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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume III. Renascence and Reformation.

XIX. English Universities, Schools and Scholarship in the Sixteenth Century

§ 10. The Arte of Rhetorique

The marks of The Arte of Rhetorique are its clearness, its freedom from pedantry and its modern instances. It was several times reprinted during the century and even now repays a reading. Wilson’s treatise should be read side by side with Guazzo’s Civile Conversation, translated by Pettie twenty years later, with a preface in which he refers to Wilson and in which he urges the need for a liberal expansion of English vocabulary. A work far less attractive than either was Richard Sherry’s Treatise of Schemes and Tropes (1555). The author was headmaster of Magdalen College school, at this time, perhaps, the best Latin school in England. His writing is crabbed and technical, and had small vogue outside lecture rooms. More popular were Richard Rainolde’s Foundation of Rhetorike (1563), Henry Peacham’s Garden of Eloquence (1577) and The Arcadian Rhetorike (1584) of Abraham Fraunce, who works in modern examples from poetry and prose, notably quoting Sidney and Tasso, and not overlooking the Spaniards.

Roger Ascham was entered at St. John’s, Cambridge, a little later than Cheke and, as he neared manhood, found himself drawn into his circle, which embraced Redman and Pember, Thomas Smith, Ridley and Wilson. Upon Cheke, Ascham looked back as upon his great master, counting him worthy to rank with John Sturm of Strassburg, the chief luminary of protestant scholarship in the middle of the sixteenth century.