Nonfiction > G. Gregory Smith, ed. > Elizabethan Critical Essays
G. Gregory Smith, ed.  Elizabethan Critical Essays.  1904.
George Puttenham (1529–1590)
The Arte of English Poesie
The Third Booke. Of Ornament

Of Ornament Poeticall.

AS no doubt the good proportion of any thing doth greatly adorne and commend it, and right so our late remembred proportions doe to our vulgar Poesie, so is there yet requisite to the perfection of this arte another maner of exornation, which resteth in the fashioning of our makers language and stile, to such purpose as it may delight and allure as well the mynde as the eare of the hearers with a certaine noueltie and strange maner of conueyance, disguising it no litle from the ordinary and accustomed; neuerthelesse making it nothing the more vnseemely or misbecomming, but rather decenter and more agreable to any ciuill eare and vnderstanding. And as we see in these great Madames of honour, be they for personage or otherwise neuer so comely and bewtifull, yet if they want their courtly habillements or at leastwise such other apparell as custome and ciuilitie haue ordained to couer their naked bodies, would be halfe ashamed or greatly out of countenaunce to be seen in that sort, and perchance do then thinke themselues more amiable in euery mans eye when they be in their richest attire, suppose of silkes or tyssewes & costly embroderies, then when they go in cloth or in any other plaine and simple apparell; euen so cannot our vulgar Poesie shew it selfe either gallant or gorgious, if any lymme be left naked and bare and not clad in his kindly clothes and colours, such as may conuey them somwhat out of sight, that is from the common course of ordinary speach and capacitie of the vulgar iudgement, and yet being artificially handled must needes yeld it much more bewtie and commendation. This ornament we speake of is giuen to it by figures and figuratiue speaches, which be the flowers, as it were, and coulours that a Poet setteth vpon his language by arte, as the embroderer doth his stone and perle or passements of gold vpon the stuffe of a Princely garment, or as th’excellent painter bestoweth the rich Orient coulours vpon his table of pourtraite: so neuerthelesse as if the same coulours in our arte of Poesie (as well as in those other mechanicall artes) be not well tempered, or not well layd, or be vsed in excesse, or neuer so litle disordered or misplaced, they not onely giue it no maner of grace at all, but rather do disfigure the stuffe and spill the whole workmanship, taking away all bewtie and good liking from it, no lesse then if the crimson tainte, which should be laid vpon a Ladies lips, or right in the center of her cheekes, should by some ouersight or mishap be applied to her forhead or chinne, it would make (ye would say) but a very ridiculous bewtie; wherfore the chief prayse and cunning of our Poet is in the discreet vsing of his figures, as the skilfull painters is in the good conueyance of his coulours and shadowing traits of his pensill, with a delectable varietie, by all measure and iust proportion, and in places most aptly to be bestowed.
How Our Writing and Speaches Publike Ought to Be Figuratiue; and, if They Be Not, Doe Greatly Disgrace the Cause and Purpose of the Speaker and Writer.

But as it hath bene alwayes reputed a great fault to vse figuratiue speaches foolishly and indiscretly, so is it esteemed no lesse an imperfection in mans vtterance to haue none vse of figure at all, specially in our writing and speaches publike, making them but as our ordinary talke, then which nothing can be more vnsauourie and farre from all ciuilitie. I remember in the first yeare of Queenes Maries raigne a Knight of Yorkshire was chosen speaker of the Parliament, a good gentleman and wise in the affaires of his shire and not vnlearned in the lawes of the Realme, but as well for some lack of his teeth as for want of language nothing well spoken, which at that time and businesse was most behooffull for him to haue bene; this man after he had made his Oration to the Queene, which ye know is of course to be done at the first assembly of both houses, a bencher of the Temple both well learned and very eloquent, returning from the Parliament house asked another gentleman, his frend, how he liked M. Speakers Oration: ‘mary,’ quoth th’other, ‘me thinks I heard not a better alehouse tale told this seuen yeares.’ This happened because the good old Knight made no difference betweene an Oration or publike speach to be deliuered to th’eare of a Princes Maiestie and state of a Realme then he would haue done of an ordinary tale to be told at his table in the contrey, wherein all men know the oddes is very great. And though graue and wise counsellours in their consultations doe not vse much superfluous eloquence, and also in their iudiciall hearings do much mislike all scholasticall rhetoricks, yet in such a case as it may be (and as this Parliament was) if the Lord Chancelour of England or Archibishop of Canterbury himselfe were to speake, he ought to doe it cunningly and eloquently, which can not be without the vse of figures: and neuerthelesse none impeachment or blemish to the grauitie of their persons or of the cause: wherein I report me to them that knew Sir Nicholas Bacon, Lord keeper of the great Seale, or now Lord Treasorer of England, and haue bene conuersant with their speaches made in the Parliament house & Starrechamber. From whose lippes I haue seene to proceede more graue and naturall eloquence then from all the Oratours of Oxford or Cambridge; but all is as it is handled, and maketh no matter whether the same eloquence be naturall to them or artificiall (though I thinke rather naturall), yet were they knowen to be learned and not vnskilfull of th’arte when they were yonger men. And as learning and arte teacheth a schollar to speake, so doth it also teach a counsellour, and aswell an old man as a yong, and a man in authoritie aswell as a priuate person, and a pleader aswell as a preacher, euery man after his sort and calling as best becommeth: and that speach which becommeth one doth not become another, for maners of speaches, some serue to work in excesse, some in mediocritie, some to graue purposes, some to light, some to be short and brief, some to be long, some to stirre vp affections, some to pacifie and appease them, and these common despisers of good vtterance, which resteth altogether in figuratiue speaches, being well vsed whether it come by nature or by arte or by exercise, they be but certaine grosse ignorance, of whom it is truly spoken scientia non habet inimicum nisi ignorantem. I haue come to the Lord Keeper Sir Nicholas Bacon, & found him sitting in his gallery alone with the works of Quintilian before him; in deede he was a most eloquent man, and of rare learning and wisedome, as euer I knew England to breed, and one that ioyed as much in learned men and men of good witts. A Knight of the Queenes priuie chamber once intreated a noble woman of the Court, being in great fauour about her Maiestie (to th’intent to remoue her from a certaine displeasure, which by sinister opinion she had conceiued against a gentleman his friend), that it would please her to heare him speake in his own cause, & not to condemne him vpon his aduersaries report: ‘God forbid,’ said she, ‘he is to wise for me to talke with; let him goe and satisfie such a man, naming him.’ ‘Why,’ quoth the Knight againe, ‘had our Ladyship rather heare a man talke like a foole or like a wise man?’ This was because the Lady was a litle peruerse, and not disposed to reforme her selfe by hearing reason, which none other can so well beate into the ignorant head as the well spoken and eloquent man. And because I am so farre waded into this discourse of eloquence and figuratiue speaches, I will tell you what hapned on a time, my selfe being present, when certaine Doctours of the ciuil law were heard in a litigious cause betwixt a man and his wife, before a great Magistrat who (as they can tell that knew him) was a man very well learned and graue, but somewhat sowre, and of no plausible vtterance. The gentlemans chaunce was to say: ‘my Lord the simple woman is not so much to blame as her lewde abbettours, who by violent perswasions haue lead her into this wilfulnesse.’ Quoth the iudge, ‘what neede such eloquent termes in this place.’ The gentleman replied, ‘doth your Lordship mislike the terme violent, & me thinkes I speake it to great purpose, for I am sure she would neuer haue done it but by force of perswasion, & if perswasions were not very violent, to the minde of man it could not haue wrought so strange an effect as we read that it did once in Ægypt,’ & would haue told the whole tale at large, if the Magistrate had not passed it ouer very pleasantly. Now to tell you the whole matter as the gentleman intended, thus it was. There came into Ægypt a notable Oratour, whose name was Hegesias, who inueyed so much against the incommodities of this transitory life, & so highly commended death the dispatcher of all euils, as a great number of his hearers destroyed themselues, some with weapon, some with poyson, others by drowning and hanging themselues, to be rid out of this vale of misery, in so much as it was feared least many moe of the people would haue miscaried by occasion of his perswasions, if king Ptolome had not made a publicke proclamation that the Oratour should auoyde the countrey and no more be allowed to speake in any matter. Whether now perswasions may not be said violent and forcible to simple myndes in speciall, I referre it to all mens iudgements that heare the story. At least waies, I finde this opinion confirmed by a pretie deuise or embleme that Lucianus alleageth he saw in the pourtrait of Hercules within the Citie of Marseills in Prouence, where they had figured a lustie old man with a long chayne tyed by one end at his tong, by the other end at the peoples eares, who stood a farre of and seemed to be drawen to him by the force of that chayne fastned to his tong, as who would say, by force of his perswasions. And to shew more plainly that eloquence is of great force and not (as many men thinke amisse) the propertie and gift of yong men onely, but rather of old men, and a thing which better becommeth hory haires then beardlesse boyes, they seeme to ground it vpon this reason: age (say they and most truly) beings experience, experience bringeth wisedome, long life yeldes long vse and much exercise of speach, exercise and custome with wisedome make an assured and volluble vtterance: so is it that old men more then any other sort speake most grauely, wisely, assuredly, and plausibly, which partes are all that can be required in perfite eloquence, and so in all deliberations of importance, where counsellours are allowed freely to opyne & shew their conceits, good perswasion is no lesse requisite then speach it selfe; for in great purposes to speake and not be able or likely to perswade is a vayne thing. Now let vs returne backe to say more of this Poeticall ornament.
How Ornament Poeticall Is of Two Sortes According to the Double Vertue and Efficacie of Figures.

This ornament then is of two sortes, one to satisfie & delight th’eare onely by a goodly outward shew set vpon the matter with wordes, and speaches smothly and tunably running, another by certaine intendments or sence of such wordes & speaches inwardly working a stirre to the mynde. That first qualitie the Greeks called Enargia, of this word argos, because it geueth a glorious lustre and light. This latter they called Energia, of ergon, because it wrought with a strong and vertuous operation. And figure breedeth them both, some seruing to giue glosse onely to a language, some to geue it efficacie by sence; and so by that meanes some of them serue th’eare onely, some serue the conceit onely and not th’eare. There be of them also that serue both turnes as common seruitours appointed for th’one and th’other purpose, which shalbe hereafter spoken of in place; but because we haue alleaged before that ornament is but the good or rather bewtifull habite of language or stile, and figuratiue speaches the instrument wherewith we burnish our language, fashioning it to this or that measure and proportion, whence finally resulteth a long and continuall phrase or maner of writing or speach, which we call by the name of stile, we wil first speake of language, then of stile, lastly of figure, and declare their vertue and differences, and also their vse and best application, & what portion in exornation euery of them bringeth to the bewtifying of this Arte.
Of Language.

