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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

§ 9. Thomas Wilson

The contribution of Thomas Wilson, friend and disciple of Cheke, to the classical renascence in England has, also, already been mentioned. The first book of The Arte of Rhetorique (1553) treats of the purpose of rhetoric, which is affirmed to be the art which perfects the natural gifts of speech and reason. The distinctions of several types of “arguments,” and their constituent factors, are set out by means of examples shaped, indeed, on classical and Erasmian models, but with an added seriousness, born of the time, which lifts them above the Petrarchian commonplaces of the Italians. The second book treats, in the customary manner, of the fundamental qualities of style as an instrument of persuasion. The orator must be easily intelligible. He must secure the goodwill of his audience, must wind his way into the subject by suitable approaches, particularly if he be a preacher. Let the latter diligently seek his pattern in Chrysostom. The conditions of right eloquence, such as logical order, emphasis, repetition, climax, are as necessary in English speech as in Latin; nor can an English speaker neglect the art of stirring the emotions by the employment of humour, or pathos, by appeal to indignation or passion. The third book, ranging over a wide field, deals with the choice of words and the use of figure and ornament; with the functions of gesture; with the essential art of memory. It contains some of the sanest Elizabethan criticism of classical writers.