I’ve been reading—slowly—Sister Miriam Joseph’s Shakespeare’s Use of the Arts of Language. It promises to be an extremely interesting study of Shakespeare and classical grammar as taught during the English Renaissance. I’m increasingly convinced that we could do worse than to spend more time studying logic and rhetoric. The following quote from Abraham Fruance's The Arcadian Rhetorike provides a good summary of the argument:
Logike is an art of teaching… whose vertue is seene not onely in teaching others, but also in learning thy selfe, in discoursing, thinking, meditating, and framing of thine owne, as also in discussing, perusing, searching and examining what others have either delivered by speach, or put downe in writing; this is called Analysis, that Genesis, and in them both consisteth the whole use of Logike.
As farre then as mans reason can reach, so farre extendeth it selfe the use and vertue of this art of reasoning,… Men reason in schooles as Philosophers, in Westminster as Lawyers, in Court as Lords, in Countrey as worldly husbands… the true use of Logike is as well apparant in simple playne and easie explication, as in subtile, strict, and concised probation. Reade Homer, reade Demosthenes, reade Virgill, read Cicero, reade Bartas, reade Toquato Tasso, reade the most worthie ornament of our English tongue, the Countess of Penbrookes Arcadia and therein see the true effectes of natural Logike which is the ground of artificiall… (fol. 3 r-v)1 Let no day passe without some practice, either in making, framing, and inventing of our selves, or in resolving & dissolving of things doone by others, for the triall of their skil, and confirmation of our owne. Neither would I have this practise continued onely in reading, or writing, but in every civill assembly or meeting: wherein yet I will not bee so severe a censor, as to exact every speech to the formall rules of axiomes, syllogismes, &c. It shall be sufficient for us to folow a more easie and elegant kinde of disputation, joyning Rhetorike with Logike, and referring that precise straitnesse unto Philosophicall exercises.
Neyther let any man thinke, that because in common meetings and assemblies the woordes and tearmes of Logike bee not named, therefore the force and operation of Logike is not there used and apparent. For, as in Grammer wee name neyther Noune, Pronoune, Verbe, nor any other parte of speech: and as in Rhetorike, we make mention neyther of Metonymia, Synecdoche, Exlamatio, nor any other Rhetoricall figure or trope: yet use in our speech the helpe of the one in speaking grammatically, and the direction of the other in talking eloquently: so, although in common conference wee never name syllogismes, axiomes, propositions, assumptions, & other woords of art, yet doo wee secretly practise them in our disputations, the vertue whereof is ,to make our discourses seeme true to the simple, and probable to the wise. (120 r)
Abraham Fraunce, The Arcadian Rhetorike, London, 1588.
As excerpted by Sister Miriam Joseph, C.S.C. in Shakespeare’s Use of the Arts of Language.
I believe the r, v notations signify recto and verso page references. ↩