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Renascence Editions

The Arte of Rhetorique

Thomas Wilson

Introduction | Book I | Book II | Book III

Note on the e-text: this Renascence Editions text was transcribed by Judy Boss, Omaha, NE, September, 1998, from Wilson's Arte of Rhetorique 1560. Ed. G. H. Mair. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1909. Content unique to this presentation is copyright © 1998 The University of Oregon. For nonprofit and educational uses only. Send comments and corrections to the Publisher, rbear at uoregon.edu.

In the "Introduction" by G. H. Mair, I have made the following emendations to the text:
p. vi, final line, I have emended "so" to "[to]";
p. xi, line 12, I have emended "Art" to "[Arte]";
p. xii, line 20, I have emended "Master.2'" to "Master.'2";
p. xv, line 9, I have emended "Rhetorike" to "[Rhetorique]"
Inconsistencies in placing terminal quotation marks before or after punctuation in the text of the "Introduction" remain as found.

In "A Prologue to the Reader," folio A.v., I have changed "wordly" to "[worldly]"
In the first book of The Arte of Rhetorique, I have made the following emendations:
p. 7, line 8, I have emended "confirmation" to "[C]onfirmation"
p. 7, line 9, I have emended "confutation" to "[C]onfutation"
p. 7, marginalia, n. 1, l. 5, I have emended "partes," to "partes[.]"
p. 9, marginalia, n. 4, l. 5, I have emended "speake" to "speake[.]"
p. 13, marginalia, n. 5, l. 3, I have emended "worthie," to "worthie[.]"
p. 78, line 39, I have emended "But" to "[b]ut"
In the second book of The Arte of Rhetorique, I have made the following emendations:
p. 102, running head, I have emended "Rhetorique" to "Rhetorique."
p. 120, line 32, I have emended "Amplification ?" to "Amplification[?]"
p. 138, line 5, I have emended "bebauiour." to "be[h]auiour."
In the third book of The Arte of Rhetorique, I have made the following emendations:
p. 162, line 17, I have emended "gentleman" to "gentlemen"
p. 188, line 18, I have emended "than" to "tha[t]"
p. 197, line 19, I have emended "young" to "young[-]"
p. 217, line 23, I have emended "liuely" to "liuely)"
p. 221, line 22, I have emended "man." to "man[]"

Throughout (with the exception of a few headings where font changes would have to change), words hyphenated at line ends and continued to the next line have had the parts joined as a single, unhyphenated word on the first line where a portion of the word appears; the hyphen appears in the source code.

In Wilson's text, I have omitted catchwords, have transcribed long "s" as modern "s", have included folio designations and running heads and page numbers within the source code, although I have omitted signature designations and bolding and italicizing of the running heads.

Presently omitted from this text are pp. 223-232: "A Table to finde out such matter as is contained in this Booke." and pp. 233-236: "Notes"

This edition copyright © 1998 The University of Oregon. For nonprofit and educational uses only. Send comments and corrections to the Publisher

Tudor & Stuart

Arte of Rhetorique

Henry Frowde, M.A.
Publisher to the University of Oxford
London, Edinburgh, New York
Toronto and Melbourne

Arte of Rhetorique


Edited by

[colophon omitted]

At the Clarendon Press

Printed at the Clarendon Press
By Horace Hart, M.A.

Printer to the University


IN 1560 there was imprinted at London by John Kingston, 'and now newlie sette forthe againe, with a prologue to the reader,' 'The Arte of Rhetorique, for the use of all such as are studious of eloquence, set forthe in Englishe, by Thomas Wilson.' This is not the first edition. As is implied in the title the book had been already issued; it had been published in 1553, beautifully printed in black letter by Richard Grafton, the king's printer. For reasons which will appear hereafter, the last year of Mary's reign had been a stirring time for the author, and little leisure was left him for literary tasks. But with the accession of Elizabeth security and prosperity returned to him, and he set about preparing a new edition of his successful textbook. Much was altered and much added; he prefaced it by a new prologue of much personal interest. Towards the end of the year the corrected and completed book was issued from the press. It was reprinted in 1562, 1563, and 1567, and indeed frequently down to about the year of the Great Armada, when apparently, whether owing to the advent of newer textbooks or to the changing taste of a more fastidious and sophisticated period we cannot know, it fell out of demand and public esteem and gradually ceased to be reprinted. The Arte of Rhetorique, then, was in its day a work of great popularity; it passed through numerous editions and was eagerly read by two generations of seekers after eloquence and literary skill, and then slipped gently back into the night, gathering the dust of unused bookshelves. But a day arrives when the obsolete becomes again alive and interesting. A modern finds little to choose between the book that has been superseded and its successor; he loves them both for their strangeness and for the picture which they suggest to him of forgotten habits of thought. Antiquity gilds dullness; stupidity becomes amiable in dead men. It is not, however, the undiscriminating zeal of the antiquary or the mere delight in quaintness for quaintness' sake that has suggested the reprinting of this book. It is in its way a landmark in the history of the English Renaissance, and many passages in it are important and indeed indispensable to the historian of English literature. This has long been known; the book was styled by Warton 'The first system of criticism in our language'; but so far to all but a few it has been accessible only in extracts and these not representative. There is so much that is of interest in the mass that is forgotten, so much that explains and interprets many aspects of Elizabethan art, as to make this reprint of some service perhaps to those who are studying the period. The book appeared in an age of busy and eager experiment when many conflicting fashions were struggling for the mastery both in prose and in verse. Its author was no pedagogue remote from the live issues of the time. He was a courtier and a statesman as well as a writer and a scholar; on many of the problems which emerged from the turmoil of literary effort he had strong opinions, and the mark of them is left on his work. The student of Tudor literature may find it worth his while to hear what an alert and cultured contemporary has [to] say on these matters.

Thomas Wilson, the author (dignified by many as Sir Thomas Wilson, though he was never knighted) was born about the year 1525. He was a Lincolnshire man, the son of another Thomas Wilson of Strubby in that county and Anne Cumberworth his wife. He himself disclaims any pride in his native shire, and when Lincoln folk are mentioned in his books it is generally for their stupidity. He had all the Elizabethan's impatience of rusticity and dullness, all the contempt which London and the court felt for the country. 'It is better,' he says, 'to be borne in London then in Lincolne. For that the aire is better, the people more ciuill, and the wealth much greater and the men for the most part more wise'.1 Yet he owed much to the neighbours of his early home. One of them, William Cecil, Lord Burghley, did much to promote Wilson to the honourable state employment of his later years. There are others who deserve no less mention -- Katherine Willoughby,

1 P. 13 inf.

Duchess of Suffolk, with whom his friendship was firm and lifelong and about whom we shall hear presently; and Sir Edward Dymock, who helped him both at the University and later, and at whose house The Arte of Rhetorique was written during a holiday visit.

Thomas Wilson was educated first at Eton; in 1541 he became a scholar of King's College, Cambridge. The time and the circumstances were fortunate. During his residence there Sir John Cheke was chosen provost, and Wilson was thus thrown into contact with what was at once the most progressive and the most national side of English Humanism. Through Cheke and Sir Thomas Smith (himself a member of King's and afterwards his predecessor in the Secretaryship of State) he gained the friendship of Roger Ascham; through them, too, he became intimate with Walter Haddon, another member of the coterie and the most distinguished Latinist of his time. With him Wilson collaborated in his earliest book. Before he left Cambridge he had become one of a school of men who, by their scholarship and the individuality of their opinions, did much to mould the course of the Renaissance in England on its pedagogic side, and who had no inconsiderable influence on the development of English prose. From them he learned the lesson of simplicity and his horror of exaggerated Latinism. He fought side by side with them in the crusade against inkhorn terms, and he bore the brunt of the battle. For whereas Ascham confined himself to the practice of teaching and the composition of dialogues which contain precepts in style only by the way; whereas Haddon distilled from his pen poetical effusions in the learned tongues and Cheke's influence was exerted through personal contact only, Wilson set himself in his textbooks on Logic and Rhetoric to provide sure guidance for the aspiring student who was anxious to acquire what the new learning had to give him. Through him the teaching of Cheke and Ascham found its way to a wider circle of disciples than either of these could command.