Speach is not naturall to man sauing for his onely habilitie to speake, and that he is by kinde apt to vtter all his conceits with sounds and voyces diuersified many maner of wayes, by meanes of the many & fit instruments he hath by nature to that purpose, as a broad and voluble tong, thinne and mouable lippes, teeth euen and not shagged, thick ranged, a round vaulted pallate, and a long throte, besides an excellent capacitie of wit that maketh him more disciplinable and imitatiue then any other creature: then as to the forme and action of his speach, it commeth to him by arte & teaching, and by vse or exercise. But after a speach is fully fashioned to the common vnderstanding, & accepted by consent of a whole countrey and nation, it is called a language, & receaueth none allowed alteration but by extraordinary occasions, by little & little, as it were insensibly, bringing in of many corruptions that creepe along with the time: of all which matters we haue more largely spoken in our bookes of the originals and pedigree of the English tong. Then when I say language, I meane the speach wherein the Poet or maker writeth, be it Greek or Latine, or as our case is the vulgar English, & when it is peculiar vnto a countrey it is called the mother speach of that people: the Greekes terme it Idioma: so is ours at this day the Norman English. Before the Conquest of the Normans it was the Anglesaxon, and before that the British, which, as some will, is at this day, the Walsh, or as others affirme the Cornish: I for my part thinke neither of both, as they be now spoken and pronounced. This part in our maker or Poet must be heedyly looked vnto, that it be naturall, pure, and the most vsuall of all his countrey; and for the same purpose rather that which is spoken in the kings Court, or in the good townes and Cities within the land, then in the marches and frontiers, or in port townes, where straungers haunt for traffike sake, or yet in Vniuersities where Schollers vse much peeuish affectation of words out of the primatiue languages, or finally, in any vplandish village or corner of a Realme, where is no resort but of poore rusticall or vnciuill people: neither shall he follow the speach of a craftes man or carter, or other of the inferiour sort, though he be inhabitant or bred in the best towne and Citie in this Realme, for such persons doe abuse good speaches by strange accents or ill shapen soundes and false ortographie. But he shall follow generally the better brought vp sort, such as the Greekes call charientes, men ciuill and graciously behauoured and bred. Our maker therfore at these dayes shall not follow Piers plowman nor Gower nor Lydgate nor yet Chaucer, for their language is now out of vse with vs; neither shall he take the termes of Northern-men, such as they vse in dayly talke, whether they be noble men or gentlemen or of their best clarkes, all is a matter; nor in effect any speach vsed beyond the riuer of Trent, though no man can deny but that theirs is the purer English Saxon at this day, yet it is not so Courtly nor so currant as our Southerne English is; no more is the far Westerne mans speach. Ye shall therefore take the vsuall speach of the Court, and that of London and the shires lying about London within lx. myles, and not much aboue. I say not this but that in euery shyre of England there be gentlemen and others that speake, but specially write, as good Southerne as we of Middlesex or Surrey do, but not the common people of euery shire, to whom the gentlemen, and also their learned clarkes, do for the most part condescend; but herein we are already ruled by th’English Dictionaries and other bookes written by learned men, and therefore it needeth none other direction in that behalfe. Albeit peraduenture some small admonition be not impertinent, for we finde in our English writers many wordes and speaches amendable, & ye shall see in some many inkhorne termes so ill affected brought in by men of learning as preachers and schoolemasters, and many straunge termes of other languages by Secretaries and Marchaunts and trauailours, and many darke wordes and not vsuall nor well sounding, though they be dayly spoken in Court. Wherefore great heed must be taken by our maker in this point that his choise be good. And peraduenture the writer hereof be in that behalfe no lesse faultie then any other, vsing many straunge and vnaccustomed wordes and borrowed from other languages, and in that respect him selfe no meete Magistrate to reforme the same errours in any other person; but since he is not vnwilling to acknowledge his owne fault, and can the better tell how to amend it, he may seem a more excusable correctour of other mens: he intendeth therefore for an indifferent way and vniuersall benefite to taxe him selfe first and before any others.
  These be words vsed by th’author in this present treatise: scientificke, but with some reason, for it answereth the word mechanicall, which no other word could haue done so properly, for when hee spake of all artificers which rest either in science or in handy craft, it followed necessarilie that scientifique should be coupled with mechanicall, or els neither of both to haue bene allowed but in their places—a man of science liberall and a handicrafts man, which had not bene so cleanly a speech as the other. Maior-domo, in truth this word is borrowed of the Spaniard and Italian, and therefore new and not vsuall but to them that are acquainted with the affaires of Court, and so for his iolly magnificence (as this case is) may be accepted among Courtiers, for whom this is specially written. A man might haue said in steade of Maior-domo the French word maistre d’hostell, but ilfauouredly, or the right English word Lord Steward. But me thinks for my owne opinion this word Maior-domo, though he be borrowed, is more acceptable than any of the rest; other men may iudge otherwise. Politien, this word also is receiued from the Frenchmen, but at this day vsuall in Court and with all good Secretaries; and cannot finde an English word to match him, for to haue said a man politique had not bene so wel, bicause in trueth that had bene no more than to haue said a ciuil person. Politien is rather a surueyour of ciuilitie than ciuil, & a publique minister or Counseller in the state. Ye haue also this worde Conduict, a French word, but well allowed of vs and long since vsuall; it soundes somewhat more that this word leading, for it is applied onely to the leading of a Captaine, and not as a little boy should leade a blinde man, therefore more proper to the case when he saide conduict of whole armies: ye finde also this word Idiome, taken from the Greekes, yet seruing aptly when a man wanteth to expresse so much vnles it be in two words, which surplussage to auoide we are allowed to draw in other words single, and asmuch significatiue. This word significatiue is borrowed of the Latine and French, but to vs brought in first by some Noblemans Secretarie, as I thinke, yet doth so well serue the turne, as it could not now be spared: and many more like vsurped Latine and French words, as, Methode, methodicall, placation, function, assubtiling, refining, compendious, prolixe, figuratiue, inueigle, a terme borrowed of our common Lawyers, impression, also a new terme, but well expressing the matter and more than our English word. These words, Numerous, numerositee, metricall, harmonicall, but they cannot be refused, specially in this place for description of the arte. Also ye finde these words, Penetrate, penetrable, indignitie, which I cannot see how we may spare them, whatsoeuer fault wee finde with Ink-horne termes, for our speach wanteth wordes to such sence so well to be vsed; yet in steade of indignitie yee haue vnworthinesse, and for penetrate we may say peerce, and that a French terme also, or broche, or enter into with violence, but not so well sounding as penetrate. Item, sauage, for wilde; obscure, for darke. Item, these words, declination, delineation, dimention are scholasticall termes in deede, and yet very proper. But peraduenture (& I could bring a reason for it) many other like words borrowed out of the Latin and French were not so well to be allowed by vs, as these words, audacious, for bold, facunditie, for eloquence, egregious, for great or notable, implete, for replenished, attemptat, for attempt, compatible, for agreeable in nature, and many more. But herein the noble Poet Horace hath said inough to satisfie vs all in these few verses.
Multa renascentur quae iam cecidere cadentque
Quae nunc sunt in honore vocabula, si volet usus,
Quem penes arbitrium est & vis & norma loquendi.
Which I haue thus englished, but nothing with so good grace, nor so briefly as the Poet wrote.
Many a word yfalne shall eft arise,
And such as now bene held in hiest prise
Will fall as fast, when vse and custome will,
Onely vmpiers of speach, for force and skill.
Of Stile.

