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An Abridgement and Modernization of

The Art of Rhetoric,

for the Use of All Such as Are Studious of Eloquence,

set forth in English,

by Thomas Wilson


[Book III, abridged and modernized]

Selected and Edited With an Introduction and Notes
by Nicholas Sharp

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Book III

Of Apt Choosing and Framing of Words and Sentences Together called Elocution.

And now we are come to that part of rhetoric, the which above all other is most beautiful, whereby not only words are aptly used, but also sentences are in right order framed. For whereas invention helpeth to find matter and disposition serveth to place arguments; elocution getteth words to set forth invention, and with such beauty commendeth the matter, "that reason seemeth to be clad in purple, walking afore both bare and naked." Therefore Tully sayeth well to find out reason and aptly to frame it, is the part of a wiseman, but to commend it by words and with gorgeous talk to tell our conceit, that is only proper to an orator. Many are wise, but few have the gift to set forth their wisdom.

[In the remainder of this chapter, Wilson amplifies and commends those who can "plainly, distinctly, plentifully, and aptly utter both words and matter," ending with "I cannot otherwise see but that this part deserveth praise which standeth wholly in setting forth matter by apt words and sentences together and beautifieth the tongue with great change of colors and variety of figures."]

Four Parts Belonging to Elocution.

/  i.  Plainness.

|  ii. Aptness.

| iii. Composition.

\iiii. Exornation.

Among all other lessons this should first be learned, that we never affect any strange inkhorn terms but we speak as is commonly received, neither seeking to be over fine, nor yet living over careless using our speech as most men do, and ordering our wits as the fewest have done. Some seek so far for outlandish English that they forget altogether their mother's language. And I dare swear this, if some of their mothers were alive, they were not able to tell what they say; and yet these fine English clerks will say they speak in their mother tongue, if a man should charge them for counterfeiting the king's English. Some far journeyed gentlemen at their return home, like as they love to go in foreign apparel, so they will powder their talk with oversea language. He that cometh lately out of France will talk French English and never blush at the matter. Another chops in with English Italianated, and applieth the Italian phrase to our English speaking, the which is, as if an orator that professeth to utter his mind in plain Latin would needs speak poetry and far fetched colors of strange antiquity. The lawyer will store his stomach with the prating of peddlers. The auditor in making his account and reckoning, cometh in with sise sould, and cater deanre, for vi shillings iiii pence. The fine courtier will talk nothing but Chaucer. The mystical wiseman and poetical clerks will speak nothing but quaint proverbs and blind allegories, delighting much in their own darkness, especially when none can tell what they do say. The unlearned or foolish fanatical that smells but of learning (such fellows as have seen learned men in their days) will so Latin their tongues that the simple can not but wonder at their talk, and think surely they speak by some revelation. I know them that think rhetoric to stand wholly upon dark words, and he that can catch an ink horn term by the tail, him they count to be a fine Englishman and a good rhetorician. And the rather to set out this folly, I will add here such a letter as William Summer himself could not make a better for that purpose. Some will think and swear it, too, that there was never any such thing writ; well, I will not force any man to believe it, but I will says thus much, and abide by it, too, the like have been made heretofore and praised above the moon. "Pondering, expending, and revoluting with myself your ingent affability and ingenious capacity for mundane affairs, I cannot but celebrate and extol your magnifical dexterity above all other. . . ."

[The next part of the chapter offers a series of examples of overblown diction, malapropisms, and similar follies on the part of people who use anything other than straightforward English. Wilson then returns to his main theme.]

Now whereas words be received, as well Greek as Latin, to set forth our meaning in the English tongue, either for lack of store or else because we would enrich the language, it is well done to use them, and no man therein can be charged for any affectation when all other are agreed to follow the same way. There is no man aggrieved when he heareth Letters Patents and yet Patents is Latin and signifieth open to all men. The communion is a fellowship or a coming together, rather Latin then English; the king's prerogative declareth his power royal above all other, and yet I know no man grieved for these terms, being used in their place, nor yet any one suspected for affectation, when such general words are spoken. The folie is espied, when either we will use such words as few men do use, or use them out of place, when an other might serve much better. Therefore to avoid such folly, we may learn of that most excellent orator, Tully, who in his third book, where he speaketh of a perfect orator, declareth under the name of Crassus, that for the choice of words four things should chiefly be observed. First that such words as we use, should be proper unto the tongue wherein we speak, again, that they be plain for all men to perceive; thirdly, that they be apt and meet, most properly to set out the matter. Fourthly, that words translated from one signification to an other (called of the Grecians tropes) be used to beautify the sentence, as precious stones are set in a ring to commend the gold.

Aptness. What It Is.

Such are thought apt words that properly agree unto that thing which they signify and plainly express the nature of the same. Therefore, they that have regard of their estimation do warily speak and with choice utter words most apt for their purpose. In weighty causes grave words are thought most needful, that the greatness of them may the rather appear in the vehemency of their talk. So likewise of other, like order must be taken. Albeit some not only do not observe this kind of aptness but also they fall into much fondness by using words out of place and applying them to diverse matters without all discretion. As thus. An ignorant fellow coming to a gentleman's house and seeing a great flock of sheep in his pasture said to the owner of them, "Now by my troth, sir, here is as goodly an audience of sheep as ever I saw in my life." Who will not take this fellow meeter to talk with sheep then to speak among men? Another likewise seeing a house fair builded said to his fellow thus, " Good Lord, what a handsome phrase of building is this." Thus are good words evil used when they are not well applied and spoken to good purpose. I wish that such untoward speaking may give us a good lesson to use our tongue warily that our words and matter may still agree together.