At Cambridge, Wilson formed an attachment which remained throughout his life his most precious recollection. We have seen that in Lincolnshire he enjoyed the friendship and patronage of Katherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk. At the University he became the tutor of her two sons. Henry and Charles Brandon, both counted Dukes of Suffolk because in their death one survived the other by a few hours, made by the brilliancy and high promise of their talents and the bitter tragedy of their early death a remarkable impression on their contemporaries. The elder for a time was a fellow-pupil with King Edward under Sir John Cheke; but both during the larger part of their education were under Wilson's care. It is easy to see how deep was his regard for them; he returns to their praise again and again, and there is nothing of the conventional eulogy which is the due of patronage in his tone. When they died, of the sweating sickness, in 1551, he published along with Walter Haddon a volume of memorial verses and two letters by way of biography.1 In The Arte of Rhetorique the examples 'Of Commending a noble Personage', and 'Of Comfort',2 are both tributes to their memory. He begins his commendation after the manner of rhetoricians in vague phrases and high-sounding generali ties. Gorgias, Heliogabalus, and Phaphorinus the philosopher 'extolling the feuer quartain', all have their place, but when he reaches the matter in hand he forgets the precepts of the ancients and the mannerisms of the schools. Of his own special pupil, the Duke Charles, 'for the Greeke, the Latine and the Italian, I know he could do more than would be thought true by my report. I leaue to speake of his skill in pleasant instrumentes, neither will I utter his aptnesse in Musicke, and his toward nature, to all exercises of the bodie . . . if his brother were set aside there was not one that went beyond him. A child that by his owne inclination, so much yeelded to his ruler, that few by chastment haue done the like; pleasant of speech, prompt of wit, stirring by nature, hault without hate, kind without craft, liberall of heart, gentle in behauiour, forward in all

   1 'Vita et obitus duorum fratrum Suffolciensium, Henrici et Caroli Brandoni, duabus epistolis [Gault. Haddoni et Tho. Wilsoni] explicata; adduntur epitaphia et acroamata in eosdem Graece et Latine conscripta, cum Cantabrigiensium tum Oxoniensium iugi commendatione et industria,' etc. Edente Tho. Wilsono. London. in ed. Rich. Graftoni.       2 pp. 14, 66 inf.

things, greedie of learning, and Loth to take the foil in any assemblie.' The second example, 'Of Comfort,' is addressed to their mother. 'When God lately visited this relme with the sweating disease and received the two worthie gentlemen, Henrie, Duke of Suffolk and his brother Lord Charles: I, seeing my Ladies Grace their mother taking their death most greeuously, could not otherwise for the dutie whiche I then did, and euer shall owe unto her, but comfort her in that her heauiness, the whiche undoubtedly at that time much weakened her bodie.' There is no mistaking the sincerity of his friendship. It is pleasant to read his gratitude for her patronage who was 'by birthe noble and witte great, of nature gentle and mercifull to the poore, and to the Godlie and especially to the learned an earnest good patronesse, and most helping ladie aboue all other'.

In the same year, 1551, which saw his first appearance as an author in the two epistles, Wilson published his first famous book, 'The Rule of Reason, conteyning the Arte of Logike, sette forthe in Englishe by Thomas Wilson.' In his dedication to King Edward he explains the reasons which led to its writing and publication. Hitherto students of logic have been obliged to have recourse to the ancient tongues; his object is to provide a textbook 'in the vulgar tongue'. 'I take not upon me so cunningly and perfectlie to haue written of the said arte, as though none could dooe it better; But because no Englishman untill now, hath gone through with this enterprise, I haue thought meet to declare that it may be dooen.' The book is based on Aristotle and makes no pretence at originality. 'I doe herein take vpon me no more,' he says, 'but to be as a poore meane manne, or a simple persone, whose charge were to bee a Lodesman, to conueigh some noble Princes, into a straunge lande.' The composition of the book was apparently suggested by Richard Grafton, the King's printer, who had already helped the author at Cambridge.1

   1 'The Printer hereof your Maiesties seruaunt, prouoked me first hereunto, vnto whom I haue euer founde myselfe greately beholdyng, not only at my being in Cambridge, but also at all tymes else when I most needed helpe.' Rule of Reason, Ep. Ded., ed. 1567.
   Richard Grafton was the leading publisher of his time and issued the First Book of Common Prayer, Hall's Chronicles, and many other notable works.

Despite his fears that 'this fruit being of a straunge kind (soche as no Englishe ground hath before this tyme, and in this sorte by any tillage brought forthe) maie perhaps in the firste tastyng, proue somewhat rough and harsh in the mouthe, because of the straungenesse', the book had a considerable vogue. It was republished with corrections and additions in 1567,1 and frequently reprinted later. Immediately after, encouraged by its success to continue his plan of making the sciences accessible to the unlearned, Wilson published The Arte of Rhetorique. It was dedicated to John Dudley, Earl of Warwick and Master of Horse, to whom he tells us its inception was due. 'For whereas it pleased you, emong other talke of learning, earnestlie to wishe, that ye might one daie see the preceptes of Rhetorike sette forthe by me in Englishe, as I had erste dooen the rules of Logike: a hauyng in my countree this laste sommer, a quiete tyme of vacacion with Sir Edwarde Dymoke knighte: I trauailed so muche as my leasure might serve thereunto.' The book was published in 1553,2 and with its appearance his career as an author ceased for the time being, and he fell under the ban of religious persecution. 'Hard shift," says Fuller,3 'he made to conceal himself in the reign of Queen Mary.' Eventually he was forced to quit the country and fly over seas.

His subsequent career must be told in less detail. Its importance belongs to political and diplomatic rather than to literary history; it is written in his dispatches at the Record Office, in State papers and the like, and could not be adequately treated within the limits which a preface imposes. In 1555 the fall of Northumberland drove him abroad, and he travelled to Italy. In the same year we find him with Sir John Cheke in Padua. Two years later he proceeded

   1 The 1567 edition is interesting as containing a passage cited from 'An enterlude, made by Nicholas Udall'. This is Ralph Roister Doister, the date of which is fixed by the allusion.
   2 The statement of one bibliographer (see D. N. B.) that it was published at the same time as The Rule of Reason, is undoubtedly wrong. No such edition exists; and the passage from the Dedication above quoted implies some time between the dates of writing.
   3 Fuller's Worthies, ed. 1840, vol. ii., p. 277.

ceeded to Rome, and in December, 1557, he became implicated in an intrigue at the Papal Court against Cardinal Pole. In January he was summoned by Philip and Mary to return to England and appear before the Privy Council. There can be no doubt what was the fate they had in store for him; Wilson apparently recognized the meaning of the summons; he paid no heed and was arrested in Rome by the Inquisition on a charge of heresy. His position was one of the greatest danger, and only the fortunate accident of an insurrection in the city prevented his death; apparently he had been already put to the torture. The incident is described in a passage of gravity and dignity in 'The Prologue to the Reader', which he added to The [Arte] of Rhetorique in 1560.1 'Twoo yeres past, at my beyng in Italie, I was charged in Roome toune, to my greate daunger and vtter vndoyng (if God's goodnesse had not been the greater) to haue written this booke of Rhetorike and the Logike also, for the whiche I was compted an heretike, notwithstanding the absolution granted vnto all the realme, by Pope Julie the thirde, for all former offences or practises, deuised againste the holie mother Churche, as they call it . . . God be my Iudge, I had then as little feare (although death was present and the tormente at hande, whereof I felte some smarte) as euer I had in all my life before. For, when I sawe those who did seeke my death to be so maliciously sette, to make soche poore shiftes, for my readier despatche and to burden me with these back reckeninges: I tooke soche courage, and was so bolde, that the Iudges did moche maruaile at my stoutnesse.' The account is too long to quote in full; but it shows that the spirit of Ridley and Latimer fired other men not less ardently though martyrdom was only for a few. 'In the ende,' he says, 'by God's grace I was wonderfully deliuered, through plaine force of the worthie Romaines (an enterprise heretofore in that sorte neuer attempted) being then without hope of life, and moche lesse of libertie.' In 1559, before his return to England he was made an LL.D. of Ferrara, an honour which he afterwards received from his own university and from Oxford.

1 See infra.

From 1560 to the end of his life, Wilson was employed in State business. He was appointed Advocate of the Court of Arches and Master of Requests; he enjoyed the patronage, like so many other men of letters, of the Earl of Leicester, and he was employed with increasing frequency on diplomatic missions. Amongst his other posts he held that of Master of St. Catherine's Hospital in the Tower of London; his conduct there seems to have aroused much controversy. 'Under Queen Elizabeth,' says Fuller,1 'he was made master of the hospital of St. Catherine's nigh the Tower of London, upon the same token that he took down the choir, which my author saith (allow him a little hyperbole) was as great as the choir of St. Paul's. I am loath to believe it done out of covetousness to gain from the materials thereof, but would rather conceive it so run to ruin that it was past repairing.' Fuller's 'author' was Stowe in whose Survey of London the charge against Wilson is made. Whatever the motive which drew him into the task of house-breaking, he was checked in his destructive career, and the ancient privileges of the Hospital were apparently confirmed on the presentation of 'an ernest address from the inhabitants to Secretary Cecyl, complaining unto him against the said Master.'2 It is unlikely that Stowe is right in alleging his action to have been for the sake of personal gain. Fuller's conjecture is the more charitable. The trial for treason of the Duke of Norfolk in 15713 and the detention and examination of the prisoners (under torture) absorbed his attention as a Tower official and he dates his letters 'from prison in the Bloody tower'. In the following year he was sent along with Sir Ralph Sadler 'to expostulate by way of accusation' with Mary, Queen of Scots. Two years later he was ambassador to the Netherlands, and in 1576 conducted the negotiations for the projected marriage of Elizabeth with Anjou. On November 12, 1579, he was sworn Secretary of State in place of Sir Thomas Smith.

   1 Fuller, ibid.
   2 Stowe, Survey of London, vol. 1, p. 205.
   3 State Trials, vol. 1., pp. 957, 1017. Trial of the Duke of Norfolk. Wilson gave evidence at the trial.

