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the tongue and the heart. For mark all ages, look upon the whole course of both the Greek and Latin tongues, and ye shall surely find, that, when apt and good words began to be neglected, and properties of those two tongues to be confounded, then also began ill deeds to spring; strange manners to oppress good orders; new and fond opinions to strive with old and true doctrine, first in philosophy, and after in religion ; right judgement of all things to be perverted, and so virtue with learning is contemned, and study left off. “Of ill thoughts cometh perverse judgement; of ill deeds springeth lewd talk.” Which four misorders, as they mar man's life, so destroy they good learning withal.
But behold the goodness of God's providence for learning: All old authors and sects of philosophy, which were fondest in opinion and rudest in utterance, as Stoics and Epicures, first contemned of wise men, and after forgotten of all men, be * so consumed by time, as they be now not only out of use, but also out of memory of man. Which thing I surely think will shortly chance to the whole doctrine, and all the books of fantastical Anabaptists and friars, and of the beastly libertines and monks.
Again : Behold on the other side, how God's wisdom hath wrought, that of the Academics and Peripatetics, those that were wisest in judgement of matters, and purest in uttering their minds, the first and chiefest, that wrote most and best in either tongue, (as Plato and Aristotle in Greek, and Tully in Latin,) be so either wholly or sufficiently left unto us,
as I never knew yet scholar, that gave himself to like, and love, and follow chiefly those three authors, but he proved
This remark of Mr. Ascham's must necessarily be restrained and limited to the Grecian writers, and to those only who flourished when their language was brought to its greatest perfection. For Antoninus in the Greek tongue, and Lucretius and Seneca in the Latin (authors that justly deserve our notice), are still perfect and entire. But that these sects were most remarkably careless in their style and language, is plain enough from the constant testimony of all the ancients who have had occasion to mention these things.
Thus Dionysius Halicarn. of the Stoics, in his book negi suvokσεως, pag. 40. Απόχρη δε τεκμηρίω χρήσασθαι τώ λόγω Χρυσίππου του Στωϊκού περαιτέρω γαρ ουκ άν προβαίην τούτου γαρ ούτε άμεινον ουδεις τας Διαλεκτικής τέχνας ηκρίβωσεν, ούτε χείρονη αρμονία συνταχθέντας εξήνεγκε λόγους, των ονόματος και δόξης αξιωθέντων, And afterwards in the same excellent treatise, with respect to the Epicurean tribe; Επικουρείων δε χορών, οίς ουδέν μέλει τούτων, παραιτούμεθα.
both learned, wise, and also an honest man; if he joined withal the true doctrine of God's holy Bible, without the which, the other three be but fine edge tools in a fool's or madman's hand.”
But to return to Imitation again : There be three kinds of it in matters of learning,
The whole doctrine of comedies and tragedies is a perfect Imitation, or fair lively painted picture of the life of every degree of man. Of this Imitation writeth Plato at large, in his third book de Republica; but it doth not much belong at this time to our purpose.
The second kind of Imitation, is to follow, for learning of tongues and sciences, the best authors. Here riseth among proud and envious wits a great controversy : whether one, or many, are to be followed ; and if one, who is that one ; Seneca, Cicero, Sallust, or Cæsar, and so forth, in Greek and Latin.
The third kind of Imitation belongeth to the second; as, when you be determined wheth you will follow one or more, to know perfectly, and which way, to follow that one; in what place; by what mean and order; by what tools and instruments ye shall do it; by what skill and judgement ye shall truly discern whether ye follow rightly, or no.
This I'mitatio is dissimilis materiei similis tractatio; and also, similis materiei dissimilis tractatio: as Virgil followed Homer: but the argument of the one was Ulysses; of the other, Æneas. Tully persecuted Antony with the same weapons of eloquence that Demosthenes used before against Philip
Horace followeth Pindar, but either of them his own argument and person : as the one, Hiero king of Sicily; the other, Augustus
both for like respects, that is, for their courageous stoutness in war, and just governinent in peace,
One of the best examples for right Imitation, we lack, and that is Menander; whom our Terence, (as the matter required,) in like argument, in the same persons, with equal eloquence, foot by foot did follow.
Some pieces * remain, like broken jewels; whereby men may rightly esteem and justly lament the loss of the whole.
A collection of these remains have been lately published, together with those of Philemon, by M. Le Clerc. But he doth not
Erasmus, the ornament of learning in our time, doth wish that some man of learning and diligence would take the like pains in Demosthenes and Tully, that Macrobius hath done in Homer and Virgil: that is, to write out and join together, where the one doth imitate the other. Erasmus's wish is good; but surely it is not good enough. For Macrobius's gatherings for the Æneis out of Homer, and Eobanus Hessus' more diligent gatherings for the Bucolics out of Theocritus, as they be not fully taken out of the whole heap, as they should be, but even as though they had not sought for them of purpose, but found them scattered here and there by chance in their way ; even so, only to point out, and nakedly to join together their sentences, with no further declaring the manner and way how the one doth follow the other, were but a cold help to the increase of learning.
