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A Treatise of Schemes and Tropes

by Richard Sherry

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.

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