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haue bene alwayes most redye to write. And they which “ had least hope in Lattine haue bene most bould in Englishe: “ when surelye euerye man that is most ready to talke, is not " most able to write. He that will write well in any tongue, s« must folow this counsell of Aristotle; to speake as the com

mon people do, to thinke as wise men do. And so shoulde

euerye man vnderstand him, and the iudgement of wise men « alowe him. Manye Englishe writers haue not done so; but vsinge straunge wordes, as Lattine, French, and Italian, do make all thinges darke and harde. Ones I communed with a

man, which reasoned the Englishe tongue to be enriched and "encreased thereby, sayinge, Who will not prayse that feast “ where a man shall drincke at a dinner both wyne, ale, and “ beere ? Truly, quoth I, they be al good, euery one taken by “ himselfe alone ; but if you put Malmesye and facke, redde wyne and white, ale and beere, and al in one pot, you

shall « make a drinke neither easye to be knowen, nor yet holsome “ for the bodye. Cicero in folowing Isocrates, Plato, and De" mosthenes, encreased the Lattine tongue after another fort. “ This way, because diuers men that write do not know, they « can neyther folow it because of their ignoraunce, nor yet will

prayse it for uery arrogancy: two faultes seldome the one out " of the others companye. Englishe writers by diuersitie of

tyme haue taken diuers matters in hand. In our fathers time • nothing was red, but bookes of fayned cheualrie, wherein a “ man by readinge should be led to none other ende but only “ to manflaughter and baudrye. If anye man suppose they

were good enough to passe the time withall, he is deceiued. “ For surely vaine wordes do worke no smal thinge in vaine, “ ignorant, and yong mindes, specially if they be geuen any

thing thervnto of their owne nature. These bookes, as I " haue heard say, were made the most part in abbayes and mo“ nasteries, a very likely and fit fruite of such an ydle and blind

“ kind of living". In our time now, whan euery man is geuen « to know much rather than liue wel, very many do write, but “ after such a fashion as very many do shoote. Some shooters “ take in hande stronger bowes than they be able to maintaine. “ This thinge maketh them sometime to ouershoote the marke, “ sometime to shoote far wyde and perchance hurt some that “ loke on. Other, that neuer learned to shoote, nor yet know“ eth good shaft nor bowe, will be as busie as the best o.

Ascham’s example was followed by other learned men. But the chief was Thomas Wilson, who published a system of LOGIC and RHETORIC both in English. Of his Logic I have already spoken. I have at present only to speak of the latter, which is not only written in English, but with a view of giving rules for composing in the English language. It appeared in 1553, the first year of queen Mary, and is entitled, The Arte of Rhetorike for the vse of all suche as are studious of Eloquence, sette forthe in Englishe by THOMAS WILSON . Leonarde Cox, a schoolmaster, patronised by Farringdon the last abbot of Reading, had published in 1530, as I have observed, an English tract on rhetoric, which is nothing more than a technical and elementary manual. Wilson's treatise is more liberal, and discursive; illustrating the arts of eloquence by example, and examining and ascertaining the beauties of composition with the speculative skill and sagacity of a critic. It may therefore be justly considered as the first book or system of criticism in our language. A few ex

a He says in his SCHOOLEMASTER, written soon after the year 1563, “ There be

more of these vngracious bookes set out “ in print within these few monethes, than “ have bene seene in England many score

years before." B. i. fol. 26. a. edit. 1589. 4to.

To all the Gentlemen and Yomen of EngLAND. Prefixed to TOXOPHILUS, The Schole or partition of booting, Lond. 1545. 4to.

° Lond. 1553. 4to. Dedicated to John Dudley, earl of Warwick. In the Dedication he says, that he wrote great part


this treatise during the last summer vacation in the country, at the house of fir Edward Dimmoke. And that it originated from a late conversation with his lordship,

monge other talke of learnyng." It was reprinted by Jhon Kynston in 1570. Lond. 4to. With “ A Prologue to the Reader,” dated Dec. 7. 1560. Again, 1567. 4to. And 1585. 400. In the PROLOGUR, he mentions his escape at Rome, which I have above related : and adds, “ If others

neuer gette more by bookes than I have “doen, it wer better be a carter than a “ scholar, for worldlie profite.”


tracts from so curious a performance need no apology; which will also serve to throw light on the present period, and indeed on our general subject, by displaying the state of critical knowledge, and the ideas of writing, which now prevailed.