Stile is a constant & continual phrase or tenour of speaking and writing, extending to the whole tale or processe of the poeme or historie, and not properly to any peece or member of a tale, but is, of words speeches, and sentences together, a certaine contriued forme and qualitie, many times naturall to the writer, many times his peculier by election and arte, and such as either he keepeth by skill, or holdeth on by ignorance, and will not or peraduenture cannot easily alter into any other. So we say that Ciceroes stile and Salusts were not one, nor Cesars and Liuies, nor Homers and Hesiodus, nor Herodotus and Theucidides, nor Euripides and Aristophanes, nor Erasmus and Budeus stiles. And because this continuall course and manner of writing or speech sheweth the matter and disposition of the writers minde more than one or few words or sentences can shew, therefore there be that haue called stile the image of man, mentis character; for man is but his minde, and as his minde is tempered and qualified, so are his speeches and language at large, and his inward conceits be the mettall of his minde, and his manner of vtterance the very warp & woofe of his conceits, more plaine, or busie and intricate, or otherwise affected after the rate. Most men say that not any one point in all Phisiognomy is so certaine as to iudge a mans manner by his eye; but more assuredly in mine opinion, by his dayly maner of speech and ordinary writing. For if the man be graue, his speech and stile is graue; if light-headed, his stile and language also light; if the minde be haughtie and hoate, the speech and stile is also vehement and stirring; if it be colde and temperate, the stile is also very modest; if it be humble, or base and meeke, so is also the language and stile. And yet peraduenture not altogether so, but that euery mans stile is for the most part according to the matter and subiect of the writer, or so ought to be and conformable thereunto. Then againe may it be said as wel, that men doo chuse their subiects according to the mettal of their minds, & therfore a high minded man chuseth him high & lofty matter to write of; the base courage, matter base & lowe; the meane & modest mind, meane & moderate matters after the rate. Howsoeuer it be, we finde that vnder these three principall complexions (if I may with leaue so terme them), high, meane, and base stile, there be contained many other humors or qualities of stile, as the plaine and obscure, the rough and smoth, the facill and hard, the plentifull and barraine, the rude and eloquent, the strong and feeble, the vehement and cold stiles, all which in their euill are to be reformed, and the good to be kept and vsed. But generally, to haue the stile decent & comely it behooueth the maker or Poet to follow the nature of his subiect, that is if his matter be high and loftie that the stile be so to, if meane, the stile also to be meane, if base, the stile humble and base accordingly: and they that do otherwise vse it, applying to meane matter hie and loftie stile, and to hie matters stile eyther meane or base, and to the base matters the meane or hie stile, to vtterly disgrace their poesie and shew themselues nothing skilfull in their arte, nor hauing regard to the decencie, which is the chiefe praise of any writer. Therefore to ridde all louers of learning from that errour, I will, as neere as I can, set downe which matters be hie and loftie, which be but meane, and which be low and base, to the intent the stiles may be fashioned to the matters, and keepe their decorum and good proportion in euery respect. I am not ignorant that many good clerkes be contrary to mine opinion, and say that the loftie style may be decently vsed in a meane and base subiect & contrariwise, which I do in parte acknowledge, but with a reasonable qualification. For Homer hath so vsed it in his trifling worke of Batrachomyomachia, that is in his treatise of the warre betwixt the frogs and the mice; Virgill also in his bucolickes, and in his georgicks, whereof the one is counted meane, the other base, that is the husbandmans discourses and the shepheards, but hereunto serueth a reason in my simple conceite: for first to that trifling poeme of Homer, though the frog and the mouse be but litle and ridiculous beasts, yet to treat of warre is an high subiect, and a thing in euery respect terrible and daungerous to them that it alights on; and therefore of learned dutie asketh martiall grandiloquence, if it be set foorth in his kind and nature of warre, euen betwixt the basest creatures that can be imagined: so also is the Ante or pismire, and they be but little creeping things, not perfect beasts, but insect, or wormes: yet in describing their nature & instinct, and their manner of life approching to the forme of a common-welth, and their properties not vnlike to the vertues of most excellent gouernors and captaines, it asketh a more maiestie of speach then would the description of an other beastes life or nature, and perchance of many matters perteyning vnto the baser sort of men, because it resembleth the historie of a ciuill regiment, and of them all the chiefe and most principall, which is Monarchie. So also in his bucolicks, which are but pastorall speaches and the basest of any other poeme in their owne proper nature, Virgill vsed a somewhat swelling stile when he came to insinuate the birth of Marcellus, heire apparant to the Emperour Augustus as child to his sister, aspiring by hope and greatnes of the house to the succession of the Empire, and establishment thereof in that familie; whereupon Virgill could no lesse then to vse such manner of stile, whatsoeuer condition the poeme were of, and this was decent, & no fault or blemish to confound the tennors of the stiles for that cause. But now when I remember me againe that this Eglogue (for I haue read it somewhere) was conceiued by Octauian th’Emperour to be written to the honour of Pollio, a citizen of Rome & of no great nobilitie, the same was misliked againe as an implicatiue, nothing decent nor proportionable to Pollio his fortunes and calling, in which respect I might say likewise the stile was not to be such as if it had bene for the Emperours own honour and those of the bloud imperiall, then which subiect there could not be among the Romane writers an higher nor grauer to treat vpon. So can I not be remoued from mine opinion, but still me thinks that in all decencie the stile ought to conforme with the nature of the subiect, otherwise if a writer will seeme to obserue no decorum at all, nor passe how he fashion his tale to his matter, who doubteth but he may in the lightest cause speake like a Pope, & in the grauest matters prate like a parrat, & finde wordes & phrases ynough to serue both turnes, and neither of them commendably; for neither is all that may be written of Kings and Princes such as ought to keepe a high stile, nor all that may be written vpon a shepheard to keepe the low, but according to the matter reported, if that be of high or base nature; for euery pety pleasure and vayne delight of a king are not to [be] accompted high matter for the height of his estate, but meane and perchaunce very base and vile. Nor so a Poet or historiographer could decently with a high stile reporte the vanities of Nero, the ribaudries of Caligula, the idlenes of Domitian, and the riots of Heliogabalus; but well the magnanimitie and honorable ambition of Caesar, the prosperities of Augustus, the grauitie of Tiberius, the bountie of Traiane, the wisedome of Aurelius, and generally all that which concerned the highest honours of Emperours, their birth, alliaunces, gouernement, exploits in warre and peace, and other publike affaires; for they be matter stately and high, and require a stile to be lift vp and aduaunced by choyse of wordes, phrases, sentences, and figures, high, loftie, eloquent, & magnifik in proportion. So be the meane matters, to be caried with all wordes and speaches of smothnesse and pleasant moderation, & finally the base things to be holden within their teder, by a low, myld, and simple maner of vtterance, creeping rather then clyming, & marching rather then mounting vpwardes, with the wings of the stately subiects and stile.
Of the High, Low, and Meane Subiect.

The matters therefore that concerne the Gods and diuine things are highest of all other to be couched in writing; next to them the noble gests and great fortunes of Princes, and the notable accidents of time, as the greatest affaires of war & peace: these be all high subiectes, and therefore are deliuered ouer to the Poets Hymnick & historicall who be occupied either in diuine laudes, or in heroicall reports. The meane matters be those that concerne meane men, their life and busines, as lawyers, gentlemen, and marchants, good housholders and honest Citizens, and which sound neither to matters of state nor of warre, nor leagues, nor great alliances, but smatch all the common conuersation, as of the ciuiller and better sort of men. The base and low matters be the doings of the common artificer, seruingman, yeoman, groome, husbandman, day-labourer, sailer, shepheard, swynard, and such like of homely calling, degree and bringing vp. So that in euery of the sayd three degrees not the selfe same vertues be egally to be praysed nor the same vices egally to be dispraised, nor their loues, mariages, quarels, contracts, and other behauiours be like high nor do require to be set fourth with the like stile, but euery one in his degree and decencie, which made that all hymnes and histories and Tragedies were written in the high stile, all Comedies and Enterludes and other common Poesies of loues and such like in the meane stile, all Eglogues and pastorall poemes in the low and base stile; otherwise they had bene vtterly disproporcioned. Likewise for the same cause some phrases and figures be onely peculiar to the high stile, some to the base or meane, some common to all three, as shalbe declared more at large hereafter when we come to speake of figure and phrase: also some wordes and speaches and sentences doe become the high stile that do not become th’other two, and contrariwise, as shalbe said when we talke of words and sentences: finally, some kinde of measure and concord doe not beseeme the high stile, that well become the meane and low, as we haue said speaking of concord and measure. But generally the high stile is disgraced and made foolish and ridiculous by all wordes affected, counterfait, and puffed vp, as it were a windball carrying more countenance then matter, and can not be better resembled then to these midsommer pageants in London, where, to make the people wonder, are set forth great and vglie Gyants marching as if they were aliue, and armed at all points, but within they are stuffed full of browne paper and tow, which the shrewd boyes and vnderpeering do guilefully discouer and turne to a great derision: also all darke and vnaccustomed wordes, or rusticall and homely, and sentences that hold too much of the mery & light, or infamous & vnshamefast, are to accounted of the same sort, for such speaches become not Princes, nor great estates, nor them that write of their doings to vtter or report and intermingle with the graue and weightie matters.
Of Figures and Figuratiue Speaches.

As figures be the instruments of ornament in euery language, so be they also in a sorte abuses or rather trespasses in speach, because they passe the ordinary limits of common vtterance, and be occupied of purpose to deceiue the eare and also the minde, drawing it from plainnesse and simplicitie to a certaine doublenesse, whereby our talke is the more guilefull & abusing. For what els is your Metaphor but an inuersion of sence by transport; your allegorie by a duplicitie of meaning or dissimulation vnder couert and darke intendments; one while speaking obscurely and in riddle called Ænigma; another while by common prouerbe or Adage called Paremia; then by merry skoffe called Ironia; then by bitter tawnt called Sarcasmus; then by periphrase or circumlocution when all might be said in a word or two; then by incredible comparison giuing credit, as by your Hyperbole; and many other waies seeking to inueigle and appassionate the mind: which thing made the graue iudges Areopagites (as I find written) to forbid all manner of figuratiue speaches to be vsed before them in their consistorie of Iustice, as meere illusions to the minde, and wresters of vpright iudgement, saying that to allow such manner of forraine & coulored talke to make the iudges affectioned were all one as if the carpenter before he began to square his timber would make his squire coroked; in so much as the straite and vpright mind of a Iudge is the very rule of iustice till it be peruerted by affection. This no doubt is true and was by them grauely considered; but in this case, because our maker or Poet is appointed not for a iudge, but rather for a pleader, and that of pleasant & louely causes and nothing perillous, such as be those for the triall of life, limme, or liuelyhood, and before iudges neither sower nor seuere, but in the eare of princely dames, yong ladies, gentlewomen, and courtiers, beyng all for the most part either meeke of nature, or of pleasant humour, and that all his abuses tende but to dispose the hearers to mirth and sollace by pleasant conueyance and efficacy of speach, they are not in truth to be accompted vices but for vertues in the poetical science very commendable. On the other side, such trespasses in speach (whereof there be many) as geue dolour and disliking to the eare & minde by any foule indecencie or disproportion of sounde, situation, or sence, they be called and not without cause the vicious parts or rather heresies of language: wherefore the matter resteth much in the definition and acceptance of this word decorum, for whatsoeuer is so cannot iustly be misliked. In which respect it may come to passe that what the Grammarian setteth downe for a viciositee in speach may become a vertue and no vice; contrariwise his commended figure may fall into a reprochfull fault: the best and most assured remedy whereof is generally to follow the saying of Bias: ne quid nimis. So as in keeping measure, and not exceeding nor shewing any defect in the vse of his figures, he cannot lightly do amisse, if he haue besides (as that must needes be) a speciall regard to all circumstances of the person, place, time, cause, and purpose he hath in hand; which being well obserued, it easily auoideth all the recited inconueniences, and maketh now and then very vice goe for a formall vertue in the exercise of this Arte.
Sixe Points Set Downe by Our Learned Forefathers for a Generall Regiment of All Good Vtterance, Be It by Mouth or by Writing.