Meanwhile, even under the pressure of State business (and Elizabethan officials were hardworked men) his pen was not idle. As early as 1556 he and Cheke had formed the project of a translation of Demosthenes into the English tongue. In 1570 there was published, being dedicated on June 10 of that year to William Cecil, 'Three Orations of Demosthenes, chiefe orator of the Grecians in fauour of the Olynthians . . . with those his foure Orations against King Philip of Macedonie; most nedeful to be redde in these daungerous dayes of all them that loue their countries libertie and desire to take warning for their better auayle.' Wilson is responsible for the whole of this translation, which is said to attain a high level of scholarship. As is made clear on the title page the work was intended to have a political significance. Philip of Macedon for the Englishman meant Philip of Spain, and the lesson was enforced by a comparison of Athens and England in the preface. It is possible that the Government through Cecil commissioned Wilson to do the work; if so, he is the earliest of the long line of English authors who have used their pens in the service of politics. To be set side by side with Milton, Dryden, and Swift, to name only a few, is to be in no bad company. In his last publication he turned to the field of Economics. In 1572 he dedicated to Leicester 'a discourse on Usurye, by waye of Dialogue and Oracions'. The dialogue takes place between 'a rich worldly merchaunt, the godlie zealous Preacher, the Temporall and ciuil Lawyer', who in turn make the orations. As might be supposed the rich and worldly merchant is confuted and the godly and zealous preacher triumphs. Usury is condemned, as it had been by Aristotle and the Canonists, on moral grounds. In doing so the author is expressing the opinion held by his own generation; an Act of Parliament utterly forbidding the practice was passed the year before his treatise was published; at the end of the century Shakespeare in The Merchant of Venice takes the same standpoint. There is no wonder that the book was popular and much relished by the Church. In a prefatory letter to the author which appeared in the edition of 15841 the Bishop of Salisbury eulogizes the work.

1 Quoted in the Gentleman's Magazine, 1835, p. 471.

'If I were a usurer never so greedily bent to spoil and rapine, us sunt foineratores, yet would I think myself most unhappy if such persuasion could not move me.' The usurer did not prove so tractable as the good bishop imagined, and modern ears remain altogether deaf to his appeal. These, with a Latin treatise which perhaps was a translation of part of the preface to Demosthenes, are all his published works. Antony Wood refers to 'other things which I have not yet seen'.1 They have not come to the light since his time.

Wilson became Secretary of State, as we have seen, in 1579; he did not live above two years to enjoy the office. While he held it, he obtained a reputation for great ability and deep policy. Despite his long connexion with the Leicester party, he seems to have done his best to dissuade Elizabeth from identifying herself with it at the expense of Sussex. 'His peculiar knack,' we are told, 'was a politic and artificial nourishing of hopes.'2 'While he enjoyed the office of Secretary,' says Antony Wood, 'He became famous for three things (1) For quick dispatch and industry, (2) for constant diligence, and (3) for a large and strong memory.'3 His friendship and influence were much sought after,4 and had he lived, he might have been a guide and patron to the new generation of poets and writers. As it was, he died while still in office in 1581, and his funeral was celebrated on June 17 in St. Catherine's Church, East Smithfield. His portrait may be seen in the National Portrait Gallery.

His career presents him as a man closely in touch with the three greatest forces in the England of his time -- the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the revival of the State under the Tudors. The last he served faithfully in many quarters. Whether we are to believe or not the statement of a seventeenth-century biographer5

   1 Antony Wood, Fasti Oxonienses, ed. 1721, p. 98.
   2 Lloyd, Statesmen and Favourites of England since the Reformation, 1665. Quoted in Gentleman's Magazine, loc. cit.
   3 Antony Wood, loc. cit.
   4 Gabriel Harvey counts him as 'my honourable fauourer'; he was one of the numerous friends from whom Harvey hoped advancement.
   5 Lloyd in Gentleman's Magazine, ibid.

that his parents designed him for a life of letters and his own inclination drove him into business, there can be no doubt as to his capacity. Says Fuller, speaking of his secretaryship, 'It argues his ability for the place because he was put into it; seeing in those active times, under so judicious a queen, weakness might despair to be employed in such an office.'1 There is no reason to quarrel with this terse and just verdict. There is no mistaking his zeal for the Reformation. It shines through everything he wrote, and the reader of the Logike and the [Rhetorique] will have no cause to wonder at the papal persecution of his works. No opportunity is lost of driving a nail into the coffin of English catholicism. Examples will be found on many pages of this book. The pre-Reformation period is 'the doting world when stockes were saintes and dumme walls spake'. He approves the marriage of priests and monks. 'And I thinke the Bishops officers would have procured this matter long agoe, if they had not found greater gaines by Priestes Lemmans then they were like to haue by priestes wiues.' The Rule of Reason is one long Protestant tract in which the doctrines of Geneva are enforced by the apparatus of mediaeval logic. But though he loved Latimer as 'the father of all preachers' he was not blind to abuses in his own Church. 'Doe ye not see, how euery one catcheth and pulleth from the Church, what thei can? I feare me one day, they wil pluck doune Church and all. Call you this the Gospell, when men seeke onely to prouide for their bellies, and care not a groate whether their soules go to Hell? A patrone of a benefice, will have a poore ymgrame soule, to beare the name of a Parson, for twentie marke or ten pound: and the patron himselfe, wil take up for his snapshare, as good as a hundred marke. Thus God is robbed, learning decaied, England dishonoured, and honestie not regarded.'2

His part in the English Renaissance and the importance in it of The Arte of Rhetorique must now be treated at more length.

1 Fuller, ibid.     2 P. 36.


The Renaissance did not come to pass in a night. The forms of teaching and schemes of knowledge which we associate with the Middle Ages subsisted for long side by side with the new learning. It is the mediaeval division of arts and sciences which we find in Wilson's work. When he says in his preface to the Arte of Logike, that 'divers learned menne, of other countries, have heretofore, for furtheraunce of knowledge, not suffered any of the sciences liberals, to be hidden in the Greke or Latine tongue, but haue with most earnest trauaile, made every of them familiare to their Vulgar people', the liberal sciences he is thinking of are no other than the famous seven of mediaeval pedagogy. Later on in the book, he runs them into a rude kind of rime for the benefit of the learner.

Grammer doeth teach to utter wordes:
To speake both apt and plaine.
Logike by Arte, settes forthe the truthe,
And doeth tell what is vaine.
Rhetorike at large paintes well the cause,
And makes that seem right gaie
Which Logike spake but at a word
And taught us by the waie.
Musike with tunes, delites the eare:
And makes us thinke it heauen.
Arithmetike by nomres can make
Reckenynges to be euen.
Geometrie thynges thicke and broade,
Measures by line and square:
Astronomie by starres doeth tell;
Of foule and eke of faire.
All that the new zeal for learning worked for in the first instance, and all that Wilson pretended to do, was to make these accessible in the vernacular. Along with this went the breaking up of the older cyclopaedic system and the beginning of separate textbooks for each subject.

This is, however, only half the truth of the matter. Though the historian must needs deny the cleavage once imagined between the old and the new, the theory of a kind of tropical dawn, a sudden passage from light to darkness, he must admit that the change of outlook and purpose of life which we call the Renaissance, though it was gradual, was none the less complete. It meant a new beginning for the artist and the author as well as for the theologian, the adventurer, and the statesman. In the Middle Ages the groundwork of thought and letters was logic. It extended to every department of culture. Works of piety and the poetry of love, to take two of the largest and simplest kinds of writing, were founded on a logical attitude towards things. In the schools it was supreme; the trivium was threefold only in name; dialectic overshadowed both rhetoric and grammar. With the Renaissance, however, a complete revolution took place. Logic gradually went under, and rhetoric, reinforced by the reading of authors, took the highest place in the curriculum. What happened in education happened also in literature. The reading of the ancients awakened a new delight in the melody of language: men became intoxicated with the beauty of words. The practice and study of rhetoric was quickly universal and coloured all literature. The new drama, with its preference for declamatory speeches over dialogue; the new prose, with its fantasy and its exuberance of figure; the new poetry, with its mythological allusiveness and its sensuousness of imagery, all owe their origin to the fashion of rhetoric. 'Unless the school and university training in rhetoric are borne in mind, an important factor in accounting for the wealth of imagery and expression in the English literature of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is overlooked.'1 Tamburlaine and Lucrece, Arcadia and Euphues, a host of sonneteers -- all come to the mind. It is no mere accident that Wilson's long translation of Erasmus's epistle to persuade a young gentleman to marriage reminds one of the first part of Shakespeare's sonnets. The same literary impulse dictated both. The order of his two treatises and the greater popularity of the Rhetorique represent a fact in the development of literature and thought.

1 Prof. Foster Watson, The English Grammar Schools to 1660.

This is hardly the place in which to attempt a detailed history of the study of rhetoric in England,1 but some of the most prominent books and writers may be briefly noticed. Of course a large part of the study of rhetoric was carried on directly from the ancient writers; notably Cicero whom Ascham praised and held superior to all others of learning rhetoric, and Quintilian, the idol of the teachers of that time. But the use of modern works was more usual. There were two books in the vulgar tongue before Wilson's: Cox's Arte or Crafte of Rhetorique and Sherry's Treatise of the figures of Grammar and Rhetoric, profitable for all that be studious of eloquence. They were both schoolbooks, pure and simple. Wilson does not seem to have known them; at any rate, in writing his treatise in English, he professes an innovation. Later Abraham Fraunce, author of several books for lawyers, published his Arcadian Rhetoric (1588), designed to show the beauties of Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia, and Richard Mulcaster combined Grammar and Rhetoric in one of the most popular treatises of the day. This combination was one of the most fortunate features in Tudor Education. Grammar was studied in the sixteenth century more broadly than it has been, perhaps, before or since. Both Ascham in his Scholemaster and Elyot in his Grammar minimize the importance of the formalities of grammatical study. 'Back to Quintilian,' the great ideal for which the Renaissance educationalists worked, means nothing so much as this, that grammar could not be studied independently of literature. The growth of rhetorical teaching went steadily on and for the seventeenth century we have more information. Brinsley's Ludus Litterarius, or Grammar schoole (1612), and Hoole's New discovery of the old art of teaching schoole (1659), give many interesting particulars. We learn the way rhetoric was taught; how the pupils kept a book with the headings of invention under which they entered subjects for exercise. We learn, too, much regarding the textbooks generally

