Gnome, otherwise called Sententia, is a saying pertaining to the maners and common practises of men, which declareth by an apt brevitie, what in this our life ought to be done, or left undone. First it is to to observed, that everie sentence is not a figure, but that onely which is notable, worthie of memory, and approved by the judgement and consent of all men, which being such a one, maketh by the excellency therof the Oration not onely beautifull and comely, but also grave, puissant, and full of majestie, whereof there be sundry kindes.
The first a Sentence universall, which conteineth no certaine person or thing: As evill gotten goods are evill spent: evill will never said well: envy is a punishment in it selfe.
The second is a single sentence, as, a Citie in sedition cannot be safe, the contented man is verie rich, neccessitie hath no law.
The third is a double sentence: Flattery getteth friendship, and truth hatred: And old sore is soone hurt, and a testie man soone angrie.
In all worldly matter something ever lacketh, and nothing long endureth.
The beginning of everie action is easilie seene, but the sequele is uncertaine.
The fourth is a sentence without shewing a reason: Yoong men ought to reverence their elders: Silence doth well beseeme women kinde. The hastie man never wanteth wo.
The fifth, a sentence rendering a reason: He that doth evill, hateth the light, lest his deeds should be repoved.
It is good to live so, that the rehearsall of our lives may not make us ashamed.
Cast not too much away with thy hands, lest thou be forced to seeke it with thy feets.
The first, is a sentence consisting of contraries: By concord small thinges encrease, by discord great riches are soone consumed.
A guiltie conscience is alwaies afraid but he that hath done no evil liveth in quiet. Better is a messe of pottage with love, then a fat oxe with evill will. Salomon is much delighted with this kinde of sentence: for many of his proverbes be compounded of contrary sentences
The seventh, is a sentence of diverse things, as: Death is not to be feared, but the way and passage to death.
Error and repentance, are the companions of rashnesse.
The eighth, a sentence shewing what doth happen in life, as: Pride goeth before, and shame commeth after. Prodigalitie is the mother of povertie. To day a king, to morrow dead: Life and death are in the hands of the toong, mans nature is covetous of newes, we court after things forbidden, and loath those which are commanded.
The ninth is a pure sentence, not mixt with any figure, as: It is good to be merry and wise. He is happie which taketh warning by other mens harmes.
The covetous man wanteth as well that which he had, as that which he hath not.
The tenth, is a sentence of equitie: Do as thou wouldst be done to. He that is mercilesse shall of mercy misse.
The eleventh is a figured sentence, whereof there be as many kindes, as there by figures: If it be figured, it beareth the name of the figure wherewith it is joyned.
Now in a sentence heede must be taken, that it be not false, strange, too long, or light, without pith or importance. Secondly, that they be not too oft used, and too thin sprinkeled in our speech, for that which is lawfull for Philosophers, is not granted to Orators, because Orators are the handlers of matters, and Philosophers the instructers of life.
The use of this figure.
The use of sentences is marvellous great in morall Philosophie, and also verie profitable, and pleasant in the Art of Rhetoricke: yet are sentences verie sparingly sprinkeled in the Orations of the most eloquent Orators, and that onely in consideration of their singular beautie and brightnesse: for excellent sentences ought to be esteemed as precious pearles and costly jewels in princely vestures, and as the most glorious lightes in the firmament: all which as they are most excellent in beautie and glorie, so are they most rare by creation and nature.