But before there had bene yet any precise obseruation made of figuratiue speeches, the first learned artificers of language considered that the bewtie and good grace of vtterance rested in [s]o many pointes; and whatsoeuer transgressed those lymits, they counted it for vitious; and thereupon did set downe a manner of regiment in all speech generally to be obserued, consisting in sixe pointes. First they said that there ought to be kept a decent proportion in our writings and speach, which they termed Analogia. Secondly, that it ought to be voluble vpon the tongue, and tunable to the eare, which they called Tasis. Thirdly, that it were not tediously long, but briefe and compendious, as the matter might beare, which they called Syntomia. Fourthly, that it should cary an orderly and good construction, which they called Synthesis. Fiftly, that it should be a sound, proper, and naturall speach, which they called Ciriologia. Sixtly, that it should be liuely & stirring, which they called Tropus. So as it appeareth by this order of theirs, that no vice could be committed in speech, keeping within the bounds of that restraint. But, sir, all this being by them very well conceiued, there remayned a greater difficultie to know what this proportion, volubilitie, good construction, & the rest were, otherwise we could not be euer the more relieued. It was therefore of necessitie that a more curious and particular description should bee made of euery manner of speech, either transgressing or agreeing with their said generall prescript. Whereupon it came to passe that all the commendable parts of speech were set foorth by the name of figures, and all the illaudable partes vnder the name of vices, or viciosities, both of which it shall bee spoken in their places.
How the Greeks First, and Afterward the Latines, Inuented New Names for Euery Figure, Which This Author Is Also Enforced to Doo in His Vulgar.

The Greekes were a happy people for the freedome & liberty of their language, because it was allowed them to inuent any new name that they listed, and to peece many words together to make of them one entire, much more significatiue than the single word. So among other things did they to their figuratiue speeches deuise certaine names. The Latines came somewhat behind them in that point, and for want of conuenient single wordes to expresse that which the Greekes could do by cobling many words together, they were faine to vse the Greekes still, till after many yeares that the learned Oratours and good Grammarians among the Romaines, as Cicero, Varro, Quintilian, & others, strained themselues to giue the Greeke wordes Latin names, and yet nothing so apt and fitty. The same course are we driuen to follow in this description, since we are enforced to cull out for the vse of our Poet or maker all the most commendable figures. Now to make them knowen (as behoueth), either we must do it by th’originall Greeke name or by the Latine, or by our owne. But when I consider to what sort of Readers I write, & how ill faring the Greeke terme would sound in the English eare, then also how short the Latines come to expresse manie of the Greeke originals, finally, how well our language serueth to supplie the full signification of them both, I haue thought it no lesse lawfull, yea peraduenture, vnder licence of the learned, more laudable, to vse our owne naturall, if they be well chosen and of proper signification, than to borrow theirs. So shall not our English Poets, though they be to seeke of the Greeke and Latin languages, lament for lack of knowledge sufficient to the purpose of this arte. And in case any of these new English names giuen by me to any figure shall happen to offend, I pray that the learned will beare with me and to thinke the straungenesse thereof proceedes but of noueltie and disaquaintance with our eares, which in processe of tyme and by custome will frame very well: and such others as are not learned in the primitive languages, if they happen to hit vpon any new name of myne (so ridiculous in their opinion) as may moue them to laughter, let such persons yet assure themselues that such names go as neare as may be to their originals, or els serue better to the purpose of the figure then the very originall, reseruing alwayes that such new name should not be vnpleasant in our vulgar nor harsh vpon the tong: and where it shall happen otherwise, that it may please the reader to thinke that hardly any other name in our English could be found to serue the turne better. Againe, if to auoid the hazard of this blame I should haue kept the Greek or Latin, still it would haue appeared a little too scholasticall for our makers, and a peece of worke more fit for clerkes then for Courtiers, for whose instruction this trauaile is taken; and if I should haue left out both the Greeke and Latine name, and put in none of our owne neither, well perchance might the rule of the figure haue bene set downe, but no conuenient name to hold him in memory. It was therfore expedient we deuised for euery figure of importance his vulgar name, and to ioyne the Greeke or Latine originall with them; after that sort much better satisfying aswel the vulgar as the learned learner, and also the authors owne purpose, which is to make of a rude rimer a learned and a Courtly Poet.
A Diuision of Figures, and How They Serue in Exornation of Language.

