the courtier literature which still flourished in Italy toward the end of the Renaissance.”

Vincenzo Spampanato. John Florio, Un Amico del Bruno in Inghilterra


Second Fruits emphasizes Italian popular phrases and proverbs in the context of dialogues relating to everyday actions. There are discussions of fencing, tennis, literary criticism, and translation. Topical allusions mentions St. Paul’s, Paul’s Wharf, London Bridge, the London Exchange, and the city streets and parks. Mentions is made of the Queen, Bruno, Sidney, Spencer, the Earl of Southampton, and others. Chapter 6 contains “many familiar and ceremonious complements” for the particular use of the traveller abroad with allusions of the fashion of the Italian travel, the malcontent traveller, and the new class of Italianate-Englishman. The character Stephen gives worldly wisdom to the neophyte traveller Peter. The high regard for scholars manifest in this same dialogue is of particular interest:

S. See you never speak of Princes, for to praise them is slanderous;

and to dispraise them is dangerous.

And often words, doo end with swordes.

And how be it the tongue be without bone,

Yet it breaketh manie a one;

And better it is with foote to slip,

Then with the tongue to trip.

In al your actions have great care of your honor & credit, for,

Where honors breach mankes any wound,

No course of time can make all sound.

To time frame thy desires,

and saile as winde requires.

Alwaies measure manie,

before you cut anie.

Trust few in deede, of all take heede,

for, of monie, wit, and faith,

there is no store, the wife man saieth.

Be cirumspect how you offend schollers, for knowe,

a serpents tooth bites not so ill,

as dooth a schollers angrie quill.

And if thou wrong him in his goods,

he will deprive thee of thy good name,

and longer bleedes a wonud made with a quill,

then any made with sword or lance.

If of the wolfe thou be in feare,

be sure to keepe a dog neare.

Take heede whome you make your companion, and

let him in time beware his throate,

that shroudes a serpent in his coate.

Feele not anothers purse for feare, strive not anothers talke to heare

other mens letters do forbeare,

and guide thy head, thine eye, thine eare, for

who dooth what he ought not,

shall finde what he thought not.

Be Romane if in Rome thou bide,

for wisdome sailes with winde and time.

pg. 97


Chapter 12, with its 40 pages of dramatic dialogues, is a kind of compendium of arguments on love and women, both for and against between Pandolpho, Silvestro, Nicodemus and Dormiglione. The chapter opens with this words:

P. “This wilbe a faire moon and starre-shine night, my companions, and fine to watch in.”

Florio has divided the characters in two groups, feminists and anti-feminists. And while the stars shine and the night wears on these discoursesers pepper one another with a hail of proverbs and trite sayings upon this topic:

If women were as little as they are good,

A peas-cod would make them a gowne and a hood.

Wiues, Asses, nuttes, the more they beaten bee,

More good and profite they will yeeld to thee.

and Tantalus in Hell abides less ill,

Than he that’s ruled by a woman’s will.

And if any one chance to loue, it may be counted a wonder, and wonders last but nine daies: yet if she loue, it is but a noueltie, and nouelties come but once in seuen yeares: and her loue changeth, as doe the clowdes in sommer: and therefore it is saide, that

the wine of a Flaggon, and the loue of a Whore,

at euening is rich, at morning is poore.

It is and euer was a womans fashion,

to loue a crosse, to crosse a louing passion.

And therefore are they compared to death, who

Followes those that flie her, and shunneth those that ply her.

To Nettles. Those that but touch they sting them,

But hurt not those that wring them. They are like Crocodrills,

They weepe to winne, and wonne they cause to dye,

FOllow men flying and men following flye.

Like the ballamce, where most it receiueth, there most it inclineth,

Like to a coale, which either burneth, or besmeareth.

Or like a wind-mill, which still doth go, as the wind doth blow.

Siluestro has to eke out his side of the argument with mythology, or with quotations from Petrarca:

If you chop logik with me, I will choke you with grammar, but tell me in good sooth, are not vices masculine, and vertues feminine? are not Muses the loue of the learned? and doe not Gentlemen follow the graces? not because Muses, nor because graces, but because women.