   1 The thing has in some degree been done by Professor Foster Watson's recent book, The English Grammar Schools to 1660. Most of the above was written before I had an opportunity of reading it, but I have ventured to add one or two points from it which had escaped my own reading.

used in schools, none of which were in English. The most popular (it was greatly admired by Gabriel Harvey) appears to have been that of a Frenchman of the name of Talon who latinized himself as Talaeus. 'For answering the questions of Rhetorike,' says Brinsley in one place, 'you may if you please, make them perfect in Talaeus' Rhetorike, which I take to be most used in schools.' He was run hard by English competitors, the chief of whom was Charles Butler, a member of Magdalen College, who published his Rhetoricæ Libri Duo in 1598. In a later edition he quotes by way of preface the eulogy bestowed upon him by Brinsley, 'Instead of Talaeus you may use Master Butler's Rhetorike, of Magdalens in Oxford, being a notable abridgement of Talaeus; making it most plaine and farre more easie to bee learned of scholers: and also supplying many things wanting in Talaeus . . . it is not of much greater price though the worth be double.' Brinsley commends it further for its treatment of the figures belonging to poetry, and for its rules as to metre. One other famous book on Rhetoric deserves notice. This is Thomas Farnaby's Index Rhetoricus, a small but exceedingly well-constructed book. Like Wilson, its author had an adventurous career, for he began life as a postmaster at Merton College, and after sailing with Drake and Raleigh to the Main, and serving as a soldier in the Low Countries, settled down to his profession as an usher in a Devonshire school. Three years after he had commenced teaching, he was headmaster of a large school of his own in London, with three hundred pupils and an educational system which was famous all over Europe. His Index he dedicated to a senator of Venice; it had a continental as well as an English reputation. Of the others, and they are legion, there is no space here to deal at length and there is little profit and much tedium in a mere catalogue. Many will be found treated in Warton's History of Poetry, which is, much more than its name implies, a history of all branches of literature, and which is particularly well informed on this period.

All these textbooks owe their system and their terminology to the ancient writers. Wilson is no exception to the rule. His book is a judicious compilation from Quintilian as far as the first two books are concerned, while the third owes almost as much to Cicero. Yet the charge of plagiarism would be an idle one to prefer. The Elizabethans had none of our modern squeamishness about literary copyright, as the whole result of the study into Shakespeare's sources sadly witnesses. The words of the Player king in Hamlet.

Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own,
sum up the author's point of view. And in writing on such a subject as Rhetoric there is a double excuse, for a science must have a received terminology, and it lies not with every new artist to invent new names for his colours or the processes that he uses. The terms and divisions of Quintilian were common property among his Renaissance imitators, and with this caveat we can turn to The Arte of Rhetorique without the danger of unjust censure.

The first book treats of certain preliminaries, such as what is an orator, what is rhetoric, with what subjects it deals and what is its end. Three things are required of an orator: that he should teach, that he should delight, and that he should persuade. The lessons of plainness, order, and directness are duly enforced, without which it is impossible either to delight or win over. The means by which Eloquence is attained leads the author to point out that the knowledge of the art is of no avail without practice, which came before theory was invented; for 'Rhetorique was first made by wisemen, and not wisemen by rhetorique'. Besides practice, five general qualities are necessary for the perfect orator, Invention, Disposition, Elocution, Memory, and Utterance. The first of these is now systematically treated; and so a detailed account of the different causes and the 'places' which confirm them completes the first book. The bulk of it, and the part which is of most interest to readers, is made up of the numerous examples which the author gives to enforce his instruction. Many varied kinds of oration are provided for the study of the pupil. Some of these are translated, but the bulk are from the author's own hand. Those on comfort we have already seen. The translation of Erasmus's epistle persuading a friend to marriage, and the example of praising King David for killing Goliath are perhaps the best of the statelier sort. Some of the judicial speeches, particularly that on p. 92, to prove by conjectures the knowledge of a notable and heinous offence, committed by a Souldier, when he forgets the solemnity of the occasion and begins to tell his story, are not without a kind of merit, though they show an entire ignorance of the rules of evidence. As a whole, however, the examples are of no great worth, as even the writer of an essay in praise of the book is bound to confess. His precept is unimpeachable, but plainness and directness, at once the most sought after and the most elusive of all literary qualities, are not so easily come by in practice, and cannot be had save by much striving. Moderns when they essay to write on the subject generally take their examples from authors of standing. We may admire Wilson for his courage in taking the bolder course of original composition, but we cannot help questioning his discretion.

The second book deals with Disposition, and in it the author gets to much closer grips with his subject. His method is to take each different part of an oration and discuss the various ways in which it may be treated. He begins with the Entrance, which may be treated in two ways, either the orator may plainly set forth what he is going to say and so win straight to the matter on hand or else he may proceed by insinuation, gaining his hearers' attention by some tale or by some strange thing, 'that they all may quake at the onely hearing of the same'. His examples are aptest for pleading at the bar, but many will serve for the clergy also, of whose preaching he has a poor opinion; for often, he says 'they beginne as much from the matter as it is betwixt Dover and Barwicke, whereat some take pitie and many for wearinesse can scant abide their beginning, it is so long or they speake anything to the purpose'. Next comes Narration which should be brief, plain, and probable, and then Division which should declare the points at issue between the orator and his adversary. The Confirmation in which he must prove his point and the Conclusion in which he should sum all up for the benefit of the hearers complete the scheme. There follows a discussion of the figure Amplification, that is a storing of sentences and examples which shall help to win favour or move affections. Under this head we get Wilson's treatment of Mirth and Laughter and the best means by which these may be used by the rhetorician. Elocution, Memory, and Utterance are dealt with in the third and last book. Of these the first consists in an account of the Figures or Tropes, largely based on Cicero, each furnished with examples, mainly from the classical writers. The sections on Memory and Utterance, as they are the last, are also the best part of the book. In them he is less bound by his models; his hand is freer and has gained in expertness; the clumsiness of style which tries the reader's patience in the earlier parts is absent, because his subject holds him more imperiously than before. They may be commended to those who wish to see Wilson at his best. It is not great prose, but it is vigorous, living, and unaffected, and it comes nearer to fulfilling the precepts of its author than anything else in the Arte of Rhetorique.

The formalities of Rhetoric are no more cheerful reading in Wilson than in any other author who treats of the subject. Fortunately the space at his disposal allowed him much opportunity for wandering a little from the matter at hand and giving his verdict on men and things. Many of his friends are mentioned or alluded to in his pages. A reference to Latimer we have already seen; Walter Haddon is the best 'Latine man' in England. Sir John Cheke's arrival at Cambridge from the court to take up the provostship of King's College gives occasion for one of the best anecdotes in the book (p. 164). The proverbs of Heywood, 'whose paines in that behalf are worthy immortal praise,' are mentioned with eulogy more than once. Ascham is not named, but we learn that 'bowes are not esteemed as they haue beene among vs Englishmen, but if we were once well beaten by our enemies, we should soone know the want, and with feeling the smart, lament much our folly', and it is plain enough where he learned these doctrines. Passing from his personal references to his opinions and prejudices, the reader is most struck, perhaps, by the Protestant zeal which we have already noticed and which shines through every page of the book. But the statesman is there as well as the reformer. The direction and reorganization of industry which ended in the Statute of Apprentices and the proceedings in check of vagrancy are both treated of under the head of Justice or True Dealing. 'Thankes be to God, wee hang them apace, that offend a lawe, and therefore, wee put it to their choyce, whether they wilbe idle, and so fall to stealing or no? they knowe their reward, goe to it when they wil. But if therewithal some good order were taken for the education of youth, and setting loyterers on worke (as thanks be to God, the Citie is most godlie bent that way) all would sone be well, without all doubt.' The inclosure of the Common Lands finds in Wilson a strong supporter. 'Commons or Equalitie,' he says, 'is when the people by long time have a ground . . . the whiche some of them will keepe still for custome sake, and not suffer it to be fenced, and so turned to pasture, though they might gain ten times the value: but such stubburnesse in keeping of commons for custome sake, is not standing with justice, bicause it is holden against all right.' To comment, however, on the idiosyncrasies and tastes which he displays to his reader is a work of too great magnitude to be attempted here; the curious will find material enough on almost every page.