And because our chiefe purpose herein is for the learning of Ladies and young Gentlewomen, or idle Courtiers, desirous to become skilful in their owne mother tongue, and for their priuate recreation to make now & then ditties of pleasure, thinking for our parte none other science so fit for them & the place as that which teacheth beau semblant, the chiefe profession aswell of Courting as of poesie, since to such manner of mindes nothing is more combersome then tedious doctrines and schollarly methodes of discipline, we haue in our owne conceit deuised a new and strange modell of this arte, fitter to please the Court then the schoole, and yet not vnnecessarie for all such as be willing themselues to become good makers in the vulgar, or to be able to iudge of other mens makings: wherefore, intending to follow the course which we haue begun, thus we say that, though the language of our Poet or maker be pure & clenly, &, not disgraced by such vicious parts as haue bene before remembred in the Chapter of language, be sufficiently pleasing and commendable for the ordinarie vse of speech, yet is not the same so well appointed for all purposes of the excellent Poet as when it is gallantly arrayed in all his colours which figure can set vpon it; therefore we are now further to determine of figures and figuratiue speeches. Figuratiue speech is a noueltie of language euidently (and yet not absurdly) estranged from the ordinarie habite and manner of our dayly talke and writing, and figure it selfe is a certaine liuely or good grace set vpon wordes, speaches, and sentences to some purpose and not in vaine, giuing them ornament or efficacie by many maner of alterations in shape, in sounde, and also in sence, sometime by way of surplusage, sometime by defect, sometime by disorder, or mutation, & also by putting into our speaches more pithe and substance, subtiltie, quicknesse, efficacie, or moderation, in this or that sort tuning and tempring them, by amplification, abridgement, opening, closing, enforcing, meekening, or otherwise disposing them to the best purpose: whereupon the learned clerks who haue written methodically of this Arte in the two master languages, Greeke and Latine, haue sorted all their figures into three rankes, and the first they bestowed vpon the Poet onely, the second vpon the Poet and Oratour indifferently, the third vpon the Oratour alone. And that first sort of figures doth serue th’eare onely and may be therefore called auricular: your second serues the conceit onely and not th’eare, and may be called sensable, not sensible nor yet sententious: your third sort serues as well th’eare as the conceit, and may be called sententious figures, because not only they properly apperteine to full sentences, for bewtifying them with a currant & pleasant numerositie, but also giuing them efficacie and enlarging the whole matter besides with copious amplifications. I doubt not but some busie carpers will scorne at my new deuised termes auricular and sensable, saying that I might with better warrant haue vsed in their steads these words orthographicall or syntacticall, which the learned Grammarians left ready made to our hands, and do importe as much as th’other that I haue brought. Which thing peraduenture I deny not in part, and neuerthelesse for some causes thought them not so necessarie: but with these maner of men I do willingly beare, in respect of their laudable endeuour to allow antiquitie and flie innouation. With like beneuolence I trust they will beare with me writing in the vulgar speach and seeking by my nouelties to satisfie not the schoole but the Court: whereas they know very well all old things soone waxe stale & lothsome, and the new deuises are euer dainty and delicate, the vulgar instruction requiring also vulgar and comunicable termes, not clerkly or vncouthe, as are all these of the Greeke and Latine languages primitiuely receiued, vnlesse they be qualified or by much vse and custome allowed and our eares made acquainted with them. Thus then I say that auricular figures be those which worke alteration in th’eare by sound, accent, time, and slipper volubilitie in vtterance, such as for that respect was called by the auncients numerositie of speach. And not onely the whole body of a tale in poeme or historie may be made in such sort pleasant and agreable to the eare, but also euery clause by it selfe, and euery single word carried in a clause may haue their pleasant sweetenesse apart. And so long as this qualitie extendeth but to the outward tuning of the speach, reaching no higher then th’eare and forcing the mynde little or nothing, it is that vertue which the Greeks call Enargia and is the office of the auricular figures to performe. Therefore, as the members of language at large are whole sentences, and sentences are compact of clauses, and clauses of words, and euery word of letters and sillables, so is the alteration (be it but of a sillable or letter) much materiall to the sound and sweetenesse of vtterance. Wherefore beginning first at the smallest alterations which rest in letters and sillables, the first sort of our figures auricular we do appoint to single words as they lye in language; the second to clauses of speach; the third to perfit sentences and to the whole masse of body of the tale, be it poeme or historie, written or reported.
  [Puttenham then proceeds to a detailed description of the grammatical and rhetorical tropes and figures included in his general scheme. In each case he gives a definition and illustrates it by quotations or by anecdotes, but he seldom adds any matter of purely critical value. The more interesting points are indicated in the following summary of the chapters and figures.]  12
  Chap. XI. Of Auricular Figures Apperteining to Single Wordes and Working by Their Diuers Soundes and Audible Tunes, Alteration to the Eare Onely and Not the Mynde.  13
  Chap. XII. Of Auricular Figures Pertaining to Clauses of Speech and by Them Working No Little Alteration to the Eare. These include—Eclipsis, or the Figure of Default; Zeugma, or the Single Supply; Prozeugma, or the Ringleader; Mezozeugma, or the Middlemarcher; Hypozeugma, or the Rerewarder; Sillepsis, or the Double Supply; Hypozeuxis, or the Substitute; Aposiopesis, or the Figure of Silence, otherwise called the Figure of Interruption; and Prolepsis, or the Propounder.  14
  Chap. XIII. Of Your Figures Auricular Working by Disorder. These are—Hiperbaton, or the Trespasser; Parenthesis, or the Insertour; and Histeron proteron, or the Preposterous.  15
  Chap. XIV. Of Your Figures Auricular That Worke by Surplusage.  16
  Chap. XV. Of Auricular Figures Working by Exchange, namely—Enallage, or the Figure of Exchange, and Hipallage, or the Changeling.  17
  Chap. XVI. Of Some Other Figures Which, Because They Serue Chiefly to Make the Meeters Tunable and Melodious, and Affect Not the Minde but Very Little, Be Placed among the Auricular. These are—Omoiotele[u]ton, or the Like Loose; Parimion, or the Figure of Like Letter; Asyndeton, or the Loose Language; Polisindeton, or the Coople Clause; Irmus, or the Long Loose; Epitheton, or the Qualifier; and Endiadis, or the Figure of Twinnes.  18
  Under the first we read: ‘For a rime of good simphonie should not conclude his concords with one & the same terminant sillable, as less, less, less, but with diuers and like terminants, as les, pres, mes, as was before declared in the chapter of your cadences, and your clauses in prose should neither finish with the same nor with the like terminants, but with the contrary, as hath bene shewed before in the booke of proportions; yet many vse it otherwise, neglecting the Poeticall harmonie and skill. And th’Earle of Surrey with Syr Thomas Wyat, the most excellent makers of their time, more peraduenture respecting the fitnesse and ponderositie of their wordes then the true cadence or simphonie, were very licencious in this point. We call this figure, following the originall, the like loose, alluding to th’Archers terme who is not said to finish the feate of his shot before he giue the loose and deliuer his arrow from his bow; in which respect we vse to say marke the loose of a thing for marke the end of it.’  19
  Chap. XVII. Of the Figures Which We Call Sensable, Because They Alter and Affect the Minde by Alteration of Sense; and First in Single Wordes. These include—Metaphora, or the Figure of Transport; Catachresis, or the Figure of Abuse; Metonymia, or the Misnamer; Antonomasia, or the Surnamer; Onomatopeia, or the Newnamer; Epitheton, or the Qualifier, otherwise called the Figure of Attribution; Metalepsis, or the Far-fet; Emphasis, or the Renforcer; Liptote, or the Moderatour; Paradiastole, or the Curry fauell, otherwise called the Soother; Meiosis, or the Disabler; Tapinosis, or the Abbaser; and Synecdoche, or the Figure of Quick Conceite.  20
  In speaking of Epitheton, Puttenham says: ‘Some of our vulgar writers take great pleasure in giuing Epithets, and do it almost to euery word which may receiue them, and should not be so, yea though they were neuer so propre and apt, for sometimes wordes suffered to go single do giue greater sence and grace than words quallified by attributions do.’  21
  Chap. XVIII. Of Sensable Figures Altering and Affecting the Mynde by Alteration of Sence or Intendements in Whole Clauses or Speaches. These are—Allegoria, or Figure of False Semblant; Enigma, or the Riddle; Parimia, or the Prouerb; Ironia, or the Drie Mock; Sarcasmus, or the Bitter Taunt; Asteismus, or the Merry Scoffe, otherwise the Ciuill Iest; Micterismus, or the Fleering Frumpe; Antiphrasis, or the Broad Floute; Charientismus, or the Priuie Nippe; Hiperbole, or the Ouerreacher, otherwise the Loud Lyer; Periphrasis, or the Figure of Ambage; and Synecdoche, or the Figure of Quick Conceit (see l. 11), which ‘may be put vnder the speeches allegoricall, because of the darkenes and duplicitie of his sence.’  22
  Chap. XIX. Of Figures Sententious, Otherwise Called Rhetoricall. This long chapter deals with—Anaphora, or the Figure of Report; Antistrophe, or the Counterturne; Symploche, or the Figure of Replie; Anadiplosis, or the Redouble; Epanalepsis, or the Eccho Sound, otherwise the Slow Returne; Epizeuxis, or the Vnderlay, or Cuckowspell; Ploche, or the Doubler, otherwise called the Swift Repeate; Prosonomasia, or the Nicknamer; Traductio, or the Tranlacer; Antipophora, or the Figure of Responce; Syneciosis, or the Crosse-couple; Antanaclasis, or the Rebounde; Clymax, or the Marching Figure; Antimetauole, or the Counterchange; Insultatio, or the Disdainefull; Antitheton, or the Quarreller, otherwise called the Ouerthwart or Renconter; Erotema, or the Questioner; Ecphonisis, or the Outcrie; Brachiologia, or the Cutted Comma; Parison, or the Figure of Euen; Sinonimia, or the Figure of Store; Metanoia, or the Penitent; Antenagoge, or the Recompencer; Epiphonema, or the Surclose, or Consenting Close; Auxesis, or the Auancer; Meiosis, or the Disabler; Epanodis, or the Figure of Retire; Dialisis, or the Dismembrer; Merismus, or the Distributor; Epimone, or the Loueburden; Paradoxon, or the Wondrer; Aporia, or the Doubtfull; Epitropis, or the Figure of Reference; Parisia, or the Licentious; Anachinosis, or the Impartener; Paramologia, or the Figure of Admittance; Etiologia, or the Tell-cause, or the Reason Rend; Dichologia, or the Figure of Excuse; Noema, or the Figure of Close Conceit; Orismus, or the Definer by Difference; Procatalepsis, or the Presumptuous; Paralepsis, or the Passager; Commoratio, or the Figure of Abode; Metastasis, or the Flitting Figure, or the Remoue; Parecnasis, or the Stragler; Expeditio, or the Speedie Dispatcher; Dialogismus, or the Right Reasoner; Gnome, or the Director; Sententia, or the Sage Sayer; Sinathrismus, or the Heaping Figure; Apostrophe, or the Turne Tale; Hypotiposis, or the Counterfait Representation; Prosopographia, or Counterfait Countenance; Prosopopeia, or the Counterfait in Personation; Cronographia, or the Counterfait Time; Topographia, or the Counterfait Place; Pragmatographia, or the Counterfait Action; Omoiosis, or Resemblance; Icon, or Resemblance by Imagerie; Parabola, or Resemblance misticall; and Paradigma, or Resemblance by Example. (For the cancelled passage on the Flemings, see Notes.)  23
  Chap. XX. The Last and Principall Figure of Our Poeticall Ornament, i.e. Exargasia, or The Gorgious. ‘In a worke of ours, intituled Philocalia, we have strained to shew the vse and application of this figure and al others mentioned in this booke, to which we referre you. I find none example in English meetre so well maintayning this figure as that ditty of her Maiesties owne making passing sweete & harmonicall.’ Then follow the verses on the disloyalty of the supporters of the Scots Queen, beginning
‘The doubt of future foes exiles my present ioy.’
  Chap. XXI. Of the Vices or Deformities in Speach and Writing Principally Noted by Auncient Poets.  25
  Puttenham promises to speak briefly of the ‘viciosities’ of language, ‘leauing no little to the Grammarians for maintenaunce of the scholasticall warre and altercations.’  26
  Chap. XXII. Some Vices in Speaches and Writing Are Alwayes Intollerable, Some Others Now and Then Borne Withall by Licence of Approued Authors and Custome. The ‘intollerable vices’ are Barbarismus or Forrein Speech, Solecismus or Incongruitie, Cacozelia or Fonde Affectation, Soraismus or the Mingle Mangle, and Cacosintheton or the Misplacer. Less serious ‘vices’ are Cacemphaton or the Figure of Foule Speech, Tautologia or the Figure of Selfe Saying, Histeron Proteron or the Preposterous, Acyron or the Vncouthe. Then there are the ‘Vices of Surplusage,’ viz. Pleonasmus or Too full Speech, Maczologia or Long Language, Periergia or Ouer labour, or The Curious; after these, Tapinosis or The Abbaser, Bomphiologia or Pompous Speech, and Amphibologia or the Ambiguous.  27
  When speaking of the affectation of foreign terms, Puttenham says: ‘Another [writer] of reasonable good facilitie in translation finding certaine of the hymnes of Pyndarus and of Anacreons odes and other Lirickes among the Greekes very well translated by Rounsard the French Poet, and applied to the honour of a great Prince in France, comes our minion and translates the same out of French into English, & applieth them to the honour of a great noble man in England (wherein I commend his reuerent minde and duetie), but doth so impudently robbe the French Poet both of his prayse and also of his French termes, that I cannot so much pitie him as be angry with him for his iniurious dealing, our sayd maker not being ashamed to vse these French wordes freddon, egar, superbous, filanding, celest, calabrois, thebanois, and a number of others, for English wordes, which haue no maner of conformitie with our language either by custome or deriuation which may make them tollerable: and in the end (which is worst of all) makes his vaunt that neuer English finger but his hath toucht Pindars string, which was neuerthelesse word by word as Rounsard had said before by like braggery…. This man deserues to be endited of pety larceny for pilfering other mens deuises from them & conuerting them to his owne vse, for in deede as I would wish euery inuentour, which is the very Poet, to receaue the prayses of his inuention, so would I not haue a translatour to be ashamed to be acknowen of his translation.’  28
  And speaking of Periergia, Puttenham alludes to ‘one of our late makers, who in the most of his things wrote very well, in this (to mine opinion) more curiously than needed, the matter being ripely considered; yet is his verse very good, and his meetre cleanly. His intent was to declare how vpon the tenth day of March he crossed the riuer of Thames, to walke in Saint Georges field; the matter was not great, as ye may suppose.
The tenth of March when Aries receiued
Dan Phoebus raies into his horned head,
And I my selfe by learned lore perceiued
That Ver approcht and frosty winter fled,
I crost the Thames to take the cheerefull aire
In open fields—the weather was so faire.
  First, the whole matter is not worth all this solemne circumstance to describe the tenth day of March; but if he had left at the two first verses, it had bene inough. But when he comes with two other verses to enlarge his description, it is not only more than needes, but also very ridiculous, for he makes wise as if he had not bene a man learned in some of the mathematickes (by learned lore) that he could not haue told that the x of March had fallen in the spring of the yeare; which euery carter and also euery child knoweth without any learning. Then also, when he saith Ver approcht and frosty winter fled, though it were a surplusage (because one season must needes geue place to the other), yet doeth it well inough passe without blame in the maker. These and a hundred more of such faultie and impertinent speeches may yee finde amongst vs vulgar Poets, when we be carelesse of our doings.’  30
What It Is That Generally Makes Our Speach Well Pleasing & Commendable, and of That Which the Latines Call Decorum.

