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A Treatise of Schemes and Tropes   By: (1506?-1555?)

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First Page:

[Transcriber's Note:

This text is intended for users whose text readers cannot use the "real" (Unicode/UTF 8) version of the file. Characters that could not be fully displayed have been "unpacked" and shown in brackets:

[en], [em] = e with overline [un], [um] = u with overline [in] = i with overline (once only)

The forms ã (for an, am) and õ (for om, on) have been retained.

The text is based on scans of two different physical copies of the same edition; see end of e text for one variant reading. Other errors are also listed at the end of the e text.

Superscripts are shown with carets: w^t, y^e. All pilcrows ¶ in the body text were added by the transcriber (see endnotes).

The book was originally (1550) printed together with Erasmus's The Education of Children . The introduction (1961) mentions Erasmus briefly; the Index refers only to Sherry's Treatise . Since the two texts have no connection except that Sherry is assumed to be the translator of the Erasmus essay, they have been made into separate e texts.]



and his translation of


A facsimile reproduction with an introduction and index by HERBERT W. HILDEBRANDT The University of Michigan

Gainesville, Florida SCHOLARS' FACSIMILES & REPRINTS 1961

SCHOLARS' FACSIMILES & REPRINTS 118 N.W. 26th Street Gainesville, Florida, U.S.A. Harry R. Warfel, General Editor

Reproduced from a copy in and with the permission of BODLEIAN LIBRARY Oxford

L.C. Catalog Card Number: 61 5030

Manufactured in the U.S.A. Letterpress by J. N. Anzel, Inc. Photolithography by Edwards Brothers Binding by Universal Dixie Bindery


Richard Sherry's A Treatise of Schemes and Tropes (1550), a familiar work of the Renaissance, is primarily thought of as a sixteenth century English textbook on the figures. Yet it is also a mirror of one variation of rhetoric which came to be called the rhetoric of style. As a representative of this stylistic school, it offers little that is new to the third part of classical rhetoric. Instead, it carries forward the medieval concept that ornateness in communication is desirable; it suggests that figures are tools for achieving this ornateness; it supplies examples of ornateness to be imitated in writing and speaking; it supports knowing the figures in order to understand both secular and religious writings; it proposes that clarity is found in the figures. In short, the work assisted Englishmen to understand eloquence as well as to create it.

Four fifths of ancient rhetoric is omitted in the Treatise . The nod is given to elocution. Invention is discussed, but only as a tool to assist the communicator in amplifying his ideas, as a means to spin out his thoughts to extreme lengths. Arrangement, memory, and delivery are overlooked. Accordingly, the Treatise neatly fits into the category of a Renaissance rhetoric on style. It is this school which recognized the traditional five Ciceronian parts of rhetoric, but considered style to be the most significant precept. The Treatise is not the first to support an emphasis wholly on style, nor the foremost. We know that Aristotle's Rhetoric , Cicero's works on rhetoric, and Quintilian's Institutes discussed the significance of style, but they had a broad view. However, in England, about the time of Bede, arose a limited concept that rhetoric is mainly style, particularly that of the figures. It is this latter truncated version of rhetoric that the Treatise continues in the Renaissance. Rhetoric in Sherry's work has lost its ancient meaning.

The Treatise is highly prescriptive. It was born in an age of rules. So much so, that the rhetorician who named his rules and tools was not out of rapport with the period... Continue reading book >>

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