Of Composition.

When we have learned usual and accustomable words to set forth our meaning, we ought to join them together in apt order that the ear may delight in hearing the harmony.I know some English men that in this point have such a gift in the English as few in Latin have the like and therefore delight the wise and learned so much with their pleasant composition that many rejoice when they may hear such and think much learning is got when they may talk with such. Composition, therefore, is an apt joining together of words in such order that neither the ear shall espy any jar nor yet any man shall be dulled with overlong drawing out of a sentence nor yet confounded with much mingling of clauses such as are needless, being heaped together without reason and used without number. For by such means the hearers will be forced to forget full oft what was said first, before the sentence be half ended or else be blinded with confounding of many things together. Some again will be so short and in such wise curtail of their sentences that they had need to make a commentary immediately of their meaning, or else the most that hear them shall be forced to keep counsel.

[The rest of the chapter is devoted to examples illustrating different failures and vices of composition.]

Of Exornation.

When we have learned apt words and usual phrases to set forth our meaning and can orderly place them without offence to the ear, we may boldly commend and beautify our talk with diverse goodly colors and delightful translations, that our speech may seem as bright and precious as a rich stone is fair and orient. Exornation is a gorgeous beautifying of the tongue with borrowed words and change of sentence or speech with much variety. First therefore (as Tully sayeth) an oration is made to seem right excellent by the kind self, by the color and juice of speech. There are three manner of styles or inditings, the great or mighty kind, when we use great words or vehement figures. The small kind, when we moderate our heat by meaner words and use not the most stirring sentences. The low kind, when we use no metaphors nor translated words, nor yet use any amplifications, but go plainly to work and speak altogether in common words. Now in all these three kinds, the oration is much commended and appeareth notable when we keep us still to that style which we first professed and use such words as seem for that kind of writing most convenient. Yea, if we mind to increase or diminish, to be in a heat or to use moderation, to speak pleasantly or gravely, to be sharp or soft, to talk lordly or to speak finely, to wax ancient or familiar (which all are comprehended under one of the other three), we must ever make our words apt and agreeable to the kind of style which we first began to use. For as French hoods do not become lords, so parliament robes are unfitting for ladies. Comeliness, therefore, must ever be used, and all things observed that are most meet for every cause, if we look by attempts to have our desire. There is an other kind of exornation that is not equally sparpled throughout the whole oration but is so dissevered and parted as stars stand in the firmament or flowers in a garden or pretty devised antiques in a cloth of Arras.

What a Figure Is.

A figure is a certain kind either of sentence, oration, or word, used after some new or strange wise, much unlike to that which men commonly use to speak.

The Division of Figures.

There are three kinds of figures; the one is when the nature of words is changed from one signification to an other, called a "trope" of the Grecians. The other serveth for words when they are not changed by nature but only altered by speaking, called of the Grecians "scheme." The third is when by diversity of invention a sentence is many ways spoken, and also matters are amplified by heaping examples, by dilating arguments, by comparing of things together, by similitudes, by contraries, and by diverse other like, called by Tully exornation of sentences or colors of rhetoric. By all which figures every oration may be much beautified, and without the same, not one can attain to be counted an orator, though his learning otherwise be never so great.

Of the First Use of Tropes.

When learned and wise men gan first to enlarge their tongue and sought with great utterance of speech to commend causes, they found full oft much want of words to set out their meaning. And therefore remembering things of like nature unto those whereof they speak, they used such words to express their mind as were most like unto other. As for example, if I should speak against some notable pharisee, I might use translation of words in this wise: "Yonder man is of a crooked judgement, his wits are cloudy, he liveth in deep darkness, dusked altogether with blind ignorance, and drowned in the raging sea of bottomless superstition." Thus is the ignorant set out by calling him crooked, cloudy, dark, blind, and drowned in superstition. All which words are not proper unto ignorance, but borrowed of other things that are of like nature unto ignorance. For the unskillful man hath his wit set out of order, as a man's body is set out of joint, and thereupon it may be said to be crooked. Likewise he may be called cloudy, for as the clouds keep the sun shining from us, so doth his ignorance keep him blindfold from the true understanding of things. And as when the eyes are out, no man can see anything, so when perfect judgment is wanting, the truth can not be known. And so likewise all other. Thus, as necessity has forced us to borrow words translated, so hath time and practice made them to seem most pleasant, and therefore they are much the rather used. Yea, when a thing full oft can not be expressed by an apt and meet word, we do perceive (when it is spoken by a word translated) that the likeness of that thing which appeareth in an other word, much lighteneth that which we would most gladly have perceived. And not only do men use translation of words (called "tropes") for need sake, when they can not find other; but also when they may have most apt words at hand, yet will they of a purpose use translated words. And the reason is this. Men count it a point of wit to pass over such words as are at hand and to use such as are far fetched and translated; or else it is because the ear is led by cogitation upon rehearsal of a metaphor, and thinketh more by remembrance of a word translated then is there expressly spoken; or else because the whole matter seemeth by a similitude to be opened; or last of all, because every translation is commonly, and for the most part referred to the senses of the body, and especially to the sense of seeing, which is the sharpest and quickest above all other. For when I shall say that an angry man foameth at the mouth, I am brought in remembrance by this translation to remember a boar, that in fighting useth much foaming, the which is a foul and loathly sight. And I cause other to think that he brake patience wonderfully, when I set out his rage comparable to a boar's foaming.