In all things to vse decencie, is it onely that giueth euery thing his good grace & without which nothing in mans speach could seeme good or gracious, in so much as many times it makes a bewtifull figure fall into a deformitie, and on th’other side a vicious speach seeme pleasaunt and bewtifull: this decencie is therfore the line & leuell for al good makers to do their busines by. But herein resteth the difficultie, to know what this good grace is, & wherein it consisteth, for peraduenture it be easier to conceaue then to expresse. We wil therfore examine it to the bottome, & say that euery thing which pleaseth the mind or sences, & the mind by the sences as by means instrumentall, doth it for some amiable point or qualitie that is in it, which draweth them to a good liking and contentment with their proper obiects. But that cannot be if they discouer any illfauorednesse or disproportion to the partes apprehensiue: as for example, when a sound is either too loude or too low or otherwise confuse, the eare is ill affected; so is th’eye if the coulour be sad or not liminous and recreatiue, or the shape of a membred body without his due measures and simmetry; and the like of euery other sence in his proper function. These excesses or defectes or confusions and disorders in the sensible obiectes are deformities and vnseemely to the sence. In like sort the mynde for the things that be his mentall obiectes hath his good graces and his bad, whereof th’one contents him wonderous well, th’other displeaseth him continually, no more nor no lesse then ye see the discordes of musicke do to a well tuned eare. The Greekes call this good grace of euery thing in his kinde [ro prepon], the Latines decorum; we in our vulgar call it by a scholasticall terme decencie; our owne Saxon English terme is seemelynesse, that is to say, for his good shape and vtter appearance well pleasing the eye; we call it also comelynesse, for the delight it bringeth comming towardes vs, and to that purpose may be called pleasant approche. So as euery way seeking to expresse this [prepon] of the Greekes and decorum of the Latines, we are faine in our vulgar toung to borrow the terme which our eye onely for his noble prerogatiue ouer all the rest of the sences doth vsurpe, and to apply the same to all good, comely, pleasant, and honest things, euen to the spirituall obiectes of the mynde, which stand no lesse in the due proportion of reason and discourse than any other materiall thing doth in his sensible bewtie, proportion, and comelynesse.
  Now because this comelynesse resteth in the good conformitie of many things and their sundry circumstances, with respect one to another, so as there be found a iust correspondencie betweene them by this or that relation, the Greekes call it Analogie or a conuenient proportion. This louely conformitie, or proportion, or conueniencie, betweene the sence and the sensible hath nature her selfe first most carefully obserued in all her owne workes, then also by kinde graft it in the appetites of euery creature working by intelligence to couet and desire, and in their actions to imitate & performe; and of man chiefly before any other creature aswell in his speaches as in euery other part of his behauiour. And this in generalitie and by an vsuall terme is that which the Latines call decorum. So albeit we before alleaged that all our figures be but transgressions of our dayly speech, yet if they fall out decently to the good liking of the mynde or eare and to the bewtifying of the matter or language, all is well; if indecently, and to the eares and myndes misliking (be the figure of it selfe neuer so commendable), all is amisse: the election is the writers, the iudgement is the worlds, as theirs to whom the reading apperteineth. But since the actions of man with their circumstances be infinite, and the world likewise replenished with many iudgements, it may be a question who shal haue the determination of such controuersie as may arise whether this or that action or speach be decent or indecent: and verely it seemes to go all by discretion, not perchaunce of euery one, but by a learned and experienced discretion, for otherwise seemes the decorum to a weake and ignorant iudgement then it doth to one of better knowledge and experience; which sheweth that it resteth in the discerning part of the minde; so as he who can make the best and most differences of things by reasonable and wittie distinction is to be the fittest iudge or sentencer of decencie. Such generally is the discreetest man, particularly in any art the most skilfull and discreetest, and in all other things for the more part those that be of much obseruation and greatest experience. The case then standing that discretion must chiefly guide all those businesse, since there be sundry sortes of discretion all vnlike, euen as there be men of action or art, I see no way so fit to enable a man truly to estimate of decencie as example, by whose veritie we may deeme the differences of things and their proportions, and by particular discussions come at length to sentence of it generally, and also in our behauiours the more easily to put it in execution. But by reason of the sundry circumstances that mans affaires are, as it were, wrapt in, this decencie comes to be very much alterable and subiect to varietie, in[so]much as our speach asketh one maner of decencie in respect of the person who speakes, another of his to whom it is spoken, another of whom we speake, another of what we speake, and in what place and time and to what purpose. And as it is of speach, so of al other our behauiours. We wil therefore set you down some few examples of euery circumstance how it alters the decencie of speach or action. And by these few shal ye be able to gather a number more to confirme and establish your iudgement by a perfit discretion.  32
  This decencie, so farfoorth as apperteineth to the consideration of our art, resteth in writing, speech, and behauiour. But because writing is no more then the image or character of speech, they shall goe together in these our obseruations. And first wee wil sort you out diuers points, in which the wise and learned men of times past haue noted much decency or vndecencie, euery man according to his discretion, as it hath bene said afore; but wherein for the most part all discreete men doe generally agree, and varie not in opinion, whereof the examples I will geue you be worthie of remembrance; & though they brought with them no doctrine or institution at all, yet for the solace they may geue the readers, after such a rable of scholastical precepts which be tedious, these reports being of the nature of historicall, they are to be embraced; but olde memories are very profitable to the mind, and serue as a glasse to looke vpon and behold the euents of time, and more exactly to skan the trueth of euery case that shall happen in the affaires of man; and many there be that haply doe not obserue euery particularitie in matter of decencie or vndecencie, and yet when the case is tolde them by another man, they commonly geue the same sentence vpon it. But yet whosoeuer obserueth much shalbe counted the wisest and discreetest man, and whosoeuer spends all his life in his owne vaine actions and conceits, and obserues no mans else, he shal in the ende prooue but a simple man. In which respect it is alwaies said, one man of experience is wiser than tenne learned men, because of his long and studious obseruation and often triall.  33
  And your decencies are of sundrie sorts, according to the many circumstances accompanying our writing, speech, or behauiour, so as in the very sound or voice or him that speaketh there is a decencie that becommeth, and an vndecencie that misbecommeth vs; which th’Emperor Anthonine marked well in the Orator Philiseus, who spake before him with so small and shrill a voice as the Emperor was greatly annoyed therewith, and to make him shorten his tale, said, ‘by thy beard thou shouldst be a man, but by thy voice a woman.’  34
  [Here Puttenham inserts a number of merry tales illustrative of his ‘sundrie sorts of undecencies,’ concluding with a story of a Herald of Charles V.]  35
  A Herald at armes sent by Charles the fifth Emperor to Fraunces the first French king, bringing him a message of defiance, and thinking to qualifie the bitternesse of his message with words pompous and magnificent for the kings honor, vsed much this terme sacred Maiestie, which was not vsually geuen to the French king, but to say for the most part Sire. The French king neither liking of his errant, nor yet of his pompous speech, said somewhat sharply, ‘I pray thee, good fellow, clawe me not where I itch not with thy sacred maiestie, but goe to thy businesse, and tell thine errand in such termes as are decent betwixt enemies, for thy master is not my frend’; and turned him to a Prince of the bloud, who stoode by, saying, ‘me thinks this fellow speakes like Bishop Nicholas,’ for on Saint Nicholas night commonly the Scholars of the Countrey make them a Bishop, who, like a foolish boy, goeth about blessing and preaching with so childish termes as maketh the people laugh at his foolish counterfaite speeches.  36
  And yet in speaking or writing of a Princes affaires & fortunes there is a certaine Decorum, that we may not vse the same termes in their busines as we might very wel doe in a meaner persons, the case being all one, such reuerence is due to their estates. As for example, if an Historiographer shal write of an Emperor or King, how such a day hee ioyned battel with his enemie, and being ouer-laide ranne out of the fielde, and tooke his heeles, or put spurre to his horse and fled as fast as hee could, the termes be not decent; but of a meane souldier or captaine it were not vndecently spoken. And as one who translating certaine bookes of Virgils Æneidos into English meetre said that Æneas was fayne to trudge out of Troy; which terme became better to be spoken of a beggar, or of a rogue, or a lackey, of so wee vse to say to such maner of people, ‘be trudging hence.’  37
  Another Englishing this word of Virgill, fato profugus, called Æneas by fate a fugitiue, which was vndecently spoken, and not to the Authours intent in the same word: for whom he studied by all means to auaunce aboue all other men of the world for vertue and magnanimitie, he meant not to make him a fugitiue. But by occasion of his great distresses, and of the hardnesse of his destinies, he would haue it appeare that Æneas was enforced to flie out of Troy, and for many yeeres to be a romer and a wandrer about the world both by land and sea, fato profugus, and neuer to find any resting place till he came into Italy; so as ye may euidently perceiue in this terme fugitiue a notable indignity offred to that princely person, and by th’other word (a wanderer) none indignitie at all, but rather a terme of much loue and commiseration. The same translatour when he came to these wordes: Insignem pietate virum, tot voluere casus tot adire labores compulit, hee turned it thus, ‘what moued Iuno to tugge so great a captaine as Æneas,’ which word ‘tugge’ spoken in this case is so vndecent as none other coulde haue bene deuised, and tooke his first originall from the cart, because it signifieth the pull or draught of the oxen or horses, and therefore the leathers that beare the chiefe stresse of the draught the cartars call them tugges, and so wee vse to say that shrewd boyes tugge each other by the eares, for pull.  38
  Another of our vulgar makers spake as illfaringly in this verse written to the dispraise of a rich man and couetous, ‘Thou hast a misers minde, thou hast a princes pelfe’—a lewde terme to be spoken of a princes treasure, which in no respect nor for any cause is to be called pelfe, though it were neuer so meane; for pelfe is properly the scrappes or shreds of taylors and skinners, which are accompted of so vile price as they be commonly cast out of dores or otherwise bestowed vpon base purposes, and carrieth not the like reason or decencie as when we say in reproch of a niggard, or vserer, or worldly couetous man that he setteth more by a little pelfe of the world than by his credit, or health, or conscience. For in comparison of these treasours, all the gold or siluer in the world may by a skornefull terme be called pelfe, & so ye see that the reason of the decencie holdeth not alike in both cases. Now let vs passe from these examples to treat of those that concerne the comelinesse and decencie of mans behauiour.  39
  And some speech may be whan it is spoken very vndecent, and yet the same hauing afterward somewhat added to it may become prety and decent, as was the stowte worde vsed by a captaine in Fraunce, who sitting at the lower end of the Duke of Guyses table among many, the day after there had bene a great battaile foughten, the Duke finding that this captaine was not seene that day to do any thing in the field, taxed him priuily thus in al the hearings. ‘Where were you, Sir, the day of the battaile, for I saw ye not?’ the captaine answered promptly, ‘where ye durst not haue bene’: and the Duke began to kindle with the worde, which the Gentleman perceiuing, said spedily: ‘I was that day among the carriages, where your excellencie would not for a thousand crownes haue bene seene.’ Thus from vndecent it came by a wittie reformation to be made decent againe.  40
  The like hapned on a time at the Duke of Northumberlandes bourd, where merry Iohn Heywood was allowed to sit at the tables end. The Duke had a very noble and honorable mynde alwayes to pay his debts well, and when he lacked money would not stick to sell the greatest part of his plate: so had he done few dayes before. Heywood, being loth to call for his drinke so oft as he was dry, turned his eye toward the cupbord and sayd ‘I finde great misse of your graces standing cups’: the Duke, thinking he had spoken it of some knowledge that his plate was lately sold, said somewhat sharpely, ‘why, Sir, will not those cuppes serue as good a man as your selfe.’ Heywood readily replied: ‘Yes if it please your grace, but I would haue one of them stand still at myne elbow full of drinke, that I might not be driuen to trouble your men so often to call for it.’ This pleasant and speedy reuers of the former wordes holpe all the matter againe, whereupon the Duke became very pleasaunt and dranke a bolle of wine to Heywood, and bid a cup should alwayes be standing by him.  41
  It were to busie a peece of worke for me to tell you of all the parts of decencie and indecency which haue bene obserued in the speaches of man & in his writings, and this that I tell you is rather to solace your eares with pretie conceits after a sort of long scholasticall preceptes which may happen haue doubled them, rather then for any other purpose of institution or doctrine, which to any Courtier of experience is not necessarie in this behalfe. And as they appeare by the former examples to rest in our speach and writing, so do the same by like proportion consist in the whole behauiour of man, and that which he doth well and commendably is euer decent, and the contrary vndecent, not in euery mans iudgement alwayes one, but after their seuerall discretion and by circumstance diuersly, as by the next Chapter shalbe shewed.  42
Of Decencie in Behauiour, Which Also Belongs to the Consideration of the Poet or Maker.

