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RHETORICAL FIGURATION is that whereby style is formed by locutions interacting among each other properly and pleasantly, and it consists in the duration and repetition of sounds.
What is figuration in the duration of sounds?
It is assuredly nothing else than rhetorical measures. For here I will say nothing of poetic measure (which is divided into meter and number), since syllabic quantity must be dealt with in its own right in grammar. Therefore, just as kinds of speech can be relegated to Dresser’s Didascalion, which deals with logic, so I shall leave poetic measure to the grammar of Talaeus (although if anybody is minded to read some useful precepts concerning it, he may consult the Systema Rhetoricae Philippo-Ramaeum, I.xiv et seqq., not to mention Book I, chapters xiiif. of Charles Butler’s Rhetoric (who in this respect seems to have snatched the palm away from the others). And, indeed, in the course of that passage he itemizes certain poets whose verses and elegances our countrymen have praised, and of whom, perhaps, our England can not undeservedly boast: Geoffrey Chaucer, Edmund Spenser, Michael Drayton, and George Withers. To these, I think, should be added that well-known poet who takes his name from the shaking of a spear, John Davies, and a pious and learned poet who shares my surname, John Vicars. Of these (for I cannot conceal my predilection) I have always liked Drayton the most. Many years ago, when I read his book of heroic epistles written in imitation of Ovid, I was so moved that I immediately became a poet, and straightway poured forth these verses in praise of that author, which I now subjoin:
TO MICHAEL DRAYTON
Drayton, I must confesse thy wit’s divine,
Thy Labours well deserve a golden shrine.
It is not vulgar what thy Muse endites,
It is immortall what thy pen once writes.
Happie, faire Albion, thou that such a wit
Hast bred, to keepe thee from oblivious pit.
ON THE SAME
Blind Grecian minstrell, and Aenea’s clerke
That fraught’st thy ship with spoile of wandring bark,
Italian Petrarch, and thou Belgian Noort,
Give up your crownes, your laurels, of what sort
Soe’re they be: for England now doth claime
In Draytons right the regall poets name.
Homer is called the king of Greek poets, Vergil king of the Latin ones, Petrarch of the Italian, and Noort of the Belgian (I recall how I once made sport concerning that poet). Nor will George Withers get off without praise, who has this eight-liner about himself in the sixth Decade of my Epigrams, of whatever quality it may chance to be:
AD G. W.
Who is a poet? He that loves to faine?
Thy poeme is most sacred, tho’t be plaine,
And yet thyselfe no poet; all’s so true.
He’s just, non poet, that gives each his due.
I flatter not, nor feare thy scourging straine,
Ile cry as fast as thou the world’s but vaine.
Abuses thou hast stript and whipt with art,
Cast salt and pickle on to make it smart.
But let me return to the place whence I digressed.