There is but one Fenix in the world, and she a Female, nature apt to all perfection is a woman: so is her imitatour arte, is not the mistris, nay the princes, nay the foundres of good artes Minerua onely of all that euer were born of a man, not of a woman, nor of the thigh or ribbe of a man, but of the brayne of highest Ioue, is she not a woman? A woman shall I say, or a Goddesse? a Goddesses indeed: for such women are deseruedly called Goddesse, who for their excellencie and goodnesse haue bin deified, as Diana for chastitie, ad Ceres for her so needeful huswiferie.

Pandolpho points out that this is idolatrous:

The best is, your creede is not sung in the church, neither doth your voyce enter heauen gates, nor shall they either enter my head or Creede. I beleeue in God and not in women…

The reference to Philip Sidney, the petrarchism and Bruno’s anti-petrarichisms are evident. Furthermore, the many classical and mythological allusions, similies, metaphors, proverbs, and conventional euphuism of this chapter make the book a kind of thesaurus for love poets and contemporary sonneteers.

S. You runne wide Sir, Love is the grandchilde of nature, and first borne of beautie, by her husband pleasure.

P. There lay a straw, for you shoote wide, hold your hand a while, his ngrandame wa idlenes (as Seneca saies) his mother beggerie, as Plato tells us, his father Herebus, as Lucian reporteth, or Argus as Philip Sidney declareth in drawing if his pedegree, or God knows who, for who else knowes who hath private in the common.

S. Nay if names beare games Love is the keykeeper of the world, as Orpheus saeies, not onely the auncientest as Hefrodus fhewes, but even the God of Gods, as good Tasso setts downe in his creede: taking from Mars his sword, from Neptune his trident, and from Iupiter his thunder bolt, and (if I misse not my mark) from Homer his verse, and from Hercules his club. So Irke a Dictator he is Dominus factotum, and who but he? like Plato banishing both mine and thine out of his Commonweale. Yea Plato as hee makes penurie to bee his mother, because hee hath not what he seekes, so he names his father plentie, (the sonne of counsell) because he wants not what he loveth; and as in that booke, a beastly, vulgare, and voluptous love is figured, so is there pourtrayed a celestiall love, the auctor, master, and preserver of all things, and to be short I tell you in one word, Love can doo all, and love maintaineth all, and the sweete of sweetes lie never erft did prove, who hath not tasted of the fruites of love.

The anti-feminist literature of the Middle Ages and Renaissance is also reflected in Pandolpho’s words:

P. Women are the purgatory of men’s purses;

The paradise of men’s bodies; the hell of men’s souls.

Women are in churches saints; abroad angels; at home devils;

At window sirens; at doors pyes; and in gardens goats.

In contrast, there is a discussion of feminine beauty in Chapter Eight when James describes the “partes that a woman ought to have to be accounted most faire” :

I. In choyse of faire, are thirtie things required

for which (they saie) faire Hellen was admired,

Three white, three black, three red, three short, three tall,

Three thick, three thin, three streight, three wide, three small,

White teeth, white hands, and neck as yvoire white,

Black eyes, black browes, black heares that hide deligth:

Red lippes, red cheekes, and tops of nipples red,

Long leggs, long fingers, long locks of her head,

Short feete, short eares, and teeth in measure short,

Broad front, broade brest, broad bhipps in seemely sort,

Streight leggs, streight nose and streight her pleasures place,

Full thighes, full buttocks, full her bellies space,

Thin lipps, thin eylids, and heare thin and fine,

Smale mouth, smale waste, smale pupils of her eyne,

Of these who wants, so much of fairest wants,

And who hath all, her beutie perfect vauntes.

Venetia, chi non ti vede non ti pretia, ma chi ti vede ben gli costa.

Who sees not Venice cannot esteeme it, but he that sees it payes well for it.


Proverbs were a usual feature of most Elizabethan language lesson books, but in no manual did they play such an all-important part as in the Second Fruits. The proverbs of the book are, in fact, keyed with those published in a corollary work by Florio, the Giardino di Ricreatione: six thousands Italian proverbs, without their English equivalents. It is one of the most important of the earlier collections of this kind. The title itself is interesting: Giardino di ricreatione, nel quel crescono fronde, fiori e frutti, vaghe, leggiadri e soavi; sotto nome di auree sentenze, belli proverbii, et piacevoli riboboli, tutti Italiani, colti, scelti, e scritti, per Giovanni Florio, non solo utili ma dilettevoli per ogni spirito vago della Nobil lingua Italiana. Il numero d’essi é di 3400. The proverbs in the Italian side of the dialogues are starred to indicate that they are listed among the six thousand Italian proverbs collected in the Giardino. Florio attached a great value to popular sayings as a means for men in their conversations to express their matter:

“Proverbs are the pith, the properties, the proofes, the purities, the elegancies, as the commonest so the commendablest phrases of a language.”