Besides these the book is enlivened with many anecdotes. They serve one of two purposes; either they are meant to enforce a point or enliven the tedium of his discourse, or else they are given as samples of the kind of entertainment an orator should interpose to lighten the effect of the weightier message he has to tell. Some of them are of historical or personal interest, such as that of the Spaniard who watched the burning of a heretic at Smithfield (p. 138), or that of the rebel priest in Norfolk, or the story of the Cambridge lecturer who would not face his audience; others are of the perennial sort which pass from age to age, and from country to country, which find no difficulty in achieving a local habitation and a name in all climates, and are not abashed or estranged by any kind of company. The story of the sentry and the abbot, for instance, appears from time to time even in our own day in newspapers; many others are under the same category. The author's treatment of his stories is not always free from carelessness of a disconcerting kind. He sometimes begins a tale and fails to finish it. In this way perishes the story of the archdeacon and the young man, which began with much promise; the archdeacon had inveighed in the tone of Sir Andrew Aguecheek against the multitude of heretic and vain preachers: 'You say euen troth (quoth the yong man) and so went forth: but to tell all, I had neede to haue time of another world, or at least to haue breath of another bodie.' Sometimes he begins a tale for edification and then his baser nature carries him away and the matter becomes one of scurrility and jest. So the story of the poor hermit, perhaps the best in the book, abruptly passes from a denunciation of the carnal living of the Religious to a frank enjoyment of the favourite subject of Elizabethan humour in which the laughter is all on the side of the hermit. Wilson is catholic in the extreme as regards his sources. For 'moving sport by old tales' he recommends the stories of King Arthur and the Round Table, 'the which,' in the opinion of his friend Ascham, 'are nothing else than open manslaughter and bold bawdrie.' The bulk of his anecdotes, however, deal with the ancients, and particularly with Diogenes and Cicero. These he took bodily from a contemporary collection -- The Apophthegmes of Erasmus -- translated into English by his friend Nicholas Udall and first published in the year 1542. Udall designed his work to be for 'the most pleasant and the same most honeste, profitable and holsome readyng of all maner men, and especially of nobel men', and to this purpose Wilson borrowed the portions he used in The Arte of Rhetorique. There can be no doubt as to the identity of the source; most of the classical stories can be traced to this book. Sometimes Wilson fills up his page by taking two together as they follow one another in Udall's work, as for instance, the two Cicero stories on p. 156, in the first of which he writes Vibius Curius, where the original had Iubius Curtius, a fact which indicates that his method was both hurried and unscrupulous. But these stories, carelessly chosen and thrown in by haphazard as they are, point to the future supremacy of the lives of the Greeks and Romans as moral teachers to the modern world. Plutarch had not yet been translated and students had to be content with the casual and secondhand information they gleaned from Erasmus. With the coming of Amyot and North began that intelligent and anxious study of the lives of the ancients from the most beautiful and dignified account of them that the world possesses, which was to have such momentous consequences in the next age, and was destined to lead Europe a far cry from the path of social and political advance which the sixteenth century trod.

The philologist will find little to interest him in this book; unlike Mulcaster, Wilson touches not at all the study of language. He does preserve a number of old and obsolete words -- 'snapshare,' 'yngrame,' 'haultie,' 'nesh,' are a few -- but his instinct was to distrust any word not in daily use, and he hated archaism as much as he did the inkhorn term. The student of style on the other hand will find him an instructive example of a certain stage in the development of English prose. The intention is plain enough; he desired to write as men spoke; to use no words and no constructions not already familiar to all his readers. Yet he utterly failed to carry this out in practice. There is a clumsiness and ineffectiveness of syntax which makes the expression of any abstract idea impossible or at best halting; it shows itself most prominently in his constant use of participial nouns, particularly in his definitions. Insinuation is 'a priuie twining or close creeping in'; a conclusion is 'the handsomely lapping vp together, and brief heaping of all that which was said before, stirring the hearers by large vtteraunce, and plentiful gathering of good matter, either the one way or the other'. It is easy enough to see that prose as an instrument of instruction or a means of expressing ideas is in its infancy here. The later Elizabethans found that Latinism was a safer road than that which Wilson and his fellows in their poverty trod, and the ideals of Cheke had to wait for their acceptance and their success till the days of Dryden. Yet Wilson was not free from extravagances of a kind incident to the practice of his art, and these are worth looking into as a possible clue to the origin of the most popular type of English prose in the generation which followed him. The historians tell us that Euphuism is older than Euphues, but they have failed to notice that the English study of rhetoric provides a much better indication of its origin than do the imagined influences of Italy and Spain. It is very easy to exaggerate the cosmopolitanism of literary effort; and an English source for this affectation is in the nature of things more likely than a foreign. Now, the recipe, so to speak, of Euphuism is to be found in The Arte of Rhetorique. By this is not meant that we claim that Wilson's book taught Lyly his secret; only that it was through the fashionable study of rhetoric in the literary coteries of the time that this manner of writing was evolved. Examples of what is meant abound in this book. One or two characteristics may be noted here. In the first place, one of the most prominent features of Lyly's style was its adornment with metaphors drawn from natural history of a legendary kind; this is recommended by Wilson when he talks of the use of similitudes: -- 'Oftentimes brute beasts and thinges which haue no life, minister great matter in this behalf. Therefore those that delite to prove thinges by similitudes, must learn to knowe the nature of diuers beastes, of metailles, of stones, and all such as haue any vertue in them, and be applied to man's life.' Passages such as the following occur many times, and they all have the ring of Euphues about them. 'For if felicitie should stand by length of time, some tree were more happie than any man, for it liueth longer, and so likewise brute beastes, as the Stagges, who liueth (as Plinie doth say) two hundred years and more.' Here is both the natural history and the ascription of the fact to the ancients, a favourite method with the Euphuists. But other characteristics are also to be found in these pages. The full-mouthed rhetoric of the later writer finds an anticipatory echo, so to speak, in such a passage as this: -- 'For if they that walke much in the sunne, and thinke not of it, are yet for the most part sunne burnt, it can not but be that they which wittingly and willingly trauail to counterfect other, must needes take some colour of them and be like unto them in some one thing or other, according to the prouerbe, by companying with the wise, a man shal learn wisdome:' or in a translation such as that which Wilson gives on p. 186, of Tully's invective against Verres, a passage which shows that a large part of the Euphuistic manner was derived from the imitation of Cicero practised by the teachers and students of rhetoric in the schools. The connexion of Wilson with the Literature of the reign of Elizabeth must now (as he would say) be set forth more at large.


We talk too loosely when we extend the patronage of Elizabeth forward and backward outside the limits of her actual reign. Though Wilson served the queen faithfully as an ambassador and counsellor for twenty most eventful years of peril and stress, he cannot with any justice be termed an Elizabethan. The word fits best the high sense of glory and achievement which sprang upon the nation after the destruction of Spain and lasted till the inexplicable apparition of unsought melancholy which saddened the reign of James. Wilson died while the issue of the fight was still undecided; in truth he belongs to an elder and graver age. His companions were no splendid courtiers nor daring and hardy adventurers; still less were they swashbucklers, exquisites or literary dandies. He was one of a band of grave and dignified scholars, men preoccupied with morality and citizenship as well as with the lighter problems of learning and style. They fought for sound education, for good classical scholarship, for the purity of written English, and behind all these for the strength and worth of the native English character which they felt was menaced by the reckless orgy of assimilation which seized young England face to face with the allurements which reached it from abroad. It was not difficult to discern from which quarter the danger came. Its eminence as the fount and origin of the revived learning had led English scholars to Italy early in the sixteenth century, and the path was worn hard with the steady stream of their feet for over a hundred years after. This could not be without its influence on the manners of the nation, and indeed the fears of the prophets of evil did not prove groundless. There followed in the train of the men of learning the men of fashion, eager to con and copy the new manners of a society whose moral teacher was Machiavelli, whose patterns of splendour were the courts of Florence and Ferrara. The effect on England was not long in showing itself, and it lasted for more than two generations. Coryat, writing well within the seventeenth century, is as enthusiastic as the authors who began the imitation of Italian metres, in Tottel's Miscellany; the rod of censure is wielded as sternly in the satires of Donne and Hall as it had been by Ascham fifty years before. The danger feared was a real one no doubt, yet the evil was not unmixed with good, for insularity will always be a foe to good literature. The Elizabethans learned much more than their plots from their Italian models. Improvements in dress, in the comforts of life and in the amenities of society all came this way, nor were the worst effects dreaded by the patriots ever planted on our shores. Italian vice stopped short of real life; poisoning and hired ruffianism flourished in the theatre merely. All this, however, is later than our author's period. He and his companions only foresaw the danger ahead; they laboured to meet it as it came. The brunt of the contest was borne by Ascham; in the Scholemaster (the passage is too trite to make quotation possible) he inveighs against the translation of Italian books and the corrupt manners in living and the false judgement in doctrine which they breed. Wilson, perhaps because he knew his Italy better, perhaps with some memory of the service done him by the citizens of Rome in his time of peril, is much less outspoken than his fellows. The Italianate Englishman, instead of being specially singled out for damnation, finds himself classed with all who have come out of foreign parts. 'Some farre iourneyed gentleman at their returne home, like as they loue to goe in forraine apparell, so wil thei ponder their talke with ouersea language. He that commeth lately out of Fraunce, will talke Frensh English and neuer blush at the matter. An other chops in with English Italienated, and applieth the Italian phrase to our English speaking, the which is, as if an Oratour that professeth to vtter his mind in plaine Latine, would needes speake Poetrie, and farre fetched colours of straunge antiquitie.' It is plainly only the man of letters who speaks here.

But if he was a laggard in the matter of the Italianate Englishman, in the battle of style and language he fought in the van. In estimating the influence of his book it must be observed that whatever he and his party achieved of practical result was probably due to his efforts. The Arte of Rhetorique not only treated the matter much more systematically, but it reached a much wider public than Cheke or Haddon or Ascham commanded. The attack was delivered at three points. It was directed against undue Latinism, against archaism, and against affectations borrowed from foreign tongues. The last need not detain us; his attitude towards it has already been noticed. But the question of 'inkhorn terms' requires larger treatment. The word seems to have been first used about the year 1543, and it speedily became popular as a nickname for this vice in writing. The leader of this movement against Latinism was Sir John Cheke, and his attitude need cause no surprise. That the leading scholar of his day should be the chief opponent of the triumph of the classics as a source of English vocabulary is no more inexplicable a paradox than that which is presented by the literary history of a century and a half later when Bentley championed the cause of modern literature in the battle of the books. Both fought against men of far less scholarship than themselves, and Cheke, at any rate, knew and loved his own literature and had its welfare deeply at heart. In the introductory letter to Thomas Hoby, which he wrote as preface to the latter's translation of Castiglione's Courtier, he gives a plain statement of his case. 'I am of this opinion that our own tung shold be written cleane and pure, vnmixt and vnmangeled with borowing of other tunges, wherein if we take not heed by tijm, ever borowing and neuer payeng, she shal be fain to kep her house as bankrupt. For then doth our tung naturallie and praisable vtter her meaning, when she boroweth no counterfeitness of other tunges to attire herself withall, but vseth plainlie her owne, with such shift, as nature, craft, experiens and folowing of other excellent doth lead her vnto, and if she want by any tijm (as being imperfight she must) yet let her borow with suche bashfulness, that it mai appear, that if either the mould of our own tung could serve us to fascion a woord of our own, or if the old denisoned words could content and ease this neede, we wold not boldly venture of vnknown wordes.'