But if a man would take this pain also, when he hath laid two places of Homer and Virgil, or of Demosthenes and Tully together, to teach plainly withal after this sort:
1. Tully retaineth thus much of the matter, sen tences, these words.
2. This and that he leaveth out; which he doth wittily, to this end and purpose.
3. This he addeth here.
5. This he ordereth thus, with placing that here, not there.
6. This he altereth and changeth, either in property of words, in form of sentence, in substance of the matter, or in one or other convenient circumstance of the author's present purpose.
In these few rude English words, are wrapt up all the necessary tools and instruments, wherewith true Imitation is rightly wrought withal in any tongue. Which tools, I openly confess, be not of mine own forging, but partly left unto me by the cunningest master, and one of the worthiest gentlemen, that ever England bred, Sir John Cheke: partly borrowed by me out of the shop of the dearest friend I have seem (as far as I can judge by a cursory view) to have been jeweller" good enough to understand their true worth and value. For otherwise certainly he would have taken greater pains, and have shown more skill
, in setting these little pieces in such a lustre and brightness as they deserved. “ Olim rediissent ad splendorem maximum.'
out of England, Joh. Sturmius. And therefore I am the bolder to borrow of hin, and here to leave them to others, and namely to my children. Which tools, if it please God that another day they may be able to use rightly, as I do wish, and daily pray they may do, I shall be more glad than if I were able to leave them a great quantity of land.
This foresaid order and doctrine of Imitation, would bring forth more learning and breed up truer judgement, than any other exercise that can be used; but not for young beginners, because they shall not be able to consider duly thereof. And truly it may be a shame to good students, who having so fair examples to follow as Plato and Tully, do not use so wise ways in following them for the obtaining of wisdom and learning, as rude ignorant artificers do for gaining a small commodity. For surely the meanest painter useth more wit, better art, greater diligence in his shop in following the picture of any mean man's face, than commonly the best students do even in the university for the attaining of learning itself.
Some ignorant, unlearned, and idle student; or some busy looker upon this little poor book, that hath neither will to do good himself, nor skill to judge right of others, but can lustily contemn, by pride and ignorance, all painful diligence and right order in study; will perchance say, that I am too precise ; too curious in marking and piddling thus about the Imitation of others; and that the old and worthy authors did never busy their heads and wits, in following so precisely either the matter, what other men wrote, or else the manner, how other men wrote. They will say, “ It were a plain slavery, and injury too, to shackle and tie a good wit, and hinder the course of a man's good nature with such bonds of servitude in following others.” Except such men think themselves wiser than Cicero for teaching of eloquence, they must be content to turn a new leaf.
The best book that ever Tully wrote, by all men's judgement, and by his own testimony too, in writing whereof he employed most care, study, learning, and judgement, is his book de Oratore ad Q. Fratrem. Now let us see what he did for the matter, and also for the manner of writing thereof. For the whole book consisteth in these two points only; in good matter, and good handling of the matter. And first, for the matter; it is whole Aristotle's, whatsoever Antony in the second, and Crassus in the third, doth teach. Trust not me, but believe Tully himself, who writeth so: first, in that * goodly long epistle ad Pub. Lentulum; and after in divers places ad Atticum. And in the very book itself, Tully will not have it hidden; but both Catulus and Crassus do oft and pleasantly lay that stealth to Antonius's charge. Now, for the handling of the matter; was Tully so precise and curious, rather to follow another man's pattern than to invent some new shape himself, namely in that book wherein he purposed to leave to posterity the glory of his wit? Yea forsooth, that he did. And this is not my guessing and gathering; nor only performed by Tully in very deed, but uttered also by Tully in plain words; to teach other men thereby, what they should do in taking like matter in hand.
And that which is specially to be marked, Tully doth utter plainly his conceit and purpose therein, by the mouth of the wisest man in all that company: for saith Scævola himself, Cur non imitamur, Crasse, Socratem illum, qui est in Phædo Platonis ? &c.
And further to understand, that Tully did not obiter and by chance, but purposely and mindfully, bend himself to a precise and curious imitation of Plato, concerning the shape and form of those books ; mark, I pray you, how curious Tully is to utter his purpose and doing therein, writing Ithus to Atticus :
Quod in iis Oratoriis libris, quos laudas, personam desideras Scævolæ ; non eam temere dimovi: sed feci idem, quod
“ Quod rogas, ut mea tibi scripta mittam, quæ post discessum tuum scripserim: sunt orationes quædam, quas Menocrito dabo : neque ita multæ; ne pertimescas. Scripsi etiam (nam ab orationibus dijungo me ferè, referoque ad mansuetiores Musas; quæ me maximè, sicut jam à prima adolescentia delectarunt), scripsi igitur Aristoteleo more, quemadmodum quidem volui, tres libros in disputatione ac dialogo de Oratore, quos arbitror Lentulo tuo non fore inutiles. Abhorrent enim à communibus præceptis ; ac omnem antiquorum, et Aristoteleam, et Isocrateam rationem oratoriam complectuntur.' Epist. Fam. Lib. 1. Ep. 9.
+ “ Postero autem die, cùm illi majores natu satis quiessent, et in ambulationem ventum esset : dicebat tum Scævolam duobus spatiis tribusve factis, dixisse, Cur non imitamur," &c. De Orat. lib. 1.
citation is taken out of Tully's fourth book of Epistles to Atticus, Ep. 16.