[He finishes the chapter with more examples of how words can be "translated" from one usage to another.]

A Trope.

A trope is an alteration of a word or sentence from the proper signification to that which is not proper.

The Division of Tropes.

Tropes are either of a word or a long continued speech or sentence.

Tropes of a word are these.

/ A Metaphor or translation of words.

| A word making.

| Intellection.

\ Abusion.

/ Transmutation of a word.

| Transumption.

| Change of name.

\ Circumlocution.

Tropes of a long continued speech or sentences, are these.

An Allegory, or inversion of words.


/ Resembling of things.

| Similitudes.

\ Examples.

What is a Metaphor.

A metaphor is an alteration of a word from the proper and natural meaning to that which is not proper and yet agreeth thereunto by some likeness that appeareth to be in it. An oration is wonderfully enriched when apt metaphors are got and applied to the matter. Neither can any one persuade effectuously, and win men by weight of his oration without the help of words altered and translated.

The Diversity of Translations.

First we alter a word from that which is in the mind to that which is in the body. As when we perceive one that hath beguiled us, we use to say, "Ah sirrha, I am glad I have smelled you out." Being grieved with a matter, we say commonly we, "cannot digest it." The lawyer receiving money more than needeth oftentimes will say to his client without any translation, "I feel you well," when the poor man thinketh that he doth well understand his cause and will help him to some good end. For so commonly we say when we know a man's mind in any thing. This kind of mutation is much used when we talk earnestly of any matter.

From the Creature Without Reason to That Which Hath Reason.

The second kind of translation is when we go from the creature without reason to that which hath reason, or contrary from that which hath reason to that which hath no reason. As if I should say, "such an unreasonable brawler did nothing else but bark like a dog," or like a fox. Women are said to chatter, churls to grunt, boys to whine, and young men to yell. Contrariwise we call a fox false, a lion proud , and a dog flattering.

From the Living to That Which Hath No Life.

From the living to the not living we use many translations. As thus. You shall pray for all men, dispersed throughout the face of the earth. The arm of a tree. The side of a bank. The land cryeth for vengeance. From the living to the not living. Hatred buddeth among malicious men; his words flow out of his mouth. I have a whole world of business. In observing the work of nature in all several substances we may find translations at will, then the which nothing is more profitable for any one that mindeth by his utterance to stir the hearts of men, either one way or other. A word making called of the Grecians "onomatopoeia" is when we make words of our own mind, such as be derived from the nature of things. As to call one Patch or Coulson, whom we see to do a thing foolishly, because these two in their time were notable fools. Or when one is lusty, to say "Taratantara," declaring thereby that he is as lusty as a trumpet is delightful and stirring; or when one would seem gallant, to cry, "Hoy," whereby also is declared courage. Boys being grieved will say some one to another; "Sir, I will cap you, if you use me thus and withhold that from me which is mine own," meaning that he will take his cap from him. Again, when we see one gay and gallant, we use to say, "he courts it." Quoth one that reasoneth in divinity with his fellow, "I like well to reason, but I cannot chap these texts in scripture, if I should die for it," meaning that he could not tell in what chapter things were contained, although he knew full well that there were such sayings.

Intellection [Synechdoche].

Intellection, called of the Grecians "synedoche," is a trope when we gather or judge the whole by the part, or part by the whole. As thus; "The King is come to London," meaning thereby that other also be come with him. "The French man is good to keep a fort, or to skirmish on horseback," whereby we declare the French men generally. By the whole, the part thus. "All Cambridge sorrowed for the death of Bucer," meaning the most part. "All England rejoiceth that pilgrimage is banished, and idolatry for ever abolished," and yet all England is not glad but the most part. The like phrases are in the scripture, as when the Magians came to Hierusalem and asked where he was that was born king of the Jews. Herod start up being greatly troubled, and all the city of Hierusalem with him, and yet all the city was not troubled, but the most part. By the sign we understand the thing signified; as by an Ivy garland we judge there is wine to sell. By the sign of a bear, bull, lion, or any such, we take any house to be an inn. By eating bread at the communion, we remember Christ's death, and by faith receive him spiritually.

Abusion [Catechresis].

Abusion, called of the Grecians "catechresis," is when for a certain proper word, we use that which is most nigh unto it, as in calling some water a fish pond, though there be no fish in it at all. Or else when we say, "there is long talk, and small matter." Which are spoken unproperly, for we cannot measure either talk or matter by length, or breadth.

Transmutation of a Word [Metonymy].

Transmutation helpeth much for variety, the which is when a word hath a proper signification of its own, and being referred to an other thing, hath an other meaning; the Grecians call it "metonymy," the which is diverse ways used. When we use the author of a thing, for the thing's self. As thus, "Put upon you the Lord Jesus Christ," that is to say, be in living such a one as he was. "The Pope is banished England," that is to say, all his superstition and hypocrisy either is or should be gone to the devil by the king's express will and commandment. Again, when that which doth contain is used for that which is contained. As thus. "I have drunk an hogshead this week," "Heaven may rejoice and hell may lament when old men are not covetous." Contrariwise, when the thing contained is used for the thing containing. As thus. "I pray you come to me," that is to say, come to my house. Fourthly, when by the efficient cause, the effect is straight gathered thereupon. As thus. "The Sun is up," that is to say, it is day. "This fellow is good with a long bow," that is to say, he shooteth well.