Wilson entered on the campaign with vigour. 'I know them that thinke Rhetorique standeth wholie vpon darke wordes, and hee that can catch an inkhorne terme by the taile, him they coumpt to be a fine Englisheman, and a good Rhetorician.' He inveighs against the unlearned or foolish fantasticall, 'soch fellowes as haue seen learned men in their daies,' who so Latin their tongue that the simple think they speake by some revelation, and he gives as an example his famous letter 'deuised by a Lincolnshire man, for a voyde benefice'. -- 'Such a letter that William Sommer himselfe, could not make a better for that purpose.' In his translation of Demosthenes ten years later, he returns to the subject. 'I had rather follow his veyne (he is speaking of Demosthenes) the which was to speake simply and plainly to the common people's vnderstanding, than to overflouryshe with superfluous speach, although I might thereby be counted equall with the best that euer wrate Englysh.' His model in writing was such a style as Latimer's, that is to say, the pure speech of the common people. He was too wise not to see that the avoidance of classicisms might be pushed to extremes. 'Now whereas wordes be receiued as well from Greeke as Latine, to set forth our meaning in the English tongue, either for lack of store, or els because we would enrich the language; it is well doen to use them, and no man therein can be charged for any affectation, when all other are agreed to followe the same waie. There is no man agreeued when he heareth (Letters Patents) and yet patent is Latine, and signifieth open to all men.' There can be no doubt as to the sanity and justice of his attitude and doubtless many good Saxon words were saved in the crusade which would otherwise have been lost, for their nature makes them difficult to recover if once they fall out of use. But there were not wanting strong opponents to Wilson and Cheke. George Pettie, one of a number of writers who made their bread out of the detested style of composition, boldly championed the cause of Latinism and ornament. 'It is not unknown to all men,' he says, 'how many words we have fetcht from hence within these few yeeres, whiche if they should all be counted inkpot tearmes, I know not how we shall speake anie thing without blacking our mouthes with inke.' There is reason in the criticism; Cheke and his followers did go too far, while safety, in this case as in most, lay in the mean. Yet their efforts were not without fruit, for the worst excesses never took a strong grip of English prose; that it was saved is not so much due to their precepts as critics as to their work as translators.

The shafts which Wilson directs against archaism are no less keen though their effect was less. He puts his arguments into the mouth of an ancient philosopher.

'Phauorinus the Philosopher (as Gellius telleth the tale) did hit a yong man ouer the Thumbes very handsomely, for vsing ouer old, and ouer straunge wordes. Sirha (quoth he) when our olde great auncesters and Graundsires were aliue, they spake plainly in their mothers tongue, and vsed olde language, such as was spoken then at the building of Roome. But you talke me such a Latine, as though you spake with them euen now, that were two or three thousand yeres agoe, and onely because you would haue no man to vnderstand what you say. Now, were it not better for thee a thousande fold, (thou foolish fellowe) in seeking to haue thy desire, to holde thy peace, and speake nothing at all? For then by that meanes, fewe should knowe what were thy meaning. But thou saiest, the olde antiquitie doth like thee best, because it is good, sober, and modest. Ah, liue man, as they did before thee, and speake thy mind as men doe at this day.'

Now, the return to Chaucer is by far the most striking feature of the revival of English letters. We are accustomed to hear from the historians of the introduction and imitation of Italian metres by the authors of Tottel's Miscellany, but in reality their indebtedness to the older English poets is far more obvious and much better worth noting. It is not merely the direct references to Chaucer nor the acknowledged quotations from his work. The whole spirit of the verse both of Surrey and Wyatt is caught from him. The opening lines of the first poem in the volume, written by Surrey, are pure Chaucer: --
The sonne hath twise brought furth his tender grene,
And clad the earth in lustie loueliness.
In the second we get the 'soote season' and all the Chaucerian language of spring. Wyatt is no less firm in his allegiance. There is no mistaking the source of the rhythm of such a passage as this: --
He knoweth, how grete Atride that made Troy freat,
And Hanniball, to Rome so troubelous:
Whom Homer honored, Achilles that great,
And Thaffricane Scipion the famous:
And many other, by much nurture glorious:
Whose fame and honor did bring them aboue:
I did let fall in base dishonest loue.
The minor authors who contributed to the collection fell also under the spell.
Full faire and white she is and White by name:
There is no need to multiply instances. As Wilson scornfully says, 'The fine courtier wil talke nothing but Chaucer,' and the fine courtier was to be the saving of English verse. Wilson and his companions, in attacking Latinisms and language borrowed from the older poets, were attacking the two most precious sources of the Elizabethan poets' vocabulary. All the sonorousness, dignity, and beauty of Spenser and the dramatists would have been lost had they succeeded in their object, and English poetry would have been starved into the warped and ugly forms of Sternhold and Tusser. We cannot, then, regret that their efforts failed, as they did. For all their learning and high morality, they were not fit teachers; their moral preoccupations made it impossible that they should be so. Their ideal reappeared and was fulfilled late in the seventeenth century when fantasy and imagery had worn themselves out and the greater richness of the language made simplicity possible and adequate for poetic speech.

There remains a matter of special interest. From time to time there have been critics who suggested that traces of the reading of The Arte of Rhetorique might be found in Shakespeare. Nathan Drake, a student of Shakespeare whose wide knowledge of minor Elizabethan literature should have saved him from the neglect into which he has fallen, suggested that the character of Dogberry might be derived from Wilson. 'An other good fellowe of the countrey being an Officer and Maior of a toune, and desirous to speake like a fine learned man, hauing just occasion to rebuke a runnegate fellowe, said after this wise in a great heate. Thou yngrame an vacation knaue, if I take thee anymore within the circumcision of my dampnation: I will so corrupt thee, that all other vacation knaues shall take illsample by thee.' There is sufficient similarity to warrant the suggestion, but much more certain evidence of Shakespeare's reading of Wilson is to be found; it lies, as might be expected, in Love's Labour's Lost. There can be no doubt from this play that Shakespeare had read some Rhetoric, that he found it tedious and dull and fit matter only for ridicule and laughter. It is the formal rhetoric which he satirizes; its schemes and its technical terms. 'I will look again on the intellect of the letter,' says Holofernes, 'for the nomination of the party writing to the person written unto.' The word here is Wilson's Intellection, which is 'a trope, when we gather or iudge the whole by the part, or part by the whole'. But Holofernes was not the only student of The Arte of Rhetorique in the company gathered in Navarre. Don Armado culled some of the splendour of his speech from this source. His letter to Jaquenetta is modelled on one of Wilson's examples. He is writing of King Cophetua: --

   'He it was that might rightly say Veni, vidi, vici; which to annothanize in the vulgar, -- O base and obscure vulgar! -- videlicet, He came, saw, and overcame: he came, one; saw, two; overcame, three. Who came? the king: why did he come? to see: why did he see? to overcome: to whom came he? to the beggar: what saw he? the beggar: who overcame he? the beggar. The conclusion is victory: on whose side? the king's. The captive is enriched: on whose side? the beggar's. The catastrophe is a nuptial: on whose side? the king's: no, on both in one, or one in both. I am the king; for so stands the comparison: thou the beggar: for so witnesseth thy lowliness.'

All this follows the questions appended to the Example of commending King David given below p. 21. It is quite possible that other evidence of Shakespeare's acquaintance with Wilson's work might yet be found; a certain knowledge of it can be proved beyond doubt.1

That sort of criticism which consists in the resurrection of dead reputation, or in the re-erection of broken monuments, is not apt to be the most sound. It is not pretended here that The Arte of Rhetorique is a great book. But that it has an historical interest apart from, and independent of, its real merits has perhaps been shown in these pages. No treatise on Rhetoric can ever be anything more than a kind of tool-box with whose contents the novice may try his hand, and in a case of this sort there is neither best nor worst. If he has talent and imagination he will use his tools well, however poor they be; if not, he will be a botcher at the best, even if they are good. The words of Theseus may be applied with greater truth in this matter than in that of which he used them: 'The best of this kind are but shadows; and the worst are no worse if imagination mend them.'

I have to acknowledge the help and suggestions of Professor Raleigh, and of Professor Grierson of Aberdeen University, and the courtesy of Mr. R. B. McKerrow, who kindly lent me his copy of the very rare edition of 1560.

   1 The reference to Timon on p. 55 has been thought to have suggested Timon of Athens. It is possible that the panegyric of order on p. 157 may have suggested the speech of Ulysses in Troilus and Cressida, Act. I. Sc. iii. There is little similarity between the two, save in idea, but the passage in Shakespeare looks as though it were based on a particular reminiscence of his reading. Professor Raleigh has pointed out (Shakespeare, E. M. L.) the similarity of some of Wilson's speeches to those of Falstaff.


   Oxford, December, 1908.


This book is a reprint of the edition of 1585, which is stated on its title-page to be taken from that of 1567. As it contains many errors (for the most part typographical and due to carelessness) it has been collated with the edition of 1567, and with that of 1560 (which is the editio princeps). The latter has so far been regarded as non-existent; none of the great libraries contain a copy. I am indebted to Mr. R. B. McKerrow for the loan of one in his possession. The first edition (that of 1553) is quite incomplete, and was revised and added to (see Prologue to the Reader).

