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" sweare this, if some of their mothers were aliue, thei were
not able to tel what thei faie : and yet these fine Englishe “ clerkes wil saie thei speake in their mother tongue, if á man “ should charge them for counterfeityng the kinges Englishe. “ Some farre iournied gentlemen at their returne home, like as “ thei loue to go in forrein apparel, so thei will pouder their “ talke with ouersea language. He that cometh lately out of “ Fraunce will talke Frenche Englishe, and neuer blushe at the 66 matter. Another choppes in with Englishe Italianated, and “ applieth the Italian phraise to our Englishe speakyng : the “ whiche is, as if an Oration that professeth to vtter his mynde “ in plaine Latine, would needes speake Poetrie, and farre “ fetched colours of straunge antiquitie. The lawier will store « his ftomacke with the prating of pedlers. The auditour, in “ makyng his accompt and reekenyng, cometh in with Fife Fould, “ and cater denere, for vj. s. and iiij. d. The fine courtier will “ talke nothyng but CHAUCER. The misticall wisemen, and « poeticall clerkes, will speake nothyng but quainte prouerbes, “ and blinde allegories ; delightyng muche in their owne dark“ nesse, especially when none can tel what thei do faie. The “ vnlearned or folishe phantasticall, that smelles but of learnyng
(svche fellowes as haue seene learned men in their daies) will “ so Latine their tongues, that the simple cannot but wonder at “ their talke, and thinke surely thei speake by some reuelacion. " I know Them, that thinke RheTORIKE to stande wholie vpon
darke wordes; and he that can catche an ynkehorne “ terme by the taile, hym thei compt to be a fine Englishman " and a good rhetorician". And the rather to set out this folie,
* Puttenham, in THE ARTE Of Eng. LISH Poesie, where he treats of style and language, brings some illustrations from the practice of oratory in the reign of queen Mary, in whose court he lived: and although his book is dited 1589, it was maniietly written much earlier. He refers to fir Nicholas Bacon, who began to be high in the departments of the law in queen Mary's time, and died in 1579,
Having told a story from his own knowledge in the year 1553, of a ridiculous oration inade in parliament by a new speaker of the house, who came from York: fire, and had more knowledge in the affairs of his county, and of the law, than gracefulness or delicacy of language, he proceeds, " And though graue and wise “ counsellours in their consultations do not “ vse much fuperftitious eloquence, and
" I will adde here svche a letter as William Sommer himself, “ could not make a better for that purpose, — deuised by a Lin
“ also in their iudiciall hearings do much " millike all scholasticall rhetoricks: yet “ in such a case as it may be (and as this “ parliament was) if the lord chancelour “ of England or archbishop of Canter“ bury himselfe were to speke, he ought “ to do it cunningly and eloquently, which “ cannot be without the vse of figures : " and neuerthelesse, none impeachment or “ blemish to the grauitie of their persons " or of the cause : wherein I report me " to them that knew fir Nicholas Bacon “ lord Keeper of the great seale, or the “ now lord treasurer of England, and haue “ bene conuersant in their speeches made in " the parliament house and starre chamber. “ From whose lippes I haue seene to pro“ ceede more graue and naturall eloquence, " than from all the oratours of Oxford “and Cambridge. I have come to the “ lord Keeper fir Nicholas Bacon, and “ found him fitting in his gallery alone, “ with the workes of Quintilian before “ him. In deede he was a most eloquent
man and of rare learning and wisdome as euer I knew England to breed, and
one that ioyed as much in learned men “ and men of good witts." Lib.iii. ch. ii. pag. 126. seq. What follows foon afterwards is equally appofite.“ This part in
maker or poet must be heedyly look“ed vnto, that it [his language] be natu
1, pure, and the most vsuall of all his countray: and for the same purpose, ra“ ther that which is spoken in the kinges
court, or in the good townes and cities “ within the land, than in the marches
or frontiers, or in port-townes where “ ftraungers haunt for traffike fake, or yet « in vniuerfities where scholiars vse much “ peevish affectation of words out of the “ primitiue languages; or finally, in any • vplandish village or corner of the realme, “ &c. But he shall follow generally the “ better brovght vp fort, such as the “ Greekes cail charientes, men ciuill and “ graciously behauored and bred. Our “ maker therefore at these dayes Thall not "s follow Piers Plowman, nor Gower,
