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worse; for the which only cause, Cicero thinketh this exercise not to be fit for young men.”
IV. Of Epitome our author observes : “This is a way of study belonging rather to matter than to words; to memory than to utterance; to those that be learned already, and hath small place at all among young scholars in grammar sehools. It may profit privately some learned men, but it hath hurt generally learning itself very much. For by it we have lost whole Trogus, the best part of T. Livius, the goodly dictionary of Pompeius Festus, a great deal of the civil law, and other many notable books, for the which cause I do the more mislike this exercise both in old and young.” It may be remarked, however, that such facts as these make really no argument at all against epitome as a school exercise. Ascham proceeds
“Epitome is good privately for himself that doth work it, but ill commonly for all others that use other men's labour therein. A silly poor kind of study, not unlike to the doing of those poor folk which neither till, nor sow, nor reap themselves, but glean by stealth upon other men's ground. Such have empty barns for dear years."
“ I do wish," he afterwards remarks, in reference to the common books of exercises used at schools, " that all rules for young scholars were shorter than they be. For without doubt, Grammatica itself is sooner and surer learned by examples of good authors than by the naked rules of grammarians. Epitome hurteth more in the universities and study of philosophy, but most of all in divinity itself."
He acknowledges, however, that “ books of common places be very necessary to induce a man into an orderly general knowledge, how to refer orderly all that he readeth ad certa rerum capita (to certain heads), and not wander in study."
We give the remainder of what is said under this head, with the omission only of a few sentences here and there, which does not break the sense.
"Nevertheless, some kind of epitome may be used by men of skilful judgment, to the great profit also of others. As if a wise man would take Hall's Chronicle, where much good matter is quite marred with indenture English, and, first, change strange and inkhorn terms into proper and commonly used words; next, specially to weed out that that is superfluous and idle, not only where words be vainly heaped one upon another, but also where many sentences of one meaning be so clouted up together, as though Mr. Hall had been not writing the story of England, but varying a sentence in Hitching school. Surely a wise, learned man, by this way of epitome, in cutting away words and sentences, and dininishing nothing at all of the matter, should leave to men's use a story half as much as it was in quantity, but twice as good as it was both for pleasure and also commodity.
“Another kind of epitome may be used likewise very well to much profit. Some man either by lustiness of nature, brought by ill teaching to a wrong judgment, is over full of words and sentences, and matter; and yet all his words be proper, apt, and well chosen, all his sentences be round and trimly framed, his whole matter grounded upon good reason, and stuffed with full arguments for his intent and purpose; yet when his talk shall be heard, or his writing be read of such one as is either of my two dear friends, Mr. Haddon at home, or Johannes Sturmius in Germany, that nimium in him
which fools and unlearned will most commend, shall either of these two bite his lip or shake his head at it.
“ This fulness, as it is not to be misliked in a young man, so in farther age, in greater skill, and weightier affairs, is to be temperated, or else discretion and judgment shall seem to be wanting in him. But if his style be still over rank and lusty, as some men being never so old and spent by years will still be full of youthful conditions (as was Sir Francis Brian,* and evermore would have been), such a rank and full writer must use, if he will do wisely, the exercise of a very good kind of epitome, and do, as certain wise men do that be over fat and fleshy, who, leaving their own full and plentiful table, go to sojourn abroad from home for a while at the temperate diet of some sober man, and so by little and little cut away the grossness that is in them. :
“As for example, if Osoriust would leave off his lustiness in striving against St. Austin, and his over rank railing against poor Luther and the truth of God's doctrine, and give his whole study, not to write anything of his own for a while, but to translate Demosthenes with so strait, fast, and temperate a style in Latin as he is in Greek, he would become so perfect and pure a writer, I believe, as have been few or none since Cicero's days. And so, by doing himself and all learned - men much good, do others less harm, and Christ's doctrine less injury than he doth, and withal win unto himself many worthy friends, who agreeing with him gladly in the love and liking of excellent learning, are sorry to see so worthy a wit, so rare eloquence, wholly spent and consumed in striving with God and good men.
* Ambassador at the court of Rome for King Henry VIII.
+ Jerome Osorio, a learned Portuguese bishop of the sixteenth century.
" Among the rest no man doth lament him more than I, not only for the excellent learning that I see in him, but also because there hath passed privately betwix him and me sure tokens of much good will and friendly opinion, the one toward the other. And surely the distance betwixt London and Lisbon should not stop any kind of friendly duty that I could either show to him or do to his, if the greatest matter of all did not in certain points separate our minds.
“And yet, for my part, both towards him and divers others here at home, for like cause of excellent learning, great wisdom, and gentle humanity, which I have seen in them, and felt at their hands myself: where the matter of difference is mere concience in a quiet mind inwardly, and not contentious malice with spiteful railing openly, I can be content to follow this rule, 'in misliking some one thing, not to hate for anything else.' .......
“Some will judge much boldness in me thus to judge of Osorius's style; but wise men do know that mean lookers on may truly say, for a well made picture, 'This face had been more comely if that high red in the cheek were somewhat more pure sanguine than it is; and yet the stander-by cannot amend it himself by any way. ...
“Although a man groundly learned already may take much profit himself in using by epitome to draw other men's works for his own memory sake into shorter room (as Canterus hath done very well the whole Metamorphosis of Ovid, and David Chythræus a great deal better the Nine Muses of Herodotus, and Melancthon, in mine opinion, far best of all, the whole Story of Time, not only to his own use, but to other men's profit, and his great praise); yet epitome is most necessary of all in a man's own writing, as we learn of that noble poet Virgil, who, if Donatus say true, in writing that perfect work of the Georgics, used daily, when he had written forty or fifty verses, not to cease cutting, paring, and polishing of them, till he had brought them to the number of ten or twelve.
"And this exercise is not more needfully done in a great work than wisely done in our common daily writing, either of letter or other thing else; that is to say, to peruse diligently, and see and spy wisely, what is always more than needeth. For twenty to one offend more in writing too much than too little; even as twenty to one fall into sickness rather by over much fulness than by any lack or emptiness.. ......
“And of all other men, even those that have the inventivest heads for all purposes, and roundest tongues in all matters and places (except they learn and use this good lesson of epitome), commit commonly greater faults than dull, staying, silent men do. For quick inventors, and fair ready speakers, being boldened with their present ability to say more, and perchance better too, at the sudden for that present than any others can do, use less help of diligence and study than they ought to do, and so have in them commonly less learning and weaker judgment for all deep considerations than some duller heads and slower tongues have.
" And therefore ready speakers generally be not the best, plainest, and wisest writers, nor yet the deepest judgers in weighty affairs; because they do not tarry to weigh and judge all things as they should, but having their heads over full of matter, be like pens over full of ink, which will sooner blot than make any fair letter at all. Time was, when I had experience of two ambassadors in one place, the one of a hot head to invent,