Florio endeavored particularly “to finde matter to declare those Italian wordes & phrases, that never yett saw Albions cliffes.” Yet, the proverbs used in the Second Fruits seem to have been especially selected as those which could be transported from the Italian to the English without strain or loss of meaning. Finally, the Second Fruits ought indeed to rank as a contribution to the topical journalism of the Elizabethan period: he devoted an entire chapter to a discussion of “newes”, “devices”, “tales”, written reports, printed “letters”, rumors, and scandal. The Second Fruits, therefore, can stand with the Nashe, Harvey, and Greene pamphlets as one of the earliest pieces of journalism.

John Florio’s Italian handwriting in the manuscript of “Giardino di Ricreatione.”


Second Fruits contain many memories of the Nolan philosopher, Giordano Bruno, and the experiences Florio shared with him at the French Embassy. In the first dialogue he writes a dialogue between Nolano, Torquato and Ruspa. The names which Florio gives the speakers in this dialogue deliberately recall Bruno and La Cena de le ceneri. Torquato and Nundinio are not only mentioned by name but characterised by little touches which make them unmistakably the Torquato and Nundinio of the Cena. But that’s not enough, there are other references to Bruno: the last dialogue takes up forty page, and for Miss Yates “to contemporaries it must have seemed the smartest and most amusing part of it.” While in the first pages Torquato was getting up, in the last one he’s admiring the “fairme moone and starre-shine night” with references on love and women, and astronomical speculations. In the 6th chapter he mentions Bruno’s proverbs from Il Candelaio “For to a broken alter no man will light his candle, nor in a lockles cheast, no man will shake his bag.” 6 Many of Bruno’s thoughts are shaped in Second Fruits, in which the Nolan is portrayed by Florio lounging on a window-seat, leafing through a book and poking fun at his friend John for taking too much time over getting dressed in the morning. In this exchange between Nolano (as he calls Bruno) and Torquato, the former eager to force his late-sleeping friend out of bed:

N: Voi mi fate sentire una delle doglie da morire col tanto aspettarvi. (You make me feel one of the deadly griefs, staying so long for you.)

T: Quali son le doglie da morire? (What be those deadly griefes?)

N: Aspettar e non venire. Star in letto e non dormire. Ben servir e non gradire. Haver cavallo che non vuol’ire. E servitor che non vuol’ubidire. Esser’ in prigione e non poter fuggire. Et ammalato e non poter guarire. Smarrar la strada, quand un vuol gire. Star alla porta quand’o un non vuol aprire. Et haver un amico che ti vuol tradire: sono dieci doglie da morire. (To long for that which comes not. To lye a bed and sleepe not. To serve well and please not. To have a horse that goes not. To keepe a man obeyes not. To lye in iayle and hope not. To bee sick and recover not. To loose ones way and knowe not. To waite at doore and enter not. And to have a friend we trust not: are ten such spites as hell hath not.)

T: Queste son doglie ch’io ho patito & patisco sovvente volte. /They be the spites as I have felt, and oftentimes doo feele.)

N: La prima di esse io patisco adesso. (The first of them i feele now.)

T: Ma non la patirete molto, perché io ho bel’e fatto. (But you shall not feele it long, for I have done.)

Spampanato identifies the proverb utilized here as derived from Bruno’s Il Candelaio, where Signora Vittoria opens her monologue by saying: “Aspettare e non venire é cosa da morire.” Proverbial usage is one of the keys to the range of Florio’s lexical scope, and here we have an example of Bruno’s agency in supplying him with proverbs for his linguistic salesmanship. 7 Beside the use to which Florio puts proverbial wisdom here, he would follow Bruno’s lead in employing proverbs throughout his career to establish one of the most distinctive aspects of his advocacy of the Italian language.