Transumption is when by degrees we go to that which is to be shewed. As thus. "Such a one lieth in a dark dungeon;" now in speaking of darkness, we understand closeness, by closeness, we gather blackness, and by blackness, we judge deepness.

Change of Name.

Change of name is when for the proper name, some name of an office or other calling is used. As thus. 'The Prophet of God sayeth, "Blessed are they, whose sins be not imputed unto them,"' meaning David. 'The Poet sayeth, "It is a virtue to eschew vice,"' wherein I understand Horace.

Circumlocution [Periphrasis].

Circumlocution is a large description either to set forth a thing more gorgeously or else to hide it, if the ears can not bear the open speaking; or when with few words, we cannot open our meaning to speak it more largely. Of the first thus. "The valiant courage of mighty Scipio, subdued the force of Carthage and Numantia." Henry the Fifth, the most puissant King of England, with seven thousand men, took the French king prisoner with all the flower of nobility in France." Of the second. "When Saul was easing himself upon the ground, David took a piece of his garment, took his weapon that lay by him, and might have slain him." "Such a one defiled his body with such an evil woman." For the third part, the large commentaries written, and the paraphrases of Erasmus Englished are sufficient to shew the use thereof.

What is an Allegory.

An allegory is none other thing but a metaphor used throughout a whole sentence or oration. As in speaking against a wicked offender, I might say thus. "Oh Lord, his nature was so evil and his wit so wickedly bent that he meant to bouge the ship where he himself sailed," meaning that he purposed the destruction of his own country. "It is evil putting strong wine into weak vessels;" that is to say, it is evil trusting some women with weighty matters. The English proverbs gathered by John Heywood help well in this behalf, the which commonly are nothing else but allegories and dark devised sentences. Now for the other four figures, because I mind hereafter to speak more largely of them, and Quintillian thinketh them more meet to be placed among the figures of exornation, I will not trouble the reader with double inculcation, and twice telling of one tale.

Of Schemes, Called Otherwise Sentences of a Word and Sentence.

I might tarry long time, in declaring the nature of diverse schemes, which are words or sentences altered either by speaking or writing, contrary to the vulgar custom of our speech without changing their nature at all; but because I know the use of the figures in word is not so great in this our tongue, I will run them over with as much haste as I can.

The Division Of Schemes.

Strange using of any word or sentence contrary to our daily wont is either when we add or take away a syllable, or a word, or increase a sentence by change of speech, contrary to the common manner of speaking.

Figures of a Word.

Those be called figures of a word, when we change a word and speak it contrary to our vulgar and daily speech. Of the which sort there are six in number.

/   i. Addition at the first.

|  ii. Abstraction from the first.

\ iii. Interlacing in the midst.

/iiii. Cutting from the midst.

| v. Adding at the end.

\vi. Cutting from the end.

Of Addition.

As thus. He did all to berattle him." Wherein appeareth that a syllable is added to this word "rattle." "Here is good nale to sell," for good ale. Of Abstraction from the First [Apheresis]. Thus. "As I roamed all alone, I gan to think of matters great." In which sentence "gan" is used for "began." Interlacing in the midst [Epenthesis]. As Relligion, for Religion. Cutting from the midst [Syncope]. Idolatry for Idololatry. Adding at the end [Proparalepsis]. "Hasten your business," for "Haste your business." Cutting from the end [Apocope]. "A fair mai'," for "maid." Thus these figures are shortly set out, and as for the other schemes which are uttered in whole sentences and expressed by variety of speech, I will set them forth at large among the colors and ornaments of elocution that follow.

Of Colors and Ornaments to Commend and Set Forth an Oration.

Now, when we are able to frame a sentence handsomely together, observing number, and keeping composition such as shall like best the ear, and do know the use of tropes, and can apply them to our purpose, then the ornaments are necessary in an oration, and sentences would be furnished with most beautiful figures. Therefore, to the end that they may be known, such as most commend and beautify an oration, I will set them forth here in such wise as I shall best be able, following the order which Tully hath used in his book made of a perfect orator.

Resting Upon a Point.

When we are earnest in a matter and feel the weight of our cause, we rest upon some reason which serveth best for our purpose. Wherein this figure appeareth most and helpeth much to set forth our matter. For if we still keep us to our strongest hold and make oft recourse thither, though we be driven through by talk to go from it now and then, we shall force them at length either to avoid our strong defence or else to yield into our hands.

An Evident or Plain Setting Forth of a Thing, as Though It Were Presently Done.