nor Lydgate, nor yet Chaucer, for their “ language is now out of vse with vs: 66 neither shall he take the termes of nor. “therne men, suche as they vse in daily “ talke, whether they be noblemen or gen" tlemen, or of their best clarkes, all is a
matter, &c. Ye shall therefore take the “ vsuall speach of the court, and that of, “ London, and the thires lying abovt Lon“ don within lx myles, and not much a-' “ boue. I say not this, but that in euery
fhyre of England there be gentlemer “ and others that speke, but specially “ write, as good Sovtherne as we of Mid“ dlesex and Surrey do, but not the com
mon people of euery thire, to whom “the gentlemen, and also their learned “ clarkes, do for the moft part condescend: “ but herein we are ruled by the English “ Dictionaries, and other bookes written " by learned men. Albeit peraduenture “ fome small admonition be not imperti
nent ; for we finde in our English wri“ ters many wordes and speeches amenda. “ ble, and ye
fall see in some many ink“ horne termes so ill affected brought in “ by men of learning, as preachers and “ schoolemasters, and many ftraunge termes “ of other languages by secretaries and “ marchaunts and traueillours, and many “ darke wordes and not vsuall nor well “ founding, though they be daily spoken " at court." Ibid. Ch. iii. fol. 120, 121.
& King Henry's Jefter. In another place, he gives us one of Somner's jelts. “ Wil. “ liam Sommer feying muche adoe for ac“ comptes makyng, and that Henry the “ eight wanted money, fuch as was due “ to him, And please your grace, quoth “ he, you haue so many frauditours, so
many Conueighers, and so many Decejuers, to get yp your money, that thei
get all to themselues." That is, Auditors, Surveyors, and Receivers. fol. 102. b. I have seen an old narrative of a progress of king Henry the eighth and queen Katharine, to Newbery in Berkshire, where Somner, who had accompanied their majesties as court-bufoon, fell into disgrace
“ colneshire man for a voide benefice". This point he illuftrates with other familiar and pleasant instances'.
In enforcing the application and explaining the nature of fables, for the purpose of amplification, he gives a general idea of the Iliad and Odyssey. “ The saying of poetes, and al “ their fables, are not to be forgotten. For by them we maie “ talke at large, and win men by perswasion, if we declare be" fore hand, that these tales wer not fained of suche wisemen “ without cause, neither yet continued vntill this time, and “ kept in memorie without good consideracion, and therevpon “ declare the true meanyng of all svche writynge. For vn
doubtedly, there is no one Tale among all the poetes, but “ vnder the same is comprehended somethyng that perteyneth “ either to the amendement of maners, to the knowledge of
truthe, to the settyng forth natures worke, or els to the vn“ derstanding of fome notable thing doen. For what other is “ the painful trauaile of Vlisses, described so largely by Ho
but a lively picture of mans miserie in this life? And
Plutarche faith, and likewise Bafilius Magnus, in the “ ILIADES are described strength and valiauntnefse of bodie: in “ ODISSEA, is set forthe a lively paterne of the mynde. The “ Poetes are Wisemen, and wisshed in harte the redresse of
thinges, the which when for feare thei durst not openly re“ buke, they did in colours paint them out, and tolde men by “ shadowes what thei shold do in good sothe: or els, because “ the wicked were vnworthy to heare the trueth, thei fpake so
with the people for his impertinence, was reuolutyng with myself, your ingent af. detained, and obliged to submit to many “ fabilitie, and ingenious capacitie, for ridiculous indignities: but extricated him “ mundane affaires, I cannot but cele. self from all his difficulties by comic ex “ brate and extoll your magnificall dextepedients and the readiness of his wit. On " ritie above all other. For how could returning to court, he gave their majesties, you have adapted suche illuftrate prero. who were inconsolable for his long ab “ gative, and dominiall superioritie, if the sence, a minute account of these low ad “ fecunditie of your ingenie had not been ventures, with which they were infinitely “ fo fertile and wonderfull pregnaunt, &c.'. entertained. What thall we think of the It is to the lord Chancellor. See what is manners of such a court ?