John Florio became a close friend of Vincentio Saviolo, a famous fencing master from Padua who published in 1595, with the help of Florio, Vincentio Saviolo his practise. John Florio, in Second Fruits, described him as “More valiant than a sword it selfe.” and someone who “will hit any man, bee it with a thrust or stoccada, with an imbroccada or a charging blowe.” Florio’s inclusion of the borrowed terms alongside their English translations in the English portion of his dialogue suggests their gradual adoption into the English fencing vernacular. 8

“I have heard him reported to be a notable tall man, Hee will hit any man bee it with a thrust or stoccada, with an embrocada or a charging blowe, with a right or reverse blowe with the edge, with the back, or with the flat…a man who must doe everything by rule and measure, as walk by counterpoint, speak by the points of the moon and spit by doctrine.”


John Florio also wrote his own stories: inspired by Boccaccio’s Decameron, sixth day, tenth tale, he published Lippotopo; novelletta di Giovanni Florio nella quale narrasi uno singolare tratto di accidia and Novelletta d’un avaro, London: Appresso Thomaso Woodcock, 1591. Both novels were partially taken from Second Fruits, re-written and published as novels. Only 12 copies of Lippotopo and 8 copies of Novelletta d’un avaro survive in the world. In Novelletta d’un avaro he also wrote some amusing verses taken from Giardino di Ricreatione 9 and re-written in the 7th page of the novel:

Dio ci guardi da puttana di bordello

da frate di mantello,

da prete da grossetto,

da donna vestita di berrettino,

da ostro e da garbino,

da bastonate da orbo,

da beccature da corvo,

da vento di Quarnaro,

da spese di boaro

dal davanti della donna,

dal di dietro della mula,

e da tutti i lati etc. etc.

These two novels were re-published in Venice between 1845 and 1846 as L’accidioso and Lippotopo by Giuseppe Pasquali who added other pages from Florio’s Second Fruits with Italian and Latin proverbs, but without acknowledging Florio’s authorship.


Below are some extracts from Second Fruits:

The Third Chapter of familiar morning communication, wherein many curesies are handled, and the manner of saluting and visiting the sick, and of riding, withall that belongeth to a horse, between Aurelio, Pompilio and Trippa the servant.

Pompilio: Good morrow master Aurelio.
Aurelio: And to you a good morrowe and a good year M Pompilio.
Pompilio: From whence come you in such haste?
Aurelio: I come from visiting a friend of mine.
Pomilio: Where dwells he, if a man may know?
Aurelio: Here by, in this streete.
Pompilio: Is it a hee or a shee friend, tell me in good sooth?
Aurelio: You goe about to make me blush.
Pomilio: Will it please you to goe so farre as my chamber?
Aurelio: Yes sir, but I would be loath to trouble you
Pomilio: Will you goe and see my lodging?
Aurelio: Honoured shall I be, if it please you to accept of my company?
Pomilio: What ho, Trippa, goe before and open the dore for us.

At the lodging:

Pomilio: Boy, bring hither some stooles, set a chaire there.
Aurelio: In good sooth, you are lodged verie commodiously.
Pomilio: To tell you the truth I am verie well here.
Aurelio: You have a daintie bed with verie fine household stuffe.
Pomilio: Here you may see verie farre.
Aurelio: Behold, it is a verie fine and pleasant prospect.
Pomilio: And delightsome, especiallie towards the Easte.
Aurelio: Is this a hyred chamber?
Pomilio: Yes sir, and I paie verie deare for it.
Aurelio: How much doo you paie a weeke for it?
Pomilio: I paie four crownes a moneth.
Aurelio: It is not very deare, being in London.
Pomilio: I must make as good shift as I maie.
Aurelio: In good truth you are verie well stored with bookes.
Pomilio: Those few that I have, be at your commandement.
Aurelio: Lend me this booke, for two or three daies.
Pomilio: Keep it so long as you please.

The Fourth Chapter, wherein is set downe a dinner, whereat are met sixe persons, to wit, Nundinio, Camillo, Horatio, Melibeo, Tancredi, and Andrew, as the ghestes, and Simon, as good man of the house, and Robert his man, betweene whom, there fall many pleasant discourses, concerning meate & repast.