This figure is called a description or an evident declaration of a thing, as though we saw it even now done. An example. "If our enemies shall invade and by treason win the victory, we shall all die, every mother's son of us, and our city shall be destroyed, stick and stone. I see our children made slaves, our daughters ravished, our wives carried away, the father forced to kill his own son, the mother her daughter, the son his father, the sucking child slain in the mother's bosom, one standing to the knees in another's blood, churches spoiled, houses plucked down, and all set in fire round about us, every one cursing the day of their birth, children crying, women wailing and old men passing for very thought, and every one thinking himself most happy that is rid out of this world, such will the cruelty be of our enemies, and with such horrible hatred will they seek to dispatch us." Thus, where I might have said we shall all be destroyed, and say no more, I have by description set the evil forth at large. It much availeth to use this figure in diverse matters, the which whosoever can do, with any excellent gift, undoubtedly he shall much delight the hearers. The circumstances well considered in every cause give much matter for the plain opening of the thing. Also similitudes, examples, comparisons, from one thing to an other, apt translations, and heaping of allegories, and all such figures as serve for amplifying, do much commend the lively setting forth of any matter. The miseries of the courtier's life might well be described by this kind of figure, the commodity of learning, the pleasure of plowmen, and the care that a king hath. And not only are matters set out by description but men are painted out in their colors, yea, buildings are set forth, kingdoms and realms are portrayed, places and times are described. The English man for feeding and changing of apparel. The Dutch man for drinking. The French man for pride and inconstancy. The Spaniard for nimbleness of body and much disdain. The Italian for great wit and policy. The Scots for boldness, and the Bohemian for stubbornness. Many people are described by their degree, as a man of good years is counted sober, wise, and circumspect; a young man wild and careless; a woman babbling, inconstant, and ready to believe all that is told her. By vocation of life, a soldier is counted a great bragger, and a vaunter of himself; a scholar, simple; a russet coat, sad and sometimes crafty; a courtier, flattering; a citizen, gentle. In describing of persons, there ought always a comeliness to be used so that nothing be spoken which may be thought is not in them. As if one shall describe Henry the Sixth, he might cal him gentle, mild of nature, led by persuasion, and ready to forgive, careless for wealth, suspecting none, merciful to all, fearful in adversity, and without forecast to espy his misfortune. Again, for Richard the Third, I might bring him in, cruel of heart, ambitious by nature, envious of mind, a deep dissembler, a close man for weighty matters, hardy to revenge, and fearful to lose his high estate, trusty to none, liberal for a purpose, casting still the worst, and hoping ever the best. By this figure also we imagine a talk, for some one to speak, and according to his person, we frame the oration. As if one should bring noble Henry the Eighth, of most famous memory, to inveigh against rebels, thus he might order his oration. "What if Henry the Eighth were alive, and saw such rebellion in this realm, would not he say thus, and thus? Yea, me thinks I hear him speak even now." And so set forth such words as we would have him to say. Sometimes it is good to make God, the country, or some one town to speak, and look what we would say in our own person to frame the whole tale of them. Such variety doth much good to avoid tediousness, for he that speaketh all in one sort, though he spake things never so wittily, shall soon weary his hearers. Figures, therefore, were invented to avoid satiety and cause delight., to refresh with pleasure and quicken with grace the dullness of man's brain. Who will look of a white wall an hour together, where no workmanship is at all? Or who will eat still one kind of meat and never desire change? Certes, as the mouth is dainty, so the wit is tickle and will soon loath an unsavory thing.

[In the next twenty-five chapters (most of them quite brief), Wilson catalogs, illustrates, and explains a number of familiar figures of speech, ranging from breaking-off in the middle of a story ("A Stop, or Half-Telling a Tale") through the use of rhetorical questions ("Asking Other and Answering Our Self") to dismissing objections that might be expressed ("Anticipation, or Prevention").]

A Similitude [Analogy].

A similitude is a likeness when ii things, or more then two, are so compared and remembered together that they both in some one property seem like. Often times brute beasts and things that have no life minister great matter in this behalf. Therefore, those that delight to prove things by similitudes must learn to know the nature of diverse beasts, of metals, of stones, and all such as have any virtue in them and be applied to man's life. Sometimes in a word appeareth a similitude which being dilated helpeth well for amplification. As thus. "You strive against the stream. Better bow then break. It is evil running out against a stone wall. A man may love his well and yet not ride upon the ridge." By all which one may gather a similitude and enlarge it at pleasure. The proverbs of Heywood help wonderful well for this purpose. In comparing a thing from the less to the greater, similitudes help well to set out the matter. That if we purpose to dilate our cause hereby with posies and sentences we may with ease talk at large. This shall serve for an example. "The more precious a thing is, the more diligently should it be kept and better heed taken to it. Therefore time, considering nothing is more precious, should warily be used and good care taken that no time be lost without some profit gotten. For if they are to be punished that spend their money and waste their lands, what folly is it not to think them worthy much more blame that spend their time (which is the chiefest creature that God giveth) either idly or ungodly? For what other thing does a man lose when he loseth his time, but his life? And what can be more dear to a man then his life? If we lose a little money or a ring of gold with a stone in it, we count that great loss. And I pray you, when we lose a whole day, which is a good portion of a man's life, shall we not count that a loss, considering though our money be gone we may recover the same again, but time lost can never be called back again? Again, when we lose our money, somebody getteth good by it, but the loss of time turneth to no man's avail. There is no man that loseth in any other thing but some body gaineth by it, saving only in the loss of time. Yea, it hath saved the life of some to lose all that they had. For riches be the occasion sometimes of much mischief in this life, so that it were better sometimes wastefully to spend then warily to keep; the loss of time, no man hath profited him self anything at all.Besides this, the better and more precious a thing is, the more shame to spend it fondly. Though men keep their goods never so close and lock them up never so fast, yet often times, either by mischance of some fire or other thing they are lost; or else Desperate Dicks borrows now and then against the owner's will all that ever he hath. And now, though the owner be undone, yet is he not therefore dishonest, considering honesty standeth not in wealth or heaps of money. But the loss of time, seeing it happeneth through our own folly, not only doth it make us wretches but also causeth men to think that we are past all grace. A wonderful kind of infamy, when the whole blame shall rest upon none other man's neck but upon his only that suffereth all the harm. With money a man can buy land, but none can get honesty of that price; and yet with well using of that time, a man not only might get him much worship but also might purchase him a name forever. Yea, in a small time, a man might get great fame and live in much estimation. By losing of money, we lose little else; by losing of time, we lose all the goodness and gifts of God which by labor might be had." Thus a similitude might be enlarged by hearing good sentences when one thing is compared with another and a conclusion made thereon. Among the learned men of the church, no one useth this figure more than Chrysostom, whose writings the rather seem more pleasant and sweet. For similitudes are not only used to amplify a matter but also to beautify the same, to delight the hearers, to make the matter plain, and to shew a certain majesty with the report of such resembled things, but because I have spoke of similitudes heretofore in the book of logic


