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wisest, nor best learned, nor best men neither, of that side, did labour to persuade that ignorance was better than knowledge; which they meant not for the laity only, but also for the greatest rabble of their spirituality, what other pretence openly soever they made. And therefore did some of them at Cambridge, whom I will not name openly, cause hedge-priests, fetched out of the country, to be made fellows in the University; saying in their talk privily, and declaring by their deeds openly, that he was fellow good enough for their time, if he could wear a gown and a tippet comely, and have his crown shorn fair and roundly, and could turn his portess and pie readily.' Which I speak, not to reprove any order either of apparel or other duty that may be well and indifferently used, but to note the misery of that time, when the benefits provided for learning were so foully misused.
"And what was the fruit of this seed? Verily judgment in doctrine was wholly altered; order in discipline very sore changed; the love of good learning began suddenly to wax cold; the knowledge of the tongues (in spite of some that therein had flourished) was manifestly contemned; and so the way of right study purposely perverted; the choice of good authors, of malice confounded; old sophistry-I say not well,-not old, but that new rotten sophistry-began to beard and shoulder logic in her own tongue; yea, I know that heads were cast together and counsel devised, that Duns, with all the rabble of barbarous questionists, should have dispossessed of their place and room Aristotle, Plato, Tully, and Demosthenes, whom good Mr. Redman, and those two worthy stars of that University, Mr. Cheke and Mr. Smith, with their scholars, had brought to flourish as
notably in Cambridge as ever they did in Greece and in Italy; and for the doctrine of those four, the four pillars of learning, Cambridge then giving place to no University, neither in France, Spain, Germany, nor Italy. Also in outward behaviour, then began simplicity in apparel to be laid aside, courtly gallantness to be taken up; frugality in diet was privately misliked, town-going to good cheer openly used; honest pastimes joined with labour left off in the fields; unthrifty and idle games, haunted corners, occupied in the nights; contention in youth nowhere for learning; factions in the elders everywhere for trifles.
"All which miseries at length by God's providence had their end the 16th November, 1558;* since which time the young spring hath shot up so fair, as now there be in Cambridge again many good plants (as did well appear at the Queen's Majesty's late being there), which are like to grow to mighty great timber, to the honour of learning and great good of their country, if they may stand their time as the best plants there were wont to do, and if some old dotterel trees, with standing over nigh them, and dropping upon them, do not either hinder or crook their growing; wherein my fear is the less, seeing so worthy a justice of an oyert hath the present oversight of that whole chase, who was himself some time, in the fairest spring that ever was there of learning, one of the forwardest young plants in all that worthy college of St. John's; who now by grace is grown to such greatness, as, in the temperate and quiet shade of his wisdom (next the providence of God and goodness of one), in
*The day of Queen Elizabeth's accession to the throne.
Sir William Cecil, Principal Secretary of State, and Chancellor of the University of Cambridge.
these our days, religion for sincerity, learning for order and advancement, the commonwealth for happy and quiet government, have, to the great rejoicing of all good men, specially reposed themselves."
Returning now to the question, whether one, a few, many, or all ought to be followed, he recommends that, in every separate kind of learning, we should imitate only a few, and chiefly some one great writer, the most eminent in that particular department. "And now," he proceeds, "to know what author doth meddle only with some one piece and member of eloquence, and who doth perfectly make up the whole body, I will declare, as I can call to remembrance, the goodly talk that I have had oftentimes of the true difference of authors with that gentleman of worthy memory, my dearest friend and teacher of all the little poor learning I have, Sir John Cheke."
Style (genus dicendi), he divides into the poetical, the historical, the philosophical, and the oratorical.
The poetical style, again, he considers may be subdivided into the comic, the tragic, the epic, and the lyric (melicum). Of these distinctions he gives the following illustrations:
"When Mr. Watson in St. John's College, at Cambridge, wrote his excellent tragedy of Absalon,' Mr. Cheke, he, and I, for that part of true imitation, had many pleasant talks together, in comparing the precepts of Aristotle and Horace de Arte Poëticâ, with the examples of Euripides, Sophocles, and Seneca. Few men in writing of tragedies in our days have shot at this mark. Some in England, more in France, Germany, and Italy also, have written tragedies in our time, of which not one, I am sure, is able to abide the true touch
of Aristotle's precepts and Euripides's examples, save only two that ever I saw, Mr. Watson's Absalon,' and Georgius Buchananus's 'Jepthe.'
"One man in Cambridge,* well liked of many, but best liked of himself, was many times bold and busy to bring matters upon stages which he called tragedies. In one, whereby he looked to win his spurs, and wherea many ignorant fellows fast clapped their hands, he began the protasis with trochæis octonariis: which kind of verse as it is but seldom and rare in tragedies, so is it never used save only in epitasi, when the tragedy is highest and hottest, and full of greatest troubles. I remember full well what Mr. Watson merrily said unto me of his blindness and boldness in that behalf; although otherwise there passed much friendship between them. Mr. Watson had another manner of care of perfection, with a fear and reverence of the judgment of the best learned; who to this day would never suffer yet his Absalon' to go abroad, and that only, because in locis paribus Anapastus is twice or thrice used instead of Iambus-a small fault, and such a one as perchance would never be marked, no neither in Italy nor France. This I write, not so much to note the first, or praise the last, as to leave in memory of writing for good example to posterity, what perfection in any time was most diligently sought for in like manner in all kind of learning, in that most worthy college of St. John's in Cambridge."
Upon this last anecdote, however, Mr. Upton has the following note: "What is here assigned could never be the true reason of Mr. Watson's refusing to publish his tragedy, so accurately composed as to be put in competition with Buchanan's Jepthe.' For why did he not
*It is not known to whom our author here alludes.
correct what he judged amiss? a thing so very easy for him to do. Though what if we say there was no fault in this respect committed, nor any need of alteration? For excepting the sixth place, the Anapest has free liberty to stand where it pleases, and that for this reason, especially with the comedians, as Hephaestion has observed." [The import of the passage quoted from Hephæstion is, that the comedians introduce the Anapest in this indiscriminate or irregular manner, that their verse may the more resemble the ease and freedom of ordinary conversation.] "I suppose the true reason hereof was, either an unwillingness to appear in print, or a dissatisfaction with the times, he being one of the ejected bishops."
The historical style is divided by Ascham into that suited for journals (diaria), that for annals, that for commentaries, and that for history properly so called.
The philosophical he divides into continuous discourse (sermo), and dialogue (contentio).
The oratorical he divides into the plain (humile), the moderately elevated (mediocre), and the sublime.
Having laid down these general principles, he proceeds: "Now, to touch more particularly which of those authors that be now most commonly in men's hands will soon afford you some piece of eloquence; and what manner a piece of eloquence; and what is to be liked and followed; and what to be misliked and eschewed in them; and how some again will furnish you fully withal, rightly and wisely considered, somewhat I will write, as I have heard Sir John Cheke many times say.
"The Latin tongue, concerning any part of pureness of it, from the spring to the decay of the same, did not endure much longer than is the life of a well-aged man, scarce one hundred years from the time of the last Scipio