Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
The Virtue of Simplicity
By Thomas Wilson (c. 15261581)
From the Arte of Rhetorike
AMONG all other lessons this should first be learned, that we never affect any strange ink-horn terms, but to speak as is commonly received: neither seeking to be over fine, nor yet living over-careless, using our speech as most men do, and ordering our wits as the fewest have done. Some seek so far for outlandish English, that they forget altogether their mothers language. And I dare swear this, if some of their mothers were alive, they were not able to tell what they say. And yet these fine English clerks will say, they speak in their mother tongue, if a man should charge them for counterfeiting the Kings English. Some far journeyed gentlemen at their return home, like as they love to go in foreign apparel, so they will powder their talk with over-sea language. He that cometh lately out of France, will talk French English and never blush at the matter. Another chops in with English Italinated, and applieth the Italian phrase to our English speaking, the which is, as if an orator that professeth to utter his mind in plain Latin, would needs speak poetry, and far fetched colours of strange antiquity. The lawyer will store his stomach with the prating of pedlars. The auditor in making his account and reckoning, cometh in with sise sould, and cater denere, for vi. s. iiii. d. The fine courtier will talk nothing but Chaucer. The mystical wisemen and poetical clerks will speak nothing but quaint proverbs, and blind allegories, delighting much in their own darkness, especially, when none can tell what they do say. The unlearned or foolish fantastical, that smells but of learning (such fellows as have seen learned men in their days) will so Latin their tongues, that the simple cannot but wonder at their talk, and think surely they speak by some revelation. I know them that think rhetoric to stand wholly upon dark words, and he that can catch an ink-horn term by the tail, him they count to be a fine Englishman, and a good rhetorician.