I must premise, that Wilson, one of the most accomplished scholars of his times, was originally a fellow of King's Col. lege', where he was tutor to the two celebrated youths Henry and Charles Brandon dukes of Suffolk. Being a doctor of laws, he was afterwards one of the ordinary masters of requests, master of faint Katharine's hospital near the Tower, a frequent embafsador from queen Elisabeth to Mary queen of Scots, and into the Low countries, a secretary of state and a privy counsellor, and at length, in 1579, dean of Durham. He died in 1581. His remarkable diligence and dispatch in negotiation is faid to have resulted from an uncommon strength of memory.

It is another proof of his attention to the advancement of our English style, that he translated seven orations of Demofthenes, which, in 1570, he dedicated to sir William Cecille.

Under that chapter of his third book of RHETORIC which treats of the four parts belonging to elocution, Plainnesse, Aptnesse, Composicion, Exornacion, Wilson has these observations on fimplicity of style, which are immediately directed to those who write in the English tongue.

Among other lessons this « should first be learned, that we neuer affect any straunge ynke“ horne termes, but to speake as is commonly received: neither “ seking to be ouer fine, nor yet liuing ouer carelesse, vsing our • speache as moste men do, and ordering our wittes as the fewest “ haue doen. Some seke so farre for outlandishe Englishe, that

they forget altogether their mothers language. And I dare

- Admitted scholar in 1541. A native Wilsonus, patrii gloria prima foli. of Lincolnshire. MS. Hatcher.

Wilson published many other things. In c Which had been also translated into

Gabriel Harvey's SMITHUS, dedicated to Latin by Nicholas Carr. To whose ver.

fir Walter Mildmay, and printed by Binfion Hatcher prefixed this distich. (MSS. More. 102. Carr's Autograph. MS.]

neman in 1578, he is ranked with his

learned cotemporaries. See SIGNAT. D Hæc eadem patrio Thomas sermone polivit iij.-E ij.--Ij.

ri sweare

“ 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 storé “ his stomacke with the prating of pedlers. The auditour, in

makyng his accompt and reckenyng, 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 saie. 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 fome illustrations from the practice of oratory in the reign of queen Mary, in whole court he lived: and although his book is d.ited 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 fory from his own knowledge in the year 1553, of a ridiculous oration made in parliament by a new speaker of the house, who came from York: fhire, and had more knowledge in the af. fairs 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 superstitious eloquence, and

66 alfo.

" I will adde here svche a letter as William Sommer: himself, could not make a better for that purpose, — deuifed by a Lin

« also in their iudiciall hearings do much " mislike 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 neuertheleffe, 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 feale, 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 soon afterwards is equally appofite. “ This part in “ our maker or poet must be heedyly look“ed vnto, that it [his language] be naturall,

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 schollars 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 call charientes, men ciuill and “ graciously behauored and bred. Our “ maker therefore at these dayes shall not «s follow Piers Plowman, nor Gower,

“nor Lydgate, nor yet Chaucer, for their

' language is now out of vse with vs: " neither ihall 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 shires lying abovt Lon“ don within 1x myles, and not much a-' “ boue. I say not this, but that in euery

shyre of England there be gentlemen " and others that speke, but specially write, as good Sovtherne as we of Mida 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 nioft part condescend: “ but herein we are ruled by the English Dictionaries, and other bookes written “ by learned men. Albeit peraduenture “ some small admonition be not imperti..

nent; for we finde in our English wri” ters many wordes and speeches amenda. ble, and ye shall see in some many ink. “ horne termes so ill affected brought in “ by men of learning, as preachers and “ schoolemasters, and many straunge termes of other languages by secretaries and “ marchaunts and traueillours, and many " darke wordes and not vsuall nor well

sounding, 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 seying muche adoe for accomptes makyng, and that Henry the

eight wanted money, such as was due “ to him, And please your grace, quoth “ he, you haue so many frauditours, so “ many Conuciglers, and so many Decej .

uers, to get vp 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 majela ties as court-buffoon, fell into disgrace

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