And there is a decency to be obserued in euery mans action & behauiour aswell as in his speach & writing, which some peraduenture would thinke impertinent to be treated of in this booke, where we do but informe the commendable fashions of language and stile: but that is otherwise, for the good maker or poet, who is in decent speach & good termes to describe all things, and with prayse or dispraise to report euery mans behauiour, ought to know the comelinesse of an action aswell as of a word & thereby to direct himselfe both in praise & perswasion or any other point that perteines to the Oratours arte. Wherefore some examples we will set downe of this maner of decency in behauiour, leauing you for the rest to our booke which we haue written de Decoro, where ye shall see both partes handled more exactly. And this decencie of mans behauiour aswell as of his speach must also be deemed by discretion, in which regard the thing that may well become one man to do may not become another, and that which is seemely to be done in this place is not so seemely in that, and at such a time decent, but at another time vndecent, and in such a case and for such a purpose, and to this and that end, and by this and that euent, perusing all the circumstances with like consideration.
  [This chapter is devoted to anecdotes illustrative of ‘decencie’ in giving and taking, in manner of life at different ages and in different classes, in choice of occasion, in apparel and fashion, in expressions of friendship, in sorrow and laughter, and in the bearing of the Prince and his Courtiers. Puttenham tells the story of the architect Dinocrates and Alexander the Great to illustrate the exception when ‘singularities’ may have ‘good liking and good successe.’ The chapter concludes as follows.]  44
  And with these examples I thinke sufficient to leaue, geuing you information of this one point, that all your figures Poeticall or Rhetoricall are but obseruations of strange speeches, and such as without any arte at al we should vse, & commonly do, euen by very nature without discipline; but more or lesse aptly and decently, or scarcely, or aboundantly, or of this or that kind of figure, & one of vs more then another, according to the disposition of our nature, constitution of the heart, & facilitie of each mans vtterance: so as we may conclude that nature her selfe suggesteth the figure in this or that forme, but arte aydeth the iudgement of his vse and application; which geues me occasion, finally and for a full conclusion to this whole treatise, to enforme you in the next chapter how art should be vsed in all respects, and specially in this behalfe of language, and when the naturall is more commendable then the artificiall, and contrariwise.  45
That the Good Poet or Maker Ought to Dissemble His Arte, and in What Cases the Artificiall Is More Commended Then the Naturall, and Contrariwise.