He that mindeth to persuade must needs be well stored with examples. And therefore much are they to be commended which search chronicles of all ages and compare the state of our elders with this present time. The history of God's book to the Christian is infallible, and therefore the rehearsal of such good things as are therein contained, move the faithful to all upright doing and amendment of their life. The ethnic authors stir the hearers, being well applied to the purpose. For when it shall be reported that they which had no knowledge of God lived in a brotherly love one towards an other, detested idolatry, banished perjuries, hanged the unthankful, kept the idle without meat till they labored for their living; suffered none extortion, exempted bribers from bearing rule in the common weal, the Christians must needs be ashamed of their evil behavior and study much to pass those which are in calling much under them, and not suffer that the ignorant and pagan life shall countervail the taught children of God and pass the Christians so much in good living as the Christians them in good learning. Unequal examples commend much the matter. I call them unequal when the weaker is brought in against the stronger, as: "if children be faithful, much more ought men to be faithful. If women be chaste and undefiled, men should much more be clean and without fault. If an unlearned man will do no wrong, a learned man and a preacher must much more be upright and live without blame. If an householder will deal justly with his servants, a king must much the rather deal justly with his subjects. Examples gathered out of histories and used in this sort, help much towards persuasion. Yea, brute beasts minister great occasion of right good matter, considering many of them have shewed unto us the patterns and images of diverse virtues. Doves, seeing an hawk, gather all together, teaching us none other thing but in adversity to stick one to another.

[Wilson completes the chapter by citing other examples of "natural history" used to illustrate morality, including a retelling of Appian's version of "Androcles and the Lion."]

Of Enlarging Examples by Copy [Copiousness].

