Leptotes is when ye speaker by a negation Equipollent doth seeme to extenuat ye which he expresseth: by this Job saith, that “he hath not eaten his meate along, that he hath not seene any man perish for want of clothing, or any poore for lacke of covering.” Job. 31.
Here if Job had said, that he had feasted many, that he had clothed every poore body that should otherwise
have perished, he had not spoken so modestly, albeit that he had sayd as truly. Also by denying the superlative, it taketh the positive, thus. He is not the wisest man in the world, or he is none of the wisest, that is, he is not wise at all: this and such like formes of speaking are used for modesties sake, for it were not so seemly to say that he lacketh wit or that he is a foole: or thus it is no smal account that he maketh of his owne wit, he setteth not a little by himselfe:
here by the negation of small and little, great or much, is both signified and also properly amplified. Now if a man had some good occasion or cause to commend himselfe, he cannot by any means do it in more modest manner then by this figure, as if he should say: I was not the last in the field to fight against the enemies of my countrey, neither have I been least esteemed or worst accounted of in the love & favour of noble men, here if he should have said, I was first or one of the formost in the field, I have been best esteemed or equal with the best, it would have favoured of arrogancie and boasting, although he had said never so truely, yet is there enough said to get praise.
The use of this figure.
This form of speech tendeth most usually to praise or dispraise, and that in a modest forme and manner.
It is meete to foresee some good cause and fit occasion to use this
Good cause to use this figure.
forme of speaking, lest a man should either praise himselfe with out desart, or dispraise another without caue, the one is a token of arrogancie, the other of malice, be the forme of speech never so modest.