And now (most excellent Queene) hauing largely said of Poets & Poesie, and about what matters they be employed; then of all the commended fourmes of Poemes; thirdly of metricall proportions, such as do appertaine to our vulgar arte; and last of all set forth the poeticall ornament consisting chiefly in the beautie and gallantnesse of his language and stile, and so haue apparelled him to our seeming, in all his gorgious habilliments, and pulling him first from the carte to the schoole, and from thence to the Court, and preferred him to your Maiesties seruice, in that place of great honour and magnificence to geue enterteinment to Princes, Ladies of honour, Gentlewomen, and Gentlemen, and by his many moodes of skill to serue the many humors of men thither haunting and resorting, some by way of solace, some of serious aduise, and in matters aswell profitable as pleasant and honest: Wee haue in our humble conceit sufficiently perfourmed our promise or rather dutie to your Maiestie in the description of this arte, so alwaies as we leaue him not vnfurnisht of one peece that best beseemes that place of any other, and may serue as a principall good lesson for al good makers to beare continually in mind in the vsage of this science; which is, that being now lately become a Courtier he shew not himself a craftsman, & merit to be disgraded & with scorne sent back againe to the shop or other place of his first facultie and calling, but that so wisely and discreetly he behaue himselfe as he may worthily retaine the credit of his place and profession of a very Courtier, which is, in plaine termes, cunningly to be able to dissemble. But (if it please your Maiestie) may it not seeme inough for a Courtier to know how to weare a fether, and set his cappe a slaunt, his chaine en écharpe, a straight buskin al inglese, a loose alo Turquesque, the cape alla Spaniola, the breech à la Françoise, and by twentie maner of new fashioned garments to disguise his body, and his face with as many countenances, whereof it seemes there be many that make a very arte, and studie who can shew himselfe most fine, I will not say most foolish and ridiculous? or perhaps rather that he could dissemble his conceits as well as his countenances, so as he neuer speake as he thinkes, or thinke as he speaks, and that in any matter of importance his words and his meaning very seldome meete: for so as I remember it was concluded by vs setting foorth the figure Allegoria, which therefore not impertinently we call the Courtier or figure of faire semblant? Or is it not perchance more requisite our courtly Poet do dissemble not onely his countenances & conceits, but also all his ordinary actions of behauiour, or the most part of them, whereby the better to winne his purposes & good aduantages, as now & then to haue a iourney or sicknesse in his sleeue, thereby to shake of other importunities of greater consequence, as they vse their pilgrimages in Fraunce, the Diet in Spaine, the baines in Italy? and when a man is whole to faine himselfe sicke to shunne the businesse in Court, to entertaine time and ease at home, to salue offences without discredite, to win purposes by mediation in absence, which their presence would eyther impeach or not greatly preferre, to harken after the popular opinions and speech, to entend to their more priuate solaces, to practize more deepely both at leasure & libertie, &, when any publique affaire or other attempt & counsaile of theirs hath not receaued good successe, to auoid therby the Princes present reproofe, to coole their chollers by absence, to winne remorse by lamentable reports, and reconciliation by friends intreatie? Finally, by sequestring themselues for a time fro the Court, to be able the freelier & cleerer to discerne the factions and state of the Court and of al the world besides, no lesse then doth the looker on or beholder of a game better see into all points of auauntage, then the player himselfe? and in dissembling of diseases, which I pray you? for I haue obserued it in the Court of Fraunce, not a burning feuer or a plurisie, or a palsie, or the hydropick and swelling gowte, or any other like disease, for if they may be such as may be either easily discerned or quickly cured, they be ill to dissemble and doo halfe handsomly or serue the turne.
  But it must be either a dry dropsie, or a megrim, or letarge, or a fistule in ano, or some such other secret disease, as the common conuersant can hardly discouer, and the Phisition either not speedily heale, or not honestly bewray; of which infirmities the scoffing Pasquil wrote, Vlcus vesicae, renum dolor, in pene scirrus. Or, as I haue seene in diuers places, where many make themselues hart whole, when in deede they are full sicke, bearing it stoutly out to the hazard of their health, rather then they would be suspected of any lothsome infirmity, which might inhibit them from the Princes presence or enterteinment of the ladies. Or, as some other do, to beare a port of state & plentie when they haue neither penny nor possession, that they may not seeme to droope, and be reiected as vnworthy or insufficient for the greater seruices, or be pitied for their pouertie, which they hold for a marueilous disgrace, as did the poore Squire of Castile, who had rather dine with a sheepes head at home & drinke a cruse of water to it then to haue a good dinner giuen him by his friend who was nothing ignorant of his pouertie. Or, as others do, to make wise they be poore when they be riche, to shunne thereby the publicke charges and vocations, for men are not now a dayes (specially in states of Oligarchie as the most in our age) called somuch for their wisedome as for their wealth; also to auoyde enuie of neighbours or bountie in conuersation, for whosoeuer is reputed rich cannot without reproch but be either a lender or a spender. Or, as others do, to seeme very busie when they haue nothing to doo, and yet will make themselues so occupied and ouerladen in the Princes affaires, as it is a great matter to haue a couple of wordes with them, when notwithstanding they lye sleeping on their beds all an after noone, or sit solemnly at cardes in their chambers, or enterteyning of the Dames, or laughing and gibing with their familiars foure houres by the clock, whiles the poore suter desirous of his dispatch is aunswered by some Secretarie or page, ‘Il fault attendre, Monsieur is dispatching the kings businesse into Languedock, Prouence, Piemont,’—a common phrase with the Secretaries of France. Or, as I haue obserued in many of the Princes Courts of Italie, to seeme idle when they be earnestly occupied & entend to nothing but mischieuous practizes, and do busily negotiat by coulor of otiation. Or, as others of them that go ordinarily to Church and neuer pray to winne an opinion of holinesse, or pray still apace but neuer do good deede, and geue a begger a penny and spend a pound on a harlot, to speake faire to a mans face and foule behinde his backe, to set him at his trencher and yet sit on his skirts, for so we vse to say by a fayned friend, then also to be rough and churlish in speach and apparance but inwardly affectionate and fauouring, as I haue sene of the greatest podestates and grauest iudges and Presidentes of Parliament in Fraunce.  47
  These & many such like disguisings do we find in mans behauiour, & specially in the Courtiers of forraine Countreyes, where in my youth I was brought vp, and very well obserued their maner of life and conuersation, for of mine owne Countrey I haue not made so great experience. Which parts, neuerthelesse, we allow not now in our English maker, because we haue geuen him the name of an honest man, and not of an hypocrite: and therefore leauing these manner of dissimulations to all base-minded men & of vile nature or misterie, we doe allow our Courtly Poet to be a dissembler only in the subtilties of his arte, that is, when he is most artificiall, so to disguise and cloake it as it may not appeare, nor seeme to proceede from him by any studie or trade of rules, but to be his naturall; nor so euidently to be descried, as euery ladde that reades him shall say he is a good scholler, but will rather haue him to know his arte well, and little to vse it.  48
  And yet peraduenture in all points it may not be so taken, but in such onely as may discouer his grossenes or his ignorance by some schollerly affectation; which thing is very irkesome to all men of good trayning, and specially to Courtiers. And yet for all that our maker may not be in all cases restrayned, but that he may both vse and also manifest his arte to his great praise, and need not shoe, or a Carpenter to haue buylt a faire house. Therefore to discusse and make this point somewhat cleerer, to weete, where arte ought to appeare and where not, and when the naturall is more commendable than the artificiall in any humane action or workmanship, we wil examine it further by this distinction.  49
  In some cases we say arte is an ayde and coadiutor to nature, and a furtherer of her actions to a good effect, or peraduenture a meane to supply her wants, by renforcing the causes wherein shee is impotent and defectiue, as doth the arte of phisicke, by helping the naturall concoction, retention, distribution, expulsion, and other vertues, in a weake and vnhealthie bodie; or, as the good gardiner seasons his soyle by sundrie sorts of compost, as mucke or marle, clay or sande, and many times by bloud, or lees of oyle or wine, or stale, or perchaunce with more costly drugs, and waters his plants, and weedes his herbes or floures, and prunes his branches, and vnleaues his boughes to let in the sunne, and twentie other waies cherisheth them and cureth their infirmities, and so makes that neuer or very seldome any of them miscarry, but bring foorth their flours and fruites in season. And in both these cases it is no smal praise for the Phisition & Gardiner to be called good and cunning artificers.  50
  In another respect arte is not only an aide and coadiutor to nature in all her actions but an alterer of them, and in some sort a surmounter of her skill, so as by meanes of it her owne effects shall appeare more beautifull or straunge and miraculous, as in both cases before remembred. The Phisition by the cordials hee will geue his patient shall be able not onely to restore the decayed spirites of man and render him health, but also to prolong the terme of his life many yeares ouer and aboue the stint of his first and naturall constitution. And the Gardiner by his arte will not onely make an herbe, or flowr, or fruite, come forth in his season without impediment, but also will embellish the same in vertue, shape, odour, and taste, that nature of her selfe woulde neuer haue done, as to make single gillifloure, or marigold, or daisie, double, and the white rose redde, yellow, or carnation, a bitter mellon sweete, a sweete apple soure, a plumme or cherrie without a stone, a peare without core or kernell, a goord or coucumber like to a horne or any other figure he will: any of which things nature could not doe without mans help and arte. These actions also are most singular when they be most artificiall.  51
  In another respect we say arte is neither an aider nor a surmounter but onely a bare immitatour of natures works, following and counterfeyting her actions and effects, as the Marmesot doth many countenances and gestures of man; of which sorte are the artes of painting and keruing, whereof one represents the naturall by light colour and shadow in the superficiall or flat, the other in a body massife expressing the full and emptie, euen, extant, rabbated, hollow, or whatsoeuer other figure and passion of quantitie. So also the Alchimist counterfeits gold, siluer, and all other mettals, the Lapidarie pearles and pretious stones by glasse and other substances falsified and sophisticate by arte. These men also be praised for their craft, and their credit is nothing empayred to say that their conclusions and effects are very artificiall.  52
  Finally, in another respect arte is, as it were, an encountrer and contrary to nature, production effects neither like to hers, nor by participation with her operations, nor by imitation of her paternes, but makes things and produceth effects altogether strange and diuerse, of such forme & qualitie (nature alwaies supplying stuffe) as she neuer would nor could haue done of her selfe, as the carpenter that builds a house, the ioyner that makes a table or a bedstead, the tailor a garment, the Smith a locke or a key, and a number of like, in which case the workman gaineth reputation by his arte, and praise when it is best expressed & most apparant, & most studiously. Man also in all his actions that be not altogether naturall, but are gotten by study, discipline, or exercise, as to daunce by measures, to sing by note, to play on the lute, and such like, it is a praise to be said an artificiall dauncer, singer, & player on instruments, because they be not exactly knowne or done, but by rules & precepts or teaching of schoolemasters. But in such actions as be so naturall & proper to man, as he may become excellent therein without any arte or imitation at all (custome and exercise excepted, which are requisite to euery action not numbred among the vitall or animal), and wherein nature should seeme to do amisse and man suffer reproch, to be found destitute of them: in those to shew himselfe rather artificiall then naturall were no lesse to be laughed at then for one that can see well inough to vse a paire of spectacles, or not to heare but by a trunke put to his eare, nor feele without a paire of ennealed glooues, which things in deede helpe an infirme sence, but annoy the perfit, and therefore, shewing a disabilitie naturall, mooue rather to scorne then commendation, and to pitie sooner then to prayse. But what else is language, and vtterance, and discourse, & persuasion, and argument in man, then the vertues of a well constitute body and minde, little lesse naturall then his very sensuall actions, sauing that the one is perfited by nature at once, the other not without exercise & iteration? Peraduenture also it wilbe granted that a man sees better and discernes more brimly his collours and heares and feeles more exactly by vse and often hearing and feeling and seing, & though it be better to see with spectacles then not to see at all, ye is their praise not egall nor in any mans iudgement comparable: no more is that which a Poet makes by arte and precepts rather then by naturall instinct, and that which he doth by long meditation rather then by a suddaine inspiration, or with great pleasure and facillitie then hardly and (as they are woont to say) in spire of Nature or Minerua, then which nothing can be more irksome or ridiculous.  53
  And yet I am not ignorant that there be artes and methodes both to speake and to perswade and also to dispute, and by which the naturall is in some sorte relieued, as th’eye by his spectacle. I say relieued in his imperfection, but not made more perfit then the naturall, in which respect I call those artes of Grammer, Logicke, and Rhetorick, not bare imitations, as the painter or keruers craft and worke in a forraine subiect, viz. a liuely purtraite in his table of wood, but by long and studious obseruation rather a repetition or reminiscens naturall, reduced into perfection, and made prompt by vse and exercise. And so whatsoeuer a man speakes or perswades he doth it not by imitation artificially, but by obseruation naturally (though one follow another), because it is both the same and the like that nature doth suggest: but if a popingay speake, she doth it by imitation of mans voyce artificially and not naturally, being the like but not the same that nature doth suggest to man. But now because our maker or Poet is to play many parts and not one alone, as first to deuise his plat or subiect, then to fashion his poeme, thirdly to vse his metricall proportions, and last of all to vtter with pleasure and delight, which restes in his maner of language and stile as hath bene said, whereof the many moodes and straunge phrase are called figures, it is not altogether with him as with the crafts man, nor altogether otherwise then with the crafts man; for in that he vseth his metricall proportions by appointed and harmonicall measures and distaunces he is like the Carpenter or Ioyner, for, borrowing their tymber and stuffe of nature, they appoint and order it by art otherwise then nature would doe, and worke effects in apparance contrary to hers. Also in that which the Poet speakes or reports of another mans tale or doings, as Homer of Priamus or Vlisses, he is as the painter or keruer that worke by imitation and representation in a forrein subiect; in that he speakes figuratiuely, or argues subtillie, or perswades copiously and vehemently: he doth as the cunning gardiner that, vsing nature as a coadiutor, furders her conclusions, & many times makes her effectes more absolute and straunge. But for that in our maker or Poet which restes onely in deuise and issues from an excellent sharpe and quick inuention, holpen by a cleare and bright phantasie and imagination, he is not as the painter to counterfaite the naturall by the like effects and not the same, nor as the gardiner aiding nature to worke both the same and the like, nor as the Carpenter to worke effectes vtterly vnlike, but even as nature her selfe working by her owne peculiar vertue and proper instinct and not by example or meditation or exercise as all other artificers do, is then most admired when he is most naturall and least artificiall: and in the feates of his language and vtterance, because they hold aswell of nature to be suggested and vttered as by arte to be polished and reformed. Therefore shall our Poet receaue prayse for both, but more by knowing of his arte then by vnseasonable vsing it, and be more commended for his naturall eloquence then for his artificiall, and more for his artificiall well disembled then for the same ouermuch affected and grossely or vndiscretly bewrayed, as many makers and Oratours do.  54
The Conclusion.
And with this (my most gratious soueraigne Lady) I make an end, humbly beseeching your pardon in that I haue presumed to hold your eares so long annoyed with a tedious trifle, so as, vnlesse it proceede more of your owne Princely and naturall mansuetude then of my merite, I feare greatly least you may thinck of me as the Philosopher Plato did of Aniceris, an inhabitant of the Citie Cirene, who being in troth a very actiue and artificiall man in driuing of a Princes Charriot or Coche (as your Maiestie might be), and knowing it himselfe well enough, comming one day into Platos schoole, and hauing heard him largely dispute in matters Philosophicall, ‘I pray you’ (quoth he) ‘geue me leaue also to say somewhat of myne arte,’ and in deede shewed so many trickes of his cunning, how to lanche forth, and stay, and chaunge pace, and turne and winde his Coche, this way and that way, vphill, downe hill, and also in euen or rough ground, that he made the whole assemblie wonder at him. Quoth Plato, being a graue personage, ‘verely in myne opinion this man should be vtterly vnfit for any seruice of greater importance then to driue a Coche. It is great pitie that so prettie a fellow had not occupied his braynes in studies of more consequence.’ Now I pray God it be not thought so of me in describing the toyes of this our vulgar art. But when I consider how euery thing hath his estimation by oportunitie, and that it was but the studie of my yonger yeares, in which vanitie raigned; also that I write to the pleasure of a Lady and a most gratious Queene, and neither to Priestes nor to Prophetes or Philosophers; besides finding by experience that many times idlenesse is lesse harmefull then vnprofitable occupation, dayly seeing how these great aspiring mynds and ambitious heads of the world seriously searching to deale in matters of state be often times so busie and earnest that they were better be vnoccupied, and peraduenture altogether idle; I presume so much vpon your Maiesties most milde and gracious iudgement, howsoeuer you conceiue of myne abilitie to any better or greater seruice, that yet this attempt ye wil allow of my loyall and good intent, alwayes endeuouring to do your Maiestie the best and greatest of those seruices I can.
Click here to shop the Bartleby Bookstore.

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2014 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors