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Baker, Ernest A.  The History of the English Novel.
H. F. & G. Witherby, 1929.   57-66.


IN December 1578 Gabriel Cawood, dwelling in Paul's Churchyard, published Euphues, the Anatomy of Wit. It was the first literary work of John Lyly, then aged twenty-five or twenty-six, who had left Oxford three years before under a cloud, and was trying by the avenue of aristocratic patronage to step into some such office as the mastership of the revels. One road to success in this endeavour was to win distinction as an author. Lyly came of a scholarly family, his grandfather being William Lyly the grammarian, friend of Erasmus, More and Colet; an uncle was a canon of Canterbury and the author of several erudite works; his father was registrar of the city and diocese of Canterbury. The book secured him public attention without delay. There had already been four editions when he followed it up, in the spring of 1580, with a second part, Euphues and his England. He had meantime added the degree of Master of Arts at Cambridge to that awarded by his own university. He became a favoured dependent and probably the secretary of the Earl of Oxford, son-in-law to his old patron, Burleigh, and, helped perhaps by this influential backing, he brought out his first two plays, Campaspe and Sapho and Phaon, which were acted before the court. After this success he devoted his talents to the stage, where we need not follow him. He wrote no more fiction, and died in 1606. 1

Euphues, to speak collectively of the two books which are now usually found in one pair of covers, is a work of considerable importance in literary history; but the degree of its importance requires very careful evaluation. It is often described as the first English novel, or the first novel of manners. If this be taken as meaning that it is the first work that can be regarded as falling within a loose definition of the novel, or as the first to combine a thread of

1 The best account of Lyly's life and work is John Lyly : contribution à l'histoire de la Renaissance en Angleterre, par Albert Feuillerat, 1910.


narrative with a view of life and manners, the description may be accepted for what it is worth. But if it implies that Euphues was the pattern and starting-point from which the English novel proceeded to develop, it is far from true. Euphues made a great hit, and was widely imitated, both style and story, for ten or a dozen years. Then it went into gradual oblivion, from which it has been resurrected, like a museum specimen, for the edification of modern students. In certain ways it was a forerunner of the novel of manners which came into being a century and a half later; but the novelists of manners hardly knew of its existence, and probably learned nothing from it either directly or indirectly.

Outline of "Euphues." Part I.-"The Anatomy of Wit"

There are two stories in Euphues, besides incidental anecdotes, and besides other contents which are by no means tributary to the narrative: there is that of The Anatomy of Wit, 1 and there is the sequel, Euphues and his England. Let us review them in outline. In the first an educated young Athenian, wishing to see the world, visits Naples, a frivolous and dissolute place, well exemplifying the demoralized state of Italian society, of which it is one main object of the book to give young men a warning. Here, after being greeted with a protracted lecture on the follies of youth from an old man, Eubulus--who might stand for Conscience in a morality play--and replying impatiently at similar length, Euphues falls in with a gallant of his own age, Philautus. With much prolix declamation on the theme of friendship the two enter into bonds of closest amity, and Philautus takes his new acquaintance with him to the house of the lady whom he is courting. Euphues has the ill grace to fall in love, and when his friend's back is turned to woo the lady himself. He cuts out Philautus; but Lucilla speedily jilts him too, and both the swains are left lamenting. There is nothing more in the shape of story. 2 Euphues, disillusioned and penitent, indites a "Cooling Card for Philautus and all Fond Lovers" ; this is put into an appendix, with a dissertation " Euphues and his Ephebus," derived through

1 "Anatomy" means a dissection or exposure--i.e. of the empty writing for display, the art for art's sake, and like symptoms of the Italian influence denounced by Ascham. This is the ground of the attack on Oxford.
2 See p. 42, n., on Dr Wolff's comparison of the general situation with that in "Tito e Gisippo" ( Decameron, x. 8). There is no inherent inconsistency between the view that Lyly adopted the same situation, finding a converse dénouement, and the theory that he had the Prodigal Son theme at the back of his mind, or even converted a play into prose fiction (see p. 61, n. I).


 Erasmus from Plutarch De Educatione; and so, with further letters and addresses, the first book is brought to a conclusion.

In all this there is manifestly very little of the stuff that now goes to the composition of a novel. The thread of story is of the slightest, exciting hardly any interest in itself; the characters are not persons, but merely copy-book headings, and their doings or mishaps appeal neither to our sympathy nor to our sense of humour--except in ways not calculated upon by the author. The story, such as it is, forms a mere pretext for the moralization, which Lyly dispenses in a lecturing style in dialogue and soliloquy, like those in Pettie's tales, or in epistles bearing the signature of the hero. He was evidently doing his best to exploit the widespread taste for moralistic debate; and the story not only fails to hold the modern reader, but is also a very faint reflection of life, either then or in any other age. Lyly found, however, that the public who bought his book preferred even this attenuated measure of fiction to the lectures, and accordingly he constructed the sequel on somewhat better lines.

Part II.-"Euphues and his England"

In Euphues and his England the reunited friends leave Italy for these shores. Euphues, by sad experience, has learned wisdom and seriousness, and at an early point relates the edifying story of the hermit Cassander and his headstrong nephew, Callimachus. A much better tale is the one put in the mouth of the venerable Kentishman, Fidus, which follows after some pleasing dialogue. Its moral is the folly of love. But that is not the doctrine enunciated at large in Euphues and his England, which is in the main a recantation of the diatribes against women and love between the sexes contained in the Anatomy. This second book has a preface addressed to the ladies as well as the gentlemen of England, in which respect it follows Pettie's lead. Philautus is now the central figure. He falls in love with the arrogant Camilla, and the reader's interest is solicited in his sentimental experiences. Philautus is not successful here, but he finds happiness with a lady who has remained heart-whole. After his friend's marriage Euphues returns philosophically to Athens, whence he sends to the Neapolitan ladies his Glass for Europe-a panegyric of Elizabeth and the ladies of England. Finally, he retires to a life of meditation at Silexedra.

Though little is made of them, there are dramatic opportunities in the story. Bare as it seems, it is not half so bare of incident as


some modern stories which hold us spellbound. But, whilst Lyly gravely anatomizes the thoughts and emotions of men and women in love, he fails to persuade that his men and women are alive or ever were alive. Deloney reveals more knowledge in one little episode-the comedy of Long Meg and Gilian waiting in Tuttle Fields for the same young man, who never comes 1 --than Lyly in any of his expositions of the deceits and pangs of love. But Deloney does not analyse and discuss the moral and sentimental bearings of the case. Still more glaring is the inferiority of Lyly's diagnosis of the love malady to Chaucer's in Troilus and Cressida, or even to Lefevre's broader treatment in the History of Jason. 2 Of character in the sense of individuality there is more in an average play-bill than in both parts of Euphues. Fond editors have discerned character in these abstract figures, forgetting that it was character only in the ethical sense that Lyly was aiming at, and that he devised his story only as a framework for the abstract discussion.

"Euphues" a treatise on education and manners rather than a novel

For the proper way to regard Euphues is not as a rudimentary novel, even though some of the stories that resulted from copying his performance did approximate slightly to the species. Looking back we are naturally obsessed by the idea of the novel as a goal towards which earlier forms of literature were tending. 3 But Lyly had his mind on the present, not the future. He essayed to produce a more taking kind of book than those already accessible on the ideals and discipline required for the making of a finished gentleman.

There were a number of grave treatises at the bookshops handling the problem in different ways, among them Sir John Elyot Governour ( 1531), Hoby's translation of Castiglione ( 1561), and Ascham Scholemaster ( 1570)--from which he took the word

1 See pp. 181 - 182 .
2 See Volume I., pp. 230-233.
3 M. Abel Chevalley has some interesting remarks on this tendency, which he calls "Messianism," in an article Le Roman anglais, histoires et destins (Vient de Paraître, juillet, 1925):

"De cette vaste enquête allant des vagissements qu'interroge M. Baker aux tout derniers cris enregistrés par MM. Gould et Starr, quels enseignements tirer? D'abord, qu'il faut abandonner l'attitude messianique. L'histoire du roman n'est pas du tout une Marche à l'Étoile orientée vers Richardson et Fielding et, de là, sur les constellations du dernier siècle. Elle n'aboutit pas plus a notre époque que l'Histoire de France à la Troisième République. Bannissonsen l'idée de progrès qui jalonne de faux indicateurs rant d'histoires de la littérature. C'est une série de recommencements. Si, comme on a droit de le croire, la fiction romanesque eat un besoin éternel et universel de l'âme humaine, toutes les variétés du roman co-existent, et dans tons les temps y compris le nôtre. Toutes sont également légitimes, et nécessaires."


"euphues " and made it the name of his hero. He proposed to put the aspirant to good manners, sound morals, and a cultivated mind in a setting of real life, and thus to show the trials and conflicts in which he must triumph if he would attain the perfection which he coveted. Thus we have to judge Euphues as a book of theory and precept, set forth in an entertaining way, the fiction being only a device for illustrating the teaching and not an object in itself. 1

Euphuism --Lyly's style: was it assimilated from Guevarra?

Euphues has, further, received disproportionate attention from literary historians on account of its remarkable style. That style has been christened euphuism after Lyly's book, 2 although it was not invented by him and had indeed been in use for some time already. The author of Euphues practised it more systematically than his predecessors, and gave it the finishing touches; that was his sole claim to the patent. He was the last, rather than the first, of the euphuists. For many years Dr Landmann's theory 3 met with general acceptance, that euphuism was a novel species of rhetoric acquired by Lyly and others from Antonio de Guevara, Archbishop of Mondoñedo and Cadiz, whose most celebrated work 4 was the Libro del Emperador Marco Aurelio con relox de principes ( 1529), a work translated by Lord Berners as The Golden Boke of Marcus Aurelius ( 1534), and by Sir Thomas North as The Diall of Princes ( 1557). 5 Unhappily for this theory, both Berners and North made their translations, not straight from Guevara's Spanish, but from a French rendering in which the distinctive features of Guevara's prose were completely altered. 6 They were both of them apparently unable to

1 According to Mr J. Dover Wilson ( "Euphues and the Prodigal Son" in The Library, Oct., 1909), Euphues and the Anatomy of Wit is to a large extent an old play cast into narrative form, such play being one of the Prodigal Son dramas that began with the Dutch Acolastus. Eubulus and Philautus were characters in this. At all events, Euphues goes out into the world and is tried by its temptations, returning home at last a sadder and wiser man.
2 Gabriel Harvey was the first to employ the term, in the Aduertisement for Papp-hatchett, applying it to Lyly's ridiculous fondness for comparisons drawn from a fabulous natural history ( Feuillerat, pp. 472-473).
3 Set forth in Der Euphuismus ( 1881) and in "Shakspere and Euphuism" ( New Shakspere Society Transactions, 1880- 1885, Pt. II.).
4 Guevara pretended that the Libro was translated from a Greek work that he had discovered at Florence.
5 Berners rearranged the matter of his original completely, whereas North gave a full and faithful translation.
6 Mr K. N. Colvile, ed. of The Diall of Princes, by Don Anthony de Guevara: being select passages, with introduction and bibliography ( The English Scholars' Library, 1919), is strongly against the view that Lyly borrowed from the Spanish work.


read their author in the original, nor is there the slightest reason to suppose that Lyly was acquainted with Castilian or had made any study of Guevara's peculiar variety of estilo culto, the artificial, highly ornate diction which was being cultivated at this period by Spanish, Italian, French, and also English men of letters. Sir Sidney Leeremarked, in editing Berners' translation of Huon of Bordeaux ( 1887), that this great translator, in his preface to Froissart, was writing in a style singularly like euphuism in 1524, five years before Guevara's book had appeared in Spain. There was no need for Lyly to read Spanish literature in order to learn euphuism. In the previous chapter it was noted that Fenton and Pettie indulged freely in euphuistic prose before the advent of Lyly's book 1 ; and among others whose style had similar characteristics may be named Latimer, Cheke, Gosson, author of The Schoole of Abuse ( 1579), 2 and even Ascham, when he was not expressly maintaining classical dignity and restraint. Between Lyly and Guevara the main analogy was that both wrote to edify and were never tired of moral disquisition, and both cultivated style for its own sake; both, in particular, made inordinate use of alliteration, a favourite ornament of artistic prose at that era. 3 For the rest, Spanish censoriousness and English Puritanism were sufficiently alike to make the parallel seem a close one.

The Main charActeristics of euphiusm

The bibliography of euphuism is immense, criticism of the style beginning with Lyly's contemporaries, who thought it strange and rather absurd. The question of its derivation is now growing clearer. Euphuism did not originate in Spain and was not immediately derived from any foreign source; it was the latest form of a fashion of writing which had long been established in this country, and to which the artifices of Guevara's elaborate diction contributed next to nothing. It would have had a notable place in Tudor literature even had Lyly never written. The special marks of euphuism have now been traced a long way back in the literary use of English. 4

1 See above, pp. 26 , 30 - 33 .
2 This was dedicated to Sidney and called forth the Apologie for Poetrie, in which they who "cast sugar and spice upon every dish that is served at the table," and other votaries of artificial diction are properly stigmatized. By "Similiter cadences" Sidney apparently means the schemata.
3 Feuillerat, p. 260, n. 3.
4 See the edition of Euphues by Morris William Croll and Harry Clemons ( 1916).


What are these special marks? Euphuism is a method of prose composition distinguished by the systematic use of certain rhetorical figures, which are figures of sound rather than of sense, principally the three called, in technical language, isocolon, parison, and paromoion. Isocolon means equality of limbs, and applies to that balancing of phrases or clauses by their close correspondence in length and weight on which the monotonous symmetry of euphuism is based. Parison, equality of sound, applies to the answering of word to word in the internal ordering of phrases. Thus, "suspect me of idleness" and "convince me of lightness" are phrases of about the same length, and the contrasted words occur at the same points in the order of the phrases. Paromoion, similarity of sound, includes alliteration, use of the same initial consonant in different words, and assonance, similarity of the terminal sounds; it also covers the repetition of syllables in the internal parts of words. Lyly employs the various forms of paromoion to accentuate the other correspondences. Alliteration is the most obvious device for this purpose, and there is continual use of transverse alliteration. 1 But such kinds of syllabic antithesis as the echoing of "thrift" and theft," "lightness" and "lewdness," "loving" and "having," "hopeless" and "hapless," and the rhyming of unstressed syllables, as in "dissolute" and "resolute," "nature" and "nurture," or "most contemptible" and "most notable," serve the same end. 2 By this balancing of members having a similar sound scheme the sentence has a symmetrical structure imposed on it analogous to that of verse. The clauses may fall into antithetic pairs like couplets, and by more intricate correspondences a sentence may assume an almost stanzaic form. Sentence may further be articulated into sentence, until a complete paragraph falls into a complicated pattern of interlacing cadences. Antithesis is certainly the most prominent characteristic of euphuism; but the antithesis, let it be repeated, is not so much for the sake of defining and emphasizing meaning as for the pleasure of like but contrasted sounds; and the object that dominates

1 E.g. "Under the colour of wit thou mayest be accounted wise"; "Let thy tune be merry when thy heart is melancholy"; Bear a pleasant countenance with a pined conscience."
2 For a careful and lucid summary of the schemata used by Lyly, and of their history, see the introduction by Messrs Croll and Clemons, who hold different views on the question from those of M. Feuillerat."


everything is to make language conform to a symmetrical design, and thus attain effects equivalent to those of rhyme and metre.

But, as already observed, it was not these mechanical devices of Lyly's style that struck his contemporaries as something unusual, for they were practising various kinds of estilo culto themselves and had no rooted objection to artifices and preciosities. What excited the ridicule of Harvey, Sidney, Nashe, and others, was Lyly's addiction to similes drawn from mythology and ancient learning and all manner of later sources, more particularly the fictitious natural science current in mediæval bestiaries and long-established encyclopædias of knowledge which had not been discarded at the invention of printing. 1 Preachers and orators had from of old delighted in such illustrations, as writers trained in the schools delighted in the schemata. Of these far-fetched similes there is little need to quote examples; they have been reproduced in every account of the style until the very word euphuism bores rather than amuses.

Messrs Croll and Clemons have, perhaps finally, traced the genealogy of the schemata or word-schemes which are classified under the heads of isocolon, parison and paromoion. The ultimate source was the Greek orator Gorgias. He and his followers made continual use of the schemata as a means of securing rhythmic effect. Not that they made them the mainstay of their rhetoric; they employed them with varying degrees of taste and moderation, Isocrates, in particular, to whom M. Feuillerat would ascribe the chief influence on English imitators, 2 preferring a nobler and more varied rhythm to the monotonous parallelism and repetition of cadence which resulted from the excessive use of the schemes. Through the later sophists the rhetoric of the Gorgianic schools found its way into the schools of imperial Rome, and was adopted by teachers of oratory training men for the Christian Church. Mediæval professors of rhetoric were hardly capable of appreciating the fineness of the Greek oratorical style; but they were readily attracted by such definite and easily imitated devices as isocolon, parison and paromoion, and made these the principal means of attaining stateliness and fervour. The ancients used the wordschemes sparingly; mediæval teachers made them the very basis

1 For a list of such works see Feuillerat, p. 422.
2 Feuillerat, pp. 469-470.


of an effective style. Bede in his sermons, Thomas à Kempis, and other writers have been shown to have used these ornaments with the same monotonous persistency and to have woven them into the same intricate patterns as those of the euphuists. 1 From writers in Latin they passed into early English prose. They have been traced in the Ayenbite of Inwyt, in Richard Rolle of Hampole and the mystic Walter Hilton, and so on to Fisher and Latimer's sermons, and to the other exponents of a euphuistic style who preceded Lyly. 2 And these peculiar figures are commonly found associated with the peculiar similes which were fastened upon by contemporary critics as the hall-mark of euphuism; the mediæval rhetorician was as fond of the one as of the other. Estilo culto, and its sub-variety euphuism, owed next to nothing to the revival of learning; it was something, on the contrary, antipathetic to such humanists as More and Elyot, who inculcated classical standards in prose composition. 3

Influence of euphuism

The euphuistic fashion of writing, and also of speaking, was cultivated enthusiastically for a few years after Lyly had carried it to the last stage of elaboration; then it was contemptuously abandoned. But the cult was not without its lesson to writers of prose, especially prose fiction. The kind of prose urgently required, even if nobody yet realized the want, was one adapted to the description of everyday reality and the natural expression of thoughts and feelings--a style that would attract little attention to itself, but would form, as it were, a transparent medium between the reader and the life presented. Any disturbance of the stiff and cumbrous prose that was accepted as the regular literary equipage could not fail to


1 Croll and Clemons, pp. xxxv.-xxxvi.
2 Ibid., lvi.-lviii .
3 Why the revival of the schemata had such a charm for the sixteenth century is well put by Messrs Croll and Clemons (see their introduction, pp. liv. and lx.): "The true explanation of the phenomenon is certainly that now for the first time these figures appeared in an artistic and elaborate use in the vernacular. The novelty consists, not in the figures themselves, but in the fact that they are sounded on a new instrument, and that an art which had been the possession of clerks alone becomes the property of men and women of the world. In the history of fashions there are episodes much stranger than this. . . . The phenomenon was caused by the concurrence of the same elements in the taste of the Renaissance that gave the character of ornateness to nearly all of its art, the same mixture of the classical, the mediæval, and the courtly in the culture of the age that makes the Orlando Furioso, for instance, and the Faerie Queene, so fantastic and so unclassical. And of the causes that apply particularly to prose-style, the first place must be given, not to the imitation of the classics, but to the novelty of literary prose in the vernacular, and the need of adapting the familiar speech to unaccustomed uses of art and beauty."


be useful. Euphuism certainly did tend to break up the involved, would-be Ciceronian periods of the erudite, and the rhapsodizing, semi-poetic diction inherited from the romancers. In making prosewriting an art, obedient to as many conventions and structural obligations as were imposed on verse, Lyly made an experiment which was instructive to writers who aimed at nothing so artificial. His sentences were true sentences, and not paragraphs clumsily knit into lengths of meandering discourse that came to a halt when nothing more could be hitched on. Such structural punctilio, though so much overdone, was a wholesome reaction against the prevailing formlessness. Affected and unnatural as it was, euphuism came nearer than much of the current literary prose to the direct, pithy and nervous language of spirited conversation.

Summary of the effects of "Euphues"on the novel

Euphues was, in sum, the first English work not composed in verse in which characters, actions and sentiments--sentiments above all-were set forth with the internal unity of a definite attitude of mind and tone of feeling, and with the external unity of a consistent and well-wrought style. Lyly aimed at the coherence of a work of art; and such a style--whether the particular one adopted were the right or the wrong one is another question--was essential to that aim. He was not successful in presenting character; his actions and incidents are not of absorbing interest; the analysis of sentiments--a novelty at the time--does not go very deep. Nevertheless, the effort was in itself an event in literary history, and could not be entirely without consequences. This is Lyly's claim to importance in the annals of fiction; not that Euphues was the first novel addressed to women, nor that it inaugurated the literature of the drawing-room. Women had long been the chief readers of romances. This particular form of drawing-room literature was speedily superseded by one of a different stamp, which in turn was ousted by a newer fashion. Its importance, in short, is much the same as that of Sidney Arcadia, which falls next for consideration. Here, again, is a book aiming at artistic coherence of matter and style, and achieving its aim in equal measure; and a book as influential as Lyly's, if not more so, on books to follow.