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figure and feature in language; that is, whether it be round and straight, which consists of short and succinct periods, numerous and polished, or square and firm, which is to have equal and strong parts every where answerable, and weighed.
Cutis sive cortex. Compositio.—The third is the skin and coat, which rests in the well-joining, cementing, and coagmentation of words; when as it is smooth, gentle, and sweet, like a table upon which you may run your finger without rubs, and your nail cannot find a joint; not horrid, rough, wrinkled, gaping, or chapt: after these, the flesh, blood, and bones come in question.
Carnosaadipata — redundans.—We say it is a fleshy style, when there is much periphrasis, and circuit of words; and when with more than enough, it
grows fat and corpulent; arvina orationis, full of suet and tallow. It hath blood and juice when the words are proper and apt, their sound sweet, and the phrase neat and picked. Oratio uncta, et benè pasta. But where there is redundancy, both the blood and juice are faulty and vicious. Redundat sanguine, quia multò plus dicit, quàm necesse est.
Juice in language is somewhat less than blood; for if the words be but becoming and signifying, and the sense gentle, there is juice; but where that wanteth, the language is thin, flagging, poor, starved, scarce covering the bone, and shews like stones in a sack.
Fejuna, macilenta, strigosa.–Ossea, et nervosa.— Some men, to avoid redundancy, run into that; and while they strive to have no ill blood or juice, they
lose their good. There be some styles again, that have not less blood, but less flesh and corpulence. These are bony and sinewy; Ossa habent, et
CXL. Note domini Sti. Albani de doctrin. intemper.Dictator.- Aristoteles.— It was well noted by the late lord St. Alban, that the study of words is the first distemper of learning ; vain matter the second; and a third distemper is deceit, or the likeness of truth; imposture held up by credulity. All these are the cobwebs of learning and to let them grow
in us, is either sluttish, or foolish. Nothing is more ridiculous than to make an author a dictator, as the schools have done Aristotle. The damage is infinite knowledge receives by it; for to many things a man should owe but a temporary belief, and suspension of his own judgment, not an absolute resignation of himself
, or a perpetual captivity. Let Aristotle and others have their dues; but if we can make farther discoveries of truth and fitness than they, why are we envied ? Let us beware, while we strive to add, we do not diminish, or deface ; we may improve, but not augment. By discrediting falsehood, truth grows in request. We must not go about, like men anguished and perplexed, for vicious affectation of praise : but calmly study the separation of opinions, find the errors have intervened, awake antiquity, call former times into question ; but make no parties with the present, nor follow any fierce undertakers, mingle no matter of doubtful credit with the simplicity of truth, but gently stir the mould about the root of the question, and avoid all digladiations, facility of credit, or superstitious simplicity, seek the consonancy, and concatenation of truth; stoop only to point of necessity, and what leads to convenience. Then make
order of God's creatures in themselves is not only
hat exact animadversion where style hath degenerated,
where flourished and thrived in choiceness of phrase,
of judgment. This is monte potiri, to get the hill; he for no perfect discovery can be made upon a flat or he
a level. d; oí
De optimo scriptore.—Cicero.--Now that I have informed you in the knowing these things, let me lead you by the hand a little farther, in the direction of the use, and make you an able writer by practice. The conceits of the mind are pictures of things, and the tongue is the interpreter of those pictures. The
admirable and glorious, but eloquent : then he who could apprehend the consequence of things in their truth, and utter his apprehensions as truly, were the best writer or speaker. Therefore Cicero said much, when he said, Dicere rectè nemo potest, nisi qui prudenter intelligit. The shame of speaking unskilfully were small, if the tongue only thereby were disgraced ; but as the image of a king, in his seal ill-represented, is not so much a blemish to the wax, or the signet that sealed it, as to the prince it representeth; so disordered speech is not so much injury to the lips that give it forth, as to the disproportion and incoherence of things in themselves, so negligently expressed. Neither can his mind be thought to be in tune, whose words do jar; nor his reason in frame, whose sentence is preposterous; nor his elocution clear and perfect, whose utterance breaks itself into fragments and uncertainties. Were it not a dishonour to a mighty prince, to have the
majesty of his embassage spoiled by a careless ambassador ? and is it not as great an indignity, that an excellent conceit and capacity, by the indiligence of an idle tongue, should be disgraced ? Negligent speech doth not only discredit the person of the speaker, but it discrediteth the opinion of his reason and judgment; it discrediteth the force and uniformity of the matter and substance. If it be so then in words, which fly and escape censure, and where one good phrase begs pardon for many incongruities and faults, how shall he then be thought wise, whose penning is thin and shallow ? how shall you look for wit from him, whose leisure and head, assisted with the examination of his eyes, yield you no life or sharpness in his writing ?
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De stylo epistolari - Inventio.-In writing there is to be regarded the invention and the fashion. For the invention, that ariseth upon your business whereof there can be no rules of more certainty, or precepts of better direction given, thap conjecture can lay down, from the several occasions of men's particular lives and vocations : but sometimes men make baseness of kindness : As “I could not satisfy myself till I had discharged my remembrance, and charged my letters with commendation to you :” or,
My business is no other than to testify my love to you, and to put you in mind of my willingness to do you all kind offices :" or, “Sir, have you leisure to descend to the remembering of that assurance you have long possest in your servant, and upon your next opportunity make him happy with some commands from you?" or the like; that go a begging for some meaning, and labour to be delivered of the great burden of nothing. When you have invented and that your business be matter, and not bare form,
or mere ceremony, but some earnest, then are you to proceed to the ordering of it, and digesting the parts, which is had out of two circumstances. One is the understanding of the persons to whom you are to write ; the other is the coherence of your sentence. For men's capacity to weigh what will be apprehended with greatest attention or leisure; what next regarded and longed for especially, and what last will leave satisfaction, and (as it were) the sweetest memorial and belief of all that is past in his understanding whom you write to. For the consequence of sentences, you must be sure that every clause do give the Q. one to the other, and be bespoken ere it come. So much for invention and order.
Modus.-1. Brevitas.-Now for fashion : it consists in four things, which are qualities of your style. The first is brevity : for they must not be treatises, or discourses (your letters) except it be to learned men. And even among them there is a kind of thrift and saving of words. Therefore you are to examine the clearest passages of your understanding, and through them to convey the sweetest and most significant words you can devise, that you may the easier teach them the readiest way to another man's apprehension, and open their meaning fully, roundly, and distinctly; so as the reader may not think a second view cast away upon your letter. And though respect be a part following this, yet now here, and still I must remember it, if you write to a man, whose estate and cense as senses, you are familiar with, you may the bolder (to set a task to his brain) venture on a knot. But if to your superior you are bound to measure him in three farther points : first, with interest in him ; secondly, his capacity in your letters; thirdly, his leisure to peruse them. For your interest or favour with him, you are to be the shorter or longer, more familiar or submiss, as