The Complete Gentleman: The Truth of Our Times, and the Art of Living in London

By Henry Peacham; Virgil B. Heltzel | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER VI
Of Style in Speaking and Writing
and of History

SINCE speech is the character of a man and the interpreter of his mind, and writing the image of that,1 that so often as we speak or write, so oft we undergo censure and judgment of ourselves, labor first by all means to get the habit of a good style in speaking and writing, as well English as Latin. I call with Tully2 that a good and eloquent style of speaking "where there is a judicious fitting of choice words, apt and grave sentences, unto matter well disposed, the same being uttered with a comely moderation of the voice, countenance, and gesture." Not that same ampullous3 and scenical pomp, with empty furniture of phrase, wherewith the stage and our petty poetic pamphlets sound so big, which like a net in the water, though it feeleth weighty, yet it yieldeth nothing, since our speech ought to resemble plate, wherein neither the curiousness of the picture or fair proportion of letters but the weight is to be regarded; and, as Plutarch saith, when our thirst is quenched with the drink, then we look upon the enameling and workmanship of the bowl; so first your hearer coveteth to have his desire satisfied with matter ere he looketh upon the form or vinetry,4 which many times fall in of themselves to matter well contrived, according to Horace:5

____________________
1
Cicero I. de Oratore.
2
Cic[ero] in prolog. Rhetor.
3
Ampullar, turgid.
4
Decorations, ornaments.
5
In Arte Poet[ica].

-54-

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