Elizabethan Critical Essays

By G. Gregory Smith | Go to book overview

ROGER ASCHAM
(FROM THE SCHOLEMASTER)
1570

[THE First Book of The Scholemaster ( London, John Daye:

1570) deals with 'the bringyng up of youth,' and is only incidentally concerned with matters of literary interest; but it supplies hints of certain topics which are discussed more fully elsewhere. Ascham defines the Platonic ευ+̀φυὴϚ, the first of the seven 'trewe notes of a good witte'; he interpolates a recommendation of the new 'versifying,' on which he promises to speak 'more at large hereafter'; and, in the well-known passage on the evil influence of Italian travel and Italian books (especially in English translation), he shows his sympathy with the Puritanical principles of Gosson and the anti-stage pamphleteers. In introducing the seven 'trewe notes' he says:

'And bicause I write English, and to Englishemen, I will plainlie declare in Englishe both what thies wordes of Plato meane, and how aptlie they be linked and how orderlie they folow one an other.'

He then proceeds:

'Ευ+̀φυὴϚ is he that is apte by goodnes of witte, and appliable by readines of will, to learning, hauing all other qualities of the minde and partes of the bodie, that must an other day serue learning, not trobled, mangled, and halfed, but sounde, whole, full, and hable to do their office: as, a tong, not stamering, or ouer hardlie drawing forth wordes, but plaine, and redie to deliuer the meaning of the minde; a voice, not softe, weake, piping, womannishe, but audible, stronge, and manlike; a countenance, not werishe and crabbed, but faire and cumlie; a personage, not wretched and deformed, but taule and

-1-

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