Art of Rhetorique,

for the vse of
all such as are studious
of Eloquence, set forth
in English, by Tho-
mas Wilson.

And now newly set forth a-
gaine, with a Prologue
to the Reader

¶ Imprinted at London, by
George Robinson.

nourable Lorde Iohn Dudley,

Lorde Lisle, Erle of Warwicke, and
Maister of the Horse to the Kinges
Maiestie: your assured to
commaund, Tho-
mas Wilson.

WHen Pirrhus King of the Epirotes made battaile against the Romaines, and could neither by force of armes, nor yet by any policie winne certaine strong Holdes: He vsed commonly to send one Cineas (a noble Orator, and sometimes Scholer to Demosthenes) to persuade with the Captaines and people that were in them, that they should yeeld vp the saide Hold or Townes without fight or resistaunce. And so it came to passe, that through the pithie eloquence of this noble Orator, diuers strong Castelles and Fortresses were peaceably giuen vp into the handes of Pirrhus, which he should haue found very hard and tedious to winne by the sworde. And this thing was not Pirrhus himselfe ashamed in his common talke, to the praise of the said Orator openly to confesse: alledging that Cineas through the eloquence of his tongue, wanne moe Cities vnto him, then euer himself should els haue beene able by force to subdue. Good was that Orator that could doe so much: & wise was that King which would vse such a meane. For if the worthinesse of Eloquence maie mooue vs, what worthier thing can there bee, then with a word to winne Cities and whole Countries? If profite maie perswade, what greater gaine can we haue, then without bloudshed achiue to a Conquest? If pleasure maie prouoke vs, what greater delite doe wee knowe, then to see a whole multitude, with the onely talke of man, rauished and drawne which way he liketh best to haue them? Boldly then may I aduenture, and without feare step forth to offer that vnto your Lordship, which for the dignitie is so excellent, and for the vse so necessarie: that no man ought to be without it, which either shall beare rule ouer many, or must haue to doe with matters of a Realme. Considering therefore your Lordships high estate and worthie calling, I knowe nothing more fitting with your Honor, then to the gift of good reason and vnderstanding, wherewith we see you notablie endued, to ioyne the perfection of Eloquent vtteraunce. And because that aswell by your Lordshippes most tender imbracing of all such as be learned, as also by your right studious exercise: you do euidently declare, not onely what estimation you haue, of all learning and excellent qualities in generall, but also what a speciall desire and affection, you beare to Eloquence: I therefore, commend to your Lordshippes tuition and patronage, this treatise of Rhetorique, to the ende that ye may get some furtheraunce by the same, & I also be discharged of my faithfull promise, this last yere made vnto you. For, whereas it pleased you among other talke of learning, earnestly to wish, that ye might one day see the preceptes of Rhetorique, set forth by me in English, as I had erst done the rules of Logicke: hauing in my countrey this last Sommer, a quiet time of vacation, with the right worshipfull Sir Edward Dimmoke Knight: I trauailed so much, as my leasure might serue thereunto, not onely to declare my good heart, to the satisfying of your request in that behalfe, but also through that your motion, to helpe the towardnesse of some other, not so well furnished as your Lordship is.

For, as touching your selfe, by the time that perfect experience, of manifolde and weightie matters of the Commonweale, shall haue encreased the Eloquence, which alreadie doth naturally flowe in you: I doubt nothing, but you will so farre be better then this my Booke, that I shall not onely blush to chalenge you for a Scholer, in the Art of Rhetorique, by me rudely set forth: but also be driuen to set this simple treatise, to your Lordship to Schoole, that it may learne Rhetorique of your daylie talke, finding you such an Oratour in your speech, as great Clarkes do declare what an Oratour should bee. In the meane

season, I shall right humbly beseech your good Lordship,
so to be a patrone and defendour of these
my labours, to you dedicated: as I shall
be a continual petitioner vnto almightie
God, for your preseruation,
and long

A Prologue to the

GREAT may their boldnesse bee thought, that seeke without feare to sett foorth their knowledge: & suffer their doinges to be sene, they care not of whom. For, not onely thereby doe they bring men to thinke, that they stand much in their owne conceipt, but also they seeme to assure themselues, that all men will like whatsoeuer they write. Wherein they commit two great faults: the one is, that they are proud: the other is, that they are fond. For, what greater pride can there be, then for any man to thinke himselfe to be wiser, then all men liuing? Or what greater folly can be immagined, then for one to thinke, that all men will like, whatsoeuer he writeth? Such are they for the most part by all likelihood, that doe set forth Bookes. Wherein they doe both betray them selues, and also giue great occasion to the world, to talke largely of them. But al those that doe write, are not such as I say, nor meane not as I thinke, as the which are wise and learned men, writing onely vnder the correction of others, to edifie their neighbour, and not seeking in any wise their own glorie. Neither all that bee Readers will talke their pleasures, but rather stay their iudgements, and weye things with reason. Some perhappes may like the writer, if his doinges bee good, but the most part vndoubtedly must of force bee offended, as the which are corrupt of iudgement, because they are nought. Then such as seeke the greatest praise for writing of Bookes, should do best in my simple minde to write foolish toyes, for then the most part would best esteeme them. And herein perhappes may I get some aduauntage, that in my yong yeares, haue bene bold to set forth my simple fantasies. For, in follie, I dare compare with the proudest, and in pride I dare match with him that is most foolish: not doubting to finde such fellowes, that not onely will seeke to be egall vnto me, and perhappes excell me, but also such as will therein right well esteeme me.

Cicero in his second Booke de Oratore, bringeth in one Lucilius, a pleasaunt and merie conceipted man, who saith, that he would not haue such thinges as he wrote to bee read, either of those that were excellently learned, or of them that were altogether ignoraunt. For, that the one would thinke more of his doinges, and haue a farther meaning with him, than euer the aucthour selfe thought: the other taking the booke in his hand, would vnderstand nothing at all, being as meete to reade Aucthours, as an Asse to play on the Organnes. This man in thus saying, had some reason. But I being somewhat acquainted with the world, haue found out an other sort of men, whom of all others, I would bee loth should reade any of my doinges: especially such things as either touched Christ, or any good doctrine. And those are such malicious folke, that loue to finde faults in other mens matters, and seuen yeares together wil keepe them in store, to the vtter vndoing of their Christian brother: not minding to reade for their better learning, but seeking to depraue whatsoeuer they finde, and watching their time, will take best aduauntage to vndoe their neighbour. Such men I say of all others, would I be loth to haue the sight, of any myne earnest doinges, if I could tell how to forbid them, or how to hinder them of their purpose.

Two yeares past at my beeing in Italie, I was charged in Roome Towne, to my great daunger and vtter vndoing (if Gods goodnesse had not bin the greater) to haue written this Booke of Rhetorique, & the Logicke also, for the which I was coumpted an Hereticke, notwithstanding the absolution, graunted to al the Realme, by Pope Iulie the third, for al former offences or practises, deuised against the holie mother Church, as they call it. A straunge matter, that thinges done in England seuen yeres before, and the same vniuersally forgiuen, should afterwards be layd to a mans charge in Roome. But what cannot malice doe? Or what will not the wilfull deuise, to satisfie their mindes, for vndoing of others? God be my Iudge, I had then as little feare (although death was present, and the torment at hand, wherof I felt some smart) as euer I had in all my life before. For, when I saw those that did seeke my death, to bee so maliciously set, to make such poore shifts for my readier dispatch, and to burden me with those backe reckeninges: I tooke such courage, and was so bolde, that the Iudges then did much maruaile at my stoutnesse, and thinking to bring doune my great heart, told me plainly, that I was in farther perill, then wherof I was aware, and sought therupon to take aduauntage of my words, and to bring me in daunger by all meanes possible. And after long debating with me, they willed me at any hand to submit my selfe to the holy Father, and the deuout Colledge of Cardinalles. For otherwise there was no remedie. With that beeing fully purposed, not to yeeld to any submission, as one that little trusted their colourable deceipt: I was as ware as I could bee, not to vtter any thing for mine owne harme, for feare I shoulde come in their daunger. For then either should I haue dyed, or els haue denyed both openly and shamefully, the knowne trueth of Christ and his Gospell. In the ende by Gods grace, I was wonderfully deliuered, through plain force of the worthie Romaines (an enterprise heretofore in that sort neuer attempted) being then without hope of life, and much lesse of libertie. And now that I am come home, this booke is shewed me, and I desired to looke vpon it, to amend it where I thought meet. Amend it, quoth I? Nay, let the booke first amende it selfe, and make mee amendes. For surely I haue no cause to acknowledge it for my booke, because I haue so smarted for it. For where I haue beene euill handled, I haue much a doe to shewe my self friendly. If the Sonne were the occasion of the Fathers imprisonment, would not the Father bee offended with him thinke you? Or at the least, would he not take heede how hereafter he had to doe with him? If others neuer get more by bookes then I haue done: it were better be a Carter, then a Scholer, for [worldly] profite. A burnt child feareth the fire, and a beaten dogge escheweth the whippe. Now therefore, I will none of this booke from henceforth, I will none of him I say: take him that list, and weare him that will. And by that time they haue paid for him so dearely as I haue done, they will bee as wearie of him as I haue beene. Who that toucheth Pitch shall be filed with it, and he that goeth in the Sunne shall bee Sunne burnt, although he thinke not of it. So they that wil reade this or such like bookes, shall in the ende be as the bookes are. What goodnesse is in this treatise, I cannot without vainglorie report, neither will I meddle with it, either hot or colde. As it was, so it is, and so bee it still hereafter for mee: so that I heare no more of it, and that it be not yet once again cast in my dish. But this I say to others, as I am assured they will laugh that will reade it: So if the world should turne (as God forbid) they were most like to weepe, that in all pointes would followe it. I would bee loth that any man should hurt himselfe for my doinges. And therefore to auoyde the worst for all parts, the best were neuer once to looke on it: for then I am assured no man shal take harme by it. But I thinke some shal reade it, before whom I doe wash my handes, if any harme should come to them hereafter, & let them not say but that they are warned. I neuer heard a man yet troubled for ignoraunce in Religion. And yet me thinkes it is as great an heresie not to know God, as to erre in the knowledge of God. But some perhaps may say vnto me: Sir, you are much to be blamed that are so fearfull, and doe cast such perrilles before hande, to discourage men from well doing. I aunswere: My minde is not to discourage any man, but only to shewe how I haue beene tried for this bookes sake, tanquam per ignem. For in deede the Prison was on fire when I came out of it, and where as I feared fire most (as who is he that doth not feare it?) I was deliuered by fire and sworde together. And yet now thus fearfull am I, that hauing beene thus swinged, and restrained of libertie: I would first rather hassard my life presently hereafter to dye vpon a Turke: then to abide againe without hope of libertie, such painfull imprisonment for euer. So that I haue now got courage with suffering damage, and my selfe as you see, very willing from henceforth to dye: being then brought only but in feare of death. They that loue sorrowe vpon sorrowe: God send it them. I for my part had rather bee without sence of griefe, then for euer to liue in griefe. And I thinke the troubles before death being long suffered, and without hope continued are worse a great deale, then present death it selfe can bee: Especially to him that maketh litle accompt of this life, and is wel armed with a constant mind to Godward. Thus I haue talked of my self more then I needed, some will say, and yet not more (may I well say) then I haue needed in deede. For I was without all helpe, and without all hope, not onely of libertie, but also of life, and therefore what thing needed I not? Or with what wordes sufficiently could I set forth my neede? God be praised, and thankes be giuen to him onely, that not onely deliuered me out of the Lyons mouth, but also hath brought England my deare Countrey, out of great thraldome and forraine bondage.