And now because examples enriched by copy, help much for amplification, I will give a taste how these and such like histories may be increased. And for the better handling of them, needful it is to mark well the circumstances, that being well observed and compared together on both parts, they may the rather be enlarged. As thus. "That which brute beasts have done, shalt thou, being a man, seem not to have done? They shewed themselves natural, and wilt thou appear unnatural? Nay, they overcame nature, and wilt thou be overcome of them? They became of beasts in body, man in nature, and wilt thou become of a man in body, a beast in nature? They being without reason, declared the property of reasonable creatures, and wilt thou, being a man endued with reason, appear in thy doings altogether unreasonable? Shall dogs be thankful and men, yea, Christian men, want such a virtue? Shall worms shew such kindness, and men appear graceless? It had bene no matter if they had been unthankful, but man can never escape blame, seeing God hath commanded and nature hath graffed this in all men that they should do to other, as they would be done unto. Again, they for meat only shewed themselves so kind, and shall man for so many benefits received, and for such goodness shewed, requite for good will, evil deeds; for hearty love, deadly hatred; for virtue, vice; and for life given to him, yield death to other? Nature hath parted man and beast, and shall man in nature be no man? Shamed be that wretch that goeth against nature, that only hath the shape of a man, and in nature is worse then a beast. Yea, worthy are all such rather to be torn with devils then to live with men." Thus an example might most copiously be augmented, but thus much for this time is sufficient. The saying of poets and all their fables are not to be forgotten, for by them we may talk at large and win men by persuasion if we declare before hand that these tales were not feigned of such wisemen without cause, neither yet continued until this time and kept in memory without good consideration, and thereupon declare the true meaning of all such writing. For undoubtedly there is no one tale among all the poets but under the same is comprehended some thing that pertaineth, either to the amendment of manners, to the knowledge of the truth, to the setting forth of nature's work or else the understanding of some notable thing done. For what other is the painful travail of Ulysses, described so largely by Homer, but a lively picture of man's misery in this life. And as Plutarch sayeth, and likewise Basilius Magnus, in the Iliad are described strength and valiantness of the body, in Odyssey is set forth a lively pattern of the mind. The poets were wisemen, and wished in heart the redress of things, the which when for fear they durst not openly rebuke, they did in colors paint them out and told men by shadows what they should do in good sooth, or else because the wicked were unworthy to hear the truth, they spake so that none might understand but those unto whom they please to utter their meaning, and knew them to be men of honest conversation. We read of Danše the fair damosel whom Jupiter tempted full oft, and could never have his pleasure 'til at length he made it rain gold, and so as she sat in her chimney, a great deal fell upon her lap, the which she took gladly and kept it there, within the which gold, Jupiter himself was comprehended, whereby is none other thing else signified but that women have been, and will be, overcome with money. Likewise Jupiter, fancying the fair maid Isis, could not have his will till he turned himself into a fair white bull, which signified that beauty may overcome the best. If a man could speak against covetous caitiffs, can he better shew what they are then by setting forth the strange plague of Tantalus, who is reported to be in hell, having water coming still to his chin, and yet never able to drink and an apple hanging before his mouth, and yet never able to eat? Icarus would needs have wings and fly, contrary to nature, whereupon when he had set them together with wax and joined to his side, he mounted up into the air. But so soon as the sun had somewhat heated him, and his wax began to melt, he fell down into a great river and was drowned out of hand, the which water was ever after called by his name. Now, what other thing doth this tale shew us but that every man should not meddle with things above his compass. Midas desired that whatsoever he touched, the same might be gold; whereupon when Jupiter had granted him his boon, his meat, drink, and all other things turned into gold, and he choked with his own desire, as all covetous men lightly shall be that can never be content when they have enough. What other thing are the wonderful labors of Hercules but that reason should withstand affection, and the spirit for ever should fight against the flesh? We Christians had like fables heretofore of jolly fellows, the images whereof were set up in God's name even in our churches. But is any man so mad to think that ever there was such a one as Saint Christopher was painted unto us? Marry, God forbid. Assuredly, when he lived upon earth there were other houses builded for him then we have at this time, and I think tailors were much troubled to take measure of him for making his garments. He might be of kin to Garganteo if he were as big as he is set forth in Antwerp. But this was the meaning of our elders (and the name self doth signify none other) that every man should bear Christ upon his back; that is to say, he should love his brother as Christ loved us and gave his body for us; he should travail through hunger, cold, sorrow, sickness, death, and all dangers, with all sufferance that might be. And whither should he travail? To the everliving God. But how? In darkness? No, forsooth, by the light of his word. And, therefore, St. Christopher being in the sea and not well able to get out (that is to say) being almost drowned in sin, not knowing which way best to escape, an hermit appeared unto him with a lantern and a light therein, the which doth signify none other thing to the Christian but the true word of God, which lighteneth the hearts of men, and giveth understanding to the younglings (as the Prophet doth say). Again, St. George; he is set on horseback and killeth a dragon with his spear, which dragon would have devoured a virgin, whereby is none other thing meant but that a king and every man, unto whom the execution of justice is committed, should defend the innocent against the ungodly attempts of the wicked, and rather kill such devils by martial law then suffer the innocents to take any wrong. But who gave our clergy any such authority that those monsters should be in churches as laymen's books? God forbad by express word to make any graven image, and shall we be so bold to break God's will for a good intent, and call these idols laymen's books? I could talk largely of examples and heap a number here together, as well of ethnic authors as of others here at home; but for fear I should be tedious, these for this time shall suffice.

Of Fables.

The feigned fables such as are attributed unto brute beasts would not be forgotten at any hand. For not only they delight the rude and ignorant, but also they help much for persuasion. And because such as speak in open audience have ever more fools to hear them then wise men to give judgment, I would think it not amiss to speak much according to the nature and fancy of the ignorant, that the rather they might be won through fables to learn more weighty and grave matters, for all men cannot brook sage causes and ancient collations but will like earnest matters the rather if some thing be spoke there among agreeing to their natures. The multitude, as Horace doth say) is a beast, or rather a monster that hath many heads and therefore like unto the diversity of natures, variety of invention must also be used.

[Wilson finishes his harangue against the stupidity of the multitude and then cites examples of the effective use of fables, including the story from Plutarch (used by Shakespeare in CORIOLANUS) of how Menenius Agrippa dispersed a mob by telling the tale of the rebellion of the extremities against the stomach and Themistocles' fable of the hungry fleas. Then follow chapters on "Digestion" (divisio), on "A whisht, or warning to speak no more," "Contrariety" (sarcasm), "Freeness of Speech" (boldness), and "Stomach Grief" (vehemence).]

Of Figures in Sentences called Schemes.

When any sentence upon the placing or setting of words is said to be a figure, the said is always called a scheme, the which words being altered or displaced, the figure straight doth lose his name, and is called no more a scheme. Of this sort there is diverse, such as hereafter follow.

Doublets [Epizeuxis]

Doublets is when we rehearse one and the same word twice together. "Ah wretch, wretch, that I am." Tully against Catiline, inveighing sore against his traitorous attempts, sayeth after a long rehearsed matter, "and yet notwithstanding all this notorious wickedness, the man liveth still, liveth? Nay, marry, he cometh into the counsel house," which is more. An other. "Darest thou shew thy face, thou wretched thief, thou thief, I say to thine own father, darest thou look abroad?" Thus the oft repeating of one word, doth much stir the hearer and makes the word seem greater, as though a sword were oft digged and thrust twice or thrice in one place of the body.

Altering Part of a Word.