 Robert: Master, dinner is readie, shall it be set upon the board?
Simon: I praie thee doo so, laie the board when thou wilt.
Robert: By and by, it shall be readie in less than a lightning.
Nundinio: My cravers [appetite], as the scots man saye, serves me well.
Simon: The meate is comming in, let us sit downe.
Camillo: I would wash first, if it were not to trouble Robert.
Simon: What ho, bring some water to wash our hands. Give me a faire, cleane and white towell.
Robert: Behold, here is one upon my shoulder.
Simon: My masters, drie your hands with this towell.
Taneredi: I praie you let us sit downe, for I have a good stomack.
Simon: My masters, the meate cooles.
Taneredi: My friend, I praie thee, give mee a messe of pottage, and a spoon also.
Robert: There be some upon the table, by the salt.
Simon: Bring hither that sallat [salad], those steakes, that legge of mutton, that peece of beefe, with all the boyled meate that we have.
Camillo: This may rather be called a banquet than an ordinarie dinner.
Simon: I praye you everie man serve himself, let everie one cut where he pleases and seeke the best morcels.
Taneredi: Truly these meates are verie well seasoned.
Camillo: In good sooth, you have excellent good bread here.
Nundinio: Good lord, how manie sorts of bread have you in your house?
Simon: Bring forth that loyn of veale roasted, and that quarter, whether it be of Kidde or Lambe.
Camillo: You are happie that have so good a baker.
Simon: Call for drinke when you please and what kinde of wine you like best.
Camillo: Give me a cup of beere, or else a bowle of ale.
Horatio: I love to drink wine after the Dutch fashion
Taneredi: How doo they drinke it I pray you?
Horatio: In the morning pure, at dinner without water, and at night as it comes from the vessell.
Melibeo: I like this rule well, they are wise, and Gods blessing upon them.
Horatio: A slice of bacon would make us taste this wine well.
Simon: What ho, set that gammon of bakon upon the boarde.
Taneredi: Of curtesie give me a little salt, I cannot reach it. I eate more salt than a Goate dooth.
Horatio: Give me a clean trenchar [plate].
Simon: Thou sillie wretch, give everie one cleane plates.
Nundinio: Let us make a lawe that no man put of his cap or hat at the table.
Camillo: An excellent and good lawe, for so shall wee not fowle our hatts.
Taneredi: Neither shall we be in danger to make the haires flie about the dishes.
Simon: Set that capon upon the table, and those rabbits, that hen, those chickens, that goose, those woodcocks, those larkes, those quailes, those partridges, and that pasty of venison.
Nundunio: Yonder is a most fine cubbord of plate
Simon: Andrew commeth. Have you dined or no?
Andrew: To tell you true, I am fasting yet.
Simon: Bring hither a stoole, and set a trenchar, a napkin, a knife, a forke, and a spoone there.
Andrew: Let no man stirre, I will sit here, by your leave.
Simon: Master Andrew, will it please you to eate an egg?

The First Chapter, rising in the morning and all things belonging to the chamber, and to apparell, betweene Nolano, Torquato and Ruspa their servant.

Nolano: What ho, M Torquato, will you lye a bed all day?
Torquato: Who is there? Who calleth me? Who asketh for me?
Nolano: A friend of yours. Are you up?
Torquato: M Nolano, I pray you, excuse me. Ile be with you by and by.
Nolano: Rise at your leisure, for I will stay for you.
Torquato: The doore is open, will it please you to come in?
Norlano: God give you good morrow.
Torquato: The like to you, you are very heartily welcome.
Norlano: Are you not ashamed to lie a bed so long?
Torquato: I was not asleep, I was slumbering.
Norlano: How have you rested this night?
Torquato: Well, but I have had many dreadfull dreames. What ho, Ruspa, come hither, where art thou? What art thou doing?
Ruspa: Here I am. What lacke you?
Torquato: Open that window and give me my clothes.
Ruspa: What apparell will you have this day?
Torquato: First give me a clean shirt, one of the fine ones.
Ruspa: There are but two that be cleane.
Torquato: Where be all the others?
Ruspa: The laundress hath fix of them.
Torquato: Dispatch and give me a shirt.
Ruspa: With what band with you have it?
Torquato: With a falling band [a band or flat collar worn around the neck].
Ruspa: There is none.
Tarquato: Give me one with ruffes then.
Ruspa: Here is one with ruffes.
Tarquato: Give me my wastecote.
Ruspa: Which will you have, that of flannell?
Tarquato: No, give me that which is knit.
Ruspa: What sute of apparell will you weare today?
Torquato: That of white satten, laide on with gold lace.
Ruspa: That lacks I know not how many buttons.
Torquato: Set them on then by and by.
Ruspa: I have neither needle, thred, nor thimble.
Tarquato: Mr Nolano, think not the time long, Ile be with you presently.
Nolano: In the meane while I will reade this booke.