said of A. Bordes's style, supr. p. 71. Viz." Ponderyng, expendyng, and i B. ii. fol. 82, b. edit. 1567. Vol. III.
“ that none might vnderstande but those voto whom thei please “ to vtter their meanyng, and knewe them to be men of honest " conuersacioni.”
Wilson thus recommends the force of circumstantial description, or, what he calls, An euident or plaine setting forthe of a thing as though it were presently doen. “ An example. If our “ enemies Thal inuade and by treason win the victory, we shal “ all die euery mothers sonne of vs, and our citee fhal be def“ troied, sticke and stone: I se our children made flaues, our
daughters rauished, our wiues carried away, the father forced “ to kill his owne fonne, the mother her daughter, the sonne “ his father, the sucking childe Nain in his mothers bosom, one “ standyng to the knees in anothers blood, churches spoiled, “ houses plucte down, and al set on fire round about vs, euery
one cvrsing the daie of their birth, children criyng, women “ wailing, &c. Thus, where I might haue said, We shal al be
destroied, and say [no] more, I haue by description set the " euill forthe at large* It must be owned that this picture of a sacked city is literally translated from Quintilian. But it is a proof, that we were now beginning to make the beauties of the antients our own.
On the necessity of a due preservation of character he has the following precepts, which seem to be directed to the writers of Historical Plays.
“ In describyng of persons, there ought al“ waies a comelinesse to be vsed, so that nothing be spoken “ which may be thought is not in them. As if one shold de“ scribe Henry the fixt, He might call hym jentle, milde of
nature, ledde by perswacion, and ready to forgiue, carelesse for “ wealth, suspecting none, mercifull to al, fearful in aduersitie, “ and without forecast to espie his misfortvne. Againe, for « Richarde the thirde, I might brynge him in cruell of harte, “ ambicious by nature, enuious of minde, a deepe difsembler, “ a close man for weightie matters, hardie to reuenge and feare
i Lib. iii. fol. 99. b.
k Fol. 91.a.
full to lose hys high estate, trustie to none, liberall for a pur“ pose, castyng still the worste, and hoping euer for the best'. “ By this figure“ also, we imagine a talke for some one to
speake, and accordyng to his persone we frame the oration. “ As if one shoulde bryng in noble Henry the eight of famous
memory, to enuegh against rebelles, thus he might order his « oration. What if Henry the eight were aliue, and fawe suche “ rebellion in the realme, would be not faie tbus and thus ? Yea “ methinkes I heare hym speake euen nowe.
And so sette “ forthe suche wordes as we would haue hym to sayo.” Shakespeare himself has not delineated the characters of these English monarchs with more truth. And the first writers of the MinROUR OF MAGISTRATEs, who imagine a talke for some one to Speake, and according to his perfon frame the oration, appear to have availed themselves of these directions, if not to have catched the notion of their whole plan from this remarkable passage.
He next Thews the advantages of personification in enlivening a composition. “ Some times it is good to make God, the “ Countray, or some one Towne, to speake ; and looke what “ we would faie in our owne perfone, to frame the whole tale “ to them. Such varietie doeth much good to auoide tedious“ nesse. For he that speaketh all in one forte, though he speake “ thinges neuer so wittilie, shall sone weary his hearers. Figures “ therefore were inuented, to auoide satietie, and cause delite : “ to refresh with pleasure and quicken with grace the dulnesse " of mans braine. Who will looke on a white wall an houre “ together where no workemanshippe is at all ? Or who will “ eate still one kynde of meate and neuer desire chaunge o ?”