Altering part of a word is when we take a letter or syllable from some word, or else add a letter or syllable to a word. As thus. William Summer, seeing much ado for accounts making, and that the King's Majesty of most worthy memory, Henry the Eighth, wanted money such as was due unto him, "and please your grace," quoth he, "you have so many frauditors, so many conveyors, and so many deceivers to get up your money that they get all to themselves." Whether he said true or no, let God judge that; it was unhappily spoken of a fool, and I think he had some schoolmaster. He should have said auditors [not frauditors], Surveyors [not conveyors, which is another word for burglars or thieves]], and receivers [not deceivers].

Repetition [Anaphora].

Repetition is when we begin diverse sentences, one after an other, with one and the same word. As thus. "When thou shalt appear at the terrible day of judgement, before the high Majesty of God, where is then thy riches? Where is then thy dainty fare? Where is then thy great band of men? Where are then thy fair houses? Where are then thy lands, pastures, parks, and forests?" I might say thus of our sovereign Lord the King's Majesty, that now is, "King Edward hath overthrown idolatry; King Edward hath banished superstition; King Edward, by God's help, hath brought us to the true knowledge of our creation; King Edward hath quieted our consciences, and labored that all his people should seek health, by the death and passion of Christ alone."

Conversion [Epistrophe].

Conversion is an oft repeating of the last word and is contrary to that which went before. "When just dealing is not used, wealth goeth away, friendship goeth away, truth goeth away, all goodness (to speak at a word) goeth away." "Where affections bear rule, there reason is subdued, honesty is subdued, good will is subdued, and all things else that withstand evil forever are subdued."

[There follow three chapters on "Comprehension" (symploce), "Progression" (antimetabole), and "Like ending, like falling" (half-rhyme).]

Equal Members.

Equal members are such when the one half of the sentence answereth to the other with just proportion of number, not that the syllables of necessity should be of just number, but that the ear might judge them to be so equal that there may appear small difference. As thus. "Law without mercy is extreme power, yet men through folly deserve such justice. Learning is dangerous, if an evil man have it. The more noble a man is, the more gentle he should be." Isocrates passeth in this behalf, who is thought to write altogether in number, keeping just proportion in framing of his sentence.

Like Among Themselves [Parallelism].

Sentences are called like when contraries are set together and the first taketh as much as the other following, and the other following taketh as much away as that did which went before. As thus. "Lust hath overcome shamefastness, impudence hath overcome fear, and madness hath overcome reason." Or else sentences are said to be like among themselves when every part of one sentence is equal and of like weight one with an other. As thus. "Is it known, tried, proved, evident, open, and assured that I did such a deed?" An other. "Such riot, dicing, carding, picking, stealing, fighting, ruffians, queens and harlots must needs bring him to naught."

Gradation [Climax].

Gradation is when we rehearse the word that goeth next before and bring an other word thereupon that increaseth the matter, as though one should go up a pair of stairs and not leave till he come at the top. Or thus. Gradation is when a sentence is dissevered by degrees so that the word which endeth the sentence going before doth begin the next. "Labor getteth learning, learning getteth fame, fame getteth honor, honor getteth bliss for ever." An other. "Of sloth cometh pleasure, of pleasure cometh spending, of spending cometh whoring, of whoring cometh lack, of lack cometh theft, of theft cometh hanging, and there an end for this world."

Regression [Epanilepsis].

That is called regression when we repeat a word eftsoon that hath been spoken and rehearsed before, whether the same be in the beginning, in the midst, or in the latter end of a sentence. In the beginning, thus. "Thou art ordained to rule other, and not other to rule thee." In the midst, thus. "He that hath money hath not given it, and he that hath given money, hath not his money still; and he that hath given thanks , hath thanks still, and he that hath them still, hath given them notwithstanding." In the latter end, thus. "Man must not live to eat, but eat to live. Man is not made for the sabbath, but the sabbath is made for man. If man do any filthy thing and take pleasure therein, the pleasure goeth away, but the shame tarrieth still. If man do any good thing with pain, the pains go away, but the honesty abideth still."

Words Loose.

Words loose are such which as are uttered without any addition of conjunctions such as knit words and sentences together. As thus. "Obey the King, fear his laws, keep thy vocation, do right, seek rest, like well a little, use all men as thou wouldst they should use thee."


Out crying is when with voice we make an exclamation. "Oh Lord, O God, O world, O life, O manners of men? O death, where is thy sting? O Hell, where is thy victory?"

Oft Using of One Word in Diverse Places.

"Can he have any man's heart in him, or deserveth he the name of a man, that cruelly killeth a poor innocent man who never thought him harm."

A Cause Given to a Sentence Uttered.

"I fear not mine adversary because I am not guilty. I mistrust not the judges because they are just. The quest will not cast me, the matter is so plain."

A Cause Given to Things Contrary.

"Better it were to rule, then to serve. For he that ruleth, liveth, because he is free. But he that serveth cannot be said to live. For where bondage is, there is no life properly."

[Wilson then includes brief chapters on "sufferance," "doubting " "reckoning," "reasoning a matter with our selves" (disputatio), "resembling of things," "answering to our self," "order," and "brief describing" before concluding the book with short summaries of the arts of memory and delivery (which he divides into pronunciation and gesture). He then appends both an errata list and "A Table to Find Out Such Matter as is Contained in This Book. . . ." which is, in fact, an alphabetical index.]

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