The Second Chapter for common speach in the morning on the way betweene three friends, Thomas, John, Henry, and Piccinino a servant: wherein is described a sette at tenise

Thomas: Let us goe and plaie at tennis
Henry: One of us must staie out then
John: I will stay out, plaie you two
Thomas: We will cast lotts
John: No, let me be rather a looker on than a plaier
Henry: Go to, since you will have it so, let us two plaie
Thomas: What odds will you give me?
Henry: I will not plaie unless I plaie even hand
John: You may plaie even hand well enough
Thomas: I am content for a set or two
Henry: To what tennis court shall we goe?
Thomas: To charter house court
Henry: Trulie it is the fairest court about London
Thomas: But what shall master John doo in the mean while?
John: I will goe with you to see you plaie
Henry: You shall looke on and be our judge

At the court:

Thomas: What ho boy, bring hither some balles and some rackets
Boy: How manie are you my masters?
Henry: We are but two that will plaie
Boy: Will you plaie in set?
Thomas: Yea marrie, therefore give us good balles
Boy: Here are two dozen of faire and white balles
Thomas: Let us keepe the lawes of the court
John: That is, stake money under the line is it not so?
Thomas, Yea sir, you hit it right
Henry: Here is my monie, now stake you
Thomas: Whose lot is it to plaie?
Henry: Mine, for you are at the house
Thomas: Plaie then, and give me a faire balle

Thomas: A losse: I have fifteene
Henry: Fifteen for fifteene
Thomas: I am thirtie
Henry: Is that balle under or over?
John: Methinks it is under more than a handfull.
Henry: You have fortie then, goe to, plaie
Thomas: And I a dewes then.
Henry: I have the advantage
John: That was a verie faire stroake
Thomas: Everie man is against me.
Henry: I have wonne the first game.
Thomas: This is my woonted ill luck
Henry: I sweate, and am all in a water
Thomas: Let us give over plaie if you will
John: Who must paie for the balles?
Thomas I must, how manie dozens have we had?
Boy: Three dozen and a halfe
Thomas: Here is monie

Henry: Whether shall we goe now?
Thomas: Ile goe home to mine owne chamber
John: What to doo there?
Thomas: To rest a while, for I am wearie.
John: Then let us goe to my lodging.
Henry: It will be best since it is not farre hence.
Thomas: Let us goe apace then, for it is late.


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This entry was first published on November 13, 2019. It was last modified on November 26, 2019.

  1. Yates, F.A., John Florio, The Life of an Italian in Shakespeare’s England, Cambridge University Press, 1932, p. 128
  2. Lawrence, J., Who the Devil Taught Thee So Much Italian?: Italian Language Learning and Literary Imitation in Early Modern England, Manchester University Press, 2005, Introduction.
  3. Roger A., The Scholemaster, London, John Day, 1570, online source
  4. Simonini, R. C. Italian Scholarship, cit., pp. 62
  5. Wyatt, M., The Italian Encounter with Tudor England: A Cultural Politics of Translation, Cambridge University Press, 2005 p. 167
  6. “Ad altare scarupato non s’accende candela, a scrigno sgangherato non si scrolla sacco.”
  7. Gatti, H, Giordano Bruno: Philosopher of the Renaissance, Ashgate Publishing, 2002.
  8. Gallagher, J., The Italian London of John North: Cultural Contact and Linguistic Encounter in Early Modern England, Renaissance Quarterly, 70 (1), 2017, pp. 88-131
  9. Florio, J.,Giardino di Ricreatione, In Londra, Appresso Thomaso Woodcock, p. 48
Giovanni Florio, known as John Florio, is recognised as the most important humanist in Renaissance's England.

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