And God saue the Queenes Maiestie, the Realme, and
the scattered flocke of Christ, and graunt, O mercifull
God, an vniuersall quietnesse of minde, perfect
greement in doctrine, and amendment of our
liues, that we may be all one Sheepefolde, and
haue one Pastour Iesus, to whom with
the Father, the Sonne, and the
holy Ghost, bee all honour
and glorie worlde without
ende. Amen.
This seuenth of

E L O Q V E N C E   F I R S T
giuen by God, and after lost

by man, and last repayred
by God againe.

MAn (in whom is powred the breath of life) was made at the first being an euerliuing creature, vnto the likenesse of God, endued with reason, and appointed Lorde ouer all other thinges liuing. But after the fall of our first Father, sinne so crept in that our knowledge was much darkned, and by corruption of this our flesh, mans reason and entendement were both ouerwhelmed. At what time God being sore greeued with the follie of one man, pitied of his mere goodnesse the whole state and posteritie of Mankind. And therefore (whereas through the wicked suggestion of our ghostly enemie, the ioyfull fruition of Gods glorie was altogether lost:) it pleased our heauenly Father to repaire mankind of his free mercie, and to graunt an euerliuing enheritaunce, vnto all such as would by constaunt faith seeke earnestly hereafter. Long it was ere that man knewe himselfe, being destitute of Gods grace, so that all thinges waxed sauage, the earth vntilled, societie neglected, Gods will not knowne, man against man, one against an other, and all against order. Some liued by spoyle: some like brute beastes grased vpon the ground: some went naked: some roomed like Woodoses: none did any thing by reason, but most did what they could by manhood. None almost considered the euerliuing GOD, but all liued most commonly after their owne lust. By death they thought that all thinges ended: by life they looked for none other liuing. None remembred the true obseruation of Wedlocke: none tendered the education of their children: Lawes were not regarded: true dealing was not once vsed. For vertue, vice bare place: for right and equitie, might vsed authoritie. And therefore, whereas man through reason might haue vsed order: man through folie fell into errour. And thus for lacke of skill, and for want of grace euill so preuailed, that the deuil was most esteemed, and God either almost vnknowne among them all, or els nothing feared among so many. Therefore, euen now when man was thus past all hope of amendement, God still tendering his owne workmanshippe, stirring vp his faithfull and elect, to perswade with reason all men to societie. And gaue his appointed Ministers knowledge both to see the natures of men, and also graunted them the gift of vtteraunce, that they might with ease win folke at their will, and frame them by reason to all good order. And therefore, whereas men liued brutishly in open feeldes, hauing neither house to shroude them in, nor attire to clothe their backes, nor yet any regard to seeke their best auaile: these appointed of GOD called them together by vtteraunce of speech, and perswaded with them what was good, what was bad, & what was gainful for mankind. And although at first the rude could hardly learne, and either for the straungenesse of the thing, would not gladly receiue the offer, or els for lack of knowledge, could not perceiue the goodnesse: yet being somewhat drawne, and delited with the pleasantnesse of reason, and the sweetnesse of vtteraunce: after a certaine space they became through Nurture and good aduisement, of wilde, sober: of cruell, gentle: of fooles, wise: and of beastes, men: such force hath the tongue, and such is the power of Eloquence and reason, that most men are forced euen to yeeld in that which most standeth against their will. And therefore the Poets doe feine, that Hercules beeing a man of great wisedome, had all men lincked together by the eares in a chaine, to drawe them and leade them euen as he lusted. For his witte was so great, his tongue so eloquent, and his experience such, that no one man was able to withstande his reason, but euery one was rather driuen to doe that which he would, and to will that which he did: agreeing to his aduise both in word and worke in all that euer they were able. Neither can I see that men could haue beene brought by any other meanes, to liue together in fellowship of life, to maintaine Cities, to deale truely, and willingly obeye one an other, if men at the first had not by art and eloquence, perswaded that which they full oft found out by reason. For what man I pray you, beeing better able to maintaine himself by valiaunt courage, then by liuing in base subiection, would not rather looke to rule like a Lord, then to liue like an vnderling: if by reason he were not perswaded, that it behoueth euery man to liue in his owne vocation: and not to seeke any higher roume, then wherunto he was at the first appointed? Who would digge and delue from Morne till Euening? Who would trauaile and toyle with ye sweat of his browes? Yea, who would for his Kings pleasure aduenture and hassarde his life, if witte had not so won men, that they thought nothing more needfull in this world, nor any thing whereunto they were more bounden: then here to liue in their duetie, and to traine their whole life according to their calling. Therefore, whereas men are in many thinges weake by Nature, and subiect to much infirmitie: I thinke in this one poinct they passe all other creatures liuing, that haue the gift of speech and reason. And among all other, I thinke him most worthie fame, and amongst all men to bee taken for halfe a GOD: that therein doth chiefly and aboue all other excell men, wherein men doe excell beastes. For he that is among the reasonable of al most reasonable, and among the wittie, of all most wittie, and among the eloquent, of all most eloquent: him thinke I among all men, not onely to be taken for a singuler man, but rather to be coumpted for halfe a God. For, in seeking the excellencie hereof, the soner he draweth to perfection, the nyer he commeth to God, who is the cheefe wisedome, and therfore called God, because he is most wise, or rather wisedome it self.

Now then, seing that God giueth his heauenly grace, vnto al
such as call vnto him with stretched handes, and humble heart,
neuer wanting to those, that want not to themselues: I purpose by
his grace and especiall assistence, to set forth such precepts
of eloquence, and to shewe what obseruation the
wise haue vsed, in handeling of their matters:
that the vnlearned by seeing the practise
of others, maie haue some knowledge
themselues, and learne by
their neighbours deuise,
what is necessarie for
them selues in
their owne

Gaulterus Haddonus D. Iuris
Ciuilis, Et Reginæ Maiestatis, à
Libellis supplicibus.

REtoricem Logice soror, est affata sororem:
   Quem didicit nuper, sermo Britannos erat.
Retorice tacuit, magno perculsæ dolore:
   Nam nondum nostro nouerat ore loqui.
Audijt hæc, Logices, Wilsonus forte, magister:
   Qui fuerat, nostros addideratque sonos.
Retoricem mutam, verbis solatus amicis:
   Seuocat, & rogitat num esse Britanna velit?
Deijciens oculos respondit velle libenter:
   Sed se, qua possit, non reperire, via.
Ipse vias (inquit) tradam, legesque loquendi:
   Quomodo perfecte verba Britanna loces.
Liberat ille fidem, nostro sermone politur:
   Retorice, nostra est vtraque facta soror.
Anglia nobilium si charus sermo sororem.
   Est tibi, sermonis charus & author erit.

Thomas Wilsonus in Anglicam
Rhetoricem suam.

ANglia si doceat, quod: Græcia docta: quid obstat
   Quo minus ex Anglis Anglia, vera sciat.
Non (quia Greca potes, vel calles verba Latina)
   Doctus es, aut sapiens: sed quia vera vides.
Aurea secreto tegitur sapientia sensu.
   Abdita sensa tenes Anglus? es ergo sciens.
Sed me Rhetoricem nequeat cùm lingua polire:
   Cui vacat, hoc vnum quod valet, oro velet.

Continue on to Book I.

RE Logotype for Renascence Editions 
Renascence Editions